The canterbury tales, p.118
The Canterbury Tales, p.118Geoffrey Chaucer
1179 Proverbs 29:5.
1180 Cicero, On Duties I.xxvi.91.
1181 Distichs of Cato III.4.
1183 Publilius Syrus, 106.
1184 Isope: Riverside glosses this as ‘the Latin version of Aesop’s Fables’, but fails to specify which of the many different Latin versions circulating in the Middle Ages might be relevant here. For Chaucer, ‘Aesop’ would most probably have meant the version of the Romulus in elegiac verse (The Fables of ‘Walter of England’, ed. A. E. Wright (Toronto, 1997); Hervieux, Les fabulistes latins, II, 316–51). Albertano is, however, referring to the Novus Aesopus by a twelfth/thirteenth-century writer named Baldo, which, despite its title, does not derive from the Aesopic tradition at all, but is a collection of stories drawn from the oriental work known as Kalila and Dimna or the Pantchatantra. The lines quoted at this point in the Latin original of Mel (cap. XX, ed. Sundby, p. 49) are leonine hexameters: ‘Ne confidatis secreta nec hijs detegatis, | Cum quibus egistis pugnae discrimina tristis’(‘Do not confide your secrets or reveal them to those with whom you have had bitter altercation’). These are the concluding lines of Baldo’s fable XI, the fable of the owls and the ravens (Beiträge zur lateinischen Erzählungsliteratur des Mittelalters, ed. A. Hilka (Berlin, 1928), p. 30). They are twice quoted (and attributed to ‘Ysopus’) in the Latin prose version of Kalila and Dimna by Raymond of Beziers (Hervieux, Les fabulistes latins, V, 473, 727).
1185 Not from Seneca, but from Publilius Syrus, 434.
1186–8 The first part of the quotation is Ecclesiasticus 12:10–11; cf. Whiting E100, F364, F367, C467. The second part, as quoted in the Latin source of Mel, has a parallel in the Munich florilegium (see n. to Mel 1178), ed. Woelfflin, p. 25 (XV.15–16): ‘[Nunquam fidelem tibi, quem ex amico inimicum habueris: et si in gratiam reverti quaesierit,] ne credas illi: captatus enim utilitate, non amica revertitur voluntate, ut fingendo decipiat, quem non potuit persequendo’ (‘The friend who has become your enemy will never be faithful to you, and if he tries to come back into your favour, do not trust him; for he returns out of self-interest, not out of friendly feeling, so that he may deceive you by pretence, when he could not do it by opposing you’).
1189 Peter Alfonce: Petrus Alfonsi, Disciplina Clericalis, ‘De consilio’, p. 6.37–8 (tr. Jones and Keller, p. 42).
1192 The Latin original quotes Cicero, On Duties II.vii.23, which is rather loosely rendered by the French translation.
1194 Proverbs 31:4 (Vulgate; not in the AV version): ‘there is no secret where drunkenness reigneth’. Cf. ML 776–7 and Pard 560–61.
1196 Cassiodorie: Cassiodorus (6th c.), Variae X.18 (CCSL 96, p. 400).
1197 The Latin original of Mel quotes Publilius Syrus, 395 (‘The wicked man never proposes a good plan to himself’), but the French version is closer to Proverbs 12:5.
1198 Psalm 1:1.
1199 Both Latin and French versions of Mel here quote Ecclesiastes 10:16: ‘Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and when the princes eat in the morning.’ J. S. P. Tatlock supposed that Chaucer omitted the quotation in deference to the young Richard II, who was ten years old when he came to the throne in 1377 (Development and Chronology, p. 192).
1200 One would expect the second clause here to contrast with the first, rather than repeat it, and this expectation is met in the French source, where Prudence claims to have shown whose counsel is to be followed and whose is to be avoided (‘eschever et fuir’; SA2 I, 360). J. B. Severs suggests that Chaucer’s ‘folwe’ arose from a confusion between ‘fuir’ and ‘suir’ (SA p. 582).
1201–10 the doctrine of Tullius: The line of thought is paralleled in Cicero, On Duties II.v.18.
1215 Proverbial; see Whiting M774 and Hassell E23.
1216 Distichs of Cato III.14.
1218 Petrus Alfonsi, Disciplina Clericalis, ‘De mendacio’, p. 11.17–18 (tr. Jones and Keller, p. 49).
1219 Cf. Whiting T366 and PF 514–16. Injunctions to keep silent as much as possible are characteristic of wisdom literature; see, for example, Disciplina clericalis, ‘De silentio’, p. 8:9–14 (tr. Jones and Keller, p. 44) and Mcp 314–62. Cf. RR 7007–13 (tr. Horgan, p. 107).
1221 This echoes Cicero, On Duties I.ix.30, though Cicero is talking about doubt as to whether an action is right or not, rather than doubt about the ability to carry it through.
1223 conseil*] conseillours El Hg. The sense of the passage requires ‘conseil’, and the French source of Mel confirms this reading (Manly and Rickert IV, 503; cf. SA2 I, 364).
1225 Cf. Walther 3180.
1226 Not identified in Seneca.
1229 the lawes seyn: In the Latin original of Mel, these statements are supported by a quotation of Cicero, On Duties I.x.32, but the reference to the laws suggests that Renaud de Louens is alluding to the Digest of Justinian, XLV.i.26–7 (IV, 653).
1231 In the Latin original of Mel, this is identifiable as a quotation of Publilius Syrus, 403.
1246 Cf. the Munich florilegium (see n. to Mel 1178), ed. Woelfflin, p. 29 (XXVIII.5): ‘Duo maxime contraria esse consilio, festinationem et iram’ (‘Two things are especially inimical to forming plans, haste and anger’).
1257 cast… in an hochepot: This vivid phrase is Chaucer’s addition (cf. SA2 I, 366).
1264 See Walther 11267b.
1269 Cf. Gregory IX, Decretals I.xxxviii.3 (Corpus Iuris Canonici, II, col. 211), where it is said of priests, not physicians.
1283 Cf. Whiting M75, M121.
1288–90 In fact the physicians had made clear that their interpretation of the ‘remedy by contrasts’ was the one put forward by Melibeus; see Mel 1016–17. For an attempt to explain the contradiction, see SA2 I, 355, n.
1292 The beginning of this quotation reflects 1 Peter 3:9, but its conclusion echoes Christ’s words at Matthew 5:44; cf. Romans 12:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:15, 1 Corinthians 4:12.
1304 Psalm 126:1 (AV 127:1).
1306–7 Distichs of Cato IV.13.
1309–12 Petrus Alfonsi, Disciplina Clericalis, ‘De societate ignota’, p. 27.34–8 (tr. Jones and Keller, p. 76).
1317–18 Proverbs 28:14.
1320 Not from Seneca, but from Publilius Syrus, 666. (Albertano also quotes 594, which is another formulation of the same idea.)
1321 Publilius Syrus, 425 (Albertano has the variant reading ‘ruinam’ instead of ‘rimam’).
1324 Also from Publilius Syrus, 294.
1325–6 Ovid, Remedies of Love 421–2: ‘A viper kills a bull with a little bite; a boar is often caught by a dog of no great size.’ Skeat (V, 214) suggested that Chaucer’s ‘wesele’ was the result of a confusion between French vivre (‘viper’) and Latin viverra (‘ferret’). Chaucer interpolates into the Ovidian quotation the reference to the wild hart and the saying about the king being pricked by a little thorn; neither is in his French source or its Latin original (SA2 I, 369:32.13 and n.).
1328 Seneca, Moral Epistles III.3.
1330 The same quotation appears in Albertano’s Liber de doctrina dicendi et tacendi III.39, but its source has not been traced.
1335–6 aperteneth… grete edifices*] om. El Hg. The omission is evidently due to eyeskip; it is shared with many other manuscripts.
1339–40 Not from Cicero, but from Seneca, On Mercy I.xix.6.
1344 Cicero, On Duties I.xxi.73.
1347 Not from Cicero. Cf. Publilius Syrus, 148.
1348 Cassiodorus, Variae I.17 (CCSL 96, p. 26).
1355 Cf. n. to Mel 1201–10.
1364 ne been nat youre freendes: Not in the French source.
1380 Cf. Justinian, Digest II.ii (I, 40–42).
1395 The Latin terms used here are not contained in Chaucer’s French source nor (with the exception of ‘efficiens’) in its Latin original (SA2 I, 376).
1398–1401 The terminology here is indebted to Aristotle’s distinction of four types of cause (Physics II.iii, vii; Metaphysics I.iii), which became commonplace in scholastic thought. In the case of a statue, for
1404 the book of Decrees: Gratian’s Decretum. For the passage cited, see II.i.i.25 (Corpus Iuris Canonici, I, col. 369).
1406 The Latin original of Mel refers explicitly to 1 Corinthians 4:5; however, the wording of the French version (which Chaucer, as usual, follows) reflects Romans 11:33. Cf. ML 479–83.
1410 The Latin etymology here proposed for Melibee’s name is mel bibens, ‘drinking honey’.
1415 Ovid, Amores I.viii.104. For a definition of the ‘goodes of the body’, see Pars 452.
1416–17 Proverbs 25:16.
and be needy and poore: Chaucer’s addition.
1421 On the world, the flesh, and the devil as the three enemies of the spiritual health of humankind, see D. R. Howard, The Three Temptations (Princeton, NJ, 1966), pp. 61–3.
1422 windowes of thy body: Medieval writings often metaphorically represented the human body as a building, emphasizing the need to keep it closed against the assaults of temptation. See R. D. Cornelius, The Figurative Castle (Bryn Mawr, 1930), ch. 3.
1433–4 The change of speaker apparent in what follows shows that something has dropped out here, and this is confirmed by comparison with the French source. The omission was evidently caused by eyeskip as a result of the repetition of ‘malfaitteurs’ in the French source (see Manly and Rickert IV, 504). Since one of the manuscripts of the French source has exactly such an omission, Severs concluded that the error was in the manuscript used by Chaucer, and that he failed to notice or remedy it (SA, p. 593). Odd though this seems, it would be too much of a coincidence to suppose scribal error at exactly the same point in Chaucer’s text as in his source. A translation of the appropriate portion of the French text is supplied in brackets.
1437 The Latin original of Mel quotes the ps.-Senecan De moribus (see Headnote), 114: ‘bonis nocet, qui malis parcit’ (‘he who spares the wicked harms the good’); the French version renders this accurately, but Chaucer’s version does not. Robinson suggests that the manuscript he was using was corrupt.
1438 Cassiodorus, Variae I.4 (CCSL 96, p. 14).
1439 Publilius Syrus, 580.
1440–41 Romans 13:4 (with ‘sword’, not ‘spear’).
1449 Not from Seneca, but from Publilius Syrus, 361.
1450 Also from Publilius Syrus, 219.
1451–2 Cf. TC IV.2–3.
1455 Not from Seneca, but from Publilius Syrus, 203.
1460 Romans 12:19.
1463 Publilius Syrus, 715.
1466 Publilius Syrus, 535.
1473 Cf. the Munich proverb-collection (see n. to Mel 1178), ed. Woelfflin, p. 33 (XLI.4): ‘Qui non corripit peccantem, peccare imperat.’
1481–3 Seneca, On Wrath II.xxxiv.1.
1485 Proverbs 20:3.
1488 Not from Seneca, but from Publilius Syrus, 531.
1489–90 Distichs of Cato IV.39.
1496 The poet is not identified in either the Latin original or the French source of Mel, and the thought is too commonplace to be easily traced to a single source.
1497–1500 Unidentified in Gregory’s works.
1502–4 1 Peter 2:21–3.
1510 The French source of Mel identifies the ‘epistle’ as 2 Corinthians; the reference seems to be to 4:17, which contrasts the brevity of earthly tribulation with the eternity of glory that it merits.
1512 Proverbs 19:11 (Vulgate; the AV text differs): ‘the learning of a man is known by patience’.
1513 Proverbs 14:29.
1514 Proverbs 15:18.
1515–16 Proverbs 16:32.
1517 Alluding to James 1:4.
1519–20 Cf. WB 111–12.
1525 Cf. Rv 3912 and n.
1528 Cassiodorus, Variae I.30 (CCSL 96, p. 37).
1531 Not from Seneca, but from the ps.-Senecan De moribus (see Headnote), 139.
1532–4 Justinian, Digest IX.ii.45 (4) (I, 291), and Codex VIII.4.1 (Corpus Juris Civilis, II, 332).
1539 An allusion to Proverbs 19:19.
1541 Justinian, Digest L.xvii.36 (IV, 959).
1542 Proverbs 26:17.
1550 Ecclesiastes 10:19. Cf. Whiting M633.
1556–7 Pamphilles: Pamphilus 53–4 (see n. to Fkl 1110–12 on this work). Excerpts from Pamphilus appeared in numerous medieval florilegia; see Florilegium Gallicum, ed. J. Hamacher (Bern, 1975), pp. 36, 63–78, 85.
1558–60 Not from Pamphilus. The wording of the quotation in the French source does not reflect either of the two texts quoted by the Latin original at this point (SA2 I, 387), and is closer to Ovid, Tristia I.ix.5–6. A version of Ovid’s lines became proverbial in the Middle Ages; see Innocent III, De Miseria I.14.14–15 (and n.), and Walther 4165: ‘Cum fueris felix, multos numerabis amicos. | Tempora si fuerint nubila, solus eris’ (‘When you are happy, you will count many friends. If times are dark, you will be alone’). Cf. Whiting R108 and ML 120. In 1559–60, Chaucer expands on the word ‘alone’ by using his favourite phrase ‘allone withouten any compaignye’ (also used at Kn 2779, Mil 3204).
1561 Mistakenly attributed to Pamphilus by Chaucer’s French source; the corresponding quotation in the Latin original is a pair of Latin hexameters: ‘Glorificant gaze privatos nobilitate | Paupertasque domum premit altam nobilitate’, quoted and attributed to a ‘versificator’ in Petrus Alfonsi, Disciplina clericalis, p. 10.22–3 (tr. Jones and Keller, p. 48). The couplet also seems to have circulated as a proverb, see Walther 10342.
1564–5 The Latin original of Mel has ‘mater criminum’ (‘mother of crimes’; ed. Sundby, p. 99.4), which the French version accurately renders as ‘mere de crimes’ (SA2 I, 388). Possibly the manuscript used by Chaucer was corrupt at this point. ‘Falling down’ is the root meaning of ‘ruin’ (from Latin ruere, ‘to fall down’).
1566–7 Petrus Alfonsi, Disciplina Clericalis, ‘De consilio’, pp. 6.40–7.2 (tr. Jones and Keller, p. 42). Chaucer’s manuscript of the French source must have read ‘mengier’ (‘eten’), as do some surviving manuscripts, but the Latin original shows that this is a scribal error for ‘mendier’ or ‘demander’ (‘beg’), readings preserved in other manuscripts (SA2 I, 388, corrected against Sundby).
1568–70 Innocent III, De Miseria I.14.4–6; this passage is also the basis of ML 99–105 (see n.).
1571 Ecclesiasticus 40:29. Cf. ML 114.
1572 Cf. Ecclesiasticus 30:17.
1576 sokingly*] sekingly El Hg. The unusual word ‘sokingly’, ‘gradually’, was apparently not understood by the El/Hg scribe. Its authenticity is supported by the French source, which has ‘attemprement’ (‘moderately’; SA2 I, 390).
1576–1647 This long section on the acquisition of riches is Renaud de Louens’s addition to Albertano’s original, and is not fully integrated into the main line of Prudence’s argument (see 1648–50). In compiling it, Renaud used quotations from another work by Albertano, De amore et dilectione dei (SA, p. 563), prompted by a cross-reference to this work at the relevant point in the Liber consolationis (ed. Sundby, p. 102.1–4).
1578 Proverbs 28:20.
1579–80 Proverbs 13:11.
1583 Source unknown.
1585–6 Cicero, On Duties III.v.21.
1589 Ecclesiasticus 33:29; cf. SN 1–14.
1590–91 Proverbs 28:19.
1593 The versifier is unidentified, but the first half of this saying reflects Proverbs 20:4.
1594 Distichs of Cato I.2.
1595 The French source attributes this saying to Innocent, but some manuscripts have ‘Jerome’ (SA2 I, 391). It has not been traced in either author. Cf. SN 6–7.
1602–4 This is a very free rendering of the Distichs of Cato IV.16.
1605 Distichs of Cato III.21.
1612–13 Unidentified. Cf. Kn 3034.
1617 Not identified
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