From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama

The Chester Cycle Play XII (12) - The Temptation of Christ

THE BOWCHERS PLAYE
Incipit Pagina Duodecima qualiter Jhesus ductus est
in desertum a Spiritu. Incipiat Diabolus.

001 DIABOLUS. Nowe by my soverayntie I sweare
002 and principallitye that I beare
003 in hell-pine, when I am theare,
004 a gamon I will assaye.
005 There is a doseberd I would deare
006 that walkes abroad wydewhere.
007 Who is his father I wott neare,
008 the sooth if I should saye.

009 What maister mon ever be this
010 that nowe in world commen is?
011 His mother I wott did never amisse,
012 and that now mervayles mee.

013 His [father] cannot I find iwys,
014 for all my crafte and my couintise.
015 Hit seemes that heaven all should be his,
016 so stowte a syre is hee.

017 He is man from foote to crowne,
018 and gotten without corruption;
019 so cleane of conversation
020 knewe I non before.
021 All men of him mervayle mone,
022 for as man hee goeth up and downe;
023 but as God with devotion
024 [he has bene honoured yore].

025 Sythen the world first begane
026 knewe I never such a man
027 borne of a deadlych woman,
028 and hee yet wembles.
029 Amonge sinfull synne dose hee none,
030 and cleaner then ever was anyone;
031 blotles eke of blood and bonne,
032 and wiser then ever man was.

033 Avarice nor any envye
034 in him could I never espie.
035 He hase no gould in tresorye,
036 ne tempted ys by no syght.
037 Pryde hasse he none, ne gluttonye,
038 ne no likinge of lecherye.
039 His mouth hard I never lye
040 neather by day nor night.

041 My heighnes he puttes aye behynd,
042 for in him faulte non can I fynd.
043 If hee be God in mans kinde,
044 my crafte then fully fayles.
045 And more then man I wott hee is,
046 elles somethinge he did amys;
047 save only [hongarye he is],
048 iwis, elles wott I not what him ayles.

049 And this thinge dare I soothly saye:
050 if that hee be God verey
051 honger should greeve him by no waye;
052 that weare agaynst reasoun.
053 Therfore nowe I would assaye
054 with speach of bread him to betraye,
055 for he hasse fast nowe manye a daye;
056 therfore bread were in seasoun.

Diabolus dicit:

057 Thou, man, abyde and speake with mee.
058 Goddes Sonne yf that thou be,
059 make of these stones-nowe lett see-
060 bread through thy blessinge.

061 DEUS. Sathan, I tell thee sycerly
062 bread man lives not only bye,
063 but through Goddes word verelye
064 of his mouth [cominge].

065 Therfore thou pynes thee, Sathanas,
066 to suplant mee of my place
067 by meate, as sometyme Adam was,
068 of blys when hee was brought.
069 Disceaved hee was that tyme through thee,
070 but nowe must fayle thy postee;
071 therfore to meeve that thinge to mee
072 yt shall serve thee of nought.

073 Sathan, through thine inticement
074 honger shall nought tome myne intent,
075 for Goddes will omnypotent
076 is my meat withouten fayle,
077 and his word perfect sustenance
078 to mee aiwayes without distance;
079 for thou shalt finde no varyance
080 in mee that shall thee avayle.

081 DIABOLUS. Owt, alas! What is this?
082 This matter fares all amysse;
083 hongree I see well hee is,
084 as man should kindlye.
085 But through no craft ne no coyntyse
086 I cannot tome his will, iwys;
087 that neede of any bodely blys
088 in him nothinge hasse hee.

089 For hee may suffer all maner of noye
090 as man should, well and stifflye;
091 but aye hee winneth the victorye
092 as godhead in him weare.
093 Some other sleight I mott espye
094 this disobedient for to destroye;
095 for of rnee hee hasse the maistrie
096 unhappingely flowe here.

097 Adam, that God hiniselfe wrought,
098 through my discent in bale I brought;
099 but this syre that I have sought,
100 borne of on woman,
101 for no neede that himselfe hasse,
102 with no counsell in this case
103 to greeve him I may have no grace,
104 for no craft that I can.

105 Yett will I seeke some sutteltie
106 Come forth, thou Jhesu, come with me
107 to this holy cittie;
108 I have an errande to saye.
109 Verey God if that thou bee
110 nowe I shall full well see,
111 for I shall shape honour for thee
112 or that thou wend awaye.

Tunc statuat Jesus super pinnaculum templi, et dicat Diabolus:

113 Say thou nowe that syttes so high:
114 if thou be Goddes Sonne, by sleight
115 come downe, and I will saye in sight
116 thou diddest a fayre maistrye.
117 Thine owne angells mon keepe to thee
118 that thou hurt no foote ne knee.
119 Shewe thy power; now lett see
120 that thou may have maistrye therbye.

Jesus dicit ad Diabolum

121 JESUS. Sathan, securlye I thee saye
122 hit is written that thou ne maye
123 tempt God, thy lord, by no waye,
124 what matter soever be ment.

Discendens de pinnaculo dicat Diabolus:

125 Alas, that me is woe todaye!
126 This have I fayled of my praye.
127 Was I never rent in such araye
128 ne halfe so foule reprived.

Tunc Sathan adducet Jhesum super montem, et dicat Diabolus:

129 Yett, fellowe, if it be thy will,
130 goe we playe us to a hill;
131 another poynte I must fulfill
132 for ought that may befall.
133 Looke abowte thee nowe and see
134 of all this reaime the royaltie;
135 for to kneele downe and honour me
136 thou shall be lord of all.

137 JESUS. Goe forth, Sathanas, goe forth, goe!
138 It is written and shalbe soe:
139 'Thy lord God thou shalt honoure oo
140 and serve him though thee nye.'
141 DIABOLUS. Owt, alas! That me is woe
142 for found I never so great a foe.
143 Though I to threepe be never soe throe,
144 I am overcommen thrye.

145 Alas, my slight nowe am I qwyt.
146 Adam I founded with a fytt,
147 and him in comberans soonne I knyt
148 through contyse of my crafte.
149 Nowe soone of sorrowe he mone be shitt
150 and I punished in hell-pitt.
151 Knewe I never man of such wytt
152 as him that I have [lafte].

153 Alas, for shame I am shent.
154 With hell-houndes when I am hent
155 I must be ragged and all torent
156 and dryven to the fyre.
157 In sorrowe and woe nowe am I brought,
158 and all my cunninge is sett at nought;
159 endles payne must I have unsought
160 to my reward and hyre.

161 But I am nowe of good intent
162 to hould a court ful diligent,
163 and call my servants verament
164 shortly for to appeare;

165 then to reward with dignitie
166 that all their life have served mee.
167 In burninge blys there shall they bee
168 and sytt with Luciferre.

169 DOCTOUR. Loe, lordinges, Godes righteousnes,
170 as Gregorye makes mynd expresse:
171 syns our forfather overcommen was
172 by three thinges to doe evill-
173 gluttonye, vaynglorye, there bine too,
174 covetous of highnes alsoe-
175 by these three poyntes, bowt moe,
176 Christ hasse overcommen the devil!.

177 That Adam was tempted in gluttonye
178 I may well prove appertly,
179 when of that fruite faisly
180 the devyll made him to eate.
181 And tempted hee was in vayneglorye
182 when hee height him great maistrie,
183 and have godhead unworthelye
184 through eatinge of that meat.

185 Alsoe hee was tempted in avarice
186 when he height him to be wise,
187 knowe good and evill at his devise
188 more then he was worthye.
189 For covetousnes, Gregorye sayth expresse,
190 sinnes nought greatly in riches
191 but in willinge of highnes
192 and state unskylfullye.
193 Alsoe Christe in these sinnes three
194 was tempted, as yee might well see;
195 for in gluttonye-leeve yee mee-
196 hee moved him sleightely here
197 when he entysed him through his read
198 to torne the stones into bread,
199 and soe to move his godhead
200 which hee was in a weare.

201 In vayneglorye he tempted him alsoe,
202 when hee bade him down to goe
203 the pinnacle of the temple froe
204 an unskilfull gate.
205 And in covetousnes he tempted was
206 when hee shewed him such ryches
207 and height him londes more and lesse,
208 and that through great estate.

209 This overcome thrise in this case
210 the devil!, as playd was in this place,
211 of the three sinnes that Adam was
212 of wayle into woe weaved.
213 But Adam fell through his trespas,
214 and Jhesu withstoode him through his grace;
215 for of his godhead soothnes
216 that tyme was cleane disceived.

Tunc venient duo Pharasei adducentes mulierem in adulterio deprehensam. Dicat

217 PRIMUS PHARASEUS. Maister, I read by God almight
218 that we lead this wretched wight,

219 that was taken thus tonight
220 in fowle advowtrye,
221 before Jhesu in his sight;
222 for so to tempt him I have tyght
223 to wyt whether hee will deeme the right
224 or elles unlawfullye.

225 SECUNDUS PHARASEUS. That is good read, fellowe, by my faye.
226 Soe mone we catch him by some waye;
227 for if hee doe hir grace todaye,
228 he dose agaynst the lawe.
229 And if hee byd punish her sore,
230 hee dose agaynst his owne lore
231 that hee hasse preached here before:
232 to mercye mon should drawe.

Tunc adducent mulierem inter se coram Jesu, et dicat

233 PRIMUS PHARASEUS. Mayster, this woman that is here
234 was wedded lawfully to yeare;
235 but with another then her feare
236 we found hem doe amisse.
237 And Moyses lawe byddes us stone
238 all such as binne uncleane.
239 Therfore to thee we can us meane
240 to give a dome of this.

Jesus scribens in terra dicat:

241 Nowe which of you everychon
242 is bowt synne, buske him anon
243 and cast at her the first stonne
244 belyve or that ye blynne.

245 PRIMUS PHARASEUS. Speake on, maister, and somewhat saye:
246 shall shee be stoned or elles naye;
247 or do hem mercye as thou maye,
248 to forgive her this synne?

249 SECUNDUS PHARISEUS. Mayster, why art thou so styll?
250 What writest thou, if it be thy will?
251 Whether shall we spare or spill
252 this woman found in blame?
253 What wmitest thou, maister? Now lett me see.
254 Owt, alas that woe is mee!
255 For no longer dare I here bee,
256 for dread of worldly shame.

Et fugiet, et postea dicat Primus Pharaseus:

257 Why fleest thou, fellowe, be thy faye?
258 I will see soone and assaye.
259 Alas, that I weare awaye
260 farre beyonde France!
261 Stond you, Sybble, him besyde.
262 No longer here dare I abyde
263 agayst thee for to chyde,
264 as have I good chance.

Et fugiet, et dicat Jesus ad mulierem:

265 Woman, where binne these men eychon
266 that putten this gilt thee upon?
267 To dampne thee nowe there is none
268 of tho that were before.

269 MULIER ADULTERIA. Lord, to dampne mee there is non,
270 for all they binne awaye gonne.

271 JESUS. Nowe I dampne thee not, woman.
272 Goe forth and synne noe more.

273 MULlER. A, lord, blessed most thou be,
274 that of mischeiffe hasse holpen mee.
275 Hethenforth filth I will flee
276 and serve thee in good faye.
277 For godhead full in thee I see
278 that knowes worke that doe wee.
279 I honour thee, kneelinge one my knee,
280 and so will I doe aye.

281 DOCYOR. Nowe, lordes, I pray you marke here
282 the great goodnes of Godes deede.
283 I will declare, as hit is neede,
284 these thinges that playd were,
285 as Augustine speaketh expressely
286 of hit in his homely
287 upon St. Johns Evangelye;
288 this hee sayes in that case:

289 two wayes the casten him to anoye
290 syns he had preached mych of mercye,
291 and the lawe commandeth expressely
292 sych women for to stone
293 that trespassen in advowtrye.
294 Therfore they hoped witterlye
295 varyans in him to espye-
296 or blenquyshe the lawe cleane.

297 That wyst Jesu full well their thought,
298 and all theire wyttes hee sett at nought-
299 but bade which synne had not wrought
300 cast first at her a stonne;
301 and wrote in claye-leeve yee mee-
302 their owne synnes that they might see,
303 that ichone fayne was to flee,
304 and they lefte hir alonne.

305 For eychon of them had grace
306 to see theire sinnes in that place;
307 yett non of them wiser was,
308 but his synnes eych man knewe.
309 And fayne the were to take the waye
310 lest they had dampned binne that daye.
311 Thus helpe that woman in good faye,
312 our sweete lord Jesu.

313 Finis

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Proper Citation: NeCastro, Gerard. The Chester Cycle Play XII (12) - The Temptation of Christ. From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama. http://www.umm.maine.edu/faculty/necastro/drama. Date Visited.