Gower Bibliography

Simon Sudbury and Helenus in John Gower's Vox Clamantis

Van Dyk, Conrad. "Simon Sudbury and Helenus in John Gower's Vox Clamantis." Medium AEvum 77 (2008), pp. 313-318.


In his note to Book I, line 1002 in his translation of VC, Stockton observed that Gower's comparison of Simon Sudbury to Helenus is "singularly ill-chosen" because "the ancient Helenus was a traitor to Troy." Not so in the sources most familiar to Gower, Van Dijk observes, for both Benoit and Guido refer only to Helenus's predictions about the outcome of Paris's expedition and his attempts to assure that Achilles receive a proper burial. Gower's invocation of Helenus thus implies no implicit criticism of Sudbury, as some who followed Stockton have assumed. Van Dijk attributes the mistake about Helenus's role to a confusion between Helenus and Thoas, the high priest who did betray Troy, whom Gower mentions in CA 5.1831-47, but while Van Dijk may be right about Gower, Stockton wasn't wrong about Helenus, for according to classical sources, Helenus was a traitor who provided crucial information to the Greeks following his disenchantment with the Trojan cause after Paris's death. In his defense of Helenus, Van Dijk also curiously neglects the reference to the prophetic powers that he shared with his sister Cassandra in CA 5.746-62, another positive allusion, also based on Guido and Benoit, that contains no hint of his later treachery. [PN. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 28.2]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Vox Clamantis

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