Gower Bibliography

John Gower and the Fall of Babylon: Confessio Amantis, Prol. ll. 670-86

Regan, Charles L. "John Gower and the Fall of Babylon: Confessio Amantis, Prol. ll. 670-86." English Language Notes 7.2 (1969), pp. 85-92.


In the Prologue to the CA, Gower relates Nebuchadnezzar's vision of the composite statue. Gower's account, however, differs from other Middle English sources, and indeed from the biblical Book of Daniel. In particular, Gower does not explicitly designate Belshazzar as the son of Nebuchadnezzar (although Regan notes that he does so in the MO), and he does not mention the Medes as conquerors of Babylon. The source that mostly closely approximates Gower's version is Boccaccio's De Casibus Illustrium Virorum, passages of which Gower may have memorized as part of his practice of writing "cento." Regan further surveys medieval interpretations of the world empires that are traditionally associated with the precious metals of the statue, and suggests that Gower's decision to associate silver only with the Persians, and not with the Medes, makes sense given his theme of gradual "division" during the course of history. If Gower had divided the Chaldean empire among the Medes and the Persians he would have damaged the climactic quality of his verse. Silver remains a noble metal and the end of the Chaldean empire occurs at a time when the world had only just begun to change for the worse. [CvD]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Confessio Amantis
Mirour de l’Omme (Speculum Meditantis)

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