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John (1), Seint

John (1), Seint   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to Chaucer

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2005

...to in Chaucer , as one of the four gospel writers (VII.951), and is quoted in The Parson's Tale (X.216, 349 (‘if that we seyn that we be withoute synne, we deceyve us selve, and trouthe is nat in us’), etc.). He is also mentioned as a visionary, ‘the grete evaungelist, Seint John’ who wrote of the ‘white Lamb celestial’ (VII.582–3), of the four beasts ‘full of eyes before and behind’ ( HF 1385; Rev. 4:6), and of the pains of hell (III.1647; cf. Rev. 19 and 20). His name is frequent in oaths (often in rhyme): e.g. II.18, 1019, III.164, etc., though it is not...

Job

Job   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to Chaucer

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2005

...The Parson's Tale , where there is a lengthy exposition (X.176ff.) of the prayer Job makes (Job 10:20–2) for a respite to bewail his trespass—verses which are given a poetic translation: ‘Suffre, Lord, that I may a while biwaille and wepe, er I go withoute returnyng to the derke lond, covered with the derknesse of deeth, to the lond of mysese and of derknesse, whereas is the shadwe of deeth, whereas ther is noon ordre or ordinaunce but grisly drede that evere shal laste.’ He is once called ‘Seint Job’ (X.223), perhaps meaning simply ‘holy’, or perhaps giving...

oaths, swearing

oaths, swearing   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to Chaucer

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2005

...hand on the Bible, to confirm the veracity of his statements. Biblical precept would seem to discourage, if not actually prohibit, swearing: the Pardoner mentions the standard proof texts of Exodus 20:7, Jeremiah 4:2, and Matthew 5:34 (VI.629–47). The standard orthodox view accepted oaths for legal purposes or in great necessity, as does the Parson (X.592): ‘And if so be that the lawe compelle yow to swere, thanne rule yow after the lawe of God in youre sweryng, as seith Jeremye, quarto capitulo : Thou shalt kepe three condicions: thou shalt swere “in...

Merchant, The

Merchant, The   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to Chaucer

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2005

...devil (‘right as a marchant deliteth hym moost in chaffare that he hath moost avantage of, right so deliteth the fend in this ordure’) (i.e. lechery, X.850) is perhaps a less than complimentary one. And Chaucer records the ancient tradition that there were no merchants in the Golden Age: in those times people had not yet begun to search for ‘newe stroondes to leden marchandise into diverse contrees’ ( Bo II m.5:20–2), and ‘no marchaunt yit ne fette outlandish ware’ ( Former Age 22). Rv , see Benson, Larry D. (ed.) 809–10; Cooper, Helen (1989), The...

devil

devil   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to Chaucer

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2005

...life as a continual struggle against the devil and his wiles. Here he appears as the tempter of Eve (X.330ff.), and of all men (he even makes a little speech explaining how he goes about it, X.355ff.). But he trembles when he hears the name of Jesus (X.597–8). Memorable images are used to drive home the moral points: the five fingers of one of the devil's hands illustrate the kinds of Gluttony, those of the other hand illustrate the types of Lechery (X.830, 850ff.); ire is the devil's furnace (545); flatterers are the devils' enchanters (615) or chaplains...

children and childhood

children and childhood   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to Chaucer

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2005

...instance, uses a striking simile to express the grief of January : ‘he yaf a roryng and a cry, | As dooth the mooder whan the child shal dye’ (IV.2364–5). The warning of the Parson against loving a child before God (X.860) suggests that this actually happened, and his urging of the need to suffer patiently the loss of goods, wife, or child (X.1055) suggests that this was not the automatic reaction (cf. also VII.983). In medieval religion, alongside the idea of the child tainted with original sin which had to be washed away in baptism, there was also that of...

clothes

clothes   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to Chaucer

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2005

...The most direct and vehement sartorial satire comes from the Parson, when he reproves excess in clothing. Clothes began with the Fall, he says, when Adam and Eve were moved by their new shame to sew ‘of fige leves a maner of breches to hiden hire membres’ (X.325–9). Pride shows itself in fashionable dress (X.415–30), with ‘superfluity’ of clothing. He laments the expense involved in the embroidering, the notching of borders, the ornamenting with stripes and bars, the costly furring, the cutting and ‘dagging’ of garments. He criticizes the length of gowns...

money

money   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to Chaucer

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2005

...to love and its generous instincts ( Tr III.1373ff.). The avaricious man, says the Parson , ‘dooth moore observance in kepynge of his tresor than he dooth to the service of Jhesu Crist’: he is simply an idolater, ‘for certes, every floryn in his cofre is his mawmet [idol]’ (X.747–9). The Prioress remarks sharply that a ghetto is maintained by a lord ‘for foule usure and lucre of vileynye’ (i.e. excessive profits, VII.490–1). In spite of this a good number of the pilgrims and the characters in the stories they tell are keenly, and sometimes excessively...

Canterbury Tales, The

Canterbury Tales, The   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to Chaucer

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...Prologue and Tale . Fragment X (I). The Parson's Prologue and Tale and ‘Chaucer's Retraction’ ( Retracciouns ). The Ellesmere order makes good sense of what remains (all MSS, whatever their ordering of II–IX, begin with the General Prologue and end with The Parson's Tale , and Fragments IX and X are explicitly linked), but what Chaucer had in mind for the final structure remains unknown. A few modern editions favour the alternative order of Skeat noted above, which gives us: I, II, VII, VI, III, IV, V, VIII, IX, X. This makes use of the ‘ Bradshaw ...

love

love   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to Chaucer

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2005

...says of himself ‘I brenne ay in an amorous plesaunce’ ( Rosemounde 22). He makes use of it in the most profane context, as when Absolon 's ‘hoote love was coold and al yqueynt’ (I.3754), as well as in divine, when a man ‘brenneth in the love of God and for the love of God’ (X.382): St Cecilia was ‘brennynge evere in charite ful brighte’ (VIII.118). Similarly, the image of love as a bond or a chain ( vinculum amoris ) ranges from the ‘faire cheyne of love’ created by the First Mover which binds the elements together (I.2987–93) or ‘benigne Love’, the...

memory

memory   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to Chaucer

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2005

... there are many references to the general lore concerning memory ( memorie , remembraunce , mynde ). Memory is one of the three parts of the soul: ‘memorie, engyn, and intellect also’ (VIII.339). The Parson includes ‘good memorie’ among the ‘goodes of nature of the soule’ (X.452). Chaucer is also aware of the Platonic idea of memory which is found in Boethius ( Boece ). Lady Philosophy tells Boethius that he has forgotten his true nature, and that he is confused by lack of memory (I pr.6). Man has a ‘dyrkyd memorie’ (III pr.2:85). His mind always...

Parliament of Fowls

Parliament of Fowls   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to Chaucer

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2005

...of Fowls or Parlement of Foules (called by Chaucer ‘the Parlement of Foules’ ( LGW 419) and ‘the book of Seint Valentynes day of the Parlement of Briddes’ (X.1086), a dream vision in 699 lines of rhyme royal. It was written before The Legend of Good Women but its precise date is uncertain. Attempts have been made to link it with a particular royal betrothal or marriage, notably the negotiations in 1380 for the betrothal of Richard II to Anne of Bohemia (whom he married in 1382 ), but these are not proven. The poem would fit such an...

alliterative verse

alliterative verse  

The native Germanic tradition of English poetry and the standard form in Old English up to the 11th cent., recurring in Middle English as a formal alternative to the syllable‐counting, rhymed verse ...

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