Gower Bibliography

Chaucer, Livy, and Bersuire: The Roman Materials in The Physician's Tale.

Brown, William H., Jr.. "Chaucer, Livy, and Bersuire: The Roman Materials in The Physician's Tale." In On Language: Rhetorica, Phonologica, Syntactica; A Festschrift for Robert P. Stockwell from his Friends and Colleagues. Ed. Duncan-Rose, Caroline and Vennemann, Theo. London: Routledge, 1988, pp. 39-51. ISBN 0415003121


Brown endorses the traditional view that Gower's tale of Virginia is based on Livy (p. 40), but he believes that the case for Chaucer's use of Livy remains unproven, and that the details that Chaucer could not have taken from RR, which served as his principal source, more likely came from another medieval text. Gower's version provides many of the necessary details and could well have been available to Chaucer when he wrote his tale; but a more likely source is provided by Pierre Bersuire's translation of Livy (completed in 1355), which supplied not only the details that RR lacks but also the emphasis on virginity that Chaucer shares with Livy, a concern that is diluted in Gower's version as he draws instead a lesson for the king on pursuing virtue and common profit. [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 9.1]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Confessio Amantis

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