Gower Bibliography

Rhetoric in Gower's 'To King Henry the Fourth, in Praise of Peace'

Daniels, Robertson Balfour. "Rhetoric in Gower's 'To King Henry the Fourth, in Praise of Peace'." Studies in Philology 32 (1935), pp. 62-73.


Daniels argues that Gower, like Chaucer, was likely indebted to the medieval rhetoricians. Gower's familiarity with the Poetria Nova of Geoffrey de Vinsauf is clear from two passages in the VC. Gower's syllabic play with the name Clemens (a "headless name" without the prefix "in") is likely modeled on Geoffrey's play on the name of Pope Innocent III. Similarly, a passage thirty lines earlier in the VC (3.925-26) about a shepherd's responsibility towards his sheep appears influenced by a similar word play in the Poetria Nova. Admittedly, in Book 8 of the CA Gower claims to have little knowledge of rhetoric, but Daniels shows that an earlier version of the same passage (3054-66*) includes two different rhetorical devices. Given Gower's knowledge of Geoffrey de Vinsauf, as well as the rhetorical portions of Brunetto Latini's Tresor, Gower's admission is likely ironic, and is in fact a rhetorical technique itself (disparagement or "diminutio"). The rest of the article aims to prove Gower's knowledge of rhetoric by a detailed listing of the rhetorical figures (see page 66 for the entire list) that occur in his poem "In Praise of Peace." However, Daniels concludes that while the poem includes "a considerable use of rhetorical ornament" (73), the "infrequent use of the tropes" (73) is noteworthy. The reason is that Gower eschews a "gravis stilus" (73) in favour of "simple and moving verses" in harmony with the theme of the poem, namely the humility of Christ. Daniels therefore concludes, "The rhetorical element in Gower is a measure of his artistry, and he employed rhetoric with taste and discrimination" (73). [CvD]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Style, Rhetoric, and Versification
In Praise of Peace
Vox Clamantis
Confessio Amantis

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