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21. Gregory


1 Recommaunde, Offer.

2 peyne, pain; cheese, choose.

3 ben wers, are worse.

4 Loke, Look; yre, ire; connynge, cleverness.

11 Dyspreyse, Denounce; meche, much.


ABBREVIATIONS: B = Dicts and Sayings of the Philosophers, ed. Bühler (1941); CA = Gower's Confessio Amantis; CT = Chaucer's Canterbury Tales; G = Pierpont Morgan Library MS G.66; MED = Middle English Dictionary; OED = Oxford English Dictionary; S = Scrope, Dicts and Sayings of the Philosophers, ed. Schofield (1936).

These explanatory notes cannot hope to provide a complete accounting for the source of every proverbial statement in Dicts and Sayings. That task would be a separate book in its own right. Instead, I have attempted to contextualize this rather heterogeneous body of lore by identifying the people and places named in the text, as well as noting points that may be of interest to students and general readers. Those interested in tracing the source of particular quotations should begin by consulting Whiting's Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases From English Writings Mainly Before 1500. Readers are also invited to consult the thorough notes to Knust's Bocados de Oro, the Spanish translation of the original Arabic ancestor of Dicts and Sayings.

1 Seint Gregory. Saint Gregory (c. 540-604) is known today as Pope Gregory the Great (r. 590-604), one of the most celebrated medieval popes. In many ways he laid the foundation of the medieval Church: he instituted sweeping papal and ecclesiastical reforms, argued for a more rigidly hierarchical Church structure with the pope firmly at the top, established the power of the pope as a political figure (the ruler of Rome and the surrounding Papal States), and wrote many influential treatises (such as Pastoral Care, a guidebook for Church administration). The presence of a major Christian figure seems incongruous in a text from the Muslim world, but Gregory is not a late interpolation - his section appears as early as Bocados de Oro, the Spanish translation of the Arabic original and the earliest version of Dicts and Sayings that I have been able to consult directly.


Seint Gregory seith: "Recommaunde to God the begynnynge and the ende of
alle thi werkes, studye and do peyne to knowe alle thinges, and holde and cheese
[fol. 62r] the beste." And seith: "Povertee is evel, but evell rycchesses ben wers." And seith:
"Loke ye be constaunte and refreyne thyne yre, and take connynge for to lighte
thee instede of a candel, and thenke nat thiself to be that thu arte nat, for thu arte
mortal. Take thiself as for a straungier and loke thu worship straungiers." And
seithe: "Whanne thi shippe is in grete tranquyllitee, thanne loke thu be aferde to
be drownned." And seith: "A man shulde resceive with good cheere alle that God
sendeth him." And seith: "The wrath of goode folkes is bettir to be chosen thanne
the worshipp of evell folkes." And seith: "Use the house of wyse men and nat of the
ryche." And seithe: "Dyspreyse nat a litil thinge, for it maye growe meche and
amende, and endure paciently withoute vengeaunce."

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