Confessio Amantis - Tales Of The Seven Deadly Sins, 1330-1408 A.D. - Incipit Liber Quintus

A poem by John Gower

Obstat auaricia nature legibus, et que
Largus amor poscit, striccius illa vetat.
Omne quod est nimium viciosum dicitur aurum,
Vellera sicut oues, seruat auarus opes.
Non decet vt soli seruabitur es, set amori
Debet homo solam solus habere suam.

Ferst whan the hyhe god began
This world, and that the kinde of man
Was falle into no gret encress,
For worldes good tho was no press,
Bot al was set to the comune.
Thei spieken thanne of no fortune
Or forto lese or forto winne,
Til Avarice broghte it inne;
And that was whan the world was woxe
Of man, of hors, of Schep, of Oxe, 10
And that men knewen the moneie.
Tho wente pes out of the weie
And werre cam on every side,
Which alle love leide aside
And of comun his propre made,
So that in stede of schovele and spade
The scharpe swerd was take on honde;
And in this wise it cam to londe,
Wherof men maden dyches depe
And hyhe walles forto kepe 20
The gold which Avarice encloseth.
Bot al to lytel him supposeth,
Thogh he mihte al the world pourchace;
For what thing that he may embrace
Of gold, of catel or of lond,
He let it nevere out of his hond,
Bot get him more and halt it faste,
As thogh the world scholde evere laste.
So is he lych unto the helle;
For as these olde bokes telle, 30
What comth therinne, lasse or more,
It schal departe neveremore:
Thus whanne he hath his cofre loken,
It schal noght after ben unstoken,
Bot whanne him list to have a syhte
Of gold, hou that it schyneth brihte,
That he ther on mai loke and muse;
For otherwise he dar noght use
To take his part, or lasse or more.
So is he povere, and everemore 40
Him lacketh that he hath ynowh:
An Oxe draweth in the plowh,
Of that himself hath no profit;
A Schep riht in the same plit
His wolle berth, bot on a day
An other takth the flees away:
Thus hath he, that he noght ne hath,
For he therof his part ne tath.
To seie hou such a man hath good,
Who so that reson understod, 50
It is impropreliche seid,
For good hath him and halt him teid,
That he ne gladeth noght withal,
Bot is unto his good a thral,
And as soubgit thus serveth he,
Wher that he scholde maister be:
Such is the kinde of thaverous.
Mi Sone, as thou art amerous,
Tell if thou farst of love so.
Mi fader, as it semeth, no; 60
That averous yit nevere I was,
So as ye setten me the cas:
For as ye tolden here above,
In full possession of love
Yit was I nevere hier tofore,
So that me thenketh wel therfore,
I mai excuse wel my dede.
Bot of mi will withoute drede,
If I that tresor mihte gete,
It scholde nevere be foryete, 70
That I ne wolde it faste holde,
Til god of love himselve wolde
That deth ous scholde part atuo.
For lieveth wel, I love hire so,
That evene with min oghne lif,
If I that swete lusti wif
Mihte ones welden at my wille,
For evere I wolde hire holde stille:
And in this wise, taketh kepe,
If I hire hadde, I wolde hire kepe, 80
And yit no friday wolde I faste,
Thogh I hire kepte and hielde faste.
Fy on the bagges in the kiste!
I hadde ynogh, if I hire kiste.
For certes, if sche were myn,
I hadde hir levere than a Myn
Of Gold; for al this worldesriche
Ne mihte make me so riche
As sche, that is so inly good.
I sette noght of other good; 90
For mihte I gete such a thing,
I hadde a tresor for a king;
And thogh I wolde it faste holde,
I were thanne wel beholde.
Bot I mot pipe nou with lasse,
And suffre that it overpasse,
Noght with mi will, for thus I wolde
Ben averous, if that I scholde.
Bot, fader, I you herde seie
Hou thaverous hath yit som weie, 100
Wherof he mai be glad; for he
Mai whanne him list his tresor se,
And grope and fiele it al aboute,
Bot I fulofte am schet theroute,
Ther as my worthi tresor is.
So is mi lif lich unto this,
That ye me tolden hier tofore,
Hou that an Oxe his yock hath bore
For thing that scholde him noght availe:
And in this wise I me travaile; 110
For who that evere hath the welfare,
I wot wel that I have the care,
For I am hadd and noght ne have,
And am, as who seith, loves knave.
Nou demeth in youre oghne thoght,
If this be Avarice or noght.
Mi Sone, I have of thee no wonder,
Thogh thou to serve be put under
With love, which to kinde acordeth:
Bot, so as every bok recordeth, 120
It is to kinde no plesance
That man above his sustienance
Unto the gold schal serve and bowe,
For that mai no reson avowe.
Bot Avarice natheles,
If he mai geten his encress
Of gold, that wole he serve and kepe,
For he takth of noght elles kepe,
Bot forto fille hise bagges large;
And al is to him bot a charge, 130
For he ne parteth noght withal,
Bot kepth it, as a servant schal:
And thus, thogh that he multeplie
His gold, withoute tresorie
He is, for man is noght amended
With gold, bot if it be despended
To mannes us; wherof I rede
A tale, and tak therof good hiede,
Of that befell be olde tyde,
As telleth ous the clerk Ovide. 140
Bachus, which is the god of wyn,
Acordant unto his divin
A Prest, the which Cillenus hihte,
He hadde, and fell so that be nyhte
This Prest was drunke and goth astraied,
Wherof the men were evele apaied
In Frigelond, where as he wente.
Bot ate laste a cherl him hente
With strengthe of other felaschipe,
So that upon his drunkeschipe 150
Thei bounden him with chenes faste,
And forth thei ladde him als so faste
Unto the king, which hihte Myde.
Bot he, that wolde his vice hyde,
This courteis king, tok of him hiede,
And bad that men him scholde lede
Into a chambre forto kepe,
Til he of leisir hadde slepe.
And tho this Prest was sone unbounde,
And up a couche fro the grounde 160
To slepe he was leid softe ynowh;
And whanne he wok, the king him drowh
To his presence and dede him chiere,
So that this Prest in such manere,
Whil that him liketh, there he duelleth:
And al this he to Bachus telleth,
Whan that he cam to him ayein.
And whan that Bachus herde sein
How Mide hath don his courtesie,
Him thenkth it were a vilenie, 170
Bot he rewarde him for his dede,
So as he mihte of his godhiede.
Unto this king this god appiereth
And clepeth, and that other hiereth:
This god to Mide thonketh faire
Of that he was so debonaire
Toward his Prest, and bad him seie:
What thing it were he wolde preie,
He scholde it have, of worldes good.
This king was glad, and stille stod, 180
And was of his axinge in doute,
And al the world he caste aboute,
What thing was best for his astat,
And with himself stod in debat
Upon thre pointz, the whiche I finde
Ben lievest unto mannes kinde.
The ferste of hem it is delit,
The tuo ben worschipe and profit.
And thanne he thoghte, "If that I crave
Delit, thogh I delit mai have, 190
Delit schal passen in myn age:
That is no siker avantage,
For every joie bodily
Schal ende in wo: delit forthi
Wol I noght chese. And if worschipe
I axe and of the world lordschipe,
That is an occupacion
Of proud ymaginacion,
Which makth an herte vein withinne;
Ther is no certain forto winne, 200
For lord and knave al is o weie,
Whan thei be bore and whan thei deie.
And if I profit axe wolde,
I not in what manere I scholde
Of worldes good have sikernesse;
For every thief upon richesse
Awaiteth forto robbe and stele:
Such good is cause of harmes fele.
And also, thogh a man at ones
Of al the world withinne his wones 210
The tresor myhte have everydel,
Yit hadde he bot o mannes del
Toward himself, so as I thinke,
Of clothinge and of mete and drinke,
For more, outake vanite,
Ther hath no lord in his degre."
And thus upon the pointz diverse
Diverseliche he gan reherce
What point him thoghte for the beste;
Bot pleinly forto gete him reste 220
He can so siker weie caste.
And natheles yit ate laste
He fell upon the coveitise
Of gold; and thanne in sondri wise
He thoghte, as I have seid tofore,
Hou tresor mai be sone lore,
And hadde an inly gret desir
Touchende of such recoverir,
Hou that he mihte his cause availe
To gete him gold withoute faile. 230
Withinne his herte and thus he preiseth
The gold, and seith hou that it peiseth
Above al other metall most:
"The gold," he seith, "may lede an host
To make werre ayein a King;
The gold put under alle thing,
And set it whan him list above;
The gold can make of hate love
And werre of pes and ryht of wrong,
And long to schort and schort to long; 240
Withoute gold mai be no feste,
Gold is the lord of man and beste,
And mai hem bothe beie and selle;
So that a man mai sothly telle
That al the world to gold obeieth."
Forthi this king to Bachus preieth
To grante him gold, bot he excedeth
Mesure more than him nedeth.
Men tellen that the maladie
Which cleped is ydropesie 250
Resembled is unto this vice
Be weie of kinde of Avarice:
The more ydropesie drinketh,
The more him thursteth, for him thinketh
That he mai nevere drinke his fille;
So that ther mai nothing fulfille
The lustes of his appetit:
And riht in such a maner plit
Stant Avarice and evere stod;
The more he hath of worldes good, 260
The more he wolde it kepe streyte,
And evere mor and mor coveite.
And riht in such condicioun
Withoute good discrecioun
This king with avarice is smite,
That al the world it myhte wite:
For he to Bachus thanne preide,
That wherupon his hond he leide,
It scholde thurgh his touche anon
Become gold, and therupon 270
This god him granteth as he bad.
Tho was this king of Frige glad,
And forto put it in assai
With al the haste that he mai,
He toucheth that, he toucheth this,
And in his hond al gold it is,
The Ston, the Tree, the Lef, the gras,
The flour, the fruit, al gold it was.
Thus toucheth he, whil he mai laste
To go, bot hunger ate laste 280
Him tok, so that he moste nede
Be weie of kinde his hunger fede.
The cloth was leid, the bord was set,
And al was forth tofore him fet,
His disch, his coppe, his drinke, his mete;
Bot whanne he wolde or drinke or ete,
Anon as it his mouth cam nyh,
It was al gold, and thanne he syh
Of Avarice the folie.
And he with that began to crie, 290
And preide Bachus to foryive
His gilt, and soffre him forto live
And be such as he was tofore,
So that he were not forlore.
This god, which herde of his grevance,
Tok rowthe upon his repentance,
And bad him go forth redily
Unto a flod was faste by,
Which Paceole thanne hyhte,
In which as clene as evere he myhte 300
He scholde him waisshen overal,
And seide him thanne that he schal
Recovere his ferste astat ayein.
This king, riht as he herde sein,
Into the flod goth fro the lond,
And wissh him bothe fot and hond,
And so forth al the remenant,
As him was set in covenant:
And thanne he syh merveilles strange,
The flod his colour gan to change, 310
The gravel with the smale Stones
To gold thei torne bothe at ones,
And he was quit of that he hadde,
And thus fortune his chance ladde.
And whan he sih his touche aweie,
He goth him hom the rihte weie
And liveth forth as he dede er,
And putte al Avarice afer,
And the richesse of gold despiseth,
And seith that mete and cloth sufficeth. 320
Thus hath this king experience
Hou foles don the reverence
To gold, which of his oghne kinde
Is lasse worth than is the rinde
To sustienance of mannes fode;
And thanne he made lawes goode
And al his thing sette upon skile:
He bad his poeple forto tile
Here lond, and live under the lawe,
And that thei scholde also forthdrawe 330
Bestaile, and seche non encress
Of gold, which is the breche of pes.
For this a man mai finde write,
Tofor the time, er gold was smite
In Coign, that men the florin knewe,
Ther was welnyh noman untrewe;
Tho was ther nouther schield ne spere
Ne dedly wepne forto bere;
Tho was the toun withoute wal,
Which nou is closed overal; 340
Tho was ther no brocage in londe,
Which nou takth every cause on honde:
So mai men knowe, hou the florin
Was moder ferst of malengin
And bringere inne of alle werre,
Wherof this world stant out of herre
Thurgh the conseil of Avarice,
Which of his oghne propre vice
Is as the helle wonderfull;
For it mai neveremor be full, 350
That what as evere comth therinne,
Awey ne may it nevere winne.
Bot Sone myn, do thou noght so,
Let al such Avarice go,
And tak thi part of that thou hast:
I bidde noght that thou do wast,
Bot hold largesce in his mesure;
And if thou se a creature,
Which thurgh poverte is falle in nede,
Yif him som good, for this I rede 360
To him that wol noght yiven here,
What peine he schal have elleswhere.
Ther is a peine amonges alle
Benethe in helle, which men calle
The wofull peine of Tantaly,
Of which I schal thee redely
Devise hou men therinne stonde.
In helle, thou schalt understonde,
Ther is a flod of thilke office,
Which serveth al for Avarice: 370
What man that stonde schal therinne,
He stant up evene unto the chinne;
Above his hed also ther hongeth
A fruyt, which to that peine longeth,
And that fruit toucheth evere in on
His overlippe: and therupon
Swich thurst and hunger him assaileth,
That nevere his appetit ne faileth.
Bot whanne he wolde his hunger fede,
The fruit withdrawth him ate nede, 380
And thogh he heve his hed on hyh,
The fruit is evere aliche nyh,
So is the hunger wel the more:
And also, thogh him thurste sore
And to the water bowe a doun,
The flod in such condicioun
Avaleth, that his drinke areche
He mai noght. Lo nou, which a wreche,
That mete and drinke is him so couth,
And yit ther comth non in his mouth! 390
Lich to the peines of this flod
Stant Avarice in worldes good:
He hath ynowh and yit him nedeth,
For his skarsnesse it him forbiedeth,
And evere his hunger after more
Travaileth him aliche sore,
So is he peined overal.
Forthi thi goodes forth withal,
Mi Sone, loke thou despende,
Wherof thou myht thiself amende 400
Bothe hier and ek in other place.
And also if thou wolt pourchace
To be beloved, thou most use
Largesce, for if thou refuse
To yive for thi loves sake,
It is no reson that thou take
Of love that thou woldest crave.
Forthi, if thou wolt grace have,
Be gracious and do largesse,
Of Avarice and the seknesse 410
Eschuie above alle other thing,
And tak ensample of Mide king
And of the flod of helle also,
Where is ynowh of alle wo.
And thogh ther were no matiere
Bot only that we finden hiere,
Men oghten Avarice eschuie;
For what man thilke vice suie,
He get himself bot litel reste.
For hou so that the body reste, 420
The herte upon the gold travaileth,
Whom many a nyhtes drede assaileth;
For thogh he ligge abedde naked,
His herte is everemore awaked,
And dremeth, as he lith to slepe,
How besi that he is to kepe
His tresor, that no thief it stele.
Thus hath he bot a woful wele.
And riht so in the same wise,
If thou thiself wolt wel avise, 430
Ther be lovers of suche ynowe,
That wole unto no reson bowe.
If so be that thei come above,
Whan thei ben maistres of here love,
And that thei scholden be most glad,
With love thei ben most bestad,
So fain thei wolde it holden al.
Here herte, here yhe is overal,
And wenen every man be thief,
To stele awey that hem is lief; 440
Thus thurgh here oghne fantasie
Thei fallen into Jelousie.
Thanne hath the Schip tobroke his cable,
With every wynd and is muable.
Mi fader, for that ye nou telle,
I have herd ofte time telle
Of Jelousie, bot what it is
Yit understod I nevere er this:
Wherfore I wolde you beseche,
That ye me wolde enforme and teche 450
What maner thing it mihte be.
Mi Sone, that is hard to me:
Bot natheles, as I have herd,
Now herkne and thou schalt ben ansuerd.
Among the men lacke of manhode
In Mariage upon wifhode
Makth that a man himself deceiveth,
Wherof it is that he conceiveth
That ilke unsely maladie,
The which is cleped Jelousie: 460
Of which if I the proprete
Schal telle after the nycete,
So as it worcheth on a man,
A Fievere it is cotidian,
Which every day wol come aboute,
Wher so a man be inne or oute.
At hom if that a man wol wone,
This Fievere is thanne of comun wone
Most grevous in a mannes yhe:
For thanne he makth him tote and pryhe, 470
Wher so as evere his love go;
Sche schal noght with hir litel too
Misteppe, bot he se it al.
His yhe is walkende overal;
Wher that sche singe or that sche dance,
He seth the leste contienance,
If sche loke on a man aside
Or with him roune at eny tyde,
Or that sche lawghe, or that sche loure,
His yhe is ther at every houre. 480
And whanne it draweth to the nyht,
If sche thanne is withoute lyht,
Anon is al the game schent;
For thanne he set his parlement
To speke it whan he comth to bedde,
And seith, "If I were now to wedde,
I wolde neveremore have wif."
And so he torneth into strif
The lust of loves duete,
And al upon diversete. 490
If sche be freissh and wel araied,
He seith hir baner is displaied
To clepe in gestes fro the weie:
And if sche be noght wel beseie,
And that hir list noght to be gladd,
He berth an hond that sche is madd
And loveth noght hire housebonde;
He seith he mai wel understonde,
That if sche wolde his compaignie,
Sche scholde thanne afore his ije 500
Schewe al the plesir that sche mihte.
So that be daie ne be nyhte
Sche not what thing is for the beste,
Bot liveth out of alle reste;
For what as evere him liste sein,
Sche dar noght speke a word ayein,
Bot wepth and holt hire lippes clos.
Sche mai wel wryte, "Sanz repos,"
The wif which is to such on maried.
Of alle wommen be he waried, 510
For with this Fievere of Jalousie
His echedaies fantasie
Of sorghe is evere aliche grene,
So that ther is no love sene,
Whil that him list at hom abyde.
And whan so is he wol out ryde,
Thanne hath he redi his aspie
Abidinge in hir compaignie,
A janglere, an evel mouthed oon,
That sche ne mai nowhider gon, 520
Ne speke a word, ne ones loke,
That he ne wol it wende and croke
And torne after his oghne entente,
Thogh sche nothing bot honour mente.
Whan that the lord comth hom ayein,
The janglere moste somwhat sein;
So what withoute and what withinne,
This Fievere is evere to beginne,
For where he comth he can noght ende,
Til deth of him have mad an ende. 530
For thogh so be that he ne hiere
Ne se ne wite in no manere
Bot al honour and wommanhiede,
Therof the Jelous takth non hiede,
Bot as a man to love unkinde,
He cast his staf, as doth the blinde,
And fint defaulte where is non;
As who so dremeth on a Ston
Hou he is leid, and groneth ofte,
Whan he lith on his pilwes softe. 540
So is ther noght bot strif and cheste;
Whan love scholde make his feste,
It is gret thing if he hir kisse:
Thus hath sche lost the nyhtes blisse,
For at such time he gruccheth evere
And berth on hond ther is a levere,
And that sche wolde an other were
In stede of him abedde there;
And with tho wordes and with mo
Of Jelousie, he torneth fro 550
And lith upon his other side,
And sche with that drawth hire aside,
And ther sche wepeth al the nyht.
Ha, to what peine sche is dyht,
That in hire youthe hath so beset
The bond which mai noght ben unknet!
I wot the time is ofte cursed,
That evere was the gold unpursed,
The which was leid upon the bok,
Whan that alle othre sche forsok 560
For love of him; bot al to late
Sche pleigneth, for as thanne algate
Sche mot forbere and to him bowe,
Thogh he ne wole it noght allowe.
For man is lord of thilke feire,
So mai the womman bot empeire,
If sche speke oght ayein his wille;
And thus sche berth hir peine stille.
Bot if this Fievere a womman take,
Sche schal be wel mor harde schake; 570
For thogh sche bothe se and hiere,
And finde that ther is matiere,
Sche dar bot to hirselve pleine,
And thus sche suffreth double peine.
Lo thus, mi Sone, as I have write,
Thou miht of Jelousie wite
His fievere and his condicion,
Which is full of suspecion.
Bot wherof that this fievere groweth,
Who so these olde bokes troweth, 580
Ther mai he finden hou it is:
For thei ous teche and telle this,
Hou that this fievere of Jelousie
Somdel it groweth of sotie
Of love, and somdiel of untrust.
For as a sek man lest his lust,
And whan he may no savour gete,
He hateth thanne his oughne mete,
Riht so this fieverous maladie,
Which caused is of fantasie, 590
Makth the Jelous in fieble plit
To lese of love his appetit
Thurgh feigned enformacion
Of his ymaginacion.
Bot finali to taken hiede,
Men mai wel make a liklihiede
Betwen him which is averous
Of gold and him that is jelous
Of love, for in on degre
Thei stonde bothe, as semeth me. 600
That oon wolde have his bagges stille,
And noght departen with his wille,
And dar noght for the thieves slepe,
So fain he wolde his tresor kepe;
That other mai noght wel be glad,
For he is evere more adrad
Of these lovers that gon aboute,
In aunter if thei putte him oute.
So have thei bothe litel joye
As wel of love as of monoie. 610
Now hast thou, Sone, at my techinge
Of Jelousie a knowlechinge,
That thou myht understonde this,
Fro whenne he comth and what he is,
And ek to whom that he is lik.
Be war forthi thou be noght sik
Of thilke fievere as I have spoke,
For it wol in himself be wroke.
For love hateth nothing more,
As men mai finde be the lore 620
Of hem that whilom were wise,
Hou that thei spieke in many wise.
Mi fader, soth is that ye sein.
Bot forto loke therayein,
Befor this time hou it is falle,
Wherof ther mihte ensample falle
To suche men as be jelous
In what manere it is grevous,
Riht fain I wolde ensample hiere.
My goode Sone, at thi preiere 630
Of suche ensamples as I finde,
So as thei comen nou to mynde
Upon this point, of time gon
I thenke forto tellen on.
Ovide wrot of manye thinges,
Among the whiche in his wrytinges
He tolde a tale in Poesie,
Which toucheth unto Jelousie,
Upon a certein cas of love.
Among the goddes alle above 640
It fell at thilke time thus:
The god of fyr, which Vulcanus
Is hote, and hath a craft forthwith
Assigned, forto be the Smith
Of Jupiter, and his figure
Bothe of visage and of stature
Is lothly and malgracious,
Bot yit he hath withinne his hous
As for the likynge of his lif
The faire Venus to his wif. 650
Bot Mars, which of batailles is
The god, an yhe hadde unto this:
As he which was chivalerous,
It fell him to ben amerous,
And thoghte it was a gret pite
To se so lusti on as sche
Be coupled with so lourde a wiht:
So that his peine day and nyht
He dede, if he hire winne myhte;
And sche, which hadde a good insihte 660
Toward so noble a knyhtli lord,
In love fell of his acord.
Ther lacketh noght bot time and place,
That he nys siker of hire grace:
Bot whan tuo hertes falle in on,
So wys await was nevere non,
That at som time thei ne mete;
And thus this faire lusti swete
With Mars hath ofte compaignie.
Bot thilke unkynde Jelousie, 670
Which everemor the herte opposeth,
Makth Vulcanus that he supposeth
That it is noght wel overal,
And to himself he seide, he schal
Aspie betre, if that he may;
And so it fell upon a day,
That he this thing so slyhli ledde,
He fond hem bothe tuo abedde
Al warm, echon with other naked.
And he with craft al redy maked 680
Of stronge chenes hath hem bounde,
As he togedre hem hadde founde,
And lefte hem bothe ligge so,
And gan to clepe and crie tho
Unto the goddes al aboute;
And thei assembled in a route
Come alle at ones forto se.
Bot none amendes hadde he,
Bot was rebuked hiere and there
Of hem that loves frendes were; 690
And seiden that he was to blame,
For if ther fell him eny schame,
It was thurgh his misgovernance:
And thus he loste contienance,
This god, and let his cause falle;
And thei to skorne him lowhen alle,
And losen Mars out of hise bondes.
Wherof these erthli housebondes
For evere myhte ensample take,
If such a chaunce hem overtake: 700
For Vulcanus his wif bewreide,
The blame upon himself he leide,
Wherof his schame was the more;
Which oghte forto ben a lore
For every man that liveth hiere,
To reulen him in this matiere.
Thogh such an happ of love asterte,
Yit scholde he noght apointe his herte
With Jelousie of that is wroght,
Bot feigne, as thogh he wiste it noght: 710
For if he lete it overpasse,
The sclaundre schal be wel the lasse,
And he the more in ese stonde.
For this thou myht wel understonde,
That where a man schal nedes lese,
The leste harm is forto chese.
Bot Jelousie of his untrist
Makth that full many an harm arist,
Which elles scholde noght arise;
And if a man him wolde avise 720
Of that befell to Vulcanus,
Him oghte of reson thenke thus,
That sithe a god therof was schamed,
Wel scholde an erthli man be blamed
To take upon him such a vice.
Forthi, my Sone, in thin office
Be war that thou be noght jelous,
Which ofte time hath schent the hous.
Mi fader, this ensample is hard,
Hou such thing to the heveneward 730
Among the goddes myhte falle:
For ther is bot o god of alle,
Which is the lord of hevene and helle.
Bot if it like you to telle
Hou suche goddes come aplace,
Ye mihten mochel thonk pourchace,
For I schal be wel tawht withal.
Mi Sone, it is thus overal
With hem that stonden misbelieved,
That suche goddes ben believed: 740
In sondri place sondri wise
Amonges hem whiche are unwise
Ther is betaken of credence;
Wherof that I the difference
In the manere as it is write
Schal do the pleinly forto wite.
Er Crist was bore among ous hiere,
Of the believes that tho were
In foure formes thus it was.
Thei of Caldee as in this cas 750
Hadde a believe be hemselve,
Which stod upon the signes tuelve,
Forth ek with the Planetes sevene,
Whiche as thei sihe upon the hevene.
Of sondri constellacion
In here ymaginacion
With sondri kerf and pourtreture
Thei made of goddes the figure.
In thelementz and ek also
Thei hadden a believe tho; 760
And al was that unresonable:
For thelementz ben servicable
To man, and ofte of Accidence,
As men mai se thexperience,
Thei ben corrupt be sondri weie;
So mai no mannes reson seie
That thei ben god in eny wise.
And ek, if men hem wel avise,
The Sonne and Mone eclipse bothe,
That be hem lieve or be hem lothe, 770
Thei soffre; and what thing is passible
To ben a god is impossible.
These elementz ben creatures,
So ben these hevenly figures,
Wherof mai wel be justefied
That thei mai noght be deified:
And who that takth awey thonour
Which due is to the creatour,
And yifth it to the creature,
He doth to gret a forsfaiture. 780
Bot of Caldee natheles
Upon this feith, thogh it be les,
Thei holde affermed the creance;
So that of helle the penance,
As folk which stant out of believe,
They schull receive, as we believe.
Of the Caldeus lo in this wise
Stant the believe out of assisse:
Bot in Egipte worst of alle
The feith is fals, hou so it falle; 790
For thei diverse bestes there
Honoure, as thogh thei goddes were:
And natheles yit forth withal
Thre goddes most in special
Thei have, forth with a goddesse,
In whom is al here sikernesse.
Tho goddes be yit cleped thus,
Orus, Typhon and Isirus:
Thei were brethren alle thre,
And the goddesse in hir degre 800
Here Soster was and Ysis hyhte,
Whom Isirus forlai be nyhte
And hield hire after as his wif.
So it befell that upon strif
Typhon hath Isre his brother slain,
Which hadde a child to Sone Orayn,
And he his fader deth to herte
So tok, that it mai noght asterte
That he Typhon after ne slowh,
Whan he was ripe of age ynowh. 810
Bot yit thegipcienes trowe
For al this errour, which thei knowe,
That these brethren ben of myht
To sette and kepe Egipte upriht,
And overthrowe, if that hem like.
Bot Ysis, as seith the Cronique,
Fro Grece into Egipte cam,
And sche thanne upon honde nam
To teche hem forto sowe and eere,
Which noman knew tofore there. 820
And whan thegipcienes syhe
The fieldes fulle afore here yhe,
And that the lond began to greine,
Which whilom hadde be bareigne,-
For therthe bar after the kinde
His due charge,- this I finde,
That sche of berthe the goddesse
Is cleped, so that in destresse
The wommen there upon childinge
To hire clepe, and here offringe 830
Thei beren, whan that thei ben lyhte.
Lo, hou Egipte al out of syhte

Fro resoun stant in misbelieve
For lacke of lore, as I believe.
Among the Greks, out of the weie
As thei that reson putte aweie,
Ther was, as the Cronique seith,
Of misbelieve an other feith,
That thei here goddes and goddesses,
As who seith, token al to gesses 840
Of suche as weren full of vice,
To whom thei made here sacrifice.
The hihe god, so as thei seide,
To whom thei most worschipe leide,
Saturnus hihte, and king of Crete
He hadde be; bot of his sete
He was put doun, as he which stod
In frenesie, and was so wod,
That fro his wif, which Rea hihte,
Hise oghne children he to plihte, 850
And eet hem of his comun wone.
Bot Jupiter, which was his Sone
And of full age, his fader bond
And kutte of with his oghne hond
Hise genitals, whiche als so faste
Into the depe See he caste;
Wherof the Greks afferme and seie,
Thus whan thei were caste aweie,
Cam Venus forth be weie of kinde.
And of Saturne also I finde 860
How afterward into an yle
This Jupiter him dede exile,
Wher that he stod in gret meschief.
Lo, which a god thei maden chief!
And sithen that such on was he,
Which stod most hihe in his degre
Among the goddes, thou miht knowe,
These othre, that ben more lowe,
Ben litel worth, as it is founde.
For Jupiter was the secounde, 870
Which Juno hadde unto his wif;
And yit a lechour al his lif
He was, and in avouterie
He wroghte many a tricherie;
And for he was so full of vices,
Thei cleped him god of delices:
Of whom, if thou wolt more wite,
Ovide the Poete hath write.
Bot yit here Sterres bothe tuo,
Saturne and Jupiter also, 880
Thei have, althogh thei be to blame,
Attitled to here oghne name.
Mars was an other in that lawe,
The which in Dace was forthdrawe,
Of whom the clerk Vegecius
Wrot in his bok, and tolde thus,
Hou he into Ytaile cam,
And such fortune ther he nam
That he a Maiden hath oppressed,
Which in hire ordre was professed, 890
As sche which was the Prioresse
In Vestes temple the goddesse,
So was sche wel the mor to blame.
Dame Ylia this ladi name
Men clepe, and ek sche was also
The kinges dowhter that was tho,
Which Mynitor be name hihte.
So that ayein the lawes ryhte
Mars thilke time upon hire that
Remus and Romulus begat, 900
Whiche after, whan thei come in Age,
Of knihthode and of vassellage
Ytaile al hol thei overcome
And foundeden the grete Rome;
In Armes and of such emprise
Thei weren, that in thilke wise
Here fader Mars for the mervaile
The god was cleped of bataille.
Thei were his children bothe tuo,
Thurgh hem he tok his name so, 910
Ther was non other cause why:
And yit a Sterre upon the Sky
He hath unto his name applied,
In which that he is signified.
An other god thei hadden eke,
To whom for conseil thei beseke,
The which was brother to Venus,
Appollo men him clepe thus.
He was an Hunte upon the helles,
Ther was with him no vertu elles, 920
Wherof that enye bokes karpe,
Bot only that he couthe harpe;
Which whanne he walked over londe,
Fulofte time he tok on honde,
To gete him with his sustienance,
For lacke of other pourveance.
And otherwhile of his falshede
He feignede him to conne arede
Of thing which after scholde falle;
Wherof among hise sleyhtes alle 930
He hath the lewed folk deceived,
So that the betre he was received.
Lo now, thurgh what creacion
He hath deificacion,
And cleped is the god of wit
To suche as be the foles yit.
An other god, to whom thei soghte,
Mercurie hihte, and him ne roghte
What thing he stal, ne whom he slowh.
Of Sorcerie he couthe ynowh, 940
That whanne he wolde himself transforme,
Fulofte time he tok the forme
Of womman and his oghne lefte;
So dede he wel the more thefte.
A gret spekere in alle thinges
He was also, and of lesinges
An Auctour, that men wiste non
An other such as he was on.
And yit thei maden of this thief
A god, which was unto hem lief, 950
And clepede him in tho believes
The god of Marchantz and of thieves.
Bot yit a sterre upon the hevene
He hath of the planetes sevene.
But Vulcanus, of whom I spak,
He hadde a courbe upon the bak,
And therto he was hepehalt:
Of whom thou understonde schalt,
He was a schrewe in al his youthe,
And he non other vertu couthe 960
Of craft to helpe himselve with,
Bot only that he was a Smith
With Jupiter, which in his forge
Diverse thinges made him forge;
So wot I noght for what desir
Thei clepen him the god of fyr.
King of Cizile Ypolitus
A Sone hadde, and Eolus
He hihte, and of his fader grant
He hield be weie of covenant 970
The governance of every yle
Which was longende unto Cizile,
Of hem that fro the lond forein
Leie open to the wynd al plein.
And fro thilke iles to the londe
Fulofte cam the wynd to honde:
After the name of him forthi
The wyndes cleped Eoli
Tho were, and he the god of wynd.
Lo nou, hou this believe is blynd! 980
The king of Crete Jupiter,
The same which I spak of er,
Unto his brother, which Neptune
Was hote, it list him to comune
Part of his good, so that be Schipe
He mad him strong of the lordschipe
Of al the See in tho parties;
Wher that he wroghte his tyrannyes,
And the strange yles al aboute
He wan, that every man hath doute 990
Upon his marche forto saile;
For he anon hem wolde assaile
And robbe what thing that thei ladden,
His sauf conduit bot if thei hadden.
Wherof the comun vois aros
In every lond, that such a los
He cawhte, al nere it worth a stre,
That he was cleped of the See
The god be name, and yit he is
With hem that so believe amis. 1000
This Neptune ek was thilke also,
Which was the ferste foundour tho
Of noble Troie, and he forthi
Was wel the more lete by.
The loresman of the Schepherdes,
And ek of hem that ben netherdes,
Was of Archade and hihte Pan:
Of whom hath spoke many a man;
For in the wode of Nonarcigne,
Enclosed with the tres of Pigne, 1010
And on the Mont of Parasie
He hadde of bestes the baillie,
And ek benethe in the valleie,
Wher thilke rivere, as men seie,
Which Ladon hihte, made his cours,
He was the chief of governours
Of hem that kepten tame bestes,
Wherof thei maken yit the festes
In the Cite Stinfalides.
And forth withal yit natheles 1020
He tawhte men the forthdrawinge
Of bestaile, and ek the makinge
Of Oxen, and of hors the same,
Hou men hem scholde ryde and tame:
Of foules ek, so as we finde,
Ful many a soubtiel craft of kinde
He fond, which noman knew tofore.
Men dede him worschipe ek therfore,
That he the ferste in thilke lond
Was which the melodie fond 1030
Of Riedes, whan thei weren ripe,
With double pipes forto pipe;
Therof he yaf the ferste lore,
Til afterward men couthe more.
To every craft for mannes helpe
He hadde a redi wit to helpe
Thurgh naturel experience:
And thus the nyce reverence
Of foles, whan that he was ded,
The fot hath torned to the hed, 1040
And clepen him god of nature,
For so thei maden his figure.
An other god, so as thei fiele,
Which Jupiter upon Samele
Begat in his avouterie,
Whom, forto hide his lecherie,
That non therof schal take kepe,
In a Montaigne forto kepe,
Which Dyon hihte and was in Ynde,
He sende, in bokes as I finde: 1050
And he be name Bachus hihte,
Which afterward, whan that he mihte,
A wastour was, and al his rente
In wyn and bordel he despente.
Bot yit, al were he wonder badde,
Among the Greks a name he hadde;
Thei cleped him the god of wyn,
And thus a glotoun was dyvyn.
Ther was yit Esculapius
A godd in thilke time as thus. 1060
His craft stod upon Surgerie,
Bot for the lust of lecherie,
That he to Daires dowhter drowh,
It felle that Jupiter him slowh:
And yit thei made him noght forthi
A god, and was no cause why.
In Rome he was long time also
A god among the Romeins tho;
For, as he seide, of his presence
Ther was destruid a pestilence, 1070
Whan thei to thyle of Delphos wente,
And that Appollo with hem sente
This Esculapius his Sone,
Among the Romeins forto wone.
And there he duelte for a while,
Til afterward into that yle,
Fro whenne he cam, ayein he torneth,
Where al his lyf that he sojorneth
Among the Greks, til that he deide.
And thei upon him thanne leide 1080
His name, and god of medicine
He hatte after that ilke line.
An other god of Hercules
Thei made, which was natheles
A man, bot that he was so strong,
In al this world that brod and long
So myhti was noman as he.
Merveiles tuelve in his degre,
As it was couth in sondri londes,
He dede with hise oghne hondes 1090
Ayein geantz and Monstres bothe,
The whiche horrible were and lothe,
Bot he with strengthe hem overcam:
Wherof so gret a pris he nam,
That thei him clepe amonges alle
The god of strengthe, and to him calle.
And yit ther is no reson inne,
For he a man was full of sinne,
Which proved was upon his ende,
For in a rage himself he brende; 1100
And such a cruel mannes dede
Acordeth nothing with godhede.
Thei hadde of goddes yit an other,
Which Pluto hihte, and was the brother
Of Jupiter, and he fro youthe
With every word which cam to mouthe,
Of eny thing whan he was wroth,
He wolde swere his commun oth,
Be Lethen and be Flegeton,
Be Cochitum and Acheron, 1110
The whiche, after the bokes telle,
Ben the chief flodes of the helle:
Be Segne and Stige he swor also,
That ben the depe Pettes tuo
Of helle the most principal.
Pluto these othes overal
Swor of his commun custummance,
Til it befell upon a chance,
That he for Jupiteres sake
Unto the goddes let do make 1120
A sacrifice, and for that dede
On of the pettes for his mede
In helle, of which I spak of er,
Was granted him; and thus he ther
Upon the fortune of this thing
The name tok of helle king.
Lo, these goddes and wel mo
Among the Greks thei hadden tho,
And of goddesses manyon,
Whos names thou schalt hiere anon, 1130
And in what wise thei deceiven
The foles whiche here feith receiven.
So as Saturne is soverein
Of false goddes, as thei sein,
So is Sibeles of goddesses
The Moder, whom withoute gesses
The folk Payene honoure and serve,
As thei the whiche hire lawe observe.
Bot forto knowen upon this
Fro when sche cam and what sche is, 1140
Bethincia the contre hihte,
Wher sche cam ferst to mannes sihte;
And after was Saturnes wif,
Be whom thre children in hire lif
Sche bar, and thei were cleped tho
Juno, Neptunus and Pluto,
The whiche of nyce fantasie
The poeple wolde deifie.
And for hire children were so,
Sibeles thanne was also 1150
Mad a goddesse, and thei hire calle
The moder of the goddes alle.
So was that name bore forth,
And yit the cause is litel worth.
A vois unto Saturne tolde
Hou that his oghne Sone him scholde
Out of his regne putte aweie;
And he be cause of thilke weie,
That him was schape such a fate,
Sibele his wif began to hate 1160
And ek hire progenie bothe.
And thus, whil that thei were wrothe,
Be Philerem upon a dai
In his avouterie he lai,
On whom he Jupiter begat;
And thilke child was after that
Which wroghte al that was prophecied,
As it tofore is specefied:
So that whan Jupiter of Crete
Was king, a wif unto him mete 1170
The Dowhter of Sibele he tok,
And that was Juno, seith the bok.
Of his deificacion
After the false oppinion,
That have I told, so as thei meene;
And for this Juno was the queene
Of Jupiter and Soster eke,
The foles unto hire sieke,
And sein that sche is the goddesse
Of Regnes bothe and of richesse: 1180
And ek sche, as thei understonde,
The water Nimphes hath in honde
To leden at hire oghne heste;
And whan hir list the Sky tempeste,
The reinbowe is hir Messager.
Lo, which a misbelieve is hier!
That sche goddesse is of the Sky
I wot non other cause why.
An other goddesse is Minerve,
To whom the Greks obeie and serve: 1190
And sche was nyh the grete lay
Of Triton founde, wher sche lay
A child forcast, bot what sche was
Ther knew noman the sothe cas.
Bot in Aufrique sche was leid
In the manere as I have seid,
And caried fro that ilke place
Into an Yle fer in Trace,
The which Palene thanne hihte,
Wher a Norrice hir kepte and dihte. 1200
And after, for sche was so wys
That sche fond ferst in hire avis
The cloth makinge of wolle and lyn,
Men seiden that sche was divin,
And the goddesse of Sapience
Thei clepen hire in that credence.
Of the goddesse which Pallas
Is cleped sondri speche was.
On seith hire fader was Pallant,
Which in his time was geant, 1210
A cruel man, a bataillous:
An other seith hou in his hous
Sche was the cause why he deide.
And of this Pallas some ek seide
That sche was Martes wif; and so
Among the men that weren tho
Of misbelieve in the riote
The goddesse of batailles hote
She was, and yit sche berth the name.
Now loke, hou they be forto blame. 1220
Saturnus after his exil
Fro Crete cam in gret peril
Into the londes of Ytaile,
And ther he dede gret mervaile,
Wherof his name duelleth yit.
For he fond of his oghne wit
The ferste craft of plowh tilinge,
Of Eringe and of corn sowinge,
And how men scholden sette vines
And of the grapes make wynes; 1230
Al this he tawhte, and it fell so,
His wif, the which cam with him tho,
Was cleped Cereres be name,
And for sche tawhte also the same,
And was his wif that ilke throwe,
As it was to the poeple knowe,
Thei made of Ceres a goddesse,
In whom here tilthe yit thei blesse,
And sein that Tricolonius
Hire Sone goth amonges ous 1240
And makth the corn good chep or dere,
Riht as hire list fro yer to yeere;
So that this wif be cause of this
Goddesse of Cornes cleped is.
King Jupiter, which his likinge
Whilom fulfelde in alle thinge,
So priveliche aboute he ladde
His lust, that he his wille hadde
Of Latona, and on hire that
Diane his dowhter he begat 1250
Unknowen of his wif Juno.
And afterward sche knew it so,
That Latona for drede fledde
Into an Ile, wher sche hedde
Hire wombe, which of childe aros.
Thilke yle cleped was Delos;
In which Diana was forthbroght,
And kept so that hire lacketh noght.
And after, whan sche was of Age,
Sche tok non hiede of mariage, 1260
Bot out of mannes compaignie
Sche tok hire al to venerie
In forest and in wildernesse
For ther was al hire besinesse
Be daie and ek be nyhtes tyde
With arwes brode under the side
And bowe in honde, of which sche slowh
And tok al that hir liste ynowh
Of bestes whiche ben chacable:
Wherof the Cronique of this fable 1270
Seith that the gentils most of alle
Worschipen hire and to hire calle,
And the goddesse of hihe helles,
Of grene trees, of freisshe welles,
They clepen hire in that believe,
Which that no reson mai achieve.
Proserpina, which dowhter was
Of Cereres, befell this cas:
Whil sche was duellinge in Cizile,
Hire moder in that ilke while 1280
Upon hire blessinge and hire heste
Bad that sche scholde ben honeste,
And lerne forto weve and spinne,
And duelle at hom and kepe hire inne.
Bot sche caste al that lore aweie,
And as sche wente hir out to pleie,
To gadre floures in a pleine,
And that was under the monteine
Of Ethna, fell the same tyde
That Pluto cam that weie ryde, 1290
And sodeinly, er sche was war,
He tok hire up into his char.
And as thei riden in the field,
Hire grete beaute he behield,
Which was so plesant in his ije,
That forto holde in compainie
He weddeth hire and hield hire so
To ben his wif for everemo.
And as thou hast tofore herd telle
Hou he was cleped god of helle, 1300
So is sche cleped the goddesse
Be cause of him, ne mor ne lesse.
Lo, thus, mi Sone, as I thee tolde,
The Greks whilom be daies olde
Here goddes hadde in sondri wise,
And thurgh the lore of here aprise
The Romeins hielden ek the same.
And in the worschipe of here name
To every godd in special
Thei made a temple forth withal, 1310
And ech of hem his yeeres dai
Attitled hadde; and of arai
The temples weren thanne ordeigned,
And ek the poeple was constreigned
To come and don here sacrifice;
The Prestes ek in here office
Solempne maden thilke festes.
And thus the Greks lich to the bestes
The men in stede of god honoure,
Whiche mihten noght hemself socoure, 1320
Whil that thei were alyve hiere.
And over this, as thou schalt hiere,
The Greks fulfild of fantasie
Sein ek that of the helles hihe
The goddes ben in special,
Bot of here name in general
Thei hoten alle Satiri.
Ther ben of Nimphes proprely
In the believe of hem also:
Oreades thei seiden tho 1330
Attitled ben to the monteines;
And for the wodes in demeynes
To kepe, tho ben Driades;
Of freisshe welles Naiades;
And of the Nimphes of the See
I finde a tale in proprete,
Hou Dorus whilom king of Grece,
Which hadde of infortune a piece,-
His wif forth with hire dowhtres alle,
So as the happes scholden falle, 1340
With many a gentil womman there
Dreint in the salte See thei were:
Wherof the Greks that time seiden,
And such a name upon hem leiden,
Nerei5des that thei ben hote,
The Nimphes whiche that thei note
To regne upon the stremes salte.
Lo now, if this believe halte!
Bot of the Nimphes as thei telle,
In every place wher thei duelle 1350
Thei ben al redi obeissant
As damoiselles entendant
To the goddesses, whos servise
Thei mote obeie in alle wise;
Wherof the Greks to hem beseke
With tho that ben goddesses eke,
And have in hem a gret credence.
And yit withoute experience
Salve only of illusion,
Which was to hem dampnacion, 1360
For men also that were dede
Thei hadden goddes, as I rede,
And tho be name Manes hihten,
To whom ful gret honour thei dihten,
So as the Grekes lawe seith,
Which was ayein the rihte feith.
Thus have I told a gret partie;
Bot al the hole progenie
Of goddes in that ilke time
To long it were forto rime. 1370
Bot yit of that which thou hast herd,
Of misbelieve hou it hath ferd,
Ther is a gret diversite.
Mi fader, riht so thenketh me.
Bot yit o thing I you beseche,
Which stant in alle mennes speche,
The godd and the goddesse of love,
Of whom ye nothing hier above
Have told, ne spoken of her fare,
That ye me wolden now declare 1380
Hou thei ferst comen to that name.
Mi Sone, I have it left for schame,
Be cause I am here oghne Prest;
Bot for thei stonden nyh thi brest
Upon the schrifte of thi matiere,
Thou schalt of hem the sothe hiere:
And understond nou wel the cas.
Venus Saturnes dowhter was,
Which alle danger putte aweie
Of love, and fond to lust a weie; 1390
So that of hire in sondri place
Diverse men felle into grace,
And such a lusti lif sche ladde,
That sche diverse children hadde,
Nou on be this, nou on be that.
Of hire it was that Mars beyat
A child, which cleped was Armene;
Of hire also cam Andragene,
To whom Mercurie fader was:
Anchises begat Eneas 1400
Of hire also, and Ericon
Biten begat, and therupon,
Whan that sche sih ther was non other,
Be Jupiter hire oghne brother
Sche lay, and he begat Cupide.
And thilke Sone upon a tyde,
Whan he was come unto his Age,
He hadde a wonder fair visage,
And fond his Moder amourous,
And he was also lecherous: 1410
So whan thei weren bothe al one,
As he which yhen hadde none
To se reson, his Moder kiste;
And sche also, that nothing wiste
Bot that which unto lust belongeth,
To ben hire love him underfongeth.
Thus was he blind, and sche unwys:
Bot natheles this cause it is,
Why Cupide is the god of love,
For he his moder dorste love. 1420
And sche, which thoghte hire lustes fonde,
Diverse loves tok in honde,
Wel mo thanne I the tolde hiere:
And for sche wolde hirselve skiere,
Sche made comun that desport,
And sette a lawe of such a port,
That every womman mihte take
What man hire liste, and noght forsake
To ben als comun as sche wolde.
Sche was the ferste also which tolde 1430
That wommen scholde here bodi selle;
Semiramis, so as men telle,
Of Venus kepte thilke aprise,
And so dede in the same wise
Of Rome faire Neabole,
Which liste hire bodi to rigole;
Sche was to every man felawe,
And hild the lust of thilke lawe,
Which Venus of hirself began;
Wherof that sche the name wan, 1440
Why men hire clepen the goddesse
Of love and ek of gentilesse,
Of worldes lust and of plesance.
Se nou the foule mescreance
Of Greks in thilke time tho,
Whan Venus tok hire name so.
Ther was no cause under the Mone
Of which thei hadden tho to done,
Of wel or wo wher so it was,
That thei ne token in that cas 1450
A god to helpe or a goddesse.
Wherof, to take mi witnesse,
The king of Bragmans Dindimus
Wrot unto Alisandre thus:
In blaminge of the Grekes feith
And of the misbelieve, he seith
How thei for every membre hadden
A sondri god, to whom thei spradden
Here armes, and of help besoghten.
Minerve for the hed thei soghten, 1460
For sche was wys, and of a man
The wit and reson which he can
Is in the celles of the brayn,
Wherof thei made hire soverain.
Mercurie, which was in his dawes
A gret spekere of false lawes,
On him the kepinge of the tunge
Thei leide, whan thei spieke or sunge.
For Bachus was a glotoun eke,
Him for the throte thei beseke, 1470
That he it wolde waisshen ofte
With swote drinkes and with softe.
The god of schuldres and of armes
Was Hercules; for he in armes
The myhtieste was to fihte,
To him tho Limes they behihte.
The god whom that thei clepen Mart
The brest to kepe hath for his part,
Forth with the herte, in his ymage
That he adresce the corage. 1480
And of the galle the goddesse,
For sche was full of hastifesse
Of wraththe and liht to grieve also,
Thei made and seide it was Juno.
Cupide, which the brond afyre
Bar in his hond, he was the Sire
Of the Stomak, which builleth evere,
Wherof the lustes ben the levere.
To the goddesse Cereres,
Which of the corn yaf hire encress 1490
Upon the feith that tho was take,
The wombes cure was betake;
And Venus thurgh the Lecherie,
For which that thei hire deifie,
Sche kept al doun the remenant
To thilke office appourtenant.
Thus was dispers in sondri wise
The misbelieve, as I devise,
With many an ymage of entaile,
Of suche as myhte hem noght availe; 1500
For thei withoute lyves chiere
Unmyhti ben to se or hiere
Or speke or do or elles fiele;
And yit the foles to hem knele,
Which is here oghne handes werk.
Ha lord, hou this believe is derk,
And fer fro resonable wit!
And natheles thei don it yit:
That was to day a ragged tre,
To morwe upon his majeste 1510
Stant in the temple wel besein.
How myhte a mannes resoun sein
That such a Stock mai helpe or grieve?
Bot thei that ben of such believe
And unto suche goddes calle,
It schal to hem riht so befalle,
And failen ate moste nede.
Bot if thee list to taken hiede
And of the ferste ymage wite,
Petornius therof hath write 1520
And ek Nigargorus also;
And thei afferme and write so,
That Promothes was tofore
And fond the ferste craft therfore,
And Cirophanes, as thei telle,
Thurgh conseil which was take in helle,
In remembrance of his lignage
Let setten up the ferste ymage.
Of Cirophanes seith the bok,
That he for sorwe, which he tok 1530
Of that he sih his Sone ded,
Of confort knew non other red,
Bot let do make in remembrance
A faire ymage of his semblance
And sette it in the market place,
Which openly tofore his face
Stod every dai to don him ese.
And thei that thanne wolden plese
The fader, scholden it obeie,
Whan that they comen thilke weie. 1540
And of Ninus king of Assire
I rede hou that in his empire
He was next after the secounde
Of hem that ferst ymages founde.
For he riht in semblable cas
Of Belus, which his fader was
Fro Nembroth in the rihte line,
Let make of gold and Stones fine
A precious ymage riche
After his fader evene liche; 1550
And therupon a lawe he sette,
That every man of pure dette
With sacrifice and with truage
Honoure scholde thilke ymage:
So that withinne time it fell,
Of Belus cam the name of Bel,
Of Bel cam Belzebub, and so
The misbelieve wente tho.
The thridde ymage next to this
Was, whan the king of Grece Apis 1560
Was ded, thei maden a figure
In resemblance of his stature.
Of this king Apis seith the bok
That Serapis his name tok,
In whom thurgh long continuance
Of misbelieve a gret creance
Thei hadden, and the reverence
Of Sacrifice and of encence
To him thei made: and as thei telle,
Among the wondres that befelle, 1570
Whan Alisandre fro Candace
Cam ridende, in a wilde place
Undur an hull a Cave he fond;
And Candalus, which in that lond
Was bore, and was Candaces Sone,
Him tolde hou that of commun wone
The goddes were in thilke cave.
And he, that wolde assaie and have
A knowlechinge if it be soth,
Liht of his hors and in he goth, 1580
And fond therinne that he soghte:
For thurgh the fendes sleihte him thoghte,
Amonges othre goddes mo
That Serapis spak to him tho,
Whom he sih there in gret arrai.
And thus the fend fro dai to dai
The worschipe of ydolatrie
Drowh forth upon the fantasie
Of hem that weren thanne blinde
And couthen noght the trouthe finde. 1590
Thus hast thou herd in what degre
Of Grece, Egipte and of Caldee
The misbelieves whilom stode;
And hou so that thei be noght goode
Ne trewe, yit thei sprungen oute,
Wherof the wyde world aboute
His part of misbelieve tok.
Til so befell, as seith the bok,
That god a poeple for himselve
Hath chose of the lignages tuelve, 1600
Wherof the sothe redely,
As it is write in Genesi,
I thenke telle in such a wise
That it schal be to thin apprise.
After the flod, fro which Noe5
Was sauf, the world in his degre
Was mad, as who seith, newe ayein,
Of flour, of fruit, of gras, of grein,
Of beste, of bridd and of mankinde,
Which evere hath be to god unkinde: 1610
For noght withstondende al the fare,
Of that this world was mad so bare
And afterward it was restored,
Among the men was nothing mored
Towardes god of good lyvynge,
Bot al was torned to likinge
After the fleissh, so that foryete
Was he which yaf hem lif and mete,
Of hevene and Erthe creatour.
And thus cam forth the grete errour, 1620
That thei the hihe god ne knewe,
Bot maden othre goddes newe,
As thou hast herd me seid tofore:
Ther was noman that time bore,
That he ne hadde after his chois
A god, to whom he yaf his vois.
Wherof the misbelieve cam
Into the time of Habraham:
Bot he fond out the rihte weie,
Hou only that men scholde obeie 1630
The hihe god, which weldeth al,
And evere hath don and evere schal,
In hevene, in Erthe and ek in helle;
Ther is no tunge his miht mai telle.
This Patriarch to his lignage
Forbad, that thei to non ymage
Encline scholde in none wise,
Bot here offrende and sacrifise
With al the hole hertes love
Unto the mihti god above 1640
Thei scholden yive and to no mo:
And thus in thilke time tho
Began the Secte upon this Erthe,
Which of believes was the ferthe.
Of rihtwisnesse it was conceived,
So moste it nedes be received
Of him that alle riht is inne,
The hihe god, which wolde winne
A poeple unto his oghne feith.
On Habraham the ground he leith, 1650
And made him forto multeplie
Into so gret a progenie,
That thei Egipte al overspradde.
Bot Pharao with wrong hem ladde
In servitute ayein the pes,
Til god let sende Moi5ses
To make the deliverance;
And for his poeple gret vengance
He tok, which is to hiere a wonder.
The king was slain, the lond put under, 1660
God bad the rede See divide,
Which stod upriht on either side
And yaf unto his poeple a weie,
That thei on fote it passe dreie
And gon so forth into desert:
Wher forto kepe hem in covert,
The daies, whan the Sonne brente,
A large cloude hem overwente,
And forto wissen hem be nyhte,
A firy Piler hem alyhte. 1670
And whan that thei for hunger pleigne,
The myhti god began to reyne
Manna fro hevene doun to grounde,
Wherof that ech of hem hath founde
His fode, such riht as him liste;
And for thei scholde upon him triste,
Riht as who sette a tonne abroche,
He percede the harde roche,
And sprong out water al at wille,
That man and beste hath drunke his fille: 1680
And afterward he yaf the lawe
To Moi5ses, that hem withdrawe
Thei scholden noght fro that he bad.
And in this wise thei be lad,
Til thei toke in possession
The londes of promission,
Wher that Caleph and Josue5
The Marches upon such degre
Departen, after the lignage
That ech of hem as Heritage 1690
His porpartie hath underfonge.
And thus stod this believe longe,
Which of prophetes was governed;
And thei hadde ek the poeple lerned
Of gret honour that scholde hem falle;
Bot ate moste nede of alle
Thei faileden, whan Crist was bore.
Bot hou that thei here feith have bore,
It nedeth noght to tellen al,
The matiere is so general: 1700
Whan Lucifer was best in hevene
And oghte moste have stonde in evene,
Towardes god he tok debat;
And for that he was obstinat,
And wolde noght to trouthe encline,
He fell for evere into ruine:
And Adam ek in Paradis,
Whan he stod most in al his pris
After thastat of Innocence,
Ayein the god brak his defence 1710
And fell out of his place aweie:
And riht be such a maner weie
The Jwes in here beste plit,
Whan that thei scholden most parfit
Have stonde upon the prophecie,
Tho fellen thei to most folie,
And him which was fro hevene come,
And of a Maide his fleissh hath nome,
And was among hem bore and fedd,
As men that wolden noght be spedd 1720
Of goddes Sone, with o vois
Thei hinge and slowhe upon the crois.
Wherof the parfit of here lawe
Fro thanne forth hem was withdrawe,
So that thei stonde of no merit,
Bot in truage as folk soubgit
Withoute proprete of place
Thei liven out of goddes grace,
Dispers in alle londes oute.

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