Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK II. - The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 3 (House of Fame, Legend of Good Women, Treatise on Astrolabe, Sources of Canterbury Tales)
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BOOK II. - Geoffrey Chaucer, The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 3 (House of Fame, Legend of Good Women, Treatise on Astrolabe, Sources of Canterbury Tales) 
The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, edited from numerous manuscripts by the Rev. Walter W. Skeat (2nd ed.) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899). 7 vols.
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Incipit liber secundus.
Colophon and Title.So in Cx.; the rest omit them.
Explicit liber secundus.
[511. ]P. listeth; Th. lysteth; F. Cx. listeneth; B. lystneth.
[513. ]All sely; read selly (Willert).
[514. ]Cx. Th. Scipion; F. P. Cipion; B. Cypyon.
[516. ]Th. Alcanore.
[533. ]Cx. Th. P. her; F. B. the.
[535. ]F. B. kynge (by mistake for thing).
[536. ]Cx. Th. P. smyte; F. B. smote. Cx. Th. P. to; F. B. of.
[537. ]Cx. Th. P. brende; F. beende; B. bende.
[543. ]Cx. Th. P. at; F. B. in.
[545. ]F. cryinge (!).
[548. ]Cx. P. cam; F. came.
[552. ]P. Cx. Th. That; F. B. And. F. felynge.
[557. ]Cx. Th. P. agast so (but read so agast); F. B. omit so.
[558. ]Cx. Th. tho; which F. B. P. omit.
[566. ]B. Th. nas; F. Cx. was.
[570. ]F. that; the rest tho.
[573. ]All seynt.
[575. ]F. B. omit hit.
[592. ]All made.
[603. ]All do; read done (gerund).
[618. ]goddesse is not in the MSS. The line is obviously too short.
[621. ]F. Th. lytel; Cx. lytyl; B. litell; P. litil (all wrong); read lyte.
[622. ]Cx. P. bookes songes or ditees; Th. bokes songes and ditees; F. B. songes dytees bookys.
[635. ]F. B. and in; rest and.
[647. ]F. frerre (by mistake).
[650. ]Cx. Th. dwellen; P. dwelleth; F. B. dwelle.
[651. ]F. ner; B. nor; Cx. Th. P. ne.
[653. ]F. ymade; B. I-made; Cx. made alle thy; Th. made al thy; P. I-made alle thy.
[658. ]Cx. P. daswed; F. B. dasewyd; Th. dased.
[673. ]Cx. Th. comen; F. come.
[676. ]F. sothe sawes; Cx. Th. P. sothsawes.
[680. ]Cx. Th. ben; P. been; F. B. omit.
[682. ]fare] Cx. Th. P. welfare.
[685. ]Cx. Th. and; rest om.
[696. ]F. B. acordes (!).
[705. ]Cx. she; rest he.
[711. ]P. heren; rest here.
[715. ]F. and erthe; rest omit and.
[717. ]Cx. Th. P. in; F. B. either.
[718. ]F. B. aire; P. wey; Cx. Th. way.
[723. ]or] F. B. or in.
[727. ]Cx. Th. a worthy; P. a wurthy; F. worthe a; B. worth a; omit a.
[739, 740. ]I add e in wighte, highte.
[746. ]Cx. Th. vp; F. B. P. vpwarde. Cx. Th. P. transpose 745, 746.
[755. ]B. it; F. om.; Cx. Th. P. he.
[764. ]All herke; see l. 725.
[766. ]Cx. Th. spoken; P. poken (!); F. B. yspoken.
[773. ]Cx. Th. P. As; F. B. Of (copied from l. 772).
[780. ]Cx. Th. P. And ryght so brekyth it; F. B. omit this line.
[789. ]F. Thorwe; B. P. Throw; Cx. Th. Threwe
[794. ]F. Th. B. whele sercle (for 1st wheel); Cx. P. omit the line. (Sercle is a gloss upon wheel).
[798. ]F. B. this; rest thus. F. B. om. to.
[800. ]Cx. Th. P. Causeth.
[803. ]F. Tyl; rest That.
[804. ]F. om. thogh.
[805. ]F. B. om. alway.
[810. ]F. B. yspoken.
[817. ]F. B. om. in. Read another (Willert).
[821. ]Cx. Th. P. at the.
[823. ]Cx. Th. P. thou haue; F. B. ye haue in.
[827. ]F. And that sum place stide; B. And that som styde; Th. And that some stede; Cx. P. omit ll. 827-864. read And that the mansioun (see ll. 754, 831).
[830. ]For That read Than!
[838. ]MSS. a wey, away.
[839. ]F. Th. B. haue before; Cx. P. onsit the line.
[853. ]Th. B. this; F. thus.
[859. ]Th. of; F. B. or.
[860. ]All ought.
[866. ]P. to a lewde; Cx. Th. vnto a lewde; F. trealwed (!); B. talwyd (!).
[872. ]All omit Quod he; cf. ll. 700, 701.
[873. ]P. Cx. Th. I; F. B. he. F. B. me (for be).
[886. ]P. Cx. speken; rest speke.
[896. ]Cx. Th. gan to; rest to (!).
[899. ]F. B. P. om. and.
[911. ]F. B. omit this line; for Seestow, Cx. Th. P. have Seest thou. For toun, all have token; see l. 890.
[912. ]From P.; F. B. omit this line. Cx. Or ought that in the world is of spoken; Th. Or aught that in this worlde is of spoken; see l. 889.
[913. ]F. B. om. I seyde.
[932. ]F. B. om. the.
[951. ]Cx. P. lete (= leet); F. B. lat.
[955. ]F. Cx. Iubiter.
[956. ]F. B. fer fro; P. Cx. Th. om. fer.
[957. ]Cx. P. grete; Th. great; E. mochil; B. mochill.
[961. ]Cx. Th. P. alway vpper; F. B. vpper alway for. Cf. l. 884.
[964. ]F. Th. B. ins. to bef. loken.
[969. ]P. Cx. And; rest om.
[973. ]Cx. Th. wryteth; F. writ. F. B. of (for a).
[978. ]So P. Cx.; rest ins. and erthe bef. and.
[984. ]F. B. Nas (om. he me); Th. Nas me; Cx. P. Nadde he me.
[998. ]to] F. B. ther-to.
[999. ]F. B. insert and before No.
[1003. ]F. B. Briddes; P. Brid; Cx. Byrd; Th. Byrde.
[1007. ]F. Cx. Th. B. Athalantes (-ys); P. athlauntres; see note.
[1014. ]Cx. Th. P. As; F. Alle; B. Al.
[1015. ]Cx. P. they shynen; F. Th. B. thy seluen (!).
[1029. ]F. inserts that before soth.
[1030. ]Cx. Herkne; P. Th. Herken; F. B. Herke.
[1034. ]F. B. P. om. lyk.
[1040. ]Cx. Th. P. the; F. P. a. Cx. Th. P. a; F. B. oo.
[1044. ]F. P. beten; Th. B. byten; Cx. grene.
[1056. ]Th. tel; P. tell; rest telle.
[1057. ]Cx. Th. P. I wyl; F. B. wil I.
[1063. ]F. B. om. And.
[1071. ]F. B. ins. now bef. how.
[1072. ]Th. the efte; Cx. the more; F. B. eft the; P. the.
[1079. ]Cx. Th. hath so very; P. hath so verrey; F. B. so were (!).
[1080. ]Cx. P. That; F. B. Th. And (!).
[1088. ]F. Cx. Th. lerne; read lernen.
[1494. ]F. high the (=highthe); Cx. Th heyght; see l. 744.
[511.]Listeth, pleases, is pleased; the alteration (in MS. F.) to listeneth is clearly wrong, and due to confusion with herkneth above. (I do not think listeth is the imp. pl. here.)
[514.]Isaye, Isaiah; actually altered, in various editions, to I saye, as if it meant ‘I say.’ The reference is to ‘the vision of Isaiah’; Isa. i. 1; vi. 1. Scipioun, Scipio; see note to Parl. Foules, 31, and cf. Book of the Duch. 284.
[515.]Nabugodonosor, Nebuchadnezzar. The same spelling occurs in the Monkes Tale (Group B, 3335), and is a mere variant of the form Nabuchodonosor in the Vulgate version, Dan. i-iv. Gower has the same spelling; Conf. Amant. bk. i., near the end.
[516.]Pharo; spelt Pharao in the Vulgate, Gen. xli. 1-7. See Book of the Duchesse, 280-3.
[518.]Cipris, Venus, goddess of Cyprus; called Cipryde in Parl. Foules, 277. Dante has Ciprigna; Par. viii. 2.
[519.]Favour, favourer, helper, aid; not used in the ordinary sense of Lat. fauor, but as if it were formed from O. F. faver, Lat. fauere, to be favourable to. Godefroy gives an example of the O. F. verb faver in this sense.
[521.]Parnaso; the spelling is imitated from the Ital. Parnaso, i. e. Parnassus, in Dante, Par. i. 16. So also Elicon is Dante’s Elicona, i. e. Helicon, Purg. xxix. 40. But the passage in Dante which Chaucer here especially imitates is that in Inf. ii. 7-9:—
This Cary thus translates:—
Hence ye in l. 520 answers to Dante’s Muse, the Muses; and Thought in l. 523 answers to Dante’s mente. Cf. also Parad. xviii. 82-87. And see the parallel passage in Anelida, 15-19.
[528.]Engyn is accented on the latter syllable, as in Troil. ii. 565, iii. 274.
[529.]Egle, the eagle in l. 499; cf. ll. 503-7.
[534.]Partly imitated from Dante, Purg. ix. 28-30:—
Cary’s translation is:—
But Chaucer follows still more closely, and verbally, a passage in Machault’s Jugement du Roi de Navarre, ed. Tarbé, 1849, p. 72, which has the words—
i. e. literally, ‘the foudre (thunder-bolt) which reduces many a town to powder.’ Machault nearly repeats this; ed. Tarbé, p. 97.
[537.]Brende, was set on fire; cf. l. 163. The idea is that of a falling thunderbolt, which seems to have been conceived of as being a material mass, set on fire by the rapidity of its passage through the air; thus confusing the flash of lightning with the fall of a meteoric stone. See Mr. Aldis Wright’s note on thunder-stone, Jul. Cæs. i. 3. 49.
[543.]Hente, caught. We find a similar use of the word in an old translation of Map’s Apocalypsis Goliæ, printed in Morley’s Shorter Eng. Poems, p. 13:—
[544.]Sours, sudden ascent, a springing aloft. It is well illustrated by a passage in the Somp. Tale (D 1938):—
It is precisely the same word as M. E. sours, mod. E. source, i. e. rise, spring (of a river). Etymologically, it is the feminine of O. F. sors, pp. of sordre, to rise (Lat. surgere). At a later period, the r was dropped, and the word was strangely confused in sound with the verb souse, to pickle. Moreover, the original sense of ‘sudden ascent’ was confused with that of ‘sudden descent,’ for which the correct term was (I suppose) swoop. Hence the old verb to souse, in the sense ‘to swoop down,’ or ‘to pounce upon,’ or ‘to strike,’ as in Shak. K. John, v. 2. 150; Spenser, F. Q. i. 5. 8; iii. 4. 16; iv. 3. 19, 25; iv. 4. 30; iv. 5. 36; iv. 7. 9. The sense of ‘downward swoop’ is particularly clear in Spenser, F. Q. ii. 11. 36:—
Such is the simple solution of the etymology of Mod. E. souse, as used by Pope (Epilogue to Satires, Dial. ii. 15)—‘Spread thy broad wing, and souse on all the kind.’
[557.]Cf. Dante, Inf. ii. 122:—‘Perchè tanta viltà nel core allette?’ Also Purg. ix. 46:—‘Non aver tema.’
[562.]‘One that I could name.’ This personal allusion can hardly refer to any one but Chaucer’s wife. The familiar tone recalls him to himself; yet the eagle’s voice sounded kindly, whereas the poet sadly tells us that his wife’s voice sounded far otherwise: ‘So was it never wont to be.’ See Ward’s Chaucer, pp. 84, 85; and cf. l. 2015 below. Perhaps Chaucer disliked to hear the word ‘Awak!’
[573.]It would appear that, in Chaucer, sëynt is sometimes dissyllabic; but it may be better here to use the feminine form seynt-e, as in l. 1066. Observe the rime of Márie with cárie.
[576.]‘For so certainly may God help me, as thou shalt have no harm.’
[586.]Ioves, Jove, Jupiter; cf. l. 597. This remarkable form occurs again in Troil. ii. 1607, where we find the expression ‘Ioves lat him never thryve’; and again in Troil. iii. 3—‘O Ioves doughter dere’; and in Troil. iii. 15, where Ioves is in the accusative case. The form is that of an O. F. nominative; cf. Charles, Jacques, Jules.
[588.]Perhaps imitated from Dante, Inf. ii. 32, where Dante says that he is neither Æneas nor Paul. Chaucer here refers to various men who were borne up to heaven, viz. Enoch (Gen. v. 24), Elijah (2 Kings ii. 11), Romulus, and Ganymede. Romulus was carried up to heaven by Mars; Ovid, Metam. xiv. 824; Fasti, ii. 475-512. Ganymede was carried up to heaven by Jupiter in the form of an eagle; cf. Vergil, Æn. i. 28, and see Ovid, Metam. x. 160, where Ovid adds:
In the passage in Dante (Purg. ix. 19-30), already alluded to above (note to l. 534), there is a reference to Ganymede (l. 23).
[592.]Boteler, butler. No burlesque is here intended. ‘The idea of Ganymede being butler to the gods appears ludicrous to us, who are accustomed to see the office performed by menial servants. But it was not so in the middle ages. Young gentlemen of high rank carved the dishes and poured out the wine at the tables of the nobility, and grace in the performance of these duties was highly prized. One of the oldest of our noble families derives its surname from the fact that its founder was butler to the king’; Bell. So also, the royal name of Stuart is merely steward.
[597.]Therabout, busy about, having it in intention.
[600-4.]Cf. Vergil’s words of reassurance to Dante; Inf. ii. 49.
[608.]The eagle says he is Jupiter’s eagle; ‘Iouis ales,’ Æn. i. 394.
[614-40.]A long sentence of 27 lines.
[618.]I supply goddesse, to complete the line. Cf. ‘In worship of Venús, goddésse of love’; Kn. Tale, A 1904; and again, ‘goddésse,’ id. A 1101, 2.
[621.]The necessity for correcting lytel to lyte is obvious from the rime, since lyte is rimes with dytees. Chaucer seems to make lyte dissyllabic; it rimes with Arcite, Kn. Ta., A 1334, 2627; and with hermyte in l. 659 below. In the present case, the e is elided—lyt’is. For similar rimes, cf. nones, noon is, C. T. Prol. 523; beryis, mery is, Non. Pr. Ta., B 4155; swevenis, swevene is, id. B 4111.
[623.]In a note to Cant. Ta. 17354 (I 43), Tyrwhitt says that perhaps cadence means ‘a species of poetical composition distinct from riming verses.’ But it is difficult to shew that Chaucer ever composed anything of the kind, unless it can be said that his translation of Boethius or his Tale of Melibeus is in a sort of rhythmical prose. It seems to me just possible that by rime may here be meant the ordinary riming of two lines together, as in the Book of the Duchess and the House of Fame, whilst by cadence may be meant lines disposed in stanzas, as in the Parliament of Foules. There is nothing to shew that Chaucer had, at this period, employed the ‘heroic verse’ of the Legend of Good Women. However, we find the following quotation from Jullien in Littré’s Dictionary, s. v. Cadence:—‘Dans la prose, dans les vers, la cadence n’est pas autre chose que le rhythme ou le nombre: seulement on y joint ordinairement l’idée d’une certaine douceur dans le style, d’un certain art dans l’arrangement des phrases ou dans le choix des mots que le rhythme proprement dit ne suppose pas du tout.’ This is somewhat oracular, as it is difficult to see why rhythm should not mean much the same thing.
[637.]‘And describest everything that relates to them.’ (Here hir=their), with reference to lovers.
[639-40.]‘Although thou mayst accompany those whom he is not pleased to assist.’ Nearly repeated in Troilus, i. 517, 518.
[652.]In a note upon the concluding passage of the Cant. Tales, Tyrwhitt says of the House of Fame:—‘Chaucer mentions this among his works in the Leg. Good Women, verse 417. He wrote it while he was Comptroller of the Custom of Wools, &c. (see Bk. ii. l. 144-8 [the present passage]), and consequently after the year 1374.’ See Ward’s Chaucer, pp. 76, 77, with its happy reference to Charles Lamb and his ‘works’; and compare a similar passage in the Prol. to Legend of Good Women, 30-6.
[662.]Cf. Dante, Inf. i. 113, which Cary thus translates:—
[678.]Long y-served, faithfully served for a long time, i. e. after a long period of devotion; alluding to the word servant in the sense of lover.
[681.]Alluding to sudden fallings in love, especially ‘at first sight.’ Such take place at haphazard; as if a blind man should accidentally frighten a hare. without in the least intending it. We find in Hazlitt’s collection of Proverbs—‘The hare starts when a man least expects it’; p. 373.
[682.]Iolytee and fare, happiness and good speed. The very same words are employed, but ironically, by Theseus in the Knight’s Tale, A 1807, 1809. The hare also accompanies them; id. A 1810.
[683.]‘As long as they find love to be as true as steel.’ Cf. Troilus, iv. 325:—‘God leve that ye finde ay love of steel.’
[689.]‘And more beards made in two hours,’ &c. ‘Yet can a miller make a clerkes berd’; (Reves Tale), C. T., A 4096. ‘Yet coude I make his berd’; C. T., D 361. Tyrwhitt’s note on the former passage is: ‘make a clerkes berd,’ i. e. cheat him. Faire la barbe is to shave, or trim the beard; but Chaucer translates the phrase literally, at least when he uses it in its metaphorical sense. Boccace has the same metaphor, Decamerone, viii. 10. Speaking of some exorbitant cheats, he says that they applied themselves ‘non a radere, ma a scorticare huomini’ [not to shave men, but to scarify them]; and a little lower—‘si a soavemente la barbiera saputo menare il rasoio’ [so agreeably did the she-barber know how to handle the razor]. Barbiera has a second and a bad sense; see Florio’s Dictionary.
[692.]Holding in hond means keeping in hand, attaching to oneself by feigned favours; just as to bear in hand used to mean to make one believe a thing; see my note to Man of Lawes Tale, B 620.
[695.]Lovedayes, appointed days of reconciliation; see note in vol. v. to Chaucer’s Prol. 258, and my note to P. Plowman, B. iii. 157. ‘What, quod she, maked I not a louedaie bitwene God and mankind, and chese a maide to be nompere [umpire], to put the quarell at ende?’ Test. of Love, bk. i. ed. 1561, fol. 287.
[696.]Cordes, chords. Apparently short for acordes, i. e. musical chords, as Willert suggests. It is rather a forced simile, like cornes in l. 698.
[698.]Cornes, grains of corn; see note to Monkes Tale (Group B, 3225).
[700.]Wis, certainly; cf. y-wis. The i is short.
[702.]Impossible, (accent on i); cf. Clerkes Tale, E 713.
[703.]Pyes, mag-pies, chattering birds; Squi. Ta., F 650.
[708.]Worthy for to leve, worthy to believe, worthy of belief.
[712.]Thyn owne book, i. e. the book you are so fond of, viz. Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which Chaucer quotes so continually. Libraries in those days were very small (Cant. Ta. Prol. 294); but we may be almost certain that Chaucer had a copy of the Metamorphoses of his own. The reference here is to Ovid’s description of the House of Fame, Metam. xii. 39-63. See Golding’s translation of this passage in the Introduction.
[730.]This passage is founded on one in Boethius; cf. Chaucer’s translation, bk. iii. pr. 11, ll. 98-110. Imitated also in Le Rom. de la Rose, 16963-9. Cf. Dante, Par. i. 109, which Cary thus translates:—
[738.]That practically goes with hit falleth doun, in l. 741. The sentence is ill-constructed, and not consistent with grammar, but we see what is meant.
[742.]By, with reference to (as usual in M. E). Cf. Dante, Purg. xviii. 28, which Cary thus translates:—
[745.]At his large, unrestrained, free to move. Cf. at thy large, Cant. Ta., A 1283, 1292.
[746.]Charge, a heavy weight, opposed to light thing. The verb seke is understood from l. 744. ‘A light thing (seeks to go) up, and a weight (tends) downwards.’ In Tyrwhitt’s glossary, the word charge, in this passage, is described as being a verb, with the sense ‘to weigh, to incline on account of weight.’ How this can be made to suit the context, I cannot understand. Charge occurs as a sb. several times in Chaucer, but chiefly with the secondary sense of ‘importance’; see Kn. Tale, A 1284, 2287; Can. Yem. Ta., G 749. In the Clerkes Tale, E 163, it means ‘weight,’ nearly as here.
[750.]Skilles, reasons. The above ‘reasons’ prove nothing whatever as regards the fish in the sea, or the trees in the earth; but the eagle’s mode of reasoning must not be too closely enquired into. The fault is not Chaucer’s, but arises from the extremely imperfect state of science in the middle ages. Chaucer had to accept the usual account of the four elements, disposed, according to their weight, in four layers; earth being at the bottom, then water, then air, and lastly fire above the air. See the whole scheme in Gower, Conf. Amant. bk. vii.; ed. Pauli, ii. 104: or Popular Treatises on Science, ed. Wright, p. 134.
[752.]See Chaucer’s tr. of Boethius, bk. iii. pr. 11, l. 72. Hence Boethius is one of the ‘clerkes’ referred to in l. 760.
[759.]Dante mentions these two; Inf. iv. 131-4.
[765.]So also in Cant. Tales, D. 2233:—
The theory of sound is treated of in Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum Naturale, lib. iv. c. 14. The ancients seem to have understood that sound is due to the vibration of the air; see ll. 775, 779. Thus, in the treatise by Boethius, De Musica (to which Chaucer expressly refers in Non. Preest. Tale, B 4484), lib. i. c. 3, I find:—‘Sonus vero præter quendam pulsum percussionemque non redditur . . . Idcirco definitur sonus, aeris percussio indissoluta usque ad auditum.’
[788.]Experience, i. e. experiment. The illustration is a good one; I have no doubt that it is obtained, directly or at secondhand, from Boethius. Vincent of Beauvais, Spec. Nat. lib. xxv. c. 58, says:—‘Ad quod demonstrandum inducit idem Boetius tale exemplum: Lapis proiectus in medio stagni facit breuissimum circulum, et ille alium, et hoc fit donec vel ad ripas peruenerit vel impetus defecerit.’ This merely gives the substance of what he says; it will be of interest to quote the original passage, from the treatise De Musica, lib. i. c. 14, which chapter I quote in full:—
[792.]Covercle, a pot-lid. Cotgrave cites the proverb—‘Tel pot tel couvercle, Such pot, such potlid, like master, like man.’
[794.]Wheel must have been glossed by cercle (circle) in an early copy; hence MSS. F. and B. have the reading—‘That whele sercle wol cause another whele,’ where the gloss has crept into the text.
[798.]Roundel, a very small circle; compas, a very large circle. Roundel is still a general term for a small circular charge in heraldry; if or (golden), it is called a bezant; if argent (white), it is called a plate; and so on. In the Sec. Non. Tale, G 45, compas includes the whole world.
[801.]Multiplying, increasing in size.
[805.]‘Where you do not observe the motion above, it is still going on underneath.’ This seems to allude to some false notion as to a transmission of motion below the surface.
[808.]This is an easy way of getting over a difficulty. It is no easy task to prove the contrary of every false theory!
[811.]An air aboute, i. e. a surrounding layer, or hollow sphere, of air.
[822.]I would rather ‘take it in game’; and so I accept it.
[826.]Fele, experience, understand by experiment.
[827.]I here take the considerable liberty of reading the mansioun, by comparison with l. 831. Those who prefer to read sum place stide, or som styde, or some stede, can do so! The sense intended is obviously—‘And that the dwelling-place, to which each thing is inclined to resort, has its own natural stead,’ i. e. position. Fishes, for example, naturally exist in water; the trees, upon the earth; and sounds, in the air; water, earth, air, and fire being the four ‘elements.’ Cf. the phrase—‘to be in his element.’
[836.]Out of, i. e. not in; answering to l. 838.
[846.]Referring to Ovid’s description, Met. xii. 39, 40.
I suspect that Ovid’s triplicis confinia mundi is the origin of Chaucer’s phrase tryne compas, in Sec. Non. Tale, G 45.
[857.]The ‘terms of philosophy’ are all fully and remorselessly given by Gower, Conf. Amant. bk. vii.
[861.]It is remarkable that Chaucer, some years later, repeated almost the same thing in the Prologue to his Treatise on the Astrolabe, in somewhat different words, viz. ‘curious endyting and hard sentence is full hevy atones for swich a child to lerne’; l. 32.
[866.]Lewedly, in unlearned fashion; in his Astrolabe, l. 43, Chaucer says he is ‘but a lewd compilatour of the labour of olde Astrologiens.’
[868.]The eagle characteristically says that his reasons are so ‘palpable,’ that they can be shaken by the bills, as men shake others by the hand. It is perhaps worth adding that the word bill was too vulgar and familiar to be applied to a hawk, which had only a beak (the French term, whereas bill is the A. S. bile). ‘Ye shall say, this hauke has a large beke, or a shortt beke; and call it not bille; Book of St. Alban’s, fol. a 6, back. The eagle purposely employs the more familiar term.
[873.]Chaucer meekly allows that the eagle’s explanation is a likely one. He was not in a comfortable position for contradiction in argument, and so took a wiser course. The eagle resents this mild admission, and says he will soon find out the truth, ‘top, and tail, and every bit.’ He then eases his mind by soaring ‘upper,’ resumes his good temper, and proposes to speak ‘all of game.’
[888.]Cf. Dante, Par. xxii. 128, which Cary thus translates:
[900.]Unethes, with difficulty; because large animals could only just be discerned. The graphic touches here are excellent.
[901.]Rivér-es, with accent on the former e (pronounced as a in bare). Cf. Ital. riviera.
[907.]Prikke, a point. ‘Al the environinge of the erthe aboute ne halt nat but the resoun of a prikke at regard of the greetnesse of hevene’; tr. of Boethius, bk. ii. pr. 7. 17.
See also Parl. Foules, 57, 58; and note that the above passage from Troilus is copied from the Teseide (xi. 2).
[915.]The note in Gilman’s Chaucer as to Alexander’s dreams is entirely beside the mark. The word dreme (l. 917) refers to Scipio only. The reference is to the wonderful mode in which Alexander contrived to soar in the air in a car upborne by four gigantic griffins.
Macedo, the Macedonian.
[916.]King, kingly hero; not king in the strict sense. Dan Scipio, lord Scipio. See notes to Parl. Foules, 29; Book of the Duch. 284; Ho. Fame, 514.
[917.]At point devys, with great exactness; see Rom. Rose, 830, 1215.
[919.]Dedalus (i. e. Dædalus) and Ycarus (Icarus) are mentioned in the Rom. de la Rose, 5242; and cf. Gower, Conf. Amant. bk. iv., ed. Pauli, ii. 36; and Dante, Inf. xvii. 109. All take the story from Ovid, Metam. viii. 183. Dædalus constructed wings for himself and his son Icarus, and flew away from Crete. The latter flew too high, and the sun melted the wax with which some of the feathers were fastened, so that he fell into the sea and was drowned. Hence Dædalus is here called wrecche, i. e. miserable, because he lost his son; and Icarus nyce, i. e. foolish, because he disobeyed his father’s advice, not to fly too high.
[922.]Malt, melted. Gower has the same word in the same story; ed. Pauli, ii. 37.
[925.]Cf. Dante, Par. xxii. 19, which Cary thus translates: ‘But elsewhere now I bid thee turn thy view.’
[930.]See note to l. 986 below, where the original passage is given.
[931.]This line seems to refer solely to the word citizein in l. 930. The note in Bell’s Chaucer says: ‘This appears to be an allusion to Plato’s Republic.’ But it was probably suggested by the word respublica in Alanus (see note to l. 986).
[932.]Eyrish bestes, aerial animals; alluding to the signs of the zodiac, such as the Ram, Bull, Lion, Goat, Crab, Scorpion, &c.; and to other constellations, such as the Great Bear, Eagle, Swan, Pegasus, &c. Chaucer himself explains that the ‘zodiak is cleped the cercle of the signes, or the cercle of the bestes; for zodia in langage of Greek sowneth bestes in Latin tonge’; Astrolabe, Part I, § 21, l. 37. Cf. ‘beasts’ in Rev. iv. 6. The phrase recurs in l. 965 below; see also ll. 1003-7.
[934.]Goon, march along, walk on, like the Ram or Bull; flee, fly like the Eagle or Swan. He alludes to the apparent revolution of the heavens round the earth.
[936.]Galaxye, galaxy, or milky way, formed by streaks of closely crowded stars; already mentioned in the Parl. of Foules, 56; see note to the same, l. 50. Cary, in a note to Dante, Parad. xxv. 18, says that Dante, in the Convito, p. 74, speaks of la galassia—‘the galaxy, that is, the white circle which the common people call the way of St. James’; on which Biscioni remarks:—‘The common people formerly considered the milky way as a sign by night to pilgrims, who were going to St. James of Galicia; and this perhaps arose from the resemblance of the word galaxy to Galicia; [which may be doubted]. I have often,’ he adds, ‘heard women and peasants call it the Roman road, la strada di Roma.’
[942.]Gower also relates this story (Conf. Amant. ii. 34), calling the sun Phebus, and his son Pheton, and using carte in the sense of ‘chariot,’ as Chaucer does. Both copy from Ovid, Metam. ii. 32-328.
[944.]Cart-hors, chariot-horses (plural). There were four horses, named Pyroeïs, Eous, Aethon, and Phlegon; Met. ii. 153. Hence gonne and beren are in the plural form; cf. l. 952.
[948.]Scorpioun, the well-known zodiacal constellation and sign; called Scorpius in Ovid, Met. ii. 196.
[972.]Boece, Boethius. He refers to the passage which he himself thus translates: ‘I have, forsothe, swifte fetheres that surmounten the heighte of the hevene. Whan the swifte thought hath clothed it-self in tho fetheres, it dispyseth the hateful erthes, and surmounteth the roundnesse of the greet ayr; and it seeth the cloudes behinde his bak’; bk. iv. met. 1. Hence, in l. 973, Ten Brink (Studien, p. 186) proposes to read—‘That wryteth, Thought may flee so hye.’
[981, 2.]Imitated from 2 Cor. xii. 2.
[985.]Marcian. Cf. C. T., E 1732 (March. Tale):—
Martianus Minneus Felix Capella was a satirist of the fifth century, and wrote the Nuptials of Mercury and Philology, De Nuptiis inter Mercurium et Philologiam, above referred to. It consists of two books, followed by seven books on the Seven Sciences; see Warton’s Hist. E. Poetry, ed. 1871, iii. 77. ‘Book viii (l. 857) gives a hint of the true system of astronomy. It is quoted by Copernicus’; Gilman.
[986.]Anteclaudian. The Anticlaudianus is a Latin poem by Alanus de Insulis, who also wrote the De Planctu Naturæ, alluded to in the Parl. of Foules, 316 (see note). This poem is printed in Anglo-Latin Satirical Poets, ed. Wright, pp. 268-428; see, in particular, Distinctio Quarta, capp. 5-8, and Distinctio Quinta, cap. 1; pp. 338-347. It is from this poem that Chaucer probably borrowed the curious word citizein (l. 930) as applied to the eyrish bestes (l. 932). Thus, at pp. 338, 360 of Wright’s edition, we find—
So again, ll. 966-969 above may well have been suggested by these lines (on p. 340), and other similar lines:—
[1003.]Or him or here, or him or her, hero or heroine; e. g. Hercules, Perseus, Cepheus, Orion; Andromeda, Callisto (the Great Bear), Cassiopeia. Cf. Man of Lawes Tale, B 460.
[1004.]Raven, the constellation Corvus; see Ovid, Fasti, ii. 243-266. Either bere; Ursa Maior and Ursa Minor.
[1005.]Ariones harpe, Arion’s harp, the constellation Lyra; Ovid’s Fasti, i. 316; ii. 76.
[1006.]Castor, Pollux; Castor and Pollux; the constellation Gemini. Delphyn, Lat. Delphin; the constellation Delphin (Ovid, Fasti, i. 457) or Delphinus, the Dolphin.
[1007.]Atlante does not mean Atalanta, but represents Atlante, the ablative case of Atlas. Chaucer has mistaken the form, having taken the story of the Pleiades (the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione) from Ovid’s Fasti, v. 83:—
[1021.]Up the heed, up with your head; look about you.
[1022.]‘St. Julian (to our speed); lo! (here is) a good hostelry.’ The eagle invokes or praises St. Julian, because they have come to their journey’s end, and the poet may hope for a good reception in the House of Fame. St. Julian was the patron saint of hospitality; see Chaucer’s Prologue, 340. In Le Roman de la Rose, 8872, I find (cf. note to l. 118 above):—
In Bell’s Chaucer, i. 92, is the following: ‘ “Ce fut celluy Julien qui est requis de ceux qui cheminent pour avoir bon hostel”; Legende Dorée. Having by mischance slain his father and mother, as a penance he established a hospital near a dangerous ford, where he lodged and fed travellers gratuitously.’
[1024.]‘Canst thou not hear that which I hear?’
[1034.]Peter! By St. Peter; a common exclamation, which Warton amazingly misunderstood, asserting that Chaucer is here addressed by the name of Peter (Hist. E. P., ed. Hazlitt, ii. 331, note 6); whereas it is Chaucer himself who uses the exclamation. The Wyf of Bathe uses it also, C. T., D 446; so does the Sumpnour, C. T., D 1332; and the wife in the Shipman’s Tale, C. T., B 1404; and see l. 2000 below. See also my note to l. 665 of the Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale. But Warton well compares the present passage with Ovid, Met. xii. 49-52:—
[1044.]Beten, beat, occurs in MSS. F. and B. But the other reading byten (bite) seems better. Cf. Troil. iii. 737, and the common saying ‘It won’t bite you.’
[1048.]Cf. Dante, Purg. iii. 67-69. So also Inf. xxxi. 83.
[1063.]Lyves body, a person alive; lyves is properly an adverb.
[1066.]Seynte; see note to l. 573. Seynte Clare, Saint Clara, usually Saint Clare, whose day is Aug. 12. She was an abbess, a disciple of St. Francis, and died ad 1253.