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John Gower's Tale of Appius and Virginia

(Confessio Amantis, Bk VII, 5131-5306)

 

Use the glossary in the Riverside Chaucer for this passage; the marginal glosses are not yet ready. See also a note on Gower's spellings

 





5135




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5210




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5280




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5305

At Rome whan that Apius,
Whos other name is Claudius,
Was governour of the cite,
Ther fell a wonder thing to se
Touchende a gentil Maide, as thus,
Whom Livius Virginius
Begeten hadde upon his wif:
Men seiden that so fair a lif
As sche was noght in al the toun.
This fame, which goth up and doun,
To Claudius cam in his Ere,
Wherof his thoght anon was there,
Which al his herte hath set afyre,
That he began the flour desire
Which longeth unto maydenhede,
And sende, if that he myhte spede
The blinde lustes of his wille.

Bot that thing mai he noght fulfille,
For sche stod upon Mariage;
A worthi kniht of gret lignage,
Ilicius which thanne hihte,
Acorded in hire fader sihte
Was, that he scholde his douhter wedde.
Bot er the cause fully spedde,
Hire fader, which in Romanie
The ledinge of chivalerie
In governance hath undertake,
Upon a werre which was take
Goth out with al the strengthe he hadde
Of men of Armes whiche he ladde:
So was the mariage left,
And stod upon acord til eft.

The king, which herde telle of this,
Hou that this Maide ordeigned is
To Mariage, thoghte an other.
And hadde thilke time a brother,
Which Marchus Claudius was hote,
And was a man of such riote
Riht as the king himselve was:
Thei tuo togedre upon this cas
In conseil founden out this weie,
That Marchus Claudius schal seie
Hou sche be weie of covenant
To his service appourtenant
Was hol, and to non other man;
And therupon he seith he can
In every point witnesse take,
So that sche schal it noght forsake.

Whan that thei hadden schape so,
After the lawe which was tho,
Whil that hir fader was absent,
Sche was somouned and assent
To come in presence of the king
And stonde in ansuere of this thing.
Hire frendes wisten alle wel
That it was falshed everydel,
And comen to the king and seiden,
Upon the comun lawe and preiden,
So as this noble worthi knyht
Hir fader for the comun riht
In thilke time, as was befalle,
Lai for the profit of hem alle
Upon the wylde feldes armed,
That he ne scholde noght ben harmed
Ne schamed, whil that he were oute;
And thus thei preiden al aboute.

For al the clamour that he herde,
The king upon his lust ansuerde,
And yaf hem only daies tuo
Of respit; for he wende tho,
That in so schorte a time appiere
Hire fader mihte in no manere.
Bot as therof he was deceived;
For Livius hadde al conceived
The pourpos of the king tofore,
So that to Rome ayein therfore
In alle haste he cam ridende,
And lefte upon the field liggende
His host, til that he come ayein.

And thus this worthi capitein
Appiereth redi at his day,
Wher al that evere reson may
Be lawe in audience he doth,
So that his dowhter upon soth
Of that Marchus hire hadde accused
He hath tofore the court excused.

The king, which sih his pourpos faile,
And that no sleihte mihte availe,
Encombred of his lustes blinde
The lawe torneth out of kinde,
And half in wraththe as thogh it were,
In presence of hem alle there
Deceived of concupiscence
Yaf for his brother the sentence,
And bad him that he scholde sese
This Maide and make him wel at ese;
Bot al withinne his oghne entente
He wiste hou that the cause wente,
Of that his brother hath the wyte
He was himselven forto wyte.

Bot thus this maiden hadde wrong,
Which was upon the king along,
Bot ayein him was non Appel,
And that the fader wiste wel:
Wherof upon the tirannie,
That for the lust of Lecherie
His douhter scholde be deceived,
And that Ilicius was weyved
Untrewly fro the Mariage,
Riht as a Leon in his rage,
Which of no drede set acompte
And not what pite scholde amounte,
A naked swerd he pulleth oute,
The which amonges al the route
He threste thurgh his dowhter side,
And al alowd this word he cride:
"Lo, take hire ther, thou wrongfull king,
For me is levere upon this thing
To be the fader of a Maide,
Thogh sche be ded, than if men saide
That in hir lif sche were schamed
And I therof were evele named."

Tho bad the king men scholde areste
His bodi, bot of thilke heste,
Lich to the chaced wylde bor,
The houndes whan he fieleth sor,
Tothroweth and goth forth his weie,
In such a wise forto seie
This worthi kniht with swerd on honde
His weie made, and thei him wonde,
That non of hem his strokes kepte;
And thus upon his hors he lepte,
And with his swerd droppende of blod,
The which withinne his douhter stod,
He cam ther as the pouer was
Of Rome, and tolde hem al the cas,
And seide hem that thei myhten liere
Upon the wrong of his matiere,
That betre it were to redresce
At hom the grete unrihtwisnesse,
Than forto werre in strange place
And lese at hom here oghne grace.
For thus stant every mannes lif
In jeupartie for his wif
Or for his dowhter, if thei be
Passende an other of beaute.

Of this merveile which thei sihe
So apparant tofore here yhe,
Of that the king him hath misbore,
Here othes thei have alle swore
That thei wol stonde be the riht.
And thus of on acord upriht
To Rome at ones hom ayein
Thei torne, and schortly forto sein,
This tirannye cam to mouthe,
And every man seith what he couthe,
So that the prive tricherie,
Which set was upon lecherie,
Cam openly to mannes Ere;
And that broghte in the comun feere,
That every man the peril dradde
Of him that so hem overladde.

Forthi, er that it worse falle,
Thurgh comun conseil of hem alle
Thei have here wrongfull king deposed,
And hem in whom it was supposed
The conseil stod of his ledinge
Be lawe unto the dom thei bringe,
Wher thei receiven the penance
That longeth to such governance.

And thus th'unchaste was chastised,
Wherof thei myhte ben avised
That scholden afterward governe,
And be this evidence lerne,
Hou it is good a king eschuie
The lust of vice and vertu suie.




























































































































































































 

 

Text adapted from: The English Works of John Gower, ed. G. C. Macaulay, EETS e.s. 81-82 (London, 1900-1901)

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