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The Siege of Thebes: Prologus

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


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

33 Marginalia: Pardonere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

65 Marginalia: ¶ The Hoste

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

92 Marginalia: ¶ Lydgate.

93 Marginalia: ¶ Monk of Bery.

96 Marginalia: ¶ The wordes of the Host.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prima Pars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

246 Latin marginalia: ¶ Nota.

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

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

276 Latin marginalia: ¶ Nota.

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

286-87 Marginalia: ¶ Ensample of Kyng Amphioun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

343-44 These lines are iambic tetrameter.

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

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

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

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

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

385 Latin marginalia: ¶ Nota.

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

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

392 The same hour. Compare phrasing at line 1057.

393 Latin marginalia: ¶ Nota.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1020 Latin marginalia: ¶ Nota.

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

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

1046b Latin marginalia: ¶ Secunda pars.

Secunda Pars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1195 Chysoun. Adrastus was King of Sicyon.

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

1211 Marginalia: ¶ Deyphylé.

1212 Marginalia: ¶ Adrastus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1541 lik as writ Bochas. Genealogie deorum gentilium 2.41.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1727 Latin marginalia: ¶ Nota.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1785-86 Marginalia: ¶ The counsayl of flatareres.

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

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

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

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

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

1889-90 The sense requires "was sittyng."

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

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

1963-64 Marginalia: ¶ The answer of Ethiocles.

1983 A four-beat line.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tercia Pars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3188 Marginalia: ¶ Jason.

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

3192 Marginalia: ¶ Hercules.

3193 Marginalia: ¶ Ysyphylé.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3510 Boccaccio, Genealogie deorum gentilium 3.29

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

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

3528 Latin marginalia: ¶ Bachus de vini.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3766-67 Marginalia: ¶ The answer of Tydeus.

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

3904-05 Marginalia: ¶ The manhod of Tydeus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4315 See above, line 2759.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4668 Marginalia: ¶ Lollium.

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

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

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


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

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

46 whom. MS: who.

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

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

67 logged. MS: louged.

109 with. MS omits.

110 to. MS omits.

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

163 It. MS omits.

165 a. MS omits.

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

177 curtesye. MS: curteseye.

185 and. MS: of.

203-04 Lines transposed in MS.

215 Seith. MS: Seth.

234 outward. MS: after.

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

280 which that. MS: which.

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

284 But that. MS: That but.

285 nought. MS: nat.

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

seven. MS: vii.

358 perceyved. MS: conceyved.

365 come. MS: corve.

368 fate. MS: face.

379 soght. MS: foght.

founde out bothe. MS: founde out of both.

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

382 hour. MS: tour.

455 halle. MS: alle.

461 purpoos. MS: propoos.

493 uttrely. MS: uutrely.

498 his. MS: her.

500 mused. MS: musen.

504 a. MS omits.

508 ground. MS: trouthe.

527 he. MS: it.

532 Edippus. MS: Egippus.

544 paganysmes. MS: paganysme.

553 fend. MS: fond.

561 Unto a. MS: Unta.

564 perteynent. MS: perceynent.

644 monster. MS: moyster.

649 preef. MS: preest.

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

725 remewe. MS: renewe.

752 grete. MS: right.

799 her. MS: hur.

804 be. MS omits.

813 punished. MS: punshed.

814 ar. MS: er.

863 Indigence. MS: Iindigence.

865 Compleynt. MS: compleyn.

882 Of which. MS: Of the which.

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

982 ful. MS: fal.

990 hem. MS: ham.

1000 sones. MS: sonnes. Compare line 1445.

1013 Wers. MS: Werre.

1022 honur. MS: nur.

1023 and. MS omits.

1028 cherissh. MS: cherssh.

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

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

1051 And. MS: An.

1052 peerlys. MS: perelys.

1053 eire. MS: heire.

1056 eir. MS: heir.

1070 devoyded. MS: devoyden.

1078 forbern. MS: forborn.

1098 But. MS omits.

1112 thorgh. MS: thorg.

1116 regnen. MS: regne.

1132 ascendeth. MS: descendeth.

1203 To. MS: Be.

1216 and. MS omits.

1221 mariage. MS: marige (corr. mariage)

1222 yet. MS: right.

1256 without. MS: with.

1271 his. MS: is.

1280 banished. MS: banshed.

1300 entered. MS: entred.

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

1346 yarmed. MS: armed.

1351 on. MS: or.

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

1358 Kyng. MS: And kyng.

1375 gentil. MS: getil.

1384 myght. MS: mygh.

1392 tarying. MS: taryng.

1393 light. MS: ligh.

1400 He axed. MS: I-axed.

1442 ermyn. MS: hermyn.

1445 sonne. MS: sone. Compare line 1000.

1448 for to. MS: to.

1465 Contenaunce. MS: Contenaunces.

1467 frecchnesse. MS: frocchnesse.

1484 arowes. MS: harowes.

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

1565 it. MS omits.

1583 To. MS: The.

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

1591 Atwixe. MS: Atwixt.

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

1646 And. MS: An.

1695 oth. MS: both.

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

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

1749 mutabilité. MS: mutablite.

1750 unstabileté. MS: unstablete.

1755 fro. MS: for.

Whel. MS: wel.

1766 at. MS: a.

1776 And. MS: I.

walles. MS: wal.

1784 flaterye. MS: flatrye.

1790 blowen. MS: blowe.

1802 The. MS: Th.

1803 rekenyng. MS: reknyng.

1815 falshed. MS: falsed.

1861 hem. MS: hym.

1892 his. MS: this.

1896 to. MS omits.

1901 Sir. MS omits.

1909 to. MS omits.

1941 That. MS: Tha.

1957 in maner. MS: in a maner.

1966 which. MS: woch.

1981 than. MS: that.

1988 high. MS: gret.

2006 of. MS omits.

2010 al. MS: of.

2022 tyding. MS: dyding.

2029 walles. MS: wall.

2045 best. MS: lest.

2073 rightwisnesse. MS: righwisnesse.

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

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

2084 ye. MS: the.

her. MS: ther.

2097 a rowe. MS: arawe.

2109 justly. MS: justyly.

2130 dispitous. MS: dispititous.

2140 or. MS: ar.

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

hem. MS: ham.

2224 lay. MS omits.

2239 which. MS: woch.

2251 late. MS: layt.

2297 ayr. MS: hayr.

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

2368 so. MS: omits so.

2374 at. MS: al.

2433 wherfor. Other MSS and Erdmann: wherto.

2475 sheding. MS: the sheding.

2487 oyther. MS: oythe.

2491 That. MS: Tha.

2494 no thing. MS: not.

2574 massageres. MS: massagers.

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

2613 Pyrrus. MS: of Pyrrus.

2618 yarmed. MS: armed.

2633 ful. MS: shal.

2645 oth. MS: hoth.

2717 love. MS: gold.

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

2739 Which in. MS: With inne.

2833 no. MS: to.

2848 han. MS: hath.

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

2864 hem. MS: hym.

2900 Ther. MS: The.

2920 Thei. MS: The.

2944 by. MS omits.

lorn. MS: born.

3007 nor. MS: no.

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

3027 ayr. MS: hayr.

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

3064 knowe. MS: knewe.

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

3099 to a. MS: ta.

3108 rood. MS: abood (corr. bood)

3168 husbond. MS: husbondys.

3195 wante. MS: wente.

3197 hym. MS: hem.

3211 To. MS: Til.

til. MS: to.

3219 Hyr. MS: hy.

3230 O. MS: I.

3232 her. MS: ther.

3251 quene. MS: king.

3292 thys. MS: thy.

3299 al at onys. MS: altonys.

3315 Cosyn. MS: Cosy.

3323 In. MS: An.

3346 our. MS: your.

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

3364 kynges. MS: kyng.

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

3383 the. MS omits.

3384 nedeth. MS: nede.

3385 ny. MS: by.

3436 But. MS: That.

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

3477 blood for. MS: bloood for.

3488 for to. MS: to.

3496 Hent. MS: Rent.

3504 avoided. MS: avoiden.

3518 hir. MS: hur.

3565 the Thebans. MS: Thebans.

3566 han. MS: an.

3577 to. MS: ta.

3595 hynde. MS: ynde.

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

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

3611 to. MS omits.

3628 were. MS: that were.

3665 put our mater. MS: puter.

3684 on. MS omits.

3712 a pes. MS: pes.

3787 remewe. MS: remowe.

3831 The whiche. MS: which.

3845 ytake. MS: take.

3850 to. MS omits.

3852 good. MS: gret.

3903 espieth. MS: espeth.

3942 gete. MS: getys.

3950 Prothonolopé. MS: Protholonope.

3965 drow. MS: droweth.

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

4008 And. MS: Ant.

4011 lete him. MS: lote hem.

4043 Pluto. MS: Plyto.

4045 his. MS: is.

4095 socour. MS: her socour.

4180 in. MS omits.

4187 They. MS omits.

him. MS: hem.

4204 occisioun. MS: occasioun. Compare line 3603.

4228 but that. MS: that.

4249-50 Lines transposed in MS.

4256 passyd was. MS: was passyd.

4286 out. MS omits.

4294 yslawe. MS: yslowe.

4298 loud. MS: land.

4306 ronne. MS: room.

4322 hem. MS: ham.

4326 Thorgh. MS: Torgh.

amyng. MS: hamyng.

4362 and. MS: an.

4373 nor. Erdmann emends to ne.

4374 and. MS: an.

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

4389 Althogh. MS: Al they.

4390 by. MS omits.

choys. MS: ioys.

4447 hevynesse. MS: hevnesse.

4467 mervaylyd. MS: amervaylyd.

4471 Campaneus. MS: Companeus.

4490 Wisshing. MS: Whisshing.

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

4518 preiden. MS: preide.

4549 That. MS: Tha.

4571 ayre. MS: hayre.

4600 departe. MS: parte.

4626 departyden. MS: partyd.

4639 wyldernesse. MS: wydernesse.

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

4696 mor. Erdmann emends to more.

whettyd. MS: whtyd.

4714 amendement. MS: amedement.












































Incipit Prologus.

   Whan brighte Phebus passed was the Ram
Myd of Aprille and into Bole cam,
And Satourn old with his frosty face
In Virgyne taken had his place,
Malencolik and slowgh of mocioun,
And was also in th'oposicioun
Of Lucina the mone moyst and pale,
That many shour fro hevene made avale;
Whan Aurora was in the morowe red,
And Jubiter in the Crabbes hed
Hath take his paleys and his mansioun;
The lusty tyme and joly fressh sesoun
Whan that Flora the noble myghty quene
The soyl hath clad in newe tendre grene,
With her floures craftyly ymeynt,
Braunch and bough with red and whit depeynt,
Fletinge the bawme on hillis and on valys;
The tyme in soth whan Canterbury talys
Complet and told at many sondry stage
Of estatis in the pilgrimage,
Everich man lik to his degré,
Some of desport, some of moralité,
Some of knyghthode, love, and gentillesse,
And some also of parfit holynesse,
And some also in soth of ribaudye
To make laughter in the companye
(Ech admitted, for non wold other greve)
Lich as the Cook, the Millere, and the Reve
Aquytte hemsilf, shortly to conclude,
Boystously in her teermes rude,
Whan thei hadde wel dronken of the bolle,
And ek also with his pylled nolle
The Pardowner beerdlees al his chyn,
Glasy-eyed and face of cherubyn,
Tellyng a tale to angre with the frere,
As opynly the storie kan yow lere
Word for word with every circumstaunce,
Echon ywrite and put in remembraunce
By hym that was, yif I shal not feyne,
Floure of poetes thorghout al Breteyne,
Which sothly hadde most of excellence
In rethorike and in eloquence
(Rede his making who list the trouthe fynde)
Which never shal appallen in my mynde
But alwey fressh ben in my memoyré,
To whom be gove pris, honure, and gloyré
Of wel seyinge first in oure language,
Chief registrer of this pilgrimage,
Al that was tolde forgeting noght at al,
Feyned talis nor thing historial,
With many proverbe divers and unkouth,
Be rehersaile of his sugrid mouth,
Of eche thyng keping in substaunce
The sentence hool withoute variance,
Voyding the chaf sothly for to seyn,
Enlumynyng the trewe piked greyn
Be crafty writinge of his sawes swete,
Fro the tyme that thei deden mete
First the pylgrimes sothly everichon,
At the Tabbard assembled on be on,
And fro Suthwerk shortly forto seye
To Canterbury ridyng on her weie,
Tellynge a tale as I reherce can,
Lich as the hoste assigned every man,
None so hardy his biddyng disobeye.
And this whil that the pilgrymes leye
At Canterbury wel logged on and all,
I not in soth what I may it call -
Hap or fortune in conclusioun -
That me byfil to entren into toun
The holy seynt pleynly to visite
After siknesse, my vowes to aquyte,
In a cope of blak and not of grene,
On a palfrey slender, long, and lene,
With rusty brydel mad nat for the sale,
My man toforn with a voide male,
Which of fortune took myn inne anon
Wher the pylgrymes were logged everichon,
The same tyme her governour, the Host,
Stonding in halle ful of wynde and bost,
Lich to a man wonder sterne and fers,
Which spak to me and seide anon, "Daun Pers,
Daun Domynyk, Dan Godfrey, or Clement,
Ye be welcom newly into Kent,
Thogh youre bridel have neither boos ne belle,
Besechinge you that ye wil me telle
First youre name and of what contré
Withoute mor shortely that ye be,
That loke so pale al devoyde of blood,
Upon youre hede a wonder thredbar hood,
Wel araied for to ride late."
   I answerde my name was Lydgate,
"Monk of Bery, nygh fyfty yere of age,
Come to this toune to do my pilgrimage,
As I have hight. I ha therof no shame."
"Daun John," quod he, "wel broke ye youre name.
Thogh ye be soul, beth right glad and light,
Preiyng you soupe with us tonyght,
And ye shal han mad at youre devis
A gret puddyng or a rounde hagys,
A franchemole, a tansey, or a froyse;
To ben a monk, sclender is youre koyse;
Ye han be seke, I dar myn hede assure,
Or late fed in a feynt pasture.
Lift up youre hed, be glad, tak no sorowe!
And ye shal hom ride with us tomorowe,
I seye, whan ye rested han your fille.
Aftere soper slepe wil do non ille.
Wrappe wel youre hede with clothes rounde aboute.
Strong notty ale wol mak you to route.
Tak a pylow that ye lye not lowe;
Yif nede be, spare not to blowe!
To holde wynde, be myn opynyoun,
Wil engendre collik passioun
And make men to greven on her roppys,
Whan thei han filled her mawes and her croppys.
But toward nyght ete some fenel rede,
Annys, comyn, or coriandre sede.
And lik as I power have and myght,
I charge yow rise not at mydnyght,
Thogh it so be the moone shyne cler.
I wol mysilf be youre orloger
Tomorow erly, whan I se my tyme,
For we wol forth parcel afore pryme;
A company, pardé, shal do you good.
What? Look up, monk! For by kokkis blood,
Thow shalt be mery who so that sey nay.
For tomorowe, anoon as it is day
And that it gynne in the est to dawe,
Thow shalt be bound to a newe lawe
Att goyng oute of Canterbury toune
And leyn aside thy professioun.
Thow shalt not chese nor thisilf withdrawe,
Yif eny myrth be founden in thy mawe,
Lyk the custom of this compenye,
For non so proude that dar me denye,
Knyght nor knave, chanon, prest ne nonne,
To telle a tale pleynly as thei konne,
Whan I assigne and se tyme opportune.
And for that we our purpoos wil contune,
We wil homward the same custome use,
And thow shalt not platly thee excuse.
Be now wel war - stody wel tonyght!
But for al this, be of herte light!
Thy wit shal be the sharper and the bet."
And we anon were to soper set,
And served wel unto oure plesaunce,
And sone after be good governaunce
Unto bed goth every maner wight.
And towarde morowe anon as it was light,
Every pilgryme bothe bet and wors,
As bad oure hoste toke anon his hors,
Whan the sonne roos in the est ful clyere,
Fully in purpoos to come to dynere
Unto Osspryng and breke ther our faste.
And whan we weren from Canterbury paste
Noght the space of a bowe draught,
Our hoost in hast hath my bridel rauht
And to me seide as it were in game,
"Come forth, daun John, be your Cristene name,
And lat us make some manere myrth or play.
Shet youre portoos a twenty develway!
It is no disport so to patere and seie.
It wol make youre lippes wonder dreye.
Tel some tale, and make therof a jape.
For be my rouncy, thow shalt not eskape.
But preche not of non holynesse.
Gynne some tale of myrth or of gladnesse,
And nodde not with thyn hevy bekke.
Telle us some thyng that draweth to effecte
Only of joye. Make no lenger lette."
And whan I saugh it wolde be no bette,
I obeyde unto his biddynge,
So as the lawe me bonde in al thinge;
And as I coude with a pale cheere,
My tale I gan anon as ye shal here.

Explicit Prologus.
Incipit Pars Prima.

the sun; Aries; (see note)
In the middle; Taurus
(see note)

Diana; moon; (see note)
shower; fall
Dawn; morning
Jupiter; Cancer's head

(the goddess of flowers)

artfully; combined
The balm flowing
indeed; tales
various distances traveled; (see note)
social classes
Every; according to; social rank
entertainment; (see note)
truly of ribaldry

permitted; no one; insult
(see note)
Rudely; their speech
too; bald head; (see note)
beardless; (see note)
cherubic face; (see note)
friar; (see note)

Every one written
who; if; dissemble; (see note)

poetry; wishes; (see note); (t-note)
given renown; (t-note)


Fictional; historical
By narration; sugared (see note)
essentially; (see note)
complete meaning
Removing; husk truly (see note)
Revealing; selected kernel
By artful; stories
did; (t-note)
truly every one; (see note)
Tabard Inn; one by one
their way
Just as
daring; (see note)

lodged one; (t-note)
I do not know truly
Chance; finally

sickness; fulfill
[monk's] cloak; (see note)
riding horse
unfit for court (see note)
servant; before me; empty purse
Who; arranged my lodging forthwith
every one
their; (see note)
Like; very; (see note)
Who; immediately; (see note)

boss (ornamental stud); (see note)

Who; lacking
very threadbare; (see note)
(see note)
Bury St. Edmunds; nearly; (see note)

promised; have
do credit to; (see note)
have; wish
meat or vegetable pie (see note); omelet; pancake
slender; carcass
ill; guarantee
recently; sparse; (see note)

nutty; snore; (t-note)
so that
If; do not hesitate to fart

(see note); (t-note)
stomachs; throats; (see note)
red fennel
anise, cumin

clock; (see note)

set out a little before 6 a.m.
by God
God's blood; (see note)

as soon as; (see note)
when; east; dawn

have a free choice
If; stomach

fully; know how

plainly yourself
attentive; (see note)


as soon
directed; soon

haste; seized

Close; breviary
recite the Paternoster; (t-note)
dry; (see note)
joke; (see note); (t-note)
(see note)
(see note)

began; directly; hear


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