Gower Bibliography

'Savour,' Chaucer's 'Summoner's Tale,' and Matthew 5:13

Hanks, D. Thomas, Jr.. "'Savour,' Chaucer's 'Summoner's Tale,' and Matthew 5:13." English Language Notes 31 (1994), pp. 25-29.


In SumT III.2196, the lord tells the friar, "Ye been the salt of the erthe and the savour." Modern editors have customarily cited Matthew 5:13 as Chaucer's source, but neither "savour" nor the Latin sapor occurs either in the Vulgate or in any of the English translations that Chaucer might have known. The actual source, Hanks suggests, was VC 3.1997-98: "Hii sunt sal terre, quo nos condimur in orbe,/ Absque sapore suo vix salietur homo;" and Chaucer, recollecting Gower, was the first to use the collocation "salt and savour" in English. Hanks goes on to suggest, logically but more intriguingly, that the first use of "savour" in a translation of the gospels, in the Geneva Bible of 1560, was due to a translator's recollection of the earthy passage in SumT. [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 15.1]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Vox Clamantis

Gower Bibliography Editors Only: edit metadata