From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama
N-Town Cycle, Play 23 - The Parliament in Hell and the Temptation of Christ in the Desert
1 SATHAN Now Belyard and Belzabub, 3e derwurthy devel of helle,
2 And wysest of councel amongys all þe rowte,
3 Herke now what I sey, a tale I xall 3ow telle
4 þat trobelyth sore my stomak; þerof I haue grett dowte.
5 BELYALL Syr Sathanas, oure souereyn syre, with þe wol we dwelle.
6 All redy at þi byddynge, to þe do we lowte.
7 If þu haue any nede of oure wyse counselle,
8 Telle us now þi qwestyon all out and oute;
9 Sey al þi dowt beden[e].
10 BELSABUB. 3a, sere, telle us þi dowte by and by,
11 And we xul telle þe so sekyrly
12 þat þu xalt knowe verryly
13 What þi dowte doth mene.
14 SATHAN The dowte þat I haue, it is of Cryst, iwys.
15 Born he was in Bedleem, as it is seyd,
16 And many a man wenyth þat Goddys sone he is,
17 Born of a woman, and she a clene mayd.
18 And all þat evyr he prechyth, it is of hevyn blys.
19 He wyl lese oure lawe, I am ryght sore afrayd!
20 Fayn wolde I knowe who were fadyr his,
21 For of kis grett dowte I am sore dysmayd,
23 If þat he be Goddys childe
24 And born of a mayd mylde,
25 Than be we rygh sore begylde,
26 And short xal ben oure spede!
27 Therfore, serys, sumwhat þat 3e shewe
28 In þis grett dowth what is best to do.
29 If he be Goddys sone, he wyl brede a shrewe
30 And werke us mech wrake, both wrech and woo!
31 Sorwe and care he wyl sone strewe;
32 All oure gode days þan xulde sone be goo.
33 And all oure lore and all oure lawe he wyl down hewe,
34 And þan be we all lorn, if þat it be soo--
35 He wyll don vs all tene!
36 He wyll be lorde ouyr hevyn and helle,
37 And feche awey all oure catelle.
38 þerfore shewe now sum good counselle,
39 What comfort may best bene.
40 BELYALL The best wytt þat I kan say,
41 Hym to tempte, forsoth, it is.
42 With sotyl whylys, if þat þu may,
43 Asay to make hym to don amys.
44 If þat he synne, þis is no nay,
45 He may nat be Kynge of Blys.
46 Hym to tempte go walke þi way,
47 For best counsell I trowe be this.
48 Go forth now and assay.
49 BELSABUB. The best wytt I hold it be
50 Hym to tempte in synnys thre,
51 The whiche mankendeis frelté
52 Doth falle sonest alway.
53 SATHAN So afftyr 3oure wytt now wyll I werke;
54 I wyll no lengere now here abyde.
55 Be he nevyr so wyse a clerke,
56 I xal apposyn hym withinne a tyde.
57 BELSABUB. Now, louely Lucyfer in helle so derke,
58 Kynge and lorde of synne and pryde,
59 With sum myst his wyttys to merke,
60 He send þe grace to be þi gyde,
61 And evyrmore be þi spede.
62 BELYALL All be deuelys þat ben in helle
63 Shul pray to Mahound, as I þe telle,
64 þat þu mayst spede þis jurney well,
65 And comforte the in þis dede.
66 JESUS XLti days and xlti nyght
67 Now haue I fastyd for mannys sake.
68 A more grett hungyr had neuyr no wyght
69 Than I myself begynne to take.
70 For hungyr in peyn stronge am I pyght,
71 And bred haue I non myn hungyr for to slake.
72 A lytel of a loof relese myn hungyr myght,
73 But mursele haue I non my comforte for to make.
74 This suffyr I, man, for the.
75 For þi glotenye and metys wronge
76 I suffyr for þe þis hungyr stronge.
77 I am afferde it wyl be longe
78 Or þu do þus for me.
79 SATHAN The Sone of God if þat þu be,
80 Be þe grett myght of þi Godhede,
81 Turne these flyntys, anon lett se,
82 From arde stonys to tendyr brede!
83 More bettyr it is, as I telle the,
84 Wysely to werke aftyr my reed
85 And shewe þi myght of grett majesté,
86 Than thorwe grett hungyr for to be dede.
87 These stonys now bred þu make.
88 Goddys sone if þat þu be,
89 Make these stonys bred, lett se;
90 þan mayste þu ete ryght good plenté,
91 Thyn hungyr for to slake.
92 JESUS Nott only be bred mannys lyff 3itt stood,
93 But in þe wurde of God, as I þe say.
94 To mannys sowle is neuyr mete so good
95 As is þe wurd of God, þat prechid is alway.
96 Bred materyal doth norch blood,
97 But to mannys sowle, þis is no nay,
98 Nevynnore may be a betyr food
99 þan þe wurd of God, þat lestyth ay.
100 To here Goddys wurde, þerfore, man, loue.
101 Thi body doth loue materal brede;
102 Withoute þe wurde of God þi soule is but dede.
103 To loue prechynge, þerfore, I rede,
104 If þu wylt duellyn in blysse above.
105 SATHAN For no grett hungyr þat I kan se
106 In glotony þu wylt not synne.
107 Now to þe temple com forth with me,
108 And þer xal I shewe þe a praty gynne.
109 Vp to þis pynnacle now go we,
110 I xal be sett on þe hy3est pynne.
111 Ther I preue what þat þu be.
112 Or þat we tweyn part atwynne,
113 I xal knowe what myght þu haue.
Hic ascendit Deus pinnaculum templi dum diabolus dicit quod sequitur:
114 Whan þu art sett upon þe pynnacle,
115 þu xalt her pleyn a qweynt steracle,
116 Or ellys shewe a grett meracle;
117 Thysself from hurte þu saue.
Hic Satanas ponit Jesum super pinnaculum dicens:
118 Now if þu be Goddys Ssone of Myght,
119 Ryght down to þe erth anon þu falle,
120 And saue þisylf in every plyght
121 From harm, and hurte, and scappys alle.
122 For it is wretyn [þat] aungelys bryght
123 þat ben in hevyn, þi faderys halle,
124 The to kepe both day and nyght
125 Xul be ful redy as þi thralle,
126 Hurt þat þu non haue.
127 þat þu stomele not ageyn þe ston
128 And hurt þi fote as þu dost gon,
129 Aungell be redy all everychon
130 In weys be to saue.
131 JESUS It is wretyn in holy book,
132 þi Lorde God þu xalt not tempte.
133 Allthynge must obeye to Goddys look:
134 Out of his myght is non exempt.
135 Out of þi cursydnes and cruel crook
136 By Godys grace man xal be redempt,
137 Whan þu to helle, þi brennynge brook,
138 To endles peyne xal evyr be dempt,
139 Therin aiwey to abyde.
140 Thi Lorde God þu tempt no more!
141 It is nott syttenge to þi lore.
142 I bydde þe sese anon, þerfore,
143 And tempte God in no tyde.
144 SATHAN Ow! In gloteny nor in veynglory it doth ryght nott avayl!
145 Cryst for to tempt it profyteth me ryght nought.
146 I must now begynne to haue a newe travayl:
147 In covetyse to tempt hym it comyth now in my thought.
148 For if I went þus away and shrynkyd as a snayle,
149 Lorn were þe labore all þat I haue wrought.
150 þerfore in covetyse oure syre I xal asayle,
151 And assay into þat synne yf he may be brought
152 Anon forthryght.
153 Syr, 3itt onys I pray to the,
154 To his hy3 hyl com forth with me.
155 I xal þe shewe many a ceté
156 And many a wurthy syght.
Tunc Jesus transit cum diabolo super montem, et diabolus dicit:
157 Into be northe loke forth evyn pleyn;
158 The Towre of Babolony þer mayst þu se.
159 The ceté of Jerusalem stondyth her ageyn,
160 And evyn fast þerby stondyth Galylé;
161 Nazareth, Naverne, and þe kyngdom of Spayn;
162 Zabulon and Neptalym, þat is a rych countré;
163 Bothe Zebee and Salmana þu mayst se, serteyn;
164 Itayl and Archage, hat wurthy remys be;
165 Bothe Januense and Jurye;
166 Rome doth stonde before þe ryght;
167 The temple of Salamon, as sylver bryght,
168 And here mayst þu se opynly with syght
169 Both Fraunce and Normandye.
170 Turne þe now on þis syde and se here Lumbardye;
171 Of spycery her growyth many an C balys.
172 Archas, and Aragon, and grett Almonye,
173 Parys, and Portyngale, and be town of Galys;
174 Pownteys, and Poperynge, and also Pycardye,
175 Erlonde, Scottlonde, and be londe of Walys;
176 Grete pylis and castellys þu mayst se with eye,
177 3a, and all be wyd werde, withoute mo talys.
178 All þis longygh to me.
179 If þu wylt knele down to þe grownde
180 And wurchepp me now in his stownde,
181 All his world þat is so rownd,
182 I xal it gyve to the.
183 JESUS Go abak, þu fowle Sathanas!
184 In Holy Scrypture wretyn it is,
185 Thi Lorde God to wurchipp in every plas
186 As for his thrall, and þu servaunt his.
187 SATHAN Out! Out! Harrow! Alas! Alas!
188 I woundyr sore what is he this?
189 I cannot brynge hym to no trespas,
190 Nere be no synne to don amys.
191 He byddyth me gon abakke!
192 What þat he is I kannot se;
193 Whethyr God or man, what þat he be
194 I kannot telle in no degré.
195 For sorwe I lete a crakke.
Hic uenient angeli cantantes et ministrantes ei, "Gloria tibi Domine" dicens.
196 JESUS. Now all mankende exaunple take
197 By these grete werkys þat þu dost se,
198 How hathe þe devyll of helle so blake
199 In synne was besy to tempte me.
200 For all hise maystryes þat he dyd make,
201 He is ouyrcom and now doth fle.
202 All his I suffyr for mannys sake,
203 To teche þe how þu xalt rewle the
204 Whan þe devylle dothe the assayle.
205 Loke þu concente nevyr to synne
206 For no sleytys ne for no gynne.
207 And þan be victory xalt þu wynne;
208 þe devyl xal lesyn all his travayl.
209 To suffyr temptacyon, it is grett peyn.
210 If þu withstonde it, þu wynnyst grett mede.
211 Of God be more grace þu hast, serteyn,
212 If þu withsett þe devyl in his dede.
213 Thow þat þe fende tempt þe ageyn,
214 Of his power take þu no drede,
215 For God hath the 3ovyn both myght and mayn
216 Hym for to withsytt evyr at nede--
217 þu hast more myght than he!
218 Whan þe devyl doth tempte the thoo,
219 Shewe þi myght a3ens þi foo.
220 Whan þi sowle partyth the froo,
221 In blysse þan xal it be.
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Proper Citation: NeCastro, Gerard. N-Town Cycle, Play 23 - The Parliament in Hell and the Temptation of Christ in the Desert. From Stage to Page - Medieval and Renaissance Drama. http://www.umm.maine.edu/faculty/necastro/drama. Date Visited.