The have “nothing to do with that just

The last twostanzas describe Judas’ sense of remorse and finally suicide. In the eventualconclusion of the Crucifixion, lines 1265-1268 narrate Christ’s Crucifixion andits saving grace remarkably well.

The disruption of the world and the overthrowof tyranny are the ‘gifts’ presented to the countess from lanyer as a poet. (Cerasano,68)Lines 330-480narrate the story of Jesus retiring with his disciples to the Garden ofGethsemane on the Mount of Olives where he prayed in depth of human agony whilehis disciples were overcome with sleep and unable to carry. Lines 481-632narrated Judas and soldier’s arrival, the betrayal of Judas by Jesus, Peter’sattack on a soldier, Jesus rebuking violence, and the dispersal of frighteneddisciples. Lines 633-744 describe the soldiers taking Jesus to the high priest.Caiaphas is keen to establish whether Jesus is God’s Son. Jesus responds in theaffirmative, albeit ambiguously. Caiaphas subsequently demands he be sent toPontius Pilate, the only authority to order an execution of Jesus for theseapparent crimes (Raphael 127).

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This story beginsproperly at line 330. The first action that Jesus does appears in line 333 whenhe goes “to Mount olives though sore afraid.” (Whitney).  During the Renaissanceperiod, the numerology 333 was a figure symbolizing the trinity of God and anexpression of number nine. It was considered to express God’s self-containedperfection. While there is not much evidence that Lanyer worked in numerology,some of her contemporaries such as Spenser who’s Epithalamion was publishedin 1595, did. Pertinent questions thus arise as to why Lanyer chose to beginthe action at this line (Schleiner, & Stuart 56).

The nature ofpassion that Lanyer describes closely follows Mathew 26.30, the only versioncontaining the warning to Pilate’s wife. Lanyer also borrows freely from othergospels, referencing women wherever they appear. Lanyer’s version draws onwomen throughout, recording female suffering and virtue as part of her strategyto comfort and praise the Countess of Cumberland.

In this given context,however, the story is an imagined version of the primary events of theChristian faith. The passion or the tribulations of Jesus Christ is thenarration that brings into clear focus the basic elements of Christiantheology. Lanyer recreated the powerful moments of Jesus’ last night and day,expounding and meditating on the events from the point of view that distinctlyform a woman’s point of view.Many of Lanyer’sarguments are voiced by Pilate’s wife, who from referencing the Bible, warnedher husband to have “nothing to do with that just man” Jesus (Matt.27.19). Sheexpands on that brief warning, which is ignored by Pilate, into a lengthy”apology” or explanations and defence, for Eve.

She transitions seamlesslybetween her argument and her narrative. Therefore, only a keen reader is ableto determine where Pilate’s wife voice ends and where the voice of the narratorbegins. Though she speaks from a female perspective, Lanyer adopts a generalpoint of view. Salve Deus starts witha short tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth the first and continues into alengthy meditative work dedicated to the Countess Dowager of Cumberland. Sheacknowledges that the poem is not, “Those praiseful lines of that delightfulplace, /which you commanded me” (Whitney). The poem includessome biblical texts, arguing a protestant’s point of view on justification byfaith among other things. It, however, does not challenge the primacy of men.

In contrast, the “Salve Deus” beginswith a personal reference and has a powerful polemical thrust, attacking theblindness and vanity of men. It justifies women’s right to be free ofsubjugation of the male gender.The title Poem “Salve Deus Rex Judæorum” whichmeans Hail God, King of the Jews, is a complex and subtle piece of about 1,840lines in iambic-pentameter stanzas of ottava rima nature. In this era, it wasunusual for a woman to write authoritatively on such sacred matters. There hadbeen to precedent to Lanyer’s revision of over fourteen hundred years ofconventional commentary (Caroline & Jennifer 81).

Lanyer was amiddle-class woman with no fortune to her name. She nonetheless enjoyed theattention of some of the Elizabeth family members– such as the Queen, the Countessof Kent, Lord Hudson and the Countess of Cumberland. Entries from both theForeman’s diaries and Lanyer’s own poetry suggest that she was a spirited womanof considerable intelligence.

One volume wasallegedly given by the Countess of Cumberland to Prince Henry, who was toinherit the throne. Another was handed by Alphonso Lanyer to Thomas Jones, whowas Dublin’s Archbishop, with whom they has served together in Ireland.Nevertheless, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorumnever made Lanyer’s fortune.

Following the death of Alphonso in 1613, Lanyerfound herself in constant legal battles with Alphonso’s relatives over earningsfrom a hay-and-grain patent he had been bestowed by King James in 1604. In theperiod between 1617 to 1619, she operated a school in the wealthy suburb inLondon in the Fields of St. Giles, where she sought to “teach and educatethe children of diverse persons of worth and understanding”. Unfortunately, she lost the lease tothe building she was using, and there is no evidence that she made any moreefforts to teach again, nor is there any more information regarding what shetaught or who she taught (Caroline & Jennifer 82).


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