Chaucer and Moral Philosophy: The Virtuous Women of the Canterbury Tales.

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Denise N. Baker, Associate Dean (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: In The Regement of Princes, Hoccleve insists that Chaucer is not only the equal of Cicero as a rhetorician and of Vergil as a poet but also the 'bier in philosophic / To Aristotle, in our tonge'. Twentieth-century critics have agreed with Hoccleve about Chaucer's preeminence in rhetoric and poetry, even though they often disagree with each other about which term best describes his genius. And although Hoccleve's praise of Chaucer as the native Aristotle is an exaggeration, several scholars have recently examined Chaucer's concern with 'secular ethics', J. D. Burnley's term for the 'ethical traditions descending by grace of the twelfth-century ethicii from the rational philosophy of the classical past'. Without denying the fact that poetry is not identical to the systematic discourse of philosophy, I wish further to substantiate Hoccleve's claim for Chaucer's philosophical acumen by demonstrating the influence of mediaeval ethics on his characterizations of the virtuous women in the tales assigned to the Man of Law, the Clerk, the Physician and his pilgrim persona.

Additional Information

Medium Aevum 60 (1992): 241-256
Language: English
Date: 1992
Geoffrey Chaucer, Women

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