Chaucer's Works (ed. Skeat) Vol. III/House of Fame Notes
NOTES TO THE HOUSE OF FAME.
Written in three Books; but I number the lines consecutively throughout, for convenience; at the same time giving the separate numbering (of Books II. and III.) within marks of parenthesis. The title of the poem is expressly given at l. 663. The author gives his name as Geffrey; l. 729.
Lydgate's Temple of Glass is partly imitated from the House of Fame; Warton, Hist. E. Poetry, 1871, iii. 61. The same is true of the Palice of Honour, by Gawain Douglas. For further remarks, see the Introduction.
As the poem is not quite easy to follow, I here subjoin a brief Argument of its contents.
Book I. A discussion on dreams. I will tell you my dream on the 10th of December. But first let me invoke Morpheus. May those who gladly hear me have joy; but may those who dislike my words have as evil a fate as Crœsus, King of Lydia! (1-110).
I slept, and dreamt I was in a temple of glass, dedicated to Venus. On a table of brass I found the opening words of Vergil's Æneid; after which I saw the destruction of Troy, the death of Priam, the flight of Æneas, the loss of Creusa, the voyage of Æneas to Italy, the storm at sea sent by Juno, the arrival of Æneas at Carthage, how kindly Dido received him, and how Æneas betrayed and left her, causing Dido's lament and suicide. Similar falsehood was seen in Demophon, Achilles, Paris, Jason, Hercules, and Theseus. Next, Æneas sailed to Italy, and lost Palinurus; he visited the lower regions, where he saw Anchises, Palinurus, Dido, and Deiphobus. Afterwards he warred in Italy, slew Turnus, and won Lavinia (111-467).
After this I went out of the temple, and found a large plain. Looking up, I saw an eagle above me, of enormous size and having golden feathers (468-508).
Book II. Such a strange vision as mine never appeared to Scipio, Nebuchadnezzar, Pharaoh, or Turnus. O Venus and Muses, help me to tell it! The great eagle swooped down upon me, seized me, and bore me aloft, and told me (in a man's voice) not to be afraid. I thought I was being borne up to the stars, like Enoch or Ganymede. The eagle then addressed me, and told me some events of my own life, and said that he would bear me to the House of Fame, where I should hear many wonderful things (509-710).
The House stood in the midst, between heaven, earth, and sea; and all sounds travelled thither, 'Geoffrey,' said he, 'you know how all things tend to seek their own proper place; a stone sinks down, while smoke flies up. Sound is merely broken air, and if you would know how all sounds come to Fame's House, observe how, when a stone is thrown into water, the rings made by the ripples extend from the spot where it fell till they reach the shore. Just so all earthly sounds travel till they reach Fame's House.' He then bade me look below me, and asked what I saw. I saw fields, hills, rivers, towns, and sea; but soon he had soared so high that the earth dwindled to a point. I was higher up (I said) than ever was Alexander, Scipio, or Dædalus. He then bade me look upward; I saw the zodiac, the milky way, and clouds, snows, and rain beneath me. Then I thought of the descriptions of heaven in Boethius and Marcian. The eagle would have taught me the names of the stars; I refused to learn. He then asked if I could now hear the sounds that murmured in the House of Fame. I said they sounded like the beating of the sea on rocks (711-1045).
Then he set me down upon my feet in a way that led to the House, and bade me go forward; observing that I should find that the words that flew about in Fame's House assumed the outward forms of the men upon earth who uttered them (1046-90).
Book III. Apollo, aid me to write this last book! My rime is artless; I aim at expressing my thoughts only (1091-1109).
The House of Fame stood high upon a lofty rock, which I climbed laboriously. The rock was formed of ice. On the southern side it was covered with names, many of the letters of which were melted away. On the northern side, it was likewise covered with names, which remained unmelted and legible. On the top of the mountain I found a beautiful House, which I cannot describe though I remember it. It was all of beryl, and full of windows. In niches round about were harpers and minstrels, such as Orpheus, Arion, Chiron, and Glasgerion. Far from these, by themselves, was a vast crowd of musicians. There were Marsyas, Misenus, Joab, and others. In other seats were jugglers, sorcerers, and magicians; Medea, Circe, Hermes, and Coll Tregetour. I next beheld the golden gates. Then I heard the cries of those that were heralds to the goddess Fame. How shall I describe the great hall, that was plated with gold, and set with gems? High on a throne of ruby sat the goddess, who at first seemed but a dwarf, but presently grew so that she reached, from earth to heaven. Her hair was golden, and she was covered with innumerable ears and tongues. Her shoulders sustained the names of famous men, such as Alexander and Hercules. On either side of the hall were huge pillars of metal. On the first of these, composed of lead and iron, was the Jew Josephus; the iron was the metal of Mercury, and the lead of Saturn. Next, on an iron pillar, was Statius; and on other iron pillars were Homer, Dares, Dictys, Guido, and the English Geoffrey, who upbore the fame of Troy. On a pillar of iron, but covered over with tin, was Vergil; and beside him Ovid and Lucan. On a pillar of sulphur stood Claudian (1110-1512).
Next I saw a vast company, all worshipping Fame. These she rejected, but would say of them neither good nor bad. She then sent a messenger to fetch Æolus, the god of wind, who should bring with him two trumpets, namely of Praise and Slander. Æolus, with his man Triton, came to Fame. And when many undeserving suppliants approached her, she bade Æolus blow his black trump of Slander. He did so, and from it there issued a stinking smoke; and so this second company got renown, but it was evil. A third company sued to her, and she bade Æolus blow his golden trump of Praise. Straightway he did so, and the blast had a perfume like that of balm and roses. A fourth company, a very small one, asked for no fame at all, and their request was granted. A fifth company modestly asked for no fame, though they had done great things; but Fame bade Æolus blow his golden trumpet, till their praise resounded everywhere. A sixth company of idle men, who had done no good, asked for fame; and their request was granted. A seventh company made the same request; but Fame reviled them; Æolus blew his black trump, and all men laughed at them. An eighth company, of wicked men, prayed for good fame; but their request was refused. A ninth company, also of wicked men, prayed for a famous but evil name, and their request was granted. Among them was the wretch who set on fire the temple at Athens (1513-1867).
Then some man perceived me, and began to question me. I explained that I had come to learn strange things, and not to gain fame. He led me out of the castle and into a valley, where stood the house of Dædalus (i.e. the house of Rumour). This strange house was made of basket-work, and was full of holes, and all the doors stood wide open. All sorts of rumours entered there, and it was sixty miles long. On a rock beside it I saw my eagle perched, who again seized me, and bore me into it through a window. It swarmed with people, all of whom were engaged in telling news; and often their stories would fly out of a window. Sometimes a truth and a lie would try to fly out together, and became commingled before they could get away. Every piece of news then flew to Fame, who did as she pleased with each. The house of Dædalus was thronged with pilgrims, pardoners, couriers, and messengers, and I heard strange things. In one corner men were telling stories about love, and there was a crush of men running to hear them. At last I saw a man whom I knew not; but he seemed to be one who had great authority—(here the poem ends, being incomplete; ll. 1868-2158).
The general idea of the poem was plainly suggested by the description of Fame in Vergil, the house of Fame as described near the beginning of the twelfth book of Ovid's Metamorphoses, and various hints in Dante's Divina Commedia. For a close and searching comparison between the House of Fame and Dante's great poem, see the article by A. Rambeau in Engl. Studien, iii. 209.
1. For this method of commencing a poem with a dream, compare The Book of the Duchesse, Parl. of Foules, and The Romance of the Rose.
For discourses on dreams, compare the Nonne Preestes Tale, and the remarks of Pandarus in Troilus, v. 358-385. Chaucer here propounds several problems; first, what causes dreams (a question answered at some length in the Nonne Preestes Tale, B 4116); why some come true and some do not (discussed in the same, B 4161); and what are the various sorts of dreams (see note to l. 7 below).
There is another passage in Le Roman de la Rose, which bears some resemblance to the present passage. It begins at l. 18699:—
'Ne ne revoil dire des songes,
S'il sunt voirs, ou s'il sunt mençonges;
Se l'en les doit du tout eslire,
Ou s'il sunt du tout à despire:
Porquoi li uns sunt plus orribles,
Plus bel li autre et plus paisible,
Selonc lor apparicions
En diverses complexions,
Et selonc lors divers corages
Des meurs divers et des aages;
Ou se Diex par tex visions
Ou li malignes esperiz,
Por metre les gens en periz;
De tout ce ne m'entremetrai.'
2. This long sentence ends at line 52.
7. This opens up the question as to the divers sorts of dreams. Chaucer here evidently follows Macrobius, who, in his Commentary on the Somnium Scipionis, lib. i. c. 3, distinguishes five kinds of dreams, viz. somnium, visio, oraculum, insomnium, and visum. The fourth kind, insomnium, was also called fantasma; and this provided Chaucer with the word fantome in l. 11. In the same line, oracles answers to the Lat. oracula. Cf. Ten Brink, Studien, p. 101.
18. The gendres, the (various) kinds. This again refers to Macrobius, who subdivides the kind of dream which he calls somnium into five species, viz. proprium, alienum, commune, publicum, and generale, according to the things to which they relate. Distaunce of tymes, i.e. whether the thing dreamt of will happen soon, or a long time afterwards.
20. 'Why this is a greater (more efficient) cause than that.'
21. This alludes to the four chief complexions of men; cf. Nonne Preestes Tale, B 4114. The four complexions were the sanguine, phlegmatic, melancholy, and choleric; and each complexion was likely to have certain sorts of dreams. Thus, in the Nonne Preestes Tale, B 4120, the choleric man is said to dream of arrows, fire, fierce carnivorous beasts, strife, and dogs; whilst the melancholy man will dream of bulls and bears and black devils.
22. Reflexiouns, the reflections or thoughts to which each man is most addicted; see Parl. of Foules, 99-105.
24. 'Because of too great feebleness of their brain (caused) by abstinence,' &c.
43. Of propre kynde, owing to its own nature.
48. The y in By is run on to the a into avísióuns.
53. 'As respects this matter, may good befall the great clerks that treat of it.' Of these great clerks, Macrobius was one, and Jean de Meun another. Vincent of Beauvais has plenty to say about dreams in his Speculum Naturale, lib. xxvi.; and he refers us to Aristotle, Gregory (Moralia, lib. viii.), Johannes de Rupella, Priscianus (ad Cosdroe regem Persarum) Augustinus (in Libro de diuinatione dæmonum), Hieronimus (super Matheum, lib. ii.), Thomas de Aquino, Albertus, &c.
58. Repeated (nearly) from l. 1.
63. I here give the text as restored by Willert, who shows how the corruptions in ll. 62 and 63 arose. First of all dide was shifted into l. 62, giving as dide I; as in Caxton's print. Next, an additional now was put in place of dide in l. 63; as in P., B., F., and Th., and dide was dropped alltogether. After this, F. turned the now of l. 64 into yow, and Cx. omitted it. See also note to l. 111.
64. 'Which, as I can (best) now remember.'
68. Pronounced fully:—With spé-ci-ál de-vó-ci-óun.
69. Morpheus; see Book of Duch. 137. From Ovid, Met. xi. 592-612; esp. ll. 602, 3:—
'Saxo tamen exit ab imo
Riuus aquae Lethes.'
73. 'Est prope Cimmerios,' &c.; Met. xi. 592.
75. See Ovid, Met. xi. 613-5; 633.
76. That ... hir is equivalent to whose; cf. Kn. Tale, 1852.
81. Cf. 'Colui, che tutto move,' i.e. He who moves all; Parad. i. 1.
88. Read povért; cf. Clerkes Tale, E 816.
92. MSS. misdeme; I read misdemen, to avoid an hiatus.
93. Read málicióus.
98. 'That, whether he dream when bare-footed or when shod'; whether in bed by night or in a chair by day; i.e. in every case. The that is idiomatically repeated in l. 99.
105. The dream of Crœsus, king of Lydia, and his death vpon a gallows, form the subject of the last story in the Monkes Tale. Chaucer got it from the Rom. de la Rose, which accounts for the form Lyde. The passage occurs at l. 6513:—
Qui refu roi de toute Lyde, ...
Qu'el vous vuet faire au gibet pendre.'
109, 10. The rime is correct, because abreyd is a strong verb. Chaucer does not rime a pp. with a weak pt. tense, which should have a final e. According to Mr. Cromie's Rime-Index, there is just one exception, viz. in the Kn. Tale, A 1383, where the pt. t. seyde is rimed with the 'pp. leyde.' But Mr. Cromie happens to have overlooked the fact that leyde is here not the pp., but the past tense! Nevertheless, abreyd-e also appears in a weak form, by confusion with leyd-e, seyd-e, &c.; see C. T., B 4198, E 1061. Cf. Book of the Duchess, 192. In l. 109, he refers to l. 65.
111. Here again, as in l. 63, is a mention of Dec. 10. Ten Brink (Studien, p. 151) suggests that it may have been a Thursday; cf. the mention of Jupiter in ll. 608, 642, 661. If so, the year was 1383.
115. 'Like one that was weary with having overwalked himself by going two miles on pilgrimage.' The difficulty was not in the walking two miles, but in doing so under difficulties, such as going barefoot for penance.
117. Corseynt; O.F. cors seint, lit. holy body; hence a saint or sainted person, or the shrine where a saint was laid. See Robert of Brunne, Handlyng Synne, 8739:—
'And hys ymage ful feyre depeynte,
Ryȝt as he were a cors seynt.'
See also P. Plowman, B. v. 539; Morte Arthure, 1164; and (the spurious) Chaucer's Dream, 942.
118. 'To make that soft (or easy) which was formerly hard.' The allusion is humorous enough; viz. to the bonds of matrimony. Here again Chaucer follows Jean de Meun, Rom. de la Rose, 8871:—
'Mariages est maus liens,
Ainsinc m'aïst saint Juliens
Qui pelerins errans herberge,
Et saint Lienart qui defferge
Les prisonniers bien repentans,
Quant les voit à soi démentans';
i.e. 'Marriage is an evil bond—so may St. Julian aid me, who harbours wandering pilgrims; and St. Leonard, who frees from their fetters (lit. un-irons) such prisoners as are very repentant, when he sees them giving themselves the lie (or recalling their word).' The 'prisoners' are married people, who have repented, and would recall their plighted vow.
St. Leonard was the patron-saint of captives, and it was charitably hoped that he would extend his protection to the wretched people who had unadvisedly entered into wedlock, and soon prayed to get out of it again. They would thus exchange the hard bond for the soft condition of freedom. 'St. Julian is the patron of pilgrims; St. Leonard and St. Barbara protect captives'; Brand, Pop. Antiquities, i. 359. And, at p. 363 of the same, Brand quotes from Barnabee Googe:—
'But Leonerd of the prisoners doth the bandes asunder pull,
And breaks the prison-doores and chaines, wherewith his church is full.'
St. Leonard's day is Nov. 6.
119. The MSS. have slept-e, which is dissyllabic. Read sleep, as in C. T. Prol. 397.
120. Hence the title of one of Lydgate's poems, The Temple of Glass, which is an imitation of the present poem.
130. Cf. the description of Venus' temple (Cant. Tales, A 1918), which is imitated from that in Boccaccio's Teseide.
133. Cf. 'naked fleting in the large see.... And on hir heed, ful semely for to see, A rose garland, fresh and wel smellinge'; Cant. Tales, A 1956.
137. 'Hir dowves'; C. T., A 1962. 'Cupido'; id. 1963.
138. Vulcano, Vulcan; note the Italian forms of these names. Boccaccio's Teseide has Cupido (vii. 54), and Vulcano (vii. 43). His face was brown with working at the forge.
141, 2. Cf. Dante, Inf. iii. 10, 11.
143. A large portion of the rest of this First Book is taken up with a summary of the earlier part of Vergil's Aeneid. We have here a translation of the well-known opening lines:—
'Arma uirumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris
Italiam, fato profugus, Lauinia uenit
147. In, into, unto; see note to l. 366.
152. Synoun, Sinon; Aen. ii. 195.
153. I supply That, both for sense and metre.
155. Made the hors broght, caused the horse to be brought. On this idiom, see the note to Man of Lawes Tale, B 171.
158. Ilioun, Ilium. Ilium is only a poetical name for Troy; but the medieval writers often use it in the restricted sense of the citadel of Troy, where was the temple of Apollo and the palace of Priam. Thus, in the alliterative Troy-book, 11958, ylion certainly has this sense; and Caxton speaks of 'the palays of ylyon'; see Spec. of English, ed. Skeat, p. 94. See also the parallel passage in the Nonne Preestes Tale, B 4546. Still more clearly, in the Leg. Good Women (Dido, 13), Chaucer says, of 'the tour of Ilioun,' that it 'of the citee was the cheef dungeoun.' In l. 163 below, it is called castel.
160. Polites, Polites; Aen. ii. 526. Also spelt Polite in Troil. iv. 53.
163. Brende, was on fire; used intransitively, as in l. 537.
164-73. See Aen. ii. 589-733.
174. Read this, rather than his. Cf. Aen. ii. 736.
177. Iulus and Ascanius were one and the same person; see Æn. i. 267. Perhaps Ch. was misled by the wording of Æn. iv. 274. (On the other hand, Brutus was not the same person as Cassius; see Monkes Tale, B 3887). Hence, Koch proposes to read That hight instead of And eek; but we have no authority for this. However, Chaucer has it right in his Legend of Good Women, 941; and in l. 192 below, we find sone, not sones; hence l. 178 may be merely parenthetical.
182. Wente, foot-path; Aen. ii. 737. Cf. Book Duch. 398.
184. 'So that she was dead, but I know not how.' Vergil does not say how she died.
185. Gost, ghost; see Aen. ii. 772.
189. Repeated from l. 180.
198. Here Chaucer returns to the first book of the Æneid, which he follows down to l. 255.
204. 'To blow forth, (with winds) of all kinds'; cf. Æn. i. 85.
219. Ioves, Jove, Jupiter. This curious form occurs again, ll. 586, 597, 630; see note to l. 586. Boccaccio has Giove.
226. Achatee (trisyllabic), Achates, Æn. i. 312; where the abl. form Achate occurs.
239. The story of Dido is told at length in Le Rom. de la Rose, 13378; in The Legend of Good Women; and in Gower, Conf. Amantis, bk. iv., ed. Pauli, ii. 4. Chaucer now passes on to the fourth book of the Æneid, till he comes to l. 268 below.
265. 'Mès ja ne verrés d'aparence Conclurre bonne consequence'; Rom. Rose, 12343.
272. 'It is not all gold that glistens.' A proverb which Chaucer took from Alanus de Insulis; see note to Can. Yem. Tale, G 962.
273. 'For, as sure as I hope to have good use of my head.' Brouke is, practically, in the optative mood. Cf. 'So mote I brouke wel myn eyen tweye'; Cant. Ta., B 4490; so also E 2308. The phrase occurs several times in the Tale of Gamelyn; see note to l. 334 of that poem.
280-3. These four lines occur in Thynne's edition only, but are probably quite genuine. It is easy to see why they dropped out; viz. owing to the repetition of the word finde at the end of ll. 279 and 283. This is a very common cause of such omissions. See note to l. 504.
286. By, with reference to.
288. Gest, guest; Lat. aduena, Æn. iv. 591.
290. 'He that fully knows the herb may safely lay it to his eye.' So in Cotgrave's Dict., s.v. Herbe, we find; 'L'herbe qu'on cognoist, on la doit lier à son doigt; Prov. Those, or that, which a man knowes best, he must use most.'
305. In the margin of MSS. F. and B. is here written:—'Cauete uos, innocentes mulieres.'
315. Swete herte; hence E. sweetheart; cf. l. 326.
321. Understand ne (i.e. neither) before your love. Cf. Æn. iv. 307, 8.
329. I have no hesitation in inserting I after Agilte, as it is absolutely required to complete the sense. Read—Agílt' I yów, &c.
343. Pronounce détermínen (i as ee in beet).
346. Cf. Æn. iv. 321-3.
350. 'Fama, malum quo non aliud uelocius ullum,' Æn. iv. 174; quoted in the margin of MSS. F. and B.
351. 'Nichil occultum quod non reueletur'; Matt. x. 26: quoted in the margin of MSS. F. and B.
355. Seyd y-shamed be, said to be put to shame.
359. Eft-sones, hereafter again. In the margin of MSS. F. and B. we here find:—'Cras poterunt turpia fieri sicut heri.' By reading fieri turpia, this becomes a pentameter; but it is not in Ovid, nor (I suppose) in classical Latin.
361. Doon, already done. To done, yet to be done. Cf. Book Duch. 708.
366. I read in for into (as in the MSS.). For similar instances, where the scribes write into for in, see Einenkel, Streifzüge durch die Mittelengl. Syntax, p. 145. Cf. l. 147.
367. In the margin of MSS. F. and B. is an incorrect quotation of Æn. iv. 548-9:—'tu prima furentem His, germana, malis oneras.'
378. Eneidos; because the books are headed Æneidos liber primus, &c.
379. See Ovid, Heroides, Epist. vii—Dido Æneæ.
380. Or that, ere that, before.
381. Only Th. has the right reading, viz. And nere it to longe to endyte (where longe is an error for long). The expressions And nor hyt were and And nere it were are both ungrammatical. Nere = ne were, were it not.
388. In the margin of F. and B. we find:—'Nota: of many vntrewe louers. Hospita, Demaphoon, tua te R[h]odopeia Phyllis Vltra promissum tempus abesse queror.' These are the first two lines of Epistola ii. in Ovid's Heroides, addressed by Phyllis to Demophoon. All the examples here given are taken from the same work. Epist. iii. is headed Briseis Achilli; Epist. v., Oenone Paridi; Epist. vi., Hypsipyle Iasoni; Epist. xii., Medea Iasoni; Epist. ix., Deianira Herculi; Epist. x., Ariadne Theseo. These names were evidently suggested by the reference above to the same work, l. 379. See the long note to Group B, l. 61, in vol. v.
Demophoon, son of Theseus, was the lover of Phyllis, daughter of king Sithon in Thrace; she was changed into an almond-tree.
392. His terme pace, pass beyond or stay behind his appointed time. He said he would return in a month, but did not do so. See the story in The Legend of Good Women. Gower (ed. Pauli, iii. 361) alludes to her story, in a passage much like the present one; and in Le Rom. de la Rose, 13417, we have the very phrase—'Por le terme qu'il trespassa.'
397. In the margin of F. and B.:—'Ouidius. Quam legis a rapta Briseide litera venit'; Heroid. Ep. iii. 1.
401. In the same:—'Ut [miswritten Vbi] tibi Colc[h]orum memini regina uacaui'; Heroid. Ep. xii. 1. For the accentuation of Medea, cf. Leg. of Good Women, 1629, 1663.
402. In the margin of F. and B.:—'Gratulor Oechaliam'; Heroid. Ep. ix. 1; but Oechaliam is miswritten yotholia.
405. Gower also tells this story; ed. Pauli, ii. 306.
407. In F. and B. is quoted the first line of Ovid, Heroid. x. 1. Adriane, Ariadne; just as in Leg. Good Wom. 2171, &c., and in C. T., Group B, l. 67. Gower has Adriagne.
409. 'For, whether he had laughed, or whether he had frowned'; i.e. in any case. Cf. l. 98.
411. 'If it had not been for Ariadne.' We have altered the form of this idiom.
416. Yle, isle of Naxos; see notes to Leg. Good Wom. 2163, and C. T., Group B, l. 68 (in vol. v.).
426. Telles is a Northern and West-Midland form, as in Book Duch. 73. Cf. falles, id. 257. A similar admixture of forms occurs in Havelok, Will. of Palerne, and other M.E. poems.
429. The book, i.e. Vergil; Æn. iv. 252.
434. Go, gone, set out; correctly used. Chaucer passes on to Æneid, bk. v. The tempest is that mentioned in Æn. v. 10; the steersman is Palinurus, who fell overboard; Æn. v. 860.
439. See Æn. bk. vi. The isle intended is Crete, Æn. vi. 14, 23; which was not at all near (or 'besyde') Cumæ, but a long way from it. Æneas then descends to hell, where he sees Anchises (vi. 679); Palinurus (337); Dido (450); Deiphobus, son of Priam (495); and the tormented souls (580).
447. Which refers to the various sights in hell.
449. Claudian, Claudius Claudianus, who wrote De raptu Proserpinae about A.D. 400. Daunte is Dante, with reference to his Inferno, ii. 13-27, and Paradiso, xv. 25-27.
451. Chaucer goes on to Æn. vii-xii, of which he says but little.
458. Lavyna is Lavinia; the form Lavina occurs in Dante, Purg. xvii. 37.
468. I put seyën for seyn, to improve the metre; cf. P. Pl. C. iv. 104.
474. 'But I do not know who caused them to be made.'
475. Read ne in as nin; as in Squi. Tale, F 35.
482. This waste space corresponds to Dante's 'gran diserto,' Inf. i. 64; or, still better, to his 'landa' (Inf. xiv. 8), which was too sterile to support plants. So again, l. 486 corresponds to Dante's 'arena arida e spessa,' which has reference to the desert of Libya; Inf. xiv. 13.
487. 'As fine [said of the sand] as one may see still lying.' Jephson says yet must be a mistake, and would read yt. But it makes perfect sense. Cx. Th. read at eye (put for at yë) instead of yet lye, which is perhaps better. At yë means 'as presented to the sight'; see Kn. Ta., A 3016.
498. Kenne, discern. The offing at sea has been called the kenning; and see Kenning in Halliwell.
500. More, greater. Imitated from Dante, Purgat. ix. 19, which Cary translates thus:—
'Then, in a vision, did I seem to view
A golden-feather'd eagle in the sky,
With open wings, and hovering for descent.'
Cf. also the descent of the angel in Purg. ii. 17-24.
504-7. The omission of these lines in F. and B. is simply due to the scribe slipping from bright in l. 503 to brighte in l. 507. Cf. note to l. 280.
511. Listeth, pleases, is pleased; the alteration (in MS. F.) to listeneth is clearly wrong, and due to confusion with herkneth above. (I do not think listeth is the imp. pl. here.)
514. Isaye, Isaiah; actually altered, in various editions, to I saye, as if it meant 'I say.' The reference is to 'the vision of Isaiah'; Isa. i. 1; vi. 1. Scipioun, Scipio; see note to Parl. Foules, 31, and cf. Book of the Duch. 284.
515. Nabugodonosor, Nebuchadnezzar. The same spelling occurs in the Monkes Tale (Group B, 3335), and is a mere variant of the form Nabuchodonosor in the Vulgate version, Dan. i-iv. Gower has the same spelling; Conf. Amant. bk. i., near the end.
516. Pharo; spelt Pharao in the Vulgate, Gen. xli. 1-7. See Book of the Duchesse, 280-3.
Turnus; alluding to his vision of Iris, the messenger of Juno; Æneid ix. 6. Elcanor; this name somewhat resembles Elkanah (in the Vulgate, Elcana), 1 Sam. i. 1; but I do not know where to find any account of his vision, nor do I at all understand who is meant. The name Alcanor occurs in Vergil, but does not help us.
518. Cipris, Venus, goddess of Cyprus; called Cipryde in Parl. Foules, 277. Dante has Ciprigna; Par. viii. 2.
519. Favour, favourer, helper, aid; not used in the ordinary sense of Lat. fauor, but as if it were formed from O.F. faver, Lat. fauere, to be favourable to. Godefroy gives an example of the O.F. verb faver in this sense.
521. Parnaso; the spelling is imitated from the Ital. Parnaso, i.e. Parnassus, in Dante, Par. i. 16. So also Elicon is Dante's Elicona, i.e. Helicon, Purg. xxix. 40. But the passage in Dante which Chaucer here especially imitates is that in Inf. ii. 7-9:—
'O Muse, o alto ingegno, or m' aiutate;
O mente, che scrivesti ciò ch' io vidi,
Qui si parrà la tua nobilitate.'
This Cary thus translates:—
'O Muses! O high genius, now vouchsafe
Your aid. O mind, that all I saw hast kept
Safe in a written record, here thy worth
And eminent endowments come to proof.'
Hence ye in l. 520 answers to Dante's Muse, the Muses; and Thought in l. 523 answers to Dante's mente, Cf. also Parad. xviii. 82-87. And see the parallel passage in Anelida, 15-19.
The reason why Chaucer took Helicon to be a well rather than a mountain is because Dante's allusion to it is dubiously worded; see Purg. xxix. 40.
528. Engyn is accented on the latter syllable, as in Troil. ii. 565, iii. 274.
529. Egle, the eagle in l. 499; cf. ll. 503-7.
534. Partly imitated from Dante, Purg. ix. 28-30:—
'Poi mi parea che, più rotata un poco,
Terribil come fulgor discendesse,
E me rapisse suso infino al foco.'
Cary's translation is:—
'A little wheeling in his aëry tour,
Terrible as the lightning, rushed he down,
And snatch'd me upward even to the fire.'
But Chaucer follows still more closely, and verbally, a passage in Machault's Jugement du Roi de Navarre, ed. Tarbé, 1849, p. 72, which has the words—
Que mainte ville mist en poudre';
i.e. literally, 'the foudre (thunder-bolt) which reduces many a town to powder.' Machault nearly repeats this; ed. Tarbé, p. 97.
Curiously enough, almost the same words occur in Boethius, bk. i. met. 4, where Chaucer's translation has:—'ne þe wey of thonder-leyt, that is wont to smyten heye toures.' It hence appears that Chaucer copies Machault, and Machault translates Boethius. There are some curious M.E. verses on the effects of thunder in Popular Treatises on Science, ed. Wright, p. 136.
Foudre represents the Lat. fulgur. One of the queer etymologies of medieval times is, that fulgur is derived a feriendo; Vincent of Beauvais, Spec. Nat. iv. 59. It was held to be quite sufficient that both fulgur and ferire begin with f.
537. Brende, was set on fire; cf. l. 163. The idea is that of a falling thunderbolt, which seems to have been conceived of as being a material mass, set on fire by the rapidity of its passage through the air; thus confusing the flash of lightning with the fall of a meteoric stone. See Mr. Aldis Wright's note on thunder-stone, Jul. Cæs. i. 3. 49.
543. Hente, caught. We find a similar use of the word in an old translation of Map's Apocalypsis Goliæ, printed in Morley's Shorter Eng. Poems, p. 13:—
'And by and by I fell into a sudden trance,
And all along the air was marvellously hent.'
544. Sours, sudden ascent, a springing aloft. It is well illustrated by a passage in the Somp. Tale (D 1938):—
'Therfor, right as an hauk up, at a sours,
Up springeth into their, right so prayeres
Of charitable and chaste bisy freres
Maken hir sours to Goddes eres two.'
It is precisely the same word as M.E. sours, mod. E. source, i.e. rise, spring (of a river). Etymologically, it is the feminine of O.F. sors, pp. of sordre, to rise (Lat. surgere). At a later period, the r was dropped, and the word was strangely confused in sound with the verb souse, to pickle. Moreover, the original sense of 'sudden ascent' was confused with that of 'sudden descent,' for which the correct term was (I suppose) swoop. Hence the old verb to souse, in the sense 'to swoop down,' or 'to pounce upon,' or 'to strike,' as in Shak. K. John, v. 2. 150; Spenser, F. Q. i. 5. 8; iii. 4. 16; iv. 3. 19. 25; iv. 4. 30; iv 5. 36; iv. 7. 9. The sense of 'downward swoop' is particularly clear in Spenser, F. Q. ii. 11. 36:—
'Eft fierce retourning, as a faulcon fayre,
That once hath failed of her souse full neare,
Remounts againe into the open ayre,
And unto better fortune doth her-selfe prepayre.'
Such is the simple solution of the etymology of Mod. E. souse, as used by Pope (Epilogue to Satires, Dial. ii. 15)—'Spread thy broad wing, and souse on all the kind.'
557. Cf. Dante, Inf. ii. 122:—'Perchè tanta viltà nel core allette?' Also Purg. ix. 46:—'Non aver tema.'
562. 'One that I could name.' This personal allusion can hardly refer to any one but Chaucer's wife. The familiar tone recalls him to himself; yet the eagle's voice sounded kindly, whereas the poet sadly tells us that his wife's voice sounded far otherwise: 'So was it never wont to be.' See Ward's Chaucer, pp. 84, 85; and cf. l. 2015 below. Perhaps Chaucer disliked to hear the word 'Awak!'
573. It would appear that, in Chaucer, sëynt is sometimes dissyllabic; but it may be better here to use the feminine form seynt-e, as in l. 1066. Observe the rime of Márie with cárie.
576. 'For so certainly may God help me, as thou shall have no harm.'
586. Ioves, Jove, Jupiter; cf. l. 597. This remarkable form occurs again in Troil. ii. 1607, where we find the expression 'Ioves lat him never thryve'; and again in Troil. iii. 3—'O Ioves doughter dere'; and in Troil. iii. 15, where Ioves is in the accusative case. The form is that of an O.F. nominative; cf. Charles, Jacques, Jules.
Stellifye, make into a constellation; 'whether will Jupiter turn me into a constellation.' This alludes, of course, to the numerous cases in which it was supposed that such heroes as Hercules and Perseus, or such heroines as Andromeda and Callisto were changed into constellations: see Kn. Tale, A 2058. Cf. 'No wonder is thogh Iove hir stellifye'; Leg. Good Women, prol. 525. Skelton uses the word (Garland of Laurell, 963); and it is given in Palsgrave.
588. Perhaps imitated from Dante, Inf. ii. 32, where Dante says that he is neither Æneas nor Paul. Chaucer here refers to various men who were borne up to heaven, viz. Enoch (Gen. v. 24), Elijah (2 Kings ii. 11), Romulus, and Ganymede. Romulus was carried up to heaven by Mars; Ovid, Metam. xiv. 824; Fasti, ii. 475-512. Ganymede was carried up to heaven by Jupiter in the form of an eagle; cf. Vergil, Æn. i. 28, and see Ovid, Metam. x. 160, where Ovid adds:
'qui nunc quoque pocula miscet,
Invitaque Iovi nectar Iunone ministrat.'
In the passage in Dante (Purg. ix. 19-30), already alluded to above (note to l. 534), there is a reference to Ganymede (l. 23).
592. Boteler, butler. No burlesque is here intended. 'The idea of Ganymede being butler to the gods appears ludicrous to us, who are accustomed to see the office performed by menial servants. But it was not so in the middle ages. Young gentlemen of high rank carved the dishes and poured out the wine at the tables of the nobility, and grace in the performance of these duties was highly prized. One of the oldest of our noble families derives its surname from the fact that its founder was butler to the king'; Bell. So also, the royal name of Stuart is merely steward.
597. Therabout, busy about, having it in intention.
600-4. Cf. Vergil's words of reassurance to Dante; Inf. ii. 49.
608. The eagle says he is Jupiter's eagle; 'Iouis ales,' Æn. i. 394.
614-40. A long sentence of 27 lines.
618. I supply goddesse, to complete the line. Cf. 'In worship of Venús, goddésse of love'; Kn. Tale, A 1904; and again, 'goddésse,' id. A 1101, 2.
621. The necessity for correcting lytel to lyte is obvious from the rime, since lyte is rimes with dytees. Chaucer seems to make lyte dissyllabic; it rimes with Arcite, Kn. Ta., A 1334, 2627; and with hermyte in l. 659 below. In the present case, the e is elided—lyt'is. For similar rimes, cf. nones, noon is, C. T. Prol. 523; beryis, mery is, Non. Pr. Ta., B 4155; swevenis, swevene is, id. B 4111.
623. In a note to Cant. Ta. 17354 (I 43), Tyrwhitt says that perhaps cadence means 'a species of poetical composition distinct from riming verses.' But it is difficult to shew that Chaucer ever composed anything of the kind, unless it can be said that his translation of Boethius or his Tale of Melibeus is in a sort of rhythmical prose. It seems to me just possible that by rime may here be meant the ordinary riming of two lines together, as in the Book of the Duchess and the House of Fame, whilst by cadence may be meant lines disposed in stanzas, as in the Parliament of Foules. There is nothing to shew that Chaucer had, at this period, employed the 'heroic verse' of the Legend of Good Women. However, we find the following quotation from Jullien in Littré's Dictionary, s.v. Cadence:—'Dans la prose, dans les vers, la cadence n'est pas autre chose que le rhythme ou le nombre: seulement on y joint ordinairement l'idée d'une certaine douceur dans le style, d'un certain art dans l'arrangement des phrases ou dans le choix des mots que le rhythme proprement dit ne suppose pas du tout.' This is somewhat oracular, as it is difficult to see why rhythm should not mean much the same thing.
637. 'And describest everything that relates to them.' (Here hir = their), with reference to lovers.
639-40. 'Although thou mayst accompany those whom he is not pleased to assist.' Nearly repeated in Troilus, i. 517, 518.
652. In a note upon the concluding passage of the Cant. Tales, Tyrwhitt says of the House of Fame:—'Chaucer mentions this among his works in the Leg. Good Women, verse 417. He wrote it while he was Comptroller of the Custom of Wools, &c. (see Bk. ii. l. 144-8 [the present passage]), and consequently after the year 1374.' See Ward's Chaucer, pp. 76, 77, with its happy reference to Charles Lamb and his 'works'; and compare a similar passage in the Prol. to Legend of Good Women, 30-6.
662. Cf. Dante, Inf. i. 113, which Cary thus translates:—
—'and I, thy guide,
Will lead thee hence through an eternal space.'
678. Long y-served, faithfully served for a long time, i.e. after a long period of devotion; alluding to the word servant in the sense of lover.
681. Alluding to sudden fallings in love, especially 'at first sight.' Such take place at haphazard; as if a blind man should accidentally frighten a hare, without in the least intending it. We find in Hazlitt's collection of Proverbs—'The hare starts when a man least expects it'; p. 373.
682. Iolytee and fare, happiness and good speed. The very same words are employed, but ironically, by Theseus in the Knight's Tale, A 1807, 1809. The hare also accompanies them; id. A 1810.
683. 'As long as they find love to be as true as steel.' Cf. Troilus, iv. 325:—'God leve that ye finde ay love of steel.'
689. 'And more beards made in two hours,' &c. 'Yet can a miller make a clerkes berd'; (Reves Tale), C. T., A 4096. 'Yet coude I make his berd'; C. T., D 361. Tyrwhitt's note on the former passage is: 'make a clerkes berd,' i.e. cheat him. Faire la barbe is to shave, or trim the beard; but Chaucer translates the phrase literally, at least when he uses it in its metaphorical sense. Boccace has the same metaphor, Decamerone, viii. 10. Speaking of some exorbitant cheats, he says that they applied themselves 'non a radere, ma a scorticare huomini' [not to shave men, but to scarify them]; and a little lower—'si a soavemente la barbiera saputo menare il rasoio' [so agreeably did the she-barber know how to handle the razor]. Barbiera has a second and a bad sense; see Florio's Dictionary.
'Myght I thaym have spyde,
I had made thaym a berd.'
Towneley Mysteries, p. 144.
692. Holding in hond means keeping in hand, attaching to oneself by feigned favours; just as to bear in hand used to mean to make one believe a thing; see my note to Man of Lawes Tale, B 620.
695. Lovedayes, appointed days of reconciliation; see note in vol. v. to Chaucer's Prol. 258, and my note to P. Plowman, B. iii. 157. 'What, quod she, maked I not a louedaie bitwene God and mankind, and chese a maide to be nompere [umpire], to put the quarell at ende?' Test. of Love, bk. i. ed. 1561, fol. 287.
696. Cordes, chords. Apparently short for acordes, i.e. musical chords, as Willert suggests. It is rather a forced simile, like cornes in l. 698.
698. Cornes, grains of corn; see note to Monkes Tale (Group B, 3225).
700. Wis, certainly; cf. y-wis. The i is short.
702. Impossíble, (accent on i); cf. Clerkes Tale, E 713.
703. Pyes, mag-pies, chattering birds; Squi. Ta., F 650.
708. Worthy for to leve, worthy to believe, worthy of belief.
712. Thyn owne book, i.e. the book you are so fond of, viz. Ovid's Metamorphoses, which Chaucer quotes so continually. Libraries in those days were very small (Cant. Ta. Prol. 294); but we may be almost certain that Chaucer had a copy of the Metamorphoses of his own. The reference here is to Ovid's description of the House of Fame, Metam. xii. 39-63. See Golding's translation of this passage in the Introduction.
730. This passage is founded on one in Boethius; cf. Chaucer's translation, bk. iii. pr. 11, ll. 98-110. Imitated also in Le Rom. de la Rose, 16963-9. Cf. Dante, Par. i. 109, which Cary thus translates:—
'All natures lean,
In this their order, diversely,' &c.
738. That practically goes with hit falleth doun, in l. 741. The sentence is ill-constructed, and not consistent with grammar, but we see what is meant.
742. By, with reference to (as usual in M. E). Cf. Dante, Purg. xviii. 28, which Cary thus translates:—
'Then, as the fire points up, and mounting seeks
His birth-place and his lasting seat,' &c.
745. At his large, unrestrained, free to move. Cf. at thy large, Cant. Ta., A 1283, 1292.
746. Charge, a heavy weight, opposed to light thing. The verb seke is understood from l. 744. 'A light thing (seeks to go) up, and a weight (tends) downwards.' In Tyrwhitt's glossary, the word charge, in this passage, is described as being a verb, with the sense 'to weigh, to incline on account of weight.' How this can be made to suit the context, I cannot understand. Charge occurs as a sb. several times in Chaucer, but chiefly with the secondary sense of 'importance'; see Kn. Tale, A 1284, 2287; Can. Yem. Ta., G 749. In the Clerkes Tale, E 163, it means 'weight,' nearly as here.
750. Skilles, reasons. The above 'reasons' prove nothing whatever as regards the fish in the sea, or the trees in the earth; but the eagle's mode of reasoning must not be too closely enquired into. The fault is not Chaucer's, but arises from the extremely imperfect state of science in the middle ages. Chaucer had to accept the usual account of the four elements, disposed, according to their weight, in four layers; earth being at the bottom, then water, then air, and lastly fire above the air. See the whole scheme in Gower, Conf. Amant. bk. vii.; ed. Pauli, ii. 104: or Popular Treatises on Science, ed. Wright, p. 134.
752. See Chaucer's tr. of Boethius, bk. iii. pr. 11, l. 72. Hence Boethius is one of the 'clerkes' referred to in l. 760.
759. Dante mentions these two; Inf. iv. 131-4.
765. So also in Cant. Tales, D 2233:—
Nis but of eir reverberacioun,
And ever it wasteth lyte and lyte awey.'
The theory of sound is treated of in Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum Naturale, lib. iv. c. 14. The ancients seem to have understood that sound is due to the vibration of the air; see ll. 775, 779. Thus, in the treatise by Boethius, De Musica (to which Chaucer expressly refers in Non. Preest. Tale, B 4484), lib. i. c. 3, I find:—'Sonus vero præter quendam pulsum percussionemque non redditur.... Idcirco definitur sonus, aeris percussio indissoluta usque ad auditum.'
788. Experience, i.e. experiment. The illustration is a good one; I have no doubt that it is obtained, directly or at secondhand, from Boethius. Vincent of Beauvais, Spec. Nat. lib. xxv. c. 58, says:—'Ad quod demonstrandum inducit idem Boetius tale exemplum: Lapis proiectus in medio stagni facit breuissimum circulum, et ille alium, et hoc fit donec vel ad ripas peruenerit vel impetus defecerit.' This merely gives the substance of what he says; it will be of interest to quote the original passage, from the treatise De Musica, lib. i. c. 14, which chapter I quote in full:—
'Nunc quis modus sit audiendi disseramus. Tale enim quiddam fieri consuevit in uocibus, quale cum paludibus uel quietis aquis iactum eminus mergitur saxum. Prius enim in paruissimum orbem undam colligit, deinde maioribus orbibus, undarum globos spargit, atque eo usque dum fatigatus motus ab eliciendis fluctibus conquiescat. Semperque posterior et maior undula pulsu debiliori diffunditur. Quod si quid sit, quod crescentes undulas possit offendere, statim motus ille reuertitur, et quasi ad centrum, unde profectus fuerat, eisdem undulis rotundatur. Ita igitur cum aer pulsus fecerit sonum, pellit alium proximum, et quodammodo rotundum fluctum aeris ciet. Itaque diffunditur et omnium circunstantium (sic) simul ferit auditum, atque illi est obscurior uox, qui longius steterit, quoniam ad eum debilior pulsi aeris unda peruenit.'
792. Covercle, a pot-lid. Cotgrave cites the proverb—'Tel pot tel couvercle, Such pot, such potlid, like master, like man.'
794. Wheel must have been glossed by cercle (circle) in an early copy; hence MSS. F. and B. have the reading—'That whele sercle wol cause another whele,' where the gloss has crept into the text.
798. Roundel, a very small circle; compas, a very large circle. Roundel is still a general term for a small circular charge in heraldry; if or (golden), it is called a bezant; if argent (white), it is called a plate; and so on. In the Sec. Non. Tale, G 45, compas includes the whole world.
801. Multiplying, increasing in size.
805. 'Where you do not observe the motion above, it is still going on underneath.' This seems to allude to some false notion as to a transmission of motion below the surface.
808. This is an easy way of getting over a difficulty. It is no easy task to prove the contrary of every false theory!
811. An air aboute, i.e. a surrounding layer, or hollow sphere, of air.
822. I would rather 'take it in game'; and so I accept it.
826. Fele, experience, understand by experiment.
827. I here take the considerable liberty of reading the mansioun, by comparison with l. 831. Those who prefer to read sum place stide, or som styde, or some stede, can do so! The sense intended is obviously—'And that the dwelling-place, to which each thing is inclined to resort, has its own natural stead,' i.e. position. Fishes, for example, naturally exist in water; the trees, upon the earth; and sounds, in the air; water, earth, air, and fire being the four 'elements.' Cf. the phrase—'to be in his element.'
836. Out of, i.e. not in; answering to l. 838.
846. Referring to Ovid's description, Met. xii. 39, 40.
'Orbe locus medio est inter terrasque fretumque
Coelestesque plagas, triplicis confinia mundi.'
I suspect that Ovid's triplicis confinia mundi is the origin of Chaucer's phrase tryne compas, in Sec. Non. Tale, G 45.
857. The 'terms of philosophy' are all fully and remorselessly given by Gower, Conf. Amant. bk. vii.
861. It is remarkable that Chaucer, some years later, repeated almost the same thing in the Prologue to his Treatise on the Astrolabe, in somewhat different words, viz. 'curious endyting and hard sentence is full hevy atones for swich a child to lerne'; l. 32.
866. Lewedly, in unlearned fashion; in his Astrolabe, l. 43, Chaucer says he is 'but a lewd compilatour of the labour of olde Astrologiens.'
868. The eagle characteristically says that his reasons are so 'palpable,' that they can be shaken by the bills, as men shake others by the hand. It is perhaps worth adding that the word bill was too vulgar and familiar to be applied to a hawk, which had only a beak (the French term, whereas bill is the A.S. bile). 'Ye shall say, this hauke has a large beke, or a shortt beke; and call it not bille'; Book of St. Alban's, fol. a 6, back. The eagle purposely employs the more familiar term.
873. Chaucer meekly allows that the eagle's explanation is a likely one. He was not in a comfortable position for contradiction in argument, and so took a wiser course. The eagle resents this mild admission, and says he will soon find out the truth, 'top, and tail, and every bit.' He then eases his mind by soaring 'upper,' resumes his good temper, and proposes to speak 'all of game.'
888. Cf. Dante, Par. xxii. 128, which Cary thus translates:
'Look downward, and contemplate, what a world
Already stretch'd under our feet there lies.'
900. Unethes, with difficulty; because large animals could only just be discerned. The graphic touches here are excellent.
901. Rivér-es, with accent on the former e (pronounced as a in bare). Cf. Ital. riviera.
907. Prikke, a point. 'Al the environinge of the erthe aboute ne halt nat but the resoun of a prikke at regard of the greetnesse of hevene'; tr. of Boethius, bk. ii. pr. 7. 17.
'And doun fro thennes faste he gan avyse
This litel spot of erthe, that with the see
Troilus, bk. v. ll. 1814-6.
'Vidi questo globo
Tal, ch' io sorriso del suo vil sembiante.'
Dante, Parad. xxii. 134.
See also Parl. Foules, 57, 58; and note that the above passage from Troilus is copied from the Teseide (xi. 2).
915. The note in Gilman's Chaucer as to Alexander's dreams is entirely beside the mark. The word dreme (l. 917) refers to Scipio only. The reference is to the wonderful mode in which Alexander contrived to soar in the air in a car upborne by four gigantic griffins.
'Now is he won þurȝe þar wingis vp to the wale cloudis;
So hiȝe to heuen þai him hale in a hand-quile,
Midil-erth bot as a mylnestane, na mare, to him semed.'
Wars of Alexander, ed. Skeat (E.E.T.S.), 5523.
Macedo, the Macedonian.
916. King, kingly hero; not king in the strict sense. Dan Scipio, lord Scipio. See notes to Parl. Foules, 29; Book of the Duch. 284; Ho. Fame, 514.
917. At point devys, with great exactness; see Rom. Rose, 830, 1215.
919. Dedalus (i.e. Dædalus) and Ycarus (Icarus) are mentioned in the Rom. de la Rose, 5242; and cf. Gower, Conf. Amant. bk. iv., ed. Pauli, ii. 36; and Dante, Inf. xvii. 109. All take the story from Ovid, Metam. viii. 183. Dædalus constructed wings for himself and his son Icarus, and flew away from Crete. The latter flew too high, and the sun melted the wax with which some of the feathers were fastened, so that he fell into the sea and was drowned. Hence Dædalus is here called wrecche, i.e. miserable, because he lost his son; and Icarus nyce, i.e. foolish, because he disobeyed his father's advice, not to fly too high.
922. Malt, melted. Gower has the same word in the same story; ed. Pauli, ii. 37.
925. Cf. Dante, Par. xxii. 19, which Cary thus translates:
'But elsewhere now I bid thee turn thy view.'
930. See note to l. 986 below, where the original passage is given.
931. This line seems to refer solely to the word citizein in l. 930. The note in Bell's Chaucer says: 'This appears to be an allusion to Plato's Republic.' But it was probably suggested by the word respublica in Alanus (see note to l. 986).
932. Eyrish bestes, aerial animals; alluding to the signs of the zodiac, such as the Ram, Bull, Lion, Goat, Crab, Scorpion, &c.; and to other constellations, such as the Great Bear, Eagle, Swan, Pegasus, &c. Chaucer himself explains that the 'zodiak is cleped the cercle of the signes, or the cercle of the bestes; for zodia in langage of Greek sowneth bestes in Latin tonge'; Astrolabe, Part 1, § 21, 1. 37. Cf. 'beasts' in Rev. iv. 6. The phrase recurs in l. 965 below; see also ll. 1003-7.
934. Goon, march along, walk on, like the Ram or Bull; flee, fly like the Eagle or Swan. He alludes to the apparent revolution of the heavens round the earth.
936. Galaxye, galaxy, or milky way, formed by streaks of closely crowded stars; already mentioned in the Parl. of Foules, 56; see note to the same, l. 50. Cary, in a note to Dante, Parad. xxv. 18, says that Dante, in the Convito, p. 74, speaks of la galassia—'the galaxy, that is, the white circle which the common people call the way of St. James'; on which Biscioni remarks:—'The common people formerly considered the milky way as a sign by night to pilgrims, who were going to St. James of Galicia; and this perhaps arose from the resemblance of the word galaxy to Galicia; [which may be doubted]. I have often,' he adds, 'heard women and peasants call it the Roman road, la strada di Roma.'
The fact is simply, that the Milky Way looks like a sort of road or street; hence the Lat. name uia lactea, as in Ovid, Metam. i. 168. Hence also the Roman peasants called it strada di Roma; the pilgrims to Spain called it the road to Santiago (Quarterly Review, Oct. 1873, p. 464); and the English called it the Walsingham way, owing to this being a route much frequented by pilgrims, or else Watling-street, which was a famous old road, and probably ran (not as usually said, from Kent to Cardigan Bay, but) from Kent to the Frith of Forth; see Annals of England, p. 6. The name of Vatlant Streit (Watling Street) is given to the milky way in the Complaint of Scotland, ed. Murray, p. 58; and G. Douglas calls it Watling Streit in his translation of Vergil, Æn. iii. 516, though there is no mention of it in the original; see Small's edition of the Works of G. Douglas, vol. ii. p. 151. And again, it is called Wadlyng Strete in Henrysoun's Traite of Orpheus; see Jamieson's Scottish Dictionary. So also: 'Galaxia, that is Watling-Strete'; Batman on Bartholome, lib. viii. c. 33. See my note to P. Plowman, C. i. 52; Florence of Worcester, sub anno 1013; Laws of Edward the Confessor, cap. 12; Towneley Myst., p. 308; Cutts, Scenes, &c. of the Middle Ages, p. 178; Grimm's Mythology, tr. by Stallybras, i. 357.
942. Gower also relates this story (Conf. Amant. ii. 34), calling the sun Phebus, and his son Pheton, and using carte in the sense of 'chariot,' as Chaucer does. Both copy from Ovid, Metam. ii. 32-328.
944. Cart-hors, chariot-horses (plural). There were four horses, named Pyroeïs, Eous, Aethon, and Phlegon; Met. ii. 153. Hence gonne and beren are in the plural form; cf. l. 952.
948. Scorpioun, the well-known zodiacal constellation and sign; called Scorpius in Ovid, Met. ii. 196.
972. Boece, Boethius. He refers to the passage which he himself thus translates: 'I have, forsothe, swifte fetheres that surmounten the heighte of the hevene. Whan the swifte thought hath clothed it-self in tho fetheres, it dispyseth the hateful erthes, and surmounteth the roundnesse of the greet ayr; and it seeth the cloudes behinde his bak'; bk. iv. met. 1. Hence, in l. 973, Ten Brink (Studien, p. 186) proposes to read—'That wryteth, Thought may flee so hye.'
981, 2. Imitated from 2 Cor. xii. 2.
985. Marcian. Cf. C. T., E 1732 (March. Tale):—
'Hold thou thy pees, thou poete Marcian,
That wrytest us that ilke wedding murie
Of hir, Philologye, and him, Mercurie.'
Martianus Minneus Felix Capella was a satirist of the fifth century, and wrote the Nuptials of Mercury and Philology, De Nuptiis inter Mercurium et Philologiam, above referred to. It consists of two books, followed by seven books on the Seven Sciences; see Warton's Hist. E. Poetry, ed. 1871, iii. 77. 'Book viii (l. 857) gives a hint of the true system of astronomy. It is quoted by Copernicus'; Gilman.
986. Anteclaudian. The Anticlaudianus is a Latin poem by Alanus de Insulis, who also wrote the De Planctu Naturæ, alluded to in the Parl. of Foules, 316 (see note). This poem is printed in Anglo-Latin Satirical Poets, ed. Wright, pp. 268 428; see, in particular, Distinctio Quarta, capp. 5-8, and Distinctio Quinta, cap. 1; pp. 338-347. It is from this poem that Chaucer probably borrowed the curious word citizein (l. 930) as applied to the eyrish bestes (l. 932). Thus, at pp. 338, 360 of Wright's edition, we find—
'Vestigans, videt intuitu meliore vagantes
'Hic cives habitant supremi regis in urbe;
Civibus his servanda datur respublica coeli.'
So again, ll. 966-969 above may well have been suggested by these lines (on p. 340), and other similar lines:—
'Aeris excurso spatio, quo nubila coeli
Nocte sua texunt tenebras, quo pendula nubes
In se cogit aquas, quo grandinis ingruit imber,
Quo certant venti, quo fulminis ira tumescit,
Æthera transgreditur Phronesis.'
1003. Or him or here, or him or her, hero or heroine; e.g. Hercules, Perseus, Cepheus, Orion; Andromeda, Callisto (the Great Bear), Cassiopeia. Cf. Man of Lawes Tale, B 460.
1004. Raven, the constellation Corvus; see Ovid, Fasti, ii. 243-266. Either bere; Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.
1005. Ariones harpe, Arion's harp, the constellation Lyra; Ovid's Fasti, i. 316; ii. 76.
1006. Castor, Pollux; Castor and Pollux; the constellation Gemini. Delphyn, Lat. Delphin; the constellation Delphin (Ovid, Fasti, i. 457) or Delphinus, the Dolphin.
'Astris Delphina recepit
Iupiter, et Stellas iussit habere nouem.'
Ovid's Fasti, ii. 117.
1007. Atlante does not mean Atalanta, but represents Atlante, the ablative case of Atlas. Chaucer has mistaken the form, having taken the story of the Pleiades (the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione) from Ovid's Fasti, v. 83:—
'Hinc sata Pleïone cum coelifero Atlante
iungitur, ut fama est; Pleïadasque parit.'
1021. Up the heed, up with your head; look about you.
1022. 'St. Julian (to our speed); lo! (here is) a good hostelry.' The eagle invokes or praises St. Julian, because they have come to their journey's end, and the poet may hope for a good reception in the House of Fame. St. Julian was the patron saint of hospitality; see Chaucer's Prologue, 340. In Le Roman de la Rose, 8872, I find (cf. note to l. 118 above):—
'Ainsinc m'aïst saint Juliens,
Qui pelerins errans herberge.'
In Bell's Chaucer, i. 92, is the following: '"Ce fut celluy Julien qui est requis de ceux qui cheminent pour avoir bon hostel"; Legende Dorée. Having by mischance slain his father and mother, as a penance he established a hospital near a dangerous ford, where he lodged and fed travellers gratuitously.'
See Tale xviii. in the Gesta Romanorum, in Swan's Translation; Caxton's Golden Legende; and the Metrical Lives of Saints in MS. Bodley 1596, fol. 4, 'I pray God and St. Julian to send me a good lodging at night'; translation of Boccaccio, Decam. Second Day, nov. 2; quoted in Swan's tr. of Gesta Romanorum, p. 372. See Warton, Hist. Eng. Poet., ed. Hazlitt, i. 247; ii. 58.
1024. 'Canst thou not hear that which I hear?'
1034. Peter! By St. Peter; a common exclamation, which Warton amazingly misunderstood, asserting that Chaucer is here addressed by the name of Peter (Hist. E. P., ed. Hazlitt, ii. 331, note 6); whereas it is Chaucer himself who uses the exclamation. The Wyf of Bathe uses it also, C. T., D 446; so does the Sumpnour, C. T., D 1332; and the wife in the Shipman's Tale, C. T., B 1404; and see l. 2000 below. See also my note to l. 665 of the Canon's Yeoman's Tale. But Warton well compares the present passage with Ovid, Met. xii. 49-52:—
'Nec tamen est clamor, sed paruae murmura uocis;
qualia de pelagi, si quis procul audiat, undis
esse solent: qualemve sonum, quum Iupiter atras
increpuit nubes, extrema tonitrua reddunt.'
1044. Beten, beat, occurs in MSS. F. and B. But the other reading byten (bite) seems better. Cf. Troil. iii. 737, and the common saying 'It won't bite you.'
1048. Cf. Dante, Purg. iii. 67-69. So also Inf. xxxi. 83.
1063. Lyves body, a person alive; lyves is properly an adverb.
1066. Seynte; see note to l. 573. Seynte Clare, Saint Clara, usually Saint Clare, whose day is Aug. 12. She was an abbess, a disciple of St. Francis, and died A.D. 1253.
1091-1109. Imitated from Dante, Parad. i. 13-27. Compare ll. 1106, 1107, with Cary's translation—
'If thou to me of thine impart so much, ...
Thou shalt behold me of thy favour'd tree
Come to the foot, and crown myself with leaves.'
And compare l. 1109 with—'Entra nel petto mio.'
1098. This shews that Chaucer occasionally, and intentionally, gives a syllable too little to the verse. In fact, he does so just below, in l. 1106; where Thou forms the first foot of the verse, instead of So thou, or And thou. This failure of the first syllable is common throughout the poem.
1099. And that, i.e. And though that; see l. 1098.
1109. Entreth is the imperative plural; see note to A. B. C. 17.
1114. MSS. cite, cyte (F. citee!); but site in Astrol. pt. ii. 17. 25 (p. 201).
1116. 'Fama tenet, summaque domum sibi legit in arce'; Ovid, Met. xii. 43. Cf. Dante, Purg. iii. 46-48; also Ovid, Met. ii. 1-5.
1131. 'And swoor hir ooth by Seint Thomas of Kent'; C. T., A 3291. It alludes to the celebrated shrine of Beket at Canterbury.
1136. Half, side; al the half, all the side of the hill which he was ascending, which we find was the south side (l. 1152).
1152. This suggests that Chaucer, in his travels, had observed a snow-clad mountain; the snow lies much lower on the north side than on the south side; see ll. 1160 (which means that it, i.e. the writing, was preserved by the shade of a castle), 1163, 1164.
1159. What hit made, what caused it, what was the cause of it.
1167-80. This passage somewhat resembles one in Dante, Par. i. 4-12.
1177. Craft, art; cast, plan. Craft, in the MSS., has slipt into l. 1178.
1183. Gyle, Giles; St. Ægidius. His day is Sept. 1; see note to Can. Yem. Tale, G 1185, where the phrase by seint Gyle recurs.
1189. Babewinnes is certainly meant; it is the pl. of babewin (O. Fr. babuin, Low Lat. babewynus, F. babouin), now spelt baboon. It was particularly used of a grotesque figure employed in architectural decoration, as in Early Eng. Allit. Poems, ed. Morris, B. 1411, where the pl. form is spelt baboynes, and in Lydgate, Chron. Troy, II. xi; both passages are given in Murray's Dict., s.v. Baboon. 'Babewyn, or babewen, detippus, ipos, figmentum, chimera'; Prompt. Parv. 'Babwyne, beest, baboyn'; Palsgrave. In Shak. Macb. iv. 1. 37—'Coole it with a báboones blood'—the accent on the a is preserved. The other spellings are inferior or false.
1192. Falle, pres. pl., fall; (or perhaps fallen, the past participle).
1194. Habitacles, niches; such as those which hold images of saints on the buttresses and pinnacles of our cathedrals. They are described as being al withoute, all on the outside.
1196. Ful the castel, the castle (being) full, on all sides. This line is parenthetical.
1197. Understand Somme, some, as nom. to stoden. 'In which stood ... (some) of every kind of minstrels.' So in l. 1239. As to minstrels, &c., see note to Sir Topas (B 2035).
1203. Orpheus, the celebrated minstrel, whose story is in Ovid, Met. x. 1-85; xi. 1-66. Chaucer again mentions him in C. T., E 1716; and in Troil. iv. 791.
1205. Orion; so in all the copies; put for Arion. His story is in Ovid, Fasti, ii. 79-118.
Spelt Arione in Gower, Conf. Amant. (end of prologue), ed. Pauli, i. 39. We might read Arion here; see l. 1005.
1206. Chiron; called Chiro in Gower, C. A. ii. 67 (bk. iv). Chiron, the centaur, was the tutor of Achilles; and Achilles, being the grandson of Æacus, was called Æacides; Ovid, Met. xii. 82; Fasti, v. 390. Hence Eacides is here in the genitive case; and Eacides Chiron means 'Achilles' Chiron,' i.e. Chiron, tutor of Achilles. In fact, the phrase is copied from Ovid's Æacidæ Chiron, Art of Love, i. 17. Another name for Chiron is Phillyrides; Ovid, Art of Love, i. 11; or Philyrides; Verg. Georg. iii. 550; cf. Ovid, Fasti, v. 391. In a similar way, Chaucer calls the paladin Oliver, friend of Charles the Great, by the name of Charles Olyuer; Monkes Tale, B 3577.
1208. Bret, Briton, one of the British. This form is quite correct, being the A.S. Bret, a Briton (see A.S. Chronicle, an. 491), commonly used in the pl. Brettas. This correct spelling occurs in MS. B. only; MS. P. turns it into Bretur, Th. and Cx. read Briton, whilst MS. F. turns Bret into gret, by altering the first letter. The forms gret and Bretur are clearly corruptions, whilst Briton spoils the scansion.
Glascurion; the same as Glasgerion, concerning whom see the Ballad in the Percy Folio MS., ed. Hales and Furnivall, i. 246. Of this 'a traditional version, under the name of Glenkindie, a various form of Glasgerion, is given in Jamieson's Popular Songs and Ballads, and in Alex. Laing's Thistle of Scotland (1823).' G. Douglas associates 'Glaskeriane' with Orpheus in his Palice of Honour, bk. i. (ed. Small, i. 21); this poem is a palpable imitation of Chaucer's House of Fame. The name is Celtic, as the epithet Bret implies. Cf. Irish and Welsh glas, pale.
1213. 'Or as art imitates nature.' Imitated from Le Rom. de la Rose, where Art asks Nature to teach her; l. 16233 is—
'E la contrefait comme singes.'
1218. There is a similar list of musical instruments in Le Rom. de la Rose, 21285-21308:—
'Puis chalemiaus, et chalemele
Et tabor, et fléute, et timbre ...
Puis prent sa muse, et se travaille
As estives de Cornoaille.'
And in Le Remède de Fortune, by G. de Machault, 1849, p. 87, is a similar long list:—
'Cornemuses, flaios, chevrettes,
Dousainnes, cimbales, clochettes,
Timbre, la flahute brehaigne,
Et le grant cornet d'Alemaigne,
Flaiot de saus, fistule, pipe'; &c.
And a few lines below there is mention of the muse de blez (see note to l. 1224). Warton, Hist. E. Poet., ed. Hazlitt, iii. 177. quotes a similar passage from Lydgate's poem entitled Reason and Sensualite, ending with—
'There were trumpes, and trumpettes,
Lowde shallys [shalmys?] and doucettes.'
Cf. also Spenser, F. Q. vi. 9, 5; Shep. Kal. Feb. 35-40. In the latter passage, the imitation of ll. 1224-6 is obvious. Cornemuse is a bagpipe; shalmye is a shawm, which was a wind-instrument, being derived from Lat. calamus, a reed; Chaucer classes both instruments under pipe. Willert (on the House of Fame, p. 36) suggests (and, I think, correctly) that doucet and rede are both adjectival. Thus doucet would refer to pipe; cf. 'Doucet, dulcet, pretty and sweet, or, a little sweet'; Cotgrave. Rede would also refer to pipe, and would mean 'made with a reed.' A reed-instrument is one 'in which the sound was produced by the vibration of a reed, as in the clarionet or hautboys'; note in Bell's Chaucer. There is no instrument properly called a doucet in Old French, but only dousainne (see above) and doucine (Godefroy).
1222. Brede, roast meat; A.S. brǽde, glossed by 'assura, vel assatura' in Ælfric's Glossary, ed. Wülcker, col. 127, l. 17. Cf. G. Braten. Not elsewhere in Chaucer, but found in other authors.
'To meit was greithed beef and motoun,
Bredes, briddes, and venysoun.'
Kyng Alisaunder, ed. Weber, 5248.
In the allit. Morte Arthure, it occurs no less than five times. Also in Havelok, l. 98, where the interpretation 'bread' is wrong. Also in Altenglische Dichtungen, ed. Böddeker, p. 146, l. 47—'Cud as Cradoc in court that carf the brede,' i.e. carved the roast meat; but the glossary does not explain it. The scribe of MS. F. turns brede into bride, regardless of the rime. I cannot agree with the wholly groundless conjecture of Willert, who reads rude in l. 1221, in order to force brude into the text. For minstrelsy at feasts, see C. T., A 2197.
1223. Cf. G. Douglas, tr. of Vergil, Æn. vii. 513, 4:—'And in ane bowand horne, at hir awyne will, A feindlych hellis voce scho lyltis schyll.'
1224. Alluding to the simple pipes fashioned by rustics. The glossary to Machault's Works (1849) has: 'Muse de blez, chalumeau fait avec des brins de paille.' The O.F. estive, in the quotation in the note to l. 1218, has a like sense. Godefroy has: 'estive, espèce de flûte, de flageolet ou pipeau rustique, qui venait, ce semble, de Cornouaille.' Cf. the term corne-pipe, in the Complaint of Scotland, ed. Murray, p. 65, l. 22; also my note to R. Rose, 4250 (vol. i. p. 436).
1227-8. Nothing is known as to Atiteris (or Cytherus); nor as to Pseustis (or Proserus). The forms are doubtless corrupt; famous musicians or poets seem to have been intended. I shall venture, however, to record my guess, that Atiteris represents Tyrtaeus, and that Pseustis is meant for Thespis. Both are mentioned by Horace (Ars Poet. 276, 402); and Thespis was a native of Attica, whose plays were acted at Athens. Another guess is that Atiteris means Vergil's Tityrus; Athenæum, Apr. 13, 1889. Willert suggests that there is here an allusion to the so-called Ecloga Theoduli, a Latin poem of the seventh or eighth century, wherein the shepherd Pseustis and the shepherdess Alithia [who represent Falsehood and Truth] contend about heathendom and Christianity; and Pseustis adduces various myths and tales, from Ovid, Vergil, and Statius. He refers us to H. Dunger, Die Sage v. troj. Kriege in den Bearbeitungen des Mittelalters: Dresden, 1869, p. 76; cf. Leyser, Hist. Poet. Medii Aevi, p. 295. This only accounts for Pseustis; Atiteris can hardly be Alithia.
1229. This is a curious example of how names are corrupted. Marcia is Dante's Marsia, mentioned in the very passage which Chaucer partly imitates in ll. 1091-1109 above. Dante addresses Apollo in the words—
'Entra nel petto mio, e spira tue
Si come quando Marsia traesti
Della vagina delle membra sue.'
As Chaucer had here nothing to guide him to the gender of Marsia, he guessed the name to be feminine, from its termination; and Dante actually has Marzia (Inf. iv. 128), with reference to Marcia, wife of Cato. But Dante's Marsia represents the accus. case of Marsyas, or else the Lat. nom. Marsya, which also occurs. Ovid, Met. vi. 400, has 'Marsya nomen habet,' and tells the story. Apollo defeated the satyr Marsyas in a trial of musical skill, and afterwards flayed him alive; so that he 'lost his skin.'
1231. Envyën (accent on y), vie with, challenge (at a sport). So strong is the accent on the y, that the word has been reduced in E. to the clipped form 'vie; see Vie in my Etym. Dict. It represents Lat. inuitare, to challenge; and has nothing to do with E. envy. Florio's Ital. Dict. has: 'Inuito, a vie at play, a vie at any game; also an inuiting.'
1234. 'Pipers of every Dutch (German) tongue.'
1236. Reyes, round dances, dances in a ring. The term is Dutch. Hexham's Du. Dict. (1658), has: een Rey, or een Reye, a Daunce, or a round Daunce'; and 'reyen, to Daunce, or to lead a Daunce.' Cf. G. Reihen, a dance, Reihentanz, a circular dance; M.H.G. reie, reige; which does not seem to be connected, as might be thought, with G. Reihe, a row; see Kluge and Weigand. Perhaps the Du. word was borrowed from O.F. rei, roi, order, whence also the syllable -ray in E. ar-ray; and the G. word may have been borrowed from the Dutch; but this is a guess. 'I can daunce the raye'; Barclay's First Egloge, sig. A ii. ed. 1570; quoted in Dyce's Skelton, ii. 194.
1239. Understand Somme, some; see note to l. 1197. The expression blody soun recurs in Kn. Tale, A 2512, in connection with trumpe and clarioun. Our author explains his meaning here; ll. 1241-2.
1243. Missenus, Misenus, son of Æolus, trumpeter to Hector, and subsequently to Æneas; Verg. Æn. iii. 239; vi. 162-170.
1245. Joab and Theodomas are again mentioned together in a like passage in the Merch. Tale (C. T., E 1719). 'Joab blew a trumpet'; 2 Sam. ii. 28; xviii. 16; xx. 22. Theodomas is said by Chaucer (Merch. Tale) to have blown a trumpet 'At Thebes, when the citee was in doute.' He was therefore a trumpeter mentioned in some legendary history of Thebes. With this hint, it is easy to identify him with Thiodamas, mentioned in books viii. and x. of the Thebaid of Statius. He succeeded Amphiaraus as augur, and furiously excited the besiegers to attack Thebes. His invocation was succeeded by a great sound of trumpets (Theb. viii. 343), to which Chaucer here refers. But Statius does not expressly say that Thiodamas blew a trumpet himself.
1248. Cataloigne and Aragon, Catalonia and Arragon, in Spain, immediately to the S. of the Pyrenees. Warton remarks: 'The martial musicians of English tournaments, so celebrated in story, were a more natural and obvious allusion for an English poet'; Hist. E. P. ii. 331. The remark is, I think, entirely out of place. Chaucer is purposely taking a wide range; and, after mentioning even the pipers of the Dutch tongue, as well as Joab of Judæa and Thiodamas of Thebes, is quite consistent in mentioning the musicians of Spain.
1257. Repeated, at greater length, in C. T., Group B, ll. 19-28; see note to that passage.
1259. Iogelours, jugglers. See Squi. Tale, F 219.
1260. Tregetours; see C. T., F 1141, on which Tyrwhitt has a long note. A jogelour was one who amused people, either by playing, singing, dancing, or tricks requiring sleight of hand; a tregetour was one who brought about elaborate illusions, by the help of machinery or mechanical contrivance. Thus Chaucer tells us (in the Frank. Tale, as above) that tregetoures even caused to appear, in a dining-hall, a barge floating in water, or what seemed like a lion, or a vine with grapes upon it, or a castle built of lime and stone; which vanished at their pleasure. Sir John Maundeville, in his Travels, ch. 22, declares that the 'enchanters' of the Grand Khan could turn day into night, or cause visions of damsels dancing or carrying cups of gold, or of knights justing; 'and many other thinges thei don, be craft of hire Enchauntementes; that it is marveyle for to see.' See note to l. 1277 below. Gawain Douglas imitates this passage in his Palice of Honour; see his Works, ed. Small, i. 65.
1261. Phitonesses, pythonesses. The witch of Endor is called a phitonesse in the Freres Tale, C. T., D 1510; and in Gower, Conf. Amant. bk. iv, ed. Pauli, ii. 66; in Barbour's Bruce, ed. Skeat, iv. 753; and in Skelton's Phyllyp Sparowe, 1345. The Vulgate version has mulier pythonem habens, 1 Sam. xxviii. 7 (cf. Acts xvi. 16); but also the very word pythonissam in 1 Chron. x. 13, where the witch of Endor is again referred to. Ducange notices phitonissa as another spelling of pythonissa.
1266. Cf. Chaucer's Prologue, 417-420. There is a parallel passage in Dante, Inf. xx. 116-123, where the word imago occurs in the sense of 'waxen image.' This of course refers to the practice of sticking needles into a waxen image, with the supposed effect of injuring the person represented. See Ovid, Heroid. vi. 91, and Ben Jonson's Masque of Queens (3rd Charm). But this is only a particular case of a much more general principle. Images of men or animals (or even of the things representing the zodiacal signs) could be made of various substances, according to the effect intended; and by proper treatment were supposed to cause good or evil to the patient, as required. Much could be done, it was supposed, by choosing the right time for making them, or for subjecting them to celestial influences. To know the right time, it was necessary to observe the ascendent (see note to l. 1268). See much jargon on this subject in Cornelius Agrippa, De Occulta Philosophia, lib. ii. capp. 35-47.
1268. The ascendent is that point of the zodiacal circle which is seen to be just ascending above the horizon at a given moment. Chaucer defines it in his Treatise on the Astrolabe, and adds that astrologers, in calculating horoscopes, were in the habit of giving it a wider meaning; they further reckoned in 5 degrees of the zodiac above the horizon, and 25 degrees below the ascending point, so as to make the whole ascendent occupy 30 degrees, which was the length of a 'sign.' In calculating nativities, great importance was attached to this ascendent, the astrological concomitants of which determined the horoscope. The phrase to be 'in the ascendant' is still in use. Thus in certeyn ascendentes is equivalent to 'in certain positions of the heavens, at a given time,' such as the time of one's birth, or the time for making an image (see last note). See p. 191 (above).
1271. Medea, the famous wife of Jason, who restored her father Æson to youth by her magical art; Ovid, Met. vii. 162. Gower tells the whole story, C. A. bk. v. ed. Pauli, ii. 259.
1272. Circes, Circe, the enchantress; Homer's Odyssey, bk. x; Ovid, Met. xiv. Ovid frequently has the form Circes, in the gen. case; Met. xiv. 10, 69, 71, 247, 294. Cf. Chaucer's Boethius, b. iv. met. 3. 24.
Calipsa, Calypso, the nymph who detained Ulysses in an island; Odyssey, bk. i; Ovid, ex Ponto, iv. 10. 13.
1273. Hermes is mentioned in the Can. Yeom. Tale, C. T., Group G, 1434, where the reference is to Hermes Trismegistus, fabled to have been the founder of alchemy, though none of the works ascribed to him are really his. The name Balenus occurs, in company with the names of Medea and Circe, in the following passage of the Rom. de la Rose, l. 14599:—
'Que ja riens d'enchantement croie,
Ne sorcerie, ne charroie,
Ne Balenus, ne sa science,
Ne magique, ne nigromance, ...
Onques ne pot tenir Medée
Jason por nul enchantement;
N'onc Circe ne tint ensement
Ulixes qu'il ne s'enfoïst,' &c.
(Charroie is the dance of witches on their sabbath.) Hermes Ballenus is really a compound name, the true significance of which was pointed out to me by Prof. Cowell, and explained in my letter to The Academy, Apr. 27, 1889, p. 287. Ballenus is 'the sage Belinous,' who discovered, beneath a statue of Hermes, a book containing all the secrets of the universe. Hence Hermes' Ballenus (where Hermes is an epithet) means 'Belinous, who adopted the philosophy of Hermes.' For an explanation of the whole matter, see the fourth volume of the Notices et Mémoires des Manuscrits de la Bibliothèque du Roi, p. 107. In this there is an article by De Sacy, describing MS. Arabe de la Bibl. du Roi, no. 959, the title of which is 'Le Livre du Secret de la Creature, par le sage Belinous.' Belinous possessed the art of talismans, which he professed to have learnt from Hermes. There is some reason for identifying him with Apollonius of Tyana.
1274. Lymote, according to Warton, is Limotheus; but he omits to tell us where he found such a name; and the suggestion seems no better than his mistake of supposing Calipsa (l. 1272) to mean the muse Calliope! Considering that he is mentioned in company with Simon Magus, or Simon the magician (Acts viii. 9), the suggestion of Prof. Hales seems probable, viz. that Lymote or Lymete (as in F.) means Elymas the sorcerer (Acts xiii. 8).
1275. 'I saw, and knew by name, those that,' &c.
1277. Colle tregetour, Colle the juggler; see l. 1260. Colle is here a proper name, and distinct from the prefix col- in col-fox, Non. Pr. Tale, B 4405. Colle is the name of a dog; Non. Pr. Tale, B 4573. Colyn and Colle are names of grooms; Polit. Songs, p. 237. Tyrwhitt quotes a passage from The Testament of Love, bk. ii:—'Buserus [Busiris] slew his gestes, and he was slayne of Hercules his gest. Hugest betraished many menne, and of Collo was he betraied'; ed. 1561, fol. 301, col. 2. With regard to tregetour, see the account of the performances of Eastern jugglers in Yule's edition of Marco Polo; vol. i. p. 342, and note 9 to Bk. i. c. 61. Col. Yule cites the O.F. forms tregiteor and entregetour; also Ital. tragettatore, a juggler, and Prov. trasjitar, trajitar, to juggle. Bartsch, in his Chrestomathie Française, has examples of trasgeter, to mould, form, tresgeteïs, a work of mechanical art; and, in his Chrestomathie Provençale, col. 82, has the lines—
'Non saps balar ni tras-gitar
a guiza de juglar guascon';
i.e. thou know'st not how to dance, nor how to juggle, after the manner of a Gascon juggler. A comparison of the forms leaves no doubt as to the etymology. The Prov. trasgitar answers to a Low Lat. form trans-iectare = tra-iectare, frequentative of Lat. trans-icere, tra-icere, to throw across, transfer, cause to pass. Thus, the orig. sense of tregetour was one who causes rapid changes, by help of some mechanical contrivance. The F. trajecter, to ferry, transport, in Cotgrave, is the same word as the Prov. trasgitar, in a different (but allied) sense.
1292. 'As is the usual way with reports.'
1295. Accent Which and so.
1297. 'And yet it was wrought by haphazard quite as often as by heed.'
1300. To longe, too long; not 'to dwell long.' The barbarous practice of inserting an adverb between to and an infinitive, as in 'to ungrammatically talk,' is of later date, though less modern than we might perhaps imagine. Cf. l. 1354.
1302. Elide the former Ne; read N'of.
1303. Read—Ne hów they hátt' in másonéries; i.e. nor how they are named in masonry, as, for example, corbets full of imageries. They hatte, i.e. they are called, was turned into hakking, and the sense lost.
1304. Corbets, corbels. Florio's Ital. Dict. has, 'Corbella, Corbetta, a little basket'; shewing the equivalence of such forms. The E. corbel is the same word as O.F. corbel (F. corbeau), apparently from the Lat. coruus. The spelling with z (= ts) in MSS. F. and B. shews that the form is really corbetts or corbets, not corbelles. Spenser has the simple form corb; F. Q. iv. 10. 6:—
'It was a bridge ybuilt in goodly wise
With curious corbes and pendants graven faire.'
'A Corbel, Corbet, or Corbill in masonrie, is a iutting out like a bragget [bracket] as carpenters call it, or shouldering-peece in timber-work'; Minsheu's Dict. ed. 1627. Tyrwhitt explains corbets by 'niches for statues'; but 'imageries' are not necessarily statues or images, but rather specimens of carved work.
1309. 'A bounty! a bounty! hold up (your hands) well (to catch it).' Sir W. Scott explains largesse as 'the cry with which heralds and pursuivants were wont to acknowledge the bounty received from the knights'; note to Marmion, canto i. St. 11. The word is still in use amongst gleaners in East Anglia; see my note to P. Plowman, C. viii. 109.
1311. In Anglia, xiv. 236, Dr. Köppell points out some resemblances between the present poem and Boccaccio's Amorosa Visione. He compares this line with the A. V. vi. 75:—'Io son la Gloria del popol mondano.'
1316, 7. Kinges, i.e. kings-at-arms; losenges, lozenges (with g as j).
1326. Cote-armure, surcoat; see Way's note in Prompt. Parv.
1329-35. Imitated from Rom. Rose, 6762-4.
1330. Been aboute, used like the old phrase go about.
1342-6. Cf. Boccaccio, Amorosa Visione, iv. 9:—'Ed in una gran sala ci trovammo; Chiara era e bella e risplendente d'oro.'
1346. Wikke, poor, much alloyed.
1352. Lapidaire, 'a treatise on precious stones, so entitled; probably a French translation of the Latin poem of Marbodus De Gemmis, which is frequently cited by the name of Lapidarius; Fabricius, Bibl. Med. Æt., in v. Marbodus'; Tyrwhitt's Glossary. The Lapidarium of Abbot Marbodus (Marbœuf), composed about 1070-80, is chiefly taken from Pliny and Solinus. A translation in English verse is given in King's Antique Gems. See note to l. 1363 below. There is some account of several precious stones in Philip de Thaun's Bestiary, printed in Wright's Popular Treatises on Science; at p. 127 he refers to the Lapidaire. Vincent of Beauvais refers to it repeatedly, in book viii. of his Speculum Naturale. There is a note about this in Warton, Hist. E. P. ed. 1871, ii. 324. And see note to l. 1363.
1360. Dees, daïs; see the note to Prol. 370, in vol. v. Lines 1360-7 may be compared with various passages in Boccaccio's Amorosa Visione, which describe a lady in a rich vesture, seated on a royal throne:—
'Tutti li soprastava veramente
Di ricche pietre coronata e d'oro' ...
'Il suo vestire a guisa imperiale
Era, e teneva nella man sinestra
Un pomo d'oro; e'n trono alla reale
Vidi sedeva' ...
'Odi: che mai natura con sua arte
Forma non diede a si bella figura' ...
'Donna pareva li leggiadra e pura'....
See Am. Vis. vi. 49, 58, 43, 48. See note to l. 1311 above.
1361. The reading Sit would mean 'sitteth' or 'sits'; the reading Sat would mean 'sat.' Both are wrong; the construction is sitte I saugh = I saugh sitte, I saw sit; so that sitte is the infin. mood.
1363. Carbuncle. Vincent of Beauvais, Spec. Nat bk. viii. c. 51, has: 'Carbunculus, qui et Græcè anthrax dicitur, vulgariter rubith.' An account of the Carbunculus is given in King's Natural History of Precious Stones and Gems. He remarks that the ruby 'must also be included among the numerous species of the carbunculus described by Pliny, although he gives the first rank to the Carbunculi amethystizontes, our Almandines or Garnets of Siam.' See also his Antique Gems, where he translates sect. 23 of the Lapidarium of Marbodus thus:—
'The Carbuncle eclipses by its blaze
All shining gems, and casts its fiery rays
Like to the burning coal; whence comes its name,
Among the Greeks as Anthrax known to fame.
Not e'en by darkness quenched, its vigour tires;
Still at the gazer's eye it darts its fires;
A numerous race; within the Lybian ground
Twelve kinds by mining Troglydytes are found.'
1368-76. Cf. Boethius, in Chaucer's translation; bk. i. pr. 1, ll. 8-13 (vol. ii. p. 2).
1376. Sterres sevene, the seven planets.
1380. Tolde, counted; observe this sense.
1383. Bestes foure, four beasts; Rev. iv. 6. Cf. Dante, Purg. xxix. 92.
1386. Thynne remarks that oundy, i.e. wavy, is a term in heraldry; cf. E. ab-ound, red-ound, surr-ound (for sur-ound); all from Lat. unda. Cf. Chaucer's use of ounded in Troilus, iv. 736, and Le Roman de la Rose, 21399, 21400:—
'Et voit ses biaus crins blondoians
Comme undes ensemble ondoians.'
1390. 'And tongues, as (there are) hairs on animals.' 'Her feet are furnished with partridge-wings to denote swiftness, as the partridge is remarkable for running with great swiftness with outstretched wings. This description is taken almost literally from the description of Fame in the Æneid [iv. 176-183], except the allusion to the Apocalypse and the partridge-wings'; note in Bell's Chaucer. But it is to be feared that Chaucer simply blundered, and mistook Vergil's pernicibus as having the sense of perdicibus; cf. 'pedibus celerem et pernicibus alis'; Aen. iv. 180.
1400. Caliopee, Calliope the muse; her eight sisters are the other Muses. With ll. 1395-1405 cf. Dante, Par. xxiii. 97-111.
1411. Read—Bóth-e th'ármes. Armes, i.e. coats of arms. Name, name engraved on a plate or written on a scroll.
1413. Alexander; see Monkes Tale, in C. T., B 3821. Hercules; see the same; the story of the shirt is given in B 3309-3324. In Le Roman de la Rose, l. 9238, it is called 'la venimeuse chemise.' Cf. Dante, Inf. xii. 68.
1431. Lede, lead, the metal of Saturn; yren, iron, the metal of Mars. See note to Can. Yeom. Tale, G 820, and ll. 827, 828 of the same; also ll. 1446, 1448 below.
1433. Read—Th'Ebráyk Jósephús. In a note on Gower's Conf. Amantis, Warton remarks—'Josephus, on account of his subject, had long been placed almost on a level with the Bible. He is seated on the first pillar in Chaucer's House of Fame. His Jewish History, translated into Latin by Rufinus in the fourth century, had given rise to many old poems and romances; and his Maccabaics, or History of the seven Maccabees, martyred with their father Eleazar under the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, a separate work translated also by Rufinus, produced the Judas Maccabee of Belleperche in the year 1240, and at length enrolled the Maccabees among the most illustrious heroes of romance.'—ed. Hazlitt, iii. 26.
1436. Iewerye, kingdom of the Jews; cf. Prior. Tale, B 1679.
1437. Who the other seven are, we can but guess; the reference seems to be to Jewish historians. Perhaps we may include Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Isaiah, Daniel, Nehemiah; and, in any case, Ezra. The number seven was probably taken at random. With l. 1447 cf. Troil. ii. 630.
1450. Wheel, orbit. The orbit of Saturn is the largest of the (old) seven planets; see Kn. Tale, 1596 (A 2454). The reason why Josephus is placed upon Saturn's metal, is because history records so many unhappy casualties, such as Saturn's influence was supposed to cause. All this is fully explained in the Kn. Tale, 1597-1611 (A 2455-69).
1457. Yren, the metal of Mars; see note to l. 1431.
1459. This allusion to 'tiger's blood' is curious; but is fully accounted for by the account of the two tigers in bk. vii. of the Thebaid. A peace had nearly been made up between the Thebans and the other Greeks, when two tigers, sacred to Bacchus, broke loose, and killed three men. They were soon wounded by Aconteus, whereupon 'They fly, and flying, draw upon the plain A bloody line'; according to Lewis's translation. They fall and die, but are avenged; and so the whole war was renewed. Lydgate reduces the two tigers to one; see his chapter 'Of a tame Tigre dwelling in Thebes'; in part 3 of his Sege of Thebes.
1460. Stace (as in Troil. bk. v, near the end, and Kn. Tale, A 2294) is Publius Papinius Statius, who died A.D. 96, author of the Thebais and Achilleis (see l. 1463), the latter being left incomplete. Tholosan means Toulousan, or inhabitant of Toulouse; and he is here so called because by some (including Dante, whom Chaucer follows) he was incorrectly supposed to have been a native of Toulouse. He was born at Naples, A.D. 61. Dante calls him Tolosano in Purg. xxi. 89, on which Cary remarks:—'Dante, as many others have done, confounds Statius the poet, who was a Neapolitan, with a rhetorican of the same name, who was of Tolosa or Thoulouse. Thus Chaucer; and Boccaccio, as cited by Lombardi: "E Stazio di Tolosa ancora caro"; Amorosa Vis. cant. 5.'
Dr. Köppell quotes the last passage, from Boccaccio, Am. Vis. v. 34, in Anglia, xiv. 237, and shews that other passages in the same resemble other lines in the Hous of Fame. See notes to ll. 1311, 1342, 1360, 1483, 1487, and 1499.
1463. 'Cantai di Tebe, e poi del grande Achille'; Dante, Purg. xxi. 92.
1466. Omeer, Homer; see ll. 1477-1480 below.
1467. In Chaucer's Troil. i. 146, is the line—'In Omer, or in Dares, or in Dyte.' Dares means Dares Phrygius; and Tytus is doubtless intended for the same person as Dyte, i.e. Dictys Cretensis. See the account in Warton, Hist. E. Poet., ed. Hazlitt, ii. 127, beginning:—'But the Trojan story was still kept alive in two Latin pieces, which passed under the names of Dares Phrygius and Dictys Cretensis,' &c.; and further in vol. iii. p. 81. The chief source of the romantic histories of Troy in the middle ages is the Roman de Troie by Benoit de Sainte-Maure, which appeared between 1175 and 1185, and has lately been edited by M. Joly. This was copied by Guido delle Colonne (see note to l. 1469 below), who pretended, nevertheless, to follow Dares and Dictys. Chaucer cites Dares and Dictys at second-hand, from Guido.
1468. Lollius; evidently supposed by Chaucer to be a writer on the Trojan war. See Tyrwhitt's note on the words the boke of Troilus, as occurring at the end of the Persones Tale. Chaucer twice quotes Lollius in Troilus, viz. in bk. i. 394 and bk. v. 1653. At the beginning of sect. xiv of his Hist. of Eng. Poetry, Warton shews that there was a Lollius Urbicus among the Historici Latini profani of the third century; 'but this could not be Chaucer's Lollius; ... none of his works remain.' The difficulty has never been wholly cleared up; we know, however, that the Troilus is chiefly taken from Boccaccio's Filostrato, just as his Knight's Tale is chiefly taken from Boccaccio's Teseide. My idea of the matter is that, in the usual mode of appealing to old authorities, Chaucer refers us (not to Boccaccio, whom he does not mention, but) to the authorities whom he supposed Boccaccio must have followed. Accordingly, in his Troilus, he mentions Homer, Dares, Dictys, and Lollius, though he probably knew next to nothing of any one of these authors. On this account, the suggestion made by Dr. Latham (Athenæum, Oct. 3, 1868, p. 433) seems quite reasonable, viz. that he got the idea that Lollius wrote on the Trojan war by misunderstanding the lines of Horace, Epist. i. 2:—
'Troiani belli scriptorem, maxime Lolli,
Dum tu declamas Romæ, Præneste relegi.'
See Ten Brink, Studien, p. 87. This supposition becomes almost a certainty when we observe how often medieval writers obtained their information from MSS. containing short extracts. Chaucer clearly never read Horace at all; he merely stumbled on a very few extracts from him in notebooks. In this way, he may easily have met with the first line above, apart from its context. Cf. vol. ii. pp. lii, liii.
1469. Guido delle Colonne, or Guido de Columnis (not da Colonna), finished his translation or version of Benoit de Sainte-Maure's Roman de Troie in the year 1287. His work is called Historia Troiana. The 'Geste Hystoriale' of the Destruction of Troy, edited by Panton and Donaldson for the Early English Text Society, is a translation of Guido's Historia into Middle English alliterative verse. See Warton, Hist. E. P., ed. Hazlitt, iii. 81; and Introd. to vol. ii. pp. liv-lxv.
1470. Gaufride, Geoffrey, viz. Geoffrey of Monmouth, who died A.D. 1154, and wrote a History of the Britons in Latin, full of extravagant but lively fictions, which was completed in 1147; see Morley's Hist. E. Writers, i. 496. He is rightly mentioned among the writers who 'bore up Troy,' because he makes the Britons the descendants of Æneas. See note below.
1477. Oon seyde, one (of them) said. Guido was one of those who said this; this appears from the Gest Hystoriale above mentioned, which was translated from Guido; see ll. 41-47, and 10312-10329 of Panton and Donaldson's edition. Guido asserts, for example, that Achilles slew Hector by treachery, and not, as Homer says, in fair fight; and Chaucer asserts the same, Troil. v. 1560. The fact is, that the Latin races declined to accept an account which did not sufficiently praise the Trojans, whom they regarded as their ancestors. Geoffrey of Monmouth ingeniously followed up this notion, by making the Trojans also the ancestors of the ancient Britons. Hence English writers followed on the same side; Lydgate, as well as Chaucer, exclaims against Homer. See Warton, ed. Hazlitt, iii. 82. But Dante exalts Homer above Horace, Ovid, and Lucan: Inf. iv. 88.
1482. 'Homer's iron is admirably represented as having been by Virgil covered over with tin'; note in Bell's Chaucer.
1483. There is a similar mention of Vergil in Boccaccio, Amorosa Visione, v. 7. See note to l. 1460.
1487. Ovide, Ovid; from whom perhaps Chaucer borrows more than from any other Latin writer. He stands on a pillar of copper, the metal sacred to Venus. See note to l. 820 of Can. Yeom. Tale. And cf. Boccaccio, Amorosa Visione, v. 25: 'Eravi Ovidio, lo quale poetando Iscrisse tanti versi per amore.'
1494. High the (as in F.) is an error for highthe, height; Cx. Th. have heyght. Read highte, as in l. 744.
1499. Lucan; alluding to Lucan's Pharsalia, which narrates the war between Cæsar and Pompey. See Man of Lawes Tale, B 401; Monkes Tale, De Caesare, B 3909 (and note), and a fourth mention of him in Troilus, v. 1792. There is an English translation by Rowe. Cf. Boccaccio, Amorosa Visione, v. 19: 'A' quai Lucan seguitava, ne' cui Atti parea ch'ancora la battaglia Di Cesare narrasse, e di colui Magno Pompeo chiamato.'
1509. Claudius Claudianus, in the fourth century, wrote a poem De Raptu Proserpinæ, alluded to here and in the Merchant's Tale (C. T., E 2232), and several other pieces. See note to Parl. Foules, 99.
1512. Imitated from Dante, Inf. ix. 44: 'Della regina dell' eterno pianto.'
1519. Write, wrote; pt. t. pl. Highte, were named.
1521. Perhaps from Dante, Inf. xvi. 1, which Cary translates:—
'Now came I where the water's din was heard,...
Resounding like the hum of swarming bees,
When forth together issued from a troop,' &c.
1527. Cf. Ovid, Met. xii. 53: 'Atria turba tenent; ueniunt leue uulgus, euntque.'
1530. Alles-kinnes is in the gen. sing., and Of governs condiciouns; thus the line is equivalent to—'Of conditions of every kind'; whereas modern English uses—'Of every kind of condition.' This peculiar idiom was formerly common; and precisely similar to it is the phrase noskinnes, for which see note to l. 1794. Observe that the phrase is oddly written alle skynnes in MS. F., by a misdivision of the words. So in Piers Plowman, A. ii. 175, we have the phrase for eny kunnes yiftus, for gifts of any kind, where one MS. has any skynes. In my note to P. Plowman, C. xi. 128, I give numerous examples, with references, of phrases such as none kynnes riche, many kynnes maneres, summes kunnes wise, what kyns schape, &c.
1550. 'Those that did pray her for her favour.'
1564. 'Because it does not please me.'
1570. I here alter Vpon peyne to Vp peyne, as the former will not scan, and the latter is the usual idiom. See up peyne in Kn. Tale, A 1707, 2543; Man of Lawes Tale, B 795, 884. Cf. vp the toft, upon the toft, P. Plowman, B. i. 12; vp erthe, upon earth, id. B. ix. 99.
1571. Cf. Rom. Rose, 18206—'Car Eolus, li diex des vens.' From Vergil, Æn. i. 52; cf. Ovid, Met. xiv. 223, where Æolus is said to reign over the Tuscan sea. The connection of Æolus with Thrace is not obvious; cf. l. 1585. Ovid, however, has 'Threicio Borea'; Art. Am. ii. 431. And see Lounsbury, Studies in Chaucer, ii. 382.
1596. Took to, delivered to. Triton, Triton; imitated from Ovid, Met. i. 333, where Neptune calls Triton, and bids him sound his 'shell,' the sound of which resounded everywhere.
1598. We rarely find to used after leet; the usual formula is leet go. But cf. leet to glyde in Cant. Ta., F 1415. Or read to-go, to-glyde.
1618. Wite is badly spelt wete or wote in the MS. copies; but the very phrase wite ye what occurs in C. T., E 2431. However, Ch. certainly uses the phrase ye woot instead of ye wite, more than once.
1640. Overthrowe, be overthrown; as in the Tale of Gamelin, 512. Cf. Melibeus, B 2755.
1643. A pelet was a stone ball, such as used to be fired from the earliest kind of cannon, of which this is a very early mention. See my glossary to P. Plowman (Clar. Press).
1670. Lat goon, let go, lay aside.
1702. The word turned, which is dissyllabic, has evidently been substituted here in the printed editions and in MS. P. for the older and rare word clew, which does not occur elsewhere in Chaucer. The line means—'With that (therupon) I rubbed my head all round'; which is a rustic way of expressing perplexity. The verb clawen, to scratch, stroke, is not uncommon, but the usual pt. t. is clawed. We find, however, at least one other example of the strong form of the past tense in the Seven Sages, ed. Weber, l. 925—He clew the bor on the rigge,' he stroked the boar on the back, and made him go to sleep; cf. 'thi maister the clawes,' i.e. your master strokes you, to flatter you, in l. 937 of the same. Chaucer has, 'to clawen [rub] him on his hele' [heel], Troil. iv. 728; 'he clawed him on the bak,' he stroked him on the back, to encourage him, Cook's Prol., A 4326 (where clew would suit the line better). See claw in Jamieson's Scot. Dict.
1708. 'They would not give a leek.' Cf. 'dere ynough a leek'; Can. Yeom. Tale, Group G, 795.
1740. 'Although no brooch or ring was ever sent us.'
1742-4. 'Nor was it once intended in their heart to make us even friendly cheer, but they might (i.e. were ready to) bring us to our bier'; i.e. so far from caring to please us, they would be satisfied to see us dead.
The M.E. temen, to produce, to bring, is the same word as mod. E. teem, to produce. To temen on bere is parallel to the old phrase to bringen on bere; cf. Gaw. Douglas, tr. of Æneid, bk. x. ch. 10, l. 138 (ed. Small, iii. 326), where brocht on beyr means 'brought to their grave.' See Bier in the New Eng. Dictionary.
1747. For wood, as (if) mad, 'like mad.' The same phrase recurs in Leg. Good Women, Phyllis, l. 27; cf. as it were wood, Kn. Tale, A 2950; and for pure wood, Rom. Rose, 276.
1759-62. Cf. Rom. de la Rose, 9887-90:—
'Si se sunt maint vanté de maintes;
Par paroles fauces et faintes,
Dont les cors avoir ne pooient,
Lor non à grant tort diffamoient.'
1761. The name, the name of it, the credit of it.
1777. Masty (miswritten maisty in F., but masty in the rest) means fat, fattened up, and hence unwieldy, sluggish. Bell alters it to maisly, and Moxon's edition to nastie; both being wrong. Palsgrave has: 'Masty, fatte, as swyne be, gras.' The Promp. Parv. has: 'Mast-hog or swyne, [or] mastid swyne, Maialis'; and 'Mastyn beestys, sagino, impinguo.' Way rightly explains masty as 'glutted with acorns or berries'; cf. 'Acorne, mast for swyne, gland,' in Palsgrave. See The Former Age, l. 37.
1779. Wher, whether, 'is it the case that?'
1782. As the word oughte is never followed by to with a following gerund, it is certain that to-hangen is all one word, the prefix to- being intensive. MSS. F. and B. omit to, but the rest have it, and the syllable is wanted. I know of no other example of to-hangen, to hang thoroughly, but this is of little moment. The prefix to- was freely added to all sorts of verbs expressing strong action; Stratmann gives more than a hundred examples. Cf. note to l. 1598.
1783. We must read sweynte, the form preserved in MS. B, where the final e is added to the pp. sweynt, as if it were an adjective used in the definite form. The reading swynt is false, being an error for sweynte. The reading slepy is a mere gloss upon this rare word, but fairly expresses the meaning. Bell's Chaucer has swynt, which the editor supposes to be put for swinkt = swinked, pp. of swinken, to toil, as in Milton's 'swinkd hedger'; Comus, 293. He is, however, entirely wrong, for Milton's swink'd is quite a late form; in Chaucer's time the verb swinken was strong, and the pp. was swunken! Chaucer has queynt as the pp. of quenchen, Kn. Tale, A 2321; and dreynt as the pp. of drenchen, Non. Prest. Tale, B 4272. Similarly sweynt is the pp. of swenchen, to cause to toil, to fatigue, tire out, the causal verb formed from the aforesaid strong intransitive verb swinken, to toil. For examples, see swenchen in Stratmann; I may instance, 'Euwer feond eou ne scal ... swenchen,' your enemies shall not harass you, Old Eng. Homilies, ed. Morris, i. 13; and 'hi swencten swiðe heom-seolfe,' they sore afflicted themselves, id. 101. Hence, 'the sweynte cat' means the over-toiled or tired-out cat; or, secondarily, a cat that will take no trouble, a slothful or sleepy cat, as the gloss says. Compare Gower, Conf. Amant. ed. Pauli, ii. 39, where the same cat is brought forward as an example of the deadly sin of Sloth:—
'For he [a knight] ne wol no travail take
To ride for his ladies sake,
But liveth al upon his wisshes,
And—as a cat wolde ete fisshes
Withoute weting of his clees—
So wolde he do, but netheles
He faileth ofte of that he wolde.'
The 'adage' is referred to in Macbeth, i. 7. 45. It occurs in MS. Harl. 2321, fol. 146, printed in Reliq. Antiquæ, i. 207, in the form: 'The cat doth love the fishe, she will not wett her foote.' In Heywood's Proverbs, 1562 (p. 28, ed. Spenser Soc.): 'The cat would eate fyshe, and would not wet her feete.' So also in Camden's Remains, 1614, p. 312. Hazlitt gives a rimed version:—
'Fain would the cat fish eat,
But she's loth to wet her feet.'
In Piers the Plowman's Crede, 405, is the allusion:—
'Thou woldest not weten thy fote, and woldest fich cacchen.'
In a medieval Latin verse, it appears as: 'Catus amat piscem, sed non vult tingere plantam'; see Proverbialia Dicteria ... per A. Gartnerum, 1574, 8vo. Ray quotes the French: 'Le chat aime le poisson, mais il n'aime pas à mouiller la patte.' The German form is—'Die Katze hätt' der Fische gern; aber sie will die Füsse nit nass machen'; N. and Q. 4 S. ix. 266.
1794. Noskinnes; miswritten no skynnes in MSS. F. and B.; Th. and Cx. no kyns. Nos-kinnes is short for noneskinnes, of no kind; noskinnes labour is 'work of no kind'; in mod. E. 'no kind of work.' It also occurs without the former s; as in no kyne catel, property of no kind, P. Plowm. C. xi. 250; none kynnes riche, rich men of no kind, id. B. xi. 185. Cf. also of foure kunne thinges, of things of four kinds, of four kinds of things, where one MS. has of foure skynnes thinges; P. Plowm. A. x. 2. And see note to l. 1530 above.
1796. Bele Isaude, Isaude (or Isoude, or Isolde) the fair; here a type of a high form of female beauty. See Parl. Foules, 290; and the note.
1798. 'She that grinds at a hand-mill'; a poor slave.
1810. Hir (their) refers to the 'seventh company.' 'Such amusement they found in their hoods'; a phrase meaning 'so much did they laugh at them'; see Troil. ii. 1110. Cf. the phrase 'to put an ape in a man's hood,' i.e. to make him look like an ape, or look foolish; see note to C. T., Group B, 1630.
1823. 'Then a company came running in.'
1824. Choppen, strike downwards. They began hitting people on the head, regardless of consequences. The same expression occurs in Richard the Redeless, iii. 230—'And ich man i-charchid to schoppe at his croune'; where i-charchid = i-charged, i.e. was charged, was commanded, and schoppe = choppe.
1840. Pale, a perpendicular stripe; chiefly used as an heraldic term. The object of the conspicuous stripe upon the hose was to draw men's attention to him; for the same reason, he wore a bell on his tippet, and, in fact, his dress resembled that of the professional fool. Paled or striped hose were sometimes worn for display.
'Buskins he wore of costliest cordwayne,
Pinckt upon gold, and paled part per part,
As then the guize was for each gentle swayne.'
Spenser, F. Q. vi. 2. 6.
I.e. his buskins were adorned with golden dots or eyelets, and regularly intersected with stripes arranged perpendicularly.
1844. Isidis, Isis; Isidis being a form of the genitive case. Chaucer doubtless refers to Herostratus, the wretch who set fire to the temple of Diana at Ephesus, in order to immortalise his name. Why Diana here appears as Isis, and Ephesus as Athens, I cannot explain. Perhaps it was due to a defect of memory; we are apt to forget how very largely medieval authors had to trust to their memories for names and facts. It is almost impossible for us moderns, with our facilities for reference, to imagine what were the difficulties of learned men in the olden time. Perhaps Chaucer was thinking of Ovid's line (ex Ponto, i. 1. 51)—'Uidi ego linigerae numen uiolasse fatentem Isidis.' The story is in Solinus, Polyhistor, cap. xl. § 3.
'See, Erostratus the second
Fires again Diana's fane.'
Rejected Addresses; Drury's Dirge, st. 5.
1853. Thynne prints—'(Though it be naught) for shreudness'; but this is very forced. MS. B. and Caxton both omit noght, rightly.
1857. 'And, in order to get (some) of the meed of fame.'
1880. An allusion to the old proverb—'As I brew, so must I needs drink'; in Camden's Remains. Gower has it, Conf. Amant. bk. iii, ed. Pauli, ii. 334:—
'And who so wicked ale breweth,
Ful ofte he mot the werse drinke.'
1908. The form bringes, for bringest, though (strictly speaking) a Northern form, is not uncommon in East Midland. It occurs frequently, for example, in Havelok the Dane. But, as there is no other clear example in Chaucer, Koch thinks the passage is corrupt, and proposes to read:—
'Which than be, lo! thise tydinges,
That bringe thee hider, and thise thinges
That thou wilt here'; &c.
1920. Here that means 'that very.' The description of 'the house of Dædalus' is in Ovid, Met. viii. 159; and the word labyrinthus, used with reference to it, is in Vergil, Æn. v. 588. Chaucer again refers to it in the Leg. of Good Women (Ariadne), 2010; and it is mentioned in his translation of Boethius, bk. iii. pr. 12. 118 (vol. ii. p. 89). And see Gower, Conf. Amant. ed. Pauli, ii. 304.
1926. This somewhat resembles Dante, Inf. iii. 53, which Cary translates:—
'Which whirling ran about so rapidly
That it no pause obtain'd.'
1928. Oise, a river which flows into the Seine, from the north, not far below Paris. Chaucer says the sound might have been heard from there to Rome. From this vague statement, Warton would wish us to infer that the whole poem was founded on some foreign production now (and probably always) unknown. There is no need to draw any such conclusion. The English were fairly familiar with the north of France in days when a good deal of French soil belonged more or less to the king of England. The Oise, being a northern affluent of the Seine, must have been a well-known river. I think the allusion proves just nothing at all.
1933. This is an excellent and picturesque allusion, but in these days can no longer be appreciated. Compare Barbour's Bruce, xvii. 681:—
'The engynour than deliuerly
Gert bend the gyne in full gret hy,
And the stane smertly swappit out.
It flaw out, quhedirand, with a rout.'
1940. Though the authorities read hattes (Th. hutches), I alter this word to hottes without hesitation. We do not make hats with twigs or osiers. Chaucer says that some of the twigs were white, such as men use to make cages with, or panniers (i.e. baskets), or hottes, or dossers. Now Cotgrave explains F. Panier by 'a Pannier, or Dosser; also, a Pedlers Pack; also, a fashion of trunke made of wicker'; and he explains F. Hotte by 'a Scuttle, Dosser, Basket to carry on the back; the right hotte is wide at the top, and narrow at the bottom.' Dr. Murray kindly refers me to Cursor Mundi, l. 5524:—
'Apon þer neckes sal þai bere
Hott wit stan and wit morter.'
He also tells me that in Caxton's Golden Legend (1483), fol. cix. col. 2, is the sentence—'And bare on hys sholdres vij. hottis or baskettis fulle of erthe.' In a Glossary of North of England Words, printed as Gloss. B. 1, by the Eng. Dial. Society, I find: 'Hots, s. pl. a sort of panniers to carry turf or slate in'; and Halliwell gives it as a Cumberland word. Dickenson's Cumberland Glossary has: 'Muck-hots, panniers for conveying manure on horseback.' Brockett's Gloss. of Northern Words has: 'Hot, a sort of square basket, formerly used for taking manure into fields of steep ascent; the bottom opened by two wooden pins to let out the contents.' Thus the existence of the word in English is fully proved; and the fitness of it is evident.
1943. 'Al ful of chirking was that sory place'; Kn. Tale, A 2004.
1946. Again from Ovid, Met. xii. 44-47.
1970. Read—'Of estáts and éek of regióuns.' The e in estat was very light; hence mod. E. state.
1975. Mis is here an adjective, meaning 'bad' or 'wrong'; cf. 'But to correcten that is mis I mente'; Can. Yeom. Tale, G 999.
1980. 'Although the timber,' &c.
1982. 'As long as it pleases Chance, who is the mother of news, just as the sea (is mother) of wells and springs.'
1997. Paráventure; also spelt paraunter, shewing how rapidly the third syllable could be slurred over.
2000. Peter! by St Peter; see note to l. 1034.
2004. Cunne ginne, know how to begin. (Gin, a contrivance, is monosyllabic).
2009. I substitute the dissyllabic swich-e for the monosyllabic these, to preserve the melody.
2011. 'To drive away thy heaviness with.'
2017. MS. F. has frot, which has no meaning, but may be a misspelling of froit, which is another form of fruit. As Koch says, we must read The fruit, remembering that Chaucer uses fruit in the peculiar sense of 'upshot' or 'result.'
'And for it is no fruit but los of tyme'; Squi. Ta., F 74.
'The fruyt of this matere is that I telle'; Man of Lawes Ta., B 411.
In the present case, it would be used in a double sense; (1) of result, (2) of a fruit that withers and is ready to burst open. As to the spelling froit, we find froyte in the Petworth MS. in the latter of the above quotations, where other MSS. have fruyt or fruite. The swote (Cx. Th.) means 'the sweetness.'
2019. That, in this line, goes back to Sith that in l. 2007.
2021. I suppress in after yaf, because it is not wanted for the sense, and spoils the metre.
2034-40. Suggested by Dante, Inf. iii. 55-57, just as ll. 1924-6 above are by the two preceding lines in Dante; see note to l. 1926. Cary has:—
'and following came
Such a long train of spirits, I should ne'er
Have thought that death so many had despoil'd.'
In l. 2038, left means 'left alive.'
2044. I substitute ech for euerych (in Caxton). The two MSS. (F. and B.) have merely Rouned in others ere, which is of course defective.
2048. I here follow B. (except that it wrongly omits lo).
2059. Wondermost; superl. of wonder, which is very common as an adjective.
2076. As the reading of the MSS. is obviously wrong (the word mouth being repeated three times), whilst the reading of the printed editions (Wente every tydyng) cannot be right on account of the scansion, I put word for the first of the three mouths. This gives the right sense, and probably Chaucer actually wrote it.
2089. Again from Ovid, Met. xii. 54, 55. A sad soth-sawe, a sober truth.
2099. With the nones, on the condition; see Leg. of Good Women, 1540; and the note. So also in the Tale of Gamelyn, 206.
2101. See Kn. Tale, 273, 274 (A 1131).
2105. Beside, without; without asking his leave.
2119. Cf. Cant. Tales, D 1695—'Twenty thousand freres on a route,' where Tyrwhitt prints A twenty. But the MSS. (at least the seven best ones) all omit the A. Just as the present line wants its first syllable, and is to be scanned—'Twénty thoúsand ín a roúte'; so the line in the Cant. Tales wants its first syllable, and is to be scanned—Twénty thoúsand fréres ón a roúte. For having called attention to this fact, my name (misspelt) obtained a mention in Lowell's My Study Windows, in his (otherwise excellent) article on Chaucer. 'His (Chaucer's) ear would never have tolerated the verses of nine syllables with a strong accent on the first, attributed to him by Mr. Skeate and Mr. Morris. Such verses seem to me simply impossible in the pentameter iambic as Chaucer wrote it.' Surely this is assumption, not proof. I have only to say that the examples are rather numerous, and nine-syllable lines are not impossible to a poet with a good ear; for there are twelve consecutive lines of this character in Tennyson's Vision of Sin. It may suffice to quote one of them:—
'Pánted hánd in hánd with fáces pále.'
I will merely add here, that similar lines abound in Lydgate's 'Sege of Thebes,' and that there are 25 clear examples of such lines in the Legend of Good Women, as I shew in my Introduction to that Poem.
2123. Cf. P. Plowman; B. prol. 46-52. Bretful, brim-ful, occurs in P. Pl. C. i. 42; also in Chaucer, Prol. 687; Kn. Tale, 1306 (A 2164).
2130. Lyes; F. lies, E. lees. 'Lie, f. the lees, dregs, grounds'; Cotgrave.
2140. Sooner or later, every sheaf in the barn has to come out to be thrashed.
2152. 'And cast up their noses on high.' I adopt this reading out of deference to Dr. Koch, who insists upon its correctness. Otherwise, I should prefer the graphic reading in MS. B.—'And up the nose and yën caste.' Each man is trying to peer beyond the rest.
2154. 'And stamp, as a man would stamp on a live eel, to try to secure it.' Already in Plautus, Pseudolus, 2. 4. 56, we have the proverb anguilla est, elabitur, he is an eel, he slips away from you; said of a sly or slippery fellow. In the Rom. de la Rose, 9941, we are told that it is as hard to be sure of a woman's constancy as it is to hold a live eel by the tail. 'To have an eel by the tail' was an old English proverb; see Eel in Nares' Glossary, ed. Halliwell and Wright.
2158. The poem ends here, in the middle of a sentence. It seems as if Chaucer did not quite know how to conclude, and put off finishing the poem till that more 'convenient season' which never comes. Practically, nothing is lost.
The copy printed by Caxton broke off still earlier, viz. at l. 2094. In order to make a sort of ending to it, Caxton added twelve lines of his own, with his name—Caxton—at the side of the first of them; and subjoined a note in prose, as follows:—
And wyth the noyse of them [t]wo
I Sodeynly awoke anon tho
And remembryd what I had seen
And how hye and ferre I had been
In my ghoost / and had grete wonder
Of that [that?] the god of thonder
Had lete me knowen / and began to wryte
Lyke as ye haue herd me endyte
Wherfor to studye and rede alway
I purpose to doo day by day
Thus in dremyng and in game
Endeth thys lytyl book of Fame.
I fynde nomore of this werke to-fore sayd. For as fer as I can vnderstonde / This noble man Gefferey Chaucer fynysshed at the sayd conclusion of the metyng of lesyng and sothsawe / where as yet they ben chekked and may nat departe / whyche werke as me semeth is craftyly made'; &c. (The rest is in praise of Chaucer). But, although Caxton's copy ended at l. 2094, lines 2095-2158 appear in the two MSS., and are obviously genuine. Thynne also printed them, and must have found them in the MS. which he followed. After l. 2158, Thynne subjoins Caxton's ending, with an alteration in the first three lines, as unsuitable to follow l. 2158. Hence Thynne prints them as follows:—
And therwithal I abrayde
Out of my slepe halfe a frayde
Remembri[n]g wel what I had sene.
We thus see that it was never pretended that the lines following l. 2158 were Chaucer's. They are admittedly Caxton's and Thynne's. Even if we had not been told this, we could easily have detected it by the sudden inferiority in the style. Caxton's second line will not scan at all comfortably; neither will the third, nor the fourth. (The seventh can be improved by altering began to gan). And Thynne's lines are but little better.
- Really ten; for rout-e is dissyllabic.
- Misprinted wo; cf. two, l. 2093.
- Imitated from Parl. of Foules, 693.
- Cf. Book Duch. 1332.
- From Parl. of Foules, 696.