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Translation, power and gender in Thomas Hudson's Historie of Judith.


Drawing on Translation Studies and gender theory, this article investigates the problematic translation of Bartas's La Judit (1574) and its assimilation to Jacobean Scotland. Commissioned by James VI, Thomas Hudson's Historie of Judith (1584) endeavoured to impose a Protestant female behavioural model for ladies at court after the troublesome regency of Marie de Guise and reign of Mary Queen of Scots. By analysing the construction of female identity, femininity and sexuality and by discussing the nearly impossible reconciliation of power and female agency, I shall elucidate the way in which Hudson's translation operates as an intended vehicle for gender and political domination.


During his Scottish reign, James VI was actively involved in the creation and promotion of literature both in Scots and in translation. Aware of the asymmetrical cultural interchanges between Scots and the dominant languages of the time, Latin and vernacular French and Italian, James's aim was to internationalise Scottish culture and political influence on Europe. (1) His rhetorical treatise Reulis and Cautelis attempted to codify the ideology of cultural production whereas his patronage encouraged his courtiers to follow his literary rules. (2) Even if the members of his coterie also felt free to depart from his guidelines, as most patrons, James purported to standardise and control the relationships between the literary system and the other systems. (3)

Significantly, notwithstanding the 'uncertain' status of translation in sixteenth-century England, (4) both Janies and those around him were aware of the importance of translation in the construction of a distinctive Scots culture to the extent that the monarch designed a 'translation program into his plans for a Scottish literary Renaissance.' (5) Moreover, the emphasis on translation served a double literary and political purpose: (i) to represent Scottish cultural accomplishments in the European context and (2) to move away from the traditional Scottish political satire, which had deeply damaged Mary Queen of Scots' reputation in previous years. (6) Translations contributed to the enrichment of the Jacobean literary production by articulating a multiplicity of different voices, styles and ideas at a time when Scottish writers enthusiastically undertook to render the finest European texts into Scots. (7) For example, Alexander Montgomerie (c. 1550-98) translated numerous sonnets from the French Pierre de Ronsard and Clement Marot; John Stewart of Baldynneis (c. 1545--c. 1605) rendered Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso as Poland Furious; William Fowler (c. 1560-1612) also turned to Italian literature, translating Machiavelli's Prince, and Petrarch's Triumphs; whilst James VI and Thomas Hudson concentrated on the French Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas.

James was a keen admirer of Du Bartas, whom the king regarded as one of his most influential literary models, translating into Scots the Frenchman's Uranie in The Essajes of a Prentise in the Divine Art of Poesie (15 84) and Furies and the opening of Eden in Elis Maiesties poeticall exercises (1591). The educated audiences in Stuart Scotland (as well as in England) were also familiar with Du Bartas' Semaines, gaining the status of a major Jacobean poem. (8) In 1587, the king personally invited Du Bartas to the Scottish court. His diplomatic mission was double: (1) to negotiate a possible royal marriage between James and Catherine de Bourbon, and (2) to ease the tensions between Scotland, England and France only three months after the execution of Mary Queen of Scots. The friendship between James and Du Bartas is an important factor to understand the poet's future popularity in both England and Scotland.

Furthermore, after a conversation on the art of translation, (10) James commissioned Thomas Hudson to translate Du Bartas's Ea judit (1574), a free adaptation of the Apocryphal Judith to French. In the Reformation period, Judith became an iconic figure, whose deployment both by the Catholic orthodoxy and the Protestant dissidence operated as an exemplum of perfect wifehood and widowhood. (11) Hudson translated it as The Historie of Judith (1584) into a melange of Scots and English lexical and syntactic forms. His choice as a translator may be slightly surprising, since he was mainly a musician rather than a poet at James's court; in spite of this, Nicola Royan suggests that Hudson undoubtedly enjoyed the monarch's trust to contribute to his 'poetic project' (12) and also, I would add, to the dissemination of his pro-Protestant ideological discourse.

However, Hudson's Judith has been generally disregarded as not particularly brilliant literature. Apart from some scattered references in articles on Jacobean translation or a book on Scots translation throughout time, (13) only in James Craigie's 1940 edition of Judith (and more recently in the aforementioned article by Nicola Royan) has Hudson's translation been examined in depth. This might be due to the widespread notion that Judith's aesthetic quality is regarded as poor, (14) especially if measured against the better-known translations of William Fowler, Alexander Montgomerie or the then fringe poet John Stewart of Baldynneis. Similarly, as for Judith's language, what Ian Ross regards as 'an uneasy mixture of Scottish and English forms,' (15) may not seem to adhere completely to James's preference for Scots in literature as he stated is his Reulis and Cateulis. Yet it is precisely this 'uneasy' (or not) synthesis of Scots and English by Hudson, a man from Yorkshire, what reveals the translator's effort to comply with James's aesthetic precepts. This is what Derrick McClure understands as translations fomented by 'overtly patriotic motives' as a means to enrich the target culture. At the same time, Hudson's partial use of Scots also demonstrates the fluidity of languages at James's court, where Scots, English, Latin, French and Italian could contribute to the growing corpus of Jacobean literary production, demonstrating the lively cultural and intellectual ambiance at court. (17) In fact, although the monarch did give Hudson the freedom to deviate for the former's notions on translation, in Judith's introductory dedication to James, Hudson's submission to the King's superior 'knowledge and erudition' (18) was unreserved. The translator rhetorically deployed the language of the eager disciple, whose work had been 'corrected by [his] Maiest.' (19) The target text discloses Hudson's observance of James's translative strategies and rhetorical principles, such as the numerous cases of alliteration: '& brazen buckles beating back the throng: / Their habergions like stiddies stithe they baire / with helmets high & pennons pight in aire' (III. 226-29). (20) Thus, although Ross might be right when he does not see Hudson's rendering in a very positive light, referring to Hudson's 'pedestrian virtues as a translator', (21) it is also crucial to analyse Hudson's 'virtues' vis-a-vis the socio-historical context in which he was writing and the symbolic value of his translation in the Scottish polysystem. For example, his discursive strategies to render Du Bartas respond to James's insistence on Tnventioun' (22) in his Reulis and Cautelis and the need to domesticate the source text to recognisable native standards in the target culture.

In this article, I shall investigate not only Hudson's deference to the king's suggested standards of cultural production as stated his treatise Reulis and Cateulis, but also how the translator's intercultural appropriation of the source text contributes to the debate on sexual politics in Jacobean Scotland. After discussing the contemporary socio-political and religious context, I shall concentrate on the way in which the translation tries to fix female identity, the representation of femininity and sexuality and the complex synthesis between women, power and agency. The use of translation studies, gender theory and feminist critical discourse analysis will serve to support my line of argument.


When James VI was crowned King of Scots at the age of one, the country had just witnessed two unprecedented consecutive periods of female government, which proved to be extremely testing. First, after the death of her husband James V (1542) and the subsequent short-lived regency of James Hamilton, second Earl of Arran, Marie de Guise took over the regency of Scotland (1554-60). She had to deal both with the ongoing religious confrontations between Protestants and Catholics and with the discontent of the Scottish nobility, who accused her of favouring her fellow countrymen from France in the detriment of the native lords. (23) Mary Queen of Scots' reign after her return to Scotland (1561-67) was even more difficult. As well as the unresolved existing religious and political tensions, the assassination of her husband Lord Damley, in which she might have been involved to some extent, followed by her wedding to Bothwell, made her position of power unsustainable, spending the last twenty years of her life as a prisoner of Elizabeth I of England. James's minority started with a Civil War between his supporters and those of Mary which lasted until 1573. More over, the regents during the monarch's minority were either killed (Moray and Lennox), executed (Morton) or died of natural causes (Mar), whereas James himself had to face different successful and unsuccessful attempts to kidnap him. (24) In religious terms, his mother never ratified the Protestant Reformation passed by the Scottish Parliament in 15 60 or attempted a Catholic restoration, either. In the mid-1560s, Morton replaced some vacant Catholic Bishoprics by appointing Protestant bishops. In 1578, the General Assembly enthusiastically supported a second Book of Discipline, which consisted of 'a system of polity by ecclesiastical councils from local to national level' and was aimed to supplant the existing one based on the pre-Reformation dioceses. Both systems existed simultaneously in the late 1570s and early 1580s. James had to tackle this problem to guarantee the stability of the Reformed church. Finally, to avoid the subordination of the civil authority to the Kirk, in the late 1590s James linked the Kirk to the crown more closely. (25)

As well as religious instability, after thirteen eventful years of female power, concerns with female agency and its overall negative assessment by Protestant Scots must have prompted many questions on the nature of government, gender roles and identity, which were being discussed in different texts. For example, in his now infamous attack on female rule, First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstruous Kegiment of Women, John Knox claimed that:
   To promote a Woman to beare rule, superioritie, dominion, or
   empire above any Realme, Nation, or Citie, is repugnant to Nature;
   contumelie to God, a thing most contrarious to his reveled will and
   approved ordinance; and finallie, it is the subversion of good
   Order, of all equitie and justice. (26)

Although Knox's tone was regarded as intemperate by his own associates, these ideas based on classical, biblical and logical argumentation were not uncommon at the time. (27) Knox expounded the two main reasons why women should not rule a nation: (1) according to God's law, it was virtuous for women to serve men, and (2) God's punishment of Eve meant that woman should be subjugated to men. (28)

Regarding Hudson's Judith, tempting though it might be, Royan rightly claims that Mary Queen of Scots cannot be taken as the model against which Judith is constructed, suggesting that potential similarities might be attributed to gender roles and expectations rather than to a specific historical reference. (29) Nevertheless, although taking Mary as an all encompassing allegorical figure against whom Protestant Judith is evaluated would not work, it is also true that the long shadow of Mary and his mother as representatives of female power cannot be underestimated. Invariably, audiences interpret all kinds of texts according to recognisable patterns in their target culture. (30) Therefore translations necessarily occur in a continuum, in which the translator and her or his resulting text are always subject to 'textual and extratextual constraints'. (31) Furthermore, translations are regarded as symbolic forms composed and interpreted in 'specific social, temporal and geographic context' and may reinforce or undermine existing ideologies. (32) As such, Hudson's was written and going to be decoded in a socio-historical context where female power and gender roles were under scrutiny. The translator deploys strategies of cultural politics, whereby a reconstructed Judith emerges as a reformation figure, (33) making the text relevant to contemporary religious and gender tensions in Scotland.

In the literary arena, Hudson's Judith can also be considered an intended conclusion to the cultural polemics regarding constructions of female identity and roles during the Marian period. On the one hand, the casket sonnets attributed to Mary and freely de-codified by George Buchanan in his Detectio Marine Keginae (1571) signified her downfall. In her revised 1999 preface to Gender Trouble, after conceding that her views on 'performability' have changed over time, Judith Butler claims that 'the idea that gender is performative sought to show that what we take to be an internal essence of gender is manufactured through a sustained set of acts, posited through gender stylization of the body.' (34) If so, Mary's (self-)representation was trapped within the fixed performative roles traditionally ascribed to ladies in lyric poetry. As she could not write (or be written) outside tradition, her representation as a sexualised, submissive woman discredited her in the masculine world of kingship, where the king's body was imagined as impregnable and the intellect, not feeling, should rule his government. These symbolic representations and creations of identity are bound by their sociohistorical context and respond to social praxis. (35) On the other hand, anti-Marian literature also proliferated during the period. In Robert Sempill's poem 'Maddeis Proclamatioun', a Protestant female cabbage seller ferociously attacks Mary and Catholicism, unashamedly accusing Mary and her supporters of Darnley's murder:
   As now of lait thair curst consait
   With murther thay display,
   Quhen thay thocht gude to drink this blude,
   Be that ungodly way. (36) (st. 16)

She is re-imagined and stands for the opposite of the Queen of Scots both religiously and socially. As such, her voice becomes more powerful and persuasive, concluding that 'Revenge this wrang, lat tratoures hang'. (37) If Maddy belongs to and is a mirror for the working classes, Judith emerges as the ideal of a female with agency and power. Judith is meant to operate as the Protestant exemplum for ladies at court, who should undergo a self-regulating behavioural process according to the text's gender values.

The Scottish-centred exemplum is strengthened when comparing the dedication in the source text with that of the target text. Du Bartas emphasises the allegorical convergences between his poem's heroine and its final addressee, Queen Marguerite of Navarre after the death of its first, Queen Jeanne d'Albret: (38)
   Fille du grand HENRY, & compagne pudique
   D'un autre grand Henry, 6 MARGVERITE vnique
   Qui decores la France, oy ma Muse que dit
   Tes beautez, & vertues sous le nom de Judith. (39) (I. 17-20)

In the mid-1560s when Jeanne was the Protestant Queen of Navarre, she saw her country isolated and threatened by the forces of Catholic Spain and France. She probably asked Du Bartas for an epic poem about Judith, which would legitimise the actions of a group of Elects against larger invading enemies. (40) In this context, by equating Jeanne's/Marguerite's virtues with those of Judith, the social field of reference becomes restricted. Although both the literary Judith and the historical Jeanne and Marguerite still function as female types to be imitated and reproduced in social milieus, their interrelation takes precedence over the more universalising appeal of Hudson's translation. Hudson dedicates Judith to his patron and lord, James VI: 'And since in vulgar verse I prease to sing, / This godly Pme to a Christian King' (I. 20). By allegorically disconnecting the figure of Judith from any particular historical individual, the scope of the heroine's appeal and significance broadens in the geo-political space of early modern Scotland. Judith is not Marguerite and Marguerite is not Judith, but becomes a much more powerful Protestant type at the court of James VI.


Throughout the history of Western societies, gender difference, primarily based on biological differences between women and men, has played a central role in the way in which patriarchy has articulated a discourse of domination over women, through 'relations of power that systematically privilege men as a social group, and disadvantage, exclude, and disempower women as a social group.' (41) Such patriarchal control is represented in many different ways, creating normative concepts intended to be understood in a restricted number of interpretations, subject to equally restricted metaphorical possibilities. These conceptualizations are enunciated in religious, educational, scientific, legal and political forms of expression, trying to fix dogmatic binary gender oppositions. (42) All these ideas are central to the representation and projected interpretation of both La Judith (43) and Judith, since literature and translation also contributed (and arguably still contribute) to normalise specific cultural myths in a given socio-historical milieu, responding to ideological programmes and political practices, which endeavour to impose subjective gender identities as normal and natural. (44) Since gender can be created and stabilised through performative acts, these symbolic representations operate as creators of fictional constructions of security, norms and values; (45) hence, the importance of Hudson's translative strategies to justify and legitimise existing structural power relations in Jacobean Scotland, even if the outcome, as will be seen later, is not completely satisfactory owing to the contradictory ideologies by which it is substantiated.

In Judith, female identity tries to be fixed by the heroine's ascribed roles in society. Such roles underline how individuals must comply with specific social activities as members of a particular class, profession or gender. Gender roles function as 'socially prescribed activities and forms of behaviour.' (46) In this way, Judith contributes to disclose the socio-political, religious and sexual anxieties of Jacobean Scotland. Such anxieties textually emerge in the way in which Hudson supplements his translation with material absent from the source text. The introductory summaries preceding each Book provide an excellent space where the translator can feel more at ease to manipulate (47) Du Bartas insofar as the constrictions to stick to verse and rhyme are not required. Thus, in Hudson's summary to Book IV, the target text categorises the three states of womanhood: 'Virginitie, Mariage and Widowhood: Thereby setting forth a singular example of all womanly behauiour and vertud (IV. Sommarie, p. 56). This is nowhere to be found in Du Bartas's Sommaire in such a prescriptive manner. The three states of womanhood are unsurprisingly contingent to their sexual behaviour and their relationships with men.

Furthermore, as a biblical, even if apocryphal, figure Judith's role and identity are grounded on the most powerful authoritas from the past, the Bible. Being a biblical exemplum on gender, sex and femininity, Judith operates as a religious and socio-historical Protestant alternative to Catholic models, the Virgin Mary in the divine realm and Marie de Guise and Mary Queen of Scots in the earthly realm--sometimes more explicitly than others. It is in the reference to one of these three states, marriage, that the Judith Mary Queen of Scots comparison is inevitable. Manasses and Judith's matrimony is defined as follows:
   This chaste young-man & his most chastest wife
   Manasses then, his wife would not controule
   Tyraniously, but looke how much the soule
   Exceeds the corse, & not the corse doth grieue,
   But rather to preserue it and relieue,
   So Iudith with Manasses did accorde,
   In tender loue and honoured him as Lord. (IV. 215; 223-28)

Whilst on the one hand, the chastity and religiousness of both husband and wife are emphasised, on the other, the voluntarily submissive role of Judith reveals how sexual politics construct the socialisation of the individual in a specific historical context: the relationship between husband and wife is transformed into a lord-serf contract. Even the linguistic choice 'not controule / Tyraniously' points to the medieval and early modern dichotomy between good rulers and tyrants, present for instance in James Vi's contemporary political writings or William Fowler's translation of Machiavelli's Principe. The embedded conclusion is the same, a good lord/husband deserves and demands his subjects'/wife's submission and obedience. This asymmetrical relationship is (re)presented as normal and normative. Contrastively, this kind of matrimony is measured against 'That secret marriage that to few is kend, / doth never leade the louers to good end' (IV. 209-10), which textually does not enormously differ from Du Bartas's Judit 'Qu'une nopce secrette et baiser clandestin / Ne guident les amans iamais a bonne fin' (p. 74). At the same time, however, Hudson's lexical choice in 1. 209 goes beyond the impositions of rhyme: 'to few is kend' places 'marriage' in its social and public context, whilst Du Bartas' 'baiser clandestine' imagines 'nopce' in the realm of sex and private life more specifically. Therefore, in terms of interpretation, as the target text is located in the discursive social order of the target culture and its public setting, inescapable Marian overtones emerge: the infamous secret marriage between Mary and Bothwell after the assassination of Darnley. By juxtaposition, Judith's emerges as the model Protestant matrimonies should follow.

Judith's widowhood is circumscribed along the same political and discursive parameters: '[...] always in some black attire she went / Right modestly & liu'd on little rent' (IV. 295-96). A widow's exclusion from the public sphere is undeniable even if she is a member of the social elites. In Jacobean Scotland, this had been at the core of political, religious and literary discussions owing to the active widowhoods of Marie de Guise and even more so of Mary Queen of Scots. Historically, although contemporary testaments and marriage contracts demonstrate that some wives and widows were not as constrained as theory might suggest, as a general rule the legal position of both groups was inferior to that of men. (48) At first sight in the poem, Judith's education, marriage and widowhood may seem to comply with what Guido Ruggiero defines as the role of women in the 'moral family' in the early modern period. He emphasises the crucial role the 'moral family' played in the empowerment of states in terms of 'an ordered and disciplined Christian society', the legitimation of sex through procreation and the internalisation of traditional honour and reputation associated with the concept of family. (49) Thus, through repetition of the same activities and roles attributed to women, an ideology based on a subjective discourse is transformed into a universal truth about gender. Nevertheless, as I shall demonstrate in the following two sections, the initially unproblematic clear-cut construction of Judith as a paradigm of perfect womanhood fails owing to two factors: first, the fear of female sexuality and its complicated reconciliation with biological reproduction--Judith's is represented as either literally or metaphorically sexless (and therefore childless) marriage; and, secondly, because of her active role as a heroine, raising some uneasy questions about her fellow countrymen's gender expectations and demands. As such, Judith escapes categorisation according to the existing gender standards in Jacobean Scotland in particular, and early modern Europe more generally.


Constructions of femininity and female sexuality in Western Europe throughout time have been characterised by the objectification of women. Interestingly, while Judith's femininity is represented according to extant archetypes of female beauty and decorum, her sexuality is never stated despite her role as the seducer's temptress. The adjective with which she is most commonly associated is 'chaste:' the phrase 'chaste Judith' is invariably used, disregarding the deployment of other adjectives or no adjectives at all in the source text. Such complete desexualisation generates a series of tensions between her biological gender and her actions even if they follow God's dictates.

For the very beginning, this complex tension appears in both the translation and the source text, which also starts with: 'Ie chante les vertus d'vne valiante vefue' (I. i). In Book I, Hudson problematically interlaces masculine and feminine virtues to introduce Judith:
   I sing the vertues of a valiant Dame,
   Who in defence of Iacob ouercame:
   Th'Assyrian Prince, and slew the Pagan stout,
   [God  ... ] stelde the courage small
   Of feeble Judith, with a manly strength: (I. 1-3; 6-7)

These seemingly antithetical expressions exceed lexical oppositions stemming from rhetorical practices; instead, they concern the realms of gender roles and expectations rooted in Western societies. The masculinisation of the heroine is attributed to God's agency, who transforms her female weaknesses into mainly qualities: 'shee was made a moulde devine' (I. 144).

Despite her necessary masculinisation to be the Jews' heroine in the war against Holofernes, she is also constructed as an ideal of Protestant femininity in the social context. As a 'socially constructed category,' women, as in this particular case Judith, must conform to the discursive social order of the target culture. Thus, to counter her 'abnormal' heroic demeanour, her femininity must be represented unequivocally whenever possible to avoid any threat to patriarchal hegemony:
   This prudent Dame delyted not in daunce
   Nor sitting vp nor did her selfe aduance:
   In publik place, where playes & banquets beene
   In euerie house to see, & to be seene. (IV. 133-36)

The representation of her seclusion from the public world is extreme to say the least. She becomes a non-entity, just devoted to the reading of the Bible. The source text also relates that: '[...] elle ne discoroit / De festin en festin, ou bien de rue en rue / Pour voir, & pour ensemble des autres veue' (IV. 71). However, while Du Bartas' language highlights Judith's discretion, the 'delyted not' of Hudson's more explicitly stresses the total internalisation of her submissive role in society. Hence, there seem to be two different Judiths, the one depicted in these lines, and the one undertaking an active part in Holofernes's beheading. This is carefully and skilfully created to convey that such a non-naturalistic metamorphosis can only be explained through God's intervention, never through Judith's own agency.

Similarly, although both the source text and Hudson's translation display the conflict between her masculine traits and her feminine beauty, the latter emphasises her masculinity further. Again, in the Summary to Book III, the resulting differences caused by translation practices corroborate this. On the one hand, Du Bartas has no qualms about repeatedly insisting on her beauty and femininity: 'par la douce & belle aparance de son port et vestement' (p. 66); on the other, Hudson's transforms her into a warrior-looking figure: 'she prepareth herselfe with armour meete for the execution of her entreprise' (p. 56). As Judith Butler points out, 'when the constructed status of gender is theorized as radically independent from sex, gender itself becomes a free-floating artifice, with the consequence that man and masculine might just as easily signify a female body as a male one, and woman and feminine a male body as easily as a female one.' (51) While both Du Bartas and Hudson are forced to dissociate the notion of biological sex from ideas of the masculine and the feminine, the target text's insistence on this implies a major concern (or rather anxiety) to separate Judith's sex from the positive masculine characteristics the translator imposes on her. Directly or indirectly, the standing corpus of Protestant literature and political writings over-sexualising and over-feminising Mary Queen of Scots may have influenced Hudson's obsession to defeminise his Protestant heroine to the extent of making her look like a warrior under an armour, masculine in appearance, hiding her female body beyond recognition. Moreover, the two contrasting manners in which Du Bartas and Hudson refer to Judit/Judith in the Summary belong to different semantic fields: whereas the source text alludes to the sematic field of prescribed feminine beauty, the target text refers to that of war. War itself is associated with the masculine world of national and international politics: metaphorically this masculinised Judith is furnished with the power and agency of the Jewish patriarchy.

The target text is also at pains to detach Judith's sensuality from her sexuality, which does not seem to have ever existed. She is later described as wearing 'pearles and Iewels' and 'perfume' (IV. 45-60), 'she most modest was' (IV. 63). Nonetheless, the pearls and jewels should be interpreted not as banal accessories to her beauty, but as a metaphor for her internal beauty. In this highly moralising and moralised adaptation of the source text, Holofernes's attempted seduction becomes a confrontation between lust and purity, bodily appetites and the intellect/soul. The translator alerts readers to the dangers of luxuria-.
   So lust him led: th'vndaunted Theban knight,
   with weightie mace had neuer him affright:
   But now a womans looke his hart enfeares,
   And in his brest the curelesse wound he beares. (V. 31-34)

Human passions are understood as slavery; carnal love does not bring joy but unease. Holofernes's enslavement to his passions contrasts with the emphasis on Judith's chastity. This dichotomy is recurrently underlined all way through Books IV and V obliquely or explicitly, even juxtaposing Holfernes's sensual tapestries to Judith's pure beauty (V. 195-206). The use and manipulation of rhetoric also play a central role in the unsuccessful seduction process: Holofernes perverts the literary conventionalisms typical of love lyrics: 'And will my seruice whole to you enrowle: / Not of my Scepter onely, but my soule' (IV. 433-34). However, Judith cannot be fooled thanks to her moral stand, and her rhetoric, which she learnt from her reading of the Bible. The human language of seduction cannot match the Biblical language of truth. The tension between the heroine's sensuality and commitment to religion seems to be solved by placing sensuality at the service of a good Christian and national end. As opposed to, for example, David Lindsay's Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis, where Sensuality brings about all the vices and perpetrates King Humanitie's downfall, that of Judith emerges as desexualised and vice-less. She impersonates the perfect example of Protestant womanhood after Marie de Guise's regency and the Marian Period. If in literary terms, the submission to sensuality had been associated to bad kingship/queenship and Catholicism, Judith imagines an idealised Protestant solution to this question.

Yet, when examined from a gender perspective, the apparently unambiguous opposition between lust and virtue is much more complex than its purposefully unproblematic representation. Holofernes's sexual fixation and Judith's intellect and religious devotion, controlling all her passions, challenge contemporary cultural constructions of gender expectations as embedded, predetermined attitudes. Holofernes's symbolic token of his status and masculinity, the military power of his weapons, amounts to nothing when he succumbs to his lascivious desires. His inability to rule his actions by reason, but by his senses, feminises him. By way of contrast, the recodification of Judith's sensuality in the realm of self-control and religion masculinises her as she is in charge of the seduction scene all way through. It is not only virtue triumphing over lust but the disempowered and feminised Holofernes surrendering to the desexualised but behaviourally masculine Judith both militarily and dialectically. Contrary to what it might seem, these gender crossings, in which males are feminised when performing activities traditionally associated to women and vice versa, categorise and perpetuate dualistic gender structures since the masculinised woman's and the feminised man's demeanour is measured against the discourse of heteronormativity. (52)

The desexualisation of Judith goes even further. While, as mentioned earlier, Judith's marital relationship is ruled by her and her husband's extreme religiosity, in Book VI, her supposed virginity even after marriage is confirmed: '[...] cease great prince 6 cease, / the widow sayd: what hast neede you to make to reap the flowre that none other can from you take?' (VI. 56-58). Although Judith's words are meant to slow Holofernes's advances down, the flowery imagery also indicates that Judith is a virgin widow. Despite her use of rhetoric to stop Holofernes, her commitment to the truth (she never lies) encourages the audience to believe that she has never had sex before. Significantly, in the source text, the 'doux fruict' (p. 107) alludes more generally to her sex, but Hudson's 'flowre' undoubtedly operates as a metaphor for the act of deflowering and possibly responds to contemporary anxieties of sexualised female figures of power such as Mary Queen of Scots. Even if this contributes to the idealised image of Judith as the perfect example of Protestant femininity, a major problem with gender roles arises at the same time. She is deprived of the main role of females in Western societies, biological reproduction. Thus a more masculine view of Judith than either in the source text or the Apocrypha is constructed. Even if referring to Capitalist societies, the following statement is also relevant to the Western world throughout time. From a Socialist feminist position, Suzanne Mackenzie has argued that 'the maintenance of any society requires two kinds of work; the work of producing the means of subsistence, and the work of reproducing the labour force.' Women's role has always been related to reproductive work. The intricate connections between production and reproduction have necessarily altered women's situation in Western societies. (53) In this way, Judith's desexualisation and marginalization from biological reproduction eludes traditional categorisation and patriarchal power. Only her pledge to act and under God's guidance uneasily keeps her within the parameters of patriarchal control. Still, such control is only exercised in divine terms rather than social (and therefore earthly) terms.


It is generally safe to claim that Judith's power and agency are delimited by her unconditional submission to God's dictates and also by her defence of the previous status quo before Holofernes's invasion. Nonetheless, in the same way as her masculinisation and desexualisation generate conflicts regarding her role at war, her exercise of power and agency, even if perpetuating the patriarchal order, indirectly questions the society in which she had to emerge as a heroine and liberator. Gender is a crucial manner to represent 'relationships of power' so much so that gender can be defined as the primary space in which or by means of which 'power is articulated.' Equally important, gender seems to have been a persistent and repeated way of 'enabling the signification of power in the West.' (54) Hence, even if acting in God's name, Judith's agency questions why God himself would not trust any member of the Jewish patriarchy to liberate their people and opted for Judith, instead.

At any rate, the construction of a female heroine was never going to be an easy task in a male dominated world. Indeed, it was going to be even harder in the field of war, from which women were mostly excluded apart from a few notable exceptions, the most famous being Joan of Arc. In a world in which gender is constitutive of the relationships of power based on the superficial differences between the sexes, alterations in the organisation and representation of social relationships always correspond to changes in the representation of power. (55) Therefore, also literary representations supporting hegemonic visions of society such as Hudson's Judith had to be particularly careful to construct socially acceptable female characters, whose conduct, roles and actions would not challenge the social structures and power relations they were trying to perpetuate. Vis-a-vis representations of female heroism in Scotland in particular, Elizabeth Ewan alludes to the stories of Lady Seton of Berwirk and Agnes, Countess of Dunbar, during the Second War of Independence (1333-41). She claims that the representation of female heroism was a very difficult topic for late medieval writers owing to the chivalric and knightly codes, which prioritised the eminently masculine virtues of military prowess, feats of arms, and unswerving alliance to king and country. (56) Obviously, even if the martial strategies and national ideologies changed throughout time, the validity of such a statement equally applies to both early modern Scotland and Europe, emphasising the transhistorical nature of gender relationships.

Hudson was probably aware of the arduous literary task while representing a female heroine, especially when these ideological inconsistencies are already present in the source text. As a consequence, even before the epic poem properly starts, 'The Argvment of the Whole Historic of Ivdith' underlines Judith's instrumentality in God's design: 'This History entituled by the name of IVDITH, because it conteines the narration of her great vertues, and for that the Lord vsed her as an instrument for the deliuerane of his people' (p. 11). None of the lexical choices is accidental. The introduction intends to dictate the audience's reading and anticipates uncomfortable questions about Judith's election as liberator by emphasising her virtues and her position as a mere 'instrument' of God's revenge. Consonant with this disempowerment of the heroine comes her education under her father's supervision, a kind of 'dependency' which is already present in La Judit: (57) 'He [her father] taught her not to reade inuentions vaine,/ As fathers dayly do that are prophaine: / But in the holy scriptures made her reade,' (IV. 105-07). Indeed, in Reformation Europe the reading of the Bible by boys and girls alike was one of the major factors that contributed to female education. (58) In the same way, all of Judith's actions comply with perfect Protestant behaviour:
   she kept at home her fathers habitation,
   Both day and night in godly conuersation
   At vacant tyme it was her ciefe delyte
   to read the scriptures where her faithfull mind
   Might confort of the heavnly Manna finde.
   While subtely with silver needle fine
   she works on clothe some historic deuine.
     (IV. 141-42; 150-52; 155-56)

Her education and upbringing accord with her imposed, future roles in society as an introvert religious housewife submissive to her husband, not foreboding her part as a liberator of her people at all. For this reason, Royan regards her as a 'model reader' and an 'ideal Protestant heroine.' (59) At this juncture, the text must still negotiate the potential tension between being a woman and a good Christian in the socio-political frame of Jacobean Scotland, where these symbolic representations of female activities contribute to legitimise the standing gender and power relations by constructing identities based on 'activity-oriented and structure-forming norms and ideologies'. They result in the successful creation of political fabrications presented as ontological certainties. (60) In this socialisation of gender, Judith is educated following the dictates of the Bible, and not those of political treatises as would pertain to a future leader. Her possible menace to patriarchy is diminished in so far as her actions will be inspired by divine intervention and her rhetoric, by the Bible. Revealingly, as Maynard remarks, both in the source and target texts, Judith first appears reading the Bible: an 'interactive experience' in which God talks to her and guides her reading to the extent of tyrannicide. (61) As a consequence, her motivations to set her people free from Holofernes are portrayed as being spiritual rather than political, even if their culmination is inescapably political in nature. At the same time, in the socio-political context of Jacobean Scotland, the subject of tyrannicide was a dangerous one. In the same year as Hudson's Judith was published, Buchanan's De iure Regni was called in by the censors after Buchanan's justification of tyrannicide was denounced at the Scottish parliament. James himself may have been the instigator; hence, Hudson did also well to keep Judith's murder in the realm of spirituality. (62)

Both in the source text and in The Historie of Judith, Du Bartas and Hudson carefully avoid creating the illusion of Judith's female agency. Her divine inspiration (III. 437-42) is coupled with her own words of submission to God and acceptance of her mission to restore, never to defy, the established order:
   [...] I know thou [God] wilt prouide
   For our reliefe against this furious boste,
   And iustly kill the Captaine of this hoste.
   I know, that thou wilt help my onely hand,
   To be the wark, of all this heathen band. (IV. 462-66)

As Royan claims, one of Judith's defining moral features is 'her obedience to masculine authority.' (63) In fact, the only 'masculine authority' she ever challenges is that of Holofernes just because she does so in God's name, the highest male power. Hence, even in the most defying of her actions to any kind of member of the patriarchy, Judith conforms to the hierarchical order. God and not herself is reiteratively depicted as the figure guiding all her actions, corroborating the reciprocal interchanges between gender and society, in which in the same way as politics construct gender, so gender construct politics. (64)

Nevertheless, as Royan rightly claims, Judith still remains a threatening figure for the world of patriarchy either because of the kind of agency she is still able to perform or just because she is allowed to act in the masculine world. (65) I shall concentrate on the connotations of her part in the exclusive and exclusivist masculine world. Enshrining Judith as the Elect poses other problems about the ineffectiveness of the Jewish patriarchy, whom Judith herself confronts:
   Vnto the rulers of the town she went:
   Reprouing then with words of bitter sweete,
   Will ye the helping hand of God restraine,
   And captiue it within your councels vaine (III. 454--5 5; 457--5 8)

Unsurprisingly, this is never discussed in depth; instead, the text is designed to underline Judith's resoluteness under God's guidance, leaving the Jewish lords' part uncommented. Even if the collapse of masculine roles is never properly discussed or problematised, the storyline itself perhaps inadvertently presents the failure of all major male characters apart from Judith's father and husband. First, Holofemes is represented as a bad example of kingship (he is a tyrant, not a good monarch) and of manhood, too. His unmeasured display of masculine attributes both as a ruthless warrior and as an intended effusive lover (to the extreme of feminisation) make him fail both in the public world of war and politics and in the private world of relationships with women. The most obvious failure of the villain, however, is accompanied by that of the Israelites, who are unable to fulfil their gender and political roles as defenders of the Israeli nation. As a result, Judith is forced to perform a masculine/masculinised role, going beyond what is expected from the political category of woman to which she is circumscribed. In comparison, interestingly but also unsurprisingly, in medieval chronicles even when heroic women were regarded as 'manly', this manliness was often 'softened' not to threaten the hierarchical order. (66) Even so, if Judith's capacity to cut Holofernes's head off is equally 'softened' by her commitment to God's guidance, the challenges to the inoperative character of her own society still remain.


The Historie of Judith operates as an example of early modern Western gender politics and as assertion of control over women as individuals and as a category in the realm of literature and translation. Yet, Judith's representation is much more problematic than what a superficial reading may denote owing to not just being an exemplary Protestant female, but more interestingly a heroine, who undertakes a role exclusively stipulated for men at the time. Judith has to become a heroine in the realm of an epic poem, where traditionally the martial and masculine world of warfare is at its core.

While her commitment to religion and the Bible serves as a symbolic device of her submission to patriarchy, her total desexualisation allows her to escape and destabilise conceptions of her reproductive role in society, a tension which is never resolved either in the source text or in Hudson's translation. Thus, both texts fail in their main objective: the construction of Judith as a valid example for ladies with access to power and, more generally, for women. After liberating her nation, childless, house-bound Judith has no role in society and silently dilutes into the narrative. In fact, the target text explicitly functions as an exemplum for Protestant ladies at James Vi's court; by dissociating Judith of her sexuality and biological reproduction, Judith becomes more of a sacrificial figure at the service of God than an actual female model for women to mirror. This failure to accomplish the text's main didactic purpose reveals the impossibility of creating a female leader with political agency within the socio-sexual parameters of labour distribution and restrictions of early modern Scotland after the eventful regency of Marie de Guise and reign of her daughter, Mary Queen of Scots. As a consequence, in Hudson's narrative, the fear of the sexualisation of women emanates much more anxiously than in the source text. In the same way as Mary's self-representation as a queen and woman was destined to fail, Judith's construction as female leader could not escape the restrictive social rules in which biological difference determined a certain kind of role, performative expectations and acceptability in Western Europe, making the dichotomy woman-power impossible to reconcile.

Despite Judith's impossibility to serve as a valid example of Protestant womanhood beyond the acceptance of general remarks about religiosity, chastity and submission, the epic is still successful in reproducing the contemporary conflicts about sexual politics, gender relationships and ideological debates. Although the target text does not enormously differ semantically from the source text, the domestication of Du Bartas contributes 'to the construction of the cultural significance for the receptor audience,' (67) revealing how the translator's strategies conform to James Vi's cultural and political agenda. This accentuates the importance of being a biblical (even if Apocryphal) story since God's word legitimises impositions on female roles as the natural order. In this socio-historical milieu, translation functions as a means of social and gender control.


(1) Jane Rickard, Authorship and Authority: The Writings of James VI and I (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007), p. 39.

(2) James follows an existing European fashion of treatises on the use of the vernacular, inaugurated in Italy by Dante's De vulgari eloquentia (c. 1303). Years later, In France, Joachim Du Bellay composed his Defense et illustration de la langue franaise (1549), whereas in England, Sir Philip Sydney wrot t An Apology for Poetry (c. 1579).

(3) Andre Lafevere, Translation, Rewriting <& the Manipulation of Titerary Tame (London: Routledge, 1992), p. 15.

(4) Massimiliano Morini, Tudor Translation in Theory and Practice (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), p. 23.

(5) R. D. S. Jack, '"In ane uther Leid": Reviewing Scottish Literature's Linguistic Boundaries', Studies in Scottish Titerature 35-36 (2013), 164-83 (p. 178).

(6) Rickard, 2007, p. 40.

(7) Jack, 1997, p. 66.

(8) Peter Auger, 'The Semaines' Dissemination in England and Scotland until 1641', Renaissance Studies 26 (2012), 625-40 (p. 625, 634).

(9) Peter Auger, 'Du Bartas' Visit to England and Scotland in 1587', Notes and Queries 59 (2012), 505-08 (p. 506-07).

(10) R. D. S. Jack, '"Translating" the Lost Scottish Renaissance', Translation and Titerature 6 (1997), 66-80 (67-68).

(11) Paula Sommers, -Gendered Readings of The Book of Judith-. Guillaume du Bartas and Gabrielle de Coignard', Romance Quarterly 48 (2001), 211-20 (p. 211).

(12) Nicola Royan, 'Rebellion under God: Judith in the Court of James VI', in The Apparelling of Truth: Titerature and Titerary Culture in the Reign of James VI: A Festschrift for Roderick J. Tyall, ed. by Kevin J. McGinley and Nicola Royan (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2010), pp. 94-104 (p. 96).

(13) John Corbett, Written in the Tanguage of the Scottish Nation: A History of Titerary Translation into Scots (Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 1999).

(14) Ian Ross, 'Verse Translation at the Court of King James VI', Studies in Tanguage and Titerature 4 (1962), 252-67 (p. 255).

(15) Ross, p. 255.

(16) J. Derrick McClure, 'Translation and Transcreation in the Castalian Period', Studies in Scottish Titerature 26 (1991), 185-98 (p. 186).

(17) Jane Rickard, 'The Cultural Politics of Translation: King James VI and I', in James VI and I, Titerature and Scotland: Tides of Change 1567-1625, ed. by David J. Parkinson (Leuven: Peeters, 2013), pp. 99-117 (p. 103).

(18) Hudson, p. 4.

(19) Hudson, p. 5.

(20) Hudson, p. 48. Some other examples of the many uses of alliteration can be found on pp. 37, 40 or 42.

(21) Ross, p. 256.

(22) James VI in Jack and Rozendaal (ed.), p. 468.

(23) Jenny Wormald, Court, Kirk and Community: Scotland, 1470-162; (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1991), pp. 118-19.

(24) Maurice Lee Jr., Government by the Pen: Scotland under James VI and 1 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1980), p. 4.

(25) W. B. Patterson, King James VI and I and the Reunion of Christendom (Cambridge: Cam bridge University Press, 2000), pp. 8-10.

(26) John Knox, The Works of John Knox, ed. by D. Laing, 6 vols (Edinburgh: The Bannatyne Club, 1846-1864), 4:373.

(27) Susan M. Felch, 'The Rhetoric of Biblical Authority: John Knox and the Question of Women', The Sixteenth Century Journal 26 (199;), 805-22 (p. 806).

(28) Robert M. Healey, 'Waiting for Deborah: John Knox and Four Ruling Queens', The Sixteenth Century Journal 2; (1994), 371-86 (p. 376).

(29) Royan, p. 97.

(30) Maria Tymoczko, 'The Metonymies of Translating Marginalized Texts', Comparative Titerature 47 (1995), 11-24 (p-15).

(31) Susan Bassnett, 'The Translation Turn in Cultural Studies', in Constructing Cultures: Hssays on Titerary Translation, ed. by Susan Bassnett and Andre Lafevere (Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 1998), pp. 123-40 (p. 123).

(32) Sonia Cunico and Jeremy Munday, 'Encounters and Clashes: Introduction to Translation and Ideology', in Translation and Ideology: Encounters and Clashes, ed. by Sonia Cunico and Jeremy Munday (= The Translator, 13 (2007)), pp. 141-49, (p. 142).

(33) Ross, p. 255.

(34) Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 2006), pp. xiv-xv.

(35) Gabriele Winker and Nina Degele, 'Intersectionality as Multi-Level Analysis: Dealing with Social Inequality', European Journal of Women's Studies, 18 (2011), 51-66, (p. 54).

(36) R. D. S. Jack and P. A. T. Rozendaal (ed.), The Mercat Anthology of Early Scottish Titerature 1373-1707 (Edinburgh: Mercat Press, 1997), p. 204.

(37) Jack and Rozendaal (ed.), p. 205.

(38) When the first addressee and probably instigator of the epic, Jeanne d'Albret, an outspoken Protestant, died in 1572, Du Bartas unprobelmatically chose her daughter-in-law, Marguerite de Valois, a Catholic, as the new patroness. The translator did not alter the target text much; instead, the changes are more visible in the paratext: a letter in the second version presents the poem as a welcome gift of fraternity between Catholics and Protestants. Katherine S. Maynard, 'The Faces of Judith: Nationhood and Patronage in Ta Judit of Guillaume Salluste du Bartas', Romanic Review 100 (2009), 235-48 (pp. 236-37).

(39) Thomas Hudson, Historic of Judith, ed. by James Craigie (Edinburgh: Scottish Text Society, 1941).

(40) Maynard, 2009, p. 235-36.

(41) Michelle M. Lazar, 'Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis: Articulating a Feminist Discourse Practice', Critical Discourse Studies 4:2 (2007), 141-64 (p. 145).

(42) Joan W. Scott, 'Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis', American Historical Review 91 (1986), 1053-1075 (p. 1067).

(43) In his appropriation and domestication of Judith, Du Bartas makes the 'patriarchal emphasis' more explicit than in the Apocryphal text. Sommers, p. 215.

(44) Scott, p. 1068.

(45) Winker and Degele, p. 54.

(46) Jo Foord and Nicky Gregson, 'Patriarchy: Towards a Reconceptualisation', Antipode 18 (1986), 186-211 (p. 189).

(47) My use of 'manipulation' is not derogative. All translations must be understood as manipulations since they are acts of cultural and/or ideological mediation.

(48) Winifred Coutts, 'Wife and Widow: The Evidence of Testaments and Marriage Contracts c. 1600', in Women in Scotland c. 1100-c. 1750, ed. by Elizabeth Ewan and Maureen M. Meikle (East Linton: Tuckwell Press, 1999), pp. 176-86 (p. 176).

(49) Guido Ruggiero, 'Marriage, Love, Sex, and the Renaissance Civic Morality', in Sexuality and Gender in Early Modern Europe, ed. by James Grantham Turner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), pp. 10--30 (p. 13).

(50) Sally Baden and Anne Marie Goetz, 'Who Needs [Sex] When You Can Have [Gender]? Conflicting Discourses on Gender at Beijing', Feminist Review 56 (1997), 3-25 (p. 20).

(51) Butler, p. 10.

(52) Lazar, p. 147-48.

(53) Suzanne Mackenzie, Women and the Reproduction of Labour Power in the Industrial City: A Case Study (Brighton: University of Sussex, 1980), p. 5.

(54) Scott, p. 1069.

(55) Scott, p. 1067.

(56) Elizabeth Ewan, 'The Dangers of Manly Women: Late Medieval Perceptions of Female Heroism in Scotland's Second War of Independence', in Woman and the Feminine in Medieval and Early Modern Scottish Writing, ed. by Sarah M. Dunnigan, C. Marie Harker and Evelyn S. Newlyn (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), pp. 3-18 (P. 4).

(57) Sommers, p. 213.

(58) Joyce L. Irwin, Womanhood in Radical Protestantism: 1525-1675 (New York: Edwin Mellen, 1979), p. 130.

(59) Royan, p. 101.

(60) Winker and Degele, p. 56.

(61) Katherine S. Maynard, 'To the Point: The Needle, the Sword, and Female Exemplarity in Du Bartas' Fa Judit', Romance Notes 46 (2006), 169-81 (p. 171).

(62) Robert Cummings, 'The Aestheticization of Tyrannicide: Du Bartas's Ea Judit', in The Sword of Judith: Judith Studies Across Disciplines, ed. by Kevin R. Brine, Elena Ciletti and Henrike Lahnemann (Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2010), pp. 227-38 (p. 230).

(63) Royan, p. 99.

(64) Scott, p. 1070.

(65) Royan, p. 103.

(66) Ewan, p. 4.

(67) Maria Tymoczko, Enlarging Translation, Empowering Translators (Manchester: St Jerome, 2007), p. 262.

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Date:Sep 22, 2014
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