Title Background

The Swift Samaritan’s Journey: <i>Piers Plowman</i> C XVIII–XIX.

The Swift Samaritan’s Journey: Piers Plowman C XVIII–XIX.

Passus 18–19 are about a journey to Jerusalem in which Will and his semi-allegorical and semi-biblical companions re-enact the parable of the good Samaritan. One striking difference between L’s version of this narrative and its biblical source is that L puts great emphasis on the haste and urgency of the journey. This emphasis serves his dramatic purposes in that it anticipates the extraordinary drama of the Passion and Harrowing scenes in the following passus, but it is also a symbolically meaningful aspect of the retelling of the parable in that Augustine and others associate the Samaritan of the parable and the giant of Psalm 18:6 who “runs on the way.” The haste of the Samaritan thus derives from traditional exegesis. The author then comments on the traditional associations of three further details in this passage, L’s emphasis on the nakedness of the victim, the fact that the good Samaritan puts the victim on his horse in the C version, but not the B version; and finally the author points out a striking parallel for the role of Abraham and Moses in the exegesis of Gilbert de Hollandia. [TDH, adapted from the abstract provided in the original]