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1 Valerie Speck Mouser English 2100 11 February 2011 Lead Us Not Into Temptation From the early pages

of the Hebrew Bible to modern-day works such as The Lord of the Rings, the unending battle of temptation has proved to be a constant struggle between good and evil. The Anglo-Saxon tale of Judith is no exceptionthe characters of the story constantly struggle with their personal temptations, whether its wine or women, or, in Holofernes case, both. In a world heavily influenced by Christianity, where drunkenness and premarital sexual acts were viewed as ultimate sins, Holofernes was king of immorality. The story of Judith recounts, Thus the prince of warriors ordered his guests in the hall to be filled with drink until the shadows of the night grew near the sons of men. Then the evildoer ordered that the noble lady, adorned with rings and decked with rich treasure, be fetched to his bed at once (Hieatt 126). Its this temptation that ultimately is the undoing of Holofernes and the Assyrian army. In our modern culture alcohol is not necessarily deemed a direct evil, but the text of Judith distinctly paints wine as an intoxicating transgression. By writing that Holofernes men were ordered to be filled with drink until the shadows of night grew near the author is distinctly implying that being drunk is a dark actliterally. The wording of shadows of the night not only describes how long the Assyrian army drank (and, therefore, how drunk they became), but also the connotations around drinking. Darkness is often associated with evil, and by associating the act of drinking with the shadows of the

2 night, Judith is expressly marking drinking as an evil deed. Whether evil or not, the consumption of wine certainly had its repercussions. Later in the tale, the mead-weary warriors are unprepared to do battle against the Hebrew army, and they ultimately lose (130). It is clear by the wording of Judith that the titular character is initially portrayed to be Holofernes prey. After all, she is to be fetched to his bed at once, which implies that shes nothing more than an item to be brought for Holofernes pleasure, and Holofernes himself is referred to as an evildoer (126). Holofernes succumbs to the pleasures of not only the flesh, but also of treasurehe orders his soldiers to deck Judith out in the most glorious jewels he owns, illustrating his love for his worldly wealth. How does this temptation play out? Though Holofernes initially entered his bedchambers to engage in sexual activity, hes too drunk and passes out, and the very woman he planned to ravage ultimately beheads him. The prey becomes the predator, and Holofernes is brought to justice for his misdeeds. The Assyrians were a superpower, and Holofernes was their seemingly indestructible leaderhowever, once the army gave way to temptation, their power was quickly stripped. While Judith and the Hebrew army was the Assyrians eventual end, the power of intoxication hindered the Assyrians fighting abilities, and Holofernes unbridled lust allowed him to be drunk and alone with a murderous Judith. It wasnt swords and shields that marked the end of the Assyriansit was wine and women. Work Cited Hieatt, Constance B., trans. Judith. Beowulf and Other Old English Poems. 2nd ed. New York: Bantam, 1967. 125-133.