Manuscripts and Special Collections

WLC/LM/8, f. 190r: John Gower, ‘Confessio Amantis’, Book 8, lines 1373-1423 (composed c.1393, English)


So fell it žat žis Chirles knape
Haž leide žis maiden wher he wold
Vpon že stronde and what she shold
She was a drade and he oute breide
A rusty swerde . and to hir seide
Žou shalt be dede . allas quož she
Why shal I so $ lo žus quož he
My lady Dyonise haž bede
Žou shalt be moržred in žis stede
Žis maiden žo for fere stright
And for že loue of god almyght
She preiež žat for a litell stounde
She might knele upon že grounde
Towerte že heuen for to craue
Hir wofull saule žat she may saue
And wiž žis noise and wiž žis crie
Out of a barge faste bye
Which hid was žer on scomer fare
Men sterten oute and weren ware
Of žis felon and he to go
And she began to crie žo
Ha mercy helpe for goddes sake
In to že barge žei her take
As theues shulde and forže žei went
Vpon že see že wynde hem hent
And malgre wher žei wold or none
To fore že wedir forže žei gone
Žer halpe no seile žer halpe non ore
For storme and for blowen sore
In grete perill so forže žei dryue
Til ate laste žei aryue
At Mitelene že Citee
In hauen sauffe whan žat žei be
Že maister shipmann made him bovne
And gože him oute in to že tovne
And proferež Thaise for to selle
One leonin it herde tell
Which maister of že bordel was
And bad hym go a redy pas
To fechen hir and forže he wente
And Thaise oute of his barge he hente.
And to žis bordelere he solde
And he žat be hir body wolde
Take avauntage . lete do crie
Žat what man wolde his lecherie
Attempt vpon hir maydenhede
Ley doune že golde and he shal spede
And žus whan he haž cried it oute
In sight of all že peple aboute
Qualiter leoninus Thaisim ad lupanar de
stinauit . vbi dei gracia preuenta ipsius vir
ginitatem nullus violare potuit.
He lad hir in to že bordel žo


So it happened that this churlish servant (Theophilus) led the maiden (Thaise) to the shore (intending) to kill her, and she was afraid of what would happen to her. He drew out a rusty sword and said to her, ‘You must die.’ ‘Alas,’ she said. ‘Why must I?’ ‘Because,’ he said, ‘My lady Dyonise has commanded that you shall be murdered here.’ Then the maiden screamed in fear. She prayed that, for the love of God Almighty, she be allowed a little more time. She knelt on the ground, and begged towards heaven that her woeful soul may be saved. This noise and crying was heard on a piracy barge hidden nearby. Men leapt off it and they saw the criminal (Theophilus), who ran away. Then she cried out, ‘For God’s sake have mercy on me!’ and they took her onto the barge, as thieves would, and off they went.

Once on the sea the wind took them, in spite of where they wanted to go. They were at the mercy of bad weather as they had no sails, and no oars, and were driven by storms and blown about severely. They endured such great perils until at last they arrived at the city of Mitelene. When they were in that safe haven, the master-shipman concocted a plan: he went into the town and offered Thaise for sale. A certain Leonin, who was master of the brothel, urged him to go quickly and fetch her. The master-shipman returned to the barge, seized Thaise, and sold her to the brothel-keeper, who intended to exploit her body. He shouted out that any man who wanted to take her virginity must lay down his gold before he would succeed. And when he had announced this to the people all around [Latin gloss, summarising the story], he led her then to the brothel.

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