The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Arn, Mary-Jo. "Three Ovidian Women in Chaucer's Troilus: Medea, Helen, Oënone." 15 (1980): 1-10.
Chaucer uses Ovid's Medea as an ironic figure shadowing Criseyde. From Ovid's Helen, Chaucer borrows Criseyde's response to Troilus's first proposal and to his offer to elope. Chaucer's Criseyde also uses correspondence taken from Oënone, but this borrowing does not have the same effect as the material from Medea and Helen.
Herman, Peter C. "Treason in the Manciple's Tale." 25 (1991): 318-28.
Given Phoebus's aristocratic social position, his wife's adultery is a crime of high treason as much as it is a violation of her marriage vows. In sources for the Manciple's Tale (the Metamorphoses, Ovide Moralisé, and Le Livre du Voir Dit) Phoebus's lover is his mistress. Making her Phoebus's wife creates in her "an implicit threat to male hegemony" (319), since adultery undermines male authority. Though the penalties for adultery were harsh, adultery was reasonably common, and adulterers were often unpunished. Exceptions were that adulterers had to deal with angry husbands, and that sleeping with the wife of one's lord was considered treasonous, as Ramon Lull presents it in Libre del ordre de Cavayleria. Thus the crow must choose either to notify Phoebus of treason against him, or to keep silent, thus assenting to that treason. Ultimately, the crow's act is objectionable for the method by which it subverts the codes of loyalty to his lord. Social disorder results from the wife's assertion of freedom, the crow's transgression of the letter of one law and the spirit of a second, and Phoebus's tyrannical response.
Pelen, Marc M. "The Manciple's 'Cosyn' to the 'Dede.'" 25 (1991): 343-54.
The Manciple's Tale dramatizes Chaucer's perception of the limits of language to communicate ultimate truths. In the Metamorphoses Ovid asks questions about the viability of attempting to represent gods as humans. The Manciple's Tale suggests a settlement of the conflict: "the object of the legend of Phoebus and the crow must be identified as a sacramental and not as a human concern" (350).
Spisak, James W. "Chaucer's Pyramus and Thisbe." 18 (1984): 204-10.
In the Legend of Good Women, Chaucer presents satirical portraits of Pyramus and Thisbe. By eliminating the mulberry bush, present in the Metamorphoses, Chaucer further reduces Pyramus's suicide from pseudo-tragedy to comedy. Thisbe is a pure woman according to Chaucer. Her purity makes writing about her easy, though Chaucer claims the entirety of the Legend of Good Women as penance at the beginning.