Gower Bibliography

"Some Sources of the Seventh Book of Gower's Confessio Amantis."

Hamilton, George L. ""Some Sources of the Seventh Book of Gower's Confessio Amantis."." Modern Philology 9.3 (1912), pp. 323-46.


Hamilton agrees with Macaulay that earlier critics from Warton onward wrongly assumed that Book 7 of the CA is by and large a borrowing from the Secretum Secretorum (SS). However, he argues that Macaulay restricts Gower's indebtedness too much by only looking at the Latin original of the SS. According to Hamilton, Gower also uses a French translation by Jofroi de Watreford. This text was translated into English by James Yonge in 1422, and Hamilton shows how close Gower is to both by comparing the various versions of the tale of Cambyses. Yet, Gower sometimes uses multiple texts as sources. For example, the section of Book 7 that Peck's edition entitles "Triumph, Humility, and the Roman Emperors" borrows the name of the hostile people "Dorence," and the reference to the god Apollo from some collection of exempla, whereas he uses Jofroi for details such as the citation of his sources (333). Similarly, the description of the nobility of the lion (7.3387-99) is borrowed partially from Jofroi and partially from Brunetto Latini. Gower further relies on Jofroi for the information about the four complexions of man and for the story of Diogenes and Aristippus. Even Gower's biblical stories "were suggested in their due category to Gower by his French source" (15). At other times Gower and Jofroi share the same source, as in the moralization on Alexander (CA 3.2438-80), which ultimately stems from the Disciplina Clericalis of Petrus Alphonsus (338). Yet, in at least one respect Gower parts way with Jofroi. Gower does not agree that the scientific discourse of the original Latin SS lacks authority and is false (341). In fact, Gower uses other sources (like Brunetto Latini and Martianus Capella) to expand his discussion of the influence of the planets. [CvD]

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

Gower Bibliography Editors Only: edit metadata