Front Page Titles (by Subject) NOTES TO THE LEGEND OF GOOD WOMEN. - 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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NOTES TO THE LEGEND OF GOOD WOMEN. - 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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NOTES TO THE LEGEND OF GOOD WOMEN.
NOTES TO THE PROLOGUE.
*∗* N.B. The references are to the B-text, except where special mention of the A-text is made. The latter is denoted by the letter ‘A,’ preceded by a short line.
THE LEGEND OF CLEOPATRA.
It is not clear what account Chaucer followed; see the Introduction. The chief sources for the history are Plutarch, Appian, Dion Cassius, and Orosius (bk. vi. c. 19). I shall refer to the Life of M. Antonius in my edition of Shakespeare’s Plutarch (denoted below by Sh. Plut.). Bech points out that one of Chaucer’s sources was Florus; see note to l. 655.
THE LEGEND OF THISBE.
Chaucer follows Ovid, Metamorph. iv. 55-166; and frequently very closely. The reader should compare the Latin text throughout. For example, Ovid begins thus:—
In Golding’s translation, fol. 43, back, thus:—
This at once explains the allusion to Semiramis, the celebrated but mythical queen who was said to have surrounded Babylon with walls of fabulous strength, having a deep ditch outside them. See Orosius, as translated by King Alfred, in Sweet’s A. S. Reader, fourth ed. pp. 28, 29. Gower tells the same story, and likewise follows Ovid; C. A. i. 324.
THE LEGEND OF DIDO.
This Legend purports to be taken from Vergil and Ovid; see l. 928. There is very little of it from Ovid, viz. only the last 16 lines, which depend on Ovid’s Heroides, vii. 1-8, and ll. 1312-6, which owe something to the same epistle.
The rest is from the Æneid, bks. i-iv, as will be pointed out.
Note that Chaucer had already given the story of Dido at some length in his Hous of Fame, 151-382, which should be compared. He mentions Ovid there also; l. 379.
IV. (Part I.)
THE LEGEND OF HYPSIPYLE.
The chief sources of this fourth Legend are Guido delle Colonne’s Historia Troiana, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, bk. vii, and Heroides, letters vi. and xii. The story of Hypsipyle is also in Statius’ Thebaid, bk. v, and in l. 1437 (see note) there is a reference to the Argonauticon of Valerius Flaccus. See further in the Preface; and see the notes to ll. 1396, 1467.
THE LEGEND OF MEDEA.
THE LEGEND OF LUCRETIA.
Chaucer cites Ovid and Livy, and in l. 1873 again appeals to Livy as the authority. The story is in Livy, bk. j. c. 57-59; and in Ovid, Fasti, ii. 721-852. Chaucer doubtless appeals to Livy as being a professed historian, but the reader will find that, as a matter of fact, he follows mainly the account in Ovid from beginning to end, and sometimes almost word for word. Livy and Ovid were contemporary; the former was born 59, and died ad 17; the latter was born 43, and died ad 18. Gower also tells this story, and likewise follows Ovid and (near the end) Livy; C. A. iii. 251.
THE LEGEND OF ARIADNE.
For a remark upon the title, see note to l. 1966.
It is difficult to say whence Chaucer derived all of this Legend. The beginning is from Ovid, Metam. vii. 456-8, viii. 6-176; the main part of the story is like Plutarch’s Life of Theseus, or some similar source; and the conclusion from Ovid’s Heroides, epist. x. Further, ll. 2222-4 refer to Met. viii. 176-182. See also Hyginus, Fabulae, capp. xli-xliii; Æneid, vi. 20-30; and cf. Gower, C. A. ii. 302-311.
THE LEGEND OF PHILOMELA.
Chaucer’s Prologue ends at l. 2243. The tale is from Ovid, Met. vi. 424-605, with some omissions, and ends at l. 2382. Gower has the same story; C. A. bk. v. ed. Pauli, ii. 313.
THE LEGEND OF PHYLLIS.
Gower tells the same story in his Confessio Amantis, bk. iv. (ed. Pauli, ii. 26); and it is likely that he and Chaucer derived it from the same source, whatever that may have been. A portion of the latter part, from l. 2496, is taken from Ovid, Heroides, Ep. ii. And see note to l. 2423.
THE LEGEND OF HYPERMNESTRA.
The story is told in Ovid, Her. xiv. But Chaucer has taken some of the details from Boccaccio, De Genealogia Deorum, lib. ii. c. 22 Cf. Hyginus, Fab. 168. See the Introduction.
NOTES TO THE TREATISE ON THE ASTROLABE.
The title ‘Tractatus de Conclusionibus Astrolabii’ is suggested by the wording of the colophon on p. 223. But a better title is, simply, ‘Tractatus de Astrolabio,’ or ‘Treatise on the Astrolabe,’ as the ‘Conclusiones’ only occupy the Second Part of the work; see p. 188. Indeed MS. F. has ‘Tractatus Astrolabii’; see p. 233. MSS. B. and E. have the singular title—‘Bred and mylk for childeren.’