Gower Bibliography

Canace and Machaire

Spearing, A. C.. "Canace and Machaire." Mediaevalia 16 (1993), pp. 211-221.


Concerned with Gower's reading of Ovid. From epistle 11 of Ovid's "Heroides," written by Canace and ending with an allusion to the blood-stained letter in her lap, Gower has extracted a straightforward narrative, replacing ordo artificialis with ordo naturalis. Gower refuses to condemn the children's incest, though he is not unaware of the traditional medieval judgment that their love was unnatural. Instead he chooses to emphasize the "naturalness of the unnatural," in his manner of telling, in his attribution to Canace of a letter echoing the most conventional courtly rhetoric of love, and in the image of the child bathing in his mother's blood with which the tale concludes. This image, though not in Ovid's version, is nonetheless based on Ovid, as the literal child replaces the metaphorical child, Canace's blood-stained letter, as the victim of Eolus' wrath. [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 13.1]

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Guest issue edited by Robert F. Yeager.
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Confessio Amantis

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