Anonymous: Judith

(1498 words)
  • Hugh Magennis (Queen's University Belfast)

Judith is an Old English narrative poem that adapts into the medium of Germanic heroic verse the Old Testament story (apocryphal in Protestant tradition) of the Bethulian widow Judith, who saves her people by daringly going to the camp of the besieging Assyrian army, accompanied only by a maid-servant, and there succeeds in killing the Assyrian leader Holofernes. Judith uses her seductive powers to get Holofernes drunk and then beheads him in his tent before making her escape back to the city of Bethulia. The discovery that their leader is dead causes confusion among the Assyrians, who retreat in disorderly flight. The biblical book ends with Judith’s hymn of praise to the Lord and with celebration among the people for …

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Magennis, Hugh. "Judith". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 27 September 2007
[, accessed 28 September 2016.]