The characterization of Theseus in Chaucer

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Janice Faye Dawson (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Jean Gagen

Abstract: Theseus, legendary slayer of the Minotaur, betrayer of Ariadne, ruler of Athens, and conqueror of the Amazons, appears as either a heroic figure or a villain in four of Chaucer's works. Yet the development of Theseus as a character in these works has no logical progression; for Chaucer presents Theseus as a villain in an early unfinished work, The House of Fame, as the virtuous duke of Athens in Anelida and Arcite—which was presumably written only a few years after The House of Fame—again as a villain in The Legend of Good Women, written after Anelida and Arcite and before The Knight's Tale, from which Theseus emerges as a fully-developed character, and one who is greatly admired for his bravery, kindness, and wisdom. Chaucer uses classical legend in one work after another, without regard to consistency in his characterization of Theseus, and draws from various classical sources traits and actions which may contribute to the kind of character that he desires to create.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1964

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