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.
Davis, R. Evan. "The Pendant in the Chaucer Portrait. "17 (1982): 193-95.
The pendant Chaucer wears in all of his portraits may be an ampulla filled with the diluted blood of St. Thomas a Becket and a sign of a pilgrimage to his shrine.
Maltman, Sister Nicholas, O. P. "The Divine Granary or the End of the Prioress's 'Greyn.'" 17 (1982): 163-70.
In her tale the Prioress refers to the Sarum breviary and the Mass of the Holy Innocents. In the response to the Sarum liturgy, the grain represents St. Thomas a Becket's martyrdom, and specifically the soul "winnowed" (165) from the body. Chaucer chose the grain for its connection with the Holy Innocents and St. Thomas, both of whom are associated with martyrdom. The grain on the boy's tongue physically represents his soul.