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  • The Art of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • Theodore Silverstein (bio)
Theodore Silverstein

Professor of English, University of Chicago; author of Visio Sancti Pauli (1935) and Medieval Latin Scientific Manuscripts in the Barberini Collection (1955)


1. Vv. 491–535.

2. See ed. Tolkien and Gordon, xvi.

3. See, e.g., Geoffrey de Vinsauf, Poetria nova, vv. 126 ff. and esp. 180 ff. (ed. E. Faral, Les artes poétiques du xiie et du xiiie siècle [Paris, 1923], 201–3); and Documentum de arte versificandi, I. 10–17 (ed. Faral, 267–8).

4. Geoffrey de Vinsauf, Summa de coloribus rhetoricis, ed. E. Faral, 323. Cf. 93–7.

5. Faral, 96.

6. E.g., Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae, ed. Lindsay (Oxford, 1911), V, xxxv, 1; and Rabanus Maurus, De universo, X, xi, in Migne, PL, CXI, 302BC.

7. This is the reading of the Great Bible of 1539, and Taverner’s (1539), Cranmer’s (1540), Matthew’s (1549), and Coverdale’s (1551) are like it. The Wycliffite versions are closer to the Latin: “and the endis of ioƷe weiling ocupicth”; “and morenyng ocupieth the laste thingis of ioye” (ed. Forshall and Madden [Oxford, 1850], III, 22).

8. Cato, I.18 (ed. J. W. and A. M. Duff, Minor Latin Poets [Loeb Lib., 1934], 598). Gawain’s line also has the sound of an aphorism—something like “Corde laetantes cum magnum sunt potantes,” “Animi jocosi dum magnum sunt vinosi,” or “Quamquam corde luditur quando magnum bibitur”—, but I have not found it. See, however, Florilegium Gottingense, no. 331 (ed. Ernst Voigt, in Romanische Forschungen, III [1887], 311), with its apt last hemistich:

“For þaƷ men ben mery in mynde quen þay han mayn drynk”

Dum bibitur uinum, dum luditur ante caminum, Tunc surgunt risus, stultis tunc est paradisus.

And cf. I Samuel xxvi. 36–37, II Samuel xiii. 28, and Esther i. 10.

9. Printed among Bernard of Clairvaux’s works in Migne, PL, CLXXXIV, 1309C.

10. I, xxiii, “De inopinato dolore,” Migne, PL, CCXVII, 713CD.

11. Epistulae morales, XLIX, esp. 2–3: “Infinita est velocitas temporis, quae magis apparet respicien-tibus. … Quicquid temporis transît, codem loco est; pariter aspicitur, una iacet. Omnia in idem profundum cadunt.” Cf. the Senecan epigram “Omnia tempus edax depascitur, omnia carpit,” in Anthologia latina, ed. Baehrens, Poetae latini minores, IV (Leipzig, 1882), 55; and Ovid, Meta., XV, 234–6: “tempus edax rerum. …”

12. Ed. Carleton Brown, Religious Lyrics of the XIVth Century (Oxford, 1924), 143.

13. Tr. “loosen,” “fall,” from ON lauss. Gollancz’s reading (ed. EETS, orig. ser., no. 210), as contrasted with Tolkien and Gordon’s lancen—“fly.” See Gollancz’s note to the line.

14. xvi, n. 2.

15. EETS, note to þrepeƷ in v. 504.

16. Wales and the Arthurian Legend (Cardiff, 1956), esp. 80 ff.

17. The best general account of this literature is in H. Walther, Das Streitgedicht in der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters (Quellcn u. Unters. z. latein. Philol. des Mittelalters, Bd. V.2 [München, 1920]), 34–46 and (texts) 191–211. For further bibliography of the seasonal poetry, of which the conflictus is a part, see L. Biadene, “‘Carmina de Mensibus,’ di Bonvesin de la Riva,” Studi di Filologia romanza, IX (1903), 1–130, esp. 81 ff. Cf. G. Morici, “La poesia della stagione,” Nuova autologia, CXXXII (1893), 479–515; and R. van Marie, Iconographie de l’art profane an m.a. et à la ren., II (La Haye, 1932), 314–40, esp. figs. 358–59 (11 and 12 c.).

18. Deutsche Mythologie, II (4e Ausgabe, ed. Meyer [Berlin, 1876]), 631–58, esp. 641 ff.

19. For this history and the mss. and texts see L. Hervieux, Les fabulists latins (Paris, 1894), III.

20. Walther, 191–203, esp. 191 and 194.

21. Ibid., 191.

22. Note to v. 504, with ref. to v. 2000.

23. Cf. the texts in Walther.

24. Cap. xxxiii, ed. Krogmann (Wiesbaden, 1954), 138. See nn., 216. Cf. ed. A. Bernt and K. Burdach (Berlin, 1917), 83–84 and (nn.) 400; ed. A. Hübner (Leipzig, 1937), 43 f. and (nn.) 62; ed. K. Spaulding (Oxford, 1930), 28 and (nn.) 74–5; and M. O’C. Walshe...


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