Geoffrey Chaucer.

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' Adam scriveyn, if ever it thee befalle
Boeoe or Troilus to wryten newe,
Under thy lokkes thou most have the scalle,
But after my making thou wryte trewe.'

ChoMcers Werdts unto Adam,




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Introduction to Boethius.— ^ i. Date of the Work. S 2. Boethias.
( 3. The Consolation of Philosophy ; and fate of its author. $ 4.
Jean de Menn. $ 5. References by Boethiui to corrent events.
§ 6. Cassiodoms. $ 7. Form of the Treatise. $ 8. Brief sketch
of its general contents. § 9. Early translations. § 10. Translation
by Alfred. $ 11. MS. copy, with A.S. glosses. § la. Chaaoer*s
translation mentioned. § 13. Walton's verse translation. ( 14.

J Specimen of the same. § 15. His translation of Book ii. met. 5.

[ % 16, M. E. prose translation; and others. § 17. Chaacer's

p translation and le Roman de la Rose. $ 18. Chaacer's scholarship.

( 19. Chancer*s prose. ( ao. Some of his mistakes. § ai. Other
variations considered. § a a. Imitations of Boethius in Chaucer's
works. $ a3. Comparison with * Boece ' of other works by

t^ Chancer. $ a4. Chronology of Chaucer*s works, as illustrated by
' Boece.* $ 2$. The Manuscripts. § a6. The Printed Editions.
§37. The Present Edition vii

Introduction to Troilus. — § i. Date of the Work. $ a. Sources of

the Work; Boccaccio's Filostrato. $§ 3, 4. Other sources.

§ 5. Chaucer's share in it. $ 6. Vagueness of reference to sources,
y { 7. Medieval note-books. § 8. LoUius. $ 9. Guido delle

Colonne. §10. 'Trophee.' §§ ii> 12, The same continued.

$S 13-17. Passages from Guido. $§ 18, 19. Dares, Dictys, and
' Ben6it de Ste-More. § ao. The names; Troilus, &c. $ ai.

> Roman de la Rose. $ aa. Gest Historiale. § 33. Lydgate*s

Siege of Troye. § 34. Henrysoun's Testament of Criseyde. i 2$.

The MSS. § a6. The Editions. § a7. The Present Edition.

$ a8. Deficient lines. § 39. Proverbs. $ 30. Kinaston*s Latin

translation. $ 31. Sidnam*s translation xlix

Boethius de Consolatione Philosophie 1

Book I i

Book II 2$

Book III 5'

Book IV. . . . 9>

Book V 126


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Troilus and Criseyde 153

Book 1 153

Book II 189

Book IIL 244

Book IV 302

Book V 357

Notes to Boethius 419

Notes to Troilus 461


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§ I. Date of the Work.

In my introductory remarks to the Legend of Good Women,
I refer to the close connection that is easily seen to subsist between
Chaucer's translation of Boethius and his Troilus and Criseyde. All
critics seem now to agree in placing these two works in close
conjunction^ and in making the prose work somewhat the earlier
of the two ; though it is not at all unlikely that, for a short time,
both works were in hand together. It is also clear that they
were completed before the author commenced the House of
Fame, the date of which is, almost certainly, about 1383-4.
Dr. Koch, in his Essay on the Chronology of Chaucer's Writings,
proposes to date ' Boethius ' about 1377-8, and * Troilus ' about
1380-1. It is sufficient to be able to infer, as we can with
tolerable certainty, that these two works belong to the period
between 1377 and 1383. And we may also feel sure that the
well-known lines to Adam, beginning —

'Adam scriveyn, if ever it thee befalle
Boece or Troilus to wryten newe'—

were composed at the time when the fair copy of Troilus had
just been finished, and may be dated, without fear of mistake,
in 1381-3. It is not likely that we shall be able to determine
these dates within closer limits ; nor is it at all necessary that
we should be able to do so. A few further remarks upon this
subject are given below.

§ 2. Boethius.

Before proceeding to remark upon Chaucer's translation of
Boethius^ or (as he calls him) Boece, it is necessary to say a few
words as to the original work, and its author.

Anicius Manlius Torquatus Severinus Boethius, the most


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learned philosopher of his time, was bom at Rome about a.d.
480, and was put to death a.d. 524. In his youth, he had the
advantage of a liberal training, and enjoyed the rare privilege of
being able to read the Greek philosophers in their own tongue.
In the particular treatise which here most concerns us, his
Greek quotations are mostly taken from Plato, and there are
a few references to Aristotle, Homer, and to the Andromache
of Euripid^. His extant works shew that he was well acquainted
with geometry, mechanics, astronomy, and music, as well as with
logic and theology ; and it is an interesting fact that an illus-
tration of the way in which waves of sound are propagated through
the air, introduced by Chaucer into his House of Fame, 11. 788-
822, is almost certainly derived from the treatise of Boethius De
Mustca, as pointed out in the note upon that passage. At any
rate, there is an unequivocal reference to * the felinge ' of Boece
Mn musik' in the Nonnes Preestes Tale, B 4484.

§ 3. The most important part of his political life was passed in
the service of the celebrated Theodoric the Goth, who, after the
defeat and death of Odoacer, a. d. 493, had made himself undis-
puted master of Italy, and had fixed the seat of his 'government
in Ravenna. The usual account, that Boethius was twice married,
is now discredited, there being no clear evidence with respect to
Elpis, the name assigned to his supposed first wife ; but it is certain
that he married Rusticiana, the daughter of the patrician Sym-
machus, a man of great influence and probity, and much respected,
who had been consul under Odoacer in 485. Boethius had the
singular felicity of seeing his two sons, Boethius and Symmachus,
raised to the consular dignity on the same day, in 522. After
many years spent in indefatigable study and great public use-
fulness, he fell under the suspicion of Theodoric ; and, notwith-
standing an indignant denial of his supposed crimes, was hurried
away to Pavia, where he was imprisoned in a tower, and denied the
means of justifying his conduct. The rest must be told in the
eloquent words of Gibbon'.

* While Boethius, oppressed with fetters, expected each moment
the sentence or the stroke of death, he composed in the tower of
Pavia the " Consolation of Philosophy " ; a golden volume, not
unworthy of the leisure of Plato or Tully, but which claims

' Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap, zxxix. See the whole


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incomparable merit from the barbarism of the times and the
situation of the author. The celestial guide \ whom he had so
long invoked at Rome and at Athens, now condescended to
illumine his dungeon, to revive his courage, and to pour into his
wounds her salutary balm. She taught him to compare his long
prosperity and his recent distress, and to conceive new hopes
from the inconstancy of fortune'. Reason had informed him
of the precarious condition of her gifts ; experience had satisfied
him of their real value'; he had enjoyed them without guilt; he
might resign them without a sigh, and calmly disdain the impotent
malice of his enemies, who had left him happiness, since they
had left him virtue^. From the earth, Boethius ascended to heaven
in search of the supreme good', explored the metaphysical
labyrinth of chance and destiny', of prescience and freewill,
of time and eternity, and generously attempted to reconcile
the perfect attributes of the Deity with the apparent disorders
of his moral and physical government''. Such topics of con-
solation, so obvious, so vague, or so abstruse, are ineflfectual to
subdue the feelings of human nature. Yet the sense of mis-
fortime may be diverted by the labour of thought ; and the sage
who could artfully combine, in the same work, the various riches
of philosophy, poetry, and eloquence, must already have possessed
the intrepid calmness which he affected to seek. Suspense, the
worst of evils, was at length determined by the ministers of death,
who' executed, and perhaps exceeded, the inhuman mandate of
Theodoric. A strong cord was fastened round the head of
Boethius, and forcibly tightened till his eyes almost started from
their sockets ; and some mercy may be discovered in the milder
torture of beating him with clubs till he expired. But his genius
survived to diffuse a ray of knowledge over the darkest ages of
the Latin world ; the writings of the philosopher were translated
by the most glorious of the English Kings, and the third emperor
of the name of Otho removed to a more honourable tomb the
bones of a catholic saint, who, from his Arian persecutors, had
acquired the honours of martyrdom and the fame of miracles.
In the last hours of Boethius, he derived some comfort from the

^ PhUosophy peisonified ; see Book i, Prose i, 1. 3.

' See Book ii. Prose i. ' See Book ii, Proses 5, 6.

* See Book iii, Prose 9. * See Book iy, Metre i.

• See Book iv. Prose 6. ^ See Book v.


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safety of his two sons, of his wife, and of his father-in-law^ the
venerable Symmachus. But the grief of Symmachus was indiscreet,
and perhaps disrespectful ; he had presumed to lament, he might
dare to revenge, the death of an injured friend. He was dragged
in chains from Rome to the palace of Ravenna ; and the suspicions
of Theodoric could only be appeased by the blood of an innocent
and aged senator.'

This deed of injustice brought small profit to its perpetrator ; for
we read that Theodoric's own death took place shortly afterwards ;
and that, on his death-bed, * he expressed in broken murmurs to
his physician Elpidius, his deep repentance for the murders of
Boethius and Symmachus.'

§ 4. For further details, I b^ leave to refer the reader to the
essay on * Boethius ' by H. F. Stewart, published by W. Blackwood
and Sons, Edinburgh and London, in 1891. We are chiefly
concerned here with the 'Consolation of Philosophy,' a work
which enjoyed great popularity in the middle ages, and first
influenced Chaucer indirectly, through the use of it made by
Jean de Meun in the poem entitled Le Roman de la Rose, as
well as directly, at a later period, through his own translation of
it Indeed, I have little doubt that Chaucer's attention was
drawn to it when, somewhat early in life, he first perused with
diligence that remarkable poem ; and that it was from the follow-
ing passage that he probably drew the inference that it might be
well for him to translate the whole work : —

*Ce pnet Vea bien des clers enqnerre
Qui Balcg de Confort lisent,
£t les sentences qui 14 gisent,
D<mt grans Hens as gens laiz feroit
Qui Hen le lor iranslateroW (U. 5053-6).

I.e. in modem English: — 'This can be easily ascertained
from the learned men who read Boece on the Consolation of
Philosophy, and the opinions which are found therein; as to
which, any one who would well translate it for them would confer
much benefit on the unlearned folk ' : — a pretty strong hint * I

^ See the Romaunt of the Rose (in vol. i.), U. 5659-5666; and the note
to 1. 5661. It is also tolerably obvioos, that Chancer selected Metre 5 of
Book ii. of Boethius for poetical treatment in his ' Former Age,* because Jean
de Menn had selected for similar treatment the very same passage ; see Rom.
de la Rose, IL 8395-8406.


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§ 5. The chief events in the life of Boethius which are referred
to in the present treatise are duly pointed out in the notes ; and
it may be well to bear in mind that, as to some of these, nothing
further is known beyond what the author himself tells us. Most
of the personal references occiur in Book i. Prose 4, Book ii.
Prose 3, and in Book iii. Prose 4. In the first of these passages,
Boethius recalls the manner in which he withstood one Conigastus,
because he oppressed the poor (1. 40) ; and how he defeated the
iniquities of Triguilla, ' provost ' {priBpositus) of the royal house-
hold (1. 43). He takes credit for defending the people of Cam-
pania against a particularly obnoxious fiscal measure instituted
by Theodoric, which was called * coemption ' (coempHd) \ (L 59.)
This Mr. Stewart describes as 'a fiscal measure which allowed
the state to buy provisions for the army at something under
market-price — which threatened to ruin the province.' He tells
us that he rescued Decius Paulinus, who had been consul in 498,
from the rapacity of the officers of the royal palace (1. 68) \ and
that, in order to save Decius Albinus, who had been consul
in 493, from wrongful punishment, he ran the risk of incurring
the hate of the informer Cyprian (1. 75). In these ways, he had
rendered himself odious to the court-party, whom he had declined
to bribe (1. 79). His accusers were Basilius, who had been
expelled from the king's service, and was impelled to accuse him
by pressure of debt (1. 81) ; and Opilio and Gaudentius, who had
been sentenced to exile by royal decree for their numberless
frauds and crimes, but had escaped the sentence by taking
sanctuary. ' And when,' as he tells us, ' the king discovered this
evasion, he gave orders that, unless they quitted Ravenna by
a given day, they should be branded on the forehead with a hot
iron and driven out of the city. Nevertheless on that very day
the information laid against me by these men was admitted'
{U, 89-94). He next alludes to some forged letters (1. 123), by
means of which he had been accused of *■ hoping for the freedom
of Rome,' (which was of course interpreted to mean that he
wished to deliver Rome from the tyranny of Theodoric). He
then boldly declares that if he had had the opportunity of con-
fronting his accusers, he would have answered in the words of
Canius, when accused by Caligula of having been privy to a
conspiracy against him — * If I had known it, thou shouldst never
have known it' (11. 126-135). This, by the way, was rather an


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imprudent expression, and probably told against him when his
case was considered by Theodoric.

He further refers to an incident that took place at Verona
(1. 153), when the king, eager for a general slaughter of his
enemies, endeavoured to extend to the whole body of the senate
the charge of treason, of which Albinus had been accused ; on
which occasion, at great personal risk, Boethius had defended the
senate against so sweeping an accusation.

In Book ii. Prose 3, he refers to his former state of happiness
and good fortune (1. 26), when he was blessed with rich and
influential parents-in-law, with a beloved wife, and with two noble
sons ; in particular (1. 35), he speaks with justifiable pride of the
day when his sons were both elected consuls together, and when,
sitting in the Circus between them, he won general praise for his
wit and eloquence.

In Book iii. Prose 4, he declaims against Decoratus, with whom
he refused to be associated in office, on account of his infamous

§ 6. The chief source of further information about these circum-
stances is a collection of letters (Variae Epistolse) by Cassiodorus,
a statesman who enjoyed the full confidence of Theodoric, and
collected various state-papers under his direction. These tell
us, in some measure, what can be said on the other side. Here
Cjrprian and his brother Opilio are spoken of with respect and
honour ; and the only Decoratus whose name appears is spoken of
as a young man of great promise, who had won the king's sincere
esteem. But when all has been said, the reader will most likely
be inclined to think that, in cases of conflicting evidence, he
would rather take the word of the noble Boethius than that of any
of his opponents.

§ 7. The treatise * De Consolatione Philosophise' is written in
the form of a discourse between himself and the personification of
Philosophy, who appears to him in his prison, and endeavours to
soothe and console him in his time of trial. It is divided (as in
this volume) into five Books ; and each Book is subdivided into
chapters, entitled Metres and Proses, because, in the original, the
alternate chapters are written in a metrical form, the metres
employed being of various kinds. Thus Metre i of Book I is
written in alternate hexameters and pentameters ; while Metre 7
consists of very short lines, each consisting of a single dactyl and


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spondee. The Proses contain the main arguments ; the Metres
serve for embelhshment and recreation.

In some MSS. of Chaucer's translation, a few words of the
(original are quoted at the banning of each Prose and Metre,
and are duly printed in this edition, in a corrected form.

§ 8. A very brief sketch of the general contents of the volume
may be of some service.

Book L Boethius deplores his misfortanes (met i). Philosophy appears
to him in a female form (pr. a), and condoles with him in song (met 3) ; after
which she addresses him, telling him that she is mlling to share his mis-
foitmics (pr. 3). Boethios ponrs ont his complaints, and vindicates his past
conduct (pr. 4). Philosophy reminds him that he seeks a heavenly coontiy
(pr. 5). The world is not governed by chance (pr. 6). The book conclndes
with a lay of hope (met. 7).

Book II. Philosophy enlarges on the wiles of Fortune (pr. i), and ad-
dresses him in Fortune's name, asseiting that her mutability is natural and to
be expected (pr. a). Adversity is transient (pr. 5), and Boethius has still
much to be thankful for (pr. 4). Riches only bring anxieties, and cannot
confer happiness (pr. 5) ; they were unknown in the Golden Age (met 5).
Neither does happinen consist in honours and power (pr. 6). The power of
Nero only taught him cruelty (met 6). Fame is but vanity (pr. 7), and is
ended by death (met. 7). Adversity is beneficial (pr. 8). All things are
bound together by the chain of Love (met 8).

Book III. Boethius begins to receive comfort (pr. i). Philosophy dis-
courses 00 the search for the Supreme Good {summum homtm ; pr. a). The
laws of nature are immutable (met. a). All men are engaged in the pursuit of
happiness (pr. 3). Dignities properly appertain to virtue (pr. 4). Power
cannot drive away care (pr. 5). Glory is deceptive, and the only true nobility
is that of character (pr. 6). Happiness does not consist in corporeal pleasures
(P'^' 7) > '^^ ^ bodily strength or beauty (pr. 8). Worldly bliss is insufficient
and false; and in seeking true felicity, we must invoke God's aid (pr. 9).
Boethius sings a hymn to the Creator (met. 9) ; and acknowledges that God
alone is the Supreme Good (p. 10). The unity of soul and body is necessary
to existence, and the love of life is instinctive (pr. 1 1). Error is dispersed by
the light of Truth (met 11). God governs the world, and is all-sufficient
whilst evil has no true existence (pr. la). The book ends with the story of
Orpheus (met la).

Book IV. This book opens with a discussion of the existence of evil, and
the system of rewards and punishments (pr. i). Boethius describes the flight
of Imagination through the planetary spheres till it reaches heaven itself
(met i). The good are strongs but the wicked are powerless, having no real
existence (pr. a). Tyrants are chastised by their own passions (met. a). Virtue
secures reward ; but the wicked lose even their human nature, and become as
mere beasts (pr. 3). Consider the enchantments of Circe, though these merely
affected the outward form (met 4). The wicked are thrice wretched ; they
will to do evil, they can do evil, and they actually do it Virtue is its own
reward; so that the wicked should excite our pity (pr. 4). Here follows


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a poem on the folly of war (met. 4). Boethiiu inquires why the good suffer
(pr. 5). Philosophy reminds him that the motions of the stars are inexplicable
to one who does not understand astronomy (met 5). She explains the differ-
ence between Providence and Destiny (pr. 6). In all nature we see concord,
due to controlling Love (met 6). All fortune is good; for punishment is
beneficial (pr. 7). The labours of Hercules afford us an example of endurance
(met 7).

Book V. Boethius asks questions concerning Chance (pr. i). An example

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