The Vision of Tundale
12th century, Latin, translations into 15th century Middle English: British Library, London; Bodleian Library, Oxford; National Library of Scotland.
Some struck off the head, others the thighs, arms, legs at the knees, and some hacked the souls into pieces. Yet they were all soon restored back again into their original shapes, only to be seized once more by the butchers.
Tundale went forght, as the boke says, throw wyldernys and dark ways – Tundale continued his journey, through wilderness and darkness until he came to a building, in a twelfth century Christian account of a visit to Purgatory, penned by an Irish monk living in Germany. But has the monk used old beliefs to furnish the horrors of a Christian Purgatory?
“Don’t be frightened,” said the angel. “You must go into this building, but the fire will not burn you.”
As Tundale approached the building, he could see horrible butchers standing in the midst of the flames. Some were holding sharp knives and fearsome cleavers, others weilded saws, forks for skewering meat over a fire, broad axes and instruments designed to drill holes into bone. They made for an engaging sight! Some held very long knives and others, sharp hooks. Tundale looked on with horror at the way these fiends butchered the souls. Some struck off the head, others the thighs, arms, legs at the knees, and some hacked the souls into pieces. Yet they were all soon restored back again into their original shapes, only to be seized once more by the butchers. Tundale was horrified at this punishment.
“Deliver me from this terror!” cried Tundale to the angel.
Lord, delyver me from this woo!
'If you think this torment is dreadful,' replied the angel, 'nevertheless, you are required to endure it, and many others as well, as you will soon discover.'
The evil spirits approached Tundale with their grim tools and terrifying equipment, seized him and chopped him into little pieces. But he could not die and soon found that his body was restored once again –
he myght not dye for that peyn, for he was sone hole ageyn.