Gower Bibliography

The Seven Planets

Heather, P. J. "The Seven Planets." Folklore 54 (1943), pp. 338-361.

Review

Heather surveys astrological references in a range of Middle English works, focusing particularly on beliefs about the planets. Gower's treatment of astrology is frequently sampled (especially 339-47), and Heather quotes lengthy passages from the CA, particularly Book 7. It is noted that Gower matches up the days of the week with the planets, and in turn connects the latter to the twelve signs of the zodiac (342) and to the fifteen stars (344-46). Also mentioned are isolated references to astrology in stories such as "Medea and Jason" and "Nectanabus." Heather's evaluation of Gower's contribution to astrology is summed up in relation to Chaucer's work on the same subject: "Gower was concerned in presenting to his countrymen what had previously been written on the subject, and may well have had a greater part in moulding their belief in such matters. Chaucer on the other hand wrote rather as one who was weighing the value of the beliefs as they existed in his day and makes no secret of his scepticism" (351). Other brief references to Gower's work in the remainder of the essay include: a discussion of how Book 4 of the CA relates the subject of alchemy to the planets; a comparison between Chaucer's "Canon Yeoman's Tale" and Gower's description in Book 5 of Greek and Chaldean religions and their basis in astrology; a discussion of Gower's beliefs about light and darkness; the quotation of some references to the moon in the CA that describe its phases and its influence upon the tides; and an overview of beliefs about eclipses and their causes. [CvD]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Backgrounds and General Studies
Confessio Amantis

Gower Bibliography Editors Only: edit metadata