Anglo-Latin in the Ricardian Age.

Rigg, A. G.

Anglo-Latin in the Ricardian Age.

Minnis, A. J., Charlotte Morse, and Thorlac Turville-Petre, eds. "Essays on Ricardian Literature in Honour of J.A. Burrow." Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997. Pp. 121-41.

A.G. Rigg cites Gower at least once on almost every page in his survey of the role and status of Anglo-Latin during the last half of the fourteenth century, focusing on the Ricardian era in particular. "In this period," he writes, "we begin to see clearly the trends that would later lead to both the demise of Latin as a medium for creative writing and its protection as a unique manifestation of classical civilization" (p. 122). His essay is an engaging supplement both to his own "History of Anglo-Latin Literature (1066-1422)" and to J. A. Burrow's "Ricardian Poetry," as he describes how Latin writers were like or unlike contemporary writers in English, using the features that Burrow defined as characteristic of the Ricardian age. Along the way, he makes many useful observations about how Gower was like or unlike other contemporary writers in Latin. To use a small example, Gower's use of the enclitic "que" for "et," which stands out so prominently for those more accustomed to classical Latin, is, Riggs asserts, entirely typical of his age (p. 133); and on a larger matter, he notes that the most typical subject matter of late 14th-century Latin poetry is "historical" (as opposed to classical, Biblical, or devotional), the only exceptions being a few of Gower's own short poems. In the last part of his essay, he juxtaposes three different examples of such historical writing, Thomas Barry's "Battle of Otterburn" (a straightforward factual account in verse), Gower's CT (in which the poet "has entirely manipulated history for his poetic and political agenda," p. 138), and the "Visio" in Book 1 of VC, "the most striking example of the use of contemporary history . . . for literary purposes" (pp. 138-39), presenting a vision that "more than any other dream-vision I know, mirrors the common experience of a bad dream" (p. 139). [PN. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 20.1]


Gower Subjects
Language and Word Studies
Cronica Tripertita
Vox Clamantis