Glossary


alchemy A pseudoscience concerned with the transmutation of base metals into gold (Canon's Yeoman).

Alma redemptoris mater An anthem ("Gracious Mother of the Redeemer") used especially during Advent and Christmas season liturgy (Prioress 518, 554, 612, 641, 655).

Almagest An astronomical treatise by Ptolemy (Miller 3208; Wife Prol 183, 325).

Amor vincit omnia "Love conquers all" (General Prol 162).

Angelus ad virginem A hymn on the Annunciation (Miller 3216).

Apollo Greek god of light, music, archery, and prophecy (Squire 671; Franklin 1031). Also called Phoebus.

Apostle, The Saint Paul (Wife Prol 49, 79, 160, 341; Pardoner 529; Melibee 990, 1130, 1295, 1410, 1440, 1510, 1635, 1840).

Argus A hundred-eyed giant in Greek mythology (Knight 1390; Wife Prol 358; Merchant 2111).

Austin See Saint Augustine.

Bacchus The Greek god of wine (Merchant 1722; Physician 57; Manciple Prol 99).

bachelor A young knight or aspirant to knighthood (General Prol 80; Knight 3085; Wife 883; Squire 24); an unmarried man (Merchant 1274).

Bath An English city nearby which was the parish of Saint Michael, a cloth-producing center (General Prol 445).

Bayard A name for a horse (Reeve 4115; Canon's Yeoman 1413).

bel ami "Fine friend" (Pardoner Intro 318).

belle chose "Beautiful thing" (Wife Prol 447, 510).

benedicite "Bless you" (Knight 1785, 2115; Miller 3768; Lawyer Epilogue 1170; Wife Prol 280, Wife 1087; Friar 1456, 1584; Summoner 2170; Merchant 1337; Canon's Y Prol 628).

benefice Payment for performing the duties of an ecclesiastical office (General Prol 291, 507; Nun's Priest 3316).

blissful martyr Saint Thomas Becket (1118?-1170), the murdered Archbishop of Canterbury, enshrined at Canterbury Cathedral (General Prol 17, 770).

Boethius A Roman statesman and philosopher (c. 475-c. 525), author of a treatise on music, and whose major work The Consolation of Philosophy was translated from Latin by Chaucer (Wife 1168; Nun's Priest 3242, 3294; Retraction 1090).

Boughton under Blean The town of Boughton in the Blean forest, five miles from Canterbury (Canon's Y Prol 556).

Breton A native or inhabitant of Brittany on the coast of France (Franklin Prol 709, Franklin 1179).

Bruges See Flanders.

canon A priest who either lived in a community of priests (canons regular) or had institutional permission to live alone (canons secular) (Canon's Y Prologue, Canon's Yeoman).

Canterbury A city, about 55 miles southeast of London, where the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral was an object of pilgrimage (General Prol 16-27, 769, 793; Manciple Prol 3).

Cassiodorus A Roman statesman and writer (c. 485-c. 585) (Melibee 1200, 1440, 1530, 1565, 1645).

Cato Dionysius Cato (third century A.D.), author of a collection of moral apothegms (Miller 3228; Merchant 1377; Nun's Priest 2940, 2971; Melibee 1185, 1220, 1310, 1490, 1595, 1605; Canon's Y Prol 688).

Chaucer The English poet (1340?-1400) portrays himself in the Tales as a corpulent pilgrim disparaged for his "wretched rhyming" (specifically Sir Topaz, a parody of metrical romances) (General Prol 19-27; Lawyer Intro 46-50; Topaz Prol 691-711; Melibee Prol 919-940; Retraction).

Cheapside A main shopping section of medieval London (General Prol 754; Cook 4377; Pardoner 564, 569; Manciple Prol 24).

Chichevache "Lean cow," being a fabled cow who fed only on patient wives (Envoy 1188).

chough A bird believed to be a tattler (Wife Prol 232).

Christopher A medal representing Saint Christopher, patron saint of travelers and foresters (General Prol 115).

Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.), Roman orator and philosopher (Franklin Prol 722).

clerk A clergyman (Miller 3312; Lawyer 480; Wife Prol 694, 706; Pardoner Prol 391); a student, being ostensibly an aspirant to the clergy (Miller 3219; Reeve 4060; Wife Prol 44C, 527); Pardoner Prol 339; any man of learning (General Prol 480; Wife 1184; Merchant 2021); Melibee 1110; Nun's Pr Prol 2800; Canon's Y Prol 646).

colors Figures of speech (Student Prol 16; Squire 39; Franklin Prol 723).

Cor meum eructavit "My heart has uttered" (from Psalm 45) (Summoner 1934).

corpus bones "God's bones" (Pardoner Intro 314; Monk Prol 1906).

corpus dominus Properly corpus domini, "the Lord's body" (Merry Words 435).

corpus Madrian "Body of Madrian" (an unidentified saint) (Monk Prol 1892).

Cytherea Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love (Roman Venus), born near the island of Cythera (Knight 1936, 2223).

depardieux "In the name of God" (Lawyer Intro 39; Friar 1395).

Deus hic "God be here" (Summoner 1770).

Diana Roman goddess of the forest and of childbirth (Knight 1682, 1913, 2051, 2296, 2346; Franklin 1390).

Dun is in the mire A game involving the moving of a heavy log (Manciple Prol 5).

Dunmow bacon A side of bacon traditionally awarded to any couple who had gone for a year without quarreling (Wife Prol 217).

Ecclesiasticus See Jesus the son of Sirach.

Euclid Greek mathematician (fl. 300 B.C.) and author of the long-studied geometry treatise the Elements (Summoner 2289).

Flanders A leading medieval cloth-producing country (now part of Belgium and France), including the cities of Bruges, Ghent, and Ypres (General Prol 86, 448; Pardoner 463; Skipper 55, 199, 300; Topaz 719, 733).

Fleming A person from Flanders (Cook Prol 4357; Nun's Priest 3396; Manciple 349).

florin A gold coin (Pardoner 770).

franklin A landowner of free but not noble birth (General Prol 216; 331; Words of Franklin 673-708).

friar A member of a mendicant order (Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, Augustinians) (General Prol 208; Miller 3656; Words between 829-855; Friar Prol 1265-1300, Friar 1330; Summoner Prol passim; Student Prol 12).

Fury An avenging Greek goddess (Knight 2684; Franklin 950).

Gawain A knight of the Round Table who was King Arthur's nephew, and hero of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (14th century, author unknown) (Squire 95).

Geoffrey Geoffrey de Vinsauf, author of a treatise on the writing of poetry that included a lament for the death of Richard the Lion-Hearted (Nun's Priest 3347).

Ghent See Flanders.

Great Sea The Mediterranean (General Prol 59).

Hugh of Lincoln A child allegedly murdered by Jews in 1255 (Prioress 684).

humors Four bodily fluids (blood, phlegm, red or yellow bile, and black bile) believed to produce the sanguinary, phlegmatic, choleric, and melancholic temperaments (General Prol 421; Knight 1375; Squire 352; Franklin 782; Nun's Priest 2924, 2957; Parson 830, 915).

Ignotum per ignocius "Explaining the unknown by the unknown" (Canon's Yeoman 1457).

In manus tuas "Into thy hands (I commend my spirit)" (from Luke 23:46) (Reeve 4287).

In principio "In the beginning" (opening words of the Gospel of John in Latin) (General Prol 254; Nun's Priest 3163).

incubus An evil spirit that impregnates sleeping women (Wife 880).

Inn of Court A law school (General Prol 567).

Irascimini et nolite peccare "Be angry and do not sin" (Psalm 4:5 in the Latin Vulgate) (Parson 540).

Jack of Dover Probably a pie or fish (Cook Prol 4347).

jane A Genoese coin worth half a penny (Student 999; Topaz 735).

Janus The two-headed Roman god of beginnings, after whom the month of January is named (Franklin 1252).

Jay tout perdu mon temps et mon labour "I have wasted all my time and effort" (Parson 250).

Je vous dis sans doute "Truly I say to you" (Summoner 1832, 1838).

Jephthah A judge of ancient Israel who had to slay his daughter in order to keep a promise made to God (Judges 11:30-40) (Physician 240).

Jesus the son of Sirach The Jewish scribe (second century B.C.) who wrote Ecclesiasticus (Wife Prol 651), properly the Book of Sirach, in the Catholic Bible (Merchant 2250; Melibee 995, 1045, 1060, 1145).

Juno The wife of Jupiter (Knight 1329, 1555).

Jupiter The supreme Roman god (Knight 2442, 2786, 2792, 3035, 3069; Merchant 2224; Monk 2744; Second Nun 366; Canon's Yeoman 828).

Knight of the Shire A member of Parliament (General Prol 356).

limiter A friar begging in an assigned area or limit (General Prol 209; Wife 866-877; Friar Prol 1265).

lists An arena for tournaments (Knight 1852, 1881-1892, 2368, 2575; Squire 668).

Lollard A follower of John Wycliffe (1320?-1384), who led a heretical movement called Lollardry (Lawyer Epilogue 1173, 1177).

Lucina The Roman goddess of childbirth (Knight 2085).

Malkin A wanton woman (Lawyer Intro 30; Nun's Priest 3384).

manciple The purchasing agent of a college, monastery, etc. (General Prol 567; Reeve 3993; Manciple Prol 25-104).

Mars The Roman god of war (Knight 975, 1559, 1682, 1708, 1747, 1907, 1969-2050, 2159, 2248, 2368-2482, 2581, 2669, 2815; Lawyer 301; Wife Prol 610-620; Squire 50, Canon's Yeoman 827).

marshal The master of ceremonies at a feast (General Prol 752; Merchant 1930).

Mercury The Roman god of commerce and messenger of the gods (Knight 1385; Wife Prol 697; Merchant 1734; Squire 672; Canon's Yeoman 827).

Mulier est hominis confusio "Woman is man's ruin" (Nun's Priest 3164).

multiplication Transmutation of base metals (Canon's Y Prol 669, Canon's Yeoman 849, 1400, 1479). See alchemy.

Newgate A London prison (Cook 4402).

Ovid A Roman poet (43 B.C.-A.D. 18) noted for his love poetry and the Metamorphoses, a collection of myths and legends (Lawyer Intro 54; Wife Prol 680, Wife 952; Merchant 2125; Melibee 980, 1325, 1415).

Pallas In Greek mythology, one of the Titans and the god of wisdom (Physician 49).

palmers Pilgrims who returned from the Holy Land with palm branches as emblems (General Prol 13).

pardie "By God" (passim).

pardoner A seller of indulgences, which relieved those who bought them of penances imposed for sin (General Prol 669; Wife Prol 163-168; Pardoner Intro 318-328, Pardoner Prol 329-462, Pardoner 904-968).

Paternoster The Lord's Prayer (from the opening words Pater noster) or one of various formulaic prayers (such as the White Paternoster) used as charms (Miller 3485, 3638; Parson 510, 1040).

Petrarch Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374), the Italian poet whose translation into Latin of the story of Griselda from Boccaccio's Decameron was Chaucer's source for The Student's Tale (Student Prol 31, Student 1147).

Philology A mortal maiden who became the bride of Mercury and custodian of the Seven Liberal Arts, as told in The Marriage of Mercury and Philology (De Nuptiis Mercurii et Philologiae) by Martianus Capella (5th century A.D.) (Merchant 1734).

philosopher/philosophy An alchemist/alchemy (in addition to the terms' regular meanings) (General Prol 297; Franklin 1561; Canon's Yeoman 837, 862, 1058, 1139, 1427, 1433, 1464, 1472-1475).

Phoebus Apollo (Knight 1493; Lawyer Intro 11; Merchant 2220; Squire (48, 263; Franklin 1036, 1055, 1245; Physician 38; Monk 2745; Manciple passim).

Placebo "I will please" (from Psalm 114:9 in the Vulgate) (Summoner 2075; Parson 620).

Pluto Greek god of the underworld (Knight 2082, 2299, 2684; Franklin 1075); depicted also in The Merchant's Tale as the king of Fairyland (Merchant 2038, 2227).

prioress A nun equivalent in rank to the prior of a monastery (General Prol 118, 839; Merry Words 447-454).

psaltery A stringed instrument similar to the harp (General Prol 296; Miller 3213, 3305).

Ptolemy Alexandrian astronomer (second century A.D.) whose earth-centered system was the cosmology of the Middle Ages (Wife Prol 182, 324; Summoner 2289). See also Almagest.

Questio quid juris "The question is, what point of law?" (General Prol 646).

Qui cum patre "Who with the Father" (Summoner 1734; Retraction 1090).

Radix malorum est Cupiditas "Cupidity (greed) is the root of all evil" (1 Timothy 6:10) (Pardoner Prol 334, 426).

Ram The sign of Aries in the zodiac (General Prol 8; Squire 386).

reeve The manager or foreman of a manor (General Prol 587; Miller Prol 3144, 3183; Reeve Prol 3860-3920).

Rouncivalle A hospital at Charing Cross (near London) that was a cell of the Spanish convent of Our Lady of Rouncivalle (General Prol 670).

Saint Augustine Christian philosopher (354-430 A.D.) quoted often in The Parson's Tale (see also Melibee 1620, 1645; Nun's Priest 3241); also referred to as Austin (General Prol 187; Skipper 259; Merry Words 441) and the Doctor (Physician 117).

Saint Denis A French town near Paris (Skipper 1).

Saint Julian Julian the Hospitaler, a patron saint of innkeepers and travelers (General Prol 340).

Saint Loy Saint Eligius of France, a patron saint of carters (General Prol 120; Friar 1564).

Saint Paul's porch The portico of Saint Paul's Cathedral, where clients would consult with lawyers (General Prol 310).

Saint Ronyan Perhaps a corruption of Ronan (a Scottish saint), a pun on the French word rognon (kidney), or both (Pardoner Intro 310, 320).

Saturn Roman god of agriculture and the father of Jupiter (Knight 2443, 2668, 2686; Canon's Yeoman 828).

Seneca Roman philosopher and dramatist (3 B.C.-A.D. 65), known particularly for his moral philosophy (quoted 17 times in Melibee, e.g. 985; Lawyer Intro 25; Wife 1168 and 1184; Summoner 2018; Merchant 1376, 1524, 1567; Pardoner 492; Monk 2503; Manciple 345; Parson 145, 470, 760).

Sergeant of the Law A member of an elite order of lawyers (General Prol 309; Lawyer Intro 33-45).

Southwark A London borough (General Prol 20, 718; Miller Prol 3140).

squire A knight's attendant (General Prol 79; Knight 1410, 1440, 1498, 1554, 1730, 2502; Merchant 1772; Franklin 926).

Straw, Jack A leader of the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 (Nun's Priest 3394).

summoner An official who served summonses for an ecclesiastical court (General Prol 623; Words between 832-849; Friar Prol 1265-1285, Friar 1641-1644, 1663-1664).

Tabard An inn, its sign shaped like a tabard or smock (General Prol 20, 719)

Te Deum laudamus A hymn ("We praise thee, O God") sung often at matins (Summoner 1866).

trental An office of thirty masses sung for a soul in purgatory (Summoner 1717).

Tullius Cicero (quoted 17 times in Melibee, e.g. 1165).

vavasor A landholder ranking below a baron (General Prol 360).

Venus Roman goddess of love (Knight 1102, 1332, 1536, 1904, 1918-1966, 2221-2270, 2385, 2440, 2487, 2663; Wife Prol 464, 604, 609, 618, 697, 707; Merchant 1723, 1876; Squire 273; Franklin 937, 1304; Physician 59; Monk Prol 1961; Nun's Priest 3342; Canon's Yeoman 829).

veronica A medal representing Saint Veronica's veil, which according to tradition bore a miraculous image of Christ (General Prol 685).

yeoman A freeman (Reeve 3949); an assistant or subordinate (Friar 1380; Canon's Y Prol 587); an attendant in a noble household (General Prol 102; Knight 2509, 2728).

Ypres See Flanders.

Zephyrus Greek god of the west wind (General Prol 5).


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