Gower Bibliography

The Role of Venus and Genius in John Gower's Confessio Amantis: A Reconsideration

Hatton, Thomas J. "The Role of Venus and Genius in John Gower's Confessio Amantis: A Reconsideration." Greyfriar 16 (1975), pp. 29-40. ISSN 0533-2869


Hatton argues against the view that Gower's figures of Genius, Cupid, and Venus are representatives of "honeste love." According to Hatton, these figures do not usually speak for the poet, and we have to learn to read the CA ironically in order to ascertain Gower's intentions. Gower's Venus and Cupid are largely unchanged from the "Roman de la Rose" (where they represent concupiscence), and Genius provides Amans with a very limited perspective. Specifically, Genius is guilty of a "doggedly literal handling of rich allegorical materials throughout the Confessio Amantis" (36). In the Tale of Aspidis, for example, Genius ignores the allegorical lesson (present in the MO) that the lover should avoid the temptations of worldly delight and focus on spiritual pursuits. Similarly, in the Tale of Mars and Venus, Genius changes Ovid's story in order to condemn jealousy; in doing so, he ignores the allegorical tradition that saw Venus and Mars as led astray by concupiscence. Hatton acknowledges that in Book 8 Venus seems to take on a different and more positive role, but he argues that this is in keeping with the medieval idea that there were two Venuses. The final Pauline message of the poem is that Amans must "put off the old man of the flesh and become a new man of the spirit" (39). [CvD]

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

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