week 9: The Liflade and te Passiun of Seinte Juliene

week 9: The Liflade and te Passiun of Seinte Juliene

Number of replies: 15

The Liflade and te Passiun of Seinte Juliene is one of the three lives of Virgin Martyr saints (the other two being St Katherine of Alexandria and St Margaret) included in a collection of texts relating the virtues and advantages of virginity as a "career option" for women (the so-called Katherine Group). Scholars have associated the collection with other manuscripts and works concerned with female spirituality in general, and anachoritic life in particular - the so-called Wooing Group and most famous of them all, the Ancrene Wisse (Guide for Anchoresses). The manuscript dates to the first quarter of the 13th century, the texts were probably composed around the year 1200 in the area of the Welsh-English border.
The individual texts postulate a range of reception contexts but, as the Ancrene Wisse, they seem to be primarily addressed to women of some social standing, contemplating a religious career. Such readers might well read texts in English and French but not in Latin.
As you will note, the text develops the Old English alliterative tradition, looking back to earlier native models; at the same time, it works with images of love from the courtly lyric and romance tradition well before the first attested specimens of those genres in English.

I'd like to ask you to compare the Liflade version of the narrative of Juliana's life and martyrdom with the Latin source and try to describe the additions and modifications that it introduces.
If, as seems likely, the Life engages in a dialogue with romance narrative patterns and motifs, to what end(s) does it use them? Is it more like a general "reshaping" or a strategic application in specific key situations?

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Re: week 9: The Liflade and te Passiun of Seinte Juliene

by Liana Marie Ellegate -
The Old English version of the tale takes on a different feeling than the Latin version. The Latin version focuses more on specific theological details (such as in the scene with Belial - describing his acts against God/Jesus and the workings of Hell), while the Old English version makes more generalized statements about Hell/Heaven (the demon does not go into as much depth, and the focus is more on widely known theological facts instead of in-depth descriptions of more nuanced topics). I believe the modifications to the Old English version were strategic, done in a way to make the story more appealing and understandable to English-speaking (‘unlearned,’ as the English version states) women. Beyond changing some of the specific theological details, the English version also inserts the idea of love in the relationship between Juliana and Eleusius. I think this was done specifically to bring the popular notion of courtly/Earthly love into the theological discourse. The narrative builds upon the notion of love, clearly separating the ideas of the divine love of God and the Earthly lustful love of man - framing the former as necessary to salvation and the later as a tool for potential corruption by the Devil. The way this narrative engages the idea of secular love between a man and a woman would certainly have made a lady pause and consider the theme in other popular texts, and perhaps even the role of Love (divine) vs love (Earthly) in her own life.
In reply to Liana Marie Ellegate

Re: week 9: The Liflade and te Passiun of Seinte Juliene

by Helena Znojemská -
I think you were somewhat misled by the fact that the Latin text is given in full (it's pretty short) whereas I skipped the larger part of Juliana's conversation with the demon in the Middle English version. In that respect the vernacular version doesn't compromise on Christian instruction, quite the contrary. In fact I skipped the passages precisely because they were not that much different from the source - the majority of the modifications occurs in the sections represented in the selection.
That said, your observation that the narrative is adapted to appeal to an audience accustomed to more popular reading in the vernacular is valid. You are right that one of the most important modifications is the introduction of the discourse of love into the legend. If I got your point right, you propose it is employed to set off the concept of divine love by contrast with earthly love and/or to wean the female readership from their "secular reading" with its notions of courtoisie?
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Re: week 9: The Liflade and te Passiun of Seinte Juliene

by Valeriia Kliuieva -
I agree with Liana on the difference between the two versions. Indeed, the scene with Belial is described more detailed in the Latin version, where it takes a lot of space, in comparison with the OE version. There are quite a few things different, for example, in the OE version it is explicitly said that "She was very surprised, and, since she was not of an unquestioning nature, silently, but in a loud voice in her heart, called out to Christ", pointing at her sharp mind, and Belial calles her "wise woman" himself. In contrast, in the Latin version he is way more intimidating, telling his story of deeds and about his father, Satan.
OE version gets way more in the tortures, describing them sometimes in too many details. At some point, she is asked where did she learn the witchcrafts to overcome the tortures (whereas in the Latin version it is only asked who taught her this).
OE version in way more exaggerated: there died 500 people (while in the Latin version 130 total)
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Re: week 9: The Liflade and te Passiun of Seinte Juliene

by Jáchym Hájek -
I agree with Liana in that the Latin version focuses more on the theological details, especially in the case of Belial. In the Old English version the demon seemed much more defeated later, in the Latin he keeps going on about needing to mislead people. Because of this, the Old English Juliana seems a bit more cruel, maybe, but definitely more strong, because she resist his pleas for mercy when he seems utterly defeated, while the latin Belial made the tactical error of pointing out his "demon-ness".
There is also a notable difference in the number of converts: while in the Latin version Juliana converts 130 men and women, in the English version it is 500 men and 130 women. This, once again, points to her being an even stronger religious presence than the Latin source.
The English version also seems to focus way more on the torture bits, and on the miracles. While the Latin version only skims past Juliana surviving the molten bronze etc., the English one equates the bronze to lukewarm water, and in various other instances the description of Juliana surviving is more detailed - as, however, are the torture scenes, with the exception of the wheel, which is equally nasty in both versions.
I also agree with Liana that the English version adds this layer of love between Juliana and Eulesius - it was almost surprising to treat her softly and gently in between all the atrocities he inflicted on her. Juliana's insistence on loving only God is then a direct opposite to this love which is demanding, cruel and also very physical, as it is her body Eulesius loves, but her soul that belongs to God.
In reply to Jáchym Hájek

Re: week 9: The Liflade and te Passiun of Seinte Juliene

by Helena Znojemská -
You seem to agree on the emphasis placed on the tortures with Valeriia, but you also note the exaggeration in the "healing" scenes. What kind of effect does this have? It undoubtedly enhances the "miraculousness" of the account, but does it do anything else?
As for the love element - I don't quite agree Eleusius treats Juliana softly and gently "in between" the atrocities; rather, there is a clear downslide from coaxing and cajoling to violence.
We will discuss the contrast between the two loves represented in the online session.
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Re: week 9: The Liflade and te Passiun of Seinte Juliene

by Simona Sailerová -
Apart from a more graphic depiction of violence (and Juliana's more specific suggestion of it), the English version seems to have more dialogue, more lively exchanges. It also adds a very detailed description of the chariot ride, which identifies Eleusius with a concept of power and worth expressed in a public display of wealth, through objects. This, more than the Latin, suggests a comparison with Juliana's public message to Eleusius. Neither version explains why she had to do it publicly, but this made me think of the importance of her (otherwise incongruous) demand for Eleusius' higher status for Juliana's public impact.
It adds a little bit prior to the engagement and shows Juliana's reluctance from the very start (which makes more sense); and also Eleusius' falling in love described quite conventionally as a physical affliction. Both romantic and parental love are depicted here as something that may be nice in appearance/words but is driven and undermined by anger/lust/"swollen heart". While previous texts showed romantic love as conductive to kinship, ultimately unifying, having a beneficial, harmonizing effect on a social level, the love of God here is divisive, has a disruptive effect on familial relations and is put in opposition to all that: "Because I will not forsake you, my father and my mother have forsaken me; and all my closest kin, those who should be my best friends, are my greatest foes".
There is a resemblance between a knight, on the one hand, going through trials and tribulations and/or a learning curve before gaining the love of his lady, being deemed worthy of it, and Juliana's martyrdom, on the other hand. The gender roles are reversed here: Christ as the "lady" whose love the "knight" Juliana strives to earn. The "chivalric deed" is suffering itself: "I will be [...] so much the more beloved to Him as I suffer the more grievous thing for His love."
From a romance perspective, Juliana's behaviour towards Eleusius is dishonest. She makes a promise, sets him a task, which he fulfils, but she does not fulfil her part of the deal. Is that not an issue here because earthly life does not matter anyway? That is another thing the English version emphasizes - the falseness of this world, especially in Juliana's final speech. It also adds her final request: "place me with your own in that angels' company among the fellowship of maidens". In effect, this invalidates familial/social relationships and replaces them with the fellowship of maidens - the phrasing suggesting something like Arthur's knights, only female and after death. The contrast between the two versions in Juliana's reaction to her imminent beheading is quite worrying. In Latin, she "was filled with great joy because the end of her struggle had come", while in English she "became exceedingly glad, since she had desired this".
The English demon is less boastful and does not whine so much. He is described in mock-chivalric terms, as a "champion of Hell". When he tells Juliana to "do Eleusius' will, for I give you leave", it suggests a triangle similar to Chaucer's Franklin's Tale.
In reply to Simona Sailerová

Re: week 9: The Liflade and te Passiun of Seinte Juliene

by Helena Znojemská -
A somewhat disjointed list of comments from me:
- I don't quite understand your point about Juliana's "suggestion of violence" - could you explain that?
- the public character of Juliana's message to Eleusius: it's not explicitly mentioned in the Latin; we would have to assume that the messenger returns with the answer as Eleusius sits in the coach of state, but that's just conjecture. As for the Middle English, I'm afraid the Modern English translation may be a bit misleading, since the original says merely "sende him al openliche bi sonde to seggen"; this could merely mean that she had the messenger tell Eleusius plainly (= openliche) that she won't marry him unless he becomes a Christian. The explicitly public challenge does come, but a bit later.
- fine commentary on the representation of romantic and parental love and its opposition to love of God and its effect (divisive) and the rethinking of romance!
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Re: week 9: The Liflade and te Passiun of Seinte Juliene

by Dominika Kecsöová -
The general difference between the Latin and the ME Juliana is that the ME Juliana contains more context and goes further in explaining the narrative. While the basic order of events remains the same, Juliana in the ME version has longer speeches (but interestingly, the demonology lecture delivered by Belial is much shorter – the attention is more on the martyr than the horridness of the devils). The Latin version also begins by pre-empting the ending of the hagiography: “Our Saviour's mercy (to which the martyrs' perseverance has testified) crowned the friends of the faith in the end, and dispelled their enemies from the very gates of hell.” It is also interesting to me that the Latin version contains no emotional connection between Juliana and Eleusius, but the ME explicitly states that Eleusius loves her (or at least lusts after her). Lastly, I feel that in the ME version there is some confusion as to whether Juliana wants to keep her virginity or whether she simply does not want to marry a pagan (and would potentially marry him if he converted), which is connected to my previous remark.

As to the romancing of the narrative, this happens through several motifs and echoes:
1) The question of honour has utmost importance: When her father tries to convince Juliana to marry Eleusius, he mentions that she cannot refuse such an honour (the idea of bringing shame to oneself and one´s family, as Satan is shamed by Belial´s failure).
2) To this is connected the relative position of the pagan in the world vs. the ultimate position of God in heaven: Since God is the creator and ruler of all, he stands above all (even the most powerful) mortal suitors. Like ladies choosing the strongest knight, Juliana chooses as her husband the most powerful of all.
3) Familial bonds and lineages are mentioned frequently: both Belial and Eleusius are the sons of Satan, while Juliana is the daughter-spouse of Christ.
4) The elements of physical conflict: Juliana overcomes Belial physically (even if through God´s help) and manages to tie him and shame him (one again raising the issue of honour). While as a virgin, she is supposed to be meek, she is quite militant in this act, and even Belial comments on this: “The unbelievers say the Christians are merciful, but you seem ferocious to me.” In the final part of her passio, the pot meant to boil Juliana burns seventy five people standing nearby (a body count any knight would be satisfied with) – her holiness is quite literally a weapon. Also, despite the professed meekness the examples she chooses to praise God can be quite ferocious.
Generally, I would say that the romance motifs echo thorough the whole narrative, but they are utilized not to glorify Juliana´s personal strength, but rather to prove God´s greatness (as is the case with many virgin saints´ narratives).
 
In connection to this discussion, please enjoy this amazing image of Juliana beating the devil from Paris, BnF, Naf 15941.
Attachment [BnF, Naf 15941, 14th c.].jpg
In reply to Dominika Kecsöová

Re: week 9: The Liflade and te Passiun of Seinte Juliene

by Helena Znojemská -
Yes, it seems that by making Juliana's virginity much more of an issue the Middle English narrative raises doubts regarding her motives in demanding that Eleusius become a Christian, doesn't it? Is it a way of saying "no" by saying "maybe", because the condition is presumed to be unacceptable? Or is it a genuine offer?
Why do you think Eleusius' emotional attachment to Juliana's is introduced in the Middle English text? Liana and Jáchym came up with possible explanations - do you agree with them?
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Re: week 9: The Liflade and te Passiun of Seinte Juliene

by Hana Hájková -
I completely agree that the OE version is far more let's say brutal and it describes the torturing and blood more vividly. Again, it gives it some sort of "action movie" or horror movie feeling. In contrast to the Latin version where the spirituality and religion speeches are "covering" the torture. Also, in the OE version, Juliana seems more brutal and cruel (towards the demon)....her character speaks out and she says everything that's on her mind....she is not afraid at all but also she kinda lacks modesty or something like this....however, she is facing death al the time and in both versions, she is following her faith strongly and her determination makes her fight towards the system more touching and moving.
I also noticed that the figure of God is somehow different in these two versions. In the OE he has this long monologue when he is telling Juliana what to do in this powerful, little bit angry, and something like an iron voice. And in the Latin version, there are only these two sentences. In both versions, he says basically the same....just in the OE version he is this strong voice with his vivid advice and descriptions.

The love between Juliana and her father and Eleusius is rather strange. At the beginning, both men covers her with adoration, love, and caring. They are very gentle and respectful. But then there is this rather sudden twist and both men treat her like a garbage. With Eleusius it's like a strategic move-- this marriage would be beneficial so he's trying to behave as good as he can, however, the twist is still very sudden....more like a burst of aggressive impatience.

Another romance motif might be her resistance. She follows her heart and soul with staunchness.
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Re: week 9: The Liflade and te Passiun of Seinte Juliene

by Michaela Válková -
The Life of St Juliana is a very different text from the ones that we have read so far. I found both the ME version and the Latin version similar in their religious extremism and it seemed to me that the emphasis was put on the same points: Juliana’s unshaken belief in her God, her suffering, the blasphemy of all the others and Juliana’s virginity. It is the last point, Juliana’s virginity, that I find to be the most prominent romance narrative motif in the text. We have encountered this motif in other romances as well, most prominently perhaps in Pericles in which it was absolutely vital for Marina to keep her virginity. Marina fought for her maidenhood passionately and so did Juliana. The ME version of the text emphasises Juliana’s virginity more than the Latin version (though both of them mentioned it): “what way she might keep her maidenhood unblemished from sex with a man.” Such quotations from the ME version make it clear why this text was focused on women of a certain social standing whose parents might have wanted them to become nuns although it is very difficult from the modern point of view to try to understand that such a text of suffering could persuade anyone to join anything. However, maybe the women reading it could empathise with the lack of understanding of Juliana’s father to let Juliana make her own decisions.

Even though some romance motifs can be found in the texts (such as the abovementioned virginity or indeed the faithfulness and loyalty of Juliana), I found them very different from the previous romances. Those motifs may be recurring but here they are used for different purposes. In the previous texts, all these motifs usually served as plot devices, or were rewarded later in the stories. However, here all the motifs are without any fulfilment and they do not really push the plot forward: the only purpose they serve is to highlight the religious extremism and ultimately lead to Juliana’s death. However, there is no actual plot – the two texts are both description of her suffering leading to her demise. The only actual plot in the texts is the demon – and he kind of seems to successfully serve his own agenda because he manages to make Juliana act ’unchristian’ – she is very cruel to him and in the ME text the demon even tells her that the Christians are supposed to be merciful and she is not. However, the Latin text mentioned similar issue with regards to her would-be husband: at one point in the prison, Juliana is praying so that the God has her husband “grievously tormented and consumed by worms.” Maybe these demonstrations of violence on Juliana’s part can be explained by the religious nature of the text: it is not a very peaceful sermon after all. Maybe the text is supposed to ignite violence against non-believers and present such violence as justified.

To sum up my argument, I suppose we can find romance motifs in both the Latin and the ME versions, but they are used for very different purposes from the previous romances.
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Re: week 9: The Liflade and te Passiun of Seinte Juliene

by Adéla Zeimannová -
I cannot but agree with others that the greatest difference seems to be that the English version introduces discourse of love. We get a more detailed background of Eleusius and Juliana’s relationship, he is no longer only described as a prosecutor of Christians, but his character is also portrayed through his feelings for Juliana (at least in the first part), he is described as “wounded inside his heart with the arrows which fly from love, so that it seemed to him that he could not in any way live without the medicine of her love.” He also seems to be presented as a noble and wealthy suitor who would “honor” Juliana if she were to marry him, a clear resemblance to the previous knightly heroes. I would also agree with Liana that the English text clearly distinguishes between two ideas of love: divine love represented by Juliana, who calls God her “beloved lover,” “the loveworthy Lord,” this divine love relationship between Juliana and God is also noted by Africanus who asks “And who is he, this husband to whom you are wedded, to whom you have given your love?” this is juxtaposed with Earthly/courtly love which is connected more with lust in connection to Eleusius.
In case of Belial’s scenes and the number of converts the English version seems to exaggerate and emphasize the “miraculousnesss” of the events. I also have to agree with Dominika that Juliana’s holiness, devotion and strength does not seem to be the main subject of glorification but rather of God’s own greatness showcased by the many examples she recites.
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Re: week 9: The Liflade and te Passiun of Seinte Juliene

by Danila Gudkov -
As already mentioned many times, the OE version is much less restrained when compared to the Latin one. In the former God is much more direct in defending Juliana from torture which makes the swift conversion of 500 men seem fairly reasonable, with them being witnesses and all. On the other hand Eleusius is shown as even more of a spiteful and jealous fanatic, with him desperately trying to kill her despite all the miracles and angels ruining his executions. In the latter it is easier to see Juliana as the delusional one as God's intervention is much less public, which makes all her speeches look like insane ramblings and the her conversion of 130 people rather forced.
The OE version also briefly rises the question of conflicting loyalties, with Juliana's family and God being exclusive choices, whereas in romances there is normally no such conflict in the protagonist. Eleusius has the markings of romance hero, but his lady cares not for him as a person and his task, an easy one at that, can only end in failure no matter his efforts. Though in romances after much struggle the hero and his lady find happiness in earthly family and love, while still being good Christians, here the only correct thing is to surrender everything in favor of God's love and passively endure the torments while singing praises to him. Juliana as a character is overwhelmingly dominated by her belief as it is the only thing she seems to care about in life and other people, though admittedly her father and Eleusius eventually prove her correct.
As per my tradition, I must note that both versions have some interesting questions. To begin with, how did Juliana even become such a devoted believer if her entire family and society are so anti-Christian, who taught her? Is not she a hypocrite being so devoted already in the beginning, before any real proofs appeared before her, yet detesting her family's blind faith? In the Latin version, if the demons possess and influence people to commit atrocities, does it not make Eleusius and other pagans/sinners even bigger victims, as they are not entirely in control of their actions yet suffer full consequences? Why Juliana even bothers asking Eleusius to become a prefect if she has no intention to marry him anyway? She refuses him immediately afterwards yet now he is influential enough to arrange mass executions of her fellow believers.
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Re: week 9: The Liflade and te Passiun of Seinte Juliene

by Ivana Turusová -
Of all the comments here, I agree with Míša the most. I feel that both works share a sense of fanatism to present the Christian faith as the only true religion and the only way to find salvation after death. I also agree with the statement that the importance of staying chaste presents as a strong motif, with more focus on preserving virginity in the English version and staying pure by not marrying a pagan in Latin version.

To add here something that hasn't already been said, I noticed another motif right at the beginning of the narrative, and that is highlighting the knowledge (as we could see in Apollonuis where knowledge was one of the biggest themes). In the English version, Juliana's faith in true Christian God comes kind of out of nowhere, all of a sudden, in contrast with her father who persecuted Christians. In the Latin version, on the other hand, Juliana's intelligence and will to learn are stressed and the faith in God results as her own educated decision and choice. Few times in the story it is shown that pagans (and Belial) are driven by wrath, materialism and violent nature, almost suggesting that those who don't believe in Christian God seem stupid and bad overall.

I also think that in Belial's monologue, by enumerating in detail which sins he has forced others to do (and these are big names every Christian knows - Adam, Judas etc.) makes Juliana look even holier by not submitting to temptation (with God's help) in the Latin version while in the English version, he appears "less" evil because he led people to condemnation overall.