Confessio Amantis: Book 8
JOHN GOWER, CONFESSIO AMANTIS: FOOTNOTES
1 Listlessness, dull discernment, little schooling and least labor are the causes by which, I, least of all, sing things all the lesser. Nonetheless, in the tongue of Hengist in which the island of Brutus sang, with Carmentis’ aid I will utter English verses. Let then the boneless one that breaks bones with speeches be absent, and let the interpreter wicked in word stand far away.
2 Present-day Fortune has left behind the blessed times of the past, and overturned on her world-wheel the ancient ways. Harmonious love engendered the old-time peace, when the face was the messenger of a person’s thought: then the unicolored air of the times was aglow with laws, and then the paths of justice were broad and even. But now hidden hatred presents a painted face of love, and clothes under false peace an age at arms. The law carries itself like the chameleon, changeable with every varied thing; and new laws are for new kingdoms. Regions that were most steady throughout the world’s orb are unmoored, nor do they possess axis-points of quiet.
3 The laws of yesterday that old Moses and new John — that one — cultivated, this day hardly keeps. Thus the church, formerly glittering with a double virtue and now instead disheveled, grows pale at either path. At the word of Christ the sword of Peter, regaining its peaceful sheath, abhorred the way of blood; now, however, with sacred law grown tepid, covetousness vigorously thrusts its blood-stained sword. Thus the wolf is the shepherd, the father the enemy, death the commiserator, the brigand the benefactor, and the peace on earth is fear.
4 So long as the commonfolk lies subjugated by royal law, it will bear its burden as meek as a ewe lamb; if its head should come up and the law relax its reins on it, as desire commands for itself, it becomes like a tiger [or, like the Tigris River]. Fire, domination by water are two things without mercy, but the wrath of the commoners is more violent.
5 Fortunate and adverse, turning through its mazy trail, the unclean, disordered world deceives every sort. The world is overturned in its outcomes as a die in a toss, as quickly as the covetous hand throws at the games. Like an image of man do the ages of the world vary, and nothing besides the love of God stands firm.
1 Love fashioned for nature’s ends subjects the world to the laws of nature, and incites harmonized ones to wildness [or: incites wild ones to harmony]. Love is seen to be the prince of this world, whose bounty rich man, poor man, and every man demand. Equal in the contest are Love and Fortune, both of which turn their blind wheels to entrap the people. Love is a sharp salvation, a troubled quiet, a pious error, a warring peace, a sweet wound, a soothing ill.
2 I do not indeed outdo Sampson’s powers or Hercules’ arms; but I am conquered as they were, by an equal love. Experience of the deed teaches so that others might learn what path should be held amidst uncertain circumstances. The twisting progress of one leading instructs another following at his back in the dangers already met, so that he too should not fall. Therefore, those disasters by which Venus ensnared me as a lover I strive to write, publicly, as example for the world.
3 Having confessed to Genius, I will try to discover whether that is the healing medicine for the diseases that Venus herself has transmitted. Even limbs wounded by the knife may be brought to health by treatment; yet rarely does the wound of love have a physician.
4 Vision and hearing are fragile gateways of the mind, which no vice-weakened hand can keep shut. A wide path is there by which an enemy strides to the inner cave of the heart and, entering, seizes the buried coin. These first principles Genius the Confessor offers me, while my vexed life is in deadly peril. But now in order that a half-living speech might be able to be uttered, I will fearfully press out through my mouth words privy to my thoughts.
5 Higher than an eagle and more fierce than a lion is that one whom the swelling of a heart, borne upwards, moves to the heights. There are five species over which Pride clamors that she is the leader, and the world clings to those in many ways. By enchanting the face with a feigned paleness, Hypocrisy decks out honey-sweet words with his frauds. And thus time and again he overwhelms pious, womanly souls by means of humble speech with deceit hidden underneath.
6 To bend is thought better than to break, and the attack of the earthen pot cannot prevail over the cauldron. Many a time the man whom neither human nor divine law is strong enough to bend is bent over in his heart by love. The man whom love cannot bend cannot be bent by anything, for his inflexibility stands more rigid than an elephant. Love disdains those he can recognize as rebels, and he sees to it that the uncivil have an uncivil fate. But he who, a pious man, freely subjects himself to Love in his heart, in adversities shatters all fates.
7 The proud man generates grumbling in adversities in such a way that the penalty from a twofold fate presses down upon him. When ready hope in love struggles against fortune, not without a grumbling in the mind does the lover complain.
8 All things Presumption thinks he knows, but he does not know himself, nor does he think that anyone similar to him is his equal. He who thinks himself more astute in winning the battle falls all the more tightly into Venus’s snares. Often Cupid betrays the man who presupposes a lover for himself, and Hope itself turns back down empty roads.
9 The boasting of a bombastic tongue diminishes the genuine fame that being silent would, with honor, confirm as stable. That one does not perceive praise of his merit, so he openly extolls himself in his own words to the world. There is moreover the sinful boasting of a man, which makes the guilty cheeks on a woman redden.
10 Worldly glory engenders continual sorrows, but he who is vain desires vain joys. A plain and simple man will not gain without flattery the friendship of a man whom empty glory has raised up. He who knows how to curry Favel with carefully composed words will succeed in mounting up the saddled laws as a knight. Thus in love, the one who more greatly prepares flattering words in his mouth takes by this the prize that another cannot. And nonetheless elaborate songs and varied adornments and cheerful hearts — these love selects for its laws.
11 Even when the human race possesses a greater glory, sorrow often is likely to lie very near by. An exalted spirit will often drop down dangerous descents; a humble spirit establishes a reliable and gentle path. Fortune turns with innumerable movements through the world-wheel; when you seek the greater heights, fear the places that are all the lower.
12 It is a humble power by which high God carried himself to the depths, and possessed the bowels of our flesh. Thus the humble is exalted, and love subdues all to itself, whose power the proud by no chance possesses. The earth hates the proud, even heaven itself expels him, and he remains in the regions of hell where he has been received.
1 This rule that favors the old vice is useful at the present time, nor does the new order please which teaches contrarily to that. Love long blind has not yet received its eyes, wherefore devious Venus warps with deception the affixed path.
2 Love belongs to all the community; but let he who carries out immoderate excesses not be thought a lover. Yet the fate by which Venus attracts hearts does not allow [us] by means of reason to see the things of reason.
3 Whoever desires what he cannot have, wastes his time; where "I'm able" is absent, "I want" is unhealthy. Winter, hairy with icy locks, is not equal to summer's work, when its heat has receded. Nature does not give to December just as May has, nor can clay compare to flowers; and thus old men's lust does not flower in youthful compliance, as Venus herself demands. It would be appropriate, therefore, for those whom white old age touches henceforth to cultivate chaste bodies.
4 Spare I pray, O Christ, the people in order that they may rejoice; stand in opposition, highest king, lest England should sadly go down. Correct each estate, absolve frail defendants. May this blessed place thereupon thrive, grateful [or pleasing] to God.
5 That is, Henry Bolingbroke, who ascended to the throne in 1400. Gower shifted his endorsement from Richard to Henry well before that time, at the latest by 1392. See Prologue, lines 24-92, and the note to Prologue, lines 22ff.
6 Whether the songs are "full of praise" for England, or England "full of praise" for Gower's poetry is grammatically ambiguous (laude repleta). For a similar grammatically possible, hyperbolic praise of Gower's poem, see the Latin verses after *2971, along with the note. That the verse here too allows that meaning by the same technique, along with metrical and other features of the Latin here, suggests either that Gower himself wrote these words of the "certain philosopher," or that a Latinist very much in his "school" of Latin poetry constructed them. The very existence of marginal glosses written by the author for his own work somewhat supports the former possibility. At the least, he had no modesty about including them.
JOHN GOWER, CONFESSIO AMANTIS: EXPLANATORY NOTES
Notes to Prologue
Latin verses i (before line 1). Lines 1–2: Opening protestations of literary modesty were legion in medieval Latin poetry. This verse parallels in brief outline the longer, preliminary sections of the popular twelfth-century school-text, Johannes de Hauvilla’s Architrenius, which inveighs against Sloth, Lechery, Sleep, Detraction, Mockery, Error, etc. (lines 1–40), asserts the poet’s modest abilities yet confidence in success (lines 55–56), and exhorts envious detractors to remain far off (lines 213–15). Behind the modesty trope, Gower challenges his audience to read his work sympathetically, even though it is written in English. The implication is that English, Hengist’s language (line 3), is inferior as a literary language. To counteract its insularity he alludes to the history of the peoples of the island and the heroic origins of the nation founded by Brutus, the great-grandson of Aeneas. See Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain for the full account of the Trojan descendant’s winning of the island from giants, founding his kingdom, and siring a line of kings that culminates with King Arthur, despite the treachery of Hengist. Hengist was the first Saxon on the island. One anecdote in this mythical history recounts that Hengist’s daughter greeted the reigning British king, Vortiger, with the drinking toast “Wassail!” (“Be healthy!”); according to the fourteenth- and fifteenth-century prose Brut, a popular French and English adaptation and continuation of Geoffrey’s history, this was the first “Englisshe” word spoken in Britain (Brut, ch. 57; ed. Brie, 1.52). Line 4: Carmentis is said by Isidore of Seville to have first brought Latin script to the speakers of ancient Italy (Etymologies 1.4.1). Gower will “utter” but also write his English verses, an event implicitly as foundational as Hengist’s and Carmentis’ founding contributions to linguistic history. See Echard, “With Carmen’s Help,” pp. 3–10, on Carmen as Gower’s muse and one who makes tongues. Line 5: The tongue, whose lack of bones yet had “bone-breaking” power, was the subject of many Latin proverbs (ed. Echard and Fanger, pp. xxxvii and 3). See also VC 5.921–22: “Res mala lingua loguax, res peior, pessima res est, / Que quamuis careat ossibus, ossa terit” (“An evil thing is a talkative tongue . . . / which although it lack bones, destroys bones”); and CA 3.462–65: “the harde bon . . . [a] tunge brekth it al to pieces.” Line 6: The Architrenius also concludes its introductory sections with the same ritual apotropaicism: “Let the slanderous razor of envy, keen only in treachery, remain far off, and far off too be that viper whose venom is harmful only to noteworthy achievements” (lines 213–15).
On the subject of CA as a bilingual poem with distinct functions for each language, see Yeager, “‘Oure englisshe’ and Everyone’s Latin”; Minnis, Medieval Theory of Authorship, pp. 274–75n45; and Olsen, “Betwene Ernest and Game,” pp. 5–18 (on likenesses between its bilingual structure and that of Dante’s Vita Nuova). Pearsall suggests that the vernacular author who nearest approaches Gower in his extensive use of Latin in diverse ways (vatic verse headings, scholastic apparatus of prose commentaries, Latin speech prefixes, and elaborate Latin apparatus at the end of the poem including a long colophon and various Latin poems) is Boccaccio (“Gower’s Latin in the Confessio Amantis,” p. 15). For further discussion of Gower’s Latin verses see Echard and Fanger, Latin Verses, especially pp. xiii–lviii, and sundry notes. On Gower’s shorter Latin poems see the edition by Yeager (Minor Latin Works). On tensions between Latin and English texts see Batchelor, “Feigned Truth and Exemplary Method.”
2 bokes duelle. Gower positions books as the repository of moral values and history, against which he encourages the reader to judge present behavior. Books provide examples from “olde wyse” (line 7); that wisdom of the past enables people to see what is new, whether in method, topic, or circumstance.
7 Essampled. For discussion of Gower’s use of narrative exempla see Yeager, “John Gower and the Exemplum Form”; Shaw, “Gower’s Illustrative Tales”; Simpson, Sciences and the Self; Runacres, “Art and Ethics”; and Mitchell, Ethics and Exemplary Narrative. For his use of Ovid see Harbert, “Lessons from the Great Clerk.” See also note to Book 1, line 79.
7–8 wyse . . . wyse. Gower’s verse thrives on rime riche, the rhyming of homophones (words with the same sound but different meanings or functions). The device catches the ear off-guard and provokes double, more careful reading, the way riddles do. Single glosses (e.g., wyse as both “wise” [men or books] and “manner”) can scarcely do justice to the device which, like puns, flourishes on multiplicity of meanings and function, such as adjective versus noun, etc. The device reminds us that glosses are starting points only, not simple equations or “facts.” See note to Prol.237–38.
11-18 An inkblot in the middle of the first column obliterates a portion of the text. The blot apparently was made sometime after the page had been copied and bound, for two streaks extend toward the center, as if running down the page. A corresponding blot occurs on the facing page, a mirror image of the first blot. If this MS was in fact corrected by Gower, as Macaulay suggested, the poet himself could be the culprit (2:cxxx). More likely, the accident occurred at some later date after the presentation of the copy.
17 The middel weie is both a rhetorical and an ethical proposition. Gower would see his poem as a mediator between social issues and personal moral choices. See Middleton (“Idea of Public Poetry,” pp. 101–02) on the public dimensions of Gower’s methodological agenda. By striking a medial position between wisdom and delight, with English as his medium, the poet would make fictive paradigms from which moral therapy might be achieved. See Introduction.
19 Somwhat of lust, somewhat of lore. See Zeeman on Gower’s appropriation of “Amans, his love, his text and all texts of courtly love into an exemplum of worldly uncertainty and deceit” (“Framing Narrative,” p. 223). Lust, she suggests, denotes desire, the feeling of pleasure and delight, but also the object of desire and something causing pleasure. The shift of the narrator from auctor to Amans engages the reader in the pleasure of narrative, while the conversion of the lover into the old man in Book 8 brutally subverts the courtly narrative as a deceit from which there is no “recoverir” (pp. 231–32, with reference to 8.2443).
22 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic in principio declarat qualiter in anno Regis Ricardi secundi sexto decimo Iohannes Gower presentem libellum composuit et finaliter compleuit, quem strenuissimo domino suo domino Henrico de Lancastria tunc Derbeie Comiti cum omni reuerencia specialiter destinauit. [Here in the beginning he declares how in the sixteenth year of King Richard II John Gower composed and ultimately completed the present little book, which he especially designated with all reverence for the most vigorous lord, his lord Henry of Lancaster, at that time Earl of Derby.] This Latin inscription is found in only five MSS, and appears to be a late addition, after the establishing of the third recension, though not necessarily in third recension copies. It does not occur, however, in Fairfax 3. Olsson points out that what is important here is the fact that the note replaces a gloss at Prol.34 of the first recension, which read: “John Gower . . . most zealously compiled the present little book, like a honeycomb gathered from various flowers” (see full text of the gloss below, at the end of the following note). Olsson suggests that the shift from compilauit to compleuit (from compilation to composition) may indicate a shift in Gower’s conception of his work as he puts aside the earlier sense of himself as a compilator gathering flowers of wisdom from the past to consider himself more confidently in the role of auctor (Structures of Conversion, pp. 5–11). Nicholson (“Dedications,” pp. 171–74), on the other hand, suggests that the Latin note was added by Gower or a scribe long after the original presentation to Henry, and thus the gloss gives a misleading account of the history of CA.
24 A bok for Engelondes sake. Aers (“Reflections on Gower as ‘Sapiens in Ethics and Politics’”) sees in the phrase an epitome of Gower’s attack on ecclesiastical failure. Aers suggests that Gower is attempting to persuade lay power, especially that of the sovereign (line 25), that what was destructive of the church was also subversive of royal power, and that “the sovereign needed the wholehearted support of the church. . . . The auctor of the Prologue and Genius in Book II [with his attack on the papacy] develop a radical critique of the actually existing church combined with a defence of the secular sovereign’s role in challenging the ecclesiastical hierarchy when it is judged to be in serious error” (p. 196).
24-92 These lines are found only in third recension MSS. That is, they must have been written c. 1392 when Gower rededicated the poem to Henry of Lancaster, count of Derby. Nicholson (“Dedications”) argues that the change in text represents the honoring of a patron, not some disenchanted transfer of allegiance from Richard to the count of Derby; others have seen evidences of disappointment in Richard (e.g., Peck, Kingship and Common Profit, pp. 7–9; “Politics and Psychology,” pp. 224–38; Ferster, Fictions of Advice, pp. 109–10; and Simpson, Sciences and the Self, pp. 297–99). The majority of the MSS include the Richard citation here marked as *24–*92, rather than the dedication to Henry that was introduced in 1392 as in the carefully corrected Fairfax 3 MS. But the earlier dedication continued to be copied after 1392, almost certainly with Gower’s approval. Thus I have placed the first dedication as a parallel text in this edition. For further comment see note to Prol.25, below. On Gower as a Lancastrian advocate, see Staley, Languages of Power, pp. 351–55.
[The Ricardian recension of the poem reads as follows:]
[Here ends the passage for which Gower substituted new lines in Fairfax 3.]
*24-*25 book . . . bilongeth. N.b. spelling differences here as juxtaposed to the spelling of the Fairfax scribe. Macaulay uses Bodley 294 as the text for the Ricardian version, as do I. He allows that the spelling in his edition has been “slightly normalized” (2:457), which is an understatement. I have followed the spelling of Bodley 294 as an antidote to any notion that the spelling of the Fairfax 3 scribe necessarily equates with Gower’s.
25 The yer sextenthe of Kyng Richard. Gower completed his first version of CA during or prior to the fourteenth year of Richard’s reign. Although some portions of the poem may have been written four or five years or perhaps even seven years earlier, when Chaucer was working on TC and beginning LGW, the Prologue of CA may have been completed later. In that first version, lines *24–*92 tell of Gower’s boarding of the royal barge and the king’s requesting that he write the poem, which the poet agrees to do despite ill health (*79–*80), out of “ligeance” and “obeissance” (lines *25–*26) to his king. By 1392, the sixteenth year of Richard’s reign, Gower rewrote this beginning and conclusion of the poem, deleting the king’s commission here and the ending of the poem in praise of Richard’s worthiness, and dedicated the poem to Henry of Lancaster (see Prol. 81–92 and the Latin postscript to Book 8), even as much as seven years before Henry would become king. (See Mac 2:cxxvii–clxx, for a description of most of the known MSS and an account of the revisions; see Fisher, John Gower, pp. 116– 17, for discussion of the revisions in their historical setting.) The politics underlying the revision are not known. Perhaps Gower became disenchanted with Richard’s behavior as king at the time of the king’s harsh treatment of London officials earlier in 1392. That he sees hope for England in a man like Henry of Lancaster so long before he would return from exile to “save” England seems clairvoyant, though it is quite possible that Gower meant only for the Fairfax 3 version of CA to be a compliment to Henry and that recopying of the earlier recensions continued with the poet’s approval.
*33 That his corone longe stonde. This line, especially, resonates in its omission from the third recension, where Gower speaks of time reversing itself as it yearns for the good rule of one like Henry of Lancaster. In the Tripartite Chronicle, Gower, perhaps anachronistically, sees Richard’s misbehavior reaching back to 1392 and earlier as he quite boldly speaks of not only shortening but ending Richard’s reign.
*34–*35 Latin marginalia: Inserted between lines *34–*35 in MS Bodley 294, a second recension MS which has been my copy-text for lines *24–*92, is a Latin summary: Hic declarat in primis qualiter ob reuerenciam serenissimi principis domini sui [Regis Anglie Ricardi secundi] totus suus humilis Iohannes Gower, licet graui infirmitate a diu multipliciter fatigatus, huius opusculi labores suscipere non recusauit, sed tanquam fauum ex variis floribus recollectum, presentem libellum ex variis cronicis, historiis, poetarum philosophorumque dictis, quatenus sibi infirmitas permisit, studiosissime compilauit. [Here he declares particularly how, because of reverence of the most serene prince, his lord king of England Richard II, his own and humble John Gower, although long wearied in many ways by grave illness, did not refuse to take up the labors of this little work, but instead has most zealously compiled the present little book from various chronicles, histories, and sayings of poets and philosophers, like a honeycomb gathered from various flowers, to the extent that his infirmity allowed him.] In some first and second recension MSS, e.g., Cambridge University Library Mm 2.21, the Latin note appears in the margin, though the practice of inserting marginal prose summaries into the text itself, just as the Latin verse epigrams appear in the text, is common in many of the later MSS, even though the insertion disrupts the sense and syntax of the English verse. Usually the Latin insertions are written in a different colored ink, as here. On the variis floribus trope as evidence of Gower’s initial regard for his work as compilatio, a sort of anthology of purposeful writing from former days, see Olsson, Structures of Conversion, pp. 5–11.
*37 newe Troye. Gower flatters Richard and the kingdom with the allusion to London as the “new Troye,” as if to identify a renaissance of ancient culture of which they are the heart. The designation was encouraged by Edward III and Richard II, as part of the celebration of the new vernacular culture surpassing that of France or even Italy. The term evolves from the mythography of Geoffrey of Monmouth, since the Trojan descendant Brutus founded his kingdom on the happy island. Contemporary romances based on Geoffrey, such as The Alliterative Morte Arthure, impress their audience with the superiority of Arthur’s culture to that of Rome or France. See note to Latin verses i, above.
*45 He bad me come into his barge. For speculation against the historicity of the meeting on the Thames, see Grady, “Gower’s Boat.” But see Staley, Languages of Power, pp. 16–17.
52 burel clerk. Literally, one dressed in coarse clothing — hence common or ignorant; possibly a lay clerk, though more likely an oxymoron (secular-religious). See Galloway, “Gower in His Most Learned Role,” on the unusual posture of secular learnedness that Gower cultivates.
59 neweth every dai. See Olsson, Structures of Conversion, pp. 10 ff., on Gower’s concept of the value of reading and of the past as new ideas come out of old works. The idea is intimately linked to his technique of compilatio, which becomes a means of invention rather than encyclopedic accumulation. The retelling converts dead ideas to living ones for the audience as well as for Amans. Olsson goes on to suggest that this process of perpetual renewal provides an interconnectedness between Gower’s earlier writings and CA (pp. 16 ff.). Compare Chaucer’s “For out of olde feldes, as men seyth, / Cometh al this newe corn from yer to yere” (PF lines 22–23).
60 So as I can, so as I mai. Proverbial: “As I am able, so will I do.” Not in Whiting, though Tilley, Dictionary of Proverbs, offers the variant: “Men must do as they may (can), not as they would” (M554).
61-62 Although the allusion to the poet’s illness enhances the Prologue’s theme of the degenerating world and thus anticipates the conclusion to the poem where the poet rejects mundane love because of his decrepitude, biographers generally agree that Gower was in fact in ill health during his later years. He had retired from public life some fifteen years earlier and was now over sixty years old. It is noteworthy that this couplet alone is found in both the first and third recensions (compare *79–*80). Gower changed the dedication, but not the reference to his illness.
67 to wisdom al belongeth. Simpson argues that the branch of wisdom to which Gower is referring is that of the stoic and moral philosophers (Socrates, Seneca, and Boethius), who, according to Robert Holcot’s third kind of sapientia in his Commentum super librum sapientiae, define sapientia as “the collection of intellectual and moral powers” (“Ironic Incongruence,” pp. 618–19).
72 bot the god alone. Conceivably the sense might be “God alone.” But Macaulay (2:459) notes the preeminence of locutions such as “the god” (i.e., the good) in 2:594, and “the vertu” (Prol.116), “the manhode” (Prol.260), “the man” (Prol.546, 582), and “[t]he charité” (Prol.319), etc. See also “the vertu and the vice” (Prol.79). The placement of the article reflects a French affectation. The implication seems deterministic, as if the good know by virtue of their goodness. See Mark 4:11–12, where the good see and hear the mysteries of God, but to others (those outside the faith) things happen in parables.
77 ff. Macaulay suggests that in lines 77 ff. Gower alludes to Book 7, which deals with the instruction of great men. He glosses the lines to read: “I shall make a discourse also with regard to those who are in power, marking the distinction between the virtues and the vices which belong to their office” (2:459). Certainly the sense of the lines is complex with respect to authority and submission (see marginal gloss to lines 77–80). Book 7 provides one context; but the lines might also be understood in terms of CA 8.2109–20, where the focus shifts from great men as power figures now to kingship as a psychological phenomenon. That is, in writing about love which has upset so many men he will in this “wise” (that is, in the mode of courtly romance) consider virtues and vices which have general significance to “great” men of all times. See Peck’s discussion of 8.2109 ff. in Kingship and Common Profit, pp. 173–74, and his earlier edition (1967), pp. xxi–xxii.
81-87 Bot for my wittes . . . amendement . . . is Henri named. The modesty trope with deference to the patron is common in late fourteenth- and early-fifteenth-century literature, as the author presents his work as receptive to criticism.
*86–*88 in proverbe. See Whiting W646.
Latin verses ii (before line 93). Line 2: vertit in orbe has punning implications difficult to translate in brief: vertit may mean “has overturned, destroyed,” but also in context the rotation of Fortune’s orb; in orbe may mean “on [Fortune’s] wheel” or “in the world.” The association between Fortune’s orbis and the world’s orbis is increasingly clear in the verse (as throughout Gower’s poetry). “World-wheel” makes an effort to capture both the global sense and the pun on Fortune’s inexorably turning wheel. Compare Chaucer’s “Lak of Stedfastnesse” and “Fortune: Balade de Visage sanz Peinture.” The idea of a “golden age” is a commonplace of ancient and medieval poetry; for Gower’s likeliest models see Boethius, Consolation 2.m.5, and Jean de Meun, RR, lines 8381–9668. Compare Chaucer’s “The Former Age.” Line 9: For a different comparison to the chameleon, see CA 1.2698–2702.
94 The tyme passed. On Gower’s nostalgic feel for the ancients and former days as an ubi sunt golden age, see Peter, Complaint and Satire, p. 70.
Latin marginalia: De statu regnorum, vt dicunt, secundum temporalia, videlicet tempore regis Ricardi secundi anno regni sui sexto decimo. [Concerning the status of kingdoms, as they say, in regard to worldly matters, in the time of King Richard II in the sixteenth year of his reign.]
113 The word was lich to the conceite. A phrase equivalent to Chaucer’s “The wordes moote be cosyn to the dede” (CT I[A]742), which Chaucer attributes to Plato. The phrase is proverbial. See Whiting W645.
120 in special. “In its specifics, or singularities,” or “in its details, or particularities.” Gower frequently uses the term with philosophical precision, as if it marks features of the minor premise from which causation might be deduced. See Prol.165, 281, 383, 432, 572, 946. Boethius speaks of the confusion of humankind in terms of knowing and not knowing simultaneously: “while the soule is hidd in the cloude and in the derknesse of the membres of the body, it ne hath nat al foryeten itself, but it withholdeth the somme of thinges and lesith the singularites. Thanne who so that sekith sothnesse, he nis in neyther nother habite, for he not nat al, ne he ne hath nat al foryeten; but yit hym remembreth the somme of thinges that he withholdeth, and axeth conseile, and retretith deepliche thinges iseyn byforne (that is to seyn, the grete somme in his mynde) so that he mowe adden the parties that he hath foryeten to thilke that he hath withholden” (Chaucer’s Boece, 5.m.3.43–56; emphasis mine).
124 comune vois. Macaulay emends to comun vois. His emendation improves the meter. In his idealism, Gower imagines an innate voice of truth lying within the people of every society, like a God-given conscience which might be sounded in hard times despite the almost universal corruptions of sin and oppression. See Peck, Kingship and Common Profit (especially pp. xi–xxv), for discussion of the people and the common voice. Compare the proverb vox populi vox dei, which recurs in MO and VC. See Whiting V52–V54.
143 Stonde in this world upon a weer. Weer derives from Old Germanic *warra, meaning “conflict,” “doubt,” “uncertainty.” N.b. OHG werra, MDu, MLG werre, ONF wiere, and OE and ME wer(e). In ME its homonym weir, for a bog or stagnant water, provides a rich pun, as one who stonde in doubt is akin to one who stands on unstable ground or is “bogged down.” A second homonym, were (the past tense of the verb to be), provides a further pun, as if the newness of an idea passes, becomes lost, and the mind falls back into a forgetting. See Chaucer’s HF, lines 970–82, for a similar use of the term. This wordplay is highly Boethian in its sense of place versus lack of steadfastness, a sensibility commonly implicit in the often-repeated main verb to stand, which is used philosophically several hundred times in CA (e.g., “evere stant . . . in doute” [Prol.562] or “stant evere upon debat” [Prol.567]). On uncertainty and mutability as philosophical concepts within the Prologue and Book 1, see Simpson, Sciences and the Self.
152-53 Latin marginalia: Apostolus. Regem honorificate [The Apostle: "Honor the king" — I Peter 2:17]
155 With al his herte and make hem chiere. “And welcome them with all his heart.” Gower commonly places the conjunction in a medial position where we would require its position at the head of the clause. See also Prol.521, 756, and 1014. Macaulay cites Prol.759 as well, which is possible, though I have punctuated the sentence as if the first clause were an instance of enjambment and “wroghte” a transitive verb.
156 ff. Latin marginalia: Salomon. Omnia fac cum consilio [Solomon: “Do all things with counsel”] Fili sine consilio nihil facias, et post factum non paeniteberis [My son, do nothing without counsel, and thou shalt not repent when thou hast done — Vulgate/Douai, Ecclesiasticus 32:24]. Macaulay (2:460) notes that Gower often cites Ecclesiasticus in MO, but the proverb is very common. Compare Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale (CT I[A]3529–30): “For thus seith Salomon, that was ful trewe: / ‘Werk al by conseil, and thou shalt nat rewe’”; and Merchant’s Tale (CT IV[E]1485–86): “Wirk alle thyng by conseil . . . And thanne shaltow nat repente thee.” See Whiting C470. The proverb also occurs in The Tale of Melibee (CT VII[B2]1003) which Benson suggests is due to Albertanus of Brescia, Lib. consolationis et consilii, a source for The Tale of Melibee.
167 Among the men to geve pes. Gower is alluding to the recurrent wars with France, Spain, and Scotland. A three-year truce had been made with France and Scotland in 1389, but, because of profiteering, it was not maintained. An attempt for a truce with Spain in the same year failed. Not until 1396, when Richard married the daughter of the king of France, was a firm truce established with the French.
Latin verses iii (before line 193). Line 4: Macaulay suggests the double virtue to be charity and chastity (2:460).
194-99 Latin marginalia: De statu cleri, vt dicunt, secundum spiritualia, videlicet tempore Roberti Gibbonensis, qui nomen Clementis sibi sortitus est, tunc antipape. [Concerning the status of the clergy, as they call them, in regard to spiritual matters, in the time of Robert of Geneva, who took to himself the name Clement, at that time the antipope.] In 1378 the Great Schism began, in which both Pope Urban VI (supported by the English) and Clement VII (supported by the French) were elected popes, in Rome and Avignon respectively; the schism did not end until 1418. Gower attacks the Avignon pope Clement also in VC 3.955–56. It may be a sign of his different anticipated audiences or different kinds of linguistic decorum that, although Gower discusses in English the moral point of the schism (below, lines 360–77), he names names only in Latin.
196 Ensample. The term is a favorite of Gower in defining “a fitting vehicle for his personal philosophy by mirroring the complexities and interrelatedness of the microcosm and the macrocosm in its multileveled construction” (Shaw, “Gower’s Illustrative Tales,” p. 447). See Simpson, Sciences and the Self; Runacres, “Art and Ethics”; and Mitchell, Ethics and Exemplary Narrative, on the diversity of rhetorical functions of “ensamples” in CA as Gower effects the transformation of sources for judiciously particularized situations.
204 Simon. Simon Magus, a Samaritan sorcerer mentioned in Acts 8:18–24. Simon offers money for purchasing the power of the Holy Spirit, but Peter rebukes him, condemning his iniquity. Hence, simony, the practice of buying or selling ecclesiastical preferment, benefices, emoluments, or sacred objects for personal gain. Simon’s name became synonymous with ecclesiastical corruption. See also line 241.
207-11 Lumbard . . . withoute cure. Lombardy, especially Milan and Lucca, was the banking center of Europe in the fourteenth century. The Lombards were so notorious as bankers, moneylenders, and pawnbrokers that their name came to denote such behavior in both Old French and Middle English (OED ). Langland links Lombards and Jews to exemplify avarice in Piers Plowman B 5.238, and in C 4.193–94 he yokes merchants, “mytrede bysshopes,” Lombards, and Jews as enemies of Conscience. Lombard bankers were often employed as intermediaries in church and state transactions, which sometimes became confused. The Lombard’s refusal to make eschange alludes to King Richard’s dispute with London when city officials would not lend revenue to the king but would lend to the Lombards. Macaulay notes that “the ‘letter’ referred to [in line 209] is the papal provision, or perhaps the letter of request addressed to the pope in favour of a particular person” (2:461). Gower makes a similar complaint in VC 3.1375 ff. (See also CA 2.2093 ff.) For full discussion of the relationship of the Lombard bankers to English kings in the previous century, see Kaeuper, Bankers to the Crown.
237-38 goode . . . goode. Rime équivoque, where the poet repeats words or portions of words with punning effect (compare rime riche), and metonymic structures are preeminent features of Gower’s rhetoric and the basis of much of its wit and innuendo. For discussion of the devices and their effects upon the poem’s texture see Olsen, “Betwene Ernest and Game,” pp. 33–69. For a tour de force example of the device see 5.79–90.
247 lawe positif. Positive law refers to any law which is arbitrarily instituted; it is customarily classified as distinct from divine law and natural law. Gower’s point is that the church has departed from its own regulation. It is perhaps noteworthy that under positive law fell the selling of indulgences, pardons, trentals, and the like, a jurisdiction that was much abused. Chaucer satirizes the manipulations of such laws in The Friar’s Tale, The Summoner’s Tale, and The Pardoner’s Tale. See also Piers Plowman B 7.168–95 and VC 3.227 ff.
266-77 “The allusion is to the circumstances of the campaign of the Bishop of Norwich in 1385; cf. Vox Clam. iii. 373 (margin), and see Froissart (ed. Lettenhove [Brussels, 1879]), vol. x. p. 207” (Mac 2:461–62).
284 Gregoire. The allusion is to Gregory I’s Pastoral Care 1.8, 9. (See PL 76.1128.)
298-305 Latin marginalia: Gregorius. Terrenis lucris inhiant, honore prelacie gaudent, et non vt prosint, set vt presint, episcopatum desiderant. [Gregory: "They gulp down worldly riches, rejoice in the honor of the prelacy and desire a bishopric, not to be a help but to be the head."] Macaulay observes that the passage is taken loosely from Gregory's Homilies on the Gospel, printed in PL 76:1128 and Regula Pastoralis 2.6. See his note (2.462).
329 Ethna. Mt. Etna, the Sicilian volcano (the highest in Europe, over 10,000 feet), frequently cited in classical sources from Thucydides to Lucretius and repeatedly used in Gower as a metaphor of the explosive fires of Envy. See CA 2.20, 163, 2337, 5.1289, and so on. Perhaps Gower takes the figure from Ovid, Met. 8.868, though references abound in all mythographers.
331 Gower refers to the papal dispute between Clement VII at Avignon and Boniface IX at Rome, both of whom claimed the allegiance of Christendom. He sees the schism in the head of the church as responsible for schismatic heresies such as Lollardry throughout the clergy.
349 Lollardie. A derogatory term implicating Christian fundamentalists who, following the views of Wyclif and promulgating the first straight translation of the Bible into English since the Norman Conquest, challenged the authority of the priesthood and the efficacy of the sacraments.
369 For trowthe mot stonde ate laste. Proverbial. See Whiting T509.
389 ther I love, ther I holde. Proverbial. See Whiting L571. The sense is that one is loyal to what one loves and that that may be the best "defence" (line 388).
434-36 Latin marginalia: Qui vocatur a deo tanquam Aaron. ["Who is called by God, like Aaron" — Hebrews 5:4.] Aaron was the articulate priest, chosen by God to assist his brother Moses in guiding the children of Israel out of Egypt and through the desert. The full passage (Hebrews 5:1-6) refers to those who choose themselves for the priesthood versus those chosen by God. See Exodus 4:14. In Gower's day, Hebrews was thought to have been written by St. Paul.
462 ff. betwen ernest and game. Gower's objection is to evasiveness by ecclesiasts who turn moral issues into word games with which to advantage their worldly estates. They use fiction ("holy tales") for harm rather than common profit.
484 made ferst the mone. I.e., created the first sphere, beneath which is the chaos of the world (see line 142), the sublunar realm of shadows, doubts, sloth, greed, and such confusions that so afflict the church these days.
491–92 For every man hise oghne werkes / Schal bere. Proverbial. See Whiting M79.
496 mirour of ensamplerie. Good “clerkes” (line 492) reflect the “goodnesse” of “the hyhe God” (line 485), and, thus, though in the realm of sublunar chaos, provide good example of ordinances between “the men and the Godhiede” (line 498).
Latin verses iv (before line 499). Line 1: Vulgaris populus. . . . The tone of these verses is akin to that of the first book of VC, where Gower assails the people for becoming destructively willful during the Rising of 1381.
504-07 Latin marginalia: De statu plebis ut dicunt, secundum accidencium mutabilia. [Concerning the status of the people, as they say, in regard to the changeability of events.]
511 Wher lawe lacketh, errour groweth. Proverbial. See Whiting L109.
518–19 And therupon his jugement / Gifth every man in sondry wise. “And thereupon every man gives his judgment in diverse ways.”
529-43 Latin marginalia: Nota contra hoc, quod aliqui sortem fortune, aliqui influenciam planetarum ponunt, per quod, vt dicitur, rerum euentus necessario contingit. Set pocius dicendum est, quod ea que nos prospera et aduersa in hoc mundo vocamus, secundum merita et demerita hominum digno dei iudicio proveniunt. [Note against this, that some posit the chance of fortune, some the influence of planets, as the means by which, as is said, the outcome of things is contingent on necessity. But it should rather be said that those things we call prosperity and adversity in this world devolve according to the merit or demerits of human beings, by the worthy judgment of God.]
567-71 Latin marginalia: Boicius. O quam dulcendo humane vite multa amaritudine aspersa est. [Boethius: "O how the sweetness of human life is stained by much bitterness."] See Consolation 2.pr.4. Gower's rendition simplifies the wording.
Latin verses v (before line 585). Line 1: Prosper et . . . . The vision of Nebuchadnezzar is frequently depicted at this point in MSS which have miniatures at or near the beginning of CA (see illustrations 2 and 4). Gower's account of the vision is based on Daniel 2:19-45, though Gower expands Daniel's commentary anachronistically (lines 633-821) in order to comment on the decadence of contemporary history. See VC 7, where he uses the same biblical device. For discussion see Introduction, and Peck, “John Gower and the Book of Daniel.”
591-608 Latin marginalia: Hic in prologo tractat de Statua illa, quam Rex Nabugodonosor viderat in sompnis, cuius caput aureum, pectus argenteum, venter eneus, tibie ferree, pedum vero quedam pars ferrea, quedam fictilis videbatur, sub qua membrorum diuersitate secundum Danielis exposicionem huius mundi variacio figurabatur. [Here in the Prologue he discourses about that Statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had seen in dreams, whose head was gold, chest silver, stomach brass, legs iron, but whose feet were some part iron, some part clay, through which diversity of members, according to Daniel's exposition, the variation of this world is figured.] See Daniel 2:31-45. The passage was a common locus for medieval historical allegory.
617-24 Latin marginalia: Hic narrat vlterius de quodam lapide grandi, qui, vt in dicto sompnio videbatur, ab excelso monte super statuam corruens ipsam quasi in nichilum penitus contruit. [Here he narrates further concerning the certain great stone, which, as appeared in the said dream, rushed from a high mountain onto the statue and utterly crushed it almost to nothing.]
619 of sodein aventure. Gower treats fortune (aventure) as a demonstrative component of God’s will, an important counterforce to the classical notion of the degeneration of time.
626-30 Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur de interpretacione sompnii, et primo dicit de significacione capitis aurei. [Here he speaks concerning the interpretation of the dream, and first he speaks concerning the interpretation of the head of gold.]
635-39 Latin marginalia. Brief Latin directors at the appropriate lines: line 635: De pectore argenteo [Concerning the silver chest]; line 637: De ventre eneo [Concerning the brass stomach]; line 639: De tibeis ferreis [Concerning the iron legs].
641 ff. Latin marginalia: De significacione pedum, qui ex duabus materiis discordantibus adinuicem diuisi extiterant. [Concerning the significance of the feet, which exist in division because of the two mutually discordant materials.]
641–42 the werste of everydel / Is last. Proverbial. See variants in Tilley W918 and W911. The saying is congruent with an entropic theory of history, one which Daniel counters with his theory of divine purpose that he proceeds to explicate.
651-54 Latin marginalia: De lapidis statuam confringentis significacione. [Concerning the significance of the stone shattering the statue.]
658 the laste. Gower projects an apocalyptic conclusion to the old world, after which the new age of the Parousia shall begin.
661-69 Latin marginalia: Hic consequenter scribit qualiter huius seculi regna variis mutacionibus, prout in dicta statua figurabatur, secundum temporum distincciones sencibiliter hactenus diminuuntur. [Here consequently he writes how the kingdoms of this world, because of various mutations, just as they are figured in the said statue, are perceptibly diminished in accord with each distinction of historical times right up to the present.]
663 thus expondeth Daniel. Daniel’s explication satisfies Nebuchadnezzar’s concern by providing meaning to the king’s otherwise depressing vision of the degeneration of time, where worse moves to worst.
670-76 Latin marginalia: De seculo aureo, quod in capite statue designatum est, a tempore ipsius Nabugodonosor Regis Caldee vsque in regnum Ciri Regis Persarum. [Concerning the golden age, which is designated in the statue's head, from the time of that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Chaldea, up to the kingdom of Cyrus, king of the Persians.]
688-94 Latin marginalia: De seculo argenteo, quod in pectore designatum est, a tempore ipsius Regis Ciri vsque in regnum Alexandri Regis Macedonie. [Concerning the silver age, which is designated in the chest from the time of king Cyrus up to the kingdom of Alexander, king of Macedonia.]
698 soffre thei that nedes mote. Proverbial. Variant of Whiting N61. See 1.1714 and 8.1020.
699-705 Latin marginalia: De seculo eneo, quod in ventre designatum est, a tempore ipsius Alexandri vsque in regnum Iulii Romanorum Imparatoris. [Concerning the age of brass, which is designated in the belly, from the time of that Alexander up to the kingdom of Julius, emperor of the Romans.]
731-37 Latin marginalia: De seculo ferreo, quod in tibeis designatum est, a tempore Iulii vsque in regnum Karoli magni Regis Francorum. [Concerning the age of iron, which is designated in the legs, from the time of Julius up to the kingdom of Charles the Great, king of the Franks.]
745 ff. "It is hardly necessary to point out that our author's history is here incorrect. Charlemagne was not called in against the Emperor Leo, who died in the year before he was born, but against the Lombards by Adrian I, and then against the rebellious citizens of Rome by Leo III, on which latter occasion he received the imperial crown" (Mac 2:464). Gower is following Brunetto Latini's account in the Trésor.
759 wise; and. See note to line 155.
772 ff. Macaulay notes (2:464) that “Here again the story is historically inaccurate, but it is not worthwhile to set it straight.” Gower’s historicist/ethical point is plainly evident, despite the deficiency of historical accuracy.
779-806 Latin marginalia: De seculo nouissimis iam temporibus ad similitudinem pedum in discordiam lapso et diuiso, quod post decessum ipsius Karoli, cum imperium Romanorum in manus Longobardorum peruenerat, tempore Alberti et Berengarii incepit: nam ob eorum diuisionem contigit, vt Almanni imperatoriam adepti sunt maiestatem. In cuius solium quendam principem theotonicum Othonem nomine sublimari primitus constituerunt. Et ab illo regno incipiente diuisio per vniuersum orbem in posteros concreuit, vnde nos ad alterutrum diuisi huius seculi consummacionem iam vltimi expectamus. [Concerning the age of the most recent times, in the likeness of the feet, fallen and divided in discord, which began after the passing of that Charles, when the Roman Empire fell to the hands of the Lombards, in the time of Albert and Berengar: for on their account division occurred as the Germans seized the imperial majesty. In this throne they caused to be raised up a certain Teutonic prince, Otto by name. And from the inception of this kingdom, division hardened through the whole world for subsequent generations, whence we expect from one or the other of the divisions the end of this present, last age.]
851-52 divisioun . . . moder of confusioun. On divisioun as a moral crux in CA see Introduction. Also see White, “Division and Failure,” p. 600, and Peck, Kingship and Common Profit, pp. 14–22 and 32–35. Right use of memory is the best remedy for division, which is, ultimately, a kind of forgetting. See Chandler on three types of remembering — confession, tales, and spiritual memory — that “work to reunite Amans’ divided self” (“Memory and Unity,” p. 18).
881–83 Th’apostel writ . . . Th’ende of the world. Macaulay (2:465) sees an allusion here to St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 10:11–12: “These things . . . are written for our correction, upon whom the ends of the world are come . . . let him take heed lest he fall.”
881-85 Latin marginalia: Hic dicit secundum apostolum, quod nos sumus in quos fines seculi deuenerunt. [Here he speaks in accord with the Apostle, that we are "those upon whom the end of the world has come."] See 1 Corinthians 10:11–12: “these things . . . are written for our correction, upon whom the ends of the world are come. . . . [L]et him take heed lest he fall.” N.b. the apocalyptic overtones of the various references to the world divided against itself in wars, especially lines 883–904 and 1029–44.
904 Wher dedly werre is take on honde. The first of Gower’s antiwar assertions, which remain prominent to the end of his life. See his last English poem In Praise of Peace (ed. Livingston).
910 ff. See MO, lines 26605 ff. and VC 7.509 ff. on the corruption of all creation due to man’s fall.
918-23 Latin marginalia: Hic scribit quod ex diuisionis passione singula creata detrimentum corruptibile paciuntur. [Here he writes that from the suffering of and desire for division, all created things suffer a corrupting diminishment.] "Suffering of and desire for division" seeks to translate divisionis passione. "Suffering" is the routine sense of passio elsewhere to mean, like ME "passioun," both "desire to sin" as well as "suffering" (see e.g., the marginal Latin at line 9). Thus it is likely that an ambiguous sense of "sinful desire for" as well as "suffering of" obtains in the Latin as in the corresponding English here: "man hath passioun / Of seknesse" (Prol.915-16). This ambiguity, however, is absent from the verb for the second Latin clause, paciuntur, as from the corresponding English: "So soffren othre creatures" (Prol.917).
945 Gregoire in his Moral. Moralia VI.16 (PL 75.740). Macaulay (2:465) notes that this idea of man as a microcosm is one of Gower’s favorite citations. Gregory is commenting on Job 5:10 (“Who giveth rain upon the earth, and sendeth waters upon the fields” — Douai), where he gives the sensus mysticus of universa as “man.” See MO, lines 26869 ff., which attributes the “man as a microcosm” idea to Aristotle (see especially line 26929), and VC 7.639 ff. Gregory’s passage is also quoted in RR, lines 19246 ff. See Fox, Mediaeval Sciences, pp. 18–19.
949 ff. Following Gregory's elaboration of Job 5:10 (see note above), Gower delineates the medieval concept of a triparte soul, with intelligence akin to the divine, feeling akin to that of the animal, and growth to that of the vegetable.
967-70 Latin marginalia: Hic dicit secundum euangelium, quod omne regnum in se diuisum desolabitur. [Here he speaks in accord with the Evangile, that "every kingdom divided against itself will be devastated."] See Luke 11:17, with the present tense changed to future.
971–72 Division aboven alle / . . . makth the world to falle. On division as the primary effect of the Fall that leaves the psyche stranded amidst contingencies, see Introduction, pp. 11–13, and White (“Division and Failure,” pp. 601–03, 607 ff.) on such bifurcations as soul and body, reason and its antagonists (sex, desire, appetite, complexion, need, etc.), and other forms of fragmentation both social and personal.
974-77 Latin marginalia: Quod ex sue complexionis materia diuisus homo mortalis existat. [That, divided because of the components of his constitution, every human being is mortal.]
975–79 complexioun / Is mad upon divisioun . . . the contraire of his astat. Macaulay: “That is, the opposite elements in his constitution (‘complexioun’) are so much at variance with one another” (2:465).
978 He mot be verray kynde dye. Gower’s theory of death and the corruptibility of mixed elements is in agreement with medical theories of his day. Averroës, following Aristotle’s thesis that all living things consist of mixtures of the primal elements, argues that if bodies were one and the same there would be no contrariety corrupting them. But unlike stones, which have one nature and are permanent, the body is composed of various natures and thus decays (Avicennae Cantica cum Averrois Commentariis, I.19. See Fox, Mediaeval Sciences, p. 34.) Plato explains this idea of corruptibility fully in Timaeus 81c–82b. The Timaeus was the one Platonic dialogue that was well known and honored in the Latin West during the Middle Ages. Although Gower probably did not know the Timaeus firsthand, he certainly knew of it.
982 no final pes be nome. The line anticipates Gower’s conclusion where Venus gives Amans a “peire of bedes” upon which is written “Por reposer” (8.2904–07), putting to rest his internal conflict, giving him back his true name “John Gower,” and restoring his quiet vision of “pes” (see below, 8.2913 ff.).
989–90 he may noght laste, / That he ne deieth ate laste. “He may not survive / But that he dies in the end.” The noght . . . That . . . ne idiom occurs repeatedly in Gower, where ne functions not as a negative but as a calque with That to form a relative conjunction “But that,” “Than that.” See MED that conj. 2c on that ne constructions that the MED glosses as “lest.” Gower’s additional noght alters the sense somewhat. See notes to 1.786–88, 1.2046–47, and 1.2091–93.
991-96 Latin marginalia: Quod homo ex corporis et anime condicione diuisus, sicut saluacionis ita et dampnacionis aptitudinem ingreditur. [That every human being, divided because of the condition of body and soul, is capable of salvation as much as of damnation.]
1001 The fieble hath wonne the victoire. In sin, beginning with the fall from Paradise (Prol.1005), the proverb “the weaker has the worse” becomes inverted (so it seems). See Whiting W131 and F110.
1002-06 Latin marginalia: Qualiter Adam a statu innocencie diuisus a paradiso voluptatis in terram laboris peccator proiectus est. [How Adam, divided from a state of innocence as a sinner, was cast from a paradise of pleasure into a world of labor.]
1005 ferst began in Paradis. Sin began in Paradise, but it is noteworthy that Gower does not place the blame for divisiveness on Eve. The Latin marginalia at 1002 mentions Adam’s division from innocence, but the Fall is not otherwise linked to gender problems.
1011-17 Latin marginalia: Qualiter populi per vniuersum orbem a cultura dei diuisi, Noe cum sua sequela dumtaxat exceptis, diluuio interierunt. [How the populace of the entire earth, divided from the worship of God, were destroyed in the flood, except for Noah with his following.]
1013 sende. A preterit form. Macaulay cites 1.851, 992, 1452, etc., as parallel examples (2:466).
1018-26 Latin marginalia: Qualiter in edificacione turris Babel, quam in dei contemptum Nembrot erexit, lingua prius hebraica in varias linguas celica vindicta diuidebatur. [How in the building of the Tower of Babel, which Nembrot erected in contempt of God, language, at first Hebrew, was divided by heavenly retribution into various languages.]
1022-25 On the “poetic Babel” that Gower, a master at multiple voicing, introduces in this passage — a babel of voices that oppose and even contradict, so that the mind can scarcely contain the contradictions — see Echard, “With Carmen’s Help,” p. 30. Elsewhere in her essay Echard stresses Gower’s awareness of “the uncontrollable nature of text, in both its intellectual complexities and physical manifestations” (p. 10). Throughout the Confessio “language — all language — is shown to be radically unreliable” (p. 9).
1031-41 Latin marginalia: Qualiter mundus, qui in statu diuisionis quasi cotidianis presenti tempore vexatur flagellis, a lapide superueniente, id est a diuina potencia vsque ad resolucionem omnis carnis subito conterentur. [How the world, which is almost daily in a state of division at the present time and is ravaged by punishments, will, by the stone coming down on it (that is, by divine power), be suddenly crushed, destroying all flesh.]
1045–52 One reason love is so powerful in Gower’s scheme is that it has the capacity, when experienced wholesomely, to heal division. See lines 967–1044.
1047 loveday. A day set for making peaceful settlement of deadlocked disputes.
1053-54 wolde God . . . An other such as Arion. Echard, “With Carmen’s Help,” pp. 29–30, notes the conditional tense as part of her argument that Gower is keenly aware of the inability of language, even that of the poet, to contain authority in any stable way. Echard agrees with Yeager (John Gower’s Poetic) that Gower may be in search of a new Arion, but that Gower knows how difficult it will be to find him. The story of Arion first appears in Herodotus 1.24. Also see Ovid, Fasti, 2.79–118 ff., Hyginus, Fables 194, and Solinus, cap. 11, for a third-century account of Arion as a dolphin. The story is well known in the later Middle Ages and appears in collections of Latin moralized tales such as those described in the British Museum Catalogue of Romances and in some versions of the Gesta Romanorum (for example, see Oesterley, cap. 148). Gower ignores that part of the story which deals with the dolphin and concentrates on Arion the peacemaker to create an effect appropriately reminiscent of the peaceable kingdom in Isaias 11:1–10. See VC 1.i.1–124, for a description of what England might be like if it were to find its Arion. The figure of Arion, with his harp and sense of good measure, becomes a metaphor for the poet himself. See Yeager (John Gower’s Poetic) for an extended analysis of Gower’s Arion poetic. See also Peck, Kingship and Common Profit, pp. 22–23; and Simpson, Sciences and the Self, p. 289.
1053-72 Latin marginalia: Hic narrat exemplum de concordia et vnitate inter homines prouocanda; et dicit qualiter quidam Arion nuper Citharista ex sui cantus cithareque consona melodia tante virtutis extiterat, ut ipse non solum virum cum viro, set eciam leonem cum cerua, lupum cum agno, canem cum lepore, ipsum audientes vnanimiter absque vlla discordia adinvicem pacificauit. [Here he tells a story about the stimulating of concord and unity among human beings: and he says how a certain Arion, a harper in recent times, was of such power and virtue because of the harmonious melody of his song and his harp that he pacified unanimously and without any discord those hearing him, not only mutually pacifying man with man, but even lion with deer, wolf with sheep, and hound with hare.]
1056 good mesure. The idea is Pythagorean and could allude to the harmonic ratio of sounds to each other in a well-tempered instrument, though more likely the sense is that the performer kept good rhythm.
1088 In his revisions of the first recension, Gower may have added ten lines. Macaulay (2:466) notes that Sidney College MS concludes the Prologue as follows:
So were it gode at õþis tideMacaulay observes that the Sidney College MS is related to the Stafford MS, which is missing the conclusion to the Prologue. Had they been found in the Stafford MS, Macaulay suggests, “the authority of S would be conclusive in their favour.” The lines were printed by Caxton and Berthelet, with some variation in spelling.
Þat eueri man vpon his side
besowt and preied for þe pes
wiche is þe cause of al encres
of worschep and of werldis welþe
of hertis rest of soule helþe
withouten pes stant no þing gode
forthi to crist wiche sched his blode
for pes beseketh alle men
Amen amen amen amen.
Notes to Book 1
Latin verses i (before line 1). Line 1: Naturatus amor. The translation presented for the enigmatic and crucial phrase naturatus amor is informed by Winthrop Wetherbee's discussion of this phrase (1991, pp. 7-35) in terms of the self-conflicting presentations of human love in Boethius, Alanus de Insulis, and Jean de Meun that Gower mines throughout the CA. Wetherbee remarks that Gower's phrase "conveys a sense of scholastic authority that is belied by close scrutiny" (p. 7). Yet the translation here is also informed by an analogous phrase from medieval Latin discussions of Aristotle, natura naturata, which may be understood as "nature instantiated in specific forms of life," or in a broader sense as the means by which nature has furthered its inherent purpose of creating life, as shown by twelfth-century Latin translations of Averroës' Arabic commentary on Aristotle, the means by which Aristotle's works were known in the west: "for this is the end of Nature, namely that it does not act except on account of something, just as artifice does not act except on account of something. Then [Aristotle] has declared that that on account of which, having been [specifically] instantiated [naturata], Nature acts, is seen to be the soul [or: life force, anima] in living things [animalibus]" (Averrois Cordubensis Commentarium Magnum in Aristotelis De Anima Libros, ed. Crawford, p. 187). The teleological and instantiating freight of the medieval Aristotelian tradition of natura naturata has at least indirectly influenced Gower's Latin, and perhaps more pervasively his historical and ethical outlook on nature and love, available to Gower in the works of the thirteenth-century popular purveyers of medieval Aristotelianism, Brunetto Latini, Giles of Rome, and Bartholomeus Anglicus, although none of these uses the phrase natura naturata or, less surprisingly, naturatus amor (Brunetto Latini comes close to the former when he defines Nature as "double: that which gives birth, and that which is born" [une ki fet naistre, et une de ce ki est net]— Li Livres dou tresor 3.52, ed. Carmody, p. 360). Significantly, elsewhere Gower novelly adapted the Latin verb naturare to English, evidently to mean "to give a species specific traits": "He which natureth every kinde, / The myhti god" (CA 7.393-94). He is the only writer attested before the sixteenth century to have used this word in English. Line 2: vnanimes concitat esse feras. The syntax is perfectly ambiguous, so the diametrically opposed alternate meanings have been printed in the translation itself. Line 3 Huius enim mundi Princeps. White (Nature, Sex, and Goodness, p. 219) notes that huius princeps mundi is also the title of the Devil.
Translation of the epigram is also assisted by the marginal gloss (see the next note), where Gower states that he is discussing “that love by which not only the human species but indeed every living thing is naturally subjected.” Yet an inherent contradiction and instability lies in the phrase, as Wetherbee correctly emphasizes: human love, in Gower’s and the medieval Christian perception of the post-lapsarian world, is the very thing that most resists harmony with Nature’s positive, pristine purposes. In the context of the CA, the two terms of the phrase resist reconciliation as few other pairings might. The radical ambiguity of the rest of Gower’s sentence emphasizes this irreconcilability.
9 ff. Latin marginalia: Postquam in Prologo tractatum hactenus existit, qualiter hodierne condicionis diuisio caritatis dileccionem superauit, intendit auctor ad presens suum libellum, cuius nomen Confessio Amantis nuncupatur, componere de illo amore, a quo non solum humanum genus, sed eciam cuncta animancia naturaliter subiciuntur. Et quia nonnulli amantes ultra quam expedit desiderii passionibus crebro stimulantur, materia libri per totum super hiis specialius diffunditur. [After he has set forth to this point the treatment in the Prologue of how the division of today's condition has overcome the love of charity, the author presently intends to compose his little book, whose name is "The Confession of a Lover," concerning that love by which not only the human species but indeed every living thing is naturally subjected. And since some lovers are often goaded by the passions of desire beyond what is appropriate, the matter of the book throughout is set forth for these especially.] For a picture of this gloss in the manuscript itself, see Illustration 3.
18–24 loves lawe is out of reule . . . ther is no man . . . that can / Of love tempre the mesure. See White, Nature, Sex, and Goodness, pp. 218–19, on the potency of desire that affects all people in defiance of Aristotelian ideas of balance and measure. Loves lawe (line 18) here equates with that cupiditas that Boethius says is born into all creatures that could lead to the true good but seldom does (De cons. 3.p2).
35 love is maister wher he wile. Proverbial. See Whiting L518.
59 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic quasi in persona aliorum, quos amor alligat, fingens se auctor esse Amantem, varias eorum passiones variis huius libri distinccionibus per singula scribere proponit. [Here the author, fashioning himself to be the Lover as if in the role of those others whom love binds, proposes to write about their various passions one by one in the various sections of this book.] For discussion of this passage as Gower projects a persona and an epistemology of make-believe for his narrative, see Peck, “Phenomenology of Make Believe,” pp. 257 ff.
62 I am miselven on of tho. N.b., the Latin marginal gloss (above). From this point on, Gower projects a persona who is not simply a moral commentator on society but an embodiment of human stresses, a dramatic component of his "proof" (see line 61). In the Prologue he had announced that he would provide a "Mirour of ensamplerie" (Prol.496); henceforth the "ensample" will be complicated through a first-person drama as well as a textual one — an empirical mean between the abstract and the personal. See Spitzer, “Note on the Poetic and Empirical ‘I’ in Medieval Authors”; and Strohm, “Note on Gower’s Personas,” pp. 293–95. For discussion of the narrative of CA in terms of its framing devices, see Pearsall, “Gower’s Narrative Art”: “The poem as a whole gains enormously from the dramatic scheme, just as Gower himself gained from the freedom it gave him” (p. 477).
72 To hem that ben lovers. In defining a new dramatic function for his persona Gower likewise provides a dramatic role for his audience. On this love trope Staley raises the question “was Richard’s court during this period a place of love talk,” talk that was not simply a matter of sexual practice but rather a “language that expressed relationships of power?” (Languages of Power, p. 51). Compare love tropes in Usk, Chaucer, and the Gawain-poet (pp. 42–59).
79 That every man ensample take. On the philosophical premises of Gower's use of examples for instruction, see notes to Prol.7, 196, and 1.1339–40. Simpson, Sciences and the Self, using Alan de Lille’s Anti-claudianus as a text parallel in many ways with CA, explores Alan’s notion that narrative images provide the soul with a means of picturing itself (pp. 244–48). Such “ensamples” function as a kind of inducted “‘scientific’ information by which the soul can place itself in the cosmos and society” (p. 230).
88 jolif wo. Compare le jolif mal sanz cure of Gower's Cinkante Balades 13, line 24. The courtly phrase is a favorite. See also CA 6.84 and 8.2360, with variants such as "jolif peine" in 7.1910.
Latin verses ii (before line 93). Line 1: Non ego . . . . Latin proverbs often list powerful or wise men deceived by women; see Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, lines 2416-28, for a Middle English rendition of this tradition. Gower's passage resembles the longer discussion of lust's power in the Architrenius, where Hercules, rare in other Latin proverbs of this kind, appears along with Sampson, Solomon, and Ulysses as a victim of Venus (7.116-33).
98 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic declarat materiam, dicens qualiter Cupido quodam ignito iaculo sui cordis memoriam graui vlcere perforauit, quod Venus percipiens ipsum, vt dicit, quasi in mortis articulo spasmatum, ad confitendum se Genio sacerdoti super amoris causa sic semiuiuum specialiter commendauit. [Here he declares the substance of his story, saying how Cupid pierced through the memory of his heart by means of a certain burning missile, leaving a serious wound; whereby Venus, perceiving him, as he states, twitching as if in his death throes, particularly recommended that, half-alive, he confess to Genius the priest about the topic of love.]
100-39 in the monthe of Maii . . . And with that word I sawh anon / The kyng of love and qweene bothe. The poet imagines a characteristic dream vision situation when, in the month of May, the dreamer sets out into a wood, prays while listening to the birds, and sleeps to dream of the King and Queen of Love; except that here the "dreamer/lover" never goes to sleep. But this is not to say that he is "awake," either. As Olsson so aptly puts it, "The lover, though 'awake,' does not know he lives in a dream" (Structures of Conversion, p. 47).
124 [Amans.] The amanuensis of Fairfax 3 regularly places speech tags in the margin. The brackets indicate speech markers that do not appear in the MS but have been added to the edition for clarity.
O thou Cupide, O thou Venus. For discussion of Gower's use of these amorous deities, see Tinkle, Medieval Venuses and Cupids, especially pp. 178-97, though her remarks throughout the book are germane.
138 with that word I sawh anon. The important thing to notice here is that ideas appear as visual personifications to the lover. On the prominence of visual imaginings in medieval thought processes see Kolve, Chaucer and the Imagery of Narrative, especially pp. 24-42. See the Latin gloss on sight and hearing as doors of the mind (preceding 1.289) and Genius' discussion of eyes and ears as the dominant intuitive senses. See also footnotes 29-31 in the Introduction.
140 yhen wrothe. The situation is similar in ways to Chaucer's Prol. to LGW, where Cupid, the God of Love, with his queen, comes upon Geoffrey near the daisy and looks upon him with angry, piercing eyes. Chaucer's queen is Alceste, rather than Venus, but in neither instance is Cupid presented as blind.
145 herte rote. MED glosses the term as the seat of the passions, or the vital center of life. Exactly what the anatomical designations might be is unclear. MED suggests the hollow of the heart or perhaps the “apex.” The conclusion to Plato’s Timaeus (91 a–e) describes a conduit that runs down the spine to the scrotum, from which living sperm, seeking egress, take their path. Conceivably the herte rote may extend even to that depth. In the RR (lines 1679–2008) Cupid shoots five arrows into the lover’s heart, two (Beauty and Simplicity) through the eye, and three (Courtesy, Company, and Fair Seeming) through the side or below the breast. This pattern seems evident in CA 1.144–45, where “A firy dart me thoghte he [Cupid] hente / And threw it thurgh myn herte rote.” If it enters through the side and lodges in the heart’s inner chamber that would precipitate a sympathetic response in the lower region. Another organ linked to the concept of herte rote is the “reines,” which are also regarded the seat of passions and can refer to the kidneys, heart, or the male generative organ (MED reine n.. 2a and 2b). E.g., in the treatise Sidrak and Bokkus we learn that if a lecher overexerts his lechery, “Of his reynes he leseþ þe might. / Þan is þe seed feble and veyne / And to engendre haþ no mayne [strength]” (lines 6874–76 in Bodleian Laud MS 559). According to the Middle English version of The Anatomy of Guy de Chauliae, “Þe sperme takeþ þe sauour off þe harte, of þe liuer, and þe Reynes, and bi þe nerues þe whiche, be cause of delectacioun, descenden fro þe braines to þe ballockes” (ed. Wallner, p. 73). Similarly The Prose Salernitan Questions (c. 1200) observes: “The natural heat is . . . aroused by the psychic virtue, and by their combined action, the blood contained in the liver moves and in moving emits heat; from it there evaporates a smoky cloud which, when it has been made subtle, spreads from the liver to the heart. From the heart the spirit moves to the penis by means of the arteries and makes it stiffen” (see Jacquart and Thomasset, Sexuality and Medicine in the Middle Ages, p. 83). That is, Cupid’s arrow piercing the side and lodging in the heart might thus be thought to affect the whole emotional system, from the chambers of the heart to the kidneys and male organs, the herte rote.
148-49 source and welle / Of wel or wo. Traditionally, Venus carries two cups, one sweet, the other bitter, from which the lover drinks; thus, in medieval courtly poetry she is the source and welle of the lover's joy and/or pain.
161 caitif. It is noteworthy that two early MSS, Bodley 294 and Egerton 1991, identify the speaker here as Iohn Gowere, rather than caitif.
178 Mi world stod on an other whiel. Proverbial. See Whiting W208.
196 O Genius myn oghne clerk. The originals behind Gower’s Genius may be found in Jean de Meun’s portion of RR and Alanus de Insulis’ De Planctu Naturae. Gower’s Genius defines several voices in the poem. He is presented as an agent of memory who can compile and relate afresh the stories and materials of history; he is a creative agent, capable of formulating propositions according to nature and moral concepts as well; he is a priest of both the emotional and rational capacities of the individual, though his capacities as a philosopher are limited by the circumstances of the occasion; and he is usually benevolent in his role as intermediary between Amans, momentary situations, and Nature. See the Introduction, pp. 5–6, 7–10, 17, 18, 34. For further discussion of Genius, see Economou, “Character Genius”; Schueler, “Gower’s Characterization of Genius”; Nitzsche, Genius Figure; Baker, “Priesthood of Genius”; Wetherbee, “Theme of Imagination” and “Genius and Interpretation”; Peck, Kingship and Common Profit and “Problematics of Irony,” pp. 212–24; Olsson, Structures of Conversion, pp. 52–62; and Simpson, Sciences and the Self, pp. 148–97.
Latin verses iii (before line 203). The "wound" of love (line 4) is a topos reaching far back in medieval and classical writing. A widely influential classical instance is Dido in Aeneid 4.1-2, and much French poetry elaborated the metaphor. Boethius’ Consolation, whose dialogue form was a direct model for CA, invokes throughout its first book the metaphor of the narrator’s “illness” of false love for the goods of Fortune, and Philosophy’s “cure” by means of the “medicine” of her teachings. At the end of CA, Gower revisits the same issues in English (8.3152– 56). Simpson (Sciences and the Self, pp. 200–01) links this passage to Ovid’s Remedia amoris as a warning against love’s catastrophes.
203 This worthi prest, this holy man. On Genius as confessor to Amans, see Simpson, Sciences and the Self, especially pp. 148-66 ( "Genius, praeceptor amoris"). Simpson sees Genius and Amans as two aspects of a single person, with Genius as a figure of imagination and Amans as the will in an unstable relationship richly informed with Ovidian irony and what Gower calls elsewhere "double speche" (7.1733).
205 Benedicité. "Bless you." The standard form of address of the priest to the one confessing, answered by the penitent with Dominus, "Lord [father, I have sinned]."
209 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic dicit qualiter Genio pro Confessore sedenti prouolutus Amans ad confitendum se flexis genibus incuruatur, supplicans tamen, vt ad sui sensus informacionem confessor ille in dicendis opponere sibi benignius dignaretur. [Here he tells how the Lover, bowled over, kneels on bent knees to confess to Genius seated as a confessor, beseeching nonetheless that, to inform his understanding, the Confessor would graciously deign to question him in matters that ought to be said.] Pearsall (“Gower’s Latin,” pp. 22–24) reads this marginal commentary as a means to establish a clerical code that underlies much of the poem. See also Craun on Gower’s methodology in querying the deviant speaker (Lies, Slander, and Obscenity, pp. 131 ff.).
236 Latin marginalia: Sermo Genii sacerdotis super confessione ad Amantem. [The sermon of Genius the priest to the Lover about confession.]
275-76 See note to lines 1339-40.
284 trowthe hise wordes wol noght peinte. Proverbial. See Whiting T515.
Latin verses iv (before line 289). The buried coin, fossa talenta (line 4), recalls the Gospel parable of the talents where the sinful servant takes the talent his lord has given him and buries it in the earth (Matthew 25:14-30).
294 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic incipit confessio Amantis, cui de duobus precipue quinque sensuum, hoc est de visu et auditu, confessor pre ceteris opponit. [Here begins the confession of the Lover, to whom the Confessor particularly inquires concerning two of the five senses, that is concerning sight and sound.]
299-308 This passage begins in the third person, then, by line 304, modulates into the voice of the confessor as he addresses Amans as "mi sone." It is not until line 530 that the MS starts using marginal speech tags, though beside line 233 the marginal Latin gloss identifies the speakers, along with their activities.
304-08 See Timaeus 45b-47e for Plato's explanation of why the eye is man's principal sense organ and the ear next in importance. These two senses enable man to perceive the numbers, motions, harmonies, and rhythms of the universe, whereby the soul is illuminated. Plato ignores the other three senses entirely as agencies for illuminating the soul, although later (61d-68d) he discusses all five senses as part of man's physical mechanism for understanding physical phenomena. Plato's premises constitute one basis for medieval preoccupations with vision and harmony (see the Latin verses after CA1.288). They also explain why Genius exorcizes only these two of the Lover's five senses. They are the doors to his soul, which Genius hopes to restore. See Introduction, notes 25 and 26, for citation of medieval medical treatises linking the eye to the frontal lobe of the brain, where Imagination and Fantasy reside.
333 ff. Compare Ovid, Met. 3.130-259. Genius omits from the story Acteon's companions and his friendly gesture of giving them the rest of the day off, the account of Diana's disrobing, the efforts of the nymphs to hide their mistress from the eyes of the intruder, the throwing of water on Acteon to distract him, the catalog of hounds, Acteon's efforts to speak, and the debate of the gods on the justice of Diana's revenge. Genius adds the detail of Acteon's pride (1.341). Ovid puts the blame on Fortune, but Genius implies that Acteon might have turned his eye away had he chosen to do so (1.366). The conventional romance description of his entering the forest (1.352-60) suggests why he did not: he turns the enclosed garden (hortus conclusus) into a garden of delight and does not get out. Amans fares better, thanks to Genius, and, ultimately, accepts the trials of old age.
334 touchende of mislok. See Schutz's discussion of the issues of seeing in her analysis of the stories of Acteon and Medusa as mirror images of each other (“Absent and Present Images,” pp. 108-15).
334 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic narrat Confessor exemplum de visu ab illicitis preseruando, dicens qualiter Acteon Cadmi Regis Thebarum nepos, dum in quadam Foresta venacionis causa spaciaretur, accidit vt ipse quendam fontem nemorosa arborum pulcritudine circumuentum superueniens, vidit ibi Dianam cum suis Nimphis nudam in flumine balneantem; quam diligencius intuens oculos suos a muliebri nuditate nullatenus auertere volebat. Vnde indignata Diana ipsum in cerui figuram transformauit; quem canes proprii apprehendentes mortiferis dentibus penitus dilaniarunt. [Here the Confessor relates an instructive example concerning the guarding of sight from illicit things, saying how Acteon the nephew of Cadmus the king of the Thebans, while he was walking in a certain forest to go hunting, happened to come upon a certain stream surrounded by the woodsy beauty of trees where he saw Diana nude with her nymphs bathing in the river, whom he carefully examined, not at all wishing to turn away his eyes from her womanly nudity. Wherefore Diana, indignant, transformed him into the form of a stag, whom his own dogs caught and tore to pieces with their deadly teeth.]
384 Betre is to winke than to loke. Proverbial. See Whiting W366.
389 ff. Compare Ovid, Met. 4.772–803. Gower is apparently using additional sources, however. Genius names Medusa’s sisters, as Ovid does, though he calls Stheno, “Stellibon,” and Euryale, “Suriale.” Moreover, he combines the story of the Graeae, who share one tooth and one eye, with the story of the Gorgons. Macaulay (2:468) notes that this confusion appears in Boccaccio, Genealogiae Deorum Gentilium 10.10, which Gower may have known. Whether Gower follows Boccaccio or not, the mingling of the two stories is fortuitous for Genius’ purpose in demonstrating the evil of “misloke” and the wisdom of looking well.
391 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ponit aliud exemplum de eodem, vbi dicit quod quidam princeps nomine Phorceus tres progenuit filias, Gorgones a vulgo nuncupatas, que uno partu exorte deformitatem Monstrorum serpentinam obtinuerunt; quibus, cum in etatem peruenerant, talis destinata fuerat natura, quod quicumque in eas aspiceret in lapidem subito mutabatur. Et sic quam plures incaute respicientes visis illis perierunt. Set Perseus miles clipeo Palladis gladioque Mercurii munitus eas extra montem Athlantis conhabitantes animo audaci absque sui periculo interfecit. [Here he presents another instructive example about the same thing, where he says that a certain prince, Phorceus by name, bore three daughters, commonly called the Gorgons, who acquired the serpentine deformity of monsters from one aspect of their birth. For these, when they had come to maturity, nature had been destined in such ways that whoever should look at them was suddenly turned into a stone. And thus all those who incautiously glanced at them died at the sight. But Perseus, a knight furnished with the shield of Pallas and the sword of Mercury, with a bold spirit and without any danger to himself killed them as they were dwelling beyond Mount Athlans.]
423 Lente him a swerd. Macaulay notes that Mercury's sword is not mentioned by Ovid or Boccaccio (2:468).
463 ff. The legend of Aspidis derives from Psalm 57:5–6, which speaks of “the deaf asp that stoppeth her ears.” In his commentary on the psalm Augustine explains how the serpent can stop two ears with one tail; his suggestion is followed by Isidore in Etymologies 12.4, though neither mentions the carbuncle (see also MO, lines 15253–64). That detail may come from the legendary jewel in the toad’s head, or perhaps from Brunetto Latini’s Trésor. Compare the jewel-bearing serpent in the Tale of Adrian and Bardus (CA 5.5060 ff.), or the serpent who carries a jewel of health in his mouth in the English Gesta Romanorum (cap. 7). For discussion of the ambiguity of the asp as an in bono (prudence) and in malo (obstinence) figure of the senses, see Olsson, Structures of Conversion, pp. 63–72.
465–67 The ston noblest of alle / . . . carbuncle calle / Berth in his hed. On the folk-type of the serpent with a crown or precious jewel in/on/about his head, see Aarne-Thompson, Types of the Folktale 672 (the serpent’s crown), 672A (a man who steals a serpent’s crown), 672B (a little girl takes away the serpent’s gold crown), 672C (serpent at wedding leaves crown), and, especially, 672D (the stone of the snake). See also Stith Thompson, Motif-Index of Folk-Literature, vol.1, B103.42 (serpent with jewel in his mouth), B188.8.131.52 (grateful snake spits out lump of gold for his rescuer), B184.108.40.206 (snake vomits jewels), B108.1 (serpent as patron of wealth), B112 (treasure-producing serpent’s crown); and vol. 2 D1011.3.1 (magic serpent’s crown). The Epistola Alexandri ad Aristotelem de Mirabilibus Indiae speaks of serpents with emeralds around their necks who, in the spring, sometimes fight, leaving behind “emeralds of enormous size” (Katz, Romances of Alexander, p. 123).
466 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic narrat Confessor exemplum, vt non ab auris exaudicione fatua animus deceptus inuoluatur. Et dicit qualiter ille serpens, qui aspis vocatur, quendam preciosissimum lapidem nomine Carbunculum in sue frontis medio gestans, contra verba incantantis aurem vnam terre affigendo premit, et aliam sue caude stimulo firmissime obturat. [Here the Confessor recounts an instructive example in order that a deceived soul might not be assailed by the ear's foolish overhearing. And he says how the serpent who is called Aspis, carrying a certain most precious stone, Carbuncle by name, in the middle of its forehead, protected himself against the words of an enchanter by pressing down one ear and fixing it to the ground, and closing off the other most firmly with the point of its tail.]
481 ff. Gower follows Guido delle Colonne, Hist. Troiae III (Gest Historiale lib. 32), in presenting his Tale of the Sirens. Benoît tells the story in Roman de Troie, but he does not include all the details that Gower includes, though Vat. Myth. II (101) does.
483 ff. Latin marginalia : Aliud exemplum super eodem, qualiter rex Vluxes cum a bello Troiano versus Greciam nauigio remearet, et prope illa Monstra marina, Sirenes nuncupata, angelica voce canoras, ipsum ventorum aduersitate nauigare oporteret, omnium nautarum suorum aures obturari coegit. Et sic salutari prouidencia prefultus absque periculo saluus cum sua classe Vluxes pertransiuit. [Another instructive example about the same thing: how King Ulysses, when he was returning toward Greece from the Trojan war travelled back on a ship. When approaching those seaside monsters called the Sirens, singers with angelic voices, he was forced to sail against the winds, and he ordered the ears of all his sailors to be stopped up. And thus assisted by a saving providence and safe from danger, Ulysses with his vessel passed through.]
576 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur quod septem sunt peccata mortalia, quorum caput Superbia varias species habet, et earum prima Ypocrisis dicitur, cuius proprietatem secundum vicium simpliciter Confessor Amanti declarat. [Here he says that there are seven mortal sins, whose head, Pride, has various species, and the first of these is called Hypocrisy, whose properties as a vice the Confessor declares to the Lover in simple terms.]
608 Ipocrisis Religiosa. [Religious Hypocrisy.]
627-28 Ipocrisis Ecclesiastica. [Ecclesiastic Hypocrisy.]
648 Ipocrisis Secularis. [Secular Hypocrisy.]
674 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic tractat Confessor cum Amante super illa presertim Ipocrisia, que sub amoris facie fraudulenter latitando mulieres ipsius ficticiis credulas sepissime decipit innocentes. [Here the Confessor discourses with the Lover particularly about that Hypocrisy that, fraudulently hiding under a face of love, very often deceives innocent, credulous women with his fictions.]
704-06 berth lowest the seil . . . to beguile / The womman. Proverbial. See Whiting S14.
708 Opponit Confessor. [The Confessor inquires.]
712 Respondet Amans. [The Lover replies.]
752 To love is every herte fre. Proverbial. See Whiting L516. See also CA 1.1929-30. Compare Chaucer, CT I(A)1606 and CT V(F)767.
759 a croniqe. Precisely what chronicle Genius alludes to is unclear. The story of Mundus and Paulina is said to be historical by Josephus, Antiquitatum Judaicarum 18. Hegesippus, 2.4, follows Josephus, who in turn is followed by Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum Historiale 7.4, any of which may have been Gower’s source. The story is told in verse by Godfrey of Viterbo, Pantheon 15, but Macaulay says this version was certainly not Gower’s source (2:470).
763 ff. Latin marginalia: Quod Ipocrisia sit in amore periculosa, narrat exemplum qualiter sub regno Tiberii Imperatoris quidam miles nomine Mundus, qui Romanorum dux milicie tunc prefuit, dominam Paulinam pulcherrimam castitatisque famosissimam mediantibus duobus falsis presbiteris in temple Ysis deum se esse fingens sub ficte sanctitatis ypocrisi nocturno tempore viciauit. Vnde idem dux in exilium, presbiteri in mortem ob sui criminis enormitatem dampnati extiterant, ymagoque dee Ysis a templo euulsa vniuerso conclamante populo in flumen Tiberiadis proiecta mergebatur. [Showing that Hypocrisy is most dangerous in love, he presents an instructive example how under the reign of Tiberius the Emperor a certain knight, Mundus by name, who then was preeminent before all others as a duke of the army of the Romans, defiled the most beautiful and most famously chaste lady Paulina, with two false priests as go-betweens in the temple of Isis, fashioning himself to be a god under the hypocrisy of a feigned sanctity at nighttime. Wherefore the same duke was condemned to exile, and the priests to death on account of the enormity of their crime, while the image of the goddess, pulled from the temple with universal approval by the people, was thrown into the Tiber river and sunk.]
767 of al the cité the faireste. An analogue to the Tale of Mundus and Paulina may be found in the Hebrew Tales of Alexander the Macedonian found in a compilation of the eleventh-century Chronicles of Jerahmeel. The surviving MS, now in the Bodleian Library, dates from about 1325. A very beautiful woman, the fairest on earth, goes once a month to the temple of the god Atzilin to offer sacrifice. The priest, Matan, smitten by her beauty, tells her that the god would beget a son upon her, “for there is no other woman in the entire world worthy to be with him” (Reich, ed., Tales of Alexander the Macedonian, p. 75). She gets permission from her husband, who sends pillows, coverings, mattresses, and silken garments to adorn the occasion. Matan accepts the gifts and sends the woman’s maid away. At midnight he enters to perform his rites, but the maid slips into the room to watch. Matan has intercourse with the woman nine times. After he has exhausted his strength and rises to leave, the maid strikes him on the head with a statue of Atzilin, killing him. The beautiful woman is scandalized by the deception and insists on telling her husband, who goes to the king. He takes the case to Alexander who says the temple should be destroyed, since it has been defiled. He then asks to see the woman himself, and, amazed at her beauty, demands that she be given to him. The king would protect the woman and her husband, but is overwhelmed by Alexander, who locks the woman in a portable temple where he has his way with her night and day. She gives birth to a son whom he names Alexander. But the child dies at the age of nine months on the same day that Alexander’s horse Bucephalus dies. Alexander builds a mausoleum for his horse and son, then consoles his wife, who conceives a second child. She dies in childbirth. See Reich, ed., Tales of Alexander the Macedonian, pp. 73–79. This analogue ties in as well with Gower’s Tale of Nectanabus, CA 6.1789–2366. Gower’s knowledge of Alexander lore is extensive, though it is doubtful that he could have known the Hebrew manuscript directly, which was still in Italy during his lifetime.
773 Of thilke bore frele kinde. Macaulay observes: "Human nature is described as frail from birth, and by its weakness causing blindness of the heart" (2:470).
775 Just as the eye is the most important sense organ for human revelation (see note to lines 1.304-08 above), so too it is the principal sense organ for guiding reason. Augustine's three steps toward virtue (visio, contemplatio, actio) mark also the three steps toward sin. In both instances the process begins with the eye's response to beauty or the desirable, which in turn stimulates the will and desire. The process is one, though the ends are different. See all cupidinous lovers who are first struck through the eye by Cupid's first arrow — beauty. See RR, lines 1681 ff.
786–88 noght . . . That . . . ne. See notes to Prol. 989–90, 1.1295–96, 1.2046–47, 1.2091–93, 1.2629–30, 1.2722–24, 1.3366–67. Gower’s construction here and in the other cited examples is unusual in Middle English, where the ne following that serves as a calque rather than a simple negative. Andrew Galloway (correspondence May 2, 2005) suggests that the construction is parallel to the Old French construction “pres (que) ne,” “por poi (que) ne,” etc., where ne denotes not a negative but instead “an action that has/had almost occurred” (see Kibler, Introduction to Old French, pp. 264–65). The Old French analogy is insightful, it seems to me, in that it takes what might otherwise be regarded as a medial negative conjunction and binds it to the relative conjunction (“but that,” “than that”). The sense of “almost,” however, does not hold precisely. We could translate: “But yet he was not of such strength / To withstand the power of love / But that he was almost reined in [by love], / Despite whether he would or not,” though the so in line 788 displaces the adverbial sense of almost. I.e., the sense is more likely “But he was so reined in [by love] / That despite whether he would or not” (lines 788–89). Compare 1.1296, where the algate likewise obliterates any sense of almost. In some instances the preceding “noght” is not required, though the sense is still “But that”: e.g., 1.1321. In other instances, instead of “noght,” Gower uses “non”: e.g., 1.1465, 1.1778– 79; or a neither/nor construction as in 1.2470–71. And there are several instances when the ne simply functions as a negative after That, as in 1.1379, where the for cancels the conjunctive function of ne; or 1.2800 and 1.3045, where it is part of a double negative. But there are instances in which it simply functions as a negative adverb: 1.3168 and 1.3307.
852 Glad was hire innocence tho. Gower’s Paulina “which in hire lustes grene / Was fair and freissch and tendre of age” (1.778–79) is innocent in her youth and of “humble cheire” (1.854). As Olsson observes, Gower presents Paulina in an entirely positive light: “Genius has left out the boasts of her counterparts in tradition: the Paulina of Josephus’ Antiquities (18.3.4), the foolish Madonna Lisetta da Ca’ Quirino of Boccaccio’s Decameron (4.2), and the Olympias of Gower’s later story of Nectanabus (6.1789–2366) all, to some degree, have an exaggerated sense of self-worth, and they easily succumb to the blandishments of a pretender-god or angel” (Structures of Conversion, p. 74).
966 Hire faire face and al desteigneth. N.b. the medial coordinating conjunction: “And stains her face all over.”
975 honeste. Of persons or their hearts, honest signifies virtuousness or chastity (MED). A wife is said to be chaste if she has to do only with her husband in a seemly manner. When Pauline learns "Now I defouled am of tuo" (line 977), she fears that she can no longer claim that honor. See Chaucer’s Parson’s Tale (X[I]940). On tensions between communal honor and manipulative deceit, see Craun, Lies, Slander, and Obscenity, pp. 129–31.
1003 til that sche was somdiel amended. See Rytting, “In Search of the Perfect Spouse,” p. 119, on the importance of compassion and appropriate displays of affection in Gower’s perception of what constitutes a good marriage like that epitomized in the relationship of Paulina and her spouse.
1077 ff. The story of the Trojan Horse is found in Dictys, De Bello Trojano V.II,12; Benoît, Roman de Troie 25620 ff.; and Guido, Hist. Troiae III (Gest Historiale 29.11846 ff.), all of which Gower may have known. Guido and his translators (not Dictys or Benoît) describe the horse as made of brass.
1081 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic vlterius ponit exemplum de illa eciam Ypocrisia, que inter virum et virum decipiens periculosissima consistit. Et narrat, qualiter Greci in obsidione ciuitatis Troie, cum ipsam vi comprehendere nullatenus potuerunt, fallaci animo cum Troianis pacem vt dicunt pro perpetuo statuebant: et super hoc quendam equum mire grossitudinis de ere fabricatum ad sacrificandum in templo Minerue confingentes, sub tali sanctitatis ypocrisi dictam Ciuitatem intrarunt, et ipsam cum inhabitantibus gladio et igne comminuentes pro perpetuo penitus deuastarunt. [Here he presents a further instructive example concerning that same Hypocrisy, who stands as most dangerous when bringing deceit between man and man. And he tells how the Greeks in the siege of the city of Troy, although they were not able to take it by any means of force, with a false spirit established peace with the Trojans, in perpetuity, as they say. And in addition to this, fashioning a certain horse of miraculous size made from brass for sacrificing in the temple of Minerva, under such hypocrisy of sanctity they entered the said city, and threatening it along with its inhabitants with fire and the sword they utterly and permanently destroyed it.]
1085 The treachery of Calcas and of Crise is part of the medieval invention that ultimately culminated in Chaucer's Troilus. In Homer he is the son of Thestor, a diviner who accompanies the Greek army to Troy (Iliad 1.69 ff.), and in Virgil he helps build the Wooden Horse (Aeneid 2.185). But once he is made a Trojan who betrays the city and claims the return of his daughter in exchange for Antenor, his treachery becomes a key component of all retellings.
1087 hors of bras. An unusual detail, given the prominence of the wooden horse myth in Virgil. Perhaps Gower found the forging of a brass horse, as in Guido (see note to lines 1077 ff.), rather than the building of a wooden horse, as in Dares and Dictys and Benoît, to be more compatible with the machinations of hypocrisy. Hypocrites are forgers (lines 1087-88), not carpenters. Brass horses are not unknown in romance literature. See Chaucer's Squire's Tale.
1091 Epius. The name Epius (i.e., Epeius) appears to come from Virgil through Benoît (as opposed to Apius in Guido), as does the account of the destruction of Neptune's gates (lines 1151-55). In Homer's Odyssey 8.493, Epeius is the maker of the Wooden Horse, with the help of Athena.
1095 Anthenor . . . Enee. The treachery of Antenor and Aeneas is scarcely mentioned in Virgil, but it is much emphasized in Dictys, Benoît, and Guido. On Antenor's deceit see Chaucer's TC 4.197-205.
Latin verses vi (before line 1235). The reference in line 2 is to Ecclesiasticus 13:3.
1241 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur de secunda specie Superbie, que Inobediencia dicitur: et primo illius vicii naturam simpliciter declarat, et tractat consequenter super illa precipue Inobediencia, que in curia Cupidinis exosa amoris causam ex sua imbecillitate sepissime retardat. In cuius materia Confessor Amanti specialius opponit. [Here he speaks concerning a second species of Pride, which is called Disobedience; and first he declares in general terms the nature of that vice, and consequently discourses about that Disobedience in particular, which, despising the cause of love in the court of Cupid, is very often impeded because of its stupidity. In this matter the Confessor particularly questions the Lover.]
1273 Opponit Confessor. [The Confessor inquires.]
1274 Respondet Amans. [The Lover replies.]
1293 For specheles may no man spede. Proverbial. Macaulay compares CA 6.447, “For selden get a domb man lond” (2:472). See Whiting S554. See also CA 4.439–40.
1295–96 See note to 1.786–88.
1328 retenue. The gloss "engagement of service" is Macaulay's, who compares Balades 8.17: "Q'a vous servir j'ai fait ma retenue" (2:472).
1339-40 forme . . . enforme. See Simpson, Sciences and the Self, pp. 1–10, on Gower’s use of “information” as a component of self-formation in CA. (Compare 1.275–76, 1973–74, 2669–70 and 8.817–18.) Simpson reads CA as a fable of the soul “in which the impetus of the soul to reach its own perfection, or form, determines the narrative form” (Sciences and the Self, p. 230). Form informing form is a reciprocal inside-outside paradigm in which exemplary matter provides pedagogical information that impresses the heart as text “follows the soul’s contours” (p. 7). “The pedagogic sense lies in wait behind the artistic” (p. 8), a paradigm that makes possible an “information” of the reader by the simultaneous processes of understanding backwards and forwards (inwards and outwards) required in any creative process. Simpson presents the argument in terms of twelfth- and fourteenth-century philosophical/empirical theory.
1344 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur de Murmure et Planctu, qui super omnes alios Inobediencie secreciores vt ministri illi deseruiunt. [Here he speaks about Grumbling and Complaint, which above all others serve Disobedience very intimately as his ministers.]
1345 ff. See Echard, “With Carmen’s Help,” pp. 32-34, on the ambiguous relationships between the Latin marginal gloss and the English text as Genius shifts the topic from murmur and complaint to truth and obedience in the exemplary Tale of Florent.
1403–06 Unique to third recension manuscripts. See textual note. Hahn cites the first recension couplet, where, instead of Fairfax’s “In a cronique as it is write” (1.1404), we get: “And in ensample of this matiere / A tale I fynde, as thou shalt hiere.” Hahn concludes: “This revision transforms the pedigree of Gower’s retelling from a popular tale — perhaps Ragnelle, in its surviving form, or some other performative text — to literate narrative” (“Old Wives Tales,” p. 100).
1407 ff. The Tale of Florent is apparently based on the same source as Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Tale; or, more likely, Chaucer drew upon Gower’s story as he put together the marriage group of CT in the 1390s. See Peck, “Folklore and Powerful Women.” The tale joins two folk motifs, the loathly lady transformed through love and the answering of a riddle to save one’s life. See Thompson, Motif-Index of Folk-Literature, D732, and Whiting’s discussion in Bryan and Dempster, eds., Sources and Analogues of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, pp. 223–68. A similar story is found in The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle; see Hahn, ed., Sir Gawain, pp. 41–80. Macaulay (2:473) notes Shakespeare’s allusion to Gower’s version of the story in Taming of the Shrew, I.ii.69. For comparison of the three Middle English versions of the tale and the possibility that The Wife of Bath’s tale is a playful inversion of Gower’s more sober narrative, see Lindahl, “Oral Undertones,” pp. 72–75. Dimmick notes that Florent is the only one of the analogues that does not use an Arthurian setting (“‘Redinge of Romance,’” p. 135).
1408 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic contra amori inobedientes ad commendacionem Obediencie Confessor super eodem exemplum ponit; vbi dicit quod, cum quedam Regis Cizilie filia in sue iuuentutis floribus pulcherrima ex eius Nouerce incantacionibus in vetulam turpissimam transformata extitit, Florencius tunc Imparatoris Claudi Nepos, miles in armis strenuissimus amorosisque legibus intendens, ipsam ex sua obediencia in pulcritudinem pristinam mirabiliter reformauit. [Here against those disobedient to love and as commendation to Obedience, the Confessor presents an instructive example on the same thing, where he tells that, when a certain daughter of the King of Sicily who was most beautiful in the bloom of her youth but transformed into a most ugly old woman by her stepmother's incantation, Florent, then the nephew of the Emperor Claudius, a knight most strenuous in fighting and committed to the laws of love, miraculously refashioned her, because of his obedience, into her original beauty.] For discussion of the juxtaposition of this Latin text with the vernacular Tale of Florent to create a dynamic ambiguity, a kind of mise-en-page disputatio between the two texts, see Batchelor, “Feigned Truth and Exemplary Method,” pp. 3-10.
1409 nevoeu to th’emperour. Gower has shifted the location of some portions of the story from the Celtic Arthurian world found in Irish loathly lady narratives to the continent with its emperour. See the Latin marginal gloss where Florencius (Florent) is identified with his uncle, the Roman Emperor Claudius (Imparatoris Claudi). When the grantdame tells Florent to seek the answer to her question “in th’empire / Wher as thou hast most nowlechinge” (1.1482–83), she, in effect, sends him home to the familiar patriarchial terrain of his uncle, in whom Florent confides, but also whom he cautions against retaliation when he fails to obtain the answer. The grantdame’s strategy misleads the youth by returning him to the patriarchal ignorance of his roots, while, at the same time, co-opting the emperor’s revenge. That the hag (the wild card against the grantdame’s scheme) comes from “Cizile” (1.1841) also locates the story on the continent as do Florent’s learned but futile attempts to find the answer “be constellacion [and] kinde” (1.1508); such academic schemes help him no more than does Aurelius’ trip to the “tregetour” of Orleans in Chaucer’s Franklin’s Tale.
1413 ff. See Dimmick, “‘Redinge of Romance,’” pp. 128-30, on Florent as a tale of "wish-fulfilment disguised as an exemplum" (p. 128).
1417 marches. “Borderlands,” i.e., marginal areas where Florent seeks adventures. They could be the western marches of England, though not necessariy, given the fact that their location is unspecified. Thomas Hahn has suggested to me that perhaps Florent, like Arveragus in Chaucer’s Franklin’s Tale, seeks to make his name “In Engelond, that cleped was eek Briteyne / To seke in armes worshipe and honour” (CT V[F]810–11).
1474 under seales write. On the precision of legal contracts and procedures throughout the tale, see Peck, “Folklore and Powerful Women.”
1509 is al shape unto the lere. Macaulay glosses “‘prepared for the loss’ (OE. lyre)” (2:473). But see MED leir n.1b, meaning “burial place.” I.e., Florent is “prepared for his death”; or, he is “all set (resigned) to be brought to his grave.”
1533 redely. “Quickly” is an obvious gloss; but “carefully” perhaps makes better sense, based on MED red n.1a, 5a, or 6a, implying “advice, deliberation, prudence.”
1634 that olde mone. “Consort” is perhaps too gentle a gloss. Clearly, the phrase is meant to be derogatory. Given the root of the word (gemaene: intercourse), “old fuck” might be more apt. See also MED mon n.2: “evil personified, the Devil,” which is likewise an apt pejorative description.
1686 a More. Used here as a sign of ugliness. Compare Dunbar’s disparaging wit in his short poem “Of a Black Moor,” with its refrain “My lady with the mickle lips.”
1714 nede he mot that nede schal. Proverbial. See Whiting N61. Compare Prol.698 and 8.1020.
1769 go we. See Green, “Speech Acts and the Art of the Exemplum,” pp. 178–79, on Gower’s use of subjunctive mood rather than imperative mood, which he uses very little.
Latin verses viii (before line 1883). On the importance of self-knowledge in Gower and its medieval tradition, see Simpson, Sciences and the Self, pp. 125-33, 203-211.
1887 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur de tercia specie Superbie, que Presumpcio dicitur, cuius naturam primo secundum vicium Confessor simpliciter declarat. [Here he speaks about the third species of Pride, which is called Presumption, whose nature as a vice the Confessor first declares in simple terms.]
1911 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic tractat Confessor cum Amante super illa saltem presumpcione, ex cuius superbia quam plures fatui amantes, cum maioris certitudinis in amore spem sibi promittunt, inexpediti cicius destituuntur. [Here the Confessor discourses with the Lover especially about that presumption from the pride of which very many foolish lovers, when they promise themselves hope of greater certainty in love, are suddenly and unpreparedly made destitute.]
1917 heweth up so hihe. Proverbial. See Whiting H221.
1977 ff. The story of Capaneus’ presumption was a favorite exemplum of pride among medieval writers. See Chaucer, Anel. line 59; TC 5.1504. His story is told in Statius, Thebaid 3.598 ff., 4.165 ff., 6.731 ff., and 10 passim, especially 738 to the end. Statius is probably Gower’s main source, though the story is mentioned in varying degrees of completeness in Hyginus, Fabularum Liber LXVIII, LXX, LXXI; Boccaccio, Genealogie deorum gentilium libri 9.36; and Ovid, Met. 9.404. See Shaw (“Gower’s Illustrative Tales,” pp. 439–40) on the tale’s service as an exemplum.
1978 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ponit Confessor exemplum contra ilos, qui de suis viribus presumentes debiliores efficiuntur. Et narrat qualiter ille Capaneus, miles in armis probatissimus, de sua presumens audacia inuocacionem ad superos tempore necessitatis ex vecordia tantum et non aliter primitus prouenisse asseruit. Vnde in obsidione Ciuitatis Thebarum, cum ipse quodam die coram suis hostibus ad debellandum se obtulit, ignis de celo subito superveniens ipsum armatum totaliter in cineres combussit. [Here the Confessor presents an instructive example against those who, presuming on their own powers, are made weaker. And he tells how that Capaneus, a knight most tested in arms, presuming on his boldness, asserted that a vow to the gods at a time of need proceeded only from madness and nothing else. Wherefore in the seige of the city of the Thebans, when he himself on a certain day threw himself into fighting before his enemies, a fire descending from heaven suddenly burned him, fully armed, to ashes.]
2021 ff. Versions of the Trump of Death occur in the Latin Gesta Romanorum (cap. 143), Vita Barlaam et Josaphat, cap. vi (PL 74.462), exemplum 42 of Jacques de Vitry’s Exempla (ed. Crane, p. 151), and other sermon books, etc. Shaw (“Gower’s Illustrative Tales,” pp. 440–47) offers a detailed examination of Gower’s adaptation of his sources in shaping his “ensample” (1.2019). See Schutz (“Absent and Present Images,” pp. 115–18) on binary mirroring in the tale.
2031 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur Confessor contra illos, qui de sua sciencia presumentes aliorum condiciones diiudicantes indiscrete redarguunt. Et narrat exemplum de quodam principe Regis Hungarie germano, qui cum fratrem suum pauperibus in publico vidit humiliatum, ipsum redarguendo in contrarium edocere presumebat: set Rex omni sapiencia prepollens ipsum sic incaute presumentem ad humilitatis memoriam terribili prouidencia micius castigauit. [Here the Confessor speaks against those who, presuming on their own knowledge and judging carelessly, rebuke the condition of others. And he offers an instructive example concerning a certain prince, the brother of the king of Hungary, who when he saw his brother abase himself in public to paupers, by rebuking him presumed to instruct him to the contrary. But the king, preeminent in every wisdom, punished more gently than terrible providence does the one presuming so incautiously, so that he would remember humility.]
2046–47 “There was such a small account of natural vitality left / That they seemed almost totally dead.” See Galloway, “Middle English Poetics.” Galloway explains the syntactic oddity of the “Bot a lite . . . That . . . ne” clause as a calque of the Old French “presque . . . ne” where the ne denotes not a negative but, instead, “an action that has almost occurred,” citing examples in Chrétien’s Le Chevalier de la Charette. See also the explanatory note to 1.786–88.
2091–93 noght . . . That . . . ne. The ne functions with That as a relative conjunction “Than that.” See notes to Prol.989–90 and 1.786–88.
2214 ff. Macaulay (2:474) cites Vita Barlaam et Josephat, cap. vi, here:
O stulte ac demens, si fratris tui, cum quo idem tibi genus et par honos est, in quem nullius omnino sceleris tibi conscius es, praeconem ita extimuisti, quonam modo mihi reprehensionis notam idcirco inussisti, quod Dei mei praecones, qui mortem, ac Domini, in quem me multa et gravia scelera perpetrasse scio, pertimescendum adventum mihi quavis tuba vocalius altiusque denuntiant, humiliter ac demisse salutarim? [“O mad fool, if you are so terrified at the herald of your brother, with whom you are equal in family and rank, against whom you are aware of no crime at all of yours, might I pay respects humbly and meekly to the heralds of my God, who announce to me vocally and loudly, with whatever sort of trumpet, my death and the fearsome arrival of my lord, against whom I know I have committed many terrible crimes?”]
2247 al schal deie. Proverbial. See Whiting D101.
2274 clerk Ovide. See Met. 3.344–510, for the story of Narcissus; also Boccaccio’s Genealogie deorum gentilium libri 7.59. Genius alters the conclusion to suit his heterosexual vision. Medieval writers commonly present Narcissism as a dangerous component of erotic love. Guillaume de Lorris’ RR, lines 1439–1614, was an influential text in this regard. See Schutz (“Absent and Present Images,” pp. 109, 118–20) on Gower’s alteration of his source to use specular effects to create introspection.
2279 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic in speciali tractat Confessor cum Amante contra illos, qui de propria formositate presumentes amorem mulieris dedignantur. Et narrat exemplum qualiter cuiusdam Principis filius nomine Narcizus estiuo tempore, cum ipse venacionis causa quendam ceruum solus cum suis canibus exagitaret, in grauem sitim incurrens necessitate compulsus ad bibendum de quodam fonte pronus se inclinauit; vbi ipse faciem suam pulcherrimam in aqua percipiens, putabat se per hoc illam Nimpham, quam Poete Ekko vocant, in flumine coram suis oculis pocius conspexisse; de cuius amore confestim laqueatus, vt ipsam ad se de fonte extraheret, pluribus blandiciis adulabatur. Set cum illud perficere nullatenus potuit, pre nimio languore deficiens contra lapides ibidem adiacentes caput exuerberans cerebrum effudit. Et sic de propria pulcritudine qui fuerat presumptuosus, de propria pulcritudine fatuatus interiit. [Here in particular the Confessor discourses with the Lover against those who, presuming on their own beauty, disdain the love of a woman. And he narrates an instructive example about how a son of a certain prince, Narcissus by name, during the springtime, when hunting alone with his hounds he pursued a certain stag, and running with severe thirst, compelled by necessity to drink from a certain stream, he lowered himself flat to the ground. There, perceiving in the water his own most beautiful face, he thought instead that he was regarding that nymph whom poets call Echo, in the river before his eyes. Instantly snared by love of her, in order that he might draw her out from the stream he wooed her with many seductions. But when he could not at all achieve that, growing weak from too great an illness, he struck his head against stones lying around in that same place, pouring out his brains. And thus he who had been presumptuous about his own beauty died infatuated by his own beauty.]
2304-21 Genius introduces a Celtic component of fairy magic to his version of Narcissus’ downfall as he dismounts at heat of day and under a tree drinks from a well. Compare Sir Orfeo, in Laskaya and Salisbury, eds., Middle English Breton Lays, pp. 15–60, especially lines 65–174, where Herodis (Eurydice) sleeps under “a fair ympe-tre” (line 70) at the heat of day and is taken by the king of fairies. See Severs, “Antecedents of Sir Orfeo,” for discussion of the Celtic/Irish tradition. Compare Celtic fairy motifs in the Tale of Florent.
2343-58 "This pretty passage is a late addition, appearing only in the third recension MSS. and one other copy, so far as I know" (Mac, 2:475). The application of the story to the fact that the narcissus blooms in early spring (1.2355-57) appears to be Gower's invention.
2406 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur de quarta specie Superbie, que Lactancia dicitur, ex cuius natura causatur, vt homo de seipso testimonium perhibens suarum virtutum merita de laude in culpam transfert, et suam famam cum ipse extollere vellet, illam proprio ore subvertit. Set et Venus in amoris causa de isto vicio maculatos a sua Curia super omnes alios abhorrens expellit, et eorum multiloquium verecunda detestatur. Vnde Confessor Amanti opponens materiam plenius declarat. [Here he speaks concerning the fourth species of Pride, which is called Boasting, by whose nature it is brought about that a man, offering testimonial about himself, transforms the merits of his own virtues from praise to blame, and when he himself would wish to extoll his own fame overturns it with his own mouth. But Venus, abhorring above all others those stained by this vice in the cause of love, expells them and, ashamed of their blabbing, execrates them. Whence the Confessor, querying the Lover, declares the matter more fully.]
2443 daunger. Daunger personifies the woman's aloofness in courtly relationships. In RR he is presented as a somewhat churlish figure who perpetually thwarts the aggressions of male desire.
2459 ff. The popular story of Albinus and Rosemund is first told by Paulus Diaconus, Historia Langobardorum 2.28. See also Godfrey of Viterbo, Pantheon, 23.5-6.
2462 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ponit Confessor exemplum contra istos, qui vel de sua in armis probitate, vel de suo in amoris causa desiderio completo se iactant. Et narrat qualiter Albinus primus Rex Longobardorum, cum ipse quendam alium Regem nomine Gurmundum in bello morientem triumphasset, testam capitis defuncti auferens ciphum ex ea gemmis et auro circumligatum in sue victorie memoriam fabricari constituit: insuper et ipsius Gurmundi filiam Rosemundam rapiens, maritali thoro in coniugem sibi copulauit. Vnde ipso Albino postea coram sui Regni nobilibus in suo regali conuiuio sedente, dicti Gurmundi ciphum infuso vino ad se inter epulas afferri iussit; quem sumptum vxori sue Regine porrexit dicens, "Bibe cum patre tuo." Quod et ipsa huiusmodi operis ignara fecit. Quo facto Rex statim super hiis que per prius gesta fuerant cunctis audientibus per singula se iactauit. Regina vero cum talia audisset, celato animo factum abhorrens in mortem domini sui Regis circumspecta industria conspirauit; ipsumque auxiliantibus Glodesida et Helmege breui subsecuto tempore interfecit: cuius mortem Dux Rauennensis tam in corpus dicte Regine quam suorum fautorum postea vindicauit. Set et huius tocius in infortunii sola superbie iactancia fomitem ministrabat. [Here the Confessor presents an instructive example against those who boast either about their trials in war or about their fulfilled desires in the cause of love. And he narrates how Albinus, the first king of the Lombards, when he himself was triumphant over a certain other king dying in battle, Gurmund by name, carried away the top of the dead man's skull and caused a goblet, bound with gems and gold, to be fabricated from it, in memory of his victory. In addition to this, he captured the daughter of this same Gurmund, Rosemund, and coupled her to himself as a spouse in the marital bedchamber. Wherefore when this Albinus was later sitting before the nobles of his kingdom at his royal banquet, amidst the feasting he ordered the goblet of the said Gurmund to be brought filled with wine to him. When he had received it, he offered it to his wife the queen, saying, "Drink with your father," which indeed she, ignorant of a piece of work of this kind, unknowingly did. Once done, the king immediately boasted to all those listening about those things that he had formerly accomplished, one by one. But when the queen had heard such things she, abhorring in her concealed thoughts his deed, conspired the death of her lord the king by a circumspect endeavor, and with Glodesida and Helmege helping her, she killed him a short while after. The duke of Ravenna later revenged his death on the bodies both of the said queen and of her helpers. But indeed of this whole misfortune a single boasting of pride furnished the kindling-wood.] Macaulay notes that the wording "Bibe cum patre tuo" is exactly that of the prose account in the Pantheon (2:477).
2565 thilke unkynde Pride. MED unkinde 4c cites this line in Gower with the meaning “lacking natural affection or concern for or loyalty to a spouse; of a wife: undutiful toward her husband, fractious; of a husband, husband’s pride: lacking proper respect for his wife, indifferent to his wife’s feelings.” N.b. CA 3.2055, where Orestes condemns Clytemnestra: “O cruel beste unkinde” for the slaughter of her own lord. See also MED unkynde 6a and 4d. That the duke of Ravenna quietly poisons Rosemund (1.2644–46) would seem to be the result of an unspoken law: wives don’t kill husbands, lest they be unkynde.
2629–30 noght . . . That . . . ne. See note to 1.786–88.
2642 ff. Macaulay observes that Gower winds the story up abruptly. "According to the original story, Longinus the Prefect of Ravenna conspired with Rosemunda to poison Helmichis, and he, having received drink from her hand and feeling himself poisoned, compelled her to drink also of the same cup" (2:477).
Latin verses x (before line 2681). Line 5: fauellum. Favel, a medieval creation, is generally related to flattery (from Latin fabella) and is bodied forth as a horse to be “curried” by his followers (because fauvel is ‘fawn colored’ in Old French, hence a fawn-colored horse): see the fourteenth-century French Roman de Fauvel (ed. Langförs). In that poem Fauvel is acrostically defined as the progenitor of flattery, avarice, villainy, variety (changeability), envy, and laziness; he seeks to marry Fortune but is denied because of Fortune’s higher lineage and so must settle for Vaine Gloire. Piers Plowman introduces Favel to English literature, but not specifically as a horse (B.2.158 ff.). The “saddled laws” that Gower places on Favel’s back could show some connection with the passage in Piers Plowman, where saddled sheriffs and professional jury members carry Meed and False (so Echard and Fanger, Latin Verses in the Confessio Amantis). More likely, however, Gower’s saddling Favel with laws and climbing on Favel as a knight are simply elaborations of the allegory of the Roman de Fauvel, a connection confirmed by Gower’s association of Favel with Vain Glory whom Favel marries in the Roman. Yet by the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century the dramatized idea of “currying favor” was very widespread in England and in more literal terms than our own cliché usually conveys; the chronicler Thomas Walsingham describes a public sermon in 1406 where a lord ordered his servant to present to the preacher a currying comb, “suggesting that he was fawning on the prelates of the church.” The archbishop of Canterbury, less amused than the other spectators, ordered the servant to walk naked for several days as penance with a curry-comb in one hand and a candle in the other. Obviously the symbolism of the curry-comb in both events was clear to many without any specific literary source (see Walsingham, St. Albans Chronicle, ed. Galbraith, p. 2).
2657 His pourpos schal ful ofte faile. See Bakalian, Aspects of Love, pp. 12–20, on Albinus’ avantance (boasting) and the swiftness of his demise once he “over-reaches himself and is swept away by his pride” (p. 18).
2682 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur de quinta specie superbie, que Inanis gloria vocatur, et eiusdem vicii naturam primo describens super eodem in amoris causa Confessor Amanti consequenter opponit. [Here he speaks about the fifth species of pride, which is called empty (or vain) glory, and first describing the nature of this same vice, the Confessor consequently questions the Lover concerning it, in the cause of love.]
2698 camelion. Probably the lizard but not necessarily. The MED cites Gower's line here to signify a creature of diverse colors and notes various references in Gower's contemporary, John Trevisa, where the chameleon is "a litel beste of dyverse coloures" like a stellio (gecko) or the lusardis; or an evete (lizard, salamander, or newt); or "a flekked beste" like a leopard or basilisk. Trevisa also uses the word to indicate a giraffe, while Mandeville uses the word for "a lytill best as a Goot." See Whiting C137 for proverbial underpinning.
2706 ff. Latin marginalia: Salomon. Amictus eius annunciat de eo. [Solomon: "His cloak declares what he is."] See Ecclesiasticus 19:27, which Gower abbreviates.
2722–24 noght . . . That . . . ne. See note to 1.786–88.
2727 Rondeal, balade and virelai. Burrow (“Portrayal of Amans,” p. 21) notes that in Gower “these compositions are not incorporated in the text of the poem itself as we would expect in Machaut or Froissart.”
2785 ff. Based on Daniel 4:1-34 (Dan. 4:4-37, King James). The story was a popular exemplum of pride (e.g., VC 7; MO, lines 1885-95 and 21979–96; and Chaucer's Monk's Tale, CT VII[B2]2143-82). For detailed discussion of the passage, see Peck, “John Gower and the Book of Daniel.”
2788 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ponit Confessor exemplum contra vicium inanis glorie, narrans qualiter Nabugodonosor Rex Caldeorum, cum ipse in omni sue maiestatis gloria celsior extitisset, deus eius superbiam castigare volens ipsum extra formam hominis in bestiam fenum comedentem transmutauit. Et sic per septennium penitens, cum ipse potenciorem se agnouit, misertus deus ipsum in sui regni solium restituta sanitate emendatum graciosius collocauit. [Here the Confessor presents an instructive example against the vice of empty (or vain) glory, relating how Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Chaldeans, when he himself was established very high in all the glory of his majesty, God, wishing to chastize his pride, transmuted him into a grass-eating beast. And thus making penance for seven years, when this one acknowledged him to be more powerful, God took pity and graciously placed him again on the soil of his kingdom, freed from blemish and with his health restored.]
2925 The weder schal upon thee reine. "The weather shall rain upon you." But it also could mean, "The sheep shall rule over you."
3067 ff. No specific source has been identified for "The Tale of Three Questions."
3068 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic narrat Confessor exemplum simpliciter contra Superbiam; et dicit quod nuper quidam Rex famose prudencie cuidam militi suo super tribus questionibus, vt inde certitudinis responsionem daret, sub pena capitalis sentencie terminum prefixit. Primo, quid minoris indigencie ab inhabitantibus orbem auxilium maius obtinuit. Secundo, quid maioris valencie meritum continens minoris expense reprisas exiguit. Tercio, quid omnia bona diminuens ex sui proprietate nichil penitus valuit. Quarum vero questionum quedam virgo dicti militis filia sapientissima nomine patris sui solucionem aggrediens taliter Regi respondit. Ad primam dixit, quod terra nullius indiget, quam tamen adiuuare cotidianis laboribus omnes intendunt. Ad secundam dixit, quod humilitas omnibus virtutibus prevalet, que tamen nullius prodegalitatis expensis mensuram excedit. Ad terciam dixit, quod superbia omnia tam corporis quam anime bona deuastans maiores expensarum excessus inducit. Et tamen nullius valoris, ymmo tocius perdicionis, causam sua culpa ministrat. [Here the Confessor narrates an instructive example against pride in general; and he says that in recent times a certain king, famous for his prudence, presented to a certain one of his knights a logical challenge comprising three questions, whence he might give a correct response under pain of capital punishment: first, what having less need has obtained greater help from inhabitants on earth; second, what having merit of greater value demands less expense; third, what diminishes all good things but is worth utterly nothing in itself. Of these questions, however, a certain most wise virgin daughter of the said knight, advancing a solution in the name of her father, responded thusly to the king. To the first, she said that the earth has need of nothing, but all strive to help it with daily labors. To the second, she said that humility is worth more than all virtues, but it does not exceed any expense of prodigality. To the third, she said that pride devastating all good things both of the body and the soul induces excessive expenses. And nonetheless its guilt furnishes the source of no value but instead of total loss.] In the phrase minoris expense reprisas, reprisa means “expenses lost, cost,” but, like its Old French and ME versions (both reprise), it is commonly found in legal documents and normally with the technical legal sense of “a fixed charge deducted annually from an estate’s revenue” (Latham, Revised Medieval Latin Word-List, and MED ). Gower is the only writer attested as broadening the meaning of the word in English to mean, as here, simply “cost” (see explanatory notes to 1.3308 and 5.4708). His usage was not followed by other writers.
3308 To stanche . . . the reprise. Macaulay glosses reprise as “trouble”; i.e., “To stop the trouble of Pride” (2:479). But the MED favors “To pay the cost of Pride” (see MED s.v. reprise b; and s.v. staunchen 3c). See also the comment on the Latin reprisa above.
3366–67 noght . . . That . . . ne. See note to 1.786–88.
3369 ff. Macaulay (2:479) notes that Gower has heavily corrected these lines.
3397-3400 The MS is torn here, with line 3397 ending gr; line 3398 ending plac; and line 3400 ending qwee.
Notes to Book 8
Notes to Latin verses i (before line 1). Line 1: confert. While unusual in other Latin writers, "is useful" is a regular sense of confert for Gower (e.g., in VC); as is also common in Gower's Latin (but more striking here), the object of verbs of pleasure and displeasure is omitted — "people at the present time" are implicitly those who find the rule of lechery useful, and the "new teaching" against it unpleasing. This grammatically understood object ("us") has been the implied target of much of the poem, in view from the first line on. Line 4: impositum. "Affixed" here translates impositum, which may mean the path was "imposed" either legitimately (like the proper order of a restrained life) or deceptively (compare "impostor"). "The impostured path" would be a possible although awkward rendition of the phrase.
1 ff. Macaulay imagines that Gower "had some embarrassment as regards the subject [incest] of his eighth book" (3:536). But contrast Scanlon's perceptive juxtaposing of medieval attitudes toward the topic with those of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (“Riddle of Incest,” pp. 93-112).
3 ff. Latin marginalia: Postquam ad instanciam Amantis confessi Confessor Genius super hiis que Aristotiles Regem Alexandrum edocuit, vna cum aliarum Cronicarum exemplis seriose tractauit, iam vltimo in isto octauo volumine ad confessionem in amoris causa regrediens tractare proponit super hoc, quod nonnulli primordia nature ad libitum voluptuose consequentes, nullo humane racionis arbitrio seu ecclesie legum imposicione a suis excessibus debite refrenantur. Vnde quatenus amorem concernit Amantis conscienciam pro finali sue confessionis materia Genius rimari conatur. [After the confessor Genius has discoursed at the urging of the confessing Lover about those things that Aristotle taught King Alexander along with instructive examples taken one by one from other chronicles, now finally in this eighth book he returns to confession in the cause of love. He proposes to discourse about that matter which some, voluptuously following at their will the initial order of nature, do not refrain from by any judgment of human reason or statute of ecclesiastical law. About this insofar as it pertains to love, as the final portion of his confession, Genius tries to probe the Lover's conscience.]
10 Bot Lucifer He putte aweie. Medieval popular histories of creation commonly begin with the fall of the angels, Lucifer being the brightest and second only to God. That fall makes way for the creation of humankind as replacement for the angelic failure. Compare the sequence of events in Cursor Mundi or in the mystery plays.
21-26 The N-Town plays place the fall of the angels on the fifth day of creation, followed by the creation of man on the sixth. Perhaps Gower has a similar scheme in mind as he speaks of the fall of Lucifer through deadly pride, then jumps to the sixth day and Adam's creation.
30–34 of the mannes progenie . . . The nombre of angles . . . to restore. That the numbers of creation, disrupted by the fallen angels, would be restored with the creation and redemption of mankind was commonplace in fourteenth-century thought. See, for example, Cursor Mundi, lines 514–16 (“Adam þer-for was wroght þan / Þe tent ordir for to fullfill, / Þat lucifer did for to spill” — ed. Morris, pp. 36–38); similarly in the York Cycle, at the end of the first play, “The Fall of the Angels,” Deus announces that his “after-warkes” (line 152) will make up for the lack caused by the fall; then, in the second play, “Creation,” that “syne þat þis world es ordand euyn”(line 29), Deus will begin creation to restore what has been lost. As a patristic source for the idea, see St. Augustine, Enchiridion, ch. 29, entitled: “The Restored Part of Humanity Shall, in Accordance with the Promises of God, Succeed to the Place Which the Rebellious Angels Lost.” Augustine is uncertain about what the exact number is but is confident that God has such a number in mind since he ordered all things in “measure, and number, and weight” (in Schaff, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 3.247). See also Augustine’s De civitate Dei Book 22, ch. 1.
48 Metodre. The reference is to Methodius, “in whose Revelationes it is written, ‘Sciendum namque est, exeuntes Adam et Evam de Paradiso virgines fuisse’ [For it should be known that Adam and Eve were virgins when they left Paradise], so that ‘Into the world’ in l.53 must mean from Paradise into the outer world” (Mac 2:536).
54 nature hem hath reclamed. The sexual drive of “nature” serves a positive function here. The issue of incest, soon to come, qualifies the regulation of desire. See the sinister consequences of Lot’s daughters following “nature” in 8.230 ff., or the circumstances of Antiochus, who acts “[w]ithoute insihte of conscience” in following his “likinge and concupiscence” (8.293–94).
62 ff. Methodius identifies the sisters of Cain and Abel as Calmana and Debora (Mac 2:536).
146 non schal wedden of his ken. On the history of Ecclesiastical Law regarding marriage of kin, see Donavin's discussion of the meaning of incest in the Middle Ages (Incest Narratives, pp. 9-19); and the sophisticated cultural psychoanalysis of incest in CA by Scanlon (“Riddle of Incest”).
147 Ne the seconde ne the thridde. On Gower's scheme of the traditional first three ages and Gower's fourth where papal law rules against marriage of immediate kin or those twice or three times removed, see Scanlon, “Riddle of Incest,” pp. 109–12.
158 ne yit religion. Macaulay notes: "The seduction of one who was a professed member of a religious order was usually accounted to be incest: cp. Mirour, lines 9085 ff. and line 175 below" (3:536).
163 what thing comth next to honde. See Olsson, “Love, Intimacy, and Gower,” pp. 93-95, on the cost of betrayal of intimacy at home. Olsson draws interesting parallels between Antiochus' incestuous behavior and Amans' shortsightedness in love. See also Peck, Kingship and Common Profit, p. 164.
201 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur contra illos, quos Venus sui desiderii feruore inflammans ita incestuosos efficit, vt neque propriis Sororibus parcunt. Et narrat exemplum, qualiter pro eo quod Gayus Caligula tres sorores suas virgines coitu illicito opressit, deus tanti sceleris peccatum impune non ferens ipsum non solum ab imperio set a vita iusticia vindice priuauit. Narrat eciam aliud exemplum super codem, qualiter Amon filius Dauid fatui amoris concupiscencia preuentus, sororem suam Thamar a sue virginitatis pudicicia inuitam deflorauit, propter quod et ipse a fratre suo Absolon postea interfectus, peccatum sue mortis precio inuitus redemit. [Here he speaks against those whom Venus has made so incestuously inflammed by the fervor of their desire that they do not spare even their own sisters. And he narrates an instructive example how, because Gaius Caligula assaulted his three virgin sisters in illicit coitus, God, not tolerating the sin of so great a crime to be unpunished, by just vindication not only deprived him of imperial rule, but of life. He narrates also another instructive example on the same matter, how Amon the son of David, overwhelmed by lust of fatuous love, sexually violated his unwilling sister Tamar, deflowering her modest virginity, on account of which he, later being killed by his brother Absolon, also unwilling, repaid his sin with the price of his death.]
202 Caligula. Gower's source is Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars 4.24. That Gower knew Suetonius directly is likely in that Chaucer cites "Swetonius" as source for his account of Nero in The Monk's Tale. Higden's Polychronicon, Bk. 4, ch. 7, also tells of Caligula's incest: he was "A swiþe wicked man. . . . he lay by his owne sustres, and gat a dou3ter on þat oon, and lay by þat oþer afterward, and at þe laste he exciled his sustres þat he hadde i-lay by" (Trevisa's translation, pp. 363-65). Neither Suetonius nor Higden attribute the cause of his death to incest, however. That seems to be Genius' insight.
214-19 Amon . . . Thamer . . . Absolon . . . his soster schent. The story of Amon's incestuous rape of Tamar and Absolon's jealous revenge may be found in 2 Kings [2 Samuel] 13.
224 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic narrat, qualiter Loth duas filias suas ipsis consen-cientibus carnali copula cognouit, duosque ex eis filios, scilicet Moab et Amon, progenuit quorum postea generacio praua et exasperans contra populum dei in terra saltim promissionis vario grauamine quam sepius insultabat. [Here he narrates how Lot knew in carnal copulation his two daughters, with them both consenting, and how he generated two sons from them, namely Moab and Amon, whose depraved and exasperating lineage was later very often abusive against the people of God, at least in the Land of Promise, by means of various kinds of trouble.] The story of Lot's fellowship with his daughters is found in Genesis 19:30-38.
232 As in The Tale of Canacee and Machaire, nature impels the incestuous desire and, in birth, provides a release, but with disasterous progenie. See Kelly, Love and Marriage, pp. 140–41.
256 every man is othres lore. Proverbial. See Whiting M170.
263 excedeth lawe. Diane Watt suggests that although Amans claims he is not guilty of incest (8.184–89), in a sense he is guilty “insofar as he seems to be engaged in an oedipal struggle with his own incestuous parents: Venus and Cupid, the queen and king of love” (Amoral Gower, p. 128).
269 process. Gower thinks of history as a process (L. processus); that is, a pageant or play, staged on “middelerthe.” It is a narrative, a story that unfolds. See MED proces 3a, c, and f.
271 ff. The “Tale of Apollonius” was popular and appears in English before Gower in an Old English translation. See Archibald, Apollonius of Tyre, Appendix 1: “Latin and Vernacular Versions of HA to 1609,” pp. 182–216. Appendix 2 deals with “Medieval and Renaissance Allusions to the Story of Apollonius.” The tale occurs in Godfrey of Viterbo’s Pantheon, which Gower used frequently, though his version includes many details not to be found in Godfrey, or in the Latin Gesta Romanorum, cap. 153. The eleventh-century Latin prose version, Historia Apollonii Tyrii, a version which Godfrey used as his source, was most likely known by Gower as well. It includes details found in Gower which do not occur in Godfrey. See Macaulay’s useful discussion (3:536–38) and Singer’s edition and discussion of Apollonius von Tyrus in his edition of Godfrey of Viterbo’s Cronica. Shakespeare’s Pericles, in which “Gower” is the commentator, is based only in part on Gower’s version of the story. For critical discussion of the story see Dimmick, “‘Redinge of Romance,’” pp. 136–37; Donavin, Incest Narratives, pp. 64–86; Gallacher, Love, the Word, and Mercury, pp. 129–38; Goodall, “John Gower’s Apollonius of Tyre”; Olsen, “Betwene Ernest and Game,” pp. 71–86; Olsson, Structures of Conversion, pp. 215–25; Peck, Kingship and Common Profit, pp. 166–72; Robins, “Romance,” pp. 169–72; Scanlon, “Riddle of Incest,” pp. 112–27; Watt, Amoral Gower, pp. 127–48; and Yeager, John Gower’s Poetic, pp. 216–29. Because Macaulay’s notes on this tale are extensive and excellent I have cited them liberally, supplying translations of the Latin. See notes to lines 404 ff., 542 ff., 679, 767 ff., 866 ff., 1089 ff., 1184 ff., 1248, and 1349 ff.
272 ff. Latin marginalia :Hic loquitur adhuc contra incestuosos amantum coitus. Et narrat mirabile exemplum de magno Rege Antiocho, qui vxore mortua propriam filiam violauit: et quia filie Matrimonium penes alios impedire voluit, tale ab eo exiit edictum, quod si quis eam in vxorem peteret, nisi ipse prius quoddam problema questionis, quam ipse Rex proposuerat, veraciter solueret, capitali sentencia puniretur. Super quo veniens tandem discretus iuuenis princeps Tyri Appolinus questionem soluit; nec tamen filiam habere potuit, set Rex indignatus ipsum propter hoc in mortis odium recollegit. Vnde Appolinus a facie Regis fugiens, quamplura, prout inferius intitulantur, propter amorem pericla passus est. [Here he speaks moreover against the incestuous coitus of lovers. And he narrates a miraculous instructive example about the great king Antiochus, who after his wife had died violated his own daughter. And because he wanted to prevent the marriage of his daughter with any others, such an edict went forth from him, that if anyone should seek her as a wife, unless he first accurately solved a certain problem of a puzzle which the king himself had proposed, he would receive capital punishment. Whereupon a shrewd youth, Apollinus the ruler of Tyre, arriving, solved the puzzle. Yet he was not able to have the daughter; instead the king, indignant, conceived against him because of this a mortal hatred. Wherefore Apollonius, fleeing from the king's presence, suffered very many dangers, as are described below.]
279-92 On shared beds and incest after the death of the mother, see Shaw, "The Role of the Shared Bed." Shaw cites various accounts in which mothers and sons and fathers and daughters share beds with disastrous results, albeit thinking, as Antiochus does, "that it was no sinne" (line 346).
280 deth, which no king mai withstonde. Proverbial. See Whiting D78, D101.
293-94 See note to line 54, above.
299 With strengthe. "By force." On rape as violence — violentus concubitus — see Hanawalt, "Whose Story Was This?" See also the note to line 347.
309-10 devoureth / His oghne fleissh. On incest as cannibalism see Donavin, Incest Narratives
312 This unkinde fare. See note to 1.2565 on indifference toward the rights of kinsmen as unkinde behavior.
347 sche dorste him nothing withseie. See Donavin, Incest Narratives, pp. 64-96, on the political effects of the incestuous rape of Antiochus’ daughter.
374 ff. Latin marginalia: De aduentu Appolini in Antiochiam, vbi ipse filiam Regis Antiochiin vxorem postulauit. [Concerning Apollonius' arrival at Antioch, where he requests to have as wife the daughter of King Antiochus.]
376–80 gret desir . . . hihe mod . . . hote blod . . . lusti knyht . . . musende on a nyht. Genius presents Apollonius’ willful behavior as a phenomenon of youth and nature rather than intemperate or sinful behavior.
402 Latin marginalia: Questio Regis Antiochi. [The puzzle of King Antiochus.]
404 Latin marginalia: Scelere vehor, materna carne vescor, quero patrem meum, matris mee virum, vxoris mee filium. [“I am conveyed by crime, I feed on maternal flesh, I seek my father, the husband of my mother, the son of my wife.”] On the gloss Macaulay observes: “The riddle as given in the Laud MS. is, ‘Scelere uehor. Materna carne uescor. Quero patrem meum matris mee uirum uxoris mee filiam, nec inuenio.’ Most copies have ‘fratrem meum’ for ‘patrem meum,’ but Gower agrees with the Laud MS. I do not attempt a solution of it beyond that of Apollonius, which is, ‘Quod dixisti scelere uehor, non es mentitus, ad te ipsum respice. Et quod dixisti materna carne uescor, filiam tuam intuere”’ (2:538). The riddle closely resembles riddles from ancient through late medieval times about the cyclical generation of water and ice, which invariably use an incestuous metaphor: e.g., “My mother bore me, and soon my mother is born from me; the daughter whom the mother bore has generated the mother.” See Galloway, “Rhetoric of Riddling” (n.b., riddle Ha 11 and analogues, p. 99 and note 108). The riddle in the story of Apollonius, of course, has a literal incestuous meaning, and thus is almost not a riddle at all. But the story presumes that an audience (including previous suitors) would first consider the riddle metaphorically like other ancient and medieval riddles.
405-14 Goolden, “Antiochus’s Riddle,” offers a detailed comparison of Gower's riddle with the Latin version. See entries in Nicholson (Annotated Index, pp. 503–04) for thumbnail summaries of critical discussions of the riddle, and, more recently, Watt (Amoral Gower, pp. 129–34).
418 ff. Latin marginalia: Responsio Appolini. [Apollonius' response.]
421 rehersed on and on. Gower regularly celebrates the individual who can reason well and think problems through step-by-step. Compare, especially, the rational behavior of Peronelle in the Tale of the Three Questions, Florent in his tale, Paulina and her husband in the Tale of Mundus and Paulina, the king in Trump of Death, and, ultimately, “John Gower,” as he once again exercises his reason.
428 ff. Latin marginalia: Indignacio Antiochi super responsione Appolini. [Antiochus' indignation over Apollonius' response.]
431 With slihe wordes and with felle. Contrast Antiochus’ thought process with that of Apollonius as Antiochus uses his reason to subvert truth.
440 ff. Latin marginalia: De recessu Appollini ab Antiochia. [Concerning Apollonius' retreat from Antioch.]
466 ff. Latin marginalia: De fuga Appolini per mare a Regno suo. [Concerning Apollonius' flight across the sea from his kingdom.]
496 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota qualiter Thaliartus Miles, vt Appolinum veneno intoxicaret, ab Antiocho in Tyrum missus, ipso ibidem non inuento Antiochiam rediit. [Note how Taliart the knight, sent by Antiochus to Tyre so that Apollonius might be sickened with poison, returned to Antioch when he was not found there.]
536 He stinte his wraththe and let him be. Macaulay notes Gower's variation from the source here, objecting that the change takes away Apollonius' motive for fleeing to Tarsus (3:538).
537 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Appolinus in portu Tharsis applicuit, vbi in hospicio cuiusdam magni viri nomine Strangulionis hospitatus est. [How Apollonius arrived at the port of Tharsis, where in the household of a certain great man, Strangulio by name, he was given hospitality.]
542 ff. Macaulay (3:539) notes "In the original Apollonius meets 'Hellanicus' at once on landing, and is informed by him of the proscription. He makes an offer to Strangulio to sell his wheat at cost price to the citizens, if they will conceal his presence among them. The money which he receives as the price of the wheat is expended by him in public benefits to the state, and the citizens set up a statue of him standing in a two-horse chariot (biga), his right hand holding forth corn and his left foot resting upon a bushel measure."
571 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Hellicanus ciuis Tyri Tharsim veniens Appolinum de insidiis Antiochi premuniuit. [How Hellican, a citizen of Tyre, coming to Tharsis, forewarned Apollonius about the treacheries of Antiochus.]
585 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Appolinus portum Tharsis relinquens, cum ipse per mare nauigio securiorem quesiuit, superueniente tempestate nauis cum omnibus preter ipsum solum in eadem contentis iuxta Pentapolim periclitabatur. [How Apollonius, departing the port of Tharsis, sought a more secure one by passage across the sea, but his ship was endangered along with all those aboard it except for himself, when a tempest overtook them near Pentapolis.]
630 broghte him sauf upon a table. Earlier, Apollonius was a food supplier as he brought grain to Mittelene. Now he himself is served up as Fortune brings him ashore on a table (plank). The felicitous pun comments well on Dame Fortune’s movable feasts.
634 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Appolinus nudus super litus iactabatur, vbi quidam piscator ipsum suo collobio vestiens ad vrbem Pentapolim direxit. [How Apollonius was thrown naked onto the shore, where a certain fisherman, clothing him with his tunic, directed him to the city of Pentapolis.]
646 cam a fisshere in the weie. Just as the sea is a traditional sign of Fortune’s instability, so the fisherman figures as an agent who makes a living out of what Fortune provides. N.b. Shakespeare’s clever twist on this point in Gower’s story to have the fishermen dredge up a suit of “rusty armour” in which Pericles can joust (II.i.119).
666 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Appolino Pentapolim adueniente Iudus Gignasii per vrbem publice proclamatus est. [How when Apollonius arrived at Pentapolis a gymnastics game was publically proclaimed through the city.]
678 comun game. Gower omits references to the baths in the source (see Archibald, Apollonius of Tyre, pp. 74-75 and note to line 679 below) and substitutes a ball game of some sort that is played naked as was the Greek "custume and us (use)" (line 685). "Comun" implies popular, though in this admirable society the king Artestrathes observes the play and rewards the victor.
679 Macaulay observes: "The account in the original story is here considerably different. Gower did not understand the Greek customs. 'Et dum cogitaret unde uite peteret auxilium, uidit puerum nudum per plateam currentem, oleo unctum, precinctum sabana, ferentem ludos iuueniles ad gymnasium pertinentes, maxima uoce dicentem: Audite ciues, audite peregrini, liberi et ingenui, gymnasium patet. Apollonius hoc audito exuens se tribunario ingreditur lauacrum, utitur liquore palladio; et dum exercentes singulos intueretur, parem sibi querit et non inuenit. Subito Arcestrates rex totius illius regionis cum turba famulorum ingressus est: dumque cum suis ad pile lusum exerceretur, uolente deo miscuit se Apollonius regi, et dum currenti sustulit pilam, subtili uelocitate percussam ludenti regi remisit' &c. (f. 207 vº). [And while he was pondering where he would find a means to survive, he saw running through the square a naked boy smeared with oil, wrapped with a towel, bearing equipment for a boys' gymnasium game, uttering in the loudest possible voice, "Hear ye, citizens, hear ye, visitors, freedmen and free-born: the gymnasium is open!" Hearing this, Apollonius, removing his cloak entered the bath, and used the liquid of Pallas [oil]; and while he observed each man exerting himself, he searched for someone equal to himself and found none. Suddenly Archistrates, the king of the entire region, entered along with his crowd of servants: and while he engaged in a game of ball with his men, by God's will Apollonius participated along with the king: he caught the ball while the king was running and sent the caught ball back with accurate swiftness to the king playing . . . . ] The story proceeds to say that the king, pleased with the skill of Apollonius in the game of ball, accepted his services at the bath, and was rubbed down by him in a very pleasing manner. The result was an invitation to supper. Gower agrees here with the Pantheon in making the king a spectator only" (3:539).
696 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Appolinus ludum gignasii vincens in aulam Regis ad cenam honorifice receptus est. [How Apollonius, winning the gymnastics game, was honorably received for a feast in the king's hall.]
720 beginne a middel bord. Beginne suggests that Apollonius is placed at the head of a second table.
729 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Appolinus in cena recumbens nichil comedit, set doloroso vultu, submisso capite, ingemiscebat; qui tandem a filia Regis confortatus cytharam plectens cunctis audientibus citharisando vltra modum complacuit. [How Apollonius, sitting down to the feast, ate nothing, but instead with a mournful face and lowered head began groaning; finally, being comforted by the king's daughter, he played a harp and pleased all the listeners by his harping.]
767 ff. Macaulay observes (3:539): “In the original all applaud the performance of the king’s daughter except Apollonius, who being asked by the king why he alone kept silence, replied, ‘Bone rex, si permittis, dicam quod sentio: filia enim tua in artem musicam incidit, nam non didicit. Denique iube mihi tradi liram, et scies quod nescit’ (f. 208 vo). [Good king, if you permit I will say what I feel: for your daughter has jumped into the art of music but has not learned it. Command therefore that the lyre be handed to me, and you will learn what she does not.] Gower has toned this down to courtesy.”
768 mesure. Measure is a technical term in music borrowed from grammar to define the metrics of a line. See Boethius, De musica (Augustine's De musica makes a similar point), where measure is discussed in terms of mode, duration, accent, and metrical feet. MED gives "?melody" and "?harmony" as possible glosses, but such a reading is indeed questionable and misleading. If one thinks of melody as the sequence (the measuring) of a song in a particular mode then the term might apply (see line 783). But if the term were understood to mean a pleasing tune then the gloss would be quite inappropriate. Similarly, if "harmony" means ratio and proportions of intervals, then it might be a suitable gloss, but if "harmony" is taken to mean chord structures then the gloss would be wrong. See note to Prol.1056.
777 He takth the harpe. Playing the harp teaches "mesure" (8.773), that is, proportion, moderation, and harmony, all crucial virtues for good kingship. (See note to 8.768.) As a good king Apollonius not only embodies "measure," he teaches it to his people. Of all kingly practices, this brings him closest to the angelic state (see 8.781-83) best suited to good rule.
801 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Appolinus cum Rege pro filia sua erudienda retentus est. [How Apollonius was kept with the king in order to educate his daughter.]
808–11 preide unto hir fader . . . That sche myhte . . . His lore have. This is one of the earliest instances of the story of a nobleman in disguise who becomes the teacher of a young noblewoman whom he ultimately marries. In the Renaissance, where the education of noblewomen becomes an important factor in their commodification for desirable marriages, the trope becomes a prominent comic device. In Gower’s adaptation of The Pantheon the agency of the young woman is heightened as she falls in love with the stranger, chooses him as her tutor, and then insists upon him and no other as her mate. Shakespeare picks up on the idea in Pericles, but also, more in the vein of a Plautine comedy, in Taming of the Shrew, where it is the men who are suitors and the teacherly role is divided between Lucentio (for Latin studies) and Hortensio (for music) as they disguise themselves to court Bianca. See also the device in Comedy of Errors, Berowne in Love’s Labours Lost, and Gascoigne’s Supposes, as well as Ariosto’s I Suppositi. In Gower the girl’s eagerness is fulfilled, but at a terrible price, as Fortune “slays” her, then abandons her to years of service to Diana before returning her husband and daughter to her. Other later analogues of the prince in disguise as a philosopher/teacher may be seen in Pierre Marivaux’s play The Triumph of Love (1732) and in Gioacchino Rossini’s Barber of Seville (1816), which is based on a play by Beaumarchais (1775).
820 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter filia Regis Appolinum ornato apparatu vestiri fecit, et ipse ad puelle doctrinam in quampluribus familiariter intendebat: vnde placata puella in amorem Appolini exardescens infirmabatur. [How the king's daughter caused herself to be outfitted with ornate trappings, and he sought in many friendly ways the teaching of the girl; whereupon the girl, pleased, burned and sickened with love of Apollonius.]
829 Of harpe, of citole, and of rote. The citole was a stringed instrument with a rounded belly and neck with frets that is plucked as one might play a banjo or mandolin. The rote was a stringed instrument of the violin class played with a mechanical wheel, like a hurdy gurdy. It also had frets which were measured with one hand while the other cranked the wheel. The instrument was held in the lap. See Sadie, New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments.
850 Of hire ymaginacion. Gower softens "the harshness that pervades much of the traditional account," allowing "Apollonius and his bride to be considerably more tender and emotional than they are in [the Latin source]" (Archibald, Apollonius of Tyre, p. 192). Gower's focus on the bride's imagination as she tenders her thoughts characterizes his kind treatment of women throughout the poem.
866 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter tres filii Principum filiam Regis singillatim in vxorem suis supplicacionibus postularunt. [How three sons of rulers in turn begged the king’s daughter to be their wife.] In the original this incident occurs when the king and Apollonius are together. The king has been approached by the three suitors, but tells them they cannot visit his daughter because she is sick from too much study. He asks each to write his name and the amount of money he is prepared to offer as dowry, and he asks Apollonius to carry these petitions to her. She reads them and asks: “‘Master Apollonius, are you not sorry that I am going to be married?’ Apollonius said: ‘No, I am delighted that now that I have taught you well and revealed a wealth of learning, by God’s favour you will also marry your heart’s desire.’ The girl said: ‘Master, if you loved me, you would certainly be sorry for your teaching’” (Archibald, Apollonius of Tyre, p. 133).
875–80 ech of hem do make a bille . . . And whan sche wiste hou that it stod . . . Thei scholden have ansuere. Artestrathes’ involvement of his daughter in the marriage decision stands in marked contrast to Antiochus’ proceedings. He makes sure that she has a detailed resumé of each suitor — his name, his parentage, his wealth, but also his oghne wille (line 876; i.e., his personal reasons for wanting her as his bride) — so that she might make an informed decision. Then when she does make her choice her father takes her concerns seriously. See note to lines 889 ff.
889 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter filia Regis omnibus aliis relictis Appolinum in maritum preelegit. [How the king's daughter chose Apollonius as husband, leaving all others behind.] In the original her letter has nothing of the suggestion in Gower's version of an agony of love that might lead to death. Instead, the letter is a forthright demand to control her own marriage even to her own economic disadvantage, a demand that does not even use conditional verbs: "volo coniugem naufragio patrimonio deceptum" [I want to marry the man who was cheated out of his patrimony by shipwreck]. Gower's version of her letter is full of conditional verbs: "Bot if I have Appolinus . . . I wol non other man abide . . . . if I of him faile . . . Ye schull for me be dowhterles" (8.898-903). In the original some modesty is recuperated by a slight riddle in her statement, which leads to a scene of discovery: the king does not know which man that is, and must then ask the other suitors if they have been shipwrecked, before asking Apollonius if he has discovered the shipwrecked man, upon which he answers, "Bone rex, si permittis, inueni" [Good king, if you allow, I have]. But in spite of this brief riddle and discovery not in Gower, generally her demand in the original shows a woman in late antiquity asserting personal will (volo) in defiance of economic concerns that usually governed marriage in such culture. In Gower's version there is no coy riddle about the identity of her beloved (Apollonius is mentioned outright in the note to the king), and there is no mention of the economic pressures on marriage. There is just her love, whose force is emphasized by the conditional verbs, and the careful efforts of her father to facilitate its realization.
914 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Rex et Regina in maritagium filie sue cum Appolino consencierunt. [How the king and queen consented to the marriage of their daughter with Apollonius.]
930 ff. Macaulay notes that no mention is made of the queen in the original. The king simply calls his friends together and arranges the marriage (3:540).
951 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Appolinus filie Regis nupsit, et prima nocte cum ea concubiens ipsam impregnauit. [How Apollonius married the king's daughter, and, sleeping with her on the first night, impregnated her.]
952-74 Macaulay notes that the description of the wedding originates with Gower (3:540).
975 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Ambaciatores a Tyro in quadam naui Pentapolim venientes mortem Regis Antiochi Appolino nunciarunt. [How ambassadors arriving from Tyre to Pentapolis in a certain ship announced to Apollonius the death of King Antiochus.]
1003 In the source Apollonius is named successor to Antiochus. Macaulay observes: "This was regarded by our author as an unnecessary complication" (3:540).
1020 nede he mot, that nede schal. Proverbial. Variant of Whiting N61. Compare Prol. 698 and 1.1714.
1020 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Appolino cum vxore sua impregnata a Pentapoli versus Tyrum nauigantibus, contigit vxorem, mortis articulo angustiatam, in naui filiam, que postea Thaisis vocabatur, parere. [How, when Apollonius with his pregnant wife was voyaging from Pentapolis toward Tyre, it happened that the wife, seized in the grip of death, gave birth in the ship to a daughter, who was later called Thaisis.]
1054 ff. Macaulay notes: "So far as the original can be understood, it seems to say that the birth of the child was brought about by the storm and that the appearance of death in the mother took place afterwards, owing to a coagulation of the blood caused by the return of fair weather" (3:540).
1059 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Appolinus vxoris sue mortem planxit. [How Apollonius mourned his wife's death.]
1059-83 Most of this section is original with Gower.
1089 ff. Macaulay speculates: "Apparently the meaning is that the sea will necessarily cast a dead body up on the shore, and therefore they must throw it out of the ship, otherwise the ship itself will be cast ashore with it. The Latin says only, 'nauis mortuum non suffert: iube ergo corpus in pelago mitti' (f. 211 vº)" [a ship will not bear a corpse: therefore order the body to be tossed into the sea] (vol. 3, p. 540).
1098 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter suadentibus nautis corpus vxoris sue mortue in quadam Cista plumbo et ferro obtusa que circumligata Appolinus cum magno thesauro vna cum quadam littera sub eius capite scripta recludi et in mare proici fecit. [How, with the sailors persuading him, Apollonius caused his dead wife's body to be enclosed in a certain coffin hammered shut and wound round with lead and iron, and, with a great treasure along with a certain letter under her head, to be thrown into the sea.]
1122 ff. Latin marginalia: Copia littere Appolini capiti vxoris sue supposite. [Copy of Apollonius' letter deposited at his wife's head.]
1141 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualtier Appolinus, vxoris sue corpore in mare proiecto, Tyrum relinguqens cursum suun versus Tharsim nauigio dolens arripuit. [How Apollonius, when his wife's body was thrown into the sea, abandoning Tyre took his course toward Tharsis by sea-voyage, mourning.]
1151–1217 Along with lines 1833–66 cited by Bullough (Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare, 1.10–11; 50–54) as a probable source for the discovery of the mother section of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors.
1151 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter corpus predicte defuncte super litus apud Ephesim quidam medicus nomine Cerymon cum aliquibus suis discipulis inuenit; quod in hospicium suum portans et extra cistam ponens, spiraculo vite in ea adhuc inuento, ipsam plene sanitati restituit. [How a certain doctor, Cerymon by name, along with some of his students, found the body of the aforesaid deceased on the shore at Ephesis; carrying it into his household and taking it out of the coffin, and finding a breath of life still in her, he restored her fully to health.]
1160 That God wol save mai noght spille. Proverbial. Variation of Whiting G276.
1172 Al that schal falle, falle schal. Proverbial. Variation of Whiting H105: “Hap what hap may.”
1184 ff. Macaulay notes (3:540-41): "In the original it is not Cerimon himself, but a young disciple of his, who discovers the signs of life and takes measures for restoring her. She has already been laid upon the pyre, and he by carefully lighting the four corners of it (cp. I. 1192) succeeds in liquefying the coagulated blood. Then he takes her in and warms her with wool steeped in hot oil."
1222 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter vxor Appolini sanata domum religionis peciit, vbi sacro velamine munita castam omni tempore se vouit. [How Apollonius' wife, healed, sought a religious establishment, where she vowed to be chaste for all time, fortified by holy scripture.]
1248 The daughter introduces a kind of Cinderella motif, where, as in the fairy tale, the "stepmother" would destroy the heir for the sake of her own daughter. Macaulay observes that the daughter is apparently Gower's invention, perhaps the result of his misreading of the original "adhibitis amicis filiam sibi adoptauit," that is, in the company of friends he adopted her as his daughter (3:541).
1272 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Appolinus Tharsim nauigans, filiam suam Thaisim Strangulioni et Dionisie vxori sue educandam commendauit; et deinde Tyrum adiit, vbi cum inestimabili gaudio a suis receptus est. [How Apollonius, voyaging to Tharsis, placed his daughter Thaisis with Strangulio and his wife Dionisia to be educated; and thereupon he returned to Tyre, where he was received with inestimable joy by his people.]
1295 Thaise. Tharsia in the source, bearing the name of the city. Macaulay notes that “the Laud MS regularly calls her Thasia,” which may be the link toward Thaise (3:541).
1324 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Thaysis vna cum Philotenna Strangulionis et Dionisie filia omnis sciencie et honestatis doctrina imbuta est: set Thaisis Philotennam precellens in odium mortale per inuidiam a Dionisia recollecta est. [How Thaisis along with Philotenna, daughter of Strangulio and Dionisia, was imbued with every doctrine of honorableness and science; but against Thaisis, excelling over Philotenna, was conceived a mortal hatred from Dionisia's envy.]
1349 ff. Macaulay observes: "Much is made in the original story of the death of this nurse and of the revelation which she made to Tharsia of her real parentage. Up to this time she had supposed herself to be the daughter of Strangulio. The nurse suspected some evil, and advised Tharsia, if her supposed parents dealt ill with her, to go and take hold of the statue of her father in the market-place and appeal to the citizens for help. After her death Tharsia visited her tomb by the sea-shore every day, 'et ibi manes parentum suorum inuocabat' [and there she would invoke the ancestral gods of her parents]. Here Theophilus lay in wait for her by order of Dionysiades" (3:541).
1373 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Dionisia Thaysim, vt occideretur, Theophilo seruo suo tradidit, qui cum noctanter longius ab vrbe ipsam prope litus maris interficere proposuerat, Pirate ibidem prope latitantes Thaisim de manu Carnificis eripuerunt, ipsamque vsque Ciuitatem Mitelenam ducentes, cuidam Leonino scortorum ibidem magistro vendiderunt. [How Dionisia sent Thaisis to her servant Theophilus so that she might be killed. When he had sought to kill her at night along the shore very far from town, pirates hiding near there snatched Thaisis from the executioner's hand, and leading her up to the city Mitelene, they sold her to a certain Leonine, a master of prostitutes there.]
1406 In havene sauf and whan thei be. “And when they were in safe haven.”
1423 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Leoninus Thaisim ad lupanar destinauit, vbi dei gracia preuenta ipsius virginitatem nullus violare potuit. [How Leonine sent Thaisis to a bordello, where by the intervening grace of God no one was able to violate her virginity.]
1451–52 this weie . . . mi weie. “The rhyme is saved from being an identical one by the adverbial use of ‘weie’ in the second line, ‘mi weie’ being equivalent to ‘aweie’” (Mac 3:542).
1477 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Thaisis a lupanari virgo liberata, inter sacras mulieres hospicium habens, sciencias quibus edocta fuit nobiles regni puellas ibidem edocebat. [How Thaisis, freed from the bordello still a virgin, taking hospitality among holy women, there taught the noble girls of the kingdom the sciences she had been taught.]
1480 Now comen tho that come wolde. Proverbial variant. See Tilley C529.
1498 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Theophilus ad Dionisiam mane rediens affirmauit se Thaisim occidisse; super quo Dionisia vna cum Strangulione marito suo dolorem in publico confingentes, exequias et sepulturam honorifice quantum ad extra subdola coniectacione fieri constituerunt. [How Theophilus, returning the following morning to Dionisia, affirmed that he had killed Thaisis, whereupon Dionisia, along with her husband Strangulio, dissimulating a grief in public, by treacherous contrivance caused funeral rites and a sepulcher to be made honorifically, as far as the outside world was concerned.]
1541 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Appolinus in regno suo apud Tyrum existens parliamentum fieri constituit. [How Apollonius, remaining in his kingdom at Tyre, convened a parliament.]
1560 unkinde. “Disloyal, ungrateful.” See note to 1.2565 on lack of loyalty to kin as unnatural (unkynde) behavior.
1567 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Appolinus post parliamentum Tharsim pro Thaise filia sua querenda adiit, qua ibidem non inventa abinde navigio recessit. [How Apollonius after the parliament departed for Tharsis to seek his daughter Thaisis; not finding her there, he retreated thence by sea-voyage.]
1590 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Nauis Appolini ventis agitata portum vrbis Mitelene in die quo festa Neptuni celebrare consueuerunt applicuit; set ipse pre dolore Thaysis filie sue, quam mortuam reputabat, in fundo nauis obscuro iacens lumen videre noluit. [How Apollonius' ship, tossed by waves, reached the port of the city Mitelene on the day when they were accustomed to celebrate Neptune's feast; but he, for sorrow for Thaisis his daughter whom he judged to be dead, threw himself in the dark hold of the ship and did not want to see the light.]
1614 hihe festes of Neptune. Gower provides a felicitous touch by setting the moment of Apollonius’ arrival at Mitelene at the sacred feast of Neptune. This is the peripeteia, the moment of reversal, the mysterious turning point of the plot. The sea, like Fortune, has seemed to be Apollonius’ enemy, having taken from him his ship, then his wife, and then leaving him drowning in the waves of his grief now that his daughter Thais is dead. But, like Fortune, Neptune has also been his friend, enabling him to escape the murderous Taliard, bringing him to safety at Pentapolim where he found his wife, then saving Thais from Theophilus’ knife and conveying her mysteriously straight to Mitelene. It also preserved Apollonius’ wife, conveying her to Ephesus. Now, through the mysterious sanctity of Neptune, the sea becomes the vehicle of his restoration — first of his lost daughter, then of his lost wife, then his kingdoms. Neptune repeatedly tests him but ultimately rewards him with all his domains.
1618 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Athenagoras vrbis Mitelene Princeps, nauim Appollini inuestigans, ipsum sic contristatum nichilque respondentem consolari satagebat. [How Athenagoras, the ruler of the city of Mitelene, searching Apollonius' ship, tried to console him, while he was sorrowing and answering nothing.]
1622 Athenagoras. Archibald observes: "Gower is alone in introducing Athenagoras for the first time only when Apollonius' ship arrives, thus omitting the auction and his shameful visit to the brothel" (Apollonius of Tyre, p. 70).
1652 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter precepto Principis, vt Appolinum consolaretur, Thaisis cum cithara sua ad ipsum in obscuro nauis, vbi jacebat, producta est. [How by order of the ruler, in order that Apollonius might be consoled, Thaisis, with her harp, was led to him where he was lying in the darkness of the ship.]
1670 ff. many a lay. Macaulay supplies an original example (vol. 3, p. 543): "Her song is given in the original; it is rather pretty, but very much corrupted in the manuscripts. It begins thus,
'Per sordes gradior, sed sordis conscia non sum,
Ut rosa in spinis nescit mucrone perire,' &c."
[I walk amidst corruption, but I am not conscious of corruption, / As a rose among thorns does not perish from their sharp points.]
1672-73 he no more than the wal . . . herde. Proverbial. See Whiting W26.
1681 ff. See Macaulay (3:543): "Several of her riddles are given in the original story and he succeeds in answering them all at once. One is this,
She finally falls on his neck and embraces him, upon which he kicks her severely. She begins to lament, and incidentally lets him know her story. The suggestion contained in ll. 1702 ff., of the mysterious influence of kinship, is Gower's own, and we find the same idea in the tale of Constance, ii. 1381 ff.,
1700 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter, sicut deus destinauit, pater filiam inuentam recognouit. [How just as God had ordained, the father recognized the new-found daughter.]
1705–08 the fader ate laste / His herte upon this maide caste, / That he hire loveth kindely, / And yit he wiste nevere why. See Watt (Amoral Gower, pp. 138–40) on Gower’s adaptation of his sources to heighten the resemblances between Apollonius and Antiochus.
1748 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Athenagoras Appolinum de naui in hospicium honorifice recollegit, et Thaisim, patre consenciente, in vxorem duxit. [How Athenagoras took Apollonius from the ship honorably into his household and, with her father consenting, took Thaisis as wife.]
1777 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Appolinus vna cum filia et eius marito nauim ingredientes a Mitelena vsque Tharsim cursum proposuerunt. Set Appolinus in sompnis ammonitus versus Ephesim, vt ibidem in templo Diane sacrificaret, vela per mare diuertit. [How Apollonius, travelling along with his daughter and her husband, had set his course from Mitelene for Tharsis. But Apollonius, warned in dreams, diverted his sails across the sea toward Ephesis, so that he might offer sacrifice in the temple of Diana.]
1778 his sone tolde. Apollonius’ referring to Athenagoras here and hereafter (line 1823) simply as his sone bespeaks the sanctity of marriage in his piety. His sacrifice itself is given specific Christian overtones as he goes to shrift in his “holi contemplacioun” (line 1838) that leads to the “miracle” (line 1867) of his wife’s resurrection. The “hole felaschipe” (line 1886) then returns to Tyre, then Mitelene and the coronation of Thais and Athenagoras, before bringing the law to Tharse.
1793 To Ephesim. It is noteworthy that Apollonius, having decided to take vengeance upon Dionise and Strangulio (8.1777–82), would first visit Ephesus to do his sacrifice (line 1795). This giving precedence to piety over vengeance results in the recovery of his wife.
1833 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Appolinus Ephesim in templo Diane sacrificans, vxorem suam ibidem velatam inuenit; qua secum assumpta in Nauim, versus Tyrum regressus est. [How Apollonius at Ephesis, sacrificing in the temple of Diana, found his wife there under the veil; taking her with him on the ship, he returned toward Tyre.]
1887 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Appolinus vna cum vxore et filia sua Thyrum applicuit. [How Apollonius with his wife and daughter reached Tyre.]
1912 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Appolinus Athenagoram cum Thaise vxore sua super Tyrum coronari fecit. [How Apollonius caused Athenagoras along with Thaisis his wife to be crowned over Tyre.]
1928-29 Lewis singles out these lines for their "businesslike" poetry. They could come from a traveler, a ballad, or Homer (Allegory of Love, pp. 206-07).
1930 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Appolinus a Tyro per mare versus Tharsim iter arripiens vindictam contra Strangulionem et Dionisiam vxorem suam pro iniuria, quam ipsi Thaisi filie sue intulerunt, iudicialiter assecutus est. [How Apollonius, taking his path from Tyre across the sea toward Tharsis, prosecuted Strangulio and Dionisia his wife for the injury that they had inflicted on his daughter Thaisis.]
1963 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter Artestrate Pentapolim Rege mortuo, ipsi de regno Epistolas super hoc Appolino direxerunt: vnde Appolinus vna cum vxore sua ibidem aduenientes ad decus imperii cum magno gaudio coronati sunt. [How, with Artestrates, king at Pentapolis, having died, they sent from the kingdom letters about this to Apollonius; wherefore Apollonius and his wife arriving there are crowned with great joy, to the glory of the empire.]
1993–2002 “Gower’s ideas about marriage seem to come together here. A good marriage, based on the existence of honesty, compassion, fidelity, and joy in being together (evidenced by appropriate expressions of physical affection), is the proper end for virtuous lovers” (Rytting, “In Search of the Perfect Spouse,” p. 125).
1995-96 Honesteliche. See J. A. W. Bennett’s discussion of the fitting conclusion to the poem, “Gower’s ‘Honeste love.’” See also the concept as it is presented in CA 4.1455 ff. with its celebration of the “gentil herte” (4.1457).
2009 ff. Confessor ad Amantem. [The Confessor to the Lover.] See Simpson on Gower’s ideal philosopher-king as the reader of the poem who “a kingdom hath to justifie” (8.2112) (Sciences and the Self, p. 229).
2030 ff. Latin marginalia: Confessio Amantis vnde pro finali conclusione consilium Confessoris impetrat. [The Lover seeks the Confessor's counsel as a final conclusion.]
2039 Danger. A defense mechanism of the woman in the RR who perpetually thwarts the ardent lover with aloofness. Guillaume presents Dangier as somewhat gruff and crude but effective in warding off, up to a point at least, male aggression.
2040 moste fere. "Greatest fear," with an ironic pun on "closest companion." Although Gower usually spells "fiere" for "companion" (though not always), a homophonic pun seems likely.
2055 leng. The comparative form, i.e., "longer."
2063–64 Proverbial. See Whiting N49.
2068 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic super Amoris causa finita confessione, Confessor Genius Amanti ea que sibi salubrius expediunt, sano consilio finaliter iniungit. [Here, with the confession concerning the cause of love finished, Genius the Confessor finally adds to his salutary counsel those things which profit him still more salubriously.]
2086 Tak love where it mai noght faile. The line resonates with the sentiments at the end of Chaucer's TC, where the narrator, just prior to the dedication to Gower, advises "yonge, fresshe folkes" (5.1835) to turn their love to God who made humankind "after his ymage" (5.1839) and asserts, "What nedeth feynede loves for to seke?" (5.1848).
2102–03 fot which . . . sporneth . . . his heved hath overthrowe. Proverbial. See Whiting F466.
2130 love . . . that blind was evere. Proverbial. See Tilley L506. See also CA 8.2794.
2146–47 For I can do to thee no more / Bot teche thee the rihte weie. Genius informs Amans that he may attempt to teach, but only Amans can learn, and that must be the consequence of Amans’ own choice, Robins cites the passage as evidence that Genius, with all his exempla, can only suggest, and that otherwise “instruction by analogy is unpersuasive” (“Romance,” p. 172).
2151 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur de controuersia, que inter Confessorem et Amantem in fine confessionis versabatur. [Here he speaks about the debate between the Confessor and the Lover at the end of the confession.]
2189–2209 Amans’ debate with Genius is perplexing in that it focuses the tension between reason and desire. Though Genius has consistently advocated moderation of desire he has, nonetheless, given Amans the opportunity to talk about — even indulge in — his fantasies. But now Genius puts an end to that game. Amans objects to Genius’ looking upon his passions as a game (line 2152) but his reason acknowledges that Genius is right. What is most perplexing is the discovery that both sides of the debate are occurring within him. He is the site of the debate.
2189 Tho was betwen mi prest and me. Here Gower shifts his narrative point of view from that of a dramatic dialogue to that of an onlooking narrator, albeit still in the first person. The shift in tone anticipates the Lover's new perspective which will enable him to disengage himself from his venial infatuation so that his love-wound might be healed. This beginning of a new objectivity is a crucial step toward the naming of "John Gower" in line 2321, which is further prelude toward his taking control of his life in full honesty.
2212–13 teres . . . In stede of enke. Gower’s graphics of the myopic behavior suit well the melodramatic pathos of his letter.
2217 ff. In his epistle Amans shifts into a rhyme royal stanza (the Chaucer stanza of TC, PF, and the religious tales of CT) as if to ennoble his sentiment. See Dean, "Gower, Chaucer, and Rhyme Royal," who sees these stanzas as Gower's most Chaucerian moment. Gower also uses the stanza in his French poems and "In Praise of Peace."
2218 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic tractat formam cuiusdam Supplicacionis, quam ex parte Amantis per manus Genii Sacerdotis sui Venus sibi porrectam acceptabat. [Here he describes the form of a certain supplication, which, offered on the part of the Lover by the hand of Genius her priest, Venus accepted.]
2224 ff. In his narcissism Amans imagines that all succeed in love except himself, a position often echoed by lovers in Chaucer (e.g., Aurelius' complaint to Apollo in The Franklin's Tale). As in PF, the problem seems to the lover to be one of Nature's doing, not his own. In constructing such debates both Chaucer and Gower draw upon sentiments expressed in Alanus de Insulis' De planctu naturae and Jean de Meun's RR, where Nature tires of hearing the lover's complaints and threatens to discipline his unruliness. See also line 2327, where Venus identifies his complaint not simply against her and Cupid, but against Nature also.
2230 bot I. A common trope. To the heartsore man, all creatures seem to have their mates but him. Compare the popular fourteenth-century song, “Fowles in the Frith,” where the birds and the fishes have their happy places but “I mon waxe wod” (Luria and Hoffman, Middle English Lyrics, #6, p. 7).
2234-35 and thus betwen the tweie / I stonde, and not if I schal live or deie. Gower echoes PF, where the dreamer knows not whether he floats or sinks (line 7) but like an iron between two magnets of equal power (lines 148-53) is trapped in a kind of error (line 156) he seems incapable of dealing with.
2238 ff. In this stanza Amans sees himself caught in a tale, a fictional circumstance like that of Pan in love. His ficticious comparison of himself with a wrestler, caught in a throw, again echoes PF, where Affrican compares the dreamer seeking to understand love to an observer at a wrestling match, who has opinions on the contest even though he "may nat stonde a pul" (line 164).
2264 Danger. See note to line 2039.
2275 Satorne. In some traditions the reign of Saturn is affiliated with peace and the golden age. But seldom is he benevolent to lovers, even though Venus was generated from his desire-inflamed testicles, after he was emasculated by Jupiter. The lovers in Chaucer's The Knight's Tale find him to be cold, dry, devious, and malicious; he takes delight in the ruination of hopes and fantasies — "My lookyng is the fader of pestilence" (see CT I[A]2454-69).
2301 I. N.b. the shift in first person from Amans the suppliant to the narrator as he returns to a more objective outside view of himself, Cupid, Venus, and “this prest which hihte Genius” (line 2306). Though technically he is still “Amans” (see the Latin speech marker to line 2301), he will forthwith identify himself as “John Gower” (line 2321). See note to line 2320.
2303 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur qualiter Venus, accepta Amantis Sup-plicacione, indilate ad singula respondit. [Here he says how Venus, accepting the Lover's supplication, unhesitantly answers point by point.]
2320 what is mi name. Venus’ question, though “as it were halvinge a game” (line 2319), raises the fundamental identity concern of the protagonist: who exactly is he, caught up amidst his fantasies. His reply, “John Gower” (line 2321), functions as an epiphany that propels the poem’s conclusion, with its detailed steps toward anagnorisis.
2330 Venus observes that Nature's domain is sublunary, but within that realm (i.e., all places under the first sphere) she is powerful. Compare Chaucer's description of her in PF where she rules as "the vicaire of the almyghty Lord" and stimulates creaturely desire as she would "prike yow with plesaunce" (PF, lines 379-89).
2339 Agein Nature. See White on the naturalness of the elderly Amans, rather than the unnaturalness, as most have argued. "Gower does not seem to see the universe as a place considerately arranged so that the man of goodwill shall move reasonably smoothly towards salvation; rather he sees it as a battleground on which man in his weakness must face adversaries immensely superior to him and by no means wholeheartedly committed to his spiritual good" ("Naturalness of Amans' Love," 321).
2378 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic in exemplum contra quoscunque viros inveteratos amoris concupiscenciam affectantes loquitur Venus, huiusque Amantis Confessi supplicacionem quasi deridens, ipsum pro eo quod senex et debilis est, multis exhortacionibus insufficientem redarguit. [Here Venus tells an instructive example against whichever aged ones affect the lust of love, and, as if ridiculing the supplication of the Lover to Genius, she chastizes him as inadequate with many exhortations, because he is old and weak.] Other MSS offer a different Latin gloss, which translates: Here he narrates how Venus, indignantly examining the infirmity of the languishing lover, exhorted him as inadequate with very many examples, as for a medicine, lest he should presume to try anything else in her court.
2379 Rageman. A dice game, the play of which apparently involved women and verses. See Macaulay's note (3:544-45).
2398 ff. I am Venus. On Venus' conflation of the vocabulary of rural labor, business, and sexuality to deal with her assessment of Amans' impotence as a lover of the world, see Sadlek, “John Gower’s Confessio Amantis,” especially pp. 157–58.
2412 'Min herte wolde and I ne may.' Proverbial. Not in Whiting or Tilley.
2428–32 “When the unmasking of his senile impotence provides an unexpected moment of closure, Amans’ sense of himself as a lover is belied. The logic of evaluating his life according to external goods breaks down under its own weight: such an external way of thinking is a ‘thing where thou miht non ende winne’ (8.2430), making Amans out to be, in Aristotle’s phrase, a chameleon and weakly supported” (Robins, “Romance,” p. 173). The allusion is to Nicomachean Ethics 1.100b6–7.
2435 The thing is torned into was. Fowler, History of English Literature sees in this line the culmination of "a moving, terrible vision, of life threatened by irresistable and irrational impulses," where "individual tales, . . . triumphs of refacimente, the art of stylish re-presentation, are brought to an end" (p. 12). See also Peck, Kingship and Common Profit, p. 178, and Zeeman, “Framing Narrative,” p. 230.
2439 Remembre wel hou thou art old. Zeeman (“Framing Narrative,” pp. 229-33) relates the presentation of "old age as antidote to erotic love" to the pseudo-Ovidian De Vetula, which circulated widely in England in the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. See also Burrow, “Portrayal of Amans,” especially pp. 17–24; and Echard, “With Carmen’s Help,” p. 34: "It is not only 'Gower' who is unfit for love, nor is it only Genius who has failed to deal with Amans' dilemma — all of Genius' auctores have been part of the effort. None of these old men is, in the end, up to the task of dealing with human nature." The emphasis on the transformation of the lover in old age is strong in all recensions of the poem. Compare 8.*3070 and 8.2827-41. See Illustration 1, which picks up on the idea.
2442 ff. Latin marginalia: Qualiter super derisoria Veneris exhortacione con-tristatus Amans, quasi mortuus in terram corruit, vbi, vt sibi videbatur, Cupidinem cum innumera multitudine nuper Amantum variis turmis assistencium conspiciebat. [How, saddened over the derisory exhortation of Venus, the Lover fell down to the earth as if dead, where, as it seemed to him, he perceived Cupid with an innumerable multitude of recent lovers with assorted crowds of attendants.]
2450 And as I lay. Macaulay (3:545-46) compares the situation to the Prol. to LGW, but suggests that it was not Gower's practice to borrow directly from "contemporary poets of his own country" (3:546).
2470 Richard II's new queen was, of course, Anne of Bohemia; thus Bohemian fashions were the current rage.
2500 ff. believed. Macaulay translates which was believed / With bele Ysolde as "who was accepted as a lover by Belle Isolde" (2:546), suggesting the root of believed here to be lief (love) rather than leve (belief). In this section on the company of lovers, the lovers and their companions, as Gower presents them, are all defined by their commitments to love; thus, in the instance of traitors in love like Jason, Hercules, or even the "untrewe" Theseus who "ches" Phedra, all are defined by their last commitment, which becomes their final determination. The effect is not so much to suggest the triumph of love as its limitation. Venus confines with labels, a rather different process of enablement from Amans' recovery of his name "John Gower" and his subsequent release from Venus' constraints.
2501 ff. Latin marginalia: De nominibus illorum nuper Amantum, qui tunc Amanti spasmato, aliqui iuuenes, aliqui senes, apparuerunt. Senes autem precipue tam erga deum quam deam amoris pro sanitate Amantis recuperanda multiplicatis precibus misericorditer instabant. [Concerning the names of those lovers from not long ago, who then appeared, some young, some old, to the convulsed Lover. But the old ones, specifically, pityingly urged with many prayers both the God and the Goddess of love to restore the Lover's health.]
2526-27 Ector . . . Pantaselee. Hector is usually presented in Latin tradition as a model husband. But here he is committed to Venus' domain with Pantaselle presented as his beloved. Compare Cinkante Balades 43.2:9: "Unques Ector, q'ama Pantasilée."
2531-35 And Troilus . . . his parconner. On Gower's representation of Troilus and Criseyde, derived from Chaucer, see Meiszkowski, The Reputation of Criseyde, pp. 100-03.
2573 ff. Cleopatras. Compare Chaucer's presentation in LGW.
2582 Wo worthe alle slowe. The line is ambiguous: “Woe to the slain”; or “Woe to those who arrive late” (i.e., all slow). Thisbe has just impaled herself, but she also recognizes that she was late for the appointment.
2617-18 alle goode / With mariage. See Olsson, “Love, Intimacy, and Gower,” pp. 82-86, on the "Foure Wyves" and their domestic roles and virtues. Olsson stresses their freedom of choosing and its liberating effects within natural and social constraints.
2705 Merry tales of Aristotle and Socrates overwhelmed by love's "syllogism" were popular in scholastic satire of the later Middle Ages. See the Lay of Socrates, where a girl rides him around the college yard as a four-legged horse. That Aristotle is trapped in a “silogime” (line 2708) simply means that once the two premises (he and she) are in place, the conclusion is inevitable.
2712 concluded. "Determined," with an ironic pun on formal logic.
2718 Sortes. Macaulay notes: "It is impossible that this can be for 'Socrates,' with whose name Gower was quite well acquainted. Perhaps it stands for the well-known 'Sortes Sanctorum' (Virgilianae, &c.), personified here as a magician, and even figuring, in company with Virgil and the rest, as an elderly lover" (2:547). But Macaulay may be wrong. In Piers Plowman B.12.268 Socrates seems to be the one called by that name. The name appears for Socrates in Amoryus and Cleopes. See also Bacon, Communium naturalium, ed. Steele, p. 87, where Bacon, discussing Aristotle's Metaphysics VII on substantial gradation, refers to Socrates as "Sortis."
2749 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic tractat qualiter Cupido Amantis senectute confracti viscera perscrutans, ignita sue concupiscencie tela ab eo penitus extraxit, quem Venus postea absque calore percipiens, vacuum reliquit: et sic tandem prouisa Senectus, racionem inuocans, hominem interiorem per prius amore infatuatum mentis sanitati plenius restaurauit. [Here he describes how Cupid, searching through the internal organs of the Lover, shattered by old age, entirely extracted from him the burning darts of his lust; Venus, later perceiving him to be without heat, left him empty. And thus Old Age, finally glimpsed, invoked reason in him, and very fully restored to sanity of mind the interior man who had been previously infatuated by love.]
2810 byme. A common single syllable morpheme for by me.
2819 reins. The kidneys are the physiological seat of the passions. See Bartholomaeus, De renibus 5.43, which note that from the renes “springiþ þe humour semynal. So seiþ Varro. For veynez and marouõ sweten out a þynne humour into þe kideneiren [kidneys], and þat liquour is ofte resolued by hete of Venus, and renneth and comeþ and schediþ itself anon to the place of gendringe” (De proprietatibus rerum, 1.254).
2821-31 A wonder mirour . . . Wherinne anon myn hertes yhe / I caste . . .. See Schutz's excellent discussion of Gower's application of his mirroring technique to the conclusion of the poem as the Lover (now "John Gower") discovers within himself "a mirror of self-awareness" where Acteon found none and Narcissus only a distortion (“Absent and Present Images,” p. 121).
2837 Latin marginalia: Quod status hominis Mensibus anni equiperatur. [That the estate of man is equivalent to the months of the year.]
2857 erst was hete is thanne chele. Proverbial. See Whiting H552.
2880 So goth the fortune of my whiel. Venus herself becomes fortune-like, yet at the same time a spokesperson of "kinde," as she clarifies her relationship with Amans.
2897 Forget it thou, and so wol I. The tone here is reminiscent of the all-things-shall-pass mentality of Ecclesiastes. But, more than this, remembering and forgetting are key components of Boethian psychology, where we must remember what should not have been forgotten, but also to forget what should not have preoccupied us. That Genius links his acts of remembering and letting go with that of Amans heightens the interrelationship of the two at this last point in their bifurcation prior to Genius’ disappearance, along with Amans, as they are, in their reintegration in the single psyche of John Gower, to be forgotten.
2904 A peire of bedes blak as sable. A set of beads (not just two); a rosary (MED paire 2b). With the departure of Genius, and then Venus herself as she disappears “al sodeinly, / Enclosid in a sterred sky” (lines 2941–42), “John Gower” is left in repose with his prayer beads and his thoughts.
2907 Por reposer. See Olsson’s discussion of “home, intimacy, and repose” (“Love, Intimacy, and Gower,” pp. 86 ff.), and of Gower’s unusual “retraction” (p. 90) as he explores the uncertainty of ever finding “perfect repose in the ‘house of this world’” (p. 91).
2908 John Gower. Chandler (“Memory and Unity”) sees this line as the culmination to the remembering/unity motif. See also Peck, Kingship and Common Profit, pp. 179–82; and Strohm, “Note on Gower’s Personas.” Strohm uses Donaldson’s notion of the three persons of Chaucer’s pilgrim to explain Gower’s staging of his threefold persona: “The substitution of John Gower for ‘Sone’ and Amans . . . marks a station on the way to lucidity and reunion of Amans with the broader perspective of the Poet” (p. 297). But Simpson puts the matter most shrewdly: “In a wonderful irony, which is itself Ovidian, the person who will finally be won over in the Confessio is not the lady, but Amans himself” (Sciences and the Self, p. 217).
2909 ate laste cast. MED cast n.1b: “at (one’s) last throw, with (one’s) back to the wall,” citing this line.
2926–27 thi bokes . . . / Whiche. Macaulay (3:547) sees a reference here to Gower’s earlier moral treatises (MO and VC), in which case the effect is akin to Chaucer’s Retraction as “Gower” is told to put aside his frivolous love complaint to adhere to his more serious literary efforts. (Chaucer had retracted his dream visions, TC, love poems, and those Canterbury Tales “that sownen into synne” (X[I]1085), but thanked God for his translation of Boece, saints’ lives, homilies, and devotional works.) But thi bokes might also allude to Gower’s library in general — these old books that still dwell among us and from which we are taught (see Prol.1–3), in which case the sense of 8.2927 would be “[Of] which you have written for many years.” See Mustanoja, Middle English Syntax, p. 197n2, where whiche hearkens back to “an old inflected genitive” comparable to “the non-periphrastic dative which (instead of to which, ‘to whom’).” If this is the sense (it is the certainly the one I prefer), then we might see a different parallel with Chaucer than the Retraction; namely, the conclusion to the F Prologue of LGW, where Alceste and Cupid send Geoffrey back to his books with instructions to study them and write of virtuous wives. Here Venus, with Genius at her side, sends “Gower” back to his books where “vertu moral” dwells. Compare this attitude toward the pedagogical value of old books in Gower with the proposition on Chaucer’s PF where old books are compared to “the olde feldes” from which “cometh al this newe corn” (lines 22–25). My point is not to suggest that one poet borrows from the other, but rather to demonstrate diverse uses of rhetorical formulas, particularly for conclusion, that an educated late fourteenth-century cohort of readers delight in and play with in like ways. See also the notes to 8.3106–37, 8.3138 ff., 8.3165–67, and the Explicit.
2938 From this point on, Fairfax 3 is copied in a new hand. The new scribe uses slightly different orthography. Particularly noticeable is y for the pronoun I, and i or y for e in inflections
2940 ff. Adieu, for y mot fro thee wende. In the first recension of CA, based here on MS Bodley 902, lines *2941–*57 dedicate the poem to Gower’s friend Geoffrey Chaucer, then continue to the end, with acknowledgment once again of the commission by King Richard and prayers on behalf of Richard. Although the second ending, with its emphasis on good kingship and the sending forth of Gower’s English poem for the instruction of human kind accompanied by prayers for England’s sake, is essentially different from the first recension, several lines of the earlier conclusion remain essentially intact. Compare *2962 / 2942, *2969–70 / 2969–70 (now inverted), *2971–85 / 2971–85, *3061–63 / 3109–11, *3065–66 / 3115–16, *3067–68 / 3121–22, *3087–3106 / 3151–64, *3111–14 / 3169–72.
*2955 his testament of love. Middleton suggests an allusion honoring Thomas Usk's Testament of Love through a "fictively-displaced injunction to 'Chaucer'" “Thomas Usk’s ‘Perdurable Letters,’” p. 101; see also p. 88n35). Usk was part of a coterie of writers who had celebrated the joy of literature in his addresses to Chaucer — "a jeu d'esprit, sheer self-delighting self-display: 'Thou hast delighted me in making'" (p. 100). Upon his brutal execution by the Lords Appellant, Middleton suggests that Usk's literary achievements could not, for fear of reprisal, be acknowledged directly — thus the compliment through their mutual friend Chaucer. If Middleton is right, the dropping of these lines from the Lancastrian version of Confessio in 1392, the version of the Fairfax 3 manuscript, may reflect more a political expedience regarding Usk than some breech of friendship between Gower and Chaucer, as some have argued. Henry of Lancaster was one of the Appellants.
*2965 Hoom fro the wode. The return home from the wood is a typical romance/dream vision conclusion as the narrator reenters his former estate, perhaps somewhat enlightened by all that has occurred. His prayers and "hole entente" (lines *2966-67) are signs of hope.
*Notes to Latin verses iv (before line *2971). Line 2: The arms of England are three lions passants guardants, which in heraldry are also known as leopards. Normally, the plural of “scepters” would be a poetic form for “sovereignty”; but here too there is a specific heraldic referent. The scepters of countries over which a king claimed entitlement (England, Ireland, and France, for a fourteenth-century English king) were sometimes represented as part of the royal arms; the Wilton Diptych, a portable, folding altar whose subject is Richard II amidst the Virgin, Christ, saints, and angels, and which was probably commissioned for the king, shows on its exterior right wing a single crowned lion (“leopard”) astride the royal banner and arms of England and France. Gower’s heraldic praise of Richard here is matched by his condemnation of Richard elsewhere later. In Gower’s Latin work, the Tripartite Chronicle, finished after Richard had been deposed by Henry Bolingbroke, Gower punningly states that Richard was “a hare and not a leopard” (lepus est et non leopardus — III.160).
Line 4: What has been “made perpetual” (perpetuata) may, grammatically, be either the songs (by their being sung), or England (by its being sung about).
2973 Latin marginalia: Hic in anno quartodecimo Regis Ricardi orat pro statu regni, quod a diu diuisum nimia aduersitate periclitabatur. [Here in the fourteenth year of King Richard he prays for the estate of the kingdom, which is in danger because of long-held division from excessive adversity.] The date here would be 1390. Some MSS present the marginal gloss in the Prologue, at line 21.
*2973ff. Latin marginalia: A Latin gloss appears here in the margin: Hic in fine libri honorificos que virtuosos illustrissimi Principis domini sui Regis Anglie Ricardi secundi mores, sicut dignum est, laude commendabili describens, pro eiusdem status salubri conseruacione cunctipotentem deuocius exorat. [Here at the end of the book describing with commendable praise, as it is worthy to do, the honorific and virtuous qualities of the most illustrious ruler his lord king of England, Richard the Second, on behalf of the safe preservation of his estate he very devoutly entreats the Almighty in prayer.]
3080–3105 For if a kyng wol justifie . . . and be memorial. This passage, so different from the matter of the first recension’s conclusion, sets Gower’s political position centrally within the ethos of moral responsibility of people in powerful positions. Compare 8.2109–20. On Gower’s later thoughts on the interconnectedness of personal piety and political action, see Peck, “Politics and Psychology of Governance in Gower,” pp. 218–38. On Gower’s interest in kingship rather than a specific king as part of an “educative dialogue with a courtly audience,” see Staley, Languages of Power, pp. 25–40.
*3087 Whan game is beste, is best to leve. A "quit-while-ahead" proverb akin to "when the game is best yt ys time to rest." See Whiting G26.
3106–37 And now to speke as in final. Gower announces his conclusion several times, somewhat like a classical music composition with suspended cadences and other concluding trickery. In this leave-taking he makes use of humility tropes of the sort that Chaucer mocks in the Prologue to the Franklin’s Tale. Here, while writing “in Englesch . . . betwene ernest and game” (lines 3108–09), Gower hopes that “lered men” will not scorn him “for lak of curiosité” or “eloquence” (3114–15) or skills in “rethoriqe” (3117) that “Tullius” (3119) would require him “to peinte” (3118). His words are “rude” and “pleyn” (3122), partly because he is old, “feble and impotent” (3127), but in the “symplesse of my poverte” he “Desireth for to do plesance / To hem under whos governance / I hope siker to abide” (3134–37). Compare Chaucer, CT V(F)715–27. It is not possible to know which of the two writers wrote first; probably the two passages were written at about the same time. Whether Chaucer is mocking Gower as well as the Franklin, or whether Gower looks on the Franklin as an admirable gentleman, or whether the two writers are simply drawing upon the same conventions but in different ways is anyone’s guess.
3108 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic in fine recapitulat super hoc quod in principio libri primi promisit se in amoris causa specialius tractaturum. Concludit enim quod omnis amoris delectacio extra caritatem nichil est. Qui autem manet in caritate, in deo manet. [Here at the end he recapitulates concerning what in the beginning of the first book he promised he would particularly treat in the cause of love. For he concludes that all pleasure of love beyond charity is nothing. "Who remains in love, he remains in God."] The reference is to 1 John 4:16.
3114 curiosité. See Echard, “With Carmen’s Help,” pp. 27-29, on the interconnectedness of curiosity in the English and Latin verses.
3138 ff. now uppon my laste tide. Gower announces his conclusion once again (see notes to 8.2926–27, 3106–37, and 8.3165–67), but this one is, in truth, the last (except for the Explicit). The effect is like that of a musical composition with variations on a conclusion as one cadence follows another for a cumulative ornamental effect. Each utilizes rhetorical conventions for conclusion. In this instance see note to 8.3165–67.
3140-61 See White on Gower's use of juxtaposition to create uncertainty in the poem. The shift here from earthly love to Christian charity underscores the sense of failure in the poem as Amans is obliterated in a "rueful pessimism about the possibilities of living a life that fulfills our desire to enjoy the world as well as our obligation to live with our eyes focused on heaven" ("Division and Failure," p. 615).
3165–67 Such love . . . Such love . . . Such love . . . Here compare the use of anaphora for a conclusive effect with the Epilogue to Chaucer’s TC 5.1828–32: “Swich fin hath . . . Swich fin hath . . . Swich fin hath . . . Swich fin hath . . . Swich fin hath.” Explicit. Line 6: Vade liber purus. Gower’s farewell to his book ties in with a long-established classical tradition. See Tatlock, “Epilog of Chaucer’s Troilus,” which cites examples from Ovid, Tristia 1.1.1; Martial, Epigrams 1.3.70, 3.4.5; Statius, Silvae 4.4; and the Greek Anthology 12.208; as well as vernacular examples in Provençal and Old French lyrics, Dante, Petrarch, and, especially, Boccaccio, whose Teseida 12.84, Filostrato 9.1, Fiammetta 9, and the endings of Corbaccio, Filocolo, and De Casibus Virorum Illustrum all served as sources for Chaucer and other English writers. Tatlock makes no mention of Gower’s Explicit. Neither does Schoeck in his “‘Go Little Book,’” or Andrews in his “Go Little Book,” who, after discussion of TC 5.1786, proceeds to note examples from Hoccleve, Caxton, James I (in Kingis Quair), Hawes, and other later writers. But it is important to note Gower’s commissioning of his book is not to kiss the steps of “Virgile, Ovide, Omer, Lucan, and Stace,” as in TC 5.1792 but rather to make its way to Henry of Lancaster, count of Derby, whose political influence, Gower opines, might help to establish a reign of peace and repose — a happy future that Gower would, with little confidence, presume to imagine.
1 The Arms of England are three lions passants guardants, which in heraldry are also known as leopards. Normally, the plural of "scepters" would be a poetic form for "sovereignty"; but here too there is a specific heraldic referent. The scepters of countries over which a king claimed entitlement (England, Ireland, and France, for a fourteenth-century English king) were sometimes represented as part of the royal arms; the Wilton Diptych, a portable, folding altar whose subject is Richard II amidst the Virgin, Christ, saints and angels, and which was probably commissioned for the king, shows on its exterior right wing a single crowned lion ("leopard") astride the royal banner and Arms of England and France. Gower's heraldic praise of Richard here is matched by his condemnation of Richard elsewhere later. In Gower's Latin work, the Cronica Tripartita, finished after Richard had been deposed by Henry Bolingbroke, Gower punningly states that Richard was "a hare and not a leopard" (lepus est et non leopardus — III.160).
2 What has been "made perpetual" (perpetuata) may, grammatically, be either the songs (by their being sung), or England (by its being sung about).
3 A Latin gloss appears here in the margin: Hic in fine libri honorificos que virtuosos illustrissimi Principis domini sui Regis Anglie Ricardi secundi mores, sicut dignum est, laude commendabili describens, pro eiusdem status salubri conseruacione cunctipotentem deuocius exorat. [Here at the end of the book describing with commendable praise, as it is worthy to do, the honorific and virtuous qualities of the most illustrious ruler his lord king of England, Richard the Second, on behalf of the safe preservation of his estate he very devoutly entreats the Almighty in prayer.]
JOHN GOWER, CONFESSIO AMANTIS: TEXTUAL NOTES
1 Of. F: Off. The scribe usually writes ff to indicate a capital letter, as in the first letter of the first words of lines 4, 66, 89, etc., which I have simply transcribed as F. But he occasionally writes -ff for -f in medial and terminal positions. Here, as in line 93, where the words begin sections of the poem, the point is, perhaps, to capitalize the whole word as a section marker — i.e., OF and IF.
29–30 Omitted in S.
*34–*35 Latin marginalia: line 2: Regis Anglie Ricardi secundi. So Mac. B omits.
*65 onwrong every. So Mac. B: outkrong eny. J: outkrong euery.
*75 Which. MS: What. Most other good MSS, including J and F, read Which, so I have followed Mac's emendation here.
*77 may. So B. J: myht. Mac emends to myhte, as in F, though several other manuscripts read may. So I have left the subjunctive in the idiom of the Bodley 294 scribe.
80 office. So S, Mac. F: officie.
83 amendement. So S, F. Mac: amendment.
113 word. So F, J, Mac. S, B: world.
147–320 Omitted in S (missing leaf).
149 whiche. So F. B, Mac: which. J: wheche.
173 resoun. So B, Mac. F, J: reson.
201 erthly. So J, Mac. F: ertly. B: eorþely.
249 which. So B, Mac. F: wich. J: wheche.
280 pacience. So B, J, Mac. F: paciencie.
370 argumenten. So S, B, J, Mac. F: argumeten.
419 com. So F, S, J. B, Mac: come.
495–98 Omitted in S, B, J.
579–84 Omitted in S, B, J.
581 ben. So F. Mac: be.
588 sent. So S, B, J, Mac. F: send.
592 Til. So F, S, B. J: Tyl. Mac: Till.
723 chivalrie. So F. J: cheualrie. Mac emends to chivalerie from S, B for purposes of meter. The stress would fall on the second syllable.
772 Lombardy. F, S: Lombardõ. B: Lumbards. J: Lombardi. Mac: Lombardz.
865 Omitted in B.
957 mistorneth. So S, Mac. F: mistornieth (or, perhaps, mistormeth). B, J: mystorneþ.
1046 ful. So F, S, B. J: foll. Mac: full.
1055–end Omitted in S (lost leaf).
1078 waxeth. So J, Mac. F: waxed. B: wexeþ.
1–106 Omitted in S (lost leaf).
17 no man. Here and elsewhere in the MS the scribe writes noman. I have regularly expanded the compound into two words, according to modern usage.
19 to moche . . . to lite. F: tomoche . . . tolite. Here and hereafter I expand such compounds into two words. See note to line 17.
125 Thow. So F. S, B, J, Mac: Thou.
130 wis man. F: wismam. S, B, Mac: wisman. J: wysmon.
154 sone. F usually capitalizes Sone and Mac always does when it refers to Amans. I have followed modern practice and ignored the capital.
183 thanne wold. So F, S. J: þenne wold. B: þan wold. Mac emends to than wolde.
234 Mi sone. So S. F: Mi sone sone. B, J, Mac: My Sone.
293 the. So S, B, J, Mac. F: ther.
295 shryve. So F. S: schryue. B, Mac: shrive. J: schriue.
298 mispended. So F. S: mysdespended. B, J: mysdispended. Mac emends to misdispended; but hadde is disyllabic and the emendation is unnecessary.
310 manye such a man. So F. S, A, Mac: manye suche a man. B: many such a man. J: mony such a mon.
334 ff. Latin marginalia: line 4: superveniens. So Mac. F reads superueveniens (the repetition of ve occurs at a line break).
335 whilom. So S, B, J, Mac. F: whilon.
355 throstle. So S, B, Mac. F: Trostle. J: þrestele.
377 houndes. So S, J, B, Mac. F: hondes.
393–94 constellacioun . . . nacioun. So S, B. F: constellacioun . . . nacion. J, Mac: constellacion . . . nacion.
397 bore. So S, B, J, Mac. F: bothe. I have followed Mac’s emendation on the basis of other MSS, but also because of the mention of nativité in line 392.
483 ff. Latin marginalia: line 5: pertransiit. So F. Mac: pertransiuit. Mac’s form, while certainly the more common, is not necessary given the legitimacy of F.
531 myht. So S, J, Mac. F: myhte. B: might.
Latin verses v (before line 575). Line 1: Aquila que. F: Aquilaque.
580 ferste. So S, Mac. F, J: ferst. B: first. I have followed S to maintain the parallel in line 585.
584 I. So S, B, J, Mac. Omitted by F.
631–814 Omitted in J.
673 Ornamental capital on Ther; thus my division at the syntactic break.
823 wynne. So B, J, Mac. F: wynme. S: winne.
1023 seid. So S, A, Mac. F: seide. B, J: seyd.
1068 tobroken. So F. S, B, J, Mac: tobreken.
1172 Synon. So S, B, J, Mac. F: Symon.
1216 which. So S, B, Mac. F: wich. J: whech.
1225 Bot. So S, Mac. F: Byt. B: But. J: Bote.
1257 schalt. So S, B, Mac. F: schat. J: shalt.
1301 Mi. So F, S. B, J, Mac: My.
1344 ff. Latin marginalia: line 2: deseruiunt. So Mac. F: deseruiant (induced by preceding ut).
1345 Compleignte. So S, Mac. F, J: Compleingte. B: compleynte.
1378 Compleignte. So S, Mac. F, J: Compleingte. B: compleignt.
1403–06 Lines only in third recension. Others (S, B, J) have: And in ensample of þis matiere / A tale I fynde as þou schalt hiere (text from B).
1464 Omitted in B.
1500 othre. So F, S. B, J, Mac: other. But see 1.1496.
1625 th’unsemylieste. So F, S. B: þunsemelieste. J: þe vnsemelieste. Mac: thunsemlieste.
1648 Gif his ansuere. So F. S: õive his ansuere. B, Mac: Yive his answere. J: õeue his answere.
1719 womanhiede. So F. S, Mac: wommanhiede. B: wommanhede. J: wommonhede.
1747 Sche. So F, S, B. J: Heo. Mac: She.
1785 fole. So F. S, B, J, Mac: foule.
1881–82 Omitted in S.
2017–20 S has only two lines: Wherof þou miht þiselue lere / I þenke telle as þou schalt hiere.
2043 Thei. So Mac. F: That. S: þe. B: þey. J: They.
2105 And. So S, B, J, Mac. F: An.
2159 Here. So S, Mac. F: Hire. B: Her. J: Heor.
2171 sherte. So F. S: schert. B, J, Mac: scherte.
2267–74 This transition was altered in the third recension. Others (S, B, J) have: Forþi eschew it I þe rede / For in Ouide a tale I rede / how þat a man was ouertake / Wherof þou might ensample take (text from B).
2311–12 branche . . . stanche. So F. S, B, J, Mac: braunche . . . staunche.
2343–58 Omitted in S, B, J.
2360 alle. So F, S, J, B. Mac: all.
2369–72 Omitted in S, B, J.
2398 have his wille. Mac emends to have al his wille, from S, B, J. Metrically the emendation is unnecessary if scholde is disyllabic.
2457 myhte. So F, S. B: might. J, Mac: myht.
2460 ferst. So F, J. S, Mac: ferste.
2462 ff. Latin marginalia: line 14: Ravenni. So F. Mac: Rauennensis.
2676 Til. So F, S, B. J: Tyl. Mac: Till. See also 8.370.
Latin verses x (before line 2681). Line 5: scit. So B, Mac. F, S, J: sit.
2713–14 Lines only in third recension. Others (S, B, J) have: So ouerglad þat purgatoire / Ne might abregge his veinegloire (text from B).
2827 ek. So F, S. B: eek. J, Mac: eke.
2829 tree. So F, S, B, J. Mac: tre.
2847 thurghknowe. So A, Mac. F: thurgknowe. S, B: thurgh knowe. J: þorouh knowe.
2932 exposicioun. So S, B, Mac. F, J: exposicion.
3068 ff. Latin marginalia: line 5: obtinuit. So Mac. F: obtitinuit.
3351 mai. So S, J, Mac. F: mar. B: may.
3357 sesed. So S, B, J, Mac. F: seled.
3398 sene. So Mac. F, S: scene. B: seene. J: schene (omits was).
1–336 Omitted in S (lost leaves).
3 ff. Latin marginalia: line 1: Postquam ad. So Mac. F: Postquam ad ad (second ad repeated after line break).
201 ff. Latin marginalia: line 7: pudicicia. So Mac. F: pudicia (loss of letters by eye-skip).
237 grete. So F, B, J. A, C, Mac: gret.
416 avised of. F: auised of of.
466 ff. Latin marginalia: mare. So Mac. F omits at line break.
535 He. So S, B, J, Mac. F: His.
975 spousailes. So S, B, Mac. F: spousales. J: sposailes.
1024 lenger. So S, B, J, Mac. F: lengerr.
1029 schipe. So F, S, J. B, Mac: schip.
1039 thei. So F, S. B, Mac: they.
1047 here. So S, A, C, Mac. F, J: hire. B: her.
1055 delivered. So S, J, B, Mac. F: deliiled.
1069 I. So S, B, J, Mac. F: it.
1088 take. So F, S, B, J. Mac: tak.
1110 sich. So B, J, Mac. F, S: such. sich is found nowhere else in F, but I have followed B, J, and Mac for the sake of rhyme.
1177 thei. So S, B, J, Mac. F: þe.
1212 Wher. So F, S, B, J. Mac: Where.
1252 Omitted in B.
1498 ff. Latin marginalia: line 3: confingentes. So Mac. F: configentes (macron omitted or no longer visible).
1575 Thei. So F, S, J. B, Mac: They.
1650 were. So F, S, B, J. Mac: weren.
1687 madd man. So S, Mac. F: madd mad man. B: mad man. J: mad mon.
1890 thei. So F, S, J. B, Mac: they.
1999 as it is write. So F. S, B, J, Mac: his lif was write.
2106 so befalle. So B, J, Mac. F: so be befalle. Eyeskip from previous line.
2367–68 Omitted in S.
2369–70 Lines altered in S: Noght al as þou desire woldest / Bot so as þou be resoun scholdest.
2371–76 Omitted in S.
2462 sih. So S, Mac. F, J: syh. The line is omitted in B.
2481 soon. So F. Mac silently emends to soun from S, B, J, which improves the sense but not the rhyme.
2938–3146 A new hand picks up the copying of the poem in F.
2938–66 Written over an erasure in F.
2946 here. B, Mac: hire.
*2960 word. So J, Mac. A: world, as in other first recension MSS.
2970 live. So S, B, Mac. F: lieve.
2989 live. So S, B, Mac. F: lieve. I have followed Mac’s emendation, though lieve is certainly possible, especially if the religious rather than the social implication is being emphasized. See also note to line 2970.
2994 worldes. So B, Mac. F: wordles. S: worldis.
3037 marchandie. So B, Mac. F: machandie. S: merchandie.
3094 wite it. So S, B, Mac. F: wite ?t.
3108 ff. Latin marginalia: line 1: libri primi. So Mac. F omits primi.
3147–end Another new hand picks up the copying of the poem in F.
from: Confessio Amantis, Volume 1 2006
[Here ends this book, and may it, I implore, travel free so that without a bruise it may thrive in the reader's ear. May He who sits in the throne of heaven grant that this page of John remain for all time pleasing to the Britains. Go, spotless book, to the Count of Derby, 5 whom the learned honor with praise, and take repose when you will be in his keeping.]
[An epistle on the completion of this work of John Gower, conveyed by a certain philosopher:]
[In diverse regions, O Gower, England, which the waters girdle around, full of praise sings your happy songs.6 Champion of song, satirist, or poet - to you may praise be full by which glory stands without limit.]
Go To Confessio Amantis, Colophons