The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Braswell-Means, Laurel. "A New Look at an Old Patient: Chaucer's Summoner and Medieval Physiognomia." 25 (1991): 266-75.
Using medieval medical theory based on Aristotle, Galen, and Hippocrates, and medieval physiognomy, Chaucer constructs the Summoner's portrait so as to describe the Summoner's medical conditions. The Summoner is clearly unnaturally hot as both his description and his cures indicate. The combination of these two suggests that the Summoner is choleric, according to Galen and Avicenna. Chaucer sees the Summoner and the Pardoner as variations of the same humor character. The Summoner's disease is also associated with sexuality, and astrological details associate him with Mars. This combination suggests that the Summoner would experience his most difficult time of year in the spring. The Summoner's disease is incurable, except by the spiritual healing he would experience at the shrine of Thomas a Becket.
Cotton, Michael E. "The Artistic Integrity of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde." 7 (1972): 37-43.
Chaucer associates Criseyde with the moon, thus indicating Criseyde's changeableness. The other planets also function as foreshadowing elements, moving human actions to a different, sometimes ironic, place where Chaucer can connect these events to universal patterns. This link allows Chaucer to make divine and hellish allusions. The imagery of planets and pagan gods develops the theme of Fortuna and instability.
Eisner, Sigmund. "The Ram Revisited: A Canterbury Conundrum." 28 (1994): 330-43.
Readers must realize that the sign of the Ram and the constellation of the Ram are completely different. The date given by the placement of the Ram at the beginning of the Canterbury Tales is April 17, but the references to the stars function on two different levels. On one level Chaucer tells about the mid-point of Aries. On the other Chaucer creates a pilgrimage between Aries and Libra, telling of the lifespan of humankind.
Hamlin, B. F. "Astrology and the Wife of Bath: A Reinterpretation." 9 (1974): 153-65.
The Wife's references to the astrological configuration at the time of her birth tell of Mars and Venus, and the positions of these two planets explain the Wife's warring, marrying nature. The Wife, however, also refers to Mercury. Venus and Mercury will never both be "exalted" or "depressed" at the same time, though one may be ascendant and the other descendant (155). Thus, both Venus and Mercury were in Pisces at the Wife's birth, and this constellation foreshadows her falling in love with Jankyn's feet. The rarity of this configuration points to a specific birthdate for the Wife, a ten-day period in 1342.
Laird, Edgar S. "Astrology and Irony in Chaucer's Complaint of Mars." 6 (1972): 229-31.
In the astrological progress of Venus, Venus and Mercury arrive in "sextile" (230) aspect in a way commonly described as "pryvy and secret loving" (229). This aspect suggests that Venus becomes Mercury's mistress, and it includes betrayal as one of the pains of love.
Spencer, William. "Are Chaucer's Pilgrims Keyed to the Zodiac?" 4 (1970): 147-70.
The sequence of the pilgrims in the General Prologue suggests that they are keyed to the zodiac. Readers can view each pilgrim in terms of the influence of the planets and the stars. Among the pilgrims whom a knowledge of the medieval science of the zodiac helps to illuminate are the Knight, the Squire, the Yeoman, the Prioress, the Monk, the Friar, the Merchant, the Clerk, the Man of Law, the Franklin, the Cook, the Shipman, the Physician, the Wife of Bath, the Parson, the Miller, the Manciple, the Reeve, the Summoner, and the Pardoner.
Stokes, Myra. "The Moon in Leo in Book V of Troilus and Criseyde." 17 (1982): 116-29.
Chaucer adds descriptions of the moon and stars to suggest the slowness of the earthly progression of Troilus and Criseyde's love. He carefully connects Criseyde's breach of faith with the moon's departure from Leo, the sign of the lion previously associated with Troilus. The association of the lovers with planetary motion implies that it follows a similar, inevitable process. Criseyde's association with the planets has a dual significance: Troilus sees her as a guiding star though she is most like the moon. Chaucer follows a similar pattern in his "Complaint of Mars" which, like Troilus and Criseyde, presents loving and losing as necessary. In an appendix, Stokes discusses reasons why the eighth sphere to which Troilus ascends must be the Primum Mobile.