Ovid and the Canterbury Tales [Reprint 2016 ed.] 9781512802405

This book is a volume in the Penn Press Anniversary Collection. To mark its 125th anniversary in 2015, the University of

143 46 6MB

English Pages 224 [232] Year 2016

Report DMCA / Copyright


Polecaj historie

Ovid and the Canterbury Tales [Reprint 2016 ed.]

Table of contents :
I. Ovid and the Structure and Theme of The Canterbury Tales
II. Ovidian Allusions in The Canterbury Tales
1. General Prologue
2. Knight's Tale
3. Miller's Tale
4. Introduction to Man of Law's Tale
5. Prologue of Man of Law's Tale
6. Wife of Bath's Prologue
7. Wife of Bath's Tale
8. Summoner's Tale
9. Merchant's Tale
10. Squire's Tale
11. Franklin's Tale
12. Physician's Tale
13. Tale of Melibee
14. Monk's Tale: Hercules
15. Manciple's Tale
III. Conclusion
Bibliography of Works Cited

Citation preview



© 1966 by the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania

Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number: 67-17174

Published in Great Britain, India, and Pakistan by the Oxford University Press, London, Bombay, and Karachi

7553 Printed in the United States of America

To Christine

O Socrates plains de philosophie, Seneque en meurs et Anglux en pratique, Ovides grans en ta poeterie. Bries en parler, saiges en rethorique. Aigles treshaulz, qui par ta theorique Enlumines le regne d'Eneas, L'lsle aux Geans, ceuls de Bruth, et qui as Seme'les fleurs et plante le rosier, Aux ignorans de la langue pandras, Grant translateur, noble Geffroy Chaucier. —Deschamps

Preface "Having done with Ovid for this time," wrote John Dryden in 1700, "it came into my mind, that our old English poet, Chaucer, in many things resembled him, and that with no disadvantage on the side of the modern author, as I shall endeavour to prove when I compare them Dryden's famous comparison between the two poets focuses upon similarities in their manners ("Both of them were well-bred, well-natured, amorous, and libertine, at least in their writings; it may be, also in their lives"), their studies (philosophy, philology, and astronomy), their styles ("Both writ with wonderful facility and clearness"), their practices of literary borrowing ("Both of them built on the inventions of other men"), their understanding of "manners" and "passions" (as shown by their "descriptions of persons, and their very habits"), their wit (in which Chaucer is held superior), and their "turn of words" ("in which Ovid particularly excels all poets," but which Chaucer sometimes properly shuns in his determination to follow "Nature" and write with "simplicity").' Happily, not all later Chaucerians have been content with such general and rather superficial observations on the moral, intellectual, and literary kinship between the Roman and the English poet; and yet, certainly, no one has disputed die inescapable fact that Chaucer studied, imitated, and relied upon no other author so much as Ovid. As Shannon remarks in his Chaucer and the Roman Poets, "Chaucer's greatest obligation is to Ovid. From this ancient Roman far more than from any other poet he drew his inspiration as well as his great store of classical and mythological information." It has been generally held, however, that Chaucer was most influenced by Ovid during his period of literary apprenticeship and that, by the time he reached full literary maturity and began The Canterbury Tales, he had outgrown his old master intellectually. Shannon explains: As his [Chaucer's] interest lay in the stories in the




or Fasti not chiefly as tales of the



Ovid and Tbe Canterbury


heroic past, but as a means of portraying vital human emotion in an essentially dramatic setting, he no doubt realized, what is true, that for his purpose he had already chosen the best of them by the time he had finished the Legend of Phyllis .... From this time forward he is a master of his art. Ovid had done his work well in instructing him. If Chaucer was in the future diffuse, it was for some dramatic purpose and by no means due to a lack of knowledge of the technique of narration. Ovid had furnished him, too, a God's plenty of classical information and material; but far above and beyond all this he had shown him that human nature with its passions and foibles was a subject of unfailing concern to a poet. Under the stimulus of this idea Chaucer's imagination conceived its greatest purpose—to make types of the various social groups of his own England troop into action for all succeeding generations to enjoy . . . . For the depiction of this far-richer content than Ovid could boast—because Ovid described a decadent civilization and Chaucer one that was just being born—Chaucer brought to his task a nobler genius than Ovid's. More sensitive, delicate, and refined than Ovid, he would inevitably produce a greater masterpiece.' By way of illustrating the truth of this hypothesis, Shannon devotes only twenty-four pages (302-325) of his study to a consideration of Ovidian and Vergilian material in The Canterbury Tales. O n e major purpose of this study is to show that Ovid's influence upon Chaucer did not suddenly cease or even sharply decline after composition of Tbe Legend of Good Women, but that, in fact, The Canterbury Tales show a pervasive Ovidian influence. This is evidenced not only by the great number of specific Ovidian allusions scattered throughout the Tales, but also by Chaucer's dependence upon Ovidian mythology in formulating the underlying moral theme which lends unity to his collection. Many of the Ovidian allusions which I discuss have already been noted in the indispensable editions of Chaucer by Skeat and Robinson,4 who, while they by no means exhaust the material, at least are more thorough than Shannon. Naturally, little more can be expected of the explanatory notes to an edition than a mere indication of parallel line references between source and derivative. This book attempts, therefore, to supply some much-needed additional information concerning Chaucer's use of Ovid in the Tales.



I have, to begin with, reproduced in full every passage in The Canterbury Tales which seems to me to show any Ovidian influence—or even any strong possibility of Ovidian influence; and in each case I have also quoted and translated the entire relevant passage in Ovid.' Moreover, since I discovered, early in my researches, that Chaucer frequently calls upon Ovid to point up the moral sentence of the Tales and not always for poetic embellishment alone, I have been especially concerned to explore the significance of every Ovidian allusion in its Chaucerian context. Thus, wherever, in reading Chaucer, I have heard an echo of Ovid, I have paused to ask myself these two related questions: Why does Chaucer include this Ovidian material here? And how did Chaucer interpret this Ovidian passage—that is, what was its sentence, or moral significance, for him ? In order to answer these questions, I have tried to determine what the standard or conventional interpretations of Ovid were in the late Middle Ages, and for this purpose I have relied chiefly upon the commentaries and paraphrases of Ovid by Arnulf of Orleans, John of Garland, Giovanni del Virgilio, and Pierre Ber 2233-37]

Those in Chaucer's audience who knew their Ovid would have recognized that in promising to become a true servant of Venus and to wage war always against chastity, Palamon was enlisting as an active miles amoris in the army of Cupid. The implications of this kind of soldiery are clearly defined early in the Amores, where Ovid describes a military triumph of Cupid : Mens Bona ducetur manibus post terga retortis Et Pudor et castris quidquid Amoris obest. Omnia te metuent, ad te sua bracchia tendens Vulgus "io" magna voce "triumphe" canet. Blanditiae comités tibi erunt Errorque Furorque, Adsidue partes turba secuta tuas : His tu militibus superas hominesque deosque, Haec tibi si demas commoda, nudus eris. (I.ii.31-38)

(Conscience will be led along with hands tied behind her back, and Modesty too, and every foe of Love's camp. All will fear you [Cupid]; the mob, stretching forth their hands to you, will cry out in a loud

Knight's Tale


voice, "Ho, triumph!" Flattery, Error, and Madness—that rabble which diligently attends you—will be your companions. With these soldiers you will conquer men and gods, but if you dismiss such henchmen, you will be powerless.) By joining Love's army, therefore, Palamon associates himself with Flattery, Error, and Madness and relegates Conscience and Modesty to positions of subject captivity. There are many other references in Ovid to love as warfare and to lovers as soldiers: Militat omnis amans, et habet sua castra Cupido.

(Am. I.ix. 1)

(Every Lover is a soldier, and Cupid has his own camp.) Prindpio, quod amare velis, reperire labora. Qui nova nunc primum miles in arma venis!

{An Am. 1.35-36)

(First, seek' out someone to love, you who now come, for the first time, as a soldier to this new warfare.) Militiae species amor est: discedite, segnes! Non sunt haec timidis signa tuenda viris; Nox et hiemps longaeque viae saevique dolores Mollibus his castris et labor omnis inest; Saepe feres imbrem caelesti nube solutum Frigidus et nuda saepe iacebis humo. (An Am. 11.23 3-2 3 8)

(Love is a kind of warfare; away you sluggards! These standards may not be guarded by timid men. Night and storms, long journeys and cruel pains—all kinds of labor—attend this pleasant camp. Often will you endure rain dripping from the clouds of heaven, and often will you lie cold on the bare ground.) Aut mare remigiis, aut vomere findite terras, Aut fera belligeras addite in arma manus, Aut latus et vires operamque adferte puellis: Hoc quoque militiast, hoc quoque quaerit opes.

(An Am. 11.671-674)


Ovid and Tbe Canterbury


(Cleave the sea with oars or the earth with the ploughshare, or use your warlike hands in fierce battle, or devote your body, your strength, and your effort to girls: this, too, is warfare; this too calls for your powers.) Arma dedi Danais in Amazonas: arma supersunt. Quae tibi dem et turmae, Penthesilea, tuae. he in bella pares: vincant, quibus alma Dione Faverit et, toto qui volat orbe, puer! ' Non erat armatis aequum concurrere nudas: Sic etiam vobis vincere turpe, viri. (An Am. III.1-6)

(I have armed the Danai against the Amazons; there remain arms which I must give to you, Penthesilea, and to your troop. Wage war as equals; let those conquer whom gracious Dione favors and also that boy who flies throughout the world. It would not be fair for defenseless girls to join battle with armed men; to conquer thus would be a disgrace to you men, too.) In addition to these references, the concept of the miles amoris is fully elaborated in Amores I.ix, where Ovid employs a long series of balanced sentences to contrast between the virtuous and patriotic duties of the soldier and the ridiculous, but often similar, behavior of the lover. For example, soldiers and lovers both keep the night watch—the soldier at his captain's door, the lover at that of his mistress' house; one scouts out the enemy, the other spies upon his rival; the soldier besieges great towns and breaks down gates, the lover lays siege to his mistress' home and breaks down doors; the one rushes upon an unarmed sleeping foe to slay him with his weapon, and the other takes advantage of a husband's slumbers and wields another kind of "weapon" while that enemy sleeps. Ovid concludes with the mention of a few famous soldiers who were also great lovers—Achilles, Hector, Agamemnon, Mars. The incompatibility of these two kinds of warfare is expressed in the lines on Achilles: Ardet in abducta Briseide magnus Achilles: Dum licet, Argivas frangite, Troes, opes! (Am. I.ix.3 3 - 3 4 )

(Great Achilles burns with love for Briseis, who has been taken away from him. Now Trojans, while you may, destroy the Grecian strength!)

Knight's Tale


If such martial heroes as Achilles and even great Mars himself could sometimes enter Cupid's camp, it is scarcely surprising to find Palamon, in whose veins flowed the royal blood of Thebes, pledging his service for life as a miles amoris in the war on chastity. 1 "

The fires brenne upon the auter cleere, Whil Emelye was thus in hir preyere. But sodeynly she saugh a sighte queynte, For right anon oon of the fyres queynte, And quyked agayn, and after that anon That oother fyr was queynt and al agon; And as it queynte it made a whistelynge, As doon thise wete brondes in hir brennynge, And at the brondes ende out ran anon As it were blody dropes many oon. il(A) 2331-40] Chaucer's image of the bleeding fire-brand is derived from Teseida VII.92.1-3, where the same phenomenon attends the prayer of Boccaccio's Emilia: E parean sangue gli accesi tizzoni, da' capi spenti tututti gemendo lagrime tai, che spegnieno i carbon i. Robinson (p. 679) cites this reference as Chaucer's immediate source but observes that the "conception of the bleeding twigs . . . doubtless goes back ultimately to the Polydorus episode in the Aeneid"; and he suggests also analogues from Metamorphoses II and Inferno XIII. Since Chaucer probably knew well all of these passages, he might certainly have had any of them in mind when composing the Knight's Tale. Of this group, however, he appears in effect to have borrowed concretely only from Dante, and even the passage in the Inferno, like those in the Aeneid and the Metamorphoses, bears no resemblance in circumstances or significance to either Boccaccio or Chaucer. In Aeneid III. 19-46, Aeneas, having just landed on the Thracian coast and preparing to sacrifice a bull to Venus, Jove, and other deities, begins to clear some ground for an altar. The first bush which he


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

plucks up sheds drops of dark blood—"huic atro liquuntur sanguine guttae" (line 28); again he tries, and again blood oozes from a plant— "ater et alterius sequitur de cornce sanguis" (line 33). At his third attempt, the piteous moan of a human voice rises from the earth and begs Aeneas to desist. The voice is that of the Trojan Polydorus, who explains that his burial mound is covered with a growth of javelin-like plants because he was slain with spears. The purpose of the entire episode is to provide the explanation for Aeneas' hasty departure from Thrace in compliance with Polydorus* warning: "heu fuge crudelis terras, fuge litus avarum" (line 44). Dante's experience in the wood of the self-murderers (Inferno XIII. 31 36) closely resembles that of Aeneas at the grave of Polydorus and is undoubtedly an imitation of Vergil. When Dante tears a small branch from a thorn tree, its trunk grows dark with blood—"fatto fu poi di sangue bruno" (line 34)—and cries out for mercy in the voice of Pier delle Vigne, a minister of Frederick II who had taken his own life. Dante's comparison (lines 40-44) between the broken branch of Pier's tree, from which words and blood came forth together, and a green brand burning at one end and hissing with escaping wind as it drips from the other, probably provided Chaucer with his description of how one of the two fires in Diana's temple "made a whistelynge" when it went out, "As doon thise wete brondes in hir brennynge," and of how "blody dropes many oon" ran from "the brondes ende." Ovid, with his fondness for converting women into trees, might have been expected to employ the bleeding twigs image at least once, and he surpasses our expectations by using it twice. In Metamorphoses 11.340366, the Heliades, mourning the death of their brother Phaethon, are changed into trees; and when their mother Clymene answers their cries by attempting frantically to tear the bark from their bodies and to break off their branches, drops of blood run down as if from wounds—"Sanguineae manant, tamquam de vulnere, guttae" (line 360). Ovid relates this metamorphosis to explain the origin of amber, for the tears of the sister-trees, hardened by the sun, drop into a river which carries them away to be worn by Roman brides (lines 364-366). In Metamorphoses IX.324-393, Iole tells how her sister Dryope was transformed into a tree because she had innocently plucked some blossoms from the water-lotus plant into which die nymph Lotis had been changed when

Knight's Tale


fleeing Priapus. The two sisters were terrified to see the wounded lotus bleed: . vidi guttas e flore cruentas Decidere et tremulo ramos horrore orroi moveri.11' (IXJ44-34 5)

(I [Iole] saw bloody drops fall from the flower and saw the stems shake with a quivering horror.) These four passages all share certain characteristics which distinguish them as a group from the passage in the Knight's Tale: none of them concerns Diana in any way; each of them involves a tree or plant which once was human (Polydorus, Pier, the Heliades, Lotis), whereas Boccaccio and Chaucer both describe simply a fire-brand which bleeds when it burns; and in none of these instances does the bleeding wood portend a death, as it does in the Knight's Tale where the "blody dropes," like the permanently extinguished fire, symbolize the death of Arcite in the tournament with Palamon. It seems strange that the one occurrence of this image in classical poetry which most resembles that in the Teseida and the Knight's Tale, both in details and in meaning, is not cited by Robinson in his list of analogues—and this is all the more peculiar since it appears in the Tbebaid, which was Boccaccio's chief source in writing the Teseida, and was long ago suggested by Wise in his study of Statius' influence on Chaucer (p. 101). In Tbebaid IX, Atalanta, troubled with fears for the safety of her son Parthenopaeus in the war against Thebes, is confronted with a terrifying omen of his death. She beholds an oak tree (not said to be the result of a human metamorphosis), which she had once consecrated to Diana and had long worshipped as a divine power, hacked, disfigured, and bleeding: [hanc quercum] multo proscissam vulnere cernit deposuisse comam et rorantes sanguine ramos expirare solo. r (IX.595-597)

Correctly interpreting this dread portent, Atalanta hastens to Diana's shrine and begs that her son's life may be spared (lines 602-636). But as in the Knight's Tale, the prophecy comes true, for although Diana is moved by the mother's prayer, Parthenopaeus is mortally wounded in battle by the Theban chieftains (lines 865-874).


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales For thilke peyne, and thilke hoote fir In which thow whilom brendest for desir, Whan that thow usedest the beautee Of fairc, yonge, fresshe Venus free, And haddest hire in armes at thy wille— Although thee ones on a tyme mysfille, Whan Vulcanus hadde caught thee in his las. And foond thee liggynge by his wyf, alias!— For thilke sorwe that was in thyn herte, Have routhe as wel upon my peynes smerte. [1(A) 2383-92]

The immediate source of Chaucer's reference here to the myth of Mars and Venus caught in Vulcan's net is Teseida VII.25, where Boccaccio's Arcita also reminds Mars of his former passion for the wife of Vulcan, . . . per quella pietate ch'ebbe Nettunno allor che con disio di Citerea usavi la biltate, rinchiuso da Vulcano, ad ogni iddio fatto palese, umilmente ti priego ch'alli miei prieghi tu non facci niego. (3-8)

The relationship between these two passages may be seen in the similarity of Chaucer's "Whan that thow usedest the beautee/Of faire, yonge, fresshe Venus free" to Boccaccio's "allor che con disio/di Citerea usavi la biltate," and, less strikingly, in the similarity of "Whan Vulcanus hadde caught thee in his las" to "rinchiuso da Vulcano." The fact that Chaucer's allusion to the myth is somewhat more elaborate than Boccaccio's—including, for example, the detail that Vulcan caught Mars and Venus in a "las"—suggests that he knew some other more extensive version of the story also, such as that in Raman de ¡a Rose 13835-74, 14157-86, and 18061-18129, An Amatoria 11.561 -592, or Metamorphoses IV.l71-189. In fact, since Jean de Meun and Ovid were among Chaucer's favorite authors, he probably knew all of these passages; and since Ovid was also widely used by Boccaccio and Jean, the Middle Ages may be assumed to have derived both their knowledge of this myth and their interpretation of it from the An Amatoria and the Metamorphoses ™

Knight's Tale


There is nothing whatever sentimental or romantic in Ovid's characterization of this infamous love affair. Venus is called a "lasciva" (Ars Am. 11.567), Mars an "adulter" (Met. IV.182); their relationship is referred to as "culpa" (Ars Am. 11.572), "adulterium" (Met. IV.171), and "furta" (Met. IV. 174); and the ridiculous spectacle of the two lovers lying together "turpiter" (Met. IV. 187) in Vulcan's net, unable even to cover their faces or privy pans with their hands (Ars Am. II. 583-584), elicits laughter from the assembled gods (Ars Am. 11.581586; Met. IV.185-189). That is, their adultery is presented not as pure and beautiful love held up to blasphemous mockery, but as a disgraceful crime which became, properly, a laughing-stock in heaven. The absurdity of this situation, as well as the madness of such passion, is further emphasized by Ovid's description of Mars as a mighty warrior turned lover through his insane lust for Venus : Mars pater insano Veneris turbatus amore D e duce terribili factus amator erat.

(Ars Am. M.563-564) (Father Mars, driven by his insane love of Venus, was changed from a terrible captain into a lover.) The Middle Ages were not distracted in their reading of Ovid by any modern notions concerning the nobility of "free love." To Giovanni del Virgilio (p.55). Mars and Venus represent "homines virtuosos" who are sometimes deceived by lechery. The sun, which spies upon them and reveals their adultery, is man's mind and reason. Arnulf of Orléans' interpretation (p. 210), focusing on the moral degeneration of Mars alone, is perhaps more typical, but the implications of his gloss are much the same: Mars Venerem dicitur amasse, quia aliquando vir fortis in venerem dissolvitur, id est virtus aliquando corrupta amplexu Veneris id est libidinis Sole teste apparet id est in veritatis iudicio rea esse cognoscitur. Q u e quidem virtus prava consuetudine illiciti fervoris quasi cathena constringitur. 124

Those in Chaucer's audience who understood their Ovid could scarcely have failed to associate Arcite with Mars and to compare the Theban's lust for Emelye with his god's passion for Venus—especially since Arcite patently identifies himself with his patron deity by imploring Mars to remember his "peyne" and "hoote fir" for Venus and so to


Ovid and The Canterbury


pity the "peynes smerte" of his love-sick devotee. In much the same way, Troilus reveals the moral quality of his passion for Criseyde by praying to Mars, " O Mars, thow with thi blody cope,/For love of Cipris, thow me nought ne lette" (7r. 111.724-725)r As soldiers and homines virtuosi who are deceived by lechery into becoming irrational miHtes amoris, Arcite and Troilus are much like Mars; and these references, in their prayers, to the adultery of Mars and Venus, like Palamon's allusion, in his prayer, to the hot love of Venus for Adonis, provide mythological touchstones which the reader is expected to apply to the "illicit fervor" of these Chaucerian lovers.

T h e r nas no tygre in the vale of Galgopheye, W h a n that hir whelp is stole whan it is lite, So crueel on the hunte as is Arcite For jelous herte upon this Palamon. [1(A) 2626-29]

Chaucer's image of the tigress hunting for her stolen whelp may have been suggested by Teseida VIII.26.1 -6: . . . la leonessa negli ircani boschi, per li figliuo' che nel covile non trova, se con movimenti insani, messa in oblio, la sua ira gentile mugghiando corre e per monti e per piani, ne'mai la fa se non affanno umile. 1 "

Since Boccaccio does not mention the "vale of Galgopheye," however, Chaucerians are generally agreed that Chaucer derived this place name from Metamorphoses III. 155-156, where Ovid gives the name of the valley in which Actaeon became a stag: Vallis erat piceis et acuta densa cupressu, Nomine Gargaphie, succinctae sacra Dianae.

(There was a valley thick with pine and sharp-needled cypress; its name was Gargaphie, and it was sacred to high-gin Diana.) Hinckley's suggestion'" that there may also be some connection between Chaucer's "tygre" and the "Tigris" named by Ovid in Metamorphoses III.217 as one of Actaeon's hounds, is not very plausible—despite the consideration that Boccaccio speaks of a "leonessa" rather than a tigress. More

Knight's Tale


noteworthy is Hinckley's other observation that Chaucer's image parallels Metamorphoses XIII.547-549, where Ovid uses the lioness simile to describe Hecuba's hunt for Polymestor, the slayer of her son Polydorus: Utque furit catulo lactente orbata leaena, Signaque nacta pedum sequitur, quem non videt, hostem, Sic H e c u b a . . . .

(And as a lioness robbed of her suckling cub rages and follows the footprints of her enemy, whom she does not see, so Hecuba . . . . ) Chaucer's "whelp . . . whan it is lite" seems closer to Ovid's "catulo lactente" than to Boccaccio's "figliuo'." Of course, Ovid's lines may also have been known to Boccaccio.

But how the fyr was maked upon highte, Ne eek the names that the trees highte, As ook, firre, birch, aspe, alder, holm, popler, Wylugh, elm, plane, assh, box, chasteyn, lynde, laurer, Mapul, thorne, bech, hasel, ew, whippeltree,— How they weren feld, shal nat be toold for me; [1(A) 2919-241

Rhetorical tree-lists, like this catalogue of trees felled for Arcite's funeral, abound in the Latin and vernacular literatures at least from the time of Vergil to that of Spenser. They may be found in the Georgia, the Metamorphoses, Seneca's Oedipus, Lucan's Pbarsatia, the Tbebaid, Claudian's De Raptu Proserpinae, Le Roman de la Rose, the Teseida, Lydgate's Complaint of the Black Knight, Camoens* Lusiads, Tasso's Gerusalemma Hberata, and The Faerie Queene. Chaucer himself gives two such lists, that in the Knight's Tale and another in Parliament of Fowls 176-182. Since this tradition of the literary grove seems to be essentially rhetorical rather than nature-descriptive or significantly allegorical, it is unnecessary to seek out a list which corresponds tree by tree with Chaucer's."0 Chaucer had probably encountered a number of these catalogues in his reading among the works mentioned above, and given the idea of such a list he can surely be credited with a sufficiently creative poetic muse to have been able to choose his own trees. Nevertheless, some detailed comparisons of the more obviously relevant


Ovid and The Canterbury


among these lists may be useful. T h e most likely sources of the catalogue in the Knight's Tale are Teseida XI.22-24 and Thebaid VI.98106,'" both of which mention seven of Chaucer's twenty-one trees (ook, alder, holm, elm, assh, bech, and ew)\ Boccaccio alone also names the lynde and the hasel. Guillaume de Lorris' list of thirty-six different species in Roman de la Rose 13 30-60 contains nine of Chaucer's twenty-one (ook, aspe, elm, assh, chasteyn, laurer, mapul, bech, and hasel)—the same number which Boccaccio and Statius, taken together, provide. It is interesting to note, however, that of the twenty-five trees which Ovid mentions in Metamorphoses X.90-106," twelve appear in Chaucer's list, and six of these are among the twelve which do not occur in Boccaccio and Statius (firre, wylugh, plane, box, laurer, and mapul)"

N e hou the goddes ronnen up and doun, Disherited of hire habitacioun, In which they w o n e d e n in reste and pees, N y m p h e s , fawnes and amadrides; N e hou the beestes and the briddes alle Fledden for fere, w h a n the w o d e w a s falle. [1(A) 2 9 2 5 - 3 0 ]

This picture of the animals and sylvan deities fleeing from the forest when the trees are cut for Arcite's pyre is modelled after Teseida XI25: D o n d e la Terra sconsolato pianto ne diede; e quindi ciascuno altro iddio de'luoghi amati si parti intanto, dolente certo e contra suo disio, e l'albitro dell'ombre Pan che tanto quel luogo a m a v a , e ciascun semidio; e lor partenti ancor piangea la selva, che forse li mai più non si rinselva.

Wise has shown that Chaucer was also indebted here to Boccaccio's source, Thebaid VI. 110-113 : . . . lincunt flentes dilecta locorum otia cana Pales S i l v a n u s q u e arbiter u m b r a e s e m i d e u m q u e pecus, migrantibus a d g e m i t illis silva, nec a m p l e x a e dimittunt robora N y m p h a e . 1 "

Knight's Tale


Wise observes that Statius' "dilecta locorum/otia" is translated by Chaucer's "habitacioun,/In which they woneden in reste and pees," which does seem closer to Statius than to Boccaccio's "luoghi amati."" 4 Since, taken together, Boccaccio and Statius mention only the departure of the gods (iddio), demigods (semidio, semideumque pecus), Pan, Pales, Silvanus, and the Nymphs, a closer parallel has been sought for Chaucer's "Nymphes, fawnes and amadrides." Three passages from the Metamorphoses have been cited:1,7 Sunt mihi semidei, sunt rustica numina, nymphae Faunique satyrique et monticolae Silvani. (1.192-193)

(I have demigods, rustic deities, nymphs, fauns, satyrs, and mountaindwelling sylvan gods.) Inter hamadryadas celeberrima Nonacrinas Nai'as una fuit, nymphae Syringa vocabant. (1.690-691)

(There was, among the hamadryads of Nonacris, a naiad much sought after: the nymphs called her Syrinx.) Ilium ruricolae, silvarum numina, Fauni Et satyri fratres et tunc quoque cams Olympus Et nymphae f l e r u n t . . . . (VI.392-394)

(He was lamented by the country folk, by the deities of the forest, by the fauns, by his satyr brothers, by Olympus—still dear to him—and by the nymphs . . . . ) While Chaucer, again, may well have known all these passages, I suggest that his most likely source of supplementary information was this section of the Tbebaid, occurring immediately before that passage (VI.98-113) containing the tree-list and the account of the fleeing sylvan deities which both Boccaccio and Chaucer are known to have used: . . . stat sacra senectae numine, nec solos hominum transgressa veterno fertus avos, Nymphas etiam mutasse superstes Faunorumque greges. aderat miserabile luco excidium: fugere ferae, nidosque tepentes absiliunt—metus urget—aves."' (VI.93-98)


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

Not only does Statius refer here to nymphs and fauns, but lines 96-98 are quite closely rendered by Chaucer's "hou the beestes and the briddes alle/FIedden for fere, whan the wode was falle." NOTES 1. Robinson, p. 669. 2. This convenient summary of Ward's detailed comparison of the Knight's Tale and the Teseida is given by F J . Furnivall in A Temporary Preface to the Six-Text Edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (London, 1868), pp. 104-105. 3. H. M. Cummings, The Indebtedness of Chaucer's Works to the Italian Works of Boccaccio, Univ. of Cincinnati Stud., X, Pt. 2 (Menasha, 1916), pp. 134-1 3 5. 4. Baltimore, 1911, p. 2. 5 Chaucer and the Roman Poets, p 302. 6. Ovid's one other similarly brief allusion to the girdle of Hippolyte is contained in Cydippe's answer to Acontius in the Heroides. "Nullus Amazonio caelatus balteus auro./Sicut ab Hippolyte, praeda relata tibist" (XXI. 119-120—no girdle engraved with Amazonian gold was given you as booty Q>y mel as if by Hippolyte). Here again, Ovid does not explicitly associate Theseus with this exploit, although, according to the usual legend, Hippolyte was given by Hercules in marriage to Theseus for his assistance in securing the girdle. 7. Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary (Oxford, repr. 1958), p. 1997 8. For virtus as "strength," see Met.lX.62, I 88 (quoted above), and 200-201; for the meaning "courage," see Aiet.IX.163 and cf. patientia in line 164. For Ovid's application of virtus, in these senses, to other manly heroes, cf Ajax's boast (Me in line 1626. The introduction of this seemingly irrelevant line on a lord's impatience of rivalry may be explained as providing a referent for the allusion to lordsbipe in the proverb which follows. Wise's proposal (Tbe ¡nßuence of Statius upon Cbaucer, p. 90) that Chaucer "seems to have gone to Boccaccio's sourre" for line 1624 is unlikely and unnecessary, for the lines which he cites from Statius (Tbeb.


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

1.127-130) pertain specifically to the rivalry between Polynices and Eteocles for the rule of Thebes, and no such political rivalry exists between Palamon and Arcite. Furthermore, Ars y4m.III.564 alone can account for this allusion to political rivalry, which is mentioned in all three of these passages—Art Am.lll.S6}-S64, Tes.V.l 3.7-8, and KnT.1624-26—merely because it is analogous to the real subject of discussion, rivalry in love. In one sense, of course, Robinson's "idea of the sovereignty of love" is present in all of the works which have been considered, for Palamon and Arcite in the Knigbt's Tale and the Teseida, the lover in Le Roman de la Rose, the lecherous Jove who rapes Europa in the Metamorphoses, Aurelius in the Franklin's Tale, and Criseyde, all submit themselves to the God of Love, whose reign over them is not much encroached upon by any considerations of "charitee." It may be urged further that a rivalry between two lovers like Palamon and Arcite can exist only after the most basic rivalry between cvpiditas and cantos (perhaps implied by iCnT. 162 3) has been resolved by the complete triumph of Cupid in the lovers' hearts. But for the sake of clarification, it is necessary to repeat that Ars Am.lll.563-564 is simply a comparison between a lord's dislike of any challenge to his sovereignty in lordship and a lover's dislike of a rival in love; Tes.V.l3.7-8 and KnT.162526 are, therefore, legitimate medieval descendants of Ovid's aphorism, for this is their meaning also. 63. See Liddell, ed. The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, the Knigbtes Tale, the Nonnes Prestes Tale, p. 166. 64. See Hinckley, Notes on Chaucer, p. 73; listed also by Düringsfeld, Sprichwörter, 11, 2 3, »42. 65. Skeat (V.74) notes only the four identical occurrences of the line, and Shannon (Chaucer and the Roman Poets, pp. 178-179) and Robinson (p. 675) add only the reference to MLT.660. Nine of the references—i.e., all except KnT.952-951—are cited by Professor Alan Gaylord, "Seed of Felicity: a Study of the Concepts of Nobility and Gentilesse in the Middle Ages and in the Works of Chaucer" (unpub. Princeton diss., 1958), p. 448, n. 1. 66. John Livingstone Lowes, "Chaucer and Dante," Modern Philology, XIV (1917), 718; citations from the Comedia in my text are to the Temple Classics reprinted edition, ed. H. Oelsner, 3 vols., London, 1956-58. 67. Chaucer and the Roman Poets, p. 178. 68. Gaylord ("Seed of Felicity," p. 449) connects the expression genttl bene with the delicacy and sentiment of the "genteel" (as opposed to "gentle") aspect of the adjective genttl • "in the heart of an aristocrat was nurtured all the precepts of gentility that had been given him. It was his well of sentiment and sentimentality." This seems clearly to be the meaning of the expression in all of the passages which Robinson cites, including Dante's cor genttl, so that even if KnT. 1761 were related to these several passages, the meaning would be not that "Love repairs to the gentle heart," but rather "to the genteel heart," i.e., to the heart of a "gentleman," like Paolo or Troilus. That Dante's line and these other analogous expressions were so understood in the Middle Ages is indicated by Benevenuto da Imola's commentary on Inferno V.I00 (ed. J. P. Lacaita, 1.209): "Amor ch'al cor gentil ratio s'apprende, idest, cito accenditur; et debes intelligere maxime et potissime, quia nobilis plus vacat ocio et vivit delicatius, ideo cor eius citius accenditur quam cor rustici, sicut sulphur cuius accenditur quam lignum, et tarnen generaliter amor in omnibus vindicat sibi locum. Unde Virgilius III Georgicorum: Amor omnibus idem; unde omne genus animalium naturaliter currit in amorem pro conservatione suae speciei, sed quanto nobiliora tanto promora sunt in furiosum ignem amoris." It is noteworthy that there is no mention here of gentleness or softness of heart. Evidently, Shannon's caveat about confusing Chaucer's concept of pity and gentility with Dante's very different association of love and gentility has been ignored by other scholars than Robinson. Dunbar paraphrases Chaucer's most repeated line in the Tretis of the Tua Mariit Wem en and the Wedo (see The Poems of William Dunbar, ed. W. Mackay Mackenzie, London, 1932): "Bot mercy in to womanheid is a mekle venu,/For never bot in a gentill hen is generit ony ruth" (lines 315-316). Patrick Cruttwell's note on this passage in the popular Pelican Age of Chaucer (Aylesbury [1959} p. 179) again illustrates the persistence of Lowes' error: "The irony of that is given great force by the fact that the last line goes straight to the centre of its target, echoes, and in its context ridicules, one of the central sayings of counly love. It derives from Chaucer's 'pity renneth soon

Knight's Tale


in gentil hen'; that comes from Dante's' amor, che in cor genti] ratto s'apprende'; both go back to Provence and the deepest roots of the whole tradition." Dunbar's gentili bert, incidentally, seems to mean both "gentle heart" and "genteel heart." The lines quoted above certainly appear to mean that the great virtue of rutb or mercy is born only in the gentle hearts of women. On the other hand, the widow who speaks these lines dwells upon the fan of her gentility, explaining that her merchant husband was much inferior to her in station: ". . . the severance was mekle/Betuix his bastard blude and my birth noble" (lines 311-312). Such a man could never have become her mate, "had pete nought grantit" (line 314). The lady appears to be saying that the great mercy which she showed to this merchant in permitting him to marry her betokens both her womanliness and her genteel magnanimity. Dunbar's treatment of the widow is obviously satirical, and he may have intended her apparent confusion about the real meaning of Chaucer's famous line to reflect upon her boastful claim to noble birth and good breeding. 69. Manitius notes ("Beiträge," p. 749) that these lines are quoted by Vincent of Beauvais. 70. Chaucer and tbe Roman Poets, pp. 178-179. Shannon here notes also that "in every one of the instances where the line is used by Chaucer, the idea of major, 'of high station' (Chaucer's 'gentil'), is present with the one who shows the pity." A possible exception is LGW, Prot. F.161, discussed below. 71. In this passage, the adj. genti! means "gentle," rather than "genteel. " The idea of gentility or gentilesse is perhaps suggested by Curtesye. 72. The auctoritee which Chaucer had in mind was 7mf.lll.v.31 - 32. 73. Tbe Indebtedness of Chaucer's Works to tbe Italian Works of Boccaccio, p. 132. 74. There is an earlier reference to Citerone in T « . V I I . 4 3 , where Palamon addresses Venus in prayer as "bella dea, del buon Vulcano sposa,/per cui s'allegra il monte Citerone." These lines certainly provided Chaucer with one of his allusions to "Citheron," for Palamon's prayer to Venus in the Knight's Tale begins, "Faireste of faire, O lady myn, Venus,/Doughter to Jove, and spouse of Vulcanus./Thow gladere of the mount of Citheron" (lines 2221-23). Boccaccio may also be held partially responsible for Chaucer's alleged "error" in confusing "the island of Cytherea, the home of Venus, with a Mount Cithaeron, in Attica, which had nothing to do with the goddess" (Edwin A. Greenlaw, ed. Selections from Chaucer [Chicago and New York, 1908], p. 259), for in a note on Citerea as an epithet of Venus in Tei. 1.134, Boccaccio explains that this name was applied to the goddess "da uno monte eh'è sopra Tebe c'ha nome Citerone, nel quale Venere t adorata." For more detailed information, see Boccaccio's lengthy gloss on Tej.VH.50, identifying Citerone as a mountain near Thebes where, at certain times of the year, the Thebans held solemn festivals at which they offered many sacrifices in honor of Venus. Boccaccio adds, significantly, that the climate in the vicinity of this mountain was sufficiently mild to permit venereal activity. Boccaccio's chiose are printed in Roncaglia's edn. of the Teseida, pp 371-465. It is not certain, of course, that Chaucer knew these glosses. 75. See Fansler, Chaucer and tbe Roman de la Rose, p. 57. Jean also mentions Cytberon in connection with Venus in lines 15661, 15663, and 15767. 76. See Robertson, A Preface to Chaucer, p. 371. 77. This relationship has not been noted by Chaucer's editors. 78. The connection between Oiseuse and Ydelnesse has been noted by Skeat, V.78, and by Fansler, Chaucer and tbe Roman de la Rose, p. 85. 79. This pithy aphorism epitomizes the substance of its context (Rem.Am. 135-212), in which Ovid stresses the avoidance of idleness as the first necessary step which his patients must take in order to "unlearn" their love. He recommends that the lover banish sloth by busying himself with such occupations as law, warfare, husbandry, or hunting. Cf. with Ovid's advice Ben evenuto da Imola's gloss on Inferno V.100 (quoted above; see n.68 on KnT 1761), where he explains that Amor . . . al cor gentil ratto s'apprende "quia nobilis plus vacat ocio et vivit dclicatius . . . " The relationship between Ovid's otia and Guillaume's Oiseuse is noted by Ernest Langlois, Ori gmes et Sources du Roman de la Rose (Paris, 1891 ), p. 74. 80. " E n sa main tint un miroer;/Si ot d'un riche tre^oer/Son chief trecie mout richement" (RR.SS7-559). The richly tressed and carefully combed hair (cf. line 568: "eie s'estoit bien pigniee") indicates that Oiseuse used Luxuria's comb as well as her mirror. For illustrations of the Roman,


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

sec A. Kuhn, "Die Illustration des Rosenromans," Jahrbuch der Kunstbistoriscben Sammlungen des Allerhöchsten Kaiserhauses, XXXI (1913), Iff. and esp. pp. 26-27. See also Robertson. A Preface to Chaucer, Fig. 13, and cf. the conventional representation of Luxuria shown in Fig. 68. This section of my paper is much indebted to Professor Robertson's discussion (pp. 91-93) of the garden of Deduit and the iconographic significance of ona. 81. Pbilobiblon XV.9-15. cited from Robertson, A Preface to Chaucer, p. 92, n 69 82 Ibid 83. ¡bid. pp. 458-459 84. Ed. V. Pini, Quadrivium, I (1957), 124; cited by Robertson, A Preface to Chaucer, p. 92, n.69. Manitius ("Beiträge," pp. 735-753) records the following additional medieval citations of Rem. Am 139: Carmma Burma CLVI.6-7 (ed. J. A. Schmelier [Stuttgart, 1883], p 221); Menko. Cbroniam, MGSS. XXIII. 531; Ordericus Vitalis, Historia Ecclesiastica V, Normann. 5. S. Antujui, p. 547; Petrus Comestor. Sermo XXXII. Migne, PL. CXCVI1I 1799; Petrus Cantor, Verbum Abbreviatum. Migne, PL, C C V . 2 4 6 ; Alanus de Insulis. Summa de arte praedicandi, Migne, PL, C C X . I 8 0 ; Thomas the Cistercian, In Cantica canticorum praefatio. Migne, PL, CCVI.192; Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum bistoriale. cap.114; and Guillelmus' Vita of T h o m a s of Canterbury, Migne, PL, CXC.l 15. 85. See Genesis 1.28 and, for a discussion of the spiritual sense of God's commandment to "increase and multiply," cf. Robertson. A Preface to Chaucer, pp. 201 and 322-323. 86. In the Parson's Tate, ydehtesse is discussed, under the sin of sloth, not as "porter of the gate . . . of delices" but as "the yate of alle h a r m e s " (714). With the Parson's more general definition of idleness, cf. the long list of variants, in many languages, of the proverb "Müssiggang ist aller Laster Anfang," in Düringsfeld, Spricbtuörter, II, 65, »112. Note also that, like St. Cecilia and in accordance with the Second Nun's precept, Virginia in the Physician's Tate strives busily to banish idleness: "Shamefast she was in maydens shamefastnesse./Constant in herte, and evere in bisynesse/To dryve hire out of ydel slogardye" (lines 55-57). 87. See Ernst Roben Curaus, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, trans. W . R. Trask (Bollingen Series, XXXVI, 1953), p 89; and Jean Seznec, The Survival of the Pagan Gods, trans. B. F. Sessions (Bollingen Series, XXXVHI, 1953), pp. 109-111. Seznec (p. 109. n.108) cfs. with Rem.Am.lS9 Proverbia rusticorum 7: " O p e r a cum mihi do, mihi praebet terga Cupido./Oda si sequeris, luxuriosus eris." 88. See Langlois. Origmes et Sources du Roman de la Rose, p. 71. Chaucer translates Guillaume de Lorris' version of the myth in his Romaunt of the Rose, 1469-1538. T h a t he was also directly acquainted with the Ovidian original, however, is proved by an allusion in the Franklin's Tale, where Aurelius, unable to declare openly his love for Dorigen, likens himself to poor Echo: "And dye he moste, he seyde, as dide Ekko/For Narcisus, that dorste nat telle hir wo" (lines 951-952). T w o Chaucer manuscripts, one of them the Ellesmere, contain for these lines the gloss "Methamorphosios" (see John M. Manly and Edith Ricken, The Text of the Canterbury Tales [Chicago, 1940} 111.515), and most Chaucerians are agreed that this assignation is correct. As Hinckley argues (Notes on Chaucer, pp. 245 246), since there is no indication in the Roman "that Echo had any difficulty in declaring her love for Narcissus," Chaucer must have been familiar at first hand with Ovid's "well-known story how the garrulity of Echo prevented Juno from surprising Jupiter in one of his infidelities, for which reason Juno punished Echo with inability to speak except to repeat the last words of another speaker." (In Ovid's account, lines 356-401 of Metamorphoses III concern Echo's love for Narcissus; lines 402-510 concern Narcissus' selflove. Ovid says explicitly, in lines 375-378. that although Echo longed to approach Narcissus with soft words and prayers, her very nature forbade this and permitted her only to give back the words of others.) For the same reason. Fansler (Chaucer and the Roman de la Rose, p. 55) and Shannon (Chaucer and the Roman Poets, p. 322) also maintain that these lines in the Franklin's Tale could only have been written with Ovid's story in mind: in the Roman, Echo does tell her " w o " and prays "that Narcissus may feel the torture of loving and not being loved" (Shannon, p. 322), while Ovid has someone else express that wish (Met Ul.404-405). Fansler (p. 55) errs, however, in asserting that, in Ovid's narrative, it is "some unnamed damsel that prays for vengence"; it was rather a young man whose company Narcissus had scorned.


1 ale


There is another Chaucerian allusion to Echo and Narcissus in Tbe Book of tbe Ducbess. And Ecquo died, for Narcisus/Nolde nat love hir" (lines 755-736) And in the Lenvoy at the end of his tale, the Clerk ironically offers this advice to modern women, who emulate the Wife of Bath much more than Griselda: "Folweth Ekko. that holdeth no silence./But evere answereth at the countretaille" (lines 1189-1190). 89. Ovid: A Poet between Two Worlds, p. 85; cited by Robertson, A Preface to Chaucer, p. 93, n.73. See Professor Robertson's discussion of Narcissus, pp. 93-94. 90. See Arnulf of Orleans, p. 209. 91. Amulf of Orleans says (p. 209) that Narcissus is arrogancia and Echo, hominis bona fama. "Ille [Narcissus] autem fugit illam [Echo] et utnbram sequitur i. gloriam mondanam que cito transit ut umbra, et ad ultimum mutatur in florem i. in rem nichil valentem." John of Garland (p. 49: lines 163-164) describes Narcissus as a "puer . . . cupidus quern gloria rerum/Fallit que florent que velut umbra fluunt." Petrus Allegheri (Super Dands . . . comoediam commentarius, ed. V. Nannucci, p. 562) cites Ovid in Metamorphoses III for a reference to the legend of Narcissus, and Echo in Dante, and adds: "Narcissus, idest varicosus et arrogans. Echo, bona fama, quae arrogantem amaret et extolleret, nisi earn contemneret: convertitur in florem, quia in caducam rem finitur Benevenuto da Imola also cites Ovid for this myth in his commentary on Dante's Comedia (ed. J. P. Lacaita, IV.365), explaining that Narcissus "certe est juvenis van us, vagus, qui more pavonis gloriatur et delectatur mirabili forma sua et sibi placet: et sic caprus a mo re sui credit videre in se rem veram non umbram, cum tamen pod us e contra pulcritudo corporis sit umbra quae vanescit inter oculos ipso mm mirandum et laudandum'Benevenuto contends that Narcissus-types are to be found in every land, for he himself once knew such a one: "Et certe omnis terra habet suos Narcissos. nec est diu quod vidi unum recte talem, qui florem suae formae stultius et infelicius perdidit quam Narcissus, acerba et infami morte." See also Robert Holkot's commentary Super librum sapienoae (Basel, 1586), pp. 519-520—cited by Robertson, A Preface to Chancer, p 93, n.75. 92 Ed. C. de Boer, Livre III, lines 1908-09 and 1925-27. 93. See n.91, above. 94. See Tbe EngBsb Works of John Gower, ed. G. C. Macaulay, 1.97-98. 95. Ovid pauses in his story of Circe, Glaucus, and Scylla CM«XIV. 1 -74) to observe that no heart is more suscepdble than Circe's to the fire of love (lines 25-27); and in Her.XU l65-l66, Medea confesses that her podons are powerless against the flames of her own passion. Circe and Medea are mentioned together also in An y4m ll.101-104 and RR. 14404-08, but in both these passages the two witches serve only to illustrate die proposition that magic cannot sustain love; no mention is made here, as in the Remedia Amoris, of the fact that their cncbauntementz are equally useless in curing love. 96. Tbe Indebtedness of Chaucer's Works to tbe Italian Works of Boccaccio, pp. 132-133. 97. For Chaucer's reference to Atalanta and Meleager, see KnT.2069-72, discussed below. 98. Chaucer and tbe Roman Poets, p. 304. 99. Ed. A. Roncaglia, p. 424; for Atalanta, see cbiose, pp. 425-426. 100. See Hinckley, Notes on Chaucer, p. 86, and Robinson, p. 677. Manly (ed. Canterbury Tales, p. 554) disagreed with this and noted that the name appears in Gower as "Calistona ' (C.AV.6228), but this seems to be a conscious attempt at anglicization of the Latin by using an oblique form of the name. Gower probably thought that the regular genitive singular of Callisto was CalHstonis rather than the unusual form CalBstSs. Ci. Lydgate's CaUxtone (Troy Book, 1.700) and Chaucer's Caton (NPT.2976), Scipion (HF.II.514), Platan (HF. 11.759), and Neroun (AttT.253 7). 101. The compiler of the glossary of proper names in Robinson's edition of Chaucer appears, on the other hand, to have known the name but not die myth: "Catistopee, Cafyxte, Callisto, an Arcadian nymph changed by Zeus into a bear and subsequently slain by Artemis" (p. 994). 102. a . Robinson, p. 678. 103. In Boece IV.m.6, Chaucer speaks again of "the sterre ydepid the Bere" (line 8) and of "the same sterre Ursa" (line 11). 104. MSS El, Hg, Ch, Cp-La, Ha 1 , Py. and To ; see Manly and Rickert, Tbe Text of tbe Canterbury Tales, 111.485. The designations of mss of Tbe Canterbury Tales used throughout


Ovid and Tbe Canterbury Tales

my paper arc the standard symbols, employed by Manly and Rickert, and conveniently listed with their corresponding full titles by Robinson, pp. 886-887. 105. This suggestion was originally Manly's; see Robinson, p. 678. There appears to have been some confusion concerning this matter among medieval commentators. Petrus Allegheri. for example, indicates in his commentary on the Comedia (ed. V. Nannucci, p. 728) that Callisto and Areas together became Ursa Major: "Jupiter vero postea eas translatavit in illas stellas, quae dicuntur Ursa major." Amulf of Orleans (p. 187) offers two different explanations in his gloss on Met.H.SO?. "viànaque sidera fecit quorum unum vocatur Helice, alteram Cinosura, mater Helice dicta est, filius Cinosura. Alii e contra de Archade Boeten, de quadam puella traccnsi minorem ursam factam esse dicunt que Cinosura nomine propter rcmuneradonem dicitur quia ablactavit lovem in celum translata." And in his note on Fasti 11.190, Arnulf speaks of maior una and minor una. maius plaustrum et minus, maior septentrio et minor septentrio, maior arctos et minor arctos, Arctos maior and minor Artopbilax, maior Helice et minor Cynosura, and adds that the minor sign is also called Pbenice and Boetes (see jean Holzworth, "An Unpublished Commentary on Ovid's Fasti by Amulfus of Orleans," unpub. Bryn Mawr diss., 1940, p. 114). 106. In Fasti II. 153. Ovid refers to the stellified Areas simply as Custodem . . Vrsae (the Guardian of the Bear); lines 189-190, quoted above, speak only of the two neighboring signs— Arctos and, following at its back, Arctopbylax. In Alef.U.516-517, Ovid speaks of the two stars set "ubi circulus axem/Ultimus extremum spatioque brevissimus ambit" (where the last circle, that of smallest girth, surrounds the farthest pole) ; and the term Septem . . . triones (seven plough stars) in line 528, is used to include both stars. In none of these references does Ovid specify which star or constellation is Callisto and which Areas. 107. See Manly, ed. Canterbury Tales, p. 554. In 7ics.III.l6.2-4, Arcita says, with reference to Emilia's beautiful eyes, "Io veggo in lor colui/che gia per Danne il padre di Fetone/ fen". . . . " Since there is no mention here of Penneus or of Daphne's metamorphosis into a tree, Boccaccio's single brief reference could have provided Chaucer only with the form of the name, and this he might have found in Amulf of Orleans (Dane, pp. 201-203), Giovanni del Virgilio {Dane, p. 46), or Berchorius (Dana, pp. 102 and 104). 108 Six-Text Print of tbe Canterbury Tales, 1.6$, 109. Tbe Influence of Staous upon Chaucer, p. 136. 110 Ed. Leopold Constans, Paris, 1890. 111. See Mather, ed. Tbe Prologue, tbe Knight's Tale, and tbe Nun's Priest's Tale. p. 77; Liddell, ed. Tbe Prologue to tbe Canterbury Tales, tbe Knigbtes Tale, tbe Nonnes Prestes Tale, p. 170; and Hinckley, Notes on Cbaucer, p. 87. 112. Lewis and Short, A Latin Dictionary, p. 187. 113. Shannon has shown (Cbaucer and tbe Roman Poets, p. 154) that this longer version of the story of Atalanta and Meleager in 7V.V. 1464-84 agrees in all essential details with Ovid's account in Metamorphoses VIII. Chaucer's one error here consists in making Tideus a descendant of Meleager (V. 1480-81), whereas Tydeus was really Meleager's brother and hence the son of King Oeneus. This same error is repeated in Tr.V.l 513-15, where Cassandra interprets the boar in Troilus' dream as a symbol of "Diomede./Tideiis sone, that down descended is/Fro Meleagre, that made the boor to blede." It may be significant that Tideus is not mentioned in Metamorphoses VIII. 114. Six- Text Print of the Canterbury Tales, 1.64. 115. In lines 560-704, Venus tells Adonis the story of Atalanta's race and of the metamorphosis of her and Hippomenes into lions. 116. See the discussion of Gen. Prol. 191 -19 2, above. 117. With Chaucer's reference to "hym thow lovedest in the shawe," cf. Met.X.554-559 : "Sed labor insolitus iam me lassavit, et ecce Opportuna sua blanditur populus umbra, Datque torum caespes: libet hac requiescere tecum" Et requievit humo, pressitque et gramen et ipsum, Inque sinu iuvenis posita cervice reclinis Sic ait, ac mediis interserit oscula verbis.




("But unaccustomed labor has wearied me, and look! a poplar coaxes us with its agreeable shade, and the turf offers us a couch. It is pleasant to rest here with you." she says, lying down on the ground and reclining both on the grass and on Adonis. Leaning with her head pressed against the young man's breast, she addresses him and interrupts her words with kisses.) 118. This passage and those which follow are all cited by Robertson, A Preface to Chancer, pp. 408-409. 119. Such amatory warfare as that which kept Achilles from performing his duties as a true soldier was equally inconsistent with the virtues of a medieval knight. See Professor Robertson's discussion of this point, ibid., pp. 409-410, esp. with reference to the boast by the second lover in Andreas Capellanus' De Amore that he is a successful miles amoris. 120. Six-Text Print of the Canterbury Tales, 1.67. 121. The passages suggested by Robinson are all proposed by Hinckley, Notes on Chaucer, p. 98. 122. Citations from the Aeneid in my text are to the edition by F. A. Hirtzel (Oxford, repr. 19 !9). 123. Chaucenans have not listed this passage among the other analogues for KnT.2H9-40. The verbal similarity between Chaucer's blody dropes (KnT.liW) and theguttas . . . cruentas of Alft.IX.344 is probably no more indicative of direct Ovidian influence than that of Sanguineae . . . guttac in A4et.II.360, which Hinckley (Notes on Chaucer, p. 98) proposed, together with Vergil's atro . . . sanguine guttac G4ra.III.28), as a likely source of Chaucer's expression. Nothing can really be deduced from the independent consideration that some form of blody dropes appears in about one-half of these passages describing bleeding wood. Hinckley's other suggestion (p. 98), that Chaucer may have been thinking of the burning of that brand on which Meleager's life depended, is interesting but rather far-fetched. Ovid nowhere says that this piece of wood bled; the lines which Hinckley cites (Afet.VIII.513-514) say only that the wood groaned, or seemed to groan, as it burned. The fire-brand in the Knight's Tale, on the other hand, whistles when burning—as Dante's green brand hisses. 124. Six-Text Print of the Canterbury Tales, 1.68. 125. According to Langlois (ed. Le Roman de la Rose, IV.285) and Fansler (Chaucer and the Roman de la Rose, p. 60), Jean de Meun's three versions of the story are based on Art Am. 11.561-600. (The passage in Metamorphoses IV is pointed out by Skeat, V.87.) The three brief allusions to this myth in Statíus (Tbeb.ll.269-271, 111.274-276, and IX.821-822), cited by Wise (The Influence of Statius upon Chaucer, p. 102) in connection with the Teseida and the Knight's Tale, are really insufficient to account for any of these medieval handlings of the legend. 126. O. Ovide moralise' Livre IV, lines 173 3ff. 127. The similarity between Troilus and Mars is further indicated by Troilus' words to the sun: " W e wol the nought, us nedeth no day have" (111.1463). Like Mars in the arms of Venus, Troilus in the arms of Criseyde prefers the spiritual blindness of night to the sun's revealing light of reason. 128. Six-Text Print of the Canterbury Tales, 1.75. 12 9. Notes on Chaucer, p. 108. 130. As Curtius observes (.European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, trans. Trask, p. 195), "Clearly, what we are dealing with is a standard topos. These bravura pieces have as little to do with observation of nature as Ekkehart's graces have to do with monastery cooking . . . . The ideal of this late rhetorical poetry is richness of d&or and an elaborate vocabulary." 131. See Wise, The Influence of Statius upon Chaucer, pp. 110-111. 13 2. See Fansler, Chaucer and the Roman de la Rose, p. 113. 13 3. Skeat calls attention to this passage, V.92. 13 4. Ovid refers also to thepopler, but only indirectly as nemus He&adum (X.91). 13 J. The Influence of Statius upon Chaucer, p. 54. 136. Ibid., p. 111. 13 7. See Koch, "Chaucers Belesenheit in den romischen Klassikern," p. 12. 13 8. See Wise, The Influence of Statius upon Chaucer, p. 111.

a Miller's Tale For som folk wol ben wonnen for richesse, And somme for strokes, and somme for gentillesse. [1(A) 3 381-82]

According to Manly and Rickert,' the only marginal gloss of really widespread occurrence in manuscripts of the Miller's Tale is "Vnde Ouidius Ictibus agrestis," usually written next to line 3 382. In one manuscript, En', the gloss is expanded to "Vnde Ouidius Ictibus agrestem ciuilem munere vince Colloquio nobilem comoditate loci," with the words "Colloquio nobilem" stricken and subscribed "Egregiasque vero." Another manuscript, Py, combines the usual brief gloss with Chaucer's line 3 383—"Somtyme, to shewe his lightnesse and maistrye"—giving "Vnde Ovidius Ictibus agrestis and maistrie." "Ictibus" is evidently intended to parallel Chaucer's "strokes," and "Ictibus agrestis," therefore, should mean something like "the rustic is won with strokes (i.e., caresses)." I interpret the expanded gloss in M S En' as follows: "Whence Ovid: Win the rustic with strokes, the city-dweller with gifts, and the noble of high rank with discourse." In its altered form, the last portion of the gloss seems to jnean "and win aristocrats, indeed, with courtesy [comoditate loci (?)]." The feminine gender of "Egregiasque" shows that the glossator refers throughout to women—of the country, of the city, and of the upper classes—and the words "Ictibus," "munere," and "Colloquio" or "comoditate loci" parallel, respectively, Chaucer's "for strokes," "for richesse," and "for gentillesse." Since neither this aphorism nor even the expression "Ictibus agrestis" can be found anywhere in Ovid, and since Skeat (V. 104), Robinson (p. 685), Manly, and Rickert were all unable to indicate the source intended, 1 I may be justified in offering a very conjectural explanation, the validity of which might be determined by more extensive investigation. 114

Miller's Tale


In Fasti II, Ovid begins his section on the Ides (13th) of February with this line: "Idibus agrestis fumant altaria Fauni" (line 193—on the Ides, smoke issues from the altars of rustic Faunus). Since " t " is sometimes uncrossed in medieval manuscripts, it would be possible to read the " d " of "Idibus" as "ct," thereby changing the word to "Ictibus." Only one such hasty misreading of Fasti 11.193 would have been needed to initiate a tradition of assigning to Ovid a "proverb" concerning the efficacy of caresses in wooing country lasses—especially since such a maxim might well have come from the witty author of the Ars Amatoria. T o the medieval copyist of the Miller's Tale, Chaucer's statement that some people are won by riches, some by "gentillesse," and others (like Alisoun) "for strokes"' probably seemed to be a quotation of auctoritee-, and since he remembered Ovid's "Ictibus agrestis"—which he most likely associated with the Ars Amatoria—he wrote these words in the margin of his manuscript to indicate Chaucer's source. Another scribe, in M S En1, extended this terse reference into a complete proverb simply by paraphrasing Chaucer's couplet in Latin.

Whan that the water comth, that we may go, And breke an hole an heigh, upon the gable. Unto the gardyn-ward, over the stable, That we may frely passen forth oure way, Whan that the grete shour is goon away. [1(A) 3570-74] Although the flood which Nicholas predicts in the Miller's Tale is referred many times to that which destroyed the world in Noah's time, these lines seem also to suggest—intentionally or not—a passage in Ovid's account of the deluge in Metamorphoses I: Occupat hie collem: cumba sedet alter adunca Et ducit remos illic ubi nuper ararat; Ille super segetes aut mersae culmina villae Navigat, hie summa piscem deprendit in ulmo. (293-296) (One man takes refuge on a hill-top; another sits in his curved boat and plies his oars over ground which he recently plowed. This one rows over fields of grain and over the roof of his submerged farmhouse; that one catches a fish in the top of an elm tree.)


Ovid and The Canterbury


T h e Middle Ages believed that Ovid knew parts of the Old Testament and was here describing the same universal deluge depicted in Genesis, although endowing Noah and his wife with the poetical names Deucalion and Pyrrha.' Hence Giovanni del Virgilio, commenting upon Deucalion's flood, explains (p. 45), "Nam legitur quod quodam tempore totus mundus periit aqua tempore Noe." The words of God in the Anttclaudianus of Alanus de Insulis reveal the extent to which the two flood narratives were regarded as variant accounts of the same event: "If I, considering the sinfulness of the world, the villainy and viciousness of the earth, wished to discharge in full penalties according to its merit, I should again veil the lands in floods, again clothe the mountains with waters, and the whole human race would perish, nor would any merit of life escape the deluge, nor another Deucalion live or another Noah assemble an ark." 6 In the Ovide moralise', Ovid's account of the creation is doubled in length, and the anonymous author carefully indicates (1.341453) the similarities between Metamorphoses I and Genesis. Jehovah and Jove both determine to destroy mankind with water (1.1462-1518), and in both versions all perish except Noah or Deucalion and their families. Later Ovidians, such as Thomas Walleys and Lavinius, continued the tradition of paralleling these two accounts of the world's early history; and the Renaissance, too, accepted the notion that Metamorphoses I was based on Genesis. In his English translation of the Metamorphoses (1565-67), Arthur Golding represented Ovid's Golden Age as a pagan counterpart of the Garden of Eden and identified Deucalion's flood with Noah's. Milton drew upon both Genesis and the Metamorphoses for details of the flood, still to come, which Michael shows Adam in Book XI of Paradise Lost; 7 and in the mid-seventeenth century, Abraham Cowley found it necessary to express, in the Preface to his Poems (1656), a preference for the Biblical account over that in Ovid: " W h a t can we imagine more proper for the ornaments of Wit or Learning in the story of Deucalion then in that of Noah ? " ' Even if modern scholarship declares that the Biblical and Ovidian floods are entirely independent conceptions and that the Metamorphoses need not and must not be reconciled with Scripture, there remains one essential similarity between the two legends which makes them both equally relevant to the sentence of the Miller's Tale and Paradise Lost. The author of Genesis, Ovid, and Milton all make it abundantly clear that the inundation represents the visitation of God's avenging

Miller's Tale


justice upon a wicked humanity. The Jehovah of the Old Testament "saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis VI.5). Ovid's Jove descended from Olympus and visited the earth disguised in human form to test the report which had come to Heaven concerning the infamy of the age. The evil which he found among men was so overwhelming that he resolved upon the destruction of the race: "dent ocius omnes/Quas meruere pad, sic stat sententia, poenas" (Met. 1.242-243—let them all pay swiftly the penalties which they have deserved to endure; so stands my sentence). And in Paradise Lost, Michael shows Adam how, with the exception of Noah only, antediluvian men "all shall turn degenerat, all deprav'd,/Justice and Temperance, Truth and Faith forgot" (XI.806-807).' The mock flood in the Miller's Tale which causes old John the carpenter to break his arm and lose face with his neighbors is also purificatory in nature; like the Scriptural and Ovidian floods, it comes as a just punishment for sin. As Chaucer's Parson observes, "by the synne of lecherie God dreynte al the world at the diluge" [X(I) 839}; and it is indirectly as a result of lecherous activity on the part of Nicholas, Alisoun, and Absolon that old John, himself a lecher and a jalovx, cuts the cord by which his "ark" depends from the ceiling and comes crashing down to disgrace. . . . I am a lord at alle degrees; For after this I hope ther cometh moore. Lemman, thy grace, and sweete bryd, thyn oore! [1(A) 3724-26]

Absolon's hope that the kiss which he is about to receive from Alisoun will be only the prelude to a fuller revelation of her "grace" is supported by the teachings of those two masters of the art of love, Bel Acueil in Le Roman de la Rose and Ovid, self-appointed "praeceptor Amoris" in the Ars Amatoria. When the lover in the Roman asks permission to kiss the rose, "Fair Welcome" replies that "Chastity" has warned him not to grant kisses, for no lover who wins a kiss can rest content with only half his prize: "Amis," fait il, "si Deus m'ai'st, Se Chaste^" ne m'enhaist, Ja ne vos fust par moi vee,


Ovid and The Canterbury


Mais je n'ose por Chastee", Vers cui je ne vueil pas mesprendre. Ele me siaut toz jorz defendre Que dou baisier congie'ne doigne A nul amant qui m'en semoigne. Car qui au baisier puet ataindre A poine puet atant remaindre; E sachiez bien cui l'en otroie Le baisier, il a de la proie Le miauz e le plus avenant, Si a erres dou remenant." (3395-3408)

Perhaps "Chastity" knew that Ovid had instructed his disciples rather forcefully never to be satisfied with mere kisses : Oscula qui sumpsit, si non et cetera sumpsit, Haec quoque, quae data sunt, perdere dignus erit. Quantum defuerat pleno post oscula voto? Ei mihi! rusticitas, non pudor ille fuit! (Ars Am. 1 669-672)

(Whoever takes kisses and does not take other things besides will deserve to lose even those things which have been granted him. After kisses, by how much was your vow still unfulfilled? Ah me, that was awkward timidity, not modesty!)

NOTES 1. Tbe Textof tbe Canterbury Tales, 111.490. 2. Manly was much disturbed by the implications of this seemingly-false attribution to Ovid. In ibid., III.527, he observes, "It is indeed strange that so much of his [Chaucer's] indebtedness is unacknowledged in the glosses, particularly indebtedness to authors of classical antiquity, and that the widespread reference to Ovid at A 3 380 should be false." 3. See MillT.i 276,3279, and 3304. 4. See lines 3517-18, 3 5 3 4 - 4 3 , 3 5 5 9 - 6 0 , 3 58 1 -82, 3615-16, 3818, and 3834. 5. See Davis P. Harding, Milton and the Renaissance Ovid, Illinois Stud, in Lang, and Lit., XXX (4) (Urbana, 1946), 21 and 80. 6. Trans. W. H. Cornog (Philadelphia, 193 5), p. 126. 7. See Harding, ibid., pp. 81 -84. 8. See J. E. Spingarn, ed. Critical Essays of tbe Seventeenth Century, II (Oxford, 1908). 89. 9. Cited from The Poetical Works of John Milton, ed. Helen Darbishire (Oxford, 1958). 10. See Robertson, A Preface to Cbaucer, p. 385.

4. Introduction to Man of Law's Tale Lordynges, the tyme wasteth nyght and day, And steleth from us, what pryvely slepynge, And what thurgh necligence in oure wakyngc. As dooth the streem that turneth nevere agayn, Descendynge fro the montaigne into playn. [1KB1 ) 20-24] As Robinson remarks (p. 690), "These observations on the passage of time, often with the comparison to the river, were commonplace or even proverbial." H e cites the following examples: For thogh we slepe, or wake, or rome, or ryde. Ay fleeth the tyme; it nyl no man abyde. (Clerk's Taie, 118-119) Li Tens qui s'en vait nuit e jor, Senz repos prendre e senz sejor, E qui de nos se part e emble Si celeement qu'il nos semble Qu'il s'arest adès en un point, E il ne s'i areste point, Ainz ne fine de trespasser. Que l'en ne puet nei's penser Queus tens ce est qui est presenz, Sel demandez as clers lisanz , Car ainz que l'en I'eiïst pensé Seraient ja troi tens passe. Li Tens qui ne puet sejorner, Ainz vait toz jorz senz retorner. Con l'eve qui s'avale toute, N'il n'en retorne arriéré goûte. (Roman de la Rose, 361-376) Ipsa quoque assiduo labuntur tempora motu, Non secus ac flumen. neque enim consistere (lumen Nec levis hora potest: sed ut unda impellitur unda, 119

Ovid and The Canterbury Tales


Urgueturque eadem veniens urguetque priorem; Tempora sic fugiunt pariter, pariterque sequuntur, Et nova sunt semper, nam quod fuit ante, relictum est, Fitque quod haud fuerat, momentaque cuncta novantur. (Metamorphoses, XV. 179-185) ( T i m e itself also glides by with a continuous motion, just like a river; for neither a river nor a fleet hour is able to stand still. But as one wave is pressed on by another, the same wave both being urged on by the one behind and urging on the one before—so time both flies and pursues and is always new; for what once existed is left behind, and that which was not comes into being, and the whole cycle is renewed.) . . . eunt anni more fluentis aquae; Nec quae praeteriit, iterum revocabitur unda, Nec quae praeteriit, hora redire potest. Utendumst aetate: cito pede labitur aetas.' (Ars Amatoria, 111.62-65) (The years pass on like flowing water; the wave that has rolled past cannot be recalled, nor can an hour return which has gone by. Your span of years must be well-used: a lifetime passes on swift feet.) Transit ut aquafluenstempus et hora ruens. (Latin Proverb) It seems likely, both on the basis of certain verbal similarities and from the fact that Chaucer translates Guillaume's lines verbatim in his Romaunt

of the Rose,

that the passage from the Roman

was the

important immediate source of Harry Bailly's comparison between onrushing time and ever-flowing water in the Introduction Law's


to the Man


and it appears certain, as Langlois has indicated in some

detail, that Guillaume himself here relied heavily and, indeed, almost exclusively upon Ovid, to whom Chaucer's lines can thus be ultimately traced. 5

In youthe he made of Ceys and Alcione, And sitthen hath he spoken of everichone,

Introduction to Man of Law's Tale


Thise noble wyves and thise loveris eke. Whoso that wole his large volume seke, Cleped the Seintes Legende of Cupide, Ther may he seen the large woundes wyde Of Lucresse, and of Babilan Tesbee; The swerd of Dido for the false Enee; The tree of Phillis for hire Demophon; The pleinte of Dianire and of Hermyon, Of Adriane, and of Isiphilee; The bareyne yle stondynge in the see; The dreynte Leandre for his Erro; The teeris of Eleyne, and eek the wo Of Brixseyde, and of the, Ladomya; The crueltee of the, queene Medea, Thy litel children hangynge by the hals, For thy Jason, that was of love so fals! O Ypermystra, Penelopee, Alceste, Youre wifhod he comendeth with the beste! But certeinly no word ne writeth he Of thilke wikke ensample of Canacee, That loved hir owene brother synfully; (Of swiche cursed stories I sey fy!) f l l ( B ' ) 57-80] W e have already discussed the influence of Ovid's Heroides

upon the

composition of this list of lovers, whose tales Chaucer either wrote or planned to write, as well as the usefulness of this passage in determining the intended scope of The Legend

of Good Women.*

For convenience,

even at the risk of some repetition, I cite below the more relevant passages in Chaucer and Ovid for each of the names here mentioned by the Man of Law. Although I have not been concerned to record here every occurrence of these names in the works of Ovid and Chaucer, I have noted all appearances in The Canterbury

Tales. The numbers refer to

lines in the passage quoted above from the Introduction to the Man of Law's Tale. 57. Ceys andAlcione: BD. 62-220; Met- XI.410-748. 63. Lucresse- LGW. V; FranklT. 1405-08; Fasti 11.725-852. 63. Babilan Tesbee: LGW. II; MerchT- 2125-31; MetIV.55-166. 64. Dido ... Enee. HF. 1.239-382; LGW. Ill; Her. VII. 65. Pbillis . • • Demophon. HF. 1.388-396; LGW. VIII; Her. II; Rem. Am. 591-608.


Ovid and Tbe Canterbury Tales 66. Dianire. WBP. 724-726; MkT. 2119-34; Her. IX; Met. IX.101-272. 66 Hermyon: Her. VIII. 67. Adriane •. * HF. 1.405-426; LGW. VI; Her. X; Met. VIII.169-182. 67. /«ptofee: LGW. IV( 1 ); Her. VI. 68. Tbe bareyne yle stondynge in tbe see . Naxos, on which Ariadne was'abandoiied-HF. 1.416-417; LGW. VI. 2163-65; Her. X.59. 69. L i W r c . . . Erro. Her. XVIII and XIX. 70. Eleyne. MercbT. 1 752-54; Her. XVI and XVII. 71. BnxseyJe. Her. III. 71. Ladomya•• FranklT. 1445-47; Her. XIII 72-74. A W e a . . . Jason.9 LGW. IV(2); SqT. 548-549; Her. XII. 75. Ypermystra. LGW. IX; Her. XIV. 75. Penelopee. FranklT. 1443-44; Her. I. 77-80. Cartacee: Her. XI.

NOTES 1. Chaucer translates these lines directly in his Romauntof tbe Rose, 369-384. 2. Cf Shakespeare's Sonnet LX. 1-4 (ed. Edward Bliss Reed, The Yale Shakespeare, New Haven. 1956): Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore, So do our minutes hasten to their end; Each changing place with that which goes before. In sequent toil all forwards do contend. 3. Skeat (Early English Proverbs, p. 101, 240) gives Ars .4m.111.65 as the source of htrod. to MI.T20-21, C/7". 118-119, and Romaunt 369ff., comparing all these variants of the "proverb" with the more modem "Time and tide wait for no man." 4. Robinson (p. 690) also cites Seneca, Epistles I.i.l and XIX.viii.3 2, but neither of these passages is really relevant. Epistle I contains, in sections 1-3, a very general discussion of fleeting time but does not compare it with flowing water, and Epistle XIX mentions time only once (in section 1): "Satis multum temporis sparsimus . . . " 5. Langlois (ed. Le Roman de la Rose, 11.298-299) compares the two passages from the Metamorphoses and the Ars Amatoria specifically with RR.3 73-3 76 and further demonstrates Guillaume's depmdence upon Ovid by paralleling RR.363-364 with Ex Pont.IV.ii.42 and Fasti VI.771-772; and RR.3 77-381 with /Wef.XV.234-236 and Ex Pont.IV.viii.49-50. 6. See part I, above, esp. n.9. 7. This was the sole source of Chaucer's tale of Lucretia in LGW.V. 8. Koch ("Chaucers Belesenheit in den romischen Klassikern," p. 29) expresses surprise at this form of the name "Ariadne" and seems to regard it as a token of Chaucer's ignorance, but the name was frequently spelled this way in the Middle Ages. Giovanni del Virgilio (p. 81) and Boccaccio (Genealogie, XI.xxix, ed. Romano, p. 566) both give "Adriana," and Gower uses "Adriane" in C A. V.5370and 5429. 9. Gower tells the story of Jason and Medea at length in C.A. V.3247-4229, and in lines 4228-29 he acknowledges Ovid as his source: "For this, which I have told tofore./Ovide telleth

Introduction to Man of Law's Tale


everydel." T h e reference in the Squire's Tale is to Jason: the falcon tells Canacee that her lover, the tercelet. was more deceptive than any other man since Lameth, the first bigamist—including even Jason and "Parys of T r o y e " (line 548; for P a h s ' deception of Oenone, see Heroides V). 10. This " C a n a c e e , / T h a t loved hir owene brother synfully" may be the prototype of Canacee in the Squire's Tale, for the implication of SqT.667-669 seems to be that Canacee will marry her brother, Cambalo. But Chaucer, of course, never completed the tale. For further discussion of this crucial passage, sec Robinson, pp. 717 and 721. Everything considered, it remains, at the very least, possible that the name Canacee in the Squire's Tale comes from Heroides XI.

5. Prologue of Man of Law's Tale If thou be povre, thy brother hateth thee. And alle thy freendes fleen from thee, alias! [1KB 1 ) 120-121]

T h e Prologue

of the Man

of Law's

Tale through line 121 represents a

paraphrase of Pope Innocent Ill's De miseria Prologue


et pauperis.





T h e last nine lines of this section of the

are almost entirely translated from Innocent, and the source

of the t w o lines quoted above is indicated clearly by the following comparison between the t w o passages:

(A) (B) (C)

(D) (E) (F)

Herkne what re the sentence of the wise: "Bet is to dyen than have indigence"; " T h y selve neighebor wol thee despise." If thou be povre, farwel thy reverence! Yet of the wise man take this sentence: "Alle the dayes of povre men been wikke." Be war, therfore, er thou come to that prikke! If thou be povre, thy brother hateth thee, And alle thy freendes fleen from thee, alias! [ i I ( B ' ) 113-121]

(A) (B)

Adverte super hoc sententiam Sapientis: "Melius est, inquit, mori quam indigere" [Ecclesiasticus XL.29].— (C) "Etiam proximo suo pauper odiosus erit" [Proverbs XIV.20].— (D) " O m n e s dies pauperis mali [Proverbs XV. 15], (E) fratres hominis pauperis oderunt eum. (F) Insuper et amici procul recesserunt ab eo" [Proverbs XIX.7] : quia Donee eris felix multos numerabis amicos Tempora si fuerint nubila, solus eris [Trist. I.ix.J-6], (PL.CCXVII.708-709) 124

Prologue of Man of Law's Tale

12 5

These last two lines, which Pope Innocent cites from the Tristia (While in good fortune, you will have many friends, but if your life becomes clouded [by adversity], you will be alone) to support Proverbs XIX.7, were so extensively quoted in the Middle Ages that they became truly proverbial.' The reason for their great popularity is not far to seek: medieval humanists were always delighted to discover in pagan poetry kernels of Christian doctrinal truth or parallels to Scriptural passages—such as the similarity between the accounts of the flood in Metamorphoses I and Genesis. Consequently, Ovid's aphorism on fairand-foul-weather friends appealed to the Middle Ages as the pagan expression of a truth which had already become familiar to them through a number of related Biblical proverbs.2 Chaucer, of course, eminently reflects his age in relishing proverbial wisdom, and since this particular Scriptural-Ovidian proverb appears in several of his sources and was evidently known to him in most of the versions and varieties current in his day, it is scarcely surprising to find it turning up more than once in his own works. In addition to the Man of Law's version of the proverb, the following analogous examples may be cited: Poverte a spectacle is, as thynketh me, Thurgh which he may his verray freendes see.'

{Wife of Bath's Tale, 1203-04) And this Pamphilles seith also: "If thow be right happy— that is to seyn, if thou be right riche—thou shalt fynde a greet nombre of felawes and freendes./And if thy fortune change that thou wexe povre, farewel freendshipe and felaweshipe;/for thou shalt be alloone withouten any compaignye, but if it be the compaignye of povre folk." 4

{Metibee, 1558-60) For whan Fortune wole a man forsake, She bereth awey his regne and his richesse. And eek his freendes, bothe moore and lesse. For what man that hath freendes thurgh Fortune, Mishap wol maken hem enemys, I gesse; This proverbe is ful sooth and ful commune.'

(Monk's Tale, 2241-46)


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales But whethir swiche men ben freendes at nede, as ben conseyled by fortune and nat be vertu? Certes swiche folk as weleful fortune maketh frendes, contraryous fortune maketh hem enemys. (Boece III, p r . 5 . 6 4 - 6 8 )

NOTES 1. See Petrus Cantor, Verbum Abbreviatum, cap. XLV, "Contra adulatores," Migne, PL, CCV 142; and William, Abbot of St. Thomas of the Paraclete. Epistola 11.75, Migne, PL. CCIX.722. Manitius ("Beiträge," pp. 740-754) notes citations also by Johannes Victoriensis, IV.2; William of Tyre, Historia Rerum Transmarinarum, XV. 16, Vincent of Beauvais; a Clerus Rotomagensis, Epistok ad Gualterum Rotomagensem, Roger of Hoveden, Cbronicon, the author of the Gesta Regis RicarS. William of Matmesbury, Gcsta Regum Anglorum, cap. 47. and the compiler of the Fbrilegtum Gottmgense. In addition, line 20 of Matthieu de Vendome's poetical treatise on letter-writing ("Tempora si fuerint prosperiora") closely paraphrases Trist, I.ix.6: Tempora si fuerint nubila, solus eris ("Beiträge," p. 743). Manitius notes (p. 750) that many of these citations (i.e.. those in Petrus Cantor, William of Malmesbury, Roger of Hoveden, Johannes Victoriensis, the Gesta Regis Ricardi, and the Florilegium Gottmgense) change Ovid's Donee eris sospes to "cum fueris felix." Manitius attributes this to a combining of Trist I.ix.5 with Disticba Catonis l.xviii. 1—"Cum fueris felix quae sunt adversa caveto"—and observes that William of Tyre provides a bridge between these two popular maxims with his "Donee eris felix." This last expression is used also by Pope Innocent in the De Contemptu Mundi and must, therefore have come before Chaucer's eye. It is interesting to note finally that sententiae gleaned from "Ovidius ethicus" and the Disticba Catonis often appear together in a single manuscript. 2. In addition to those Scriptural passages quoted in the De Contemptu Mundi—Ecclus XL.29 and Prov. XIV.20, XV.15. and XIX.7—there are two other noteworthy occurrences of this proverb in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament: "Divitiae addunt amicos plurimos, apaupere autem et hi, quos habuit, separantur" (Prof.XIX.4); and "Est autem amicus socius mensae, et non permanebit in die necessitatis" (Ecclus. VI.10). 3. The idea that adversity shows us our true friends occurs in Boethius, whence it derives to the Roman de la Rose, which was probably the immediate source of these lines in the Wife of Bath's Tale. Ct. the following passages: Weuestow than that thow augghtest to leeten this a litel thyng, that this aspre and horrible Fortune hath discovered to the the thoughtes of thi trewe freendes. Forwhy this ilke Fortune hazhdeparted and uncovered to the bothe the certein visages and eek the doutous visages of thi felawes. Whan she departed awey fro the, she took awey hir freendes and lefte the thyne freendes. Now whanne thow were ryche and weleful, as the semede, with how mochel woldestow han bought the fülle knowynge of thys (that is to seyn, tbe knowynge of tbyne verray freendes) ? Now pleyne the nat thanne of rychesse ylom, syn thow hast fownden the moste precyous kynde of rychesses, that is to seyn. thi verray freendes (Boece II, pr.8.32-48). Cete fait quenoistre e saveir. Des qu'il ont perdu leur aveir, De quel amour cil les amaient Qui leur ami devant estaient. Car ceus que beneiirtez done, Maleiirtez si les estone Qu'il devienent tuit anemi, N'il n'en remain; un ne demi.

Prologue of Man of Law's Tale


Ainz s'en fuient e les reneient Si tost c o m e povres les veient.


E Fortune la meschcanz, Quant sus les ornes est cheanz, Si les fait, par son meschoeir, Trestouz si derement voeir Qu'el leur fait leur amis trouver. (KA.4949-53) E li povres, qui par tel preuve Les fins amis des fa us espreuve, E les quenoist e les devise. Quant il ien riches a devise. Que tuit a toujourz li ofraicnt Cueurs e cors e quanqu'il avaient. Que vousist il acheter lores Qu'il en seiist ce qu'il set ores? (KK.4961-68) For Ynfortune makith anoon To knowe thy freendis fro thy foon. By experience, right as it is. (Romaunt 5551-53) Le Pleinttf countre Fortune: Yit is me left the light of my resoun, To knowen frend fro fo in thy mirour. La respounse de Fortune au Plemùf : I have thee taught divisioun bitwene Frend of effect, and frend of countenaunce. (Fortune 9-10 and 33-34) This same idea is present in Tristia Iix, where Ovid's statement (lines 5-6) that false friends desert us when we fall upon hard times is intended to emphasize the converse, that true friends (like the one to whom Ovid's letter is addressed) remain faithful in advenity. For an extended treatment of this subject, see the poem "Fy on a faint Friend!" printed by Carleton Biown in Religious Lyrics of tbe Fourteenth Century, 2nd ed. (Oxford, 1957), pp. 155-157. The sentence here is that no earthly friend is truly reliable; Christ alone is "syker." 4. The French Livre de MelSbee et Prudence of Renaud de Louens, from which Chaucer translated his MeHbee, also attributes this quotation to "Pamphilles": "Et Pamphiles mesmcs dit, 'Se tu es ame,—c'est a dire, riches,—tu trouveras grant nombre de compagnons et d'amis. Et se ta fortune se change que tu soies pouvres, que tu demourras tout seul!' " (lines 835-838, ed. J. Burke Severs in Sources and Analogues, p. 600). This passage does not occur in Renaud's Latin source, the Liber Consolationis et ConàU of Albertano of Brescia. "Pamphilles" or "Pamphiles" refers not to an author but to a 12th-cent. poetic dialogue in Latin, entitled variously De Amore, Pampbilus de Amort, and PampbiB MauriBani Pampbilus, sive De Arte Amandi Elegiae (ed. A. Baudouin, Paris, 1874). This comedy, based upon Amores I.viii and the Ars Amatoria—and therefore sometimes falsely attributed to Ovid—enjoyed such tremendous popularity in the Middle Ages that our word "pamphlet" derives from its title. The lines in Chaucer's


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

MeSbee and its French source are, of course, not from Pampbilus but from another of its supposed author's works, Tr7ir.l ix.5-6. It may be noted incidentally that Chaucer roughly paraphrases the opening lines of the real Pampbilus in the Franklin's Tale, where Aurelius' secret love for Dorigen is compared with that which Pamphilus felt for Galathea: Under his brest he baar it moore secree Than evere dide Pamphilus for Gala thee His brest was hool, withoute for to sene, But in his herte ay was the arwe kene. (FranklTA 109-12) Vulneror et clausum porto sub pectore telum, Crescit et assidue plaga dolorque mihi; Et ferientis adhuc non audeo dicere nomen Nec sinit aspect us plaga videre suos. (,Pampbilus 1 -4) M S El of The Canterbury Tales gives the following gloss for line 1110: "Pamphilius ad Galatheam vulneror et clausum porto sub pectore telum et cetera (De Amore,I)." See Manly and Rickert, Tbc Text of the Canterbury Tales, III 514 5. Haeckel (Das Sprichwort bei Cbaucer, p. 6, «19) quotes the following proverbs in connection with MkT. 2241-46: (1) "Quhen welth aboundis, mony friends we number: Quhen guidis dekay, then friends flie away" (Donald, Scottish Proverbs, new ed. A. Henderson [London, 1876], p. 25); (2) "Prosperity makes friends and adversity tries them" (Wahl, "Das paromiologische Sprachgut bei Shakespeare I-IV," in Jahresberichte XVI-XIX der höheren Handels-Facb-Schule zu Erfurt [l 8 8 3 - 8 4 » 1886-87], II, 23, n.97); (3) "As long as 1 am riche reputed, With solem vyce I am saluted; But wealthe away once woorne. Not one wyll say good morne" (Reliquiae Antiquae, ed. Wright and Halliwell [London, 1841-43], I. 207). Skeat (Early English Proverbs, p. 107, • 2 5 4 ) adds," In time of prosperity, friends will be plenty;/ In time of adversity, not one among twenty," and "When we want, friends are scant." For ProI of MLT. 120-121, Haeckel (ibid. p. 8, »27) cites, "Poor folks' friends soon misken them" (Donald, ibid., p. 46); "Pauvres gens n'ont guerres d'amys" (Le Livre des Proverbes francais, 2nd ed. [Paris, 1859], II, 369); and "Pouvres hom n'a ne ami ne parent" (Ebert, Die Sprichwörter der altfranzüsiscben Karlsepen, XXIII [M arburg, 1884], 19, 79). Haeckel's reference to Diiringsfeld (Sprichwörter, 1.279-280) «506 and the reference by both Haeckel and Skeat to Diiringsfeld «112 (ibid. 1.65) are very strange since the proverbs listed there have nothing whatever to do with any of the passages discussed in this section.

6. Wife of Bath's Prologue A wys wyf shal, if that she kan hir good, Bere hym on honde that the cow is wood. [ i I I ( D ) 23 1-232]

The "cow" in this passage is the chough, a talking bird of the crow family, and the Wife's statement means that when the chough tells a jabux that his wife has been unfaithful, she should convince her husband that the bird is really insane. Many stories involving this theme of the tell-tale bird circulated in the Middle Ages,1 and Chaucer himself offers a version of the story in his Manciple s Tale, based on Ovid's legend of Apollo and Coronis in Metamorphoses 11.531-632. For, certeyn, olde dotard, by youre leve, Ye shul have queynte right ynogh at eve. H e is to greet a nygard that wolde werne A man to lighte a candle at his lanterne; H e shal have never the lasse light, pardee. Have thou ynogh, thee thar nat pleyne thee. [ i I I ( D ) 3 3 1-3 36]

The Wife's defense of adultery on the grounds that her "lanterne" (or "queynte") will not be diminished, even though more than one candle be lit at it, illustrates her lecherous and literal-minded devotion to the precepts of the Ars Amatoria. In Book III, Ovid assures his female disciples that they have nothing really to lose by giving freely of themselves to their many lovers: Ut iam decipiant, quid perditis? omnia constant: Mille licet sumant, deperit inde nihil. Conteritur ferrum, silices tenuantur ab usu: Sufficit et damni pars caret ilia metu. Quis vetet adposito lumen de lumine sumi ? Nec vos prostituit mea vox, sed vana timere Damna vetat: damnis munera vestra carent. 2 (IH.89-93; 97-98) 129


Ovid and The Canterbury


(Even though your lovers soon deceive you, what have you lost? Everything remains the same. Though they take a thousand pleasures with you, nothing is lost from it. Iron is worn away, and flints wear thin with use, but that pan of your body remains whole and has no fear of diminution. Who would forbid another light to be lit from the light placed before him ? . . . Nor do my words corrupt you, but simply keep you from the fear of imagined losses: your giving involves no loss.) Of course, the idea that a lamp loses none of its own brightness by shedding or sharing its light is not uniquely Ovidian.' This same image of the lantern and the candle is used by Ami in Le Roman de la Rose to illustrate a truth which the hag "Jealousy" has not learned; namely, that we are not ourselves rendered less happy by the happiness of others: Mout est fos qui tel chose esperne; C'est la chandele en la lanterne: Qui mil en i alumerait, Ja meins de feu n'i trouverait. Chascuns set la similitude Se mout n'a l'entendement rude.


And in The Book of tbe Duchess, Blanche is likened to a torch which shares its light but still burns brightly: Therto she koude so wel pleye, Whan that hir lyste, that I dar seye. That she was lyk to torche bryght That every man may take of lyght Ynogh, and hyt hath never the lesse. Of maner and of comlynesse Ryght so ferde my lady dere; For every wight of hir manere Myght cacche ynogh, yif that he wolde, Yif he had eyen hir to beholde.


Obviously the light which radiated from Blanche was like that of a beacon illuminating the path to virtuous action, and hence rather different from that flaming lantern described by the Wife of Bath, whose carnal appreciation of the Ovidian image accords well with her reliance upon the letter of the Old Law rather than the spirit of the New.

Wife of Bath's Probgue


Sire olde fool, what helpeth thee to spyen ? Thogh thou preye Argus with his hundred yen To be my warde-cors, as he kan best. In feith, he shal nat kepe me but me lest; Yet koude I make his berd, so moot I thee! (IIKD) 357-361]

For this haughty declaration of her capacity for independence from marital restraint, as for so much of her philosophy of life, the Wife of Bath was indebted to Jean de Meun's La Vieille: Nus ne peut metre en fame garde S'ele méismes ne se garde: Se c'iert Argus qui la gardast, E de ses cent eauz l'esgardast. Don l'une des meitiez veillait E l'autre meitie'someillait, Quant Jupiter li fist trenchier Le chief, pour Yo revenchier. Qu'il avait en vache muee. De fourme humaine desnuee; (Mercurius le li trencha Quant de Juno la revencha,) N'i vaudrait sa garde mais rien. Fos est qui garde tel mairien. (RR. 14381-94)

Since we have already observed that La Vieille and Alisoun of Bath were both descendants of Ovid's Dipsas, it is not surprising to find Jean's Duenna at least as ardent an adherent to the letter of Ars Amatoria III as her Chaucerian sister. The following lines, with which Ovid introduces some tips to young girls on how they may deceive their guardians for the sake of love, are clearly the source of the passage in the Roman and ultimately, therefore, of the Wife's words also: . . . ut fallas, ad mea sacra veni ! Tot licet observent, adsit modo certa voluntas, Quot fuerant Argo lumina, verba dabis. (III.616-618)

(Come forth to my sacred rites, that you may be able to practice deception. Though as many should spy upon you as Argus had eyes, you will deceive them, provided only that your will remain strong.)4

13 2

Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

In his account of the story of Io in Metamorphoses 1.568-747 (summarized so neatly by La Vieille in the lines quoted above), Ovid twice specifies (lines 625 and 721) that Argus had a hundred eyes—a fact mentioned by both La Vieille and the Wife of Bath and attached as a marginal Latin gloss to line 358 of the Wife's Prologue in three manuscripts of The Canterbury Tales/ According to the medieval mythographers and Ovidian commentators, Argus represents vanity, cupidity, avarice, crafty cunning, a concern for mundane things, and an altogether wordly wisdom (scientia) which is equated with the very foolishness of God/ Chaucer appears to have been familiar with these conventional moral significations of Argus, for wherever the monster appears in his poetry, he bears one or more of the standard metaphorical meanings. In The Book of the Duchess, Argus is mentioned as an accountant who, despite his great arithmetical skill, would be, nevertheless, unable to count the beasts which Chaucer saw in the forest of his dream: Shortly, hyt was so ful of bestes, That thogh Argus, the noble countour, Sete to rekene in hys countour, And rekened with his figures ten— For by tho figures mowe al ken, Yf they be crafty, rekene and noumbre, And telle of every thing the noumbre— Yet shoulde he fayle to rekene even The wondres me mette in my sweven. (434-442)

In Troilus and Criseyde, Argus is compared with that sly calculator, Calkas. Troilus tells Criseyde, "Youre fader is in sleght as Argus eyed" (IV. 1459). In both these passages, Argus represents clearly a kind of scientia: he is either a counter of worldly things or a savant in worldly affairs. Old Januarie in the Merchant's Tale is like Argus in that he becomes blind: Lo, Argus, which that hadde an hondred yen, For al that evere he koude poure or pryen, Yet was he blent, and, God woot, so been mo, That wenen wisly that it be nat so. [IV(E) 2111-14]

Wife of Bath's Probgue


Of course, januarie's blindness is more than simply a physical infirmity: even when he had his eyesight, he was blind to the relationship which existed between his wife and Damyan, and, still more important, he becomes spiritually blind when the light of his reason is extinguished by his avaricious and cupidinous lust for May. 7 Like Argus, he jealously guards his treasure but is deceived and robbed finally despite all precautions. This same formulation enriches the allusion to Argus in the Wife of Bath's Prologue. The Wife's boast to her jealous husband that she could deceive even hundred-eyed Argus implies that the old dotard is, like Januarie, himself a blind Argus figure, resembling Ovid's Argus in his vigilant concern for a worldly treasure, and suggesting also, therefore, the metaphorical Argus in his worldliness, avarice, and cupidity. In the same way, these brief references to Argus in the Wife's Probgue and in the Merchant's Tale suggest a parallel equation between dame Alys and Io, and May and Io: each of these tempting morsels is a party to adultery—either physically, contemplatively, or both; each inspires jealousy, and is guarded by a watchful jabux, who in each case inevitably falls prey to deception, thereby demonstrating the validity of La Vieille's maxim that only fools devote themselves to the safe-keeping of such worthless things, as well as the truth of Ovid's assertion in Ars Amatoria III that even the most circumspect guardian can be cozened of his treasure. Deceite, wepyng, spynnyng God hath yive To wommen kyndely, whil that they may lyve. [IIKD) 401-402]

In fifteen manuscripts of the Tales, these lines are accompanied by a marginal Latin gloss of unknown source: "ffallere flere nere statuit deus in mulier.'" The expression appears to have been proverbial.' Skeat, in his Early English Proverbs (p. 113, *267), quotes the following analogous, or perhaps derivative, passage from Lydgate's Of Deceitful

Women: Women, of kinde, have condicions three; The first is, that they be fulle of deceit; To spinne also it is hir propertee; And women have a wonderful conceit. They wepen oft, and al is but a sleight. (29-3 J)


Ovid and Tbe Canterbury Tales

Skeat cites also a little piece of advice which Ovid offers in the Remedia Amoris Neve puellarum lacrimis moveare, caveto: Ut flerent, oculos erudiere suos.

(689-690) (And see that you are not moved by women's tears: they have taught their eyes to weep.) But, at best, these lines could have been only a partial source of the full proverb, and, of course, they do not explain the origin of the Latin line given in the Chaucer manuscripts. The same reservations must be applied to La Vieille's lengthy discussion of women's tears in the Roman, although it was probably this passage which suggested to Chaucer the inclusion of his proverb on those three activities at which women are so expert naturally :10 Au plourer rafiert il manière; Mais chascune est assez maniéré De bien plourer en quelque place; Car, ja seit ce qu'en ne leur face Ne gri« ne hontes ne molestes, Toujourz ont eus les lermes prestes, Toutes pleurent e plourer seulent En tel guise corne eles veulent. Mais on ne se deit ja mouveir S'il voait teus lermes plouveir Ausinc espès come onques plut, Qu'onc a fame teus pleurs ne plut, Ne teus deaus, ne teus maremenz, Que ce ne fust conchiemenz. Pleurs de fame n'est fors aguiet. Lors n'est douleurs qu'ele n'aguiet; Mais gart que par voiz ne par euvre Riens de son penser ne descueuvre.

(RR. 1 3367-84) Here, as so often in the case of material which Chaucer borrows from La Vieille and assigns to the Wife, Ovid is the ultimate source: Langlois cites Remedia Amoris 689-690 (quoted above) for lines 1 33 75-81 of the Roman and quotes Ars Amatoria 111.291-292 in connection with lines 13 367-74: Quo non ars pénétrât? discunt lacrimare decenter, Quoque volunt plorant tempore quoque modo.

Wife of Bath's Prologue

1 35

(To what end will art not go? They [women] learn to cry attractively and weep when and how they wish.)

And after wyn on Venus moste I thynke, For al so siker as cold engendreth hayl, A likerous mouth moste han a likerous tayl. In wommen vinolent is no defence,— This knowen lecchours by experience. [111(D) 464-468]

The immediate source of the Wife's confession that drunkenness leads to lechery was probably La Vieille's discourse on table manners in the Roman—a passage, we have seen, upon which Chaucer drew also for his picture of the courteous Prioress: E puis que fame est enivree, II n'a point en Ii de defense, E jangle tout quanqu'ele pense, E est a touz abandonee Quant a tel meschief s'est donee. (RR. 13452-56)

Here once again, La Vieille's words of wordly wisdom are founded upon some advice which Ovid shares with women in Ars Amatoria III: Turpe iacens mulier multo madefacta Lyaeo: Dignast concubinos quoslibet ilia pad; Necsomnis posita tutum succumbere mensa: Per somnos fieri multa pudenda solent. (765-768)

(A woman lying drunk with much wine is a disgrace; she deserves to suffer any son of sexual union. Nor is it safe to fall asleep after the table has been cleared: many shameful things often happen in sleep.) A more extensive discussion of the relationship between wine and passion, couched now in mythological terms and addressed to the men, occurs in Ars Amatoria I: Dant etiam positis aditum convivía mensis: Est aliquid praeter vina, quod inde petas. Saepe illic poti teneris adducta lacertis Purpureus Bacchi comua pressit Amor,


Ovid and The Canterbury


Vinaque cum bibulas sparserc Cupidinis alas, Permanet et capto stat gravis ille loco. Ille quidem pennas velociter excutit udas, Sed tamen et spargi pectus a more nocet. Vina parant animos faduntque caloribus aptos: Cura fugit multo diluiturque mero. Tunc veniunt risus, turn pauper cornua sumit, Turn dolor et curae rugaque fronds abit; Tunc aperit mentes aevo rarissima nostro Simplicitas, artes excuriente deo. Illic saepe animos iuvenum rapuere puellae, Et Venus in vinis ignis in igne fuit. (229-244)

(Banquets also provide an opportunity, after the tables have been set. There is something besides wine to be sought there. Often gleaming Love has embraced and pressed with tender arms the horns from which Bacchus is drunk; and when wine has sprinkled the thirsty wings of Cupid, he remains and stands heavily in his place. T o be sure, he shakes his wet wings quickly, and yet even to be sprinkled on the breast with love is painful. Wine prepares the heart and makes it receptive to the heat of passion. Care flees and is dissolved in much wine. Then comes laughter; the poor man takes heart; and sorrow, care, and the wrinkles of the forehead vanish. Then simplicity—so rare in our time—discloses the thoughts of the mind, for the god banishes all stratagem. Often in such moments have girls captured the hearts of young men, and Venus in wine has been fire in fire.) There are, in addition, a number of other relevant Ovidian passages on this subject: Ecce, suum vatem Liber vocat: hie quoque amantis Adiuvat et flammae, qua calet ipse, favet. (An Am. 1.525-526)

(Behold, Liber calls his poet; he also aids lovers and fans the flame with which he himself burns.) C u m Veneris puero non male, Bacche, facis.

(.ArsAm. 111.762)

(You do not blend badly, Bacchus, with Venus' son.)

Wife of Bath's Prologue


Quid tibi praecipiam de Bacchi munere, quaeris: Spe brcvius monitis expedierc meis. Vina parant animum Veneri, nisi plurima sumas, Et stupeant multo corda sepulta mero; Nutritur vento, vento restinguitur ignis: Lenis alit flammas, grandior aura necat, Aut nulla ebrietas, aut tanta sit, ut tibi curas Eripiat: siquast inter utrumque, nocet. (Rem. Am. 803-810)

(You ask what advice I offer you concerning Bacchus' gift. You will be free of my counseling even sooner than you dare to hope. Wine prepares the heart for Venus, unless you take too much: then your spirits will grow dull, steeped in an excess of wine. A fire is nourished by wind but can also be extinguished by it; a gentle breeze fans the flames, and a stronger gust destroys them. There should be either no drunkenness or so much as is needed to release you from care: whatever lies between these two is harmful.) Nox et Amor vinumque nihil moderabile suadent; Ilia pudore vacat. Liber Amorque metu. (Am. I.vi.59-60)

(Night and Love and Wine never lead to restraint: the first has no shame, and Liber and Love have no fear.) These passages or favorite lines from them were much quoted in the Middle Ages" and here again their currency among Christian humanists probably depended at least in part upon the consideration that they parallel a Scriptural truth expressed in both the Old and New Testaments: "Luxuriosa res vinum et tumultuosa ebrietas: quicumque his delectatur non erit sapiens" (Proverbs XX. 1); "Et nolite inebriari vino, in quo est luxuria, sed implemini Spiritu sancto" (Epbesians V.18). It is to these Biblical authorities that the Pardoner appeals for confirmation of his statement that drunkenness, gluttony, and revelry produce luxuria: And right anon thanne comen tombesteres Fetys and smale, and yonge frutesteres, Syngeres with harpes, baudes, wafereres, Whiche been the verray develes officeres To kyndle and blowe the fyr of lecherye,

13 8

Ovid and Tbe Canterbury Tales T h a t is annexed unto glotonye. T h e hooly writ take I to my witnesse T h a t luxurie is in wyn and dronkenesse. [VI(C) 4 7 7 - 4 8 4 ]

There are other sections of Tbe Canterbury Tales, however, where the association of lechery with drinking and banqueting is expressed mythologically and seems, for this and other reasons, to depend more upon the authority of Ovid than upon that of the Scriptures. The Ovidian passages quoted above, for example, lend a special significance to the activities of Bacchus and Venus at the lecherous wedding feast of Januarie and May: Bacus the wyn hem shynketh al aboute. And Venus laugheth upon every wight. For Januarie was bicome hir knyght, And wolde bothe assayen his corage In libertee, and eek in manage; And with hire fyrbrond in hire hand aboute Daunceth biforn the bryde and al the route. [IV(E) 1722-28]

But even more closely related to Ovid's several discussions of drinking and lechery is this account of Virginia's virtue in the Physician s Tale: Bacus hadde of hir mouth right no maistrie; For wyn and youthe dooth Venus encresse, As men in fyr wol casten oille or greesse. And of hir owene vertu, unconstreyned. She hath ful ofte tyme syk hire feyned, For that she wolde fleen the compaignye W h e r e likly was to treten of folye, As is at feestes, revels, and at daunces, That been occasions of daliaunces." (VKC) 58-66]

Like La Vieille and the Wife of Bath, Virginia realized the truth of Ovid's observations that wine incites lechery and that a woman who becomes drunk at a banquet may not be able to defend her virtue. To the Duenna, these words were of purely practical and worldly value, serving to teach women of good common sense that it is as dangerous and indiscreet to become drunk at banquets as it is indecorous and unbecoming to fall asleep at table or to dip one's fingers too deep in sauce.

Wife of Batb's Prologue

13 9

To the Wife of Bath, on the other hand, Ovid's words represented a mere statement of fact—or, indeed, a bit of advice as useful for lustful women as for the lustful men to whom Ovid addressed them, teaching that one primrose path to the delights of the flesh lies through drunkenness and riotous living. To Virginia, however, Ovid's advice to lecherous men was valuable as a warning to virtuous women. Unlike La Vieille and the Wife of Bath, Virginia attended chiefly to the moral lesson of the Remedia Amoris rather than the superficially carnal counsels of the Ars Amatoria. Nor did she learn from Ovid simply that it would be prudent to avoid drunken revels for the practical purpose of preserving her physical chastity; but having already determined in youth to eschew lechery and follow the paths of virtue, she resolved therefore to turn from anything that might lead to lust. The words of the Parson may be taken as a commentary on her action—and, incidentally, on those of dame Alys as well: "Another remedie agayns Leccherie is specially to withdrawen swiche thynges as yeve occasion to thilke vileynye, as ese, etynge, and drynkynge. For certes, whan the pot boyleth strongly, the beste remedie is to withdrawe the fyr" (Parson's Tale 951).

I hadde the bettre leyser for to pleye. And for to se, and eek for to be seye14 Of lusty folk. What wiste I wher my grace Was shapen for to be, or in what place ? Therfore 1 made my visitaciouns To vigilies and to processiouns, To prechyng eek, and to thise pilgrimages. To pleyes of myracles, and to mariages, And wered upon my gaye scarlet gytes.

flll(D) 551-559J Once more the Wife demonstrates how attentive she has been to the worldly counsels of La Vieille, who once told Bel Acueil that women who seek love must not seclude themselves: E gart que trop ne seit enclose, Car, quant plus a l'ostel repose, Meins est de toutes genz veiie E sa beauté meins queneiie, Meins couveitiee e meins requise.


Ovid and The Canterbury


Souvent aille a la maistre iglise E face visitacions, A noces, a processions, A jeus, a festes, a queroles. C a r en teus leus tient ses escoles E chante a ses deciples messe Li deus d'Amours e la deesse." (RR.

US 1 7 - 2 8 )

And, in conformity to a pattern now grown familiar, the material for La Vieille's little lecture has been gleaned from the Ars Amatoria, where Ovid impresses upon his disciples the importance of frequenting theaters and other places of public gathering: Sed tu praecipue curvis venare theatris: Haec loca sunt voto fertiliora tuo. Illic invenies, quod ames, quod ludere possis, Quodque semei tangas, quodque tenere velis. Ut redit itque frequens longum formica per agmen, Granifero solitum cum vehit ore cibum, Aut ut apes saltusque suos et olentia nactae Pascua per flores et thyma s u m m a volant. Sic ruit in celebres cultissima femina ludos: Copia iudicium saepe morata meumst. Spectatum veniunt; veniunt, spectentur ut ipsae.Ille locus casti damna pudoris h a b e t . " (1.89-100)

(But hunt especially in the curved theaters: such places are more rewarding to your vow. There you will find food for love or for play— something to touch once or to keep, if you wish. As ants come and go in crowded rank when they carry in grain-bearing mouths their usual food, and as bees, reaching their own dales and redolent pastures, fly through the flowers and the tops of the thyme, so the most cultivated women flock to the crowded games. Often their numbers have impaired my judgment. They come to see—but also to be seen. That place is ruinous to chaste modesty.) In Ars Amatoria III, Ovid gives much the same advice to women who are hunting for men: Se quoque det populo mulier speciosa videndam: Q u e m trahat, e multis forsitan unus erit. Omnibus ilia locis maneat studiosa placendi Et curam tota mente decoris agat!

Wife of Bath's Probgue


Casus ubique valet: semper tibi pendeat hamus; Quo mini me credis gurgite, piscis erit; Saepe canes frustra nemorosis montibus errant, Inque plagam nullo cervus agente venit. Quid minus Andromedae fuerat sperare revinctae, Quam lacrimas ulli posse placere suas? Funere saepe viri vir quaeritur: ire solutis Crinibus et fletus non tenuisse decet. (421-432)

(Let the beautiful woman show herself to the people: out of the multitude there may be one whom she will attract. The woman who is eager to please should linger everywhere and should give undivided attention to the cultivation of her beauty. Chance is everywhere powerful. Always keep your hook hanging: in some stream where you least expect it, there will be a fish. Often hounds range in vain through the wooded mountains, and a stag, without any pursuer, wanders into the net. What less had there been for captive Andromeda to hope for than that her tears would be able to please anyone? Often a new husband may be sought at a husband's funeral: it is becoming to go with unkempt hair and to weep without restraint.) The Wife of Bath knew well the truth of Ovid's statement that a husband's funeral may supply a new husband: T o chirche was myn housbonde born a-morwe With neighebores, that for hym maden sorwe; And Jankyn, oure clerk, was oon of tho. As help me God! whan that I saugh hym go After the beere, me thoughte he hadde a paire Of legges and of feet so dene and faire That al myn herte I yaf unto his hoold. What sholde I seye? but, at the monthes ende, This joly clerk, Jankyn, that was so hende, Hath wedded me with greet solempnytee; And to hym yaf I al the lond and fee That evere was me yeven therbifoore. [ I I I ( D ) 5 9 3 - 5 9 9 ; 627-631]

Of Phasipha, that was the queene of Crete, For shrewednesse, hym thoughte the tale swete;


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales Fy! spek namoore—it is a grisly thyng— Of hire horrible lust and hir likyng. [111(D) 7 3 3 - 7 3 6 ]

The story of King Minos' wife Pasiphae and her mad passion for a bull is one of the anecdotes told in St. Jerome's Epistola adversus Iovinianum but is given also in Ars Amatoria 1.295-326. Since Jankyn's "book of wikked wyves" contained "Ovides Art" (line 6 8 0 ) as well as Jerome's "book agayn Jovinian" (line 675), dame Alys may have endured from her clerk-husband two readings of this disgusting myth.

NOTES 1. of Some James A. 2. 3.

See Skeat. III.501, W. A. Clouston, " T h e Tell-Tale Bird," in Originals and Analogues of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Chaucer Society (London, 1872-87), pp. 437ff, and Work, " T h e Manciple's Tale," in Sources and Analogues, pp. 699 ff. This passage and the others cited below are noted by Robinson, p. 700. Cf., for example, Gcero, De Officii*. I.xvi.Jl, quoting Ennius: Homo qui erranti comiter monstrat viam. Quasi lumen de suo lumine accendat facit Nihilo minus ipsi lucet. cum illi accenderit

(See the Teubner edition by C. Atzert, Leipzig, 1923.) 4. Ovid elaborates this theory at considerable length in Amores Ill.iv, which reads like a commentary on the Wife's Prologue and, even more, on the Merchant's Tate of old Januarie and young "fresshe May." Ovid begins with the assertion that the strict husband gains nothing by setting a keeper over his wife to observe and constrict her actions, for a woman may be guarded only by her own ingenium. A woman who refrains from sinning only because she cannot sin, truly sins; and however carefully the wife's body is watdied, her mind may still commit adultery, for the will cannot be guarded. Furthermore, even the body cannot be guarded effectually, for so surely as the jealous husband shuts up his wife within the house, an adulterer will appear from within his very household— as Januarie's own servant Damyan succeeds in "swyving" May in spite of his master's elaborate safeguards. (Cf. also the "melodye" which Nicholas and Alisoun make in the Milter's Tale, despite old John's care in keeping his young wife "narwe in cage " ) Ovid's solution for this vexing problem agrees with the sentiments expressed by the Wife of Bath: women should be allowed their freedom, for those who are free to err actually go less far astray than their imprisoned sisters. Moreover, by guarding our treasures so closely, we merely incite thieves, since that which is made inaccessible becomes thereby only the more desirable. To elaborate these propositions, Ovid has recourse to the lesson of mythology: Centum fronte oculos, centum cervice gerebat Argus: et hos unus saepe fefellit Amor: In thalamum Danae ferro saxoque perennem Quae fuerat virgo tradita, mater erat; Penelope mansit. quamvis custode carebat, Inter tot iuvenes intemerata procos. C477i.III.iv. 19-24) (Argus had a hundred eyes in front and a hundred behind—and Love alone was often able to deceive these. Danae was entrusted, a virgin, to the safekeeping of a bedchamber made strong with iron and

Wife of Bath's Prologue


rock, and yet she became a mother. Penelope, though she had no guardian, remained chaste in the midst of so many youthful suitors.) 5. MSS H a J , La. and N1 give "Argus habuit C. oculos." See Manly and Rickert. Tbe Text of tbe Canterbury Tales, 111.501. 6. See Giovanni del Virgilio, p. 47: "Per Ar gum intelligo vanitatem huius mundi et hominem vanum qui solum curat de mundanis." Arnulf of Orleans gives a similar mora Illation in his commentary, p. 203: "per Argum muluplices oculos habentem possumus mundum habere," and "Argus igitur id est mundus, id est seculares et mundane lllecebre . . ." Cf. John of Garland, p. 43, lines 99-102; and Benevenuto da Imola's implication, in his commentary on Dante's Comedia (ed. J. P. Lacaita, IV.251), that Argus' name derives from "argutus" ("sly" or "crafty"). Professor McCall ("Classical Myth in Chaucer's Troitus and Criseyde," p. 254, n.109) notes also Alexander Neckam's treatment of Argus in De Naturis Rerum I, cap. XXXIX. McCall points out (p. 254) that the relationship between the Argus eyes of saentta and the foolishness of God was a rather commonplace medieval observation and (p. 304) that medieval writers generally associated Argus with worldly cupidity—esp. that of prelates. It might be noted that there was also a sense in which Argus could be understood in bono• Petrus Cantor observes in his Verbum Abbreviatum, cap. XX, "Contra cupiditatem et avaritiam," (Migne, PL, CCV.117) that every bishop should be an Argus spiritually; and Professor Robertson cites (A Preface to Chaucer, p. 307) Berchorius' reference to Argus as a circumspect priest (Metamorphosis Ovidiana, Paris, 1515, fol.XXHI v )and Holkot's statement in his commentary on die Book of Wisdom (.Lectio XXXVI) that, morally, a literate clerk is like Argus. 7. The Merchant effectually distinguishes between Januarie's physical blindness and the shortsightedness of his understanding by observing that it is really no better to be deceived with sight than without it: O Januarie, what myghte it thee availle, Thogfrthou myghte se as fer as shippes saille ? For as good is blynd deceyved be As to be deceyved whan a man may se. (MercbT. 2107-10) That is, Januarie would be deceived in either case and, in fan, is. He regains his eyesight in time to see May and Damyan engaged in the act of love but is talked out of his conviction by the eloquence with which Proserpina has endowed May—in much the way, incidentally, that Argus is "blinded" by the eloquence of Mercury. 8. M S S Ad1, Cn, Cp, En', Fi. H a i La, Lc, Ld1, Ma, Nl, Pw, Ra', SI1 and Tc? (Some of these mss contain variants of the gloss.) See Manly and Rickert, Tbe Text of tbe Canterbury Tales, 111.500. 9. DUnngsfeld (SpricbvxrrUr, 11.340-341, »608) gives a great many vernacular variants of a related proverb on the theme "Hunde pissen und Weiber weinen, wann sie wollen" or "Women laugh when they can and weep when they will." 10. This relationship has not been noted by Chaucer's editors. 11. Ed. Le Roman de la Rose, IV.277. For line 13381, Langlois gives also a line from the Disticba of Cato, "Nam lacrimis struit insidias cum femina plorat" (III.20). and two lines of Cato Novus, "Nil tibi curttur si conjugis ira minetur/Femina, dum plorat, hominem supers re laborat" (lines 195-196). 12. Hdoise quotes Ars Am. 1.23 3-244 in a letter to Abelard, Epistola VI, Migne, PL, CLXXVIII.214; lines 237-244 are given in Petrus Cantor's Verbum Abbreviatum, cap. CXXXV, "Contra gulam et ebrietatem," Migne, PL, CCV.331; and in a letter addressed to a clerk named Walter, Helinandus writes (Migne, PL, CCXII.753), "Transeamus autem ad caetera vitiorum irritamenta. De vino, quod posui post feminam, est illud vinum, in quo est luxuria. Et poeta: Et Venus in vinis, ignis in igne furit." Manitius notes ("Beiträge," p. 741) that Ars Am.l. 237 appears in the Gesta Romanorum and the Florilegium Gottingense-, that Vincent of Bcauvais quotes Ars /lm.I.237-242. 1.525-526, and Rem.Am.tQS »06 (pp. 747-748); and that y4m.l.vi.59 is quoted in Hugo of Trimberg's Registerium multorum auctorum (p. 740). For other associations of Bacchus, or Liber, with lust, cf. Arnulf of Orleans' gloss (p. 21 7) on Ovid's allusion (Afff.VI.125)


Ovid and Tbe Canterbury Tales

to (he myth of Bacchus and Erigone. which is depictcd on Arachne's tapestry: "Liber in uvam sc mutavit ut Erigonem decipera. Nichil aliud fuit nisi quod cam incbriavit"; and Isidore of Seville's statement in his chapter on the pagan gods in the Etymologiae (Mignc, PL, LXXXII.318), "Quod idem Liber muliebri et delicato corpore pingitur; dicunt enim mulieres ei attributas, et vinum propter excitandum libidinem." 15. In connection with lines 59-40. Skeai (Early English Proverbs, p. 109. »258) cites An Am.1.257, cfs Horace's "Oleum adde camino" (Satire Il.iii.321), and lists these other examples of the proverb: "But wine, alas! was oil to th' fire" (Cowley, Tbe Mistress Tbe Incurable, stanza 4); "Ase oyle other gresse alighteth and strengtheth thet uer" (Ayenbite of Inwyt). and the anonymous "To cast oil into the fire is not the way to quench it." 14. The immediate source of this line was probably RR.90Î0, part of the jealous husband's tirade against women : Toutes font a Venus omage, Senz regarder preu ne domage, E se cointeient e se fardent. Pour ceus bouler qui les regardent, E vont traçant par mi les rues Pour voeir, pour estre veües. Pour faire aus cnmpaignons désir De vouleir avec eus gésir. (ÄÄ.9025-32) Langlois (ed. Le Roman de la Rose, III.295) gives as Jean de Meun's source Ars Am 199, quoted below. 15. Langlois (ibid., IV.28I) notes that this entire passage was inspired by Ars /tm.III.397398: "Quod latet, ignotumst: ignoti nulla cupido-./Fructus a best, facies cum bona teste caret" (what lies hidden is unknown, and there can be no desire for the unknown; when a handsome face is unseen, it is of no avail). Much more relevant to the lines in the Roman and in the Wife's Prologue, however, are two other passages from the Ars Amatoria, quoted below. 16. Manitius ("Beiträge," p. 747) notes that Vincent of Beauvais cites lines 93-100 of this passage.

7. Wife of Bath's Tale Pardee, we woramen konne no thyng hele; Witnesseon Myda,—wol ye heere the tale? Ovyde, amonges othere thynges smale, Seyde Myda hadde, under his longe heres, Growynge upon his heed two asses eres, T h e whiche vice he hydde, as he best myghte, Ful subtilly from every mannes sighte, That, save his wyf, ther wiste of it namo. H e loved hire moost, and trusted hire also; H e preyede hire that to no creature She sholde tellen of his disfigure. She swoor him, " N a y , " for al this world to wynne. She nolde do that vileynye or synne, T o make hir housbonde han so foul a name. She nolde nat telle it for hir owene shame. But nathelees, hir thoughte that she dyde, That she so longe sholde a conseil hyde; Hir thoughte it swal so soore aboute hir herte That nedely som word hire moste asterte; And sith she dorste telle it to no man, Doun to a mareys faste by she ran— Til she cam there, hir herte was a-fyre— And as a bitore bombleth in the myre, She leyde hir mouth unto the water doun: "Biwreye me nat, thou water, with thy soun," Quod she; "to thee I telle it and namo; Myn housbonde hath longe asses erys two! Now is myn herte al hool, now is it oute. 1 myghte no lenger kepe it, out of doute." 1 Heere may ye se, thogh we a tyme abyde, Yet out it moot ; we kan no conseil hyde. T h e remenant of the tale if ye wol heere, Redeth Ovyde, and ther ye may it leere. 2 [III(D) 9 5 0 - 9 8 2 ]

Ovid relates the story of Midas and his ass's ears in Metamorphoses XI.172-193, and the Wife's two references to Ovid here (lines 952 and 145


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

982) indicate clearly that this was the source of Chaucer's acquaintance with the myth. There are, however, certain differences between the two versions. (1) According to Ovid, it was not Midas' wife who alone knew his secret, but rather the icing's barber. Ovid, in fact, never so much as mentions Midas' wife in this passage. (2) In dame Alys' version, the wife tells her secret to a marsh, while in Ovid the slavebarber (famulus) digs a hole, whispers into it, and then buries his words by filling in the pit. (3) Ovid specifies that reeds grew over this covered hole and that the wind blowing through them spread abroad the barber's words, thus revealing the secret disgrace of Midas. This detail alone constitutes that "remenant of the tale" for which the Wife of Bath directs us to Ovid (lines 981-982). (4) The Wife not only changes specific elements of this tale but also gives the story an entirely new application by using it to support her statement that women cannot keep secrets. Ovid, on the other hand, relates the myth to show how Apollo's vengeance upon Midas became complete. Midas had been appropriately decorated with ass's ears for his stupidity in judging the music of Pan superior to that of Apollo,4 but until the wind in the reeds reproduced the barber's whispered disclosure of his master's disgrace, this punishment was ineffective because unknown. It should be noted that Ovid nowhere derives from his legend the generalization that servants are untrustworthy, that barbers are gossips, or anything of the sort. Several explanations have been offered to account for these differences between the two versions of the myth. Skeat observed (V.317), for example, that "Chaucer seems to have purposely altered the story" and added, "Chaucer's version is an improved one"; but the rather dubious implication of these statements is that Chaucer's motive in altering—and, in fact, perverting—the Ovidian myth was simply to produce a story more pleasing aesthetically than Ovid's. At least Skeat's suggestion of purposeful alteration is more flattering to Chaucer than Koch's proposal' that Chaucer may have forgotten some of the details in Ovid's account. Koch's alternate theory, that Chaucer made these changes deliberately "die Geschwätzigkeit der Weiber zu veranschaulichen," is nearer the mark, but fails to distinguish between Chaucer's motives and those of the Wife of Bath. We should remember that it is the Wife, and not Chaucer, who tells the story of Midas, and hence should say rather that the Wife corrupts, misinterprets, and misapplies the Ovidian tale to confirm her observation that women may not

Wife of Bath's Tale


be trusted with secrets. W h a t Skeat and Koch have both failed to note is that all of this reflects not upon Chaucer but upon dame Alys. T h e most reasonable explanation thus far has been Shannon's suggestion' that the Wife could have learned this perverted form of the story from her fifth husband, who frequently read to her from his anthology of anti-feminist literature. In accepting and repeating this version, therefore, she is made to show her gullibility and, of course, her ignorance. Even more than this, however, it seems to me that the Wife's corruption of Ovid is intended to illustrate once again her penchant for misquoting and misinterpreting texts—just as, in the Prologue to her tale, she repeatedly twists the meaning of those passages which she cites from the Bible and the Fathers to justify her own carnality. Her literal-minded abuse of the Scriptures demonstrates the validity of St. Augustine's doctrine that wherever the Bible appears superficially to promote cupidity or to condemn charity, it must be interpreted spiritually. But the moral sentence of the Scriptures, or indeed of any text, had little appeal for the Wife, who was not only spiritually blind but, as we have already pointed out, "somdel deef" to the words of Christ. If she could use God's commandment to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1.28) to vindicate lechery; could deduce from the histories of Abraham, Jacob, and Solomon only the tenet that bigamists can be holy men; and could counter St. Jerome's metaphorical formulation that virgins eat wheaten bread while wives eat barley bread, with the observation that St. M a r k tells us how Christ fed the multitude on such barley bread—especially when this account is given not by St. M a r k but by St. John —then surely it is not surprising that she should gloss Ovid's tale of Midas to mean that "wommen konne no thyng hele." I suspect, moreover, that there may be a special touch of irony in this last bit of misinterpretation, for had the Wife correctly understood the myth of Midas, she might have seen in it a lesson for herself. Ovid implies that Midas, too, was "somdel deef" in preferring Pan's music to Apollo's, or, as Arnulf of Orleans puts it (p.224), in deciding unjustly about a contest between the unwise (Pan) and the wise (Apollo). That is, Midas' ass's ears are not only a mark of disgrace but a symbol of stupidity and animalistic deafness to musical harmony. Conventionally, of course, Apollo was understood theologically in the Middle Ages as a symbol of Christ, and the satyr Pan as a type of pagan lust, so that Midas, in preferring Pan's music to Apollo's, may be said to


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

demonstrate also his devotion to the Old Song of cupidity and his asinine deafness to the New Song of charity. Since, as we have seen, the Wife of Bath—even more than the Samaritan woman before h£r—was similarly deaf to the words of Christ and the teachings of the New Law, but most responsive to the fleshly Old Song of Pan, she too may be characterized with the ass's ears of Midas. "Chese now," quod she, "oon of thise thynges tweye: To han me foul and old til that 1 deye, And be to yow a trewe, humble wyf, And nevere yow displese in al my lyf; Or elles ye wol han me yong and fair, And take youre aventure of the repair That shal be to youre hous by cause of me. Or in som oother place, may wel be. Now chese yourselven, wheither that yow liketh." (iIKD) 1219-27]

Margaret Schlauch has contended* that the "marital dilemma" which is posed for the young knight by the loathly lady's demand that he choose between beauty and fidelity in a wife belongs more to the traditions of Roman literary satire and theological discourses on marriage than to that of the romances and Celtic sagas which are usually cited among the sources and analogues of the Wife of Bath's Tale. In this connection, Miss Schlauch quotes Heroides XVI.290, "Lis est cum forma magna pudicitiae" (there is great strife between beauty and modesty) and observes that this sentiment is "echoed by Alisoun herself in her Prologue"-. She may no while in chastitee abyde, That is assailled upon ech a syde.'

[111(D) 255-256] Neither Miss Schlauch nor Chaucer's editors have noted, however, that Ovid speaks even more specifically about the incompatibility of beauty and marital chastity in that important letter of the Amores, addressed to a jaloux, which we have already discussed at some length with reference to the Wife's mention of Argus in her Prologue -. Quo tibi formosam, si non nisi casta placebat ? Non possunt ullis ista coire modis! 10 (III.iv.41 -42)

Wife of Bath's Tale


(Why did you choose a beauty if only a chaste wife could please you? Those two qualities [formositas and castitas] can in no way be combined!)

NOTES 1. Robinson omits the quotation mark after doute, needed to indicate the end of the statement by Midas' wife. 2. Robinson (p. 703) points out that Go wer's version of this tale is given in CA. V. I41ff; but Gower tells only the story of Midas' golden touch, without mentioning the legend of the ass's ears. 3. It may be significant also that Chaucer and Ovid both mention Midas' lange beres. Cf. WBT.9S} and MetXl 182-18?: "Sed solitus kmgos ferro resecare capillos/VidaM hoc famulus " Italics mine. 4. For an account of the contest, see Met.X 1.146-171. 5. "Chaucers Belesenheit in den römischen Klassikern," p. 24. 6. Chaucer and tbe Roman Poets, p. 319. 7. See WBP26-S8 and 135-146. The Biblical passage to which the Wife alludes for an account of Christ's using barley bread to nourish the people is in John VI.9. It would be dangerous to assume that such errors as this are Chaucer's. For a more extensive discussion of the Wife as exegete, see Robertson, A Preface to Chaucer, pp. 31 7-3 31. 8. "The Marital Dilemma in the WifeofBatbs Tale." PMLA. LXI (1946), 416-430. 9. This reference was first pointed out by Skeat, V.298. Cf. RR.8601 -04: S'il prent a tout le monde guerre, 11 n'a poeir de vivre en terre; Nus nes garderait, d'estre prises Pour tarn qu'eus foment bien requtses. Övid provides a kind of converse to the Wife's axiom in j4m.I.viii.43; "castast, quam nemo rogavit" (she is chaste whom no one has asked). This line is quoted by Archbishop Hildebert of Tours (Migne, W.,CLXXI.1043) and by Vincent of Beauvais in his De Erutbnone FiBorum Nobihum (ed. A. Steiner (Cambridge, Mass., 1938], p. 198). "Quedam enim caste sunt, quia non rogantur uel quia luxuriandi facultas eis terrore subtrahitur. de primo dicit Ouidius in libro de remediis [sic} Casta est quam nemo rogauit." 10. Manitius ("Beiträge," p. 747) notes that Vincent of Beauvais quotes /lm.lll.iv.4l -44 in the Speculum bijtoriale.

8. Summoner's Tale T h e r nys, ywys, no serpent so cruel. W h a n man tret on his tayl, ne half so fel. As w o m m a n is, whan she hath caught an ire.

[111(D) 2001-03] The immediate source of the friar's comparison between an angry woman and an irritated serpent is Roman in turn derived from ArsAmatoria

de la Rose 9 8 0 0 - 0 4 , which is


Nc nus scrpenz si desleiaus, Q u a n t Ten li marche seur la queue. Q u i dou marchier pas ne se jeue, C o m e est fame quant ele treuve O son ami s'amie neuve.

(Roman de le Rose) Nec brevis ignaro vipera laesa pede, Femina quam socii deprensa paelice lecti Ardet et in vultu pignora mentis habet.



(Nor does the little serpent injured by a careless foot burn so angrily as a woman when she has discovered a rival in her lover's bed; then her face reveals her thoughts.)


9. Merchant's Tale Biforn hem stoode instrumentz of swich soun That Orpheus, ne of Thebes Amphioun, N e maden nevere swich a melodye. [lV(E) 1715-17]

Chaucer's idea of associating Orpheus and Amphion in a single allusion may have been prompted by Ovid, who refers to both of these famous mythical musicians within four lines of Ars Amatoria III: Saxa ferasque lyra movit Rhodopeius Orpheus Tartareosque lacus tergeminumque canem; Saxa tuo cantu, vindex iustissime matris, Fecerunt muros officiosa novos. 1 (321-324)

(Rhodopeian Orpheus moved with his lyre rocks and wild beasts, Tartarean lakes and the three-headed dog. At your song [Amphion], most just avenger of your mother [Antiope], the dutiful stones formed new walls.) Undoubtedly, Chaucer was familiar also with a number of other classical and medieval works containing allusions to the musical prowess of Orpheus or Amphion. H e certainly read—and translated— for example, Boethius' version of the Orpheus and Eurydice story in Consolatio Pbilosopbiae III, metrum 12; and he probably knew at first hand as well Boethius' own sources for the myth, Georgics IV.453-527 and Metamorphoses X.l-85. In the latter narrative, Ovid tells how, while pleading before the powers of the lower world for the return of his wife, Orpheus accompanied himself on the lyre: "pulsisque ad carmina nervis/Sic ait" (Met. X.16-17—and striking the strings for his song, he spoke thus). The moving appeal which follows (lines 17-39) evidently produced the desired effect: "Talia dicentem nervosque ad verba moventem/Exsangues flebant animae" (Met. X.40-41—as he spoke these words and plucked the strings in accompaniment, the bloodless 151


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

souls wept for him). In fact, so touched were the inhabitants of the lower world by the eloquence of Orpheus' rhetoric and the beauty of his music that even the tormented spirits paused to listen: Tantalus did not reach for that elusive wave, Ixion's wheel stopped turning, the savage birds did not tear at Tityus' liver, the Belides left their urns, Sisyphus sat upon his stone, and the Eumenides, overcome by his song, shed copious tears. The king and queen of the lower world, Pluto and Proserpina themselves, were so affected that they were unable to refuse Orpheus' request (lines 41-48). Later in Metamorphoses X, after he has lost Eurydice a second time and abjured the love of women, Orpheus seats himself on a grassy hill and plays upon the lyre; again, his performance meets with miraculous results: Umbra loco deerat. qua postquam parte resedit Dis genitus vates et fila sonantia movit, Umbra loco venit. (88-90)

(There was no shade in this place; but after the poet born of gods sat there and struck the sounding strings, shade came to the spot.)2 The musical virtuosity of Amphion was no less renowned in ancient and medieval times than that of Orpheus. From the Metamorphoses (VI.177-1 79), the Tbebaid (1.9-10, H.454-455, VIII.232-233, and X. 873-875), or the Teseida (IV. 13.3-8) Chaucer could have learned how the walls of Thebes obediently built themselves when King Amphion played his lyre. Ovid's reference occurs in his tale of Niobe (Met. VI. 146-312)—wife of Amphion and Queen of Thebes—who boasts, M e genres metuunt Phrygiae, me regia Cadmi Sub domina est, fidibusque mei commissa mariti Moenia cum populis a meque viroque reguntur.' (Met. VI. 177-1 79)

(The Phrygian nations fear me; the house of Cadmus is subject to my rule; and the walls built by my husband's lyre, together with the people of Thebes, are governed by me and him.) Since we have already examined in connection with Knight's Tale 865-866, 1328-31, and 1543-49 some important aspects of the conventional medieval interpretation of the Orpheus and Amphion legends, we




need only suggest here that Chaucer's apparently casual reference to these two myths in the Merchant's Tale seems to imply a comparison between Orpheus-Amphion and Januarie, Eurydice-Niobe and May. One of the moral senses in which the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice was understood in the Middle Ages is illustrated by Chaucer's translation of Boethius: Alias! whanne Orpheus and his wyf weren almest at the termes of the nyght (that is to seyn, at the taste bounties of belle), Orpheus lokede abakward on Erudyce his wif, and lost hire, and was deed. This fable apertenith to yow alle, whosoevere desireth or seketh to lede his thought into die sovereyn day (that is to seyn, into cleernesse of sovereyn good). For whoso that evere be so overcomen that he ficche his eien into the put of helle (that is to seyn, wboso sette bis tbougbtes in ertbly tbmges), al that evere he hath drawen of the noble good celestial he lesith it, whanne he looketh the helles (that if to seyn, into lowe tbmges of tbe ertbe). (Boece IH,m. 12.55-70) Like Orpheus, Januarie is "so overcomen" with passion for his wife that he directs "his eien into the put of helle"—that is to say, he sets "his thoughtes in erthly thinges"; the result is, of course, that he becomes spiritually blind to die light of "sovereyn day." Even more explicit than Boece is John of Garland's explanation (p. 67), in his paraphrase of Metamorphoses X, that the meadow through which Eurydice was walking when she was fatally bitten by a snake is the meadow of (earthly) delight (pratum deticie) and that she herself represents the flesh {cam).* Another Ovidian commentator, of the fourteenth century, calls Eurydice "sensualitas," 5 and Bernardus Silvestris refers to her as "naturalis concupiscentia."' Similarly, Giovanni del Virgilio (p. 72) offers a concise moral interpretation of Niobe and Amphion: "Per Niobem intelligo superbiam c a r n i s . . . . Sed per Amphionem eius maritum intelligo delectationem carnis . . . . " As we have seen, the Theban household, over which Amphion and Niobe proudly presided, was notorious in the Middle Ages for its lechery and adultery; for providing amorous Jove with several of his concubines, it was especially detested by Juno Pronuba. In this regard, it is perhaps significant that while Venus and Hymen are very active at the cupidinous wedding of Januarie and May, Juno—the patroness of chaste marriage


Ovid and Tbe Canterbury Tales

—is conspicuous only by her absence. Like Palamon and Arcite in the Kmgbt's Tale, old Januarie becomes a loyal Theban.

Ne Priapus ne myghte nat suffise. Though he be god of gardyns, for to telle The beautee of the gardyn and the welle, That stood under a laurer alwey grene. Ful ofte tyme he Pluto and his queene, Proserpina, and al hire fayerye. Disponen hem and maken melodye Aboute that welle, and daunced, as men tolde. [IV(E) 2034-41]

These two mythological references associating Priapus, Pluto, and Proserpina with old Januarie's garden of earthly delights point up the mythological significance and function of this little bortus conclusus almost as effectively as the somewhat more explicit statement shortly after: And whan he wolde paye his wyf hir dette In somer seson, thider wolde he go. And May his wyf, and no wight but they two; And thynges whiche that were nat doon abedde. H e in the gardyn parfourned hem and spedde. [IV(E) 2048-52]

The designation of Priapus as "god of gardyns"—the same title which Boccaccio twice applies to this obscene rustic deity in his chiose to the Teseida —is probably owing ultimately to Ovid's mention, in Fasti 1.415, of "ruber, hortorum decus et tutela, Priapus" (red Priapus, ornament and protector of gardens); and it may be especially significant that Conrad de Mure, quoting Ovid's line in his Repertorium vocabulorum exquisitorum, alters "decus et tutela" to "deus et tutela." 1 Of course, Priapus' claim to the title "god of gardyns," or "dio degli orti," and his implied special suitability as the presiding genius of Januarie's garden, are founded upon more than this one Ovidian line and the possibility that Conrad de Mure's misreading of it may have had some currency in the Middle Ages. Both in the Metamorphoses and the Fasti, Ovid alludes to Priapus as a scarecrow, whose image was traditionally placed in Roman gardens for the purpose of frightening thieving birds, either with his scythe or with that other

Merchant's Tale


large and equally terrifying weapon which was the god's most distinguishing characteristic. In Metamorphoses XIV.640, Priapus is "Qui . . . . deus fures vel falce, vel inguine terret" (that god who frightens thieves, either with his scythe or with his groin); similarly, in Fasti 1.400, he is "Qui . . . . ruber pavidas inguine terret aves" (that red god who frightens timid birds with his groin); and in Fasti 1.391, he is simply—but unmistakably—referred to as "rigido custodi ruris" (the rigid deity of the countryside)? This reputation which Priapus enjoyed, in antiquity and throughout the Middle Ages, for what Lactantius in the Divine Institutes10 called a "magnitudo membri virilis" so "enormis" that his groin was as terrible to timid creatures as a scythe, was based upon the famous myth concerning his attempted seduction of Lotis. Ovid twice relates the story at length, in Fasti 1.391-440 and VI.319-348, and alludes to it en passant in Metamorphoses IX.346-348." According to the first-mentioned, and longest, of these Ovidian narratives, the rustic deities—Pans, Nymphs, and Satyrs—once assembled in a grassy pleasure grove to celebrate a. festival of Bacchus. Priapus came, too, and old lecherous Silenus on an ass. At night, when all were asleep, made drowsy with the wine that Liber had freely poured to entertain his guests, Priapus arose and stole quietly to the secluded spot where the lovely nymph Lotis was sleeping. Hie garden-god had just drawn the coverlet from Lotis' feet and was at the veiy point of seizing his prize when Silenus' ass brayed out raucously. Lotis started up in terror, thrust off her would-be lover, and in fleeing awoke the sleepers of the grove, who quickly gathered to enjoy a capital joke at Priapus' expense: At deus, obscena nimium quoque parte paratus, Omnibus ad lunae lumina risus erat.

(Fasti 1.437-438)

(But the god [Priapus], only too well prepared in his obscene parts, was laughed at by all in the light of the moon.)12 Finally, that Chaucer knew the whole story of Priapus, and not just the isolated mythological fact that he was god of gardens, is sufficiently indicated by these lines in The Parliament of Fowls: The god Priapus saw I, as I wente, Withinne the temple in sovereyn place stonde, In swich aray as whan the asse hym shente


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

With cri by nighte, and with hys sceptre in honde. Ful besyly men gonne assay e and fonde Upon his hed to sette, of sondry hewe, Garlondes ful of freshe floures newe (25J-259) In spirit, Januane may be reckoned among these devotees who seek to crown Priapus with flower garlands, for his wanton spring dalliance with young May in that little man-made Eden constitutes a kind of devotion to the obscene god who was the true patron saint of his old age and the proper tutelary deity of his garden. Perhaps, too, Chaucer's emphatic and hyperbolic statement that Januarie's paradise was so rich in earthly delights that Priapus himself could not adequately describe them all, is expected to suggest that despite that god's sound and ancient reputation as a scarecrow, even his grotesque "magnitudo" would serve not to frighten, but merely to inspire, one thieving bird who made bold to enter die garden and despoil it of its richest treasure. While Priapus is only figuratively an iconological attribute of Januarie's garden, associated with it merely by implication or suggestion, Pluto and Proserpina are actually present, dancing about the well, making "melodye," and participating in the action as pagan mythic counterparts of Januarie and May. Despite Koch's word of caution on the matter," there seems no reason to doubt Chaucer's own word—given in both the Merchant's Tale and the House of Fame (111.1507-12)—that his source for the story of Pluto and Proserpina was Claudian's De Raptu Proserpinae •• In Claudyan ye may the stories rede, H o w in his grisely carte he hire fette.

(Mercb T. 2232-3 3) While Chaucer was probably familiar, too, with the detailed version of the myth given in Metamorphoses V.385-571 as one of the stories told in the contest between Muses and Pierides—as also with the other Ovidian account in Fasti IV.417-618—even Koch, arguing that Ovid alone is otherwise sufficient to account for Chaucer's knowledge of the story, is constrained to admit that the name Pluto could not have come from Ovid, who in both places refers to the king of hell as "Dis." Whichever particular classical version of this myth is considered, however, the allegorical significations traditionally assigned to Pluto

Merchant's Tale


and Proserpina by the medieval mythographers and commentators are consistent and illustrate clearly how appropriate are the presence and activity of those deities in Januarie's garden of lechery/4 Coluccio Salutati, citing Ovid on Pluto and Proserpina in Book III of his De Laboribus Hercuhs,1' refers to Pluto as "the god of sensuality," and Berchorius (p. 99) calls Proserpina "domina avarida aut rapina." Berchorius* fuller allegorical interpretation (p. 98) is even more representative of the tradition: "per Plutonem intelligitur diabolus rex inferni materialis, et edam rex mundi qui est infernus spirituals. Iste enim cum Proserpina i. cum iniqui tate regina et coniuge sua in suffureo dominatur i. in corde sordido peccatorum

O noble Ovyde, ful sooth seystou, God woot. What sleighte is it, thogh it be long and hoot, That Love nyl fynde it out in som man ere? By Piramus and Tesbee may men leere; Thogh they were kept ful longe streite overai, They been accorded, rownynge thurgh a wal, Ther no wight koude han founde out swich a sleighte. llV(E) 2125-31]

This allusion to the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, introduced to point up a comparison between die ingenuity of those lovers in contriving to converse and kiss through a chink in the wall that otherwise divided them, and the "sleighte" of Damyan and May in duplicating the key of jealous Januarie's garden wicket, paraphrases Metamorphoses IV.67-69: Id vitium nulli per saecula longa notatum— Quid non sentit amor?—primi vidisus amantes, Et vocis fecistis iter

(That crack, which none had heeded over the long years—but what does love not notice?—you lovers first saw and used as a passage for your voice . . . . ) These lines, containing the question, "Quid non sentit amor?"16 Chaucer had already rendered once before in his Legend of Thisbe, which is, throughout, modelled closely upon Ovid's full version of the myth in Metamorphoses IV.55-166:


Ovid and The Canterbury


But yit this clyfte was so narw and lyte, It nas nat sene. deere ynogh a myte. But what is that that love can nat espye ? Ye loveres two, if that 1 shal nat lye. Ye founden first this litel narwe clifte; And with a soun as softe as any shryfte. They lete here wordes thourgh the clifte pace. (LGW.


Gower's rather verbose paraphrase of "Quid non sentit amor?" in his own lengthy account of the story (Confessio Amantts III.1331-1494) reads—even more than Chaucer's translation—like a commentary on the enterprising activity of Damyan and May, for whom, as for Pyramus and "Babilan Tesbee," amorous necessity was the mother of invention: W h o loveth wel, it mai noght misse, And namely whan ther be tuo Of on acord, how so it go, Bot if that thei som weie finde; For love is evere of such a kinde And hath his folk so wel affaited. That howso that it be awaited, Ther mai noman the pourpos lette. (C.AIII. 1J62-69)

Now by my moodres sires soule I swere That I shal yeven hire suffisant answere, And alle wommen after, for hir sake. (IV(E) 2265-67]

In his edition of Chaucer, Tyrwhitt emends "sires" in line 2265 to "Ceres," thus interpreting the passage to mean that it was by the soul of her mother Ceres that Proserpina swore to endow May and all other women with sufficient quickness of wit to answer the charges made by their jealous husbands." Skeat notes (V.368), however, that there is no manuscript authority whatever to justify this emendation and points out that Chaucer's reference is rather to Proserpina's grandfather, Ceres' sire, who, as Ovid explains, was Saturn: Ex Ope Iunonem memorant Cereremque creatas Semine Saturni; tertia Vesta fuit. (Fasti V I . 2 8 5 - 2 8 6 )

Merchant's Tale


(They say that Juno and Ceres were born of Ops by the seed of Saturn, and that the third daughter was Vesta.) It may be said in addition that there is some significance in the fact that Proserpina swears such an oath by the soul of Saturn, for Chaucer himself represents the old god as crafty, experienced, and artful— endowed, in short, with that kind of shrewd worldly wisdom which Proserpina promises to inspire in May. It is this kind of wisdom—this ability to render a "suffisant answere"—which permits Saturn, in the Knight's Tale, to answer the prayers of both Palamon and Arcite by granting each a partial victory, for the one ultimately wins Emelye, while the other wins the tournament: . . . the pale Saturnus the colde, That knew so manye of aventures olde, Foonde in his olde experience an art That he ful soone hath plesed every part. [1(A) 2443-46]

NOTES 1. This passage has not been noted by Chaucer's editors. 2. The place of the passage which follows (lines 90-105) in the long tradition of the literary grove, and the possible influence of this Ovidian tree-list on Chaucer's catalogue of trees felled for Arcite's funeral, are mentioned above in connection with KnT.2919-24. Apparently, Chaucer was much impressed with the myth of Orpheus. In BD.S69, he refers to Orpheus as "god of melodye"; in HF. III. 1201-0}, he hears "pleyen on an harpe/That sowned bothe wel and sharpe, /Orpheus ful craftely"; and in 7V.IV.788-791, Criseyde likens Troilus and herself to Orpheus and Eurydice: For though in erthe ytwynned be we tweyne, Yet in the fetd of pite, out of pcyne. That highte Elisos, shal we ben yfeere. As Orpheus with Erudice, his fere. Chaucer's feld of pile probably translates Ovid's arva fnorum in Afct.XI.62. (Ovid completes his story of Orpheus, telling how the bard was slain by the crazed women of the Cicones, in Mei.X\. 1-66.) 3. For other Ovidian references to Amphion, not concerned with his lyre-playing, see Met VI.221 -223, 271-272,401-402, and XV.427. There are allusions to the story of Amphion also in Boccaccio's Gcnealogie V.30 and Horace's Ars Poeoca 394-396. Chaucer mentions Amphion again in MancT.l 16-118: Certes the kyng of Thebes, Amphioun, That with his syngyng walled that citec, Koude nevere syngen half so wel as hee [WioebusJ. 4. In his commentary on the Comedia (ed. V. Nannucci, p. 15), Petrus Allegheri relates the Orpheus myth according to Ovid's account in Metamorphoses X and notes that these prata through which Eurydice passes represent voluptates bujus munJi5. Integumenta Ovidii, ed Ghisalberti, p 67n.


Ovid and Tbe Canterbury Tales

6. Commentarius super sex libros Enados Virgin, cd. G. Riedel (Grafswald. 1924), p. 5 i SttRobemon, A Preface to Cbaucer, pp. 106-108, n.97. 7. Ed. Roncaglia, pp. 399, (do degB orú) and 422 (iddio degB oró). 8. See Manitius, "Beiträge," p. 739. 9. There ii an allusion to Priapus abo in i4at.II.iv.32, where Ovid argues that so tempting and seductive is one of his mistresses that in her presence even Hippolytus would become Priapus— " ü b e Hippolytum pone, Priapus erit." Here, of course. Hippolytus represents modest chastity while Priapus, as always, is the classic example of obscenity and aroused lust. Perhaps Ovid's most amusing brief reference to this uncouth Hdlespontine deity occurs in Fasti VI.34I, where he is called "longi deus Hdlesponti" (the god of the long Hellespont). That Ovid intends this epithet to represent more than a mere geographical allusion must be clear to anyone who reflects upon the story of Priapus and the shape of the Hellespont. 10. See Migne, M., VI.23 7-238. 11. In Fasti VI.319-348, the object of Priapus' lustful desire is called Vesta rather than Loos. Boccaccio seems to have followed this account in his own version of the myth—given as part of the lengthy gloss on TmVII.íO 1 (Roncaglia, pp. 422-423)—where his second use of the epithet iddio degB orú in the cbiose occurs, for Boccaccio too calls the maiden Vesta. 12. Professor Robertson (A Preface to Cbaucer, pp. 20-21), explaining that medieval artists and writers "did not hesitate to use what we should call 'obscenity' to illustrate a moral point." notes that the 14th-cent. English Dominican Thomas Ringstede relates the story of Priapus, as Ovid gives it in Fasti 1.391-440, in his commentary on the Book of Proverbs, In proverbia Salomons (Paris, 1515, fol. l v ) . Among the lines which Ringstede quotes directly from Ovid are 437-438. Professor Robertson points out also (ibid., p. 21) that Ridewal, in his commentary on St. Augustine's Civitas Dei, describes the "rather amusing rites by means of which Roman women are said to have sought to avoid sterility in connection with this deity [Priapus]." 13. "Chaucers Belesenheit in den römischen Klassikern," pp. 17-18. 14. It might be remembered also that Claudian himself sometimes relied upon Ovid for his mythological narratives. As Felix Peeters observes (Les "Fastes" D'Ovide. Histoire du Texte [Brussels, 193?), p. 94), "dans son De raptu Proserpinae et ailleurs, nombreux sont les rappels ovidiens." See also A. H. Eaton, The Influence of Ovid on Claudian (Washington, D C., 1943), esp. pp. 156-159. 15. Ed. B. L. Ullman (Zurich, 1951), 1,411. 16. Manitius notes ("Beiträge," pp. 740 and 748, resp.) that the Ovidian question appears in a poem written by a "Niederrheinischer Dichter" about I 300, and that it is quoted also by Vincent of Beauvais. 17. Macaulay (ed. The English Works of John Gower, 1.497-498) cites Ovid as Gower's source but observes that "Gower writes apparently from a general recollection of the story, while Chaucer evidently has his Ovid before him and endeavors to translate almost every phrase, showing thereby his good taste, for Ovid tells the story well." These three versions of the story by Ovid. Chaucer, and Gower have been closely examined by Norman Callan in " 'Thyn owne book,' a Note on Chaucer, Gower and Ovid," Review of Engbsb Studies, XXII (1946), 269-281. 18. Tbe Canterbury Tales of Cbaucer, ed. T. Tyrwhitt, II (London, 1 775), 93. Thomas Wright (ed. Tbe Poetical Works of Geoffrey Cbaucer [New York, 1880), p. 286n.) agrees with Tyrwhitt's emendation, observing simply, "Ceres is of course the word intended."

10. Squire's Tale This naked swerd, that hangeth by my syde, Swich vertu hath that, what man so ye smyte, Thurgh out his armure it wole kerve and byte. W e r e it as thikke as is a branched ook; And what man that is wounded with the strook Shal never be hool til that yow list, of grace. T o stroke hym with the plat in thilke place Ther he is hurt; this is as muche to seyn, Ye moote with the platte swerd ageyn Stroke hym in the wounde, and it wol close. This is a verray sooth, withouten glose; It failleth nat whils it is in youre hoold. \V(F) 156-167] This magic sword which is presented to Cambyuskan with the promise that it alone has the power to heal wounds which it inflicts is later compared

specifically with

that spear which

Achilles used first to

wound King Telephus of M y s i a and then to heal h i m : And oother folk han wondred on the swerd T h a t wolde percen thurghout every thyng. And fille in speche of Thelophus the kyng. And of Achilles with his queynte spere. For he koude with it bothe heele and dere. Right in swich wise as men may with the swerd Of which right now ye han youreselven herd. They speken of sondry hardyng of metal. And speke of medicynes therwithal, And how and whanne it sholde yharded be. Which is unknowe, algates unto me. IV(F) 236-246] Chaucer probably knew Dante's reference to this legend of Achilles' spear in Inferno

XXXI.4-6: Cosi od' io che soleva la lancia d' Achille e del suo padre esser cagione prima di crista e poi di buona mancia. 161


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

But since Dante does not mention Telephus here, a more likely source of Chaucer's knowledge, as his editors have consistently noted, is Ovid, who refers to the myth in at least five passages and names Telephus in three of these: .. . opusque meae bis sensit Telephus hastae. (Met. XII. 112)

(And Telephus twice felt the power of my spear.) . . . ego Telephon hasta Pugnantem domui, victum orantemque refeci. (Met. XIII.1 71-172)

(With my spear I [Achilles] conquered warring Telephus and then healed him when he was overcome and asking help.) Telephus aeterna consumptus tabe perisset, Si non quae nocuit, dextra tulisset opem. (Trist. V.ii. 15-16)

(Telephus would have perished, wasted by an eternal disease, had not that same right hand which wounded him also brought him aid.) Vulnus in Herculeo quae quondam fecerat hoste, Vulneris auxilium Pelias hasta tulit.2 (Rem. Am. 47-48)

(The Pelian spear [Achilles'] which once wounded its Herculean foe [Telephus, son of Hercules]also brought healing to that wound.) Profuit et Myso Pelias hasta duci.' (Ex Pont. II.ii.26)

(The Pelian spear also helped the Mysian leader.) Finally, Pandarus' exhortation to Criseyde that she should diminish Troilus' sorrow rather than aggravate it—that she should use, as it were, the healing flat of her sword and not its cutting edge—may represent another Chaucerian allusion to the famous spear of Achilles: And shapeth yow his sorwe for t'abregge. And nought encresse, leeve nece swete! Beth rather to hym cause of flat than egge. (Tr. IV.925-927)




They murmureden as dooth a swarm of been, And maden skiles after hir fantasies, Rehersynge of thise olde poetries, And seyden it was lyk the Pegasee, The hors that hadde wynges for to flee. [V(F) 204-208]

Ovid alludes to the winged horse Pegasus in Metamorphoses IV.785-786, V.256-263, and VI.l 19-120; in Fasti III.449-458 and V.7-8; and in Tristia III.vii.15-16. One or more of these passages—and especially those in which the name "Pegasus" appears—may have been among those "olde poetries" which the subjects of King Cambyuskan recalled in comparing the steed of brass with Pegasus. Of sondry doutes thus they jangle and trete. As lewed peple demeth comunly Of thynges that been maad moore subtilly Than they kan in hir lewednesse comprehende; They demen gladly to the badder ende. [V(F) 220-224]

Chaucer's generalization about the idle speculations of the ignorant— occasioned by his account of the people's reactions to the marvellous steed of brass—has been compared 4 with a similar opinion which Ovid once expressed concerning the response which a certain grand military triumph would probably elicit from the "lewed" plebs of Rome: Quorum pars causas et res et nomina quaeret, Pars referet, quamvis noverit ilia parum. (Tiist. IV.ii.25-26)

(Some of the people will ask about causes, objects, names; others will answer—although they know all too little about such things.)

NOTES 1. See the editions of Wright (New York, 1880), p. 297; Manly, p. 601; Skeat, V.378; and Robinson, p. 7 19. It is significant that Benevenuto da Imola, in his commentary on the Comedia (ed. J. P. Lacaita, 11.453), expands Dante's brief allusion in Inferno XXXI.4-6 by telling the full story of Achilles and Telephus "secundum Actionem Ovidii et aliorum poetarum": "lancta Achillis magna valde habuit hanc maximam mirabilem proprictatem, quod cum percusserat unum, itle non poterai a vulnere sanari nisi iterum repercuterctur eadem lancea."


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

2. Manitius ("Beiträge," p. 737) notes that Conrad de Mure twice quotes these lines. Ovid here introduces the reference to Achilles' spear as a symbol of himself, the "praeceptor Amoris" of the An Amatoria, who, having first taught youths to love, now promises to cure them with his Remeda Amoris. See Rem. Am. 41-46. 3. Arnulf of Orleans' gloss on this line (p. 175) supplies the names needed to make clear Ovid's rather evasive allusion: "notum est de Thelepho qui petiit auxilium Achilli: qui iterum cum percussit et sanavit 4. See Shannon, Chancer and the Roman Poets, p. 321 ; and Robinson, p. 719.

11. Franklin's Tale Looke who that is moost pacient in love, H e is at his avantage al above. Pacience is an heigh vertu, certeyn, For it venquysseth, as thise clerkes seyn, Thynges that rigour sholde nevere atteyne. For every word men may nat chide or pleyne. Lerneth to suffre, or elles, so moot I goon, Ye shul it lerne, wher so ye wole or noon. [V(F) 771-778]

The immediate suggestion of these lines, as Lowes pointed out,1 may have come from two passages in Guillaume de Machaut's Dit dou Lyon •1 Mais par souffrir 1'estuet conquerre D'aucun bon cuer qui soit si frans Qu'adfcs soit humbles et souffrans; Car autrement estre conquise Ne puet, tant soit bien entreprise. (2040-44) Et s'il les vuet de dueil crever. Il doit son corps dou tout offrir A elles humblement souffrir. Car cils qui vit et souffrir puet Fait partie de ce qu'il vuet; Et se dit on -. " Q u i sueffre, il veint"; Et s'est vertueus qui bien feint. Einsi toutes les veinquera Par souffrir, n'il ne trouvera Donjon, closture ne muraille, N'autre voie, qui mieus y vaille. (2066-76)

It seems likely, however, that more auctoritees than just Guillaume are included in the parenthetical expression "as thise clerkes seyn," which the Franklin introduces to document generally his own sentiments 165


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

on patience; and Chaucerians have, with their customary zeal in ferreting out sources and analogues, cited a number of classical and medieval authors, all of whom have in some sense expressed the proverbial commonplace "Vincit qui patitur." Not all of these "clerkes" are, like the Franklin, concerned specifically with patience in love, but one who does elaborate this theme is Ovid. In Book II of the An Amatoria, he advises lovers to be patient when women resist their advances and to endure their mistress' whims, for in the end such patience will conquer: Cede repugnanti: cedendo victor abibis; Fac modo, quas partis ilia iubebit, agas! Arguet: arguito; quidquid probat ilia, probato; Quod dicet, dicas; quod negat ilia, neges! Riserit: adride; si flebit, flerc memento! Inponat leges vultibus ilia tuis! (197-202)

(If she resists you, yield: by yielding, you will depart victor. Be sure that you play only those parts which she assigns you. If she censures something, you censure it; whatever she approves of, you approve. If she says that something is so, agree with her, but deny whatever she denies. If she laughs, laugh with her and remember to weep when she weeps. Let her impose laws upon your facial expressions.) The same basic idea is expressed somewhat differently in Amores I.ii, where Ovid debates with himself whether he should resist Love, but is convinced finally that he suffers least who yields patiently to Love's yoke: Cedimus an subitum luctando accendimus ignem ? Cedamus! leve Fit, quod bene fertur, onus: Vidi ego iactatas mota face crescere flammas Et vidi nullo concutiente mori; Verbera plura ferunt, quam quos iuvat usus aratri, Detractant prensi dum iuga prima boves; Asper equus duris contunditur ora lupatis, Frena minus sentit, quisquis ad arma facit. Acrius invitos multoque ferocius urget, Quam qui servitium ferre fatentur, Amor. (9-18)

(Shall I yield, or shall I, by resisting, augment that fire which has been kindled within me? Let me yield! The burden which is well-borne

Franklin's Tale


grows light. I have seen flames increase when fanned by the waving of the torch, and I have seen them die down when no one moved it. Those oxen which resist the first yoke suffer more blows than others which enjoy the burden of the plow. The mouth of the stubborn horse is injured by the hard-spiked curb, while the steed which yields to the harness feels the bridle less. And much more bitterly and fiercely does Love attack the unwilling than those who admit that they endure servitude.) Toward the end of the Amores, however, Ovid repents of his earlier meekness and complains that the wrongs which he has endured from his mistress have finally exhausted his great patience: Multa diuque ruli: vitiis patienria victast; Cede fatigato pectore, turpis amor! [Ill.xi(a) 1-2]

(I have endured much—and for a long time; my patience has been overcome by my wrongs. Depart from my weary breast, vile love!) But Ovid's painful experience has not been entirely without value. He predicts that this present "dolor" will some day do him good—as bitter medicine restores the weak. And at last the poet-lover who once clung "patienter" to the side of an ungrateful mistress is able to declare—with an emphasis which should lead us to interpret as irony his later precepts in the An Amatoria about the virtues of patience in a lover—"non ego sum stukus, ut ante fui" (Am. Hl.xi(a) 32—I am not a fool, as I once was).4 It is precisely this kind of foolish patience in love which the Franklin admires as "an heigh vertu" in the knight Arveragus, who is so very patient with his wife that he promises when he marries her, That nevere in al his lyf he, day ne nyght, Ne sholde upon hym take no maistrie Agayn hir wyl, ne kithe hire jalousie, But hire obeye, and folwe hir wyl in al. As any lovere to his lady shal, Save that the name of soveraynetee, That wolde he have for shame of his degree. [V(F) 746-752]

He becomes thus her servant in fact and her lord in name alone (lines 791-798)—"an humble, wys accord" to the Franklin's mind, but one


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

which violates completely the precepts of St. Paul and the Church Fathers concerning the sacramental ordering of Christian marriage. The great test of the limits of Arveragus' forbearance is, of course, his response to Dorigen *s marital dilemma; but even here his patience prevails, and, in a show of high-minded virtue which reflects the shallow morality of both himself and the admiring Franklin,' he encourages his wife to commit adultery rather than distress herself with suicidal thoughts over the contemplated violation of her promise. This thoughtful resolution of the dilemma serves to confirm the Franklin in his opinion that the virtue of patience accomplishes what "rigour" (and we may here read "moral rigor") never could attain and leaves him wondering which of the characters in the tale has proved most generous. His feeble moral sense apparently never suggests to him that none of them is truly "fre" since, in fact, each of them is merely willing to sacrifice either something which no one has a moral right to give up, or else something which no one has a moral right to demand in the first place: Dorigen, her life; Arveragus, his wife's chastity; Aurelius, his claim to an adulterous relationship; and the clerk of Orléans, his fee for conning Aurelius into believing that the rocks of Brittany have been removed when, in reality, they have merely been concealed (and hence rendered more dangerous) by the tide.' There is, to be sure, a sense in which the Franklin's maxim on the virtue of patience in love may be morally justified, but this sense the Franklin never considers. Christ himself taught, in the Sermon on the Mount, that patient long-suffering is, indeed, a high virtue, so long as it is founded upon love of God and endured "for righteousness' sake" (Alari.V. 10). As "Reason" puts it in Piers Plowman, Ys no vertue so feyr. of value ne of profit, As ys suffrance souereynliche. so hit be for godes loue. (C.XIV.202-203)

Unfortunately, the patience of Arveragus is the result of his cupiditas rather than of caritas: he is patient not for God's love, but for that of Dorigen, whom he idolatrously serves and venerates under the terms of an inverted marital relationship.

By proces, as ye knowen everichoon, Men may so longe graven in a stoon

Franklin's Tale


Til som figure therinne emprented be. So longe han they contorted hire, til she Receyved hath, by hope and by resoun. The emprentyng of hire consolacioun, Thurgh which hir grete sorwe gan aswage; She may nat alwey duren in swich rage. (V(F) 829-836]

No precise parallel has been found for this comparison which Chaucer draws between stone-carving and the long and difficult process by which Dorigen's friends were finally able to console her and to assuage die heavy grief occasioned by her husband's absence. Skeat (V.389) compares the image in lines 829-831 with Ovid's "Gutta cavat lapidem" (dripping water hollows out the stone) in Ex Panto IV.x.5, a line which was sometimes quoted by medieval humanists and which may have been one source of the commonplace proverb on this subject. Robinson, despite his own observation that Chaucer's figure is "not quite the same" as Ovid's, cites (p. 723), in the absence of any closer parallel, this passage from Boccaccio's Filocolo* which he regards as a possible intermediate source derived from Ex Panto IV.x.5: "Ma gia per tutto questo Tarolfo non si rimaneva, seguendo d'Ovidio gli ammaestramenti, il quale dice: 1'uomo non lasciare per durezza della donna di non perseverare, perocche per continuanza la molle acqua fora la dura pietra." But Boccaccio's "la molle acqua fora la dura pietra" is, undoubtedly, a direct translation of Ars Amatoria 1.476: "Dura tamen molli saxa cavantur aqua" (yet hard rocks are hollowed out by soft water). Furthermore, since both Ovid and Boccaccio use this image to convey the same idea, that even the most obdurate woman will yield in time to die entreaties of a persistent lover, it seems quite clear that Boccaccio's source was Ars Amatoria 1.476 rather than the analogous maxim in Ex Panto IV.x," which Ovid there introduces to emphasize his assertion that although time consumes all things, he has been able to endure in exile.' For similar reasons—whether or not the passage from the Filocolo is admitted as Chaucer's immediate source—this line from die Ars Amatoria seems closer than Ex Ponto IV.x.5 to the idea expressed by Chaucer's stone-graving image in the Franklin's Tale, where the theme is not "Tempus edax igitur praeter nos omnia perdit" (JEx Pont. IV.x.7—thus gnawing time destroys all things except me) but


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

rather that persistent entreaty will eventually overcome the resistance even of a Penelope: "Penelopen ipsam, persta modo, tempore vinces" (Ars Am. 1.477—only persevere, and in time you will conquer Penelope herself). We shall consider below how, in her complaint against Fortune, Dorigen mistakenly likens herself to Penelope for perseverance in wifely chastity: W h a t seith O m e r of goode Penalopee? A1 Grece knoweth of hire chastitee. [ V ( F ) 1443-44]

But I suggest that a contrast between these two devoted wives of husbands gone across the sea may have been apparent to the Ovidians in Chaucer's audience as early as the Franklin's introduction of his stone-carving image; for while the Franklin applies his image specifically to the chiselling away of Dorigen's grief by the constant exhortation of her friends, Chaucer may, not unreasonably, have intended his audience to recall the context of Ars Amatoria 1.476 and to suspect that, just as Dorigen's grief is here overcome by the entreaties of these friends, so also her chastity, like Penelope's, might later be assailed by the entreaties of a determined suitor. As it turns out, of course, Dorigen proves a much better illustration of Ovid's maxim than Penelope—for quite obviously the wife of Arveragus is less steadfast in her chastity and less skillful in thwarting the adulterous designs of her suitor than the patient wife of Ulysses had been.

H e seyde, " Appollo, god and governour Of every plaunte, herbe, tree, and flour. That yevest, after thy declinación, T o ech of hem his tyme and his seson, As thyn herberwe chaungeth lowe or heighe. Lord Phebus, cast thy merciable eighe On wrecche Aurelie, which that a m but lorn." [ V ( F ) 1031-37]

Chaucer may have derived his idea of Phoebus as god of herbs and seasons from two passages in the Metamorphoses Inventum medicina meum est, opiferque per orbem Dicor, et herbarum subiecta potentia nobis.

Franklin's Tale


Ei mihi, quod nullis amor est sanabilis herbis, Nec prosunt domino quae prosunt omnibus, artes! (1.521-524)

(Medicine is my discovery, and I [Phoebus] am called help-bringer throughout the world; I have dominion over the potency of herbs. Woe is me! that love is curable by no herbs and that those arts of mine which help all others are of no avail to me, their master.) . . . purpurea velatus veste sedebat In solio Phoebus claris lucente smaragdis. A dextra laevaque Dies et Mensis et Annus Saeculaque et positae spatiis aequalibus Horae Verque novum stabat cinctum florente corona, Stabat nuda Aestas et spicea serta gerebat, Stabat et Autumnus calcatis sordidus uvis Et glacialis Hiems canos hirsuta capillos. (11.23-30)

(Phoebus,' clothed in a purple robe, was sitting on his throne, which glittered with brilliant emeralds. To his right and left stood Day, Month, Year, Century, and the Hours placed at regular intervals. There stood also young Spring, crowned with a floral garland; naked Summer, bearing a garland of grain; Autumn, stained with the juice of trodden grapes; and icy Winter, with his white and shaggy locks.) The first of these passages is pan of the story of Daphne and Apollo, which Chaucer certainly knew; and if he had these lines particularly in mind when writing Franklin's Tale 1031-37, then there is an ironic significance in the fact that Aurelius prays for assistance in love to a god who once lamented that his healing arts and knowledge of herbs were of no avail in curing his own love for Daphne. Aurelius prays, perhaps appropriately, to a physician who could not heal himself.

Thy temple in Delphos wol I barefoot seke. [V(F) 1077J

Skeat, noting that Chaucer here adopts phi,"10 observes (V.391) that Ovid uses X.168 and "tempia . . . Delphica" in Shannon adds, however, that "Delphis"

the accusative form of "Del"Delphi" in Metamorphoses Metamorphoses XI.413-414. appears in Heroides XXI.232


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

and, even more relevantly, that Ovid uses the form "Delphos" in Metamorphoses XV.630-631 Auxilium caeleste petunt, mediamque tenentes Orbis humum Delphos adeunt, oracula Phoebi.

(They [the men of Latium] sought celestial aid and came to the oracle of Phoebus at Delphi, which is situated at the central part of the earth.) The moral significance of Aurelius' promise to make a barefoot pilgrimage to the shrine of Apollo is explained sufficiently by Professor McCall's statement that "the euhemeristic god who issued his prophecies from the oracle at Delphos was thought to be a deceiving devil; through him the fiend blinded and led men to idolatrous worship." In support of this observation, Professor McCall cites the following passage from Berchorius," indicating how Apollo was variously associated with both good and bad prelates -. Per istum Apollinem possum intelligere quemlibet virum iustum & maxime prelatum quia reuers imago . . . . Vel die qontra quod apollo qui erat quoddam Idolum gentilium in quo scilicet apud delphos in monte parnasso in totius mundi medio: secundum Ouidium Diabolus dabat responsa: potest significare m a l u m principem vel prelatum. qui diaboli est imago et idolum ipsi per imitationem et vitia conformatum. 1 4

Janus sit by the fyr, with double berd, And drynketh of his bugle horn the wyn ; Biforn hym stant brawen of the tusked swyn, And " N o w e l " crieth every lusty man. {V(F) 1252-55]

One manuscript of The Canterbury Tales (Cn) glosses line 1252 merely with the name "Ianus," while two others (En' and Se) refer to "Ianus bifrons"—possibly an allusion to Aeneid VII. 180 (Ionique bifrontis imago) or XII.198 (lanumque bifrontem). Nine other manuscripts (El, Ad\ Hg-Ht, Bo2, Ch, Dd, Ma, and Ra'), however, contain the marginal gloss "Ianus biceps,"" referring clearly to Fasti 1.65, where Ovid addresses Janus as "lane biceps, anni tacite labentis origo" (two-headed Janus, beginner of the silent-passing year).14

Franklin's Tale


In this context, of course, Janus with his "double


Gower's "Janus with his double face" ( C . A . VII. 1207) and Skelton's "Janus, with his double chere" in The


of Laurel—is


a conventional Ovidian calendar motif, introduced to represent the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. In the Merchant's


however, sudi iconographic attributes of Janus as these two faces, which permitted him to look simultaneously to the past and the future, are






to old Januarie.

Professor Robertson has pointed out a number of parallels between these two "grotesques" : " Januarie in the Merchant's Tale with his desire for both -"paradis" on earth and "Paradis" above is obviously twofaced, like Janus . . . . The two faces of Janus could be interpreted to mean either prudence, which looks before and after, or gluttony and lechery, or other vices. It is clear that our old Knight who busies himself in a garden like that of Deduit in the Roman de la rose . . . is not very prudent. In kalendar illustrations January frequently has two faces . . . , and he sits in some instances "by the fyr" . . . . The latter configuration suggests old age, and is sometimes used . . . to indicate that state in illustrations of the Roman de la


Finally, whatever his original intentions may have been, it is significant that, in the end, Chaucer assigned his story of old Januarie to the Merchant; for, as Arnulf of O r l à n s explains (p. 163) in a gloss on Fasti 1.258, Janus was a patron god of merchants: Hie ubi. Duo fora erant Rome: forum rerum venalium et forum tantum. Et ilia duo fora erant vicina. In foro rerum venalium Ianus habebat tria tempia: unum in primo aditu, alterum in medio, et tertium in fine quod ipse deus est mercato rum. Et propter tria fora fertur quod mercator debet sibi previdere: in fori introitu et in medio et in exitu, et in emendo merces et in venendo et in recipiendo monetarti. In emptione non minus cara, in venditione non minus leviori, in receptione com probate monete. In tempio ilio quod erat in templi introitu, s. inter duo fora, erat imago Iani biceps.

"Lo, which a wyf was Alceste," quod she. "What seith Omer of goode Penalopee?


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales A1 Grece knoweth of hire chastitee. Pardee, of Laodomya is writen thus. That whan at Troie was slayn Protheselaus, Ne lenger wolde she lyve after his day." [V(F) 1442-47]

Alcestis, Penelope, and Laodamia are only three of twenty-two women or groups of women to whom Dorigen refers in her long "compleynt" (lines 1355-1456) as examples of chastity or marital fidelity so great that some of these maidens and wives preferred to die rather than "with hir body doon trespas" (line 1366). All of these examples appear in the first book of St. Jerome's Epistola adversus lovinianum, which was undoubtedly Chaucer's direct source. In fact, the Ellesmere manuscript contains, next to line 1462, this gloss: "Singulas has historias et plures hanc materiam concernentes recitat beatus Ieronimus contra Iouinianum in primo suo Iibro capitulo 3 9°." 2 °Furthermore, lines 144244 of the Franklin's Tale, containing references to Alcestis and Penelope, are glossed in M S Ellesmere with the following marginal quotation from St. Jerome's treatise: "Alcesten fabule ferunt pro marito Adameto sponte defunctam et Penelopes pudica Omeri carmen est (Jerome 1,45)." And the allusion to Laodamia and Protesilails in lines 1445-47 is glossed in the same manuscript with St. Jerome's "Lacedomia quoque poetarum ore cantatur occiso apud Troiam Protheselao et cetera." " W e have already indicated, in connection with the mention of "Ladomya" and "Penelopee" in Introduction to Man of Law's Tale 11 and 75," that Chaucer could have learned the details of these stories from Heroides XIII and 1, respectively. It may be worth noting in addition that there are two passages in the poetic epistles of the exiled Ovid which contain references to Alcestis, Penelope, and Laodamia: Aspicis, ut l o n g o teneat laudabilis aevo N o m e n i n e x t i n c t u m P e n e l o p e a fides ? C e r n i s , ut A d m e t i c a n t e t u r et Hectoris uxor A u s a q u e in accensos Iphias ire rogos; U t vivat f a m a c o n i u n x Phylaceia, cuius I l i a c a m celeri vir pede pressit h u m u m ? M o r t e nihil o p u s est p r o me, sed a m o r e f i d e q u e : N o n ex difficili f a m a petenda tibi est.



(Do you see how Penelope's praiseworthy fidelity has kept its unextinguished name through the long ages? Do you note how the wives of




Admetus [Alcestis] and of Hector [ Andromache] are celebrated in verse, and that daughter of Iphis [Evadne] who dared to mount the burning pyre? How the wife [Laodamia] of that Thessalian hero [Protesilaus] lives in renown—she whose husband pressed with his swift foot the soil of Troy ? It is not your death which I need, but your love and faith: the fame which you must seek involves no great difficulty.) Si mea mors redimenda tua, quod abominor, esset, Admeti coniunx, quam sequereris, erat. Aemula Penelopes fieres, si fraude pudica Instantis velles fallere nupta procos. [Si comes extincti manes sequerere mariti, Esset dux facti Laodamia tui. Iphias ante oculos tibi erat ponenda, volenti Corpus in accensos mittere forte rogos.] Morte nihil opus est, nihil Icariotide tela.

(Ex Pont. III.i.I05-l 13)

(If—God forbid!—my death had to be redeemed by yours, the wife of Admetus would be the model for you to follow. Should you, a bride, wish to trick persistent suitors by chaste deception, you would emulate Penelope. If you should follow the shade of your dead husband, Laodamia would teach you how to act. The example of Iphias should be kept before your eyes if you would bravely commit your body to the kindled pyre. But your death is wholly unnecessary—nor do you need even the webs of Penelope.) ,4 The appearance of the phrase "Morte nihil opus est" in these two letters, both of which are addressed to Ovid's wife, sufficiently explains his purpose in mentioning these heroic wives of legend: he wishes to impress upon her that, unlike some of them, she need not sacrifice her life to demonstrate her conjugal love and fidelity. Dorigen, on the other hand, cites the very same examples—and many others also—to support her conviction that she must choose between adultery and death: "Alias," quod she, "on thee. Fortune, I pleyne. That unwar wrapped hast me in thy cheyne, Fro which t'escape woot I no socour. Save oonly deeth or elles dishonour; Oon of thise two bihoveth me to chese." [V(F) H55-59]


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

And yet none of the faithful wives whom she, St. Jerome, or Ovid mentions ever slew herself as the result of having, like herself, to choose between death and an adultery which she had willingly agreed to commit upon certain extraordinary conditions. Furthermore, the very fact that each of these women was a model of marital fidelity distinguishes them altogether from Dorigen, who, by vowing to commit adultery with Aurelius on condition that he remove the rocks from the coastal waters of Brittany, thus promised to bestow upon him a favor which no truly chaste and faithful wife could offer and which no decent man should ask. Despite the basic immorality of this agreement, however, the marital dilemma which results is not so serious as she imagines: she interprets too seriously and literally an oath which she took only "in pley" (line 988)—one which, indeed, she ought never to have taken in the first place but which, in any case, she has neither the moral obligation nor the moral right to honor." It behooves Dorigen to choose not "deeth or elles dishonour" but rather life with honor, a third possibility which she never considers; and her husband Arveragus, who so generously agrees that she should live up to her absurd bargain and become an adulteress rather than die (lines 1472-89), might better address to his wife those words which Ovid sent to his: "Morte nihil opus est pro me, sed amore fideque."

NOTES 1. Reported by Robinson, p. 722. 2. Ed. E. Hoepffner, Oeuvres de Guillaume de Macbaut, SATF, II (Paris, 1911). 3. Most oi the variants of this proverb which are cited below were collected by Skeat, in his edition of Chaucer (V.388) and in Early English Proverbs (pp 82-83.» 197). See also Haeckel. Das Spricbwort bei Cbaucer, p. 14,»46. The following classical analogues have been noted: (1) Aeneid V.710, "quidquid erit, super an da omnis fortuna ferendo est"; (2) Cato, Breves Sentenuae, XL, "Parentes patientia uince"; (3) Cato, Disticborum Liber 1.38-39, "Quern superare potes, interdum uince ferendo,/Maxima enim morum semper patientia uirtus"; and(4)an altered version of this last which is quoted in an Old English homily (ed. R. Morris, series II, EETS, O S . 5 3 [1873], 80), "Quern superare nequis, patienter uince ferendo." The Middle Ages furnish the following: (1) Livre des Proverbes frampis (2nd ed.. Paris, 18J9), 11.407, "Qui seufre il vainct" (quoted in line 2071 of Guillaume de Machaut's Dit dou Lyon, given above); (2) Piers Plowman (ed. W . W. Skeat, 2 vols., Oxford, rep. 1954), C.XIV.202-206: Ys no vertue so feyr. of value ne of profit, As ys suffrance souereynliche. so hit be for godes loue. And so witnesseth the wyse. and wysseth the Frenshe, Bele uertue est suffraunce. mal dire est petite ucniauncc, Bien dire e bien suffrir.fait ly svffrable a bien uenir.

Franklin's Tale


(!) Piers Plowman, C.XV1.138. "Quath Peers the Plouhman paaentes umeunt ". (4) Confessto Amantis III.16 J9-42: Suffrance hath evere be the beste To wissen him that secheth reste: And thus, if thou wolt love and spede. Mi Sone, soffre, as I the rede. (5) Troibts and Criseyde IV. 1584-87: Men seyn, "the suffrant overcomith," par de. Ek "whoso wol han lief, he lief moot lete." Thus maketh vertu of necessite By p a c i e n c e . . . . Some examples from later literature given by Skeat (Early Enghsb Proverbs, p. 83, « 1 9 7 ) are (1) Marlowe, Jew of Malta, I.ii, "Sufferance breeds ease"; (2) Webster, Ducbess of Malfi. V.ii: Ferdinand : 1 a m studying the art of patience. Pescara: 'Tis a noble virtue. (3) Peele, Sir Ctyomon, "Nay, soft! Of sufferance cometh ease." Cf. also the Scottish proverb, " H e that tholes overcomes," and two proverbs given by W . C. Hazlitt in English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases, 2nd ed. (London, 1882): " H e that can quietly endure overcometh" (184), and " H e that endureth is not overcome" (185). One might cite also Longfellow's "Falcon of Ser Federigo" from Tales of a Wayside Inn: "All things come round to him who will but wait" (last line). The Scriptures contain, of course, a number of exhortations to patience and suffering endurance: see esp. Proverbs XXV. 15, Matthew V. 10-12 and X.22, James V. 10-11, and Job, passim. 4. It is not, of course, necessary to assume with medieval Ovidians that the Amores represent a faithful account of Ovid's real experiences in love, but neither does it follow from this—as one of the editors of the Locb Ovid has suggested in his introductory essay "In Appreciation of the Amores"—that "the reader will not look to the Amores for profundity of any son, whether of thought or emotion" and that "it is exactly this absence of the serious that gives the Amores their peculiar charm" (Grant Showerman, ed. Hervides and Amores, LCL [London and Cambridge, Mass., repr. 1958], p. 316). In the Middle Ages, at any rate, classical authors were not regularly cultivated for their charming lack of profundity or absence of thought, and the Amores were regarded with sufficient seriousness by medieval humanists to elicit from them the opinion that Ovid's moral purpose in writing these carmma amatoria was to stigmatize "the corruption of dissolute women" (Ghisalberti, "Mediaeval Biographies of Ovid," p. 13, describing a commentary in a 13th-cent. ms of the Amores—Paris 7994). This same commentator believed, incidentally, that (as Ghisalberti paraphrases him) those readers "who take the Ars Amandi as merely a frivolous u l e of amorous intrigue are very dull-witted," and that the poem is "an ars in the serious sense of the word, its object being to establish the foundations of a hill and perfect art of love." It is interesting to note, finally, that Ovid's renunciation of patience in love, as he expresses it in i4m.III.xi(a), would have seemed to medieval readers his final word on the subject, since the Ars Amatoria was then thought to have preceded the Amores. The title Amores was unknown in the Middle Ages: the work was called simply "Ovidius sine titulo," and some medieval commentators explain that Ovid deliberately left these poems untitled in order that they might not be censured, as the Ars Amatoria had been. 5. The Franklin's ideas of virtue are revealed, even before he begins his tale, by the words which he addresses to the Squire in V(F) 673-694; he there equates virtue with eloquence and with the Squire's kind of superficial gentillesse. 6. This interpretation of the Franklin's Tale is Professor Robertson's; see A Preface to Chaucer, pp. 275-276 and 470-472. 7. See Richard of St. Victor, Amotattones m Psahnum XC, Migne, PL, CXCVI.389; Petrus Comestor. Sermo XVI, ¡n Hebdomada Poemosa. Migne, PL, CXCVIII.l767; the Exordium Magnum Cisterciensium, Disticba 1.9, Migne, PL, CLXXXV.I005; and the Florilegium Gottingense (Manitius, "Beiträge," p. 741). The Renaissance maxims which Skeat cites in Early English Proverbs (p. 1 0 , « 24) are analogous to Ex PontIV.x.5, but could at least as easily have been derived, as Skeat himself points out, from Job XIV.19, "lapides excavant aquae." A much more extensive list of analogues and variants for this proverb, in many lan-


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

guages, is given by Düringsfeld, Sprichwörter, 11.26 7, »480. 8. Ed. 1. Moutier. II (Florence. 1829), 49. 9. Since Ars ,4m. 1476 and Ex Pour. IV. x. 5 are variant expressions of the same proverb, the two arc sometimes cited together by medieval humanists; see, e.g., Richard of St. Victor, he. at. It is significant in this respect that Petrus Comestor. loc at., quotes the version in Ex Panto but applies it rather as Ovid uses An Am. 1.476—to illustrate the proposition that love will eventually overcome resistance: "Habe charitatem, et fac quidquid vis: omnia difficilia facilia sunt amanti: gutta cavat lapidtm." 10. Delpbos occurs also in Tr. IV. 1411. 11. Chaucer and the Roman Poets, p. 322. 12. "Classical Myth in Chaucer's Trotha and Criseyde," p. 182. 1 3. Metamorphosis Ouidiana Moraliter. fol. viv and vii; see McCall, p. 18?, n. 134. 14. This same moralization of Ovid's reference to Delphic Apollo may be applied to Tr 1.64-70. where Calkas, the calculating worldly man of sdentia (line 67), teams that Troy will be destroyed "By answere of his god, that highte thus./Daun Phebus or Appollo Delphicus" (lines 69-70). 15. See Manly and Rickert, The Text of the Canterbury Tales, II 1.512. 16. In Fasti 1.89, Ovid addresses the god as "lane biformis," and in 195-96 he speaks of "Ianus" and his "Bina ora." 17. See The Complete Poems of John Skelton, ed. Philip Henderson, 3rd ed. (London, 1959), p. 393. 18 A Preface to Chaucer, p. 256. 19. Chaucer summarizes the major thesis of his source in LGW, Pro I. G. 281-304 and for additional material refers his audience also to the Heroides (lines 305-306) and the "Estoryal Myrour" (Speculum bistonaU) of Vincent of Beauvais (line 307). 20. See Manly and Rickert, The Text of the Canterbury Tales, 111.513. The same reference, with some very slight variation, appears also in Ad3, Hg-Ht, Bo*. Dd, En', H a ' , and Ps. 21. Ibid., III.514;alsoin Ad J . 22. Ibid.. also in Ad'. 23. "Alceste" is also mentioned in line 75. 24. Alccstis, Penelope, and Laodamia appear together in still another Ovidian passage: Est pia Penelope lustris err ante duobus Et totidem lustris bella gerente viro. Respice Phylaciden et quae comes isse marito Fertur et ante annos occubuisse suos; Fata Pheretiadae coniunx Pagasaea redemit Proque virost uxor funere lata viri. (An Am lU. 15-20) (Penelope was faithful, even though her husband wandered abroad for ten years and waged war for as long. Consider Phyladdes [Protesilaiis] and that wife [Laodamia]) who is reported to have accompanied her husband in death, dying before her time. The Pagasaean consort [Alcestis} redeemed the fate of Pheretiades [Admetus]: at his funeral, the wife was carried in her husband's place.) The context of these examples is Ovid's contention (lines 7-10) that not all women are serpents or wolves; each must be judged according to her individual merits. 25. See Robertson, A Preface to Chaucer, p. 274.

12. Physician's Tale Fair was this mayde in excellent beautee Aboven every wight that man may see ; For Nature hath with sovereyn diligence Yformed hire in so greet excellence, As though she wolde seyn, "Lo! I, Nature, Thus kan I forme and peynte a creature, Whan that me list; who kan me countrefete? Pigmalion noght, though he ay forge and bete, Or grave, or peynte; for I dar wel seyn, Apelles, Zanzis, sholde werche in veyn Outher to grave, or peynte, or forge, or bete. If they presumed me to countrefete." [ V K O 7-18]

This passage derives, undoubtedly, from lines 16177-90 of Jean de Meun's discussion of Nature and Art in Le Roman de ¡a Rose Ne Pygmalion [pourrait] entaillier; En vain s'i pourrait travaillier Parrasius; veire Apellès, Que je mout bon peintre apel, les Beautez de li jamais descrivre Ne pourrait, tant eiist a vivre; Ne Miro ne Policletus Jamais ne savraient cet us. Zeusis nefs par son bel peindre Ne pourrait a tel fourme ataindre, Qui, pour faire l'image ou temple, De cinc puceles fist essemple, Les plus beles que l'en pot querre E trouver en toute la t e r r e . . . . 1

Not only are Chaucer's "Pigmalion," "Apelles," and "Zanzis" Jean's "Pygmalion," "Apellfcs," and "Zeusis,"2 but in both passages these 179


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

names are mentioned for the same purpose—to illustrate the truth that even the very greatest artists cannot equal Nature in the creation of beauty. Seven manuscripts of the Tales (El, Hg, Bo1, Ch-Dd, Ad', and Ht) gloss Chaucer's reference to Pygmalion in line 14 with the direction, "Quere in Methamorphosios"'—although Chaucer himself could have learned the details of this myth as easily from Jean de Mcun (RR 20817-21183) as from Ovid (Met. X.243-297). According to the Ovidian version—which was, as usual, Jean de Meun's own source —Pygmalion, being too conscious of the imperfections of mortal women to love any of them, created an ivory statue of a beautiful girl, which so charmed and delighted him that, fancying his statue a real woman, he fondled and embraced it, presented it with gifts, and even made love to it. His prayer to Venus, that he might be granted a lover as perfect as his statue, was answered when the ivory maid herself came to life and responded to his love. The Middle Ages understood this myth, quite reasonably, as an example of moral rather than physical metamorphosis; they realized, that is, that the "change" had occurred not in the statue but in Pygmalion himself—a classic type of the foolish lover who translates a phantasm of beauty into a tangible image, which then becomes the object of his irrational and idolatrous passion.5 Precisely the same kind of delusion dements Narcissus, who falls in love with his own reflection; Chretien de Troyes' Alisandre, who takes a shirt to bed with him and embraces it as if it were really Soredamors; and even the lover in Le Roman de la Rose, who pictures his "rose" naked in bed beside him. As Professor Robertson notes, " W e are introduced to Pygmalion at that point in the poem [the Roman] where Venus is about to release her burning arrow at the 'image' into which the rose has been transformed by the lover's idolatrous passion . . . . It is noteworthy that what Venus is aiming at is an 'image,' not a lady, and not a rose. The author finds occasion to compare this image with that of Pygmalion (lines 20785ff.), whose story is then told." The brief allusion to Pygmalion at the beginning of the Physician's Tale serves much this same purpose, for Virginia—more beautiful than even Pygmalion's perfect ivory maiden—is, to the lecherous eye of Apius, the embodiment of a phantasm of beauty, an idol created by his own lust; and like Pygmalion himself, or the lover in the Roman,

Physician's Tale


he burns with the deadly fire of concupiscence in the contemplation of possessing and enjoying his idol.

. . . thurgh that land they preised hire echone That loved vertu, save Envye allone, That sory is of oother mennes wele, And glad is of his sorwe and his unheele. (The doctour maketh this descripcioun). [VI(C) 113-117]

Since the Ellesmere and nine other manuscripts contain marginal notes identifying the "doctour" in line 117 of this passage as "Augustinus," 7 and since the Parson defines Envy "after the word of Seint Augustyn" as "sorwe of oother mennes wele, and joye of othere mennes harm" (ParsT. 484), it is clear that Chaucer's characterization of this sin in the Physician's Tale is derived, at least primarily, from St. Augustine's treatise on Psalm CIV, where the following brief definition is given: "Inuidia est enim odium felicitatis alienae."' It is important to note that this definition of Envy predates the Christian era. It appears, for example, in the Epistles of Horace: "invidus a Iteri us macrescit rebus opimis" (I.ii. 57): Far more influential in the Middle Ages, however, was Ovid's version of the definition in Metamorphoses II, where he presents a detailed iconographic description of Envy which may well have been known both to the Church Fathers and to Chaucer: Pallor in ore sedet, macies in corpore toto, Nusquam recta acies, livent rubigine dentes, Pectora felle virent, lingua est suffusa veneno. Risus abest, nisi quern visi movere dolores, Nec fruitur somno, vigilacibus excita curis, Sed videt ingratos, intabescitque videndo, Successus hominum, carpitque et carpitur una, Suppliciumque suum est.10 (775-782)

(Her face is pale, her body emaciated. She can never look directly at anything; her teeth are stained with mold. Her breast is green with gall, and her tongue drips with venom. She never laughs—except at someone's grief. She enjoys no sleep, but is agitated by wakeful cares. The


Ovid and Tbe Canterbury Tales

sight of other people's success displeases her; at that sight she withers up—gnaws at herself and is gnawed, and is her own punishment.) NOTES 1. These lines were probably also the model for Pearl XIII.749-7JO (ed. E. V. Gordon. Oxford, 1953). where the poet maintains that neither Nature nor Art could have created the beauty of his "makelle] perle": " )y beautecom neuer of nature;/Pymalyon paynted neuer >y vys." 2. These are probably the three names intended by the misleading gloss on line 14 of the Physician's Tale in M S Se: "Pigmalion Appollus and Zephirus." See Manly and Rickert, Tbe Text of the Canterbury Tales, 1II.J 15. i. Ibid. 4. Langlois, ed. Le Roman de la Rose, V.109. Ovid was also the source of Gower's version of the Pygmalion story in C.A. IV. 371-436. 5. A standard medieval account of the various kinds of metamorphoses is given by Petrus Allegheri in his commentary (ed. V. Nannucci) on Inferno XXV. 35-151 Arnulf of OrliSns' interpretation of the myth of Pygmalion (p. 223) represents well the medieval tradition: "The statue of Pigmalion [was change^ into a living woman. As a matter of fact, Pigmalion, a wonderful artificer, made an ivory statue, and conceiving a love for it began to abuse it as though it were a true woman" (trans. Robertson, A Preface to Cbaucer, p. 102). Cf. Lydgate's lines on Pygmalion in Reson and SensvaUyte (ed. Ernst Sieper), lines 42 76-80: Love him made so amerous. In Ouide as it ys tolde, A1 be that yt (pie statue] was ded and colde. Which made hym selfe [for] to stryve, Lyche as hyt had^fe] ben alyve. 6 A Preface to Cbaucer, p. 100; my discussion of Pygmalion is indebted to Professor Robertson's treatment of this myth, ibid., pp. 99-103. 7. See Manly and Rickert, The Text of tbe Canterbury Tales, 111.515; also in Hg, Ch-Dd, A d ' , Ht, Cn, Ma, En 3 ,and Py. 8. See Migne, PL, XXXV11.1 399. The Parson defines Envy also as that sin "which that is, as by the word of the philosophre, 'sorwe of oother mannes prosperitee' " (line 484) This pbilosopbre has not been absolutely identified, but Skeat suggested (V.461) that the Parson's entire definition seems less indebted to St. Augustine than to St. Gregory, who wrote in the Moralia, " D e inuidia, odium, susurratio. detractio, exsultatio in aduersis proximi, afflictio autem in prosperis nascitur" (Lib. XXXI, cap. 45; see Migne, PL, LXXVI.621). 9 Skeat quotes this line in V.26 3. 10. This entire passage is quoted by Vincent of Beauvais (Manitius, "Beitrage," p. 748) and by Boccaccio both in his Comento alia Divina Commedia (ed. D. Guerri p a r i , 1918],111139) and in his Genealogie (Lib.I, cap.18, ed. V. Romano, p. 48); line 778 is quoted by Coluccio Salutati in Book III of the De Laboribus HercuHs (ed. B. L. Ullman, I. 287). In addition, Guillaume de Lorris' portrait of Envy as she is depicted on the wall of the garden in RR.235-290 is modelled closely upon Ovid's description; and even the account of Envy in Piers Plowman, B.V.76-1 3 3, seems, as Skeat suggests (ed. Piers tbe Plowman, 11.74), to owe certain details ultimately to Ovid—despite the fact that in the English poem Envy is masculine. He is said to be "pale as a pelet" (Pallor in ore sedet), to have "lene chekes" and a body "to-bolle for wratthe, that he bote his lippes" (macies in corpore toto, carpiujue et carpitur). Each word that he speaks is "of an addres tonge" (lingua est suffusa veneno), and in his confession he admits, "al my body bolneth, for bitter of my galle" (Pectora felle virent). His account (lines 112-114 of how he laughs only at the grief of others and is saddened by their happiness resembles both Ovid's description (Met.11.778 and 780781) and Chaucer's definition of Envy in the tales of the Physician and the Parson: And of mennes lesynge I laughe. that liketh myn herte; And for her wynnynge I wepe. and waille the tyme. And deme that hij don ille. there I do wel worse.

13. Tale of Melibee As Professor Severs has s h o w n , 1 there can be no doubt that the English paraphrases of O v i d in the Tale directly from the French

of Melibee

paraphrases in Le


are translated de Mellibee


Prudence -, for there is no evidence whatever to indicate that Chaucer had recourse here either to texts of Ovid or to Albertano's Liber solationis

et Consilii,


w h e r e the quotations from Ovid are given in the

Latin original. T h i s close relationship between Chaucer's Melibee


its French source can be seen in the following tabulation, where I quote the relevant passages first from the Melibee,

then from the

and finally, for the sake of completeness, from Ovid himself:

This noble wyf Prudence remembred hire upon the sentence of Ovide, in his book that cleped is the Remedie of Love, where as he s e i t h / " H e is a fool that destourbeth the mooder to wepen in the deeth of hire child, til she have wept hir fille as for a certein tyme;/and thanne shal man doon his diligence with amyable wordes hire to reconforte, and preyen hire of hir wepyng for to stynte." 2 [Melibee, 976-978 (B J *2166-68)] Adonques elle s'appensa de la sentence Ovide, ou Livre des Remedes d'Amours, qui dit que celui est fol qui s'efforce d'empescher la mere de plorer en la mort de son enfant jusques a tant qu'elle se soit bien remplie de larmes et saoulee de plorer; lors est il temps de la conforter et d'attremper sa doulour par doulces paroles. {Livre de Mellibee, p.569, 22-26) Quis matrem, nisi mentis inops, in funere nati Flere vetet? non hoc illa monenda locost; Cum dederit lacrimas animumque inpleverit aegrum, Ille dolor verbis emoderandus erit.' (Rem. Am. 127-130) 183



Ovid and The Canterbury Tales (Who but a fool would forbid a mother to weep at the funeral of her son; that is not the place to counsel her. When she has poured forth her tears and has satisfied her distressed mind, then may her grief be mitigated with words.)

Ovyde seith that "the litel wesele wol slee the grete bole and the wilde hert." / And the book seith, "A litel thorn may prikke a kyng ful soore, and an hound wol holde the wilde boor." [Melibee, 1325-26(B 2 *2515-16)] Et Ovide ou Livre de Remede d'Amours dit, "La petite vivre occist le grant thorel; et le chien, qui n'est pas moult grant, retient bien le sanglier." (Livre de Mellibee, p.588, 541-543) Parva necat morsu spatiosum vipera taurum ; A cane non magno saepe tenetur aper. 4 (Rem. AmA21 -422) (The bite of a little viper slays the massive bull; often the boar is held by a small dog.)

Thou ne hast nat doon to hym swich honour and reverence as thee oughte,/ne thou ne hast nat wel ytaken kep to the wordes of Ovide, that seith,/"Under the hony of the goodes of the body is hyd the venym that sleeth the soule." ' [Melibee, 1413-15(B J *2603-05)] Tu n'as pas bien retenu en ton memoire la parole de Ovide, qui dit, "Dessoubz le miel de la doulceur des biens du corps est estendu le venin qui occist l'ame." (Livre de Mellibee, p.592, 651-654) Inpia sub dulci melle venena latent.' (Am. I.viii.104) (Wicked poisons lie hidden under sweet honey.)

NOTES I. J. Burlce Severs, " T h e Tale of Melibeus," in Sources and Analogues, pp 560-566; the quotations below from Le Livre de Mellibee el Prudence of Renaud de Louens are from Professor Severs' edition of that work. Sources and Analogues, pp. 568-614. 5. There is an echo of these lines in the Merchant's Tale, where old Januarie, crying out at the sight of May's adultery, is likened to a mother wailing for the loss of her child: "And up he yaf

Tale of Melibee


a rorvng and a crvv As dooth the mooder whan the child shal dye" (lines 2 364-65). Here again. Chaucer probably derived his idea from the French Livre rather than from Ovid directly i These lines are quoted in Albertano's Liber Consolattonis et ConsiHi (ed Thor Sundby, for the Chaucer Society [London. 18 7ij, p. 2), lines 15-22. Manitius notes ("Beiträge," pp. 741 and 748, resp.) that Rem. Am. 127-128 appears in the Florilegium Gottingense and that Vincent of Beauvais cites Rem. Am 119-1 34. 4. These two lines are quoted also in the Liber Consolattonis et Consilii (ed. Sundby, p. 71, lines 2-5) where, as in the French text, they are correctly assigned to the RemecHa Amoris. Note that Chaucer mentions only "Ovyde" and not the title of the work. It has been suggested (Skeat, V.214) that Chaucer's "wesele" represents his confusion of French vtvre (Latin vipera, "viper") with Latin viverra, "ferret." The words "and the wilde hert" in Melibee 1325, and the words at the beginning of 1J 26—"And the book seith, 'A litel thorn may prikke a kyng ful soore' "—occur in neither the Latin nor the French text and are certainly not Ovidian. Rem. AmA20A22 is cited by Vincent of Beauvais (Manitius, "Beiträge," p. 748). 5. For Melibee 1558-60 and its Ovidian source, see the discussion of Pro!, of MLT.\ 20121, above. 6. Ovid's verse appears twice in the Liber Consolattonis et ConsiHi (ed. Sundby, p. 62, line 15 and p. 84, line 3) and is quoted also in an anonymous letter addressed to the city of Prague in 1433, in the Speculum bistoriale of Vincent of Beauvais, and in the Chronicle of Roger of Hoveden (see Manitius, "Beiträge," pp. 741, 747, and 754, resp ). From this line, of course, derives the name "Melibee" and hence the title of Renaud de Louens' treatise and of Chaucer's tale; as Dame Prudence explains to her husband, "Thy name is Melibee, this is to seyn, 'a man that drynketh h o n y ' / T h o u hast ydronke so muche) hony of swecte tempo reel richesses, and delices and honours of this world,/that thou art dronken, and hast forgeten Jhesu Crist thy creatour" (Mel. 1410-12). Skeat (Early Enghsb Proverbs, p. 108,* 255) cites /WW. 1414-15 and /lm.l.viii.104 as the sources of Af^T.2347, "But ay Fortune hath in hire hony galle," and quotes as an analogue Lydgate's " H i r galle is hid under a sugred wede" (A Batade Warning Men, line 26). It is interesting to note that originally Am I.viii. 104 was part of the worldly advice which Ovid overheard Dipsas imparting to his lover. The old bawd used the line to teach the young girl that she should sweetly flatter her lover for the sake of gain while concealing her true selfish thoughts—for "wicked poisons lie hidden under sweet honey." In only one of the many medieval passages cited above is Ovid's verse given anything like its original application. Albertano of Brescia explains that "sicut aliquando tristem/ faciem amicus, et blandam adulator ostendit: Sic/verisimile colorator et, ut fallal vel subripiat./conatur. Inde etiam Ovidius dixit: 'Inpia sub/dulci melle venena latent' " (ed. Sundby, p. 62, lines 11-15). Renaud and Chaucer include only Albertano's second use of Am. I.viii. 104 (p. 84, line 3), where it is applied to Meli bee's own excessive concern for the deceptive sweetness of temporal goods.

14. Monk's Tale: Hercules The first two stanzas of the Monk's tale of Hercules, containing a list of the hero's twelve labors (lines 2098-2110), are modelled closely after Boethius' Consolatio Philosophiae IV, m.7. 13-31, for in addition to a number of verbal similarities between the two accounts, Chaucer— with only two slight exceptions—follows Boethius' order in presenting Hercules' twelve tasks. Chaucer certainly knew also Ovid's versions of the story of Hercules in Metamorphoses IX and Heroides IX (Deianira to Hercules), but since the Ovidian order of the twelve labors (chiefly in Metamorphoses IX. 182-198 and Heroides IX.84-100) differs widely from Chaucer's, and since there is no verbal parallelism between the Monk's Tale and either of Ovid's accounts, it seems unlikely that Chaucer expressly consulted these Ovidian passages when writing his Hercules.' There is, however, one place in Chaucer's account which has been thought to show the impress of Ovid. Chaucer gives as Hercules' sixth labor the slaying of Busiris: H e slow the crueel tyrant Busirus, And made his hors to frete hym, flessh and boon. [Vn.2103-04(BJ*3293-94)]

It was long ago pointed out 4 that Chaucer here confuses two stories: Busiris was a king of Egypt whose custom it was to kill and sacrifice all foreigners who visited his land, until Hercules came and slew him; but Diomedes was a king of Thrace who used to feed his mares on human flesh until Hercules killed him (as the eighth labor, usually) and fed his body to the horses. One reason for this confusion may have been that Boethius mentions neither Busiris nor Diomedes here but describes this labor as follows: Victor immitem posuisse fertur Pabulum saeuis dominum quadrigis. (IV.m.7.20-21)


Monk's Tale -. Hercules


Chaucer translates these lines verbatim in his Boece: "he, overcomer, as it is seyd, hath put an unmeke lord foddre to his crwel hors" (IV.m. 7.37-39), but the gloss which immediately follows this passage identifies the "unmeke lord" correctly as Diomedes—"tbis to seyn, that Hercules slowb Diomedes, and made bis bors to freten bym" (lines 39-41). On the evidence of this gloss, Skeat maintained (III.430n.) that Chaucer must have translated Boethius sometime after the Monk's Tale had been composed. Otherwise, Skeat was content (V.232) to dismiss Chaucer's earlier confusion of the stories of Busiris and Diomedes with the suggestion that he had probably associated the reference in Consolaúo Pbilosopbiae IV.m.7.20-21 with Boethius' allusion to Busiris in Book II, prosa 6, which he himself translated (Boece II, p.6.66-69), "I have herd told of Busyrides, that was wont to sleen his gestes that herberweden in his hous, and he was slayn hymself of Ercules that was his gest." Shannon offered a rather different solution for this problem/ arguing that Chaucer's confusion might more easily have resulted from his misunderstanding of Heroides LX.67-70, where Deianira reproaches Hercules for his effeminacy by reminding him of his former manliness: Non tibí succurrit crudi Diomedis imago, Efferus humana qui dape pavit equas? Si te vidisset cultu Busiris in isto, Huic victor victo nempe pudendus eras! (Did there not recur to your mind any image of cruel Diomedes, who fiercely fed his mares on human flesh? Had Busiris seen you in that garb, he would surely have felt shame at having been vanquished by such a conqueror as you!) Of course, Deianira refers here to two distinct labors; but, as Shannon explains, since Ovid frequently mentions a single character under various names, "so in this passage, the two statements [lines 67-68 and 69-70] might seem to bear a close relationship, the second confirming the thought suggested in the first and referring to the same person under a different name." He adds, "That Chaucer, who was not a professional scholar, should have made such mistakes is . . . . not surprising.'" The remainder of his argument may be summarized as follows: (1) it may have been mere chance which led Chaucer to select the name Busiris rather than Diomedes for this tyrant to whom he


Ovid and Tbe Canterbury


thought Ovid had accorded both names, but it seems more likely that he deliberately rejected the name Diomedes in order to avoid confusion with the Diomede of Troihu and Criseyde, whose name he had learned from the Roman de Troie of Benoit de St. Maure;' (2) it is unlikely that Chaucer had come upon the name Busiris in any context which would indicate that he was not identical with the Diomedes mentioned in Heroides IX, for of all the other allusions to Busiris in classical and medieval literature, Chaucer probably knew only those in Metamorphoses IX.182-183, Ars Amatoria 1.647-652, and Consolatio Pbilosopbiae II, prosa 6; and (3) since none of these passages presents a detailed account of Busiris' story, Chaucer could have read them all and still not learned that "Busiris was any other than the tyrant whom Hercules fed to his own mares"; (4) furthermore, the two stories are sufficiently similar anyway as to cause confusion, for both concern labors of Hercules, and both describe the slaying of tyrants who were cruel murderers; (5) Skeat was wrong to assume that, because the tyrant is called Busiris in the Hercules but correctly identified as Diomedes in Boece, the former must necessarily have been written first, because the name "Diomedes" is given not in the text of the Boece but in a gloss, and these glosses are probably not Chaucer's own comments, but rather translations of the glosses in some manuscript of Boethius which Chaucer had read; finally (6) even Chaucer's acquaintance with this gloss containing the name Diomedes would not necessarily have pointed out to him his error in the Hercules if he had already come to believe that the tyrant could be designated by either name. While Shannon's theory seems reasonable and convincing, there may be an alternative explanation to account for Chaucer's confusion of these two names. Ovid refers to Diomedes, without mentioning his name, in 7^5 401-402: Ut qui terribiles pro gramen habentibus herbis Impius humano viscere pavit equos.

( . . . as that impious one who fed his terrible steeds on human flesh in place of those plants which contain grain.) An eleventh-century manuscript of the Ibis, containing scholia, offers the following gloss on this passage: "Busiris hospites suos equis suis dedit ad comedendum. Vel dicamus esse Diomedem, quem

Monk's Tale: Hercules


Hercules peremit."10 While the likelihood that Chaucer knew this gloss, or even these lines from the Ibis, may not seem very great, there is at least no reason why the possibility should be completely ignored. The Ibis was widely read and quoted during the Middle Ages," and since many medieval manuscripts of the work contain the comments of the scholiasts, Chaucer may well have encountered such a gloss as this. In any case, the scholiast's own inability to decide whether Ovid's allusion is to Busiris or to Diomedes supports Shannon's observation that Chaucer's confusion of these two similar stories is not a very serious error for one who was not a "professional scholar." As the Parson might ask, "If gold ruste, what shal iren do ?"

The fourth and fifth stanzas of the Hercules (lines 2119-34) summarize the story of Hercules, Deianira, and the poisonous shirt of Ness us.'2 Since Boethius gives no account of these circumstances preceding the hero's death, Chaucer's most likely sources for this episode are Metamorphoses IX and Heroides IX, although he may have used also the short account of Deianira in Boccaccio's De Claris Muheribus XXII and the even shorter passage on Hercules in his De Casibus Virorum Illustrium 1.18. From Ovid's full version of the tale in Metamorphoses IX. 101-241, beginning with Nessus' passion for Deianira and concluding with the cremation of Hercules, Chaucer could easily have derived all the details which he included in the Monk's Tale. To observe, as Root does, that there is here "no echo of Ovid's phrasing to prove that this version of the story was immediately in his mind" 11 is simply to point out the distinction between a detailed narrative of a hundred and forty lines and a bare summary of sixteen; and the same consideration answers Koch's objection14 that Chaucer does not give here, as Ovid does in his version, the reasons why Deianira sent Nessus' shin to Hercules. As a further illustration of how little Chaucer depended upon Ovid for his Hercules, Koch cites the apparent inaccuracy of the statement in line 2128 that Nessus made this shirt: But nathelees somme clerkes hire excusen By oon that highte Nessus, that it maked.

(2127-28) But it is possible that the word "maked" in this line means "caused" and that the pronoun "it" refers either to Deianira's sending the shin


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

or to the fatal effects of Hercules' wearing it. The sense of these two lines may be, then, that some authorities excuse Deianira for sending the shirt because Ness us was really responsible for her action and hence for Hercules' death—a statement wholly consistent with Ovid's version of the story, where Nessus deceived Deianira into believing that the robe had magical powers to renew love. In all, Skeat was probably right in suggesting (V.233-234) that these "clerkes" to whom Chaucer refers as authorities in line 2127 are Ovid and Boccaccio, especially since both "represent Deianira as ignorant of the fatal effects which the shin would produce."15 We have already discussed Ovid's myth of Hercules and Deianira, together with the standard medieval commentaries on it, in connection with Knight's Tale 865-866 and our investigation of the concept of virtus in the Middle Ages, as exemplified by such heroes as Hercules, Theseus, and Orpheus. It is necessary to add here only that the suggestion by medieval commentators that the death of the once "virtuous" Hercules was, in effect, brought about by his own muliebrity so that, in fact, the story of Deianira's sending him the poisonous robe of Nessus merely symbolizes morally his self-poisoning through illicit love," is consonant with the Monk's implication that Hercules died because he trusted to Fortune: Thus starf this worthy, myghty Hercules. Lo, who may truste on Fortune any throwe? For hym that folweth al this world of prees, Er he be war, is ofte yleyd ful lowe. [VII.21 35-38 (BJ »3325-28)]

NOTES 1. Cf. Chaucer's Boece IV, m.7.28-62. 2. Boethius mentions the Centaurs before the Nemean lion, while Chaucer reverses this order; Boethius also gives the slaying of Antaeus as the ninth labor and the slaying of Cacus as the tenth, and Chaucer reverses these. Of course, the order of the labors in Chaucer's Boece follows Boethius exactly. ?. Lydgate, on the other hand, cites Ovid twice in his account of Hercules' labors in the Troy Book (ed. Henry Bergen, EETS, E.S. 9 7 [Oxford, 1906]), Book I, lines 563-570 and 595-597: . . . Hercules, >e worthi famus knyjte, Most renomed of manhood and of myjte, Whiche in his tyme was so merveillous. So excellent, and so victoryous, • at Ovyde lyst recorde hym silue, Methamorphoseos, his famyj dedis twelue,

Monk's Tale:



Whiche ben remembrid ther in special, [n his honour Tor a memorial. But for tat I may not rekne(n] al His passyng dedis, whiche ben historial, Redeth Ovide, and Kr je schal hem fynde. 4. Skeat, V.232. 5 Chaucer and the Roman Poets, pp 312-317. 6. Ibid., pp. 313-314. 7. In support of this observation. Shannon points out (ibid., p. 316) that Chaucer was very careful to distinguish in KnT.2062-64 between Daphne (Dane) and Diana (Diane). 8. ¡bid., p. 315. Met. !X. 182-18 3 has only "Ergo ego foedantem peregrino templa craore/ Busirin domui?" (Was it for this that I vanquished Busiris, who defiled his temples with alien blood?). Ars Am. 1.647-652 is, in some respects, more detailed: Dicitur Aegyptos caruisse iuvantibus arva Imbnbus atque annos sicca fuisse novem. Cum Thrasius Businn adit monstratque piari Hospitis adfteo sanguine posse Iovem. Uli Busiris "fies lovis hostia primus" Inquit "et Aegypto tu dabis hospes aquam." (Egypt is said to have lacked those showers which nourish its fields and to have been dry for nine years, when Thrasius went to Busiris and showed him that Jove could be appeased by the sacrifice of a stranger's blood. Busiris said to him. "You shall become Jove's first victim, and, as though you were yourself a stranger, you shall give water to Egypt.") 9. Actually, the slaying of Busiris is not usually counted as one of the twelve great labors. 10. See ScboBa m P. Ovidi Nasonis ¡Inn, ed. A. La Penna, p. 99. The gloss occurs in M S Berensis 711 and also in an edition of the scholia produced at Paris in 1573. T w o other mss of the ¡bis which have scboBa correctly identify the tyrant to whom Ovid alludes in lines 401-402 as Diomedes (see Penna, p. 100: the mss are Phillippicus 124, now Berolinensis Lat. 8° 167, with the scboBa in a second hand of the 13th or 14th cent.; and Galeanus 213, now 0.7.7. Collegii Sanctae Trinitatis Cantabrigiensis, dated about 1200, also with the scboBa in a hand different from that of the text). T w o mss, however, contain a gloss explaining that Ovid's reference is to Dionysius (meaning, presumably, either Dionysius the Elder or his son—both Tyrants of Syracuse): "Dionysius hospites suos equis dabat ad comedendum; idem ab Hercule hospite passus est, ut dicit Boethius" (Penna, ibid: the mss are Cod. 66 Collegii Corporis Christi Oxoniensis, of the 15th cent.; and Francofurtanus M S Barth. 110, with the scboBa in a different hand of the 15th cent.). Finally, one ms permits the reader to choose between Dionysius and Diomedes: "Dionysius vel Diomedes hospites suos equis suis dabat et per eosdem, dame Hercule, periit" (Penna, ibid M S Parisinus Bibliothecae Sanctae Genovefae 1210, with the scbolia in another hand of the 13th cent.). There is another Ovidian allusion to Diomedes, who is again unnamed, in ¡bis 381-382: " U t qui Threicii quondam praesepia regis/Fecerunt dapibus sanguinolenta suis"—«s those who once made the stalls of the Thracian lung bloody with their own flesh, which he used for food. But the scholiasts regularly identify this Thracian king, correctly, as Diomedes: "Diomedes, rex Thraciae, equos suos humana carne alebat. Ab Hercule tandem victus, equis suis in pabulum obiectus est" (Penna, p. 88). Some impression of the value which medieval mythographers attached to the Ibis and also, specifically, to Ovid's occasional lines on Diomedes, may be formed from the f a n that Coluccio Salutati quotes Ibis 381-382 in his De Laboribus HercuBs, in that section of Book III entitled De Dyomede, rege Trade, et eins armentis ab Hercule occisis et domins . . . Capitulum XXI (ed. B. L. Ullman, 1.284): "Huius autem rei Naso mentionem facit in libello quem scripsit in Hibim dicens: 'Ut qui Traicii quondam presepia regis fecerunt dapibus sanguin alenta suis.' " I have found one other Ovidian reference to Diomedes, in Ex Pont I ii. 122: "Quique suis homines pabula fecit equis" (and who used men as fodder for his horses). There are two other Ovidian allusions to Busiris: 7n$/.III.xi.39, "Saevior es tristi Busiride" (you are fiercer than cruel Busiris); and Ibis 397-398, "Ut qui post longum, sacri monstrator iniqui./Elicuit pluvias victims caesus aquas' (as he who taught the cruel sacred rite was killed as a victim and, after a long time,


Ovid and Tbe Canterbury Tales

brought forth rain). The same scholiast who confuses Dionysius and Diomedes in his gloss on Ibis 401-402 (sec above) understood perfectly this brief and inexplicit summary of Busiris' story: "Sicca novem annis Aegyptus fuerat et dixit Thrasius Busiridi regi: 'Inmolato hospite veniet pluvia.' At ille: 'Primus lovisi hostia fies,' et sacrificavit eum et pluit satis" (see Penna, p. 98; and d. Ovid's fuller account of the story, from which the scholiast here quotes, in Ars Am. I 647-652, given above). 11. One of the reasons for the popularity of this work was, undoubtedly, that it provided a convenient compilation of mythological and other legendary material; as one of the medieval accessus to the work explains, "utilitas est lectoris s. cognitio (abularum in hoc opere compilatarum" (Ghisalbcrti, "Mediaeval Biographies of Ovid," p. 48). 12. For other Chaucerian references to this myth, see HF. 1.402-404 ("And Ercules to Dyanira./For he left hir for Yole,/That made hym cache his deth, parde") and 111.1413-14 (". . Hercules./That with a sherte hys lyf les! "); also WBP.724-726 ("Tho redde he me, if that I shal nat lyen,/Of Hercules and of his Dianyre./That caused hym to sette hymself afyre"). 13. Robert K. Root, "The Monk's Tale," in Sources and Analogues, p. 629. 14. "Chaucers Belesenheit in den römischen Klassikern," p. 22. 15. Robinson (p. 748) agrees with Skeat's proposal but points out that Chaucer's earlier mention of "derkes" in line 2121 ("And as thise clerkes maken mendoun./She hath hym sent a shene. fressh and gay") rders to scholars or authorities in general. It is perhaps significant that Gower narrates the story of Hercules and the shirt of Nessus in C A 112145-2 307, "as the Clerk Ovide telleth" (line 2297). 16. The Monk's statement that when Hercules, already poisoned by the robe, "saugh noon oother remedye,/In hoote coles he hath hymselven raked,/For with no venym deigned hym to dye" (lines 2132-34), derives from Ovid's account in Mei.IX234-24I of how the hero committed his own body to the flames of the pyre; we have already cited John of Garland's interpretation of this Ovidian passage to mean that Hercules purified himself of all illicit desires in the furnace of penitence and the fire of charity. It is only after this purification by fire that Hercules is translated to the heavens as a constellation, for as Boethius says, "the erthe overcomen yeveth the sterres" (ßoea' IV, m.7.69-70). The gloss on this line in Chaucer's Boece is significant: "This to seyn. that ivban that ertbfy lust is overcomyn, a man is mahd worthy to tbe bevtne" (lines 70-72). While the apotheosis of Hercules depended upon the atonement of his "erthly lust," the positive reason for his immortality was his achievement of the twelve labors or more specifically, according to Boethius, the fulfillment of the last of these: "the laste of his labours was that he susteynede the hevene uppon his nekke unbowed; and he disservide eftsones the hevene to ben the pris of his laste travaile" (Boece IV, m.7.58-62). Of course, it was only after the completion of his twelve tasks that Hercules declined into effeminacy, and the Ovidian commentators appropriately interpret the hero of the labors as a type of "homo virtuosus," upon whom these burdens were imposed by the stepmother Juno, representing the active life. As Giovanni del Virgilio explains (p. 83): "Per Herculem intellige hominem virtuosum. Sed per Junonem novercam intelligimus vitam activam. Nam tres sunt vite s. activa que designatur per Junonem. Contemplativa que designatur per Paladem, et voluptuosa que designatur per V en crem. Modo vita activa dicitur esse noverca hominis virtuosi, et parat sibi infmitos labores." While it is true that the virtuous man can overcome such obstacles, Giovanni adds, as a kind of lesson to be learned from this story, that he who takes delight in the active life must endure much labor.

15. Manciple's Tale In his edition of Chaucer's works Tyrwhitt observes, "The Fable of the Crow, which is the subject of The Manciple's Tale, has been related by so many authors, from Ovid down to Gower, that it is impossible to say whom Chaucer principally followed."' But Professor Work, in a much more recent and thorough investigation of the sources and analogues of this tale, reports that "Chaucer's narrative clearly stems from either Ovid or some of his many medieval translators, imitators, and moralizers." 2 As examples of the "more important of the many other medieval treatments of Ovid's story which attest its widespread popularity and which bear incidental resemblances to the Manciple's Tale" Work cites the following:' (1) a second edition (1342) of Berchorius' commentary on the Metamorphoses, comprising the fifteenth book of his Reductorium morale; (2) a moralized translation of the Metamorphoses printed by Colard Mansion in 1484, and again by Antoine V6rard in 1493 as La Bible des poltes; (3) Giovanni di Bonsignore's translation and allegorization of the Metamorphoses (1 375); and (4) Albrecht von Halberstadt's Metamorpbosen (13th century), as preserved in the edition by Georg Wickram (1545). Each of these Ovidian texts, according to Professor Work, 4 contains all the source material necessary for Chaucer's mind to "transmute" into his tale; but perhaps the most tempting possibility among these medieval translations, imitations, and moralizations is the lengthy redaction and allegorization of Ovid's myth in Ovide moralise 11.21302548, which contains "many moralistic and sententious comments on the unwisdom of speaking too much and the sin of jangling, which in subject, in spirit, and occasionally in phraseology are remarkably close to Chaucer." 5 As a striking instance of verbal parallelism between the Manciple's Tale and the Ovide moralise. Work notes the assertion in the latter that Phoebus "le [the bird] gita puer/De son hostel" and Chaucer's statement that he "out at dore hym slong" (line 306). 193


Ovid and Tbe Canterbury Tales

So far as other medieval versions of this myth are concerned, Machaut's tale in Livre du Voir Dit 7773-8110 (written about 1364) and Gower's in Confessio Amantis III.768-817 and 831-835 both appear to be analogues rather than sources of the Manciple's Tale * and it is most difficult to imagine that Chaucer was seriously influenced by any ancient Oriental folk form of the "Fable of the Tell-Tale Bird," or by those stories—only remotely and partially analogous to the Manciple's Tale—found in chapter 68 of the Gesta Romanorum, chapter 16 of Tbe Knigbt of la Tour Landry, or lines 2193-2292 of Tbe Seven Sages of Rome. In any case, however extensive the range of Chaucer's reading may have been and however many medieval versions of this tale he may be presumed to have read or consulted, he was certainly familiar with the Ovidian original in Metamorphoses 11.531-632. Since we have already summarized the content of Ovid's narrative in our discussion of the Ovidian "tale within a tale,"7 it will not be necessary to reproduce here that detailed line-by-line comparison of Chaucer's tale with Ovid's which Gustav Plessow appends to his exhaustive edition of Des Haushalten Erzählung (Berlin, 1929, Bälage II). The basic line correspondences may be tabulated much more briefly, as follows:' Manciple's Tale

Metamorphoses II

139-144 248-261 262-265 266-269 292-308

542-544 598-599 600-605 612-616 631-632

The major distinctions between the two versions have been pointed out by Shannon and by Professor Work:' (1) the story which Chaucer tells of the crow is Ovid's story of the raven (corvus), who hears from the crow (comix) a different tale (altogether omitted by Chaucer) explaining why crows, once white, now have black feathers; (2) unlike Ovid, Chaucer does not name Coronis of Larissa as Phoebus' "wife"; (3) according to Ovid, the raven must fly some distance (it is during this journey that he meets the crow) to acquaint his master, Phoebus, with the facts of Coronis' infidelity, while Chaucer's crow actually witnesses the adultery from his cage in Phoebus' house and reports to his master when the latter comes home; (4) Ovid does not mention, as Chaucer

Manciple s Tale


does, that Phoebus' wife sent after her lover during her husband's absence; (5) Chaucer does not follow Ovid in relating how Coronis, fatally wounded by Phoebus, told him of her pregnancy and lamented that their unborn child (Aesculapius) would perish with her; and (6) Chaucer omits also the cremation of Coronis and the preservation of Aesculapius.10 Whether related by Gower, Chaucer, or Ovid, the Fable of the Tell11 Tale Bird has a rather obvious moral. As Professor Work notes, "Gower's raven is blackened in 'tokne' of his wicked speech; Chaucer's crow, in 'tokenynge' that he has caused the death of Phoebus' wife"; and at the very beginning of his tale Ovid says of the raven. Lingua fuit damno. lingua faciente loquaci Qui color albus erat, nunc est contrarius albo.

tMet.. H.540-541)

(His tongue was his damnation: because of his tongue, this talking bird, which once was white, is now the opposite color.) Consequently, it is not surprising to find that in the Middle Ages, Ovid's myth was traditionally read, at least on one level, as an exemplum warning against garrulity. As Giovanni del Virgilio explains (p. 48) "Quinta transmutatio est de corvo albo in nigrum. Nam per corvum intelligo famulum disertum qui priusquam sciatur a domino esse maledjcus albus i. probus creditur, sed postquam noscitur esse garrulus niger est i. malus dicitur. U.v.: Gratus erat domino lingue tam docte minister Displicuit factus garulitate niger"'*

With complete fidelity to the sentence of the Ovidian exemplum, as underscored by the standard medieval glossators, the moral of the Manciple's Tale—which is given in a long passage (lines 309-362) following the story proper—begins with this admonition from the Manciple to the Canterbury pilgrims: Lordynges, by this ensample I yow preye, Beth war, and taketh kep what that ye seye."

[lX(H) 309-310]


Ovid and Tbe Canterbury


The Manciple concludes by sharing with his fellow-travellers certain words once spoken to him by his mother: My sone, be war, and be noon auctour newe Of tidynges, wheither they been false or trewe. Whcreso thou come, amonges hye or lowe, Kepe wel thy tonge, and thenk upon the crowe.


Of course, there is no one on the pilgrimage more in need of this very lesson than the Manciple himself, whose jangling garrulity, as evidenced in the Prologue to his tale (lines 25-45), almost brought about a fight between him and the drunken Cook, who became so "wrooth and wraw" at the Manciple's insulting words that he fell from his horse. In order to heal the breach and turn this "rancour and disese/T'acord and love" (lines 97-98), the Manciple was compelled to offer the Cook a "draghte of wyn" and explain apologetically to the Host, "That that I spak, I seyde it in my bourde" (line 81). It was, perhaps, at just this point that the Manciple conceived his story by thinking "upon the crowe" and remembering his mother's warning: My sone, of muchel spekyng yvele avysed, Ther lasse spekyng hadde ynough suffised, Comth muchel harm; thus was me toold and taught. In muchel speche synne wanteth naught. Wostow wherof a rakel tonge serveth ? Right as a swerd forkutteth and forkerveth An arm a-two, my deere sone, right so A tonge kutteth freendshipe al a-two. 1 5 [IX(H) 335-J42]

There are several specific Ovidian allusions in the Tale which demand consideration, and to these we now turn. Whan Phebus dwelled heere in this erthe adoun, As olde bookes maken mencioun. He was the mooste lusty bachiler In al this world, and eek the beste archer. He slow Phitoun, the serpent, as he lay Slepynge agayn the soone upon a day; And many another noble worthy dede He with his bowe wroghte, as men may rede. [ I X ( H ) 105-112]


Manáple's TaU


Robinson suggests (p. 764) that "Chaucer may have got his idea of Phoebus's life on earth from two or three passages in Ovid"; for among those "olde bookes" that "maken mendoun" of Phoebus' lusty bachelorhood "heere in this erthe adoun" are the Metamorphoses and the An Amatoria, both of which allude to the god's passion for the daughter of King Admetus: . . . Elin Messcniaque arva colebas. Illud erat tempus, quo te pastoría pellis Texit, onusque fuit baculum silvestre sinistrae, Alterius dispar septenis fístula cannis. Dumque amor est curae, dum te tua fistula mulcet, Incustoditae Pylios memoran tur in agros Processisse boves. (Met. 11.679-685)

(You [Phoebus] were then dwelling in Elis and the Messenian fields. It was in that time that you wore a shepherd's cloak, carried in your left hand a staff taken from the forest, and held in your other hand a pipe of seven unequal reeds. And while love was all your care and while you soothed yourself with your reed-pipe, the cattle, untended, are said to have strayed into the Pylian fields.) Cynthius Admeti vaccas pavisse Pheraei Fertur et in parva delituisse casa: Quod Phoebum decuit, quern non decet? exue fastus, Curam mansuri quisquís a morís habes! (An Am. H.239-242)

(It is said that the Cynthian [Phoebus] pastured the cattle of Admetus, King of Pherae, and found delight in a little hut. For whom is that unfitting which was suitable for Phoebus? Put away your pride, whoever you may be that are concerned with an enduring love!) There is still another Ovidian reference to this love of Phoebus for Admetus* daughter in the letter from Oenone to Paris in the Heroides-. Me miseram, quod amor non est medicabilis herbis! Deficior prudens artis ab arte mea. Ipse repertor opis vaccas pavisse Pheraeas Fertur et e nostro saucius igne fuit. (V. 149-152)

(Wretched me, that love cannot be cured with herbs! The very art in which I am skilled fails me. The inventor of this science [Phoebus] is


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

reported to have pastured the Pheraean cattle and to have been burned by this same fire which consumes me.) Although lines 151-152 are now considered spurious, they were regarded as genuine in the Middle Ages,'* and they were certainly known to Chaucer, who paraphrases this entire passage of Heroides V in Book I of Troilus and Criseyde, where Pandarus recalls for Troilus part of Oenone's epistle: "Phebus, that first fond a n of medicyne," Quod she, "and couthe in every wightes care Remedye and reed, by herbes he knew fyne, Yet to bymself his konnyng was ful bare; For love hadde hym so bounden in a snare, A1 for the doughter of the kynge Amete, 17 That al his craft ne koude his sorwes bete." (1.659-665)

It is precisely this picture of Phoebus—the "forlorn and foolish lover, falling victim to a pretty wench despite all his scientia" —that Chaucer evokes at the beginning of the Manciple's Tale with his allusion to the god's earthly career as a "lusty bachiler"; for like Ovid's Phoebus, who demeaned himself and became a humble shepherd in order to woo his master's daughter, the Phoebus of the Manciple's Tale becomes love's fool, a typical jaloux whose irrational passion leads him, through "ire recchelees," to kill that which he loves best." Ovid tells in Metamorphoses 1.438-447 how Phoebus "slow Phitoun, the serpent" and then instituted the Pythian games in token of his victory. Shannon maintains that since Ovid here depicts Phoebus as an archer, referring to him as "deus arcitenens" (line 441) and mentioning also his nearly exhausted quiver—"exhausta paene pharetra" (line 443)—it "seems quite clearly indicated that Chaucer was thinking of this incident, when he says in the same connection with Apollo's living upon the earth, 'He was the mooste lusty bachiler/In al this world, and eek the beste archer.'" A few lines later, there is another allusion to "Phitoun" and to Phoebus' custom of carrying a bow: This Phebus, that was flour of bachilrie, As wel in fredom as in chivalrie. For his desport, in signe eek of victorie Of Phitoun, so as telleth us the storie, Was wont to beren in his hand a bowe. [IX(H) 1 2 5 - 1 2 9 ]

Manciple's Tale


Apparently, Chaucer's purpose in twice mentioning this myth was to remind his audience of Apollo's fame as an archer and thus prepare them for the god's rather different use of his bow in the story at hand. According to the standard medieval interpretations of this myth—as represented by Arnulf of Orléans' commentary (p. 202)—Python signifies "falsa credulitas, quam Apollo id est sapiens ratione sua exterminât." Arnulf adds, "Sic et sapiens falsam credulitatem exterminât a veritate, vel etiam fallaciam que potest haberi per Phitonem serpentem fallacem. Sed inde rediens Apollo id est sapiens aliquando superbit, et, quasi iustificans se, Cupidinem deum amoris negligit." In this last sentence, Arnulf refers to the fact that, following his triumph over Python, Phoebus waxed proud and, spying the God of Love with his customary bow and quiver, boasted arrogantly that only he deserved those weapons and that Cupid should be content to bear in his weak hand the torch alone. The God of Love took revenge for this insult by wounding Phoebus with the golden arrow that made him love Daphne (Met. 1.452-473). Perhaps Chaucer expected his audience to remember these myths and the ^conventional moral interpretations of them, and to recall how wise Apollo, who had once used his arrows to destroy the "serpentem fallacem," was himself subsequently wounded for his proud folly by the arrow of love and changed into the foolish lover who not only pursued chaste Daphne with burning lust, but later slew his own wife with an arrow in a fit of jealous rage. It is no wonder that, after this irrational act of violence, the forlorn and despairing Phoebus of the Manciple's Tale "brak his arwes and his bowe" (line 269)."

Pleyen he koude on every mynstralcie, And syngen, that it was a melodie To heeren of his cleere voys the soun. [IX(H) 1 1 M 1 5 ]

From at least the time of Homer, the "deus arcitenens" was famous also as a patron deity of music. In connection with Chaucer's reference here to Phoebus' instrumental and vocal an, Koch2'cites the description of Apollo the poet in Ars Amatoria II, where the god approaches Ovid, addresses him as "lasdvi . . . praeceptor Amoris" (line 497), and commands him to direct his pupils to the shrine of Apollo:


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales Haec ego cum canerem, subito manifestus Apollo Movit inauratae pollice fila lyrae; In manibus laums, sacris induta capillis Laurus erat: vates ille videndus adit. (493-496)

(As I was singing thus, Apollo appeared suddenly and plucked the strings of his lyre with his thumb. In his hand was laurel, and laurel was entwined among his sacred locks. He came as a poet—a sight to behold!)

Whit was this crowe as is a snow-whit swan. [lX(H)m]

Gower's description of the crow as "Welmore whyt than eny Swan" (C.A. III.797) is even more emphatic than Chaucer's. Ovid mentions doves and geese as well as swans in his comparison: Nam fuit haec quondam niveis argentea pennis Ales, ut aequaret totas sine labe columbas, Nec servaturis vigili Capitolia voce Cederet anseribus nec amanti flumina cycno. (Met. 11.536-539)

(Once this bird [com«] had silvery snow-white feathers and rivalled the spotless doves; neither was he less white than those geese who were later to save the Capitol with their alarms, nor than the river-loving swan.) Thou and thyn ofspryng evere shul be blake, Ne nevere sweete noyse shul ye make, But evere crie agayn tempest and rayn. In tokenynge that thurgh thee my wyf is slayn. [IX(H) 299-302]

Ovid does not mention the fact that the raven was punished also with the loss of his sweet voice, but says only that Phoebus forbade the bird to keep his place among white birds (Met. 11.631-632). Gower says of the raven, however, that men may, Take evidence, whan he crieth, That som mishapp it signefieth. (C.A. 111.813-814)

Manciple's Tale


And Arnulf of Orléans explains (p. 205) that corvus is considered sacred to Phoebus partly because he presages tempests. "Corvus Phebo sacratus esse dicitur tum quia contra omnium naturam in medio fervore estatis de ovis pullulet, tum quia habet LX III I o r vocum interpretationes, et ad Phebum pertinet vocum interpretatio, vel quia futuras significat tempestates."

NOTES 1 T. Tyrwhitt, ed. Tbe Canterbury Tales ofCbaucer, IV (London, 177 J). 184 2. James A. Work, "The Manciple's Tale," in Sources and Analogues, p. 699. 3. Ibid . pp. 699-700, n.2 4. Ibid , p. 700. 5. Ibid., pp. 702-70}. Robinson's explanatory notes (pp. 764-765) show, however, that many of these "sententious comments" were proverbial and might easily have come from Le Roman de la Rose, the De Arte LoquencB et Tacendi of Albertino of Brescia, or the Parum's Tale. 6. Gower's version is probably later than Chaucer's but independent of it—being derived, like Machaut's, from Ovid. 7. See part I, above. 8. Sec J. Koch, "Chaucers Belesenheit in den römischen Klassikern," p. 13. 9. See, respectively, Chaucer and tbe Roman Poets, pp. 322-32J, and Sources and Analogues. p. 701. 10. Gower's story is told of the raven and refers to Phoebus' "love" as "Cornide" (neither Ovid nor Gower speaks of Coronis as Phoebus' "wife"); but, as in Chaucer's tale, there is no mention here (I) of corvus' journey to Phoebus, (2) of comix and her story, (3) of Coronis' lament and Phoebus' futile attempts to save her life, or (4) of the birth of Aesculapius. Peculiarly, Gower's Phoebus kills Coronis with a sword instead of an arrow, and Coronis rather than Phoebus is said to be the raven's owner. See Professor Work's discussion of this analogue in Sources and Analogues, pp. 709-711. 11. Und., p. 709. 12. Cf. John of Garland's Integumento Ovidii. p. 46, lines 136-137: "Garrulus est corvus et comix fert quia Naso:/'Inter aves albas non habet ilia locum.' " A brief summary of the conventional moral explication found in the Ovide moraHsf is given by Work, Sources and Analogues, pp. 707-709.

13. This is also the sentence of Gower's tale "of olde en sample"; see C.A III. 768-782 and 83 1-835. 14. The fact that the crow told Phoebus the truth is nothing to die point; as a (angler, he was justly punished. 15. In view of this clear relationship between the Manciple's Prologue and his Tale, the following observation by Robinson (p. 763) is somewhat surprising: "There is no close connection between the Prologue and the Tale, or indication that the latter was written with the particular situation in mind. Neither of them contributes particularly to the dramatic interplay of the pilgrimage." Consider also the connection between lines 46-49 of the Prologue, describing the result of the Cook's anger, and lines 289-290 of the Talc, containing Phoebus' reflection upon his own wrathful action : And with this speche the Cook wax wrooth and wraw. And on the Manciple he gan nodde faste For lakke of speche, and doun the hors hym caste, Where as he lay, til that men hym up took. (Prologue)


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

Allas! a thousand folk hath rakel ire Fully fordoon, and broghi hem in the mire. (Tale) 16. In any case, the idea of these lines is genuinely Ovidian; cf. Phoebus' lament in Met I 521-524, discussed above in connection with FranklT.iO}]-}?. 17. Wise suggests (Tbe Influence of Statius upon Chaucer, p. 58) that Chaucer may also have remembered Statius' allusion, in the Tbebaid, to Phoebus' earthly career as shepherd to Admetus: Peliacis hie cum famularer in arvis— sic lovis imperia et nigrae voluere Sorores—, tura dabat famulo nec me sentire minorem ausus... (VI. 375-378) 18. McCall, "Classical Myth in Chaucer's Troihis and Criseyde," p. 181. 19. Like most other classical fables, Ovid's tale of Phoebus and Coronis was read in the Middle Ages on more than one level. According to one lengthy interpretation in the Ovide moralise', for example. Phoebus represents Christ, Coronis the human soul, and the raven Satan. The context of the Manciple's Tale suggests, however, that here—as usual—there is little real connection between the elaborate allegorical and anagogical constructs in the Onide moralise and the more traditional moral significations of Chaucer's classic myths. It is true that a medieval humanist familiar with the Ovide may have paused, while reading or hearing the Manciple's Tale, to reflect upon Christ and the Devil, but surely this is tangential to Chaucer's central purpose, which is to illustrate the perils of "janglyng" ( I ) by paraphrasing an Ovidian narrative conventionally interpreted as an exemplum on this theme, and (2) by introducing and relating the tale in such a way that its moral sentence points up a flaw in the character of the teller himself. There is an excellent detailed discussion of the Manciple's Tate and the various medieval interpretations of its Ovidian source— including that in the Ovide moralise—in Professor Paul Olson's unpub. Princeton diss., " ' L e Jaloux'and History," 1957. 20. Chaucer and the Roman Poets, p. Î24. 21. Cf. Giovanni del Virgilio (p. 45), "Per Phebum intelligo hominem sapientem, qui scit omnes fallacias mundanas interimere "; Berchorius (p. 96), "Fitonem serpentem occidit quia Veritas semper falsitati contrariatur"; and John of Garland (p. 4?, lines 91-92), "Phebus Phitonem superat, sapiensque malignum./Fallacemque virum sub ratione premit " 22. Arnulf also provides (p. 202) a naturalistic or euhemeristic explanation of the Python myth, in which Python represents a noxious humor of the earth, which is dried up by the rays (arrows) of the sun (Phoebus); and according to the anagogical interpretation in the Ovide moralise. Python is the Devil and Phoebus Christ. (As a personified deification of the sun and as a type of sapientia, Phoebus was frequently used in the Middle Ages to represent Christ, who is called Sol justitiae and Sapientia Dei—just as God the Father is Potentia Dei, and the Holy Ghost Amor Dei ) But neither of these interpretations seems particularly relevant to the substance of the Manciple's Tale. 23. "Chaucer's Belesenheit in den romischen Klassikern," p. 42. 24. In the Ovide moralise' the raven is said to have been whiter than swan or snow; in Le Livre du Voir Dit, as in the Confesâo Amantis, only the swan is mentioned. See Work, Sources and Analogues, pp. 703, 709, and 711.


The most important—and perhaps the most immediately obvious— conclusion of this study is that Ovid did not suddenly cease to be Chaucer's favorite Roman poet after composition of The Legend of Good Women, but rather that The Canterbury Tales present undeniable evidence of extensive and significant Ovidian influence. This Ovidian influence is of several different kinds. To begin with there is—especially in the light of Chaucer's intimate knowledge of the Metamorphoses—at least a rather strong possibility that the author of The Canterbury Tales found in Ovid's great collection of myths the germ of his own structural idea. Four important passages of the Metamorphoses (11.531-632, IV.1-415, V.294-678, and VI.1-145), from which Chaucer is known to have taken other material, show Ovid using many of the same narrative techniques which are most characteristic of Chaucer's method in the Tales. These devices, common to both poets, include (1) the presentation of a series of tales within a surrounding or framing tale, which serves not only to introduce the collection but also to link the various tales together by being skillfully reintroduced between them; (2) the concept of storytelling as a means of lightening an otherwise tedious task or journey ; (3) the assignation of the tales to a number of different narrators, who relate their stories in a competition presided over by a judge named to decide die contest and reward the winner-, and (4) the moral use of the tale as a commentary on the character of the narrator. Perhaps even more important than his probable influence on the narrative structure of the Tales, however, is Ovid's contribution to the development of a concept which lends thematic unity to Chaucer's entire collection. The theme of all The Canterbury Tales—and not simply of those seven which Kittredge called the "marriage group"— is love. In one sense, therefore, Tupper was nearer the truth than he realized in suggesting that the central principle of the Tales is devotion to Venus. But Tupper was here thinking only of an earthly love and a lecherous Venus, whereas love and Venus were both two-sided coins in the Middle Ages and could operate either in bono or in malo. The concept of two Venuses—one celestial and one infernal—and of twin 205


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

Loves who call her mother is essentially Pythagorean and may be illustrated by Ovid's invocation to Venus, "geminorum mater Amorum," at the beginning of Fasti IV, which stands thus as a kind of classical precursor to St. Augustine's theological distinction between caritas and cupiditas. In effect, Chaucer introduces his theme of love—or, more specifically, of Ovid's "twin Loves"—in the very first line of the General Prologue, where April, Venus* month, is mentioned. And he sustains his theme consistently throughout the Tales, for there is no story in the collection which does not concern either love in bono or love m malo, with the result that the Pardoner's text, Radix malorum est Cupiditas, may really be applied to every tale except those where the lesson is rather Radix bonorum est Caritas. Naturally, the kind of Ovidian influence with which students of The Canterbury Tales have been most concerned is the "direct" kind, involving Chaucer's narration of an entire Ovidian story, his borrowing of specific details from Ovidian mythology, and his translations and paraphrases of Ovidian proverbs or sententious lines. For the most part, these "allusions" to Ovid have merely been pointed out in the explanatory notes to editions of Chaucer, notably in those of Skeat and Robinson; and even here, scholarly interest has focused primarily upon clear instances of "verbal parallelism" or upon similarities and differences between versions of any tale, like the Manciple's, told by both Ovid and Chaucer. Surprisingly little attention has been paid to such basic problems of interpretation as the meaning of an Ovidian passage in its own context or its significance in Chaucer. That is, with reference to Ovid—as, indeed, with respect to most other matters— Chaucerians have been more concerned with the letter and sense of the Tales than with their sentence. In the hope of correcting some of these deficiencies, the entire second part of this paper has been devoted to a close examination of all the various kinds of "Ovidian allusions" in the Tales, as noted by earlier scholars or added by my own researches. For every allusion, we have considered (1) the Ovidian original—whether this is the immediate or only the ultimate source of the passage in the Tales; (2) the Chaucerian derivative or parallel; (3) the standard medieval interpretation of the Ovidian passage, as represented primarily by the commentaries and paraphrases of Arnulf of Orleans, John of Garland, Giovanni del Virgilio, and Petrus Berchorius; and (4) other



citations or treatments of this Ovidian material by medieval authors. From this detailed investigation we may derive a few general conclusions. (1) The one utterly inescapable fact which emerges from this mass of material is that, on the basis of a careful examination of The Canterbury Tales alone, we should be compelled to admit that Chaucer was both widely and deeply read in Ovid. It seems likely that he knew all of Ovid's works, but he appears to have been most intimately acquainted with the Metamorphoses, the Ars Amatoria, the Heroides, and the Fasti, in that order. (2) The Metamorphoses served Chaucer regularly as a handbook of mythology, from which he gleaned not only entire stories but even minute details of mythological or iconographic significance. The extent of this reliance on Ovid may be seen most readily in the Knight's Tale, where Chaucer repeatedly calls upon Ovid to supplement mythological material in the Teseida. (3) Chaucer, like other medieval humanists, recognized Ovid's worth as an ethical philosopher. A number of axiomatic expressions in the Tales derive both their phraseology and their application from Ovid. (4) It is helpful and often necessary to know bow Chaucer read Ovid in order to determine why he borrows from him. A reliable and useful guide to Chaucer's interpretation of Ovid is provided by the standard moral commentaries written by late medieval Ovidians. These indicate that medieval humanists—like Chaucer—read Ovid's fables for their moral sentence as well as for their sense, or purely narrative content. Chaucer, quite consistently, uses Ovidian material in the Tales for moral purposes. (5) The Man of Law's statement that Chaucer "hath toold of loveris up and doun/Mo than Ovide made of mencioun/In his Episteles" [1KB) 53-55] is significant because it indicates that Chaucer enjoyed such comparison with his Roman master. He realized, surely, that his technique and facility in verse narrative, his ironic humor, his elaborations on the theme of love, his many borrowings from Ovid, and his frequent appeals to "Naso," by name, as a venerable auctoritee, all marked him as a thoroughgoing Ovidian. In much the way that Dante regarded himself as a new Vergil, Chaucer seems to have fancied himself an English Ovid.

Bibliography of Works Cited Alanus de Insulis. Anticlaudian, trans. W. H. Cornog. Philadelphia, 1935. . Summa de arte praedicandi. Patrologiae Laùnae Cursus Completus, ed. J. P. Migne, CCX (Paris, 1855), 109-198. Albertano of Brescia. Liber Consolationis et Consitii, ed. Thor Sundby. Chaucer Society. London, 1873. Alighieri, Dante. Divina Commedia, ed. H. Oelsner. Temple Classics. 3 vols. London, reprinted 1956-58. Allegheri, Petrus. Super Dantis ipsius genitoris comoediam commentarius, ed. V. Nannucci. Florence, 1846. Alton, E. H. "The Mediaeval Commentators on Ovid's Fasti," Hermatbena, XLIV (1926), 119-151. Augustine, St. (Aurelius Augustinus), in Psahnum CIV Enarrano. Patrologiae Latinae Cursus Completus, ed. J. P. Migne, XXXVII (Paris, 1861), 1390-1404. . On Christian Doctrine, trans. D. W. Robertson, Jr. The Library of Liberal Arts, LXXX. New York, 1958. Baudouin, A., ed. Pamphilus de Amore. Paris, 1874. Benevenuto da Imola. Commentum Super Dantis Aidigherij Comoediam, ed. J. P. Lacaita. 5 vols. Florence, 1887. Berchorius, Petrus. Metamorphosis Ouidiana MoraHter. Paris, 1515. Bernardus Silvestris. Commentarius super sex libros Eneidos Virgiti, ed. G. Riedel. Greifswald, 1924. Boccaccio, Giovanni. Filocob, ed. I. Moutier. 2 vols. Florence, 1829. . Genealogie Deorum Gentilium Libri XV, ed. Vincenzo Romano. 2 vols. Bari, 1951. . Il Comento alla Divina Commedia, ed. D. Guerri. 3 vols. Bari, 1918. 209


Ovid and Tbe Canterbury Tales

. Teseida delle Nozze d'Emilia, ed. Aurelio Roncaglia. Bari, 1941. Bowden, Muriel. A Commentary on the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. New York, 1960. Bras-de-Fer, Jehan. Pampbile et Galatee, ed. Joseph de Morawski. Paris, 1917. Brown, Carleton, ed. Religious Lyrics of tbe Fourteenth Century. Second edition. Oxford, 1956. Bryan, W. F. and Germaine Dempster, ed. Sources and Analogues of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Chicago, 1941. Callan, Norman. " 'Thyn owne book,' a Note on Chaucer, Gower and Ovid," Review of English Studies, XXII (1946), 269-281. Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, ed. F. N. Robinson. Second edition. Cambridge, Mass., 1957. - The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, ed. Walter W. Skeat. Second edition. 7 vols. Oxford, 1899-1900. . Tbe Canterbury Tales of Chaucer, ed. Thomas Tyrwhitt. 5 vols. London, 1775-78. . Selections from Chaucer, ed. Edwin A. Greenlaw. Chicago and New York, 1908. . The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, the Knightes Tale, the Nonnes Prestes Tale, ed. Mark H. Liddell. New York, 1926. . Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, ed. John M. Manly. New York, 1928. . The Prologue, the Knight's Tale, and the Nun's Priest's Tale, from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, ed. Frank J. Mather, Jr. Cambridge, Mass., 1899. . The Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, ed. Thomas Wright. New York, reprinted 1880. Cicero, Marcus Tullius. De Officiis, ed. C. Atzert. Bibliotheca Teubneriana. Leipzig, 1923. Clouston, W. A. "The Tell-Tale Bird," in Originals and Analogues of Some of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Chaucer Society. London, 1872-87. Constans, Leopold, ed. Le Roman de Thebes, publié d'aprìs tous les manuscripts. Paris, 1890.


2 11

Cruttwell, Patrick. Two Scots Poets. Dunbar and Henryson, in Pelican Guide to English Literature /. The Age of Chaucer, ed. Boris Ford (Aylesbury, 1959), pp. 175-187. Cummings, H. M. The Indebtedness of Chaucer's Works to the Italian Works of Boccaccio. University of Cincinnati Studies, X (2). Menasha, 1916. Cumont, Franz. Recherches sur le symbolisme funéraire des Romains. Paris, 1942. Curtius, Ernst R. European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, trans. Willard R. Trask. Bollingen Series, XXXVI, New York, 1953. de Boer, C. " 'Ovide Moralise',' Poème du commencement du Quatorzième siècle publie' d'après tous les Manuscrits connus," Verhandelingen der Koninktijke Akademie van Wetenscbappen, Nieuwe Reeks, Deel XV, XXI, XXX (3), XXXVII, and XLIII. 5 vols. Amsterdam, 1915-54. Dryden, John. Essays of John Dryden, ed. W. P. Ker. 2 vols. Oxford, 1900. Dunbar, William. The Poems of William Dunbar, ed. W. Mackay Mackenzie. London, 1932. Eaton, A. H. The Influence of Ovid on Claudian. Washington, D. C., 1943. Exordium Magnum Cisterciensium. Patrologiae Latinae Cursus Completus, ed. J. P. Migne, CLXXXV (Paris, 1863), 995-1198. Fansler, Dean S. Chaucer and the Roman de la Rose. New York, 1914. Faral, E., ed. Les Arts Poétiques du XIIe et du XIIIe Siede. Paris, 1924. Fränkel, Hermann. Ovid: A Poet between Two Worlds. Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1945. Furnivall, Frederick J., ed. A Six-Text Print of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in Parallel Columns. Part /.- The Prologue and Knight's Tale. Chaucer Society. London, 1868.

. A Temporary Preface to the Six-Text Edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Chaucer Society. London, 1868.


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

Gaylord, Alan T. "Seed of Felicity: a Study of the Concepts of Nobility and Gentilesse in the Middle Ages and in the Works of Chaucer." Unpublished Princeton doctoral dissertation, 1958. Ghisalberti, Fausto, ed. Arnolfo d'Orleans, un cultore di Ovidio nel secolo XII. Milan, 1932. , ed. Giovanni di Garlandia, Integumenta Ovidii, poemetto medito del secolo XIII. Messina and Milan, 19 3 3. . "Giovanni del Virgilio espositore delle 'Metamorfosi,' " Il Giornale Dantesco, XXXIV, N.S. IV (1933), 1-110. . "L' 'Ovidius Moralizatus' di Pierre Bersuire," Studj Romanzi, XXIII (1933), 5-136. . "Mediaeval Biographies of Ovid," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, IX (1946), 10-59. Gordon, E. V., ed. Pearl. Oxford, 1953. Gower, John. The English Works of John Gower, ed. G. C. Macaulay. 2 vols. Early English Text Society, E.S. 81 and 82. Oxford, 1900-01 (reprinted 1957). Gregory, St. (Gregorius Magnus). Moralium Libri. Patrologiae Latinae Cursus Completus, ed. J. P. Migne, LXXVI. Paris, 1865. Haeckel, Willi. Das Sprichwort bei Chaucer, in Erlanger Beiträge zur Englischen Philologie, VIII. Erlangen and Leipzig, 1890. Haller, Robert S. "The Old Whore and Mediaeval Thought: Variations on a Convention." Unpublished Princeton doctoral dissertation, 1960. Harding, Davis P. Milton and the Renaissance Ovid. Illinois Studies in Language and Literature, XXX (4). Urbana, 1946. Hazlitt, W. C. English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases. Second edition. London, 1882. Helinandus. Ad Galterum Clericum Epistola. Patrologiae Latinae Cursus Completus, ed. J. P. Migne, CCXII (Paris, 1855), 745-760. Héloise (Heloissa). Epistola VI, Ad Petrum Abelardum. Patrologiae Latinae Cursus Completus, ed. J. P. Migne, CLXXVIII (Paris, 1855), 21 1-226.



Henderson, A., ed. Donald's Scottish Proverbs. London, 1876. Hildebert of Tours (Hildebertus). Moralis Philosophia, Quaestio III. Patrobgiae Latinae Cursus Completus, ed. J. P. Migne, CLXXI (Paris, 1854), 1043-52. Hinckley, Henry B. Notes on Chaucer. A Commentary on the Prolog and Six Canterbury Tales. Northampton, Mass., 1907. Hoffman, Richard L. "The Wife of Bath and the Dunmow Bacon," Notes and Queries, N.S. X ( 196 3 ), 9-1 1. Holkot, Roben. Super übrum sapientiae. Basel, 1586. Holzworth, Jean. "An Unpublished Commentary on Ovid's Fasti by Arnulfus of Orleans." Unpublished Bryn Mawr doctoral dissertation, 1940. Isidore of Seville (Isidoras Hispalensis). Etymologiarum Libri. Patrologiae Laùnae Cursus Completus, ed. J. P. Migne, LXXXII. Paris, 1850. Kittredge, George L. "Chaucer's Discussion of Marriage," Modern Philology, IX (1912), 435-467. . Chaucer and his Poetry. Cambridge, Mass., 1915. Koch, J. "Chaucers Belesenheit in den römischen Klassikern," Englische Studien, LVII (1923), 8-84. Kuhn, A. "Die Illustration des Rosenromans," Jahrbuch der Kunstbistoriscben Sammlungen des Allerhöchsten Kaiserhauses, XXXI. Vienna, 1913. Lactantius, Lucius Caecilius Firmianus. Divinarum Institutionum Libri. Patrologiae Latinae Cursus Completus, ed. J. P. Migne, VI (Paris, 1844), 111 -822. Langlois, Ernest. Origines et Sources du Roman de la Rose. Paris, 1891. La Penna, Antonio, ed. Scholia in P. Ovidi Nasonis Ibin, Introduzione, Testo, Apparato Critico e Commento. Florence, 1959. Lewis, Charlton T. and Charles Short. A Latin Dictionary. Oxford, reprinted 1958. Lorris, Guillaume de and Jean de Meun. Le Roman de la Rose, ed. Ernest Langlois. Société' des Anciens Textes Francais. 5 vols. Paris, 1914-24.


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

Louens, Renaud de. Livre de Meläbee et Prudence, ed. J. Burke Seven, in Sources and Analogues of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, pp. 568-614. Lowes, John L. "Chaucer and Dante," Modern Philology, XIV (1917), 705-73 J. Lydgate, John. Reson and Sensuallyte, ed. Ernst Sieper. Early English Text Society, E.S. 84. Oxford, 1901. . Troy Book, ed. Henry Bergen. 4 vols. Early English Text Society, E.S. 97, 103, 106, and 126. Oxford, 190635. Machaut, Guillaume de. Oeuvres de Guillaume de Machaut, ed. Ernest Hoepffner. Société des Anciens Textes Français. 3 vols. Paris, 1908-21. Manitius, M. "Beiträge zur Geschichte des Ovidius und anderer römischer Schriftsteller im Mittelalter," Philologus, Zeitschrift fur das classische Alterthum, Supplementband VII(1899), 723-758. . Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters. 3 vols. München, 1911-31. Manly, John M., Edith Rickert, et al. The Text of the Canterbury Tales. 8 vols. Chicago, 1940. McCall, John P. "Classical Myth in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde." Unpublished Princeton doctoral dissertation, 1955. . "Chaucer's May 3," Modern Language Notes, LXXVI (1961), 201-205. Miller, Robert P. "The Double Hunt of Love: A Study of Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis as a Christian Mythological Narrative." Unpublished Princeton doctoral dissertation, 1954. Milton, John. The Poetical Works of John Milton, ed. Helen Darbishire. Oxford, 1958. Morris, R., ed. Old English Homilies. Early English Text Society, O.S. 53. Oxford, 1873. Nykl, A. R. Hispano-Arabic Poetry and its Relations with the Old Provençal Troubadours. Baltimore, 1946. Olson, Paul. " 'Le Jaloux' and History." Unpublished Princeton doctoral dissertation, 1957.


21 5

Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso). Teubner Editio Stereotypa. 3 vols. I. Amores, Epistulae [Heroides], Medic. Fac. Fem., Ars Amai., Remedia Amoris, ed. R. Ehwald. Leipzig, 1907. II. Metamorphoses, ed. R. Merkel. 1905. III. Tristia, Ibis, Ex Ponto Libri, Fasti, ed. R. Merkel. 1904. Panofsky, Erwin. Renaissance and Renascences in Western Art. Stockholm, 1960. . Studies in Iconobgy. Second edition. New York, 1962. Patch, Howard R. The Goddess Fortuna in Mediaeval Literature. Cambridge, Mass., 1927. Peeters, Felix. Les "Fastes" D'Ovide, Histoire du Texte. Brussels, 1939. Petrus Cantor. Verbum Abbreviatum. Patrobgiae Latìnae Cursus Compktus, ed. J. P. Migne, CCV (Paris, 1855), 21-554. Petrus Comestor. Sermones. Patrobgiae Latìnae Cursus Computus, ed. J. P. Migne, CXCVIII (Paris, 1855), 17211844. Philip of Harveng. De Silentio Clericorum. Patrobgiae Latìnae Cursus Compktus, ed. J. P. Migne, CCIII (Paris, 1855), 943-1206. Plessow, Gustav, ed. Des Hausbälters Erzählung. Berlin, 1929. Pratt, Robert A. and Karl Young. "The Literary Framework of the Canterbury Tales," in Sources and Analogues of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, pp. 1-81. Quinn, Betty Nye. "Venus, Chaucer, and Peter Bersuire," Speculum, XXXVIII (1963), 479-480. Richard of St. Victor (Ricardus a Sancto Victore). Mystìcae Annotaüones in Psalmos. Patrobgiae Latìnae Cursus Completus, ed. J. P. Migne, CXCVI (Paris, 1855), 265-402. Ringstede, Thomas. In proverbia Sabmonis. Paris, 1515. Robertson, D. W. Jr. A Preface to Chaucer. Princeton, 1962. . "Chretien's Cliges and the Ovidian Spirit," Comparative Literature, VII (1955), 32-42. Root, Robert K. "The Monk's Tale," in Sources and Analogues of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, pp. 615-644.


Ovid and The Canterbury Tales

Salutati, Coluccio. De Laboribus Herculis, ed. B. L. Ullman. 2 vols. Zurich, 1951. Schlauch, Margaret. "The Marital Dilemma in the Wife of Bath's Tale," Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, LXI (1946), 416-430. Schmeller, J. A., ed. Carmina Bur ana. Stuttgart, 1883. Sedlmayer, Heinrich S. "Beiträge zur Geschichte der Ovidstudien im Mittelalter," Wiener Studien, Zeitschrift fur classische Philologie, VI (1884), 142-158. Severs, J. Burke. "The Tale of Melibeus," in Sources and Analogues of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, pp. 560-614. Seznec, Jean. The Survival of the Pagan Gods: The Mythological Tradition and Its Place in Renaissance Humanism and Art, trans. Barbara F. Sessions. Bollingen Series, XXXVIII. New York, 1953. Shakespeare, William. Shakespeare's Sonnets, ed. Edward Bliss Reed. The Yale Shakespeare. New Haven, 1956. Shannon, Edgar F. Chaucer and the Roman Poets. Harvard Studies in Comparative Literature, VII. Cambridge, Mass., 1929. Skeat, Walter W. Early English Proverbs, Chiefly of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries, with Illustrative Quotations. Oxford, 1910. , ed. Piers the Plowman and Richard the Redeless. 2 vols. Oxford, reprinted, 1954. Skelton, John. The Complete Poems of John Skelton, ed. Philip Henderson. London, 1959. Sources and Analogues of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales-, see under Bryan. Spingarn, J. E., ed. Critical Essays of the Seventeenth Century. 2 vols. Oxford, 1908. Statius, Publius Papinius. Tbebais, ed. Alfred Klotz. Bibliotheca Teubneriana. Leipzig, 1908. Steadman, John M. "Venus' Citole in Chaucer's Knight's Tale and Berchorius," Speculum, XXXIV (1959), 620-624. Tatlock, John S. P. "Boccaccio and the Plan of the Canterbury Tales," Anglia, XXXVII (1913), 69-117. and Arthur G. Kennedy. A Concordance to the Com-



plete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer and to the Romaunt of the Rose. Washington, D. C., 1927. Thomas Cisterciensis. In Cantica canücorum. Patrologiae Latinae Cursus Completus, ed. J. P. Migne, CCVI (Paris, 1855), 21-862. Tupper, Frederick. "Saint Venus and the Canterbury Pilgrims," [New York]Nation, XCVII (1913), 354-356. "Chaucer and the Seven Deadly Sins," Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, XXIX (1914), 93-128. Vergil (Publius Vergilius Maro). Opera, ed. F. A. Hirtzel. Bibliotheca Oxoniensis. Oxford, reprinted 1959. Vincent of Beauvais. De Eruditione Filiorum Nobilium, ed. A. Steiner. Cambridge, Mass., 1938. Von Düringsfeld, Ida and Otto Freiherrn Von Reinsberg-Düringsfeld. Sprichwörter der germanischen und romanischen Sprachen. 2 vols. Leipzig, 1875. Wilhelmus, Abbas Sancti Thomae de Paraclito. Epistola LXXV, Ad Joannem monacbum. Patrologiae Laünae Cursus Completus, ed. J. P. Migne, CCIX (Paris, 1855), 722. Wilkins, Ernest H. "Descriptions of Pagan Divinities from Petrarch to Chaucer," Speculum, XXXII (1957), 511522. Willard, Rudolph. "Chaucer's 'text that seith that hunters ben nat hooly men,' " University of Texas Studies in English (1947), pp. 209-251. Willelmus. Sancti Thomae Cantuariensis Archiepiscopi et Martyris, Vita Terna. Patrologiae Laünae Cursus Completus, ed. J. P. Migne, CXC (Paris, 1854), 103-192. William of Tyre (Guillelmus Tyrensis). Historia Rerum in Partibus Transmarinis Gestarum. Patrologiae Laünae Cursus Completus, ed. J. P. Migne, CCI (Paris, 1855), 209-892. Wise, Boyd A. The Influence of Statius upon Chaucer. Baltimore, 1911. Work, James A. "The Manciple's Tale," in Sources and Analogues of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, pp. 699-722.