The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Marchalonis, Shirley. "Medieval Symbols and the Gesta Romanorum." 8 (1974): 311-19.
Used for entertainment and instruction, the Gesta romanorum provides an example of the use of symbols. This use, however, is not consistent. A ruler figure appears in 118 tales, but he may represent God, the soul, any Christian prelate, proud or vain persons, or the devil. The need for instructional materials created a small group who used popular stories to instruct. Since symbols were not used consistently, the application of the tale cannot be understood without the explanation that follows. The inconsistency creates a sense that the tales were skewed in order to fit the attached morals. Because no listener or reader could discover the application without the explanation, scholars must reject the Augustinian principle of interpretation based on hints within the text. Rejection of such a principle has implications for study of all medieval texts.