Geoffrey Chaucer was an English poet and author. Considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages, he is best known for The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer has been styled the "Father of English literature" and was the first writer buried in Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey. Chaucer achieved fame in his lifetime as a philosopher and astronomer, composing the scientific A Treatise on the Astrolabe for his 10-year-old son Lewis, he maintained an active career in the civil service as a bureaucrat and diplomat. Among Chaucer's many other works are The Book of the Duchess, The House of Fame, The Legend of Good Women, Troilus and Criseyde, he is seen as crucial in legitimising the literary use of the Middle English vernacular at a time when the dominant literary languages in England were still French and Latin. Chaucer was born in London sometime around 1343, though the precise date and location remain unknown, his father and grandfather were both London vintners, several previous generations had been merchants in Ipswich.
His family name is derived from the French chausseur, meaning "shoemaker". In 1324, his father John Chaucer was kidnapped by an aunt in the hope of marrying the 12-year-old to her daughter in an attempt to keep property in Ipswich; the aunt was imprisoned and fined £250, equivalent to £200,000 today, which suggests that the family was financially secure. John Chaucer married Agnes Copton who inherited properties in 1349, including 24 shops in London from her uncle Hamo de Copton, described in a will dated 3 April 1354 and listed in the City Hustings Roll as "moneyer", said to be moneyer at the Tower of London. In the City Hustings Roll 110, 5, Ric II, dated June 1380, Chaucer refers to himself as me Galfridum Chaucer, filium Johannis Chaucer, Londonie. While records concerning the lives of his contemporary friends, William Langland and the Pearl Poet, are non-existent, since Chaucer was a public servant, his official life is well documented, with nearly five hundred written items testifying to his career.
The first of the "Chaucer Life Records" appears in 1357, in the household accounts of Elizabeth de Burgh, the Countess of Ulster, when he became the noblewoman's page through his father's connections, a common medieval form of apprenticeship for boys into knighthood or prestige appointments. The countess was married to Lionel, Duke of Clarence, the second surviving son of the king, Edward III, the position brought the teenage Chaucer into the close court circle, where he was to remain for the rest of his life, he worked as a courtier, a diplomat, a civil servant, as well as working for the king from 1389 to 1391 as Clerk of the King's Works. In 1359, in the early stages of the Hundred Years' War, Edward III invaded France and Chaucer travelled with Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, Elizabeth's husband, as part of the English army. In 1360, he was captured during the siege of Rheims. Edward paid £16 for his ransom, a considerable sum, Chaucer was released. After this, Chaucer's life is uncertain, but he seems to have travelled in France and Flanders as a messenger and even going on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
Around 1366, Chaucer married Philippa Roet. She was a lady-in-waiting to Edward III's queen, Philippa of Hainault, a sister of Katherine Swynford, who became the third wife of John of Gaunt, it is uncertain how many children Chaucer and Philippa had, but three or four are most cited. His son, Thomas Chaucer, had an illustrious career, as chief butler to four kings, envoy to France, Speaker of the House of Commons. Thomas's daughter, married the Duke of Suffolk. Thomas's great-grandson, John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, was the heir to the throne designated by Richard III before he was deposed. Geoffrey's other children included Elizabeth Chaucy, a nun at Barking Abbey, Agnes, an attendant at Henry IV's coronation. Chaucer's "Treatise on the Astrolabe" was written for Lewis. According to tradition, Chaucer studied law in the Inner Temple at this time, he became a member of the royal court of Edward III as a valet de chambre, yeoman, or esquire on 20 June 1367, a position which could entail a wide variety of tasks.
His wife received a pension for court employment. He travelled abroad at least some of them in his role as a valet. In 1368, he may have attended the wedding of Lionel of Antwerp to Violante Visconti, daughter of Galeazzo II Visconti, in Milan. Two other literary stars of the era were in attendance: Petrarch. Around this time, Chaucer is believed to have written The Book of the Duchess in honour of Blanche of Lancaster, the late wife of John of Gaunt, who died in 1369 of the plague. Chaucer travelled to Picardy the next year as part of a military expedition. Numerous scholars such as Skeat and Rowland suggested that, on this Italian trip, he came into contact with Petrarch or Boccaccio, they introduced him to medieval the forms and stories of which he would use later. The purposes of a voyage in 1377 are mysterious, as details within the historical record conflict. Documents suggest it was a mission, along with Jean Froissart, to arrange a marriage between the future King Richard II and a French princess, thereby ending the Hundred Years War.
If this was the purpose of their trip, they seem to have been unsuccessful. In 1378, Richard II sent Chaucer as an envoy to the Visconti and to Sir John Hawkwood, English condottiere in Milan, it has been specu
The Wife of Bath's Tale
The Wife of Bath's Tale is among the best-known of Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It provides insight into the role of women in the Late Middle Ages and was of interest to Chaucer himself, for the character is one of his most developed ones, with her Prologue twice as long as her Tale, he goes so far as to describe two sets of clothing for her in his General Prologue. She holds her own among the bickering pilgrims, evidence in the manuscripts suggests that although she was first assigned a different, plainer tale—perhaps the one told by the Shipman—she received her present tale as her significance increased, she calls herself both Alyson and Alys in the prologue, but to confuse matters these are the names of her'gossib', whom she mentions several times, as well as many female characters throughout The Canterbury Tales. Geoffrey Chaucer wrote The'Prologue of the Wife of Bath's Tale' during the fourteenth century at a time when the social structure was evolving while Richard II was in reign.
It was evident that changes needed to occur within the traditional hierarchy of King Richard II's ensemble. Women were not identified by their social status, but by their relations with men rather than being identified by their occupations; the tale is regarded as the first of the so-called "marriage group" of tales, which includes the Clerk's, the Merchant's and the Franklin's tales. But some scholars contest this grouping, first proposed by Chaucer scholar Eleanor Prescott Hammond and subsequently elaborated by George Lyman Kittredge, not least because the tales of Melibee and the Nun's Priest discuss this theme. A separation between tales that deal with moral issues and ones that deal with magical issues, as the Wife of Bath's does, is favoured by some scholars; the tale is an example of the "loathly lady" motif, the oldest examples of which are the medieval Irish sovereignty myths such as Niall of the Nine Hostages. In the medieval poem The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle, Arthur's nephew Gawain goes on a nearly identical quest to discover what women want after he errs in a land dispute, although, in contrast, he never stooped to despoliation or plunder, unlike the unnamed knight who raped the woman.
By tradition, any knight or noble found guilty of such a transgression, might be stripped of his name, heraldic title and rights, even executed. George suggests, it is recorded that in 1380 associates of Chaucer stood surety for an amount equal to half his yearly salary for a charge brought by Cecily Champaign for "de rapto", rape or abduction. There was a knight in King Arthur's time. King Arthur issues a decree; when the knight is captured, he is condemned to death, but Queen Guinevere intercedes on his behalf and asks the King to allow her to pass judgment upon him. The Queen tells the knight that he will be spared his life if he can discover for her what it is that women most desire, allots him a year and a day in which to roam wherever he pleases and return with an answer. Everywhere the knight goes he explains his predicament to the women he meets and asks their opinion, but "No two of those he questioned answered the same." The answers range from fame and riches to play, or clothes, or sexual pleasure, or flattery, or freedom.
When at last the time comes for him to return to the Court, he still lacks the answer he so needs. Outside a castle in the woods, he sees twenty-four maidens dancing and singing, but when he approaches they disappear as if by magic, all, left is an old woman; the Knight explains the problem to the old woman, wise and may know the answer, she forces him to promise to grant any favour she might ask of him in return. With no other options left, the Knight agrees. Arriving at the court, he gives the answer that women most desire sovereignty over their husbands, unanimously agreed to be true by the women of the court who, free the Knight; the old woman explains to the court the deal she has struck with the Knight, publicly requests his hand in marriage. Although aghast, he realises he has no other choice and agrees. On their wedding night the old woman is upset, she reminds him that her looks can be an asset—she will be a virtuous wife to him because no other men would desire her. She asks him what he would prefer—an old ugly wife, loyal and humble or a beautiful young woman about whom he would always have doubts concerning her faithfulness.
The Knight responds by saying that the choice is an answer which pleases her greatly. Now that she has won power over him, she asks him to kiss her, promising both fidelity; the Knight now finds a young and lovely woman. They live into old age together; this Prologue is by far the longest in The Canterbury Tales and is twice as long as the actual story, showing the importance of the prologue to the significance of the overall tale. In the beginning the
The Parson's Tale
The Parson's Tale seems, from the evidence of its prologue, to have been intended as the final tale of Geoffrey Chaucer's poetic cycle The Canterbury Tales. The "tale", the longest of all the surviving contributions by Chaucer's pilgrims, is in fact neither a story nor a poem, but a long and unrelieved prose treatise on penance. Critics and readers are unclear what rhetorical effect Chaucer may have intended by ending his cycle in this unlikely, extra-generic fashion. In the prologue to the tale, the host asks the Parson for a fable but the Parson refuses with a round condemnation of fable stories, saying instead that he will tell an improving tale in prose since he can neither rhyme nor alliterate, it is of interest that the host seems to be in some doubt as to the identity of the Parson, since he asks him to introduce himself: "Sire preest," quod he, "artow a vicary? Or arte a person? Sey, sooth, by thy fey! Be what thou be, ne breke; some idea of Chaucer's intended structure for the Canterbury Tales may be gleaned from this "final" prologue.
The host speaks of al myn ordinaunce almoost fulfild and says that the company lakketh...no tales mo than oon. Since known tales do not exist for all of the pilgrims, since none reach the projected total of four tales each outlined in the General Prologue, the host's remarks give a further indication of the way in which Chaucer's ultimate scheme for the cycle either was not realised or has not survived; the subject of the parson's "tale" is penitence. It may thus be taken as containing inferential criticism of the behaviour and character of humanity detectable in all the other pilgrims, knight included. Chaucer himself claims to be swayed by the plea for penitence, since he follows the Parson's Tale with a Retraction in which he asks forgiveness for any offences he may have caused and for having deigned to write works of worldly vanitee at all; the parson divides penitence into three parts. The second part about confession is illustrated by referring to the Seven Deadly Sins and offering remedies against them.
The Seven Deadly Sins are pride, wrath, greed and lust. Chaucer's text seems for the most part to be a combination, in English translation, of the texts of two Latin works on penitence popular at the time; this is mingled with fragments from other texts. It is not known whether Chaucer was the first to combine these particular sources, or whether he translated an existing combined edition from French. If the latter is the case, any direct source has been lost; the Parson is considered by some to be the only good member of the clergy in The Canterbury Tales, while others have detected ambiguities and possible hints of Lollardy in the portrait. Chaucer, in the General Prologue calls him a povre Persoun of a Toun, his depiction of a man who practices what he preaches seems to be positive: He was a shepherde and noght a mercenarie. And thogh he hooly were and vertuous, He was to synful men nat despitous, Ne of his speche daungerous ne digne, But in his techyng discreet and benynge. If rather forbidding.
None of the explicit criticism of clergy that marks many of the other tales and character sketches is obvious here. The Parson is throughout depicted as a intelligent person. Chaucer elsewhere is not uncritical of the clergy. Chaucer's special manuscript words Parson's Tale retold in Modern English prose
The Shipman's Tale
The Shipman's Tale is one of The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. It is in the form of a fabliau and tells the story of a miserly merchant, his avaricious wife and her lover, a wily monk. Although similar stories can be found in Boccaccio's Decameron, a frequent source for Chaucer's tales, the story is a retelling of a common folk tale: "the lover's gift regained"; the tale tells of a merchant whose wife enjoys socialising, on which she spends much. A young monk, close friends with the merchant, comes to stay with them. After confessing that she does not love her husband, the wife asks the monk for one hundred franks to pay her debts; the monk, without her knowledge, borrows the money from the merchant to give to the wife, at which point she agrees with the monk: That for thise hundred frankes he sholde al nyght Have hire in his armes bolt upright. When the merchant asks his wife about the money she says it is spent and blames the monk saying that she thought the money was in payment for him being such a long house guest.
Instead of giving her husband the money back she says. Apart from a criticism of the clergy, a common theme of Chaucer's, the tale skilfully connects money and sex; the similar tales end with both the wife and husband being conned but the addition of the wife, in turn, conning her husband seems to be Chaucer's own embellishment. As the wife is tallying her debt in bed the story ends on a bawdy pun that we should all, God willing, continue to "tally" the rest of our lives; the use of the pronouns "us" and "we" when talking from a woman's perspective, along with the sympathetic portrayal of the wife in the tale, has led scholars to suggest that the tale was written for the Wife of Bath but as that character developed she was given a more fitting story and the Shipman took on this tale. In the line "he moot us clothe, he moot us array," and others, "us" and "we" are used, in a way that a married woman might speak at that time; the Shipman may be imitating a female voice but the epilogue of the Man of Law's Tale in some manuscripts suggest it should be followed by the Shipman's tale rather than the Wife of Bath whose tale follows.
The changes give some insight into Chaucer's development of the tales and the connections between them. In the BBC1 adaptation of "The Shipman's Tale", the setting is an Indian family in modern England; the monk's role is played by the merchant's business partner who has come from India to set up a shop in England. The wife, beset by money problems, sleeps with this man, who learns of her previous affairs through the merchant; the business partner breaks up with the wife, she, feeling jilted, smashes his shop. The merchant subsequently sends the other man back to India with a warning, at the end he reaches across the bed to touch his wife's hand, a hint of possible reconciliation. Chaucer's special manuscript words Read "The Shipman's Tale" with interlinear translation Modern Translation of the Shipman's Tale and Other Resources at eChaucer "The Shipman's's Tale" – a plain-English retelling for non-scholars
In Greek mythology, Ceyx was the son of Eosphorus and husband of Alcyone, daughter of Aeolus. Ceyx and Alcyone were happy together, according to Pseudo-Apollodorus's account called each other "Zeus" and "Hera"; this angered Zeus, so while Ceyx was at sea, the god threw a thunderbolt at his ship. Ceyx appeared to Alcyone as an apparition to tell her of his fate, she threw herself into the sea in her grief. Out of compassion, the gods changed them both into halcyon birds, it is said that the halcyon birds build their nests when the water is calm since both of them died at sea. Ovid and Hyginus both recount the metamorphosis of the pair in and after Ceyx's loss in a storm, though they both omit Ceyx and Alcyone calling each other Zeus and Hera – and Zeus's resulting anger – as a reason for it, they both make the metamorphosis the origin of the etymology for "halcyon days", the seven days in winter when storms never occur. They state that these were the seven days each year during which Alcyone laid her eggs and made her nest on the beach and during which her father Aeolus, god of the winds, restrained the winds and calmed the waves so she could do so in safety.
The phrase has since come to refer to a peaceful time generally. The myth is briefly referred to by Virgil, again without reference to Zeus's anger. Various kinds of kingfishers are named after the couple, in reference to the metamorphosis myth: The genus Ceyx is named after him; the kingfisher family Halcyonidae is named after his wife. The belted kingfisher's Latin species name references her name, their story features in The Book of the Duchess. Hyginus, Fabulae from The Myths of Hyginus edited by Mary Grant. University of Kansas Publications in Humanistic Studies. Online version at the Topos Text Project. Pausanias, Description of Greece with an English Translation by W. H. S. Jones, Litt. D. and H. A. Ormerod, M. A. in 4 Volumes. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio. 3 vols. Leipzig, Teubner. 1903. Greek text available at the Perseus Digital Library. Pseudo-Apollodorus, The Library with an English Translation by Sir James George Frazer, F.
B. A. F. R. S. in 2 Volumes, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library. Greek text available from the same website. Publius Ovidius Naso, Metamorphoses translated by Brookes More. Boston, Cornhill Publishing Co. 1922. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library. Publius Ovidius Naso, Metamorphoses. Hugo Magnus. Gotha. Friedr. Andr. Perthes. 1892. Latin text available at the Perseus Digital Library. Publius Vergilius Maro, Bucolics and Georgics of Vergil. J. B. Greenough. Boston. Ginn & Co. 1900. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library; this article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed.. "article name needed". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. Smith entry
Augustus was a Roman statesman and military leader, the first emperor of the Roman Empire, reigning from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. His status as the founder of the Roman Principate has consolidated an enduring legacy as one of the most effective and controversial leaders in human history; the reign of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana. The Roman world was free from large-scale conflict for more than two centuries, despite continuous wars of imperial expansion on the Empire's frontiers and the year-long civil war known as the "Year of the Four Emperors" over the imperial succession. Augustus was born Gaius Octavius Thurinus into an old and wealthy equestrian branch of the plebeian gens Octavia, his maternal great-uncle Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC, Octavius was named in Caesar's will as his adopted son and heir. Along with Mark Antony and Marcus Lepidus, he formed the Second Triumvirate to defeat the assassins of Caesar. Following their victory at the Battle of Philippi, the Triumvirate divided the Roman Republic among themselves and ruled as military dictators.
The Triumvirate was torn apart by the competing ambitions of its members. Lepidus was driven into exile and stripped of his position, Antony committed suicide following his defeat at the Battle of Actium by Octavian in 31 BC. After the demise of the Second Triumvirate, Augustus restored the outward façade of the free Republic, with governmental power vested in the Roman Senate, the executive magistrates, the legislative assemblies. In reality, however, he retained his autocratic power over the Republic as a military dictator. By law, Augustus held a collection of powers granted to him for life by the Senate, including supreme military command, those of tribune and censor, it took several years for Augustus to develop the framework within which a formally republican state could be led under his sole rule. He rejected monarchical titles, instead called himself Princeps Civitatis; the resulting constitutional framework became known as the Principate, the first phase of the Roman Empire. Augustus enlarged the Empire, annexing Egypt, Pannonia and Raetia, expanding possessions in Africa, completing the conquest of Hispania, but suffered a major setback in Germania.
Beyond the frontiers, he secured the Empire with a buffer region of client states and made peace with the Parthian Empire through diplomacy. He reformed the Roman system of taxation, developed networks of roads with an official courier system, established a standing army, established the Praetorian Guard, created official police and fire-fighting services for Rome, rebuilt much of the city during his reign. Augustus died in AD 14 at the age of 75 from natural causes. However, there were unconfirmed rumors, he was succeeded as emperor by his adopted son Tiberius. As a consequence of Roman customs and personal preference, Augustus was known by many names throughout his life: Gaius Octavius Thurinus: He received his birth name, after his biological father, in 63 BC. "Gaius" was his praenomen, "Octavius" was his nomen, "Thurinus" was his cognomen. His rival Mark Antony used the name "Thurinus" as an insult, to which Augustus replied, surprised that "using his old name was thought to be an insult".
Gaius Julius Caesar: After he was adopted by Julius Caesar, he adopted Caesar's name in accordance with Roman naming conventions. While he dropped all references to the gens Octavia, people colloquially added the epithet Octavianus to his legal name, either to differentiate him from his adoptive father or to highlight his more modest origins. Modern historians refer to him using the anglicized form "Octavian" between 44 BC and 27 BC. Gaius Julius Caesar Divi Filius: Two years after his adoption, he founded the Temple of Caesar additionally adding the title Divi Filius to his name in attempt to strengthen his political ties to Caesar's former soldiers, following the deification of Caesar. Imperator Caesar Divi Filius: From 38 BC, Octavian opted to use Imperator, the title by which troops hailed their leader after military success, his name is translated as "Commander Caesar, Son of the Divine". Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus: Following his 31 BC defeat of Mark Antony and Cleopatra on his own insistence, the Roman Senate granted him the additional name, "Augustus", which he added to his previous names thereafter.
Historians use this name to refer to him from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. While his paternal family was from the town of Velletri 40 kilometres from Rome, Augustus was born in the city of Rome on 23 September 63 BC, he was born at Ox Head, a small property on the Palatine Hill close to the Roman Forum. He was given the name Gaius Octavius Thurinus, his cognomen commemorating his father's victory at Thurii over a rebellious band of slaves. Suetonius wrote: "There are many indications that the Octavian family was in days of old a distinguished one at Velitrae; this man was leader in a war with a neighbouring town..." Due to the crowded nature of Rome at the time, Octavius was taken to his father's home village at Velletri to be raised. Octavius mentions his father's equestrian family only in his memoirs, his paternal great-grandfather Gaius Octavius was a military tribune in Sicily during the Second Punic War. His grandfather had served in several lo
The Pardoner's Tale
"The Pardoner's Tale" is one of The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. In the order of the Tales, it comes before The Shipman's Tale; the Pardoner initiates his Prologue—briefly accounting his methods of conning people—and proceeds to tell a moral tale. The tale itself is an extended exemplum. Setting out to kill Death, three young men encounter an Old Man who says they will find him under a nearby tree; when they arrive they discover a hoard of treasure and decide to stay with it until nightfall and carry it away under cover of darkness. Out of greed, they murder each other; the tale and prologue are concerned with what the Pardoner says is his "theme": Radix malorum est cupiditas. In the order of The Canterbury Tales, the Pardoner's Prologue and Tale are preceded by The Physician's Tale; the Physician's Tale is a harrowing tale about a judge who plots with a "churl " to abduct a beautiful young woman. The invitation for the Pardoner to tell a tale comes after the Host declares his dissatisfaction with the depressing tale, declares: … but I have triacle, Or elles a draughte of morste and corny ale, Or but I heere anon a myrie tale, Myn herte is lost for pitee of this mayde.
The Host asks the Pardoner to "telle us som mrythe or japes right anon". However, the pilgrims—aware of pardoners' notoriety for telling lewd tales and in anticipation of hearing something objectionable—voice their desire for no ribaldry, but instead want a moral tale; the prologue takes the form of a literary confession in the same manner as The Wife of Bath's Prologue. However, rather than an apology for his vices, the Pardoner boasts of his duping of his victims, for whom he has nothing but contempt, he says. He explains that his false credentials consist of official letters from high-ranking church officials and a superficial use of a few Latin words; the Pardoner says to the pilgrims. He goes on to relate how he stands like a clergy at the pulpit, preaches against avarice but to gain the congregation's money. Against anyone that offends either him or other pardoners, he will "stynge hym with my tonge smerte". Although he is guilty of avarice himself, he reiterates that his theme is always Radix malorum... and that he can nonetheless preach so that others turn away from the vice and repent—though his "principal entente" is for personal gain.
The Pardoner explains that he offers many anecdotes to the "lewed people". He scorns the thought of living in poverty. Yet, he concludes to the pilgrims, though he may be a "ful vicious man", he can tell a moral tale and proceeds; the tale is set in Flanders at an indeterminate time, opens with three young men drinking and blaspheming in a tavern. The Pardoner condemns each of these "tavern sins" in turn—gluttony, drinking and swearing—with support from the Christian scriptures, before proceeding with the tale; the rioters hear a bell signalling a burial. The men set out to kill Death. An old man they brusquely query tells them that he has asked has failed, he says they can find death at the foot of an oak tree. When the men arrive at the tree, they find a large amount of gold coins and forget about their quest to kill Death, they decide to sleep at the oak tree overnight, so they can take the coins in the morning. The three men draw straws to see who among them should fetch wine and food while the other two wait under the tree.
The youngest of the three men departs. However, the one who leaves for town plots to kill the other two: he purchases rat poison and laces the wine; when he returns with the food and drink, the other two kill him and consume the poisoned wine, dying slow and painful deaths. Having completed his tale, the Pardoner — forgetful of his remarks during the prologue — appeals for gold and silver so that the pilgrims may receive pardons for their sins; the Host responds. At this point the Knight urges them to make peace; the prologue—taking the form of a literary confession—was most modelled on that of "Faus Semblaunt" in the medieval French poem Roman de la Rose. The tale of the three rioters is a version of a folk tale with a "remarkably wide range" and has numerous analogues: ancient Buddhist and African; the relationship between tellers and tale is distinctly significant in "The Pardoner's Tale". The Pardoner is an enigmatic character, portrayed as grotesque in the General Prologue, he is aware of his sin—it is not clear why h