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.
Abbreviations: Anel.: Chaucer, Anelida and Arcite; BD: Chaucer, Book of the Duchess; CA: Gower, Confessio Amantis; CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; HF: Chaucer, House of Fame; LGW: Chaucer, Legend of Good Women; Mac: Macaulay (4 vol. Complete Works); MED: Middle English Dictionary; Met.: Ovid, Metamorphoses; MO: Gower, Mirour de l’Omme; MS(S): manuscript(s); OED: Oxford English Dictionary; PF: Chaucer, Parliament of Fowls; PL: Patrologia Latina; RR: Lorris and de Meun, Roman de la Rose; TC: Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde; Tilley: Tilley, Dictionary of Proverbs in England; Vat. Myth.: Vatican Mythographer I, II, or III; VC: Gower, Vox Clamantis; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases. For manuscript abbreviations, see Textual Notes, below.
Latin verses i (before line 1). Line 1: Naturatus amor. The translation presented for the enigmatic and crucial phrase naturatus amor is informed by Winthrop Wetherbee's discussion of this phrase (1991, pp. 7-35) in terms of the self-conflicting presentations of human love in Boethius, Alanus de Insulis, and Jean de Meun that Gower mines throughout the CA. Wetherbee remarks that Gower's phrase "conveys a sense of scholastic authority that is belied by close scrutiny" (p. 7). Yet the translation here is also informed by an analogous phrase from medieval Latin discussions of Aristotle, natura naturata, which may be understood as "nature instantiated in specific forms of life," or in a broader sense as the means by which nature has furthered its inherent purpose of creating life, as shown by twelfth-century Latin translations of Averroës' Arabic commentary on Aristotle, the means by which Aristotle's works were known in the west: "for this is the end of Nature, namely that it does not act except on account of something, just as artifice does not act except on account of something. Then [Aristotle] has declared that that on account of which, having been [specifically] instantiated [naturata], Nature acts, is seen to be the soul [or: life force, anima] in living things [animalibus]" (Averrois Cordubensis Commentarium Magnum in Aristotelis De Anima Libros, ed. Crawford, p. 187). The teleological and instantiating freight of the medieval Aristotelian tradition of natura naturata has at least indirectly influenced Gower's Latin, and perhaps more pervasively his historical and ethical outlook on nature and love, available to Gower in the works of the thirteenth-century popular purveyers of medieval Aristotelianism, Brunetto Latini, Giles of Rome, and Bartholomeus Anglicus, although none of these uses the phrase natura naturata or, less surprisingly, naturatus amor (Brunetto Latini comes close to the former when he defines Nature as "double: that which gives birth, and that which is born" [une ki fet naistre, et une de ce ki est net]— Li Livres dou tresor 3.52, ed. Carmody, p. 360). Significantly, elsewhere Gower novelly adapted the Latin verb naturare to English, evidently to mean "to give a species specific traits": "He which natureth every kinde, / The myhti god" (CA 7.393-94). He is the only writer attested before the sixteenth century to have used this word in English. Line 2: vnanimes concitat esse feras. The syntax is perfectly ambiguous, so the diametrically opposed alternate meanings have been printed in the translation itself. Line 3 Huius enim mundi Princeps. White (Nature, Sex, and Goodness, p. 219) notes that huius princeps mundi is also the title of the Devil.
Translation of the epigram is also assisted by the marginal gloss (see the next note), where Gower states that he is discussing “that love by which not only the human species but indeed every living thing is naturally subjected.” Yet an inherent contradiction and instability lies in the phrase, as Wetherbee correctly emphasizes: human love, in Gower’s and the medieval Christian perception of the post-lapsarian world, is the very thing that most resists harmony with Nature’s positive, pristine purposes. In the context of the CA, the two terms of the phrase resist reconciliation as few other pairings might. The radical ambiguity of the rest of Gower’s sentence emphasizes this irreconcilability.
9 ff. Latin marginalia: Postquam in Prologo tractatum hactenus existit, qualiter hodierne condicionis diuisio caritatis dileccionem superauit, intendit auctor ad presens suum libellum, cuius nomen Confessio Amantis nuncupatur, componere de illo amore, a quo non solum humanum genus, sed eciam cuncta animancia naturaliter subiciuntur. Et quia nonnulli amantes ultra quam expedit desiderii passionibus crebro stimulantur, materia libri per totum super hiis specialius diffunditur. [After he has set forth the Prologue's treatment up to this point, of how the division of today's condition has overcome the love of charity, the author now intends to compose his little book, whose name is "The Confession of a Lover," concerning that love by which not only the human species but indeed every living thing is naturally subjected. And since some lovers are often goaded by the passions of desire beyond what is appropriate, the matter of the book throughout is set forth especially for these.] For a picture of this gloss in the manuscript itself, see Illustration 3.
18–24 loves lawe is out of reule . . . ther is no man . . . that can / Of love tempre the mesure. See White, Nature, Sex, and Goodness, pp. 218–19, on the potency of desire that affects all people in defiance of Aristotelian ideas of balance and measure. Loves lawe (line 18) here equates with that cupiditas that Boethius says is born into all creatures that could lead to the true good but seldom does (De cons. 3.p2).
35 love is maister wher he wile. Proverbial. See Whiting L518.
59 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic quasi in persona aliorum, quos amor alligat, fingens se auctor esse Amantem, varias eorum passiones variis huius libri distinccionibus per singula scribere proponit. [Here the author, fashioning himself as a Lover, as if in the role of those others whom love binds, proposes to write about their various passions one by one in the various sections of this book.] For discussion of this passage as Gower projects a persona and an epistemology of make-believe for his narrative, see Peck, “Phenomenology of Make Believe,” pp. 257 ff.
62 I am miselven on of tho. N.b., the Latin marginal gloss (above). From this point on, Gower projects a persona who is not simply a moral commentator on society but an embodiment of human stresses, a dramatic component of his "proof" (see line 61). In the Prologue he had announced that he would provide a "Mirour of ensamplerie" (Prol.496); henceforth the "ensample" will be complicated through a first-person drama as well as a textual one — an empirical mean between the abstract and the personal. See Spitzer, “Note on the Poetic and Empirical ‘I’ in Medieval Authors”; and Strohm, “Note on Gower’s Personas,” pp. 293–95. For discussion of the narrative of CA in terms of its framing devices, see Pearsall, “Gower’s Narrative Art”: “The poem as a whole gains enormously from the dramatic scheme, just as Gower himself gained from the freedom it gave him” (p. 477).
72 To hem that ben lovers. In defining a new dramatic function for his persona Gower likewise provides a dramatic role for his audience. On this love trope Staley raises the question “was Richard’s court during this period a place of love talk,” talk that was not simply a matter of sexual practice but rather a “language that expressed relationships of power?” (Languages of Power, p. 51). Compare love tropes in Usk, Chaucer, and the Gawain-poet (pp. 42–59).
79 That every man ensample take. On the philosophical premises of Gower's use of examples for instruction, see notes to Prol.7, 196, and 1.1339–40. Simpson, Sciences and the Self, using Alan de Lille’s Anti-claudianus as a text parallel in many ways with CA, explores Alan’s notion that narrative images provide the soul with a means of picturing itself (pp. 244–48). Such “ensamples” function as a kind of inducted “‘scientific’ information by which the soul can place itself in the cosmos and society” (p. 230).
88 jolif wo. Compare le jolif mal sanz cure of Gower's Cinkante Balades 13, line 24. The courtly phrase is a favorite. See also CA 6.84 and 8.2360, with variants such as "jolif peine" in 7.1910.
Latin verses ii (before line 93). Line 1: Non ego . . . . Latin proverbs often list powerful or wise men deceived by women; see Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, lines 2416-28, for a Middle English rendition of this tradition. Gower's passage resembles the longer discussion of lust's power in the Architrenius, where Hercules, rare in other Latin proverbs of this kind, appears along with Sampson, Solomon, and Ulysses as a victim of Venus (7.116-33).
98 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic declarat materiam, dicens qualiter Cupido quodam ignito iaculo sui cordis memoriam graui vlcere perforauit, quod Venus percipiens ipsum, vt dicit, quasi in mortis articulo spasmatum, ad confitendum se Genio sacerdoti super amoris causa sic semiuiuum specialiter commendauit. [Here he declares the substance of his story, saying how Cupid pierced through the memory of his heart by means of a certain burning missile, leaving a serious wound; whereby Venus, perceiving him, as he states, twitching as if in his death throes, particularly recommended that, half-alive, he confess to Genius the priest about the topic of love.]
100-39 in the monthe of Maii . . . And with that word I sawh anon / The kyng of love and qweene bothe. The poet imagines a characteristic dream vision situation when, in the month of May, the dreamer sets out into a wood, prays while listening to the birds, and sleeps to dream of the King and Queen of Love; except that here the "dreamer/lover" never goes to sleep. But this is not to say that he is "awake," either. As Olsson so aptly puts it, "The lover, though 'awake,' does not know he lives in a dream" (Structures of Conversion, p. 47).
124 [Amans.] The scribe of Fairfax 3 regularly places speech tags in the margin. The brackets indicate speech markers that do not appear in the MS but have been added to the edition for clarity.
O thou Cupide, O thou Venus. For discussion of Gower's use of these amorous deities, see Tinkle, Medieval Venuses and Cupids, especially pp. 178-97, though her remarks throughout the book are germane.
138 with that word I sawh anon. The important thing to notice here is that ideas appear as visual personifications to the lover. On the prominence of visual imaginings in medieval thought processes see Kolve, Chaucer and the Imagery of Narrative, especially pp. 24-42. See the Latin gloss on sight and hearing as doors of the mind (preceding 1.289) and Genius' discussion of eyes and ears as the dominant intuitive senses. See also footnotes 29-31 in the Introduction.
140 yhen wrothe. The situation is similar in ways to Chaucer's Prol. to LGW, where Cupid, the God of Love, with his queen, comes upon Geoffrey near the daisy and looks upon him with angry, piercing eyes. Chaucer's queen is Alceste, rather than Venus, but in neither instance is Cupid presented as blind.
145 herte rote. MED glosses the term as the seat of the passions, or the vital center of life. Exactly what the anatomical designations might be is unclear. MED suggests the hollow of the heart or perhaps the “apex.” The conclusion to Plato’s Timaeus (91 a–e) describes a conduit that runs down the spine to the scrotum, from which living sperm, seeking egress, take their path. Conceivably the herte rote may extend even to that depth. In the RR (lines 1679–2008) Cupid shoots five arrows into the lover’s heart, two (Beauty and Simplicity) through the eye, and three (Courtesy, Company, and Fair Seeming) through the side or below the breast. This pattern seems evident in CA 1.144–45, where “A firy dart me thoghte he [Cupid] hente / And threw it thurgh myn herte rote.” If it enters through the side and lodges in the heart’s inner chamber that would precipitate a sympathetic response in the lower region. Another organ linked to the concept of herte rote is the “reines,” which are also regarded the seat of passions and can refer to the kidneys, heart, or the male generative organ (MED reine n.. 2a and 2b). E.g., in the treatise Sidrak and Bokkus we learn that if a lecher overexerts his lechery, “Of his reynes he leseþ þe might. / Þan is þe seed feble and veyne / And to engendre haþ no mayne [strength]” (lines 6874–76 in Bodleian Laud MS 559). According to the Middle English version of The Anatomy of Guy de Chauliae, “Þe sperme takeþ þe sauour off þe harte, of þe liuer, and þe Reynes, and bi þe nerues þe whiche, be cause of delectacioun, descenden fro þe braines to þe ballockes” (ed. Wallner, p. 73). Similarly The Prose Salernitan Questions (c. 1200) observes: “The natural heat is . . . aroused by the psychic virtue, and by their combined action, the blood contained in the liver moves and in moving emits heat; from it there evaporates a smoky cloud which, when it has been made subtle, spreads from the liver to the heart. From the heart the spirit moves to the penis by means of the arteries and makes it stiffen” (see Jacquart and Thomasset, Sexuality and Medicine in the Middle Ages, p. 83). That is, Cupid’s arrow piercing the side and lodging in the heart might thus be thought to affect the whole emotional system, from the chambers of the heart to the kidneys and male organs, the herte rote.
148-49 source and welle / Of wel or wo. Traditionally, Venus carries two cups, one sweet, the other bitter, from which the lover drinks; thus, in medieval courtly poetry she is the source and welle of the lover's joy and/or pain.
161 caitif. It is noteworthy that two early MSS, Bodley 294 and Egerton 1991, identify the speaker here as Iohn Gowere, rather than caitif.
178 Mi world stod on an other whiel. Proverbial. See Whiting W208.
196 O Genius myn oghne clerk. The originals behind Gower’s Genius may be found in Jean de Meun’s portion of RR and Alanus de Insulis’ De Planctu Naturae. Gower’s Genius defines several voices in the poem. He is presented as an agent of memory who can compile and relate afresh the stories and materials of history; he is a creative agent, capable of formulating propositions according to nature and moral concepts as well; he is a priest of both the emotional and rational capacities of the individual, though his capacities as a philosopher are limited by the circumstances of the occasion; and he is usually benevolent in his role as intermediary between Amans, momentary situations, and Nature. See the Introduction, pp. 5–6, 7–10, 17, 18, 34. For further discussion of Genius, see Economou, “Character Genius”; Schueler, “Gower’s Characterization of Genius”; Nitzsche, Genius Figure; Baker, “Priesthood of Genius”; Wetherbee, “Theme of Imagination” and “Genius and Interpretation”; Peck, Kingship and Common Profit and “Problematics of Irony,” pp. 212–24; Olsson, Structures of Conversion, pp. 52–62; and Simpson, Sciences and the Self, pp. 148–97.
Latin verses iii (before line 203). The "wound" of love (line 4) is a topos reaching far back in medieval and classical writing. A widely influential classical instance is Dido in Aeneid 4.1-2, and much French poetry elaborated the metaphor. Boethius’ Consolation, whose dialogue form was a direct model for CA, invokes throughout its first book the metaphor of the narrator’s “illness” of false love for the goods of Fortune, and Philosophy’s “cure” by means of the “medicine” of her teachings. At the end of CA, Gower revisits the same issues in English (8.3152– 56). Simpson (Sciences and the Self, pp. 200–01) links this passage to Ovid’s Remedia amoris as a warning against love’s catastrophes.
203 This worthi prest, this holy man. On Genius as confessor to Amans, see Simpson, Sciences and the Self, especially pp. 148-66 ( "Genius, praeceptor amoris"). Simpson sees Genius and Amans as two aspects of a single person, with Genius as a figure of imagination and Amans as the will in an unstable relationship richly informed with Ovidian irony and what Gower calls elsewhere "double speche" (7.1733).
205 Benedicité. "Bless you." The standard form of address of the priest to the one confessing, answered by the penitent with Dominus, "Lord [father, I have sinned]."
209 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic dicit qualiter Genio pro Confessore sedenti prouolutus Amans ad confitendum se flexis genibus incuruatur, supplicans tamen, vt ad sui sensus informacionem confessor ille in dicendis opponere sibi benignius dignaretur. [Here he tells how the Lover, bowled over, kneels on bent knees to confess to Genius seated as a confessor, beseeching nonetheless that, to inform his understanding, the Confessor would graciously deign to question him in matters that ought to be said.] Pearsall (“Gower’s Latin,” pp. 22–24) reads this marginal commentary as a means to establish a clerical code that underlies much of the poem. See also Craun on Gower’s methodology in querying the deviant speaker (Lies, Slander, and Obscenity, pp. 131 ff.).
236 Latin marginalia: Sermo Genii sacerdotis super confessione ad Amantem. [The sermon of Genius the priest to the Lover about confession.]
275-76 See note to lines 1339-40.
284 trowthe hise wordes wol noght peinte. Proverbial. See Whiting T515.
Latin verses iv (before line 289). The buried coin, fossa talenta (line 4), recalls the Gospel parable of the talents where the sinful servant takes the talent his lord has given him and buries it in the earth (Matthew 25:14-30).
294 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic incipit confessio Amantis, cui de duobus precipue quinque sensuum, hoc est de visu et auditu, confessor pre ceteris opponit. [Here begins the confession of the Lover, to whom the Confessor particularly inquires concerning two of the five senses, that is, sight and sound.]
299-308 This passage begins in the third person, then, by line 304, modulates into the voice of the confessor as he addresses Amans as "mi sone." It is not until line 530 that the MS starts using marginal speech tags, though beside line 233 the marginal Latin gloss identifies the speakers, along with their activities.
304-08 See Timaeus 45b-47e for Plato's explanation of why the eye is man's principal sense organ and the ear next in importance. These two senses enable man to perceive the numbers, motions, harmonies, and rhythms of the universe, whereby the soul is illuminated. Plato ignores the other three senses entirely as agencies for illuminating the soul, although later (61d-68d) he discusses all five senses as part of man's physical mechanism for understanding physical phenomena. Plato's premises constitute one basis for medieval preoccupations with vision and harmony (see the Latin verses after CA1.288). They also explain why Genius exorcizes only these two of the Lover's five senses. They are the doors to his soul, which Genius hopes to restore. See Introduction, notes 25 and 26, for citation of medieval medical treatises linking the eye to the frontal lobe of the brain, where Imagination and Fantasy reside.
333 ff. Compare Ovid, Met. 3.130-259. Genius omits from the story Acteon's companions and his friendly gesture of giving them the rest of the day off, the account of Diana's disrobing, the efforts of the nymphs to hide their mistress from the eyes of the intruder, the throwing of water on Acteon to distract him, the catalog of hounds, Acteon's efforts to speak, and the debate of the gods on the justice of Diana's revenge. Genius adds the detail of Acteon's pride (1.341). Ovid puts the blame on Fortune, but Genius implies that Acteon might have turned his eye away had he chosen to do so (1.366). The conventional romance description of his entering the forest (1.352-60) suggests why he did not: he turns the enclosed garden (hortus conclusus) into a garden of delight and does not get out. Amans fares better, thanks to Genius, and, ultimately, accepts the trials of old age.
334 touchende of mislok. See Schutz's discussion of the issues of seeing in her analysis of the stories of Acteon and Medusa as mirror images of each other (“Absent and Present Images,” pp. 108-15).
334 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic narrat Confessor exemplum de visu ab illicitis preseruando, dicens qualiter Acteon Cadmi Regis Thebarum nepos, dum in quadam Foresta venacionis causa spaciaretur, accidit vt ipse quendam fontem nemorosa arborum pulcritudine circumuentum superueniens, vidit ibi Dianam cum suis Nimphis nudam in flumine balneantem; quam diligencius intuens oculos suos a muliebri nuditate nullatenus auertere volebat. Vnde indignata Diana ipsum in cerui figuram transformauit; quem canes proprii apprehendentes mortiferis dentibus penitus dilaniarunt. [Here the Confessor relates an instructive example concerning the guarding of sight from illicit things, saying how Acteon the nephew of Cadmus the king of the Thebans, while he was walking in a certain forest to go hunting, happened to come upon a certain stream surrounded by the woodsy beauty of trees where he saw Diana nude with her nymphs bathing in the river, whom he carefully examined, not at all wishing to turn away his eyes from her womanly nudity. Wherefore Diana, indignant, transformed him into the form of a stag, whom his own dogs caught and tore to pieces with their lethal teeth.]
384 Betre is to winke than to loke. Proverbial. See Whiting W366.
389 ff. Compare Ovid, Met. 4.772–803. Gower is apparently using additional sources, however. Genius names Medusa’s sisters, as Ovid does, though he calls Stheno, “Stellibon,” and Euryale, “Suriale.” Moreover, he combines the story of the Graeae, who share one tooth and one eye, with the story of the Gorgons. Macaulay (2:468) notes that this confusion appears in Boccaccio, Genealogiae Deorum Gentilium 10.10, which Gower may have known. Whether Gower follows Boccaccio or not, the mingling of the two stories is fortuitous for Genius’ purpose in demonstrating the evil of “misloke” and the wisdom of looking well.
391 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ponit aliud exemplum de eodem, vbi dicit quod quidam princeps nomine Phorceus tres progenuit filias, Gorgones a vulgo nuncupatas, que uno partu exorte deformitatem Monstrorum serpentinam obtinuerunt; quibus, cum in etatem peruenerant, talis destinata fuerat natura, quod quicumque in eas aspiceret in lapidem subito mutabatur. Et sic quam plures incaute respicientes visis illis perierunt. Set Perseus miles clipeo Palladis gladioque Mercurii munitus eas extra montem Athlantis conhabitantes animo audaci absque sui periculo interfecit. [Here he presents another instructive example about the same thing, where he says that a certain prince, Phorceus by name, bore three daughters, commonly called the Gorgons, who, appearing all in one birth, acquired the serpentine deformity of monsters. Their nature had been so designated that, when they had come to maturity, whoever looked at them was suddenly turned into a stone. And thus all those who incautiously glanced at them died at the sight. But Perseus, a knight furnished with the shield of Pallas and the sword of Mercury, with a bold spirit and without any danger to himself killed them as they were dwelling beyond Mount Athlans.]
423 Lente him a swerd. Macaulay notes that Mercury's sword is not mentioned by Ovid or Boccaccio (2:468).
463 ff. The legend of Aspidis derives from Psalm 57:5–6, which speaks of “the deaf asp that stoppeth her ears.” In his commentary on the psalm Augustine explains how the serpent can stop two ears with one tail; his suggestion is followed by Isidore in Etymologies 12.4, though neither mentions the carbuncle (see also MO, lines 15253–64). That detail may come from the legendary jewel in the toad’s head, or perhaps from Brunetto Latini’s Trésor. Compare the jewel-bearing serpent in the Tale of Adrian and Bardus (CA 5.5060 ff.), or the serpent who carries a jewel of health in his mouth in the English Gesta Romanorum (cap. 7). For discussion of the ambiguity of the asp as an in bono (prudence) and in malo (obstinence) figure of the senses, see Olsson, Structures of Conversion, pp. 63–72.
465–67 The ston noblest of alle / . . . carbuncle calle / Berth in his hed. On the folk-type of the serpent with a crown or precious jewel in/on/about his head, see Aarne-Thompson, Types of the Folktale 672 (the serpent’s crown), 672A (a man who steals a serpent’s crown), 672B (a little girl takes away the serpent’s gold crown), 672C (serpent at wedding leaves crown), and, especially, 672D (the stone of the snake). See also Stith Thompson, Motif-Index of Folk-Literature, vol.1, B103.42 (serpent with jewel in his mouth), B22.214.171.124 (grateful snake spits out lump of gold for his rescuer), B126.96.36.199 (snake vomits jewels), B108.1 (serpent as patron of wealth), B112 (treasure-producing serpent’s crown); and vol. 2 D1011.3.1 (magic serpent’s crown). The Epistola Alexandri ad Aristotelem de Mirabilibus Indiae speaks of serpents with emeralds around their necks who, in the spring, sometimes fight, leaving behind “emeralds of enormous size” (Katz, Romances of Alexander, p. 123).
466 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic narrat Confessor exemplum, vt non ab auris exaudicione fatua animus deceptus inuoluatur. Et dicit qualiter ille serpens, qui aspis vocatur, quendam preciosissimum lapidem nomine Carbunculum in sue frontis medio gestans, contra verba incantantis aurem vnam terre affigendo premit, et aliam sue caude stimulo firmissime obturat. [Here the Confessor recounts an instructive example in order that a deceived soul might not be assailed by the ear's foolish overhearing. And he says how the serpent who is called Aspis, carrying a certain most precious stone, Carbuncle by name, in the middle of its forehead, protected himself against the words of an enchanter by pressing down one ear and fixing it to the ground, and closing off the other most firmly with the point of its tail.]
481 ff. Gower follows Guido delle Colonne, Hist. Troiae III (Gest Historiale lib. 32), in presenting his Tale of the Sirens. Benoît tells the story in Roman de Troie, but he does not include all the details that Gower includes, though Vat. Myth. II (101) does.
483 ff. Latin marginalia : Aliud exemplum super eodem, qualiter rex Vluxes cum a bello Troiano versus Greciam nauigio remearet, et prope illa Monstra marina, Sirenes nuncupata, angelica voce canoras, ipsum ventorum aduersitate nauigare oporteret, omnium nautarum suorum aures obturari coegit. Et sic salutari prouidencia prefultus absque periculo saluus cum sua classe Vluxes pertransiuit. [Another instructive example about the same thing: how King Ulysses, when he was returning toward Greece from the Trojan war travelled back on a ship. When approaching those seaside monsters called the Sirens, singers with angelic voices, he was forced to sail against the winds, and he ordered the ears of all his sailors to be stopped up. And thus assisted by a saving providence and safe from danger, Ulysses with his vessel passed through.]
576 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur quod septem sunt peccata mortalia, quorum caput Superbia varias species habet, et earum prima Ypocrisis dicitur, cuius proprietatem secundum vicium simpliciter Confessor Amanti declarat. [Here he says that there are seven mortal sins, whose head, Pride, has various species, and the first of these is called Hypocrisy, whose properties as a vice the Confessor declares to the Lover in simple terms.]
608 Ipocrisis Religiosa. [Religious Hypocrisy.]
627-28 Ipocrisis Ecclesiastica. [Ecclesiastic Hypocrisy.]
648 Ipocrisis Secularis. [Secular Hypocrisy.]
674 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic tractat Confessor cum Amante super illa presertim Ipocrisia, que sub amoris facie fraudulenter latitando mulieres ipsius ficticiis credulas sepissime decipit innocentes. [Here the Confessor discourses with the Lover particularly about that Hypocrisy that, fraudulently hiding under a face of love, too often deceives innocent, credulous women with his fictions.]
704-06 berth lowest the seil . . . to beguile / The womman. Proverbial. See Whiting S14.
708 Opponit Confessor. [The Confessor inquires.]
712 Respondet Amans. [The Lover replies.]
752 To love is every herte fre. Proverbial. See Whiting L516. See also CA 1.1929-30. Compare Chaucer, CT I(A)1606 and CT V(F)767.
759 a croniqe. Precisely what chronicle Genius alludes to is unclear. The story of Mundus and Paulina is said to be historical by Josephus, Antiquitatum Judaicarum 18. Hegesippus, 2.4, follows Josephus, who in turn is followed by Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum Historiale 7.4, any of which may have been Gower’s source. The story is told in verse by Godfrey of Viterbo, Pantheon 15, but Macaulay says this version was certainly not Gower’s source (2:470).
763 ff. Latin marginalia: Quod Ipocrisia sit in amore periculosa, narrat exemplum qualiter sub regno Tiberii Imperatoris quidam miles nomine Mundus, qui Romanorum dux milicie tunc prefuit, dominam Paulinam pulcherrimam castitatisque famosissimam mediantibus duobus falsis presbiteris in temple Ysis deum se esse fingens sub ficte sanctitatis ypocrisi nocturno tempore viciauit. Vnde idem dux in exilium, presbiteri in mortem ob sui criminis enormitatem dampnati extiterant, ymagoque dee Ysis a templo euulsa vniuerso conclamante populo in flumen Tiberiadis proiecta mergebatur. [Showing that Hypocrisy is most dangerous in love, he presents an instructive example how under the reign of Tiberius the Emperor a certain knight, Mundus by name, who then was preeminent before all others as a duke of the army of the Romans, defiled the most beautiful and most famously chaste lady Paulina in the temple of Isis, with two false priests as go-betweens, fashioning himself to be a god under the hypocrisy of a feigned sanctity at night. Wherefore the same duke was condemned to exile, and the priests to death on account of the enormity of their crime, while the image of the goddess, pulled from the temple with the people's universal approval, was thrown into the Tiber river and sunk.]
767 of al the cité the faireste. An analogue to the Tale of Mundus and Paulina may be found in the Hebrew Tales of Alexander the Macedonian found in a compilation of the eleventh-century Chronicles of Jerahmeel. The surviving MS, now in the Bodleian Library, dates from about 1325. A very beautiful woman, the fairest on earth, goes once a month to the temple of the god Atzilin to offer sacrifice. The priest, Matan, smitten by her beauty, tells her that the god would beget a son upon her, “for there is no other woman in the entire world worthy to be with him” (Reich, ed., Tales of Alexander the Macedonian, p. 75). She gets permission from her husband, who sends pillows, coverings, mattresses, and silken garments to adorn the occasion. Matan accepts the gifts and sends the woman’s maid away. At midnight he enters to perform his rites, but the maid slips into the room to watch. Matan has intercourse with the woman nine times. After he has exhausted his strength and rises to leave, the maid strikes him on the head with a statue of Atzilin, killing him. The beautiful woman is scandalized by the deception and insists on telling her husband, who goes to the king. He takes the case to Alexander who says the temple should be destroyed, since it has been defiled. He then asks to see the woman himself, and, amazed at her beauty, demands that she be given to him. The king would protect the woman and her husband, but is overwhelmed by Alexander, who locks the woman in a portable temple where he has his way with her night and day. She gives birth to a son whom he names Alexander. But the child dies at the age of nine months on the same day that Alexander’s horse Bucephalus dies. Alexander builds a mausoleum for his horse and son, then consoles his wife, who conceives a second child. She dies in childbirth. See Reich, ed., Tales of Alexander the Macedonian, pp. 73–79. This analogue ties in as well with Gower’s Tale of Nectanabus, CA 6.1789–2366. Gower’s knowledge of Alexander lore is extensive, though it is doubtful that he could have known the Hebrew manuscript directly, which was still in Italy during his lifetime.
773 Of thilke bore frele kinde. Macaulay observes: "Human nature is described as frail from birth, and by its weakness causing blindness of the heart" (2:470).
775 Just as the eye is the most important sense organ for human revelation (see note to lines 1.304-08 above), so too it is the principal sense organ for guiding reason. Augustine's three steps toward virtue (visio, contemplatio, actio) mark also the three steps toward sin. In both instances the process begins with the eye's response to beauty or the desirable, which in turn stimulates the will and desire. The process is one, though the ends are different. See all cupidinous lovers who are first struck through the eye by Cupid's first arrow — beauty. See RR, lines 1681 ff.
786–88 noght . . . That . . . ne. See notes to Prol. 989–90, 1.1295–96, 1.2046–47, 1.2091–93, 1.2629–30, 1.2722–24, 1.3366–67. Gower’s construction here and in the other cited examples is unusual in Middle English, where the ne following that serves as a calque rather than a simple negative. Andrew Galloway (correspondence May 2, 2005) suggests that the construction is parallel to the Old French construction “pres (que) ne,” “por poi (que) ne,” etc., where ne denotes not a negative but instead “an action that has/had almost occurred” (see Kibler, Introduction to Old French, pp. 264–65). The Old French analogy is insightful, it seems to me, in that it takes what might otherwise be regarded as a medial negative conjunction and binds it to the relative conjunction (“but that,” “than that”). The sense of “almost,” however, does not hold precisely. We could translate: “But yet he was not of such strength / To withstand the power of love / But that he was almost reined in [by love], / Despite whether he would or not,” though the so in line 788 displaces the adverbial sense of almost. I.e., the sense is more likely “But he was so reined in [by love] / That despite whether he would or not” (lines 788–89). Compare 1.1296, where the algate likewise obliterates any sense of almost. In some instances the preceding “noght” is not required, though the sense is still “But that”: e.g., 1.1321. In other instances, instead of “noght,” Gower uses “non”: e.g., 1.1465, 1.1778– 79; or a neither/nor construction as in 1.2470–71. And there are several instances when the ne simply functions as a negative after That, as in 1.1379, where the for cancels the conjunctive function of ne; or 1.2800 and 1.3045, where it is part of a double negative. But there are instances in which it simply functions as a negative adverb: 1.3168 and 1.3307.
852 Glad was hire innocence tho. Gower’s Paulina “which in hire lustes grene / Was fair and freissch and tendre of age” (1.778–79) is innocent in her youth and of “humble cheire” (1.854). As Olsson observes, Gower presents Paulina in an entirely positive light: “Genius has left out the boasts of her counterparts in tradition: the Paulina of Josephus’ Antiquities (18.3.4), the foolish Madonna Lisetta da Ca’ Quirino of Boccaccio’s Decameron (4.2), and the Olympias of Gower’s later story of Nectanabus (6.1789–2366) all, to some degree, have an exaggerated sense of self-worth, and they easily succumb to the blandishments of a pretender-god or angel” (Structures of Conversion, p. 74).
966 Hire faire face and al desteigneth. N.b. the medial coordinating conjunction: “And stains her face all over.”
975 honeste. Of persons or their hearts, honest signifies virtuousness or chastity (MED). A wife is said to be chaste if she has to do only with her husband in a seemly manner. When Pauline learns "Now I defouled am of tuo" (line 977), she fears that she can no longer claim that honor. See Chaucer’s Parson’s Tale (X[I]940). On tensions between communal honor and manipulative deceit, see Craun, Lies, Slander, and Obscenity, pp. 129–31.
1003 til that sche was somdiel amended. See Rytting, “In Search of the Perfect Spouse,” p. 119, on the importance of compassion and appropriate displays of affection in Gower’s perception of what constitutes a good marriage like that epitomized in the relationship of Paulina and her spouse.
1077 ff. The story of the Trojan Horse is found in Dictys, De Bello Trojano V.II,12; Benoît, Roman de Troie 25620 ff.; and Guido, Hist. Troiae III (Gest Historiale 29.11846 ff.), all of which Gower may have known. Guido and his translators (not Dictys or Benoît) describe the horse as made of brass.
1081 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic vlterius ponit exemplum de illa eciam Ypocrisia, que inter virum et virum decipiens periculosissima consistit. Et narrat, qualiter Greci in obsidione ciuitatis Troie, cum ipsam vi comprehendere nullatenus potuerunt, fallaci animo cum Troianis pacem vt dicunt pro perpetuo statuebant: et super hoc quendam equum mire grossitudinis de ere fabricatum ad sacrificandum in templo Minerue confingentes, sub tali sanctitatis ypocrisi dictam Ciuitatem intrarunt, et ipsam cum inhabitantibus gladio et igne comminuentes pro perpetuo penitus deuastarunt. [Here he presents a further instructive example concerning that same Hypocrisy, who stands as most dangerous when bringing deceit between man and man. And he tells how the Greeks in the siege of the city of Troy, although they were not able to take it by any means of force, with a false spirit established peace with the Trojans, in perpetuity, as they say. And in addition to this, fashioning a certain horse of miraculous size made from brass for sacrificing in the temple of Minerva, they entered the said city, under such hypocrisy of sanctity, and threatening it along with its inhabitants with fire and the sword they utterly and permanently destroyed it.]
1085 The treachery of Calcas and of Crise is part of the medieval invention that ultimately culminated in Chaucer's Troilus. In Homer he is the son of Thestor, a diviner who accompanies the Greek army to Troy (Iliad 1.69 ff.), and in Virgil he helps build the Wooden Horse (Aeneid 2.185). But once he is made a Trojan who betrays the city and claims the return of his daughter in exchange for Antenor, his treachery becomes a key component of all retellings.
1087 hors of bras. An unusual detail, given the prominence of the wooden horse myth in Virgil. Perhaps Gower found the forging of a brass horse, as in Guido (see note to lines 1077 ff.), rather than the building of a wooden horse, as in Dares and Dictys and Benoît, to be more compatible with the machinations of hypocrisy. Hypocrites are forgers (lines 1087-88), not carpenters. Brass horses are not unknown in romance literature. See Chaucer's Squire's Tale.
1091 Epius. The name Epius (i.e., Epeius) appears to come from Virgil through Benoît (as opposed to Apius in Guido), as does the account of the destruction of Neptune's gates (lines 1151-55). In Homer's Odyssey 8.493, Epeius is the maker of the Wooden Horse, with the help of Athena.
1095 Anthenor . . . Enee. The treachery of Antenor and Aeneas is scarcely mentioned in Virgil, but it is much emphasized in Dictys, Benoît, and Guido. On Antenor's deceit see Chaucer's TC 4.197-205.
Latin verses vi (before line 1235). The reference in line 2 is to Ecclesiasticus 13:3.
1241 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur de secunda specie Superbie, que Inobediencia dicitur: et primo illius vicii naturam simpliciter declarat, et tractat consequenter super illa precipue Inobediencia, que in curia Cupidinis exosa amoris causam ex sua imbecillitate sepissime retardat. In cuius materia Confessor Amanti specialius opponit. [Here he speaks concerning a second species of Pride, which is called Disobedience; and first he declares in general terms the nature of that vice, and consequently discourses about that Disobedience in particular, which, despising the cause of love in the court of Cupid, is very often impeded because of its stupidity. In this matter the Confessor particularly questions the Lover.]
1273 Opponit Confessor. [The Confessor inquires.]
1274 Respondet Amans. [The Lover replies.]
1293 For specheles may no man spede. Proverbial. Macaulay compares CA 6.447, “For selden get a domb man lond” (2:472). See Whiting S554. See also CA 4.439–40.
1295–96 See note to 1.786–88.
1328 retenue. The gloss "engagement of service" is Macaulay's, who compares Balades 8.17: "Q'a vous servir j'ai fait ma retenue" (2:472).
1339-40 forme . . . enforme. See Simpson, Sciences and the Self, pp. 1–10, on Gower’s use of “information” as a component of self-formation in CA. (Compare 1.275–76, 1973–74, 2669–70 and 8.817–18.) Simpson reads CA as a fable of the soul “in which the impetus of the soul to reach its own perfection, or form, determines the narrative form” (Sciences and the Self, p. 230). Form informing form is a reciprocal inside-outside paradigm in which exemplary matter provides pedagogical information that impresses the heart as text “follows the soul’s contours” (p. 7). “The pedagogic sense lies in wait behind the artistic” (p. 8), a paradigm that makes possible an “information” of the reader by the simultaneous processes of understanding backwards and forwards (inwards and outwards) required in any creative process. Simpson presents the argument in terms of twelfth- and fourteenth-century philosophical/empirical theory.
1344 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur de Murmure et Planctu, qui super omnes alios Inobediencie secreciores vt ministri illi deseruiunt. [Here he speaks about Grumbling and Complaint, which above all others serve Disobedience very intimately as his ministers.]
1345 ff. See Echard, “With Carmen’s Help,” pp. 32-34, on the ambiguous relationships between the Latin marginal gloss and the English text as Genius shifts the topic from murmur and complaint to truth and obedience in the exemplary Tale of Florent.
1403–06 Unique to third recension manuscripts. See textual note. Hahn cites the first recension couplet, where, instead of Fairfax’s “In a cronique as it is write” (1.1404), we get: “And in ensample of this matiere / A tale I fynde, as thou shalt hiere.” Hahn concludes: “This revision transforms the pedigree of Gower’s retelling from a popular tale — perhaps Ragnelle, in its surviving form, or some other performative text — to literate narrative” (“Old Wives Tales,” p. 100).
1407 ff. The Tale of Florent is apparently based on the same source as Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Tale; or, more likely, Chaucer drew upon Gower’s story as he put together the marriage group of CT in the 1390s. See Peck, “Folklore and Powerful Women.” The tale joins two folk motifs, the loathly lady transformed through love and the answering of a riddle to save one’s life. See Thompson, Motif-Index of Folk-Literature, D732, and Whiting’s discussion in Bryan and Dempster, eds., Sources and Analogues of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, pp. 223–68. A similar story is found in The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle; see Hahn, ed., Sir Gawain, pp. 41–80. Macaulay (2:473) notes Shakespeare’s allusion to Gower’s version of the story in Taming of the Shrew, I.ii.69. For comparison of the three Middle English versions of the tale and the possibility that The Wife of Bath’s tale is a playful inversion of Gower’s more sober narrative, see Lindahl, “Oral Undertones,” pp. 72–75. Dimmick notes that Florent is the only one of the analogues that does not use an Arthurian setting (“‘Redinge of Romance,’” p. 135).
1408 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic contra amori inobedientes ad commendacionem Obediencie Confessor super eodem exemplum ponit; vbi dicit quod, cum quedam Regis Cizilie filia in sue iuuentutis floribus pulcherrima ex eius Nouerce incantacionibus in vetulam turpissimam transformata extitit, Florencius tunc Imparatoris Claudi Nepos, miles in armis strenuissimus amorosisque legibus intendens, ipsam ex sua obediencia in pulcritudinem pristinam mirabiliter reformauit. [Here against those disobedient to love and as commendation to obedience, the Confessor presents an instructive example on the same thing, where he tells that, when a certain daughter of the King of Sicily who was most beautiful in the bloom of her youth but transformed into a most ugly old woman by her stepmother's incantation, Florent, then the nephew of the Emperor Claudius, a knight most strenuous in fighting and committed to the laws of love, miraculously refashioned her, because of his obedience, into her original beauty.] For discussion of the juxtaposition of this Latin text with the vernacular Tale of Florent to create a dynamic ambiguity, a kind of mise-en-page disputatio between the two texts, see Batchelor, “Feigned Truth and Exemplary Method,” pp. 3-10.
1409 nevoeu to th’emperour. Gower has shifted the location of some portions of the story from the Celtic Arthurian world found in Irish loathly lady narratives to the continent with its emperour. See the Latin marginal gloss where Florencius (Florent) is identified with his uncle, the Roman Emperor Claudius (Imparatoris Claudi). When the grantdame tells Florent to seek the answer to her question “in th’empire / Wher as thou hast most nowlechinge” (1.1482–83), she, in effect, sends him home to the familiar patriarchial terrain of his uncle, in whom Florent confides, but also whom he cautions against retaliation when he fails to obtain the answer. The grantdame’s strategy misleads the youth by returning him to the patriarchal ignorance of his roots, while, at the same time, co-opting the emperor’s revenge. That the hag (the wild card against the grantdame’s scheme) comes from “Cizile” (1.1841) also locates the story on the continent as do Florent’s learned but futile attempts to find the answer “be constellacion [and] kinde” (1.1508); such academic schemes help him no more than does Aurelius’ trip to the “tregetour” of Orleans in Chaucer’s Franklin’s Tale.
1413 ff. See Dimmick, “‘Redinge of Romance,’” pp. 128-30, on Florent as a tale of "wish-fulfilment disguised as an exemplum" (p. 128).
1417 marches. “Borderlands,” i.e., marginal areas where Florent seeks adventures. They could be the western marches of England, though not necessariy, given the fact that their location is unspecified. Thomas Hahn has suggested to me that perhaps Florent, like Arveragus in Chaucer’s Franklin’s Tale, seeks to make his name “In Engelond, that cleped was eek Briteyne / To seke in armes worshipe and honour” (CT V[F]810–11).
1474 under seales write. On the precision of legal contracts and procedures throughout the tale, see Peck, “Folklore and Powerful Women.”
1509 is al shape unto the lere. Macaulay glosses “‘prepared for the loss’ (OE. lyre)” (2:473). But see MED leir n.1b, meaning “burial place.” I.e., Florent is “prepared for his death”; or, he is “all set (resigned) to be brought to his grave.”
1533 redely. “Quickly” is an obvious gloss; but “carefully” perhaps makes better sense, based on MED red n.1a, 5a, or 6a, implying “advice, deliberation, prudence.”
1634 that olde mone. “Consort” is perhaps too gentle a gloss. Clearly, the phrase is meant to be derogatory. Given the root of the word (gemaene: intercourse), “old fuck” might be more apt. See also MED mon n.2: “evil personified, the Devil,” which is likewise an apt pejorative description.
1686 a More. Used here as a sign of ugliness. Compare Dunbar’s disparaging wit in his short poem “Of a Black Moor,” with its refrain “My lady with the mickle lips.”
1714 nede he mot that nede schal. Proverbial. See Whiting N61. Compare Prol.698 and 8.1020.
1769 go we. See Green, “Speech Acts and the Art of the Exemplum,” pp. 178–79, on Gower’s use of subjunctive mood rather than imperative mood, which he uses very little.
Latin verses viii (before line 1883). On the importance of self-knowledge in Gower and its medieval tradition, see Simpson, Sciences and the Self, pp. 125-33, 203-211.
1887 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur de tercia specie Superbie, que Presumpcio dicitur, cuius naturam primo secundum vicium Confessor simpliciter declarat. [Here he speaks about the third species of Pride, which is called Presumption, whose nature as a vice the Confessor first declares in simple terms.]
1911 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic tractat Confessor cum Amante super illa saltem presumpcione, ex cuius superbia quam plures fatui amantes, cum maioris certitudinis in amore spem sibi promittunt, inexpediti cicius destituuntur. [Here the Confessor discourses with the Lover especially about presumption from whose pride a great many foolish lovers, when they promise themselves hope of greater certainty in love, are suddenly and unpreparedly made destitute.]
1917 heweth up so hihe. Proverbial. See Whiting H221.
1977 ff. The story of Capaneus’ presumption was a favorite exemplum of pride among medieval writers. See Chaucer, Anel. line 59; TC 5.1504. His story is told in Statius, Thebaid 3.598 ff., 4.165 ff., 6.731 ff., and 10 passim, especially 738 to the end. Statius is probably Gower’s main source, though the story is mentioned in varying degrees of completeness in Hyginus, Fabularum Liber LXVIII, LXX, LXXI; Boccaccio, Genealogie deorum gentilium libri 9.36; and Ovid, Met. 9.404. See Shaw (“Gower’s Illustrative Tales,” pp. 439–40) on the tale’s service as an exemplum.
1978 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ponit Confessor exemplum contra ilos, qui de suis viribus presumentes debiliores efficiuntur. Et narrat qualiter ille Capaneus, miles in armis probatissimus, de sua presumens audacia inuocacionem ad superos tempore necessitatis ex vecordia tantum et non aliter primitus prouenisse asseruit. Vnde in obsidione Ciuitatis Thebarum, cum ipse quodam die coram suis hostibus ad debellandum se obtulit, ignis de celo subito superveniens ipsum armatum totaliter in cineres combussit. [Here the Confessor presents an instructive example against those who, presuming on their own powers, are made weaker. And he tells how that Capaneus, a knight most tested in arms, presuming on his boldness, asserted that a vow to the gods at a time of need proceeded only from madness and nothing else. Wherefore in the seige of the city of the Thebans, when he himself on a certain day threw himself into fighting before his enemies, a fire descending from heaven suddenly burned him, fully armed, to ashes.]
2021 ff. Versions of the Trump of Death occur in the Latin Gesta Romanorum (cap. 143), Vita Barlaam et Josaphat, cap. vi (PL 74.462), exemplum 42 of Jacques de Vitry’s Exempla (ed. Crane, p. 151), and other sermon books, etc. Shaw (“Gower’s Illustrative Tales,” pp. 440–47) offers a detailed examination of Gower’s adaptation of his sources in shaping his “ensample” (1.2019). See Schutz (“Absent and Present Images,” pp. 115–18) on binary mirroring in the tale.
2031 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur Confessor contra illos, qui de sua sciencia presumentes aliorum condiciones diiudicantes indiscrete redarguunt. Et narrat exemplum de quodam principe Regis Hungarie germano, qui cum fratrem suum pauperibus in publico vidit humiliatum, ipsum redarguendo in contrarium edocere presumebat: set Rex omni sapiencia prepollens ipsum sic incaute presumentem ad humilitatis memoriam terribili prouidencia micius castigauit. [Here the Confessor speaks against those who, presuming on their own knowledge and judging carelessly, rebuke the condition of others. And he offers an instructive example concerning a certain prince, the brother of the king of Hungary, who when he saw his brother abase himself in public to paupers, by rebuking him presumed to instruct him to the contrary. But the king, preeminent in every wisdom, punished more gently than terrible providence does the one presuming so incautiously, so that he would remember humility.]
2046–47 “There was such a small account of natural vitality left / That they seemed almost totally dead.” See Galloway, “Middle English Poetics.” Galloway explains the syntactic oddity of the “Bot a lite . . . That . . . ne” clause as a calque of the Old French “presque . . . ne” where the ne denotes not a negative but, instead, “an action that has almost occurred,” citing examples in Chrétien’s Le Chevalier de la Charette. See also the explanatory note to 1.786–88.
2091–93 noght . . . That . . . ne. The ne functions with That as a relative conjunction “Than that.” See notes to Prol.989–90 and 1.786–88.
2214 ff. Macaulay (2:474) cites Vita Barlaam et Josephat, cap. vi, here:
O stulte ac demens, si fratris tui, cum quo idem tibi genus et par honos est, in quem nullius omnino sceleris tibi conscius es, praeconem ita extimuisti, quonam modo mihi reprehensionis notam idcirco inussisti, quod Dei mei praecones, qui mortem, ac Domini, in quem me multa et gravia scelera perpetrasse scio, pertimescendum adventum mihi quavis tuba vocalius altiusque denuntiant, humiliter ac demisse salutarim? [“O mad fool, if you are so terrified at the herald of your brother, with whom you are equal in family and rank, against whom you are aware of no crime at all of yours, might I pay respects humbly and meekly to the heralds of my God, who announce to me vocally and loudly, with whatever sort of trumpet, my death and the fearsome arrival of my lord, against whom I know I have committed many terrible crimes?”]
2247 al schal deie. Proverbial. See Whiting D101.
2274 clerk Ovide. See Met. 3.344–510, for the story of Narcissus; also Boccaccio’s Genealogie deorum gentilium libri 7.59. Genius alters the conclusion to suit his heterosexual vision. Medieval writers commonly present Narcissism as a dangerous component of erotic love. Guillaume de Lorris’ RR, lines 1439–1614, was an influential text in this regard. See Schutz (“Absent and Present Images,” pp. 109, 118–20) on Gower’s alteration of his source to use specular effects to create introspection.
2279 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic in speciali tractat Confessor cum Amante contra illos, qui de propria formositate presumentes amorem mulieris dedignantur. Et narrat exemplum qualiter cuiusdam Principis filius nomine Narcizus estiuo tempore, cum ipse venacionis causa quendam ceruum solus cum suis canibus exagitaret, in grauem sitim incurrens necessitate compulsus ad bibendum de quodam fonte pronus se inclinauit; vbi ipse faciem suam pulcherrimam in aqua percipiens, putabat se per hoc illam Nimpham, quam Poete Ekko vocant, in flumine coram suis oculis pocius conspexisse; de cuius amore confestim laqueatus, vt ipsam ad se de fonte extraheret, pluribus blandiciis adulabatur. Set cum illud perficere nullatenus potuit, pre nimio languore deficiens contra lapides ibidem adiacentes caput exuerberans cerebrum effudit. Et sic de propria pulcritudine qui fuerat presumptuosus, de propria pulcritudine fatuatus interiit. [Here in particular the Confessor discourses with the Lover against those who, presuming on their own beauty, disdain the love of a woman. And he narrates an instructive example about how the son of a certain prince, Narcissus by name, when hunting alone with his hounds during the springtime pursued a certain stag, and running with severe thirst, compelled by necessity to drink from a certain stream, lowered himself flat to the ground. There, perceiving in the water his own most beautiful face, he thought instead that he was regarding that nymph whom poets call Echo, in the river before his eyes. Instantly snared by love of her, in order that he might draw her out from the stream he wooed her with many seductions. But when he could not at all achieve that, growing weak from too great an illness, he struck his head against the stones lying around in that same place, pouring out his brains. And thus he who had been presumptuous about his own beauty died infatuated by it.]
2304-21 Genius introduces a Celtic component of fairy magic to his version of Narcissus’ downfall as he dismounts at heat of day and under a tree drinks from a well. Compare Sir Orfeo, in Laskaya and Salisbury, eds., Middle English Breton Lays, pp. 15–60, especially lines 65–174, where Herodis (Eurydice) sleeps under “a fair ympe-tre” (line 70) at the heat of day and is taken by the king of fairies. See Severs, “Antecedents of Sir Orfeo,” for discussion of the Celtic/Irish tradition. Compare Celtic fairy motifs in the Tale of Florent.
2343-58 "This pretty passage is a late addition, appearing only in the third recension MSS. and one other copy, so far as I know" (Mac, 2:475). The application of the story to the fact that the narcissus blooms in early spring (1.2355-57) appears to be Gower's invention.
2406 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur de quarta specie Superbie, que Lactancia dicitur, ex cuius natura causatur, vt homo de seipso testimonium perhibens suarum virtutum merita de laude in culpam transfert, et suam famam cum ipse extollere vellet, illam proprio ore subvertit. Set et Venus in amoris causa de isto vicio maculatos a sua Curia super omnes alios abhorrens expellit, et eorum multiloquium verecunda detestatur. Vnde Confessor Amanti opponens materiam plenius declarat. [Here he speaks concerning the fourth species of Pride, which is called Boasting, by whose nature it is brought about that a man, offering testimonial about himself, transforms the merits of his own virtues from praise to blame, and when he himself would wish to extoll his own fame overturns it with his own mouth. But Venus, abhorring above all others those stained by this vice in the cause of love, expells them and, ashamed of their blabbing, execrates them. Whence the Confessor, querying the Lover, explains the matter more fully.]
2443 daunger. Daunger personifies the woman's aloofness in courtly relationships. In RR he is presented as a somewhat churlish figure who perpetually thwarts the aggressions of male desire.
2459 ff. The popular story of Albinus and Rosemund is first told by Paulus Diaconus, Historia Langobardorum 2.28. See also Godfrey of Viterbo, Pantheon, 23.5-6.
2462 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ponit Confessor exemplum contra istos, qui vel de sua in armis probitate, vel de suo in amoris causa desiderio completo se iactant. Et narrat qualiter Albinus primus Rex Longobardorum, cum ipse quendam alium Regem nomine Gurmundum in bello morientem triumphasset, testam capitis defuncti auferens ciphum ex ea gemmis et auro circumligatum in sue victorie memoriam fabricari constituit: insuper et ipsius Gurmundi filiam Rosemundam rapiens, maritali thoro in coniugem sibi copulauit. Vnde ipso Albino postea coram sui Regni nobilibus in suo regali conuiuio sedente, dicti Gurmundi ciphum infuso vino ad se inter epulas afferri iussit; quem sumptum vxori sue Regine porrexit dicens, "Bibe cum patre tuo." Quod et ipsa huiusmodi operis ignara fecit. Quo facto Rex statim super hiis que per prius gesta fuerant cunctis audientibus per singula se iactauit. Regina vero cum talia audisset, celato animo factum abhorrens in mortem domini sui Regis circumspecta industria conspirauit; ipsumque auxiliantibus Glodesida et Helmege breui subsecuto tempore interfecit: cuius mortem Dux Rauennensis tam in corpus dicte Regine quam suorum fautorum postea vindicauit. Set et huius tocius in infortunii sola superbie iactancia fomitem ministrabat. [Here the Confessor presents an instructive example against those who boast either about their trials in war or about their fulfilled desires in the cause of love. And he narrates how Albinus, the first king of the Lombards, when he himself was triumphant over a certain other king dying in battle, Gurmund by name, carried away the top of the dead man's skull and caused a goblet to be fabricated from it, bound with gems and gold, in memory of his victory. In addition to this, he captured the daughter of this same Gurmund, Rosemund, and coupled her to himself as a spouse in the marital bedchamber. Wherefore when this Albinus was later sitting before the nobles of his kingdom at his royal banquet, amidst the feasting he ordered the goblet of the said Gurmund to be brought filled with wine to him. When he had received it, he offered it to his wife the queen, saying, "Drink with your father," which indeed she, ignorant of a piece of work of this kind, unknowingly did. Once done, the king immediately boasted to all those listening about those things that he had formerly accomplished, one by one. But when the queen had heard such things she, abhorring in her concealed thoughts his deed, conspired the death of her lord the king by a circumspect endeavor, and with Glodesida and Helmege helping her, she killed him soon after. The duke of Ravenna later revenged his death on the bodies both of the said queen and of her helpers. And of this whole misfortune a single boast of pride furnished the kindling-wood.] Macaulay notes that the wording "Bibe cum patre tuo" is exactly that of the prose account in the Pantheon (2:477).
2565 thilke unkynde Pride. MED unkinde 4c cites this line in Gower with the meaning “lacking natural affection or concern for or loyalty to a spouse; of a wife: undutiful toward her husband, fractious; of a husband, husband’s pride: lacking proper respect for his wife, indifferent to his wife’s feelings.” N.b. CA 3.2055, where Orestes condemns Clytemnestra: “O cruel beste unkinde” for the slaughter of her own lord. See also MED unkynde 6a and 4d. That the duke of Ravenna quietly poisons Rosemund (1.2644–46) would seem to be the result of an unspoken law: wives don’t kill husbands, lest they be unkynde.
2629–30 noght . . . That . . . ne. See note to 1.786–88.
2642 ff. Macaulay observes that Gower winds the story up abruptly. "According to the original story, Longinus the Prefect of Ravenna conspired with Rosemunda to poison Helmichis, and he, having received drink from her hand and feeling himself poisoned, compelled her to drink also of the same cup" (2:477).
Latin verses x (before line 2681). Line 5: fauellum. Favel, a medieval creation, is generally related to flattery (from Latin fabella) and is bodied forth as a horse to be “curried” by his followers (because fauvel is ‘fawn colored’ in Old French, hence a fawn-colored horse): see the fourteenth-century French Roman de Fauvel (ed. Langförs). In that poem Fauvel is acrostically defined as the progenitor of flattery, avarice, villainy, variety (changeability), envy, and laziness; he seeks to marry Fortune but is denied because of Fortune’s higher lineage and so must settle for Vaine Gloire. Piers Plowman introduces Favel to English literature, but not specifically as a horse (B.2.158 ff.). The “saddled laws” that Gower places on Favel’s back could show some connection with the passage in Piers Plowman, where saddled sheriffs and professional jury members carry Meed and False (so Echard and Fanger, Latin Verses in the Confessio Amantis). More likely, however, Gower’s saddling Favel with laws and climbing on Favel as a knight are simply elaborations of the allegory of the Roman de Fauvel, a connection confirmed by Gower’s association of Favel with Vain Glory whom Favel marries in the Roman. Yet by the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century the dramatized idea of “currying favor” was very widespread in England and in more literal terms than our own cliché usually conveys; the chronicler Thomas Walsingham describes a public sermon in 1406 where a lord ordered his servant to present to the preacher a currying comb, “suggesting that he was fawning on the prelates of the church.” The archbishop of Canterbury, less amused than the other spectators, ordered the servant to walk naked for several days as penance with a curry-comb in one hand and a candle in the other. Obviously the symbolism of the curry-comb in both events was clear to many without any specific literary source (see Walsingham, St. Albans Chronicle, ed. Galbraith, p. 2).
2657 His pourpos schal ful ofte faile. See Bakalian, Aspects of Love, pp. 12–20, on Albinus’ avantance (boasting) and the swiftness of his demise once he “over-reaches himself and is swept away by his pride” (p. 18).
2682 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur de quinta specie superbie, que Inanis gloria vocatur, et eiusdem vicii naturam primo describens super eodem in amoris causa Confessor Amanti consequenter opponit. [Here he speaks about the fifth species of pride, which is called empty (or vain) glory, and first describing the nature of this same vice, the Confessor consequently questions the Lover about it in the cause of love.]
2698 camelion. Probably the lizard but not necessarily. The MED cites Gower's line here to signify a creature of diverse colors and notes various references in Gower's contemporary, John Trevisa, where the chameleon is "a litel beste of dyverse coloures" like a stellio (gecko) or the lusardis; or an evete (lizard, salamander, or newt); or "a flekked beste" like a leopard or basilisk. Trevisa also uses the word to indicate a giraffe, while Mandeville uses the word for "a lytill best as a Goot." See Whiting C137 for proverbial underpinning.
2706 ff. Latin marginalia: Salomon. Amictus eius annunciat de eo. [Solomon: "His cloak declares what he is."] See Ecclesiasticus 19:27, which Gower abbreviates.
2722–24 noght . . . That . . . ne. See note to 1.786–88.
2727 Rondeal, balade and virelai. Burrow (“Portrayal of Amans,” p. 21) notes that in Gower “these compositions are not incorporated in the text of the poem itself as we would expect in Machaut or Froissart.”
2785 ff. Based on Daniel 4:1-34 (Dan. 4:4-37, King James). The story was a popular exemplum of pride (e.g., VC 7; MO, lines 1885-95 and 21979–96; and Chaucer's Monk's Tale, CT VII[B2]2143-82). For detailed discussion of the passage, see Peck, “John Gower and the Book of Daniel.”
2788 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ponit Confessor exemplum contra vicium inanis glorie, narrans qualiter Nabugodonosor Rex Caldeorum, cum ipse in omni sue maiestatis gloria celsior extitisset, deus eius superbiam castigare volens ipsum extra formam hominis in bestiam fenum comedentem transmutauit. Et sic per septennium penitens, cum ipse potenciorem se agnouit, misertus deus ipsum in sui regni solium restituta sanitate emendatum graciosius collocauit. [Here the Confessor presents an instructive example against the vice of empty (or vain) glory, relating how, when Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Chaldeans, was established very high in all the glory of his majesty, God, wishing to chastize his pride, transmuted him into a grass-eating beast. And thus. with the king making penance for seven years, when he acknowledged [God] to be more powerful, God took pity and graciously placed him again on the soil of his kingdom, freed from blemish and with his health restored.]
2925 The weder schal upon thee reine. "The weather shall rain upon you." But it also could mean, "The sheep shall rule over you."
3067 ff. No specific source has been identified for "The Tale of Three Questions."
3068 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic narrat Confessor exemplum simpliciter contra Superbiam; et dicit quod nuper quidam Rex famose prudencie cuidam militi suo super tribus questionibus, vt inde certitudinis responsionem daret, sub pena capitalis sentencie terminum prefixit. Primo, quid minoris indigencie ab inhabitantibus orbem auxilium maius obtinuit. Secundo, quid maioris valencie meritum continens minoris expense reprisas exiguit. Tercio, quid omnia bona diminuens ex sui proprietate nichil penitus valuit. Quarum vero questionum quedam virgo dicti militis filia sapientissima nomine patris sui solucionem aggrediens taliter Regi respondit. Ad primam dixit, quod terra nullius indiget, quam tamen adiuuare cotidianis laboribus omnes intendunt. Ad secundam dixit, quod humilitas omnibus virtutibus prevalet, que tamen nullius prodegalitatis expensis mensuram excedit. Ad terciam dixit, quod superbia omnia tam corporis quam anime bona deuastans maiores expensarum excessus inducit. Et tamen nullius valoris, ymmo tocius perdicionis, causam sua culpa ministrat. [Here the Confessor narrates an instructive example against pride in general; and he says that in recent times a certain king, famous for his prudence, presented to one of his knights a logical challenge comprising three questions, whence he might give a correct response under pain of capital punishment: first, what having less need has obtained greater help from inhabitants on earth; second, what having merit of greater value demands less expense; third, what diminishes all good things but is worth utterly nothing in itself. Of these questions, however, the most wise virgin daughter of the said knight, advancing a solution in the name of her father, responded thus to the king. To the first, she said that the earth has need of nothing, but all strive to help it with daily labors. To the second, she said that humility is worth more than all virtues, but it does not exceed any expense of prodigality. To the third, she said that pride devastating all good things both of the body and the soul induces excessive expenses. And nonetheless its guilt furnishes the source of no value but instead of total loss.] In the phrase minoris expense reprisas, reprisa means “expenses lost, cost,” but, like its Old French and ME versions (both reprise), it is commonly found in legal documents and normally with the technical legal sense of “a fixed charge deducted annually from an estate’s revenue” (Latham, Revised Medieval Latin Word-List, and MED ). Gower is the only writer attested as broadening the meaning of the word in English to mean, as here, simply “cost” (see explanatory notes to 1.3308 and 5.4708). His usage was not followed by other writers.
3308 To stanche . . . the reprise. Macaulay glosses reprise as “trouble”; i.e., “To stop the trouble of Pride” (2:479). But the MED favors “To pay the cost of Pride” (see MED s.v. reprise b; and s.v. staunchen 3c). See also the comment on the Latin reprisa above.
3366–67 noght . . . That . . . ne. See note to 1.786–88.
3369 ff. Macaulay (2:479) notes that Gower has heavily corrected these lines.
3397-3400 The MS is torn here, with line 3397 ending gr; line 3398 ending plac; and line 3400 ending qwee.
Abbreviations: A: Bodleian Library MS Bodley 902 (SC 27573), fols. 2r–183r; B: Bodleian Library MS Bodley 294 (SC 2449), fols. 1r–197r; C: Corpus Christi College, Oxford MS 67, fols. 1r–209r; F: Bodleian Library MS Fairfax 3 (SC 3883; copy text for this edition), fols. 2r–186r; J: St. John’s College, Cambridge MS B.12 (34), fols. 1r–214r; Mac: G. C. Macaulay; S: Stafford, now Ellesmere 26, fols. 1r–169v; T: Trinity College, Cambridge MS R.3.2 (581), fols. 1r–147v.
1–106 Omitted in S (lost leaf).
17 no man. Here and elsewhere in the MS the scribe writes noman. I have regularly expanded the compound into two words, according to modern usage.
19 to moche . . . to lite. F: tomoche . . . tolite. Here and hereafter I expand such compounds into two words. See note to line 17.
125 Thow. So F. S, B, J, Mac: Thou.
130 wis man. F: wismam. S, B, Mac: wisman. J: wysmon.
154 sone. F usually capitalizes Sone and Mac always does when it refers to Amans. I have followed modern practice and ignored the capital.
183 thanne wold. So F, S. J: þenne wold. B: þan wold. Mac emends to than wolde.
234 Mi sone. So S. F: Mi sone sone. B, J, Mac: My Sone.
293 the. So S, B, J, Mac. F: ther.
295 shryve. So F. S: schryue. B, Mac: shrive. J: schriue.
298 mispended. So F. S: mysdespended. B, J: mysdispended. Mac emends to misdispended; but hadde is disyllabic and the emendation is unnecessary.
310 manye such a man. So F. S, A, Mac: manye suche a man. B: many such a man. J: mony such a mon.
334 ff. Latin marginalia: line 4: superveniens. So Mac. F reads superueveniens (the repetition of ve occurs at a line break).
335 whilom. So S, B, J, Mac. F: whilon.
355 throstle. So S, B, Mac. F: Trostle. J: þrestele.
377 houndes. So S, J, B, Mac. F: hondes.
393–94 constellacioun . . . nacioun. So S, B. F: constellacioun . . . nacion. J, Mac: constellacion . . . nacion.
397 bore. So S, B, J, Mac. F: bothe. I have followed Mac’s emendation on the basis of other MSS, but also because of the mention of nativité in line 392.
483 ff. Latin marginalia: line 5: pertransiit. So F. Mac: pertransiuit. Mac’s form, while certainly the more common, is not necessary given the legitimacy of F.
531 myht. So S, J, Mac. F: myhte. B: might.
Latin verses v (before line 575). Line 1: Aquila que. F: Aquilaque.
580 ferste. So S, Mac. F, J: ferst. B: first. I have followed S to maintain the parallel in line 585.
584 I. So S, B, J, Mac. Omitted by F.
631–814 Omitted in J.
673 Ornamental capital on Ther; thus my division at the syntactic break.
823 wynne. So B, J, Mac. F: wynme. S: winne.
1023 seid. So S, A, Mac. F: seide. B, J: seyd.
1068 tobroken. So F. S, B, J, Mac: tobreken.
1172 Synon. So S, B, J, Mac. F: Symon.
1216 which. So S, B, Mac. F: wich. J: whech.
1225 Bot. So S, Mac. F: Byt. B: But. J: Bote.
1257 schalt. So S, B, Mac. F: schat. J: shalt.
1301 Mi. So F, S. B, J, Mac: My.
1344 ff. Latin marginalia: line 2: deseruiunt. So Mac. F: deseruiant (induced by preceding ut).
1345 Compleignte. So S, Mac. F, J: Compleingte. B: compleynte.
1378 Compleignte. So S, Mac. F, J: Compleingte. B: compleignt.
1403–06 Lines only in third recension. Others (S, B, J) have: And in ensample of þis matiere / A tale I fynde as þou schalt hiere (text from B).
1464 Omitted in B.
1500 othre. So F, S. B, J, Mac: other. But see 1.1496.
1625 th’unsemylieste. So F, S. B: þunsemelieste. J: þe vnsemelieste. Mac: thunsemlieste.
1648 Gif his ansuere. So F. S: õive his ansuere. B, Mac: Yive his answere. J: õeue his answere.
1719 womanhiede. So F. S, Mac: wommanhiede. B: wommanhede. J: wommonhede.
1747 Sche. So F, S, B. J: Heo. Mac: She.
1785 fole. So F. S, B, J, Mac: foule.
1881–82 Omitted in S.
2017–20 S has only two lines: Wherof þou miht þiselue lere / I þenke telle as þou schalt hiere.
2043 Thei. So Mac. F: That. S: þe. B: þey. J: They.
2105 And. So S, B, J, Mac. F: An.
2159 Here. So S, Mac. F: Hire. B: Her. J: Heor.
2171 sherte. So F. S: schert. B, J, Mac: scherte.
2267–74 This transition was altered in the third recension. Others (S, B, J) have: Forþi eschew it I þe rede / For in Ouide a tale I rede / how þat a man was ouertake / Wherof þou might ensample take (text from B).
2311–12 branche . . . stanche. So F. S, B, J, Mac: braunche . . . staunche.
2343–58 Omitted in S, B, J.
2360 alle. So F, S, J, B. Mac: all.
2369–72 Omitted in S, B, J.
2398 have his wille. Mac emends to have al his wille, from S, B, J. Metrically the emendation is unnecessary if scholde is disyllabic.
2457 myhte. So F, S. B: might. J, Mac: myht.
2460 ferst. So F, J. S, Mac: ferste.
2462 ff. Latin marginalia: line 14: Ravenni. So F. Mac: Rauennensis.
2676 Til. So F, S, B. J: Tyl. Mac: Till. See also 8.370.
Latin verses x (before line 2681). Line 5: scit. So B, Mac. F, S, J: sit.
2713–14 Lines only in third recension. Others (S, B, J) have: So ouerglad þat purgatoire / Ne might abregge his veinegloire (text from B).
2827 ek. So F, S. B: eek. J, Mac: eke.
2829 tree. So F, S, B, J. Mac: tre.
2847 thurghknowe. So A, Mac. F: thurgknowe. S, B: thurgh knowe. J: þorouh knowe.
2932 exposicioun. So S, B, Mac. F, J: exposicion.
3068 ff. Latin marginalia: line 5: obtinuit. So Mac. F: obtitinuit.
3351 mai. So S, J, Mac. F: mar. B: may.
3357 sesed. So S, B, J, Mac. F: seled.
3398 sene. So Mac. F, S: scene. B: seene. J: schene (omits was).