The Siege of Thebes: Tercia Pars

The marginal Latin glosses, identified by a capital L in the left margin next to the text, are transcribed and translated in the notes and can be accessed by clicking on (see note) at the corresponding line.


1 Wearing a wimple each one and in dark-brown clothes



1-64 Latin marginalia: Phebus in Ariete. Lydgate's opening to The Siege of Thebes echoes the opening of the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales (I[A]1-18). The difference is that Chaucer's periodic sentence connects the renewal of nature and spirituality in a complex but controlled syntactic structure, while Lydgate's syntax collapses under the weight of successive clauses. Pearsall, John Lydgate, p. 153, suggests that Lydgate's effort at imitation reveals his confidence rather than diffidence, based on the achievement of Troy Book. Erdmann (2.95) argues that lines 18-19 ("The tyme in soth whan Canterbury talys / Complet and told at many sondry stage") characteristically omit the verb "to be"; they also mark a point at which Lydgate enters the literary time scheme of the spring convention and Chaucer's evidently popular text. In Troy Book, Lydgate tries and similarly fails to imitate Chaucer's opening; see 1.3907-43 for direct imitation and 3.1-36 for a reprise of the structural technique. Among the important early textual witnesses to The Siege of Thebes, Bodley MS 776 provides an indirect commentary on Lydgate's imitation; it lacks the opening eight lines and a portion from the middle of the passage yet still conveys the essential tone and fictional premise. Johnstone Parr, "Astronomical Dating for Some of Lydgate's Poems," PMLA 67 (1952), 253-56, interprets the astrological references to yield the date of 27 April 1421 for Lydgate's return pilgrimage. Hammond, p. 369, observes that Chaucer places the sun in Aries, while Lydgate indicates the pilgrims' later departure from Canterbury by saying that the sun had passed into Taurus, the next zodiacal sign.

3 Latin marginalia: Saturnus in Virgine. As in Chaucer, Saturn is both a god and a planet. In The Knight's Tale, Palamon claims that he is in prison because of Saturn (I[A]1328), and later it is Saturn who resolves the strife between Venus and Mars by imposing a violent outcome (I[A]2438-78) to the tale. In Statius (Thebaid 2.356-62), Polynices invokes Saturn as a figure of justice, as he contemplates his return to Thebes from his year of exile. It is Jupiter (Thebaid 1.196-247) who loses his patience with Theban and Greek transgressions and promises strife.

7-8 Latin marginalia: Jubiter in capite Cancri. The gloss occurs three lines early because of marginal decoration.

19 Complet and told. Koeppel proposed to emend to Complet are tolde in order to furnish a verb.

22-25 Lydgate's taxonomy of tales recalls the Host's intention of introducing "myrthe" and "disport" to the Canterbury Pilgrimage (General Prologue I[A]761-76).

28-30 Marginalia: The Cook, the Millere, and the Reve. Lydgate mistakenly has the Reeve drunk, along with the Cook and Miller; see Spearing, Medieval to Renaissance in English Poetry, p. 75.

32 Lydgate mistakenly ascribes the baldness of the Miller in The Reeve's Tale (I[A]3935) to the Pardoner.

33 Marginalia: Pardonere.

34 Lydgate mistakenly ascribes the Summoner's "cherubinnes face" (I[A]624) to the Pardoner. Recent scholarship associates such inaccuracies with Lydgate's oblique challenge to Chaucer's authority rather than mere accidents. See Pearsall, "Lydgate as Innovator" and "Chaucer and Lydgate"; Ebin, "Chaucer, Lydgate, and the 'Myrie Tale'," and John Lydgate; Bowers, "The Tale of Beryn and The Siege of Thebes: Alternative Ideas of the Canterbury Tales"; Allen; and Strohm, England's Empty Throne. Erdmann (2: 96) points out that Lydgate turns to The Knight's Tale with more precision at the end of the poem (lines 4463-540). Spearing, "Lydgate's Canterbury Tale," p. 337, counts some thirty allusions there to the opening, background story of The Knight's Tale.

35 In The Canterbury Tales, the conflict is between the Summoner and the Friar.

39-57 Marginalia: ¶ Chaucer. Lydgate's praise of Chaucer recalls similar passages in Troy Book 2.4677-719, 3.550-57, 3.4234-63, 5.3519-43. Lydgate does not actually name Chaucer until line 4501. Spearing, "Lydgate's Canterbury Tale," says of Chaucer's absence from the frametale of Lydgate's poem: "the implicit claim of the Siege is that in it Lydgate becomes the father whose place he usurps" (p. 338).

43 making. "Making" is formally correct poetic composition, as distinct from the creative activity associated with "poetry." Chaucer typically describes his craft as "making."

52 his sugrid mouth. In Troy Book, Lydgate invokes Orpheus "wyth thyn hony swete / Sugrest tongis of rethoricyens" (Prol.56-57), but quickly contrasts the "dillygence of cronycleris" (Prol.246) with Homer's "veyn fables" (Prol.263): "With sugred wordes under hony soote / His galle is hidde lowe by the rote" (Prol.277-78). Thereafter, in the narrative of Troy Book, "sugre" and "sugred wordis" denote treacherous, deceitful speech in the private and public spheres. Blake, "Caxton and Chaucer," pp. 32-33, notes that this passage is adapted by William Caxton in his praise of Chaucer in the prologue to his second edition (c. 1484) of The Canterbury Tales.

53-54 keping in substaunce / The sentence hool withoute variance. Lydgate's remark on Chaucer as a poet seeking to write true history echoes his praise of Guido delle Colonne (Prol.359-60) and his hope for his own poem at the end of Troy Book (5.3540-43).

55-56 the chaf . . . the trewe piked greyn. Compare the end of The Nun's Priest's Tale: "Taketh the fruyt, and lat the chaf be stille" (VII[B2]3443).

59-60 Marginalia: ¶ At the Tabarde in Suthwerk. The original departure point for the pilgrims in the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales (I[A]20).

65 Marginalia: ¶ The Hoste

73-74 Marginalia: ¶ Discryving of the Monk. a palfrey slender, long, and lene. In The Canterbury Tales, the Clerk's horse is described as lean (I[A]287).

75 With rusty brydel mad nat for the sale. Bowers glosses the latter part of the line to mean "not worth selling," which is certainly possible given the reference to his man's "voide male" ("empty purse") in line 76. But the sense of sale is more likely "hall," particularly of a palace, castle, or mansion (see MED sale, noun 1.a). Unlike Chaucer's Monk, who would dress well and prefers the King's feast (roasted swan), Lydgate's modest Monk, with his lean horse and rusty bridle, does not yearn for or affect the pretensions of court. The MED does not cite this specific line, but neither does it cite "for the sale" as an idiom for selling.

79 her governour. Lydgate uses the same term for the Host as Chaucer does in the General Prologue (I[A]813).

81-82 Marginalia: ¶ The wordes of the Host to the Monk.

82-83 Daun Pers, / Daun Domynyk, Dan Godfrey, or Clement. The Host addresses Lydgate in the same manner as he does the clerics among the Canterbury pilgrims; compare the address to the Monk: "Wher shal I calle yow my lord daun John, / or daun Thomas, or elles daun Albon" (VII[B2]1929-30) and later "Wherfore, sire Monk, daun Piers by youre name, / I pray yow hertely telle us somwhat elles" (VII[B2]2792-93). The Monk's Tale is a de casibus tragedy that begins with the fall of Lucifer and Adam, moves through ancient figures like Alexander and Julius Caesar, and ends with some of Chaucer's contemporaries; its theme and tone complement the story of Thebes.

85 ne belle. The bridle of Chaucer's Monk is adorned with bells that "Gynglen in a whistlynge wynd als cleere / And eke as loude as dooth the chapel belle" (I[A]170-71).

90 a wonder thredbar hood. Compare the description of the Clerk in the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales: "Ful thredbare was his overeste courtepy" (I[A]290).

92 Marginalia: ¶ Lydgate.

93 Marginalia: ¶ Monk of Bery.

96 Marginalia: ¶ The wordes of the Host.

101 franchemole. A dish consisting of a mixture of ingredients boiled or roasted in a sheep's stomach (MED). Other fifteenth-century sources gloss it as a pudding or lucanica (a smoked sausage).

tansey: a pudding or omelet with tansy (MED), a plant of the genus Tanacetum.

froyse: a kind of pancake containing chopped meat or fish (MED).

104 in a feynt pasture. Bowers (p. 21) cites the Host's chiding the monk for grazing in a "gentil pasture" (VII[B2]1933).

114 collik passioun. Bowers (p. 21) cites the passage on colica passio in John Trevisa's fourteenth-century translation of Bartholomaeus Anglicus' De proprietatibus rerum.

116 ff. The Host's dietary advice sounds a bit like Pertelote's to the indulgent Chauntecleer in The Nun's Priest's Tale as she would govern what he puts in his "crop" (VII[B2]2961-67).

122 orloger. Compare Parliament of Fowls, line 350: "The kok, that orloge is of thorpes lyte," and The Nun's Priest's Tale, where Chauntecleer's crowing is said to be a more certain time piece than "an abbey orlogge" (VII[B2]2854). In Troy Book, the phrase "the cok, comoun astrologer" (1.2813) is a direct echo of Troilus and Criseyde 3.1415, the scene after the lovers' consummation.

126 by kokkis blood. An echo of the Host's oath "for cokkes bones" in The Canterbury Tales (IX[H]9 and X[I]29) and the Parson's reproof of swearing (X[I]591).

128-45 In bringing Lydgate under the "newe lawe" of the pilgrim "compenye" and having him set aside his monastic rule, the Host repeats the substance of the agreement that founds the temporary community and creates the dramatic frame of The Canterbury Tales (I[A]769-818).

143-44 Marginalia: ¶ How oure Host spak to Daun John.

164-66 Marginalia: ¶ How oure Host bad Daun John telle a tale.

165 jape. The term means both a trick and a joke. In the link introducing the Pardoner's Prologue, the Host asks the Pardoner, "Telle us som myrthe or japes right anon" (VI[C]319). Erdmann (2:100) also cites the Cook's Prologue (I[A]4343); compare the Pardoner: "a jape or a tale" (X[I]1024a). Both senses of the term converge in Nicholas' intent to "amenden al the jape" (I[A]3799) at the end of The Miller's Tale.

167 But preche not of non holynesse. Chaucer's Host, instructing the Clerk to recount "som myrie tale" (IV[E]9) and "som murie thyng of aventures" (IV[E]15), admonishes him: "But precheth nat, as freres doon in Lente" (IV[E]12).

168 some tale of myrth or of gladnesse. Erdmann (2:100) notes the Host's words to Chaucer at the beginning of Sir Thopas: "Telle us a tale of myrthe, and that anon" (VII[B2]706); compare VII(B2)964, VII(B2)3449, VIII(G)597, and X(I)46. Ebin, "Chaucer, Lydgate, and the 'Myrie Tale,'" p. 331, argues that Lydgate extended Chaucer's concept of a tale of "solaas" and "sentence" by adding the element of a mirror or moral speculum with practical as well as spiritual benefits; compare Ebin, John Lydgate, pp. 57-58.

Prima Pars

188 Upon the tyme of worthy Josué. Orosius' Historiarum adversum paganos libri vii is the model for a universal history aligning Biblical and classical events. Erdmann (2:100) cites Boccaccio, Genealogie deorum gentilium 2.63 on calculations about the founding of Thebes.

199-227 Erdmann (2:100) points out that the source Lydgate actually is referring to as myn auctour and Bochas bothe two is Boccaccio's Genealogie deorum gentilium 5.30. Boccaccio is the source for much of the mythology that Lydgate adds or amplifies. Koeppel (pp. 23-24) points out that Thomas Warton identified Boccaccio as Lydgate's source in his History of English Poetry (1774-81). Clogan, "Imagining the City of Thebes in Fifteenth-Century England" (p. 161), suggests the alternative that Lydgate's mention of Amphion's song could have come from Lactantius Placidus' commentary on the Thebaid (Boccaccio's source) or from a gloss to Statius.

200-03 Marginalia: How Kyng Amphyoun was the first that bilt the cyté of Thebes be the swetnesse of his soune. On Amphion's raising of the walls of Thebes by the sweet harmonies of the harp (lines 201-10), see also Chaucer's The Manciple's Tale, where Phebus' music is said to surpass that of Amphioun "That with his syngyng walled that citee" (IX[H]117). Chaucer also alludes to Amphioun in The Knight's Tale, when Arcite laments, "Allas, ybrought is to confusioun / The blood roial of Cadme and Amphioun" (I[A]1545-46).

212-15 Marginalia: ¶ The exposicioun of John Bochas upon this derk poysie. In the poetic treatise that comprises Books 14-15 of the Genealogie deorum gentilium, Boccaccio insists that one of the defining traits of poetry is its allegorical covering, which is designed to hide meaning from common readers.

215-16 Sense requires "He" as the subject of Seith or for Seith to be ignored and Gaf to be construed as the main verb.

222-24 Marginalia: ¶ The significacioun of the harpe of Mercure.

231-36 Marginalia: ¶ How Kyng Amphion be mediacioun of his soft spech wan the love and the hertes of the puple.

234-39 The power of Amphion's song, which is the crafty speche of prudence (line 226), recalls Priam's rebuilding of Troy and the corresponding political allegiance that he instills in the craftsmen who become its citizens (Troy Book 2.479-1066). Ebin, John Lydgate, p. 53, remarks that Lydgate goes past his source in Boccaccio's Genealogie deorum gentilium to sing with "crafty speech" to demonstrate the triumph of words over arms.

244-85 Lydgate's excursus on the duties of kingship is consistent with the advice John Gower gives in the Prologue and Book 7 of his Confessio Amantis and with precepts Lydgate sets out early, in Troy Book, and late in his career, in his translation of the Pseudo-Aristotelian Secreta Secretorum. Allen sees two of Lydgate's explicit themes as "the maintenance of cordial relations among those in positions of power and the mutual cooperation between monarch and populace, with the initiative borne by the monarch" (p. 124). Renoir, The Poetry of John Lydgate (p. 112), counts some 22 instances (555 lines) in The Siege of Thebes where Lydgate offers advice to royalty. On the danger and practical nature of such rhetoric, see Judith Ferster, Fictions of Advice: The Literature and Politics of Council in Late Medieval England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996), and Richard Firth Green, Poets and Princepleasers: Literature and the English Court in the Late Middle Ages (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1980).

246 Latin marginalia: ¶ Nota.

248-51 Marginalia: ¶ What availeth to a kyng or to a prince to ben goodly and benygne of his port to his puple.

265-68 Marginalia: ¶ How the poor puple supporten and beren up the estat of a kyng.

276 Latin marginalia: ¶ Nota.

277-80 Marginalia: ¶ What the goodlihede of a prince avaylleth to wynne the hertes of hys puple.

286-87 Marginalia: ¶ Ensample of Kyng Amphioun.

293-305 Erdmann (2:102) points out that Lydgate confuses the details of the white ox in Ovid's account of Cadmus (Metamorphoses 3.1-137) with the story of Dido's founding Carthage.

294-97 Marginalia: ¶ How aftere the opynyoun of some auctours Cadmus bilt first the cité of Thebes.

303-08 Marginalia: ¶ How the contré of Boece toke first his name of a bolys skyn after called Thebes.

309-13 Marginalia: ¶ How Kyng Cadmus was exiled out of Thebes be prowesse of Kynge Amphyoun.

319 clerkes. Erdmann (2:102) points out that the reference is to Boccaccio. In Troy Book (Prol.147-225), clerks preserve both the "pleyne trouthe" and the reputation of heroes against the corrosive power of time.

330-33 Marginalia: ¶ How the lyne of Amphioun be discent was conveied to Kyng Layus.

339-40 Marginalia: ¶ Kyng Layus and Jocasta hys wiff.

343-44 These lines are iambic tetrameter.

368 The chyldes fate and disposicioun. Astral determinism is a position that Christian writers from Augustine onwards rejected, though it remained a topic of speculation for poets like Bernardus Silvestris in his Cosmographia, Experimentarius, and Mathematicus (the last a story of fated patricide based on pseudo-Quintilian's Declamatio Maior 4). Laius' consultation with his diviners reflects the late-medieval interest in both the philosophical problems of the ancient world and its cultural practices; see Alastair Minnis, Chaucer and Pagan Antiquity (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1982), chapters 1-2.

369-73 Marginalia: ¶ How the astronomyens and phylisophres of Thebes calked out the fate of Edyppus.

370 The root ytake at the ascendent. The root (Latin radix) is the time from which the astrological tables were calculated for a particular location. The ascendent is the first and most powerful astrological house that the sun enters in its twenty-four hour circuit.

380 yeeres collecte. Anni collecti are astrological tables showing a planet's position in twenty-year cycles, as distinct from those for single years (anni expansi). See Chaucer's The Franklin's Tale V(F)1275, and his Treatise on the Astrolabe 2.44-45 (supplementary propositions) for the means of calculating positions according to degrees, minutes, seconds, and small fractions.

383 eche aspecte and lookes ek dyvers. Aspect is "the relative position, described in angular distance, of one planet or sign to another at a certain time" (MED), regarded as a good or evil influence; lookes is merely a repetition of aspecte.

385 Latin marginalia: ¶ Nota.

386-90 Marginalia: ¶ The cursed constellacioun and indisposicioun of the hevene in the nativyté of Edyppus. J. Parr, "The Horoscope of Edippus in Lydgate's Siege of Thebes" (p. 122), concludes that Lydgate does not present a technically exact horoscope for Oedipus but constructs instead an arrangement of planets - Saturn and Mars with Venus waning - that would convey the inevitability of patricide rhetorically.

388 Satourn. The Knight's Tale (I[A]2443-69) emphasizes Saturn's melancholic character; see also Raymond Klibansky, Erwin Panofsky, and Fritz Saxl, Saturn and Melancholy: Studies in the History of Natural Philosophy, Religion, and Art (New York: Basic Books, 1964), pp. 159-95.

392 The same hour. Compare phrasing at line 1057.

393 Latin marginalia: ¶ Nota.

394-98 Marginalia: ¶ How the fate of Edippus disposed that he shulde sleen his owne fadere.

396 The syntax requires "was" to be understood: "the clerks' judgment was that his father shall be slain."

442-47 Marginalia: ¶ How the huntys of Kyng Poliboun fonde the chyld in the forest and presented hym to the kynge.

465-66 Spearing, "Lydgate's Canterbury Tale," p. 351, notes that Lydgate's mention that Polyboun lacks an heir surprisingly echoes the narrator's remark about Criseyde: "But wheither that she children hadde or noon, / I rede it naught, therfore I late it goon" (Troilus and Criseyde 1.132-33).

482-83 The pairing of Contrarie and Froward recurs in lines 1033, 1340, 3178; compare 2895-97.

538-40 And within a spirit ful unclene, / Be fraude only and fals collusioun, / Answere gaf to every questioun. Compare Lydgate's excursus on idolatry in Troy Book 2.5472-74, as Agamemnon sends Achilles and Pirithous to consult the Delphic oracle: "And therin was, thorugh the devels sleighte, / A spirit unclene, be false illusioun, / That gaf answere to every question." Spearing, "Lydgate's Canterbury Tale," pp. 357-58, finds the attitude close to that in the Franklin's Tale: "swiche illusiouns and swiche meschaunces / As hethen folke useden in thilke dayes" (V[F]1292-93). On idolatry, see below, lines 4047-54.

566 a maner tornement. The tournament that Laius holds recalls Theseus' tournament in The Knight's Tale in its dual aim of proving chivalric worth and promoting reputation (I[A]2106-16).

579-81 Marginalia: ¶ How Edippus slogh his fader of ignoraunce at the castel.

581 cruelly hym slogh. Compare Troilus' death at the hands of Achilles: "Despitously hym slough the fierse Achille" (Troilus and Criseyde 5.1806).

611-15 Marginalia: ¶ How Edippus passed by the hyll wher the monstre lay that was called Spynx.

619-21 Marginalia: ¶ The descripcioun of the foule monstre.

660-62 Marginalia: ¶ Of the problem that Spynx putte to Edippus.

680 in his manly herte. The phrase is repeated later in the description of Tydeus at the ambush (line 2175).

697-700 Marginalia: ¶ How Egippus expounded the problem that Sphynx put to hym.

726-35 Erdmann (2:105) regards the sentence as a series of run-on clauses, but the syntax is elliptical rather than broken: no man may escape the truth that, when Fortune's wheel turns, it does no good for anyone to resist further when he sees his time end and Atropos cuts the life-thread that Clotho first wove. The sentence comes to a full stop here.

809-16 In conceding that Oedipus was ignorant when he married Jocasta yet suffered punishment and overthrow, Lydgate interprets the myth according to Boethian Fortune. In the Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius explains Fortune as the confluence of remote sources that the individual cannot foresee or adequately understand.

823 I am wery mor therof to write. Compare Chaucer's expression of exasperation in The Legend of Good Women: "I am agroted herebyforn / To wryte of hem that ben in love forsworn" (line 2454-55).

831 Clyo nor Calyopé. Chaucer calls upon these two muses in the proems to books 2 and 3 of Troilus and Criseyde, Clio, muse of history, to help him "storie" the courtship of Criseyde; and Calliope, muse of epic poetry, to help him recount the consumma-tion of their love. Lydgate's point here is that Oedipus' marriage will not be blessed by "hevenly armonye" (line 830), regardless of the telling.

837 Marcian ynamed de Capelle. Martianus Capella was the fifth-century North African writer who composed the De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii, an encyclopedia of the Seven Liberal Arts prefaced by the allegorical story of the wedding of Philology and Mercury. Chaucer makes the wedding a point of satiric contrast for the marriage of January and May in The Merchant's Tale (IV[E]1732-41).

853-56 Marginalia: ¶ The infortunat folk that weren at the weddynge: Cerebus, Herebus, Nygh[t] and her thre doghtren, Drede, Fraude, Trecherie, Tresoun, Poverté, Indygence, Nede, Deth, Cruel Mars.

869 Fraternal Hate. Compare Statius, Thebaid 1.1: "Fraternas acies."

870-72 Marginalia: ¶ Alle thise folk weren at the wedding of Edyppus and Jocasta.

873 To make the towne desolat and bare. Repeated at line 4372. The image of the desolate city is taken from the opening of the Book of Lamentations traditionally ascribed to Jeremiah. Dante uses it to represent the death of Beatrice in the Vita Nuova (ch. xxviii). In the Filostrato, Boccaccio revises Dante's use of the figure in order to signify the absence of his fictitious lover and Criseida's empty house after she has left Troy and abandoned Troiolo. Chaucer employs Boccaccio's image to describe Criseyde's "paleys desolat" (5.540-53). Compare Anelida and Arcite lines 57-63 for the image in Chaucer's summary of the carnage of the Theban expedition (Simpson, p. 28).

994 Latin marginalia: ¶ Tragedia Senece de Edippo rege Thebarum. The Oedipus written by Lucius Annaeus Seneca follows the main lines of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex but adds spectacular scenes such as occult rituals and Jocasta's death on stage.

1009 devoide both of love and drede. Lydgate recalls the phrasing that describes the relation of the Lombard prince Walter to his nobles and people at the beginning of Chaucer's The Clerk's Tale: "Biloved and drad" (IV[E]69). Compare line 1205, where the phrasing is applied to Adrastus as a monarch who holds power by virtue and popular consent.

1010 whan Edippus for meschief was thus dede. Lydgate follows the narrative of the prose romances. In Statius, Oedipus is alive when Creon comes to power following the deaths of Etiocles and Polynices.

1020 Latin marginalia: ¶ Nota.

1021-26 Marginalia: ¶ How every man oght of dieuté to do reverence to fader and modere, or ellis ther wil folowe vengeaunce.

1025-38 This sentence has no control over syntax; from line 1033 onwards, it is a sequence of elliptical clauses.

1046b Latin marginalia: ¶ Secunda pars.

Secunda Pars

1047 Bowtoun on the Ble. In the frametale of The Canterbury Tales, the Second Nun's life of St. Cecilia has just ended when the Canon's Yeoman overtakes the pilgrims at Boghtoun under Blee (VIII[G]556), which is located about five miles from Canterbury. Lydgate imagines the pilgrims now returning to London as he tells his tale of Thebes. They have already passed the locations where the Manciple and Parson told their tales on their way to Becket's shrine.

1050 Of the clok that it drogh to nyne. The time-telling trope resonates with Chaucer's time-telling passages, one in the Introduction to The Man of Law's Tale, where Harry Bailly urges the pilgrims on because it is already 10 o'clock and time is slipping away, and another just outside Canterbury as the Parson is called on to tell his tale. Lydgate's pilgrims are off to a good start as it is only 9 o'clock and Lydgate has already finished the first part of his triptych tale.

1054-56 Zephyrus . . . hoolsom eir. Another allusion to The Canterbury Tales. Compare the opening lines of the General Prologue, particularly I(A)5-18.

1088-89 Marginalia: ¶ The controvercy of the bretheren.

1104-30 Simpson remarks that a "bureaucratic" and clerical wisdom is undone by the knightly interests of Eteocles and Polynices.

1121-22 Marginalia: ¶ The convencioun of the brotheren.

1161-70 Polynices' journey recapitulates Oedipus' earlier journey.

1190-92 Marginalia: ¶ How Polymytes cam into the lond of Arge.

1195 Chysoun. Adrastus was King of Sicyon.

1196 Chaloun. Adrastus is the son of Talaus: "senior Talaionides" (Thebaid 2.141); see also Hyginus, Fabulae 68A.1, 69, 69A.1, 70.

1211 Marginalia: ¶ Deyphylé.

1212 Marginalia: ¶ Adrastus.

1222-24 Marginalia: ¶ The drem of Kyng Adrastus of a bor and a lyoun.

1266 Tidyus. As Erdmann points out (2:108-09), Lydgate and his sources are uncertain about the details of Tydeus' exile. Tydeus' fratricide, mentioned in line 1271 but unemphasized in Lydgate's poem, ironically reinforces the theme of internecine conflict. His first meeting with Polynices leads to violence, but they reconcile as allies and brothers-in-law.

1270-81 Statius refers briefly to Tydeus' killing of his brother (Thebaid 2.402-03, 2.452-54).

1349 pompous and ellat. The phrase is applied later to another heroic knight, in a mythological excursus on Lycurgus (line 3530); compare Troy Book 1.3110, 4.250, 5.37.

1352-54 Marginalia: ¶ How Tydeus and Polymyte strif for her loggyng.

1374-86 Lydgate's equation of Adrastus with Theseus in Chaucer's The Knight's Tale is indicated by the repetition of the phrase Withoute juge (lines 1366, 1382; compare I[A]1712: "Withouten juge or oother officere").

1408-29 In the Thebaid 1.679-92, Polynices identifies himself by mentioning Cadmus, Thebes, and Jocasta. Adrastus tells him that the rest of the story is well known, adding that his house has its own sins and that posterity does not bear the blame of its ancestor.

1437 Cusshewes. A cuisse is a piece of armor that covers the thighs with plate armor front and back. Greaves are armor for the lower leg. Lydgate describes the inverse scene in Troy Book (3.50), where the knights arm themselves with the same pieces as mentioned here.

1460 Lucyfer. Lydgate seems to mean Lucifer as the sun, as Erdmann indicates in his gloss, but normal Middle English usage construes him as the morning star. Compare Chaucer's Boece 3.m1.9 and Troilus and Criseyde 3.1417.

1484 his arowes of gold and not of stiel. Cupid's arrows representing courtly virtues and vices are mentioned in the Roman de la rose. Compare Chaucer's Romaunt 946-47: "But iren was ther noon ne steell, / For al was gold."

1488 Depe yfiched the poynt of remembraunce. Compare Anelida's complaint in Anelida and Arcite, which laments Arcite's betrayal (lines 211, 350).

1499 spices pleynly and the wyn. Spices were taken with wine. Compare The Squire's Tale V(F)291-94 and The Legend of Good Women, line 1110.

1502-05 Touchyng her reste . . . Demeth ye lovers . . . in my boke. Lydgate's deferential trope originates in Chaucer. See, e.g., Troilus and Criseyde 3.1310-16. Lydgate picks up the phrase "the grete worthynesse" from Troilus and Criseyde 3.1316 in his line 1509.

1532 feeldys. The field is the surface of the shield on which a charge of heraldic device is displayed.

1541 lik as writ Bochas. Genealogie deorum gentilium 2.41.

1562-65 Lydgate uses the device of occupatio in a manner reminiscent of The Knight's Tale and alluding closely to The Squire's Tale (V[F]65-68), where the Squire in fact demonstrates his inability to control the figure rhetorically. Unlike Chaucer's narrators, Lydgate adheres to the ideal of brevity. A sotyltee is an ornamental device used at fine banquets, sometimes made of sugar and consumed, but sometimes also a table decoration that might establish the motif of the feast.

1615-21 Adrastus' plan to divide his kingdom between Polynices and Tydeus so that he can pursue the lust of my desyris (line 1617) and myn ese (line 1621) recalls Walter's governance before his marriage to Griselda in The Clerk's Tale as much as King Lear's disastrous division of his realm in Shakespeare's play. Allen, p. 125, suggests that Lydgate may be drawing on the ironic lesson of Troilus and Criseyde that human plans can be thwarted by the malice of others.

1629 verray gentyl knyght. Compare Chaucer's phrasing in his idealizing portrait of the Knight in the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales: "He was a veray, parfit gentil knyght" (I[A]72). Lydgate idealizes Tydeus, suppressing the details of his cannibalism as he dies on the battlefield; see below lines 4235-37.

1663-73 Another Chaucerian example of occupatio. See note to lines 1562-65.

1669-70 th'amerous lookes . . . leyd doun lyne and hokes. The notion that lines with hooks stream from the eyes of lovers to ensnare others lies at the heart of courtly love traditions. See Andreas Capellanus, De amore, 1.3. Relying on Isidore of Seville's Etymologiae 10.1.5, Andreas traces the origin of the word "love" (amor) to the word for "hook" (hamus): Nam qui amat captus est cupidinis vinculis aliumque desiderat suo capere hamo [for the lover is caught in bonds of desire and longs to catch another on his hook (hamo)]. See also Chaucer's "Merciles Beaute" where "Your yën two wol slee me sodenly" (line 1); or "The Complaint of Mars," where the lover is troubled by "the stremes of thin yën" (line 111).

1721-22 Marginalia: ¶ Comendacioun of Trouthe. See note to lines 1728-32 below.

1724 as a centre stable. Compare the description of Cambyuskan in Chaucer's The Squire's Tale (V[F]22): "Of his corage as any centre stable."

1727 Latin marginalia: ¶ Nota.

1728-32 Marginalia: ¶ How trouth is preferred in the book of Esdre aforn kyngges, wymmen, and wyn. The reference is to 3 Esdras 3-4.43, where wisemen demonstrate through debate that Truth is stronger than the king, wine, or women. The story is a great favorite among late fourteenth-century English poets. See Gower, Confessio Amantis 7.1783-1984, where Truth, which is stronger than all contenders, is identified as a primary point of virtue. Chaucer's Prudence gives an amusing variation on the story, where jasper is declared stronger than gold, wisdom stronger than jasper, and women strongest of all (The Tale of Melibee VII[B2]1106-08). 3 Esdras may be found in the appendix to Weber's Stuttgart edition of the Vulgate (1986), 2.1910-30. An interesting translation may be found in The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments with the Apocryphal Books, trans. from the Latin Vulgate by John Wycliffe and his Followers, ed. Josiah Forsball and Sir Frederic Madden (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1850; 1982), vol. 2.542-75.

1732 ben ek set asyde. The syntax of this clause is confusing. The general sense is that kings, wine, and women have little value and power in comparison to truth. Erdmann (2: 66) observes that the syntax of the line confused a number of scribes.

1736-41 The story of the rebuilding of the wall is alluded to in 2 Esdras 2:1-8, but the account is greatly expanded in 3 Esdras 2 and 4, as the king is convinced that the keeping of his word to rebuild the wall is most important of all. See note to lines 1728-32.

1743-45 Marginalia: ¶ Trouth and mercye preserven a kyng from al adversyté. Proverbs 20:28. "Misericordia et veritas custodiunt regem et roboratur clementia thronus eius" ("Mercy and truth preserve a king, and his throne is upheld by mercy"); compare Proverbs 16:12.

1748-50 Marginalia: ¶ Chaunge nor doublenesse shuld not be in a kyng.

1766 Interlinear gloss: trouth. Added to explain grammatical referent of it: truth wol clerly shyne.

1785-86 Marginalia: ¶ The counsayl of flatareres.

1790 blowen in an horn. Compare Theseus' remark about the loser of the contest to win Emily: "He moot go pipen in an yvy leef" (I[A]1838); and the luckless priest in The Miller's Tale (I[A]3387): "Absolon may blowe the bukkes horn."

1801-03 Marginalia: ¶ How the yeer was come out that Ethiocles regnyd.

1814-60 Lydgate and his sources omit the portion of the story in which Argeia pleads that Polynices not return to Thebes to claim the throne. It is subsequent to this scene that Polynices seeks counsel with Adrastus and Tydeus volunteers to undertake the mission. In Lydgate, Tydeus' refusal to hear any objection recalls Hector's refusal in Troy Book to heed Andromache's and Priam's protests against his taking the field against the Greeks.

1846-49 Marginalia: ¶ Tydeus took upon hym to doun the massage of Polymyne.

1867-70 Marginalia: ¶ The sorowe of Deyphilé whan Tideus went toward Thebes.

1889-90 The sense requires "was sittyng."

1901-04 Marginalia: ¶ How wisly and how knyghtly Tideus did his massage.

1932-35 Marginalia: ¶ The request that Tideus mad in the name of Polymyt under the title of the convencioun.

1963-64 Marginalia: ¶ The answer of Ethiocles.

1983 A four-beat line.

2047-49 Marginalia: ¶ The knyghtly answere ageyne of Tydeus.

2116-18 Marginalia: ¶ How manly Tydeus departed from the kyng.

2147-51 Marginalia: ¶ How falsly Ethyocles leyde a busshment in the way to have slayn Tydeus.

2157-58 The ambush of Tydeus repeats Oedipus' encounter with the Sphinx.

2173-75 Marginalia: ¶ How Tydeus outrayed fifty knyghtes that lay in a wayt for hym.

2197 rampaunt. Lydgate uses the adjective both in the sense of "threatening, fierce" and in the heraldic sense of a lion or griffon "standing in profile on the left hind leg" (MED).

2197-200 Erdmann (2:117) notes that the images here recall the battle of Palamon and Arcite in The Knight's Tale (I[A]1655-58).

2204 Now her, now ther. Tydeus' slaughter of his enemies echoes Pandarus' account to Criseyde of Troilus' prowess on the battlefield: "Now here, now ther, he hunted hem so faste, / Ther nas but Grekes blood - and Troilus" (Troilus and Criseyde 2.197-98).

2239-42 Marginalia: ¶ Hou trouth with lityl multitude hath evere in the fyn victory of falshede.

2244 chanpartye. Chaucer (The Knight's Tale I[A]1949) and Lydgate (Troy Book 2.5357, 2.5681, 3.2923) use the term in a number of contexts to mean "dispute" or "contend."

2269-71 Marginalia: ¶ How Tydeus al forwounded cam unto Ligurgus lond.

2274-75 As Erdmann (2:118) points out, the garden Tydeus enters recalls the one in which Palamon and Arcite first see Emily in The Knight's Tale (I[A]1056-61). The reference is interesting for what does not occur in Lydgate's poem: when he is healed of his wounds, Tydeus thanks Lygurgus' daughter for her assistance and returns to Argos.

2306-09 Marginalia: ¶ How Barurgus [Ligurgus] doghter fond Tydeus sleping in the herber al forwounded.

2355-58 Marginalia: ¶ How wommanly the lady acquyt hir to Tydeus in his desese.

2377-79 Marginalia: ¶ Hou Tydeus was refresshed in the castel of the lady.

2424-25 Marginalia: ¶ Hou Tydeus repeyred hym to Arge al forwoundyd.

2484-88 Marginalia: ¶ How Ethiocles was asstonyed whan he herd the deth of his knyghtes.

Tercia Pars

2553-67 Erdmann (2:120) cites Chaucer's Anelida and Arcite, lines 50-53, as a source, and Spearing, "Lydgate's Canterbury Tale," p. 362n33, suggests a formal resemblance to "O crueel goddes" (The Knight's Tale I[A]1303). But compare the apostrophes to Mars in Troy Book Prol.1-37 and 4.4440-537.

2586-88 Marginalia: ¶ The gret purveaunce of Kyng Adrastus touard Thebes.

2602 Cylmythenes. The passage from the Roman de Edipus printed by Erdmann (2:120) makes it clear that the proper name is an error for the title King of Mycenae: "La vint Parthonolopeus qui estoit filz du roy Archade et cil de Michenes et le Roy ypomedon . . . ." In the Thebaid, Parthonopeus is the last of the heroes named in Statius' list.

2613-15 Marginalia: ¶ The kyngges and princes that cam with Adrastus.

2661-63 As Erdmann (2:121) notes, these lines recall the passages in The Knight's Tale where the knights gather (I[A]2095-127) and later begin the tournament (I[A]2491-512). Lydgate's phrasing is close but not exact: uncouth devyses (line 2662) reformulates Chaucer's "devisynge of harneys / So unkouth and so riche" (I[A]2496-97) and Every man after his fantasye (line 2663) makes a significant change in "Everych after his opinioun" (I[A]2127). These verbal approximations belie the profound difference between Adrastus' preparations for war and Theseus' efforts to contain violence through ceremony and game.

2682-85 Marginalia: ¶ What vayleth a kyng to payen his puple trewly her sowde.

2713-14 Marginalia: ¶ Hou love vayleth mor a kyng than gold or gret richesse.

2750-53 Marginalia: ¶ How Ethiocles made hym strong ageyn the commyng of the Grekes.

2759 gonnys. Compare line 4315 and Chaucer's The Legend of Good Women, line 637, which has guns at Antony and Cleopatra's defeat at Actium (Erdmann 2:121). Cannons are mentioned in English and Italian documents from the early fourteenth century onwards.

2801-04 Marginalia: ¶ How the Bysshope Amphiorax was sent for to come to the Grekes. Renoir, The Poetry of John Lydgate, p. 123, argues that Lydgate presents a more positive view of Amphiarus than the closest French source, the Roman de Edipus, and makes him a source of wisdom.

2823-24 Marginalia: ¶ The proph[e]cie of Amphiorax.

2832 ther was non other geyn. Lydgate's characteristic expression of necessity; compare Troy Book 1.3490, 2.7370, 3.5244, 3.5299, 4.618, 4.1400, 4.3111, 5.1947.

2841-72 Lydgate's casual misogyny here and at lines 4449-62 plays against his more complex treatment of women in Troy Book 3.4343-448, where he seems to reprove Guido delle Colonne's antifeminism but ends by affirming part of it.

2853-57 Marginalia: ¶ How the wif of Amphiorax of conscience to save her hath discured her husbond.

2946-48 Marginalia: ¶ How age and youth ben of diverse opynyons.

2958 Joye at the gynnyng; the ende is wrechednesse. Compare the definitions of tragedy in Dante's Letter to Can Grande della Scala and the Prologue to Chaucer's The Monk's Tale (VII[B2]1971-81).

2969-72 Marginalia: ¶ How that wysdam withoute supportacioun avayleth lit or noght.

3007-09 Marginalia: ¶ The gret meschief that Grekes hadde for watere.

3034 "This Ligurgus seems to be another person than the king of the same name mentioned 2308, 2353, and the country as well as the garden are apparently quite unfamiliar to Tydeus" (Erdmann 2:123). Chaucer confuses Lycurgus of Nemea (mentioned in Teseida 6.14) with Lycurgus of Thrace (mentioned in Thebaid 4.386 and 7.180); see The Riverside Chaucer, p. 837, the note for The Knight's Tale I(A)2129.

3040-43 Marginalia: ¶ How Tydeus compleyned to the lady in the herber for water.

3069-71 Marginalia: ¶ How the ladye taught Tydeus to the welle.

3154-92 The story of Hypsipyle told here, Erdmann (2:123) points out, combines Lydgate's prose sources with Boccaccio's Genealogie deorum gentilium 5.29, his De claris mulieribus 15, and Chaucer's The Legend of Good Women, 3155-87. In Statius, the story is told at length (Thebaid 5.28-498).

3188 Marginalia: ¶ Jason.

some bookis telle. Chaucer's The Legend of Good Women recounts the collusion of Jason and Hercules to seduce and betray Hypsipyle in the paired stories of Medea and Hypsipyle (1368-679). See also Gower's telling of the story of Jason, Medea, and the golden fleece in Confessio Amantis 5.3247-4361.

3192 Marginalia: ¶ Hercules.

3193 Marginalia: ¶ Ysyphylé.

3195 Hir fadres name of which also I wante. Hypsipyle's father is named Thoas; see Statius, Thebaid 5.239 and Chaucer, The Legend of Good Women, line 1468.

3204 fayre Jane. Giovanna (Joanna), daughter of Robert of Anjou, king of Naples, where Boccaccio lived between 1327-41. Giovanna is the last figure mentioned in Boccaccio's De claris mulieribus. Though originally intended for Giovanna, the work, begun in 1361 and revised until 1375, is dedicated to Countess Andrea Acciaiuoli.

3207 conpiled. A compilatio is a collection of narratives with some organizing principle, as opposed to a collectio, which merely gathers the materials without an organizing scheme. Chaucer and Gower describe their authorial role as that of a compilator, someone who writes the materials of others and augments them but adds nothing of his own.

3217-18 Marginalia: ¶ How the child was slayn with the serpent.

3313-16 Marginalia: ¶ Hou Adrastus and all th' estatus of Grekis praiden Lygurgus for the lif of Ysyphilé.

3326 herberiours. A harbinger is a servant who rides ahead to arrange his master's lodging.

3379 The rage gan myne. Erdmann (2:126) proposes a source in Criseyde's inclination toward Troilus: "And after that, his manhod and his pyne / Made love withinne hire for to myne" (Troilus and Criseyde 2.676-77).

3379-83 Marginalia: ¶ The sorow that the Kyng Ligurgus made for the deth of his child and the lamentacioun of the quene.

3384 Erdmann (2:126) cites Criseyde's isolation in the Greek camp: "Hire nedede no teris for to borwe" (Troilus and Criseyde 5.726).

3398 pité which is in gentyl blood. The phrase "pitee renneth soone in gentil herte" recurs throughout Chaucer's poetry (The Knight's Tale I[A]1761, The Man of Law's Tale II[B1]660, The Merchant's Tale IV[E]1986, The Squire's Tale V[F]479, The Legend of Good Women F 503). Guido Guinizelli's doctrinal canzone "Al cor gentil rempaira sempre amore" ("Love returns always to the gentle heart") gives one of the most important medieval expressions to the idea; see also Dante, Convivio 4.16.3-5. In Statius, the corresponding virtue is clementia, which has political significance (mercy that can supersede the mechanisms of justice) rather than aristocratic and moral meaning.

3417-18 Marginalia: ¶ Ageynes deth may be no recur.

3418-19 And our lif her, who tak hed therto, / Is but an exile and a pilgrymage. Compare Egeus' speech of consolation to Palamon immediately after Arcite's death in The Knight's Tale: "This world nys but a thurghfare ful of wo, / And we been pilgrymes, passynge to and fro" (I[A]2847-48). Adrastus' speech of consolation to Lycurgus (lines 3409-49) also recalls Theseus' speech on providence at the end of The Knight's Tale and the practical wisdom of Agamemnon's speech to Menelaus after the loss of Helen (Troy Book 2.4337-427).

3430 fraunchyse. The term refers broadly to freedom and nobility of character and specifically to special rights and privileges, including right of sanctuary and freedom from arrest in certain places (MED); see also Erdmann 2:177.

3432 supersedyas. Writ to stay legal proceedings or to suspend the powers of an officer (MED and Erdmann 2:199). Erdmann 2:126-27 and Schirmer, p. 64, relate the reference to the murder of Duke John of Burgundy (10 September 1419) and cite Troy Book 5.3553-56 as a parallel.

3468-70 Marginalia: ¶ How the quen wil algate han the serpente dede.

3487-89 Marginalia: ¶ How Parthonolope saugh the serpent.

3510 Boccaccio, Genealogie deorum gentilium 3.29

3521-22 Latin marginalia: ¶ Nota de Ligurgo rege Traccee.

3522-35 In The Knight's Tale, Lycurgus is the champion who accompanies Palamon against Arcite (I[A]2128-29); compare Teseida 6.14. Like Chaucer, Lydgate confuses Lycurgus, the father of the slain infant Opheltes, with Lycurgus, the king of Thrace who repudiated Bacchus (Thebaid 4.386); see above, line 3034.

3528 Latin marginalia: ¶ Bachus de vini.

3537-40 Latin marginalia: ¶ Nota de xii arboribus in libro Bochacii de Genealogia Deorum. Boccaccio sets out the genealogical scheme in the first proem to the Genealogie deorum gentilium.

3541 Certaldo. Boccaccio was born in the village of Certaldo, not far from Florence. He returned there after retirement from public life and called himself "John of Certaldo."

3589-92 Marginalia: ¶ The forey that the Grekis made in the contré about Thebes.

3620-22 Marginalia: ¶ The variaunce in Thebes among hemsilf.

3647-50 Marginalia: ¶ Nota The word of the Qwene Jocasta to Ethiocles.

3655 lat us shape another mene. Chaucer uses the phrase to describe Fate's plan for killing Hector (Troilus and Criseyde 5.1551), and Lydgate uses the phrase through-out Troy Book to express practical deliberation in political matters.

3661-70 Ebin, John Lydgate, pp. 54-55, remarks that Lydgate amplifies the climax of Jocasta's speech by reiterating the example of Amphion's elevation of words over arms.

3663-65 Marginalia: ¶ How perilous it is to be governyd any querel.

3687 dryve so narowe to the stake. Erdmann (2:129) notes similar phrasing in The Knight's Tale: "be broght unto the stake" (I[A]2552), "ydrawen to the stake" (I[A]2642), and "broght to the stake" (I[A]2648).

3766-67 Marginalia: ¶ The answer of Tydeus.

3822-932 The episode of the tiger is amplified in details from Statius by Lydgate's sources, and Lydgate uses it to make the same point as in Troy Book - disastrous consequences follow from remote and oblique causes.

3904-05 Marginalia: ¶ The manhod of Tydeus.

4011 thus I lete him dwelle. A favorite transitional device in Chaucer; see The Knight's Tale I(A)1661, The Man of Law's Tale II(B1)410 and 1119, The Franklin's Tale V(F)1099, The Shipman's Tale VII(B2)306, Troilus and Criseyde 5.195, The Legend of Good Women, lines 2348 and 2383, and "Complaint of Mars" lines 74, 122.

4029-30 Marginalia: ¶ How Amphiorax fil doune into hell.

4041-44 Spearing, "Lydgate's Canterbury Tale," p. 340, finds the model for Amphiarus' descent to hell in Aurelius' address to Apollo in The Franklin's Tale (V[F]1073-75).

4047-54 Lydgate's style echoes Chaucer's ambiguous anaphora on pagan rites and poetry at the end of Troilus and Criseyde 5.1849-55. On idolatry, see above, lines 538-40. See also the note to lines 4620-30 below.

4167-69 Marginalia: ¶ How Grekes chose hem a new dyvynour in stede of Amphiorax.

4205 That as the deth fro his swerd they fledde. The description of Tydeus parallels that of Troilus in his effort to secure Criseyde's admiration through deeds of arms: "Fro day to day in armes so he spedde / That the Grekes as the deth him dredde" (Troilus and Criseyde 1.482-83).

4212-15 The plot to ambush Tydeus resembles the plots that Achilles organizes in Troy Book to kill first Hector and then Troilus.

4218-19 Marginalia: ¶ How pitously Tydeus was slayn with a quarell.

4235-37 Boccaccio, Genealogie deorum gentilium 9.21 in fact records the full details of the scene in Statius, where Tydeus gnaws on the head of Menalippus; compare Dante's version of the scene with Ugolino (Inferno 33.1-90), to which Chaucer directs the curious reader in The Monk's Tale (VII[B2]2458-62).

4239-41 Marginalia: ¶ He that slogh Tydeus was callyd Menolippus.

4240-54 Lydgate's treatment of the rest of the Argive heroes is in marked contrast to that of Statius, who sets the rhythm of his poem around the successive deaths of the kings who join Adrastus to move against Thebes.

4277-80 Marginalia: ¶ How everich of the Theban bretheren slogh other toforn the cyté.

4281 compassioun. Schlauch, p. 19, emphasizes that the combat between the brothers is presented "in the spirit of the Roman de Thèbes," where the equivalent term is pitié (9630). Lydgate's use of compassioun in this scene is the culmination of an ambiguous pattern: the term applies earlier to the decision not to kill the infant Oedipus, to Lycurgus' daughter's healing of Tydeus after the ambush, to Hypsipyle's response to the desperate situation of the Greek army, and to Adrastus' sympathy for Lycurgus as the king holds the body of his infant son.

4315 See above, line 2759.

4341-44 Marginalia: ¶ How al the gentyl blood of Grece and Thebes was distroyed on o day.

4345-48 In Statius, Adrastus is the only hero to survive the assault on Thebes. Lydgate follows his prose source in having both Adrastus and Campaneus survive (Erdmann 2:134). In the Roman de Thèbes, Campaneus is struck down by Jupiter's thunderbolt.

4372 the cité bar and destitut. See above, line 872.

4384 Creon is chosen governor of the city in the French tradition of the story, while he seizes power in Statius. Compare Anelida and Arcite, lines 64-68.

4386-88 Marginalia: ¶ How Creaunt the old tyraunt was chosen kyng of Thebes.

4412-15 Erdmann (2:133) cites the references to queens and duchesses in The Knight's Tale (I[A]922-23), but Lydgate amplifies the number of titles and makes explicit the social standing of the women.

4416-18 Marginalia: ¶ How alle the ladyes of Gr[e]ce arayde hem toward Thebes.

4448-62 See above, lines 2841-72. Erdmann (2:134) finds a tinge of satire in the passage.

4489-92 Marginalia: ¶ How Creon wil not suffre the bodies nowther to be buryed nor brent.

4501 And as my mayster Chaucer list endite. The ending portions of Lydgate's poem are linked with the opening of Chaucer's The Knight's Tale both at a narrative level and at the level of specific textual detail. Later (line 4531), Lydgate directs attention to the text itself in a summary of the tale.

4523 Wel rehersyd at Depforth in the vale. The reference is to The Reeve's Tale, not The Knight's Tale.

4525-28 Marginalia: ¶ How the fynal destruccioun of Thebes is compendeously rehersyd in the Knyghtes Tale.

4541-53 The alternative narrative that Lydgate notes - "as some auctours make mencioun" (line 4541) - is the narrative that Statius recounts at the end of the Thebaid.

4563-66 Marginalia: ¶ How Duk Theseus delyvered to the ladies the bodyes of her lordys.

4565-607 Lydgate's occupatio echoes The Knight's Tale (I[A]2919-66), the description of Arcite's funeral, and the longest sentence in Chaucer. Lydgate had used it earlier in Troy Book 4.3251-61.

4603-06 Marginalia: ¶ Kyng Adrastus with the ladyes repeyred hom ageyn to Arge.

4610 ye gete no more of me. A repeated formula in Chaucer: The Merchant's Tale (IV[E]1945), The Squire's Tale (V[F]343), The Franklin's Tale (V[F]1556), The Manciple's Prologue (IX[H]102), House of Fame, line 1560, Parliament of Fowls, line 651, The Legend of Good Women, line 1557; compare The Monk's Tale (VII[B2]2292) and Parson's Prologue (X[I]31).

4623-26 Marginalia: ¶ CCCC yere tofore the fundacioun of Rome was Thebes destroyed.

4628-30 Lydgate's repetition in these lines recalls the ending of Troilus and Criseyde where the narrator repudiates antiquity, its cultural practices, and poetic topics.

4634-39 Marginalia: ¶ The worthy blood of Grece was distroyed at the siege and the cyté fynaly brouht to nought. Renoir, The Poetry of John Lydgate, p. 125, points out that Lydgate's repudiation of war echoes Amphiarus' earlier warning to the Greeks about the outcome of war (lines 2887-910).

4649-50 Marginalia: ¶ Belliona is goddesse of bataill.

4661-64 Marginalia: ¶ How that werre byganne in hevene by the pride and surquedye of Lucyfer. Erdmann (2:135-36) cites Isaiah 14:12 and 17:1 and Revelations 20:1-3 and 12:7, 9. Kurose, p. 22, notes parallels in Troy Book 2.5845-83 and examines the implications in Lydgate's treatise The Serpent of Division. He wrongly equates division with mutability, confusing cause and effect (pp. 24-25).

4668 Marginalia: ¶ Lollium.

4697 Latin marginalia: ¶ Surget gens contra gentem lucc xxi?. Luke 21:10: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom."

4703 Pees and quyet, concord and unyté. Lydgate echoes the terms of the Treaty of Troyes, reached in 1420. At the end of Troy Book, he refers to the same convencioun (5.3398) and sees in Henry V's marriage to Katherine of Valois the promise of "Pes and quiete" (5.3435). Pearsall, John Lydgate, suggests that the peace Henry negotiated was "the fulfilment of the whole historical teaching of the Thebes-story" (p. 156) and that Lydgate turned consciously to the ending in Troy Book. Lawton, pp. 778-79, argues that Lydgate developed the theme of the waste of war out of Troy Book and expressed his deeply-held convictions in this passage. Ayers, p. 468 n26, is skeptical about using 31 August 1422 as a terminus ante quem for dating The Siege of Thebes, since he finds the poem's optimistic ending and the echo of the Treaty of Troyes "conventionally Christian in character." Simpson (p. 15) also places the poem after Henry's death, in the struggle between Bedford and Gloucester.

4704 Here Lydgate echoes the last stanza of Troilus and Criseyde, where Chaucer, borrowing from Dante's prayer for virtuous warriors in Paradiso 14.28-30, lays his hero and his poem to rest.


43 trouthe. MS: trouth. In a number of instances I have added a final -e to restore the meter. See the following: spare (line 112), bothe (lines 151, 199, 707, 844, 1416, 1575, 1638, 2092, 2626, 2721, 3023, 3093, 3151, 3241, 4226), shulde (lines 218, 424,1516,1722,1918, 2812, 2830, 2858, 3404), moste (lines 266, 733), myghte (line 300), silfe (line 372), woode (lines 390, 2374, 2523, 3438), wexe (lines 496, 985), wolde (lines 579, 1393, 1833, 3097, 3162, 3401), hymsilve (line 662), trouthe (lines 673, 1722, 1725, 1762, 2649, 2786, 2963), Thilke/thilke (lines 699, 1240, 1841, 3616, 3862, 3920, 3983, 4240, 4255), foure (lines 705, 3526), seide (line 777), dyde/dide (lines 833, 3531, 3652, 3851, 3854), erthe (lines 1011, 4148), hoole (line 1057), berthe (1079), groche (line 1139), heghe (lines 1154, 2273, 2300, 2757, 2817), herte (line 1169), silfe (line 1249), grene (lines 1276, 2288, 2290, 2304, 3564), hadde (line 1289), thikke (lines 1365, 2145), tolde (line 1368), torche (line 1370), derke (line 1383), Tweyne (line 1439), whiche (lines 1547, 3903), laste (line 1575), fulle (line 1630), Sore/Soore/soore (lines 1687, 3393, 4367), betwixe (line 1719), alle (lines 1721, 2720), croune (line 1840), blake (lines 1869, 3596, 4042), olde (lines 1914, 4031, 4566), avayle (line 2021), while (lines 2040, 2314), slouthe (line 2108), moone (line 2272), pleyne (line 2360), made (lines 2394, 2449), highe (line 2485), wirke (line 2795), wiste (line 2819), hoore (line 2879), dirke (lines 2909, 4073), gonne (line 2929), Conveye (line 3081), allone (line 3186), fayre (line 3204), taile (line 3219), remedye (line 3261), mighte (line 3304), newe (line 3369), herde (lines 3372, 4104), sighe (line 3380), aboute (line 3397), sharpe (lines 3406, 3900), sheede (line 3477), lieve (line 3547), larke (line 3552), broughte (line 3591), thynke (line 3601), strengthe (line 3777), helpe (line 4103), drede (line 4156), Atwene (line 4337), dede (line 4495), looke (line 4532), waye (line 4596), atwixe (lines 4684, 4702).

45 memoyré. For the rhyme with gloyré (line 46), compare lines 2239-40.

46 whom. MS: who.

58 deden. MS: ded. In a number of instances I have supplied a medial vowel or ending

inflection where the meter and syntax require it. See the following: franchemole (line 101), benignely/Benygnely, (lines 506, 3060), Amonges (lines 615, 2802), diden (line 629), slayen/Islayen/yslayen (lines 948, 2224, 2525, 3873, 3877, 3910, 4196, 4241, 4342, 4361), hymsilven (line 1119), humblely (line 1388), withouten (lines 1412, 1725), officeres (line 1430), aboven (lines 1721, 2720), therageynes (line 2010), Ageynes (lines 2078, 2237, 2245, 3137, 4102), stoundemele (lines 2304, 3387), rasoures (line 3169), wildely (line 3866), wichecraft (line 4101), lechecraft (line 4228), hennes (line 4715).

67 logged. MS: louged.

109 with. MS omits.

110 to. MS omits.

114 collik. MS: collis. Erdmann (2:99) notes Latin "collica passio" but emends to "Collikes passioun."

163 It. MS omits.

165 a. MS omits.

176b Incipit Pars Prima. MS: Incipit Pars Prima. Per &c.

177 curtesye. MS: curteseye.

185 and. MS: of.

203-04 Lines transposed in MS.

215 Seith. MS: Seth.

234 outward. MS: after.

239-42 Lines repeated with minor variation in 289-92, but evidently not cancelled in this passage.

280 which that. MS: which.

283 clerkes can reporte. I have retained the MS reading against other early witnesses, which Erdmann uses to emend to as clerkes can reporte. Parenthetical clauses are characteristic of both Chaucer's and Lydgate's style. The error in the next line shows the scribe construing the parenthetical clause as the main clause.

284 But that. MS: That but.

285 nought. MS: nat.

324 space. MS: space in soth. MS reading hypermetric. Erdmann proposes (2:93) that this error originates with the first copyist of the poem.

seven. MS: vii.

358 perceyved. MS: conceyved.

365 come. MS: corve.

368 fate. MS: face.

379 soght. MS: foght.

founde out bothe. MS: founde out of both.

380 collecte. MS: correcte. See also Explanatory Notes.

382 hour. MS: tour.

455 halle. MS: alle.

461 purpoos. MS: propoos.

493 uttrely. MS: uutrely.

498 his. MS: her.

500 mused. MS: musen.

504 a. MS omits.

508 ground. MS: trouthe.

527 he. MS: it.

532 Edippus. MS: Egippus.

544 paganysmes. MS: paganysme.

553 fend. MS: fond.

561 Unto a. MS: Unta.

564 perteynent. MS: perceynent.

644 monster. MS: moyster.

649 preef. MS: preest.

690 vyle. Other MSS: foule; see Erdmann 2:105 for arguments for either reading.

725 remewe. MS: renewe.

752 grete. MS: right.

799 her. MS: hur.

804 be. MS omits.

813 punished. MS: punshed.

814 ar. MS: er.

863 Indigence. MS: Iindigence.

865 Compleynt. MS: compleyn.

882 Of which. MS: Of the which.

928 To execute. MS: Execute. Erdmann (2:93) regards the confusion of lines 927-28 as an error deriving from the common exemplar of all the extant witnesses. I have preserved the MS reading "To certeyn men" (line 927), which Erdmann takes as a scribal mistake for To execute (line 928) because of its attestation in all MSS and its metrical regularity.

982 ful. MS: fal.

990 hem. MS: ham.

1000 sones. MS: sonnes. Compare line 1445.

1013 Wers. MS: Werre.

1022 honur. MS: nur.

1023 and. MS omits.

1028 cherissh. MS: cherssh.

1033 contrayre. MS: contrarye. See below line 3988.

1046b Incipit Secunda Pars Eiusdem. MS: Incipit Secunda Pars Eiusdem. Secunda pars.

1051 And. MS: An.

1052 peerlys. MS: perelys.

1053 eire. MS: heire.

1056 eir. MS: heir.

1070 devoyded. MS: devoyden.

1078 forbern. MS: forborn.

1098 But. MS omits.

1112 thorgh. MS: thorg.

1116 regnen. MS: regne.

1132 ascendeth. MS: descendeth.

1203 To. MS: Be.

1216 and. MS omits.

1221 mariage. MS: marige (corr. mariage)

1222 yet. MS: right.

1256 without. MS: with.

1271 his. MS: is.

1280 banished. MS: banshed.

1300 entered. MS: entred.

1309 tydinges. The alternative reading in some MSS - Tydeus - makes sense as well.

1346 yarmed. MS: armed.

1351 on. MS: or.

1357 And. MS omits. Erdmann (2:109) regards this error as deriving from the exemplar common to all extant witnesses.

1358 Kyng. MS: And kyng.

1375 gentil. MS: getil.

1384 myght. MS: mygh.

1392 tarying. MS: taryng.

1393 light. MS: ligh.

1400 He axed. MS: I-axed.

1442 ermyn. MS: hermyn.

1445 sonne. MS: sone. Compare line 1000.

1448 for to. MS: to.

1465 Contenaunce. MS: Contenaunces.

1467 frecchnesse. MS: frocchnesse.

1484 arowes. MS: harowes.

1540 lokys. MS: hokys. Other MSS: crokes.

1565 it. MS omits.

1583 To. MS: The.

and. MS: of. Erdmann's emendation, retained here, offers an aristocratic perspective rather than the more worldly view of the MS: The grete estat of habundaunce of good.

1591 Atwixe. MS: Atwixt.

1631 thanked he. MS: thanked. Following Eilert Ekwall's suggestion 2:111.

1646 And. MS: An.

1695 oth. MS: both.

1721 aboven alle. This line and the following one are metrically deficient in MS: above al; compare line 2720 for similar MS forms.

1738 Be the. MS: The. Erdmann (2:113) regards this error as characteristic of the exemplar common to all extant witnesses.

1749 mutabilité. MS: mutablite.

1750 unstabileté. MS: unstablete.

1755 fro. MS: for.

Whel. MS: wel.

1766 at. MS: a.

1776 And. MS: I.

walles. MS: wal.

1784 flaterye. MS: flatrye.

1790 blowen. MS: blowe.

1802 The. MS: Th.

1803 rekenyng. MS: reknyng.

1815 falshed. MS: falsed.

1861 hem. MS: hym.

1892 his. MS: this.

1896 to. MS omits.

1901 Sir. MS omits.

1909 to. MS omits.

1941 That. MS: Tha.

1957 in maner. MS: in a maner.

1966 which. MS: woch.

1981 than. MS: that.

1988 high. MS: gret.

2006 of. MS omits.

2010 al. MS: of.

2022 tyding. MS: dyding.

2029 walles. MS: wall.

2045 best. MS: lest.

2073 rightwisnesse. MS: righwisnesse.

2078 in feeld to hold batayle. MS: to hold no batayle.

2081 next of his alye. MS: his next alye. Erdmann (2:116) cites Troy Book 1.2882 ("And alle the lordis eke of hir allye") in support of the emendation for meter.

2084 ye. MS: the.

her. MS: ther.

2097 a rowe. MS: arawe.

2109 justly. MS: justyly.

2130 dispitous. MS: dispititous.

2140 or. MS: ar.

2220 was. MS omits. Erdmann (2:117-18) argues the omission occurs in the exemplarcommon to all extant witnesses.

hem. MS: ham.

2224 lay. MS omits.

2239 which. MS: woch.

2251 late. MS: layt.

2297 ayr. MS: hayr.

2307 eyre. MS: heyre (corr. eyre).

2368 so. MS: omits so.

2374 at. MS: al.

2433 wherfor. Other MSS and Erdmann: wherto.

2475 sheding. MS: the sheding.

2487 oyther. MS: oythe.

2491 That. MS: Tha.

2494 no thing. MS: not.

2574 massageres. MS: massagers.

2583 saude. MS corr. from saide; Erdmann emends to sende. Compare Troy Book 5.1354: "And sowden up every manly man."

2613 Pyrrus. MS: of Pyrrus.

2618 yarmed. MS: armed.

2633 ful. MS: shal.

2645 oth. MS: hoth.

2717 love. MS: gold.

2720 aboven alle. MS: above al; compare line 1721.

2739 Which in. MS: With inne.

2833 no. MS: to.

2848 han. MS: hath.

2856 oth. MS: hoth. See also line 2860.

2864 hem. MS: hym.

2900 Ther. MS: The.

2920 Thei. MS: The.

2944 by. MS omits.

lorn. MS: born.

3007 nor. MS: no.

3026 floures and of herbes. MS: herbes and of flours.

3027 ayr. MS: hayr.

3051 ly logged. Other MSS: be (be loggyng).

3064 knowe. MS: knewe.

3086 yet. MS: that. MS reading is plausible: "But for your sake, I shall risk that - my life, my death - for true affection, in order to provide for your rescue." Other witnesses read: now.

3099 to a. MS: ta.

3108 rood. MS: abood (corr. bood)

3168 husbond. MS: husbondys.

3195 wante. MS: wente.

3197 hym. MS: hem.

3211 To. MS: Til.

til. MS: to.

3219 Hyr. MS: hy.

3230 O. MS: I.

3232 her. MS: ther.

3251 quene. MS: king.

3292 thys. MS: thy.

3299 al at onys. MS: altonys.

3315 Cosyn. MS: Cosy.

3323 In. MS: An.

3346 our. MS: your.

yif that. MS: that. See Erdmann 2:125-26.

3364 kynges. MS: kyng.

3376 rent. I have retained the MS reading against Erdmann and other MSS: hente.

3383 the. MS omits.

3384 nedeth. MS: nede.

3385 ny. MS: by.

3436 But. MS: That.

3447 yif that. MS: that. MS reading is plausible: loos of thyng that ye list to see. Alter-native readings are if and that if.

3477 blood for. MS: bloood for.

3488 for to. MS: to.

3496 Hent. MS: Rent.

3504 avoided. MS: avoiden.

3518 hir. MS: hur.

3565 the Thebans. MS: Thebans.

3566 han. MS: an.

3577 to. MS: ta.

3595 hynde. MS: ynde.

3597 tusshy. MS: trusshy. Other MSS: tussky, tuskyd.

3603 occisiones. MS: occasions. Major substantive error for Erdmann (2:128); compare line 4204.

3611 to. MS omits.

3628 were. MS: that were.

3665 put our mater. MS: puter.

3684 on. MS omits.

3712 a pes. MS: pes.

3787 remewe. MS: remowe.

3831 The whiche. MS: which.

3845 ytake. MS: take.

3850 to. MS omits.

3852 good. MS: gret.

3903 espieth. MS: espeth.

3942 gete. MS: getys.

3950 Prothonolopé. MS: Protholonope.

3965 drow. MS: droweth.

3988 contrayre. Erdmann emends to contrarie; see above note to line 1033.

4008 And. MS: Ant.

4011 lete him. MS: lote hem.

4043 Pluto. MS: Plyto.

4045 his. MS: is.

4095 socour. MS: her socour.

4180 in. MS omits.

4187 They. MS omits.

him. MS: hem.

4204 occisioun. MS: occasioun. Compare line 3603.

4228 but that. MS: that.

4249-50 Lines transposed in MS.

4256 passyd was. MS: was passyd.

4286 out. MS omits.

4294 yslawe. MS: yslowe.

4298 loud. MS: land.

4306 ronne. MS: room.

4322 hem. MS: ham.

4326 Thorgh. MS: Torgh.

amyng. MS: hamyng.

4362 and. MS: an.

4373 nor. Erdmann emends to ne.

4374 and. MS: an.

4378 that. MS omits. Understood sense "unless" ("but that").

4389 Althogh. MS: Al they.

4390 by. MS omits.

choys. MS: ioys.

4447 hevynesse. MS: hevnesse.

4467 mervaylyd. MS: amervaylyd.

4471 Campaneus. MS: Companeus.

4490 Wisshing. MS: Whisshing.

4491 bothen. MS: both. Compare line 2801 for bothen.

4518 preiden. MS: preide.

4549 That. MS: Tha.

4571 ayre. MS: hayre.

4600 departe. MS: parte.

4626 departyden. MS: partyd.

4639 wyldernesse. MS: wydernesse.

4679 Luk. MS: bok. Compare rubric citing Luke 21:10: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom" (from the signs of the end of the world). Other MSS read bok or the boke, referring to the Bible in general.

4696 mor. Erdmann emends to more.

whettyd. MS: whtyd.

4714 amendement. MS: amedement.
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The Siege of Thebes: Tercia Pars

from: The Siege of Thebes  2001











































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Tercia Pars.

O cruel Mars ful of malencolye
And of thy kynde hoot, combust, and drye
(As the sperkes shewen fro so ferre
By the stremes of thi rede sterre,
In thy spere as it aboute goth),
What was cause that thow were so wroth
With hem of Thebes, thorgh whoos fervent ire
The cité brent and was sette afyre,
As bookes olde wel reherce konne,
Of cruel hate rooted and begunne
And engendred, the story maketh mynde,
Oonly of blood corrupt and unkynde,
B'ynfeccioun called orygynal,
Causyng a strif dredful and mortal,
Of which the meschief thorgh al Grece ran?
And kyng Adrastus alderfirst began,
Which hath hym cast a conquest for to make
Upon Thebes for Polymytes sake,
In knyghtly wise ther to preve his myght,
Of ful entent to recure his right.
And first of al he sette a parlement
And hath his lettres and massageres sent
Thorghoute Grece to many sondry kyngges,
Hem to enhast and make no lettyngges.
And rounde about, as maad is mencioun,
He sent also to many regyoun
For prynces, dukes, lordys, and barouns
To taken up in citees and in touns,
And chesen out the moste liklyest
And swich as wern preved for the best
As of manhode, and saude hem up echon,
And in her honde receyve her pay anon,
With Adrastus to Thebes forto ryde.
And tho lordes that with hym abyde
In houshold stille han her leve take
To ryden hom her retenue to make
In ther contrees as they wern of degré,
To stuffen hem and taken up meyné,
And make hem stronge with knyghtes and squyers,
With speres, bowes, and with ablasters
In al the hast possible that they may,
And to retourne in their best aray
At terme sette, ful manly to be seyn,
Toforn Arge mostren in a pleyn.
And as I rede, ful worthy of degré
Thider cam first Prothonolopé,
The which was, by recorde of wryting,
Of Archada sone to the kyng.
And ful prudent found in werre and pees
Ther kam also the kyng Cylmythenes.
And as I fynde, ful famous of renoun
Thyder cam ek the kyng Ypemedoun.
And passing all of knyghthode and of name
And excellyng by worthynesse of fame,
The noble kyng callyd Campaneus
Kam ek to Arge, the story telleth us,
Proved ful wel and hadde ryden ferre.
And thider kam the kyng Melleager,
Kyng Genor ek that helde his royal sete,
Myn autour seith, in the lond of Crete,
Kyng Laeris and the kyng Pyrrus,
And ek the kyng called Tortolanus.
And renomed in many regyoun
Ther cam the kyng ynamed Palemoun,
Oft assayed and found a manly knyght,
That with hym broght in steel yarmed bright
Ful many worthy out of his cuntré.
And Tideus most knyghtly forto se,
That manly man, that noble werreyour,
As he that was of worthynesse flour,
Maistere and myrour by prouesse of his hond
Hath sent also into the myghty lond
Of Calcedoyne of which he was hayr,
That is a kyngdam bothe riche and fayr,
Chargyng his counsale and officers also,
In al the hast that it may be do,
To seken out the beste werreyours,
Of famous knyghtes and preved sawdyours
Thorgh al the lond and layde on hem this charge
Withoute aboode forto come to Arge.
And they obeye ful lowly his biddyng,
Enhastyng hem, and mad no lettyng
But spedde hem fast uppon her journé.
And fro Thebes the myghty strong cité
Kam doune knyghtes with many another man,
Maugré the kyng, to help what they can,
Considred first his falshed and tresoun,
Ymeved only of trouth and of resoun,
Polymytes as they were sworn of yore
To his croune justly to restore.
And whan they weren at large out of the toun,
Unto Arge they be descendid doun
And, lik her oth and her assuraunce,
As they wern bounde only of lygeaunce,
To hym they cam in ful lowly wise,
Redy to don what hym list devise.
And whan he hadde her trouthe ful conceyved,
He hath to grace goodly hem receyved,
Assignyng hem her place mydde the hoste
Assembled ther from many diverse coste,
That fynaly in this companye
Ygadred was the floure of chyvalrye,
Ychosen out of al Grekes lond
The most knyghtly and manful of her hond,
That I trowe, sith the world began,
Ther was not seyn so many manly man,
So wel horsed with sper and with sheld
Togydre assembled sothly, in a feld.
Ther men may see many straunge guyses
Of armyng newe and uncouth devyses,
Every man after his fantasye,
That, yif I shuld in ordre specifie
Every pes longyng to armure
And therupon do my bysy cure,
It wer in soth almost a dayes werk,
And the termes also ben to derk
To reherce hem clerly and to ryme:
I passe over only for lak of tyme.
And telle I wil forth of her loggyng,
How Adrastus the noble worthy kyng
Hath every lord lik to his degré
Receyved wel withinnen his cyté
(And ther they hadde lik to her plesaunce,
Of what nedeth fulsom habundaunce,
For man and hors plenté of vitaylle),
Comaundyng that nothyng ne faylle,
That alle thise noble worthy werreoures,
Both high and lough and poor soudeoures,
Iserved weren of that they hadde nede.
For Adrastus prudently took hede
Ful lik a kyng, touching her terme day,
That thei toforn wer served of her pay.
He was so free hym list no thyng restreyn;
And no man hadde cause to compleyn
For hunger, thrust, nor for indygence.
And in a prince it is ful gret offence,
As clerkes seyn, and a gret repreef
Suffre his puple lyven at mescheef.
It is ful hevy and grevous in her thoght,
Yif he habound and they han right noght.
He may not both possede good and herte,
He to be riche and seen his puple smerte.
He may the body of power wel constreyne,
But her herte hath a ful long reyne,
Maugré his myght, to loven at her large.
Ther may no kyng on hertes sette a charge
Nor hem coherten from her lyberté.
Men seyn ful ofte how that thouht is fre.
For which eche prince, lord, and governour,
And specialy every conquerour,
Lat hym be war for al his hegh noblesse
That bounté, fredom, plenté, and largesse
Be on accord, that they his brydel lede,
Lest of his puple whan he hath most nede
He be defrauded; whan he is but allone,
Than is to late forto make his mone.
But in his courte lat hym first devise
To exile scarshed and covetise;
Than is he likly, with fredam yif he gynne,
Love of his puple evermore to wynne,
To regne long in honure, and contune
Ay to encresse be favour of fortune,
And his ennemyes manly to oppresse.
For love is mor than gold or gret richesse;
Gold faileth ofte; love wol abyde
For lyf or deth be a lordys syde;
And the tresour, shortly, of a kyng
Stondeth in love aboven alle thyng.
Farwel lordshipe bothe morowe and eve,
Specially whan love taketh his leve!
And whoso list a merour forto make
Of kyngly fredam, lat hym ensample take
Of Adrastus the manly kyng famous,
So liberal and so bountevous
Unto his puple at al tymes found,
Which mad hym strong his foomen to confound;
And love only his enmyes to werreye
Alle Grece made his bidding to obeye
Of oon accord knyghtly be his side,
Al attones to Thebes forto ryde
For t'avenge, sith they were so strong,
The gret injurye and the inportable wrong
Don to his sone and his next allye,
As ye toforn han herd me specifie.
But whil Grekes rest a whil in pes,
I will resort to Ethiocles,
Which in Thebes warly hath espied
Be his frendes, as he was certefied,
Of the Grekys hooly the ordinaunce,
Her purpoos ek, and her purveaunce,
And therof had in herte a manere drede.
And first he took his counsayle and his rede
Of the lordis and barons of the toun
And of the wisest of his regioun,
How he myghte maken resistence,
Manfully to stonden at diffence,
To be so strong that ther wer no doute.
And in the contrees adjacent aboute
And ek also in foreyn regiouns,
He hath withhold all the champiouns;
And therupon he sent out his espies
And his frendes and his next allies;
And alle the worthy dwellyng enviroun -
Yong, fressh, and lusty - he gadred into toun,
Maskowede his wallys and his heghe tours
And stuffed hem with manly sowdeours.
Round aboute he sette many gonnys,
Grete and smale and some large as tonnys.
And in his hasty, passing fervent hete,
He spent his tresour and gaf giftes grete
Unto knyghtes and worthy men of name;
And overmor to encres his fame,
He gaf to lordes juellis manyfold,
Clothes of velvet, of damask, and of gold,
To gete hym hertes sothly, as I rede,
To helpe hym now in his grete nede;
And prudently purveied hym toforn
Of flessh and fissh and of wyn and corn,
Sette his capteyns erly and ek late
With ful gret stuf strong at every gate,
And mad also be werkmen that were trewe
Barbykans and bulwerkes newe,
Barreris, cheynys, and diches wonder depe,
Makyng his vouh the cité forto kepe
Whil he lyveth, despit of all his foon.
And by his goddys of metal and of ston,
Ful ofte he swoor both of herte and thouht
That it shal first ful der ben abouht
And many a man with pollex, swerd, and knyff
Tofor this toune shal first lese his liff
And ther shal ek many sydes blede
Or his brother pessibly possede
The toune in pees, lich as Grekes wene.
But at the ende the trouthe shal be sene -
Lat hym be war and wel toforn provyde.
For Adrastus on that other side,
For his party was not necligent,
But on a day helde a parlement,
All his lordes sittyng enviroun,
To dryve shortly a pleyn conclusioun
And up t'apoynt the fyn of ther entent.
But some thoughte ful expedient,
Or they procede, to wirke be th'avice
Of on that was ful prudent and right wyce
And circumspecte in his werkes alle,
A worthy bisshop into age falle
And called was, sothly by his name,
Amphiorax, of whom the grete fame
Thorgh al the londe bothen est and south
Amonges Grekes passingly was kouth;
A man, in soth, of olde antiquyté
And most acceptid of auctorité,
First be resoun of his high estat
And ek for he was so fortunat
In his werkes and was also secré
With the goddys, knowyng her pryveté.
By graunt of whom, as bookes specifye,
He hadde a spirit of trewe prophecye
And cowde aforn ful opynly dyvyne
Thyngges begonne how they shulde fyne
And eke be craft of calculacioun
Gif a dome of every questioun;
And hadde in magik grete experience
And fynde cowde be hevenly influence
And by mevyng of the heghe sterrys
A fynal doome of contek and of werrys;
And wiste wel, as his goddys tolde,
That, yif Grekes forth her journé holde,
It turn shuld platly - this no fage -
To gret meschief and to gret damage
Of hem ychon and in especial
The moste parte of the blood royal
Thorgh al Grece - it may not be withdrawe -
In this viage shortly shal be slawe,
And yif hymsilf with the Grekes wente,
(Who that ever wepte hym or bymente,
This was the fyn and may nat be socoured)
Of the erth he shulde be devoured,
Quyk as he was - he knewe it in certeyn.
And for he saugh ther was non other geyn
To save his lif nor no bet diffence,
Than uttrely withdrawen his presence,
Preying his wiff for hym to provide,
Yif he wer sought, that she wold hym hide
And wommanly for to kepe hym cloos
And of trouth concelen his purpoos,
For al his trust touchyng his grevaunce,
Was fully sette in hir purvyance.
I hope to God that he thar not drede
Of no deceyt in hir wommanhede.
She was so trewe as wommen ben echon
And also cloos and mwet as a ston
That she ne wold, as the matier stood,
Discuren hym for no worldly good.
But fynaly the Grekes, of entent,
In al his drede han for this bisshop sent,
Thogh it was long er they myght hym fynde,
For cause his wif was to hym so kynde
That ful seurly hath lokked up his cors.
But for she hadde a maner of remors
In hirsilf, gervyng her conscience,
Dreding to falle in ful grete offence,
Lest her soule were in peryl lorn
Whan she be oth compelled was and sworn,
They requeryng yif she coude telle
Wher her lord the bisshop shulde dwelle,
Which to discure hir herte was ful loth,
Til tyme she gan remembren on her oth,
And coude a trouth of custom not denye,
And hadde also gret conscience to lye,
Wonder hevy with a sorowful face,
Maugré hir lust taught hem to the place
Wher as he was shet up in a toure,
Al alone havyng no socour.
They falle on hym or that he was war
And sette hym up in a ful riche char.
A fool he was to jupard his lif,
Forto discure his counsel to his wif;
And yit she was ful sory for his sake,
Specially whan she saugh hym take.
Bot I hope that her hevynesse
Gan asswage ful sone, by processe,
In short tyme whan that he was gon.
Ther is no tempest may last evere in on.
But this bisshope be verrey force and myght
Unto Grekes conveyed was ful right,
This hoore gray in his char syttyng.
And they ful glad wern of his comyng,
Havyng a trust and ful opynyoun
That, thorgh cause and occasioun
Of his wisdam and his sapience
And by vertue of his hegh presence,
They shuld eschewe al adversité
Possible to falle, as in her journé.
And as the story fully hath devised,
Ful circumspect and riht wel avised
He hath pronounced in the parlement
Toforn the lordes and the president
His cleer conceyte in verray sikernesse,
Nat entryked with no doublenesse,
Her dysemol daies and her fatal houres,
Her aventurys and her sharpe shoures,
The froward soort and unhappy stoundys,
The compleyntes of her dedly woundys,
The wooful wrath and contrariousté
Of felle Mars in his cruelté,
And howe by mene of his gery mood
Ther shal be shadde al the worthy blood
Of the Grekes - it may not ben eschewed,
If her purpoos be execute and swed.
"Ther is no more; this shal be the fyn:
The hegh noblesse shal drawe to declyne
Of Grekes blood in meschief, sorowe, and woo;
And with al this I mysilf also,
As my fate hath aforn disposyd,
Depe in the grounde I shal be enclosed
And lokked up in the dirke vale
Of cruel deth." Lo, this was the tale
That the bisshope to Adrastus tolde,
Hym counsayllyng his purpos to withholde
In eschuyng of mor meschief and sorowe.
For alle his goddis he took unto borowe,
Yif the Thebans and the Grekes mete,
The fyn therof shal be so unswete
That alle Grece after shal it rewe,
Warnyng hem yif thei the meschief knewe
That shal folowe, which no man may lette,
Thei wold abstene a siege forto sette
Unto Thebes and her purpoos leve.
With whos wordes the lordes gan hem greve
And therinne had but ful smal delit;
And everechon of hertly hegh despit
They abrayde and seide he was untrewe,
A controover of prophecies newe,
And ek also for al his longe berde
An olde dotard, a coward, and aferde;
And of rancour gonne to diffye
Both his kalkyng and his astronomye;
And shortly seide thei took therof non hede,
Ne wil no thyng governe hem after his rede.
This was the clamour and noyse in every cost
Of hegh and lough thorghout all the hoost
And specialy of the sowdeours,
And of lordes regnyng in her flours,
And of th'estates effectuely, I mene,
Which of age were but tendre and grene,
That ha not hadde by Martys influence
Of the werre gret experience.
Her, yif ye list, ye may considre and se
Of conceytes ful grete diversyté,
How that youth no peril cast aforn
Til he by meschief sodeynly be lorn,
Wheras age provydeth everything
Or he bygynne to casten the endyng.
Youth is governyd be a large reyne
To renne forth and can hym not reffreyn
But of hede set on al attonys,
As he that hurtleth ageynes harde stonys
Broseth hymsilf unwarly and parbraketh.
But age experte nothyng undertaketh
But he toforn be good discrecioun
Make a due examynacioun
How it wil tourne oyther to badde or good.
But youth, as fast as stered is the blood,
Taketh emprises of hasty wilfulnesse:
Joye at the gynnyng; the ende is wrechednesse.
The olde, prudent in al his governaunce,
Ful longe aforn maketh purveaunce;
But youth, allas, be counsail wil not wyrke,
For which ful ofte he stumbleth in the dyrke.
Thus selde is seyne, the trouthe to termyne,
That age and youth drawe be o lyne.
   And wher that foly hath domynacioun,
Wisdam is putte into subjeccioun,
Lik as this bysshop, with al his hegh prudence,
For cause he myghte ha no audience,
All his wisdam and his profecye
Of the Grekes was halden but folye.
For thogh Plato and wise Socrates,
Moral Senek and Dyogenes,
Albumasar and prudent Tholomee,
And Tullius that hadde sovereynté
Whylom in Rome as of elloquence -
Thogh all thise, shortly in sentence,
Were alyve, most konnyng and experte,
And no man list her counsel to adverte
Nor of her sawes forto taken hede,
What myght availle, and it cam to nede?
For wher prudence can fynde no socour
And providence haveth no favour,
Farwel wisdam, farwel discrecioun,
For lakke only of supportacioun.
For unsupported with his lokkes hore,
Amphiorax sighen gan ful sore
With hede enclynyd and many evyl thouht,
Whan that he sauhe his counsayl stood for nouht.
For uttrely the Grekes, as I tolde,
Han fully cast her journé for to holde,
Made hem redy, and gonnen to hosteye
Toward Thebes the cyté to werreye,
And in Grece wil no lenger tarye;
And forth with hem Amphiorax they carye,
Sette in his char with a doolful herte,
Whan he wist he myghte not asterte
Of his fate the disposicioun.
And hosteying into the regioun
Of Lygurgus, Grekes gan approche
A sondy londe with many craggy roche.
But al the way, sothly, that thei gon,
For hors nor man water was ther non -
So dry weren the vales and the pleynys.
For al that yeere they hadden had no reynys
But ful gret drouht, as mad is mencioun;
And al the londe cerchyng enviroun
They nowther fonde welle nor ryver
Hem to refressh nor water that was cler,
That they, allas, no refut ne konne.
So inportable was the shene sonne,
So hoot on hem in feldes wher they leye
That for meschief man and hors gan deye,
Gapyng ful drye upward into south;
And some putten her swerdes in her mouth
And sperys hedes, in story as is told,
T'aswage her thirst with the yren cold;
And of his lif ful many on dispeyred
In this meschief and hom ageyn repeyred;
Tyl on a day worthy Tydeus
And with hym ek the kyng Campaneus
Of purpoos rood thorghoute the contré
Yif they myght eny water see
Fro coost to cost bothe fer and ner;
Til of fortune they entred an herber
With trees shadowed for the sonne shene,
Ful of floures and of herbes grene,
Wonder hoolsom both of syyt and ayr.
Therinne a lady which passingly was fayr,
Sittyng as tho under a laurer tre,
And in her armes a litil child hadd she,
Ful gracious of loke and of visage,
And was also wondre tendre of age,
Sone of the kyng born forto succede,
Called Ligurgus in story as I rede,
Whoos hertly joye and worldly ek disport,
Al his myrth, plesaunce, and confort
Was in this child of excellent fayrnesse.
And this lady, myrour of semlynesse,
Al sodeynly as she cast up her sight
And on his stede sauh an armed knyht,
Gretely abasshed gan anon remwe.
But Tideus after gan to swe
And seyde, "Sustir, beth no thyng dismayed,
In youresilf displesed, nor affrayed.
For we ar come only to this place
Yow to biseche of mercy and of grace
Us to socour in oure grete nede,
Declaring you how it stont in dede.
Her faste by, almost at the hand,
The worthiest of al Grekes land,
Kyngges, prynces ly logged in the feld
And many other with pollex, speer, and sheld,
Which in meschief, peryl, and gret dred
For want of water ar likly to be ded.
For ther was non of hegh nor lowgh degré
In all our host, now passed daies thre,
That drank, allas, excepting non estat;
Our viage is so infortunat:
Preying yow of wommanly pyté,
Benygnely, and graciously to se
How of Grece all the chyvalrye
Of her lyves stont in jupartie,
That ye wold of wommanhede telle
Yif ye knowe ryver, spryng, or welle,
Specially now in al oure care,
Of gentillesse unto us declare.
Lo, her is alle, yif ye list to here,
That I wol seyn, myn owne suster dere."
   And whan this lady inly vertuous
The conpleynt herde of worthy Tydeus,
Of verrey pyté chaungeth cher and hewe,
And in her herte upon her woo gan rewe,
And ful goodly seyng his distresse,
Seyde unto hym in al his hevynesse,
"Certes," quod she, "yif I were at large
Touching this child of which I have charge,
I shuld in hast of al that doth yow greve
To my power helpen to releve,
Only of routh and compassioun,
And leve al other occupacioun,
Conveye yowe and be youre trewe guyde
To a ryver but lityl her besyde.
But I dar not so moche me assure
This litil child to put in aventure.
I am so ferdful from it to departe.
But for youre sake yet I shal juparte
My lif, my deth of trewe affeccioun,
To provyde for your savacioun."
Took the child and laide it in her lappe,
And richely in clothes gan it wrappe,
And couched it among the herbes soote,
And leyde aboute many hoolsom roote
And floures ek bothe blewe and rede.
And supprised with a maner drede,
With Tideus forth anon she wente,
As she in trouth that no treson mente,
And on hir way wolde nevere dwelle
Til she hym brouht to a right faire welle
And to a ryvere of water ful habounde.
   But who was glad and who was tho jocounde
But Tydeus seyng the ryver,
Which in al hast sente his massager
To Adrastus and bad hym nat abide
But doune descende to the ryver syde
With al his host recur forto have
At this ryver her lyves forto save.
And thei enhast hem, makyng non abood,
All attonys to the ryver rood
Forto drynk; thei hadde so gret lust
Of appetit forto staunche her thrust.
And some dronk and fonde it did hem good;
And some wern so fervent and so wood
Uppon the water that in sikernesse,
Thorgh undiscret and hasty gredynesse,
Out of mesur the watere so thei drynke
That they fille ded evene upon the brynke;
And some naked into the ryvere ronne,
Only for hete of the somer sonne,
To bathen hem (the water was so cold);
And some also, as I ha yow told,
(I mene tho that prudent wern and wise)
The water drank in mesurable wyse,
That of the thrust they ha toforn endured
They were refresshed fully and recured.
And Grekes than of hegh and lowe degré,
For high profit and gret commodité,
Compas the ryvere cristalyn of sighte,
Of oon accorde they her tentys pyhte
To rest hem ther in relees of her peyne
Only the space of a day or tweyne.
And whylys Grekes upon the ryver lay,
This Tydeus upon the same day
Ful knyghtly hath don his diligence
This yonge lady with gret reverence
To Adrastus goodly to presente.
At whoos comyng the kyng hymsilve wente
Ageynes hir, she fallyng doun on knees,
All th'estates present and degrees
Of Grekes lond (absent was nat on);
And in his armes took hir up anon,
Thanking hir of her bysynesse,
Of hir labour and her kyndenesse,
Behotyng hir, lik as he was holde,
If eny thyng pleynly that she wolde
That he may don, she shuld it redy fynde.
And Grekes all, the story maketh mynde,
Of th'estatys beyng tho present,
Thanked hir with al her hool entent
For refresshyng don to many Grek;
And for her part they biheght her ek,
With her body and goodes bothe two,
What her list comaunde hem forto do
To be redy platly and nat faille.
And her myn autour maketh rehersaille
That this lady so faire upon to se,
Of whom the name was Isyphilé,
To Adrastus told, as ye may rede,
Lynealy the stok of her kynrede,
Whilom how she a kyngges doghter was,
Rehersyng hym hooly al the cas,
First why that she out of her contré wente
Shortly for she wolde not assente
To execute a conspiracioun
Mad by the wymmen of that regioun -
A thyng contrayr and ageyn al right -
That eche of hem upon a certeyn nyght
Be on accord shal warly taken kepe
Fader, brother, and husbond in her slepe
With knyves sharpe and rasoures kene
Kytt her throtes in that mortal tene
Unto this fyn, as Bochas telle can -
In al that londe be not founde a man
But slayn echon to this conclusioun,
That wymmen myght han domynacioun
In that kyngdam to regne at liberté
And on no partie interrupted be.
But for this lady passing debonayre,
To this mordre was froward and contrayre,
Kept her fader that he was not slawe
But fro the deth preserved and withdrawe,
For which, allas, she fledde the contré,
And of a pyrat taken in the see,
To kyng Lygurgus brouht in al her drede.
And for her trouth and her wommanhede
To hir he took his yonge child to kepe,
Which in the herber allone she left slepe
Whan Tydeus she broghte to the welle.
   And by Jason some bookis telle
That this lady hadde sones two,
Whan that he and Hercules also
Toward Colchos by hir contré cam
For t'acomplyssh the conquest of the ram.
But who that lyst by and by to se
The story hool of Ysyphylee,
Hir fadres name of which also I wante,
Thouh some seyn he named was Thoante
And some bokes Vermes ek hym calle,
But to knowe the aventures alle
Of this lady Isyphilé the faire,
So feithful ay and inly debonayre,
Lok on the book that John Bochas made
Whilom of wommen with rethorikes glade
And directe be ful sovereyn style
To fayre Jane, the queen of Cecile.
Rede ther the rubrich of Ysiphylé,
Of her trouth and her hegh bounté,
Ful craftily conpiled for her sake.
And whan that she hath her lieve take
Of Adrastus, homward in her weye
Tydeus gan hyr to conveye,
To the gardyne til she is repeyred.
But now, allas, my mater disespeyred
Of alle joye and of welfulnesse
And destitut of myrth and alle gladnesse,
For now of woo gynne the sharpe shoures.
For this lady fond among the floures
Her litil child turned up the face,
Slayn of a serpent in the selve place,
Hyr taile burlyd with skalis silver shene.
The venym was so persyng and so kene,
So perilous ek the mortal violence
Caused, allas, thorgh her long absence:
She was to slouh homward forto hie.
But now can she but wepe, wayle, and crye;
Now can she nouht but sighen and compleyn
And wofully wryng her handys tweyn,
Dedly of look, pal of face and chere;
And gan to rende her gilt tresses clere,
And ofte sith she gan to seyn, "Allas,
O wooful wrech unhappy in this cas,
What shal I don, or whider may I tourne?
For this the fyn, yif I her sojourne,
I woot right wel I may it not eskape
The pitous fate that is for me shape.
Socour is non, nor ther may be no red
Lich my desert but that I mot be ded;
For thorhe my slouth and my neclygence
I have, allas, don so gret offence
That my gilt - I may it nat excuse -
Shal to the kyng of treson me accuse.
Thorgh my defaute and slouth bothe two,
His sone is ded and his heir also,
Which he loved mor than al his good
(For tresour non so nygh his herte stood
Nor was so depe grave in his corage),
That he is likly to fallen in a rage
Whan it is so, myn odyous offence
Reported be unto his audience -
So inportable shal be his hevynesse.
And wel woot I in verrey sothfastnesse
That, whan the quene hath this thing espied
(To myn excus it may nat be denyed),
I doute it not ther geyneth no pyté;
Without respit she wil avenged be
On me, allas, as I ha deserved
That fro the deth I may not be preserved
Nowther by bille ne supplicacioun;
For the rage of my transgressioun
Requereth deth and non other mede."
   And thus, allas, she, quaking in her drede,
Non other helpe nor remedye kan
But dreynt in sorow to the Grekes ran,
Of hertly woo face and chere disteynyd
And her chekes with wepyng al bereynyd,
In hir affray distracte and furious.
Toforn alle she cam to Tydeus
And fille on knees and gan her compleynt mak,
Tolde pleynly that for Grekes sake
She mot be ded and shortly in substaunce
Rehersing hym the grete of her grevaunce,
First how be traynys of a fals serpent
The child was slawe whil she was absent,
In what disjoynte and peril that she stood.
And whan that he her meschief understood,
Unto hire ful knyghtly he behiht
To help and forther al that evere he myght,
Hir pitous woo to stynten and appese.
And forto fynde unto hir dissese
Hasty confort, he went a ful gret pas
To Adrastus and told hym al the cas
Of this unhappy wooful aventure,
Beseching hym to don his bysy cure,
As he was bound of equyté and right,
And adverten and to han a sight
How she qwit her to Grekes her toforn
Whan they wer likly forto ha be lorn,
The socour voide of her wommanhede;
For which he most of knyghthod taken hede
To remedien this unhappy thing.
   And Adrastus lik a worthy kyng
T'aquyt hymsilf, the story maketh mynd,
To thys lady wille nat be found unkynd,
Neither for cost nor for no travaylle,
But bysy was in al that myght availle
To hir socour, considered alle thingges,
And by th'avice of alle the worthy kyngges
Of Grekes lond thei be accorded thus -
Prynces, dukes and worthy Tydeus
To hold her way and al at onys ryde
To Lygurgus dwelling ther besyde,
Of on entent: yif they may purchace
In eny wise forto gete grace
For this lady called Ysiphilé
They wold assay, yif it mighte be.
And to his paleys ful ryal bylt of ston
The worthy Grekes cam ryding everichon,
Every lord ful fresshly on his stede.
And Lygurgus, example of manlihede,
Anon as he knewe of her comyng,
T'aquyt hymsilf lich a gentil kyng,
Ageyn hem went to mete hem on the way,
Ful wel byseyn and in ful good array,
Receyvyng hem with a ful kyngly chere;
And to Adrastus seid, as ye shul here,
"Cosyn," quod he and gan hym to enbrace,
"Ye be welcome to youre owne place,
Thankyng hertly to your hegh noblesse
That so goodly of your gentillesse
Towardes me ye list you to acquite,
Youresilf this day your cosyn to visite,
In this castel to take youre loggyng,
That never yit I was so glad of thyng
In al my lif - and therto her my trouth.
And overmor ther shal be no slouth
That the chambres and the large tours
Shal be delyvered to your herberiours,
That every lord, as he is of degré,
Unto his loggyng shal assigned be.
Youre officers lat hymsilf devis
Yif the howsyng may largely suffise
To yow and youres strecchen and atteyn,
That non estaat ha cause to compleyn.
And alle your hoost logged her besyde,
Which in tentys upon you abide,
Lat hem fette be myn auctorité,
Vitayle ynoh her in my cité.
And alle that may socour hem or save
And, at a word, al that evere I have
Is ful and hool at your comaundement."
   Quod Adrastus, "That is nat our entent
Nor on no parte cause of oure comyng.
For we be come al for another thyng,
A certeyn gift of you to requere,
Benygnely yif ye list to here,
Which may Grekes passyngly availle,
Of our request yif that ye nat ne faille,
Which we dar not opynly expresse,
Withoute that ye wold of gentillesse
Youre graunt aforn conferme and ratefye.
Than wer we bold it to specifye."
Quod Lygurgus, "Whatever thyng it be,
Nouht exceptid but only thingges thre:
The first is this - it touch nat my lif,
My yonge sone, pleynly, nor my wyf.
Take al my good or what ye list provyde
Of my tresour and sette thies thre asyde -
Al the surplus I count nat at a myte."
Than Adrastus astounyd was a lyte
Whan Lygurgus in conclusioun
Of his sone made excepcioun.
And whilis they entreten thus yfere,
Ther cam forth on with a wooful chere,
Of face and look pal and no thing rede,
Alowde crieth, "The kynges sone is dede,
Allas the whyl, that whilom was so fayr,
After Lygurgus born forto ben hayr,
The which, allas, hath yolden up the breth,
Of a serpent stonge to the deth
And with his wound newe, fressh and grene,
In th'erber lith, that pité is to sene,
And hath so leyne almost al this day,"
That whan Lygurgus herde this affray
And wist his child was ded and hath no mo,
Lytil wonder thogh that he were wo.
For sodeynly the inportable smerte
Ran anon and rent hym by the herte,
That, for constreynt of his dedly peyne,
Thorghoute he felte korven every veyne.
The rage gan myne in hym so depe
That he can not but sighe, sobbe, and wepe.
And with the noyse and lamentacioun
The qwen distrauht is descendid doun.
And whan she knewe the ground of al this sorowe,
Hit nedeth her no teeres forto borowe
But twenty tyme ny upon a rowe
Aswoune she fille unto the grounde lowe;
And stoundemele for this hegh meschaunce
Stille as ston she lyggeth in a traunce.
And whan the child into the courte was brouht
Tofore Lygurgus, allas, I wite hym nouht.
Upon the cors with a mortal face,
He fil atonys and gan it to embrace,
Soore grype and ageyn upsterte,
That whan Adrastus gan this thyng adverte,
Of kyngly routh and compassioun
From his eyen the teeres fille doun;
Ek kyngges, dukes that aboute stood
Only of pité which is in gentyl blood,
No power hadde the water to restreyn
That on her chekes doune bygan to reyn.
But al a day wolde not suffise
Alle her sorowes in ordre to devise,
First of the kyng and of the quene also;
To tellen all, I shulde never ha do,
Not in the space almost of an hour.
But whan the stormes and the sharpe shour
Of her wepyng was somwhat overgon,
The lytil cors was graven under ston.
And Adrastus in the same tide
Lygurgus took a litil out aside
And ful wisely with his prudent spech
(The qwen present) gan hym forto tech
That so to sorowe avaylle may right noght,
To mordre hymsilf with his owne thouht,
Sith loos of deth no man may recure,
Thogh he in woo perpetuelly endure:
Al helpeth nat whan the soule is go.
"And our lif her, who tak hed therto,
Is but an exile and a pilgrymage,
Ful of torment and of bitter rage,
Lich a see rennyng to and fro,
Swyng an ebbe whan the flood is do,
Lytil space abidyng at the fulle,
Of whos sojour the pope geveth no bulle.
Nor kyng is non, duk, nor emperour
That may hym shroude ageyn the fatal shour
Of cruel deth, whan hym list manace
To marke a man with his mortal mace.
Than geyneth nat to his savacioun
Neyther fraunchyse nor proteccioun,
And lit or noght may helpen in this caas
Sauffecondit or supersedyas.
For in this world, whoso look aright,
Is non so gret of power nor of myght,
Noon so riche shortly nor so bold
But he mot dey oyther yong or old.
And who in youth passeth this passage,
He is eskaped al the woode rage,
Al sorowe and trouble of this present lyff,
Repleveshed with contek, werre and stryff,
Which seeld or nevere stont in suerté.
Wherfor best is, as semeth unto me,
No man gruch but of hegh prudence
The sonde of goddis tak in pacience.
And ye that ben so wis and manly to,
Youresilf to drowne in torment and in woo
For loos of thyng, yif that ye list to se,
Which in no wise may recured be,
Is gret foly and undiscreccioun."
   And thus Adrastus hath conveyed doun
The substaunce hool of that he wolde seye,
Til that he fond a tyme forto preye
Convenyent for Ysyphilee,
Bysechyng hym forto han pité
Of that she hath offended his highnesse,
Not wilfully but of reklesnesse:
First, that he wold his doomes to dyvide,
Mercy preferre and set right aside,
At request and preier of hem alle,
Of this unhappe and meschief that is falle
By hasty rigour nat to do vengeaunce
But thynk aforn in his purvyaunce,
Who to wreches doth mercy in her drede
Shal mercy fynde whan he hath most nede;
And sith he hath power, myght, and space,
Lat hym tak this lady to his grace,
For lak of routh that she nat ne dye.
But tho the quene gan agayn replye
And platly seide as in this matere,
Avayleth not requeste nor preyere,
Pyté, mercy, nor remyssyoun,
But yif it be by this condicioun -
That the serpent, cause of al this sorowe,
Thorgh her labour lay his hed to borowe.
This is fynal and utter recompense
To fynde grace for her gret offence,
Or ellis shortly sheede blood for blood.
And whan Grekys her answer understood,
Al of accord in her beste wise
Took on hem this aventurous emprise
For love only of Ysyphylee
And gan to ryde envyron the contré,
By hilles, vales, roches, and ek caves,
In dychis dirk and in olde gravis,
By every cooste cerchyng up and doun,
Til at the last ful famous of renoun,
The worthy knyght Parthonolopé
Was the first that happed for to se
This hydous serpent by a ryverside,
Gret and horrible, stern and ful of pride,
Undere a rocch by a banke lowe.
And in al hast he bent a sturdy bowe
And therin sette an arowe fyled kene,
And thorgh the body spotted blew and grene,
Ful myghtily he made it forto glyde,
Hent out a swerde hongyng be his syde,
Smoot of his hede and anon it hent
And therwithal gan the quene present,
Wherthorgh her sorowe parcel gan aswage.
And thus of prowesse and of hegh corage
This manly man Parthonolopé
Hath reconciled faire Isyphilee
Unto grace fully of the quene,
Hir ire avoided and her olde tene.
And by Adrastus mediacioun,
Kyng Lygurgus graunted a pardoun
To this lady, that from al daunger fre
She was restored to her liberté,
In his paleys al her lif to dwelle,
Thogh John Bochas the contrarie telle;
For this autour affermeth out of dred
That, whan this child was by the serpent ded,
She durste not for her gret offence
Never after comen in presence
Of Lygurgus but of intencioun
Fledde anon out of that regioun:
Att herte she took the childes deth so sore.
What fille of hir I fynd can no more
Than ye han herd aforn me specifye.
   And the kyngdam, but yif bookys lye,
Of Lygurgus was ycalled Trace.
And, as I rede in another place,
He was the same myghty champioun
To Athenes that kam with Palamoun
Ageyne his brother that called was Arcyte,
Lad in his chaar with foure boolys whyte,
Upon his hed a wreth of gold ful fyn.
And I fynd ek how Bachus, god of wyn,
With this kyng was whilom at debat
Only for he pompous and elat,
Destruccioun dide to his vynys,
And for he first sett allay on wynys,
Meynte water whan they were to strong.
And this Bachus for the grete wrong
Brak his lymys and dreynt hym in the see.
Of Lygurgus ye gete no more of me.
But the trouth, yif ye lyst verryfie,
Rede Of Goddes the Genologye,
Lynealy her kynrede be degrees,
Ibraunched out upon twelve trees,
Mad by Bochas de Certaldo called,
Among poetys in Ytaille stalled
Next Fraunceys Petrak swyng in certeyn.
Now unto Grekys I wil retourne ageyn,
To telle forth shortly, yif I konne,
Of her journé that they ha begonne,
How Adrastus hath his lieve take
Of Ligurgus with his browes blake
And departyng with Seynt John to borowe
Mad his wardes on the nexte morowe
So wel beseyn, so myghty, and so strong,
Wonder erly whan the larke song
With a trompet warned every man
To be redy in al the hast they kan
Forto remwe and no letting make.
And so they han the righte way itake
Toward Thebes the Grekes everychon,
That such a nombre gadred into on
Of worthy knyghtes nevere aforn was seyn,
Whan they in fere monstred in a pleyn.
And they ne stynt by non occasioun
Til they be come even afor the toun
And pight her tentys proudly, as I rede,
Under the wallys in a grene mede.
And whan the Thebans were besette aboute,
The manly knyghtes wold han yssyd oute
And ha scarmosshed in her lusty pride
With her foomen on the tother side.
But be byddyng of Ethiocles
Alle thilk nyght thei kepte hemsilf in pes,
Be cause only that it was so late,
With gret awayt set at every gate,
Men of armys al the nyght wakyng
On the wallys be byddyng of the kyng,
Lest ther were treynys or tresoun.
And on the tours and in the chief dongoun
He sette up men to make mortal sowns
With brasyn hornys and loude clarions,
Of ful entent the wacches forto kepe
In his warde that no man ne slepe.
And Grekys proudly al the longe nyght
Kyndled fyrys and maad ful gret lyght,
Sette up loggyng upon every syde,
Lik as they shuld ever ther abyde;
Compas the toune ther was no voide space
But al besette her foomen to manace.
And whilys they afor the cité laye,
On every cost they sent out to forraye,
Brente townes, thorpes, and vilages,
With grete ravyn makyng theyr pillages,
Spoyle and robbe and broughte hom vitaille
And al maner soortes of bestaylle -
Shep and neet - and in her cruel rage
With houndes slowe al that was savage -
Hert and hynde, bothe buk and doo,
The blake beer and the wilde roo,
The fatte swyn and the tusshy boor -
Karying al hom for the Grekes stoor,
Whete and wyn for her avauntage,
Hay and otys, fodder and forage.
With this kalendis, as hem thynke dwe,
Grekys gan the Thebans to salwe,
Mynistring hem occisiones felle,
The sege sette, shortly forto telle,
Of ful entent in their hatful pryde,
For lif or deth therupon t'abide,
Whosoever therwith be agreved,
Til they fully her purpoos have acheved;
Ther may therof be maked no relees.
   And of this ful war Ethiocles
Gan in party gretly to mervaille,
Whan that he saugh the grete apparaylle
Of the Grekes the cité rounde aboute,
And in hymsilf hadde a maner doute
Now at the poynt what was best to do.
For thilke tyme it stood with hym so
That to some abidyng in the toun
He hadde in herte gret suspecioun
List toward hym that they were unstable
And to his brother in party favorable;
For in the cité ther was variance,
Which unto hym was a gret meschaunce,
For in his nede shortly he ne wiste
Upon whoom that he myghte triste,
For they wer not alle of on entent.
For which he hath for his counsale sent,
Al his lordes and the olde quene,
Which as he dempte were pur and clene,
Hool of on herte and not variable,
Of old expert and alway founde stable,
Requeryng hem because they were wys
Al openly to tellen ther avis
Wher it was bet pleynly in her sight
With his brother to treten or to fight.
And some gaf a ful blunt sentence,
Which hadde of werre non experience,
Seyde it was best, and nat ben afferd
To trye his right manly with the swerd.
And some also that wer moor prudent
Spak unto hym by good avisement
And list nat spar but their conceyte tolde
How hit was best his covenaunt forto holde
And to parforn his heeste mad toforn
To his brother lich as he was sworn,
So that his word, the wors to mak hym spede,
Be nat founde variant fro the dede,
For non hatred, rancour, neyther pryde.
And tho the queen took hym out aside,
Tolde hym pleynly it was ful unsittyng
Swich doublenesse to fynden in a kyng,
And seide hym ek, althoh he were strong,
To his brother how he dide wrong,
"As al the toune wil record, in dede,
And ber witnesse, yif it kam to nede.
Wherfor lat us shape another mene
In this matere whil that it is grene,
Or this quarel, gonne of volunté,
Turne in the fyn to mor adversité.
For yif it be darreyned be bataylle,
Who tresteth most may ful likly faille.
And it is foly be short avisement
To putte a strif in Martys jugement.
For hard it is whan a juge is wood
To tret aforn hym without loos of blood.
And yif we put our mater hool in Marte,
Which with the swerd his lawes doth coarte,
Than may hit happe, wher ye be glad or loth,
Thow and thy brother shal repente both
And many another that is her present,
Of youre trespas that ben innocent,
And many thousand in cas shal compleyn
For the debat only of yow tweyn,
And for your strif shal fynde ful unsoote.
And for thow art gynnyng, ground, and roote
Of this injurie and this gret unright,
To the goddys that herof han a sight
Thow shalt accountys and a reknyng make
For alle tho that persshyn for thi sake.
And now the cause dryven is so ferre,
Sodeyn pees oyther hasty werre
Moot folowe anon; for the fatal chaunce
Of lif and deth dependeth in balaunce.
And no man may be no craft restreyne
That upon on platly of this tweyne
The soort mot falle, lik as it doth tourne,
Whosoever lawgh or ellys mourne.
And thow art dryve so narowe to the stake
That thow mayst nat moo delayes make
But fight or tret, this quarel forto fyne;
By non engyn thow canst it not declyne.
And hasty cas, as folk seyn that be wys,
Redresse requereth by ful short avys;
For trete longe now avaylleth noght.
For to the poynt sothly thou art brouht:
Ouyther to kepe thy pocessioun
Or in al haste devoyde out of this toun,
Wher thow therwith be wroth or wel apayd.
Now note wel al that I ha sayd,
And by my counsayl wisly condescende
Wrong, wrouht of olde, newly to amende.
The tyme is come - it may be non other.
Wherfor in haste trete with thi brother
And ageyn hym make no resistence
But to thy lordys fully gif credence,
By whoos counsayl, sith they be so sage,
Late Polymyte rejoyse his heritage.
And that shal turne most to thyn avail.
Loo, her is hool the fyn of our counsail."
And shortly tho for verrey ire wroth,
Thouh he therto froward was and loth,
Accorded is, heryng al the prees;
Yif he algate shal trete for a pes,
It moste be by this condicioun -
That he wol han the domynacioun
First in chief to hymsilf reserved,
As hym thouht he hadde wel disserved,
And save to hym hool the sovereynté;
And under hym in Thebes the cité
He to graunte with a right good cher
Polymytes to regne for a yer,
Than avoyde and not resoort ageyn;
For mor to cleyme was nat but in veyn.
This wold he don only for her sake,
And otherwise he wil non ende make
With the Grekys, what fortune evere falle.
And fynally among his lordys alle
Ther was not on of hih nor lowgh estat
That wold gon on this ambassyat
Out of the toune, nouther for bet nor wors,
Til Jocasta made sadyl her hors
And cast hersilf to gon for this treté,
To make an ende, yif it wolde be.
And this was don the morowe right be tyme,
Upon the houre whan it droh to pryme.
And with hyr went hyr yonge dohtres tweyne,
Antygoné and the feyr Ymeyne,
Of hyr meyné ful many on aboute;
At the gate she was conveyed oute,
And of purpos she made first hir went
On horsbak to kyng Adrastus tent,
He and his lordys beyng al yffere.
And they receyve hyr with a right glad chere,
Shewyng hyr lik to hir degré
On every half ful gret humanyté;
Polymytes rysyng fro his place,
And humblely his moder gan enbrace,
Kyssede hyr and than Antigoné
And ek Ymeyne excellyng of bewté.
And for that they passyngly were faire,
Gret was the pres, concours, and repaire
Of the ladyes forto han a sight.
And Jocasta procedeth anon ryght
To Adrastus hir mater to purpose,
And gan to hym opynly disclose
Th'entent and will of Ethiocles
And by what mene he desireth pes -
To hym reserved, as she gan specifie,
The honour hool and the regalye,
With sceptre and croune fro hym not devyded
But hool to hym as he hath provided
And Polymyte, be this condicioun,
Under hym to regnen in the toun
As a soget, be suffraunce of his brother.
But the Grekes thouhten al another,
And specyaly worthy Tydeus,
Pleynly affermyng it shuld nat be thus:
For he wil have no condiciouns
But sette asyde all excepciouns,
Nothyng reservid as in special,
But hool the lordship, regalye, and al,
Polymytes it fully to possede,
In Thebes crowned verrayly in dede
As rightful kyng putte in pocessioun,
Lich the covenauntys and convencioun
Imad of olde, assuryd, and asselyd,
"Which shall not now of nwe be repelyd
But stable and hool in his strengthe stonde.
And lat hym so platly undyrstonde:
And first that he devoyde hym out of toun
And delyvere the sceptre and the croun
To his brother and mak therof no more.
And, shortly, ellys it shal be bouht ful sore
Or this mater brought be to an ende.
For Grek is non that shal hennys wende
Or that our right, which is us denyed,
With lif or deth darreyned be and tryed:
We wil not arst fro this towne remewe.
And yif hym lyst al this thyng eschwe
And al meschief styntyn and appese,
To either part he may do gret ese;
Thus I mene for his avauntage:
Delyver up hool the trewe herytage
To his brother for a yeer t'endure
And Grekys shal fully hym assure,
By what bonde that hym list devise,
The yeer complet in our beste wise
To hym delyver ageyn pocessioun
Withoute strif or contradiccioun,
And to this fyn justly hald us to.
And yif it falle that he wil nat so,
Lat hym not wayte but only after werre.
The hour is come - we wil it not differre.
Lo, her is al, and thus ye may reporte
To hym ageyn, whan that ye resorte,
Fro which apoynt we cast us not to varye."
And yit to hym Amphiorax contrarye
Ful pleynly saide, in conclusioun,
This fyn shal cause a destruccioun
Of hem echon, yif it forth procede
To be parfourmed and execute in dede.
But thilke tyme for al his elloquence
He had in soth but lytyl audience.
For whersoevere he ment good or ille,
Kyng Adrastus bad hym to be stille.
And tho Jocasta, as wisdom did hyr tech,
Humble of her port with ful softe spech,
Gan seke menys in hyr fantasye,
Yif she myght the ire modefye
Of the Grekes to make hem to enclyne
In eny wise hyr rancour forto fyne.
She dyd hyr dever and hir bysy cure.
But tho byfel a wonder aventure,
Cause and ground of gret confusioun,
Grekys perturbyng and also ek the toun,
And it to telle may me not asterte.
For which a whil my styell I mot dyverte
And shortly telle, by descripcioun,
Of a tigre dwellyng in the toun,
Which fro a kyngdam besyden adjacent
Out of Egipte was to Thebes sent.
The whiche beest by record of scripture
Is most swift as of his nature,
And of kynd also most savage,
And most cruel whan he is in his rage;
And, as clerkys make mencioun,
He of body resembleth the lyoun,
And lik a greyhound the mosel and the hed,
And of eyen as eny fyret red,
Ek of his skyn, wryten as I fynde,
Lich a panter conversant in Ynde
With al maner hwys and colours
And is ful oft disceyved with merours
By fraude of huntys and fals apparence
Shewyd in glas withouten existence,
Whan his kyndles arn be sleight ytake
And he deceyved may no rescus make.
And lik a lombe was this tygre tame,
Ageynys kynde, myn autour writ the same.
And this beest, mervaillous to se,
Was sent to Ymeyne and Antigoné,
Which unto hem dide gret confort
And cowde playe and make good disport,
Lik a whelp that is but yong of age,
And to no wight dide no damage,
No mor in soth than doth a litil hound;
And it was worth many hundred pound
Unto the kyng, for ay in his grevaunce
Ther was nothing did hym mor plesaunce,
That for no tresour it myght not be bought.
For whan that he was pensif or in thought,
It putt hym out of his hevynesse.
And thilke tyme, the story doth expresse,
That Jocasta treded for a pes
This tame tygre in party rekkeles
Out at the gates, in sight of many a man,
Into the felde wildely out ran,
And casuelly rennyng to and fro,
In and oute, as doth a tame roo;
Grekys wenyng, that wer yong of age,
That this tygre hadde be savage
And cruelly besettyng al the place
Round aboute gan hym to enchace
Til he was ded and slayen in the feld.
The slauhter of whom whan that they byheld,
The proude Thebans, which on the wallys stood,
They ronne doune ful furious and wood,
Wenyng he had be slayen of despit,
Takyng her hors withoute mor respit,
Fully in purpos with Grekys forto fighte,
The tigres dethe t'avengen yif they myghte.
And out they rood withoute governaylle
And ful proudly Grekes gan assaylle,
And of hatred and ful heghe desdayne
Fyl upon hem that han the tygre slayne,
And cruelly qwitten hem her mede,
That many Greke in the grene mede
By the force and the grete myght
Of her foomen lay slayen in this fight.
The tigres deth so dere they aboughte,
So mortally Thebanys on hem wroughte
That al the host in the feld liggyng
Was astounyd of this sodeyn thyng.
And in this whil, of rancour rekkeles,
Out of Thebes rood Ethiocles
And with hym ek the worthy kyng Tremour,
Of his hond a noble werreour,
That made Grekes to forsak her place
And to her tentys gan hem to enchace.
And myd the feld as thei togyder mette
On horsbak with speres sharpe whette
Of verray hate and envious pryde,
Ful many on was ded on outher syde.
The whiche thyng whan Tideus espieth,
Wood as lyoun to horsbak he hieth,
As he that was never a del afferd,
But ran on hem and met hem in the berd;
And maugré hem, in his cruelté
He made hem fleen hom to her cité,
Hem pursuyng of ful dedly hate,
That many on lay slayen at the gate,
Gapyng uprightys with her woundys wyde,
That uttrely they durste not abyde
Tofor the swerd of this Tydeus.
He was on hem so passing furius,
So many Theban he roof unto the herte
That, whan Jocasta the slauhtre gan adverte,
Polymytes she gan prey ful fayre
To make Grekis hom ageyn repayre
And that they wolden styntyn to assaylle
For thilke day and cessen her bataylle.
At whoos requeste pleynly and preyeire
And at reverence of his moder dere,
Polymytes, her herte to conforte,
Grekes made hom ageyn resorte
And Tydeus to stynten of his chas.
And they of Thebes, hasting a gret pas,
Ful trist and hevy ben entred into toun.
And for the tygre, in conclusioun,
As ye han herd, first began this stryff,
That many Theban that day lost his lyff
And recurlees hath yolden up the breth
In th'avengyng of the tygres deth.
And al this while duely as she ought,
The quene Jocasta humblely besought
Kyng Adrastus only of his grace,
Some mene way wisly to purchace
To make a pees atwene the bretheren tweyn
And the treté so prudently ordeyne
On either party that no blood be shad.
And this Adrastus, avise and right sad,
For Grekis party answer gaf anon
That other ende shortly gete she non,
Lich as the lordis fully ben avisyd,
Than Tydeus hath aforn devisyd.
And whan she saugh it may non other be,
She lieve tok and hom to the cyté
She is repeired, havyng to hyr guyde
Polymytes rydyng be her syde.
And Tideus ladde Antigoné,
And of Archadye Prothonolopé
The worthy kyng did his bysy peyne
To ben attendaunt upon fair Ymeyne,
Whos hert she hath to her servise luryd;
And he ageyn hath purtraied and fyguryd
Myd of his brest, which lightly may not passe,
Hooly the feturis of her fresshly face.
Hym thouht she was so faire a creature,
And though that he durst hym not discure,
Yit in his hert as ferforth as he kan,
He hath avowed to ben her trwe man,
Unwist to hir pleynly and unknowe
How he was marked with Cupides bowe,
With his arwe sodeynly werreyed.
And to the gate the ladyes conveyed
Ben entred in, for it drow to eve,
Grekys of hem taking tho her leve;
Thogh some of hem wer sory to departe,
Yit of wisdam they durste not juparte
Under a conduit to entren into toun,
Lest it turned to her confusion.
Thouh some bookes the contrarye seyn,
But myn autour is platly therageyn
And affermeth in his opynyoun
That Tydeus of hegh discrecioun,
Of wilfulnesse nor of no folye,
Ne wold as tho put in jupartie
Nowther hymsilf nor non of his ferys.
And the ladyes with her hevenly cherys,
Angelik of look and contenance,
Lich as it is put in remembrance,
At her entryng from Grekys into toun,
Polymytes of gret affeccioun
The quen bysouhte thilke nyght not fyne
For t'asseye yif she myght enclyne
Ethiocles, of conscience and ryght,
To kepe covenaunt, as he hath behight
Ful yore agon with the surplusage,
List the contrayre tourne to damage,
First of hymsilf and many an other mo.
   And thus fro Thebes Grekys ben ago
To her tentys and rest hem al that nyght.
And Lucyna the mone shon ful bright
Withinne Thebes on the chief dongoun,
Whan Jocasta made relacioun
Unto the kyng and told hym al the guyse,
How that Grekys uttrely despyse
His profre made be fals collusioun,
Only excepte the convencioun,
Of old engrocyd by gret purvyance,
Which is enrollyd and put in remembrance,
Upon which they fynaly wil reste:
Hym counsaillinge, hir thouhte for the beste,
To conforme hym to that he was bounde,
Lyst in the fyn falsnesse hym confounde.
But al hir counsayl he set it at no prys;
He dempt hymsilf so prudent and so wys,
For he was wilful and he was indurat,
And in his hert of malice obstynat,
And outtrely avised in his thouht
Withinne Thebes his brother get right nouht.
And in his errour thus I lete him dwelle.
And of Grekis forth I wil you telle,
Which al that nyght kepte hemsilve cloos.
And on the morow whan Tytan up aroos,
They armyd hem and gan hem redy make,
And of assent han the felde itake,
With the Thebans that day out of doute
Forto fighten, yif they yssen oute.
And Adrastus in ful thrifty wise
In the feld his wardys gan devise,
As he that was of all deceytes war.
And richely armyd in his char
Amphiorax cam with his meyné,
Ful renomyd of antiquité,
And wel expert because he was old.
And whil that Grekys, as I have you told,
Wer bysiest her wardys to ordeyne,
Myd of the feld bifyl a cas sodeyne,
Ful unhappy, lothsom, and odyble,
For liche a thing that wer invisible
This olde bisshop with char and hors certeyn
Disaperyd and no mor was seyne.
Only of fate which no man can repelle,
The erth opnede and he fille to helle,
With all his folk that upon hym abood.
And sodeynly the grounde on which he stood
Closyd ageyn and togydre shette,
That never after Grekis with hym mette.
And thus the devel for his old outrages,
Lich his decert, paied hym his wages.
For he ful lowe is discendid doun
Into the dirk and blake regyoun
Wher that Pluto is crownyd and ystallyd
With his quene Proserpina icallyd.
With whom this bisshop hath made his mansioun
Perpetuelly as for his guerdoun.
Lo, here the mede of ydolatrie,
Of rytys old and fals mawmetrye.
Lo, what avayllen incantaciouns
Of exorsismes and conjurisouns;
What stood hym stede his nigromancye,
Calculacioun, or astronomye;
What vaylled hym the hevenly manciouns,
Diverse aspectis, or constellaciouns?
The ende is nat bot sorowe and meschaunce
Of hem that setten her outre affiaunce
In swich werkes supersticious,
Or trist on hem: he is ungracious.
Record I take, shortly forto telle,
Of this bysshop sonken doun to helle,
Whos wooful ende about in every cost
Swich a rumour hath maked in the host
That the noys of this uncouth thyng
Is yronne and come to the kyng,
How this vengeaunce is unwarly falle.
And he anon made a trumpet calle
Alle his puple out of the feld ageyn;
And everychon assembled on a pleyn
Tofore the kyng and also rounde aboute.
Every man of his lyf in doute
Ful pitously gan to frowne and loure,
List that the grounde hem alle wil devoure
And swalowen hem in his dirke kave;
And they ne can no recur hem to save.
For nouther force nor manhode may availle
In swiche meschief the valewe of a maylle.
For he that was wisest and koude most
To serche and seke thorghout al the host,
Amphiorax, whan that he lest wende,
To helle is sonken and coude hym not diffende
(To hym the tyme unknowen and unwist),
In whom whilom was al the Grekis trist,
Her hool confort, and her affiaunce.
But all attonys for this sodeyn chaunce
And this meschief they gan hem to dispeire,
Hom to Grece that they wil repeyre.
This was the purpoos of hem everichon.
And on the wallys of Thebes lay her fon,
Rejoysing hem of this unhappy eure,
Wenyng therby gretly to recure.
And on her tours as they loken oute,
They on Grekys enviously gan shoute,
And of despit and gret enmyté
Bad hem foolys gon hom to her contré,
Sith they han lost her confort and socour,
Her fals prophete and her dyvynour
Wherthorgh her partie gretly is apeyryd.
And in this wise Grekys disespeyryd,
Dempte pleynly be tokens evidente
This cas was falle by som enchauntement,
By wichecraft or fals sorcerye,
Ageynes which may be no remedye,
Tristy diffence, helpe, nor socour.
And whan Adrastus herde this clamour,
He bysy was ageyn this perturbaunce
To provyde some maner chevysaunce
And to hym calleth such counsayl as he wiste,
For lyf or deth that he myghte tryste,
Requeryng hem but in wordys fewe
In this meschief her mocioun to shewe
And declare by good avisement
What to Grekys was most expedient
To remedyen - and mak no delay -
The uncouth noyse and the gret affray
That Grekys made with clamour inportune
And newe and newe evere in on contune.
And they that wern most manly and most wise
Shortly saide it wer a cowardyse
The hegh emprise that they han undirtake
For dred of deth so sodeynly forsake.
It wer to hem a perpetuel shame
And outre hyndryng unto Grekys name;
And better it wer to every werreyour
Manly to deye with worship and honour
Than lik a coward with the lyf endure.
For onys shamyd, hard is to recure
His name ageyn, of what estat he be.
And sith Grekes of old antiquyté,
As of knyghthode, who so list tak hed,
Ben so famous and so renomed,
Yif now of newe the shyning of her fame
Eclipsid were with eny spotte of blame,
It were a thyng uncouth forto here,
Of whoes renoun the bemes yit ben clere
Thorgh al the world, wher as they han passyd,
And ben not yit dyrkyd nor diffacyd
By no report nouther on se ne londe
Thyng to forsake that they tok on honde.
"And by example of our progenitours,
That whilom wern so manly conquerours,
Toforn that we into Grece wende,
Of thyng bygon lat us make an ende
And parte nat nor severe from this toun
Til it be brouht to destruccioun,
Wallys, tourres crestyd and batailled
And for werre strongly apparaylled
Be first doune bete that nothyng be seyn,
But al togyder with the erthe pleyn
Be low leyde or that we resorte,
That afterward men may of us reporte
That we bygan we knyghtly han achievyd
Upon our foon with worship unreprevyd."
This was the counsaylle shortly and th'avis
Of the Grekys that manly wern and wys,
That nevere aforn wer markyd with no blame,
And specialy swich as drede shame
And fully caste what fortune ever tyde
On her purpoos to the ende abyde,
That on no part her honure not apalle.
And to this counsaille Grekys on and alle
Ben condescendyd and, for mor happy sped,
Insted of hym that was so late ded,
Amphiorax buryed depe in helle
That koude whilom to the Grekys telle
Of thyngges hid how it shal falle aforn,
Instede of whom now they han hym lorn,
They casten hem wisly to purchace
Some prudent man to occupye his place,
That in swich thyng myght hem most availle
Thorgh mystery of his dyvynaylle
By craft of sorte or of profecye,
Yif eny swich they couden out espye.
And among al, her purpoos to atteyne,
As I fynde, they han chosyn tweyne,
Most renomed of hem everychon.
And Menolippus callyd was the ton,
And Terdymus ek the tother highte.
And for he hadde most favour in her sighte,
This Terdymus was chosen and preferryd.
And in her choys Grekys han not erryd,
For whilom he lernyd his emprise
Of his maister Amphiorax the wyse
And was disciple undyr his doctrine.
And of entent that he shal termyne
Unto Grekys thynges that shal falle
And as a bisshop mytred in his stalle,
They don for him in many uncouth wyse
In the temple to goddys sacrifise,
And thus conformed and stallyd in his se,
A fewe dayes stood in his degré,
After his mayster with ful gret honour,
Of Grekys chose to be successour.
And al this tyme, in story as is told,
Ful gret meschief of hungre, thrust, and cold
And of Thebans as they issen oute
Lay many on slayen in the route
On outher part, of fortune as they mette -
Her mortal swerdys wer so sharpe whette.
And Tydeus among hem of the toun
Fro day to day pleyeth the lyoun
So cruelly, wher so that he rood,
That Theban non aforn his face abood.
He made of hem, thorgh his high renown,
So gret slaughter and occisioun
That as the deth fro his swerd they fledde,
And who cam nexte leid his lyf to wedde.
He qwitte hymsylf so lik a manly knyght
That wher he went he putte hem to the flight,
And maugré hem, in his cruelté,
He droff hem hom into her cité,
Hem purswyng proudly to the gate,
That unto hym they bar so dedly hate
That they hem caste by sleyht or some engyn,
To bryngyn hym unwarly to hys fyn
And leyde awayt for hym day and nyght.
But, o allas, this noble manly knyght,
Upon a day as he gan hem enchace
And mortally made hem lese her place
And sued hem almost to the toun -
That cause was of his destruccioun.
For on, allas, that on the wallys stood,
Which al that day upon hym abood,
With a quarel sharpe heded for his sake
Markede hym with a bowe of brake
So cruelly, makynge non arest
Tyl it was passyd bothe bak and brest.
Wherthorgh, allas, ther was non other red
Nor lechecraft but that he mot be ded -
Ther may therof be maked non delayes.
And yit was he holdyn in his dayes
The beste knyght and most manly man,
As myn autour wel reherce kan.
But for al that was ther no dyffence
Ageyn the strok of dethys violence.
And Bochas writ, er he was fully ded,
He was by Grekys presentyd with the hed
Of hym that gaf his laste fatal wounde;
And he was callyd, lik as it is founde,
Menolippus, I can non other telle.
   But thilke day Thebans wex so felle
Upon Grekys that under her cyté
The manly kyng Parthanolopé
Islayen was evene afor the gatys;
And ther also, armyd bright in platys,
The famous kyng callyd Ypomedoun
The same day, as mad is mencioun,
On horsbak manly as he faught
At the brigge evene upon the draught,
Besette with pres casuelly was drownyd.
And thus fortune hath on Grekys frownyd
On every syde thilk unhappy day.
But al the maner tellen I ne may
Of her fightyng nor her slaughter in soth,
Mor to declare than myn autour doth.
   But thilke day I fynde as ye may sen,
Whan Phebus passyd was merydyen
And fro the south westward gan hym drawe,
His gylte tressys to bathen in the wawe,
The Theban kyng felle Ethyocles,
Rote of unreste and causer of unpes,
The slauhter of Grekys whan that he beheld,
Armyd in steel he kam out into feld,
Ful desirous in that sodeyn hete
Polymytes at good leyser to mete,
Syngulerly with hym to han ado.
For in this world he hatede no man so
(He sat so nygh emprented in his herte).
Whoos comyng out his brother gan adverte
Upon his stede in the opposit
And hadde ageynward also gret delyt
To meten hym, yif fortune assente -
Th'envious fyr so her hertys brente
With haate cankered of unkynde blood.
And lik two tygres in her rage wood,
With speerys sharpe grounde for the nonys,
So as they ranne and mette both attonys,
Polymytes thorgh platys, mayle, and sheeld
Roof hym thorghout and smette hym into feld.
But whan he sauh the stremys of his blood
Raylle about in maner of a flood,
Al sodeynly of compassioun
From his coursere he alighte doun,
And brotherly, with a pitous face,
To save his lyf gan hym to embrace,
And from his wounde of newe affeccioun,
Ful bysy was to pulle out the trunchoun,
Of love only handlyng hym ryght softe.
But, o allas, whil he lay alofte,
Ful yrously Ethiocles the felle,
Of al this sorowe verraye sours and welle,
With a dagger in al his peynys smerte
His brother smoot unwarly to the herte,
Which al her lyf hadde be so wrothe.
And thus the Thebans were yslawe bothe
At the entré evene aforn the toun.
But Grekys tho ben availled doun
Out of the feld, the worthy knyghtys alle.
And in Thebes loud as eny shalle
The cry aroos whan her kyng was ded.
And to the gatys armyd foot and hed,
Out of the toun cam many proud Theban.
And some of hem upon the wallys ran
And gan to shoute, that pité was to here.
And they without, of her lyf in were,
Withoute confort or consolacioun
Disespeyred ronne hom to the toun,
And Grekys folowen after at the bak,
That many on that day goth to wrak.
And as her foomen proudely hem assaylle,
Ful many Grekys thorgh platys and thorgh maylle
Was shette thorghout, pressyng at the wallys,
And betyn of with grete rounde ballys,
That her lay on and another yonder.
And the noyse, hydousher than thonder,
Of gonneshot and arblastys ek
So loude outronge that many worthy Grek
Ther lost his lyf - they wern on hem so felle.
And at the gatys, shortly forto telle,
As Grekys prees to entren the cyté,
They of Thebes in her cruelté
With hem mette ful furious and wood;
And mortally as they ageyn hem stood,
Men myghte sen sperys shyvere asonder,
That to byhold it was a verray wonder
How they foyne with daggers and with swerdys
Thorgh the vyser amyng at the berdys,
Percyng also thorgh the rownde maylles,
Rent out peces of ther aventaylles,
That nouht availleth the myghty geseran,
Thorgh brest and nekke that the sperys ran.
Her wepnys wern so sharpe grounde and whet
In ther armure that ther was no let.
For ther laye on troden under foote
And yonde on percyd to the herte roote;
Her lith on ded and ther another lame.
This was the play and the mortal game
Atwene Thebans and the Grekys proude,
That the swowys and the cryes loude
Of hem that lay and yolden up the goost
Was herd ful fer aboute in many cost.
And at the gatys and sayllyng of the wal
Islayen was al the blood royal,
Both of the toun and of Grekys lond
And all the worthy knyghtys of her hond.
And of lordys, yif I shal not feyne,
On Grekys syde alyve wer but tweyne,
Kyng Adrastus and Campaneus.
That day to hem was so ungracius.
And for Titan westryd was so lowe
That no man myght unnethys other knowe,
Tho of the toun shet her gatys faste
With barrys rounde maked forto laste,
In which no wight kerve may nor hewe.
And Adrastus with a Grekys fewe
Repeyred is hom unto his tent,
And al that nyght he wastyd hath and spent
For his unhappe in sorowe compleynyng.
And they in Thebes the nexte day swyng
Her devoyre did and her bysy cure,
To ordeyne and make a sepulture
For her kyng yslayen in the feeld,
And offred up his baner and his sheld,
His helme, his swerd, and also his penoun,
Therinne of gold ibetyn a dragoun,
High in the temple that men myghte sen.
And Jocasta, that infortunyd quene,
Her sones deth soore gan compleyne;
And also ek her yonge doghtres tweyne,
Both Ymeyne and Antigonee,
Cryden and wepte that pyté was to se.
But to her sorowes that was no refut.
And thus the cité bar and destitut,
Havyng no wight to govern hem nor guye,
For ded and slayn was al the chyvalrye
And no wight left almost in the toun
To regne on hem by successioun.
But for they saugh and tokyn also hed,
Withoute this that they hadde an hed
In the cyté thei may not dure longe,
For though so be comownerys be stronge
With multitude and have no governaylle
Of an hed, ful lytyl may avaylle.
Therfor they han unto her socour
Ychosyn hem a newe governour,
An olde tyraunt that callyd was Creon,
Ful acceptable to hem everichon,
And crownyd hym withoute mor lettyng
To regne in Thebes and to ben her kyng,
Althogh he hadde no title by discent
But by fre choys made in parlement.
And ther to hym, lik as it is founde,
By her lygeaunce of newe they wer bounde
For to be trewe, whyl the cité stood,
To hym only with body and with good.
Thus they wer sworn and suryd everichon;
And he ageynward to save hem from her foon,
And hem dyffende with al his ful myght,
And meynten hem in al manere ryght.
This was th'acord as in sentement.
   And in this whil hath Adrastus sent
From the siege of Thebes the cyté
A woundyd knyght hom to his contré
Thorgh al Grece pleynly to declare
Al the slaughter and the evyl fare
Of worthy Grekys, ryght as it is falle,
And how that he hath lost his lordys alle
Att mor meschief than eny man can mouth.
And whan this thyng was in Grece couth,
Fyrst to Argyve and Deyphylee
And to the ladies ek in the contré
And of provynces aboute hem adjacent,
They come doun, al be on assent,
Worthy queenys and with hem ek duchessys
And other ek that callyd were contessys;
And alle the ladyes and wymmen of degré
Ben assembled in Arge the cyté,
Lik as I rede, and alle in clothes blake,
That to byhold the sorowe that they make,
It were a deth to eny man alyve.
And yif I shuld by and by descryve
Ther tendre wepyng and ther wooful sownys,
Her complayntys and lamentacions,
Her ofte swounyng with facys ded and pale,
Therof I myghte make a newe tale,
Almost a day yow to occupye.
And as myn autour doth clerly certifie,
Thorghoute Grece from all the rigiouns
Out of cities and of royal touns
Cam alle the ladies and wymmen of estat,
Ful hevy cheryd and disconsolat,
To this assemblé, aforn as I you tolde,
In purpoos fully her journé forto holde
Toward Thebes, thys sorwful creaturys,
Ther to bywaylle her wooful aventurys,
T'aquyte hemsilf of trouth in wommanhede
To her lordys, which in the feld lay dede.
And as the story liketh to declare,
Al this journé they went on foote bare,
Lik as they hadde gon on pylgrymage,
In tokyn of mournyng barbyd the visage,
Wympled echon and in burnet weedys, 1
Nat in charys drawen forth with steedys,
Nor on palfreys blake nowther white:
The sely wymmen koude hem not delite
To hold her way but barfote forth they wente;
So feithfully everichon they ment,
Thorgh hevynesse diffacyd of her hwe;
And as I fynde, they weryn alle trwe.
Now was not that a wonder forto se
So many trewe out of a cuntré,
Attonys gadryd in a companye,
And feithful alle, bookys can not lye,
Both in her port and inward in menyng?
Unto my doom it was an uncouth thyng,
Among a thowsand wymen outher tweyne
To fynden noon that kowde in herte feyne.
It was a mervaylle nat ofte seyn aforn.
For seelde in feldys groweth eny corn,
But yif some wede spryng up ther among.
Men laye wynys whan they be to strong,
But her trouth was meynte with non allayes;
They were so trewe founde at alle assayes.
And they ne stynt upon her journé
Tyl that they cam ther they wolde be,
Wher Adrastus, wrytyn as I fynde,
Lay in his tent al of colour ynde,
Gretly mervaylyd whan that he biheld
The nombre of hem sprad thorgh al the feld
Clad all in blak and barfoot everychon.
Out of his tent he dressyd hym anon,
Upon his hand the kyng Campaneus;
Ful trist in herte and face right pitous,
Ageyn the wommen forth they went yfere.
And to byhold the wooful hevy chere,
The wooful cryes also, whan they mette,
The sorful sighys in her brestys shette,
The teerys newe distillyng on her facys,
And the swownyng in many sondry placys
Whan they her lordys alyve not ne founde,
But in the feeld thorgh girt with many wounde,
Lay stark upright, pleynly to endite,
With dedly eyen tournyd up the white,
Who made sorowe or felt her herte ryve
For hir lorde but the faire Argyve?
Who can now wepe but Deyphylee,
Tydeus for she ne myghte se?
Whoos constretys were so fel and kene
That Adrastus myghte not sustene
To byholde the ladyes so compleyne,
Wisshing his herte parted wer on tweyne.
And yit, allas, bothen eve and morowe
O thyng ther was that doubled al her sorowe -
That old Creon, fader of fellonye,
Ne wold suffre thorgh his tyrannye
The dede bodies be buryed nowther brente
But with beestis and houndys to be rente.
He made hem all upon an hepe be leyde.
Wherof the wymmen, trist and evyl apeyde
For verray dool, as it was no wonder,
Her hertys felt almost ryve asonder.
And as my mayster Chaucer list endite,
Al clad in blak with her wymples whyte,
With gret honour and dieu reverence,
In the temple of the goddesse Clemence
They abood the space of fourtenyght,
Tyl Theseus the noble worthy knyght,
Duk of Athenys, with his chyvalry
Repeyred hom out of Femynye
And with hym ladde ful feir upon to sene,
Thorgh his manhod, Ypolita the quene
And her suster callyd Emelye.
And whan thies wommen gonne first espye
This worthy duk as he cam rydynge,
Kyng Adrastus, hem alle conveyinge,
The wommen brouht unto his presence,
Which hym bysought to give hem audience,
And all attonys swownyng in the place,
Ful humblely preiden hym of grace
To rewe on hem her harmys to redresse.
   But yif ye list to se the gentyllesse
Of Theseus and how he hath hym born,
Yif ye remembre ye han herde it to forn
Wel rehersyd at Depforth in the vale,
In the bygynnyng of the Knyghtys Tale:
First how that he, whan he herd hem speke,
For verray routh felt his herte breke;
And her sorowys whan he gan adverte,
From his courser doun anon he sterte,
Hem confortyng in ful good entente,
And in his armys he hem all up hente.
The Knyghtys Tale reherseth every del
Fro poynt to poynt, yif ye looke wel,
And how this duk withoute more abood
The same day toward Thebes rood,
Ful lik in soth a worthy conquerour
And in his hoost of chyvalrye the flour;
And fynally, to spekyn of thys thing,
With old Creon that was of Thebes kyng
How that he faught and slough hym lik a knyght
And all his host putte unto the flyght.
Yit, as some auctours make mencioun,
Or Theseus entred into toun,
The women first with pikkeys and with mallys,
With gret labour bete doun the wallys.
And in her writyng also as they sayn,
Campaneus was on the wallys slayn;
With cast of ston he was so overlade,
For whom Adrastus such a sorowe made
That no man myght reles hym of his peyne.
And Jocasta with her doghtres tweyne,
Ful woofully oppressyd of her cherys,
To Athenes wer sent as prysonerys.
What fil of hem more can I not seyn.
But Theseus, myn autour writ certeyn,
Out of the feld or he fro Thebes wente,
He bete it downe and the howsys brente,
The puple slough for al her crying loude,
Maad her wallys and her towrys proude
Rounde aboute, evene upon a rowe,
With the soyle to be lade ful lowe,
That nought was left but the soyle al bare.
And to the wommen in reles of her care,
The bonys of her lordys that were slayn
This worthy duk restoryd hath agayn.
   But what shuld I any lenger dwelle
The olde ryytys by and by to telle;
Nor th'obsequies in ordre to devise;
Nor to declare the manere and the guyse
How the bodyes wer to asshes brent;
Nor of the gommes in the flaumbe spent
To make the ayre swetter of relees,
As frauncencence, mirre and aloes;
Nor how the wommen round aboute stood,
Some with mylk and some also with blood
And some of hem with urnes made of gold,
Whan the asshes fully weren made cold,
T'enclosyn hem of gret affeccioun
And bern hem hom into her regioun;
And how that other ful dedly of her loke
For love only of the bonys tooke,
Hem to kepe for a remenbraunce:
That to reherce every observaunce
That was don in the fyres bright,
The wakeplayes duryng al the nyght;
Nor of the wrastlyng to telle poynt be poynt
Of hem that wern nakyd and ennoyt;
How everiche other lugge gan and shake;
Nor how the wommen han her leve take
Of Theseus with ful gret humblesse,
Thankyng hym of his worthynesse
That hym lyst upon her woo to rewe;
And how that he, his fredam to renewe,
With the wommen, of his hegh largesse,
Ypartyd hath ek of his richesse;
And how this duk Thebes ek forsoke
And to Athenys the righte waye tooke
With laurer crownyd in signe of victorye
And the palme of conquest and of glorye,
Did his honur duely to Marte;
And how the wymmen wepte whan they departe
With kyng Adrastus hom ageyn to Arge -
To tellyn al wer to gret a charge,
And ek also, as ye shal understonde,
At the gynnyng I took no mor on honde
Be my promys, in conclusioun,
But to reherce the destruccioun
Of myghty Thebes shortly and no more.
And thus Adrastus, with his lokkys hore,
Stille abood in Arge his cyté
Unto his ende: ye gete no more of me,
Sauf, as myn auctour liketh to compyle,
After that he lyved but a while;
For he was old er the siege gan,
And thought and sorowe so upon hym ran,
The which in soth shortyd hath his dayes.
And, tyme sette, deth maketh no delayes,
And al his joye passid was and gon;
For of his lordys alyve was not on
But slayn at Thebes, ye knowen al the cas.
And whan this kyng in Arge buryed was
Ful ryaly with gret solempnyté,
It was acountyd, in bookys ye may se,
Four hundred yeer, as mad is mencioun,
Tofoor the beelding and fundacioun
Of gret Rome so ryal and so large,
Whan the ladies departyden from Arge
To her contrés ful trest and desolat.
Lo, her the fyn of contek and debat.
Lo, her the myght of Mars the froward sterre.
Lo, what it is for to gynne a werre.
How it concludeth ensample ye may se
First of Grekys and next of the cyté,
For owther parte hath matere to conpleyne.
And in her strif ye may se thyngges tweyne:
The worthy blood of al Grece spilt;
And Thebes ek, of Amphion first bylt,
Withoute recur brouht unto ruyne
And with the soyle made pleyn as a lyne,
To wyldernesse turnyd and desert,
And Grekys ek falle into povert,
Both of her men and also of her good;
For fynally al the gentyl blood
Was shad out ther, her woundys wer so wyde,
To los fynal unto outher syde.
For in the werre is non excepcioun
Of hegh estat nor lowh condicioun
But as fortune and fate, both yffere,
List to dispose with her double chere
And Bellona the goddes in hir char
Aforn provydeth: wherfor ech man be war
Unavysed a werre to bygynne,
For no man woot who shal lese or wynne.
And hard it is whan eyther party leseth.
And douteles nowther of hem cheseth
That they most in al swich mortal rage,
Maugré her lust, felyn gret damage.
It may nat be by mannys myght restreyned.
And werre in soth was never first ordeyned
But for synne folkis to chastyse.
   And as the Byble trewly kan devyse,
Hegh in hevene of pryde and surquedye,
Lucyfer, fader of envie,
The olde serpent, he levyathan,
Was the first that ever werre gan,
Whan Michael, the hevenly champioun,
With his feerys venqwisshyd the dragoun
And to helle cast hym downe ful lowe.
The whiche serpent hath the cokkyl sowe
Thorgh al erth of envye and debat,
That unnethys is ther non estat
Withoute stryf can lyve in charité.
For every man of hegh and lough degré
Envyeth now that other shulde thryve.
And ground and cause why that men so stryve
Is coveytise and fals ambicioun,
That everich wold han domynacioun
Over other and trede hym undyr foote,
Which of al sorowe gynnyng is and roote.
And Crist recordyth - red Luk and ye may se -
For lak of love what meschief ther shal be.
For o puple, as he doth devyse,
Agayn another of hate shal aryse,
And after tellith what dyvisions
Ther shal be atwixe regyouns,
Everiche bysy other to oppresse.
And al swich strif, as he berth wytnesse,
Kalendys ben, I take his word to borowe,
And a gynnyng of meschief and of sorowe:
Men have it founde be experience.
   But the venym and the violence
Of strif, of werre, of contek, and debat
That maketh londys bare and desolat
Shal be proscript and voyded out of place,
And Martys swerd shal no more manace,
Nor his sper grevous to sustene
Shal now no mor whettyd be so kene,
Nor he no mor shal his hauberk shake.
But love and pees in hertys shal awake,
And charité both in length and brede
Of newe shal her bryghte beemys sprede
Thorgh grace only in dyvers naciouns,
Forto reforme atwixe regyouns
Pees and quyet, concord and unyté.
And He that is both on and two and thre,
Ek thre in on and sovereyn lord of pes,
Which in this exil for our sake ches,
For love only our troubles to termyne,
For to be born of a pur virgyne:
And lat us prey to Hym that is most good,
Which for mankynde shadde His herte blood,
Thorgh byseching of that hevenly quene,
Wyff and moder and a mayde clene,
To sende us pes her in this lyf present,
And of oure synnys parfit amendement,
And joye eternal whan we hennes wende.
Of my tale thus I make an ende.


Here endeth the destruccioun of Thebes.

anger; (see note)
nature hot, combustible
sparks; far


can relate


first of all



hasten; delays

enlisted them each [as a soldier]; (t-note)
their; immediately

those; (see note)

according to their rank
garrison; retinue

longbows; crossbows

date set
Before; muster; plain


of Mycenae (see note)




(see note); (t-note)

armed; (t-note)
renowned heroes

Calcedonia; heir



humbly; (t-note)
Hastening; delay




whatever he said

in the middle of

in valor
believe, since

fashions; (see note)
exotic heraldic symbols
if; describe
apply myself diligently
would be in truth
too obscure


be lacking

low; soldiers
(see note)
beforehand; given
generous; wished


To allow; distress

flourishes; nothing

Despite; power; as they wish

in agreement; bridle

deprived of the support; by himself

continue; (see note)



treasure, in brief



enemies to destroy
to make war on

at once
Done; son[-in-law]; closest kinsmen
before; describe

carefully; discovered; (t-note)


(see note)


renowned heroes; all around

Provided openings in the parapet
garrisoned; soldiers
cannon; (see note)



meat; wheat

military force
Double towers over gates; ramparts


dearly be bought
pole ax
Before; lose

Before; possess

take steps beforehand


all around
decide; goal

grown old

(see note)
old age

their hidden lore

before; clearly interpret

Give; judgment

judgment; strife
plainly; lie
havoc in battle
(see note)

military expedition; slain
destiny; prevented

because; expedient; (see note)
defense; (t-note)

(see note)

discreet; mute



shut (hidden away); body (person)
troubling; (see note)


Whom to reveal; hesitant


Despite her wishes directed them; (t-note)

before he took heed



grey-haired man; chariot



opinion; certainty
enveloped in duplicity
future fate; times

means; changeable

done; pursued

Deep; buried

intent abandon
were distressed

cried out; false
inventor; recently made (i.e., contrived)


not at all; advice
on every side

their prime
in fact

lost; (t-note)
ponder; (see note)

determined all at once
Bruises; shatters
Unless; beforehand

(see note)
old man

share the same views

(see note)


knowledgeable; experienced
wished; observe


sighed full sorely
hung down
saw; noght

make an expedition in force
war against

knew; escape



valleys; plains

searching all around
(see note); (t-note)
refuge; know
unbearable; bright


grievous situation; returned



then; laurel


(see note)


saw; (see note)
confused; at once withdraw
not at all

encamped; (t-note)
pole ax


military expedition

If; (t-note)

inwardly; (see note)

their; regret

if; free

only a little way from here
at risk

risk; (t-note)
out of

lay to sleep


plentiful; (t-note)



All at once; rode; (t-note)
satisfy; thirst

dead; bank

Around; crystalline



Promising; bound

reminds us

their; promised her
she might wish
here; recital; (see note)


By descent; family


carefully; care

Cut; anger
For this purpose; Boccaccio

in no way disturbed


(see note)

ram [with the golden fleece]; (see note)
wishes; (see note)

lack; (see note); (t-note)


Giovanni Boccaccio
eloquent discourses
Sicily; (see note)
chapter heading

her (the queen's); (see note)

returned; (t-note)
[is] hopeless

(see note)
striped; scales; bright; (t-note)
piercing; sharp

too slow; hasten

Deathly; pale
golden hair


if; remain; (t-note)
merit except; must

negligence; sloth


penetrated; heart

unbearable; grief
know; truthfulness
learned; (t-note)


Neither; petition
grief caused by

heartfelt; stained
streaming with tears
fear distraught
First of all

substance; trouble

stop; alleviate
with great speed

think; take into consideration
behaved; earlier
If the help were not given

repay [her kindness]
ungrateful; (t-note)


immediately; (t-note)
if; succeed

try, if


As soon as
well appointed
(see note)





made ready; harbingers (see note)

be sufficient; suffice

obtain by
Food enough here


if; (t-note)
directly say
agreement before confirm



rest; mite

negotiate; together
a person
not at all
Aloud; (t-note)
Who; yielded


knew; lived no longer

unbearable suffering
tore; (t-note)

grief; burrow; (see note)

cause; (t-note)
(see note); (t-note)

at intervals

Before; knew

at once
Hold tight; spring up

(see note)




benefit may not at all

Since loss by; restore

gone; (see note)
(see note)

Ebb tide following; full tide
duration; proclamation (certainty)

shelter himself

Then it avails
freedom from arrest; (see note)

Safe conduct; legal injunctions; (see note)

But that; die either; (t-note)


Filled; strife
seldom; remains

ordinance; the gods

if; (t-note)


decisions to distinguish

misfortune; grief


then; (see note)


pay with its head

otherwise; shed; (t-note)

round about

region searching

(see note)
happened; (t-note)



Pulled; hanging; (t-note)
off its; immediately took it

Through which; somewhat; lessen

bitterness; (t-note)

(see note)


happened; (t-note)
before; relate
unless; lie
(see note)
(see note)

(see note)
arrogant; proud
dilution with water

Broke; drowned

if; confirm; (see note)
[Boccaccio's] Genealogia deorum gentilium
By descent; family
Boccaccio; (see note)
Behind; Petrarch following

as security
Set in order; divisions


move; delay

together mustered


encircled; (t-note)
sallied forth; (t-note)


trickery or treachery
great tower (keep)

part of the city

As if; remain
All around; empty
encircled their enemy

region; forage
hamlets; (see note)
kinds; beasts
hart; hind; (t-note)
tusked; (t-note)
Carrying; provision

Giving; slaughter bitter; (t-note)


part; (t-note)

that same

Lest; unreliable
(see note)


thought; (t-note)
Wholly of one

Whether; better

did not hold back; opinion
promises; before

to his disadvantage

(see note)


if need be
(see note)
Before; begun willingly
if; settled

in brief; (see note)
mad; (see note)
if; (t-note)
Then; whether; sad


beginning, cause

those; perish
advanced; far
or untimely
hangs in the balance
one plainly; two; (t-note)

constrained by circumstances; (see note)

negotiate; resolve
cunning; avert
quick judgment
For to debate

Whether; pleased




then; true anger
opposed; unwilling
If; after all; negotiate; (t-note)



Then leave; return


ordered to be saddled





crowd, gathering; assembly





(see note)


Made; sworn; sealed


in brief, otherwise
hence go

settled by combat
first; (t-note)
if; wishes; avoid



end; hold

decision; intend

everyone of them



search; mind

duty; concern
then occurred; (see note)

writing instrument; must

nearby to

written record; (t-note)

by nature

eyes; ferret

dwelling in India

young; taken; (t-note)






at the same time

must be

Believing; spite


gave them their reward

paid for



in the middle of

saw; (t-note)
hastened; (see note)
not at all afraid
face to face



that same



beyond remedy; yielded

means; procure

agreement; construct

thoughtful; serious
gave immediately
outcome; (t-note)




drawn; imagined
In his heart; vanish

dared not reveal himself




safe conduct




Long ago; remaining part

castle keep

written out in legal form; foresight
written in a roll

Lest; end; destroy

hatred; (t-note)
nothing at all
(see note); (t-note)

the sun


sally forth



set out in formation
In the middle; unexpected event
shocking; hateful; (see note)




According to his merit
(see note)

enthroned; (t-note)

dwelling; (t-note)
reward; (see note)

availed him his necromancy

astrological houses
positions of the stars

total belief

trust; lacking in God's grace


rumor; strange
unexpectedly happened
at once


look gloomy; be mournful

know no remedy

misfortune; value; halfpenny

least expected
once; confidence
at once; turn of events

Thinking; win back lost ground

Since; (t-note)

Through which; weakened


misfortune their suggestion

strange rumor; fear
again and again; continue


great discredit

shamed; recover
reputation; whatever status

If; suddenly; reputation
curious to hear

darkened; marred



towers crenalated


levelled to the earth before; return
That what
enemies; blameless

intend; happen


Agreed; success

could once
hidden; beforehand
[him] whom; lost
thought; obtain; (see note)

drawing lots
could discover


the one
the other was called

long ago; task

wearing a mitre; bishop's seat in a choir
exotic manners; (t-note)

confirmed; installed; seat



either side
deadly; keenly honed

before; remained

killing; (t-note)
(see note)
as a pledge


(see note)
planned; sleight; deceit
without warning; end
in ambush

lose; (see note)

bolt from a crossbow sharpened
Wounded; arbalest

Through which; remedy
healing; (t-note)

Boccaccio; (see note)

no more; (see note)
grew; deadly; (see note)

Slain; before
armor plate

Surrounded; combatants accidentally; (t-note)


zenith; (t-note)

Source (Root); discord

without haste
Singly; battle

near impressed
His; noticed

in return

envenomed by unnatural
keenly sharpened for the occasion
at once
armor plates, chain mail; (see note)
Pierced; smote; to the ground

(see note)

to remove his armor
out of
fragment of a spear; (t-note)

stood above
without warning
Who; angry
slain; (t-note)

then; defeated

shawm (musical instrument); (t-note)

on the outside; doubt

In despair; (t-note)

armor plate; chain mail

more hideous
cross bows; (see note)


against; (t-note)

visers aiming; face; (t-note)
metal rings
Cut; throat pieces
light coat of armor

keenly sharpened
mail; obstacle

stabbed to the heart

assault; (see note)

if; deceive; (see note)

Titan (the sun) passed to the west
bars; made






barren; (see note)
knighthood; (t-note)

Unless; leader; (t-note)


Chosen; (see note)

everyone; (see note)

right; (t-note)
choice; (t-note)


pledged every one
in return; enemies





(see note)





covered their faces

riding horses; or

sadness marred; complexion; (t-note)
(see note)

faithful women
At once gathered

In my judgment; marvelous
or two

dilute wines
mixed; alloys (impurities)

indigo blue

proceeded; immediately
At his side; (t-note)

Toward; together

trickling down



Their agonies; bitter
(see note)


nor burned

sorrowful and ill-content
(see note)



these; did; see


if; wish
Deptford; (see note)

(see note)

describes wholly



(see note)
picks; hammers



relieve; (t-note)

mournful; appearance

happened to them

razed; burned

one after another

relief; sorrow
bones; who; (see note)

(see note)

gums burned as incense
for relief; (t-note)
frankincense, myrrh; aloes

pale in appearance


funeral games


wished; to take pity
generosity to show again




(see note)
beginning I agreed to


grey hair

(see note)
Except; write


once the time is determined

(see note)
Before; building

strife; conflict; (see note)
unfavorable star

either; cause
(see note)


detriment; either

Wish to arrange; double face
Bellona (goddess of war); chariot; (see note)
Without deliberation
neither; perceives
Despite their wishes, experience

(see note)



cockle sown; (see note)


Is envious
source; contend

one; say

The beginning; as witness
learned by



sharpened; (t-note)
coat of mail; (see note)


(see note)
(see note)


correction; (t-note)