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Robert Henryson, Orpheus and Eurydice


1 Do you not know well I am your own true knight

2 In this way he [could] not his thirst to slake nor assuage


Abbreviations: CA: Gower, Confessio Amantis; Consolation: Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy; CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; DOST: Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue; Fox, ed.: The Poems of Robert Henryson, ed. Fox; Gray: Gray, Robert Henryson; MED: Middle English Dictionary; NIMEV: Boffey and Edwards, eds., New Index of Middle English Verse; Orpheus: Henryson, Orpheus and Eurydice; Testament: Henryson, The Testament of Cresseid; TC: Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde.

(NIMEV 3442)

Some confusion lingers over the title of this poem. In the last line of the moralitas to Henryson's retelling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, the poet identifies the poem: "And thus endis the taill of Orpheus." In 1508, the poem was printed by the first Scottish printers, Walter Chepman and Andro Myllar, who provided the heading "Heire begynnis the traitie of Orpheus kyng." In his commentary to the opening sections of his translation of Virgil's Aeneid (1513), the Scottish poet Gavin Douglas cites the poem as the "New Orpheus" by "Maister Robert Hendirson" (Eneados 1.19n13). A few years later, the poem was inscribed into the Asloan Manuscript, where its heading reads "Heir followis the tale of Orpheus and Erudices his quene." Only late in the textual tradition did the poem acquire the title Orpheus and Eurydice, under which it has consistently appeared in its modern editions. As well as the virtue of consistency, the modern title offers a certain justice in giving billing to Eurydice: for one thing, the much-discussed double structure of the poem is thereby suggested.

Orpheus and Eurydice consists of two parts, the narrative proper and the Moralitas. Since this is the least familiar of Henryson's longer poems, a survey of its structure may be helpful. In the first part, seven stanzas of rhyme royal (the lineage of Orpheus; Eurydice's invitation to him to marry her; the death of Eurydice while fleeing her boorish attacker Aristaeus; Orpheus' departure into the forest) are followed by the lament of Orpheus (five ten-line stanzas) and then the story is completed in 33 stanzas of rhyme royal (in search of news about Eurydice, Orpheus rises to the sphere of the fixed stars and then descends through the spheres of the planetary gods; he hears the music of the spheres; he journeys into hell, where his music charms the torments of hell so that three victims — Ixion, Tantalus, and Tityus — are released; he enters the palace of hell, where he sees hosts of kings and prelates; finally he approaches Pluto and Proserpina, sees Eurydice, plays his harp beautifully, earns permission to leave with his wife under the condition that he not look back at her while she is following him, does so, loses Eurydice permanently, and utters a final complaint before he returns home). The remaining 219 lines, in pentameter couplets (at least one line is missing at 585), comprise the Moralitas, in which many of the characters and some of the events are given allegorical signification: first (lines 425–58) Phoebus, Calliope, Orpheus, Eurydice, and notoriously Aristaeus ("gud vertew," line 436); Eurydice's death, Orpheus' celestial journey; then some of the denizens of hell are given increasingly expansive, circumstantial allegorical treatment: Cerberus, the Furies, Ixion, Tantalus, Tityus; each of these vignettes except the last is concluded by noting that when reason (and/or sapience or intelligence) plays on the harp of eloquence, the torment ends; the final section of the Moralitas concerns Orpheus and his loss of Eurydice. Reason plays effectually on the harp of eloquence but cannot resist the call of "affection."

The principal source is the very widely distributed commentary on Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy by the thirteenth-century Dominican friar Nicholas Trivet (for the relevant portion, see Fox, ed., pp. 384–91; Johnson, "Hellish Complexity," p. 414), with its source in the Consolation itself (3m.12); less acknowledged but demonstrably pervasive is the influence of Chaucer, especially the dream poems. An inventive adapter, Henryson has produced "a poetic compendium of sorts, a tissue of familiar materials which stands in a densely mediated relationship to the text of the classical auctor, Boethius" (Copeland, Rhetoric, p. 228); Alessandra Petrina notes that "the convergence of literary modes, the conflation of genres, seems the key-note" for reading the poem ("Aristeus Pastor Adamans," p. 391). In recent considerations, two topics have been recurrent: the fraught relation between the tale and the Moralitas; and the celebration of learning, as revealed through the liberal arts of rhetoric, music, and astronomy, a celebration tinged with irony only inasmuch as the poet — and, by implication the reader — can get little more than a drily theoretical, jargon-ridden glimpse of the ideal perfections envisioned through these disciplines.

The most problematic aspect of the poem has to be the Moralitas, which several modern readers have viewed to be in conflict with the narrative. So uncomfortable has it made some readers that an attempt has been made to demonstrate on stylistic grounds that, in whole or part, Henryson did not write it (D. Strauss, "Some Comments," pp. 7, 10). The most influential principle of criticism has been that the first part has vernacular roots (romance, proverbs, courtly complaint), the second is steeped in the practices of scholastic commentary (see Petrina, "Aristeus Pastor Adamans," p. 390, and Johnson, "Hellish Complexity," pp. 412–13 for critical reviews of this approach); the narrative skill of the first part of the poem makes the second seem "dull and ineffectual" (Gros Louis, "Robert Henryson's Orpheus," p. 646; compare Friedman, Orpheus in the Middle Ages, pp. 199–200); it is worth noting in passing that the lack of alliteration that has been cited at the start of the Moralitas is also a factor at the outset of the narrative (Fox, ed., p. 392). Various attempts have been made to justify this conflict as significant tension: as in Ovid or Chaucer, "generic instability" — taken as an intrinsic virtue — results from the establishment of "one set of generic expectations, only to undermine them by shifting genre," and hence arises the "strain" between romance and allegory (Marlin, "'Arestyus,'" p. 143). A distorting consequence of seeking a simplistic dualism has been to read the poem in the light of subsequent cultural and literary developments, as if it were more like Gavin Douglas' Palis of Honoure or the Child ballads than it is.

More subtly, Orpheus and Eurydice has been read as very much a fifteenth-century poem, an implicit debate of genres marked by convergences of style and matter so extreme that they entail "outright contradiction" (Petrina, "Aristeus Pastor Adamans," p. 391). To restrict this principle to the relation between the narrative and the Moralitas is to miss some of its most striking effects. For example, two technical stanzas reviewing the elements of music Orpheus learned on his celestial journey lead into a first-person, colloquial admission of ignorance about the subject; as Fox notes (ed., p. 403), the moment is an amplification of a very Chaucerian gesture.

Arguably, the Moralitas pursues the narrative as Aristaeus pursued Eurydice: it does not quite catch its prey. On the one hand, the Moralitas comments outright on the meaning of the narrative, but on the other, the narrative "raises points which reflect critically on the moralitas' hermeneutic mode and which reconfigure and question the validity of the poem's patriarchal structuring of literary activity" (McGinley, "'Fen3eit' and the Feminine," pp. 79–80). It is important to remember, as Ian Johnson has shown ("Hellish Complexity," pp. 414–15), that the source for the Moralitas, Nicholas Trivet's commentary on Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy, is also the source for the narrative: the commentary contributes episodes only briefly alluded to in Boethius' brief lyric on Orpheus; the stanzas on Tantalus are an obvious example. Evidently, the debate between the modes is ongoing; narrative and moral, for the time being, still mean too much to one another for one to overthrow the other.

1–7 The prologue opens abruptly with advice about addressing a noble audience; praise of high ancestry is to encourage emulation; underlying this beginning is a Boethian principle of nobility realized in the effort to live up to ancestral traditions of virtue (Consolation 3.6, qtd. Fox, ed., p. 391); but the emphasis on the poet's role in stimulating such ambition is a topic characteristic of late medieval literary prologues; Gray notes the same topic at the outset of the Scottish chronicle The Book of Pluscarden (tr. Felix J. H. Skene, 2 vols. [Edinburgh: T. and A. Constable, 1877–80]; qtd. p. 228).

8–14 After the conventional motives perfunctorily laid out in the first stanza, the particular concerns of the poem with debasement and "foule derisioun" begin to come into view; some complex, potentially troubling implications are presented, having to do with varieties of offense that will be given full exposition in the upcoming depiction of the denizens of hell.

12 This line is made arresting by its drastic juxtaposition between the archaic alliterative word for "man," renk (DOST renk n.2), and Henryson's latinate neologism rusticat; this is the first line in the poem in which alliteration is prominent.

13 The word monsture is used with reference to its Latin origin, monstrum, a portent or warning; the word will reappear in reference to Cerberus (lines 253, 461) and the Furies (line 475).

19–21 As in the first stanza, the emphasis shifts toward the role of the poet as an advisor to princes, comparable to Sir Gilbert Hay's depiction (1456; translated from Ramon Llull) of the "worthy wyse anciene knycht yat [that] lang tyme had bene in the excercisioun of honourable weris" who instructs a noble squire in the "hye and noble order of knychthede" (Boke of the Order of Knychthede, p. 3).

22–23 Fox suggests that the image of the wellspring may "be a reminiscence of the beginning of the Boethian metre which Henryson is following" (Consolation 3.12, qtd. ed., p. 392).

28 The poet's submission of the work to the correction of the reader is a conventional gesture, and Henryson offers it as if in passing; compare Fables, line 30.

29–30 Mount Helicon is in Boeotia, a region of Greece: from it sprang the Hippocrene spring, source of poetic eloquence; despite having been located in Arabia, the mountain thus provides an ideal location epitomizing the values of the noble audience envisioned in the opening lines, the protagonist (who is about to be introduced), and the poet.

36–63 Fox cites Dorena Allen Wright's discovery of the source for Henryson's list of the Muses in the widely distributed Latin grammar Graecismus by Eberhard of Béthune ("Henryson's Orpheus and Eurydice," p. 44; qtd. Fox, ed., p. 393; compare Testament, lines 209–17n). McGinley notes the gendered attributes in the etymologies (which Eberhard derived from the mythographer Fulgentius) provided for the Muses' names: for example, Euterpe ("delectatioun") and Melpomene ("hony swete") are rendered feminine, in contrast to Terpsichore ("'Fen3eit' and the Feminine," p. 78).

69–70 Calliope's enspiriting lecour recalls Chaucer's use of the word (CT I[A]3; a further Chaucerian connection may be made to the eloquent praise performed by children "on the brest soukynge" (CT VII[B2]458); the image has associations with medieval depictions of the Madonna and Child, founded on Luke 11:27, "a verse not uncommon in religious lyrics on the Nativity theme" (MacDonald, "Robert Henryson, Orpheus, and the Puer Senex Topos," p. 119); compare Eneados 1.prol.463–70.

71 Considering the beginning of this line in the Asloan Manuscript ("Quhen he was auld"), MacDonald cites MED old 1a to adduce "a special sense of 'old,' as applied to children" and suggests that the word may further "express an intellectual sense of senex, implying that Orpheus was 'fully nourished in wisdom, to a level normally associated with an old man'" ("Robert Henryson, Orpheus, and the Puer Senex Topos," pp. 118, 119).

75–84 According to Charles Elliott, Eurydice "is given certain secular and sensual touches; she is haboundand in riches (line 75), and feels no shame (which suggests emotion raised above reason) in offering to Orpheus wordis sweit and blenkis amorus (line 81)" (Robert Henryson: Poems [Oxford: Clarendon, 1963], p. xviii). Fox suspects that the "account of the courtship is perhaps Henryson's invention" (ed., p. 396); the alluring glances Eurydice casts toward Orpheus are what he misses when he sees her in hell (line 355); compare Testament lines 226, 503.

92–98 Petrina notes the modulation into a lower style in the previous stanza, so that the scene already shows "affiliations with Middle English romance" ("Aristeus Pastor Adamans," p. 392); in this scene, the shepherd "is further from the princely Orpheus and nearer to the Robene of Robene and Makyne" ("Aristeus Pastor Adamans," p. 391); "rustic" qualities have already been deprecated as degenerate (line 12n).

95 Compare Testament, line 429n.

98 The setting recalls the hiding place of the fox in the Fables (lines 756, 2246).

100 Petrina observes that this line suddenly abandons "any pretence of Arcadian prettiness and establish[es] a rough and urgent tone of primal desire and flight for survival" ("Aristeus Pastor Adamans," p. 389). Ogling at "schankis quhyte, withouttin hois" rouses a lusty squire to assail a lady in Lyndsay's Squyer Meldrum (line 949).

110 Through Chaucer's Knight's Tale, Henryson alludes to a conjunction between Diana and Proserpina (compare Testament, lines 587–88n); Eurydice and Cresseid are richly comparable characters.

113 The detail of Eurydice's vanishing recalls the parallel moment in Sir Orfeo (lines 192–93); note, however, the deferral of the relation between Proserpina and the fary (with a precedent in CT IV[E]2236) until the maid's speech (lines 124ff.), where it takes on the quality of an unsophisticated, "'folk' interpretation" of the event (Gray, p. 222); compare line 359n.

127–33 Fox notes the translation "by Henryson or by a scribe" (ed., p. 397) of these rhyming words into English (compare sair, wa, mair, ga, fra, stane, mane).

131–32 In his Dirige to the King, Dunbar similarly depicts James IV doing penance in Stirling: "Solitar walking your alone, / Seing no thing bot stok and stone" (lines 17–18).

134–43 This stanza refines the ten-line ballade (aabaabcddc) in "The Compleint to his Lady" attributed to Chaucer; a ten-line stanza with the same rhyme-scheme as Henryson's appears in The Quare of Jelusy (Symons, Chaucerian Dream Visions and Complaints, lines 572–81).

135 Job 30:31.

143 The lamenting refrain stands "in stark contrast to the contemptus mundi approach of the moralitas" (McGinley, "'Fen3eit' and the Feminine," p. 80). "The modulation in the central complaint of Orpheus, with its refrain not slavishly kept . . . is quite an extraordinary thing for a poet in the very dawn of his special dialect-division of literature" (Saintsbury, History of English Prosody, 1:272)

144–53 Henryson refines on his sources at this point: while the Boethian Orpheus plays sorrowful music, Henryson's plays a lively tune to relieve himself of his misery; though it delights the birds and trees, the "spring" fails to comfort its performer (compare line 268).

158 In the guise of a friar, the wolf wears the same humble cloth (Fables, line 679).

161 In effect, Orpheus anticipates living like the "bustuous hird" Aristeus (line 97; compare lines 92–98n).

186 Henryson, with daring originality, has Orpheus ascend into the heavens (for a discussion of the possible sources, see Gray, p. 231, note 51). Fox reports the suggestion of Russell Poole that "as sayis the fable may, like the reference to ane uther quair (Testament, line 61), be a reference to a pretended authority at precisely the point where the author is relying on his own invention" (ed., p. 399); compare Fables, lines 33–35n.

190 The key characteristic of Saturn is his bringing of stormy weather (e.g., Dunbar, The Goldyn Targe, lines 114–15); compare the more detailed portrait in the Testament, lines 155ff.n, 160–64n, 165n.

210 Of all the planetary deities, Venus is the only one who has any sense of where to seek Eurydice.

218–39 The "melody" learnt by Orpheus pertains to the Pythagorean concept of musica universalis, the "music of the spheres," by which the distances of the planets from the earth and their "proportionate speeds of revolution" were considered to be related according to musical intervals; Plato bases the concept of the world-soul on the Pythagorean proportions of the spheres (Haar, "Music of the Spheres"); the theory of this music is expounded in Macrobius, Commentary on the Dream of Scipio (pp. 73–74, 193). Given the prominence of Pluto elsewhere in the poem, the substitution of that name for the philosopher's in each of the witnesses is perhaps appropriate.

226–32 This stanza displays musical jargon but does so in order to give some substance to the musical intervals according to which the planetary spheres are related; six tones are named, corresponding perhaps to the six spheres in which Orpheus has spent time (lines 185–216), those of all the planets except the moon. As in Henryson's learned depiction of the mental process by which Troilus reacts unconsciously to the presence of Cresseid (Testament, lines 505–11n, 507n), a matter of fundamental significance can be approached by imperfect human understanding only through the abstruse complexities of jargon and theory.

233–39 This stanza has given editors much difficulty, especially if line 235 is taken to refer to a single, dissonant interval, disdiapente. A simpler reading finds the five intervals Henryson indicates: diatesseron, diapason, duplate, diapente, and dis. These are "of thre multiplicat" because they are all derived from three perfect intervals, the fourth, the fifth, and the octave — the foundations of consonance as expounded by Boethius in De institutione musica (2.18; Bower, "Boethius").

240–42 The admission of ignorance in the midst of a display of learning recalls the Franklin's self-deprecating gesture about rhetoric (CT V[F]717–27; compare Book of the Duchess line 1170); in this witty stanza, the alliterative tags gravis gray and wilsum wone appear as self-consciously naive (DOST grave 2n2; MED wilsom 1; see also lines 155, 290, and Fables 180–85n); following Henryson, the expression to "lay a straw" indicating a limit to a topic becomes idiomatic in Scots poetry (DOST stra n.1.4). Douglas ends a passage of musical theory with a comparatively exaggerated admission of ignorance (Palis of Honoure, lines 517–18).

248 Gray compares the style of this line to a recurrent motif in the ballads (p. 221; e.g., Child 2.2, 33.1); the female protagonist of "The Cruel Brother" (Child 49B) "harped both far and near / Till she harped the small birds off the briers / And her true love out of the grave" (lines 38–40).

256–58 The harp now comes into its own as a bringer of harmony; in De regimine principum bonum consilium, a Middle Scots poem of advice to princes (texts of which are preserved in the Chepman and Myllar prints and the Maitland Folio Manuscript), the analogy is made explicit between the sweet sound of a well-tuned harp (line 4) and a king's proper rule over a realm (line 9); compare lines 469–70.

259 The proportion of Orpheus to Cerberus the three-headed guard-dog of the underworld recalls that in The Lion and the Mouse, when the mice traverse the belly of the sleeping animal (Fables, line 1411); the protagonist is rendered insignificant in size.

272 Marlin notes an apparent anomaly here and again in lines 286 and 300: with his music, Orpheus is freeing those who are being justly punished; "If the tormented represent wrong desires, Orpheus' music actually quiets the guards that hold these desires in check — exactly opposite to the moralitas' interpretation" ("'Arestyus,'" p. 144). As in the Fables, mercy, reuth (Orpheus, line 286), outshines justice (lines 1461–66n; further, Johnson, "Hellish Complexity," p. 415).

275–88 Henryson is using details in Trivet to expand a mere two lines of comment about Tantalus in Boethius (lines 36–37) into two stanzas; as Johnson indicates, "Henryson adds to Trivet a more elaborated dramatic narrative, with appropriately uncomfortable details of the process of the torment" ("Hellish Complexity," p. 415); similarly, Thomas Rutledge comments that "The appetite is safely sated rather than repudiated. Orphic music seems to offer appetitive happiness rather than moral admonition. The balance of 'instruction' and 'consolacion' [lines 416–17], momentarily, has shifted" ("Henryson's Orpheus," p. 408).

284 Compare Fables, line 2346n.

286 Petrina notes that "The medieval treatments of the story frequently show a tendency to transpose it into courtly terms — a process certainly reflected in the protagonist, whose attempt to rescue Eurydice from Hades is easily ranged, along with Alcestis' sacrifice, among the supreme examples of devotion" ("Aristeus Pastor Adamans," p. 385).

288 This line, Johnson notes, "departs significantly from what both Boethius and Trivet say at this point in the metrum. They make no mention of the water standing, nor of Tantalus getting drink"; Henryson appears to have reapplied the detail in Boethius (Consolation, 3.m.12.7–9) that Orpheus stilled rivers ("Hellish Complexity," p. 415).

303–05 The slipperiness of the road to hell is conventional (Horstmann and Furnivall, Minor Poems, p. 616, line 149; qtd. Fox, ed., p. 406; compare Psalm 35 [34]:6).

310–16 In his depiction of the "painefull, poysonit pytt of hell," Sir David Lyndsay draws heavily on this passage (The Dreme, lines 189, 190–280).

321 As Fox points out (ed., p. 406), Hector and Priam of Troy are punished for upholding adultery (e.g., Lydgate, Fall of Princes, 1.6308–21).

322 For Gower, the conquests of Alexander the Great mark the passage from the age of silver to the age of brass (CA Prol.699–700).

323 Henryson could have read the story of Antiochus and his incestuous relations in Gower (CA 8.271–347); Chaucer also contributes to the notoriety of this story (CT II[B1]82–83); see Archibald, "Incestuous Kings in Henryson's Hades."

324 Chaucer depicts Caesar as a bloodthirsty conqueror despite all the Roman hero's love of "honestee" (CT VII[B2]2671–726).

325 Herod married Herodias, his brother's wife, and was reproved by John the Baptist (Mark 6:17–18).

326 For Nero, the exemplar of imperial depravity, material was to hand in Chaucer (CT VII[B2]2463–2550) and, with emphasis on "glotonie / Of bodili Delicacie," Gower (CA 6.1151–1234; qtd. lines 1161–62).

327 Pontius Pilate broke the law by handing Jesus over for crucifixion even though he found no case against him (Matthew 27:24, Mark 15:12–15, Luke 23:20–24, John 19:4–6).

329–30 Gower depicts Crassus as a covetous emperor whom the Romans punished by making him drink molten gold (CA 5.2068–2224).

331–32 Pharoah's oppression of the Israelites results in the ten plagues (Exodus 7:14–12:34).

333–34 Saul, first king of Israel, disobeys God's command regarding the Amalekites and thereby breaks his allegiance; he massacres the priests (1 Samuel 15:7–23; 22:17–19).

335–37 Ahab and Jezebel, king and queen of Israel, coveted the vineyard of Naboth (who is not usually referred to as a prophet); Jezebel had Naboth stoned to death on trumped-up charges (1 Kings 21:1–16).

338–44 This stanza provided Lyndsay, circa 1526, with the source for a greatly expanded, forthrightly anticlerical depiction of the damnation of the religious in The Dreme (lines 162–238); Lyndsay's "In haly kirk quhillk did abusioun" (line 182) is identical to line 339 as it appears in the Bannatyne Manuscript. Fox points out that all the witnesses read bischoppis in line 343; he admits archbishoppis on Lyndsay's evidence for topical reasons: "There were no archbishops in Scotland until 1472, when Patrick Graham succeeded by simony in having papal bulls issued which raised St. Andrews, his see, to an archbishopric. Graham was widely attacked, and was deposed in 1478" (ed., p. 408). In line 342, "men of all religioun" is attested by Lyndsay, Dreme, line 181, "Thare was sum part of ilk religioun."

349–51 With her ghastly, withered, leaden appearance, in obvious contrast to her alluring appearance when she was on earth (line 75), Eurydice can be compared with Cresseid (Testament, line 461); compare Criseyde in the Greek camp (TC 5.708–14).

359 The connection between the fary and hell, previously articulated by a mere serving woman, is now confirmed by no less a personage than Pluto.

369–70 MacQueen notes that "Hypodoria and Hyperlydia were the lowest and highest of the fifteen classical Tonoi or Keys. . . . The choice of these tonoi implies that Orpheus in his playing utilised the full range from lowest to highest, and so by producing a 'proporcioun' which corresponds to the music of the spheres" ("Neoplatonism," p. 83); see also Caldwell, "Robert Henryson's Harp of Eloquence," p. 149.

377–83 Boethius gives this speech to Pluto (Fox, ed., p. 406); "Proserpine seems to get the last word in Henryson's hell, just as she does in January's garden" (Marlin, "'Arestyus,'" p. 146; CT IV[E]2236).

401–12 Johnson ("Hellish Complexity," p. 417) compares this "tragically tainted declaration" with Troilus' equally Boethian "despairingly determinist monologue of love-loss" (TC 4.974–1078) and notes the excessive pessimism of Orpheus' assertion that love's "bandis" are "unbrekable" (compare Consolation 3.m12.3–4).

405 Compare Consolation 3.12.47–48.

415–633 Copeland has argued for the dependency of the ensuing Moralitas on the "fable" of Orpheus, a dependency that she considers to operate in the Fables (Rhetoric, p. 228). The stylistic changes, Marlin notes, are "accompanied by a shift in address: the third-person narration that dominates the tale gives way to a direct address to the reader . . . suggesting a fictive rhetorical situation wherein a lecturer addresses several auditors" ("'Arestyus,'" p. 147); in this regard, Henryson's style diverges from the impersonal exposition adopted by Nicholas Trivet (for instances of the plural first person, lines 431, 437, 444, 451, 453, 455).

426 The association between Calliope and eloquence secures the allegorical connection between music and eloquence; in the narrative, Calliope is associated with "all musik" and "musik perfyte" (lines 44, 70); given the relation expounded between music, celestial harmony, and perfect proportion (218–39n, 226–32n, 233–39n), these are the values of Calliope's eloquence, uncompromised by Mercury's associations with lying (compare Testament line 252; compare Marlin, "'Arestyus,'" p. 142).

431–34 For Mann, interpreting Eurydice as the appetitive part of the soul clarifies the "downwards and inwards movement" of the the quest of Orpheus, "forced to descend from heaven to the depths of the earth to which its appetitive part, represented by Eurydice, is by nature confined" ("Planetary Gods," p. 96); Mann likens this movement to the way the "cosmos seems to be bearing down on Cresseid" in the parliament of the planetary gods (Testament, lines 143–264).

435–36 "Aristeus' 'lust' (line 101) is very far from the virtue he is supposed to represent" (Petrina, "Aristeus Pastor Adamans," p. 390); the distance is acknowledged in Henryson's protesting "noucht bot." As Petrina notes, this ethical clash has been prepared for by Henryson's apparently non sequitur insistence, at the poem's outset, on maintaining nobility against rustic degeneracy (lines 8–14; "Aristeus Pastor Adamans," p. 390).

445–46 Marlin notes a discrepancy at this point between the Moralitas and Nicholas Trivet's commentary: "while Nicholas' commentary mentions the intellect weeping for the affect, he figures it not as a sign of contrition; rather, he holds the intellect culpable" ("'Arestyus,'" p. 143).

456–57 "These 'breris' characterise the fallen condition of the affectus in this world, its fleshly attachments and its 'wrak'. Intriguingly, 'wrak' is glossed by Fox as 'worldly possessions' and also as 'rubbish' — a soundly Boethian pairing of senses showing Henryson's brilliant lexical tact" (Johnson, "Hellish Complexity," p. 416).

469–70 The harp is a ubiquitous figure of harmonious proportion, one that features in the Scots De regimine principum, texts of which appear among the Chepman and Myllar prints and in the Maitland Folio (Gray, pp. 229–33).

490 Marlin sees this as an indication of Henryson's emulation of Chaucer's bookishness ("'Arestyus,'" p. 146)

531–44 As he did in the narrative, Henryson treats Tantalus expansively: he "translates two clauses of Nicholas . . . into a fourteen line invective on miserliness" (Marlin, "'Arestyus,'" p. 147).

546 Rutledge observes that "Orpheus only loses Eurydice because he forgets, for a moment, to rely on his 'harp of eloquence' . . . It is male virtue rather than poetic power which fails" ("Henryson's Orpheus," p. 403).

559–76 Marlin finds Henryson's allegory of the myth of Tityus especially telling; in place of Nicholas Trivet's "dry, scholastic etymologies," here is an "outburst against divination, witchcraft, and sorcery," at the end of which the formula appears to be omitted that has ended each of the previous passages about monsters and their victims, namely that the harp of reason and eloquence allays the torment that has been described ("'Arestyus,'" pp. 147–48). Though the texts of this Moralitas are rife with lacunae, Marlin's conclusion deserves consideration: Henryson is inveighing against divination, at the very moment "he is striving to divine intellective meaning from a poetic text" ("'Arestyus,'" p. 148).

582 This recollection of Chaucer's "Goddes pryvetee" also recalls a warning against searching into secrets in the prologue to The Preaching of the Swallow (lines 1647–49).

616–27 The conclusion has elicited divergent responses. On the one hand, Marlin maintains a reading of the Moralitas that entails an ironically depicted narrator who "fulfils his own picture of Orpheus: a widowed reason (line 627), an intellect out of touch with its affections" ("'Arestyus,'" p. 148). On the other, Rutledge asserts that the poet succeeds, finally, in turning his attention to God and away from earthly things: "poetic eloquence (Henryson's, if not Orpheus'), bolstered by divine grace, is able to turn our 'affection' to heaven" ("Henryson's Orpheus," p. 404).


Abbreviations: A: the Asloan Manuscript; B: the Bannatyne Manuscript; Cm: the Chepman and Myllar Prints; DOST: Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue; Fox: Denton Fox, ed., The Poems of Robert Henryson.

Orpheus and Eurydice: Cm, A, B (base text); Fox

title Cm: Heire begynnis the traitie of Orpheus kyng and how he yeid to hevyn and to hel to seik his quene And ane othir ballad in the lattir end. A: Heir followis the tale of orpheus and Erudices his quene. B: Fable, VI. Orpheus and Eurydice (the script is later than that of the main scribe). In a new line underneath the title in Cm, the following appears in an early sixteenth-century Scottish hand: "Memento homo quod cinis es et in cinerem Reverteris"; this verse (“Remember man that you are ashes and to ashes you shall revert"; from the liturgy for Ash Wednesday) frames the first stanza and contributes the refrain to a moral poem by William Dunbar (Bawcutt, Poems of William Dunbar, poem 32, line 1, etc.). In the table of contents of A, the poem is referred to as The buke of Schir Orpheus and Erudices.

2 or. B: and.

14 foule. B: full.

19 ancient. B: anseane.

20 to the. B: to.

22 of a. Cm, A, Fox: or a.

23 of the. Cm, A, Fox: of his.

25 tarage. B: knawlege.

29 mountane. B: mount.
Elicone. B: electone. As emended, the word is trisyllabic in order to fulfill the meter.

31 in. Cm, A, Fox: of.

33 god. B: goddes. The reading in B makes grammatical sense but creates a metrical disturbance, adding an extra syllable to the fourth foot.

34 And. Cm, A, Fox: Quhilk.

38 clippit. Cm, A, Fox: namyt.

40 is. Cm, A, Fox: quhilk is.

50 was. B: is. The change in tense in B is not rhetorically justified and seems in error.

55 In. Cm, A, Fox: To.

58 oure. B: Greik. The variant in B is attractively precise but slightly illogical: the expounding will be done, not in Greek, but Scots.

59–175 Cm omits. The third and fourth leaves of the first gathering, on which these lines would have appeared, are lost.

64 is. B: wes.

65 and. B: and gud.

71 Incressand. A: Quhen he was auld.
up. A omits.

72 frely. A, Fox: farly. The collocation in B, frely fair, is typical of Scots and Middle English verse style (DOST frely).

73 His. B: Is.

75 Excellent. B: Excelland. See the textual note to Fables, line 1625.

76 this. B: that.

78 that. B: this.

79 And quhene. A, Fox: Quhen.

84 thay can. A, Fox: war at.

88 A, Fox: With myrth, blythnes, gret plesans and gret play.

89 I. A: we.

94 Bot. A: And.
in. B: untill.

95 dewe. B: air.

102 till hir can he. B: to his cave hir.

103 scaith. B: evill.

112 Ontill. A, Fox: And till.

116 Quhill. A, Fox: Till.
king. A, Fox: schir.

117 sone. A, Fox: than.

119 the. A omits.

123 Sperid. A, Fox: Speris.

125 on. A, Fox: in.

130 to the. B: on to.

133 he. B omits.

140 mony. A, Fox: thi. The reading in B scans metrically if pynnis, earlier in the line, is pronounced disyllabically.

141 pane foll. B: paine fell.

147 devoid. B: devod.
from. A, Fox: of.

148 that vailyeit him. A, Fox: thai comfort him. B: that vailyeit.

158 and. A, Fox: of.

166 barne. B: sone.

167 panefull. B: pelfull.

170 be. B: to be.

172 that. A, Fox: the.
nevir was. A, Fox: never was. B: was nevir.

177 I. B omits.

178 Till. Cm, A, Fox: Quhill.
for seke hir suth. B: forsuth seik hir.

179 na. Cm, Fox: no. A: nor.

180 gyde. B: grant.

182 King Orpheus thus. Cm, A, Fox: Thus king Orpheus.

183 weipand. Cm, A, Fox: wepit.

184 wer thir. Cm, A, Fox: was the.

190 to all the. Cm, A, Fox: of all thir.
stormis. Cm, A: sternis.

195 and. Cm, A, Fox: Than.

198 Than. Cm, A, Fox: Syne.

200 Bot. A omits.
he. Cm, A: that he.
awin. Cm, A omit.

201 that. Cm, A, Fox: it.

202 And. Cm, A, Fox: He.

203 his. Cm, A, Fox: that.

204 He. Cm, A, Fox: Than.
his. Cm, A, Fox: he.

210 Forsuth. B: sur. The idiom for sure is not recorded in Scots until the mid-sixteenth century (DOST sure adj).

214 knawlege gat he. B: gat he knawlege.

215 he passit. Cm, A, Fox: than passit he. The reading in the other witnesses produces a hypermetrical line.

217 on to. Cm, A, Fox: doun to.

223 throu. B: of.

225 Plato. Cm, A, B: Pluto.

227 emetricus. Fox: epetritus.

228 Emolius. Cm, A, B: Enolius. Fox: Emoleus.

229 Epogdeus. Cm, A: Epodyus. B: Epoddeus, altered from Epogdeus in the same hand.

230 Of all. Cm, A, Fox: And of.

234 dowplait. Cm: duplycate.

235 dyapente. B: dyapenty.
the. Cm, A, Fox: a.

236 Thir. Cm, A, Fox: This.
makis. Cm: mak.

238 of. Cm, A, Fox: with.

241 of. Cm, A, Fox: at.

245 our. B: with.
wone. Cm, A, Fox: wane.

246 allone. Cm, A, Fox: allane.

248 and ful fer and. Cm, A: and ful.

258 This. Cm, A, Fox: The.
doun on. Cm, A, Fox: unto.

259 Than. Cm, A, Fox: And.

261 He passit furth ontill. Cm, A, Fox: Than come he till.
ryvir deip. Cm, A, Fox: ryvir wonder depe.

264 Megera. B: mygra.

265 Turnit. Cm, A, Fox: Turnand.

273 away and. Cm, A, Fox: away than.

275 Cm, A, Fox: Syne come he till a wonder grisely flude.

276 that rathly. B: and rythly.

279 Quhen. Cm: Touch. A: Thocht. Fox: Thouch.

281 to slake. B omits.
no. A: nor.

283 tolter threde. B: twynid.

284 rokkit. B: rollit.

286 B: Quhen Orpheus thus saw him sufir neid.

287 He tuk. Cm, A, Fox: Tuke out.

288 gat drink. A, B: gat a drink.

292 fell. Cm, A, Fox: scharp.

293 As. Cm, A, Fox: And as.
blenkit. Cm, A, Fox: blent.

294 saw. B: saw lyand.
wonder. B omits.

295 Ticius. Cm, A: Theseus.
hicht. B: hecht.

296 grisly. B: gasly.

299 war. B: was.

300 thus saw him. Cm, Fox: saw hym this. A: saw him thus.

301 He tuke. Cm, A, Fox: Has tane.

302 fled and. Cm, A, Fox: fled.
Ticius. Cm, A: Theseus.

307 That. A: Thai.

309 and. Cm, A, Fox omit.

310 place and. B: place.

311 with. B: and.

314 to. B: and to.

316 may. B: sall.

318 of. B: with.
hate. B omits.

319 rycht. B: full.

320 And. Cm, A omit.
conquerouris. Cm, A: Conquerour.
land. Cm, A: of land.

323 als. Cm, A, Fox: thare.

324 And. Cm, A: Thare fand he.
his. B: his foull.

328 undir. A: efter.

329 that. Cm, A, Fox: the.

331 saw. Cm, A, Fox: fand.
for. B: for the.

333 eke. B omits.

334 Of. B: Was.

336 that. Cm omits.

337 mercy. Cm, A, Fox: pitee.

338 saw. Cm, A, Fox: fand.

339 dois. B: did. From the perspective of a reformed Scotland, Bannatyne writes as if ecclesiastical abuses are a thing of the past.

340 archbischopis. Cm, A, B: bischopis. “With some hesitation," Fox emends this word to fulfill the demands of the meter and in line with Sir David Lyndsay’s echo of the line in his Dreme, “And Archebischopis in thare pontificall" (line 175; ed., p. 408).

341 and. Cm, A: for.
intrusioun. Cm, A: ministration.

342 men of all. B: all men of.

343 placis. B: place and.

346 hiddirwart. Cm, A, Fox: thider-ward.

347 quhair. Cm, A, Fox: as.

349 peteous and. Cm, A, Fox: pitouse and. B: and peteous.

350 the. Cm, A: a.

354 your. Cm, A, Fox: thy. In B, Orpheus consistently uses the formal second-person plural pronoun when addressing Eurydice; see lines 355–56.

355 Your. Cm, A, Fox: Thy.

356 Your. Cm, A, Fox: Thi.

360 Scho hes. Cm, A, Fox: Thare is.

365 refete. B: revert. The reading in the earlier witnesses is well attested in Middle English and Scots (DOST refete) and is semantically more precise and apposite.
fax. B leaves an empty space in place of this word.

369 ypodorica. B: ypotdorica.

370 gemilling. Cm, A: gemynyng.

371 Quhill. Cm, A, Fox: Till.

372 and. A, B: or.

378 without. Cm, A, Fox: bot wyth.

383 to hell forevir. Cm, A, Fox: forevir till hell.

386 Till. Cm, A, Fox: Quhill.
outwart. Cm, A, Fox: utter.

388 with. Cm, A, Fox: in.

389 in hart apone his. Cm, A, Fox: apon his wyf and.

394 grete hartsare for. Cm, A: rycht grete hartsare. B: grit pety for.

396 How his lady that. Cm, A, Fox: Quhen that his wyf quhilk.

397 tane. Cm, A, Fox: hynt.

400 thus out on lufe can. A: thus out of lufe can. B: this out of lufe gan.

406 thay. Cm, A, Fox: he.

407 thay. Cm, A, Fox: he.

409 Hart on. Cm, A: Hert is. Fox: Hert.
handis. Cm, A, Fox: hand is.

410 mone turne. Cm, A, Fox: turnis.

411 wo is. B: wois.

414a B: Moralitas. Cm, A, Fox: Moralitas fabule sequitur.

415 Now. Cm, A, Fox: Lo.

420 poesie. B: poetre.

421 Trivat. Cm: trowit. A, Fox: Trevit.

428 intellective. B: intelletyfe.

429 and. Cm, A: in.

434 it settis. Cm, A, Fox: settis.

435 herd. B omits.

437 That. Cm, A, Fox: Quhilk.
is to. Cm, A, Fox: is ay to.

441 serpent stangis. B: serpentis stang.
the. Cm, A, Fox omit.

443 is. A: is it.

444 all. B: and all.

445 reson. B: wisdome.

446 thusgait our appetyte. Cm, A, Fox: oure appetite thusgate.

447 Cm, A, Fox: And passis up to the hevyn belyve. B: And to the hevin he passit up belyfe.

449 will. B: wit.
eik. Cm, A, Fox: als.

451 fundin. Cm, A, Fox: found.

452 within. Cm, A, Fox: in to.
bundin. Cm, A, Fox: bound.

456 in thir warldly. Cm, A, Fox: on this warldis.

458 small. B: full small.

461 pas. B omits.
the. Cm, A, Fox: yone.

469 our mynd is myngit with sapience. Cm, A: that resoun and intelligence.

470 And. Cm, A omit.

484 quhilk. Cm, A, B omit. Fox’s emendation provides an initial syllable for the third foot of the line.

485 Bot. Cm, A: That.

489 on. Cm, A, Fox: in.

490 yow. Cm, A, Fox: the.
tell. B: tell of.

491 of. Cm, A, Fox: on.

493 wald. Cm, A, Fox: wald noucht.
into. Cm, A, Fox: in.

495 on. Cm, A, Fox: in.

496 And socht. Cm, A, Fox: Sekand.

497 foull. Cm, A, Fox: full.

498 doun. B: one.

506 a. Cm, A, Fox: thair.

507 quhen. Cm, A: quhen that.
perfyte sapience. Cm, A: intelligence.

508 eloquens. Cm, A: conscience.

509–14 Cm, A omit.

517 affectioun. Cm, A, Fox: complexion. Though he selects complexion, Fox notes that affectioun “is the easier reading, but may be the right one" (ed., p. 419).

523 till his. Cm, A, Fox: to the.

525–26 Cm, A, B put these lines in the opposite order. Noting the illogicality of the variant readings in Cm and A and positing that in B the variants can be accounted for as an attempt to impose a logical order, Fox transposes these lines.
525 And. B: He.

526 Intill. B: Syne in.

534 tak. Cm, A, Fox: call.

535 him. Cm, A: thame.
thair. B: his.

536 thair. B: the.

537 fill. B: full.
fynd. B: fund.

541 on bed. Cm, Fox: and bed. A: bed.

542 othir. B: wyn.

543 thay may. Cm, A, Fox: may thai.

545 that. B omits.

546 conscience. Cm, A, Fox: eloquence.

547–50 Cm, A omit. Noting the resemblance of line 550 to Fables, line 120, Fox considers that the lines “seem genuine" (ed., p. 421).

552 tynt with grit. Cm, A, Fox: tynt is with. The repetition of grit from the previous line and again in the one subsequent makes the reading in B suspect; arguably, the repetition has rhetorical value.

553 avaris. Cm, A: avarice. B: grit avaris.

555 Of. Cm, A, Fox: And.
he. Cm, A, Fox: thair.

556 To. Cm: Go.

557 Cm, A, Fox: Bot he suld drink ineuch quhenevir hym list.

558 to. Cm, A: and.

559 Ticius. Cm, A: Theseus.

560 wyth. B omits.

563 lerit it unto the spamen. B: lyrit it unto the spyne.

566 to. B: unto.

569 in. B: of.

571–615 Cm, A omit. Noting G. Gregory Smith’s hypothesis, followed by H. Harvey Wood, that this passage, like lines 509–14 and 547–50, are not by Henryson and may have been added by Bannatyne, Fox remarks on the contrast in style between these passages and Bannatyne’s own verse (quoted, e.g., in the Explanatory Notes). Fox adds that omission of the present passage damages the structure of the poem: a moralization about “the effect of Orpheus’s harp on Titius is needed here" (ed., p. 422).

575 causis. B: caus.

588 An incomplete rhyme indicates the omission of a line or lines in B.

607 hell. B: hale.

616 Than. Cm, A: Bot.

620 wyse and warly. Cm, A, Fox: war and wisely.

623 fleschly. Cm, A, Fox: wardly.

624 syn. B: sone.

626 vane prosperite. Cm, A, Fox: sensualitee.

630 undirput. Cm, A: help us wyth.
hand. Cm: land.

631 mantenans. Cm: mane temance. Fox: manetemance.

633a Cm omits. A: Explicit the Buke of Orpheus. B: Finis quod Mr. R. H.































































































































Orpheus and Eurydice

The nobilnes and grit magnificens
Of prince or lord quhai list to magnifie,
His ancestre and lineall discens
Suld first extoll and his genolegie
So that his harte he mycht inclyne thairby
The moir to vertew and to worthines
Herand rehers his elderis gentilnes.

It is contrair the lawis of nature
A gentill man to be degenerat,
Nocht following of his progenitour
The worthe rewll and the lordly estait.
A ryall rynk for to be rusticat
Is bot a monsture in comparesoun,
Had in dispyt and foule derisioun.

I say this be the grit lordis of Grew
Quhich set thair hairt and all thair haill curage
Thair faderis steppis justly to persew
Eiking the wirschep of thair he lenage.
The ancient and sad wyse men of age
Wer tendouris to the yung and insolent
To mak thame in all vertewis excellent.

Lyk as a strand of watter of a spring
Haldis the sapour of the fontell well
So did in Grece ilk lord and worthy king,
Of forbearis thay tuk tarage and smell
Amang the quhilk, of ane I think to tell.
Bot first his gentill generatioun
I sall rehers with your correctioun.

Upone the mountane of Elicone
The most famous of all Arrabea,
A goddes dwelt, excellent in bewté,
Gentill of blude, callit Memoria
Quhilk Jupiter that god to wyfe can ta
And carnaly hir knew, quhilk eftir syne
Apone a day bare him fair dochteris nyne.

The first in Grew wes callit Euterpe,
In our language, “Gud delectacioun.”
The secound maid clippit Melpomyne
As “Hony sweit” in modelatioun.
Thersycore is “Gud instructioun”
Of everything, the thrid sister iwis
Thus out of Grew in Latyne translait is.

Caliope that madin mervalous
The ferd sistir, “Of all musik maistres”
And mother to the king ser Orpheous
Quhilk throw his wyfe was efter king of Trais,
Clio the fyift that now is a goddes
In Latyne callit “Meditatioun”
Of everything that has creatioun,

The sext sister was callit Herato
Quhilk “Drawis lyk to lyk” in every thing,
The sevint lady was fair Polimio
Quhilk cowth a “Thowsand sangis” sweitly sing,
Talia syne quhilk can our saulis bring
In “Profound wit and grit agilité”
Till undirstand and haif capacitie,

Urania the nynt and last of all
In oure langage quha couth it rycht expound
Is callit “Armony celestiall”
Rejosing men with melody and sound.
Amang thir nyne Calliope wes cround
And maid a quene be michty god Phebus
Of quhome he gat this prince ser Orpheous.

No wondir is thocht he wes fair and wyse,
Gentill and full of liberalitie,
His fader god and his progenetryse
A goddes, finder of all armony.
Quhen he wes borne scho set him on hir kne
And gart him souk of hir twa paupis quhyte
The sweit lecour of all musik perfyte.

Incressand sone to manhed up he drew,
Of statur large and frely fair of face,
His noble fame so far it sprang and grew
Till at the last the michty quene of Trace
Excellent fair, haboundand in riches,
A message send unto this prince so ying
Requyrand him to wed hir and be king.

Euridices that lady had to name
And quhene scho saw this prince so glorius
Hir erand to propone scho thocht no schame,
With wordis sweit and blenkis amorous
Said, “Welcum, lord and lufe ser Orpheus,
In this provynce ye salbe king and lord.”
Thay kissit syne and thus thay can accord.

Betwix Orpheus and fair Erudices
Fra thai wer weddit, on fra day to day
The low of lufe cowth kyndill and incres
With mirth and blythnes, solace and with play.
Of wardly joy allace, quhat sall I say,
Lyk till a flour that plesandly will spring
Quhilk fadis sone and endis with murnyng.

I say this be Erudices the quene
Quhilk walkit furth into a May mornyng
Bot with a madyn in a medow grene
To tak the dewe and se the flouris spring,
Quhair in a schaw neirby this lady ying
A busteous hird callit Arresteus
Kepand his beistis lay undir a bus

And quhen he saw this lady solitar
Bairfut with shankis quhyter than the snaw,
Preckit with lust he thocht withoutin mair
Hir till oppres and till hir can he draw.
Dreidand for scaith, sche fled quhen scho him saw
And as scho ran all bairfute in a bus
Scho strampit on a serpent vennemus.

This cruwall venome was so penetrife
As natur is of all mortall pusoun,
In peisis small this quenis harte can rife
And scho anone fell on a deidly swoun.
Seand this cais, Proserpyne maid hir boun,
Quhilk clepit is the goddes infernall,
Ontill hir court this gentill quene can call

And quhen scho vaneist was and unvisible,
Hir madyn wepit with a wofull cheir,
Cryand with mony schowt and voce terrible
Quhill at the last king Orpheus can heir
And of hir cry the caus sone cowth he speir.
Scho said, “Allace, Erudices your quene
Is with the phary tane befoir my ene.”

This noble king inflammit all in yre
And rampand as a lyoun revanus
With awfull luke and ene glowand as fyre
Sperid the maner and the maid said thus,
“Scho strampit on a serpent venemus
And fell on swoun. With that the quene of fary
Clawcht hir up sone and furth with hir cowth cary.”

Quhen scho had said, the king sichit full soir,
His hert neir birst for verry dule and wo,
Half out of mynd he maid no tary moir
Bot tuk his harp and to the wod cowth go
Wrinkand his handis, walkand to and fro
Quhill he mycht stand, syne sat doun on a stone
And till his harp thusgait he maid his mone,

O dulfull herp with mony dully string
Turne all thy mirth and musik in murning
And seis of all thy sutell sangis sweit.
Now weip with me thy lord and cairfull king
Quhilk lossit hes in erd all his lyking
And all thy game thow change in gole and greit
Thy goldin pynnis with mony teris weit
And all my pane foll to report thow preis,
Cryand with me in every steid and streit
Quhair art thou gone, my luve Ewridices?”

Him to rejos yit playit he a spring
Quhill that the fowlis of the wid can sing
And treis dansit with thair levis grene
Him to devoid from his grit womenting
Bot all in vane, that vailyeit him nothing,
His hairt wes so upoun his lusty quene
The bludy teiris sprang out of his ene,
Thair wes na solace mycht his sobbing ses
Bot cryit ay with cairis cauld and kene,
“Quhair art thow gone, my lufe Euridices?

“Fairweill my place, fairweill plesance and play
And wylcum woddis wyld and wilsum way.
My wicket werd in wildirnes to ware,
My rob ryell and all my riche array
Changit salbe in rude russet and gray,
My dyademe intill a hate of hair,
My bed salbe with bever, brok, and bair
In buskis bene with mony busteous bes,
Withowttin sang, sayand with siching sair,
‘Quhair art thow gone, my luve Euridices?’

“I thee beseik, my fair fadir Phebus,
Haif pety of thy awin sone Orpheus,
Wait thow nocht weill I am thy barne and chyld?
Now heir my plaint panefull and peteus,
Direk me fro this deid so dolorus
Quhilk gois thus withouttin gilt begyld.
Lat nocht thy face with cluddis be oursyld,
Len me thy lycht and lat me nocht go leis
To find that fair in fame that nevir was fyld,
My lady quene and lufe Euridices.

“O Jupiter, thow god celestiall
And grantser to myself, on thee I call
To mend my murning and my drery mone,
Thow gif me fors that I nocht fant nor fall
Till I hir fynd, for seke hir suth I sall
And nowther stint nor stand for stok na stone,
Throw thy godheid gyde me quhair scho is gone,
Gar hir appeir and put my hairt in pes” —
King Orpheus thus, with his harp, allone,
Soir weipand for his wyfe Euridices.

Quhen endit wer thir songis lamentable
He tuk his harp and on his breist can hing,
Syne passit to the hevin as sayis the fable
To seik his wyfe bot that velyeid nothing.
By Wedlingis Streit he went but tareing,
Syne come doun throw the speir of Saturne ald
Quhilk fadir is to all the stormis cald.

Quhen scho wes socht outhrow that cauld region,
Till Jupiter his grandsyr can he wend
Quhilk rewit soir his lamentation
And gart his spheir be socht fro end to end.
Scho was nocht thair, and doun he can descend
Till Mars the god of battell and of stryfe
And socht his spheir yit gat he nocht his wyfe.

Than went he doun till his fadir Phebus
God of the sone with bemis brycht and cleir,
Bot quhen he saw his awin son Orpheus
In sic a plicht, that changit all his cheir
And gart annone ga seik throw all his spheir
Bot all in vane, his lady come nocht thair.
He tuk his leif and to Venus can fair.

Quhen he hir saw, he knelit and said thus,
“Wait ye nocht weill I am your awin trew knycht,1
In luve nane leler than ser Orpheus
And ye of luve goddes and most of micht,
Of my lady help me to get a sicht.”
“Forsuth,” quod scho, “Ye mone seik nedir mair.”
Than fra Venus he tuk his leif but mair.

Till Mercury but tary is he gone
Quhilk callit is the god of eloquens,
Bot of his wyfe thair knawlege gat he none.
With wofull hairt he passit doun frome thens,
Onto the mone he maid no residens.
Thus frome the hevin he went on to the erd
Yit be the way sum melody he lerd.

In his passage amang the planeitis all
He hard a hevinly melody and sound
Passing all instrumentis musicall
Causit be rollyn of the speiris round
Quhilk armony throu all this mappamound,
Quhill moving seis, unyt perpetuall,
Quhilk of this warld Plato the saule can call.

Thair leirit he tonis proportionat
As duplare, triplare, and emetricus,
Emolius and eik the quadruplait,
Epogdeus rycht hard and curius.
Of all thir sex sweit and delicious,
Rycht consonant, fyfe hevinly symphonys
Componyt ar, as clerkis can devyse.

First diatasserone full sweit iwis
And dyapasone semple and dowplait
And dyapente componyt with the dys,
Thir makis fyve of thre multiplicat.
This mirry musik and mellefluat
Compleit and full of nummeris od and evin
Is causit be the moving of the hevin.

Of sik musik to wryt I do bot doit,
Thairfoir of this mater a stray I lay
For in my lyfe I cowth nevir sing a noit,
Bot I will tell how Orpheus tuk the way
To seik his wyfe attour the gravis gray,
Hungry and cauld our mony wilsum wone
Withouttin gyd, he and his harp allone.

He passit furth the space of twenty dayis
Fer and ful fer and ferrer than I can tell
And ay he fand streitis and reddy wayis
Till at the last unto the yet of hell
He come and thair he fand a porter fell
With thre heidis, wes callit Serberus,
A hound of hell, a monster mervellus.

Than Orpheus began to be agast
Quhen he beheld that ugly hellis hound.
He tuk his harp and on it playit fast
Till at the last throw sweitnes of the sound
This dog slepit and fell doun on the ground,
Than Orpheus attour his wame in stall
And neddirmair he went as ye heir sall.

He passit furth ontill a ryvir deip,
Our it a brig and on it sisteris thre
Quhilk had the entre of the brig to keip.
Electo, Megera and Thesaphone
Turnit a quheill wes ugly for to se
And on it spred a man hecht Exione
Rolland about rycht windir wobegone

Than Orpheus playd a joly spring,
The thre susteris full fast thay fell on sleip,
The ugly quheill seisit of hir quhirling,
Thus left wes none the entre for to keip,
Thane Exione out of the quheill gan creip
And stall away and Orpheus annone
Without stopping atour the brig is gone,

Nocht far frome thyne he come unto a flude
Drubly and deip that rathly doun can rin
Quhair Tantelus, nakit, full thristy stude
And yit the wattir yeid aboif his chin.
Quhen he gaipit, thair wald no drop cum in.
Quhen he dowkit, the watter wald discend.
Thusgat he nocht his thrist to slake no mend.2

Befoir his face ane naple hang also
Fast at his mouth upoun a tolter threde.
Quhen he gapit, it rokkit to and fro
And fled as it refusit him to feid.
Than Orpheus had reuth of his gret neid,
He tuk his harp and fast on it can clink.
The wattir stud and Tantalus gat drink.

Syne our a mure with thornis thik and scherp
Wepand allone a wilsum way he went
And had nocht bene throw suffrage of his harp
With fell pikis he had bene schorne and schent.
As he blenkit besyd him on the bent
He saw speldit a wonder wofull wycht
Nalit full fast and Ticius he hicht

And on his breist thair sat a grisly grip
Quhilk with his bill his belly throw can boir,
Both maw, myddret, hart, lever, and trip
He ruggit out, his panis war the moir.
Quhen Orpheus thus saw him suffir soir,
He tuke his herp and maid sweit melody,nobr>
The grip is fled and Ticius left his cry.

Beyond this mure he fand a feirfull streit
Myrk as the nycht, to pas rycht dengerus,
For sliddrenes skant mycht he hald his feit,
In quhilk thair wes a stynk rycht odius
That gydit him to hiddous hellis hous
Quhair Rodomantus and Proserpina
Wer king and quene, and Orpheus in can ga.

O dully place and grundles deip dungeoun,
Furnes of fyre with stink intollerable,
Pit of dispair without remissioun,
Thy meit vennome, thy drink is pusonable,
Thy grit panis to compt unnumerable,
Quhat creature cumis to dwell in thee
Is ay deand and nevirmoir may de.

Thair fand he mony cairfull king and quene
With croun on heid of brass full hate birnand
Quhilk in thair lyfe rycht maisterfull had bene,
And conquerouris of gold, riches, and land.
Hectore of Troy and Priame thair he fand
And Alexander for his wrang conqueist,
Antiochus als for his foull incest,

And Julius Cesar for his crewaltie
And Herod with his brudiris wyfe he saw
And Nero for his grit iniquitie
And Pilot for his breking of the law,
Syne undir that he lukit and cowth knaw
Cresus that king, none mychtiar on mold,
For cuvatyse yet full of birnand gold.

Thair saw he Pharo for oppressioun
Of Godis folk, on quhilk the plaigis fell,
And Sawll eke for the grit abusioun
Of justice to the folk of Israell,
Thair saw he Acob and quene Jesabell
Quhilk silly Nabot that wes a propheit trew
For his wyne yaird withouttin mercy slew.

Thair saw he mony paip and cardynall
In haly kirk quhilk dois abusioun
And archbischopis in thair pontificall
Be symonie and wrang intrusioun,
Abbottis and men of all religioun
For evill disponyng of thair placis rent
In flame of fyre wer bittirly torment.

Syne neddirmair he went quhair Pluto was
And Proserpyne and hiddirwart he drew
Ay playand on his harp quhair he cowth pas
Till at the last Erudices he knew
Lene and deidlyk, peteous and paill of hew,
Rycht warsche and wane and walluid as the weid,
Hir lilly lyre was lyk unto the leid.

Quod he, “My lady leill and my delyt,
Full wo is me till se yow changit thus.
Quhair is your rude as ros with cheikis quhyte,
Your cristell ene with blenkis amorus,
Your lippis reid to kis delicius?”
Quod scho, “As now I der nocht tell perfay
Bot ye sall wit the caus ane uther day.”

Quod Pluto, “Ser, thocht scho be lyk ane elf,
Scho hes no caus to plenye and for quhy
Scho fairis alsweill daylie as dois myself
Or king Herod for all his chevelry.
It is langour that putis hir in sic ply.
War scho at hame in hir cuntré of Trace,
Scho wald refete ful sone in fax and face.”

Than Orpheus befoir Pluto sat doun
And in his handis quhit his herp can ta
And playit mony sweit proportioun
With bais tonis in ypodorica,
With gemilling in yporlerica,
Quhill at the last for rewth and grit petie
Thay weipit soir that cowth him heir and se.

Than Proserpene and Pluto bad him as
His waresoun and he wald haif rycht nocht
Bot licience with his wyfe away to pas
To his cuntré, that he so far had soucht.
Quod Proserpyne, “Sen I hir hiddir brocht
We sall nocht pairte without conditioun.”
Quod he, “Thairto I mak promissioun.”

“Euridices than be the hand thow tak
And pas thi way, bot undirneth this pane,
Gife thou turnis or blenkis behind thy bak,
We sall hir haif to hell forevir agane.”
Thocht this was hard, yit Orpheus was fane
And on thay went talkand of play and sport
Till thay almost come to the outwart port.

Thus Orpheus, with inwart lufe repleit,
So blindit was with grit effectioun,
Pensyfe in hart apone his lady sweit,
Remembrit nocht his hard conditioun.
Quhat will ye moir, in schort conclusioun,
He blent bakwart and Pluto come annone
And onto hell with hir agane is gone.

Allace it was grete hartsare for to heir
Of Orpheus the weping and the wo
How his lady that he had bocht so deir
Bot for a luk so sone wes tane him fro.
Flatlingis he fell and micht no fordir go
And lay a quhile in swoun and extasy.
Quhen he ourcome, thus out on lufe can cry,

“Quhat art thou, luve, how sall I thee defyne?
Bittir and sweit, crewall and merciable,
Plesand to sum, to uthir plent and pyne,
Till sum constant, to uthir variable,
Hard is thy law, thy bandis unbrekable,
Quho servis thee, thocht thay be nevir sa trew,
Perchance sumtyme thay sall haif caus to rew.

“Now find I weill this proverb trew,” quod he,
Hart on the hurd and handis on the soir,
Quhair luve gois, on fors mone turne the e.
I am expart and wo is me tharfoir.
Bot for a luke my lady is forloir.”
Thus chydand on with luve our burne and bent
A wofull wedo hamewart is he went.

Now wirthy folk, Boece that senatour
To wryt this fenyeit fable tuk in cure
In his gay buke of Consolatioun
For our doctrene and gud instructioun
Quhilk in the self suppois it fenyeid be
And hid undir the cloik of poesie,
Yit maister Trivat, doctour Nicholas,
Quhilk in his tyme a noble theologe was
Applyis it to gud moralitie,
Rycht full of fruct and seriositie.
     Fair Phebus is the god of sapience,
Caliope his wyfe is eloquence,
Thir twa mareit gat Orpheus belyfe,
Quhilk callit is the pairte intellective
Of manis saule and undirstanding, fre
And seperat fra sensualitie.
Euridices is oure effectioun
Be fantesy oft movit up and doun,
Quhile to ressone it castis the delyte,
Quhyle to the flesche it settis the appetyte.
Arestius, this herd that cowth persew
Euridices, is nocht bot gud vertew
That bissy is to keip our myndis clene
Bot quhen we fle outthrow the medow grene
Fra vertew till this warldis vane plesans,
Myngit with cair and full of variance,
The serpent stangis that is the deidly sin
That posownis the saule without and in,
And than is deid and eik oppressit doun
Till wardly lust all our affectioun.
     Thane perfyte reson weipis wondir sair,
Seand thusgait our appetyte misfair
And to the hevin he passis up belyfe,
Schawand to us the lyfe contemplatyfe,
The perfyte will and eik the fervent luve
We suld haif allway to the hevin abuve,
Bot seildin thair our appetyte is fundin,
It is so fast within the body bundin,
Thairfoir dounwart we cast our myndis e,
Blindit with lust and may nocht upwartis fle.
Sould our desyre be socht up in the spheiris
Quhen it is tedderit in thir warldly breiris,
Quhyle on the flesch, quhyle on this warldis wrak,
And to the hevin small intent we tak.
     Schir Orpheus, thow seikis all in vane
Thy wyfe so he, tharfoir cum doun agane
And pas unto the monster mervellus
With thre heidis that we call Cerberus
Quhilk fenyeid is to haif so mony heidis
For to betakin thre maner of deidis.
The first is in the tendir yong bernage,
The secound deid is in the middill age,
The thrid is in greit eild quhen men ar tane.
Thus Cerberus to swelly sparis nane,
Bot quhen our mynd is myngit with sapience
And plais upoun the herp of eloquence,
That is to say, makis persuasioun
To draw our will and our affectioun
In every eild fra syn and fowll delyte,
The dog our sawll na power hes to byte.
     The secound monstour ar the sistiris thre,
Electo, Migera, and Thesaphany.
Ar nocht ellis, in bukis as we reid,
Bot wicket thoucht, ill word and thrawart deid:
Electo is the bolling of the harte,
Mygera is the wikkit word outwert,
Thesaphony is operatioun
That makis fynall executioun
Of deidly syn, and thir thre turnis ay
The ugly quheill, quhilk is nocht ellis to say
Bot warldly men sumtyme ar cassin he
Upone the quheill in gret prosperitie
And with a quhirle onwarly or thai wait
Ar thrawin doun to pure and law estait.
     Of Exione that on the quheill was spred
I sall yow tell sum part as I haif red.
He was of lyfe brukle and lecherous
And in that craft hardy and curagus
That he wald luve into no lawar place
Bot Juno, quene of nature and goddace,
And on a day he went upon the sky
And socht Juno, thinkand with hir to ly.
Scho saw him cum and knew his foull entent.
A rany clud doun fra the firmament
Scho gart discend and kest betwix thaim two
And in that clud his natur yeid him fro,
Of quhilk was generat the sentowris,
Half man, half hors, upoun a ferly wis.
Thane for the inwart crabing and offens
That Juno tuke for his grit violens,
Scho send him doun unto the sistiris thre
Upone a quheill ay turnyt for to be.
Bot quhen ressoun and perfyte sapience
Playis upone the herp of eloquens
And persuadis our fleschly appetyte
To leif the thocht of this warldly delyte,
Than seisis of our hert the wicket will,
Fra frawart language than the tong is still,
Our synfull deidis fallis doun on sleip.
Thane Exione out of the quheill gan creip,
That is to say the grit solicitud,
Quhyle up quhyle doun, to win this warldis gud
Seisis furthwith and our affectioun
Waxis quiet in contemplatioun.
     This Tantalus of quhome I spak of aire,
Quhill he levit he was a gay ostlaire,
And on a nycht come travilland thairby
The god of riches and tuk harbery
With Tantalus, and he till his supper
Slew his awin sone that was hym leif and deir,
And gart the god eit up his flesche ilk deill
Intill a sew with spycis soddin weill.
For this dispyt quhen he was deid annone
Was dampnit in the flud of Acherone
Till suffer hungir, thrist, nakit and cawld,
Rycht wobegone as I befoir haif tould.
     This hungry man and thristy, Tantalus,
Betaknis men gredy and covetous,
The god of riches that ar ay reddy
For to ressaif and tak in herbery
And till him seith thair sone in pecis small,
That is thair flesch and blud, with grit travell
To fill the bag and nevir fynd in thair hairt
Upoun thameself to spend nor tak thair pairte.
Allace in erd quhair is thare mair foly
Than for to want and haif haboundantly,
Till haif distresse on bak, on bed and burd
And spair till othir men of gold a hurd
And in the nycht sleip soundly thay may nocht,
To gaddir geir so gredy is thair thocht.
Bot quhen that ressoun and intelligence
Smytis upoun the herp of conscience,
Schawand to us quhat perrell on ilk syd
That thai incur quhay will trest or confyd
Into this warldis vane prosperitie
Quhilk hes thir sory properteis thre,
That is to say, gottin with grit labour,
Keipit with dreid and tynt with grit dolour.
This avaris be grace quha undirstud
I trow suld leif thair grit solicitude
Of ythand thochtis and he besines
To gaddir gold, syne leif in distres,
Bot he suld eit and drink quhenevir he list
Of cuvatyse to slaik the birnand thrist.
     This Ticius lay nalit on the bent
And wyth the grip his bowellis revin and rent,
Quhill he levit set his intentioun
To find the craft of divinatioun
And lerit it unto the spamen all
To tell befoir sic thingis as wald befall,
Quhat lyfe, quhat deth, quhat destany and werd
Provydit ware to every man on erd.
Appollo than for his abusioun,
Quhilk is the god of divinatioun,
For he usurpit in his facultie,
Put him to hell and thair remanis he.
Ilk man that heiris this conclusioun
Suld dreid to sers be constillatioun
Thingis to fall undir the firmament,
Till “Ye” or “Na,” quhilk ar indefferent
Without profixit causis and certane,
Quhilk nane in erd may knaw bot God allane.
Quhen Orpheus upoun his harp can play,
That is our undirstanding for to say,
Cryis, “O man, recleme thi folich harte!
Will thow be god and tak on the his pairte,
To tell thingis to cum that nevir wil be
Quhilk God hes kepit in his prevetie?
Thow ma no mair offend to God of micht
Na with thi spaying reif fra him his richt.”
This perfyte wisdome with his melody
Fleyis the spreit of fenyeid profecy
And drawis upwart our affectioun.
. . .
Fra wichcraft, spaying, and sorsery,
And superstitioun of astrolegy,
Saif allanerly sic maner of thingis
Quhilk upoun trew and certane causis hingis,
The quhilk mone cum, to thair caus indure,
On verry fors and nocht throw avanture,
As is the clippis and the conjunctioun
Of sone and mone be calculatioun,
The quhilk ar fundin in trew astronomy
Be moving of the speiris in the sky.
All thir to speik it may be tollerable
And none udir quhilk no causis stable.
     This ugly way, this myrk and dully streit
Is nocht ellis bot blinding of the spreit
With myrk cluddis and myst of ignorance,
Affetterrit in this warldis vane plesance
And bissines of temporalite.
To kene the self a styme it may nocht se,
For stammeris on eftir effectioun.
Fra ill to war ale thus to hell gois doun,
That is wanhowp throw lang hanting of syn
And fowll dispair that mony fallis in.
Than Orpheus our ressoun is full wo
And twichis on his harp and biddis “Ho,”
Till our desyre and fulich appetyte
Bidis leif this warldis full delyte.
Than Pluto god, and quene of hellis fyre,
Mone grant to ressoun on fors the desyre.
Than Orpheus has wone Euridices
Quhen oure desyre with ressoun makis pes
And seikis up to contemplatioun,
Of syn detestand the abusioun,
Bot ilk man suld be wyse and warly se
That he bakwart cast nocht his myndis e
Gifand consent and delectatioun
Of fleschly lust for the affectioun,
For thane gois bakwart to the syn agane,
Our appetyte as it befoir was, slane
In warldly lust and vane prosperite,
And makis ressoun wedow for to be.
Now pray we God sen our affectioun
Is allway promp and reddy to fall doun
That he wald undirput his haly hand
Of mantenans and gife us fors to stand
In perfyte lufe as he is glorius
And thus endis the taill of Orpheus.

nobility; great glory; (see note)
whoever should wish to praise; (t-note)
ancestry; direct descent
Should; as well as his genealogy
his will he might direct
more; virtue; worthiness
Hearing narrated; elders’ nobility

contrary to; (see note)
man of noble birth
Not following his father’s
Worthy leadership; state
prince of the royal blood; boorish; (see note)
only a monstrosity in the comparison; (see note)
Held; scorn; foul derision; (t-note)

prove; by; great; Greece
Who; their whole energies
fathers’; rightly; follow
Augmenting; honor; high lineage
serious wise; good age; (see note); (t-note)
guides; undisciplined (t-note)
make; virtues

stream; from a spring; (see note); (t-note)
Retains; flavor; original source; (t-note)
From; they took quality; character; (t-note)
Among; whom, about one; intend
But; noble lineage
shall recite subject to; (see note)

Upon; Helicon; (see note); (t-note)
goddess; beauty; (t-note)
Of noble descent, called
Whom that god Jupiter did take as a wife; (t-note)
coupled with her, who; thereafter; (t-note)
bore to; daughters [Muses]

Greek; (see note)
Good pleasure
maiden named Melpomene; (t-note)
Sweet as honey; song
Terpsichore; Good; (t-note)
In; third; indeed
In this way out of Greek into; is translated

maiden with amazing powers
[Was] the fourth; mistress of all music
mother; sir
Who through; later; Thrace

sixth; called Erato; (t-note)
seventh; Polyhymnia
Who could
Thalia afterwards who
Into “Deep thought; mental agility; (t-note)
To; mental capacity

whoever; properly interpret; (t-note)
called “Heavenly harmony”; (t-note)
made; by mighty
On whom he fathered

It is no wonder that he [Orpheus]; (t-note)
Noble; generosity; (t-note)
father a god; mother
goddess; inventor; harmony
she; knee
let; suck from; two white breasts; (see note)
sweet fluid

Growing quickly; manhood; rose; (see note); (t-note)
exceptionally handsome; (t-note)
spread; (t-note)
Surpassingly beautiful, abounding; (see note); (t-note)
sent; young; (t-note)

for a name; (t-note)
she; (t-note)
purpose; declare; considered
sweet; alluring glances
shall be
kissed then; they did agree; (t-note)

Once; were wedded; from
flame; love did kindle and grow
and happiness, pleasure and enjoyment; (t-note)
worldly; alas, what shall; (t-note)
Like to a flower; bud
Which fades quickly; sorrow

about; (see note)
Who; out of doors upon
With only a maid; green; (t-note)
gather; see; bud; (see note); (t-note)
Where; wood nearby; young
rough herdsman called Aristaeus
Keeping; beasts; thicket; (see note)

when; on her own
Barefoot; legs whiter; snow; (see note)
Pricked; decided; more [delay]
To rape her; did he approach; (t-note)
Fearing; harm; when; (t-note)
through a thicket
stepped; poisonous snake

As is the nature; deadly poison
pieces; heart did shatter
at once; deathlike faint
Seeing; event; herself ready; (see note)
Who is called the goddess of hell
to; did call this gentle queen; (t-note)

when; vanished; invisible; (see note)
maiden wept; face
Crying; terrifying voice
Until; did hear; (t-note)
at once did he ask; (t-note)

taken by the fairies; eyes; (t-note)

inflamed; ire
raging like a ravenous lion
fearsome look; eyes glowing
Asks how it happened; (t-note)

At that moment; (t-note)
Seized her at once; did hasten

When; spoken; sighed very bitterly; (see note)
almost broke; true grief; woe
made no further delay
took; wood did go; (t-note)
Wringing; (see note)
As long as he could; then
to; in this way; lament; (t-note)

doleful harp; dismal; (see note)
into; (see note)
cease all your subtle, sweet songs
weep; sorrowful
Who has lost; earth; delight
pastime; into wails; sobbing
golden pegs; tears make wet; (t-note)
pain; strive to express; (t-note)
Crying; place; street
(see note)

Himself; cheer; dance tune; (see note)
Until; birds of the forest did
trees danced; green leaves
To draw him away; lamenting; (t-note)
vain; availed him not at all; (t-note)
so [set] upon; lovely queen
bloody tears; eyes
that could; cease
always; sorrows cold; sharp

home; pleasure; pastime
And welcome wild woods; unfamiliar path
evil fate; endure
royal robes; fine clothing
shall be into rough and undyed homespun; (see note); (t-note)
diadem consisting [only] of a hat of [my own] hair
beaver, badger; boar
sheltering bushes; wild beasts; (see note)
Without; saying; bitter sighs

beseech; father
pity on your own son
Do you not know well; (t-note)
hear; lament; piteous; (t-note)
Avert from me; death
Who exists thus, beguiled without guilt
Do not let; covered; (t-note)
Lend; light; fall short
fair one; who; dishonored; (t-note)

grandfather; you
alleviate; gloomy lamentation
give; strength so that; neither faint
Until I find her; seek; indeed; (t-note)
cease or stop; log or stone; (t-note)
Through; divine power guide; where; (t-note)
Make; at peace
Bitterly weeping; (t-note)

these mournful songs; (t-note)
took; hung [it] on his chest
Then journeyed; heaven; (see note)
seek; availed
Along the Milky Way; without tarrying
Then descended; sphere; old
Who is called father of all the storms; (see note); (t-note)

sought throughout
grandfather did he go
Who keenly pitied
ordered; sphere; searched
not there; down he did; (t-note)
To; battle; strife
searched; sphere; found; not

down to his father; (t-note)
sun; rays; clear
when; own; (t-note)
such a state; face; (t-note)
caused at once to go seek through; (t-note)
vain; did not come there; (t-note)
took his leave; did go; (t-note)

When; kneeled

no one more loyal
goddess of love; most mighty
Indeed; must seek further below; (see note); (t-note)
from; without more

without delay
Who is called; eloquence
about; there; (t-note)
down from there; (t-note)
At; moon; made no stop
from; earth; (t-note)
along; learned; (see note)

rotation; spheres
Which harmony; through all this world; (t-note)
Until motion [should] cease, unites in perpetuity
That Plato calls the soul of the world; (t-note)

learned; musical notes; (see note)
octave, twelfth; fourth; (t-note)
Fifth; also; double octave; (t-note)
Second very; abstruse; (t-note)
these sweet and delightful six; (t-note)
Very harmonious, five heavenly intervals
Comprised; scholars; devise

perfect fourth; sweet indeed; (see note)
octave; doubled; (t-note)
perfect fifth combined; doubled octave; (t-note)
These make five [intervals] derived from three; (t-note)
numbers; (t-note)
caused; motion; heavens

About such; only drivel; (see note)
topic I set a limit; (t-note)
could; note
took the route
seek; across; gray forests
cold over; desolate country; (t-note)
guide; alone; (t-note)

traveled onward
very far; further; (see note); (t-note)
always; found; available paths
a fearsome gatekeeper
heads; called Cerberus

took; played continually; (see note)
through sweetness
went to sleep; (t-note)
tiptoed in across his belly; (see note); (t-note)
further down; shall hear

to a deep river; (t-note)
Over; bridge; three
Who; access to; guard
[the Three Fates]; (t-note)
Turning; wheel [that]; horrible; see; (t-note)
[was] stretched; named Ixion
Rolling around most utterly beset with woe

Then; lively dance tune
wheel stopped; spinning
no one was left
did creep; (see note)
stole away; at once; (t-note)
across; has gone

thence; came; river; (see note); (t-note)
Turbulent; ran down swiftly; (t-note)
naked, very thirsty
went above; chin
Though; gaped, there would; (t-note)
dipped; run low

In front of; apple hung
Close to; flimsy thread; (t-note)
rocked; (see note); (t-note)
retreated; refused to feed him
took pity on; great need; (see note); (t-note)
and twanged upon it at once; (t-note)
stood still; (see note); (t-note)

Then; across a moor; sharp
a lonely path
not been for the assistance
cruel spikes; pierced and destroyed; (t-note)
looked; field; (t-note)
split open; very sorrowful man; (t-note)
Nailed down tight; was called; (t-note)

breast; horrible vulture; (t-note)
Which; did dig through
stomach; diaphragm; liver and bowels
tugged out; torments were the greater; (t-note)
When; suffer bitterly; (t-note)
took; made; (t-note)
ceased his outcry; (t-note)

moor; found a terrifying street; (see note)
Dark; to travel upon
slipperiness hardly; footing
which; stench; offensive
hideous house of hell; (t-note)
Rhadamanthus [Pluto]
Were; in did go; (t-note)

gloomy; bottomless; (see note); (t-note)
Furnace; (t-note)
food [is] venom; poisonous
tortures; count; (t-note)
Whatever being comes
forever dying and never again can die; (t-note)

There found; miserable
crown; head; hotly burning; (t-note)
Who; lives; tyrannical; been; (t-note)
wealth; (t-note)
he found; (see note)
unjust; (see note)
(see note); (t-note)

cruelty; (see note); (t-note)
He saw Herod with his brother’s wife; (see note)
(see note)
Pilate; breaking; (see note)
Then; looked; did recognize; (t-note)
Crassus; no one mightier in the world; (see note); (t-note)
greed stuffed; burning

Pharoah; (see note); (t-note)
God’s people; whom; plagues
Saul also; abuse; (see note); (t-note)
Ahab; Jezebel; (see note)
Who innocent Naboth; true prophet; (t-note)
vineyard killed without; (t-note)

many a pope; (see note); (t-note)
holy church; commit abuses; (t-note)
their robes of office; (t-note)
By purchase and wrongful claim of a benefice; (t-note)
every religious order; (t-note)
spending; the incomes from their benefices; (t-note)

Then lower down; where
to this place he approached; (t-note)
Always playing; did walk; (t-note)
Lean; corpse-like; hue; (see note); (t-note)
Very sickly; pale; withered; weed; (t-note)
lily complexion; lead

loyal; delight
woe; to see; changed
complexion; rose; white; (t-note)
eyes; glances; (t-note)
red lips; delicious; (t-note)
Just; dare not; indeed
But; learn; another

although she looks like an elf; (see note)
lament, and the reason is; (t-note)
She does as well

despair; such condition
If she were; home; country; Thrace
recover very soon; skin; (t-note)

in front of
white hands; did take
sweet melodies
bass notes; hypodorian; (see note); (t-note)
an extra treble line; hyperlydian; (t-note)
Until; compassion; (t-note)
wept; hear; (t-note)

commanded; ask
reward; nothing at all
permission; to go away
whom he had sought so far
Said; Since; brought her here; (see note)
part; (t-note)
To that I formally agree

then by; take
subject to this penalty
If; glance
shall have her back to hell; (t-note)
Although; severe; willing
talking; delight; pastime
Until; outer gate; (t-note)

filled with deep longing
blinded; passion; (t-note)
Concerned about; (t-note)
Did not remember
What more do you want?
glanced backward; came at once

great heartache; hear; (t-note)

redeemed at so high a price; (t-note)
For just a look so soon was taken from him; (t-note)
Down flat; could; further
a while; swoon; trance
When; awoke; against love; (t-note)

What; shall; (see note)
cruel and merciful
grief and torment
To; fickle
your bonds unbreakable; (see note)
Whoever; though; ever so true; (t-note)
Perhaps; regret; (t-note)

I completely find; true
Heart; treasure; sore spot; (t-note)
Where; perforce the eye must turn; (t-note)
experienced; woe; therefore; (t-note)
Just; look; lost
inveighing against; over stream; field
widower homeward; gone

Moralization; (t-note)
Boethius; senator; (see note); (t-note)
fictional; took care
fine; [of Philosophy]
lesson; good
Which; itself, although it is fictional
cloak; (t-note)
Trivet; (t-note)
distinguished theologian

Very; profit; seriousness
(see note)
Married, these two begot; without delay
Which is called; intellectual part; (t-note)
man’s soul; free; (t-note)
separate from
our desire; (see note)
imagination often swayed
Sometimes; locates; pleasure
situates; (t-note)
herdsman who did pursue; (see note); (t-note)
nothing but good virtue
is busy; (t-note)
when; flee away across
From; world’s vain pleasure
Mixed; vicissitude
bites; deadly; (t-note)
poisons; outside and inside [completely]
is deadened; also forced down; (t-note)
To [the level of] worldly; our entire will; (t-note)
Then; weeps very bitterly; (see note); (t-note)
Seeing; desire thus go astray; (t-note)
journeys upward at once to heaven; (t-note)
Showing to; life
should always have for heaven above
seldom is what we want found there; (t-note)
bound so tightly to the body; (t-note)
mind’s eye
cannot fly upward
Our desire should; spheres
When; tethered; these worldly briers; (see note); (t-note)
Sometimes; trash [goods]
we pay little attention; (t-note)
thou seekest utterly in vain
high, so come down

Which is depicted; have so many
represent three sorts; death
death; middle
third; great age; taken
swallow spares no one
infused; wisdom; (see note); (t-note)
makes an appeal

At every age from sin; delight

monsters; three sisters
Alecto, Megaera, and Thesiphone
[They] are nothing else; books; read
thought; malicious deed
swelling; heart
wicked; uttered
the deed

these three perpetually turn
which is merely to say; (t-note)
worldly; are raised aloft; (t-note)
wheel; great
whirl unexpectedly before; realize
cast; poor; humble state
Ixion; spread-eagled; (t-note)
shall tell you; read; (see note); (t-note)
fickle and lecherous in his manner of life; (t-note)
pursuit persistent and bold
did not wish; any lower; (t-note)
queen and goddess of nature
rose up into; (t-note)
sought; intending; have sex with her; (t-note)
She; foul intention; (t-note)
rainy cloud; skies; (t-note)
caused to; threw between them both
semen went out from him
From which were engendered the centaurs
in a remarkable manner
deep resentment and offense
felt because of his great aggression
to be turned forever; (t-note)
when; (t-note)
relinquish; thought; delight
ceases; wicked desire
From perverse; then; tongue
down asleep
wheel did creep
great eagerness
Sometimes; world’s property
Ceases at once when; disposition; (t-note)
of whom; spoke about earlier
While; lived; fine innkeeper
came traveling that way
wealth; took lodging
for [the god’s] supper Tantalus; (t-note)
own son; beloved and dear to him
caused; to eat; every morsel; (t-note)
Then; stew well simmered with spices; (t-note)
offense; straightaway
[He] was condemned; river
To; thirst, naked
Utterly in despair; told
(see note)
Who are always ready the god of wealth
To welcome and receive in lodging; (t-note)
boil their son; pieces; (t-note)
great exertion; (t-note)
fill the wallet; find in their heart; (t-note)
For themselves; nor take their portion
earth where; more folly
To; indigence; [one’s] back; table; (t-note)
save up for; hoard; (t-note)
sleep; they cannot; (t-note)
amass property so
But when; (t-note)
(see note); (t-note)
Showing; each; (t-note)
they; who; trust; put confidence
In; world’s vain
these three sorry qualities
gotten; great labor
Kept; anxiety; lost; grief; (t-note)
Whoever by grace understood this avarice; (t-note)
believe; renounce their
pressing thoughts; intense endeaveor; (t-note)
amass; then live in poverty; (t-note)
But; should eat; whenever he should choose; (t-note)
relieve; burning; (t-note)
[who] lay nailed; field; (see note); (t-note)
vulture; pierced and torn; (t-note)
While he was alive
discover; art; prophecy
taught; to all the soothsayers; (t-note)
declare in advance such; were to befall
What; fate
Were in store for; on earth; (t-note)
then; his [Theseus’] offence
branch of knowledge; (t-note)
into; there he remains
Each; hears; (t-note)
seek in the stars
befall beneath; sky
For “yes”; which; neutral
predetermined and certain causes; (t-note)

call back your foolish heart
take upon thyself his function
to come; will never occur
kept; private knowledge; (see note)
can; more; power
Than; prophecy deprive

Dispels; spirit; false
witchcraft; sorcery

Except only such
Which; depend
must come, while; lasts
By absolute necessity; chance
sun and moon by
found; true
By the motion of the spheres
To discuss all these
no others; no causes make inevitable
path; dark; dismal street
else; spirit

Fettered; world’s
occupation in secular pursuits
know oneself even a glimpse it cannot see
[it] stumbles; desire
From bad to worse all; goes; (t-note)
hopelessness from a long habit of sin
into which many people fall
very sorrowful
plucks; calls a halt
To; foolish
Commands to leave; foul pleasure
the god; [Proserpina] the queen
Must; under compulsion
won; (see note); (t-note)
makes peace
goes up
Detesting the abuses of sin
each; should; cautiously see; (t-note)
[should] not turn his mind’s eye backward
Giving; pleasure
In; for the desire; (t-note)
then; again; (t-note)

to be a widower
since; desire
place underneath; (t-note)
support; give us the power to remain; (t-note)

tale; (t-note)


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