The Judas Legend

Author unknown
Genre Epic, Poem
Keywords 14th century, hagiography, Old Czech
Title (in Czech) Legenda o Jidášovi
Title (in English translation) The Judas Legend
Editor Andrea Svobodová – Kateřina Voleková
Translator Walter Schamschula
Edited source Drkolná fragment, missing at the time (formerly Schlägl, 1 fol.); Museum fragment, Praha, Knihovna Národního muzea, 1 A c 51, 1 fol.
Introduction Walter Schamschula – Andrea Svobodová
TEI P5 XML Encoding Anna Michalcová – Michal Mocňák – Ondřej Tichý
Summary of content A fragment of an Old Czech verse legend about Judas containing analogies to the events of the early 14th century (the extinction of the Přemyslids).


Introduction to the Text

Together with the Legend of Pilate, the Legend of Judas belongs to the cycle of legends in Old Czech literature which originated shortly after 1306, representing the oldest known tradition of epic narrative in Czech literature. The legends have in common that they form free adaptations of themes from Jacobus de Voragine’s Legenda Aurea (1263–1273).

Both legends are fragmentary. Their setting is rather fantastic, keeping to certain mythical archetypes. Judas, like Pilate, is an absolutely negative figure throughout the Middle Ages. The structure of the legends is unstrophic, with rhyming pairs and trochaic tetrameter.

Introduction to the Sources

The text of the legend is known thanks to two fragments from the same manuscript dating from the early 14th century (after 1306): the first, the so-called Drkolná fragment, is currently lost (formerly Schlägl, Stiftsbibliothek, 1 fol., verses 1-93); the second, the so-called Museum fragment, is stored in the Library of the National Museum (Praha, Knihovna Národního muzea, 1 A c 51, 1 fol., verses 94-265; not available online).

About this Edition

In the case of the Museum fragment, the transcription was made according to the manuscript, taking into account the edition of Walter Schamschula. In the case of Drkolná fragment, the text was taken from Schamschula’s edition (cf. Schamschula 1991, see Existing editions below). The manuscript copy is written in the so-called primitive spelling, the transcription therefore presents the reconstructed standardized form.

The present translation has been taken, with the permission of Walter Schamschula, from the text of his edition (cf. Schamschula 1991, see Existing editions below). Only few textual changes have been made to the text (as recorded in the footnotes). The introductory information, based on Schamschula´s edition, has been supplemented from new contributions on the topic.

Existing Editions

Klasobraní po rukopisích. Ku písni sv. Dorotě, Jan Gebauer (ed.), Listy filologické 5, 1878, attachement p. 19-22; supplement in Listy filologické 6, 1879, p. 80 [Museum fragment; semi-diplomatic transcription].

Drkolenský a musejní zbytek staročeské rýmované legendy o Jidášovi z prvé čtvrti XIV století, Adolf Patera (ed.), Časopis Musea Království českého 62, 1888, pp. 86-100 [both fragments; semi-diplomatic transcription, provided with Latin origin].

Nejstarší památky jazyka i písemnictví českého. Díl I. Prolegomena a texty, Václav Flajšhans (ed.), Praha 1903, pp. 182-190 [both fragments; semi-diplomatic transcription].

Výbor z české literatury od počátků po dobu Husovu, Bohuslav Havránek a kol. (eds.), Praha 1957, pp. 200-209 [both fragments; reconstructed transcription].

Nejstarší české veršované legendy, Jiří Cejnar (ed.), Praha 1964, pp. 155-180 [both fragments; semi-diplomatic transcription, reconstructed transcription, Latin origin].

Pilát a Jidáš/The Pilate and Judas Legends, in: An Anthology of Czech Literature. 1st Period: from the Beginnings until 1410, Walter Schamschula (ed.), Frankfurt am Main – Bern – New York – Paris 1991, pp. 86-102 [both fragments; reconstructed transcription].

Existing translations

Pilát a Jidáš/The Pilate and Judas Legends, in: An Anthology of Czech Literature. 1st Period: from the Beginnings until 1410, Walter Schamschula (ed.), Frankfurt am Main – Bern – New York – Paris 1991, pp. 86-102 [both fragments].

Further Reading

Selucká, Markéta: Legenda o Jidášovi, in: Lexikon české literatury 2/II (LK–L), Praha 1993, p. 1154 [encyclopedic entry listing editions and literature up to 1993]. Available at: https://service.ucl.cas.cz/edicee/lexikon/lexikon/252-lexikon-ceske-literatury-osobnosti-dila-instituce-2-ii-k-l


MECZ [online], The Judas Legend, ed. unknown, trans. Walter Schamschula. KREAS Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Retrieved 12.08.2022, from https://mecz.kreas.ff.cuni.cz/publication/the-judas-legend/ Bibtex citation

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