The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Dyck, E. F. "Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in Troilus and Criseyde." 20 (1986): 169-82.
The Middle Ages saw poetry as persuasive and writers looked toward earlier models to support their ideas. Geoffrey de Vinsauf's Poetria nova instructed writers on style. Augustine's De doctrina christiana suggested that poetry should persuade its audience to a greater awareness of Christian truths. Both these writers derive their ideas from the Aristotelian tradition in which a writer uses three modes to persuade, ethos (character), pathos (emotion), and logos (reason). The narrator of Troilus and Criseyde opens by appealing to ethos in order to impress readers that he is a poet. Once he undermines his status as a poet by consistently referring to Lollius instead of Boccaccio, he becomes more human, but loses ethos in his writing. At the end of the poem, he returns to ethos. Chaucer adds the appeal to pathos to what he found in Boccaccio, and although that pathos does not come directly from the narrator, it affects the audience nonetheless. The narrator's appeal to logos seems to fail, but if readers examine the poem in terms of Chaucer's appeal to logos, it is more successful.