Gower Bibliography

The Gem-Bearing Serpents of the Trinity Homilies: An Analogue for Gower's Confessio Amantis.

Conti, Aidan. "The Gem-Bearing Serpents of the Trinity Homilies: An Analogue for Gower's Confessio Amantis." Modern Philology 106 (2009), pp. 109-116.

Review

In CA 1. 463-80, Gower refers to the asp with a jewel upon his head who protects himself from men who would entice him with enchantments by laying one ear upon the ground and stopping the other with his tail. The sources that are normally cited (Psalm 57, Augustine, and Isidore; see Macaulay Works, 2.468) do not mention the precious stone. Henkin (not Hankin or Hankins, as variously spelled by Conti) suggested that Gower had combined the legend of the snake that stops its ears with a different one drawn from medieval lapidary tradition about a snake or dragon with a jewel in its brain. But Conti has found that the combination already occurs in a homily in the 12th-13th century "Trinity homilies" (Cambridge, Trinity Coll. B.l4.52), which differs from Gower's only in that the snake lays its one ear upon a rock instead of upon the ground. In another 12th-homily found in Oxford, Bodleian Library, Bodley 343, there are two snakes, one like Gower's that protects itself against enchantments and another less prudent one that bears golden gems in its head and allows itself to be beguiled. [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 28.2]

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

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