Appendix: Eneidos Bucolis

JOHN GOWER, THE MINOR LATIN WORKS: NOTES

ABBREVIATIONS: CA: Gower, Confessio Amantis; CB: Gower, Cinkante Ballades; Cronica: Gower, Cronica Tripertita; CT: Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales; CVP: Gower, Carmen super multiplici viciorum pestilencia; IPP: Gower, In Praise of Peace; Mac: Macaulay edition; MO: Gower, Mirour de l'Omme; TC: Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde; Thynne: William Thynne, printer, The Works of Geffray Chaucer (1532) [prints IPP from Tr]; Traitié: Gower, Traitié pour essampler les amantz marietz; VC: Gower, Vox Clamantis.

All biblical citations are to the Vulgate text, and, unless otherwise noted, all biblical translations are from the Douai-Rheims. For a list of manuscript abbreviations, please see Manuscripts in the Introduction.

ENEIDOS BUCOLIS: NOTES

Prose Philosophus. An alternative translation could be the more general "wise man," with implications for the identity of "philosophical" Strode; on whom see Delasanta, "Chaucer and Strode." Macaulay (4.419) suggests this Philosophus as also the author of a quatrain following CA in many manuscripts including F, prefaced by the heading "Epistola super huius opusculi sui complementum Iohanni Gower a quodam philosopho transmissa" ("A letter about the completion of this, his little work, sent to John Gower by a certain philosopher"):
Quam cinxere freta Gower tua carmina leta
Per loca discreta canit Anglia laude repleta.
Carminis Athleta satirus tibi sive Poeta
Sit laus completa quo gloria stat sine meta.

[O Gower, enclosed by the sea and filled with praise
England, throughout many regions, recites your joyous poetry.
Master of verse, satirist -- or poet -- for you
May praise be full where glory stands without end.]
1 Eneidos, Bucolis, que Georgica. Although Gower's work makes infrequent direct use of Virgil, and his reading beyond the Aeneid must remain in doubt, that he knew Virgil's oeuvre by name seems incontestable. In the same manner he would have been aware of Virgil's achievement, sufficient to recognize it as a writer's model and to pay himself -- or accept -- a high compliment with the comparison.

5 libellis. "Little books," compared to Virgil's "libris" (line 3). The humility topos is standard. Compare Chaucer's "Go litel bok" (TC 5.1786) and the concluding stanzas of TC generally, with which classicizing sensibility (and competitive self-assertion) Eneidos bucolis has much in common.

 
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Appendix: Eneidos Bucolis

by: John Gower (Author), R. F. Yeager (Editor, Translator)

Macaulay printed Eneidos bucolis among Gower's Latin works, between Quia unusquisque and O deus immense, even as he surmised their author to have been "Ralph Strode, whom Chaucer couples with Gower in the last stanza of Troilus with the epithet 'philosophical,' and of whom we know by tradition that he wrote elegiac verse" (4.419). Precisely why Macaulay chose to hold out Gower's own authorship through this inclusion, without comment, in the text, only to reverse himself in the notes, is a small mystery. If, however, the unusual editorial maneuver indicates ambivalence on Macaulay's part as to Gower's hand in the poem, he is not alone. There is a case to be made that Eneidos bucolis, which appears in five manuscripts (including two that Gower may have overseen in production, S and F), could indeed be Gower's own effort. Its form is elegiac couplets, of which he was a master; nor would it be the first or only time that he adopted a "philosophical" detachment to comment on himself in the third person. The chapter headings in VC (e.g., "In huius opusculi principio intendit compositor" ["In the beginning of this little work the author intends"]), the address/prayer prefacing the dedication of S to Archbishop Arundel (e.g., "Hanc Epistolam subscriptam corde deuoto misit senex et cecus Iohannes Gower" ["This Epistle, written with a devoted heart, the old and blind John Gower has sent"]) come to mind; and, although their level of invention is less than creating an alterego to praise one's own achievement, the Latin note at CA I.60 ff., "fingens se auctor esse Amantem" ["the author feigning to be the Lover"], strikes closer. Amans, it has long been recognized, both is, and is not, the "John Gower" he eventually claims to be at CA VIII.2908. If Eneidos bucolis is by Gower, it presents an advance on his demonstrated fictive self-fashioning, but not an inconceivable one; and it would tell us much about how he wished to situate himself memoria in aeterna.

On the other hand, if it is, in fact, by someone else, its quintuple presence in manuscripts of his work may indicate how well Gower thought Eneidos bucolis caught his likeness.

The text here is from S, collated with C, H, G, and F. The form is elegiac distichs.

Eneidos bucolis

Carmen, quod quidam Philosophus in memoriam Iohannis Gower super
consummacione suorum trium librorum forma subsequenti composuit, et
eidem gratanter transmisit.
 
Aeneid Bucolics

A poem, which in remembrance of John Gower a certain philosopher
composed in the following form and happily sent to the same man, to
commemorate the completion of his three books.


(see note)
 




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Eneidos, Bucolis, que Georgica metra perhennis
   Virgilio laudis serta dedere scolis;
Hiis tribus ille libris prefertur honore poetis,
   Romaque precipuis laudibus instat eis.
Gower, sicque tuis tribus est dotata libellis
   Anglia, morigeris quo tua scripta seris.
Illeque Latinis tantum sua metra loquelis
   Scripsit, ut Italicis sint recolenda notis;
Te tua set trinis tria scribere carmina linguis
   Constat, ut inde viris sit scola lata magis:
Gallica lingua prius, Latina secunda, set ortus
   Lingua tui pocius Anglica complet opus.
Ille quidem vanis Romanas obstupet aures,
   Ludit et in studiis musa pagana suis;
Set tua Cristicolis fulget scriptura renatis,
   Quo tibi celicolis laus sit habenda locis.
The meters of the Aeneid, Bucolics, and Georgics, woven together
   By Virgil, have given matter of perennial praise to the schools.
On account of these three books he is preferred in honor over all poets,
   And Rome bestows upon them its chief praises.
Thus, too, O Gower, with your three little books is England endowed,
   Where you accommodate your writings to serious things.
He wrote his poems only in the Latin tongue,
   So that they might be appreciated by the famous Italian worthies.
But it is clear that you wrote your three poems in three languages,
   So that broader schooling might be given to men.
First the French tongue, Latin second, then at last English,
   The speech of your birth, completes the work.
He indeed astounded the ears of the Romans with vanities,
   And the pagan Muse played in his studies.
But your writing glows for reborn Christians,
   Whereby praise will be given you in heavenly places.
(see note)



(see note)










 


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