"Pronomination" in the Poetry of Chaucer, Gower, and Skelton.

Burrow, John.

"Pronomination" in the Poetry of Chaucer, Gower, and Skelton.

Burrow, John. "'Pronomination' in the Poetry of Chaucer, Gower, and Skelton." Medium Aevum 87 (2018): 142-52.

By "pronomination" Burrow means the device "pronominatio," defined in the "Rhetorica ad Herennium" as "a device which designates, with a kind of alien cognomen, something which cannot be called by its own name" (trans. Burrow). Geoffrey of Vinsauf follows "Ad Herennium" in his "Poetria nova" and "Documentum de modo de arte dictandi et versificandi," similarly defining and classifying "pronominatio" a trope, along with metaphor, metonymy, and hyperbole--all cited as "more difficult" (because they require a knowledgeable reader) than similes, which "display their meanings openly and in literal terms" (142). The trope substitutes a famous (usually classical) name for another, e.g., referring to a brave soldier as "this Hector," making it clear that not the original, but another, is intended. In the "Poetria nova" Geoffrey builds upon "the Roman rhetorician's neat coupling of 'laudere' and 'laedere'" to point out that "pronominatio" can be used either to praise or blame (e.g., "this Paris" or "this Thersites")--and it can also be used "ironically and derisively . . . where there is no true likeness between the people in question: an ugly man may be ridiculed as 'Paris' or an artless speaker as 'Cicero'" (143). Although the bulk of Burrow's study focusses on Skelton, he also notes instances in Chaucer's practice, which often resemble Skelton's (143-44). "John Gower," however, "is a different case." Burrow finds "no pronominations at all anywhere in [the CA]" (144). They are there in the Latin verse, especially in the Visio section of the VC, from which Burrow cites a few examples in ll. 879 ff.--the entry of the mob into London ("Nova Troia"). (It is perhaps noteworthy that this article was published posthumously.) [RFY. Copyright. The John Gower Society. eJGN 38.1.]


Gower Subjects
Style and Versification
Vox Clamantis
Confessio Amantis