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Anon. (1595?)

Under construction.

Historical Records

Extant Fragment

The fragmentary English translation of the Latin play Iuditha by Cornelius Schonaeus survives in National Library of Wales, MS Peniarth 350, pp. 3–9, where the translation appears on the recto side of each leaf with the corresponding Latin on the verso side. The manuscript fragment opens with an abbreviated list of the characters' names (Holofernes, Moabus, Ammonides, Achior, Thraso, Labrax, Bagoas, Ozias, Ioachimus, Sadocus, Melchias, Azarias. Juditha, and Abra). The translation appears to have been left incomplete: although the final page of the translation is torn, it is evident from the fragment that the text does not continue and the verso side of the leaf (p. 10) begins a new text, "Cato contstrued."

The transcription below is based on that prepared by Jones (2–4). Complete digital images of the manuscript can be found here.

[p. 3]


HO: MOR: [sic] AMMO: AC: THRA:



Trimetri Iambi.

O yee most worshipfull and gentle citisones,
all haile vnto you, whosoever of you came hethe[r]
to see theese plesaunt anid ioifull commedies hou[ld?]
on I will not stay you here with any longe speach
But whatsoever wee are aboute to do, wee wi[ll]
declare vnto you a commedie beinge in presens with
few wordes. but who is he which made this com
medie, it is one sconevs a master of our scoole. for
he purposed to shew this his industrie vnto you
afore this time now he declareth an other comme
die, it is not vaine but also holy and godly ta
ken out of the holy bible. And what vacaunte so
ever he had, the scoleres beinge absente he wil
ingly applied, all that time vnto this studie.
And he thinketh his laboure not to be vnprofi
table vnto himself not vnto you vnacceptable
if you would dedicate your mindes ether vnto
divine learninge or vnto politike artes,
ffor evenas he confesseth, his commedie to bee far
differinge from the stile and phase [sic] of aunci
ente Poetes, so if there be any losse or b[reak]
inge herin let evrie man iudg of it as they will
for heare is nothinge

[p. 5]
Which is eather absurde or dishoneste, or any
thinge vnworthy to be be [sic] harde, but only chaste ho
nest and godly, which you are aboute to heare
Wherby you shall trie all things wether they be
trew or not. And so there be no learned men
wantinge which will reade and allow his comme
dies. vnto whose commedie yee seeme to obay
whom I see most attentiue and heedfull and
givinge greate yeare hearvnto. Now least that
any man by your iudgmente shall thinke me
to haue ben longe aboute it, if I hould you
wh heare any longe time: give yeare vnto
me while I shew you the argumente of
this commedie.
                   The argument of the commedie.
Holefernes a captaine of the Asirienes mi
ghtie in war and doinge many noble actes,
compased the citie Betulia with great siege, the
citiesones beinge seperated on from an other by
theire strenghe [sic] desired aide of god. then they
beinge vexed with scarsnes of water sayd they
would yeeld to theire enimies vnlesse in five
daies god would help them, as soone as this
came came [sic] vnto Juditha her eare she consul
ted with Ozia her lifte tenaunte. herevpon
she being brethed by hevenly powe[r]s by night
and tooke her hande maide with her, and wente
to the tentes of her enimies:

[p. 7]
And shee moste craftily deceved Holefernes by
her fained decetes. whom after he beinge ov[er]
whelmed by over much drinkinke [sic] of wine
immoderatly when shee had kut of his heade
and brought it to the citie. by and by the eni
mies fled away beinge frightened with greate
feare. then the Izaralites havinge gotten
the victorie gaue greate praise vnto god.

The firste acte and scene. Holefer.

Moabus. Iambi senarij et


By Iubiter it is graunted vnto me
for whatsoever I do it happeneth vnto
me most prosperously. for into what
parte soever of the worlde I goe with my
armie I presently rise great feare & trem=
blinge. Nether is there any citie any
wheare or region valiaunte in armie
which kan resiste againste mee. for all
men as soone as they heare me to have comm
en vnto me somwhat neare vnto them by
& by they com vnto me: and will yeld vnto me
both themselfes theire regiones goodes & ar
mes vpon which they put theire truste &
daily resistinge againste them and will
ever do it/

[p. 9]
They giue & yeeld them selfes vnto me willin
gly: and in all respectes obainge my pre
praeceptes & commaundements. by obtaininge
the which thinges truly so happily and vali
auntly I thinke I shall obtaine greate pra
ise and gorgeouse rewarde as I haue hether
vnto gotten wonderfull greate renowne
and glorie for my selfe and my posterities [sic]
sith that this is the only way for noble and
princlike men, wherby they may never droune
nor leese theire eternall honor and glorie,
when the fame of shothfull [sic] men and cowar
de dishonestly decaith with the life
which dishonestlie I know I have avoided
hethervnto and I hope I[?]

The equivalent of the final line in Schonaeus's original Latin is "In posterum me spero vitaturum sedulo".

Theatrical Provenance

None known. While Schonaeus' Latin prologue was composed for a performance, there is no indication that the English translation received (or was intended for) a performance. Harbage designates it a closet play; Jones (6) suggests it was prepared as a school exercise.

Probable Genre(s)

Sacred Comedy (Harbage).

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

The English text is a translation of Cornelius Schonaeus's Iuditha, a dramatic adaptation of the deuterocanonical Book of Judith, first published in 1592 in a collection titled Sacrae comoediae sex, printed at Haarlem. A London edition appeared shortly after—a 1595 octavo titled Terentius Christianus, sive Comoediæ duæ, pairing Iuditha with Tobaeus—and nine further editions printed in England before 1650 testify to the popularity of the work.

References to the Play

None known.

Critical Commentary


Horwood (106) catalogues the volume as "a manuscript of the 16th century" but admits that he did not inspect it himself.

Wynne (118) assigns the volume to the "seventeenth century."

According to note dated 1895 in the manuscript itself (p. 1a), George F. Warner, Deputy Keeper of Manuscripts at the British Museum, considered the volume early Jacobean.

Harbage assigns the translation to 1595, the year in which Schonaeus' play was first published in England.

Wiggins (#1411), departing from Harbage, assigns the play to 1603 on the grounds that "it seems prudent to allow some time for the edition to circulate."


Wiggins (#1411) notes that the name "Henry Evans" is inscribed at the bottom of the first page of the manuscript volume and speculates that the translation may be in Evans's hand.


Jones (5-6) argues that the translator attempted to reproduce the Latin meter of Schonaeus in English. Accordingly, Jones's transcription supplies line breaks not present in the manuscript. She also judges, based on "its unfinished condition, and the halting character of its style, this version of the Judith was a school exercise."

For What It's Worth

Works Cited

Horwood, Alfred J. "The Hengwrt and Peniarth Manuscripts of Wm. W. E. Wynne, Esq., at Peniarth, co. Merioneth." In Second Report of the Royal Commission on Historica; Manuscripts. London, 1871. 103–6.
Jones, Gwen Ann. "A Play of Judith." Modern Language Notes 32 (1917): 1–6.
Wynne, W. W. E. "Catalogue of the Hengwrt MSS. at Peniarth [part 4]." Archaeologia Cambrensis 4th series, 2 (1871): 101–19.

Site created and maintained by Misha Teramura, University of Toronto; updated 18 September 2020.