Gesta Romanorum Vol. II (1871)/Of Persecution




King Asuerus made a great feast to all the princes of his kingdom, as we learn from the first chapter of the book of Hester. He commanded the queen to appear at the festival, that his people might behold the splendour of that beauty which he had raised to the throne. After this the king promoted a certain Aman; and made all the princes of his empire pay him homage. They complied, but Mardocheus, the king's uncle, would not honour him. Enraged at this disregard of his authority, Aman delivered him to death, with all his family; and made an ordinance under the royal seal to exterminate every Jew in the kingdom, and constructing a high rack[1], he resolved that Mardocheus should be fastened upon it. But, in the mean time, it was the fortune of the latter to discover two traitors who had conspired to kill the king; and immediately giving such information as led to their apprehension, he was clothed in a purple robe, and crowned, and rode on a royal steed through the city, while Aman, with all his knights, were reduced to the necessity of extolling him[2]. When this was done, Mardocheus related to the queen that Aman intended to put all their nation to death; wherefore she proclaimed a fast, and afflicted herself with fasting and prayer. She then made a great feast, to which she invited the king and Aman. First imploring the life of her people, she explained how the latter had condemned all to death. Full of indignation, the king ordered him to be fixed upon the same rack which he had prepared for Mardocheus; who succeeded to all his honours. Thus by the disposing hand of Providence, the innocent people were freed, and the generation of the wicked utterly exterminated[3]. (121)


My beloved, the king is Christ; and the queen is the soul. Am an represents the Jewish people, who seek to destroy the church. The two traitors are the Jew and the Gentile.


  1. "Altumque erexit eculeum."
  2. This is decidedly an eastern custom. See the Arabian Tales, &c. passim.
  3. One would imagine that the story of Mordecai could never have been actually read by the author of this tale;!t seems as if a floating tradition had been caught up and worked into the apologue of Mardocheus. The latter name is Greek, and occurs in the apocryphal continuation of the Book of Esther.


Note 121.Page 386.

There is a metrical romance on this subject; and Thomas of Elmham, a chronicler, calls the coronation feast of King Henry the Sixth, a second feast of Ahasuerus. "Hence also Chaucer's allusion at the marriage of January and May, while they are at the solemnity of the wedding dinner, which is very splendid.

'Queen Esther looked ne'er with such an eye
On Assuere, so meek a look hath she[1].'"



  1. March. Tale, v. 1260.—Elm.