Chaucer's Works (ed. Skeat) Vol. V/Knight

NOTES TO THE KNIGHTES TALE.

For general remarks on this tale, see vol. iii. p. 389.

It is only possible to give here a mere general idea of the way in which the Knightes Tale is related to the Teseide of Boccaccio. The following table gives a sketch of it, but includes many lines wherein Chaucer is quite original. The references to the Knightes Tale are to the lines of group A (as in the text); those to the Teseide are to the books and stanzas.

Kn. Tale. Teseide.
0865-883 I. and II.
0893-1027 II. 2-5, 25-95.
1030-1274 III. 1-11, 14-20, 47, 51-54, 75.
1361-1448 IV. 26-29, 59.
1451-1479 V. 1-3, 24-27, 33.
1545-1565 IV. 13, 14, 31, 85, 84, 17, 82.
1638-1641 VII. 106, 119.
1668-1739 V. 77-91.
1812-1860 V. 92-98.
1887-2022 VII. 108-110, 50-64, 29-37.
2102-2206 VI. 71, 14-22, 65-70, 8.
2222-2593 VII. 43-49, 68-93, 23-41, 67, 95-99,
7-13, 131, 132, 14,
100-102, 113-118, 19.
2600-2683 VIII. 2-131.
2684-2734 IX. 4-61.
2735-2739 XII. 80, 83.
2743-2808 X. 12-112.
2809-2962 XI. 1-67.
2967-3102 XII. 3-19, 69-83.

The MSS. quote a line and a half from Statius, Thebaid, xii. 519, 520, because Chaucer is referring to that passage in his introductory lines to this tale; see particularly ll. 866, 869, 870.

There is yet another reason for quoting this scrap of Latin, viz. that it is also quoted in the Poem of Anelida and Arcite, at l. 22, where the 'Story' of that poem begins; and ll. 22-25 of Anelida give a fairly close translation of it. From this and other indications, it appears that Chaucer first of all imitated Boccaccio's Teseide (more or less closely) in the poem which he himself calls 'Palamon and Arcite,' of which but scanty traces exist in the original form; and this poem was in 7-line stanzas. He afterwards recast the whole, at the same time changing the metre; and the result was the Knightes Tale, as we here have it. Thus the Knightes Tale is not derived immediately from Boccaccio or from Statius, but through the medium of an older poem of Chaucer's own composition. Fragments of the same poem were used by the author in other compositions; and the result is, that the Teseide of Boccaccio is the source of (1) sixteen stanzas in the Parliament of Foules; (2) of part of the first ten stanzas in Anelida; (3) of three stanzas near the end of Troilus (Tes. xi. 1-3); as well as of the original Palamon and Arcite and of the Knightes Tale.

Hence it is that ll. 859-874 and ll. 964-981 should be compared with Chaucer's Anelida, ll. 22-46, as printed in vol. i. p. 366. Lines 882 and 972 are borrowed from that poem with but slight alteration.

859. The lines from Statius, Theb. xii. 519-22, to which reference is made in the heading, relate to the return of Theseus to Athens after his conquest of Hippolyta, and are as follows:—

Iamque domos patrias, Scythicae post aspera gentis
Proelia, laurigero subeuntem Thesea curru
Laetifici plausus, missusque ad sidera uulgi
Clamor, et emeritis hilaris tuba nuntiat armis.'


860. Theseus, the great legendary hero of Attica, is the subject of Boccaccio's poem named after him the Teseide. He is also the hero of the Legend of Ariadne, as told in Chaucer's Legend of Good Women. After deserting Ariadne, he succeeded his father Aegeus as king of Athens, and conducted an expedition against the Amazons, from which he returned in triumph, having carried off their queen Antiope, here named Hippolyta.

861. governour. It should be observed that Chaucer continually accents words of Anglo-French origin in the original manner, viz. on the last or on the penultimate syllable. Thus we have here governóur and conqueróur; in l. 865, chivalrý-e; in l. 869, contrée; in l. 876, manére, &c. The most remarkable examples are when the words end in -oun (ll. 893, 935).

864. cóntree is here accented on the first syllable; in l. 869, on the last. This is a good example of the unsettled state of the accents of such words in Chaucer's time, which afforded him an opportunity of licence, which he freely uses. In fact, cóntree shows the English, and contrée, the French accent.

865. chivalrye, knightly exploits. In l. 878, chivalrye means 'knights'; mod. E. chivalry. So also in l. 982.

866. regne of Femenye, the kingdom (Lat. regnum) of the Amazons. Femenye is from Lat. femina, a woman. Cf. Statius, Theb. xii. 578. 'Amazonia, womens land, is a Country, parte in Asia and parte in Europa, and is nigh Albania; and hath that name of Amazonia of women that were the wives of the men that were called Goths, the which men went out of the nether Scithia, as Isidore seith, li. 9.'—Batman upon Bartholomè, lib. xv. c. 12. Cf. Higden's Polychronicon, lib. i. cap. xviii; and Gower, Conf. Amant., ii. 73:—

'Pentasilee,
Which was the quene of Feminee.'


867. Scithea, Scythia. Cf. Scythicae in the quotation from Statius in note to l. 859.

868. Ipolita, Shakespeare's Hippolyta, in Mids. Night's Dream. The name is in Statius, Theb. xii. 534, spelt Hippolyte.

880. In this line, Athenes seems to mean 'Athenians,' though elsewhere it means 'Athens.' Athénès is trisyllabic.

884. tempest. As there is no mention of a tempest in Boccaccio, Tyrwhitt proposed to alter the reading to temple, as there is some mention of Theseus offering in the temple of Pallas. But it is very unlikely that this would be alluded to by the mere word temple; and we must accept the reading tempest, as in all the seven MSS. and in the old editions.

I think the solution is to be found by referring to Statius. Chaucer seems to have remembered that a tempest is there described (Theb. xii. 650-5), but to have forgotten that it is merely introduced by way of simile. In fact, when Theseus determines to attack Creon (see l. 960), the advance of his host is likened by Statius to the effect of a tempest. The lines are:—

'Qualis Hyperboreos ubi nubilus institit axes
Iupiter, et prima tremefecit sidera bruma,
Rumpitur Aeolia, et longam indignata quietem
Tollit hiems animos, uentosaque sibilat Arctos;
Tunc montes undaeque fremunt, tunc proelia caesis
Nubibus, et tonitrus insanaque fulmina gaudent.'


885. as now, at present, at this time. Cf. the M. E. adverbs as-swithe, as-sone, immediately. From the Rom. de la Rose, 21479:—

'Ne vous voil or ci plus tenir,
A mon propos m'estuet venir,
Qu' autre champ me convient arer.'


889. I wol nat letten eek noon of this route, I desire not to hinder eke (also) none of all this company. Wol = desire; cf. 'I will have mercy,' &c.

890. aboute, i. e. in his turn, one after the other; corresponding to the sense 'in rotation, in succession,' given in the New English Dictionary. This sense of the word in this passage was pointed out by Dr. Kölbing in Engl. Studien, ii. 531. He instanced a similar use of the word in the Ormulum, l. 550, where the sense is—'and ay, whensoever that flock of priests, being twenty-four in number, had all served once about in the temple.'

901. crëature is here a word of three syllables. In l. 1106 it has four syllables.

903. nolde, would not: the A. S. nolde is the pt. t. of nyllan, equivalent to ne willan, not to wish; cf. Lat. noluit, from nolle.

stenten, stop. 'It stinted, and said aye.'—Romeo and Juliet, i. 3. 48.

908. that thus, i. e. ye that thus.

911. clothed thus (Elles.); clad thus al (Harl.).

912. alle is to be pronounced al-lè. Tyrwhitt inserts than, then, after alle, against the authority of the best MSS. and of the old editions.

Statius (Theb. xii. 545) calls this lady Capaneia coniux; see l. 932, below. He says all the ladies were from Argos, and their husbands were kings.

913. a deedly chere, a deathly countenance or look.

918. we biseken, we beseech, ask for. For such double forms as beseken and besechen, cf. mod. Eng. dike and ditch, kirk and chirch, sack and satchel, stick and stitch. In the Early Eng. period the harder forms with k were very frequently employed by Northern writers, who preferred them to the palatalised Southern forms (perhaps influenced by Anglo-French) with ch. Cf. M. E. brig and rigg with bridge and ridge.

926. This line means 'that ensureth no estate to be (always) good.' Suggested by Boethius; see bk. ii. pr. 2. ll. 37-41 (vol. ii. p. 27).

928. Clemence, Clemency, Pity. Suggested by 'il tempio ... di Clemenza,' Tes. ii. 17; which again is from 'mitis posuit Clementia sedem,' Theb. xii. 482.

932. Capaneus, one of the seven heroes who besieged Thebes: struck dead by lightning as he was scaling the walls of the city, because he had defied Zeus; Theb. x. 927. See note to l. 912, above.

937. The celebrated siege of 'The Seven against Thebes'; Capaneus being one of the seven kings.

941. for despyt, out of vexation; mod. E. 'for spite.'

942. To do the dede bodyes vileinye, to treat the dead bodies shamefully.

948. withouten more respyt, without longer delay.

949. They fillen gruf, they fell flat with the face to the ground. In M. E. we find the phrase to fall grovelinges or to fall groveling. See Gruflynge and Ogrufe in the Catholicon Anglicum, and the editor's notes, pp. 166, 259.

954. Himthoughte, it seemed to him; cf. methinks, it seems to me. In M. E. the verbs like, list, seem, rue (pity), are used impersonally, and take the dative case of the pronoun. Cf. the modern expression 'if you please' = if it be pleasing to you.

955. mat, dejected. 'Ententyfly, not feynt, wery ne mate.'—Hardyng, p. 129.—M.

960. ferforthly, i. e. far-forth-like, to such an extent.

965. abood, delay, awaiting, abiding.

966. His baner he desplayeth, i. e. he summons his troops to assemble for military service.

968. No neer, no nearer. Accent Athén-es on the second syllable; but in l. 973 it is accented on the first.

970. lay, lodged for the night.

975. státue, the image, as depicted on the banner.

977. feeldes, field, is an heraldic term for the ground upon which the various charges, as they are called, are emblazoned. Some of this description was suggested by the Thebais, lib. xii. 665, &c.; but the resemblance is very slight.

978. penoun, pennon. y-bete, beaten; the gold being hammered out into a thin foil in the shape of the Minotaur; see Marco Polo, ed. Yule, i. 344. But, in the Thebais, the Minotaur is upon Theseus' shield.

988. In pleyn bataille, in open or fair fight.

993. obséquies (Elles., &c.); exéquies (Harl.); accented on the second syllable.

1004. as him leste, as it pleased him.

1005. tas, heap, collection. Some MSS. read cas (caas), which might = downfall, ruin, Lat. casus; but, as c and t are constantly confused, this reading is really due to a mere blunder. Gower speaks of gathering 'a tasse' of sticks; Conf. Amant. bk. v. ed. Pauli, ii. 293. Palsgrave has—'On a heape, en vng tas'; p. 840. Hexham's Dutch Dict. (1658) has—'een Tas, a Shock, a Pile, or a Heape.' Chaucer found the word in Le Roman de la Rose, 14870: 'ung tas de paille,' a heap of straw.

1006. harneys. 'And arma be not taken onely for the instruments of al maner of crafts, but also for harneys and weapon; also standards and banners, and sometimes battels.'—Bossewell's Armorie, p. 1, ed. 1597. Cf. l. 1613.

1010. Thurgh-girt, pierced through. This line is taken from Troilus, iv. 627: 'Thourgh-girt with many a wyd and blody wounde.'

1011. liggyng by and by, lying near together, as in A. 4143; the usual old sense being 'in succession,' or 'in order'; see examples in the New Eng. Dict., p. 1233, col. 3. In later English, by and by signifies presently, immediately, as 'the end is not by and by.'

1012. in oon armes, in one (kind of) arms or armour, shewing that they belonged to the same house. Chaucer adapts ancient history to medieval time throughout his works.

1015. Nat fully quike, not wholly alive.

1016. by hir cote-armures, by their coat-armour, by the devices on the vest worn above the armour covering the breast. The cote-armure, as explained in my note to Barbour's Bruce, xiii. 183, was 'of no use as a defence, being made of a flimsy material; but was worn over the true armour of defence, and charged with armorial bearings'; see Ho. Fame, 1326. Cf. l. 1012. by hir gere, by their gear, i. e. equipments.

1018. they. Tyrwhitt (who relied too much on the black-letter editions) reads tho, those; but the seven best MSS. have they.

1023. Tathenes, to Athens (Harl. MS., which reads for to for to). Cf. tallegge, l. 3000 (foot-note).

1024. he nolde no raunsoun, he would accept of no ransom.

1029. Terme of his lyf, the remainder of his life. Cf. 'The end and term of natural philosophy.'—Bacon's Advancement of Learning, Bk. ii. p. 129, ed. Aldis Wright.

1035. Cf. Leg. of Good Women, 2425, 2426.

1038. stroof hir hewe, strove her hue; i. e. her complexion contested the superiority with the rose's colour.

1039. I noot, I know not; noot = ne woot.

1047. May. 'Against Maie, every parishe, towne, and village, assembled themselves together, bothe men, women, and children, olde and yonge, even all indifferently, and either going all together or devidyng themselves into companies, they goe, some to the woodes and groves, some to the hills and mountaines, some to one place, some to another, where they spend all the night in pastimes; in the morninge they return, bringing with them birche, bowes and branches of trees, to deck their assemblies withalle.'—Stubbes, Anatomy of Abuses, ed. 1585, leaf 94 (ed. Furnivall, p. 149). See also Strutt, Manners and Customs, iii. 177. Cf. Midsummer Night's Dream, i. 1, 167:—

'To do observance to a morn of May.'


See also l. 1500, and the note.

1049. Hir yelow heer was broyded, her yellow hair was braided. Yellow hair was esteemed a beauty; see Seven Sages, 477, ed. Weber; King Alisaunder, 207; and the instances in Burton, Anat. of Melancholy, pt. 3. sec. 2. mem. 2. subsec. 2. Boccaccio has here—'Co' biondi crini avvolti alla sua testa'; Tes. iii. 10.

1051. the sonne upriste, the sun's uprising; the -e in sonne represents the old genitive inflexion. Upriste is here the dat. of the sb. uprist. It occurs also in Gower, Conf. Amantis, bk. i. ed. Pauli, i. 116.

1052. as hir liste, as it pleased her.

1053. party, partly; Fr. en partie.

1054. sotil gerland, a subtle garland; subtle has here the exact force of the Lat. subtilis, finely woven.

1055. Cf. 'Con angelica voce'; Tes. iii. 10: and Troil. ii. 826.

1060. evene-Ioynant, joining, or adjoining.

1061. Ther as this Emelye hadde hir pleyinge, i. e. where she was amusing herself.

1063. In the Teseide (iii. 11) it is Arcite who first sees Emily.

1074. by aventure or cas, by adventure or hap.

1076. sparre, a square wooden bolt; the bars, which were of iron, were as thick as they must have been if wooden. See l. 990.

1078. bleynte, the past tense of blenche or blenke (to blench), to start, draw back suddenly. Cf. dreynte, pt. t. of drenchen. 'Tutto stordito, Gridò, Omè!' Tes. iii. 17.

1087. Som wikke aspect. Cf. 'wykked planete, as Saturne or Mars,' Astrolabe, ii. 4. 22; notes in Wright's edition, ll. 2453, 2457; and Piers the Plowman, B. vi. 327; and see Leg. of Good Women, 2590-7. Add to these the description of Saturn: 'Significat in quartanis, lepra, scabie, in mania, carcere, submersione, &c. Est infortuna.'—Johannis Hispalensis, Isagoge in Astrologiam, cap. xv. See A. 1328, 2469.

1089. al-though, &c., although we had sworn to the contrary. Cf. 'And can nought flee, if I had it sworn'; Lydgate, Dance of Machabre (The Sergeaunt). Also—'he may himselfe not sustene Upon his feet, though he had it sworne'; Lydgate, Siege of Thebes (The Sphinx), pt. i.

'Thofe the rede knyghte had sworne,
Out of his sadille is he borne.'
Sir Percevalle, l. 61.


1091. the short and pleyn, the brief and manifest statement of the case. Pronounce this is as this; as frequently elsewhere; see l. 1743, E. 56, F. 889.

1100. Cf. 'That cause is of my torment and my sorwe': Troil. v. 654.

1101. Cf. 'But whether goddesse or womman, y-wis, She be, I noot'; Troil. i. 425.

wher, a very common form for whether.

1105. Yow (used reflexively), yourself.

1106. wrecche, wretched, is a word of two syllables, like wikke, wicked, where the d is a later and unnecessary addition.

1108. shapen, shaped, determined. 'Shapes our ends.'—Shakespeare, Hamlet, v. 2. 10. Cf. l. 1225.

1120. 'And except I have her pity and her favour.'

1121. atte leeste weye, at the least. Cf. leastwise = at the leastwise: 'at leastwise'; Bacon's Advancement of Learning, ed. Wright, p. 146, l. 23. See English Bible (Preface of 'The Translators to the Reader').

1122. 'I am not but (no better than) dead, there is no more to say.' Chaucer uses nebut much in the same way as the Fr. ne—que. Cf. North English 'I'm nobbut clemmed' = I am almost dead of hunger.

1126. by my fey, by my faith, in good faith.

1127. me list ful yvele pleye, it pleaseth me very badly to play.

1128. This debate is an imitation of the longer debate (in the Teseide), where Palamon and Arcite meet in the grove; cf. l. 1580 below.

1129. It nere = it were not, it would not be.

1132. 'It was a common practice in the middle ages for persons to take formal oaths of fraternity and friendship; and a breach of the oath was considered something worse than perjury. This incident enters into the plots of some of the medieval romances. A curious example will be found in the Romance of Athelston; Reliquiæ Antiquæ, ii. 85.'—Wright. A note in Bell's Chaucer reminds us that instances occur also in the old heroic times; as in the cases of Theseus and Peirithous, Achilles and Patroclus, Pylades and Orestes, Nysus and Euryalus. See Sworn Brothers in Nares' Glossary; Rom. of the Rose, 2884.

1133. 'That never, even though it cost us a miserable death, a death by torture.' So in Troilus, i. 674: 'That certayn, for to deyen in the peyne.' Also in the E. version of The Romaunt of the Rose, 3326.

1134. 'Till that death shall part us two.' Cf. the ingenious alteration in the Marriage Service, where the phrase 'till death us depart' was altered into 'do part' in 1661.

1136. cas, case. It properly means event, hap. See l. 1074.

my leve brother, my dear brother.

1141. out of doute, without doubt, doubtless.

1147. to my counseil, to my adviser. See l. 1161.

1151. I dar wel seyn, I dare maintain.

1153. Thou shalt be. Chaucer occasionally uses shall in the sense of owe, so that the true sense of I shall is I owe (Lat. debeo); it expresses a strong obligation. So here it is not so much the sign of a future tense as a separate verb, and the sense is 'Thou art sure to be false sooner than I am.'

1155. par amour, with love, in the way of love. To love par amour is an old phrase for to love excessively. Cf. Bruce, xiii. 485; and see A. 2112, below; Troil. v. 158, 332.

1158. affeccioun of holinesse, a sacred affection, or aspiration after.

1162. I pose, I put the case, I will suppose.

1163. 'Knowest thou not well the old writer's saying?' The olde clerk is Boethius, from whose book, De Consolatione Philosophiae, Chaucer has borrowed largely in many places. The passage alluded to is in lib. iii. met. 12:—

'Quis legem det amantibus?
Maior lex amor est sibi.'


Chaucer's translation (vol. ii. p. 92, l. 37) has—'But what is he that may yive a lawe to loveres? Love is a gretter lawe ... than any lawe that men may yeven.' And see Troil. iv. 618.

1167. and swich decree, and (all) such ordinances.

1168. in ech degree, in every rank of life.

1172. And eek it is, &c., 'and moreover it is not likely that ever in all thy life thou wilt stand in her favour.'

1177. This fable, in this particular form, is not in any of the usual collections; but it is, practically, the same as that called 'The Lion, the Tiger, and the Fox' in Croxall's Æsop. Sometimes it is 'the Lion, the Bear, and the Fox'; the Fox subtracts the prey for which the others fight. It is no. 247 in Halm's edition of the 'Fabulae Æsopicae,' Lips., Teubner, 1852, with the moral:—ὁ μῦθος δηλοῖ, ὅτι ἄλλων κοπιώντων ἄλλοι κερδαίνουσιν. In La Fontaine's Fables, it appears as Les Voleurs et l'Âne. Thynne coolly altered kyte to cur, and then had to insert so after were to fill up the line.

1186. everich of us, each of us, every one of us.

1189. to theffect, to the result, or end.

1196. From the Legend of Good Women, 2282.

1200. in helle. An allusion to Theseus accompanying Pirithous in his expedition to carry off Proserpina, daughter of Aidoneus, king of the Molossians, when both were taken prisoner, and Pirithous torn in pieces by the dog Cerberus. At least, such is the story in Plutarch; see Shakespeare's Plutarch, ed. Skeat, p. 289. Chaucer found the mention of Pirithous' visit to Athens in Boccaccio's Teseide, iii. 47-51. The rest he found in Le Roman de la Rose, 8186—

'Si cum vesquist, ce dist l'istoire,
Pyrithous apres sa mort,
Que Theseus tant ama mort.
Tant le queroit, tant le sivoit ...
Que vis en enfer l'ala querre.'


1201. Observe the expression to wryte, which shews that this story was not originally meant to be told. (Anglia, viii. 453.)

1212. Most MSS. read or stounde, i. e. or at any hour. MS. Dd. has o stound, one moment, any short interval of time.

'The storme sesed within a stounde.'
Ywaine and Gawin, l. 384.


On this slight authority, Tyrwhitt altered the reading, and is followed by Wright and Bell, though MS. Hl. really has or like the rest, and the black-letter editions have the same.

1218. his nekke lyth to wedde, his neck is in jeopardy; lit. lies in pledge or in pawn.

1222. To sleen himself he wayteth prively, he watches for an opportunity to slay himself unperceived.

1223. This line, slightly altered, occurs also in the Legend of Good Women, 658.

1225. Now is me shape, now I am destined; literally, now is it shapen (or appointed) for me.

1247. It was supposed that all things were made of the four elements mentioned in l. 1246. 'Does not our life consist of the four elements?'—Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, ii. 3. 10.

1255. Cf. P. Plowman, C. xiii. 236.

1257. 'And another man would fain (get) out of his prison.'

1259. matere; in the matter of thinking to excel God's providence.

1260. 'We never know what thing it is that we pray for here below.' See Romans viii. 26.

1261. dronke is as a mous. This phrase seems to have given way to 'drunk as a rat.' 'Thus satte they swilling and carousyng, one to another, till they were both as dronke as rattes.'—Stubbes, Anatomie of Abuses; ed. Furnivall, p. 113.

'I am a Flemying, what for all that,
Although I wyll be dronken otherwhyles as a rat.'
Andrew Boorde, ed. Furnivall, p. 147.


Cf. 'When that he is dronke as a dreynt mous'; Ritson, Ancient Songs, i. 70 (Man in the Moon, l. 31). 'And I will pledge Tom Tosspot, till I be drunk as a mouse-a'; Old Plays, ed. Hazlitt, iii. 339. See also Skelton, Colin Clout, 803; and D. 246.

1262. This is from Boethius, De Consolatione, lib. iii. pr. 2: 'But I retorne ayein to the studies of men, of whiche men the corage alwey reherseth and seketh the sovereyn good, al be it so that it be with a derked memorie; but he not by whiche path, right as a dronken man not nat by whiche path he may retorne him to his hous.'—Chaucer's Translation of Boethius; vol. ii. p. 54, l. 57.

1264. slider, slippery; as in the Legend of Good Women, l. 648. Cf. the gloss—'Lubricum, slidere'; Reliquiae Antiquae, i. 7.

1279. pure fettres, the very fetters. 'So in the Duchesse, l. 583, the pure deeth. The Greeks used καθαρός in the same sense.'—Tyrwhitt.

1283. at thy large, at large. Cf. l. 2288.

1302. 'White like box-wood, or ashen-gray'; cf. l. 1364. Cf. 'And pale as box she wex'; Legend of Good Women, l. 866. Also 'asshen pale and dede'; Troil. ii. 539.

1308. Copied in Lydgate's Horse, Sheep, and Goose, 124:—'But here this schepe, rukkyng in his folde.' 'Rukkun, or cowre down'; Prompt. Parv. In B. 4416, MSS. Cp. Pt. Ln. have rouking in place of lurking.

1317. to letten of his wille, to refrain from his will (or lusts).

1333. Cf. the phrase 'paurosa gelosia'; Tes. v. 2.

1344. upon his heed, on pain of losing his head. 'Froissart has sur sa teste, sur la teste, and sur peine de la teste.'—T.

1347. this questioun. 'An implied allusion to the medieval courts of love, in which questions of this kind were seriously discussed.'—Wright.

1366. making his mone, making his complaint or moan.

1372. 'In his changing mood, for all the world, he conducted himself not merely like one suffering from the lover's disease of Eros, but rather (his disease was) like mania engendered of melancholy humour.' This is one of the numerous allusions to the four humours, viz. the choleric, phlegmatic, sanguine, and melancholic. An excess of the latter was supposed to produce 'melancholy madness.' gere, flighty manner, changeableness; 'Siche wilde gerys hade he mo'; Thornton Romances, Sir Percival, l. 1353. See note to l. 1536.

1376. in his celle fantastyk. Tyrwhitt reads Beforne his hed in his celle fantastike. Elles. has Biforn his owene celle fantastik. 'The division of the brain into cells, according to the different sensitive faculties, is very ancient, and is found depicted in medieval manuscripts. The fantastic cell (fantasia) was in front of the head.'—Wright. Hence Biforen means 'in the front part of his head.'

'Madnesse is infection of the formost cel of the head, with priuation of imagination, lyke as melancholye is the infection of the middle cell of the head, with priuation of reason, as Constant. saith in libro de Melancolia. Melancolia (saith he) is an infection that hath mastry of the soule, the which commeth of dread and of sorrow. And these passions be diuerse after the diuersity of the hurt of their workings; for by madnesse that is called Mania, principally the imagination is hurt; and in the other reson is hurted.'—Batman upon Bartholomè, lib. vii. c. 6. Vincent of Beauvais, bk. xxviii. c. 41, cites a similar statement from the Liber de Anatomia, which begins:—'Cerebrum itaque tribus cellulis est distinctum. Duae namque meringes cerebri faciunt tres plicaturas inter se denexas, in quibus tres sunt cellulae: phantastica scilicet ab anteriori parte capitis, in qua sedem habet imaginatio.' So in Batman upon Bartholomè, lib. v. c. 3:—'The Braine ... is diuided in three celles or dens.... In the formost cell ... imagination is conformed and made; in the middle, reason; in the hindermost, recordation and minde' [memory]. Cf. also Burton, Anat. of Melancholy, pt. 2. sec. 3. mem. 1. subsec. 2.

1385-8. Probably from Claudian, De Raptu Proserpinae, i. 77:—

'Cyllenius astitit ales,
Somniferam quatiens uirgam, tectusque galero.'


See Lounsbury, Studies, ii. 382.

1390. Argus, Argus of the hundred eyes, whom Mercury charmed to sleep before slaying him. Ovid, Met. i. 714.

1401. Cf. 'Hir face ... Was al ychaunged in another kinde'; Troil. iv. 864.

1405. bar him lowe, conducted himself as one of low estate. Cf. E. 2013.

1409. Cf. 'in maniera di pover valletto'; Tes. iv. 22.

1428. In the Teseide, iv. 3, he takes the name of Penteo. Philostrato is the name of another work by Boccaccio, answering to Chaucer's Troilus. The Greek φιλόστρατος means, literally, 'army-lover'; but it is to be noted that Boccaccio did not so understand it. He actually connected it with the Lat. stratus, and explained it to mean 'vanquished or prostrated with love'; and this is how the name is here used.

1444. slyly, prudently, wisely. The M. E. sleigh, sly = wise, knowing: and sleight = wisdom, knowledge. (For change of meaning compare cunning, originally knowledge; craft, originally power; art, &c.)

'Ne swa sleygh payntur never nan was,
Thogh his sleght mught alle other pas,
That couthe ymagyn of þair [devils'] gryslynes.'
Hampole's Pricke of Consc., ll. 2308, 2309.—M.


1463. The third night is followed by the fourth day; so Palamon and Arcite meet on the 4th of May (l. 1574), which was a Friday (l. 1534); the first hour of which was dedicated to Venus (l. 1536) and to lovers' vows (l. 1501). The 4th of May was a Friday in 1386.

1471. clarree. 'The French term claré seems simply to have denoted a clear transparent wine, but in its most usual sense a compounded drink of wine with honey and spices, so delicious as to be comparable to the nectar of the gods. In Sloane MS. 2584, f. 173, the following directions are found for making clarré:—"Take a galoun of honi, and skome (skim) it wel, and loke whanne it is isoden (boiled), that ther be a galoun; thanne take viii galouns of red wyn, than take a pound of pouder canel (cinnamon), and half a pounde of pouder gynger, and a quarter of a pounde of pouder peper, and medle (mix) alle these thynges togeder and (with) the wyn; and do hym in a clene barelle, and stoppe it fast, and rolle it wel ofte sithes, as men don verious, iii dayes."'—Way; note to Prompt. Parv., p. 79. 'The Craft to make Clarre' is also given in Arnold's Chronicle of London; and see the Gloss. to the Babees Book. See Rom. of the Rose, 5971.

1472. Burton mentions 'opium Thebaicum,' which produced stupefaction; Anat. Met. pt. 3. sec. 2. mem. 6. subsec. 2. The words 'Opium Thebaicum' are written in the margin in MSS. E. and Hn.

1477. nedes-cost, for needes coste, by the force of necessity. It seems to be equivalent to M. E. needes-wyse, of necessity. Alre-coste (Icelandic alls-kostar, in all respects) signifies 'in every wise.' It occurs in Old English Homilies (ed. Morris), part i. p. 21: 'We ne maȝen alre-coste halden Crist(es) bibode,' we are not able in every wise to keep Christ's behests. The right reading in Leg. Good Women, 2697, is:—

'And nedes cost this thing mot have an ende.'


1494. A beautiful line; but copied from Dante, Purg. i. 20—'Faceva tutto rider l'oriente.'

1500. See note to l. 1047, where the parallel line from Shakespeare is quoted. And cf. Troil. ii. 112—'And lat us don to May som observaunce.' See the interesting article on May-day Customs in Brand's Popular Antiquities (where the quotation from Stubbes will be found); also Chambers, Book of Days, i. 577, where numerous passages relating to May are cited from old poems. An early passage relative to the 1st of May occurs in the Orologium Sapientiae, printed in Anglia, x. 387:—'And thanne is the custome of dyuerse contrees that yonge folke gone on the nyghte or erely on the morow to Medowes and woddes, and there they kutten downe bowes that haue fayre grene leves, and arayen hem with flowres; and after they setten hem byfore the dores where they trowe to haue amykes [friends?] in her lovers, in token of frendschip and trewe loue.' And see May-day in Nares.

1502. From the Legend of Good Women, 1204.

1508. Were it = if it were only.

1509. So in Troilus, ii. 920:—

'Ful loude sang ayein the mone shene.'


1522. 'Veld haueð hege, and wude haueð heare,' i. e. 'Field hath eye, and wood hath ear.'

'Campus habet lumen, et habet nemus auris acumen.'


This old proverb, with Latin version, occurs in MS. Trin. Coll. Cam. O. 2. 45, and is quoted by Mr. T. Wright in his Essays on England in the Middle Ages, vol. i. p. 168. Cf. Cotgrave's F. Dict. s. v. Oeillet.

'Das Feld hat Augen, der Wald hat Ohren'; Ida von Düringsfeld, Sprichwörter, vol. i. no. 453.

1524. at unset stevene, at a meeting not previously fixed upon, an unexpected meeting or appointment. This was a proverbial saying, as is evident from the way in which it is quoted in Sir Eglamour, 1282 (Thornton Romances, p. 174):—

'Hyt ys sothe seyde, be God of heven,
Mony metyn at on-sett stevyn.'

Cf. 'Wee may chance to meet with Robin Hood
Here att some unsett steven.'
Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne; in Percy's
Reliques of Eng. Poetry.


'Thei setten steuen,' they made an appointment; Knight de la Tour-Landry, ch. iii. And see below, The Cokes Tale:

'And ther they setten steven for to mete'; A. 4383.


1531. hir queynte geres, their strange behaviours.

1532. Now in the top (i. e. elevated, in high spirits), now down in the briars (i. e. depressed, in low spirits).

'Allas! where is this worldes stabilnesse?
Here up, here doune; here honour, here repreef;
Now hale, now sike; now bounté, now myscheef.'
Occleve, De Reg. Princip. p. 2.


1533. boket in a welle. Cf. Shakespeare's Richard II., iv. 1. 184. 'Like so many buckets in a well; as one riseth another falleth, one's empty, another's full.'—Burton's Anat. of Mel. p. 33.

1536. gery, changeable; so also gerful in l. 1538. Observe also the sb. gere, a changeable mood, in ll. 1372, 1531, and Book of the Duchesse, 1257. This very scarce word deserves illustration. Mätzner's Dictionary gives us some examples.

'By revolucion and turning of the yere
A gery March his stondis doth disclose,
Nowe reyne, nowe storme, nowe Phebus bright and clere.'
Lydgate, Minor Poems, p. 24.


'Her gery Iaces,' their changeful ribands; Richard Redeless, iii. 130.

'Now gerysshe, glad and anoon aftir wrothe.'
Lydgate, Minor Poems, p. 245.


'In gerysshe Marche'; id. 243. 'Gerysshe, wylde or lyght-headed'; Palsgrave's Dict., p. 313. In Skelton's poem of Ware the Hauke (ed. Dyce, i. 157) we find:—

'His seconde hawke wexid gery,
And was with flying wery.'


Dyce, in his note upon the word, quotes two passages from Lydgate's Fall of Princes, B. iii. c. 10. leaf 77, and B. vi. c. 1. leaf 134.

'Howe gery fortune, furyous and wode.'

'And, as a swalowe geryshe of her flyghte,
Twene slowe and swyfte, now croked, now upright.'


Two more occur in the same, B. iii. c. 8, and B. iv. c. 8.

'The gery Romayns, stormy and unstable.'

'The geryshe quene, of chere and face double.'


See also in his Siege of Troye, ed. 1555, fol. B 6, back, col. 2; &c.

1539. A writer in Notes and Queries quotes the following Devonshire proverb: 'Fridays in the week are never aleek,' i. e. Fridays are unlike other days.

'Vendredy de la semaine est
Le plus beau ou le plus laid';
Recueil des Contes, par A. Jubinal, p. 375.


1566. Compare Legend of Good Women, 2629:—

'Sin first that day that shapen was my sherte,
Or by the fatal sustren had my dom.'


So also in Troil. iii. 733.

1593. I drede noght, I have no fear, I doubt not.

1594. outher ... or = either ... or.

1609. To darreyne hir, to decide the right to her. Spenser is very fond of this word; see F. Q. i. 4. 40; i. 7. 11; ii. 2. 26; iii. i. 20; iv. 4. 26, 5. 24; v. 2. 15; vi. 7. 41. See deraisnier in Godefroy's O. Fr. Dict.

1622. to borwe. This expression has the same force as to wedde, in pledge. See l. 1218.

1625. The expression 'sooth is seyd' shews that Chaucer is here introducing a quotation. The original passage is the following, from the Roman de la Rose, 8487:—

'Bien savoient cele parole,
Qui n'est mençongiere ne fole:
Qu'onques Amor et Seignorie
Ne s'entrefirent companie,
Ne ne demorerent ensemble.'


Again, the expression 'cele parole' shews that Jean de Meun is also here quoting from another, viz. from Ovid, Met. ii. 846:—

'Non bene conueniunt, nec in una sede morantur
Maiestas et Amor.'


1626. his thankes, willingly, with good-will; cf. l. 2107. Cf. M. E. myn unthonkes = ingratis. 'He faught with them in batayle their unthankes'; Hardyng's Chronicle, p. 112.—M.

1638. Cf. Teseide, vii. 106, 119; Statius, Theb. iv. 494-9.

1654. Foynen, thrust, push. It is a mistake to explain this, as usual, by 'fence,' as fence (= defence) suggests parrying; whereas foinen means to thrust or push, as in attack, not as in defence. It occurs again in l. 2550. Hence it is commonly used of the pushing with spears.

'With speres ferisly [fiercely] they foynede.'
Sir Degrevant, 274 (Thornton, Rom. p. 188).


Strutt (Sports and Pastimes, bk. iii. c. 1. § 32) explains that a thrust is more dangerous than a cut, and quotes the old advice, that 'to foyne is better than to smyte.' 'And there kyng Arthur smote syr Mordred vnder the shelde wyth a foyne of his spere thorughoute the body more than a fadom'; Sir T. Malory, Morte Darthur, bk. xxi. c. 4. This was a foine indeed!

1656. Deficient in the first foot. Scan:—In | his fight | ing, &c. The usual insertion of as before a is wholly unauthorised.

1665. hath seyn biforn, hath foreseen. Cf. Teseide, vi. 1.

1668. From the Teseide, v. 77. Compare the medieval proverb:—'Hoc facit una dies quod totus denegat annus.' Quoted in Die älteste deutsche Litteratur; by Paul Piper (1884); p. 283.

1676. ther daweth him no day, no day dawns upon him.

1678. hunte, hunter, huntsman; whence Hunt as a surname. I find this form as late as in Gascoigne's Art of Venerie: 'I am the Hunte'; Works, ed. Hazlitt, ii. 306.

1698. Similarly, Adrastus stopped the fight between Tydeus and Polynices; Statius, Theb. i. Lydgate describes this in his Siege of Thebes, pt. ii, and takes occasion to borrow several expressions from this part of the Knightes Tale.

1706. Ho, an exclamation made by heralds, to stop the fight. It was also used to enjoin silence. See ll. 2533, 2656; Troil. iv. 1242.

1707. Up peyne is the old phrase; as in 'up peyne of emprisonement of 40 days'; Riley's Memorials of London, p. 580.

1736. it am I. 'This is the regular construction in early English. In modern English the pronoun it is regarded as the direct nominative, and I as forming part of the predicate.'—M.

1739. 'Therefore I ask my death and my doom.'

1747. Mars the rede. Boccaccio uses the same epithet in the opening of his Teseide, i. 3: 'O Marte rubicondo.' Rede refers to the colour of the planet; cf. Anelida, 1.

1761. This line occurs again three times; March. Tale E. 1986; Squieres Tale, F. 479; Legend of Good Women, 503.

1780. can no divisoun, knows no distinction.

1781. after oon = after one mode, according to the same rule.

1783. eyen lighte, cheerful looks.

1785. See the Romaunt of the Rose, 878-884; vol. i. p. 130.

1799. 'Amare et Sapere vix Deo conceditur.'—Publius Syrus, Sent. 15. Cf. Adv. of Learning, ii. proem. § 15—'It is not granted to man to love and to be wise'; ed. Wright, p. 84. So also in Bacon's 10th Essay. The reading here given is correct. Fool is used with great emphasis; the sense is:—'Who can be a (complete) fool, unless he is in love?' The old printed editions have the same reading. The Harl. MS. alone has if that for but-if, giving the sense: 'Who can be fool, if he is in love?' As this is absurd, Mr. Wright silently inserted not after may, and is followed by Bell and Morris; but the latter prints not in italics. Observe that the line is deficient in the first foot. Read:—Whó | may bé | a fóol, &c.

1807. jolitee, joyfulness—said of course ironically.

1808. Can ... thank, acknowledges an obligation, owes thanks.

1814. a servant, i. e. a lover. This sense of servant, as a term of gallantry, is common in our dramatists.

1815, 1818. Cf. the Teseide, v. 92.

1837. looth or leef, displeasing or pleasing.

1838. pypen in an ivy leef is an expression like 'blow the buck's-horn' in A. 3387, meaning to console oneself with any frivolous employment; it occurs again in Troilus, v. 1433. Cf. the expression 'to go and whistle.' Cf. 'farwel the gardiner; he may pipe with an yue-leafe; his fruite is failed'; Test. of Love, bk. iii; ed. 1561, fol. 316. Boys still blow against a leaf, and produce a squeak. Lydgate uses similar expressions:—

'But let his brother blowe in an horn,
Where that him list, or pipe in a reede.'
Destruction of Thebes, part ii.


Again, in Hazlitt's Proverbs, we find 'To go blow one's flute,' which is taken from an old proverb. In Vox Populi Vox Dei (circa 1547), pr. in Hazlitt's Popular Poetry, iii. 284, are the lines:—

'When thei have any sute,
Thei maye goo blowe theire flute,
This goithe the comon brute.'


The custom is old. Cf. Zenobius, i. 19 (Paroem. Graec. I. p. 6):—

ᾄδειν πρὸς μυρρίνην· ἔθος ἦν τὸν μὴ δυνάμενον ἐν τοῖς συμποσίοις ᾆσαι, δάφνης κλῶνα ἤ μυρρίνης λαβόντα πρὸς τοῦτον ᾄδειν.

1850. fer ne ner, farther nor nearer, neither more nor less. 'After some little trouble, I have arrived at the conclusion that Chaucer has given us sufficient data for ascertaining both the days of the month and of the week of many of the principal events of the "Knightes Tale." The following scheme will explain many things hitherto unnoticed.

'On Friday, May 4, before 1 A.M., Palamon breaks out of prison. For (l. 1463) it was during the "third night of May, but (l. 1467) a little after midnight." That it was Friday is evident also, from observing that Palamon hides himself at day's approach, whilst Arcite rises "for to doon his observance to May, remembring on the poynt of his desyr." To do this best, he would go into the fields at sunrise (l. 1491), during the hour dedicated to Venus, i. e. during the hour after sunrise on a Friday. If however this seem for a moment doubtful, all doubt is removed by the following lines:—

"Right as the Friday, soothly for to telle,
Now it shyneth, now it reyneth faste,
Right so gan gery Venus overcaste
The hertes of hir folk; right as hir day
Is gerful, right so chaungeth she array.
Selde is the Friday al the wyke ylyke."


'All this is very little to the point unless we suppose Friday to be the day. Or, if the reader have still any doubt about this, let him observe the curious accumulation of evidence which is to follow.

'Palamon and Arcite meet, and a duel is arranged for an early hour on the day following. That is, they meet on Saturday, May 5. But, as Saturday is presided over by the inauspicious planet Saturn, it is no wonder that they are both unfortunate enough to have their duel interrupted by Theseus, and to find themselves threatened with death. Still, at the intercession of the queen and Emily, a day of assembly for a tournament is fixed for "this day fifty wykes" (l. 1850). Now we must understand "fifty wykes" to be a poetical expression for a year. This is not mere supposition, however, but a certainty; because the appointed day was in the month of May, whereas fifty weeks and no more would land us in April. Then "this day fyfty wekes" means "this day year," viz. on May 5. [In fact, Boccaccio has 'un anno intero'; Tes. v. 98.]

'Now, in the year following (supposed not a leap-year), the 5th of May would be Sunday. But this we are expressly told in l. 2188. It must be noted, however, that this is not the day of the tournament[1], but of the muster for it, as may be gleaned from ll. 1850-1854 and 2096. The eleventh hour "inequal" of Sunday night, or the second hour before sunrise of Monday, is dedicated to Venus, as explained by Tyrwhitt (l. 2217); and therefore Palamon then goes to the temple of Venus. The next hour is dedicated to Mercury. The third hour, the first after sunrise on Monday, is dedicated to Luna or Diana, and during this Emily goes to Diana's temple. The fourth after sunrise is dedicated to Mars, and therefore Arcite then goes to the temple of Mars. But the rest of the day is spent merely in jousting and preparations—

"Al that Monday justen they and daunce." (l. 2486.)


The tournament therefore takes place on Tuesday, May 7, on the day of the week presided over by Mars, as was very fitting; and this perhaps helps to explain Saturn's exclamation in l. 2669, "Mars hath his wille."'—Walter W. Skeat, in Notes and Queries, Fourth Series, ii. 2, 3; Sept. 12, 1868 (since slightly corrected).

To this was added the observation, that May 5 was on a Saturday in 1386, and on a Sunday in 1387. Ten Brink (Studien, p. 189) thinks it is of no value; but the coincidence is curious.

1866. 'Except that one of you shall be either slain or taken prisoner'; i. e. one of you must be fairly conquered.

1884. listes, lists. 'The lists for the tilts and tournaments resembled those, I doubt not, appointed for the ordeal combats, which, according to the rules established by Thomas, duke of Gloucester, uncle to Richard II., were as follows. The king shall find the field to fight in, and the lists shall be made and devised by the constable; and it is to be observed, that the list must be 60 paces long and 40 paces broad, set up in good order, and the ground within hard, stable, and level, without any great stones or other impediments; also, that the lists must be made with one door to the east, and another to the west [see ll. 1893, 4]; and strongly barred about with good bars 7 feet high or more, so that a horse may not be able to leap over them.'—Strutt, Sports and Pastimes; bk. iii. c. 1. § 23.

1889. The various parts of this round theatre are subsequently described. On the North was the turret of Diana, with an oratory; on the East the gate of Venus, with altar and oratory above; on the West the gate of Mars, similarly provided.

1890. Ful of degrees, full of steps (placed one above another, as in an amphitheatre). 'But now they have gone a nearer way to the wood, for with wooden galleries in the church that they have, and stairy degrees of seats in them, they make as much room to sit and hear, as a new west end would have done.'—Nash's Red Herring, p. 21. See Shakespeare, Julius Cæsar, ii. 126, and also 2 Kings xx. 9. Cf. 'While she stey up from gre to gre.'—Lives of Saints, Roxb. Club, p. 59. Lines 1187-1894 are more or less imitated from the Teseide, vii. 108-110.

1910. Coral is a curious material to use for such a purpose; but we find posts of coral and a palace chiefly formed of coral and metal in Guy of Warwick, ed. Zupitza, 11399-11401.

1913. don wroght, caused (to be) made; observe this idiom. Cf. don yow kept, E. 1098; han doon fraught, B. 171; haf gert saltit, Bruce, xviii. 168.

1918-32. See the analysis of this passage in vol. iii. p. 390.

1919. on the wal, viz. on the walls within the oratory. The description is loosely imitated from Boccaccio's Teseide, vii. 55-59. It is remarkable that there is a much closer imitation of the same passage in Chaucer's Parl. of Foules, ll. 183-294. Thus at l. 246 of that poem we find:—

'Within the temple, of syghes hote as fyr,
I herde a swogh, that gan aboute renne;
Which syghes were engendred with desyr,
That maden every auter for to brenne
Of newe flaume; and wel aspyed I thenne
That al the cause of sorwes that they drye
Com of the bitter goddesse Ialousye.'


There is yet another description of the temple of Venus in the House of Fame, 119-139, where we have the very line 'Naked fletinge in a see' (cf. l. 1956 below), and a mention of the 'rose garlond' (cf. l. 1961), and of 'Hir dowves and daun Cupido' (cf. ll. 1962-3).

1929. golde, a marigold; Calendula. 'Goolde, herbe: Solsequium, quia sequitur solem, elitropium, calendula'; Prompt. Parv. The corn-marigold in the North is called goulans, guilde, or goles, and in the South, golds (Way). Gower says that Leucothea was changed

'Into a floure was named golde,
Which stant governed of the sonne.'
Conf. Am., ed. Pauli, ii. 356.


Yellow is the colour of jealousy; see Yellowness in Nares. In the Rom. de la Rose, 22037, Jealousy is described as wearing a 'chapel de soussie,' i. e. a chaplet of marigolds.

1936. Citheroun = Cithaeron, sacred to Venus; as said in the Rom. de la Rose, 15865, q.v.

1940. In the Romaunt of the Rose, Idleness is the porter of the garden in which the rose (Beauty) is kept. In the Parl. of Foules, 261, the porter's name is Richesse. Cf. ll. 2, 3 of the Second Nonnes Tale (G. 2, 3).

1941. of yore agon, of years gone by. Cf. Ovid, Met. iii. 407.

1953-4. Imitated from Le Roman de la Rose, 16891-2.

1955. The description of Venus here given has some resemblance to that given in cap. v (De Venere) of Albrici Philosophi De Deorum Imaginibus Libellus, in an edition of the Mythographi Latini, Amsterdam, 1681, vol. ii. p. 304. I transcribe as much as is material. 'Pingebatur Venus pulcherrima puella, nuda, et in mari natans; et in manu sua dextra concham marinam tenens atque gestans; rosisque candidis et rubris sertum gerebat in capite ornatum, et columbis circa se volando, comitabatur.... Hinc et Cupido filius suus alatus et caecus assistebat, qui sagitta et arcu, quos tenebat, Apollinem sagittabat.' It is clear that Chaucer had consulted some such description as this; see further in the note to l. 2041.

1958. Cf. 'wawes ... clere as glas'; Boeth. bk. i. met. 7. 4.

1971. estres, the inner parts of a building; as also in A. 4295 and Leg. of Good Women, 1715. 'To spere the estyrs of Rome'; Le Bone Florence, 293; in Ritson, Met. Rom. iii. 13. See also Cursor Mundi, 2252.

'For thow knowest better then I
Al the estris of this house.'
Pardoner and Tapster, 556; pr. with Tale of Beryn (below).


'His sportis [portes?] and his estris'; Tale of Beryn, ed. Furnivall, 837. Cf. 'Qu'il set bien de l'ostel les estres'; Rom. de la Rose, 12720; and see Rom. of the Rose, 1448 (vol. i. p. 153).

By mistaking the long s (ſ) for f, this word has been misprinted as eftures in the following: 'Pleaseth it yow to see the eftures of this castel?'—Sir Thomas Malory, Mort Arthure, b. xix. c. 7.

1979. a rumbel and a swough, a rumbling and a sound of wind.

1982. Mars armipotente.

'O thou rede Marz armypotente,
That in the trende baye hase made thy throne;
That God arte of bataile and regent,
And rulist all that alone;
To whom I profre precious present,
To the makande my moone
With herte, body and alle myn entente,
......
In worshipe of thy reverence
On thyn owen Tewesdaye.'
Sowdone of Babyloyne, ll. 939-953.


The word armipotent is borrowed from Boccaccio's armipotente, in the Teseide, vii. 32. Other similar borrowings occur hereabouts, too numerous for mention. Note that this description of the temple of Mars once belonged to the end of the poem of Anelida, which see.

Let the reader take particular notice that the temple here described (ll. 1982-1994) is merely a painted temple, depicted on one of the walls inside the oratory of Mars. The walls of the other temples had paintings similar to those inside the temple of which the outside is here depicted. Chaucer describes the painted temple as if it were real, which is somewhat confusing. Inconsistent additions were made in revision.

1984. streit, narrow; 'la stretta entrata'; Tes. vii. 32.

1985. vese is glossed impetus in the Ellesmere MS., and means 'rush' or 'hurrying blast.' It is allied to M.E. fesen, to drive, which is Shakespeare's pheeze. Copied from 'salit Impetus amens E foribus'; Theb. vii. 47, 48.

1986. rese = to shake, quake. 'Þe eorðe gon to-rusien,' 'the earth gan to shake.'—Laȝamon, l. 15946. To resye, to shake, occurs in Ayenbite of Inwyt, pp. 23, 116. Cf. also—'The tre aresede as hit wold falle'; Seven Sages, ed. Weber, l. 915. A.S. hrysian.

1987. 'I suppose the northern light is the aurora borealis, but this phenomenon is so rarely mentioned by mediaeval writers, that it may be questioned whether Chaucer meant anything more than the faint and cold illumination received by reflexion through the door of an apartment fronting the north.' (Marsh.) The fact is, however, that Chaucer here copies Statius, Theb. vii. 40-58; see the translation in the note to l. 2017 below. The 'northern light' seems to be an incorrect rendering of 'aduersum Phoebi iubar'; l. 45.

1990. 'E le porte eran d'eterno diamante'; Teseide, vii. 32. Such is the reading given by Warton. However, the ultimate source is the phrase in Statius—'adamante perenni ... fores'; Theb. vii. 68.

1991. overthwart, &c., across and along (i. e. from top to bottom). The same phrase occurs in Rich. Coer de Lion, 2649, in Weber, Met. Romances, ii. 104.

1997, 8. Cf. the Teseide, vii. 33:—

'Videvi l' Ire rosse, come fuoco,
E le Paure pallide in quel loco.'


But Chaucer follows Statius still more closely. Ll. 1195-2012 answer to Theb. vii. 48-53:—

—'caecumque Nefas, Iraeque rubentes,
Exsanguesque Metus, occultisque ensibus astant
Insidiae, geminumque tenens Discordia ferrum.
Innumeris strepit aula minis; tristissima Virtus
Stat medio, laetusque Furor, uultuque cruento
Mars armata sedet.'


1999. Cf. Rom. of the Rose, 7419-20.

2001. See Chaucer's Legend of Hypermnestra.

2003. 'Discordia, contake'; Glossary in Reliquiae Antiquae, i. 7.

2004. chirking is used of grating and creaking sounds; and sometimes, of the cry of birds. The Lansd. MS. has schrikeinge (shrieking). See House of Fame, iii. 853 (or 1943). In Batman upon Bartholomè, lib. viii. c. 29, the music of the spheres is attributed to the 'cherkyng of the mouing of the circles, and of the roundnes of heauen.' In Chaucer's tr. of Boethius, bk. i. met. 6, it is an adj., and translates stridens. Cf. D. 1804, I. 605.

2007. This line contains an allusion to the death of Sisera, Judges iv. But Dr. Koch has pointed out (Essays on Chaucer, Chaucer Soc. iv. 371) that we have here some proof that Chaucer may have altered his first draft of the poem without taking sufficient heed to what he was about. The original line may have stood—

'The sleer of her husband saw I there'—


or something of that kind; for the reason that no suicide has ever yet been known to drive a nail into his own head. That a wife might do so to her husband is Chaucer's own statement; for, in the Cant. Tales, D. 765-770, we find—

'Of latter date, of wives hath he red,
That somme han slayn hir housbondes in hir bed ...
And somme han drive nayles in hir brayn,
Whyl that they slepte, and thus they han hem slayn.'


Of course it may be said that l. 2006 is entirely independent of l. 2007, and I have punctuated the text so as to suit this arrangement; but the suggestion is worth notice.

2011. From Tes. vii. 35:—'Videvi ancora l'allegro Furore.'—Kölbing.

2017. hoppesteres. Speght explains this word by pilots (gubernaculum tenentes); Tyrwhitt, female dancers (Ital. ballatrice). Others explain it hopposteres = opposteres = opposing, hostile, so that schippes hoppesteres = bellatrices carinae (Statius). As, however, it is impossible to suppose that even opposteres without the h can ever have been formed from the verb to oppose, the most likely solution is that Chaucer mistook the word bellatrices in Statius (vii. 57) or the corresponding Ital. word bellatrici in the Teseide, vii. 37, for ballatrices or ballatrici, which might be supposed to mean 'female dancers'; an expression which would exactly correspond to an M. E. form hoppesteres, from the A. S. hoppestre, a female dancer. Herodias' daughter is mentioned (in the dative case) as þære lyðran hoppystran (better spelt hoppestran) in Ælfric's A. S. Homilies, ed. Thorpe, i. 484. Hence shippes hoppesteres simply means 'dancing ships.' Shakespeare likens the English fleet to 'A city on the inconstant billows dancing'; Hen. V. iii. prol. 15. Cf. O. F. baleresse, a female dancer, in Godefroy's Dict., s. v. baleor. In § 55 of Cl. Ptolomaei Centum Dicta, printed at Ulm in 1641, we are told that Mars is hostile to ships when in the zenith or the eleventh house. 'Incendetur autem nauis, si ascendens ab aliqua stella fixa quae ex Martis mixtura sit, affligetur.' So that, if a fixed star co-operated with Mars, the ships were burnt.

The following extract from Lewis' translation of Statius' Thebaid, bk. vii., is of some interest:—

'Beneath the fronting height of Æmus stood
The fane of Mars, encompass'd by a wood.
The mansion, rear'd by more than mortal hands,
On columns fram'd of polish'd iron stands;
The well-compacted walls are plated o'er
With the same metal; just without the door
A thousand Furies frown. The dreadful gleam,
That issues from the sides, reflects the beam
Of adverse Phœbus, and with cheerless light
Saddens the day, and starry host of night.
Well his attendants suit the dreary place;
First frantic Passion, Wrath with redd'ning face,
And Mischief blind from forth the threshold start;
Within lurks pallid Fear with quiv'ring heart,
Discord, a two-edged falchion in her hand,
And Treach'ry, striving to conceal the brand.'


2020. for al, notwithstanding. Cf. Piers the Plowman, B. xix. 274.

2021. infortune of Marte. 'Tyrwhitt thinks that Chaucer might intend to be satirical in these lines; but the introduction of such apparently undignified incidents arose from the confusion already mentioned of the god of war with the planet to which his name was given, and the influence of which was supposed to produce all the disasters here mentioned. The following extract from the Compost of Ptolemeus gives some of the supposed effects of Mars:—"Under Mars is borne theves and robbers that kepe hye wayes, and do hurte to true men, and nyght-walkers, and quarell-pykers, bosters, mockers, and skoffers, and these men of Mars causeth warre and murther, and batayle; they wyll be gladly smythes or workers of yron, lyght-fyngred, and lyers, gret swerers of othes in vengeable wyse, and a great surmyler and crafty. He is red and angry, with blacke heer, and lytell iyen; he shall be a great walker, and a maker of swordes and knyves, and a sheder of mannes blode, and a fornycatour, and a speker of rybawdry ... and good to be a barboure and a blode-letter, and to drawe tethe, and is peryllous of his handes." The following extract is from an old astrological book of the sixteenth century:—"Mars denoteth men with red faces and the skinne redde, the face round, the eyes yellow, horrible to behold, furious men, cruell, desperate, proude, sedicious, souldiers, captaines, smythes, colliers, bakers, alcumistes, armourers, furnishers, butchers, chirurgions, barbers, sargiants, and hangmen, according as they shal be well or evill disposed."'—Wright. So also in Cornelius Agrippa, De Occulta Philosophia, lib. i. c. 22. Chaucer has 'cruel Mars' in The Man of Lawes Tale, B. 301; and cf. note to A. 1087.

2022. From Statius, Theb. vii. 58:—

'Et uacui currus, protritaque curribus ora.'


2029. For the story of Damocles, see Cicero, Tuscul. 5. 61; cf. Horace, Od. iii. 1. 17. And see Chaucer's tr. of Boethius, bk. iii. pr. 5. 17. Most likely Chaucer got it from Boethius or from the Gesta Romanorum, cap. 143, since the name of Damocles is omitted.

2037. sterres (Harl.) Elles. &c. have certres (sertres); but this strange reading can hardly be other than a mistake for sterres, which is proved to be the right word by the parallel passage in The Man of Lawes Tale, B. 194-6.

2041. In the note to l. 1955, I have quoted part of cap. v. of a work by Albricus. In cap. iii. (De Marte) of the same, we have a description of Mars, which should be compared. I quote all that is material. 'Erat enim eius figura tanquam unius hominis furibundi, in curru sedens, armatus lorica, et caeteris armis offensiuis et defensiuis.... Ante illum uero lupus ouem portans pingebatur, quia illud scilicet animal ab antiquis gentibus ipsi Marti specialiter consecratum est. Iste enim Mauors est, id est mares uorans, eo quod bellorum deus a gentibus dictus est.' Chaucer seems to have taken the notion of the wolf devouring a man from this singular etymology of Mauors.

In cap. vii. (De Diana) of the same, there is a description of 'Diana, quae et Luna, Proserpina, Hecate nuncupatur.' Cf. l. 2313 below.

2045. 'The names of two figures in geomancy, representing two constellations in heaven. Puella signifieth Mars retrogade, and Rubeus Mars direct.'—Note in Speght's Chaucer. It is obvious that this explanation is wrong as regards 'Mars retrograde' and 'Mars direct,' because a constellation cannot represent a single planet. It happens to be also wrong as regards 'constellations in heaven.' But Speght is correct in the main point, viz., that Puella and Rubeus are 'the names of two figures in geomancy.' Geomancy was described, under the title of 'Divination by Spotting,' in The Saturday Review, Feb. 16, 1889. To form geomantic figures, proceed thus. Take a pencil, and hurriedly jot down on a paper a number of dots in a line, without counting them. Do the same three times more. Now count the dots, to see whether they are odd or even. If the dots in a line are odd, put down one dot on another small paper, half-way across it. If they are even, put down two dots, one towards each side; arranging the results in four rows, one beneath the other.

Three of the figures thus formed require our attention; the whole number being sixteen. Fig. 1 results from the dots being odd, even, odd, odd. Fig. 2, from even, odd, even, even. Fig. 3, from odd, odd, even, odd. These (as well as the rest of the sixteen figures) are given in Cornelius Agrippa, De Occulta Philosophia, lib. ii. cap. 48: De Figuris Geomanticis. Each 'Figure' had a 'Name,' belonged to an 'Element,' and possessed a 'Planet' and a Zodiacal 'Sign.' Cornelius Agrippa gives our three 'figures' as below.

    *        *   *        *
  *   *        *          *
    *        *   *      *   *
    *        *   *        *

Fig. 1 (Puella). Fig. 2 (Rubeus). Fig. 3 (Puer). That is, Fig. 1 is 'Puella,' or 'Mundus facie'; element, water; planet, Venus; sign, Libra.

Fig. 2 is 'Rubeus' or 'Rufus'; element, fire; planet, Mars; sign, Gemini.

Fig. 3 is 'Puer,' or 'Flavus,' or 'Imberbis'; element, fire; planet, Mars; sign, Aries.

Chaucer (or some one else) seems to have confused figures 1 and 3, or Puer with Puella; for Puella was dedicated to Venus. Rubeus is clearly right, as Mars was the red planet (l. 1747). I first explained this, somewhat more fully, in The Academy, March 2, 1889.

2049. From Tes. vii. 38:—'E tal ricetto edificato avea Mulcibero sottil colla sua arte.'—Kölbing, in Engl. Studien, ii. 528.

2056. Calistopee = Callisto, a daughter of Lycaon, King of Arcadia, and companion of Diana. See Ovid's Fasti, ii. 153; Gower, Conf. Amantis, ed. Pauli, ii. 336.

2059, 2061. 'Cf. Ovid's Fasti, ii. 153-192; especially 189, 190,

"Signa propinqua micant. Prior est, quam dicimus Arcton,
Arctophylax formam terga sequentis habet."


The nymph Callisto was changed into Arctos or the Great Bear; hence "Vrsa Maior" is written in the margin of E. Hn. Cp. Ln. This was sometimes confused with the other Arctos or Lesser Bear, in which was situate the lodestar or Polestar. Chaucer has followed this error. Callisto's son, Arcas, was changed into Arctophylax or Boötes: here again Chaucer says a sterre, when he means a whole constellation; as, perhaps, he does in other passages.'—Chaucer's Astrolabe, ed. Skeat (E. E. T. S.), pp. xlviii, xlix.

2062, 2064. Dane = Daphne, a girl beloved by Apollo, and changed into a laurel. See Ovid's Metamorph. i. 450; Gower, Conf. Amantis, ed. Pauli, i. 336; Troilus, iii. 726.

2065. Attheon = Actaeon. See Ovid's Metamorph. iii. 138.

2070. Atthalante = Atalanta. See Ovid's Metamorph. x. 560; and Troilus, v. 1471.

2074. nat drawen to memorie = not draw to memory, not call to mind.

2079. Cf. 'gawdy greene. subviridis'; Prompt. Parv. This gaudè has nothing whatever to do with the E. sb. gaud, but answers to F. gaudé, the pp. of the verb gauder, to dye with weld; from the F. sb. gaude, weld. As to weld, see my note to The Former Age, 17; in vol. i. p. 540. Littré has an excellent example of the word: 'Les bleus teints en indigo doivent être gaudés, et ils deviennent verts.'

2086. thou mayst best, art best able to help, thou hast most power. Lucina was a title both of Juno and Diana; see Vergil, Ecl. iv. 10.

2112. Here paramours is used adverbially, like paramour in l. 1155. From Le Roman de la Rose, 20984:—'Jamès par amors n'ameroit.'

2115. benedicite is here pronounced as a trisyllable, viz. ben'cite. It usually is so, though five syllables in l. 1785. Cf. benste in Towneley Myst. p. 85. Cf. 'What, liveth nat thy lady, benedicite!' Troil. i. 780. Benedicite is equivalent to 'thank God,' and was used in saying graces. See Babees Book, pp. 382, 386; and Appendix, p. 9.

2125. This line seems to mean that there is nothing new under the sun.

2129. This is the 're Licurgo' of the Teseide, vi. 14; and the Lycurgus of the Thebaid, iv. 386, and of Homer, Il. vi. 130. But the description of him is partly taken from that of another warrior, Tes. vi. 21, 22. It is worth notice that, in Lydgate's Story of Thebes, pt. iii., king Ligurgus or Licurgus (the name is spelt both ways) is introduced, and Lydgate has the following remark concerning him:—

'And the kingdom, but-if bokes lye,
Of Ligurgus, called was Trace;
And, as I rede in another place,
He was the same mighty champion
To Athenes that cam with Palamon
Ayenst his brother (!) that called was Arcite,
Y-led in his chare with foure boles whyte,
Upon his bed a wreth of gold ful fyn.'


The term brother must refer to l. 1147 above. See further, as to Lycurgus, in the note to Leg. Good Women, 2423, in vol. iii. p. 344.

2134. 'kempe heres, shaggy, rough hairs. Tyrwhitt and subsequent editors have taken for granted that kempe = kemped, combed (an impossible equation); but kempe is rather the reverse of this, and instead of smoothly combed, means bristly, rough, or shaggy. In an Early English poem it is said of Nebuchadnezzar that

"Holghe (hollow) were his yghen anunder (under) campe hores."
Early Eng. Alliterative Poems, p. 85, l. 1695.


Campe hores = shaggy hairs (about the eyebrows), and corresponds exactly in form and meaning to kempe heres,'—M. See Glossary.

2141. I. e. the nails of the bear were yellow. In Cutts, Scenes and Characters of the Middle Ages, p. 345, the bad guess is hazarded that these 'nails' were metal studs. But Chaucer was doubtless thinking of the tiger's skin described in the Thebaid, vi. 722:—

'Tunc genitus Talao uictori tigrin inanem
Ire iubet, fuluo quae circumfusa nitebat
Margine, et extremes auro mansueuerat ungues.'


Lewis translates the last line by:—'The sharpness of the claws was dulled with gold.'

2142. for-old, very old. See next note.

2144. for-blak is generally explained as for blackness; it means very black. Cf. fordrye, very dry, in F. 409.

2148. alaunts, mastiffs or wolf-hounds. Florio has: 'Alano, a mastiue dog.' Cotgrave: 'Allan, a kind of big, strong, thickheaded, and short-snowted dog; the brood where-of came first out of Albania (old Epirus).' Pineda's Span. Dict. gives: 'Alano, a mastiff dog, particularly a bull dog; also, an Alan, one of that nation.' This refers to the tribe of Alani, a nation of warlike horsemen, first found in Albania. They afterwards became allies, first of the Huns, and afterwards of the Visi-Goths. It is thus highly probable that Alaunt (in which the t is obviously a later addition) signifies 'an Alanian dog,' which agrees with Cotgrave's explanation. Smith's Classical Dict. derives Alanus, said to mean 'mountaineer,' from a Sarmatian word ala.

The alaunt is described in the Maister of the Game, c. 16. We there learn they were of all colours, and frequently white with a black spot about the ears.

2152. Colers of, having collars of. Some MSS. read Colerd of, which I now believe to be right. Collared was an heraldic term, used of greyhounds, &c.; see the New Eng. Dict. This leaves an awkward construction, as torets seems to be governed by with. See Launfal, 965, in Ritson, Met. Rom. i. 212. Cf. 'as they (the Jews) were tied up with girdles ... so were they collared about the neck.'—Fuller's Pisgah Sight of Palestine, p. 524, ed. 1869.

torets, probably eyes in which rings will turn round, because each eye is a little larger than the thickness of the ring. This appears from Chaucer's Astrolabe, i. 2. 1—'This ring renneth in a maner turet,' i. e. in a kind of eye (vol. iii. p. 178). Warton, in his Hist. E. Poet. ed. 1871, ii. 314, gives several instances. It also meant a small loose ring. Cotgrave gives: 'Touret, the annulet, or little ring whereby a hawk's lune is fastened unto the jesses.' 'My lityll bagge of blakke ledyr with a cheyne and toret of siluyr'; Bury Wills, ed. Tymms, p. 16. Cf. E. swivel-ring.

2156. Emetrius is not mentioned either by Statius or by Boccaccio; cf. Tes. vi. 29, 17, 16, 41.

2158. diapred, variegated with flowery or arabesque patterns. See diaspre and diaspré in Godefroy's O. F. Dict.; diasprus and diasperatus in Ducange. In Le Rom. de la Rose, 21205, we find mention of samis diaprés, diapered samites.

2160. cloth of Tars, 'a kind of silk, said to be the same as in other places is called Tartarine (tartarinum), the exact derivation of which appears to be somewhat uncertain.'—Wright. Cf. Piers the Plowman, B. xv. 224, and my note to the same, C. xvii. 299; also Tartarium in Fairholt.

2187. alle and some, 'all and singular,' 'one and all.'

2205. See the Teseide, vi. 8; also Our Eng. Home, 22.

2217. And in hir houre. 'I cannot better illustrate Chaucer's astrology than by a quotation from the old Kalendrier de Bergiers, edit. 1500, Sign. K. ii. b:—"Qui veult savoir comme bergiers scevent quel planete regne chascune heure du jour et de la nuit, doit savoir la planete du jour qui veult s'enquerir; et la premiere heure temporelle du soleil levant ce jour est pour celluy planete, la seconde heure est pour la planete ensuivant, et la tierce pour l'autre," &c., in the following order: viz. Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sol, Venus, Mercury, Luna. To apply this doctrine to the present case, the first hour of the Sunday, reckoning from sunrise, belonged to the Sun, the planet of the day; the second to Venus, the third to Mercury, &c.; and continuing this method of allotment, we shall find that the twenty-second hour also belonged to the Sun, and the twenty-third to Venus; so that the hour of Venus really was, as Chaucer says, two hours before the sunrise of the following day. Accordingly, we are told in l. 2271, that the third hour after Palamon set out for the temple of Venus, the Sun rose, and Emily began to go to the temple of Diane. It is not said that this was the hour of Diane, or the Moon, but it really was; for, as we have just seen, the twenty-third hour of Sunday belonging to Venus, the twenty-fourth must be given to Mercury, and the first hour of Monday falls in course to the Moon, the presiding planet of that day. After this, Arcite is described as walking to the temple of Mars, l. 2367, in the nexte houre of Mars, that is, the fourth hour of the day. It is necessary to take these words together, for the nexte houre, singly, would signify the second hour of the day; but that, according to the rule of rotation mentioned above, belonged to Saturn, as the third did to Jupiter. The fourth was the nexte houre of Mars that occurred after the hour last named.'—Tyrwhitt. Thus Emily is two hours later than Palamon, and Arcite is three hours later than Emily.

2221-64. To be compared with the Teseide, vii. 43-49, and vii. 68.

2224. Adoun, Adonis. See Ovid, Met. x. 503.

2233-6. Imitated from Le Rom. de la Rose, 21355-65, q. v.

2238. 'I care not to boast of arms (success in arms).'

2239. Ne I ne axe, &c., are to be pronounced as ni naxe, &c. So in l. 2630 of this tale, Ne in must be pronounced as nin.

2252. wher I ryde or go, whether I ride or walk.

2253. fyres bete, kindle or light fires. Bete also signifies to mend or make up the fire; see l. 2292.

2271. The thridde hour inequal. 'In the astrological system, the day, from sunrise to sunset, and the night, from sunset to sunrise, being each divided into twelve hours, it is plain that the hours of the day and night were never equal except just at the equinoxes. The hours attributed to the planets were of this unequal sort. See Kalendrier de Berg. loc. cit., and our author's treatise on the Astrolabe.'—Tyrwhitt.

2275-360. Cf. the Teseide, vii. 71-92.

2286. a game, a pleasure.

2288. at his large, at liberty (to speak or to be silent).

2290. 'E coronò di quercia cereale'; Tes. vii. 74. Cerial should be cerrial, as spelt by Dryden, who speaks of 'chaplets green of cerrial oak'; Flower and Leaf, 230. It is from cerreus, adj. of cerrus, also ill-spelt cerris, as in the botanical name Quercus cerris, the Turkey oak. The cup of the acorn is prickly; see Pliny, bk. xvi. c. 6.

2294. In Stace of Thebes, in the Thebaid of Statius, where the reader will not find it. Cf. the Teseide, vii. 72.

2303. aboughte, atoned for. Attheon, Actaeon; Ovid, Met. iii. 230.

2313. thre formes. Diana is called Diva Triformis;—in heaven, Luna; on earth, Diana and Lucina, and in hell, Proserpina. See note to l. 2041.

2336. Cf. Statius, Theb. viii. 632:—'Omina cernebam, subitusque intercidit ignis.'

2365. the nexte waye, the nearest way. Cf. the Teseide, vii. 93.

2368. walked is, has walked. See note to l. 2217.

2371-434. Cf. the Teseide, vii. 23-28, 39-41.

2388. For the story, see Ovid, Met. iv. 171-189; and, in particular, cf. Rom. de la Rose, 14064, where Venus is said to be 'prise et lacie.'

2395. lyves creature, creature alive, living creature.

2397. See Compl. of Anelida, 182; cf. Compl. to his Lady, 52.

2405. do, bring it about, cause it to come to pass.

2422-34. From Tes. vii. 39, 40; there are several verbal resemblances here.—Kölbing.

2437. 'As joyful as the bird is of the bright sun.' So in Piers Pl., B. x. 153. It was a common proverb.

2438-41. Cf. the Teseide, vii. 67.

2443. Cf. 'the olde colde Saturnus'; tr. of Boethius, bk. iv. met. 1.

2447-8. From Le Rom. de la Rose, 13022, q. v.

2449. 'Men may outrun old age, but not outwit (surpass its counsel).' Cf. 'Men may the wyse at-renne, but not at-rede.'—Troilus, iv. 1456.

'For of him (the old man) þu migt leren
Listes and fele þewes,
Þe baldure þu migt ben:
Ne for-lere þu his redes,
For þe elder mon me mai of-riden
Betere þenne of-reden.'

'For of him thou mayest learn
Arts and many good habits,
The bolder thou mayest be.
Despise not thou his counsels,
For one may out-ride the old man
Better than out-wit.'


The Proverbs of Alfred, ed. Morris, in an Old Eng. Miscellany, p. 136. And see Solomon and Saturn, ed. Kemble, p. 253.

2451. agayn his kynde. According to the Compost of Ptolemeus, Saturn was influential in producing strife: 'And the children of the sayd Saturne shall be great jangeleres and chyders ... and they will never forgyve tyll they be revenged of theyr quarell.'—Wright.

2454. My cours. The course of the planet Saturn. This refers to the orbit of Saturn, supposed to be the largest of all, until Uranus and Neptune were discovered.

2455. more power. The Compost of Ptolemeus says of Saturn, 'He is mighty of hymself.... It is more than xxx yere or he may ronne his course.... Whan he doth reygne, there is moche debate.'—Wright.

2460. groyning, murmuring, discontent; from F. grogner. See Rom. Rose, 7049; Troil. i. 349.

2462. 'Terribilia mala operatur Leo cum malis; auget enim eorum malitiam.'—Hermetis Aphorismorum Liber, § 66.

2469.

'Er fyue ȝer ben folfult, such famyn schal aryse,
þorw flodes and foul weder, fruites schul fayle,
And so seiþ Saturne, and sent vs to warne.'
P. Plowman, A. vii. 309 (B. vi. 325; C. ix. 347).


2491-525. Cf. the Teseide, vii. 95-99.

2504. Gigginge, fitting or providing (the shield) with straps. Godefroy gives O. F. guige, guigue, a strap for hanging a buckler over the shoulder, a handle of a shield. Cotgrave gives the fem. pl. guiges, 'the handles of a target or shield.' In Mrs. Palliser's Historic Devices, p. 277, she describes a monument in St. Edmund's chapel, in Westminster Abbey, on which are three shields, each with 'the guige or belt of Bourchier knots formed of straps.' In the M. E. word gigginge, both the g's are hard, as in gig (in the sense of a two-wheeled vehicle).

Layneres lacinge, lacing of thongs; see Prompt. Parv., s. v. Lanere.

In Sir Bevis, ed. Kölbing, p. 134, we find—

'Sir Beues was ful glad, iwis,
Hese laynerys [printed layuerys] he took anon,
And fastenyd hys hawberk hym upon.'


2507. Shakespeare seems to have observed this passage; cf. Hen. V. Act 4. prol. 12.

2511. Cf. House of Fame, 1239, 1240:—

'Of hem that maken blody soun
In trumpe, beme, and clarioun.'


Also Tes. viii. 5:—'D'armi, di corni, nacchere e trombette.'

'The Nakkárah or Naqárah was a great kettle-drum, formed like a brazen cauldron, tapering to the bottom, and covered with buffalo-hide, often 3½ or 4 feet in diameter.... The crusades naturalised the word in some form or other in most European languages, but in our own apparently with a transfer of meaning. Wright defines naker as "a cornet or horn of brass," and Chaucer's use seems to countenance this.'—Marco Polo, ed. Yule, i. 303-4; where more is added. But Wright's explanation is a mere guess, and should be rejected. There is no reason for assigning to the word naker any other sense than 'kettle-drum.' Minot (Songs, iv. 80) is explicit:—

'The princes, that war riche on raw,
Gert nakers strike, and trumpes blaw.'


Hence a naker had to be struck, not blown. See also Naker in Halliwell's Dictionary. Boccaccio has the pl. nacchere; see above.

2520. Sparth, battle-axe; Icel. sparða. See Rom. Rose, 5978; Wars of Alexander, ed. Skeat, 1403, 2458; Gawain and Grene Knight, 209; Prompt. Parv. In Trevisa's tr. of Higden, bk. i. ch. 33, we are told that the Norwegians first brought sparths into Ireland. Higden has 'usum securium, qui Anglicè sparth dicitur.'

2537. As to the regulations for tournaments, see Strutt's Sports and Pastimes, bk. iii. c. 1. §§ 16-24; the passages are far too long for quotation. We may, however, compare the following extract, given by Strutt, from MS. Harl. 326. 'All these things donne, thei were embatailed eche ageynste the othir, and the corde drawen before eche partie; and whan the tyme was, the cordes were cutt, and the trumpettes blew up for every man to do his devoir [duty]. And for to assertayne the more of the tourney, there was on eche side a stake; and at eche stake two kyngs of armes, with penne, and inke, and paper, to write the names of all them that were yolden, for they shold no more tournay.' And, from MS. Harl. 69, he quotes that—'no one shall bear a sword, pointed knife, mace, or other weapon, except the sword for the tournament.'

2543-93. Cf. the Teseide, vii. 12, 131-2, 12, 14, 100-2, 113-4, 118, 19. In 2544, shot means arrow or crossbow-bolt.

2546. 'Nor short sword having a biting (sharp) point to stab with.'

2565. Cf. Legend of Good Women, 635:—'Up goth the trompe.'

2568. Cf. King Alisaunder, 189, where we are told that a town was similarly decked to receive queen Olimpias with honour. See Weber's note.

2600-24. Cf. the Teseide, viii. 5, 7, 14, 12, &c.

2602. 'In go the spears full firmly into the rest,'—i. e. the spears were couched ready for the attack.

'Thai layden here speres in areeste,
Togeder thai ronnen as fire of thondere,
That both here launces to-braste;
That they seten, it was grete wonder,
So harde it was that they gan threste;
Tho drowen thai oute here swordes kene,
And smyten togeder by one assente.'
The Sowdone of Babyloyne, l. 1166.


'With spere in thyne arest'; Rom. of the Rose, 7561.

2614. he ... he = one ... another. See Historical Outlines of English Accidence, p. 282. Cf. the parallel passage in the Legend of Good Women, 642-8.

2615. feet. Some MSS. read foot. Tyrwhitt proposed to read foo, foe, enemy; but see l. 2550.

2624. wroght ... wo, done harm to his opponent.

2626. Galgopheye. 'This word is variously written Colaphey, Galgaphey, Galapey. There was a town called Galapha in Mauritania Tingitana, upon the river Malva (Cellar. Geog. Ant. v. ii. p. 935), which perhaps may have given name to the vale here meant.'—Tyrwhitt. But doubtless Chaucer was thinking of the Vale of Gargaphie, where Actæon was turned into a stag:—

'Vallis erat, piceis et acutâ densa cupressu,
Nomine Gargaphie, succinctae sacra Dianae.'
Ovid, Met. iii. 155, 156.


2627. Cf. the Teseide, viii. 26.

2634. Byte, cleave, cut; cf. the cognate Lat. verb findere. See ll. 2546, 2640.

2646. swerdes lengthe. Cf.

'And then he bar me sone bi strenkith
Out of my sadel my speres lenkith.'
Ywaine and Gawin, ll. 421, 2.


2675. Which a, what a, how great a.

2676-80. Cf. the Teseide, viii. 131, 124-6.

2683. al his chere may mean 'all his delight, as regarded his heart.' The Harl. MS. does not insert in before his chere, as Wright would have us believe.

2684. Elles. reads furie, as noted; so in the Teseide, ix. 4. This incident is borrowed from Statius, Theb. vi. 495, where Phœbus sends a hellish monster to frighten some horses in a chariot-race. And see Vergil, Æn. xii. 845.

2686-706. Cf. the Teseide, ix. 7, 8, 47, 13, 48, 38, 26.

2689. The following is a very remarkable account of a contemporary occurrence, which took place at the time when a parliament was held at Cambridge, A. D. 1388, as told by Walsingham, ed. Riley, ii. 177:—

'Tempore Parliamenti, cum Dominus Thomas Tryvet cum Rege sublimis equitaret ad Regis hospitium, quod fuit apud Bernewelle [Barnwell], dum nimis urget equum calcaribus, equus cadit, et omnia pene interiora sessoris dirumpit [cf. l. 2691]; protelavit tamen vitam in crastinum.' The saddle-bow or arsoun was the 'name given to two curved pieces of wood or metal, one of which was fixed to the front of the saddle, and another behind, to give the rider greater security in his seat'; New Eng. Dict. s. v. Arson. Violent collision against the front saddle-bow produced very serious results. Cf. the Teseide, ix. 8—'E 'l forte arcione gli premette il petto.'

2696. 'Then was he cut out of his armour.' I. e. the laces were cut, to spare the patient trouble. Cf. Statius, Theb. viii. 637-641.

2698. in memorie, conscious.

2710. That ... his, i. e. whose. So which ... his, in Troil. ii. 318.

2711. 'As a remedy for other wounds,' &c.

2712, 3. charmes ... save. 'It may be observed that the salves, charms, and pharmacies of herbs were the principal remedies of the physician in the age of Chaucer. Save (salvia, the herb sage) was considered one of the most universally efficiently medieval remedies.'—Wright. Hence the proverb of the school of Salerno, 'Cur moriatur homo, dum salvia crescit in horto?'

2722. nis nat but = is only. aventure, accident.

2725. O persone, one person.

2733. Gree, preëminence, superiority; lit. rank, or a step; answering to Lat. gradus (not gratus). The phrases to win the gree, i. e. to get the first place, and to bear the gree, i. e. to keep the first place, are still in common use in Scotland. See note to the Allit. Destruction of Troy, ed. Panton and Donaldson, l. 1353, and Jamieson's Dictionary.

2736. dayes three. Wright says the period of three days was the usual duration of a feast among our early forefathers. As far back as the seventh century, when Wilfred consecrated his church at Ripon, he held 'magnum convivium trium dierum et noctium, reges cum omni populo laetificantes.'—Eddius, Vit. S. Wilf. c. 17.

2743. This fine passage is certainly imitated from the account of the death of Atys in Statius, Theb. viii. 637-651. I quote ll. 642-651, in which Atys fixes his last gaze upon his bride Ismene; as to ll. 637-641, see note to l. 2696 above.

'Prima uidet, caramque tremens Iocasta uocabat
Ismenen: namque hoc solum moribunda precatur
Uox generi, solum hoc gelidis iam nomen inerrat
Faucibus: exclamant famulae: tollebat in ora
Uirgo manus; tenuit saeuus pudor; attamen ire
Cogitur (indulget summum hoc Iocasta iacenti),
Ostenditque offertque: quater iam morte sub ipsa
Ad nomen uisus, deiectaque fortiter ora
Sustulit: illam unam neglecto lumine coeli
Adspicit, et uultu non exsatiatur amato.'


2745. 'Also when bloude rotteth in anye member, but it be taken out by skill or kinde, it tourneth into venime'; Batman upon Bartholomè, lib. iv. c. 7. bouk, paunch; A. S. būc.

2749. 'The vertue Expulsiue is, which expelleth and putteth away that that is vnconuenient and hurtfull to kinde' [nature]; Batman upon Bartholomè, lib. iii. c. 8.

'This vertue [given by the soul to the body] hath three parts; one is called naturall, and is in the lyuer: the other is called vitall, or spiritall, and hath place in the heart; the third is called Animal, and hath place in the brayn'; id. c. 14.

'The vertue that is called Naturalis moueth the humours in the body of a beast by the vaines, and hath a principal place in the liuer'; id. c. 12.

2761. This al and som, i. e. this (is) the al and som, this is the short and long of it. A common expression; cf. F. 1606; Troil. iv. 1193, 1274. With ll. 2761-2808 compare the Teseide, x. 12, 37, 51, 54, 55, 64, 102-3, 60-3, 111-2.

2800. overcome. Tyrwhitt reads overnome, overtaken, the pp. of overnimen; but none of the seven best MSS. have this reading.

2810. The real reason why Chaucer could not here describe the passage of Arcite's soul to heaven is because he had already copied Boccaccio's description, and had used it with respect to the death of Troilus; see Troil. v. 1807-27 (stanzas 7, 8, 9 from the end).

2815. ther Mars, &c., where I hope that Mars will, &c.; may Mars, &c.

2822. swich sorwe, so great sorrow. The line is defective in the third foot, which consists of a single (accented) syllable.

2827-46. Cf. the Teseide, xi. 8, 7, 9-11, xii. 6.

2853-962. Cf. the Teseide, xi. 13-16, 30, 31, 35, 38, 40, 37, 18, 26-7, 22-5, 21, 27-9, 30, 40-67.

2863-962. The whole of this description should be compared with the funeral rites at the burial of Archemorus, as described in Statius, Thebaid, bk. vi; which Chaucer probably consulted, as well as the imitation of the same in Boccaccio's Teseide. For example, the 'tree-list' in ll. 2921-3 is not a little remarkable. The first list is in Ovid, Met. x. 90-105; with which cf. Vergil, Æn. vi. 180; Lucan, Pharsalia, iii. 440-445. Then we find it in Statius, vi. 98-106. After which, it reappears in Boccaccio, Teseide, xi. 22; in Chaucer, Parl. of Foules, 176; in the present passage; in Tasso, Gier. Lib. iii. 75; and in Spenser, F.Q. i. 1. 8. There is also a list in Le Roman de la Rose, 1338-1368. Again, we may just compare ll. 2951-2955 with the following lines in Lewis's translation of Statius:—

'Around the pile an hundred horsemen ride,
With arms reversed, and compass every side;
They faced the left (for so the rites require);
Bent with the dust, the flames no more aspire.
Thrice, thus disposed, they wheel in circles round
The hallow'd corse: their clashing weapons sound.
Four times their arms a crash tremendous yield,
And female shrieks re-echo through the field.'


Moreover, Statius imitates the whole from Vergil, Æn. xi. 185-196. And Lydgate copies it all from Chaucer in his Sege of Thebes, part 3 (near the end).

2864. Funeral he myghte al accomplice (Elles.); Funeral he mighte hem all complise (Corp., Pet.). The line is defective in the first foot. Funeral is an adjective. Tyrwhitt and Wright insert Of before it, without authority of any kind; see l. 2942.

2874. White gloves were used as mourning at the funeral of an unmarried person; see Brand, Pop. Antiq. ed. Ellis, ii. 283.

2885. 'And surpassing others in weeping came Emily.'

2891. See the description of old English funerals in Rock, Church of our Fathers, ii. 488: 'If the deceased was a knight, his helmet, shield, sword, and coat-armour were each carried by some near kinsman, or by a herald clad in his blazoned tabard'; &c.

2895. Cf. 'deux ars Turquois,' i. e. two Turkish bows; Rom. de la Rose, 913; see vol. i. p. 132.

2903. Compare the mention of 'blake clothes' in l. 2884. When 'master Machyll, altherman, was bered, all the chyrche [was] hangyd with blake and armes [coats-of-arms], and the strett [street] with blake and armes, and the place'; &c.—Machyn's Diary (Camden Soc.) p. 171.

2923. whippeltree (better wippeltree) is the cornel-tree or dogwood (Cornus sanguinea); the same as the Mid. Low G. wipel-bom, the cornel. Cf. 'wepe, or weype, the dog-tree'; Hexham. See N. and Q. 7 S. vi. 434.

2928. Amadrides; i. e. Hamadryades; see Ovid, Met. i. 192, 193, 690. The idea is taken from Statius, Theb. vi. 110-113.

2943. men made the fyr (Hn., Cm.); maad was the fire (Corp., Pet.).

2953. loud (Elles.); heih (Harl.); bowe (Corp.).

2958. 'Chaucer seems to have confounded the wake-plays of his own time with the funeral games of the antients.'—Tyrwhitt. Cf. Troil. v. 304; and see 'Funeral Entertainments' in Brand's Popular Antiquities.

2962. in no disioynt, with no disadvantage. Cf. Verg. Æn. iii. 281.

2967-86. Cf. the Teseide, xii. 3-5.

2968. Lounsbury (Studies in Chaucer, i. 345) proposes to put a full stop at the end of this line, after teres; and to put no stop at the end of l. 2969.

2991-3. that faire cheyne of love. This sentiment is taken from Boethius, lib. ii. met. 8: 'þat þe world with stable feith / varieth acordable chaungynges // þat the contraryos qualite of elementz holden amonge hem self aliaunce perdurable / þat phebus the sonne with his goldene chariet / bryngeth forth the rosene day / þat the mone hath commaundement ouer the nyhtes // whiche nyhtes hesperus the euesterre hat[h] browt // þat þe se gredy to flowen constreyneth with a certeyn ende hise floodes / so þat it is nat lẽueful to strechche hise brode termes or bowndes vpon the erthes // þat is to seyn to couere alle the erthe // Al this a-cordaunce of thinges is bownden with looue / þat gouerneth erthe and see and hath also commaundementz to the heuenes / and yif this looue slakede the brydelis / alle thinges þat now louen hem togederes / wolden maken a batayle contynuely and stryuen to fordoon the fasoun of this worlde / the which they now leden in acordable feith by fayre moeuynges // this looue halt to-gideres peoples ioygned with an hooly bond / and knytteth sacrement of maryages of chaste looues // And love enditeth lawes to trewe felawes // O weleful weere mankynde / yif thilke loue þat gouerneth heuene gouernedẽ yowre corages.'—Chaucer's Boethius, ed. Morris, p. 62; cf. also pp. 87, 143. (See the same passage in vol. ii. p. 50; cf. pp. 73, 122.) And cf. the Teseide, ix. 51; Homer, II. viii. 19. Also Rom. de la Rose, 16988:—

'La bele chaéne dorée
Qui les quatre elemens enlace.'


2994. What follows is taken from Boethius, lib. iv. pr. 6: 'þe engendrynge of alle þinges, quod she, and alle þe progressiouns of muuable nature, and alle þat moeueþ in any manere, takiþ hys causes, hys ordre, and hys formes, of þe stablenesse of þe deuyne þouȝt; [and thilke deuyne thowht] þat is yset and put in þe toure, þat is to seyne in þe heyȝt of þe simplicite of god, stablisiþ many manere gyses to þinges þat ben to don.'—Chaucer's Boethius, ed. Morris, p. 134. (See the same passage in vol. ii. p. 115).

3005. Chaucer again is indebted to Boethius, lib. iii. pr. 10, for what follows: 'For al þing þat is cleped inperfit, is proued inperfit by þe amenusynge of perfeccioun, or of þing þat is perfit; and her-of comeþ it, þat in euery þing general, yif þat þat men seen any þing þat is inperfit, certys in þilke general þer mot ben somme þing þat is perfit. For yif so be þat perfeccioun is don awey, men may nat þinke nor seye fro whennes þilke þing is þat is cleped inperfit. For þe nature of þinges ne token nat her bygynnyng of þinges amenused and inperfit; but it procediþ of þingus þat ben al hool and absolut, and descendeþ so doune into outerest þinges and into þingus empty and wiþoute fruyt; but, as I haue shewed a litel her-byforne, þat yif þer be a blisfulnesse þat be frele and vein and inperfit, þer may no man doute þat þer nys som blisfulnesse þat is sad, stedfast, and perfit.'—Chaucer (as above), p. 89. (See the same passage in vol. ii. pp. 74, 75.)

3013. 'And thilke same ordre neweth ayein alle thinges growyng and fallyng adoune by semblables progressiouns of seedes and of sexes.'—Chaucer's Boethius, ed. Morris, p. 137. (See the same passage in vol. ii. p. 117; i. e. in bk. iv. pr. 6. l. 103).

3016. seen at ye, see at a glance. Gower, ed. Pauli, i. 33, has:—'The thing so open is at theye,' i. e. is so open at the eye, is so obvious. 'Now is the tyme sen at eye,' i. e. clearly seen; Coventry Myst. p. 122.

3017-68. Cf. the Teseide, xii. 7-10, 6, 11, 13, 9, 12-17, 19.

3042. So in Troilus, iv. 1586: 'Thus maketh vertu of necessite'; and in Squire's Tale, pt. ii. l. 247 (Group F, l. 593): 'That I made vertu of necessite.' It is from Le Roman de la Rose, 14217:—

'S'il ne fait de necessité
Vertu.'


So in Matt. Paris, ed. Luard, i. 20. Cf. Horace, Carm. i. 24:—

'Durum! sed leuius fit patientia
Quidquid corrigere est nefas.'


3068. Cf.

'The time renneth toward right fast,
Joy cometh after whan the sorrow is past.'
Hawes' Pastime of Pleasure, ed. Wright, p. 148.


3089. oghte to passen right, should surpass mere equity or justice.

3094-102. Cf. the Teseide, xii. 69, 72, 83.

3105. Cf. Book of the Duchesse, 1287-97.


  1. It has been objected, that this makes the tournament to take place, not on the anniversary of the duel, but two days later. But see l. 2095, where the anniversary of the duel is plainly made the day for assembling the hosts, not for the fight.