Monday, April 12, 2021

Christianizing the Myth of Apollo & Daphne: John Gower Confessio Amantis III.1685ff

 Comparing this Christianized version of the Apollo & Daphne myth with its ancient versions can help us see how cultural perspectives have changed over time

Hic ponit Confessor exemplum contra illos qui in amoris causa nimium festinatione concupiscentes tardius expediunt. Et narrat qualiter pro eo quod Phebus quamdam virginem pulcerimam nomine Daphnem nimia amoris acceleratione insequebatur, iratus Cupido cor Phebi sagitta aurea ignita ardentius vulneravit: et econtra cor Daphnae quadam sagitta plumbea, quae frigidissima fuit, sobrius perforavit. Et sic quanto magis Phebus ardentior in amore Daphnem prosecutus est, tanto magis ipsa frigidior Phebi concupiscentiam toto corde fugitiva dedignabatur.

--John Gower, Confessio Amantis III.1685ff

Here the narrator provides an example about those who use being in love as an excuse to pressure those who aren’t ready. And he provides an example, explaining how Phoebus [Apollo] loved a very beautiful woman named Daphne, and pressured her way too much for love. This angered Cupid and he wounded Phoebus’ heart with a golden arrow, making him burn for love even more fiercely; but he struck Daphne’s heart with a lead arrow, and she became very aloof to him. And so the more passionately Phoebus pursued Daphne in love, the more standoffish she became, and ultimately disdained Phoebus’ attraction for her with her whole heart.



Name:  John Gower

Date:  1330 – 1408 CE

Works:  Confessio Amantis



Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans



 John Gower was a 14th century English poet. He was a contemporary and peer of Geoffrey Chaucer; both authors use overlapping characters and themes. Although his Confessio Amantis was written in English, the Latin text of this story was taken from the summaries that the author wrote for each chapter in Latin.


Early Roman Lit: through 2nd c BCE: Republican Rome: through 1st c. BCE; Golden Age: 70 BCE to 18 CE; Silver Age: 18 CE to 150 CE; Age of Conflict: 150 CE - 410 CE; Byzantine and Late Latin: after 410 CE

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