MRDS Newsletter: Puzzler Spring 2003
Puzzler Spring 2003
Answer to Fall 2002 Puzzler
Q: "Here after begins the mystery by the one who plays the Prologue, who declares and demonstrates the order and layout of the scaffolding, and names and shows all the characters of the play, all of whom must be present and in their places with their properties." Where do we find the complete speech of this Prologue?
A: La Vie de Ma Dame Sainte Barbe par personnages.
(Paris, Bibliothque Nationale, Rs. Yf 1652, Yf 1651)
[...] I want to show you all the stages and the order of our play according to the status of the players, who are all in their places. First, behold God and his angels. This scaffold is Paradise surrounded by the holy archangels that God formed from the beginning. After that, see here the emperor whose name is Marcianus, and who, in his error, persecuted all the poor Christians. Here are the people of his court who will help him in all his evil works. In the end, he will die of rage and the devils will carry him away.
By Dioscorus, an evil king, cruel in both heart and mind, Barbara will be put in distress, and by his knights, she will be tormented. If Barbara flees them, know right well that she has good reason, for by their great treachery and at their hands, she will find death.
Lest I forget, here is Barbara, beautiful and courteous, who is down in this chamber. Her heart is very heavy. Here are four tyrants, who are executioners for Marcianus. They wish by every means to destroy all Christians. Here is the messenger of Marcianus, the emperor. Young, handsome, fresh, and light, he is, as you will see, a good runner. Here is the messenger of the king who is the father of the maiden; kind, gentle, and fair, he will bear many messages.
Here is the emperor's prison and the jailer who guards it. There is no glimmer or light in these depths, to look inside. At this point on the stage is the provost of the emperor. He is very cruel and filled with offense and is a great persecutor of the Faith.
Here are a bunch of poor people whom this virgin will help tonight. I don't believe they have any money; blessed be those who with give them alms. At these gallows, she will be hung by her feet, upside down. While she hangs there, she will be beaten more fiercely than any beast ever was. Marcianus will rage against her and will want to fight against her. They will put her head on an anvil in order to strike her hard. She will be put into this room, so that no one will see her completely naked with the woman of pleasure. Behold Hell, the stinking abyss where many a man is a martyr and which stinks worse than sulfur. Those who are inside have nothing to laugh about.
I tell you all of our action here. Elsewhere, I have recorded it all. There is only this hermit, whom I almost forgot. You have seen the order of the whole play and mystery. I beseech you to be silent now. Big and small, please be quiet. If we say anything amiss or contrary to Holy Scripture, we apologize up front and, if that doesn't work, we make an appeal. We call upon the assistance of all the public notaries with one common consent, both imperial, and apostolic.
Everyone take your places, for it is time to get moving. Now listen well to our play. If it's your turn to start, start now!
(Trans. Jesse D. Hurlbut)