Checkpoint 1
Judith
Checkpoint 2
The story of Judith starts off at an unspecified time in history, though scholars believe that the story itself was written in 150 BCE in Hebrew before being translated to Greek then to us reading the Anglo-Saxon version. During this unspecified time, the great king Nebuchadnezzar of Assyria commanded his top general Holofernes to conquer the city of Bethulia. Once Holofernes reaches the city of Bethulia, he starts his conquering of the city by cutting of its water supply, gearing up to do even worse. The city's leaders, terrified and desperate for their and their people’s safety, were approached by a young widow. This widow was Judith, who tells the city leaders that she has a plan to be rid of Holofernes and free the city of Bethulia. Judith walks into the Assyrian camp, hands raised as if she is surrendering to the city’s conquerors. She meets the general of the Assyrians Holofernes, then she begins to charm him with her beauty,wits, and wisdom. Holofernes falls for her flirtation, the both of them drinking wine until Holofernes passes out drunk. Judith proceeds to cut his head off with his own sword and carries the head back to her city. The people of Bethulia were strengthened by the sight of Holofernes’ head and plunder the Assyrians camp, saving the city of Bethulia and restoring to what it was before. Judith praises God in a song and lives the rest of her days unmarried until the age of 105.


Quote 1: "The Lord has struck him down by the hand of a woman."Black, Joseph Laurence. The Broadview Anthology of British Literature. 3rd ed., vol. 1, Broadview Press, 2015.
(This quote talks about the fall of Holofernes, the general of the Assyrians that came to conquer the city of Bethulia. Judith plans his downfall using her charms and beauty, and beheading him with his own sword while he was in a drunken slumber. I chose this quote and like this quote because it really drives one of the main point of the story of Judith: she is a female Heroine. Not just a female Heroine, but a female warrior doing actions that normally befit a male warrior.This quote also drives home Judith’s religious faith to the lord, which is one of her major character aspects that is shown on the story. This quote is used in the story as a way of justifying Judith’s unorthodox and ‘dishonorable’ action of killing a warrior in his sleep rather than killing him on the battlefield, along side justifying the actual murder of another human being.)


Quote 2: "was ravished with her and he was moved with great desire to possess her." Black, Joseph Laurence. The Broadview Anthology of British Literature. 3rd ed., vol. 1, Broadview Press, 2015
(This quote talks about the success Judith obtained in her actions of seducing general Holofernes into her trap, where she kills him in his drunken sleep. This quote displays just how skilled Judith is in having her plan go along so well. It shows her as the kind to not break character or do anything risky to put the plan at risk. Judith very much understands what she can use to her advantage against someone of the caliber of general Holofernes. She also comprehends her disadvantages, knowing full well that she cannot out strength or out fight Holofernes, Judith understood her strengths and weaknesses when telling her plan to the city leaders. It shows off her skill as a battle strategist, knowing her enemy and understanding her limitations against them.)


Quote 3:"By the deceit of my lips strike down the slave with the prince and the prince with his servant; crush their arrogance by the hand of a woman.”Black, Joseph Laurence. The Broadview Anthology of British Literature. 3rd ed., vol. 1, Broadview Press, 2015
(This quote is the prayer to god that Judith says right before she crosses into the Assyrian camp to meet Holofernes. This just reinforces Judith’s faith in God even further than it already has been throughout the text. It was already established that Judith viewed herself more as a weapon of God himself designed to destroy more powerful enemies than as a woman. This is based on the fact that Judith only really acknowledged her own gender when using it as a strategic method to get close to Holofernes and kill him. This also shows Judith’s knowledge of the warrior's code, as she understands that it is dishonorable for a warrior to die not on the battlefield, and that it’s considered as even worse to be killed by a woman. Judith understood the blow it would make to the Assyrians’ confidence while also raising the confidence of her people in Bethulia who were terrified of fighting back until she arrived with the head of the general.)

Annotated Bibliography Entries
Hobyane, Risimati S. “Clashing Deities in the Book of Judith: A Greimassian Perspective.” HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies, vol. 71, no. 3, 2015, p. 1., doi:10.4102/hts.v71i3.2893. Accessed 4 Nov. 2017.
(This site breaks down and opens up certain perspectives from the story of Judith as well as provide certain facts that aren’t really talked about. An example being that once Judith cut off the head of Holofernes, the Assyrian cult was forgotten, almost projecting his head like the head of a snake and the rest of the body dieing. This site also made me look at the Assyrian assault on Bethulia as an attempt to replace the Jewish religion with it’s own immoral beliefs. The defeat of the Assyrians is suggested as more than just a city prevailing over it’s would be conquerors, but as the survival of the Jewish faith.)

Branch, Robin Gallaher. “Blood on Their Hands: How Heroines in Biblical and Apocryphal Literature Differ from Those in Ancient Literature Regarding Violence/Met Bloed Aan Die Hande: Hoe Heldinne Uit Die Bybelse En Apokriewe Literatuur Verskil Van Dié Uit Die Klassieke Literatuur Ten Opsigte Van Geweldpleging.” In Die Skriflig, vol. 48, no. 2, 2014, p. 1., doi:10.4102/ids.v48i2.1771. Accessed 4 Nov. 2017.
(This site brings up female heroines in biblical texts are different from the female heroines in ancient literature when it comes to violence. Despite other cultures, the women in biblical texts like Deborah and Jael, Esther, and judith have only responded in violence after being threatened. This is in contrast to women in ancient literature like Boadicea, who led a rebellion which ended with the loss of 80,000 Britons, or the Amazons who went as far as to self-harm just to have better aim with a bow. This article brings the comparison and gives me even more reason to prefer the female heroines in biblical texts.)

Momma, Haruko. “Epanalepsis: A Retelling of the Judith Story in the Anglo-Saxon Poetic Language.” Https:Web.fitchburgstate.edu:2443/Login?Url=Https:Search.proquest.com/Docview/198124129?Accountid=10896, Studies in the Literary Imagination, 2003, search.proquest.com/docview/198124129?OpenUrlRefId=info:xri/sid:summon&accountid=10896.
(This essay talks about how the story of Judith retold in the Anglo-Saxon language. One point that was talked was that the only characters that were talked about were both Judith and Holofernes, but no mention of the leader of the Assyrians Nebuchadnezzar. Another point made was the lack of references to organized religion, and that the society that the world of Judith differs from the ancient east. The ancient east was boasted as a combination of both politics and religion, while Judith’s world is more warrior-based with a code of honor that most follow, with Judith clearly being the exception.)

Checkpoint 3
DeSilva, David A. “Judith the Heroine? Lies, Seduction, and Murder in Cultural Perspective.” Biblical Theology Bulletin, vol. 36, no. 2, 2006, pp. 55–61., doi:10.1177/01461079060360020201. Accessed 9 Nov. 2017.
This article, which is written by David DeSilva PhD of Emory University, quickly summarizes the story of Judith while still keeping detail before questioning if Judith truly is a heroine. DeSilva questions why everybody is okay with Judith taking advantage of her looks and killing the Assyrian general Holofernes while he was in a drunken defenseless sleep. He brings up an interesting point in the fact that Judith refused to remarry after Bethulia was saved in honor of her dead husband’s memory, yet she had no problem defiling that memory when she seduced Holofernes to take her to his camp. He also brings up how the elders of Bethulia pretty much swept Judith’s morally questionable actions under the ‘God is pleased’ rug. I’m going to use this as a source of counter arguments.

Magennis, Hugh. “Gender and Heroism in the Old English Judith.” Essays and Studies, 2002, p. 5.,
http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=AONE&u=mlin_c_fitchcol&id=GALE%7CA97995764&v=2.1&it=r&sid=summon&ugroup=outside&authCount=1
This essay written by English Literature professor Hugh Magennis from Queen’s University of Belfast. This written piece breaks down the gender roles of most women in literature and how Judith was written against them. A point made by Hugh is that the poet behind Judith went out of their way to place Judith in the hero position while keeping her femininity, an example being the fact that none of the men of Bethulia were able to stand up to the Assyrians. Despite being brave enough to face the Assyrians, Judith understood that she couldn’t go up against Holofernes in head to head battle, which is why she went through the obstacles to get close enough to decapitate him in his sleep. I will use this source as a counter argument to those who question why Judith used obtuse methods to save Bethulia.

Mullaly, Erin. “The Cross-Gendered Gift: Weaponry in the Old English Judith.” Exemplaria, Http:Www.tandfonline.com, 18 July 2013, www.tandfonline.com/doi/citedby/10.1179/exm.2005.17.2.255?scroll=top&needAccess=true.
This small section of the article that was written by Erin Mullaly, using both the Mark Griffith’s and the Elliott Van Kirk Dobbie editions of the story of Judith. This article brings up one of the main argument against not only Judith being labeled a Heroine, but her being canonically in the bible. It’s an understandable argument, how is a minister supposed to tell the story of Judith, a supposed devout religious women, violently chopping off the head of the would be rapist that she seduced to get close to in the first place. While the end goal of Judith is without a doubt noble, at least in the eyes of devout Christians, the means doesn’t justify her actions. While I personally disagree, as I think that for most art the ends justify the means, I can completely understand those that can't view things the same way. I’m going to use this source as an argument that I’m going to counter.



Query: Is it justified to associate Judith with the title of heroine? Yes, Judith saved the lives of many in the city of Bethulia from the clutches of the Assyrians, but her means are questionable. After all, "thou shalt not kill" is the number one rule to follow, and Judith broke that rule alongside the general code of honor held by warriors. To be killed in any way outside of a battle is dishonorable and Judith killed Holofernes while he was in a drunken sleep. The first source by David DeSilva pointed out that in order to get close to Holofernes, Judith seduced him, putting her sexual purity on the line, which is a big no for religiously significant women. Judith also indulges in the sins of Holofernes, taking advantage of his love of drink and lust in order to get him drunk and sealing the deal, which, while smart, is not what the traditional religious heroine would do. That’s the problem with all of Judith’s actions, that are just so completely out of left field compared to other religious heroines that it makes the devout uncomfortable with her story. With these arguments in mind, is it really justified to label Judith as a Heroine despite her actions that lead to the results?

Reflection: These sources, while they are different, all have a common theme, and that's analyzing and questioning of Judith as a heroine. While I personally see Judith as not only a heroine, but one of the best of the Medieval Heroines we've read in this class, and while a source agrees with my opinion, others don’t. I chose these sources because while I do have my own opinion, I also would like to hear the arguments of others as to better establish my own. David Desilva points out and questions as to why everyone is okay with Judith taking advantage of someone’s sins as well as use her sexuality as a tool against Holofernes. He also points out the hypocrisy that Judith shows when she refuses to remarry to honor the memory of her dead husband, despite the fact that she had no problem forgetting that memory when she was charming up Holofernes. Erin Mullaly brings up the difficulty in sharing the story of Judith when all of her actions represent the opposite of the values that the Bible tries to instill. A source that is on my side of the fence is from Hugh Magennis, who explains that while Judith was written as the hero of the poem, she was never written as stronger than the Assyrian general Holofernes. This creates the understanding that Judith did all of these actions because she knew her weaknesses, but also understood her strengths as well. Judith knew she couldn’t match up with Holofernes in terms of strength, but understood that she can use her looks to lure him into a sense of comfort. Now while I myself subscribe to the mentality that the ends justifies the means in most cases, I’m not blind to the arguments against that mentality either.


Checkpoint 4

When it comes to medieval literature, the mold of a hero was long established as a male warrior archetype. Even the female protagonists aren’t normally portrayed in the same demeanor as their male opposites. Normally the female protagonists would be portrayed as fragile, pure as snow beings that could never hurt a fly, a complete 180 description compared to male protagonists. Saint Margaret is a good example, as despite being the protagonist, she was not displayed as tough for her ability and strength like male protagonists. Saint Margaret’s main personality trait was just her holy faith rather than feats of strength. Mary herself did not defeat the dragon that devoured her, she prayed to God, a man, who did it for her using her body as a vessel. This sort of portrayal does not leave a great image as it shows women to be only vessels for another’s power instead of their own.





In the Old English version of
Judith is looked upon as a great portrayal of a female protagonist, having one that is actually capable with her own two hands and ability. This is opposed to the usual saint image that is normal for most female protagonists. Judith can be seen for some as a middle ground seeing as Judith, while capable with her own strength, is still faithful to God at the end of the day. This is shown throughout the story as Judith prays to the Lord before ending the life of Holofernes to save her people in Bethulia.





Annotated Citations:

1.) “Heroism and Comic Subversion in the Old English
Judith” by Ivan Herbison





Ivan Herbison is an affiliate of the School of English, Queen’s University Belfast. This, alongside the two books cited by Ivan, (Beyond Nostalgia: Formula and Novelty in Old English Literature.)(Postural Representations of Holofernes in the Old English Judith: The Lord who was Laid Low. English Studies) leads me to believe that this article is credible and trustworthy as a source.





2.) ”Female community in the old English
Judith” by Mary-Dockray Miller





This I believe is a trustworthy source as Mary has written multiple articles both on Old English and Middle English. Adding on to the fact that Mary is currently an English Professor at Lesley University leads me to think that she is a reputable source.





3.)”Judith and the rhetoric of heroism in Anglo‐Saxon England” by Christopher Fee





I believe this source is credible seeing as Christopher Lee has a masters in English, a masters in Medieval Studies, and a doctorate in English Language. I believe this accomplishments make him more than credible enough.





Counter Argument:

In the article Heroism and Comic Subversion in the Old English
Judith”, the main argument is that the Old English Judith displays a much more complex relationship with the heroic tradition than it is admitted. I personally disagree with this so called complexity, as in my point of view, Judith is more of a middle ground between religious saint and the traditional warrior archetype. This is shown in the text as Judith prays to god for Holofernes to meet his death at the hands of a woman, as she viewed herself as a weapon of God. This is also shown when Judith gives a quick prayer for forgiveness from God before she beheaded Holofernes in his sleep. Judith’s// role as a hero in the text is more of a balance between a saint and a warrior rather than just her being in a typically written man’s role.