Avarice, Idolatry, and Fornication: The Connection between Genius’s Discussions about Religion and Virginity in Book 5 of John Gower’s Confessio Amantis
- Studies in Philology
- The University of North Carolina Press
- Volume 116, Number 3, Summer 2019
- pp. 401-422
- Additional Information
One of the central questions about the design of John Gower’s Confessio Amantis is the purpose of his inclusion of a history of idolatry and a commentary on virginity in a book on avarice. This article attempts to resolve this critical debate by demonstrating that these “digressions” are not only appropriate but also essential to Gower’s expansion of the sin and the dangers it poses to medieval readers. I argue that in book 5 Gower articulates the conceptual link between avarice, sexual violence, idolatry, and fornication found in medieval law and the Pauline epistles. Through its expanded scope and politicized scheme, Gower’s analysis of avarice reveals the manifold ways in which the vice may corrupt positive and natural law and the severe consequences that corruption may have on every level of society.