Saturday, February 19, 2022

Dangerous Beauty: Christianizing the Myth of Cornix & Callisto: John Gower, Confessio Amantis V.6145 & V.6230ff

TRIGGER WARNING: rape, victim blaming


Hic loquitur contra istos in amoris causa predones, qui cum in suam furtive concupissentiam aspirant, fortuna in contrarium operatur. Et narrat quod cum Neptunus quamdam virginem nomine Cornicem solam iuxta mare deambulantem opprimere suo furto voluisset, superveniens Pallas ipsam e manibus eius virginitate servata gracius liberavit.

Here it talks about those who prey upon other sexually: those who try to sneakily succeed in fulfilling their lusty desire, but who are undermined by chance. The story goes that one time Neptune had tried to rape a certain maiden named Cornix when she was walking on the shore by herself, but Pallas Athena intervened. The goddess rescued the maiden from the god’s clutches and thankfully saved her from the assault.

--John Gower, Confessio Amantis V.6145


Hic ponit exemplum contra istos in causa virginitatis laesae praedones. Et narrat quod cum Calistona Lichaontis mirae pulchritudinis filia suam virginitatem Dianae conservandam castisima voviset, et in Silvam quae Tegea dicitur inter alias ibidem Nimphas moraturam se transtulisset, Iupiter virginis castitatem subtili furto surripiens, quendam filium, qui postea Archas nominatus est, ex ea genuit: unde Juno in Calistonam saeviens eius pulchritudinem in ursae turpissimae deformitatem subito transfiguravit.

Here we have an example against people who prey upon women sexually. The story is about when Calistona, the exceedingly beautiful daughter of Lichaon, piously vowed perpetual chastity to Diana. Calistona traveled to a forest called Tegea, and spent her life there among other nymphs. Jupiter took her virginity in a clever assault, and from that union she bore him a son who was later named Archas.  Because of this, Juno attacked Calistona, transforming the woman’s beauty into the ugly shape of a bear.

--John Gower, Confessio Amantis V.6230



Name:  John Gower

Date:  1330 – 1408 CE

Works:  Confessio Amantis





 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.




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