Checkpoint #1


Checkpoint #2


The poem Judith follows Judith of Bethulia, on her plight to take down the Assyrian war general Holofernes. The first chapters of the poem are believed to have been lost for quite some time so the story begins mid-sentence at the Assyrian encampment where Holofernes, who has become infatuated with Judith, orders her to be sent to his tent. Fortunately for Judith, the fiend has been consuming alcohol at an foolish pace and finds himself passing out just as he and Judith are alone together. It is in this moment that Judith decides to strike. She prays to the heavens and swiftly removes the general's head with a small sword she had hidden. The poem ends with Judith standing proud of her victory, having faith in her actions being justified in the eyes of God.


1. “There flowed round his bed a fair curtain, fly net all golden, wrought so fine that the folk-leader- fiercely lethal prince of warriors- could peer through it to see whomever therein might come- whichever hero’s sons; but at him not a one from the tribe of men might take a look unless that arrogant lord should issue commands for counselors to come from his keen war band.” (2)

The Biblical source only mentions that Holofernes’s bed had a canopy. This poet adds the original detail that it functioned as a sort of two-way mirror. An appropriate sinister detail that aptly reflects the paranoia of those like Holofernes who wield such evil power.

2. “Her locks entwined, she took a sword- razor sharp blade, battle hardened: The Shaper’s maid from its sheath drew it with her right hand then.” (3)

One of the many examples that leads many to assume this was written by the same individual who wrote Beowulf. Because just like in the climatic dragon fight in Beowulf there is a considerable gap in-between the hero’s drawing of the sword and the use of it.

3. “Source of all, great God on high, and Sprit of holy help, Son of the almighty: mercy I need now, Trinitarian strength! Intensely now is my heart inflamed: Lord, fierce sorrow oppresses my soul. Prince of heaven: give me triumph and true belief; let me take this sword and cleave this murder monger! Mankind’s Ruler, grant me health and grace: I’ve never had greater need for your mercy before. Almighty Lord, bright-minded Glory-Giver, grant me vengeance; let my mind’s fury inflame my heart! (3)

Judith prayer to the Trinity makes her appear more like a Christian saint than a Hebrew heroin, but her prayer for vengeance and courage in battle make her a warrior rather than a martyr.

Annotated Bibliography

1. Lucas, Peter J. “'Judith' and the Woman Hero.” The Yearbook of English Studies, vol. 22, 1992, pp. 17–27. JSTOR,

In this article, Lucas examines the differences between translations of the story. More specifically he talks in depth about how the Biblical translation parallels the Old English translation. Lucas believes that because the translation process is so imbalanced, Judith has become depicted incorrectly in more recent author depictions. This article was published by the Modern Humanities Research Association.

2. Smyth, Mary W. “The Numbers in the Manuscript of the Old English Judith.” Modern Language Notes, vol. 20, no. 7, 1905, pp. 197–199. JSTOR, JSTOR,

In Mary Smyth’s article The Numbers in the Manuscripts of the Old English Judith” published by The John Hopkins University Press, she argues that despite most people coming to the conclusion that Judith is a small section of a much larger poem, scholars have recently hypothesized that Judith is almost complete as is. Through study of specific verse placements within chapters, some have come to the conclusion that the opening of Judith was specifically written in the way it was to foresee the lesson of the poem.

3. Fee, Christopher. "Judith and the Rhetoric of Heroism in Anglo-Saxon England." Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism, edited by Janet Witalec, vol. 68, Gale, 2004. Literature Resource Center

This article discusses the difference in Judith herself between translations. Fee specifically talks about how the Old English version of Judith is similar to the Vulgate heroin. They both devise a strategy, behead Holofernes, and exhort her people to battle. In the Old English Judith, however it is no longer her actions that ensure the victory of the Bethulians but rather, the reactions inspired from them. The acts of heroism she takes are not sufficient enough to ensure the Hebrews victory. It’s assumed the Hebrew had the ability to push back the Assyrians, all they need was a prod by Judith to overcome the enemies.

Checkpoint #3

Annotated Bibliography

1. Magennis, Hugh. “Gender and Heroism in the Old English Judith.” Essays and Studies, 2002, p. 5. Literature Resource Center

In this article Prof. Hugh Magennis breaks down how Judith captures the prerogative of a heroic action hero despite what traditional middle age gender roles lead us to believe. The article is very useful because it helps the reader understand why Judith was and is such a compelling character, and how her role has helped shaped today’s female protagonists. Prof. Magennis teaches Icelandic literature as well as the history of the English language at the Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland. This particular article can be found within the English Association’s annual scholarly publication, Essay’s and Studies.

2. Chickering, Howell. “Poetic Exuberance in the Old English Judith.” Studies in Philology, vol. 106, no. 2, 2009, pp. 119–136. JSTOR

This article by Amherst College professor Howell Chickering discusses how despite being much simpler in scope compared to its biblical counterpart, the Old English text of Judith manages to stand out on its own. It is useful because its shows how Judith's poetic exuberance is unmatched compared to any other piece of Anglo-Saxon writing. Prof. Chickering teaches first year introductory English courses as well as more in depth courses that focus on topic such as Chaucer, the Old English, and Beowulf. The journal this article came from, the Studies in Philology, addresses a wide range of English studies. Though traditionally its strengths have been seen in both Medieval and Renaissance literature studies.

3. Campbell, Jackson J. “Schematic Technique in Judith.” ELH, vol. 38, no. 2, 1971, pp. 155–172.

Prof. Campbell explains in this ELH academic article how the gap between translations of Judith resulted in the downgrading in importance or complete removal of certain characters. This is useful if the reader wishes to fully understand the original authors full intentions with the poem. Prof. Campbell is a Medieval age literature instructor at Long Island University. He also teaches a course on Icelandic literature. The ELH is an academic journal established in 1934 at Johns Hopkins University, devoted to the study of major works in the English language, particularly British literature.


Throughout my scholarly sources the issues of mistranslation comes up often. It is quite understandable how these men and woman who have devoted their lives to the study of past works of literature would be upset in the changes made to original texts. Whether sizable changes have been made to the overall story or a single miniscule detail was changed, the original authors ideas should always come first. Obviously original copies of works that are hundreds of years old are almost impossible to come by and rampant translations are going to happen whether we like it or not. The question is, what reputable source should we see as the go to acceptable version of a text? Many argue that if you want to read a piece of literature the way it was intended you need to learn the language it was written. Another issue being discussed is how relevant these works are in modern day. What should we look back on and what should we preserve but not acknowledge? We need to ensure that the children who grow up to be leaders of tomorrow will have a cavalcade of literary works to base themselves off of.


While searching though scholarly sources for my annotated bibliography a question that came up frequently is who are the characters that have been cut from different translations. Numerous sources have stated that in some versions Judith is accompanied by a companion, while others even claim her mother was involved in the story. It would be interesting to see if translators throughout history decided to exclude certain information about the text because it went against their culture, or they simply did not enjoy it. If no one in your country is capable of reading the original Judith and you the translator decide to switch up some details, who is going to know? No one I say! No one will be knocking at your door asking you to change the minute detail you change because you felt it wouldn’t’ fit right with what your culture is doing at that period in time. A confusing part of Judith has to be how the first half is missing. It adds so much mystery to the poem because of the details that we simply do not have. Is there a personal conviction Judith has to deal with? Is there a secret hidden past Holofernes hides throughout the rest of the poem? Are there any side characters who accompany Judith to the encampment? These and so many more questions could have been answered if not for an incident causes the first section to have been destroyed.

Checkpoint #4

Annotated Bibliography

1. Godfrey, Mary Flavia. “Beowulf and Judith: Thematizing Decapitation in Old English Poetry.” Texas Studies in Literature and Language, vol. 35, no. 1, 1993, pp. 1–43. JSTOR, JSTOR,

In this article professor Godfrey explains how the use of heads and body parts as power in both Judith and Beowulf can be seen as a reflection of certain Indo-European views, thus making the inspiration for these classic middle age tales quite interesting. Decapitation and dismemberment were important symbols in these Indo-European tales as well as inspiration for middle age pieces. Mary Godfrey is a history professor at the University of Texas where this piece was published under the Universities Press. The full journal article is entitled “Texas Studies in Literature and Language.”

2. Woolf, R. E. “The Lost Opening to the ‘Judith.’” The Modern Language Review, vol. 50, no. 2, 1955, pp. 168–172. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Mr. Woolf discusses in this article “The Lost Opening of Judith” the disagreements that have been going on in the world of literature as to whether or not the opening of Judith truly is missing or not. He dives into two distinct types of Middle Ages literary styles and without taking a side, tries to determine the truth behind the mysterious Judith missing sections. The journal this article was published in The Modern Language Review, (MLR for short), and is one of the most well-known modern language journals in the whole world. It has a distinct reputation for being both scholarly distinct as well as critically excellent. Mr. Woolf has had numerous articles published in the MLR over his incredible 40-year career.

3. Doubleday, James F. “Two-Part Structure in Old English Poetry.” Notre Dame English Journal, vol. 8, no. 2, 1973, pp. 71–79. JSTOR, JSTOR,

All Middle English poems followed a two-part writing structure, claims James F. Doubleday, author of this University of Notre Dame published article. In the article, Mr. Doubleday confirms that if we intend to fully comprehend any middle age piece of writing, we must understand the two-part structure they are made of. Only then can we fully discover and solve certain critical problems within the stories.

Argument Against a Scholarly Article

Mary Smyth believes that Judith is not complete and parts are missing. She also claims it was written the way it was to foresee the lesson that eventually happens towards the end of the story. That is an excellent hypothesis, but it is also just that; a hypothesis. Ms. Smith very clearly knows what she is talking about and presents a very compelling case. However, this argument has been discussed for a while and no single person can seem to come up with a clear understanding of what exactly happened. Even with Judith missing a large portion of its introduction, it is still regarded with great reverence. If the whole story were still intact there's isn't a doubt in anyone's mind that it would be regarded as one of the greatest pieces of Middle Age literature ever recorded. If a section of Judith went missing, than the whole story should have gone as well. It doesn’t make sense for only a portion to be destroyed or stolen and not the whole thing. Judith was written the way it was to be different and stand out amongst other writings. I believe the author’s intention has payed off with time. Smyth wanted her piece to be a mystery and he achieved just that.

Journal Abstract

For my journal article, I plan to take a look into what qualities made a Middle Age heroic protagonist. Unlike most civilizations during the Middle Ages, Anglo Saxon woman were allowed to be above average in wealth, beauty, and their overall abilities. These traits coming together is what made Judith a proper weapon, fit to destroy a powerful enemy in the form of Holofernes. The readers expected Judith to be a proper hero and they were not disappointed by the end of the tale. Judith’s heroism is portrayed as true, and while the setting of the story may be a bit stereotypical, her actions are depicted as anything but stereotypically feminine or masculine. Judith places a female in a traditionally masculine role without belittling either. I plan to compare the Judith character to that of other traditional male characters, as well as looking into the relation that she has with other prominent female heroes of that time period. I find this to be a compelling argument because Judith has many different versions to analyze. The changes made between versions are significant because her character changes drastically. Certain story point and details change as well, turning the story up on its head, and making the process of learning all the different details that much more enjoyable. Judith is also one of, if not the most, recognizable female hero of all time. Even before reading this story for class I was aware of the book of Judith and had a basic outline of the plot. Many people like to assume that all gender roles were the same during the Middle Ages, but I hope my paper can help them realize that strong, independent female heroes have been around for much longer than they thought.