Traitié Selonc Les Auctours Pour Essampler Les Amantz Marietz

JOHN GOWER, TRAITIÉ SELONC LES AUCTOURS POUR ESSAMPLER LES AMANTZ MARIETZ: EXPLANATORY NOTES


Abbreviations: B: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 294; CA: Gower, Confessio Amantis, ed. Peck; F: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Fairfax 3; G: Glasgow, University of Glasgow Library, MS Hunter (T.2.17); Mac: Macaulay, ed., The Complete Works of John Gower; MO : Gower, Mirour de l’Omme, trans. Wilson; S: Oxford, All Souls College, MS 98; T: London, British Library, MS Additional 59495 (Trentham).

A note on capitalization: in these translations capitalization generally adheres to Macaulay’s practice, which replicates forms in the manuscripts. Wherever capitalization may help the modern reader better comprehend Gower’s intention — as for example, in the case of theological concepts (e.g., “Creator,” Traitié I.1; “Providence,” Traitié II.8) or allegorical figures (e.g., “Love,” Traitié II.1; “Holy Church,” Traitié III.7; “Danger,” Cinkante Balades XXIII.10) — capitalization is added here.

Heading Puisqu’il . . . salvement tenir. Found in those manuscripts, like F, when the Traitié follows CA (“ci devant en Englois”). Heading in F (with collation of B) reads:
Puisqu’il ad dit ci devant en Englois par voie d’essample la sotie de cellui qui par amours aime par especial, dirra ore apres en François a tout le monde en general un traitié selonc les auctours pour essampler les amantz marietz, au fin q’ils la foi de lour seintes espousailes pourront par fine loialté guarder, et al honour de dieu salvement tenir. [“Because the preceding poem in English was by way of example of the foolishness of those in particular who love in a courtly manner, now the subsequent treatise will be in French, for all the world generally, following the authorities, as an example for married lovers, in order that they might be able to protect the promise of their sacred spousal through perfect loyalty, and truly hold fast to the honor of God.”]
Alternate heading: Found in those manuscripts when the Traitié follows other poems, most frequently the Vox Clamantis, as in G. Heading in G (with collation of S and T) reads:
Cest vn traitie quel Johan Gower ad fait selonc les auctours touchant lestat de matrimoine dont les amantz marietz se pourront essampler a tenir la foi de lour seintes espousailes. [“This is a treatise which John Gower made, following the authorities, concerning the matrimonial state, whereof married lovers might be able to take example for themselves and hold fast to the promise of their holy spousals.”]
les auctours. Macaulay (Mac, 1:lxxxiv) translates “authors.” Our difference is perhaps marginal: Gower’s concern is to “authorize” the positions he takes regarding marriage.
la foi. Lit. “faith” — and so Macaulay (Mac, 1:lxxxiv) who intends, I think, to emphasize the sanctity of the ceremony (“seintes espousailes”). In fourteenth-century England, however, a couple’s shared promise sufficed alone to constitute legitimate marriage: no additional ceremony was neces­sary; see Gratian, Decretum 2.30.5.9, and Kelly, Love and Marriage, p. 165.

I LE CREATOUR DE TOUTE CREATURE

2 ff. Latin marginalia in F: Qualiter creator omnium rerum deus hominem duplicis nature, ex anima racionali et humana carne, in principo nobilem creauit; et qualiter anima ex sue crear cionis priuilegio supercorpus dominium possidebit. [“How God the creator of all things in the beginning made man noble, with a double nature, rational from the soul and carnal from the body; and how the soul by virtue of its privileged creation with reason will have dominion over the body.”]

3–4 Par quoi le corps . . . governage. On the propriety of reason’s rule over the body, see Aquinas, Summa Theologica Q.75.a.6.; see also Cinkante Balades L.

8–12 En dieu amer . . . frele char. On the just capacity of the soul to protect the body through its firm love of God, see Aquinas, Summa Theologica Q.9.a.6.

19 chose. Lit. “thing, being.”

20 Qe l’un a l’autre soient entendable. I.e., within their respective realms each holds authority.

II DE L’ESPIRIT L’AMOUR QUIERT CONTINENCE

2 ff. Latin marginalia in F: Qualiter spiritus, vt celum impleatur, castitatem affectat, et corpus, vt genus humanum in terra multiplicetur, coniugii copulam carnaliter concupiscit. [“How the spirit, by heaven made full, honors chastity, and the body, in order that humankind be multiplied on earth, carnally desires the bond of marriage.”]

5 l’un fait le ciel preignant. Gower alludes here to the notion that humankind will replenish with bones almes (“good souls”) the absence in heaven caused by the fall of Lucifer and his cohorts. This idea is prominent in CA; see especially 8.30–36. The one (l’un) refers to the male.

7 Si l’un est bon, l’autre est assetz meilour. Following strictly the sequence in this stanza of “l’espirit” and “li corps” / “l’un” and “l’autre” the refrain would suggest that the soul’s goodness is bettered by that of the body; but see I, above, and note 17–18, below.

17–18 Le corps . . . obeissant. While the hierarchy is clear, and orthodox — soul over body — the ambiguity of the refrain smacks of the intentional, as a bridge to the subsequent balade (III).

III AU PLUS PARFIT DIEUS NE NOUS OBLIGEA

2 ff. Latin marginalia in F: Qualiter virginalis castitas in gradu suo matrimonio prefertur: ambo tamen sub sacre conversacionis disciplina deo creatori placabilia consistunt. [“How, by the virginal, chastity is preferred in place of marriage: nevertheless, both, under the sacred discipline of regular intercourse created by God, become acceptable.”]

10 ove. Lit. “with.”

19 Loiale amie avoec loials amis. Lit. “Loyal lover (female) with loyal lover (male)”: no equivalent exists in Modern English for Gower’s inflected forms.

20 retenue. Lit. “retinue, following,” invoking the feudal vow of loyal service, vassalage. Macaulay (Mac, 1:463, note VIII.17) glosses as “engagement”; see Cinkante Balades VIII.17, XV.14. Note the considerable play here on “loiale/loials/loi” and in IV following.

IV OVESQUE AMOUR QANT LOIALTÉ S’AQUEINTE

2 ff. Latin marginalia in F: Qualiter honestas coniugii non ex libidinis aut auaricie causa, set tantummodo quod sub lege generacio ad cultum dei fiat, primordia sua suscepit. [“How the virtue of marriage takes her origin not of lust or avarice, but only under the law of generation, as the reverence of God decrees.”]

6 C’est ensi come de stouppes une corde. [“It is thus like a rope of tow.”] On the worthlessness of straw (tow), see CA 5.5623 and 5.5626; cited in Whiting (Chaucer's Use of Proverbs, p. 297) as a proverbial phrase.

10 d’avarice enceinte. I.e., marriages contracted for gain.

V GRANT MERVAILE EST ET TROP CONTRE RESON

3 ff. Latin marginalia in F: Qualiter matrimonii sacramentum, quod ex duorum mutuo consensu sub fidei iuramento firmius astringitur, propter diuine vindicte offensam euitandam nullatenus dissolui debet. [“How the sacrament of marriage, which is more firmly bound together by a mutual consent of two people under an oath of faith, ought under no circumstances whatsoever be loosened, a deadly offense worthy of divine retribution.”]

10–11 Soubtz cell habit . . . Sire. I.e., the wedding of Mary and Joseph preceded the Incarnation, and was a true marriage; see Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Q.29.a.1–2.

15–16 De l’espousailes . . . enspire. That the marriage of man and woman was a sacra­mental mirroring of Christ’s spiritual union with the Church originates in Paul (Ephesians 5:22–32: “Sacramentum hoc magnum est, ego autem dico in Christo et in Ecclesia,” at 32), was defended by Augustine (De bono coniugii, 24; De nuptiis et concupiscentia I.10) and dogmatized by Innocent IV in 1208; later biblical literalists, including Lollards (and Wyclif specifically, see, e.g., Of Wedded Men and Wives), denied the necessity of clerical participation — which may underlie Gower’s admonitory tone here.
15 l’espousailes. Macaulay (Mac, 1:470, note V.8) observes “this use of ‘li’ as fem. plur. is rather irregular.”

20 moleste. Perhaps merely “trouble, vexation,” but compare “propter divine vindicte” in the associated marginal gloss.

VI NECTANABUS, QUI VINT EN MACEDOINE

1 Nectanabus. Gower’s major source is Thomas of Kent’s Roman de toute chevalerie, supplemented by the Historia Alexandri de preliis; see Macaulay’s note (Mac, 3:519); see also CA 6.1789–2366.

2 ff. Latin marginalia in F: Nota hic contra illos qui nuper sponsalia sua violantes in penam grauis vindicte dilapsi sunt. Et primo narrat qualiter Nectanabus rex Egipti ex Olimpiade vxore Philippi regis Macedonie magnum Alexandrum in adulterio genuit, qui postea patrem suum fortuito casu interfecit. [“Note this, against those who, lately violating their espousal, by retribution perish in grave punishment. And first it is told how Nectanabus, king of Egypt, begot in adultery upon Olympias, wife of Philip, king of Macedonia, the great Alexander, who later through an act of fortune killed his father.”]

6 envoisure. Lit. “joy, disport, enjoyment”; Macaulay (Mac, 1:471, note VI.6) translates “trickery, deceit”; but see XVI.3, below.

10 sanz nulle autre essoine. Following Macaulay, “cause” (Mac, 1:471, note VI.10); but lit. “hindrance, difficulty.”

15ff. Latin marginalia in F: Qualiter Vluxes Penolope sponsus in insula Cilli Circen ibidem reginam adulterando Thelogonum genuit, qui postea propriis manibus patrem suum mortaliter iaculo transfodit. [“How Ulysses the husband of Penelope on the island of Sicily adulterously begot upon Circe the queen Thelogonus, who later with his own hands mortally transfixed his own father with a spear.”]
15 Rois Uluxes. See CA 6.1391–1781; MO lines 16673–92.
caroigne. Lit. “carrion, corpse.”

17 mesme la busoigne. Compare “la besoigne d’amors”=sexual intercourse; i.e., Ulysses and Nectanabus commit the same sin, with the same results.

VII EL GRANT DESERT D’YNDE SUPERIOUR

1 El grant desert d’Ynde superiour. “Greater India” for Gower meant essentially the subcontinent, including Afghanistan; see Pliny, Natural History, V.iv. On the desert, Gower’s source undoubtedly was the Epistola Alexandri ad Aristotelem.

2 ff. Latin marginalia in F: Qualiter Hercules, qui Deianiram regis Calidonie filiam desponsauit, ipsam postea propter amorem Eolen Euricie Imperatoris filiam a se penitus amouit. Vnde ipse cautelis Achelontis ex incendio postea periit. [“How Hercules, who married Deianira, daughter of the king of Caledonia, later banished her utterly from himself on account of loving Eolen, daughter of the emperor of Eurice. For that, by a trick of Achelons, he later perished in flames.”] cautelis Achelonis. I.e., the shirt poisoned with the centaur Nessus’ blood (Ovid, Heroides IX), not by agency of Achelons.
2 Cil qui d’arein les deux pilers fichoit. See Chaucer’s Sir Thopas, Canterbury Tales VII[B2]2117–18.

3–6 Hercules . . . Deianire. See Cinkante Balades XLIII; CA 2.2145–2307, especially 2259 ff.; Ovid, Heroides IX.

5 Achelons. See CA 4.2068.

11 D’Eurice. Macaulay (Mac, 1:471, note VII.11) states: “‘Euricie’ in the Latin margin; compare ‘The kinges dowhter of Eurice,’ CA 2.2267. It is taken as the name of a country, but no doubt this results from a misunderstanding of some such ex­pression as Ovid’s ‘Eurytiodosque Ioles,’ ‘of Iole the daughter of Eurytus,’ taken to mean ‘Eurytian Iole.’”

17 l’auctour. I.e., Ovid.

VIII LI PRUS JASON, Q’EN L’ISLE DE COLCHOS 1–2 Jason . . . Medée. See MO lines 3725–30; CA 5.3247–4237; Cinkante Balades XLIII; Ovid, Heroides XII.

2 ff. Latin marginalia in F: Qualiter Iason vxorem suam Medeam relinquens Creusam Creontis regis filiam sibi carnaliter copulauit; vnde ipse cum duobus filiis suis postea infortunatus decessit. [“How Jason, giving up his wife Medea, carnally coupled with Creusa, daughter of king Creon; for that he later perished, miserable, along with two of his sons.”]

20 Ceo q’en fuist fait pecché le fortuna. “Such is the fortune of him who committed sin”; or perhaps “He who commits sin risks this.”

IX CIL AVOLTIERS QUI FAIT CONTINUANCE

3 ff. Latin marginalia in F: Qualiter Egistus, Climestram regis Agamenontis vxorem adulterando, ipsum regem in lecto noctanter dormientem proditorie interfecit, cuius mortem Orestes filius eius crudelissime vindicauit. [“How Egistus, having committed adultery with Climestra, wife of king Agamenon, at night treacherously killed that king, sleeping in bed; whose death his son Orestes avenged most cruelly.”] in lecto noctanter dormientem. A detail not found in Benoît de Ste.-More, Roman de Troie, but in Guido della Colonna’s Historia destructionis Troiana: see Macaulay’s note, (Mac, 2:499).

8–12 Agamenon . . . Climestre . . . Egistus. See CA 3.1885–2195; Gower’s primary source is Benoît, Roman de Troie, lines 27925–90, 28155–28283, and 28339–28402.

X LA TRESPLUS BELLE Q’UNQES FUIST HUMEINE

2 ff. Latin marginalia in F: Qualiter ex adulterio Helene vxoris Menelai regis Troia magna in cineres conuersa pro perpetuo desolata permansit. [“How through the adultery of Helen, the wife of king Menelaus, great Troy, turned to ashes, remained forever forsaken.”]
2–4 Menelai . . . Heleine . . . Paris. See Cinkante Balades XIIII, XL.

8ff. Latin marginalia in F: Qualiter ob hoc quod Lucrecia Rome Collatini sponsa vi oppressa pre dolore interiit, Tarquinus ibidem rex vna cum Arronte filio suo, qui sceleris auctores extiterant, pro perpe tuo exheredati exilium subierunt. [“How, because of the fact that Lucrecia, wife of Collatin, oppressed by force in Rome, died in anguish, King Tarquin, together with Arrontes his son, originators of the crime, were ruined, were cast down, permanently disinherited.”]
8–9 Tarquins . . . Lucrece. See CA 7.4754–5123. Gower’s source is Ovid, Fasti II.687–720.

15–17 Mundus . . . Pauline. See CA 1.761–1059. Macaulay (Mac, 2:470) suggests Vincent of Beauvais’ Speculum Historiale VII.iv as Gower’s source.

16 ff. Latin marginalia in F: Qualiter Mundus Romane milicie princeps nobilem Paulinam in templo Isis decepit; vnde ipse cum duobus presbiteris sibi confederatis iudicialiter perierunt. [“How the Roman general and prince Mundus deceived the noble Paulina in the temple of Ysis; for that he justly perished, along with the two priests, his confederates.”]

18 enbastiront tout le plai. Macaulay (Mac, 3:471, note X.18) observes: “The word ‘plait’ or ‘plee’ means properly a process at law, hence a process or design of any kind: ‘bastir un plait’ is the same thing as ‘faire un plait,’ used of designing or proposing a thing.”

XI ALBINS, Q’ESTOIT UN PRINCE BATAILLOUS

1–13 Albins . . . Rosemonde . . . Elmeges. See CA 1.2459–2646. Gower’s source seems to have been Godfrey of Viterbo’s Pantheon XVII; see Macaulay’s note (Mac, 2:476–77).

3 ff. Latin marginalia in F: Qualiter Helmeges miles Rosemundam regis Gurmondi filiam Albinique primi regis Longobardorum vxorem adulterauit: vnde ipso rege mortaliter intoxicato dictam vxorem cum suo adultero dux Rauenne conuictos pene mortis adiudicauit. [“How the knight Helmeges committed adultery with Rosemunda, daughter of King Gurmond and wife of Albinus, distinguished king of the Lombards: for that the duke of Ravenna doomed him and his adulterous partner, the wife at whose order he mortally poisoned the king, together to the penalty of death.”]
3 com cil qui fuist victorious. Lit. “in the manner of one who was victorious.”

17–18 sa dame lecherous . . . Estoient arsz. In CA no hint is given of Rosemund’s lechery; her motive is simply vengeance and her means political. Their death is brought about by poison, as in the Latin marginalia 3 ff., rather than by burning as the French text says here.

XII LE NOBLE ROI D’ATHENES PANDEON

1–4 Pandeon . . . Progne . . . Philomene . . . Tereüs. See CA 5.5551–6047. Gower’s source is Ovid, Metamorphoses VI.424–674.

3 ff. Latin marginalia in F: Qualiter Tereus rex Tracie Prognem filiam Pandeon regis Athenarum in vxorem duxit, et postea Philomenam dicte vxoris sue sororem virginem vi oppressit. Vnde dicte sorores in peccati vindictam filium suum infantem ex Progne genitum variis decocionibus in cibos transformatum comedere fecerunt. [“How Tereus, king of Thrace, took Progne, daughter of Pandeon, king of Athens, to wife, and afterward forcibly oppressed the virginity of her sister, Philomena. For that the two sisters, in revenge for the sin, made [him] eat his infant son by Progne, trans­formed by diverse boilings into food.”]

9 treson. Lit. “treason, treachery.”

19 hupe. See CA 5.6041, where Tereus is transformed into “a lappewincke mad.” Both the hoopoe (Upupa epops) and the lapwing (Vanellus vanellus — probably, since it is more common) have distinctive but similar crests and could be confused. Interestingly, in the context of infanticide, is Physiologus’ description of the hoopoe: “There is a bird called the hoopoe; if the young see their parents grow old and their eyes dim, they preen the parents’ feathers and lick their eyes and warm their parents beneath their wings and nourish them as a reciprocation just as they nourished their chicks, and they become new parents of their own parents” (trans. Curley, pp. 14–15); see also “Epopus” in Bestiary (trans. White, pp. 131–32); but compare with “Upupa” (Bestiary, trans. White, p. 150); also “the Hoopoe,” which “lines its nest with human dung. The filthy creature feeds on stinking excrement. He lives on this in graves. . . . If anybody smears himself with the blood of this bird on his way to bed, he will have nightmares about suffocating devils” (Bestiary, trans. White, p. 150). See also MO line 8869.

XIII SEINT ABRAHAM, CHIEF DE LA VIELE LOI

1–5 Abraham . . . Sarrai . . . Pharao. See Genesis 12:10–20.

3 ff. Latin marginalia in F: Qualiter pro eo quod Pharao rex Egipti Sarrai vxorem Abrahe ob carnis concupiscenciam impudice tractauit, pestilencia per vniuersum Egiptum peccatum vindcauit. [“How, because Pharaoh, king of Egypt, on account of desire of the flesh, treated Sarai the wife of Abraham shamelessly, pestilence avenged the sin throughout all Egypt.”]

16 la morine. “the murrain,” i.e., a plague especially affecting animals.

XIV TROP EST HUMAINE CHAR FRELE ET VILEINE

3 ff. Latin marginalia in F: Qualiter ob peccatum regis Dauid, de eo quod ipse Bersabee sponsam Vrie ex adulterio impregnauit, summus Iudex infantem natum patre penitente sepulcro defunctum tradidit. [“How because of sin of the king David, who himself adulterously impregnated Bethsabee, wife of Urias, the greatest Judge consigned the child born to the penitent father dead to the grave.”] summus Iudex infantem . . . tradidit. See 2 Kings 12:14–23.

4–5 David . . . Urie . . . Bersabée. See 2 Kings 11:1–27 and 12:1–13.

XV Comunes sont la cronique et l’istoire

Macaulay (Mac, 1:472, note XV.1–10) notices “losses at the beginnings of these lines in the Fairfax MS are as follows: Comun / De lan / Enqore ma / Pour essamp / Cil q’est gu / Droitz est / Car be / To / U que / Deu.”

2 Lancelot . . . Tristrans. See CA 8.2500–01; Cinkante Balades XLIII.

3 ff. Latin marginalia in F: Qualiter ob hoc quod Lanceolotus Miles probatissimus Gunnoram regis Arthuri vxorem fatue permauit, eciam et quia Tristram simili modo Isoldam regis Marci auunculi sui vxorem violare non timuit, Amantes ambo predicti magno infortunii dolore dies suos extremos clauserunt. [“How because the most honored knight Lancelot by fate inordinately loved Gunnora, the wife of King Arthur and also because Tristram feared not to violate in a similar way Isold the wife of his uncle King Mark, it was foretold that both lovers ended their days in extreme misery.”]

7 Car beal oisel par autre se chastie. Macaulay (Mac, 1:472, note 7) compares MO line 7969.

10–13 Deux tonealx . . . se modefie. See Boethius, Consulation of Philosophy, II.pr.2; Roman de la Rose, lines 6783–96 and 10597–10603. The origin is Homer, Iliad XXIV.527 ff. See also CA 6.330–90.

15 As uns est blanche, as uns fortune est noire. [“Toward one white, toward another Fortune is black.”] Fortuna was frequently portrayed as having a divided face, half black and half white.

XVI OM TRUIST PLUSOURS ES VIELES ESCRIPTURES

3 ff. Latin marginalia in F: Qualiter Princeps qui sue carnis concupiscenciam exuperat pre ceteris laudabilior existit. Narrat enim quod cum probus Valentinianus Imperator octogenarius in armis floruit, et suorum preliorum gesta coram eo publice decantabantur, asseruit se de victoria sue carnis, cuius ipse motus illecebros extinxerat, magis letari, quam si ipse vniuersas mundi partes in gladio belliger subiugasset. [“How the Prince who overcame his fleshly desire lived the more praised among [all] others. It tells also how the wise octogenarian Emperor Valentinian flourished in arms, and, his deeds of battle having been sung openly by the public, he claimed for himself victory of his flesh, whose illicit urgings he himself abolished — a greater thing to be killed, than if he subjugated every part of the world waging war with a sword.”]

5 Valentinians. See CA 5.6395–6416; MO line 17089. Macaulay (Mac, 3:507) suggests the Epistola Valerii ad Rufinum as Gower’s source. Valentinian I (A.D. 364–75) seems the most likely of the three emperors by that name to have been the origin of this apocryphal story.

XVII AMOUR EST DIT SANZ PARTIR D’UN ET UNE

2 Ceo voet la foi plevie au destre main [“The brave and valiant, who have renown of arms”]. I.e., in the acknowledged gesture of an oath; see Cinkante Balades XXIII, stanza 1.

4 ff. Latin marginalia in F: Nota hic quod secundum iura ecclesie, vt sint duo in carne vna tantum ad sacri coniugii perfeccionem et non aliter expediens est. [“Take note here the fact that according to the laws of the church, two may be one in the flesh only through the perfection of holy matrimony, and not otherwise is it permitted.”]
4 barguain. “Business transaction” is a bit flat, given the intensity of Gower’s feeling on this point. Perhaps “arbitrage” would be a better equivalent as the Old French word has been adopted by corporate America to define the “simultaneous purchase and sale of the same equivalent security in order to profit from price discrepancies,” which gets well at the manipulation of marriage in a bull market for gain that Gower finds so perverse.

9 ert. Both future and conditional forms express imperative, apparently as needed for the meter; see MO line 17689.

12 Gawain. Macaulay (Mac, 1:472, note XVII.13) remarks, “This is the traditional character of Gawain ‘the Courteous.’” See Thompson and Busby, Gawain, pp. 52–62, on Gawain’s amorousness and promiscuity in numerous French and English romances.

XVIII EN PROPRETEÉ CIL QUI DEL OR HABONDE

1 En propreteé. Lit. “particularity, the particular, property.” The intent seems to be to create a contrast between stealing gold — i.e., the realm of property — and stealing a wife, the latter the more sinful since it involves violating a vow.

2 ff. Latin marginalia in F: Nota hic secundum auctores quod sponsi fideles ex sui regiminis discreta bonitate vxores sibi fidissimas conseruant. Vnde ipsi ad inuicem congaudentes felicius in domino conualescunt. [“Take note here according to the authors that faithful husbands, because of the moral goodness of their governance, had maintained wives most faithful to them. Whence they themselves, mutually rejoicing the more together, gained strength in God.”]

3 deinz sa bonde. I.e., joined in matrimony; compare “marriage bond.”

8 Des trois estatz. The three estates of human life: virginity, chaste marriage, and chaste widowhood.

17 en. The antecedent is “la conscience.”

18 celui qui. I.e., God the Judge.

22 ff. Latin marginalia in F: Hic in fine Gower, qui Anglicus est, sua verba Gallica, si que incongrua fuerint, excusat. [“Here in conclusion Gower, who is English, excuses (apologizes for) his French words, those that may have been discordant.”]



JOHN GOWER, TRAITIÉ SELONC LES AUCTOURS POUR ESSAMPLER LES AMANTZ MARIETZ: TEXTUAL NOTES


Abbreviations: B: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 294; F: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Fairfax 3; G: Glasgow, University of Glasgow Library, MS Hunter (T.2.17); Mac: Macaulay, ed., The Complete Works of John Gower; S: Oxford, All Souls College, MS 98; T: London, British Library, MS Additional 59495 (Trentham).

Macaulay notes: “The text is that of F with collation of S, G, and T. A full collation of B is given for the heading and it is occasionally cited afterwards” (Mac, 1:379).

Macaulay notes: “S T are imperfect at the beginning” (Mac, 1:379).

Heading Pusiqu’il. F: Pvsquil.
ci. B: cy.
Englois. B: englois.
cellui. B: celluy.
François. B: franceis.
un. F: une.
selonc les. B: solonc les.
pour essampler. B: pur ensampler.
foi. B: foy.
seintes. B: seints.
pourront. B: purront.
1 ff. (Latin marginalia) possidebit. B: possidebat.

I LE CREATOUR DE TOUTE CREATURE

7 raison ert conestable. G: Raison ert Conestable.

12 De. G: Du.

14, 21 raison ert conestable. G: Raison ert Conestable.

15 raison. G: reson.

II DE L’ESPIRIT L’AMOUR QUIERT CONTINENCE

9 Mac: “The text of T begins here.”

13 tout. T: toute.

III AU PLUS PARFIT DIEUS NE NOUS OBLIGEA

4 Mac: “The text of S begins here.”

5 quiert. So S, T, G. F: quier.

7 seinte. S, T: seint.

14 seinte. S: seint.
eglise. F, G: esglise.

21 eglise. F: esglise.

IV OVESQUE AMOUR QANT LOIALTÉ S’AQUEINTE

1 ff. (Latin marginalia) libidinis. S: libidine.

3 li. G, B: lui.
guilers. S, T, G: guiliers.

6 come. S, T: com.

20 s’accorde. S, T: saacorde.

V GRANT MERVAILE EST ET TROP CONTRE RESON

1 mervaile. S: merveile.

3 puis. T: puiss.

13 tresseintisme. T: tressentisme.

15 l’espousailes. T: lespousails.
beneiçoun. S: beneiceon. G: beneicon.

16 eglise. S: esglise.

17 dissolucioun. S: dissolucion.

20 vengeance. T: vengance.

VI NECTANABUS, QUI VINT EN MACEDOINE

7, 14, 21 demoustre. T: demonstre.

8 esloigne. S, G: eloigne.

9 destinée. S: destine.

10 sanz. S omits.

VII EL GRANT DESERT D’YNDE SUPERIOUR

2 d’arein. T: darrein.

4 de. S omits.

6 bataille. T: bataile.

8 cell. T: celle.

10 file. T: fille.

16 vengé. S, G: vengee.

19 tant. S omits.
qu’il. S, G: qil.

20 contretaille. S, G, T: contretaile.

VIII LI PRUS JASON, Q’EN L’ISLE DE COLCHOS

3 los. T: loos.

10 lui. T: luy.

11 quel. S, G: quell. T: quelle.

15 clos. T: cloos.

17 quex. T: queux.

18 come. S, T: com.

IX CIL AVOLTIERS QUI FAIT CONTINUANCE

1 ff. (Latin marginalia) Climestram. S, T, G: Clemestram.

4 Cronique. S: croniqe.

6 ceo. F: se.
qu’il. S, T, G: qil.

17 repentance. S: repentace.

18 Horestes. T: Orestes.

X LA TRESPLUS BELLE Q’UNQES FUIST HUMEINE

3 C’estoit. S: Estoit.

4 qui. T: quoi.
se. S omits.

5 wai. T: way.

7 haut. T: halt.

8 Tarquins. T: Tarquinus.
pensé. S, T, G: pensee.

10 null. T: nul.

12 cotell. So F, T, G. S: coutell.

14 haut. T: halt.

15 ff. (Latin marginalia) Paulinam. So T, (by correction) G. F, S: Paulinum.

18 enbastiront. T: embastiront.

19 jugement. S, T, G: juggement.

20 prestres. S, T, G: prestre.

21 haut. T: halt.

XI ALBINS, Q’ESTOIT UN PRINCE BATAILLOUS

1 ff. (Latin marginalia) Helmeges. S: Elmeges.
Gurmondi. S, G: Gurumundi.
Albinique. F: Abbinique.

5 file. T: fille.

8 Tiel. T: Ciel.

9 seintifie. T: seintefie.

12 ailours. S: aillours.

18 Estoient. S, T, G: estoiont.
arsz. S: ars.

19 q’ot. T: quot.

20 jugement. S, T, G: juggement.

XII LE NOBLE ROI D’ATHENES PANDEON

1 ff. (Latin marginalia) transformatum. S, T, B: transmutatum.

3 avoiont. T: avoient.

6 lui. T: li.

16 . T: nee.

18 devorée. T: devouree.

19 transformée. T: transforme.

20 qu’il fuist. T: qui fuist.

XIII SEINT ABRAHAM, CHIEF DE LA VIELE LOI

7 halt. F: haut.

8 molt . . . roi. T: moult . . . Roy.

10 coi. T: coy.

11 falsine. F: falsisine.

17 effroi. T: esfroi.

19 celle. T: cel.

XIV TROP EST HUMAINE CHAR FRELE ET VILEINE

1 ff. (Latin marginalia) Bersabee. S: Bersabe.
sepulcro. So F, B. S, T, G: sepulture.
1 humaine. T: lumaine.

3 le bible. S: la Bible. T, G: la bible.
enseine. S: enseigne.

8 q’il. S, G: quil.

9 Qu’il. S: Qil.

12 un autre. F: lautre.

XV COMUNES SONT LA CRONIQUE ET L’ISTOIRE

Macaulay notes: “Owing to a slight damage to the leaf the beginnings of the first ten lines and a few syllables of the marginal summary are wanting in F” (1:389). See headnote to the explanatory notes for XV, p. 41 above.

1 ff. (Latin marginalia) extremos. S, G: exremos.
1 l’istoire. S, G: lestoire.

4 du. S, G: de.

6 sa. T: la.

8 truist . . . foire. T: trust . . . ffoire.

14 oisel. T: oiseal.

XVI OM TRUIST PLUSOURS ES VIELES ESCRIPTURES

1 es. So S, G, B. T: et. F: de.

6 Romeins. T: Romeines.

10 poet. S: poeit.

12 Agardetz. G: Agardes.
comparisoun. S, G: comparison.

19 perfeccioun. S, G: perfeccion.

20 celle. S: cell.

XVII AMOUR EST DIT SANZ PARTIR D’UN ET UNE

1 ff. (Latin marginalia) duo. F: due.

6 troeve. T: troue.

16 primer. F: primere.
moustre. T: monstre(?).

XVIII EN PROPRETEÉ CIL QUI DEL OR HABONDE

2 s’il. S: cil.

4 ailours. T: aillours.

12 Pource. S, T, G: Pourceo.
pourvoie. S, G: purvoie.

13 q’il. S, G: quil.
n’ait. G: naid.

14 soun. So F. S, T, G: son.

19 come. T: com.

23 Johan. S, G: Iehan.

25 forsvoie. G: forvoie.

 
Print Copyright Info Purchase

Traitié Selonc Les Auctours Pour Essampler Les Amantz Marietz

by: John Gower (Author), R. F. Yeager (Editor)
from: The French Balades  2011

Puisqu’il ad dit ci devant en Englois par voie d’essample la sotie de cellui qui par amours aime par especial, dirra ore apres en François a tout le monde en general un traitié selonc les auctours pour essampler les amantz marietz, au fin q’ils la foi de lour seintes espousailes pourront par fine loialté guarder, et al honour de dieu salvement tenir.
 
Because the preceding poem in English [i.e., Confessio Amantis] was by way of example of the foolishness of those in particular who love in a courtly manner, now the subsequent treatise will be in French, for all the world generally, following the authorities, as an example for married lovers, in order that they might be able to protect the promise of their sacred spousal through perfect loyalty, and truly hold fast to the honor of God.
 
(see note); (t-note)



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Le creatour de toute creature,
Qui l’alme d’omme ad fait a son ymage,
Par quoi le corps de reson et nature
Soit attempré per jouste governage,
Il done al alme assetz plus d’avantage;
Car il l’ad fait discrete et resonable,
Dont sur le corps raison ert conestable.

En dieu amer celle alme ad sa droiture,
Tant soulement pour fermer le corage
En tiel amour u nulle mesprisure
De foldelit la poet mettre en servage
De frele char, q’est toutdis en passage:
Mais la bone alme est seinte et permanable;
Dont sur le corps raison ert conestable.

En l’alme gist et raison et mesure,
Dont elle avera le ciel en heritage;
Li corps selonc la char pour engendrure
Avera la bone espouse en mariage;
Qui sont tout une chose et un estage,
Qe l’un a l’autre soient entendable:
Dont sur le corps raison ert conestable.


De l’espirit l’amour quiert continence,
Et vivre chaste en soul dieu contemplant;
Li corps par naturele experience
Quiert femme avoir, dont soir multipliant;
Des bones almes l’un fait le ciel preignant,
Et l’autre emplist la terre de labour:
Si l’un est bon, l’autre est assetz meilour.

A l’espirit qui fait la providence
Ne poet failir de reguerdon suiant.
Plus est en l’alme celle intelligence,
Dont sanz null fin l’omme en serra vivant,
Qe n’est le corps en ses fils engendrant;
Et nepourqant tout fist le creatour:
Si l’un est bon, l’autre est assetz meilour.

A l’espirit dieus dona conscience,
Par quelle om ert du bien et mal sachant.
Le corps doit pas avoir la reverence,
Ainz ert a l’alme et humble et obeissant;
Mais dieus, qui les natures vait creant,
Et l’un et l’autre ad mis en son atour:
Si l’un est bon, l’autre est assetz meilour.


Au plus parfit dieus ne nous obligea,
Mais il voet bien qe nous soions parfitz.
Cist homme a dieu sa chasteté dona,
Et cist en dieu voet estre bons maritz:
S’il quiert avoir espouse a son avis,
Il plest a dieu de faire honeste issue
Selonc la loi de seinte eglise due.

Primerement qant mesmes dieus crea
Adam et Eve en son saint paradis,
L’omme ove la femme ensemble maria,
Dont ait la terre en lour semense emplis:
Lors fuist au point celle espousaile empris
Du viele loi, et puis, qant fuist venue,
Selonc la loi de seinte eglise due.

Et puisque dieus qui la loi ordina
En une char ad deux persones mis,
Droitz est qe l’omme et femme pourcela
Tout un soul coer eiont par tiel devis,
Loiale amie avoec loials amis:
C’est en amour trop belle retenue
Selonc la loi de seinte eglise due.


Ovesque amour qant loialté s’aqueinte,
Lors sont les noeces bones et joiouses;
Mais li guilers, qant il se fait plus queinte,
Par falssemblant les fait sovent doubtouses,
A l’oill qant plus resemblont amorouses:
C’est ensi come de stouppes une corde,
Qant le penser a son semblant descorde.

Celle espousaile est assetz forte et seinte,
D’amour u sont les causes vertuouses:
Si l’espousaile est d’avarice enceinte,
Et qe les causes soient tricherouses,
Ja ne serront les noeces graciouses;
Car conscience toutdis se remorde,
Qant le penser a son semblant descorde.

Honest amour, q’ove loialté s’aqueinte,
Fait qe les noeces serront gloriouses;
Et qui son coer ad mis par tiele empeinte,
N’estoet doubter les changes perilouses.
Om dist qe noeces sont aventurouses;
Car la fortune en tiel lieu ne s’accorde,
Qant le penser a son semblant descorde.


Grant mervaile est et trop contre reson,
Q’om doit du propre chois sa femme eslire,
Et puis confermer celle eleccion
Par espousaile, et puis apres desdire
Sa foi, qant il de jour en jour desire
Novell amour assetz plus qe la beste:
Sa foi mentir n’est pas a l’omme honeste.

De l’espousailes la profession
Valt plus d’assetz qe jeo ne puiss descrire:
Soubtz cell habit prist incarnacion
De la virgine cil q’est nostre Sire:
Par quoi, des toutes partz qui bien remire,
En l’ordre de si tresseintisme geste
Sa foi mentir n’est pas a l’omme honeste.

De l’espousailes celle beneiçoun
Le sacrement de seinte eglise enspire:
C’est un liens, sanz dissolucioun
Q’om doit guarder; car quique voldra lisre
Le temps passé, il avera cause a dire,
Pour doubte de vengeance et de moleste,
Sa foi mentir n’est pas a l’omme honeste.


Nectanabus, qui vint en Macedoine
D’Egipte, u qu’il devant ot rois esté,
Olimpeas encontre matrimoine,
L’espouse au roi Philipp, ad violé,
Dont Alisandre estoit lors engendré:
Mais quoique soit du primere envoisure,
Le fin demoustre toute l’aventure.

Cil q’est de pecché pres sa grace esloigne:
Ceo parust bien, car tiele destinée
Avint depuis, qe sanz nulle autre essoine
Le fils occist, le pere tout de grée.
Ore esgardetz coment fuist revengé
D’avolterie celle forsfaiture:
Le fin demoustre toute l’aventure.

Rois Uluxes pour plaire a sa caroigne
Falsoit sa foi devers Penolopé;
Avoec Circes fist mesme la busoigne,
Du quoi son fils Thelogonus fuist née,
Q’ad puis son propre piere auci tué.
Q’il n’est plesant a dieu tiele engendrure,
Le fin demoustre toute l’aventure.


El grant desert d’Ynde superiour
Cil qui d’arein les deux pilers fichoit,
Danz Hercules, prist femme a son honour
Qe file au roi de Calidoine estoit;
Contre Achelons en armes conquestoit
La belle Deianire par bataille.
C’est grant peril de freindre l’espousaile.

Bien tost apres tout changea cell amour
Pour Eolen, dont il s’espouse haoit:
Celle Eolen fuist file a l’emperour
D’Eurice, et Herculem tant assotoit,
Q’elle ot de lui tout ceo q’avoir voloit.
N’ert pas le fin semblable au comensaile;
C’est grant peril de freindre l’espousaile.

Unqes ne fuist ne ja serra null jour,
Qe tiel pecché de dieu vengé ne soit:
Car Hercules, ensi com dist l’auctour,
D’une chemise, dont il se vestoit,
Fuist tant deceu, qu’il soi mesmes ardoit.
De son mesfait porta le contretaille;
C’est grant peril de freindre l’espousaile.


Li prus Jason, q’en l’isle de Colchos
Le toison d’or par l’aide de Medée
Conquist, dont il d’onour portoit grant los,
Par tout le monde en court la renomée,
La joefne dame ove soi ad amenée
De son paiis en Grece, et l’espousa.
Freinte espousaile dieus le vengera.

Qant Medea meulx quide estre en repos
Ove son mari, et q’elle avoit porté
Deux fils de lui, lors changea le purpos,
El quel Jason primer fuist obligé:
Il ad del tout Medeam refusé,
Si prist la file au roi Creon Creusa.
Freinte espousaile dieux le vengera.

Medea, q’ot le coer de dolour clos,
En son corous, et ceo fuist grant pité,
Ses joefnes fils, quex ot jadis enclos
Deinz ses costées, ensi come forsenée
Devant les oels Jason ele ad tué.
Ceo q’en fuist fait pecché le fortuna;
Freinte espousaile dieus le vengera.


Cil avoltiers qui fait continuance
En ses pecchés et toutdis se delite,
Poi crient de dieu et l’ire et la vengeance:
Du quoi jeo trieus une Cronique escrite
Pour essampler; et si jeo le recite,
L’en poet noter par ceo qu’il signifie,
Horribles sont les mals d’avolterie.

Agamenon, q’ot soubtz sa governance
De les Gregois toute la flour eslite,
A Troie qant plus fuist en sa puissance,
S’espouse, quelle estoit Climestre dite,
Egistus l’ot de fol amour soubgite,
Dont puis avint meinte grant felonie:
Horribles sont les mals d’avolterie.

Agamenon de mort suffrist penance
Par treson qe sa femme avoit confite;
Dont elle apres morust sanz repentance:
Son propre fils Horestes l’ad despite,
Dont de sa main receust la mort subite;
Egiste as fourches puis rendist sa vie:
Horribles sont les mals d’avolterie.


La tresplus belle q’unqes fuist humeine,
L’espouse a roi de Grece Menelai,
C’estoit la fole peccheresse Heleine,
Pour qui Paris primer se faisoit gai;
Mais puis tornoit toute sa joie en wai,
Qant Troie fuist destruite et mis en cendre:
Si haut pecché covient en bass descendre.

Tarquins auci, q’ot la pensé vileine,
Q’avoit pourgeu Lucrece a son essai,
Sanz null retour d’exil receust la peine;
Et la dolente estoit en tiel esmai,
Qe d’un cotell s’occist sanz null deslai:
Ceo fuist pité, mais l’en doit bien entendre,
Si haut pecché covient en bass descendre.

Mundus fuist prince de la Court Romeine,
Qui deinz le temple Ysis el mois de Maii
Pourgeust Pauline, espouse et citezeine:
Deux prestres enbastiront tout le plai.
Bani fuist Munde en jugement verai,
Ysis destruit, li prestres vont au pendre:
Si haut pecché covient en bass descendre.


Albins, q’estoit un prince bataillous,
Et fuist le primer roi de Lombardie,
Occist, com cil qui fuist victorious,
Le roi Gurmond par sa chivalerie;
Si espousa sa file et tint cherie,
La quelle ot noun la belle Rosemonde.
Cil qui mal fait, falt qu’il au mal responde.

Tiel espousaile ja n’ert gracious,
U dieus les noeces point ne seintifie:
La dame, q’estoit pleine de corous
A cause de son piere, n’ama mie
Son droit mari, ainz est ailours amie;
Elmeges la pourgeust et fist inmonde.
Cil qui mal fait, falt qu’il au mal responde.

Du pecché naist le fin malicious,
Par grief poison Albins perdist la vie:
Elmeges ove sa dame lecherous
Estoient arsz pour lour grant felonie;
Le duc q’ot lors Ravenne en sa baillie
En son paleis lour jugement exponde:
Cil qui mal fait, falt qu’il au mal responde.


Le noble roi d’Athenes Pandeon
Deux files ot de son corps engendré,
Qe Progne et Philomene avoiont noun:
A Tereüs fuist Progne mariée,
Cil fuist de Trace roi; mais la bealté
De l’autre soer lui fist sa foi falser.
Malvois amant reprent malvois loer.

De foldelit contraire a sa reson
Cil Tereüs par treson pourpensée
De Philomene en sa proteccion
Ravist la flour de sa virginité,
Contre sa foi, qu’il avoit espousée
Progne sa soer, qui puis se fist venger:
Malvois amant reprent malvois loer.

Trop fuist cruele celle vengeisoun:
Un joefne fils qu’il ot de Progne né
La miere occist, et en decoccion
Tant fist qe Tereüs l’ad devorée;
Dont dieus lui ad en hupe transformée,
En signe qu’il fuist fals et avoltier:
Malvois amant reprent malvois loer.


Seint Abraham, chief de la viele loi,
De Chanaan pour fuïr la famine
Mena Sarrai sa femme ovesque soi
Tanq’en Egipte, u doubta la covine
De Pharao, qui prist a concubine
Sarrai s’espouse, et en fist son voloir.
En halt estat fait temprer le pooir.

Cist Abraham, qui molt doubta le roi,
N’osa desdire, ainz suffrist la ravine,
Pour pes avoir et se tenoit tout coi:
Dont il fuist bien; du roi mais la falsine
De son pecché par tiele discipline
Dieus chastioit, dont il poait veoir,
En halt estat fait temprer le pooir.

Soubdeinement, ainz qe l’en scieust pour quoi,
Par toute Egipte espandist la morine;
Dont Pharao, q’estoit en grant effroi,
Rendist l’espouse, et ceo fuist medicine.
A tiel pecché celle alme q’est encline,
Pour son delit covient au fin doloir:
En halt estat fait temprer le pooir.


Trop est humaine char frele et vileine;
Sanz grace nulls se poet contretenir:
Ceo parust bien, sicom le bible enseine,
Qant roi David Urie fist moertrir
Pour Bersabée, dont il ot son plesir:
Espouse estoit, mais il n’en avoit guarde;
N’ert pas segeur de soi qui dieus ne guarde.

La bealté q’il veoit ensi lui meine,
Qu’il n’ot poair de son corps abstenir,
Maisqu’il chaoit d’amour en celle peine,
Dont chastes ne se poait contenir:
L’un mal causoit un autre mal venir,
L’avolterie a l’omicide esguarde:
N’ert pas segeur de soi qui dieus ne guarde.

Mais cil, qui dieus de sa pité remeine,
David, se prist si fort a repentir,
Q’unqes null homme en ceste vie humeine
Ne receust tant de pleindre et de ghemir:
Merci prioit, merci fuist son desir,
Merci troevoit, merci son point ne tarde.
N’ert pas segeur de soi qui dieus ne guarde.


Comunes sont la cronique et l’istoire
De Lancelot et Tristrans ensement;
Enqore maint lour sotie en memoire,
Pour essampler les autres du present:
Cil q’est guarni et nulle garde prent,
Droitz est qu’il porte mesmes sa folie;
Car beal oisel par autre se chastie.

Tout temps del an om truist d’amour la foire,
U que les coers Cupide done et vent:
Deux tonealx ad, dont il les gentz fait boire,
L’un est assetz plus douls qe n’est pyment,
L’autre est amier plus que null arrement:
Parentre deux falt q’om se modefie,
Car beal oisel par autre se chastie.

As uns est blanche, as uns fortune est noire;
Amour se torne trop diversement,
Ore est en joie, ore est en purgatoire,
Sanz point, sanz reule et sanz governement:
Mais sur toutz autres il fait sagement,
Q’en fol amour ne se delite mie;
Car beal oisel par autre se chastie.


Om truist plusours es vieles escriptures
Prus et vailantz, q’ont d’armes le renoun,
Mais poi furont q’entre les envoisures
Guarderont chaste lour condicion.
Cil rois qui Valentinians ot noun
As les Romeins ceo dist en son avis,
Qui sa char veint, sur toutz doit porter pris.

Qui d’armes veint les fieres aventures,
Du siecle en doit avoir le reguerdoun;
Mais qui du char poet veintre les pointures,
Le ciel avera trestout a sa bandoun.
Agardetz ore la comparisoun,
Le quell valt plus, le monde ou Paradis:
Qui sa char veint, sur toutz doit porter pris.

Amour les armes tient en ses droitures,
Et est plus fort, car la profession
De vrai amour surmonte les natures
Et fait om vivre au loi de sa reson:
En mariage est la perfeccioun;
Guardent lour foi cils q’ont celle ordre pris:
Qui sa char veint, sur toutz doit porter pris.


Amour est dit sanz partir d’un et une;
Ceo voet la foi plevie au destre main:
Mais qant li tierce d’amour se comune,
Non est amour, ainz serra dit barguain.
Trop se decroist q’ensi quiert avoir guain,
Qui sa foi pert poi troeve d’avantage,
A un est une assetz en mariage.

N’est pas compaigns q’est comun a chascune;
Au soule amie ert un ami soulain:
Mais cil qui toutdis change sa fortune,
Et ne voet estre en un soul lieu certain,
Om le poet bien resembler a Gawain,
Courtois d’amour, mais il fuist trop volage:
A un est une assetz en mariage.

Semblables est au descroisçante lune
Cil q’au primer se moustre entier et plain,
Qant prent espouse, ou soit ceo blanche ou brune,       
Et quiert eschange avoir a l’endemain:
Mais qui q’ensi son temps deguaste en vain
Doit bien sentir au fin de son passage,
A un est une assetz en mariage.


En propreteé cil qui del or habonde
Molt fait grant tort s’il emble autri monoie:
Cil q’ad s’espouse propre deinz sa bonde
Grant pecché fait s’il quiert ailours sa proie.
Tiels chante, “c’est ma sovereine joie,”
Qui puis en ad dolour sanz departie:
N’est pas amant qui son amour mesguie.

Des trois estatz benoitz c’est le seconde,
Q’au mariage en droit amour se ploie;
Et qui cell ordre en foldelit confonde
Trop poet doubter, s’il ne se reconvoie.
Pource bon est qe chascun se pourvoie
D’amer ensi, q’il n’ait sa foi blemie:
N’est pas amant qui soun amour mesguie.

Deinz son recoi la conscience exponde
A fol amant l’amour dont il foloie;
Si lui covient au fin qu’il en responde
Devant celui qui les consals desploie.
O come li bons maritz son bien emploie,
Qant l’autre fol lerra sa fole amie!
N’est pas amant qui son amour mesguie.

Al universiteé de tout le monde
Johan Gower ceste Balade envoie;
Et si jeo n’ai de François la faconde,
Pardonetz moi qe jeo de ceo forsvoie:
Jeo sui Englois, si quier par tiele voie
Estre excusé; mais quoique nulls en die,
L’amour parfit en dieu se justifie.


[Latin verses following the balades:]

Quis sit vel qualis sacer ordo connubialis
Scripsi, mentalis sit amor quod in ordine talis.
Exemplo veteri poterunt ventura timeri;
Cras caro sicut heri leuiter valet ilia moueri.
Non ita gaudebit sibi qui de carne placebit,
Quin corpus flebit aut spiritus inde dolebit:
Carne refrenatus qui se regit inmaculatus,
Omnes quosque status precellit in orbe beatus,
Ille deo gratus splendet ad omne latus.
The Creator of every creature,
Who made the soul of man in His image,
In order that the body by reason and nature
Might be ruled with just governance,
Gave superiority to the soul;
Because He made it discreet and rational,
Reason is therefore constable over the body.

This soul in its rectitude loves God,
Exclusively to firm the heart
In such love that no misdeed
Of foul delight is able to put it in service
Of the weak flesh, which is always passing away:
But the good soul is holy and eternal;
Therefore reason is constable over the body.

In the soul lie reason and measure,
Because it will inherit heaven;
The body, in accord with the flesh, for engendering
Will have a good spouse in marriage;
Each has one essence and one condition,
To which the one or the other should be obedient:
Therefore reason is constable over the body.


From the spirit Love seeks continence,
And to live chaste, contemplating God alone;
The body by natural experience
Seeks to have a female, so that it might multiply;
With good souls the one seeks to make heaven replete,
The other fills the earth with its labor:
If the one is good, the other is that much better.

From the spirit which does this, Providence
Cannot withhold a subsequent reward.
This understanding is greater in the soul,
By which a man will be alive eternally, without end,
Than in the body engendered in its sons;
And nonetheless, the Creator makes it all:
If the one is good, the other is that much better.

To the spirit God gives a conscience,
By which a man is aware of good and evil.
The body should not have reverence
But — on the contrary — be humble and obedient to the soul;
Yet God alone, who creates every nature,
Has given to one and the other its condition:
If the one is good, the other is that much better.


God does not compel us to be altogether perfect,
But He strongly desires that we be perfect.
One man promises chastity to God,
And another wishes to be well married:
If he seeks to have an agreeable wife,
It pleases God to create honest issue
According to the law set out by Holy Church.

In the beginning when God created
Adam and Eve in His holy paradise,
He married man and woman together,
By which means the earth filled with their offspring:
Thus, marriage was made at that time,
Under the Old Law, and since then, whenever it has taken place,
According to the law set out by Holy Church.

And since God who ordained the law
Placed two persons in one flesh,
It is meet that the male and the female therefore
Should have one single heart by that devising,
The loyal wife with the loyal husband:
Love is a most beautiful companionship,
According to the law set out by Holy Church.


When Love acquaints itself with Loyalty,
Then weddings are good and joyous;
But the beguilers, when they make themselves most cunning,
Often create doubts by dissembling,
When to the eye they most resemble lovers:
It is thus like a rope of tow,
When the thought and its semblance disagree.

That marriage is strongest and most sanctified,
In which the causes of love are virtuous:
If the marriage is impregnated by Avarice,
And its causes are treacherous,
Then no nuptials will be gracious;
Because the conscience always is remorseful,
When the thought and its semblance disagree.

Honest love, which acquaints itself with loyalty,
Creates marriages that are glorious;
And whosoever sets his heart guided by such an impulse,
Need not be afraid of dangerous changes.
It is said that marriages are adventurous,
Because Fortune in such a case is discordant —
When the thought and its semblance disagree.


It is a great marvel and altogether against reason,
That a man should by his own choice select a wife,
And then confirm that election
By marriage, and immediately after disavow
His promise, when day after day he desires
Fresh love, more even than a beast does:
He who falsifies a promise is no honest man.

The profession of marriages
Is worth more than I am able to describe.
Under that guise He took incarnation
From the Virgin, He who is our Lord:
Because — let anyone take a second look at all aspects —
By command of so supremely sacred an act,
He who falsifies a promise is no honest man.

That benediction of marriages
Inspires the sacrament of Holy Church:
It is a bond, without dissolution,
Which one should protect; because whosoever might wish to understand
The times past, he will have cause to say,
For fear of vengeance and torment,
He who falsifies a promise is no honest man.


Nectanabus — who came into Macedonia
From Egypt, where earlier he had been king —
Olimpeas, contrary to matrimony,
The wife of King Philip, he ravished,
From which Alexander was then engendered:
But whatever the first pleasure might be,
The end reveals the full story.

He who is close to sin sends grace fleeting.
This appears clearly from such a destiny
As happened long thereafter: without any other cause,
The son killed the father willfully.
Now observe how was avenged
This transgression of adultery:
The end reveals the full story.

King Ulysses, to pleasure his carcass,
Falsified his oath to Penelopé;
With Circe he enacted the same business,
From which his son Thelegonus was born,
Who also afterwards killed his own father.
Such engendering is not pleasing to God:
The end reveals the full story.


In the vast desert of India the Greater,
He who established therein the two pillars,
Master Hercules, for his honor, took a woman
Who was the daughter of the king of Caledonia;
At arms against Achelons he won
The beautiful Deianira in battle.
Great peril it is to break a marriage.

Shortly thereafter his love changed entirely
In favor of Eolen, so that he hated his wife:
This Eolen was the daughter of the emperor
Of Euricie, and she made such a fool of Hercules
That she had from him everything she wanted.
The end is not like the beginning:
Great peril it is to break a marriage.

Never has there been nor will there ever be a day
When such sin would not be avenged by God:
Because Hercules, so says the author,
By a shirt in which he dressed himself,
Was so completely deceived that he burned himself up.
For his misdeed he bore the retribution;
Great peril it is to break a marriage.


The noble Jason — he who on the isle of Colchos
The golden fleece with the aid of Medea
Won (for which he gained great fame for honor,
Renowned of everyone in court) —
Brought the young lady with him
From her country into Greece, and married her.
A broken marriage God will avenge.

When Medea most trusted to be at peace
With her husband, and when she had borne
Two sons by him, then he changed his purpose
Toward her, to whom Jason was first bound:
He rejected Medea outright,
And took Creusa, daughter of Creon the king.
A broken marriage God will avenge.

Medea, who had her heart closed by sadness,
In her rage — and this was a great pity! —
Her young sons, whom she had formerly enclosed
Within her sides, just like a madwoman
Killed them, right before Jason’s eyes.
Such is the fortune of him who committed sin.
A broken marriage God will avenge.


Those adulterers who persevere
In their sins, and always delight themselves,
Little fear the anger or the vengeance of God:
About which I find a chronicle written
As an example; and thus I tell it,
So that one may be able to note what it signifies:
Horrible are the evils of adultery.

When Agamemnon, who had under his governance
All the select flower of the Greeks,
Was at Troy at the height of his power,
His wife, who was called Climestre,
Egistus had subjected to foul love,
From which afterward a great crime arose:
Horrible are the evils of adultery.

Agamemnon suffered death as penance
Through the treachery which his wife had arranged;
For which she died without repenting:
Her legitimate son Horestes hated her,
And immediately she received death at his hand;
Thereafter Egistus on the gallows gave up his life:
Horrible are the evils of adultery.


The most beautiful woman who ever was human,
The wife of the king of Greece, Menelaus,
Was the mad sinner Helen,
On account of whom Paris at first was joyful;
But thereafter all his joy turned to woe,
When Troy was destroyed and burned to ash:
Thus high sin must needs be brought low.

Tarquin also, who had villainous ideas,
Who had lain with Lucrece, to her danger,
Received the punishment: exile without return;
And the sorrowing woman was in such dismay,
That she with a knife killed herself without delay;
That was a pity, but it must be understood:
Thus high sin must needs be brought low.

Mundus was a prince in the Roman court,
Who within the temple of Isis in the month of May
Lay with Paulina, wife and citizen:
Two priests contrived the entire affair.
Mundus was banished, in a true judgment,
Isis destroyed, the priests went to the gallows;
Thus high sin must needs be brought low.


Albinus, who was a warlike prince,
And the first king of Lombardy,
Killed, when victorious
Through his knighthood, King Gurmond;
He married his daughter and held her dear —
She who was called the beautiful Rosamunde:
One who does evil invokes an evil response.

Such a marriage is never gracious,
Wherever God does not sanctify the wedding at all:
The lady, who was full of anger
On account of her father, loved not at all
Her legal husband, but was another’s beloved;
Helmege lay with her uncleanly.
One who does evil invokes an evil response.

From sin an evil end is born:
Through grievous poison Albinus lost his life;
Helmege and his lecherous lady
Were burned for their great felony.
The duke who had Ravenna in his charge
In his palace pronounced their judgment:
One who does evil invokes an evil response.


The noble king of Athens, Pandion,
Had engendered two daughters of his body,
Who were called Philomena and Progne:
Progne was married to Tereus,
Who was king of Thrace; but the beauty
Of the other sister caused him to falsify his oath.
A wicked lover receives a wicked reward.

With mad delight contrary to reason
This Tereus, with malice aforethought,
From Philomena, who was in his protection,
Ravished the flower of her virginity,
Contrary to his oath, with which he had espoused
Progne her sister, who thereafter avenged herself:
A wicked lover receives a wicked reward.

This vengeance was most cruel:
A lovely son, whom Progne had borne,
The mother killed, and in a concoction
Caused Tereus to devour his son;
Thereafter God transformed him into a hoopoe,
As a sign that he was a false adulterer:
A wicked lover receives a wicked reward.


The blessed Abraham, head of the Old Law,
Out of Canaan in order to flee the famine
Led Sarrai his wife with him
Into Egypt, where he feared the designs
Of Pharaoh, who seized as a concubine
Sarrai his wife, and with her worked his will.
Power in high estate must be controlled.

Abraham, who greatly feared the king,
Dared say nothing, but endured the rapine,
In order to have peace, and maintained silence:
Thereafter he was well; but the king’s falsehood,
His sin, with such punishment
God chastised, that he was able to understand:
Power in high estate must be controlled.

Suddenly, before he knew why,
Throughout all Egypt spread the murrain;
Then Pharaoh, who was greatly frightened,
Returned the wife, and that was the medicine.
The soul so disposed to do such sin,
For its delight sorrow must be its end.
Power in high estate must be controlled.


Human flesh is exceedingly frail and base;
Without grace no one is able to defend himself:
That is apparent, as the Bible teaches,
When King David of Uriah became a murderer
For Bersabee; whereupon he had his pleasure:
Wife she was, but he cared not;
He has no security, whom God does not protect.

The beauty which he saw thus led him,
He who did not have the power to forbear his body,
But he fell into such pain of love —
Thus he was powerless to keep himself chaste.
The one evil causes another evil to come:
Adultery looks forward to murder.
He has no security, whom God does not protect.

But he whom God in His pity restored,
David, himself very forthrightly acted to repent,
So that — as no man ever in this human life —
He welcomed such mourning and groaning:
He prayed for mercy, mercy was his desire,
Mercy he found, mercy his point did not delay.
He has no security, whom God does not protect.


Common are the chronicle and the history
Of Lancelot and Tristan both;
Even yet their hubris remains in memory,
By way of an example to others in the present:
He who is warned and takes no care,
It is just that he himself carry the same folly:
Because the beautiful bird by means of another corrects itself.

All year long one finds the fair of love,
Where Cupid buys and sells hearts:
He has two casks, from which he makes men drink,
One is sweeter than piment,
The other more bitter than any ink:
Between the two falls the man who controls himself,
Because the beautiful bird by means of another corrects itself.

Toward one white, toward another Fortune is black;
Love changes very diversely:
One is joyful, another is in purgatory,
Without purpose, without rule and without government:
But above all others he acts sagely
Whom wanton love delights not at all;
Because the beautiful bird by means of another corrects itself.


One finds often in ancient writings
The brave and valiant, who have renown of arms,
But few there are who between the snares
Guard their chaste condition.
That king who was named Valentinian
To the Romans gave his advice:
Who overcomes his flesh, over all ought he bear the glory.

He who by arms overcomes fierce adventures
Ought to have the reward of the age;
But he who is able to overcome the stings of the flesh
Will have heaven quickly in its power.
Take heed now of the comparison:
Which is worth more, the world or Paradise?
Who overcomes his flesh, over all ought he bear the glory.

Love takes up arms in its uprightness,
And is more robust, because the profession
Of true love surmounts natures
And makes one live according to the law of reason:
In marriage is perfection;
They guard their faith who have this order taken.
Who overcomes the flesh, over all ought he bear the glory.


Love is said [to be] a man and a woman without parting;
This the faith pledged with the right hand requires:
But when a third party shares love,
It is not love — rather, it is called a business transaction.
He loses too much, who seeks to have gain,
Who loses his faith finds little profit,
For one man one woman is enough in marriage.

It is not a companion who is common to everyone;
For a single beloved there shall be a single lover:
But he who always changes fortune,
And is not able to be in one single place steadfast,
That one rightly can resemble Gawain,
Courtly in love, but wholly fickle:
For one man one woman is enough in marriage.

He is similar to the waning moon
That at first shows itself whole and full,
When he takes a spouse, whether she be fair or dark,
And seeks to have a substitute the next day:
But he who wastes his time thus in vain
Will have to realize at the end of his passage,
For one man one woman is enough in marriage.


Proprietarily, he who by right has gold
Does great wrong if he steals another’s money:
Just so he who has a proper spouse in his bond
Does great sin if he seeks his prize elsewhere.
Many a one sings, “It is my sovereign joy,”
Who thereafter will have sorrow without remove:
He is not a lover who his love misguides.

Of the three estates, blessed is the second,
That to marriage in lawful love yields itself;
And whoever confounds that order in sinful pleasure
It is extremely doubtful that he will lead himself back.
Therefore it is good that each prepare himself
To love thus, who has not tarnished his promise:
He is not a lover who his love misguides.

In privacy the conscience sets forth
To the wanton lover the love to which he plays the fool;
Thus at last he is obliged to respond to it
Before the One who unfolds the counsels.
Oh how the good husband puts his goodness to use,
While the wanton other deserts his wanton lover!
He is not a lover who his love misguides.

To the community of the entire world
John Gower this Balade sends:
And if I do not have eloquence in French,
Pardon me when I go astray with it:
I am English — thus I seek in such a way
To be excused; but whatever anyone may say about it,
Perfect love justifies itself in God.


[Latin verses following the balades:]

For whomsoever the sacred order of marriage may be,
I write, so that there may be such spiritual love in the order.
We may fear what is to come by the example of what is past;
Tomorrow as yesterday the flesh may be lightly stirred.
Thus he will not honor himself who will please the flesh:
Either the body laments or the spirit suffers because of it;
He who will reign immaculate must restrain the flesh.
And he whose blessed status will surpass all,
He will shine, wholly and broadly pleasing to God.

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Go To Cinkante Balades, Introduction
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