Re: Monotheism in The Canterbury Tales
I read the Penguin classics version which includes the original text and modern translation on opposing pages. This seems a good way to read it. To be honest I only looked at the Middle English occasionally. My only disappointment was this particular version is a selection
of Canterbury Tales, so it is abridged.
I have to mention that a few weeks ago I was on a walk with my wife. I started talking about The Canterbury Tales and very soon after she mentioned something she read in People
magazine. All of a sudden she started laughing because I was talking about high-brow literature and she was talking about gossip in People
magazine. Only the real joke was that many of the tales are quite bawdy. One of the tales has a a woman farting in some guy's face and in the same tale, the same guy sticks a hot iron in someone's arse. High-brow indeed!
Actually I meant to mention that several of the Tales
make reference to astrological signs and positions of celestial bodies. Obviously, astrology was very meaningful in the 15th century. Many people would call that pseudoscience, but I can see how astrology as such can be seen in a mythological context to explore the human condition just as humans have done for so very long with Greek mythology. What is interesting is that folks back then apparently were much more aware of the positions of planets and stars than we are in the modern era. To me that is a shame.
Other forms of "pseudoscience" are prominent in the Tales
as well, in particular, the humors. It was believed that everyone possesses different proportions of four humors and that would influence their temperament.
- The humor of Blood, associated with the liver and with Air, which is the hot and moist element. A person in whom blood predominates is said to be "sanguine," from the Latin "sanguis" (blood).
- The humor of Yellow Bile, associated with the spleen and with Fire, which is the hot and dry element. A person in whom yellow bile predominates is said to be "choleric," from the Greek "khole" (bile).
- The humor of Black Bile, associated with the gall bladder and with Earth, which is the cold and dry element. A person in whom black bile predominates is said to be "melancholic," from the Greek "melas" (black) and "khole" (bile).
- The humor of Phlegm, associated with the lungs and brain and with Water, which is the cold and moist element. A person in whom phlegm predominates is said to be "phlegmatic," from the Greek "phlegmatikos" (abounding in phlegm) .
I recently downloaded a paper from University of North Carolina's library entitled "Pseudoscience in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It looks pretty interesting. Let me know if you're interested in reading it. I'll PM you the link.