The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Acker, Paul. "The Emergence of an Arithmetical Mentality in Middle English Literature." 28 (1994): 293-302.
Arithmetical methods passed from Pythagoras to Boethius, who passed these ideas on to Cassiodorus and Isidore. Bartholomaeus Anglicus picks up these ideas in De proprietatibus rerum, translated by Trevisa into Middle English. In the twelfth century, algorism began to replace arithmetic. Gower refers to this new arithmetic in the Confessio amantis in a stanza borrowed from Brunetto Latini. The Court of Sapience also reveals a shift in mathematical models. The Art of Nombryng and Mum and the Sothsegger give evidence that even those writers not concerned with mathematics were becoming aware of it.
Hart, Thomas Elwood. "Medieval Structuralism: 'Dulcarnoun' and the Five-Book Design of Chaucer's Troilus." 16 (1981): 129-70.
Chaucer carefully laid out the structure of Troilus and Criseyde, and examination of the division of Troilus and Criseyde into five books shows that the divisions themselves add to the work. Readers can assume that Chaucer intended to construct his poem carefully since he borrows from Vinsauf's Poetria nova, which advocates constructing poems architecturally. Chaucer alludes to the highest principle of medieval mathematics when he has Pandarus use "dulcarnoun" (3782), Pythagoras's theorem. The five-book structure may be viewed geometrically as representing two right triangles. The reference to "dulcarnoun" falls in the middle of the shared hypotenuse of the triangles. The number of lines is also proportioned in such a way that they form a regular pentagon. The text may also be examined in terms of "circular proportionality" (145). Chaucer's mention of "nombres proporcionables" in his translation of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy (III, Met.ix) suggests that he was interested in numerical proportion.
Hirsh, John C. "Classical Tradition and The Owl and the Nightingale." 9 (1974): 145-52.
Writers such as Gregory of Nyssa, Pythagoras, Plato, and Ambrose connect jackdaws to owls when presenting metempsychosis. As the owl only flies at night and was supposedly ashamed of this fact, the owl offers some comic possibilities.