Confessio Amantis: Book 7
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.
JOHN GOWER, CONFESSIO AMANTIS, BOOK 7: FOOTNOTES
1 In every matter, wise doctrine gains well-being, nor does anyone except one taught acquire wealth. Teaching surpasses nature; whatever an ancestry ripe for learning does not provide a clever man, instruction will give him. No man of discretion rules anywhere in the world's regions who does not need schooling to make himself wiser.
2 The first branch of learning grants knowledge of the highest creator: who recognizes the head, that suffices for him. Not knowing more than that is sometimes good for men; but what the prudent man sees useful, that he comes to know.
3 The omnipotent Beginning created the four elements and gave four mouths of winds to the regions of the earth. Our constitution too is fashioned in a four-fold manner, and thus in his body man exists in a varied state.
4 Things lower down are ruled by the law of the planets, but sometimes that governance foils the endeavor. With God's intervention the wise man will rule the stars, [though] the fates quite justly produce a bit of novelty.
5 Lovely words of crafted speech can please at the beginning, but true ones please at the end. Herb, stone, speech are all three full of power; but the force from a word's weight does more.
6 Lines 1520-21: For in Philosophy, language (proper word use) is called the teacher of virtue
7 Practice, the third part of Philosophy, guides each estate on earth by its regimen of a good life: but by as much as a King is more powerful, by that much the more this study pertains to him, by which he might rule his kingdom.
8 The ruler of modern kingdoms who is adorned with virtues the more securely looks toward the future rule above. And because truth-telling stands above all virtues, so no lying fable is heard from the mouth of a good king.
9 Let Avarice be absent, so that it does not touch the royal heart, for the ground is stripped bare by its plunderings. Fame, flying through the ages, honors a liberal King; but gifts must be moderated by appropriate means.
10 Laws are established on earth on account of transgressors, so that righteous men might live in honor of the King. Law without justice makes the people deviant under the shadow of the ruler, so that no one will see the straight path.
11 Where a tyrant's will, lacking all reason, strips bare the kingdom, the people's love roams as an exile. But Pity, and the kingdom it will preserve for eternity, is pleasing not only to the people but also to God.
12 Every sort of virtue of body and mind suits a king, so that no lust destroys his name's repute. Sensuous indulgence effeminizes everything there is in a man, unless he be a great-hearted man who can oppose it.
JOHN GOWER, CONFESSIO AMANTIS, BOOK 7: EXPLANATORY NOTES
ABBREVIATIONS: Bart. Ang.: Trevisa's translation of Bartholomaeus Anglicus, On the Properties of Things; BD: Chaucer, Book of the Duchess; CA: Gower, Confessio Amantis; De nuptiis: Martianus Capella, De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii; CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; De formis: Petrus Berchorius, De formis figurisque deorum; De Is: Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride; Did.: Hugh of St. Victor, Didascalion; Diod.: Diodorus Siculus, Historia Librii; Etym.: Isidore, Etymologiae (PL 82); Ful.: Fulgentius, Mythographies; Gen. deorum: Boccaccio, Genealogie deorum gentilium libri; HF: Chaucer, House of Fame; Hyg.: Hyginus, The Myths of Hyginus (Fabulae); LGW: Chaucer, Legend of Good Women; Mac: G. C. Macaulay (4 vol. Complete Works); MED: Middle English Dictionary; Met.: Ovid, Metamorphoses; MO: Gower, Mirour de l'Omme; OCCL: Oxford Companion to Classical Literature; OED: Oxford English Dictionary; PL: Patrologia Latina; Poet. astr.: Hyginus, Poetica astronomica; RR: Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, Le Roman de la Rose; TC: Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde; Trésor: Brunetto Latini, The Book of the Treasure; Val. Max.: Valerius Maximus, Memorable Doings and Sayings; Vat. Myth.: Vatican Mythographer I, II, or III; VC: Gower, Vox Clamantis; Vit. Barl.: Vitae Sanctorum Barlaam Ermitae et Josaphat Indiae Regis. For manuscript abbreviations, see p. 34.
Book 7 has provoked a wide critical response, from charges of artless digression, "absolutely irrelevant to the main subject" (Macaulay, "John Gower," p. 149), to praise as structurally "the most important" in the whole poem (Peck, Kingship and Common Profit, p. 140). For a summary of positions see Nicholson, Annotated Index, pp. 423-26. For seminal discussion on the book's function as advice-to-kings literature, see Coffman, "John Gower in His Most Significant Role"; Pearsall, Gower and Lydgate, pp. 16-17; Coleman, Medieval Readers and Writers, pp. 126-56; Olsson, John Gower and the Structures of Conversion, pp. 191-214; and Ferster, Fictions of Advice, pp. 108-36. Simpson suggests that the book provides from its inside position the actual framework of CA: "The whole poem outside of Book VII is a discussion of ethics and economics . . . [that] leads inevitably to the explicit political discourse of Book VII" (Sciences and the Self, p. 220); "the real 'frame' of the Confessio . . . is not the confession of Amans, but rather the divisio philosophiae of Book VII" (p. 223). Macaulay points out that the most important source for the book is the Trésor of Brunetto Latini, a work based largely on Aristotle, "with whose works Latini was exceptionally well acquainted" (3.522). My citations of Brunetto are based on the translation by Barrette and Baldwin and are cited by book, chapter, and page number to this edition. Astell notes also derivations from Giles of Rome's De regimine principum and the pseudo-Aristotelian Secretum Secretorum (Chaucer and the Universe of Learning, pp. 76-83). See Wetherbee on the "integrative function" of Book 7 ("John Gower," p. 604), and Porter, "Gower's Ethical Microcosm," especially p. 154.
5 Alisandre. In Book 7 Alexander is given a more positive treatment than elsewhere in CA. In MO, lines 22849 ff., David is presented as the exemplary king; Alexander is the tyrant, fortune's fool (MO, lines 22051-80). Similarly, in the Tale of Diogenes (CA 3.1201 ff.), Alexander and the Pirate (3.2363 ff.), the Wars of Alexander (3.2438 ff.), and Alexander as the student of Nectanabus (6.2271 ff.), he is presented as one who wields power without much intelligence. But in Book 7, where he is mainly the occasion for Aristotle's instruction in the tools of self-governance and kingship, he fares better. On the popularity of the pedagogical trope of Aristotle teaching kingly virtues to young Alexander, see Secretum Secretorum along with various Latin texts, originally translated from a tenth-century pseudo-Aristotelian Arabic teaching text, the Kitab sirr al-asrar (The Book of the Secret of Secrets).
7 For it is noght to the matiere. Gower makes a rather subtle point here through the complex voicing of his poem. Genius is concerned about his contract with Venus. But in the reciprocity of that contract with his client he is obliged to digress. Yet what is digression for him may be central to the poet, since his confessor's voice reaches into matter touched on prior to this, mainly in the Prologue and the Latin voicing of the poem. The paradox enables him to approach doctrine directly, yet still within his fictive framework. For Genius, it is the "gladness" of the digression that justifies it (see line 10).
9 ff. Latin marginalia: Quia omnis doctrina bona humano regimini salutem confert, in hoc septimo libro ad instanciam Amantis languidi intendit Genius illam ex qua Philosophi et Astrologi philosophie doctrinam Regem Alexandrum imbuerunt, secundum aliquid declarare. Diuidit enim philosophiam in tres partes, quarum prima Theorica, secunda Rethorica, tercia Practica nuncupata est, de quarum condicionibus subsequenter per singula tractabit. [Since all good doctrine confers well-being on the human condition, in this seventh book, at the prompting of the languishing Lover, Genius intends to declare in some respects the doctrine of philosophy with which philosophers and astrologers imbued King Alexander. Thus he divides philosophy into three parts, the first of which is called Theory, the second Rhetoric, and the third Practice, concerning whose natures one by one he will subsequently discourse.]
20 See the explanatory note to 6.2274. Calistre, a second-century Greek work purportedly written by Callisthenes (Pseudo-Callisthenes), became the base text for various medieval renditions of Alexander's travels, including Historia de Preliis and Epistola Alexandri ad Aristotelem. See The Greek Alexander Romance, trans. Stoneman.
28 intelligences. Macaulay relates the term intelligencias in the margin at 1.149, where the sense seems to be the same as "sciences," that is, divisions or provinces of knowledge (2.522n26ff.).
51-52 Gower probably did not know Aristotle's work firsthand. Genius' account of Aristotle's division of Philosophy into "Theorique," "Rethorique," and "Practique" (lines 30-46) is based mainly on the third book of Brunetto Latini's Trésor.
54-55 conserve / And kepere. See Simpson, Sciences and the Self, pp. 217-29, on the theoretical and practical sciences of philosophy as the conserve / And kepere of the remenant. Politics, even more than the theoretical sciences, focuses ethical and economic themes of the poem so "that we can understand how a mediation between body and soul might be possible" (p. 225). In his humanism Gower always seems aware of the demands of the body (p. 229).
61 On the divisions of Theorique, see Trésor 1.3.1-8. See also Did., appendix A (trans. Taylor, p. 153), for additions Hugh made on the divisions of the theoretical into Theology, Physics, and Mathematics.
66 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic tractat de prima parte Philosophie, que Theorica dicitur, cuius natura triplici dotata est sciencia, scilicet Theologia, Phisica, et Mathematica: set primo illam partem Theologie declarabit. [Here he discourses concerning the first part of Philosophy, which is called Theory, whose learning is endowed by a triple nature, namely Theology, Natural Science ("Physics"), and Mathematics; and first he will declare Theology's part.]
70 The science of Theologie. "The first and highest" branch of theory, dealing with that which "goes beyond heaven and shows us the nature of those things which have no corporeal existence," and concerns such matters as God the All Powerful, the Holy Trinity, the Catholic faith, and the law of Holy Church, that is, "everything pertaining to divinity" (Trésor 1.3.2, p. 3). See CA 7.73-134.
71 Phisique. Discourse on the nature of things; the physical sciences. Brunetto (Trésor 1.3.3) argues that through physics "we know the nature of those things which have corporeal existence and are related to corporeal things, that is, of men and beasts and birds, of fish, of plants, of stones and of the other corporeal things which are around us" (p. 3). See also Did. 2.16: "Physics searches out . . . the causes of things as found in their effects . . . The word physis means nature, and therefore Boethius places natural physics in the higher division of the theoretical knowledge," as part of a triumvirate with ethics and logic (p. 71). See CA 7.135-44.
72 Mathematique, akin to Practique, should not be confused with modern implications of mathematics. For Aristotle it is used to identify what later came to be called the quadrivium, that is, the study of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. These sciences all deal with ratios, proportions, and kinds of ennumerations. The separate treatises by Augustine and Boethius entitled De musica, for example, do not deal with music as we think of it, but are primarily concerned with meter, what we might call prosody, along with matters of proportion (what we might extend into harmony) and categories of metrics and ratio (modes). See also the note to lines 7.145-202.
73-134 See the explanatory note to 7.70.
82 as olde bokes telle. Gower reminds us on several occasions that, although the frame of Book 7 may be the Secretum Secretorum, he draws upon various bokes to give us his full account of Aristotle's teaching. That teaching is, of course, as important for us and Amans as it was for Alexander, who may or may not have been a good student. (See note to 7.5.)
86 ferste cause. See Aristotle, Posterior Analytics 1.1-8, on simpliciter, the number base from which all follows, and 2.1-2 on causes. The idea becomes commonplace, though central to theology and logic. See Boethius, De Consolatione 2.m.8, 3.pr.10, and 4.m.6, especially on yearning for the simplicity of God. Compare Chaucer's Knight's Tale (CT I[A]2987-89) on "The Firste Moevere of the cause above" and the "faire cheyne of love" which is the "effect" of his "entente"; or, Chaucer's balade "Gentilesse" and "The firste stok, fader of gentilesse," from whose "trace" all who would be gentle must derive. See Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being.
88 Withoute whom nothing is good. Christ, "the ferste cause," is the orderer of all creation. Take Christ out of the creation and chaos ensues. N.b., Chaucer's Parson's Tale (CT X[I]217-18). Evil is absence of Christ, a nothingness without substance. See Trésor 1.11 ("How Evil Was Invented," p. 9): "Evil was invented by the Devil; it was not created, and therefore it is nothing, for that which is without God is nothing, and God did not make Evil."
89-90 every creature . . . his beinge and his nature. Olsson cites this passage as part of his demonstration that one's "title to existence, moral or otherwise, is not a person's own, and neither are his or her secrets. Existence and the 'privetes of mannes herte' (1.2806) belong to God" ("Love, Intimacy, and Gower," p. 94).
91 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota quod triplex dicitur essencia: Prima temporanea, que incipit et desinit, Secunda perpetua, que incipit et non desinit, Tercia sempiterna, que nec incipit nec desinit. [Note that being is called triple: First temporal, which begins and ceases; Second perpetual, which begins and does not cease, and Third eternal, which neither begins nor ends.]
92 ff. thre formes of beinges. The division of what is "born and dies," what is "born but does not die," and what is "not born and does not die" was a traditional academic (and thus theological) hierarchy of being, ultimately based on Aristotle's ideas of what is moved and moves others, what is moved and does not move others, and what is not moved but moves others (the Prime Mover). Thirteenth- and fourteenth-century scholasticism was much concerned with issues of causality which elaborated these issues of being. See Gilson's History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages, pp. 250-545. A good reference for distinctions between forms and causes moving beyond Aristotle is the third chapter of Duns Scotus' Treatise on God as First Principle. See the selection in Baird and Kaufmann's Philosophic Classics Volume II: Medieval Philosophy, pp. 425-30.
98 Here beinge is perpetuel. The idea is that of God as deus conservans, who perpetually sustains creation through His presence.
121-30 Here Theology insists that things may be "credible," even though they may not be "prieve by weie of argument sensible" (7.126-28). The proposition behind Genius' point regarding the preeminence of faith over sensible proof echoes Augustine's Credo ut intelligam ("I believe in order to understand"). Chaucer lends support to the idea at the beginning of LGW (F.1-16).
135 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota de secunda parte Theorice, que Phisica dicitur. [Note concerning the second part of Theory, which is called Natural Science ("Physics").]
135-44 Phisique. See note to 7.71, above.
145 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota de tercia parte Theorice, que Mathematica dicitur, cuius condicio quatuor in se continent intelligencias, scilicet Arsmeticam, Musicam, Geometriam et Astronomiam: set primo de Artismetice natura dicere intendit. [Note concerning the third part of Theory, which is called Mathematics, whose nature contains in itself four branches of knowledge (intelligenciae; compare "intelligences," lines 28 and 176), namely Arithmetic, Music, Geometry, and Astronomy; and first he intends to speak about the nature of Arithmetic.]
145-202 The four subdivisions of mathematics are usually referred to as the Quadrivium (see note to 7.72). That all four depend upon line, measure, time, and space explains their relationship with "mathematics." On the divisions of mathematics, see Trésor 1.3.4-8 (pp. 3-4); De nuptiis 6-9; and Did., Appendix A. The fourfold classification is ancient, though Boethius provides the designation quadrivium and prepared texts for each that became standard curricula in medieval universities. Gower's ordering of the four differs from that of Boethius in that he places musica second rather than third, thus reversing it with geometria.
153 Arsmetique. See Trésor 1.3.5 (p. 3) on arithmetic as the first subject of mathematics. See De nuptiis 7 ("Arithmetic") for a more full account of the subject.
155 Algorisme. Macaulay (3.522) notes: "This stands properly for the decimal system of numeration, but the use of the word in the plural, l.158, shows that Gower did not use it in this sense only. The association of the word 'Algorismes' below with the letters a, b, c ('Abece') seems to suggest some kind of algebraical expression, but this is perhaps due to a misunderstanding by Gower of the word 'abaque' (or 'abake') in the Trésor . . . : 'Et de ce sont li enseignement de l'abaque et de l'augorisme.'"
163 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota de Musica, que secunda pars Artis Mathematice dicitur. [Note concerning Music, which is called the second part of the Mathematic Art.]
163 See the explanatory note to 7.72.
163-64 The seconde . . . is the science of Musique. "The second is music, which teaches us to make musical sounds, by singing, playing stringed instruments, and on organs and other harmonizing instruments, combining the sounds for the pleasure of the people, or in Church the service of our Lord" (Trésor 1.3.6; compare Did. 2.12). See also De nuptiis 9 ("Harmony"). Augustine and Boethius both produced tractates on the science of music, which concerned primarily discussion of metrics. (Boethius' text was still in use at Oxford in the eighteenth century.) Genius' description focuses more on what we would think of as music, namely, harmony (line 165), melody (line 166), voice and instruments, and the relationship of notes. (Compare Chaucer's account of the singing birds in BD, lines 294-315, with some notes high, some low, but all of one accord with harmonies and melodies sweet.) But Genius also comments on Boethian subjects of prolation (duration), pronunciation, rhythm, and tone (lines 170-74).
175 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota de tercia specie Artis Mathematice, quam Geometriam vocant. [Note concerning the third species of the Mathematic Art, which they call Geometry.]
176-90 the thridde intelligence / Full of wisdom and of clergie / And cleped . . . Geometrie. See Trésor 1.3.7: "The third [division of Mathematics] is geometry, through which we know the measurements and proportions of things: their length, width and height. It was through the subject of geometry that the ancient sages attempted to find the relative dimensions of heaven and earth, and the distance from the one to the other, and many other proportions which are truly marvellous." See also De nuptiis 6 ("Geometry").
191-202 Astronomie. See Trésor 1.3.8: "The fourth subject is astronomy, which teaches us the entire organization of heaven and the firmament and the stars, and the movement of the seven planets through the zodiac, that is, through the twelve signs, and how the weather changes from hot to cold to rain to drought to wind, by reason of what is established in the stars." See also De nuptiis 8 ("Astronomy").
209 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic interim tractat de creacione quatuor Elementorum, scilicet terre, aque, aeris et ignis, necnon et de eorum naturis, nam et singulis proprietates singule attribuuntur. [Here meanwhile he discourses about the creation of the four Elements, namely earth, water, air, and fire, and also about their natures, for to each particular one are attributed particular properties.]
216 ylem. "Hyle" is the term used by the twelfth-century author Bernardus Silvestris for primordial matter; see his widely copied Cosmographia, ed. and trans. Wetherbee, pp. 67-75: "Hyle was Nature's most ancient manifestation, the inexhaustible womb of generation, the primary basis of formal existence, the matter of all bodies, the foundation of substance" (p. 70).
223 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota de Terra, quod est primum elementum. [Note concerning the Earth, which is the first element.]
223 On the four elements, four complexions, four humors, and four seasons and nature's role in perpetually harmonizing and ordering discordant matters, see Trésor 1.99-107. Brunetto's categories derive ultimately from the first book of Aristotle's Meteorologica. On the creation of the elements, see Bernardus Sylvestris, Cosmographia, ch. 2, especially pp. 72-73, where first comes fire, then earth, then water, then air. Gower begins at the center, with earth, then water, air, and fire.
232 ff. Latin marginalia: Philosophus. Vnumquodque naturaliter appetit suum centrum. [The Philosopher: Each thing naturally desires its center.]
234-35 centre drawe . . . every worldes thing. See Trésor 1.104.6-10, where Brunetto explains why heaviest things are closest to the center and lighter things more distant, but still are drawn toward the center according to their natures.
237 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota de Aqua, quod est secundum elementum. [Note concerning Water, which is the second element.]
238 water. See Trésor 1.105. Genius' comparison of the streams of earth with veins of blood in men (7.245-46) comes from the opening section of this chapter: "the earth . . . is all perforated and full of veins and caverns, which is why the waters which flow from the sea go out and come back through the earth . . . which is similar to what happens to the blood in man, which spreads into veins, so that the blood flows up and down through the whole body." On water springing from high hills (7.247-53), see Trésor 1.105.2.
254 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota de Aere, quod est tercium elementum. [Note concerning Air, which is the third element.]
255 Air. See Trésor 1.106, though Brunetto does not discuss air in terms of "periferies."
265 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota qualiter Aer in tribus Periferiis diuiditur. [Note how Air is divided into three Atmospheric Layers (Periferia).] Macaulay (3.523) suggests that Gower's three "periferies" are perhaps a refinement of the two strata of air laid out in Aristotle's Meteorologica 1.3, but the parallels are thin. On knowledge of the Meteorologica in the fourteenth century and the commentaries of Averroes and Albertus Magnus on Aristotle picked up by others like Jacobus Angeli and John of Damascus, and Blasius in his lectures on Meteorologica at Pavia in 1385, see Thorndike, vol. 4, especially pp. 67, 83, 102, 158, 367, and especially 653-54.
280 ff. Latin marginalia: De prima Aeris Periferia. [Concerning the first Layer of Air.]
285 ff. Latin marginalia: De secunda Aeris Periferia. [Concerning the second Layer of Air.]
297 ff. Latin marginalia: De tercia Aeris Periferia. [Concerning the third Layer of Air.]
312-13 A further proof of the preeminence of sight over the other senses. See the discussion of lightning, 7.307-18. That the sight is nearer to the eye than the sound is to the ears is evident by the fact that we see the lightning before we hear the thunder. See 1.304 ff. on sight being "the most principal of alle" the senses (n.b., 1.304-08n); also Trésor 1.106.8 and Bart. Ang. 3.17 (De sensu visus).
319-67 On fiery exhalations, lightning, firedrakes, and other airy demonstrations, see Trésor 1.106, especially 7-9, although Gower's remarks about Assub (line 334), Capra saliens (line 347), Eges (line 351), and Daaly (line 361) are not in Brunetto. Aristotle (i.e., the "philosophre" Genius cites in 7.228) speaks in Meteorologica 1.4.2-3 of "the appearance of burning flames in the sky, of shooting stars and of what some people call 'torches' and 'goats'" (p. 559).
319 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota hic qualiter Ignes, quos noctanter in Aerer discurrere videmus, secundum varias apparencie formas varia gestant nomina; quorum primus Assub, secundus Capra saliens, tercius Eges et quartus Daali in libris Philosphorum nuncupatus est. [Note here how Fires, which we see traveling at night through the Air, carry various names according to various apparitions of forms: the first is called in philosophers' books Assub, the second Capra saliens ("skipping Goat"), third Eges, and the fourth Daali.]
334 Assub. Macaulay notes that "this word is used in Latin translations of Aristotle as an equivalent of 'stella cadens,'" or falling star, as if Gower is repeating authorities "without understanding them" (Mac 3.523), though Genius is talking about the variant terms in slightly different contexts and may simply have preferred the more descriptive term for his goat analogy. He is talking about names of the "same kinde" (line 340) but of another "forme" (line 341), as if to say that comets do not always behave in the same way, some falling, some "skippende" (line 345), some reaching earth and some not, thus "semende" (line 346) to be different.
375 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota de Igne, quod est quartum elementum. [Note concerning Fire, which is the fourth element.] On fire as the fourth element, see Trésor 1.107.
393-489 God has given the four complexions as aspects of human nature, but, though Nature affects human behavior through these conditions, the soul is governed by God alone. See 7.490-520. Gower appears to be working from Trésor 1.101.1-6, though Brunetto is more brief; he remarks on the conditions of the humors but does not discuss body parts in conjunction with the humors as Genius does (7.449-75). Perhaps the more useful text for comparison and contextualization of Gower's views in conjunction with Aristotle, Augustine, Avicenna, etc., is Bart. Ang. 4, which deals extensively with the conditions of the body and the humors (vol. 1, pp. 129-62). White points out that, in the debate between body and soul, the two are, in some instances, at loggerheads; but that does not mean that the influence of Nature cannot be benign. "In fact, it may be that the idea of Nature is for Gower the focus of a vision of the healing of the fundamental division between soul and body and hence a talismanic concept" (Nature, Sex, and Goodness, p. 187). Genius holds together the two poles between the sacred and erotic (p. 188; and Baker, "The Priesthood of Genius").
396-400 See White on man as victim of his own "divided constitution" ("Division and Failure," p. 602). Compare 7.490-510, 515-20; and also, of course, Prol. 575-78, 827-33, 851-53, and 967-1011.
397 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota hic qualiter secundum naturam quatuor elementorum quatuor in humano corpore complexiones, scilicet Malencolia, Fleuma, Sanguis et Colera, naturaliter constituuntur: vnde primo de Malencolia dicendum est. [Note here how according to the nature of the four elements are naturally constituted four humors (complexiones) in the human body, namely Melancholy, Phlegm, Blood, and Choler (Bile). Wherefore first there is a discussion about Melancholy.] See Bart. Ang. 4.11.
414 ff. Latin marginalia: De complexione Fleumatis. [Concerning the humor of Phlegm.] See Bart. Ang. 4.9.
421 ff. Latin marginalia: De complexione Sanguinis. [Concerning the humor of Blood.] See Bart. Ang. 4.7.
429 ff. Latin marginalia: De complexione Colere. [Concerning the humor of Bile.] See Bart. Ang. 4.10.
441 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota qualiter quatuor complexiones quatuor in homine habitaciones diuisim possident. [Note how the four humors respectively possess four habitations in man.]
449 ff. Latin marginalia: Splen domus est Malencolie. [The spleen is Melancholy's home.]
451 ff. Latin marginalia: Pulmo domus Fleumatis. [The lung is Phlegm's home.]
455 ff. Latin marginalia: Epar domus Sanguinis. [The liver is the home of Blood.]
459 ff. Latin marginalia: Fel domus Colere. [The gall-bladder is the home of Bile.]
463 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota de Stomacho, qui vna cum aliis cordi specialius deseruit. [Note concerning the Stomach, which along with the others particularly serves the heart.] Gower looks on the parts of the body as a community, each member of which has specific obligations to keep the estate functioning in a healthy way. Bartholomaeus provides the most detailed Middle English analysis of the body parts, their nature, and how they function, starting at the head and its several parts and proceeding downward to the feet, in Book 5 of Properties. Each part of the anatomy is given a separate chapter, not just for head, but skull, hair, eyes, eyelids, etc. The approach is more Aristotelian than Platonic, with little attention given to the metaphysics and sociology of the body that so interests Gower. Bartholomaeus works primarily from a Latin version of Aristotle's Parts of Animals.
473-75 This is "Gower's most explicit statement about the nature and physical origin of laughter" (Burke, "Genial Gower," p. 42), thereby asserting his belief in the legitimacy of laughter as a means of expression. "Explaining that each bodily organ has a rightful purpose to fulfill on behalf of the heart, the poet echoes the medical traditions of his day in locating the source of laughter in the spleen."
479-80 stomach . . . the boc. In Gower the stomach is a comun coc [cook] / Ordeined, as seith the boc. In Bartholomaeus it is "the dore of þe wombe, and fongiþ mete and drynke, and sendiþ to þe guttis" (Bart. Ang. 5.38, 1.29-30). What precisely the boc is that Gower speaks of I have been unable to determine, but such personification is not unusual, even in medical texts. E.g., Master Nicolaus of Salerno, a twelfth-century follower of Galen, presents the digestive system as a kitchen in which staples, ground at the mill, are prepared to sustain the rest of the community (i.e., the body). The mouth is the mill, the teeth the mill-stones, and the tongue is the miller, "for just as grain is received into a mill, so is food taken into the mouth; and in the same way that the grain is cast by the hand of the miller under the grindstones (molares) to be ground, so is food cast by the tongue beneath the molar teeth to be masticated." The stomach is the receiving kettle: "It has the liver below it like a fire underneath a caldron; and thus the stomach is like a kettle of food, the gall-bladder is the cook, and the liver is the fire" (Corner, Anatomical Texts of the Earlier Middle Ages, pp. 78-79).
485-89 For as a king in his empire / . . . So is the herte principal, / . . . for the governance. Compare Chaucer, BD, lines 495-96: "[the hert] ys membre principal / Of the body." The dreamer, observing the pallid color of the Black Knight, notes that in his grief his blood has all "fled for pure drede" (line 490) down to his heart. This passage is in its way key to the whole of Book 7 of the Confessio, where the sound education of the king is, for Gower, essentially the education of the heart of man, king of his empire attempting to define the proper governance of the soul. See 8.2109-20. Burnley, discussing Gower and a Stoic tradition that sees the heart as "principal" member of the body, remarks that although Gower may not be aware of the technical import of the word, he certainly adopts the same administrative metaphor that draws an analogy between individual man and the state. For Gower, "The heart governs the rest of the body by reason, just as a king rules a kingdom" (Chaucer's Language, p. 66).
490-520 That Gower follows his Stoic paradigm of heart/king/rule with a discussion of the soul's "hyh noblesse / Appropred to his oghne kinde" (7.498-99) where, unlike the soul of beasts, it "to reson . . . serveth" (7.517), adds specific support to Burnley's observation in the explanatory note to 7.485-89, above. Gower's awareness of the "technical import of the word" principal seems, in this instance, to be quite precise. See VC 2.217-348, where Gower discusses the relationship between men, animals, and morality. See also note to 7.396-400.
521-600 Gower seems to be following Trésor 1.121-24 (pp. 85-98) in his division of the map of the world into three parts (Asia, Europe, and Africa), surrounded by Ocean. See also Trevisa's translation of Higden's Polychronicon 1.6.
522 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur vlterius de diuisione Terre que post diluvium tribus filiis Noe in tres partes, scilicet Asiam, Affricam et Europam diuidebatur. [Here he speaks further about the division of the Earth, which after the flood was divided by the three sons of Noah into three parts, namely Asia, Africa, and Europe.]
523 if it be spoke plein. Schmitz, Middel Weie, p. 38n39, reads plein as "plainness, clarity, simplicity," to suggest irony as Gower uses the term in introducing the most scholarly sections of the poem. But the sense is more likely that of the adverbial form of the adj. plein(e), i.e., "completely, entirely; fully, clearly." See MED plein adv.
554 Latin marginalia: De Asia. [Concerning Asia.]
558-74 Gower's discussion of the seisine of Asia is based on Trésor 1.121.2, where we learn that "Asia contains half of the whole earth, from the place where the Nile empties into the sea in Alexandria and from the place where the Tanain River empties into the sea in the branch called Saint George, towards the Orient, extending as far as the Ocean and the earthly paradise" (p. 86).
566 Canahim. An error for Tanain. See note to 7.558-74.
575 ff. Latin marginalia: De Aufrica et Europa. [Concerning Africa and Europe.]
587 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota de mari quod magnum Occeanum dicitur. [Note concerning the sea which is called the Great Ocean.]
601 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota hic secundum philosophum de quinto Elemento, quod omnia sub celo creata infra suum ambitum continet, cui nomen Orbis specialiter appropriatum est. [Note here according to the philosopher concerning the fifth Element, which contains everything created under heaven within its orbit, to whom the name Orbis is uniquely granted.]
613-20 orbis. See Trésor 1.103.2. The fifth element, ether: "it is a round heaven which surrounds and encloses within itself all other elements and the other things which do not partake of divinity; and it is to the world as the shell is to the egg, which encloses and contains what is inside, and because it is completely round, it is necessary inevitably that the earth and the shape of the world be round" (p. 64).
630-32 as an egle . . . Fleth above . . . So doth this science. One is reminded of Chaucer's eagle in HF, who is well grounded in mathematics, especially those parts dealing with astronomy and geometry. On astronomy as the winged "maiden of the sky," see De nuptiis 8.807. Martianus does not use the metaphor of an eagle, however.
639 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur de Artis Mathematice quarta specie, que Astronomia nuncupata est, cui eciam Astrologia socia connumeratur: set primo de septem planetis, que inter astra potenciores existunt, incipiendo a luna seorsum tractare intendit. [Here he speaks concerning the fourth species of the Art of Mathematics, which is called Astronomy, with whom Astrology is counted a companion. And first he intends to discourse concerning the seven planets, which are the more powerful ones among the stars, beginning specifically with the moon.]
651-54 Bot the divin seith otherwise. Theology is a component of sapientia, while astronomy falls under the classification of scientia, a lower kind of knowledge useful for understanding the body, but not capable of overriding theological insights. Thus men scholden noght the sterres drede (line 654). On the superiority of sapientia, see Augustine, De Trinitate 12. Macaulay notes that line 652 echoes "Sapiens dominabitur astris" (VC 2.217 ff.). See Jean Gerson, Trilogium astrologie theologizate, where all the sciences are handmaids of theology. Though astrology is a noble science, some people abuse it by superstitious observations and sacrilegious errors. Gerson's authorities include Alkindi, Oresme, Augustine, and d'Ailly (Thorndike 4.116-17).
670 Astronomie. See De nuptiis 8 on astronomy as sixth of the liberal arts. Macaulay states that Gower's "astronomy is for the most part independent of the Trésor" (3.522), but see the numerous parallels between 7.685-709, 721-27, 731-35, 774-75, 782, 865-70, 889-94, 909-12, 935-39, 973-78 and Trésor noted by Hamilton ("Some Sources," p. 341n7).
694 Bot. Macaulay suggests that bot might mean out, though it would be unusual as a southern form. The MED, s. v. orisont(e (n.) 2, thinks the line should read Be [i.e., "by"] th'orizonte, the reading in several manuscripts and one which Macaulay suggests as a possibility, though he prefers "beyond."
717-20 Gower often puns on tauhte and betauhte (e.g., 5.3575-76, 6.2411-12), but seldom does he create quadruple puns, as he does here, to celebrate Aristotle's learned role as instructor.
721 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota hic de prima planeta, que aliis inferior Luna dicitur. [Note here concerning the first planet, lower than the others, which is called the Moon.]
721 ff. Benethe alle othre stant the mone. An excellent source for medieval planetary lore to set against Genius' discussion of the seven planets is Bart. Ang., 8.12-18. Bartholomaeus works from Saturn to the moon (the seventh sphere to the first), rather than from the inside out (first to the seventh), as Gower does. Chapters 17-18 discuss luna. To explain water's love of the moon (see CA 7.23-24) Bartholomaeus draws an analogy between iron and a magnet (8.17, lines 20-27 [p. 490]).
725-30 every fissh which hath a schelle / Mot. . . / wexe and wane in his degré / As be the mone. See Trésor 1.117.2: "for when it [the moon] waxes, marrow begins to increase in bones, and the marrow of crabs and crawfish and all animals and fish grows; even the sea swells and produces great waves. When the moon wanes, all things decrease and are smaller than before" (p. 79).
739-946 Gower is not actually following Ptolemy's Almagest, although that work certainly underlay the sources he was working with, namely Alchandrus. Part of his material may have been gleaned from Brunetto Latini's Trésor, part from Vincent of Beauvais' Speculum naturale and from Fulgentius' Mythologicon, part from redactions of De nuptiis, and part from astronomical lists and treatises such as the Speculum astronomiae (variously ascribed to Roger Bacon and Albertus Magnus). See Fox, Mediaeval Sciences, pp. 65-83.
The association of planets with man's elemental character was maintained on the best authority, though usually the writers were careful to maintain free will, too. (For example, John of Salisbury, Polycraticus, 2.18-19; Herman of Dalmatia's translation of Albumazar's Introductium in astronomiam, which became the basis for Aquinas' views on astrology in Summa theologiae; and the Speculum astronomiae. Medieval theory of planetary influence may be ultimately traced back through Ptolemy to the Timaeus, where the planets are viewed as instruments of time.) Theories of planetary influence provided a convenient means for characterizing men and circumstances and are thus commonly alluded to in medieval literature. See, for example, Chaucer's use of Saturn as a malignant influence beyond which there is only Higher Love in The Knight's Tale; and Gower's VC 2.221 ff., where we are told that God will hold the heavens in check and make Saturn pleasing if men become willing to observe His precepts.
755 ff. Latin marginalia: De secunda planeta, que Mercurius dicitur. [Concerning the second planet, which is called Mercury.]
755-70 Because his course is the quickest of the other planets, apart from the moon, Mercury is often said to be the messenger of the gods and is praised for his eloquence. See The Assembly of Gods, lines 365-71; or Martianus Capella's elaborate allegory in De nuptiis (The Marriage of Philology and Mercury). Gower goes a different path, however; those born under his influence are studious (line 759, i.e., "zealous") in reading and writing, but slouh and lustles to travaile / In thing which elles myhte availe (lines 761-62). Andrew Galloway has suggested by correspondence that the implication here is perhaps akin to Nicholas' delight in lying around reading and enjoying music rather than doing work as John the carpenter does in Chaucer's Miller's Tale, being rather more particular about doing what might be considered strenuous. The source of Gower's idea affiliating Mercury with business perhaps comes from De formis (see p. 25, where Berchorius derives the name Mercury from mercatorum currus, asserting that he is thus said to be god of merchants and thieves [Iste ergo dicebatur deus marcatorum, deus eciam furtorum]). See also "The Wise Book of Philosophy and Astronomy" (Cambridge University Library MS Ll.4.14) in Krochalis and Peters, World of Piers Plowman, pp. 5-15, which notes that Mercury makes men "grette geters, and gladliche spending" (p. 15); such passages explain why Gower says Mercury's children have besinesse in pursuit of wealth, with their hearts set upon richesse (CA 7.765-66). I have not found a source for the national connections that Gower affiliates with each planet. Galloway wonders whether the linking of Mercury with Burgundy and France might not be an acknowledgment of the literary skills of Froissart and Machaut.
771 ff. Latin marginalia: De tercia planeta, que Venus dicitur. [Concerning the third planet, which is called Venus.]
773 The linking of Venus with the nacion / Of lovers (lines 774-75) is universal. Genius acknowledges variously that she provokes lechery, though Gower's presentation of her in Books 1 and 8 suggests a concern that reaches beyond promiscuity, which she scorns when it is manifested in Amans. On the climate of her lechery being most commun in Lombardie (line 800) one might think of the boastful Syr Valentyne "yn Lumbardye" in Thomas Chestre's Sir Launfal (lines 505 ff.), who jousts "for love of his lemman" (line 523).
801 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota de Sole, qui medio planetarum residens Astrorum principatum obtinet. [Note concerning the Sun, who residing in the middle of the planets possesses a princely authority over the Stars.]
815 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota de curru Solis necnon et de vario eiusdem apparatu. [Note concerning the chariot of the Sun and also its various features.]
815-47 On the fifteen stars and their relative stones and herbs, see Heather, pp. 224-27. The description of the sun's crown draws upon De nuptiis 1.75, though other sources are used as well. See Hamilton ("Some Sources," p. 345).
822-26 Thre stones . . . cleped Licuchis . . . Astrices and Ceramis. Hamilton ("Some Sources," p. 345) identifies the source as Martianus Capella's De nuptiis 22.5-6 (ed. Eyssenhardt, 1886): quippe tres fuerant a fronte gemmae Lychnis, Astrites, et Ceraunos (see also Book 1.75, The Betrothal, in the Stahl, Johnson, Burge translation, vol. 2, p. 27). The three gems in Sol's crown all possess powers of light and and the capacity to heal dark illnesses. The MED glosses licuchis as [? error for lychnites], which seems likely, given Martianus' term lychnis in the Latin. De dea Syria, attributed to Lucian of Samosata, identifies the stone in the headpiece of the Syrian goddess at Hieropolis as lychnis, a stone with the brightness of fire. Pseudo-Callisthenes, The Greek Alexander Romance, 2.24, tells of lychnis, a gleaming white stone that Alexander found in the belly of a monstrous lake fish who pursued Alexander and jumped right out of the water after him. Alexander speared the fish, cut it open, and found inside "a gleaming stone . . . as bright as a lantern. Alexander took the stone, set it in gold and used it at night instead of a lamp" (p. 124). According to the Peterborough Lapidary, astrites is a stone like a star in clearness that contains an enclosed light, "as it were a ster goinge withyne, & maketh the sonne bemes lyõt" (21, p. 71). According to the London Lapidary Ceraunius comes in many colors and protects anyone who carries it from lightning and fire; the North Midland Lapidary likewise tells how the stone protects one from lightning, lightens burdens, and "schynes as it wer byrnynge" (25, p. 54).
835 ydriades. I have been unable to identify this stone. It is not a term found in the lapidaries that Evans and Serjeantson consider in English Mediaeval Lapidaries. The stem of the word suggests a watery appearance (Greek hydro). The MED simply glosses the term as "a kind of precious stone." De nuptiis also identifies the other two, besides Gower's ydriades (which Martianus calls "hydatis," and which is translated as "a water-colored stone" [1.75]), as adamant and crystal. This particular grouping could suggest that "water-colored" means clear rather than blue or green. See also Hamilton ("Some Sources," p. 345).
842 dendides and jacinctus. Dendrides, from a Latin term pertaining to trees, are stones with sprig-like crystals and arborescent forms (e.g., oxides of iron and manganese). Jacinth in the lapidaries are called blue gems, probably sapphires, as distinct from the variety of zircon with a reddish orange tinge now called jacinth. See the grouping of a sapphire, dendritis, and striped jasper in De nuptiis (1.75). The term is also used for varieties of topaz and garnet (OED).
853-64 Macaulay notes that the sun's horses (Erythreus, Actaeon, Lampros, and Philogeus) are named by Fulgentius (1.12) in the same order that they are named in Gower and that they represent the four divisions of the day: Erythreus, taking his name from the red light of morning and Philogeus from the sun's inclination at evening; "Ovid gives a different set of names" (3.524). Hyginus, De Planetis 4.108-10 (Basel, 1535), offers a handsome drawing of Sol with bright stones in his crown (compare CA 7.818); the chariot wheel bears the sign of Leo. His four horses are not named.
889 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota de quinta planeta, que Mars dicitur. [Note concerning the fifth planet, which is called Mars.]
907 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota de sexta planeta, que Iupiter dicitur. [Note concerning the sixth planet, which is called Jupiter.]
935 ff. Latin marginalia: De septima planeta, que reliquis celsior Saturnus dictus est. [Note concerning the seventh planet, which, higher than all others, is called Saturn.]
955 ff. Latin marginalia: Postquam dictum est de vii. Planetis, quibus singuli septimane dies singulariter attitulantur, dicendum est iam de xii. Signis, per que xii. Menses Anni variis temporibus effectus varios assequntur. [After there has been discussion about the seven Planets, by each of which the seven days are individually named, there must be discussion about the twelve Signs, through which the twelve Months of the Year follow their various outcomes at various times.]
955-78 He which departeth dai fro nyht. Gower is careful to present the shaping of the zodiac in a Christian context. Commentaries abound upon God's creating the planetes sevene upon the hevene to accord (acordant) with the making of the earth in seven days (7.963-64). Compare VC 7.587-90. Stockton cites Psalm 8:4-10 as a supporting text. See also St. Augustine, De civitate Dei 11.31, on seven as a number and measure of completeness, or De formis 15.1, pp. 40-41, on complementary sevens in nature, as Berchorius contemplates the natural realm of Pan.
955-1280 See Fox, Mediaeval Sciences, pp. 65-80, on Gower's use of Alchandrus, rather than Ptolemy, on the signs of the zodiac, even though he cites the Almageste (line 983). Where Macaulay thought Gower to be floundering and getting it mixed up (see Mac 3.525), he is "actually following his source very carefully" (Fox, Mediaeval Sciences, p. 68). See note to 7.739-946, above.
979 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota hic de primo Signo, quod Aries dicitur, cui Mensis Marcii specialiter appropriatus est. Quo deus in primo produxit ad esse creata. [Note here concerning the first Sign, which is called Aries, to whom the Month of March specifically belongs. "Under him God first brought creation into being."]
In this and the following eleven sets of Latin glosses, the second sentences describing each of the twelve zodiacal signs scan as regular poetic lines. In the translation, I use quotation marks to indicate those lines that are cast in poetic form. A Latin poem on the seasons is thus spread across these marginal notes, which probably should be added to the list of Gower's own Latin poetry. The meter varies between dactylic hexameter and dactylic pentameter (as two hemiepes?), which, taken two by two, present standard elegiac couplets, Gower's most common Latin meter. This regular elegiac pattern begins this "poem" but it is varied in the second half, by a doubled hexameter, closing with five successive hexameters. Thus, with hexameter lines marked as "h" and the pentameters necessary for an elegiac couplet marked as "p," the assembled poem on the seasons has the following overall pattern:
979ff. (h) Quo deus in primo produxit ad esse creata;
1015ff. (p) Quo prius occultas invenit herba vias.
1031ff. (h) Quo volucrum cantus gaudet de floribus ortis;
1051ff. (p) Quo falcat pratis pabula tonsor equis.
1067ff. (h) Quo magis ad terras expandit Lucifer ignes;
1081ff. (h) Quo vacuata prius pubes replet horrea messis.
1101ff. (p) Vinea quo Bachum pressa liquore colit.
1121ff. (h) Floribus exclusis yemis qui ianitor extat.
1141ff. (h) Quo mustum bibulo linquit sua nomina vino.
1169ff. (h) Ipse diem Nano noctemque Gigante figurat.
1185ff. (h) Quo Ianus vultum duplum conuertit in annum.
1215ff. (h) Quo pluuie torrens riparum concitat ampnes.
979-81 The ferste . . . is cleped Aries . . . a wether of stature. Aries, the wether, is first because, like the lead ram, he guides the flock of other signs through the heavens. See Allen, Star Names, p. 76. Gower makes certain that credit for this orderly fact is not simply a matter of astrology but rather a part of God's design. See note to lines 994-96. On the structure of Gower's presentation of the signs of the zodiac, see also the note to 1141-63, below.
989 hot and drye. Macaulay observes: "According to the astrologers, Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius preside over the element of fire, and are hot and dry by nature; Taurus, Virgo, Capricornus over that of earth, being dry and cold; Gemini, Libra, Aquarius preside over air, and are hot and moist; while Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are moist and cold, having dominion over water (Albumasar, cited by Vincent of Beauvais, Spec. nat. xv. 36)" (3.525). See Bart. Ang. 8.9 (vol. 1, pp. 460-65), on the nature of the zodiac; and 8.10 (vol. 1, pp. 465-73), on the signs of the zodiac.
991 See Bart. Ang. 8.11-18 (vol. 1, pp. 473-95), on the planets, their refuge, and their relationships with earth and the zodiac; their marriages, conditions, humors, and, especially in ch. 11, their motions and effects on weather, health, nations, etc.
992 Of myhty Mars the bataillous. Aries and Mars (Ares) are linked in two ways besides the verbal punning in their names: Allen notes that "among astrologers Aries was a dreaded sign indicating passionate temper and bodily hurt" (Star Names, p. 79), whereby March, the first month, is often stormy and blustery, thus bataillous; but also, because of the story of Phrixus (Ovid refers to Aries as Phrixea ovis in Fasti 3.852), where Phrixus, son of Athamas, fled on the back of the ram (aries - Fasti 3.867) with his sister Helle toward Colchis, to escape the wrath of Ino. Helle fell off and was drowned (thus the Hellespont), and Phrixus sacrificed the ram and hung its fleece in the Grove of Ares, where it turned to gold (another of Aries' titles is Ovis aurea), thereby further linking Aries and Mars. See Allen, Star Names, p. 76. The golden fleece became the object of Jason's quest (n.b., Gower's Tale of Jason and Medea). See also Gower's Tale of Phrixus and Helle (5.4243-4361).
994-96 The Creatour of alle kinde / Upon this signe ferst began / The world. Man was created in the sign of Aries, which signifies beginnings (see 7.1000), as part of God's design, "Whan every bridd schall chese his make, / And every neddre and every snake / And every reptil which mai moeve, / His myht assaieth for to proeve, / To crepen out agein the sonne, / Whan ver his seson hath begonne" (7.1009-14). Allen notes biblical commentators who link Aries with Abraham's ram, caught in the thicket as substitute sacrifice for Isaac (Star Names, p. 78), a sign of the greatest new beginning.
1015 ff. Latin marginalia: Secundum Signum dicitur Taurus, cuius Mensis est Aprilis. Quo prius occultas invenit herba vias. [The second Sign is called Taurus, whose Month is April. "Under him the greenery first discovers the hidden pathways."]
1020 somdiel descordant. Macaulay notes that the hot and moist Libra (7.1111) is more accordant to Venus than is the "dreie and cold" Taurus (7.1017) with which she is affiliated here (3.525).
1029-30 Though Taurus may be "dreie and cold" (7.1017), his month, April, is proverbially known for his schoures that ministreth weie unto the floures, not only in the modern "April showers bring May flowers" proverb, but in Lydgate's "holsom as the Aprile shour / Fallyng on the erbes newe" (Reson, lines 6310-11); Hawes' "More sweter fer than the Aprell shour" (Oxford 13); or Chaucer's Anelida and Arcite (lines 309-10): "I myghte as wel holde Aperill fro reyn, / As holde yow, to make yow be stidfast." See Whiting, A173 and A176.
1033 ff. Latin marginalia: Tercium Signum dicitur Gemini, cuius Mensis Maiius est. Quo volucrum cantus gaudet de floribus ortis. [The third Sign is called Gemini, whose Month is May. "Under him the song of birds rejoices at the emergence of flowers."]
1036 ff. "This statement and the others like it below, 1073, 1089, 1127, 1147, 1198, 1222, may be taken to indicate that the division of the signs was very uncertain in our author's mind. It may be observed that the usual representation of Taurus in star-maps is with his head, not his tail, towards Gemini" (Mac 3.525).
1043 wise Tholomeus wrot. I.e., the Almagest. See note to lines 1239-40, below.
1044-50 Gower's celebration of youth, love, and May has reminded readers of the opening of Chaucer's CT. See Fisher, John Gower, p. 253, who compares the passage to MO, lines 939-46. The "vivid verbal miniatures" in this section on the months (Manzalaoui, "'Noght in the Registre of Venus,'" p. 160) add a lyric quality to this otherwise technical section of Book 7. See also 7.1009-14 and 7.1159-68 for other lovely examples of Gower's skills at vignette composition. Manzalaoui suggests that this use of poetic description is a pictorial practice Gower seems to have learned from the Secretum (p. 175).
1051 ff. Latin marginalia: Quartum Signum Cancer dicitur, cuius Mensis Iunius est. Quo falcat pratis pabula tonsor equis. [The fourth Sign is called Cancer, whose Month is June. "Under him the shearer cuts the hay from the flat fields."]
1069 ff. Latin marginalia: Quintum signum Leo dicitur, cuius Mensis Iulius est. Quo magis ad terras expandit Lucifer ignes. [The fifth sign is called Leo, whose Month is July. "Under him the morning star spreads his fires more across the earth."]
1081 ff. Latin marginalia: Sextum Signum Virgo dicitur, cuius Mensis Augustus est. Quo vacuata prius pubes replet horrea messis. [The sixth Sign is called Virgo, whose Month is August. "Under him the youth refill the emptied granaries with the harvests."] The scansion requires one false quantity (the second syllable of replet must be scanned short); but the line is clearly hexameter like the others in this "seasons poem."
1103 ff. Latin marginalia: Septimum Signum Libra dicitur, cuius Mensis Septembris est. Vinea quo Bachum pressa liquore colit. [The seventh Sign is called Libra, whose Month is September. "Under him the vineyard, squeezed, honors Bacchus with its fluid."]
1106-09 "There is grave doubt in my mind whether Gower was aware that there are two zodiacs - the zodiac of the signs and the zodiac of the constellations. He calls his divisions 'signs,' although he clearly thinks of his 'signs' as constellations to be seen in the heavens," as these lines on Virgo make evident (Fox, Mediaeval Sciences, pp. 79-80).
1121 ff. Latin marginalia: Octauum Signum Scorpio dicitur, cuius Mensis October est. Floribus exclusis yemis qui ianitor extat. [The eighth Sign is called Scorpio, whose Month is October. "He stands as the gatekeeper of winter, keeping flowers out."]
1132-34 eighte . . . unbehovely. Eight is usually regarded as a benevolent number, a sign of new beginning, baptism, and new life; but its being unbehovely (unfitting, improper, unsuitable) for the tail of Scorpio may be one further sign of the treacherous felonies of this deceitful mansion.
1141-43 ff. The nynthe signe . . . cleped Sagittarius. Fox, Mediaeval Sciences, pp. 66-68, analyzes Gower's description of Sagittarius to demonstrate how Gower's discussion of the zodiac signs works. The elements Gower considers include 1) the figure of the constellation (in this instance a centaur), 2) the number of stars in each of the three subdivisions of the sign (head, body, tail), 3) the "quality" of the sign (hot and dry, in this instance), 4) the dignity or debility of certain planets when residing in the sign (here Sagittarius is the house of Jupiter), and 5) an account of the month over which the sign rules. This latter feature "may even permit one to notice that the descriptions of the months embedded in this unpromising matrix are among the loveliest and freshest that Gower ever wrote" (p. 66).
1141 ff. Latin marginalia: Nonum signum Sagittarius dicitur, cuius Mensis Nouember est. Quo mustum bibulo linquit sua nomina vino. [The ninth Sign is called Sagittarius, whose Month is November. "Under him the wine-must changes its name to drinkable wine."]
1165-68 must into the wyn . . . larder of the swyn; / That is Novembre which I meene, / Whan that the lef hath lost his greene. The duke of Berry's Très Riches Heures, pl. 10, depicts September as the month for harvest of grapes; thus the fermentation period (must into wyn) imagined here would be two months. Pl. 12, November, when the trees have lost their green and the acorns fall, depicts hogs devouring the acorns as their final fattening for slaughter in late November and December. Compare Bart. Ang. 9.17, De septembri: "In þis monthe grapis beþ ripe and þerfore he is ipeint in a vineʒerd as a gardeynere gadringe grapis in a basket"; and 9.19, De nouembre: "þat tyme beestis waxiþ fatte and nameliche swyne; and þerfore he is ipeynt as a cherle betynge okes and fedinge his swyne wiþ mast and ackornis." In Trevisa and most books of hours, December is identified as the time of slaughter and the salting of the meat, a time in closer proximity to Christmas feasts.
1169 ff. Latin marginalia: Decimum Signum Capricorus dicitur, cuius Mensis December est. Ipse diem Nano noctemque Gigante figurat. [The tenth Sign is called Capricorn, whose Month is December. "He fashions day as a dwarf, and night as a giant."]
1174 Satorne. Saturn's sour disposition is wintry, therefore suitable to Capricorn and Aquarius (see 7.1188).
1175 Bot to the mone it liketh noght. Macaulay notes that "Capricorn is the 'fall' of the Moon, being opposite to her house, Cancer, as the next sign Aquarius is that of the Sun, see line 1190" (3.525). Martianus observes that the winter tropic begins in the eighth degree of Capricorn, passes through the entire body of Capricorn "to the feet of Aquarius, thence to the end of the tail of Cetus, then to Lepus and the front paws of Canis; then through Argo and the back of Centaurus to the sting of Scorpio; next through the last part of Sagitta, and back again to the eighth degree of Capricornus" (De nuptiis 8.830).
1187 ff. Latin marginalia: Vndecimum Signum Aquarius dicitur, cuius Mensis Ianuarius est. Quo Ianus vultum duplum conuertit in annum. [The eleventh Sign is called Aquarius, whose Month is January. "Under him Janus turns his double-face toward the year."]
1207-14 Janus with his double face. Winter storms appear most fiercely in the latter days of Aquarius, and thus are Janus-like as they look back to the ferocity of winter but forward also to the ferste primerole (line 1214).
1217 ff. Latin marginalia: Duodecimum Signum Piscis dicitur, cuius Mensis Februarius est. Quo pluuie torrens riparum concitat ampnes. [The twelfth Sign is called Pisces, whose Month is February. "Under him the torrent of rain showers incites the rivers from their banks."]
1239-40 Albumazar . . . Seith. The allusion is to Abu'Ma'sar's Introductorium in astronomiam. Hamilton ("Some Sources") asserts that Gower's whole "detailed account of the influence of the planets on the men and countries under their control, and a description of the signs of the zodiac, the planets in their mansions, and the months tributary to them" (7.685-1236) was suggested by a short section of the Secretum, based on Abu'Ma'sar (p. 342), the same passage from which Gower drew his references to "Tholemeus" (7.1043, 1201).
1271 ff. Gower's discussion of the universe moves from earth, through the planets, to the fixed stars which occupy the eighth sphere and are immutable. That the fixed stars are fifteen in number perhaps suggests through number symbolism the conjoining of heaven (8) and earth (7) - eternity and temporality. (See Hugh of St. Victor's discussion of the number fifteen in De arca Noe morali 3.16.) Because of the stars' permanence (and thus potency), more magicians than Nectanabus based wonder-working calculations on them. (See Chaucer's "tregetour" in The Franklin's Tale, CT F[V]1280). Gower's account of the fifteen stars with their respective herbs and stones is taken from Liber hermetis de XV stellis et de XV lapidibus et de XV herbis, XV figuris, etc., which, Macaulay notes, is found in several fourteenth-century manuscripts. Ideler's Untersuchungen über den Ursprung und die Bedeutung der Sternnamen, provides information on a number of the names (Mac 3.526). Vincent of Beauvais observes (Speculum naturale 16.53) that every herb on earth has a star in the sky which is concerned with it and causes it to grow.
1281-1438 These lines on the fifteen stars are included in Longleat House MS 174, a fifteenth-century collection of letters and Middle English medical treatises. See Harris, who remarks on minor changes in the Longleat text, concluding that "the purposes behind the inclusion of the extract . . . [in Longleat] must have been practical" ("The Longleat House Extracted Manuscript," p. 88).
1285 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic tractat super doctrina Nectanabi, dum ipse iuuenem Alexandrum instruxit, de illis precipue xv stellis vna cum earum lapidibus et herbis, que ad artis magice naturalis operacionem specialius conueniunt. [Here he discourses on the doctrine of Nectanabus while he instructed the young Alexander, specifically concerning the fifteen stars along with their stones and herbs that are particularly conducive to the operation of the art of natural magic.]
1295-1308 See Hamilton ("Studies in the Sources," pp. 511-12), on various versions of Liber hermetis that attribute authorship of the treatise to Nectanabus, as does Gower.
1296 Nectanabus. Alexander's natural father. See CA 6.1789-2366. Minnis, commenting on Gower's use of the Nectanabus story to set up Book 7 in a cohesive way, points out that "Calistre and Aristote taught the young king philosophy," while it was Nectanabus who taught him astronomy and magic (7.1295-1308), which may not have been the most wise move by Nectanabus, given the fact that it was on a fair and starry night while they were observing the heavens from a tower that, to prove the old astrologer wrong, Alexander pushed Nectanabus off the tower, thus proving him right ("'Moral Gower,'" pp. 74-75).
1309 ff. Latin marginalia: Prima stella vocatur Aldeboran, cuius lapis Carbunculus et herba Anabulla est. [The first star is called Aldeboran, whose stone is Carbuncle and herb Anabulla.]
1319 ff. Latin marginalia: Secunda stella vocatur Clota seu Pliades, cuius lapis Cristallum et herba Feniculus est. [The second star is called Clota or Pliades, whose stone is Crystal and herb Fennel.]
1320-23 Clota . . . Mars. Clota is a Celtic goddess of the river Clyde. It is a curious coincidence that one of the valleys on Mars has, in modern times, been given the name Clota, suggesting that not only has Clota taken Mars' complexion, but Mars is now under the influence of Clota!
1328 ff. Latin marginalia: Tercia stella vocatur Algol, cuius lapis Dyamans et herba Eleborum nigrum est. [The third star is called Algol, whose stone is Diamond and herb black Hellebore.] Macaulay 3.526 is helpful in identifying Arabic meanings to star names and in linking Gower's phrasing to Liber Hermetis.
1337 ff. Latin marginalia: Quarta stella vocatur Alhaiot, cuius lapis Saphirus et herba Marrubium est. [The fourth star is called Alhaiot, whose stone is Sapphire and herb Horehound.]
1345 ff. Latin marginalia: Quinta stella vocatur Canis maior, cuius lapis Berillus et herba Savina est. [The fifth star is called the greater Dog Star, whose stone is Beryl and herb Savin.]
1355 ff. Latin marginalia: Sexta stella vocatur Canis minor, cuius lapis Achates et herba Primula est. [The sixth star is called the lesser Dog Star, whose stone is Agate and herb Cowslip.]
1363 ff. Latin marginalia: Septima stella vocatur Arial, cuius lapis Gorgonza et herba Celidonia est. [The seventh star is called Arial, whose stone is Gorgonza and herb Celandine.]
1364 Arial. Macaulay suggests "Cor Leonis" or Regulus (3.526); North links cor leonis with Calbelezed (Chaucer's Universe, p. 271, caption to figure 33, which includes a drawing of a rampant lion).
1371 ff. Latin marginalia: Octaua stella vocatur Ala Corui, cuius lapis Honochinus et herba Lapacia est. [The eighth star is called Crow's Wing, whose Stone is Honochinus and herb Sorrel.]
1379 ff. Latin marginalia: Nona stella vocatur Alaezel, cuius lapis Smaragdus et herba Salgea est. [The ninth star is called Alaezel, whose stone is Emerald and herb Sage.]
1386 ff. Latin marginalia: Decima stella vocatur Almareth, cuius lapis Iaspis et herba Plantago est. [The tenth star is called Almareth, whose stone is Jasper and herb Plantain.]
1393 ff. Latin marginalia: Vndecima stella vocatur Venenas, cuius lapis Adamans et herba Cicorea est. [The eleventh star is called Venenas, whose stone is Adamant and herb Chicory.]
1397 adamant. "lodestone (magnet)" is the sense here, given the stone's affiliation with Venus and the moon, with their powerful powers of attraction (tides, love, etc.). Gower also uses the term to mean "diamond," as in 7.833, when speaking of the precious gem in a royal crown. See MED adamant n. 1 and 2.
1401 ff. Latin marginalia: Duodecima stella vocatur Alpheta, cuius lapis Topazion et herba Rosa marina est. [The twelfth star is called Alpheta, whose stone is Topaz and herb Rosemary.]
1401 Alpheta, from Arabic for the beggar's dish (Mac 3.526).
1409 ff. Latin marginalia: Terciadecima stella vocatur Cor Scorpionis, cuius lapis Sardis et herba Aristologia est. [The thirteenth star is called the Scorpion's Heart, whose stone is Sardis and herb Birthwort.]
1417 ff. Latin marginalia: Quartadecima stella vocatur Botercadent, cuius lapis Crisolitus et herba Satureia est. [The fourteenth star is called Botercadent, whose stone is Chrysolite and herb Savory.]
1419 Botercadent. Macaulay notes that the Latin source (Liber hermetis) reads "'Vultur cadens,' that is perhaps Vega; but 'Botercadent' would probably be a different star, namely that called in Arabic 'Batn-Kaitos' or Whale's belly" (Mac 3.526-27). The "Falling Vulture" (vultur cadens) could indeed be Vega (the brightest star in the constellation Lyra), derived from Arabic al-Waqi and so named for the story of the bird that swoops down to grab Orpheus' lyre from the river at Jupiter's request. MED glosses the term to mean "falling Bittern (name of a star or constellation); ? The Whale's Belly (star in Cetus)." According to The Catholic Encyclopedia, "Animals in the Bible," the bittern (Lat. botháurus vulgaris) is sometimes substituted for the pelican, which, "of his kinde," is a swooping bird as it feeds. But perhaps Macaulay's first option (Vega) is the better identification, since the next line comments on his being obedient "of his kinde" to Mercury and Venus.
1425 ff. Latin marginalia: Quintadecima stella vocatur Cauda Scorpionis, cuius lapis Calcedonia et herba Maiorana est. [The fifteenth star is called the Scorpion's Tail, whose stone is Chalcedony and herb Marjoram.]
1426 tail of Scorpio. In Liber Hermetis, the phrase is 'Cauda Capricorni' (Mac 3.527).
1439 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota hic de Auctoribus illis, qui ad Astronomie scienciam pre ceteris studiosius intendentes libros super hoc distinctis nominibus composuerunt. [Note here concerning his Authorities, who, striving very zealously beyond all others towards the science of Astronomy, composed books about this under various names.]
Here, in his naming of the astronomers, Gower seems to be following Albertus Magnus' De libris licitis et illicitis, the Speculum astronomiae, and, perhaps, Michael Scot's Introductio astrologiae. See Fox, Mediaeval Sciences, pp. 80-83.
1449 ff. Macaulay notes that the names of the chief authors of books on astronomy seem to be taken from Albertus Magnus' Speculum astronomiae or De libris licitis et illicitis, cap. ii (3.527).
1461 Alfraganus. Author of Rudimenta astronomica.
1507-87 Since Christ Himself is God's Word, the Second Person being the expression of the First Person, abuse of language is a sin against Truth. Gower follows the Platonic-Aristotelian tradition in which truth (not simply persuasion) is a fundamental requisite of Rhetoric. Words used for persuasion, regardless of truth, are false rhetoric.
1507-1640 Murphy identifies this passage as the first discussion of rhetoric in the English language. Gower's source is Trésor 3. On Gower's shift away from Brunetto's praise of ornateness in favor of a plain style, see Schmitz (Middel Weie, pp. 28-37). Gower links Rhetoric with Ethics rather than Politics, where it serves as a guide to all people, not just rulers (pp. 168-97). For Gower, language is the universal gift of the Creator, a primary means of discovering divine likeness in the ethics of self rule (pp. 32-33). See Nicholson's annotations of scholars on this passage (Annotated Index, pp. 440-41). Craun notes that Gower begins treating rhetoric "exactly where pastoral treatises on deviant speech begin: with the origin and function of speech" (Lies, Slander, and Obscenity, p. 118).
1511 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic tractat de secunda parte Philosophie, cuius nomen Rethorica facundos efficit. Loquitur eciam de eiusdem duabus speciebus, scilicet Grammatica et Logica, quarum doctrina Rethor sua verba perornat. [Here he discourses about the second part of Philosophy, Rhetoric by name, which produces eloquent speakers. He speaks especially about two of its species, namely Grammar and Logic, by whose doctrine the Orator adorns his words.]
1522-25 touchende . . . Rethorique . . . that ben resonable. See Watt (Amoral Gower, pp. 38-60) on Gower's linking of rhetoric and reason as concepts gendered masculine, drawing on Trésor, which he then subverts in various ways. Gower "is concerned with his own reputation and the notoriety or eminence of his patron, forefathers, and other authorities, and also with the questions of whether writing is a legitimate and moral activity, what is the proper way to do it, and what are the difficulties in achieving a virile rhetorical style" (p. 60).
1558-63 On Ulysses as rhetorician, see Gittes, "Ulysses," p. 13.
1588 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota de Eloquencia Iulii in causa Cateline contra Cillenum et alios tunc vrbis Rome Conciues. [Note concerning the Eloquence of Julius in the case of Cateline against Cillenus and others who were then Citizens of the city of Rome.]
1588-1640 Rather than Tullius (line 1589), Gower is following Brunetto Latini in the Trésor, 1.36.5, which also uses the Roman Senate's discussion of the fate of Cataline as a model of right use of Rhetoric.
1607 Cillenus. "D. Junius Silanus, who as consul-designate gave his opinion first. It is tolerably evident in this passage, as it is obvious in 4.2647 ff., that Gower did not identify Tullius with Cicero" (Mac 3.527).
1641 ff. The three part division of Practique ultimately comes from Aristotle and is found in Giles of Rome's De regimine principium, Bromyard's "regimen" in his Summa praedicantium, and Bonaventure's De reductione Artium ad Theologiam and Secretum Secretorum, though in this instance his source is probably Brunetto Latini's Trésor 1.3.4.
1647 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic tractat de tercia parte Philosophie, que Practica vocatur, cuius species sunt tres, scilicet Etica, Ichonomia, et Policia, quarum doctrina regia magestas in suo regimine ad honoris magnificenciam per singula dirigitur. [Here he discourses about the third part of Philosophy, which is called Practice, whose species are three, namely Ethics, Economics, and Policy, by whose doctrine the royal majesty is directed point by point in his governance toward his honor's magnificence.]
1650 Gower's main source for practices of the governance of kinges is Giles of Rome's De regimine principium. See David Fowler's edition of Trevisa's translation.
1670-78 Iconomique. See Simpson on economies as a central idea in the Confessio, particularly with reference to familia (i.e., domestic economies), but also the inner life of "conseil," "wit," and "resoun," the familia of the soul (Sciences and the Self, pp. 221-23).
1673 [a king] His wif and child schal reule and guie. Burke ("Women," pp. 240, 253n6) notes that this is the only reference in the poem to female submission in marriage, a further demonstration of the poet's kind disposition toward women.
1706 The five points of policy that Genius explores - Truth (lines 1723 ff.), Liberality (lines 1985 ff.), Justice (lines 2695 ff.), Pity (lines 3103 ff.), and Chastity (lines 4215 ff.) - follow vaguely the model of kingly instruction in the Secretum Secretorum. There the recommended virtues are liberality, wisdom, chastity, mercy, truth, and also justice. In the Secretum, Aristotle is less systematic than Genius is. This portion of the Confessio is pointedly directed towards the English throne. See Coffman, "John Gower, Mentor for Royalty," pp. 953-64; and Hamilton, "Some Sources".
1715 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic secundum Policiam tractare intendit precipue super quinque regularum Articulis, que ad Principis Regimen obseruande specialius existunt, quarum prima veritas nuncupatur. Per quam veridicus fit sermo Regis ad omnes. [Here in respect to Policy he intends to discourse particularly about five Elements of rules, which must especially be observed for the Governance of a Ruler, the first of which is named truth. Through this a King's speech is made faithfully true to all.]
1716 And for it stant upon his wille. The Will, the third of the human faculties, the others being Memory and Intellect, was especially emphasized in fourteenth-century philosophical discourse as the starting point of ethics. Thus the will (desire) of the king is especially important. Compare, for example, Chaucer's "Lak of Stedfastnesse," where the will is repeatedly singled out as the crux of the problem (n.b. lines 6, 9, 13, 22).
1733 double speche. The implicit point here is that God gave humankind language for communication. But in his predatory sins, humankind uses language to deceive, rather than clarify. Double speech is thus an aspect of fallen nature. See Chaucer's remarks on the Fall where "mannes word," which once was obligation, is now "nothing lyk" ("Lak of Stedfastnesse," lines 2-6) or his recurrent proverb on the importance of words being "cosyn to the dede" (CT I[A]742). For Gower the phrase is tied to the evils of division that characterize corrupt behavior in modern times. See Prol. 850-55 and 967-1052. At the same time, given the fallen condition of the world, equivocal language may be the best tool for understanding the confusion. See Peck, "Phenomenology of Make Believe"; Simpson, Sciences and the Self, pp. 198 ff.; and Olsson, "Rhetoric, Gower, and the Late Medieval Exemplum," pp. 187-94, especially p. 189.
1735-36 On failure of truth in a king as an unsittende thing, see Peck, "Politics and Psychology," p. 238.
1741-43 Avise . . . tofore, / And be wel war . . . / For afterward it is to late. Proverbial. See Whiting, Chaucer's Use of Proverbs, p. 151.
1750 corone. On the crown as a symbol of kingship, see Peck, "Politics and Psychology," p. 238.
1751 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota super hiis que in corona Regis designantur. [Note concerning those things which are signified in a King's crown.]
The various significances of the parts of a king's crown are also elaborated in the alliterative poem Richard the Redeless, passus 1, lines 35-48.
1782 cronique. The reference is to 1 Esdras 3-4:41. Utley notes that Gower's is the earliest full treatment of this theme in English (Crooked Rib, p. 313). See also Gower's use of the story in MO, lines 2276-800. The attitude toward women is less benevolent in MO where Gower uses the figure of woman overcoming the king as a jibe at Alice Perrers (MO, lines 22801-72). See Stillwell, "John Gower," pp. 457-58, on the more negative attitude toward women in MO. In CA the anti-feminist components of his sources have been removed. See Burke, "Sources and Significance," p. 11.
1786 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic narrat, qualiter Darius filius Ytaspis Soldanus Percie a tribus suis Cubiculariis, quorum nomina Arpaghes, Manachaz et Zorobabel dicta sunt, nomine questionis singillatum interrogauit, vtrum Rex aut mvlier aut vinum maioris fortitudinis vim obtineret: ipsis vero varia opinione respondentibus, Zorobabel vltimus asseruit quod mulier sui amoris complacencia tam Regis quam vini potenciam excellit. Addidit insuper pro finali conclusione dicens, quod veritas super omnia vincit. Cuius responsio ceteris laudabilior acceptabatur. [Here he narrates how the Sultan of Persia, Darius the son of Ytaspis, separately interrogated with a question three of his Chamberlains, whose names are said to be Arpaghes, Manachaz, and Zorobabel, about whether a king, a woman, or wine possessed the greatest strength. The others responded with various opinions, but Zorobabel, the last one, asserted that a woman by the delight of her love exceed the power both of a king and of wine. He added moreover as a final conclusion the statement that truth conquers all. His response was accepted by all as more praiseworthy.] The story of Darius and the three counselors is based on 1 Esdras 3-4:41. The story is popular among fourteenth-century and early fifteenth-century English writers. Compare Lydgate, Siege of Thebes, lines 1721-45. See also Chaucer's Dame Prudence, who gives an amusing variation on the story, where jasper is declared stronger than gold, wisdom stronger than jasper, and woman strongest of all (The Tale of Melibee, CT VII[B2] 1106-08). Gower has added Zorobabel's illustrative account of Alcestis (lines 1917 ff.). Compare Chaucer's use of Alcestis as the model of virtue in LGW. A further variation of the story of Darius' questions occurs in the Latin Gesta Romanorum, cap. cclviii. For critical discussion of the illustrative example, see Burke ("Sources and Significance"), who suggests Flavius Josephus, Peter Comestor, and Vincent of Beauvais as possible additional sources. Wetherbee considers the tale, followed by the extended analysis of the five points of policy, to be "a summarial statement of the problems of self-governance and social order posed by the earlier books" ("John Gower," p. 604).
1800-02 Arpaghes . . . Manachaz . . . Zorobabel. Zorobabel appears in 1 Esdras, but Gower's source for the other names is unknown. They do not appear in Esdras, Peter Comestor, or Flavius Josephus.
1884 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota hic de vigore amoris, qui inter Cirum Regem Persarum et Apemen Besazis filiam ipsius Regis Concubinam spectante tota Curia experiebatur. [Note here concerning the power of love, which was experienced between Cyrus, the king of the Persians, and Apemen, daughter of Besazis, the concubine of this king, while the entire court watched.]
1884-99 Bakalian suggests that Apemen's dominance of the besotted Cyrus reflects Gower's lingering distaste of Edward III's later years under the influence of Alice Perrers. Yet, "however angry Gower may still be with the irresponsible behavior of the deceased Edward, in the Confessio he recognizes that women can be accomplished helpmeets to men" (Aspects of Love, p. 54). E.g., 7.1890-91, where Apemen subdues the tyrant's notorious anger.
1904-07 Thurgh hem [women] men finden out the weie / To knihthode and to worldes fame . . . Bakalian contrasts the voice of Genius that acknowledges women's usefulness in making knights fear shame and desire honor with the position against women as a detrimental influence on knighthood in VC 5.1.20 ff. and MO, lines 22801 ff. (Aspects of Love, pp. 52-57).
1912 bote. A term rich with connotations: salvation, reward, deliverance, amends; advantage, profit; but also penance, expiation, cure. There could be a pun on vessel (boat), as well.
1917 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota de fidelitate Coniugis, qualiter Alcesta vxor Ameti, vt maritum suum viuificaret, seipsam morti spontanee subegit. [Note the fidelity of married partners, how Alceste the wife of Ametus subjected herself by her own will to death in order that her husband might be revived.]
1917-49 Gallacher discusses Alcestis as a synecdoche for "trouthe" itself, "a culmination of Gower's 'legend of good women'" (Love, the Word, and Mercury, p. 105). Her generosity in giving her life for her husband's recovery "clarifies Gower's purpose in intermeshing the classical with the biblical story" (p. 104). See CA 7.1944-49.
1934-40 Burke ("Sources and Significances," pp. 12-13) remarks on the wholeheartedness of Alcestis' self-sacrifice; her tenderness toward her husband epitomizes Gower's esteem for a good marriage. He omits the story of Hercules' rescue of Alcestis, perhaps to emphasize the dedication and pathos of her commitment.
1957-60 The trouthe . . . schal be knowe. Proverbial. See Whiting, T509. Compare CA Prol. 369. See also Whiting, S490-491, and CA 3.205 and 5.4604.
1990 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic tractat de regie maiestatis secunda Policia, quam Aristotiles largitatem vocat: cuius virtute non solum propulsata Auaricia Regis nomen magnificum extollitur, set et sui subditi omni diuiciarum habundancia iocundiores efficiuntur. [Here he discourses about the second Policy of royal majesty, which Aristotle calls Liberality, by whose virtue is Avarice repelled, and not only is the King's name extolled as magnificent, but also his subjects are made happier by every abundance of wealth.]
2003 ff. On the evolution of kingship and the current necessity of kings, see RR, lines 9603-36, 18545-18606; and Piers Plowman B.Pro.113, 132-38, 141-42, where kings are also looked on, not as part of the original order, but rather as an expedience, a necessary evil which resulted from the fall.
2031 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota super hoc quod Aristotiles Alexandrum exemplificauit de exaccionibus Regis Chaldeorum [Note, concerning this, that Aristotle instructed Alexander by an example about the exactions of the King of the Chaldeans.]
2061 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic secundum gesta Iulii exemplum ponit, qualiter Rex suorum militum, quos probos agnouerit, indigenciam largitatis sue beneficiis releuare tenetur. [Here following the deeds of Julius he presents an instructive example, how the King was led to relieve his knight's poverty, since he saw they (his deeds) were worthy, by the beneficence of his liberality.]
The account of the king of Chaldee's prodigality may be found in the Secretum Secretorum. The story of Julius and the Poor Knight, which comes next, is based ultimately on Seneca, De beneficiis 5.24, though it is retold in the Latin Gesta Romanorum, cap. lxxxvii. The story of King Antigonus, which follows, may originate with Brunetto Latini's Trésor, though there the story is an example of hypocritical excuses.
2110 every service axeth mede. Proverbial. See Whiting, S168. Compare CA 4.2023-24: "Bot every labour axeth why / Of som reward," and 8.2012: "The mede arist of the service." Perhaps the source is Matthew 10:10b: "for the workman is worthy of his meat."
2115-30 Hamilton ("Some Sources," p. 339) suggests the Tractatus de diversis historiis Romanorum as a source for this story and others in Book 7, namely, the tales of Codrus (7.3163-3214), Fabricius (7.2783-2832), the Roman Triumph (7.2355-2411), Julius Caesar and the Poor Knight (7.2061-2114), the Emperor and the Masons (7.2412-31), and the story of Alexander and the Pirate in 3.2363-2437. But see also the notes to 7.2061 ff., 7.2328-2490, 7.2765 ff., and 7.3163 ff.
2119 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ponit exemplum de Rege Antigono, qualiter dona regia secundum maius et minus equa discrecione moderanda sunt. [Here he presents an instructive example concerning King Antigonus, how royal gifts must be moderated in respect to more and less equal discretion.]
2142 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota hic quod Regius status a suis fidelibus omni fauore supportandus est. [Note here that the Royal estate must be supported with all goodwill by the king's faithful.]
2149 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota hic secundum Aristotilem, qualiter Principum Prodegalitas paupertatem inducit communem. [Note here following Aristotle, how the Prodigality of Rulers induces poverty for all.]
2155 ff. Latin marginalia: Seneca. Sic aliis benefacito, vt tibi non noceas. [Seneca: Be thus beneficent to others, so you may not be harmful to yourself.]
2162-63 Prodegalité . . . is the moder of poverte. Proverbial. See Whiting, P405.
2177 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota qualiter in principum curiis adulatores triplici grauitate offendunt. [Note how in the courts of rulers, flatterers offend by a triple gravity.]
2181 ff. Latin marginalia: Primo contra deum. [First, against God.]
2185 ff. Latin marginalia: Secundo contra Principem.[Second, against the Prince.]
2199 ff. Latin marginalia: Tercio contra populum. [Third, against the people.]
2217 ff. Based on an anecdote in Val. Max. 4.3, ext. 4b.
2219 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic contra vanitates adulantum loquitur, et narrat quod cum Arisippus de Cartagine Philosophus scole studium relinquens sui Principis obsequio in magnis adulacionibus pre ceteris carior assistebat, accidit vt ipse quodam die Diogenem Philosophum nuper socium suum, virum tam moribus quam sciencia probatissimum, herbas ad olera sua collectas lauantem ex casu ad ripam inuenit: cui ait, "O Diogenes, vere si tu sicut et ego Principi tuo placere scires, huiusmodi herbas aut colligere aut lauare tibi minime indigeret." Cui alter respondit, "O Arisippe, certe et si tu sicut et ego olera tua colligere et lauare scires, principem tuum ob inanis glorie cupiditatem blandiri nullatenus deberes." [Here he speaks against the vanities of flatterers, and he narrates how when Arisippus, the Philosopher from Carthage, left his studies at school, he very painstakingly contributed to the obsequiousness given to his Ruler even beyond others among the important flatterers. It happened that one day he found by chance at a riverbank Diogenes the Philosopher, not long ago his companion, a man most worthy both in manners and learning, washing herbs he had collected as his cooking-vegetables. To him Arisippus said, "O Diogenes, truly if you knew as I do how to please your Ruler, there would hardly be need for you either to collect or wash such herbs." To him the other answered, "O Arisippus, certainly also if you knew how to collect and wash cooking-vegetables, you would not at all need to blandish your ruler on account of empty lust for glory."]
2328-2490 Of these accounts of the Roman triumphal processions Macaulay (3.530) notes: "The Roman Triumph as here related was a commonplace of preachers and moralists, cf. Bromyard, Summa praedicantium, I.v.36." See also the Latin Gesta Romanorum, cap. xxx. Precisely which "Chronicle" Genius speaks of is not known. Hoccleve's Regiment of Princes mentions the custom of masons visiting the emperor to plan his sepulcher; a marginal note there refers the reader to Vita Johannis Eleemosynarii. That custom is also described in Jofroi's Secretum Secretorum.
2355 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic narrat super eodem, qualiter nuper Romanorum Imperator, cum ipse triumphator in hostes a bello Rome rediret, tres sibi laudes in signum sui triumphi precipue debebantur: primo quatuor equi albissimi currum in quo sedebat veherent, secundo tunica Iovis pro tunc indueretur, tercio sui captiui propre cvrrum as vtrumque latus cathenati deambularent. Set ne tanti honoris adulacio eius animum in superbiam extolleret, quidam scurra linguosus iuxta ipsum in curru sedebat, qui quasi continuatis vocibus improperando ei dixit, "Notheos," hoc est nosce teipsum, "quia si hodie fortuna tibi prospera fuerit, cras forte versa rota mutabilis aduersabitur." [Here he narrates about the same thing, how not long ago the Roman Emperor, when as a triumpher against enemies returned home from war to Rome, three signs of his triumph were particularly due: first, that four pure-white horses should draw the chariot in which he was sitting; second, that the coat of Jupiter should be put on him for that time; and third, that his captives should walk in chains near the chariot on both sides. But lest the adulation of such honor should inflate his spirit with pride, a certain man with facility in scurrilities sat next to him in the chariot, and chastised him with a steady stream, saying, "Notheos," that is, know yourself, "because if fortune will have been prosperous to you today, tomorrow perhaps its mutable wheel turned downwards will throw you below."]
2359 unto thin ere. Since Flattery's primary means of entering the mind of its victim is through the ear, the wise emperor has his "Ribald" beside him to occupy his ear with warnings against the folly of "his gloire," causing him to "Tak into memoire" the vanity of victory, which Fortune can "overthrowe" in "nothing bot a throwe" (lines 2385-96).
2388-89 This concept of self-knowledge (n.b. the marginal gloss cites the Delphi Oracle's nosce teipsum) is implicit in the structure of the whole poem (see Simpson, Sciences and the Self, p. 204), especially as it moves through the refocusings of "self" in Book 8, leading to the naming of John Gower and his communal sense of self manifest in his prayer for England.
2412 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic eciam contra adulacionem scribit quod primo die quo nuper Imperator intronizatus extitit, latomi sui ab ipso constanter peterent, de quali lapide sue sepulture tumulum fabricarent; vt sic futuram mortem commemorans vanitates huius seculi transitorias facilius reprimeret. [Here he also writes against adulation, that on the first day when a former Emperor was enthroned his masons continually sought to know from him from what stone they should construct the tomb of his sepulcher; so that thus commemorating his future death he might more easily resist the transitory vanities of this world.]
2449 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic inter alia gesta Cesaris narrat vnum exemplum precipue contra illos qui, cum in aspectu principis aliis sapienciores apparere vellent, quandoque tamen similate sapiencie talia committunt, per que ceteris stulciores in fine comprobantur. [Here among other deeds of Caesar he narrates an instructive example especially against those who wished to appear wiser than others in the ruler's presence, but sometimes commit such things of pretended wisdom that through these they were finally proven stupider than others.]
2470 On the king's wise use of discretion to answer the flatterer, see Peck (Kingship and Common Profit, pp. 146-47). Porter sees this exemplum as the third of three on self-knowledge, the surest defense against flattery, the first two being the Roman Triumph and the Emperor and the Masons ("Gower's Ethical Microcosm," pp. 156-57).
2491 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota, qualiter isti circa Principem adulatores pocius a Curia expelli, quam ad regie maiestatis munera acceptari, Policia suadente deberent. [Note how those flatterers around a Ruler ought, by the argument of Policy, to be expelled from the Court rather than accepted as adornments of a king's majesty.]
2493 ff. See Burnley, who cites lines 2495-508 of Chaucer's Monk's Tale in connection with his assessment of Gower's changing attitude toward Richard as a king become tyrant: "As a moral philosopher whose concern was with the 'commune profit,' Gower would begin to see himself no longer as the philosophic instructor of a young prince, as an Aristotle to Richard's Alexander, but rather he would begin to share the rôle that he allots also to Arundel who, by his moral teaching, endeavoured 'to deflect the king from his fury.' No longer an Aristotle, he might well see himself instead as a Seneca restraining the madness of his own contemporary Nero" (Chaucer's Language, p. 15).
2527 ff. See 3 Kings (1 Kings) 22.
2530 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur vlterius de consilio adulantum, quorum fabulis principis aures organizate veritatis auditum capere nequiunt. Et narrat exemplum de Rege Achab, qui pro eo quod ipse prophecias fidelis Michee recusauit blandiciisque adulantis Zedechie adhesit, Rex Sirie Benedab in campo bellator ipsum diuino iudicio deuictum interfecit. [Here he speaks further about the counsel of flatterers, by means of whose fables a ruler's ears are not able to receive the sound of harmonious truth. And he narrates an instructive example about King Ahab, who because of the fact that he rejected the prophecies of faithful Micaiah and clung to the blandishments and flatteries of Zedekiah, King Benedab of Syria as a warrior in the field killed him, condemned by divine judgment.]
2541 Ramoth Galaath. Ramoth-Gilead was the site of King Ahab's last battle (4 Kings [2 Kings] 8:28 ff.; compare 3 Kings [1 Kings] 22:3 ff.). Ramah means "heights" and appears in several biblical place-names, e.g., the place where the cry of Rachel was heard as she wept for her lost children (Jeremias 31:15).
Latin verses ix (before line 2695). Line 4: Deuiat. A nearly verbatim translation here seems best, although it obscures the pun: deuiat (a post-Classical word) means both "stray from the path" (a metaphor that the rest of the verse repeats), and "be transgressive" in a moral or legal sense.
2695-2701 What is . . . What ben . . .What is . . .What is . . . Bot if . . . This magnificent use of anaphora marks a rhetorical triumph for Gower as he moves toward the culmination of his poem in its celebration of Law epitomized in the Tale of Lycurgus, lines 2917 ff., a tale skillfully set up by a sequence of exempla on good and bad rulers - Maximin, Gaius Fabricius, Emperor Conrad, Consul Carmidotirus, and Cambyses - all of whom demonstrate "th'experience" of "What thing it is to kepe lawe" (7.2704-05).
2695-3102 Fisher sees Gower's discussion of justice as the "climax in Gower's treatment of the themes of law and order," noting close echoes with MO, lines 205 ff., and VC 6.469 ff. (pp. 200-01 ff.).
2699 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic tractat de tercia Principum regis Policia, que Iusticia nominata est, cuius condicio legibus incorrupta vnicuique quod suum est equo pondere distribuit. [Here he discourses about the third Policy of the Governance of rulers, which is called Justice, whose nature, uncorrupted by laws, distributes to each human being with an equal weight what is properly his.]
2709-24 Gower is careful to differentiate the king's relationship with law from that of the commons, noting that in some instances the king has power that stant above the lawe (line 2719), but emphasizing with equal conviction that the king must governe with rihtwisnesse / As he which schal the lawe guide (lines 2716-17); see also lines 2732 ff., demonstrating that "if the lawe torne amis, / The poeple also mistorned is" (7.2763-64).
2727 ff. Latin marginalia: Imperatoriam maiestatem non solum armis, set eciam legibus oportet esse armatam. [It is necessary for imperial majesty to be armed not only with weapons but also with laws.]
2730 That he himself ferst justefie. Compare 8.2109-20 on each man's kingdom of the self that he must "justefie" (8.2112) or else lose his estate.
2732-64 "Gower's most lucid and earnest comment on the interdependence of the king, the legal system, and a peaceful nation" (Fisher, John Gower, p. 201). Compare VC 6.487-94.
2762 menable. MED adj. 1b glosses: "pliant; controllable." But those terms have more negative connotations that apply less well than "compliant (in agreement)." If, of course, the law is turned amiss, then the people will be "mistorned" (7.2764) as well and will become "uncontrollable."
2765 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota hic de iusticia Maximini Imperatoris, qui cum alicuius prouincie custodem sibi substituere volebat, primo de sui nominis fama proclamacione facta ipsius condicionem diligencius inuestigabat. [Note here concerning the justice of Emperor Maximin, who when he wanted to substitute a governor of some province of his, first, making proclamation, would investigate very diligently his repute.]
Macaulay (3.530) notes that the account of Maximin is found in Godfrey of Viterbo, Speculum Regum. The accounts of Gaius Fabricius and Consul Carmidotirus are based on Val. Max. 4.3.5a and 6.5, ext. 4, respectively. Emperor Conrad is mentioned in Godfrey.
2788 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ponit exemplum de iudicibus incorruptis. Et narrat qualiter Gayus Fabricus nuper Rome Consul aurum a Sampnitibus sibi oblatum renuit, dicens quod nobilius est aurum possidentes dominio subiugare, quam ex auri cupiditate dominii libertatem amittere. [Here he presents an instructive example about uncorrupted judges. And he narrates how Gaius Fabricius, who not long ago was the Consul of Rome, rejected gold brought to him by the Sampnites, saying that it was more noble to subjugate those possessing gold to dominion, than to lose the freedom of dominion by the love of gold.]
2833 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic narrat de iusticia nuper Conradi Imperatoris, cuius tempore alicuius reuerencia persone, aliqua seu precum interuencione quacunque vel auri redempcione, legum Statuta commutari seu redimi nullatenus potuerunt. [Here he narrates about the justice of the recent Emperor Conrad, in whose days the Statutes of law could not at all be revoked or commuted on the grounds of anyone's social status, of any intervention of pleas, or any sort of payment of gold.]
2849 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota exemplum de constancia iudicis; vbi narrat de Carmidotiro Rome nuper Consule, qui cum sui statuti legem nescius offendisset, Romanique super hoc penam sibi remittere voluissent, ipse propria manu, vbi nullus alius in ipsum vindex fuit, sui criminis vindictam executus est. [Note an instructive example about the constancy of a judge, where it tells about Carmidotirus the recent Consul of Rome, who, when he had unknowingly broken the law of his own statute, and when the Romans wanted to remit him from the penalty, carried out by his own hand the retribution of his crime, when no one else would be his executioner.]
2889 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota quod falsi iudices mortis pena puniendi sunt, narrat enim qualiter Cambises Rex Persarum quendam iudicem corruptum excoriari viuum fecit, eiusque pelle cathedram iudicialem operiri constituit: ita quod filius suus super patris pellem postea pro tribunali cessurus iudicii equitatem euidencius memoraretur. [Note that false judges must be punished with the penalty of death. For he narrates how Cambises, King of the Persians, caused a certain corrupt judge to be flayed alive, and caused his skin to be fashioned into a judicial chair, so that his son, who would later sit as a tribunal on his father's skin, would be more sharply mindful of equity in judgment.]
The story of Cambyses and his judge, first told by Herodotus (5.25), was popular with medieval audiences. Macaulay (3.531) notes its recurrence in Val. Max. 6.3, ext. 3; the Latin Gesta Romanorum, cap. xxix; and Hoccleve's Regiment of Princes. See Chaucer's Summoner's Tale (CT III[D]2043-78) for another story of the legendary tyrant.
2918 Ligurgius. The tale is well known. See the Latin Gesta Romanorum 169. Val. Max. 2.6.1, 5.3.ext.2, and 7.2.ext.15 all contain references to his laws. Gower's version offers "the most eloquent statement in all Gower's writing of the legal foundation of society and the ideal relationship of the king to the law" (Fisher, John Gower, p. 202), an evaluation of the story supported by Gallacher (Love, the Word, and Mercury, pp. 118-20), who sees the pact with the Athenians as "an anagnorisis, a movement from ignorance to knowledge in regard to the divine authority of their ruler," and Peck (Kingship and Common Profit, pp. 148-49), who contrasts Ligurgius' sense of peace and the common good with that of Amans. See also Street ("John Gower," p. 232), who identifies Lygurgus as Gower's favorite hero, given his love of the people and the common good.
2921 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ponit exemplum de Principibus illis, qui non solum legem statuentes illem conseruant, set vt commune bonum adaugeant, propriam facultatem diminvunt. Et narrat quod, cum Ligurgius Athenarum princeps subditos suos in omni prosperitatis habundancia diuites et vnanimes congruis legibus stare fecisset, volens ad vtilitatem rei publice leges illas firmius obseruari, peregre proficisci se finxit; set prius iuramentum solempne a legiis suis sub hac forma exegit, quod ipsi vsque in reditum suum leges suas nullatenus infringerent: quibus iuratis peregrinacionem suam in exilium absque reditu pro perpetuo delagauit. [Here he presents an instructive example concerning those Rulers who not only having established a law preserve it, but also in order that they might augment the common good diminish their own power. And he tells that Ligurgius the ruler of the Athenians had established his subjects in every abundance of prosperity, wealth, and unanimity by means of appropriate laws, when, wishing those laws to be more firmly observed for the utility of the commonwealth, caused himself to depart to foreign lands. But first he extracted a solemn oath from his lieges in this manner: that they would not break his laws in any way until he returned. With these things sworn, he commuted his pilgrimage into exile to be permanent, without return.]
3019 The goode lawes to avance. To the question of which is higher, the law or the king, Sidrak replies: "Lawe is of more auctorite / Thenne Kyng or any prince may be" - Sidrak and Bokkus 2.448 (Laud B lines 6559-60).
3029 ff. The list of lawgivers is based on Trésor 1.17.
3033 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ad eorum laudem, qui iusticie causa leges primo statuerunt, aliquorum nomina specialius commemorat. [Here in praise of those who for the sake of justice first established laws, he specifically commemorates some of their names.]
3054 ff. Macaulay notes (3.531):
This list of legislators is from [Brunetto's] Trésor . . . but the text which our author used seems to have been corrupt. The passage runs thus in the printed edition: 'Moyses fu li premiers qui bailla la loi as Hebreus; et li rois Foroneus fu li premiers qui la bailla as Grezois; Mercures as Egypciens, et Solon à cels de Athenes; Ligurgus as Troyens; Numa Pompilius, qui regna après Romulus en Rome, et puis ses filz, bailla et fist lois as Romains premierement,' &c. If we suppose 'Solon' to have been omitted in the MS., the passage might read (with changes in punctuation) nearly as we have it in Gower. [Moses was the first man to whom God gave the law, and Moses gave it to the Hebrews; King Phoroneus was the first to give it to the Greeks, Mercury to the Egyptians, Solon to the Athenians, Lycurgus to the Trojans. Numa Pompilius, who reigned after Romulus in Rome, and afterward his son, first gave law to the Romans, etc. - trans. Paul Barrette and Spurgeon Baldwin] Note that Brunetto links Lycurgus with the Trojans, rather than Athens.
Note that Brunetto links Lycurgus with the Trojans, rather than Athens.
3075-77 Do lawe awey, what is a king. . . . One of several passages that place law at the center of the state and human definitions. Compare 7.2695-2708, 7.2759-64, and 7.3092-94.
Latin verses x (before line 3103). Line 3: Pietas. Echard and Fanger (Latin Verses, p. 84) rightly note that pietas connotes mercy, self-restraint, and obedience to God; for discussion of these senses, see Galloway, "Literature of 1388."
3109 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic tractat de quarta Principum regiminis Policia, que Pietas dicta est; per quam Principes erga populum misericordes effecti misericordiam altissimi gracius consequuntur. [Here he discourses about the fourth Policy of the governance of Rulers, which is called Pity, by which Rulers, having been made merciful to the people, with much grace follow the mercy of the Almighty.]
3130-31 The contest between Justice and Pity echoes the debate between the four Daughters of God (Righteousness, Mercy, Truth, and Peace), where Mercy, in her pity, convinces Righteousness, akin to the law, to permit grace to assist humankind. See, for example, Robert Grosseteste's Chasteau d'Amour (lines 275-566 in the Middle English translation), Piers Plowman B.18.110-24, where the daughters meet at a crossroad to debate the fate of humankind after the Crucifixion; or The Castle of Perseverance, lines 3129-3560.
3135-36 the Philosophre. Itô (John Gower, pp. 183-85) identifies the Philosopher as Cassiodorus on grounds of similar passages in MO, lines 23059-61 and 13918- 20, where "Cassodre" is specified, and also in 7.*3161-*62 (found only in MSS B, T, ?), which reads "Cassodre in his apprise telleth, / The regne is sauf, wher pite duelleth," with a Latin marginal gloss: Cassodorus. Vbi regnat pietas, consolidatur regnum [Where pity (or piety) reigns, the reign is secure] (Mac 3.319), and is clearly akin to the idea that Pity [h]is regne in good astat confermeth (line 3136).
3137 ff. Latin marginalia: Constantinus Imperator ait: "Vere se dominum esse comprobat, qui seruum pietatis se facit." [Emperor Constantine said, "Truly he proves himself a lord who makes himself pity's servant."]
See the story of Constantine and Sylvester (CA 2.3187 ff.) for a further exemplum of Constantine's pity. An account of Troian may be found in Godfrey of Viterbo, Spec. reg. 2.14.
3142 ff. Latin marginalia: Troianus ait, quod ipse subditos suos solite pietatis fauore magis quam austeritatis rigore regere, eorumque benevolenciam pocius quam timorem penes se attractare proponebat. [Trajan said that he proposed to rule his subjects more by the good wishes of pity than by the rigor of austerity, and to attract their benevolence toward him rather than their fear.]
3144 Troian the worthi debonaire. Roman emperor from A.D. 98-117. Trajan gained a reputation as a virtuous ruler and patron of the arts - learned, fair-minded, and orderly. Jacobus de Voragine, in the life of St. Ignatius, tells of Trajan's having repented the torment and execution of St. Ignatius, upon learning from Pliny the Younger that Ignatius was a virtuous man (Golden Legend, Feb. 1). John the Deacon (Sancti Gregorii Magni vita 2.44, eighth century) tells of Pope Gregory weeping and praying for Trajan's soul, a prayer answered by God, whereby Trajan was returned to life long enough to know Christ, believe, and, upon his second death, be received into heaven. (See Aquinas, Summa theol. III, Suppl., q. 71, a, 5. ad 5.) The story was picked up in Fiore di filosofi, an account used by Dante who mentions the virtuous Trajan in Purgatorio 10.76 ff. as an example of humility (Trajan helped a widow whose son had been slain, even while he was in the midst of battle). Fiore's account is reprinted in Singleton's translation of Dante's Divine Comedy, vol. 2, pt. 2, pp. 211-12. Following the lead of Fiore and Aquinas, Dante places Trajan in heaven, the first of the five virtuous rulers: "Of the five which make an arch for my brow, he who is nearest to my beak consoled the poor widow for her son. Now, he knows by experience of this sweet life and the opposite, how dear it costs not to follow Christ" (Paradiso 20.43-48, Singleton, vol. 3, pt.1, p. 223). The fifth of the five is also a pagan, the Trojan Ripheus; Dante's point demonstrates the power of grace beyond institutions or human understanding. (See Aquinas, Summa theol. II.II, q. 2, a. 7, ad 3, on Christ's revelation to virtuous gentiles, including the Sibyl, who foretold things about Christ.) In Piers Plowman B.11.140 Trajan appears as one "broken oute of helle," "a trewe knyʒte" (B.11.141) whose salvation did not depend on clerks and their books, but rather only on "loue and leaute and my lawful domes" (B.11.145), a fact known by St. Gregory, who desired Trajan's salvation (B.11.146-47), whereby the emperor was saved by grace "withoute syngyng of masses" (B.11.151) and "by loue, and by lernyne of my lyuyng in treuthe" (B.11.152).
3162 Six manuscripts of the second recension, including S, B, and T, follow line 3162 with the Tale of the Jew and the Pagan (based on the Secretum Secretorum), which Macaulay includes in 3.320 ff., and which may be summarized as follows: To exemplify Pity, Aristotle told King Alexander how two men met one hot summer in the wilderness between Cairo and Babylon. One asked the other about his faith. The other said he was a Pagan whose law bade him to be gracious and debonair and to love all men alike, whether they be rich or poor. The first man then said he was a Jew who by his law would be a true fellow to no man unless he be another Jew. For if the fellow were not a Jew, he might take both life and goods from him. The Pagan marveled at so strange a law. As they traveled on under the hot sun, the Jew, who was on foot, schemed how he might ride. So he said to the Pagan, who rode upon an ass to which he had tied all his goods: "If your law is as you say you are beholden to me in my weariness and distress to let me ride a mile or two that I might rest my body." The Pagan, who would not displease his companion, saw his plight and in pity let him ride full soft. On they went, chatting away about this and that until at last the Pagan could go no further. When he asked the Jew to let him ride again, the Jew hastened on ahead, saying: "You upheld your law by giving me succor; now I will do my duty according to the law of Jewry: 'Thin asse schal go forth with me / With al thi good, which I have sesed; / And that I wot thou art desesed, / I am riht glad and noght mispaid'" (lines *3294-*97). The deserted Pagan knelt on the ground, raised his hands to heaven, and prayed: "O highest Trust, who loves righteousness, I beseech with humble heart that you see and judge this quarrel. Mercy or vengeance I leave to your judgment." So he went on "with drery chiere," (line *3312) hoping to catch sight of the Jew, but without success until nightfall. Then from the highway he at last beheld the Jew, lying all bloody in a valley, slain by a lion. Looking about he found his ass nearby, still in harness, safe and sound. See how the piteous man deserves pity, as Aristotle bears witness. Pity is the source of all virtue, and God will repress under foot its enemies. See Ames, "Source and Significance."
3163 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota hic de Principis pietate erga populum, vbi narrat quod, cum Codrus Rex Athenarum contra Dorences bellum gerere deberet, consulto prius Appolline responsum accepit, quod vnum de duobus, videlicet aut seipsum in prelio interfici et populum suum saluari, aut populum interfici et se saluum fieri, eligere oporteret. Super quo Rex pietate motus plebisque sue magis quam proprii corporis salutem affectans, mortem sibi preelegit; et sic bellum aggrediens pro vita multorum solus interiit. [Note here concerning the pity of a Ruler toward his people, where he narrates that, when Codrus, King of the Athenians, had to wage war against the Dorians, he first consulted Apollo. He received the answer that it was necessary to choose one of two things: namely, either that he be killed in battle and his people saved, or his people be killed and he be kept safe. Whereupon the King, moved by pity and desiring the safety of his people more than his own body, chose death for himself. And thus going into battle he alone died for the lives of many.]
3181 Valeire. See Val. Max. 5.6.ext.1, where the tale of Codrus is told as an example of piety. See also MO, lines 19981-20004 where the story is also attributed to Valerius. The story of Codrus also occurs in the Latin Gesta Romanorum, cap. xli, and Jofroi's Secretum Secretorum. On Codrus' Christ-like willingness to sacrifice his life for his people see Peck, Kingship and Common Profit, pp. 149-50, and Porter, "Gower's Ethical Microcosm," p. 158.
3201 lemes. Compare the Reeve's Prologue (CT I[A]3886): "Oure olde lemes mowe wel been unweelde."
3215 A source for The Tale of Pompeius and the King of Armenia might be Val. Max. 5.1.9-10.
3219 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ponit exemplum de victoriosi Principis pietate erga aduersarios suos. Et narrat quod, cum Pompeius Romanorum Imperator Regem Armenie aduersarium suum in bello victum cepisset, captumque vinculis alligatum Rome tenuisset, tirannidis iracundie stimulos postponens, pietatis mansuetudinem operatus est. Dixit enim quod nobilius est Regem facere quam deponere: super quo dictum Regem absque vlla redempcione non solum a vinculis absoluit, set ad sui regni culmen gratuita voluntate coronatum restuit. [Here he presents an instructive example concerning the pity of a victorious Ruler toward his adversaries. And he narrates that, when Pompey, the Emperor of the Romans, had taken captive in battle the King of Armenia, his adversary, and bound him captive in chains at Rome, he put aside the goads of tyrannical wrath and devoted himself to the clemency of pity. For he said that it was more noble to make a King than to depose one; whereupon he not only released the said King from his chains without any ransom, but he also by free will restored him, crowned, to fullest height of power in his own kingdom.]
3230 conscience. I have followed Lewis (Studies in Words, p. 183) in glossing conscience as "tenderness."
3266 merel. MED notes that a merel is a counter used in the game of merels, and thus, with drowhe means "to make a move."
3267 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur contra illos, qui tirannica potestate principatum obtinenetes in iniquitatis sue malicia gloriantur. Et narrat exemplum, qualiter Leoncius tirannus pium Iustinianum non solum a solio imperatorie maiestatis fraudulenter expulit, set vt ipse inhabilis ad regnum in aspectu plebis efficeretur, naso et labris abscisis, ipsum tirannice mutulauit. Deus tamen, qui super omnia pius est, Tiberio superueniente vna cum adiutorio Terbellis Bulgarie Regis, Iustinianum interfecto Leoncio ad imperium restitui misericorditer procurauit. [Here he speaks against those who, obtaining a principality by tyrannical power, glory in the malice of their iniquity. And he narrates an instructive example, how Leontius the tyrant fraudulently not only expelled Justinian from the majesty of his imperial throne but also, that he might be made unsuitable for reign in the appearance of a commoner, tyrannically mutilated him, cutting off his nose and lips. Nonetheless God, who is pitying beyond all, with Tiberius intervening along with the help of Terbelis the King of Bulgaria, mercifully caused Justinian to be restored to his empire, after Leontius had been killed.]
Macaulay (3.532) notes: "Justinian II is described by Gibbon as a cruel tyrant, whose deposition by Leontius was fully deserved, and who, when restored by the help of Terbelis, took a ferocious vengeance on his opponents: 'during the six years of his new reign, he considered the axe, the cord, and the rack as the only instruments of royalty.' Nothing apparently could be less appropriate than the epithet 'pietous,' which Gower bestows upon him."
3295 ff. Gower apparently read the story in Godfrey of Viterbo's Pantheon, where Barillus is the name given to Perillus, as in the CA, though the story was a favorite of late Roman authors. See the Latin Gesta Romanorum, cap. xlviii; Cicero often cited the story of Phalaris and his brass bull (e.g., De Divinatione 3.33, Verrine Orations 4.73); and Diod. 9.19.1.
3297 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur vlterius de crudelitate Siculi tiranni, necnon et de Berillo eiusdem Consiliario, qui ad tormentum populi quendam taurum eneum tirannica coniectura fabricari constituit; in quo tamen ipse prior, proprio crimine illud exigente, vsque ad sui interitus expiracionem iudicialiter torquebatur. [Here he speaks moreover about the cruelty of Siculus the tyrant, and also about Berillus his Counselor, who for the torment of the people tyrannically caused to be constructed a certain brass bull, in which nonetheless he first, by the means of his own criminal creation, was judicially tortured to the last gasp of his annihilation.]
3341 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota hic de Dionisio tiranno, qui mire crudelitatis seueritate eciam hospites suos ad deuorandum equis suis tribuit: cui Hercules tandem superveniens victum impium in impietate sua pari morte conclusit. [Note here concerning Dionysius the tyrant, who by an extraordinary severity of cruelty gave even his guests to his horses to be devoured; finally, Hercules overcame him, and brought the impious captive by his own impiety to an equally impious death.]
The tyrant Dionysius has been confused with Diomedes, whom Hercules overthrew. Mainzer ("John Gower's Use of the 'Mediaeval Ovid,'" pp. 223-24) suggests Ovid's Ibis as the source on the basis of a verbal parallel - the marginal gloss at lines 3345 ff. - as well as the substitution of Dionysus for Diomedes, though the story also occurs in Met. 1.221-43.
3346 Devoureden the mennes blod. Compare Alexander's horse Bucephalus, who was also a man-eater, though the dramatic irony of Gower's exemplum, where the one who feeds his guests to his horse is eaten by his horse himself (line 3354), is uniquely satisfying. See note 6.1935.
3357 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota hic de consimili Lichaontis tirannia, qui carnes hominum hominibus in suo hospicio ad vescendum dedit; cuius formam condicioni similem Iupiter coequans ipsum in lupum transformauit. [Note here concerning the similar tyranny of Lichaon, who gave the flesh of men to the men in his household for eating; Jupiter, making his form similar to his nature, transformed him into a wolf.] See Met. 1.209-43. Hamilton ("Some Sources," pp. 333-34) suggests Trésor 1.173.5 as source, with the piteous lion coming from the French Secretum Secretorum.
3387 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota qualiter Leo hominibus stratis parcit. [Note how the Lion spares fallen men.]
3417-3517 The story of Spartacus occurs in Justin, Epitome 1.8, and Orosius, Historiarum 2.7. Macaulay (3.532) suggests that the names in Gower's account apparently come from Peter Comestor (PL 198.1471).
3419 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur precipue contra tirannos illos qui, cum in bello vincere possunt, humani sanguinis effusione saturari nequiunt. Et narrat in exemplum de quodam Persarum Rege, cuius nomen Spertachus erat, qui pre ceteris tunc in Oriente bellicosus et victoriosus, quoscumque gladio vincere poterat, absque pietate interfici constituit. Set tandem sub manu Thamaris Marsegetarum Regine in bello captus, quod a diu quesivit, seueritatem pro seueritate finaliter invenit. Nam et ipsa quosdam vas de sanguine Persarum plenum ante se afferri decreuit, in quo caput tiranni vsque ad mortem mergens dixit: "O tirannorum crudelissime, semper esuriens sanguinem sitisti: ecce iam ad saturitatem sanguinem bibe." [Here he speaks especially against those tyrants who, when they are able to conquer in battle, cannot be satiated by the effusion of human blood. And he narrates in an instructive example about a certain King of the Persians, whose name was Spertachus, who, more warlike and victorious than others in the East, killed without pity whomever he was able to conquer by the sword. Finally, however, he was captured in battle by the hand of Thamaris the Queen of the Marsegetes which she had long sought, he finally received severity for his severity. For she decreed that a certain container full of Persian blood be brought before him, in which, submerging the head of the tyrant until he died, she said, "O most cruel of tyrants, always thirstily you have drunk blood; behold now, drink blood to your fill."]
3444 queene of Marsagete. Macaulay (3.532-33) notes that most histories call Thamyris "queen of the Scythians." The name Marsagete apparently comes from Peter Comestor, who also gives "Spartachus" as the youthful name of the Persian King Cyrus. See note to 7.3417-3517. This story of Thamyris is also found in Christine de Pizan's Book of the City of Ladies, 1.17.2, where she is called the Amazon queen.
3520-31 Pité . . . Makth that the God is merciable, / If ther be cause resonable. Gower is "certainly arguing in scholastic terms the importance of a rationally defined mean as the arbiter of virtue. Pitee is an emotion which leads on in suitable circumstances to mercy. It seems to be considered a virtue, and is opposed to the vice of excess which is labelled pusillamite, and which inhibits the enforcement of true justice" (Burnley, Chaucer's Language, p. 129).
3557 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur secundum Philosophum, dicens quod sicut non decet Principes tirannica impetuositate esse crudeles, ita nec decet timorosa pusillanimitate esse vecordes. [Here he speaks according to the Philosopher, saying that just as it is not fitting for Rulers to be cruel with tyrannical impetuosity, so it is not fitting for them to be cowardly with timid faint-heartedness.]
3575 For thei withoute cause dradde. Part of the wit of this fearsome tale is its inversion of the proverb "as fearful as a mouse" (see Whiting, M732).
3581 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota hic secundum Oracium de magnanimo Yacide et pusillanime Thersite. [Note here according to Horace concerning the great-heartedness of Aeacida and the faint-heartedness of Thersites.] The reference should be to Juvenal, Satires 8.269 ff., instead of Horace. Stollreither (Quellen-Nachweise, p. 57) notes a similar false attribution to Horace in MO, line 23370, and also in the marginal gloss to CA 6.1513-14.
3594 ff. Latin marginalia: Salomon. Tempus belli, tempus pacis. [Solomon: "A time of war, a time of peace."] (Ecclesiastes 3:8.)
3595 ther is a time of pes is the culmination verse for the "All things have their season" passage (Ecclesiastes 3.1-8). Barnie notes that Gower "was a man of peace, but not a pacifist," pointing out that the poet, like many of his contemporaries, differentiated with thoughtful discretion between just and unjust war (War in Medieval English Society, p. 122). Not only is this the topic of 7.3594-3622 but also of 3.2230-40, and MO, lines 23608 ff.
3605 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota qualiter inter duo extrema consistit virtus. [Note how virtue is what stands between two extremes.]
3627-3942 For Gideon's story, see Judges 7; the story of Saul and Agag occurs in 1 Kings (1 Samuel) 15. For David's advice to Solomon and Solomon's wisdom in following it, see 3 Kings (1 Kings) 2-12.
3630 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic dicit quod Princeps iusticie causa bellum nullo modo timere debet. Et narrat qualiter dux Gedeon cum solis tricentis viris quinque Reges, scilicet Madianitarum, Amalechitarum, Amonitarum, Amoreorum et Iebuseorum, cum eorum excercitu, qui ad lxxxxta Milia numeratus est, gracia cooperante diuina, victoriose in fugam conuertit. [Here he says that a Ruler for the sake of justice in the cause of war ought never to be timid. And he narrates how the leader of Gideon with three hundred men, and with the help of divine grace, victoriously drove in flight five Kings, namely of the Midianites, of the Amalachites, of the Ammonites, of the Amorites, and of the Jebusites along with their army, who numbered ninety thousand.]
3807-3912 Hamilton ("Some Sources," pp. 337-38) notes that all three of the biblical exempla in this passage (Saul and Agag, David and Joab, and Solomon's Wisdom) are, along with the detailed story of Diogenes and Aristippus, found in Jofroi's French Secretum Secretorum as examples of Justice and Wisdom, suitable to royal Prudence.
3809 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic dicit quod vbi et quando causa et tempus requirunt, princeps illos sub potestate sua, quos iusticie aduersarios agnouerit, occidere de iure tenetur. Et narrat in exemplum qualiter, pro eo quod Saul Regem Agag in bello deuictum iuxta Samuelis consilium occidere noluit, ipse diuino iudicio non solum a regno Israel priuatus, set et heredes sui pro perpetuo exheredati sunt. [Here he says that where and when cause and time require, a ruler is compelled by right to kill those under his power whom he recognizes to be adversaries of justice. And he narrates in an instructive example how, because Saul following Samuel's counsel did not want to kill King Agag when he was conquered in war, not only was he deprived by divine right of the rule of Israel, but also his heirs were disinherited forever.]
3835-37 feigneth . . . feigneth. False pity is the worst since it corrupts truth and turns virtue into a mockery.
3847 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic narrat vlterius super eodem, qualiter Dauid in extremis iusticie causa vt Ioab occideretur absque vlla remissione filio suo Salomoni iniunxit. [Here he narrates further on the same thing, how David, under duress because of justice, enjoined his son Solomon that Joab might be killed without any remission.]
3891 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic dicit quod populum sibi commissum bene regere super omnia Principi laudabilius est. Et narrat in exemplum qualiter, pro eo quod Salomon, vt populum bene regeret, ab altissimo sapienciam specialius postulauit, omnia bona pariter cum illa sibi habundancius aduenerunt. [Here he says that it is very praiseworthy above all things for a Ruler to rule well the people entrusted to him. And he narrates in an instructive example how, because Solomon asked particularly for wisdom from the Almighty so that he might rule well the people, all good things along with that wisdom came in great abundance.]
3914 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic dicit secundum Salomonem, quod regie maiestatis imperium ante omnia sano consilio dirigendum est. [Here he says according to Solomon that an empire of royal majesty must be guided before all other things by salutary counsel.]
3928 ff. Latin marginalia: Quicquid delirant reges, plectuntur Achiui. [In respect to whatever thing kings rave about, the Achaeans are punished.] See Horace, Odes 3.3.26-28.
3945 Macaulay notes (3.533) that Gower's "chronicle" is Godfrey of Viterbo's Pantheon.
3949 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic de Lucio Imperatore exemplum ponit, qualiter Princeps sui nominis famam a secretis consiliariis sapienter inuestigare debet; et si quid in ea sinistrum inuenerit, prouisa discrecione ad dexteram conuertat. [Here he presents an instructive example about Emperor Lucius, how a Ruler ought wisely to investigate his reputation by secret counselors; and if he should find anything sinister in his repute, he should transform it by discreet provision to something righteous.]
4027-4146 The account of Rehoboam occurs in 3 Kings (1 Kings) 12. Notice that throughout this portion of the poem, where his criticism of the king and his counsel becomes most pointed, Gower makes extensive use of biblical sources; his argument rests on the highest authority, of which there can be no dispute. See Ferster (Fictions of Advice, pp. 123-34) on Gower's use of Rehoboam in his advice to kings as he addresses crises in Richard II's reign.
4031 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic dicit quod Seniores magis experti ad Principis consilium admittendi pocius existunt. Et narrat qualiter, pro eo quod Roboas Salomonis filius et heres senium sermonibus renuncians dicta inuenum preelegit, de xii. tribubus Israel a dominio suo x. penitus amisit, et sic cum duabus tantummodo illusus postea regnauit. [Here he says that Older Men more expert in advising the Ruler should be particularly embraced. And he narrates how, because Rehoboam, son of Solomon and heir, renounced the advice of older men and chose the sayings of younger men, he utterly lost from his dominion ten tribes of Israel from the twelve, and thus deceived, he later reigned with only two.]
4069 Latin marginalia: De consilio Senium. [Concerning the counsel of the Old.]
4077-78 yonge were and nothing wise / . . . olde men despise. On youth ignoring the wisdom of the elderly, see notes to 7.4134 ff. and 4137.
4079 Latin marginalia: De consilio iuuenum. [Concerning the counsel of the young.]
4134-43 Compare VC 6.755-60, which counsels youth to take advice for peace from wise men, rather than harming themselves by turning from peaceful good to wickedness. Compare the wise counsel of the elderly to those who are young and eager for war in Chaucer's Tale of Melibee (VII[B2]1035-41).
4137 Old age for the conseil serveth. Proverbial. See Whiting, A70.
4147-4214 The king with his wise counselor is Antoninus Pius, whose story Macaulay believes Gower probably knew from Godfrey of Viterbo's Pantheon (3.533).
4149 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota questionem cuiusdam Philosophi, vtrum regno conueniencius foret principem cum malo consilio optare sapientem, quam cum sano consilio ipsum eligere insipientem. [Note the question of a certain Philosopher, whether it would be better for a kingdom to prefer a wise ruler surrounded by bad counsel, or to choose a foolish ruler with astute counsel.]
4181 Anthonius. Macaulay (3.533) cites the biographer Capitolinus who presents Antoninus Pius as one who loved peace (Historiae Augustae, ed. 1620, p. 20).
4181 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota adhuc precipue de principis erga suos subditos debita pietate. Legitur enim qualiter Anthonius a Cipione exemplificatus dixit, quod mallet vnum de populo sibi commisso virum saluare, quam centum ex hostibus alienigenis in bello perdere. [Note up to this point especially concerning the necessary pious pity of rulers in respect to their subjects. For it is written how Antony, instructed by an example from Scipio, said that he would prefer to save one man from among the people entrusted to him, than to lose a hundred from foreign enemies in battle.]
4195 due. "Bound by duty," as glossed by Macaulay (3.533).
Latin verses xi (before line 4215). Line 4: magnanimi. Magnanimitas, mention of which Gower reserves for his final Latin verses in this "mirror for princes," was a fundamental virtue in later, Aristotelian Christian culture. It often denoted a species of strength (hence was sometimes classed under "fortitude"). It is keyed here to the king's repute (fama), in a wholly positive sense of "fame." Brunetto Latini's Trésor states, "The person who is magnanimous is the greatest and most honorable man there is; he will never be troubled by a trivial thing, and his heart is not concerned with an ugly thing. Therefore magnanimity is the crown and beacon of all virtues" (Book 2, ch. 23). Its virtue is its balance between extremes, and theme that reverberates with Gower's own poetic goal of "the middel weie" (Prol. 17).
4215-5438 See Nicholson's summary review (Annotated Index, pp. 472-76) of scholarly discussions of Chastity as conclusion to Book 7, ranging from Dodd's remarks on chastity in marriage, as an account that perhaps has bearing on the duties of the sovereign, especially young Richard (Courtly Love, pp. 74-75); Utley's suggestion that "Gower and Chaucer helped make marriage respectable material for belles lettres" (Nicholson, Annotated Index, p. 472); to Murphy's suggestion that Gower uses Chastity as a means of bridging his discussions on the education of the king back to his survey of the seven deadly sins ("John Gower's Confessio Amantis," p. 403n).
4215-17 "[P]erhaps the implication [is] that nature is providing a moral lesson [in monogamy] for human beings, who should follow the example of the birds as the poet represents himself doing" (White, Nature, Sex, and Goodness, p. 190n50).
4221 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic tractat secundum Aristotelem de quinta principum regiminis Policia, que Castitatem concernit, cuius honestas impudicicie motus obtemperans tam corporis quam anime mundiciam specialius perseruat. [Here he discourses according to Aristotle about the fifth Policy of governance of rulers, which concerns Chastity, whose honorableness, impeding impudent activity, preserves both body and soul.]
4226-29 Forthi . . . in mariage / His trouthe plight lith in morgage, / Which if he breke, it is falshode. Bakalian relates this "truth-in-marriage" concept to Traitié 18.2. 8-14, which reads in her translation: "Of the three blessed estates it is the second which disposes itself to marriage in righteous love; and he who brings to ruin this order in wantonness has much to fear if he does not lead himself back. Therefore it is good that each one prepare himself to love with unblemished fidelity. He is not loving who misguides his love" (Aspects of Love, p. 34).
4233-37 Minnis ("'Moral Gower,'" pp. 77-78) notes that despite Gower's frequent citation of Secretum Secretorum in Book 7, in his discussion of Chastity he draws mainly on other sources like Giles of Rome. Compare CA 7.4257-61 and 5384-88. See also VC 6.12 on the control of desire, abstention from voluptuousness, and lawful companionship with one's wife.
4239-40 The fifte point . . . Is Chasteté. Here the term enjoys a broader definition than we normally give it. Chastity is the proper maintenance of just marriages. It is a virtue that depends on what one is married to and what the rationale behind that marriage is. The discussion begins with a general admonition against lechery, the seventh of the deadly sins (Peck, Kingship and Common Profit, p. 150). As in MO, Chastity in its five points (Bonnegarde, Virginite, Matrimonie, Continence, and Aspre [hard life]), all of which are exemplified in Genius' discussion at the end of Book 7, is the antidote for Lechery.
4257 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota de doctrina Aristotilis, qualiter Princeps, vt animi sui iocunditatem prouocet, mulieres formosas crebro aspicere debet. Caueat tamen, ne mens voluptuosa torpescens ex carnis fragilitate in vicium dilabatur. [Note concerning the doctrine of Aristotle, how a Ruler, that he might provoke his spirit to joy, ought to look frequently at beautiful women. Let him take care, however, lest his voluptuous mind, becoming indolent, slide into vice because of the flesh's weakness.]
4298-4302 it is noght kinde . . . that Decembre schal ben hot. Pearsall emphasizes that "the moral message of the poem is clear: the unqualified endorsement of reason over passion, and of marriage as the proper and only sanction of love" ("The Gower Tradition," p. 182). See Utley, Crooked Rib, pp. 101-02, 286, on Gower's use of the May/December trope that anticipates Chaucer's elaborate development of the motif in The Merchant's Tale.
4313-4405 The story of Sardanapulus occurs in Godfrey of Viterbo's Pantheon, where the conqueror Arbaces is referred to as Barbatus (Mac 3.534). The account of Cyrus' conquest over the Lydians occurs in Herodotus 1.154-55 and in Justin, Epistle a.7, though in those versions Cyrus' corruption of the Lydians takes place after he has had to put down (successfully) a revolt.
4314 ff. Sardana Pallus. On gender transgressions and the price of effeminacy for King Sardanapalus (the falle fro chivalerie - 7.4337), see Watt (Amoral Gower, pp. 70-71). Collins presents him in his fyri rage (7.4318) as one subdued by Love, "a tyrannous monarch whose laws are based on unreason," who, when he is "deprive[d] . . . of self-sovereignty," becomes an extreme example of a ruler made womanish (p. 122). Compare TC 4.3515 ff. and 8.2111-20 on the loss of self and personal domain to self-misgovernance.
4317 ff. Latin marginalia:Hic ponit exemplum qualiter, pro eo quod Sardana Pallus Assiriorum Princeps muliebri oblectamento effeminatus sue concupiscencie torporem quasi ex consuetudine adhibebat, a Barbaro Rege Medorum super hoc insidiante in sui feruoris maiori voluptate subitis mutacionibus extinctus est. [Here he presents an instructive example how, because Sardanapalus the Ruler of the Assyrians was effeminized by womanly delight and habitually lapsed into the slothfulness of his lust, by suddenly changed circumstances he was treacherously destroyed amidst his great voluptuousness of passion by Barbarus, King of the Medes.]
4344 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota qualiter Dauid amans mulieres propter hoc probitatem Armorum non minus excercuit. [Note how David, loving women, exerted no less excellence in arms because of this.]
4361 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur qualiter regnum lasciuie voluptatibus deditum de facili vincitur. Et ponit exemplum de Ciro Rege Persarum, qui cum Liddos mire probitatis strenuissimos sibique in bello aduersantes nullo modo vincere potuit, cum ipsis tandem pacis tractatum dissimilans concordiam finalem stabiliri finxit. Super quo Liddi postea per aliquod tempus armis insoliti sub pacis torpore voluptatibus intendebant: quod Cirus percipiens in eos armatus subito irruit, ipsosque indefenbiles vincens sub imperio tributarios subiugauit. [Here he tells how a kingdom given to the voluptuousnesses of lust is easily conquered. And he presents an instructive example concerning Cyrus the King of the Persians, who when he was not at all able in battle to conquer his enemies - the most strenuous Lydians of extraordinary military excellence - deceived them, fashioning a treaty of peace with them. Whereupon the Lydians later for a certain time became unaccustomed to weapons, and under the sloth of peace turned themselves to voluptuousnesses. Cyrus, perceiving this, armed his army and suddenly rushed upon them. He thus conquered them while they were incapable of defending themselves and subjugated them as tributaries to the empire.]
4384-86 worldes ese . . . is the norrice / Of every lust. Proverbial. A variation of "idleness is nurse of vices." See Whiting, I6. See also CA 4.1086-89 and MO, lines 5266-68, which cites Cato's Distichs. Compare CT VII(B2)1589, and VIII (G)1-3.
4406 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota hic qualiter fata bellica luxus infortunat. Et narrat quod cum Rex Amalech Hebreis sibi insultantibus resistere nequiit, consilio Balaam mulieres regni sui pulcherrimas in castra Hebreorum misit; qui ab ipsis contaminati graciam statim amiserunt. Et sic ab Amalech deuicti in magna multitudine gladio ceciderunt. [Note here how sensual indulgence makes for bad outcomes in battle. And he narrates that when King Amalech was not able to resist the Hebrews assailing him, by Balaam's counsel he sent the most beautiful women of his kingdom into the camps of the Hebrews, who, contaminated by the women, immediately lost their divine grace. And thus conquered by Amalech, they died by the sword in a vast multitude.]
4406-4573 On the counsel of Balaam, see Numbers 22-25, where the pagan king is Balac, not Amalech, and Balaam refuses to curse or otherwise harm the Israelites. Gower's version is a mixture of Balac's desire to defend himself from Israel and the Israelites' weakness as described in Numbers 25:1-2. Balac, in the Bible, never actually sends the women. For the account of Phinees, see Numbers 25.
4418 With yhen greye and browes bente. Amalech's women set off their grey eyes with plucked eyebrows (a conventional sign of female beauty) as a weapon against the Hebrews, whose unchaste response they are counting on. They might have succeeded were it not for Phinees, who kills the first two who succumb to temptation as a warning to others. That sight is more potent than yhen greye and browes bente. One basis of Chastity is Bonnegarde ("Good Care" or "Right Watchmanship," devoted to guarding of the five senses, those "special doors and windows through which the devil enters the soul," so that they go not astray or admit the enemy - MO, lines 16585-16608; see note to 7.4239-40); n.b., Bonnegarde as a virtue well exemplified in the Tale of Tobias and Sara which follows shortly (7.5307 ff.), though it does not help Lucrece much, despite all her care. Here see also discussions of "mislok" and the failure to guard the eyes elsewhere in CA (especially 1.304 ff.). See note to 6.1858.
4469 ff. Based on 3 Kings (1 Kings) 11.
4469-77 Wickert (Studies in John Gower) notes that reflections on death are not common in royal instruction books though such material is found in VC and Waltenham's Myrour of Synners (p. 154).
4473 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic loquitur qualiter Principum irregulata voluptas eos a semita recta multociens deuiare compellit. Et narrat exemplum de Salomone, qui ex sue carnis concupiscencia victus mulierum blandiementis in sui scandalum deos alienos colerre presumebat. [Here he speaks how the unregulated lusts of Rulers often compels them to deviate from the straight path. And he narrates an instructive example about Solomon, who was conquered by the blandishments of women because of the lust of his flesh and thereby was led to worship strange gods, to his scandal.]
4477 whos appetit. MED glosses "appetite" in this line as "sexual craving." Medieval writers differentiate kinds of appetite, depending upon the impetus of the desire. Gower seems to have in mind here the desire of the "soule vegetablis" that "haþ a vertu of gendringe þat is nedeful to multiplie and bringe forþ þinges in kinde," the "vertu of appetit" being to take whatever "foode" is "nedeful" (Bart. Ang. 3, cap. 8). This craving to satisfy natural necessities or body functions is what Chaucer's Parson refers to as "the appetites of the fyve wittes" (CT X[I]207), or what the Wife of Bath means when she says she "evere folwede myn appetit" (CT III[D]623). Compare Januarie, who "folwed ay his bodily delyt / On wommen, ther as was his appetyt" (CT IV[E]1249-50).
4499 ff. Latin marginalia: De filia Regis Cidonie. [Concerning the daughter of King Sidonia.]
4501 Astrathen. Ashtart, Ashtoreth, Astarte: a Semitic goddess worshiped by Canaanites, Hebrews, Phoenicians; a goddess of untrammeled sexual love; in some colonies honored by religious prostitution and temple harlots; linked to Ishtar, she is a goddess of maternity and fertility, who suckles the child Tammuz at her breast; a creatrix of men; a war-goddess among Phoenicians but also in early matriarchal communities. See Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics 2.115-18. Gower bases his names Astrathen, Chamos (line 4506), and Moloch (line 4509) on 3 Kings (1 Kings) 11:33. Sidon was a Phoenician seaport.
4503 ff. Latin marginalia: De filia Regis Moab. [Concerning the daughter of King Moab.]
4506 Chamos. Chemosh, the national god of Moab, mentioned in the Moabite Stone. The name was often compounded with other names, such as Ashtar-Chemosh or Chemosh-nadab or Chemosh-yahi. The term was used in the same way Hebrews used the term Yahweh. Numbers 21:29 warns: "Woe to thee Moab: thou art undone, O people of Chamos." See Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics 8.759-61.
4507 ff. Latin marginalia: De filia Regis Amon. [Concerning the daughter of King Amon.]
4509 Moloch. "A Canaanite god to whom children were sacrificed by being burned alive" (see Sol Liptzin's entry on Moloch in the Dictionary of Biblical Tradition, pp. 516-17). N.b., Leviticus 18:21, 20:2-5; Deuteronomy 12:31, 18:9-10; 4 Kings (2 Kings) 23:10.
4515 ff. Latin marginalia: Nota hic qualiter Achias propheta, in signum quod regnum post mortem Salomonis ob eius peccatum a suo herede diminueretur, pallium suum in xii, partes scidit, vnde x. partes Ieroboe filio Nabal, qui regnaturus postea successit, precepto dei tribuit. [Note here how Achias the prophet, in sign that the kingdom would be diminished after Solomon's death by his heir, tore his mantle into twelve pieces, from which he gave as tribute ten pieces by God's command to Jeroboah the son of Nabal, who, about to reign, succeeded him later.] See 3 Kings (1 Kings) 11:29-32.
4559 ff. Latin marginalia: Aristotiles. O Alexander, super omnia consulo, conserua tibi calorem naturalem. [Aristotle: "O Alexander, I counsel you above all, preserve your natural warmth for yourself."] Macaulay (3.534) relates the Latin quotation to the Secretum Secretorum: "O summe rex, studeas modis omnibus custodire et retinere calorem naturalem" (ed. 1520, f. 25v) [O highest king, be zealous by every means to preserve and retain your natural warmth].
4569-71 "[H]ere one might say that natural sexual appetite provides moral guidance, its satisfaction, and no more, indicating what is legitimate" (White, Nature, Sex, and Goodness, p. 190).
4570-71 dueliche served, / It oghte of reson to suffise. See White (Nature, Sex, and Goodness, p. 201) on the possible accommodation of "the natural sexual urge" and the "necessity of restraint" in Gower's view of Nature. Compare Chaucer's Parson, CT X(I)935-42, on measure in sexual behavior and matters of paying the debt to the body within the privileges of chaste behavior. Toby, CA 7.5361-65, exemplifies precisely the proposition, where "bothe lawe and kinde is served" (7.5363).
4574 ff. Latin marginalia: De voluptuoso Antonio. [Concerning Antonius the voluptuary.]
4574 Anthonie. Macaulay (3.534) notes: "Caracalla, son of Severus, is here meant. His name was Aurelius Antonius, and he is called Aurelius Antonius in the Pantheon (Mon. Germ. Hist. xxii. p.166). Caracalla is called by Orosius 'omnibus hominibus libidine intemperantior, qui etiam novercam suam Iuliam uxorem duxerit' (Hist. vii.18 [more intemperate in lust than any other man, and who indeed took his stepmother Julia as his wife]), and this character of him is repeated in the Pantheon."
4593 Gower's story of Tarquin, Aruns, and Lucrece is much enlarged from Ovid, Fasti 2.687-852. See also Chaucer's LGW, lines 1680-1885; Latin Gesta Romanorum, cap. cxxxv; and Shakespeare's Rape of Lucrece. For the story in fourteenth-century chronicles and commentaries, see Galloway, "Chaucer's Legend of Lucrece." Livy 1.53-54 (Sextus) and 1.57-59 (Lucrece) might also be a source.
4599 ff. Latin marginalia:Hic loquitur de Tarquino nuper Rome Imperatore, necnon et de eiusdem filio nomine Arrons, qui omni viciorum varietate repleti tam in homines quam in mulieres innumera scelera perpetrarunt: set specialiter super hiis que contra Gabinos fraudulenter operati sunt tractare intendit. [Here he speaks about Tarquin, not long ago Emperor of Rome, and also about his son Aruns by name, who replete with every variety of vice perpetrated innumerable sins both against men and women; but particularly he intends to discourse about those which they fraudulently carried out against the Gabines.]
4598 Arrons. Macaulay: "[n]either Aruns nor Sextus is named in Ovid, who speaks only of 'Tarquinius iuvenis.' Gower gives to Aruns the place of Sextus throughout this and the following story" (3.534). For various arguments regarding the confusion of Aruns and Sextus, see Nicholson, Annotated Index, p. 479.
4694-95 hefdes of Gabie / Hath smiten of. The decapitation of the Gabines is fit punishment in that they foolishly brought Aruns into their fold of their own volition. The slaughter is Gower's addition to the narrative, as if to demonstrate that when the king errs the people suffer. See Peck (Kingship and Common Profit, pp. 153-56).
4754 In Ovid (Fasti 2.721-852), the rape of Lucrece is not a separate story but simply a continuation of the account of Tarquin's sons that concludes with the banishment of the lot of them. Chaucer also presents Lucrece as a separate story in LGW, lines 1680-1885. Root, "Chaucer's Legend of Medea," pp. 146-48, suggests that Chaucer draws some details from Gower. Pearsall ("Gower's Narrative Art," p. 481) suggests that "[i]n his story of Lucrece, Gower achieves perhaps his most perfect realisation of womanliness." See also note 7.4888.
4757 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic narrat quod, cum Tarquinus in obsidione Ciuitatis Ardee, vt eam destrueret, intentus fuit, Arrons filius eius Romam secreto adiens in domo Collatini hospitatus est; vbi de nocte illam castissimam dominam Lucreciam ymaginata fraude vi oppressit: vnde illa pre dolore mortua, ipse cum Tarquino patre suo tota conclamante Roma in perpetuum exilium delegati sunt. [Here he narrates that, when Tarquin was striving to beseige the City of Ardea so that he might destroy it, his son Aruns secretly journeyed to Rome and was put up in the house of Collatine, where by night (Aruns) forced himself upon the most chaste lady Lucretia, by calculated deception. Wherefore she, having died for sorrow, (Aruns) with Tarquin his father were sent into perpetual exile, by the clamoring of all of Rome.]
4778-85 Collatine is guilty of the same error as the Gabiens when he foolishly invites his enemy into his home. See note 7.4694-95.
4888 Hire lacketh noght of wommanhiede. On Lucrece as living embodiment of a praiseworthy woman, see Bakalian, Aspects of Love, pp. 57-73, who compares Lucrece to the epitome of a good woman described in VC 5.6.295 ff. (p. 58). See also Burke ("Women," p. 239) and Schmitz, who sees her "tenderness" as that which sets her apart in Gower from other medieval writers (Fall of Women, p. 80).
4902 Latin marginalia. Audaces fortuna iuuat. [Fortune helps the bold.]
4902-03 Fortune unto the bolde / Is favorable. Proverbial. See Whiting, F519. N.b., also, MO, lines 22927-28, and VC 6.969.
4922-58 Lucrece's "openness and hospitality to the unexpected visitor," detailed by her timid, polite questions about the war and her husband (Pearsall, "Gower's Narrative Art," p. 481), create a stunning, bitterly ironic effect that Lucrece resolutely comprehends, albeit silently, after the betrayal. Her swoon, not found in Ovid, is Gower's means of demarcating her innocence. The brutality of Aruns' destruction of her highly civil world evokes sympathy and draws the audience close to the political complexities of her tragedy, a point that is central to Gower's book on the delicate balances of good kingship which here have been so cruelly abrogated.
4981 To slen hire and hire folk aboute. Mast ("Rape," p. 117) points to the higher stakes for Lucrece in Gower's version, where her modesty is not the only concern. This is not to say that he underestimates the "value of a wife's good reputation" (see p. 131n82). But she is keenly aware of the political issues of Aruns' assault. See also Simpson (Sciences and the Self, p. 215): "Lucrece's rape . . . reveals the violent concupiscence of territorial invasion."
4986 Wherof sche swounede in his hond. Pearsall ("Gower's Narrative Art," p. 481) makes the cogent point that in Gower's story "every suggestion of acquiescence is eliminated." She is open and hospitable when Tarquin arrives. Tarquin is in bed upon her even as she awakens and, overwhelmed by fear, she loses her voice and swoons.
4994 lecherouse pride. Pride as well as lecherouse carry sexual connotations here. See MED prid(e n.(2) 5(a) and OED pride sb.1 11, for examples of pride implying sexual desire, especially in animals. Gower's phrase has implications of a sex maniac whose one thought is to have his triumph over Collatine through the destruction of his wife.
5001 As sche which hath the world forsake. Pearsall observes: "Her actions on the morrow have the momentous, pre-ordained quality of one who has, like Clarissa, already passed beyond suffering into a different world" ("Gower's Narrative Art," p. 481).
5030 unmete. MED unmete adj. 2 suggests "unfit" and "unworthy" as glosses for this line but also with possible meanings of "displeasing" and "horrible to look at," senses which seem particularly apt for this passage, given Lucrece's concern over how the people will look upon her husband as well as herself in this disgrace. Her fears of how the event must appear constitutes her shame and "wofull chiere" (line 5032), whereby she casts down her eyes "and couthe unnethes loke" (line 5033).
5069 thurgh hire herte it throng. Mast cites St. Augustine's assessment of Lucrece's suicide in The City of God - si adultererata, cur laudata; si pudica, cur occisa (if she is adulterous, why is she praised? If chaste, why was she put to death?) - to observe that "Gower rejects this misogynistic reading and lets his heroine die with dignity and without reproach" ("Rape," p. 119). That Augustine's commentary was known in Gower's literary circle, see Chaucer's satirical allusion to Augustine's "gret compassioun" for Lucrece in LGW, line 1690.
5091 so behield him in this wise. Mast ("Rape," p. 120) suggests that Lucrece, in her look at Brutus, is cognizant of the political ramifications of her act whereby "her shameful rape is the cause of the end of the rape of her country by Tarquin's family."
5116 newe schame of sennes olde. Proverbial. See Whiting, S338. Compare CA 3.2033: "Old senne newe schame." Also VC 4.874.
5131 Like the Rape of Lucrece, the Tale of Virginia was very popular. The original version occurs in Livy. Jean de Meun includes the tale in RR, Boccaccio includes it in De mulieribus claris, and Chaucer includes it in the Canterbury Tales as The Physician's Tale. Boccaccio and Chaucer cite Livy as their sources, though in fact they follow Jean de Meun. Gower follows Livy 3.44-50 or perhaps Pierre Bersuire's Old French translation of Livy. The tale provides another example of a leader who loses his kingship through lechery. See Ferster's reading of the tale as a precaution to Richard II ("O Political Gower," p. 36).
5136 Livius Virginius. Gower's version of the Tale of Virginia gives more attention to the father than do other versions. He is a man of honor, a civic-minded knight fighting in defense of the city; he is a conscientious father who has looked after his daughter well, having arranged a distinguished marriage. When he learns of her peril and imminent disgrace he rides in from the front, slays his daughter to protect her from defilement, escapes, and musters a force to retaliate against the would-be tyrant/rapist. He is obliged to act swiftly and decisively, and he does.
5137 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic ponit exemplum super eodem, qualiter Liuius Virginius dux excercitus Romanorum vnicam filiam pulcherimam habens cum quodam nobili viro nomine Ilicio, vt ipsam in vxorem duceret, finaliter concordauit. Set interim Apius Claudius tunc Imperator virginis formositatem, vt eam violaret, concupiscens, occasiones quibus matrimonium impedire, ipsamque ad sui vsum apprehendere posset, subdola conspiracione fieri coniectauit. Et cum propositum sui desiderii productis falsis testibus in iudicio Imperator habere debuisset, pater tunc ibidem presens extracto gladio filie sue pectus mortali vulnere per medium transfodit, dicens: "Malo michi de filia mea virginem habere mortuam, quam in sui scandalum meretricem reseruare viuentem." [Here he presents an instructive example on the same thing, how Livius Virginius, leader of the army of the Romans, having a most beautiful daughter, made a settlement with a nobleman, Ilicius by name, that he would take her as a bride. But meanwhile Apius Claudius, then Emperor, lusting after the virgin's beauty, plotted to violate her using a treacherous conspiracy: he caused circumstances that would impede the marriage, so that he might be able to seize her to his own use. And when the Emperor was owed the fulfillment of his desire, producing false witnesses in judgment, her father, present there, with a drawn sword transfixed his daughter's breast through the middle in a mortal wound, saying, "As for my daughter, I prefer to have a dead virgin than, to her own scandal, a live whore."]
5140-41 This fame . . . cam in his ere. Another instance in which Gower alters his source to fit the exemplum to the principal motifs of his poem; here, once again, we witness the infection of a mind through the senses (windows of the mind), especially the eyes or the ears, without the safekeeping of Bonnegarde. See also 1.289-574.
5307 The Tale of Tobias and Sara is found in the apocryphal book of Tobit, 6-8.
5311 ff. Latin marginalia: Hic inter alia castitatis regimen concernencia loquitur quomodo Matrimonium, cuius status Sacramentum, quasi continenciam equiperans, eciam honeste delectacionis regimine moderari debet. Et narrat in exemplum, qualiter pro eo quod illi vii.tem viri, qui Sarre Raguelis filie magis propter concupiscenciam quam propter matrimonium voluptuose nupserunt, vnus post alium omnes prima nocte a demone Asmodeo singillatim iugulati interierunt. [Here, among other things concerning the governance of chastity, he says how matrimony, whose sacramental status almost equals sexual abstinence, ought to be moderated by governance even in legitimate pleasure. And he narrates in an instructive example how, because the seven husbands who had married Sara daughter of Raguel had done so more on account of lust than voluptuousness of matrimony, all of them, one after another, had separately died, strangled at night by the demon Asmodeus.]
5361 yit Thobie his wille hadde. "Love does sometimes go right, but it is not human judgement that makes it do so. The story of Toby and Sara shows the erotic ordered by a supernatural intervention - and in so doing suggests the rarity of such ordering" (White, Nature, Sex, and Goodness, p. 203).
5363 bothe lawe and kinde is served. See note to 7.4570-71.
5372-81 In his appreciation of both God-given reason and the laws of nature "Genius himself undergoes a sea-change . . . from which he never retreats"; before Book 7 he is Amans' inspiration, often a "fool ymagynation"; but in Book 7 and thereafter he represents a balance between reason and nature (Simpson, Sciences and the Self, pp. 215-16). "The person who will finally be won over . . . is not the lady, but Amans himself" (p. 217).
The passage exemplifies the need to control sexuality (Benson, "Incest," p. 103).
5411-12 The tales sounen in myn ere, / Bot yit myn herte is elleswhere. Dimmick wittily identifies Amans as "the first of Gower's critics to respond to five thousand lines on the philosophy of Aristotle with distinctly muted enthusiasm" ("'Redinge of Romance,'" p. 127).
JOHN GOWER, CONFESSIO AMANTIS, BOOK 7: TEXTUAL NOTES
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.
55 remenant. So F, B, J. Mac: remnant.
190 Thei. So S, J, Mac. F: The. B: They.
219 thei. So F, S, J. B, Mac: they.
340 same. So F, S, B, J. Mac: fame.
483 myhty. So F. S: myhti. B: mighty. J: mihti. Mac: myghty.
602 thei. So F, S, B, J. Mac: they.
672 knowlechinge. So B, J, Mac. F: knowechinge. S: knowleching.
979-82 Omitted in B.
1073 whiche. So F, S. B, J, Mac: which.
1274 Bot. So F, S, J. B, Mac: But. See also lines 2588, 2722, and 3784.
1289 hiere. So F, S. J, Mac: here. B: heere.
1402 tuelfthe. So F, B, J. S, Mac: twelfthe.
1671 honesté. So S. F, B, J, Mac: honestete. Meter, rhyme, and other spellings of the term favor the emendation.
1690 eke. So F, S. B: eek. J, Mac: ek.
1815 ansuere. So S, Mac. F: anssuere. B, J: answere.
1964 at. So F, S, B, J. Mac: ate.
2329-31 Altered in B and other second recension manuscripts: The Example of Dante's Rebuff of the Flatterer (see Mac 3.296).
2588 bot. So F, S, B, J. B, Mac: but.
2637 mihte. So F, S. B: might. J, Mac: miht.
2641-3004 Omitted in S (two missing leaves).
2722 bot. So F, B, J. Mac: but.
2780 thanne. So F, B. Mac: than.
2806 which. So F. B, J, Mac: whiche.
3003 schop. So C, A, J, Mac. F: schope. B: schoop.
3135 Altered in B: So as þe holy book affermeþ.
3136-37 Additional lines in B and other second recension manuscripts: The Examples of James, Cassiodorus, Cicero, and Alexander (see Mac 3.319).
Additional lines in S: The Tale of the Jew and the Pagan (see Mac 3. 320-25).
3148 conseillier. So J. F: conseilleir. S, Mac: conseiller. B: counseiler.
3162-63 Additional lines in B: The Tale of the Jew and the Pagan (see Mac 3.320-25 [S text]).
3400 thanne. So F, S, B. J: thenne. Mac: than.
3530 mai. So F, S. B, J, Mac: may.
3568 diliverance. So F. S, B, J, Mac: deliverance.
3575 cause. So S, B, J, Mac. F: causa.
3592 knyhtlihiede. So S, Mac. F: knythlihiede. B: knightlihede. J: knihtlihede.
3639 hem. So S, B, Mac. F, J: he. The reasons for the scribal error in F are easy to understand, since wolde could be singular. But the slightly more subtle phrasing"Against those who wished to assail them" is clearly correct in context. (Andrew Galloway.)
3687 als. So F, S, B, J. Mac: as.
3751 thei. so F, S, B, J. Mac: they.
3784 Bot. So F, S, J. B, Mac: But.
3808 mi. So F, S. B, J, Mac: my.
3819 myhte. So F. S, J: mihte. B: might. C, A, Mac: myht.
3861 no. So S, B, J, Mac. F: non.
4064 assissed. So F. S, B, J, Mac: assised.
4115 stered. So F. S, J, Mac: is stered. B: is stired.
4194 good. So S, B, J, Mac. F: god. Emendation to match previous line.
4357 manye. So F, A. S, B, Mac: many. J: mony.
4395 fleysshly. So Mac. F: fleyssly. S, J: fleisshly. B: fleischly.
4665 thei. So F, S, J. B, Mac: they.
4737 grounde. So S, B, J, Mac. F: ground.
4967 bot. So F, S, J. B, Mac: but.
5135 as. So S, B, J, Mac. F: and.
5267 seid. So F. S, B, A, J, Mac: seide.
5383 put. So S, B, J, Mac. F: pit.
5411 sounen. So S, B, J, Mac. F: sounnen.
5417-8.336 Omitted in S (two missing leaves).