16. Assaron

16. ASSARON: FOOTNOTES

1 reame, realm.

2 reyne, rain.

3 dyspence, dispense (spending).

7 easefull, easy.

9 leve, leave.

10 wele attempred, temperate.

11 seeke, sick.

12 and, if.

15 ordenaunce roial, royal ordinance.

16 freendlyhed, friendliness.

17 ware or he gave, wary ere he give.

18 defaute, default.

18-19 sodeynely, suddenly.

22 dede, deed; verrey, true.

26 feythe, faith; here, their.

31 medell, meddle; longeth, belong.

35 sothe, truth.

38 thresoure, treasure.

40 besynesses, occupation; preved, proven.

43 amendeth meche, amends much.

48 wole, will.

55 obeysaunce, obedience.

56 yeldeth, yields.

60 heere, hears.

16. ASSARON: EXPLANATORY NOTES

ABBREVIATIONS: B = Dicts and Sayings of the Philosophers, ed. Bühler (1941); CA = Gower's Confessio Amantis; CT = Chaucer's Canterbury Tales; G = Pierpont Morgan Library MS G.66; MED = Middle English Dictionary; OED = Oxford English Dictionary; S = Scrope, Dicts and Sayings of the Philosophers, ed. Schofield (1936).

These explanatory notes cannot hope to provide a complete accounting for the source of every proverbial statement in Dicts and Sayings. That task would be a separate book in its own right. Instead, I have attempted to contextualize this rather heterogeneous body of lore by identifying the people and places named in the text, as well as noting points that may be of interest to students and general readers. Those interested in tracing the source of particular quotations should begin by consulting Whiting's Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases From English Writings Mainly Before 1500. Readers are also invited to consult the thorough notes to Knust's Bocados de Oro, the Spanish translation of the original Arabic ancestor of Dicts and Sayings.

1 Assaron. He remains a mystery; neither Schofield nor I could identify him. Michael Livingston suggests - quite ingeniously, in my estimation - that Assaron may be a woman, specifically Fatima Az-Zahra, daughter of Mohammed (personal communication). Her connection to philosophy is by no means tenuous: Az-Zahra was the namesake of a Cairo university called Al-Azhar, one of the intellectual beacons of the medieval Muslim world. The Arabic transmission of Dicts and Sayings text is not known, but it is possible that an early redaction of the text passed through the university that bears Az-Zahra's name.

4 of wommen, of wyne, of huntynges, and pleyes. In this context the word pleyes refers not to drama, but to frivolous amusements; compare Galen, lines 20-25. The Spanish Bocados de Oro lists the same items in the same order: "mugeres e vino e caça e trebejos" (ed. Knust, p. 321); it is the same also in the later Liber Philosophorum Moralium Antiquorum: "mulierum, vini, venationis et laxamenti multiplex usus" (ed. Francheschini, p. 535). However, in place of pleyes, Scrope has "were" (war), translating "guerre" in his French source.

16. ASSARON: TEXTUAL NOTE

35 sothe. I follow B in emending from G's soore.

 
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Assaron seith that a kinge in his reame maye be hurte by fyve thinges specially.
The firste is by grete droughte, as myghte be no reyne in two yere. The secunde is
by outeragious dyspence over the revenues of his reame. The thridde is in to moche
usynge of wommen, of wyne, of huntynges, and pleyes. The fourthe is to be evel of
maners, to do evell thinges, and also to be to cruel in puttynge his people to over-
grete peynes. The fyfte is to have many enemyes and adversaries. And seith: "The
most notable maners and moste easefull unto man bene in two thinges, that is to
saye: firste, for to be liberall; secunde, for to be true of his language." And seith:
"The man that is liberal maye nat leve evel, and he that seith truly maye nat be
dyshonoured; the humble man maye nat be hated, the wele attempred man maye
nat be seeke; and that persone that diligently attendith to his labours, it is mer-
veille and he repente." And seith: "A kinge oughte nat to putte his truste in hym
that is called a covetous man, ne in him that is comen from grete povertee to grete
ricchesse, ne in him that the kinge hath put aweye from his goodes and his lorde
shippes, nor in him that hathe suffred divers hurtes by the ordenaunce roial, nor
in him that hathe any freendlyhed to the kinges enemyes; and of all thes [fol. 55r] persones
the kinge shulde be wele ware or he gave hem any lordeshippes or governaunces."
And seith: "It is impossible for a man to kepe himself oute of defaute that is sod-
eynely plucked up in grete magnificence with a kinge withoute that he hadde
gretly deserved it." And seithe: "Whanne that a kinge knoweth that any of his men
ordeyneth any debate agenste him, he shulde hastily and withoute abidynge knowe
the trouthe of the dede, and the quantité therof, and whedir it be done by verrey
wille or by ignoraunce, or wheder he be accustumed for to do so, or whedir it be
lykly that he wolde falle agen in the same; and upon any of alle thes poyntes he
shulde make remedye hastily." And seith: "The servauntes of a kinge shulde shewe
in servynge him their vertue, their feythe, and the noblesse of here lynage, to that
ende that the kinge myght knowe hem the bettir and to do to every man lyke his
deservynge." And seith: "Yf a king have in as grete love the evell and untrue men
as he hathe the goode, men oughte nat to take him for a kinge, and he shal nat
longe tyme regne." And seithe: "Yf the kinges counselloure, his phesycian, and his
confessoure medell hem of othir thinges thanne suche as longeth unto here offices,
the kinge shal be alleweys hurte, and he shal be evermore seeke in body and soule,
and at the laste have an evel endynge." And seith: "Ho that hydeth the trouthe
from his maister and aske counsell of his frende and nat shewe him the
sothe of his matier, he destroyeth his owen self." And seith: "A kinge shulde nat
commytte to othir men suche thinges as he shulde do himself." And seithe: "The
moste secrete counsell of a kinge is consentynge, and his goode werkes bene his
grettest thresoure, and amonge men the truest is beste, and the beste rycchesses
bene thees that bene wele and truly goten." And seithe: "A kinge oughte to com-
mytte his besynesses to him that he hathe preved in feithe and trouth and in good
governaunce; and yf he can fynde none suche, thanne take him that hathe bene
alwey conversaunte amonge wyse men." And seithe: "A wyse kinge and of good
undirstonding amendeth meche, and maketh good his counsellours." And seith:
"Whanne a kinge that is of good discrecioun hathe two hasty thinges for to done,
he oughte to begynne at the moste noble of hem; and yf it happen that thei be lyke
of oon gretenesse, yet [fol. 55v] begynne at that that maye leest recover agene in tyme
commynge." And seithe: "Yf a kinge be merciful, his thinges shulle speede wel, and
his wysedame shal availle in tyme; and yf he be true, his people wole gretely joye
in him; and yf he be juste, his regne shal longe endure." And seithe: "Kinges
shulde gete hem goode name, and good renowne softly and by good mesure, for
by outerage it shal nat longe endure." And seithe: "It longeth to a kinge that is a
conqueroure to see that good justice be sette in the reames that he hathe goten; and
though so be that it is an harde thing for to gete hem, yet it is more harder and
more peyne for to keepe hem." And seith: "The moste fulfilled of witte is he that
can knowe himself and departe nat from Goddes obeysaunce for any occasyon that
maye come to him, and ho that contynuelly yeldeth graces to God of the goodes
that He hathe sente him." And seith: "The evel lawe is the love of evell folkes, and
it maye no lenger endure thanne the shadowe of a clowde." And seith: "The wyse
man enforceth himself to flee fro harme, and the fool dothe grete peyne for to
fynde it." And seithe: "Whanne a wyse man that is an officer of the kinges heere the
kinge seye anythinge that maye hurte him, or his reame, or his people, he shulde
shewe the kinge exsamples of storyes of his predecessours, or other storyes to the
same purpos, that the kinge maye undirstonde that it is seide for himself."


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