Front Page Titles (by Subject) The Clerkes Prologue. - Notes to the Canterbury Tales (Works vol. 5)
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The Clerkes Prologue. - Geoffrey Chaucer, Notes to the Canterbury Tales (Works vol. 5) 
The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, edited from numerous manuscripts by the Rev. Walter W. Skeat (2nd ed.) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899). 7 vols. Vol. 5.
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The Clerkes Prologue.
1.clerk. See the description of him, Prol. A. 285.
3.were newe spoused, who should be (i. e. is) newly wedded; see Rom. de la Rose, (F. version), 1004; in vol. i. p. 136.
6. See Eccles. iii. 1; ‘To every thing there is a season,’ &c.
7.as beth, pray be. The word as, nearly equivalent to ‘I pray,’ is sometimes used thus with the imperative mood. Since as is short for al-so, it means literally even so, just so. Cp. as keep, A. 2302; as sende, A. 2317; as doth, F. 458; ‘as beth not wroth with me,’ Troil. and Cress. v. 145; ‘as go we seen,’ i. e. pray let us go to see, id. 523; see also A. 3777. See Mätzner, Engl. Gram. ii. 2. 505.
10. A French proverb. ‘Ki en jeu entre jeu consente,’ i. e. approves of; Le Roux de Lincy, Proverbes Français, ii. 85.
18.Heigh style, lofty, learned, somewhat pedantic style; see l. 41.
22.yerde, control, governance; lit. yard, rod; so we say ‘under the rod.’ Cf. B. 1287, and the note at p. 169.
27.Padowe, Padua, in the N. E. of Italy. Petrarch resided at Arqua, two miles from Padua. He died July 18, 1374. See vol. iii. p. 454; vol. i. p. xxv.
33.of poetrye, with his poetry. Of is similarly used in l. 34.
34.Linian; ‘the canonist Giovanni di Lignano, once illustrious, now forgotten, though several works of his remain. He was made Professor of Canon Law at Bologna in 1363, and died at Bologna in 1383’; Morley’s English Writers, v. 339. Tyrwhitt first pointed out the person here alluded to, and says—‘there is some account of him in Panzirolus, de Cl. Leg. Intrepret. l. iii. c. xxv:—Joannes, a Lignano, agri Mediolanensis vico, oriundus, et ob id Lignanus dictus,’ &c. One of his works, entitled Tractatus de Bello, is extant in MS. Reg. 13 B. ix [Brit. Mus.]. He composed it at Bologna in the year 1360. He was not however a mere lawyer. Chaucer speaks of him as excelling in philosophy, and so does his epitaph in Panzirolus. The only specimen of his philosophy that I have met with is in MS. Harl. 1006. It is an astrological work, entitled Conclusiones Judicii composite per Domnum Johannem de Lyniano super coronacione Domni Urbani Pape VI. 1387,’ &c. Lignano is here said to be near Milan, and to have been the lawyer’s birthplace. In l. 38, Chaucer speaks of his death, showing that Chaucer wrote this prologue later than 1383.
43.proheme, proem, introduction. Petrarch’s treatise (taken from Boccaccio’s Decamerone, Day x. Novel 10) is entitled ‘De obedientia ac fide uxoria Mythologia.’ It is preceded by a letter to Boccaccio, but this is not here alluded to. What Chaucer means is the first section of the tale itself, which begins thus:—‘Est ad Italiae latus occiduum Vesulus, ex Apennini iugis mons unus altissimus . . . Padi ortu nobilissimus, qui eius a latere fonte lapsus exiguo orientem contra solem fertur, mirisque mox tumidus incrementis . . . Liguriam gurgite uiolentus intersecat; dehinc Aemiliam, atque Flaminiam, Venetiamque discriminans . . . in Adriaticum mare descendit.’ Pemond, Piedmont. Saluces, Saluzzo, S. of Turin. Vesulus, Monte Viso. See the description of the route from Mont Dauphin to Saluzzo, by the Col de Viso, in Murray’s Guide to Switzerland and Piedmont. Cf. Vergil, Aen. x. 708.
51.To Emelward, towards Aemilia. Tyrwhitt says—‘One of the regions of Italy was called Aemilia, from the via Aemilia, which crossed it from Placentia [Piacenza] to Rimini. Placentia stood upon the Po. Pitiscus, Lex. Ant. Rom. in v. Via Aemilia. Petrarch’s description . . . is a little different.’ See note above. Ferrare, Ferrara, on the Po, not far from its mouth. Venyse, rather the Venetian territory than Venice itself.
54. ‘It seems to me a thing irrelevant, excepting that he wishes to impart his information.’
56.this, contraction for this is (see footnote); common.