"Mi fader, understonde it is,
The marginal Latin glosses, identified by a capital L in the left margin next to the text, are transcribed and translated in the notes and can be accessed by clicking on (see note) at the corresponding line.
1 Wrath is on par with its peers, the furies of Acheron, where Fury has no timely pity. Wrath provokes melancholic tempers, so that its scale holds no weights in equal judgment. In every law case, Wrath weighs heavily; among lovers it stirs up weighty grievances on little grounds. Where a man is full of discord and lightly assails love, lamentation instead of playfulness often fills his face.
2 Wrath stirs up conflict, which, released and loosening the tongue's reins, runs everywhere through the paths of infamy. The nursemaid of quarrels, she informs those chatterers, and Venus releases them from her side to be wanderers. But he who proceeds patiently and keeps things concealed, conquers with a silent mouth and follows the path of a desired love.
3 Hatred is like the devil's scribe, to whom Wrath will give the content of the inscription for the heart's inner sanctum. Love will not release whomever the reins of hatred hold [or: The love of hatred will not release whomever its reins hold], nor will it permit entry to the secrets of its law.
4 Let the one who cannot restrain his hand but get his "spirit in his nostrils," and he will often be fearsome to the people. Too often Venus transforms joys into sorrow when such a partner is present in the wedding-bed. Love must be enticed by a caress, not by blows; a hasty hand shatters loving friendships.
5 The creature that God himself creates, Homicide slays, sprinkling the ground with human blood as an avenger. A human being's bloodthirstiness is like a beast's: once - alas! - it is poured out, pity lies conquered, and rage urges on the work. The Angel said "peace on earth," and the final words of Christ express a peace that wars now drive away.
*For MS abbreviations, see head of textual notes.
1 If thou the vices lest to knowe. See Simpson (1995), ch. 6 (pp. 167-97) on the "psychological information" of Book 3 and of the limitations of both Genius' and Amans' abilities to sort through the limitations of what they can understand.
5 A vice forein fro the lawe. The MED glosses forein in this line as "contrary, inimical" (see adj. 3 [d]). The "foreignness" of wrath to law makes it particularly dangerous to social and political structure. See Fisher, p. 196, who sees the line as Gower's means of focusing on legal issues throughout his canon.
8 And yit to kinde no plesance. See note to 3.2263-64 on the contrariness of pride, envy, and wrath to nature.
8 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic in tercio libro tractat super quinque speciebus Ire, quarum prima Malencolia dicitur, cuius vicium Confessor primo describens Amanti super eodem consequenter opponit. [Here in the third book he discusses the five types of Wrath, the first of which is called Melancholy, which the Confessor first describes then asks the Lover concerning it.]
18 For his servantz ben evere wrothe. On violence in Book 3, particularly against women - Canace, Cornide, Laar, Daphne, Clytemnestra - in which men seem to feel that such rage is their special prerogative, see Donavin, "'When reson torneth into rage.'" The victims expose mechanisms behind taboos against such behavior as "Gower builds a case against violence" (p. 216). "Women's bodies are pierced, sliced, dismembered, and metamorphosed to expiate a men's frustration about love" (p. 219).
27 Malencolie. On melancholy as a mental or emotional disorder affiliated with wrath in Gower's day, see Mary F. Wack, Lovesickness and Its Commentaries (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990), pp. 11-13, 162.
47-48 mennes game . . . pure grame. Itô (John Gower, pp. 244-45), sees Gower's prominent use of adnominatio (a paronomasia - punning and word-play through phrasal rhymes) as a means of sharpening the contrast of ideas. Gower uses comparable word play in MO. For other examples, see CA 2.55-56, 5.4885-86, 5.5327-28, 5.7053-54, 6.1379-81, 6.3571-72, and 8.479-80.
128 angri snoute. A fine example of Gower's persona surpassing, through "comical deformity," "self-satire," and "dramatic self-parody," the literary mold in which he has been cast. See Peck (1978, p. 81).
131 In loves stede. Compare the Latin construction in vicem amoris, which defines a role, rather than a physical location.
143 Gower's source for the Tale of Canace and Machaire is Ovid, Heroides 11. Genius softens the story and appeals to the reader's sympathy for Canace by adding her speech to her father and her letter to her brother. To heighten the pathos and focus on the father's cruel anger, he places the death of the child, bathed in his mother's blood, after the mother's death. See Chaucer's witty allusion to this "wikke ensample" in the introduction to The Man of Law's Tale, CT II(B1)77-80. Lydgate retells Gower's version in his Fall of Princes (1.6833- 7070). The tale reveals "none of the stock responses of the narrow moralist, but a sober and compassionate meditation on the blind instinctual nature of sexual passion" (Pearsall, "Gower's Narrative Art," p. 481). "Melancholy, not incest, is the topic governing the tale" (Olsson, Structures of Conversion, p. 112).
143 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ponit Confessor exemplum contra istos, qui cum vires amoris non sunt realiter experti, contra alios amantes malencolica seueritate ad iracundiam vindicte prouocantur. Et narrat qualiter Rex Eolus filium nomine Macharium et filiam nomine Canacem habuit, qui cum ab infancia vsque ad pubertatem inuicem educati fuerant, Cupido tandem ignito iaculo amborum cordis desideria amorose penetrauit, ita quod Canacis natura cooperante a fratre suo inpregnata parturit: super quo pater, intollerabilem iuuentutis concupiscenciam ignorans nimiaque furoris malencolia preuentus, dictam filiam cum partu dolorosissimo casu interfici adiudicauit. [Here the Confessor presents an instructive example against those who, although they have not really experienced the powers of love, are vindictively provoked to wrathfulness against other lovers, in a melancholic severity. And he narrates how King Eolus had a son, Macharius by name, and a daughter, Canace by name. After they had been raised together from infancy up to adolescence, Cupid at length penetrated the desires of both their hearts amorously with a burning arrow, such that Canace, with nature cooperating, became pregnant by her brother and gave birth. Whereupon their father, ignorant of the unbearable lusts of youth and prepossessed by an excessive melancholy of fury, judged that the said daughter with her offspring in this most mournful case be put to death.] The story is attractively told in Gower, despite the quibbling of Chaucer's Man of Law. Lydgate was evidently moved by Gower's version, as he somewhat incongruously inserts it into Fall of Princes as the conclusion to Book 1 (1.6835-7070). As in Gower, the heart of Lydgate's narrative is Canacee's touching letter of complaint to her brother.
148-81 See White's discussion of the basic natural sexual instinct (CA 8.68-70) where, before the positing of laws to the contrary, incest was accepted behavior, a perspective that remains present in nature and that is "certainly operative of Genius' account of what happened to Canace and Machaire" (Nature, Sex, and Goodness, p. 194).
154-57 In Book 3, especially, Gower explores richly the complex ambiguities of nature. On questions of whether persons may go against the lawes of nature (line 157) without punishment - "fordon the lawe of kynde," as Chaucer puts it (TC 1.238) - see Olsson (1982, pp. 232-34). But although Gower grants some allowances toward leges naturae, neither he nor his priest "is content merely to exonerate the impulses of animalic 'kinde'" (p. 233).
172 lawe positif. "Nature informed by reason." (Kelly, Love and Marriage, p. 141). Macaulay notes:
Gower's view is that there is nothing naturally immoral about incestuous marriage, but that it is made wrong by the "lex positiva" of the Church. This position he makes clear at the beginning of the eighth book, by showing that in the first ages of the world such marriages must have been sanctioned by divine authority, and that the idea of kinship as a bar to marriage had grown up gradually, cousins being allowed to marry among the Jews, though brother and sister might not, and that finally the Church had ordered:That non schal wedden of his kenIf attacked by Chaucer with regard to the subject of this story, he would no doubt defend himself by arguing that the vice with which it dealt was not against nature, and that the erring brother and sister were in truth far more deserving of sympathy than the father who took such cruel vengeance. (2:493)
Ne the seconde, ne the thridde.
As Schueler emphasizes, in this tale Gower does not defend incest but rather acknowledges the power of natural love ("Gower's Characterization," p. 253).
178 enchaunted. Gower's term here has received considerable commentary, from "overlaid with the nostalgia of his own loss but instinct with a pity and understanding" (Fison, p. 21); the blinding of creatures as blind Cupid does (Bennett, 1986, p. 108); and a spell cast on people regardless of law and reason (Collins, p. 120); to children "innocently blind" (Runacres, p. 125). The enchantment does not exculpate the lovers, however; as C. David Benson points out, the term "usually carried a clearly sinister meaning" (pp. 103-04). See Nicholson (1989), p. 221.
205 The sothe, which mai noght ben hid. Proverbial. See Whiting S490.
213 he was to love strange. See Bullón-Fernández's reading of the tale (pp. 158-72) on levels as diverse as confinement of the body politic by an absolutist king to the confinement of Canacee, whose subtext is confined by patriarchy and Genius, her "literary father." In this respect "Canacee exemplifies literary creativity" (p. 160). See explanatory note to line 268.
225 ff. When Eolus ignores Canacee's touching plea, Olsson suggests, "he rejects a basic good in nature, the good of cognatio. . . . The extraordinary power of this tale is that while it exposes a weakness in kinde itself, it also builds that perception into a dissuasion from melancholic wrath" (1992, p. 113).
248 naked swerd. It is "as though [Eolus] is proposing incest at a double remove, substituting the knight for himself and the sword for the phallus" (Spearing, p. 217).
268 I wole a lettre unto mi brother. Bullón-Fernández sees Canacee as a woman locked in a private sphere. In Ovid she has a nurse to talk to. In Gower she is totally isolated, able only to write a letter with ink and, ultimately, with the blood of her body. "Writing the letter can . . . be seen as Canacee's attempt to create a private space for herself . . . . [P]erhaps both Chaucer and Gower explored and developed a sense of privacy of the self in their work partly as a response to Richard's pretense that he owned both everybody's goods and their lives. Both writers may have seen a need . . . to erase the line between private and public" (p. 165). C. David Benson makes the point that the tale is "a 'wikke ensample' of one who loved sinfully," which "does not invite our sympathy for the couple so much as our horror at the sin they have committed and the evil it produces." Gower, he points out, has added to Ovid the secrecy of their passion, "inspired by irrational desire," which all recognize, "including the couple themselves, as wrong, and disastrous in its consequences" (pp. 102-03). Olsson observes that incest may be "inordinatus, but it is not innaturalis": "Nature 'kepth hire lawes al at large' (3.174), but the human being is obligated to temper or 'modifie' those laws by reason and, as derived from it, the 'lawe positif'" (1992, p. 113).
312-15 See Nolan ("Lydgate's Literary History," pp. 61-69) on Lydgate's borrowing from Gower in his Fall of Princes.
322 ne bad to do juise. Literally: "would not order [someone] to impose judicial punishment," the infinitive setting up a sequence of parallel infinitives in the next lines, ". . . to bear . . . to seek . . . to cast." Perhaps the sequence begins with "to win" in line 316.
337-59 "The moral perspective that Gower adopts for the Canace and Machaire story tends to protect Nature from censure by turning over attention to the father's culpability, as he overreacts to something presented as a natural necessity" (White, Nature, Sex, and Goodness, p. 197), which from the position of positive law seems to proclaim "Nature's potential moral anarchy" (p. 199). On love as "a disease endemic in the natural God-given order, the lawe of kinde," see pp. 204-05.
342-59 Kelly observes that the proposition that Amans has no power to alter the laws of nature (see 3.154-57) simply demonstrates once again that "Gower has let his confessor run away with himself. . . . Genius is not speaking the truth but merely the opinion of lovers" (p. 144).
344-50 Simpson compares Genius' excusing the incestuous lovers to Dante's Francesca "in her claims for moral leniency in . . . her technically incestuous love" ("Genius's 'Enformacioun,'" p. 173).
352 That nedes mot that nede schal. Proverbial. See Whiting N61. The fatalistic maxim is a favorite of Gower. See also 1.1714 and 8.1020.
355 Bennett notes that "law of kind" and "kindly law" were "the earliest English equivalents to lex naturae; 'laws of nature' first occurring in Gower" (1957, pp. 197-98n3). He goes on to note that "natural law" first occurs in Cursor Mundi.
361 The details for the story of Tiresias and the snakes occur in Ovid, Met. 3.324-27, Hyg. 75, and Vat. Myth I 16, all of which Gower probably had access to, though it is Ovid that he cites. The tale is a good follow-up to Canacee and Machaire in defining the virtues and limitations of nature. See explanatory note to lines 373-75.
364 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic narrat qualiter Tiresias in quodam monte duos serpentes inuenit pariter commiscentes, quos cum virga percussit. Irati dii ob hoc quod naturam impediuit, ipsum contra naturam a forma virili in muliebrem transmutarunt. [Here he narrates how Tiresias discovered on a certain mountain two serpents mingling together, whom he struck with a rod. The gods, wrathful on account of the fact that he had impeded nature, transmogrified him unnaturally from a male into a womanly form.]
369-94 The author of Chaucer's Ghoast (1672) borrows these lines as his "translation/retelling" in an ancient manner of the tale of Socrates' patience in Arg. 11. Chaucer's Wife of Bath does allude to the tale, but the source of the seventeenth-century poet's ghostly version is Gower, not Chaucer.
373-75 Fisher (John Gower, p. 196), cites this passage to demonstrate the interface between law and nature: the Tale of Tiresias and the Snakes "illustrates the all-embracing virtue of legitimate sexual intercourse." "Tiresias is punished for disrupting nature by having his own nature disrupted" (Cresswell, "tales of Acteon and Narcissus," p. 37, as cited by Nicholson, Annotated Index, p. 224).
383 More is a man than such a beste. Simpson (Sciences and the Self, pp.176-77) juxtaposes the act of Tiresias against the snakes with that of Aeolus (Eolus), who destroys Canacee and her baby for her incestuous coupling with Machaire, to show how man is more than beast and thus lives by more complex rules.
398-99 Let every man love as he wile, / Be so it be noght my ladi. Earlier, Amans recognizes his own destructive impulses as he terrorizes his household (2.87-98). But now he seems more moderate, even potentially sympathetic of Canacee and Machaire, providing he gets his way. This leads to his invoking his wrath "Alone upon miself" (3.402), which Elizabeth Allen ("Chaucer Answers Gower," pp. 634-35) likens to the progress of Canacee's suicide, as she brings home her guilt. The point is that "Amans's limitations encourage us to face a particular danger of self-examination: the risk of an obsessive, self-destructive, disconnection from an outside world where every man can 'love as he will' as long as it does not touch others. . . . The Confessio insists not only on the reader's inward turn but also, in response, on a search for willed interconnections, however tenuous or tangential: the Confessio seeks to make self-examination socially responsible" (p. 636).
417 ff. See Craun (Lies, Slander, and Obscenity, pp. 117-18) on Cheste and Detraction as Sins of the Tongue in penitential manuals.
421 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic tractat Confessor super secunda specie Ire, que Lis dicitur, ex cuius contumeliis innumerosa dolorum occasio tam in amoris causa quam aliter in quampluribus sepissime exorta est. [Here the Confessor treats the second species of Wrath, which is called Conflict, from whose aggressions very often arises many an occasion of sorrows both in the cause of love and elsewhere in very many things.]
433 as a sive kepeth ale. Proverbial. See Whiting S305. Stockton, p. 405n3, notes other examples in VC 3.1546, 6.1359, and MO 17656-58.
463-65 the harde bon / Althogh himselven have non, / A tunge brekth. For the proverbial idea, see the Latin verses at the opening of CA (Prol.i, and note on p. 284 of vol. 1 of this edition).
502-03 instede of chese, / For that is helplich to defie. Soft and semisoft cheese was considered an aid to digestion: "mylky chese moysteþ þe wombe (stomach) . . . . And chese y-ete after mete þrusteþ dounward the mete" (Trevisa, trans., On the Properties of Things 2.1334.15-20). Seymour emends mylky to [newe], but I have preferred to follow the reading of the six principal manuscripts.
532 agein the pes. A legal phrase. Any crime is something done "against the [king's] peace" (contra pacem). For references, see John Alford, Piers Plowman: A Glossary of Legal Diction (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1988), s. v. pes.
577-78 no man mai his time lore / Recovere. Proverbial. See Whiting T307. Compare CA 4.1485-87. Perhaps the most amusing expression of the proverb is Harry Bailey's in CT II(B1)28-31.
585 oule on stock and stock on oule. Proverbial. See Whiting O69. The implication is that the branch (stock) on which the owl roosts becomes beshitten and thus befouls the bird in return.
616 ff. Latin marginalia: Seneca: Paciencia est vindicta omnium iniuriarum. [Seneca: Patience is the conquerer of all injuries.] The thought is consistent with the moral essays of Seneca popular in the Middle Ages (esp. "On Wrath" and "On Mercy"), but the precise formulation does not come from those, nor from the apocryphal collection of "proverbs" associated with Seneca (Proverbia Senecae) (AG).
621 wol noght bowe er that he breke. Proverbial. See Whiting B484. Compare Chaucer's TC 1.257-58: "The yerde is bet that bowen wole and wynde / Than that that brest."
640 Chaucer's Jankyn puts his chiding Wife of Bath in her place with the same story (CT III[D]727-32). He learned the story from Jerome, Adversus Jovinianum 1.48 (PL 23, col. 278), whence Gower may also have learned it, though the story was a commonplace epitome of patience.
643 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ponit Confessor exemplum de paciencia in amore contra lites habenda. Et narrat qualiter vxor Socratis ipsum quodam die multis sermonibus litigauit; set cum ipse absque vlla responsione omnia probra pacienter sustulit, indignata vxor quandam ydriam plenam aque, quam in manu tenebat, super caput viri sui subito effudit, dicens, "Euigila et loquere": qui respondens tunc ait, "O vere iam scio et expertus sum quia post ventorum rabiem sequuntur ymbres": et isto modo litis contumeliam sua paciencia deuicit. [Here the Confessor presents an instructive example concerning the necessity in love of keeping patience against attacks. And he narrates how Socrates' wife attacked him one day with many speeches; but when he endured all trials patiently without any response, the wife, indignant, suddenly poured out on her husband a pot full of water that she was holding in her hand, saying, "Wake up and speak." He then responded, "O truly now I know and have experienced, that after a frenzy of winds follow rains." And by this means he conquered the invective of the strife with his patience.]
671 swelle. Wrath is the pent-up vice; often in medieval lore the angry man is said to swell to bursting. The idea dates at least as early as Seneca (first century), "On Anger" 1.20 and 2.36.
693 Chaucer's Xantippa is less gentle than Gower's. In her rage she dumps a pisspot upon Socrates' head; he calmly wipes his beard and observes: "Er that thonder stynte, comth a reyn!" CT III(D)732.
731-64 "A lover of antiquity," the author of Chaucer's Ghoast (1672) "borrows" these lines for his Arg. 3 on Ovid's Tiresias, as if they were his own "penn'd after the ancient manner of writing in England."
734 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ponit Confessor exemplum, quod de alterius lite intromittere cauendum est. Et narrat qualiter Iupiter cum Iunone super quadam questione litigabat, videlicet vtrum vir an mulier in amoris concupiscencia feruencius ardebat; super quo Tiresiam eorum iudicem constituebant. Et quia ille contra Iunonem in dicte litis causa sentenciam diffiniuit, irata dea ipsum amborum oculorum lumine claritatis absque remissione priuauit. [Here the Confessor presents an instructive example concerning how one must take care not to interfere in another's quarrel. And he tells how Jupiter was arguing with Juno on a certain question: whether a man or a woman felt hotter passion in the lust of love; for this they established Tiresias as their judge. And since he declared against Juno in the case of the said conflict, the irate goddess deprived him forever of sight in both eyes.]
781-814 These lines are plagiarized as Arg. 4 of Chaucer's Ghoast (1672) as the "antiquarian" poet attempts to effect "Chaucer's" style.
783 ff. Chaucer's Manciple also rehearses a version of this tale. It is a story from Ovid, Metam. 2.531-632, often told by medieval authors: e.g., Ovide Moralisé; Machaut, Le Livre dou Voir Dit, lines 7773-8110; Seven Sages of Rome, lines 2193-2292; and various allusions in RR. See James Work, in Sources and Analogues of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, pp. 699-722.
784 ff. Latin marginalia: Quia litigantes ora sua cohibere nequiunt, hic ponit Confessor exemplum contra illos qui in amoris causa alterius consilium reuelare presumunt. Et narrat qualiter quedam auis tunc albissima nomine coruus consilium domine sue Cornide Phebo denudauit; vnde contigit non solum ipsam Cornidem interfici, set et coruum, qui antea tanquam nix albus fuit, in piceum colorem pro perpetuo transmutari. [Since disputants cannot conceal their utterances, here the Confessor presents an instructive example against those who in the cause of love presume to reveal the counsel of another. And he narrates how a certain bird who was the whitest of white, the crow [corvus] by name, laid bare to Phoebus the counsel of his mistress Cornida; whence it happened that not only was Cornida killed, but also Corvus, who had previously been snow white, was transmuted forever into pitch black.]
815 Be war therfore and sei the beste. "Beware, therefore, and speak only the best." Compare 3.768. The admonitory phrases bear some resonances with the repeated injunctions to "beware" by Chaucer's Manciple, who admonishes the Cook: "My sone, keep wel thy tonge, and keep thy freend. / A wikked tonge is worse than a feend" (CT IX[H]319-20); see also "Beth war, and taketh kep what that ye seye" (IX[H]310) and "Kepe wel thy tonge and thenk upon the crowe" (IX[H]362). Some have held that Chaucer, with his ten "my sone's" in forty lines, is sending up Gower's story.
Ultimately the point derives from early medieval sayings about guarding the tongue, e.g., "maledicus ne esto" (pseudo-Cato, "Do not be abusive" [Minor Latin Poets, p. 596, line 41]). Translations of such advice poetry were popular in the later fourteenth through the fifteenth centuries, and sometimes emphasize Gower's phrase about careful restraint of the tongue. For a direct parallel, see Lydgate's "Say the Best, and Never Repent" (in The Minor Poems, pp. 795-99). While Lydgate's short advice poem clearly draws on Chaucer's many comments on the same topic, his collection of notions more often parallels Gower, and Lydgate's poem may even be inspired by this moment in the CA. For broad discussion of the pastoral background of the topic of "sins of the tongue" and aspects of its place in Middle English literature, see Craun (Lies, Slander, and Obscenity).
818 another place. I.e., Ovid's Fasti 2.585-616, where the story is told at greater length. In Ovid, Laar is not condemned as a jangler, except by Jupiter.
818 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur super eodem: Et narrat qualiter Laar Nimpha de eo quod Iupiter Iuturnam adulterauit, Iunoni Iouis vxori secretum reuelauit. Quapropter Iupiter ira commotus lingua Laaris prius abscisa ipsam postea in profundum Acherontis exulem pro perpetuo mancipauit. [Here he speaks about the same thing: and he narrates how Laar the Nymph had secretly revealed to Juno, Jupiter's wife, how Jupiter had committed adultery with Juterna. On account of this Jupiter, moved to wrath, first had Laar's tongue cut away, then committed her perpetually to exile in deepest Acheron.]
838 reule. With his keen interest in law, Gower uses the noun reule with technical precision in diverse ways. In CA Prol.108 "reule" connotes "jurisdiction"; in 1.883 its sense is that of "a religious practice." In 4.2642 it implies "a norm of procedure within an academy"; or in 7.1051, "the law of nature." In 7.47, it suggests "a set of rules governing morality in general." In expressions like "oghe reule" (3.1169) or "oute of reule" (6.1283), the sense is "lack of control" or "disorder." Here, given the terms of confession that Genius has established, Amans uses the word to suggest the regulation governing the religious contract he has set up with Genius, his priest.
847 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic tractat Confessor de tercia specie Ire, que Odium dicitur, cuius natura omnes Ire inimicicias ad mentem reducens, illas vsque ad tempus vindicte velud Scriba demonis in cordis papiro commemorandas inserit. [Here the Confessor discourses about the third species of Wrath, which is called Hatred, whose nature, summarizing all enmities of Wrath in its mind like the devil's scribe, inserts them into the heart's paper as memoranda until the time of inflicting them.]
973 The story of Nauplius' revenge occurs in Benoît, Le Roman de Troie, lines 27671-930, Gest Hyst. 32.12552-704, Hyg. 116; and Vat. Myth. II (201 ff.). Gower appears to have followed more than one source.
973 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ponit Confessor exemplum contra illos qui, cum Ire sue odium aperte vindicare non possint, ficta dissimilacione vindictam subdole assequuntur. Et narrat quod cum Palamades princeps Grecorum in obsidione Troie a quibusdam suis emulis proditorie interfectus fuisset, paterque suus Rex Namplus in patria sua tunc existens huiusmodi euentus certitudinem sciuisset, Grecos in sui cordis odium super omnia recollegit. Vnde contigit quod, cum Greci deuicta Troia per altum mare versus Greciam nauigio remeantes obscurissimo noctis tempore nimia ventorum tempestate iactabantur, Rex Namplus in terra sua contra litus maris, vbi maiora saxorum eminebant pericula, super cacumina montium grandissimos noctanter fecit ignes: quos Greci aspicientes saluum portum ibidem inuenire certissime putabant, et terram approximantes diruptis nauibus magna pars Grecorum periclitabatur. Et sic, quod Namplus viribus nequiit, odio latitante per dissimilacionis fraudem vindicauit. [Here the Confessor presents an instructive example against those who, when they are not able openly to inflict their wrath's hate, pursue their punishment surreptitiously. And he narrates that when Palamades, prince of the Greeks, had been treacherously killed by certain rivals at the siege of Troy, his father King Namplus, when he had learned while he was in his own country the certainty of this event, collected in his heart a hatred for the Greeks above all others. Whence it happened that, after Troy was sacked, when the Greeks were returning home by ship toward Greece across the deep ocean, at the darkest point of night they were tossed about by a tempest of extraordinarily strong winds; and King Namplus, in his land across from the seashore where the greatest dangers of rocks jutted out, caused great fires to be set on the peaks of mountains. The Greeks, seeing those, firmly believed that they had discovered a safe harbor there, and as they approached the land their ships were torn apart, endangering nearly all the Greeks. And thus, what Namplus was not able to do by force, he inflicted through fraud of dissimulation by means of a hidden hatred.] Runacres cites the opening of this gloss as an example of moralitas that serves "as a constant reminder of the importance of the ethical purpose of the poem" that may not be "closely linked to the . . . narraciones" (p. 121).
977 tornen hom agein. See Olsson ("Love, Intimacy, and Gower," pp. 86-92) on the centrality of the woman and home to Gower's ideology of return and repose. He notes perceptively the large number of rough homecomings, such as those of the Greeks here (compare the tales of Leucothoe, 5.6722-51, or Elda's desperate circumstance as he would wake his wife, 2.836-38, or Jephthah's unhappy return, 4.1517). "Life at home can be disrupted or destroyed by domestic tyranny, external assault, random misfortune, and, perhaps most tragically, betrayal" (p. 92). But regardless of circumstances, the quality of the return is likely to be bound up in memory, that Boethian domicile possessed well by Gower's four good wives in 8.2617-18, "a memory that . . . fully acknowledges their own unsettled condition and their suffering. They understand their humanity [as the Greeks in these lines do not], and they also understand what it means to be rooted in relationship: their lives 'at home,' for all they must remember, help give them, unsentimentally, both constancy and stability" (p. 93). It is this sense of home and repose upon which Gower builds the conclusion to his poem in Book 8.
981-1000 "Ships and the sea, indeed, are always good in Gower . . . . This excellence in Gower's sea-pieces has led some to suppose that he was familiar with sea travel - as he may well have been; but it is, in fact, only one manifestation of his devotion to movement and progression, his preoccupation with things that change as you watch them" (Lewis, Allegory of Love, p. 207). See also 4.1741 ff., 4.3063, and 8.1928-29.
1073-75 Proverbial. A variant of Whiting J75.
1076-78 Compare 2.1921-22. Mitchell, remarking on the intrinsic deception of mirrors to which Gower alludes, notes the common use of mirror imagery in didactic discourse on memory and meditation in the later Middle Ages and suggests that by means of such recurring remarks, Gower craftily "implicates the specular supposition of exemplary rhetoric itself" (p. 130). For a summary of uses of mirrors in speculation on mental behavior see Herbert Grabes, The Mutable Glass: Mirror-Imagery in the Titles and Texts of the Middle Ages and English Renassance, trans. Gordon Collier (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982). Gower uses the idea of a mirror's illusory reflection that has nothing therinne (3.1078) to underscore the trickiness of imagination as it feeds such illusions as hatred, a self-deception that can overthrow a person (3.1079-80), or sustains Falssemblant, who, indeed, offers a treacherous "glas" (2.1921).
Latin verses iv (before line 1089). Lines 1-2: sit spiritus eius / Naribus, "whose spirit is in his nostrils," a biblical phrase for an angry man; see Isaiah 2:22 (AG).
1094 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic tractat Confessor super quarta et quinta specie Ire, que impetuositas et homicidium dicuntur. Set primo de impetuositate specialius tractare intendit, cuius natura spiritum in naribus gestando ad omnes Ire mociones in vindictam parata pacienciam nullatenus obseruat. [Here the Confessor treats the fourth and fifth species of Wrath, which are called Aggressiveness and Homicide. And first he intends particularly to discuss Aggressiveness, whose nature, bearing its "spirit in his nostrils," prepares it to inflict all manner of wrath in its readiness for vengeance and makes it not at all act with patience.] For the phrase "spirit in his nostrils," see above, note on Latin verses iv (before line 1089).
1141-44 al my time in vein despended. See Galloway ("gower's Quarrel") on Amans' assessment of lost labor in love as "almost purely mercantile" (p. 247). See also 5.4438-75 on the failure of his usurious investments (p. 248).
1193-99 See White on the power of natural love, whose influence may sometimes be overwhelming ("Naturalness of Amans' Love," p. 319). "Gower does not seem to see the universe as a place considerately arranged so that the man of goodwill shall move reasonably smoothly towards salvation; rather he sees it as a battleground on which man in his weakness must face adversaries immensely superior to him and by no means wholeheartedly committed to his spiritual good" (p. 321). See also White ("Division and Failure," p. 605).
1194-99 love is of so gret a miht . . . Will scholde evere be governed / Of Reson more than of Kinde. A focal passage on the potential destructive powers of blind Nature without the good governance of Reason. On the proverbial wisdom of line 1194, see Whiting L518, L534, L538, L540, and L544, on CA 1.18, 1.35, and 5.4556. See also Chaucer's The Franklin's Tale, CT V(F)764-66, and PF, line 12.
1201 The story of Diogenes' confrontation with Alexander is a favorite medieval tale. See Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum Historiale 3.68 ff.; Latin Gesta Romanorum, cap. 183; Walter Burley, De Vita Philosophorum, cap. 1. The messenger and the axletree are apparently Gower's additions to the story. Pfister suggests that Gower draws on Valerius Maximus ("Spuren Alexanders des Grossen," p. 86). But see also Dicts and Sayings, which includes many questions and sayings not found in Gower.
1204 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ponit Confessor exemplum, quod hominis impetuosa voluntas sit discrecionis moderamine gubernanda. Et narrat qualiter Diogenes, qui motus animi sui racioni subiugarat, Regem Alexandrum super isto facto sibi opponentem plenius informauit. [Here the Confessor presents an instructive example showing that a man's aggressive will must be guided by discretion's rudder. And he narrates how Diogenes, who had subjugated the motions of his mind to reason, very fully informed King Alexander when he questioned him about this.]
1331 Chaucer also tells the story of Pyramus and Thisbe in LGW. The story is based on Ovid, Metam. 4.55-166. Of the two, Chaucer follows the source more closely, in a mood of high sentiment. For a brief comparison of these two Middle English accounts with Ovid, see Macaulay (2.497-98). See Harbert (pp. 91-93) for an insightful comparison of Gower and Ovid.
1331 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic in amoris causa ponit Confessor exemplum contra illos qui in sua dampna nimis accelerantes ex impetuositate seipsos multociens offendunt. Et narrat qualiter Piramus, cum ipse Tisbee amicam suam in loco inter eosdem deputato tempore aduentus sui promptam non inuenit, animo impetuoso seipsum pre dolore extracto gladio mortaliter transfodit: que postea infra breue veniens cum ipsum sic mortuum inuenisset, eciam et illa in sui ipsius mortem impetuose festinans eiusdem gladii cuspide sui cordis intima per medium penetrauit. [Here the Confessor presents an instructive example against those who in the cause of love very often offend by rushing excessively from aggressive impetuosity to their own destruction. And he narrates how Piramus, when he did not find his beloved Thisbe ready at the time of his arrival in the place designated by both, with a spirit made impetuous from anguish drew his sword and fatally transfixed himself. And when she, arriving within a short time, found him thus dead, hastening her own death she pierced the innermost regions of her heart with the point of the same sword.]
1370-71 In Gower the lovers work together to make a hole in the wall, unlike in Ovid, where the chink is simply found.
1375-76 . . . hote / . . . hote. Kim Zarins, "Rich Words: Gower's Rime Riche in Dramatic Action" (Dutton, pp. 239-53), explores the extended resonances of Gower's prominent use of this device. Pyramus is not just hote [called] Pyramus, "he is hot and hotly desired," as his name, derived from the Greek word for fire, implies. It is as if "hote" "determines Pyramus's character and fate" (unpublished essay "Poetic Justice: Rime Riche and Wordplay in Gower's Confessio Amantis, presented at the Cornell/Rochester graduate student symposium at the University of Rochester, April 13, 2002, p. 4). See also the puns on "hote" in 4.87-88, which anticipate Dido's fiery doom, and 3.21-22, where wrath is presented as burning passion.
1386 the softe pas. Gower's Middle English uses some case inflections for certain idioms. Here, the final 'e' is a weak adjective ending, used when a monosyllabic adjective follows a definite or demonstrative article. Gon the pas means "travel the way"; gon the softe (or grete etc.) pas means "travel quietly" ("rapidly" etc.). At 6.150-51: Mi limes ben so dull / I mai unethes gon the pas.
1420-23 A. B. taylor notes Gower's use of 1 Cor 2:9, proposing that Shakespeare, who also draws on the same passage in Midsummer Night's Dream, may well have been using Gower's version of the story as well as Ovid's as a source for the rude mechanicals' sentimental farce ("John Gower," p. 382). Shakespeare, like Gower, changes Ovid's lioness (leaena) to a ravenous male lion (lines 1398-1400) with his "blodi snoute."
1469 what hath he deserved? Pearsall emphasizes Gower's ignoring of Ovid's metamorphoses to focus instead on moral issues as his characters perceive them. The word deserved provides "an index of Gower's preoccupation with human actions as responsible, as part of a meaningful pattern" (1966, p. 480).
1537 Daunger. The personification of female insecurity, resistance, and aloofness in RR, who repeatedly thwarts Amans in his love quest. See Maxwell Luria, A Reader's Guide to the Roman de la Rose (Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books, 1982), pp. 42-44; and John V. Fleming, The Roman de la Rose: A Study in Allegory and Iconography (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), pp. 187-89.
1615-58 This tour de force of proverbs is unusual even for the sententious Genius. The point seems to be that therapy often begins in commonplace wisdom, out of which something more substantial may come. Compare Philosophy's use of proverbs as she begins to engage the confused Boece in Consolation of Philosophy 1.m.6 and 3.m.1. Several of the wise sayings are cited in Whiting, though not all.
1630-31 Thanne if he felle and overthrewe - / The hors. The syntax seems awkward because of the delayed antecedent (it is the horse that falls, not the rider) and the use of overthrewe as an intransitive verb (see Macaulay 2.499 on overthrewe). The passage, beginning at line 1629, is proverbial, combining two proverbs - the chaffing at the bridle (see Whiting B533) and "Dun is in the myre" (see Chaucer's The Manciple's Tale, CT IX[H]5; and Whiting D434).
1639-40 Suffrance hath ever...That secheth reste. Proverbial. See Whiting, S859.
1658 He hath noght lost that wel abitt. Proverbial. See Whiting A6. Compare CA 4.1776.
1680 Folhaste doth non avantage. Proverbial. See Whiting F463. Compare 3.1861.
1685 ff. The source may be Ovid, Metam. 1.452-567.
1688 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ponit Confessor exemplum contra illos qui in amoris causa nimia festinacione concupiscentes tardius expediunt. Et narrat qualiter pro eo quod Phebus quamdam virginem pulcherimam nomine Daphnem nimia amoris acceleracione insequebatur, iratus Cupido cor Phebi sagitta aurea ignita ardencius vulnerauit: et econtra cor Daphne quadam sagitta plumbea, que frigidissima fuit, sobrius perforauit. Et sic quanto magis Phebus ardencior in amore Daphnem prosecutus est, tanto magis ipsa frigidior Phebi concupiscenciam toto corde fugitiua dedignabatur. [Here the Confessor presents an instructive example against those who in the cause of love desire too hastily and too slowly carry it out. And he narrates how since Phebus pursued a certain very beautiful virgin, Daphne by name, with too great a hastiness for love, Cupid irritably wounded Phebus' heart with a golden arrow burning very hotly, but in contrast pierced Daphne's heart more somberly with a certain lead arrow which was exceedingly cold. And thus the more ardently in love Phebus pursued Daphne, the more coldly she disdained him, wholeheartedly fleeing Phebus' lust.]
1716-20 Genius' remarks on the significance of the laurel tree seem to be based on Ovide Moralisé rather than Ovid. See Mainzer, ("Gower's Use of the 'Mediaeval Ovid,'" pp. 217-18).
1729-35 Amans' response reveals "a flicker of wit sometimes [to be found] in the lover's literal-minded responses" (Pearsall, "Gower's Narrative Art," p. 477). The wry humor is part of Gower's dramatic sense of narrative voice. See also Runacres, ("Art and Ethics," p. 128) and Bennett (Middle English Literature, p. 413) cited by Nicholson (Annotated Index, pp. 242-43).
1757-1862 Gower's story of Athemas (Acamas) and Demephon is based chiefly on Le Roman de Troie, lines 28147 ff., though it is found also in the Troy stories of Dictys and Guido.
1760 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ponit Confessor exemplum contra illos qui nimio furore accensi vindictam Ire sue vltra quam decet consequi affectant. Et narrat qualiter Athemas et Demephon Reges, cum ipsi de bello Troiano ad propria remeassent et a suis ibidem pacifice recepti non fuissent, congregato aliunde pugnatorum excercitu, regiones suas non solum incendio vastare set et omnes in eisdem habitantes a minimo vsque ad maiorem in perpetuam vindicte memoriam gladio interficere feruore iracundie proposuerunt. Set Rex Nestor, qui senex et sapiens fuit, ex paciencia tractatus inter ipsos Reges et eorum Regna inita pace et concordia huiusmodi impetuositatem micius pacificauit. [Here the Confessor presents an instructive example against those who, inflamed by excessive fury, desire to inflict the punishment of their wrath beyond what is appropriate. And he tells how Kings Athemas and Demephon, having returned from the Trojan War to their own people and having not been received peacefully there by them, collected from elsewhere an army and, in a frenzy of anger, proposed not only to devastate their own regions but also to put to the sword everyone living in them, from the least to the most important, as a permanent memorial to their revenge. But King Nestor, who was old and wise, allowed patience to lead him and mildly pacified this aggressiveness, initiating a peace and a treaty between the kings and their kingdoms.]
1772 soghten frendes ate nede. Proverbial. See Whiting F634. Compare 5.4912-14, for variant.
1792-1800 Of yonge men the lusti route . . . / Of hem that there weren yonge. Compare the portrayal of the hasty foolishness of the young in matters of war in Chaucer's Tale of Melibee CT VII(B2)1034-35, as they oppose the wise counsel of the elderly.
1861 Folhaste is cause of mochel wo. Proverbial. See Whiting F463. Compare 3.1680.
1885 Gower's most direct source for the story of Orestes seems to be Benoît, Le Roman de Troie, lines 28047-112, 28285-412, 28469-533. For a lively modern English translation see Meek, Historia Destructionis Troiae, pp. 243-46. See also Gest Hyst., ed. Panton and Donaldson, 33.12937-13042, and Lydgate's adaptation, Troy Book, 5.1467-1780. This is one of the few instances in which Gower's story, with its conflict of religious and political obligations and its intimations of later Renaissance elaborations of royal family tragedy, is longer than his author's. Its reception by critics has been mixed. Pearsall ("Gower's Narrative Art," p. 483) remarks that Gower's retelling "fails completely to make its point or to extract any simple story line" and refers to it as "a sad mangling of high tragedy." Hiscoe ("Ovidian Comic Strategy") sees the omission of the murder of Agamemnon as comic. See Nicholson (Annotated Index, pp. 244-45) for a review of critical opinions.
1885-2195 See Wetherbee ("Rome, Troy, and Culture," pp. 27-29) on the "latent violence" that becomes a recurrent theme in tales of chivalric values in CA. The "anti-social aspect of knightly conduct is presented as a function of chivalric education itself and serves to reinforce Gower's treatment of . . . the uneasy relationship between chivalric prerogative and obligation on the one hand and the institutions of family, society, and civic government on the other" (p. 27). Gower goes beyond Benoît in introducing Idomeneus as guardian to the child Orestes to shape the boy's purpose; in Gower Menestheus interrupts the trial with a vehement attack on Clytemnestra that cuts off the judicial proceedings "in a sort of coda, Aegisthus's daughter Egiona is driven to suicide" at the failure of parliament to banish Orestes, "but Genius sees in this only a divine judgment on her complicity in the murder of Agamemnon" (p. 28). "The harshness of Menetheus's uncontested judgments on Clytemnestra and the virtual equation of justice with violence against women in the subsequent action leave the story conspicuously unresolved" (p. 29).
1887 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ponit Confessor exemplum contra illos qui ob sue concupiscencie desiderium homicide efficiuntur. Et narrat qualiter Climestra vxor Regis Agamenontis, cum ipse a bello Troiano domi redisset, consilio Egisti, quem adultera peramauit, sponsum suum in cubili dormientem sub noctis silencio trucidabat; cuius mortem filius eius Horestes tunc minoris etatis postea diis admonitus seueritate crudelissima vindicauit. [Here the Confessor presents an instructive example against those who, on account of the desire of their lust, are made murderers. And he narrates how Climestra the wife of King Agamemnon, when he had returned home from the Trojan War, stabbed her spouse to death in the silence of the night while he was sleeping, by the counsel of Egistus, whom she, adulterer, doted on. Afterwards, Horestes, then of tender age and alerted by the gods, with a most cruel severity revenged his death.]
1899-1901 Who that is slyh . . . makth the ferre lieve loth.' Compare Chaucer's The Miller's Tale (I[A]3392-93); see Whiting S395 for other variants.
1920 moerdre, which mai noght ben hedd. Proverbial; see Whiting M806. Compare Chaucer's The Prioress's Tale, "Mordre wol out" (CT VII[B2]576), and The Nun's Priest's Tale (CT VII[B2]3052 ff.).
2033 'Old senne newe schame.' Proverbial. See Whiting S338. Compare CA 6.5116 and VC 4.874.
2055 O cruel beste unkinde. White cites this line, along with 1.2565 (Rosamund and Albinus), 5.5906 (Philomela, Procne, and Tereus), and 8.222 (Amon, Thamer, and Absolon), to define Gower's regard for "the high dignity of the natural order," that order being the "action and feeling conceived as normal and appropriate to the relationship between man and wife" (Nature, Sex, and Goodness, p. 177). Simpson (Sciences and the Self, pp. 190-91) sees this as "a critical moment in the argument of Book III" as the question is raised, "is one 'unkynde' act justly dealt with by another?" The question goes back to the Tale of Canacee and Machaire at the beginning of the book and stands in contrast to the behavior of Tiresias and the snakes, where an "'unkinde' act of disturbing natural law is readily understandable." The implication in such passages is that natural law is insufficient in itself, demanding "a politics" formed out of personal ethics that places constraint on human relationships (Simpson, pp. 191-92). See also Olsson, "Natural Law," pp. 229-61.
2121-22 worste speche is rathest herd / And lieved. Proverbial. See Whiting S619. Compare Chaucer's The Squire's Tale (CT V[F]222-23), where the adage defines that cynical component of the "lewednesse" of the press as "[t]hey demen gladly to the badder ende."
2206 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic queritur quibus de causis licet hominem occidere. [Here is asked what causes justify killing a man.]
2220 ff. Latin marginalia: Seneca: Iudex qui parcit vlcisci, multos improbos facit. [Seneca: A judge who is sparing in retribution makes many shameless men.] I have not found the precise source, though the passage resembles mottos from the pseudo-Seneca Proverbs (AG).
2225 ff. Latin marginalia: Apostolus: Non sine causa Iudex gladium portat. [Apostle: Not without cause does the Judge bear a sword.] Adapting Romans 13:4, describing the prince (not the judge).
2235 ff. Latin marginalia: Pugna pro patria. [Fight for your country.] Found among the short sayings attributed to Cato (Minor Latin Poets, p. 594, line 23). Conrad Mainzer ("Albertano of Brescia's Liber Consolationis et Consilii as a Source-Book of Gower's Confessio Amantis," Medium Ævum 47 , 88-90), p. 89, suggests Albertano of Breccia's Liber Consolationis as another possible source.
2249-50 Mitchell ("Reading for the Moral," p. 134) notes the frequency with which Gower rhymes evidence and conscience (no fewer than eight times; see especially 1.247-48 and 5.2919-20). The pairing magnifies the contingency of rule of conscience because of the instability of intuited particulars. But, as Mitchell observes, "Judgement exists because of the uncertainty of moral application" (p. 137).
Latin verses v (before line 2251). Line 1: there is an obvious echo in the creature that God creates (creatum/creat); line 2: a more subtle punning echo appears in the earth (humum) that is sprinkled with human blood (humano). The second pun emphasizes, among other things, the origins of human flesh from earth (Gen. 2:7); the line recalls Cain's murder of Abel, whose blood calls out from the earth to God (Gen. 4:8-10). Line 5: In terra pax. "Peace on earth"; see Luke 2:14. Lines 5-6: vltima Cristi / Verba. The reference to Jesus' "final words" invokes Paul's summary of Jesus' message rather than the gospels' description of his actual last words; see especially 1 Corinthians 7:15, Ephesians 2:17.
2252 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur contra motores guerre, que non solum homicidii set vniuerse mundi desolacionis mater existit. [Here he speaks against those who instigate war, which is the mother of homicide and of the world's total destruction.] On the debate over war, at the center of which were Richard's peace efforts in 1389, see Saul (Richard II, pp. 205-34).
2263-64 That Nature loves peace is a featured proposition in Gower. Compare 3.386-87. Olsson (1982, p. 244) suggests that pride, envy, and wrath are the most unnatural vices. But wrath is especially unkind.
2263-2437 The story of Alexander and the Pirate was popular; see, for example, St. Augustine, De Civ. Dei 4.4; the Latin Gesta Romanorum, cap. 146; and Jofroi of Waterford's Secretum Secretorum. Chaucer alludes to the story in The Manciple's Tale. See note to 3.2393.
2299 ff. Latin marginalia: Apostolus: Stipendium peccati mors est. [Apostle: The wages of sin are death.] Romans 6:23.
2317 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota, quod Greci omnem terram fertilem debellabant, set tantum Archadiam, pro eo quod pauper et sterilis fuit, pacifice dimiserunt. [Note that the Greeks attacked every fertile land, and only left Arcady in peace, because it was poor and sterile.]
2342-60 alwei som cause he feigneth . . . / For lucre and for non other skyle. For an ironic illustration of hypocritical militaristic arguments to gain lucre of the sort Genius condemns, see Piers Plowman B.3.175-208. Pacifist sentiment was high among intellectuals in the late fourteenth century, especially after the failure of the 1360 Treaty of Bretingny in 1377, followed by successive English defeats in the Hundred Years' War. The most extreme pacifists were the Lollards (see Hudson, Premature Reformation, pp. 369-70), whose views on this as on some other topics are paralleled by Gower (Galloway, "Literature of 1388"). See also Gower's Latin poem O Deus Immense (Mac 4:362-64), appealing to the king at the end of the century, after he had returned England to military solutions for problems, to seek peaceful solutions. Saul summarizes the point of the poem well: the people suffer because of the king's commitment to war. Instead of initiating purges and imposing censorship, he should hasten into the highways and byways and listen to what his subjects had to tell him. He should let them speak openly, for to suppress their talk was to store up danger. Above all, he should avoid avarice, for the treasure to be collected in people's hearts was more valuable than any amount of treasure he could collect in coin" (Richard II, p. 288). See also pp. 436-37 on Gower's disillusionment with the king.
2366 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic declarat per exemplum contra istos Principes seu alios quoscumque illicite guerre motores. Et narrat de quodam pirata in partibus marinis spoliatore notissimo, qui cum captus fuisset, et in iudicium coram Rege Alexandro productus et de latrocinio accusatus, dixit, "O Alexander, vere quia cum paucis sociis spoliorum causa naues tantum exploro, ego latrunculus vocor; tu autem, quia cum infinita bellatorum multitudine vniuersam terram subiugando spoliasti, Imperator diceris. Ita quod status tuus a statu meo differt, set eodem animo condicionem parilem habemus." Alexander vero eius audaciam in responsione comprobans, ipsum penes se familiarem retinuit; et sic bellicosus bellatori complacuit. [Here he speaks through an instructive example against those princes or any others who instigate illicit wars. And he tells about a certain pirate who was a most notorious pillager in the ocean regions, who, when he was captured and brought in judgment before King Alexander and accused of robbery, said, "O Alexander, truly, since I venture forth with only a few associates for the sake of robbing ships, I am called a pillager; but you, since you have pillaged by subjugating the whole earth with a vast multitude of soldiers, are called an emperor. Thus your estate differs from mine, but we possess an equal circumstance and the same intention." And Alexander, approving his audacity in this response, retained him among his household affinity; and thus the warlike one was pleased with another warlike one.] Yeager ("Oure English,'", p. 47) cites this gloss as a characteristic example of Gower's use of marginalia to create a double voicing, one inside, the other (the Latin) looking in as if from a different world. The story may be found in Augustine, De Civ. Dei 4.4 and Cicero, De repubblica 3.14. In Gesta Romanorum 146, the pirate is named Diomede.
2393 art named "Emperour." Chaucer's Manciple offers the idea in miniature as he describes the relativity of words and deeds, using Alexander and the Outlaw as his example (CT IX[H]223-39).
2438 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic secundum gesta Regis Alexandri de guerris illicitis ponit Confessor exemplum, dicens quod quamuis Alexander sua potencia tocius mundi victor sibi subiugarat imperium, ipse tandem mortis victoria subiugatus cunctipotentis sentenciam euadere non potuit. [Here according to the deeds of King Alexander, the Confessor presents an instructive example, saying that although Alexander by his power subjugated to himself an empire as the conqueror of the whole world, he was nonetheless subjugated by the victory of death, and was not able to avoid the sentence of the Almighty.]
2461 Thus was he slain that whilom slowh. Alexander is not a victim of chance but of his own choices. He epitomizes the unwise king tyrannized by his own will. See Peck (1978, pp. 87-89) on Gower's views on will, choice, and fate. See, especially, VC 2.4.203-08 on this matter.
2484 Withoute cause resonable. For a balanced view of when to wage war but of the preferability of peace, see VC 5.13.961-76.
2490-2515 Gower's attack on the crusades reflects his general disaffection for clerical abuse. See Peck (Kingship and Common Profit, p. 89). Coleman (Medieval Readers, pp. 91-92 and pp. 300-01n88) sees Gower's lack of military ethic to be part of a "disappointment in England's chivalry," where chivalric romance leans toward complaint, and where anticrusade sentiments (e.g., CA 4.1608 ff.) echo "the opinions of the Lollards" (p. 301).
2547 ff. Latin marginalia: Facilitas venie occasionem prebet delinquendi. [Ease of lust offers occasion for sinning.]
2580-98 "The law of nature is here defined by the behaviour of animals" (White, Nature, Sex, and Goodness, p. 183). Compare 5.4917-31 and 3.2631-32, "where kinde may refer to impulse of an instinctive nature"; see also MO 4885-87 (White, p. 184n32). The point is that Nature does not give reason to human beings. That comes from God in conjunction with humankind's immortal soul. Compare 7.490-93. See also Baker ("Priesthood of Genius," p. 290) on Gower's condemnation of war as part of his affirmation of "kinde" and reason.
2588-89 Olsson (1982, p. 234) suggests that, for Gower, these lines show that a "lawe of kinde" as well as reason "should keep man from injuring others".
2597 honeste. Olsson (1982, p. 232) suggests that the term implies "a generic moral probity (honestum)" (compare 8.1994-97); Genius expressly uses the term here in his accommodation of natural law to reason. It refers to the relationships of shamefastness to reasonability. Compare Gower's use of the term in 7.5388 and 8.2026. See also the Latin marginal gloss at 7.4218.
2599 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota secundum Solinum contra homicidas de natura cuiusdam Auis faciem ad similitudinem humanam habentis, que cum de preda sua hominem juxta fluuium occiderit videritque in aqua similem sibi occisum, statim pre dolore moritur. [Note according to Solinus against homicides concerning the nature of a certain bird having a face like a human one, which, when it killed a man for its prey next to a river and saw in the water that he was similar to the one he had killed, immediately died for grief.]
2600-01 Solyns spekth of . . . fowhles. Compare MO 5029-40. The reference appears to be to Solinus' Collectanea Rerum Memorabilium, which describes strange lands, peoples, and other creatures of the world; but I have been unable to identify the specific passage. Much of Solinus is copied from Philip's Natural History, but I find no reference to such a bird there either. Perhaps he has in mind some form of vulture, with "a face of blod and bon / Lich to a man in resemblance" (3.2602-03) but the point is that the bird serves as a figure of remorse that is deep-seated within its nature, a kind of conscience.
2639-2717 Apparently Gower follows Benoît, Roman de Troie, lines 6519-6612, though the story also occurs in Dares, De Excidio Troiae Historia 16, and Guido, Historia Destructionis Troiae (Gest Hyst. 13.5225 ff.). The moral He mai noght failen of his mede / That hath merci (lines 2639-40) is Augustinian. See Yeager (Pax Poetica, pp. 105-06). The tale itself shows how to end war and stands in opposition to the foolish and fatal war-making of Alexander (see Peck, Kingship and Common Profit, p. 90).
2642 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ponit Confessor exemplum de pietate contra homicidum in guerris habenda. Et narrat qualiter Achilles vna cum Thelapho filio suo contra Regem Mesee, qui tunc Theucer vocabatur, bellum inierunt; et cum Achilles dictum Regem in bello prostratum occidere voluisset, Thelaphus pietate motus ipsum clipeo suo cooperiens veniam pro Rege a patre postulauit: pro quo facto ipse Rex adhuc viuens Thelaphum Regni sui heredem libera voluntate constituit. [Here the Confessor presents an instructive example concerning maintaining a pitying [or pious] restraint against killing in war. And he tells how Achilles along with Thelaphus his son waged war against King Mesea who then was called Theucer; and when Achilles wanted to kill the said king who had fallen in the battle, Thelaphus, moved by pity [or piousness], covered him with his shield and begged mercy from his father on behalf of the king; for which deed the king, still living, willingly established Thelaphus as the heir to his kingdom.]
2703-06 Immoderate love is only partially successful in teaching benevolence. Nonetheless, "by nature man should be inclined to graciousness, trust, and a liberality modeled on the 'fre largesse' of Nature" (Olsson, "Natural Law," p. 246). In Books 1, 2, and 3 Genius "discovered a good in the 'lawe of kinde' independent of its power to offset the sins of malice" (p. 246); in Books 5, 6, and 8, he identifies a "reson" that is "independent of its power to remedy the sins of 'nature'" (p. 247).
2722 Tak pité and compassioun. Pity is the fifth daughter of Patience, the remedy against homicide and wrath in general. See MO 13897-969, where Gower compares it to treacle, a remedy that cures the heart of poisonous swelling and the abscess of old rancor. On the troubled nature of this topic, especially during the machinations of the Merciless Parliament, see Galloway, "Literature of 1388."
Abbreviations: A = Bodleian Library MS Bodley 902 (SC 27573), fols. 2r-183r; B = Bodleian Library MS Bodley 294 (SC 2449), fols. 1r-197r; C = Oxford, Corpus Christi College MS 67, fols. 1r-209r; F = Bodleian Library MS Fairfax 3 (SC 3883; copy-text for this edition), fols. 2r-186r; J = Cambridge, St. John's College MS B.12 (34), fols. 1r-214r; Mac = G. C. Macaulay; S = Stafford, now Ellesmere 26, fols. 1r-169v; T = Cambridge, Trinity College MS R.3.2 (581), fols. 1r-147v.
446He. So in J, S, B, and Mac; F: His.
663 axeth. So in J, B, and Mac; F: axex.
847 ff. Latin marginalia, line 3: velut. F: velud. Mac's emendation.
858 gaderende. F: gadarende. Mac's emendation.
901 here. So in J and Mac; F: hire; B: her.
1174 wisshinge. So in C and B; F, A, and J: wihssinge. Mac adhers to F.
1503 loves. So in J, S, B, and Mac; F: loue.
1605 in such. Mac: such, as in B, despite F, S, A, J, and T.
1731 bot. So in F and J; Mac: but, as in S and B.
1771 thei. So in F, J, S, and B; Mac: they. So too in line 1812.
1866 Thurgh. So in S, B, and Mac; F: Thourgh; J: Thorouh.
1914 ferste. So in A, S, B, and Mac; F: ferst; J: firste.
1930 herd. So in F and S; A, J, B, and Mac: herde.
1968 Unto. So in J, S, B, and Mac; F: Vnto to.
2538 al. So in F, J, S, and B; Mac: all.
2252 ff. Latin marginalia, line 2: vniversi. So S and Mac; F and B: uniuerse.
2544 manslawte. So in F; J, S, and Mac: manslawhte; B: manslaughter.
"Mi fader, understonde it is,