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Middle English animal fable : a study in genre Silkens, Rose-Marie 1974

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(J MIDDLE ENGLISH ANIMAL FABLE - A STUDY IN GENRE ROSE-MARIE SILKENS B. A., University of Victoria, 19&9 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in the Department of English We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard The University of British Columbia May, 197^ In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by his representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of English The University of British Columbia Vancouver 8, Canada [>ate 10 May 197k ABSTRACT This study examines animal fables written in Middle English. While the purposes and methods of these narratives differ widely, an examination of them bears out the thesis that the characterization peculiar to animal fable is the basis of the fulfillment of these several purposes. Middle English animal fables extant range in type from brief Aesopic prose narratives in homilies and treatises to sophisticated narrative poems, and in time from the thirteenth century to the late fifteenth century, although some exempla in homilies are believed to have earlier origins. Many of the brief exempla fables are the work of anonymous compilers, while the poets Chaucer, Langland, Lydgate and Henryson also used the genre, the two latter having written collections. The Middle English animal fables are not exclusively didactic. Indeed, Chaucer's Nun's Priest's Tale and the thirteenth-century The Vox and the  Wolf are predominantly comic in tone, as are Lydgate's "The Churl and the Bird" and many of Henryson's Morail Fabillis. Satire also plays an impor-tant part in a definition of the nature of fable, and the use of animal char-acters for the purposes of political and social criticism is common to medieval manifestations of the genre. The depiction of animal characters combining traits both bestial and human is the basic characteristic of the fables. In the simple exempla or in heavily didactic or satirical narratives, the characterization is not developed beyond what is necessary to clarify the implications for the human world. The best fables, however, develop the ironies of fable characteriza-tion, usually in a comic way, into lively and entertaining animal tales that reflect in various ways upon the human beings who serve as models for the i i characters. Although the Middle English animal fable includes brief narratives in the style of the Aesopic apologue as well as lengthier poems similar to the continental beast epic cycles, the common manner of portraying animals and developing the portrayals is to be found in a l l . The fables of Lydgate, Henryson and Chaucer combine basic Aesopic plots with beast epic characteristics. The animal fable in the hands of Middle English writers, while initially an imitative genre relying upon reworkings of Classical models, becomes a well-developed and highly entertaining form of narrative poetry. M. A. Manzalaoui, Supervisor i i i CONTENTS Introduction: A Brief History of Medieval Fable Tradition 1 Chapter One: The Fable as Exemplum 10 Chapter Two: The Fables of John Lydgate 38 Chapter Three: Robert Henryson's Transformation of the Moral Fable 54 Chapter Four: The Beast Epics and Middle English Animal Fable 88 Chapter Five: The Apogee of the Beast Fable: Chaucer's Nun's Priest's Tale 111 Chapter Six:-' Satire and Social Criticism in the Animal Fable lh9 Conclusions 171-Bibliography 177 1 INTRODUCTION A BRIEF HISTORY OF MEDIEVAL FABLE TRADITION The fable is not a genre one associates particularly with the Middle Ages, and yet i t was during the Middle Ages that the fable rose to its peak of popularity in Western Europe. Part of its popularity no doubt stemmed from its usefulness as a vehicle for moral instruction, and alongside the popular collections we find compilations made for the use of clerics. Although usually characterized as a "low" genre, the fable was also taken up by literary men and developed into some of the most vigorous verse that remains to us from the medieval period. This ubiquitous genre, although never given the literary esteem of other medieval genres, nevertheless boasts several prestigious exponents. The achievements of Chaucer and Henryson alone necessitate that we regard the medieval fable seriously, and attempt to ascertain why such immense diversities of style and achieve-ment can exist within a single genre classification. The fable became known to medieval writers through two main collections. One, the fourth century Latin prose Romulus, claimed to be a direct transla-tion from the Greek of Aesop, and this claim no doubt influenced its sub-sequent popularity, but the collection was actually a reworking of the Latin verse fables of Phaedrus, composed in the first century A. D.,^  and of the other chief source drawn upon by medieval fabulists, the collection 2 of Avianus, dating from the third or fourth century. These verse fables 3 were selected and translated from the Greek of Babrius, a Hellenized Roman of the first century A. D. The fables of Avianus, just as the Romulus, were accepted as Aesop'er and were freely translated, rewritten, and selected for other collections throughout the Middle Ages. 2 Generally speaking, the Romulus and the collection of Avianus contain l i t t l e literary excellence. They are simple reworkings of the older Aesopic fables, and inherit the characteristic sparseness and brevity of the Greek tradition from them. Babrius and Phaedrus were the only Roman poets, so far as is known, who attempted to treat the fable as a separate genre. It is commonly felt that Babrius' fables aspire to some literary excellence in purity of versification and precision of style. Phaedrus' style, however, is quite different. Rather than drawing generally applicable morals from his narratives, he gives them specific political significances, and uses them as vehicles of protest. However, in spite of their satirical tendency, Phaedrus' fables are short and curt--"maigre et miserable," as one critic has k described the collection. One other instance of a Latin fable deserves mention, even though i t was not known in the Middle Ages, and that is the apologue of the city and country rats in a satire by Horace. Phaedrus was not the only Roman to discover the suitability of the fable as satire. The Greek fable tradition from which Phaedrus and Babrius drew their material was that of the Aesopic fable as we think of it--a brief narrative which includes only what points directly to the conclusion, which is a piece of good counsel or a precept of conduct. The Greeks did make extensive use of the fable, although scholars disagree as to whether or not they thought of i t as a distinct genre. Aesop, i f he did exist, did not record the prose stories he told, and he was not the first Greek to use the form. In Hesiod's Works and Days there is a brief fable--"The Hawk and the Nightingale"—which shows a l l the traits of the "Aesopic" fable two centuries before Aesop, who through the testimony of Herodotus can be dated in the sixth century B. C. But regardless of their origin, the Greek fables a l l have the same charac-teristic brevity, a complete lack of embellishment, a narrative that includes 3 only what is necessary to convey and point to the "moral," and an instruct-5 lve purpose. This, then, was the Classical fable tradition as i t was passed on to the Middle Ages through Avianus and the Romulus. The Greeks and Romans, however, were not the only fabulists. It has been conjectured that the Greek fable has oriental sources--Babrius states that the Greeks got the fable from the Syrians—and i t is known that Eastern apologues were spread throughout Europe during the Middle Ages by the Arabs, by the Jews in Spain, and by returning Crusaders. The Indian Pantcha-Tantra^ dates from about the third century before Christ. It was reworked, with additions, and translated into Old Persian and Arabic before eventually appearing in Europe to enjoy a great vogue. These fables have an instructive purpose, but have a harsher tone than the Classical fables. Many are concerned with illustrating the harshness of l i f e with l i t t l e other alternative than resig-nation. ^  By the tenth century, the popularity of the Romulus and Avianus collec-tions was established. The imitations, reworkings and compilations of fables were extensive. Churchmen on the Continent and in England reworked them for the use of schoolboys. They employed them in their treatises and compiled them for the use of other clerics, along with other didactic il l u s -trative tales. The fables, s t i l l Aesopic in character, came to be used as sermon exempla as well, and thus the need for collections increased. However, fables were not limited to utilitarian purposes. The animal tales also became popular for themselves, independent of the exemplum usage. Several French versions of Aesopic fables appeared as court poetry. Q At about the end of the twelfth century, Marie de France wrote her Fables, consisting of 103 vernacular poems in octosyllabic verse, dedicated to a certain "cunte Williame." About a century and a half later, two collec-tions of Ysopets enjoyed great popularity. The Ysopets I, or Ysopet-Avionnet, were composed in octosyllabic verse for Jeanne de Bourgogne. They include sixty-four fables from Romulus and eighteen from Avianus. Ysopets II consists of verse fables loosely translated from the late twelfth-century Latin verse Novus Aesopus and Novus Avianus of Alexander of Neckam.9 Although these essentially Aesopic fables were intended for a lay audience, unlike most of the Latin fables they drew their material from, they are s t i l l heavily moral. Even the fables of Marie de France reflect a greater interest in the moral to be drawn from them than in the narrative itself, which is as terse and brief as the Classical Aesopic fables. However, Marie is original in one regard. In the morals appended to each fable, she often stresses the injustices of the world that the fables reflect--the suppression of the weak by the strong. As Phaedrus, Marie uses the fable as a form of protest, but rather than turning them into political or other satire, she uses the "morals" to express sympathy for the unfortu-nate victim and to protest injustice in a general humanitarian way. The animal narratives in Middle English are of many different types, even though the in i t i a l sources for a l l are the basic Aesopic fables dis-cussed above. The characteristics of these fables, however, are not en-tirely consistent, and some definition of "fable" ought to be attempted to ascertain the characteristics of the genre as i t was represented, by the thirteenth century, in works known to English fabulists. Tradition has established that the fable is a brief narrative with animals as characters, in prose or verse. Human characters may be included, but never exclusively. This basic criterion is straightforward enough. The animals' activities illustrate a truth about mankind that the author 5 wishes to communicate. The animals thus have an illustrative, but not necessarily an allegorical function. The fable does present a moral or a thesis in the form of narrative, as does an allegory, but the fable does not imply that the animals represent abstractions. We must rule out allegory as part of a definition, then, while admitting that the represen-tative nature of the fable characters has the potential--often realized in the imitative medieval Aesopic fables--of robbing them of a good deal of vitality. Also, we must turn to the kind of truth the author wishes to communicate, and the way in which he does this, i . e. in a straightforward moral drawn directly from the narrative, or through the narrative itself, or in both ways. Here we must turn to individual works. In the fables of Babrius and Avianus and in the Romulus collections we have brief animal narratives which illustrate a generally applicable thesis that is appended to the narrative proper. The animals are representative of human beings in a general way. The purpose is ostensibly moral, but the mcrral is cloaked in an amusing story. However, not a l l Classical fables conform to this descrip-tion. Horace's one fable is satirical rather than forthrightly moral, and its purpose is thus to point out a human weakness without supplying a moral set up as a general remedy. Phaedrus1 fables serve a political purpose-social and political particulars are applied, rather than the weaknesses of human beings in general. These works were not known in the Middle Ages, and yet similar satirical tendencies occur in many medieval fables. Whereas we can safely say that the fable is a prose or verse narrative in which animals are characters whose behaviour is meant to be representative of human beings, i t becomes more difficult to determine whether the nature of the fable is entirely didactic or satirical. I purpose to show in this study that in the Middle Ages there were 6 written a vast range of animal stories a l l practicably classifiable as fables. Within the genre exist many different sorts of animal narratives, but these have enough in common to warrant a single classification. Fables range from the brief exempla used in sermons and treatises, through the moralizing exercises of Lydgate and the fourteenth-century fable satires, to poems as accomplished as Chaucer's and Henryson's fables. While the simple Aesopic animal apologue appears throughout medieval literature, the Middle Ages also contributed a unique development of the genre, the delightfully anthropomorphized animals who in France and on the continent are immortalized in the Roman de Renart and its analogues, and are the characters of one of the finest poems in English literature. The fable is indeed a genre admitting considerable diversity. The range of purpose in the fables we will examine encompasses the purely didactic and the purely entertaining. Within this range are fables that combine entertainment and a "moral" to varying extents. The i n i t i a l raison d"e^re of medieval fable can be found in the literary theory that seeks to justify imaginative literature by its underlying ability to instruct as well as entertain. This dual purpose, to teach and delight together, is often cited by fabulists. It is explained by Boccaccio as the value of fiction. Such then is the power of fiction that i t pleases the unlearned by its external appearance, and exercises the minds of the learned with its hidden truth; and thus both are edified and delighted with one and the same perusal.^ This kind of reasoning provides the basis for the use of fables—and other fictional tales—in sermons and treatises. Henryson and Lydgate cite this purpose in the Prologues to their fables, and the Nun's Priest concludes his fable with the reminder that those who think his tale a folly should find 7 the "fruyt" in i t . Caxton ends his translation of a Dutch version of the Reynard epic with a moral justification as well: But for an example to the people that they may thereby the better use and follow virtue and to eschew sin and vices, in like wise may i t be by this book that who that will read this matter, though i t be of japes and bourds, yet he may find therein many a good wisdom and learnings, by which he may come to virtue and worship. The writer of "A song on the Times" sees his fable as an exemplum—a vorbisen --that illustrates his complaint. The fable provides the possibility for a unique combination of entertainment and instruction, for while the sight of animals acting as human beings can be very amusing, the comic irony of that situation suggests things about human beings as well. The fable is not an animal story in the modern sense of the term. It is a tale that portrays animal characters who combine human and animal characteristics. The combination is fraught with ironic possibilities. The fable's interest is not in animals per se, but in animal characters whose behaviour is modelled upon and in turn reflects upon human behaviour. The purpose of the fabulist determines how and to what extent the reflection upon human beings is made, as well as the tone in which i t is made. Rather than dealing with the English fables in chronological order, I will discuss them in the order suggested by the purposes they f u l f i l l and the way the characters are developed to f u l f i l l those purposes. I hope to show that, alongside the simple Aesopic, or moral, fable is a literary fable, an example of high art, which does not confine the genre to any single pur-pose. What warrants the single classification, however, is not only the fact that animals are the characters, but that they are developed in a peculiar way. The characters of the briefest Aesopic fable are representations of truths about the human world, and when these characters are developed to 8 speak, think, and act in more detail than is allowed in a brief narrative, they can become independent characters who ironically figure the human beings upon whose behaviour they are modelled. Set apart by the unreal fable world, these characters can present a vivid picture of the human world. Because of the nature of the fable's characterization, i t is a genre that lends itself particularly well to the depiction of human frailty and folly, and can do so satirically, didactically, or simply comically. From the simplest fox and wolf exemplum to the highly complex and brilliant Nun's Priest's Tale, the range of the Middle English fable illustrates a common concern: the pointing out of human weakness in a l l or any of its forms. 9 FOOTNOTES Leon Herrmann, ed. and trans., Phe'dre et ses fables (Leiden: B r i l l , 1950), Latin text and French translation. ^ Leon Herrmann, ed. and trans., Avianus. Oeuvres, Collection Latomus XCVL (Brussels: Latomus Revue d'^tudes Latines, 1968), Latin text and French translation. 3 Denisoh B. Hull, trans., Aesop's Fables told by Valerius Babrius (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, i960) . ^ L€on Levrault, La Fable (Evolution du Genre) (Paris: Librairie Classique Delaplane, n. dTJl p. 26. 5 See fiiiile Chambry, ed., Esope Fables, 2nd ed. (Paris: Societe d'Edition "Les Belles Lettres", i960) . Chambry edits and translated fables from Greek manuscripts, and provides a comprehensive discussion of the Greek tradition in his introduction, pp. ix-liv. 6" The origins of the Sanskrit Pantcha-Tantra (or Hitopadesa) are obscure, but as a collection of - stories i t was translated into many oriental languages. In Arabic i t was entitled "Kalilah and Dimnah," after two jackals who were the central characters, or the "Fables of Pilpay," or "Bidpai," the name that was, among others, transmitted to Europe. See Hitopadesa, trans. Charles Wilkins (1886; rpt. Gainesville, Florida: Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints, 1968), both Wilkins' Preface and the new Introduc-tion by W. B. Stein; see also Charles R. Lanman, "Pilpay," vol. 20 of Library of the World's Best Literature, ed. C. D. Warner (New York: Peale and Hi l l , IB9777 pp. 11437-11486, and Joseph Jacobs, ed., Barlaam and Josaphat (London: Nutt, 1896), pp. x l i - x l i i i . 7 Levrault, pp. 10-11. Q Karl Warnke, ed., Die Fabeln der Marie de France, Bibliotheca Normannica 6 (Halle: Niemeyer, 1898); A. Ewert and R. C. Johnston, eds., Marie de France  Fables (Oxford: Blackwell, 1942). 9 Bastin, Julia, ed., Recueil General des Isopets, 2 vols. (Paris: Librairie Ancienne Honore Champion, 1929) collects a l l the Ysopets. i o CHAPTER ONE THE FABLE AS EXEMPLUM The exemplum is that ubiquitous form of narrative literature so peculiar to the Middle Ages. Material from almost a l l available sources was taken by the church and transformed into brief narratives that could illustrate some moral or theological precept in an interesting and more memorable way than could be accomplished by merely repeating the precept. Through the wide use of exempla, audiences became familiar, albeit in a humble way, with a vast range of literary and scientific subject matter. Material for exempla was drawn from history, hagiography, narrative fiction, legend, and pseudo-scientific literature such as bestiaries and lapidaries. Subject matter was thus both sacred and profane.1 Throughout the Middle Ages, the clerics of the Catholic church produced countless exempla, both within the bodies of their writings and as separate compilations of stories for the use of other clerics. Gregory the Great established the precedent for the use of exempla p both by using them himself and by recommending their use. The technique of using an illustrative narrative goes back to Classical rhetoric; Aristotle had recommended the using of fables as exempla to aspiring orators.^ In later medieval rhetorical theory, the exemplum is recommended both as a means of beginning and as a device for ornamenting style. But for churchmen the greatest recommendation was probably the use of parables by Christ as a teaching device: the record of Holy Scripture is to be considered as parent authority for moralization in the shape of anecdotes, whether historical or fictitious: this, too, as set forth more particularly in the method of teaching adopted by Christ Himself. -> 11 Fables probably won acceptance through their use as teaching devices in oriental works and because of the didactic nature of the Aesopic fables familiar,to the Middle Ages. Early and influential church writers admitted that fables could teach.u The vogue of the fable as exemplum was such that of the narratives employed as exempla and appearing in example books, fables ranked third in popularity, outnumbered only by stories about clerics and excerpts from saints' lives.^ The fables were drawn from the Aesopic collections known, the Romulus and the fables of Avianus,' and from the animal apologues that appeared in popular oriental collections. Exempla began to appear frequently in the twelfth century. Churchmen collected narratives and similes from many sources and circulated them amongst themselves for use in treatises, in teaching fellow clerics, and Q later, in sermons. One of the fi r s t compilations, which included versions of the Fables of Bidpai, was the Disciplina Clericalis of Petrus Alphonsus, which dates from the beginning of the twelfth century. Esopus, a Latin verse collection based chiefly on the Romulus, by Walter of England, believed to have .been the chaplain of Henry II, became popular in the middle of the twelfth century.9 The exempla found their way to the pulpit and by the thirteenth century the popularity of exempla for use in sermons was estab-lished and gradually increased by preachers and especially by the mendicant friars. 1 ^ Writers such as Jacques de Vitry and Caesar of Heisterbach incorporated exempla into their written sermons, and further compilations of stories were thus made from the sermons and treatises that employed them. The use of animal fables as exempla had more justification to medieval writers than the sweeping justification of exempla in general. Animal stories, after a l l , are not "truth", and therefore there must be a good reason for employing animal characters who behave as human beings. The 12 immense popularity of the Aesopic fable in the Middle Ages, too, suggests that medieval thinkers, and particularly the clerics who chose animal characters for their exempla, had more reason to regard fables seriously than the simple element of their charm. The medieval church regarded a l l knowledge in terms of its relation to Christian doctrine. The natural world was considered to contain manifesta-tions of religious truth and clues to an understanding of Christian theo-logy. The appearance of animals in Scripture led to the belief that a scientific knowledge of the nature of these animals was necessary for an understanding of their figurative significance in Scripture. Just as a knowledge of the nature of serpents illuminates the many similitudes which Scripture frequently makes with that animal, an ignorance of many other animals which are also used for comparisons is a great impediment to understanding. Wot only a knowledge of animals but of stones, plants, numbers and music was considered necessary for the comprehension of both the revealed truth of Scripture and the figurative truth that may be discovered in Nature. To the end of providing this information, medieval scholars created compendious "scientific" volumes,.-.containing knowledge about the natural world in encyclopaedic fashion. Isidore of SevilleMs Etymologies is an example of a general work including this kind of information, but there are more specialized works as well. The medieval bestiaries were among the most popular of the works dealing with natural history. These are encyclopaedias containing descriptions of animals both real and imaginary, plus scientific and legendary information about them, usually followed by a figurative interpretation relating the information to Christian doctrine. A Middle English translation of a popular bestiary, the Latin Physiologus of Theobaldus, provides a typical passage.!2 13 Natura wulpis. A wilde der is 8at is f u l of fele wiles, fox is hire to name, for hire que*5sipe; husebondes hire haten, for hire harm dedes: 5e coc and te capun ge feccheS ofte in 4e tun, and te gandre and te gos, bi $e necke and bi %e nos, hale5 is to hire hole; for-Si man hire hatiefi, hatien and hulen bolSe men and fules. ListneS nu a wunder, ftat t i s der doS for hunger: golS o felde to a furg, and f a i l e d 5ar-inne, In eried lond er in erS chine. forto b i l i r t e n fugeles; Ne stereS ge nogt of ie stede a god stund deies, oc dareX so ge ded were, Ne drageS ge non onde: Be rauen is switje redi, weneS Sat ge rotie , and o$re fules hire fallen bi For to winnen fode, derflike wjAuten dred; he wenen J a t ge ded be5, he wullen on feis foxes f e l ; and ge i t wel felefc, l i g t l i k e ge lepeS up and lettefc hem sone, gelt hem here b i l l i n g re&e wi$ i l l i n g , tetogge£ and t e t i r e j hem mid hire tefc sarpe, Fret hire f i l l e , and goS $an Ser ge wille. Significacio. Twifold forbisne in Sis der to frame we mugen finden her, warsipe and wisedom wij deuel and wifc iuel man; Se deuel dereO dernelike, he l a t he ne wile us nogt biswike, he l a t he ne wile us don non loS, v and bringefc us in a sinne and ter he us slod, he b i t us done ure bukes wille, 14 eten and drinken wiX unskil, and i n ure skemting he do& raje a foxing, he b i l l e d one Se foxes f e l wo so telleS idel spel, and he tirefc on his ket wo so him wi$ sinne fet, and deuel geld swilk b i l l i n g wiS same and wiX sending, and for his sinfule werk ledeS man to helle merk. Significacio. ^ e deuel is tus $e fox i l i k mi& iuele breides and wi$ swik; and man a l so 5e foxes name am wurji to hauen same; for wo so seieS oXer god, and SenkeX iuel on his mod, fox he is and fend iwis, $e boc ne lege^S nogt of £is; So was herodes fox and fler d , So c r i s t kam in-to Vi.s middel-erd, he seide he wulde him leuen on, and $ogte he wulde him fordon. 13 The attributes of the natural animal—the f i r s t was probably familiar to contemporary audiences—are explained in terms of Christain doctrine. The fox thus becomes a figure of the devil i n the natural world, a significance which is equally applicable to i t s appearance in the B i b l e . ^ The ascribing of character traits to animals begins with Aristotle's treatises. Aristotle describes the traits of certain animals in relation to their physical characteristics for the purpose of making similar conclusions about human beings.^ His characterizations are quite similar to typical medieval ones: the l i o n is brave and upright, as he usually is in medieval iconography; the ass is cowardly and stupid, as he is in the fables; the ape is villainous; the cock is lascivious, li k e Chaucer's Chauntecleer. However, the parts of Aristotle's treatise comparing physical qualities with similar physical qualities in animals does not appear to have been known in the Middle Ages. Aristotle is cited by the writers and users of 15 the bestiaries as an authority, for his Historia Animalium appears to have been known. This work, however, concerns itself but l i t t l e with the psychological nature of species of animals.1^ From the natural history that was available to them, medieval writers developed their own animal symbolism to standardize Scriptural and, later, literary exegesis, and to teach the precepts of the Christian religion through figures observable in the created world.1? The bestiaries were particularly popular for use as exempla. Homilists frequently employed bestiary material as similes or figures meant to elucidate moral or religious precepts. Thus the simile of the ape and her two babies in the Alphabet of Tales can illustrate a human failing--i no moralitas is attached—while the simile itself reads like the first part of a bestiary entry. Simia. Simie peccator assimilatur. We rede in 'Libro de Dono Timoris,' how be propurtie of pe ape is to hafe i j whelpis; & when pe hunter commys & pursewis hur, sho takis pat at sho luffis bettur in hur armys, & pe toder lepis vp on hur bakk. And when pe hunter sewis hur sore, sho levis pat as is in hur armys & lattis i t f a l l , & pe toder clevis s t i l l by hur. In the Gesta Romanorum is a similar exemplum describing the ape's charac-teristic method of dining on nuts; this is related to the familiar nut and kernel figure."^ The standard figural interpretations of the properties of animals that resulted from the wealth of literature dealing with such interpretations is reflected in the relatively consistent significances of animals in homiletic literature. The sermon passage in which the fable of the crabs, discussed below, appears is similar to the passage describing the demons on in Hell in Richard Rolle's Pricke of Conscience. In the fi r s t , they are adders, toads, frogs and crabs; in the second, wolves, lions, bears, 10 dragons, adders, and "othir vermyn." In various sermons in Ross's edition of late fourteenth and early fifteenth century sermon texts,^1 an adder (or serpent) is identified with the devil and likened to covetous men. 22 An exemplum for Sermon Twenty-seven of John Mirk's Festial includes a giant adder who, in the interpretation, represents the devil. The fox is considered a representative of covetousness in The Ancrene Riwle^3 a n ( j pk Jacob's Well. In The Ancrene Riwle, the reasons for the equation are made clear in much the same way as they are in the bestiaries. 1^ sos unpeawes beo5 to uoxe uor monie reisuns i efnede. two ich chulle siggen. rauche gile is i€e uoxe. & so is ine ^ iscunge of worldliche bijeate. and on o$er reisun is. pe uox awu-ried al enne floe, pauh he ne muwe bute one urechli-che uorswoluwen.^ 5 The wolf also has an unhappy association. In Jacob1s Well the wrathful man is compared with him,^^ and in Sermon Thirty-four of Ross's edition of Middle English sermons^ he is equated with the devil. The popular attitude to the natural wolf partially explains this, but once again precedence is found in the Bible: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" (Matt. 8:15). Other than the fox and the wolf, most animals are usually given a positive as well as a negative association: they were considered to be manifested both in bono and in malo. The serpent is the obvious example, as i t has both good and bad associations in Scripture. The lion is usually identified with Christ and with good Christians, but sometimes 28 represents pride, as in the l i s t of sins in The Ancrene Riwle. In one instance—a fable exemplum—even the "false fox" serves an intentionally good function, albeit through his craft.^9 17 The tradition of ascribing figurative significances to animals to clarify religious doctrine adds another dimension to the significance of the fable exempla. These significances are seen operating in the "morals" appended to the exempla in the sermon literature. This tradition, combined with the didactic nature of the traditional Aesopic fable, makes it very understandable that the genre should have been so popular among medieval clerics. Before leaving this discussion of the bestiaries, we should notice that their extensive use in English homiletic literature must have had considerable influence on the education and awareness of a broad audience, both lay and clerical, during the Middle Ages. The natural and figural descriptions of animals repeated from the pulpit must have made the bestiary material familiar to a great number of people. As Owst comments, . . . there was no great gulf fixed in medieval times between the artistic symbolism of sculptor and wood-carver, the zoological literature of the "learned" and at least some popular understanding of the same.-^  Indeed, the "popular understanding" of animals is reflected in the bestiary literature as well, as we saw in the description of the raiding fox in the Middle English version of Physiologus. A consideration of a medieval genre that contains animal characters--and most often the animals most frequently described in homiletic literature—must include the realization that the wide influence of bestiary lore must have instilled some preconceptions into the minds of the readers of the genre. The popularity of exempla among continental churchmen spreak to England, quite naturally, where the strength of the tradition was established by the thirteenth century. The thirteenth-century Gemma Ecclesiastica of Giraldus Cambrensis "makes so copious a use of monkish tales that the work is really an example-book."31 But the fable as exemplum came into its own in 18 England with the Latin sermons of Odo of Cheriton. Written early in the thirteenth century, Odo's sermons and collection of exempla contain more fables than any other kind of illustrative tale. Odo probably found the sources for his fables during study on the continent, but his success in retelling them gave them a great deal of popularity. Many of these fables, simple enough in their construction, present us with the natural humour and vivid imagination of those who watch the animal and insect world with the eyes of lively, mischievous children. 32 Their popularity is reflected in the large number of collections drawn from them, and in the impetus Odo's appended moralizations gave to collec-tions which included moralizations after each tale.33 One of these collections is the Latin Gesta Romanorum, a late thirteenth-century work which contains several fables. The Gesta is believed to have originated in England,3^ and Middle English versions contain additional fables also borrowed from Odo. *The number of longer secular tales in the Gesta Romanorum points forward to the secular works of poets such as Gower and Chaucer for, although the moralizations remain, the interest in the 35 narrative is sometimes greater than i t was in earlier example literature. The fourteenth-century Latin example literature testifies to the increased sophistication pervading the old concept of simple exempla. The Liber de  Moralizationibus and Liber Sapientiae of John Holkot contain mostly secular tales, and many fables, accompanied by more sophisticated moralizations. Bromyard's Summa Praedicantium makes more frequent use of Aesopic fable material. The English fables used as exempla embody one major aspect of the medieval fable. The purpose of an exemplum is to illustrate a moral or theological point, and this is exactly what a fable exemplum is equipped 19 to do. The illustration of a moral precept is inherent in the nature of the Aesopic fable: i t is its raison d'etre. The Aesopic fable of Classical times, as i t was passed on to the Middle Ages, and interpreted by writers like Alexander Neckam and Marie de France, was ostensibly nothing more than a vehicle for the communication of a moral truth. To this end its style was adapted. The Classical fables, however, and to some extent the imitative Isopets, reflect a concern for achieving excellence of style within the limits of the genre. In the English fables used as exempla, there is no purpose other than that of moral illustration, for this is as inherent in the concept of the exemplum as i t is in that of the Aesopic fable. But in the exempla, we do not find the concern with style that we find in their secular sources. To the Greek and Roman fabulists, brevity, and a conciseness allowing no more than is necessary to illustrate the moral—which does not then need to be stated separately--was the chief stylistic demand. No small degree of poetic achievement was attained within these limits. The English exempla are brief, but without the virtues of conciseness, sharpness of narrative details^found in their ultimate sources. Their morals are not as inevitable: not everything superfluous to the moral is left out. Indeed, sometimes one is left wondering what the moral point of the fable is, although perhaps this is intentional, to allow the preacher making use of the tale to adapt i t to the moral he wishes to illustrate. The exempla fables cannot be considered as literary manifestations of the genre, but nonetheless they are a peculiarly medieval manifestation, and their nature is such that they are of particular interest in a characterization of medieval fable. They embody the major purpose of Aesopic fables, albeit without providing much in the way of added attractions, and their use and popularity as exempla 20 reflects why medieval people would be attracted to the genre in its Aesopic form. If i t is true that "the medieval storyteller has generally a moral purpose,"36 then the nature of Aesopic fable answers this purpose well. Unfortunately, as in the exempla, i t often answers no other. Before proceeding with an examination of the English fable exempla, we should note that Mosher, in his study of the exemplum in England, does 37 not feel comfortable in calling the fables used in sermons exempla. His researches indicate that a prerequisite for classification as an exemplum is the presence of human characters only, even though fables "were frequently considered as exempla by medieval collectors and preachers." To apply the stipulation of human characters to a genre so amorphous as the medieval exemplum does not seem to be particularly helpful. The example-books abound with brief satires including both animal and human characters, many of which are not fables. Animals play important roles, but they are not given the properties of human beings as they are in fables proper. And often they are not real characters, but simply agents of external forces. Fables often have human characters, but the animal and human characters must interact as i f there were no significant difference between the civilized human world and the animal world. Although the fable encompasses a separate genre, i t lends itself so well for use as an exemplum, and was used as such so frequently and effectively, that i t is needless to separate the fable from the broad classification exempla which, though considered a genre in itself, includes others as well. The earliest instance we have of the fable used as an exemplum in English is the fable of the crab and its mother, contained in an early 38 homily. The homily is one of a collection which appears in Richard Morris' edition of twelfth and thirteenth century homilies, but the editor concludes from textual evidence that the group of homilies in which the fable 21 appears is actually a compilation made from eleventh-century documents.^9 The fable occurs in Homily Five of the edition, entitled "Of the Prophet Jeremiah." It is recounted in the middle of a passage which draws on bestiary material to describe symbolically the inhabitants of the pit: spotted adders, black toads, yellow frogs, and crabs. The fable itself appears after the preliminary l i s t , when the author apparently feels compelled to explain what crabs are. He begins with an explanation that reads like a bestiary passage, and then shifts into the fable: Crabbe is an manere of fissce in pere sea. pis fis is ofiwulc cunde. pet. euer se he mare streng5deJ5 him to swimrainde mid be watere. se he mare swimmefc abac, and pe aide crabbe seide to pe^junge. hwi ne swimmest pu forSwar^* in pere sea alse c&er fisses do&. and heo seide. Leofe moder swim pu foren me and tech me hu ic seal swimmen for ward and heo bi-gon to swimmen forward mid be streme and swam hire per ajen. Immediately following the fable, a l l the animals but the crabs are given their symbolic meanings in terms of the contents of the homily. Why and how this fable describes the sinners in the pit is never made clear. The fable does not clearly point to any moral the homilist seems to have in mind. Yet this is an Aesopic fable. It appears in the collection of Avianus, and in that of Avianus' source Babrius.^ The narrative is brief, and the animal characters are endowed with human qualities. The story as i t stands is clever enough, and the moral i t points to is clear enough: one should not reproach another for not doing what one cannot do oneself. But in the context of the homily, that does not seem to be the moral point of the fable at a l l . Indeed, the author seems to misunderstand the idea of using an exemplum, for here he is only explaining to his audience what a crab is, and follows his explanation with a story that does not illustrate why the crab must represent the evil inhabitants of Hell. Perhaps he felt that 22 a fish who would swim backwards by nature must necessarily embody a sinful character, but this does not seem likely, for he carefully explains the significance of adders, black toads, and yellow frogs, leaving the crabs out of the discussion entirely. Rather, one receives the impression that he is simply us'ing his fable to vary the tone of the homily, rather than as a real exemplum. His desire to do so indicates perhaps a familiarity with the concept of exempla, but a lack of understanding as to how to use them to prove a point. Indeed, his imperfect understanding is further evident in his describing a crab as a fish who swims backwards.^ In this first example of a Middle English fable used ostensibly as an exemplum, the dual nature of the fable is already apparent. One feels there is a didactic purpose: there must be one, considering the context in which the fable appears, and the author is evidently trying to explain something to his audience, however imperfectly he succeeds. But the less sobre aspect of exemplum and fable also evinces itself. The rather haphazard way in which the fable is tossed in suggests an attempt to use the short narrative as entertainment, as a relief from the didactic tone of the homily. The product is atypical, for the entertainment is not the vehicle of the lesson. The other Middle English fable exempla we have are more typical. Their illustrative function is clear and straightforward, the narratives pointing to a moral either stated explicitly or undeniable implicitly. The later dates of a l l these exempla warrant asserting that the authors would have been thoroughly familiar with the techniques and subjects of exemplary litera-ture, and the didactic nature of the fables is more than apparent. One fable is employed as a true exemplum in the devotional manual Ayenbite of Inwyt, ^  compiled by Dan Michel in the Kentish dialect in 1340. This is largely a translation of the thirteenth-century French 23 treatise, Le Somme des Vices et de Vertues. -> While discussing "be uerpe stape of Ri3tuolnesse," the author points out that those who try./to emulate the virtues of others without discretion are not successful, for people do not have the same virtues. To illustrate his point, he relates the fable of the "Little Hound and the Ass." "ffereof zet Ysopes be fable of be l i t t l e hounde and ofbe asse. be hond at eche time pet he yhyerb pet his lhord comep hom. he yerp to yens him and lhap aboute his quere. and be lhord him makeb uayr chiere and him froteb and makeb him greate feste. "Ifle asse him bebou3te bous ssolde ich do and zuo wolde mi lhord me louie. Betere he ssolde me maki ioye pt ich serui;-.eche day banne bise hounde bet him seruebt of na3t? hit nes na3t longe efterward pet pet be asse ne yze3 his lhord come hom: he beginb to lheape and yernp to-yens him and him praup pe uet aboute his zuere and beginbe zinge grat-liche. ^e sergons bet hit y-ze3e nome steues and byete bane asse ri3t to be nolle. And perof pet he wende habbe worbssipe and guaod: he hadde ssame and harm. The fable is followed by a statement of its moral and a justification of the use of fables in teaching men wisdom. This fable also dates from Classical times. It is found in the collections kk of Babrius and. Ph'aedrus, and became popular in the Middle Ages with the writers both of Isopets—notably Marie de France^—and of the exempla— notably Odo of Cheriton.^ The writer is obviously familiar with fables in the exempla tradition, and uses this one as such. The narrative is brief and to the point, and not without some of the detail that raises its quality. The ass's state of mind is described fully enough to show how he comes to act in the way he does, and thus to characterize his foolishness and make the moral of the fable stand out more clearly. The ass's ludicrous behaviour is described well with an obvious taste for the humour of the situation. Again, this humour reinforces the Moral. Michel cannot be given a l l the credit 2k for the success of this exemplum, he can be given the credit for communicating, in English, the technique of a successful Aesopic fable. The English versions of the Gesta Romanorum contain many Aesopic fables. The Latin Gesta, "a work of exemplar literature in many ways unparalleled," contains fables of both Classical and oriental origins. The English trans-lations we have were made in the first half of the fifteenth century, at least a century after i t is supposed the original Latin version was compiled. None of the fables in the English versions are found in the manuscripts of the Anglo-Latin Gesta which served as the original for the English trans-lations, but, with other kinds of narratives, have been added to the "class of Gesta proper that made up the earliest versions. 7 The stories contained in the English collections are accompanied, not by moralizations, but by an exegesis of their details in theological and moral terms. The "morals" of the fables, while perhaps implicitly clear in the narratives themselves, are. not really drawn upon in the apposite "declaraciones"or "moralitees." Part of this is explainable by the nature of the collection. The Gesta is a compilation of stories for the use of preachers, and thus the "moral" would have to be chosen and adjusted to suit the particular discourse in which the preacher wished to employ i t . The exegetical explanation, however, would aid him in applying the text to his subject. It also ensures that the narrative will be seen in the proper light. These applications are quite unlike the "morals" that appear after other forms of the Aesopic fable we have examined. The appended explanation is not suggested by a literal reading of the story, as i t is in the fable of "The Little Hound and the Ass." For example, the Gesta fable of "The Cat and the Fox"''0 has a superimposed moral rather distant from the narrative itself. It describes the cat and the fox conferring on how to escape from the hounds. 25 The fox is confident because he has many tricks, and the cat frightened because she knows only one. When the hounds come, the cat needs only one trick to save herself, while the fox is overcome. The moral of the tale in Aesopic terms is simple enough: one form of self-help will suffice. It is more or less stated by the cat at the end of the fable, when she cries to the fox: "foxe." opyn thi bagge of wiles, & helpe thy selfe, for thou haddiste neuer more nede; for a l l thi wiles helpeth the not.'" The declaracio transforms this moral into theological terms: the cat rep-resents holy men who need only one means—faith—of saving themselves; the fox, reminiscent of his bestiary appearances, evil men who think they have enough tricks and wiles to be secure, but who are eventually caught by the hounds of Hell. Thus the "moral" of Aesopic fable--the simple statement, illustrated by the animals1 behaviour and character, that applies to the world of men—is altered to conform to the purposes of the cleric. The moral becomes a theological lesson which, although in harmony with the implicit moral, is not a part of the narrative itself, and is not necessary to an understanding of the fable's elementary lesson. The separate nature of the moral appended to the fable was not a new aspect of the genre contributed by the exempla writers. Marie de France used the moral to voice her opinions on subjects brought to mind by the fable— contemporary evils suggested by the illustration of the human condition in the tale. Classical Aesopic fable did not have an appended "Moralitas", but the genre lends itself to this kind of addition in its medieval manifestations. Thus the fable itself, the narrative, remains true to its Aesopic background, and expresses an aspect of human nature or society or experience implicitly, while the writer of the fable-can , -employ this narrative to elaborate on the 26'' simple moral and suit his own purposes. Unfortunately, while the fable does gain credit for adaptability and universality, i t does not always gain from a literary point of view. The fable of "The Little Hound and the Ass" in the Ayenbite of Inwyt has more literary success because i t remains purely an exemplum—its implicit moral is taken at face value and incorporated into a broader discourse, and the narrative therefore is not clouded and restricted. It remains indepen-dent and clear, and has an unsophisticated but charming humour a l l its own. It does not, however, indicate much in the way of originality or real literary excellence; i t is simply a successful translation of a fable that is purely imitative of Classical Aesopic fable. Only its use—and even that not entirely so--is new to the Middle Ages. The fables of the Gesta  Romanorum, while being adapted and used in a way that is a purely medieval innovation--and important for that fact--do not brighten the status of their narratives at a l l . The narratives are imitations and rough translations, but they do not retain the sharp characterizations and brisk narratives of their Aesopic models. The narratives are provided, i t appears, only for the sake of the declaracio. Little enjoyment of the story is evinced on the part of the writer, and l i t t l e is provided for the audience. A criterion we have set for and examined in the narrative structure of the Aesopic fable is that only those events essential to the communication of the moral be included. This criterion is met quite well by the fables of the Gesta, partly of course because the writer would have found this charac-teristic in his sources. The way in which these narratives are combined, however, is unfortunate. There is no attempt at brisk and efficient com-pression; the few events are simply strung together by connectives and the odd indication of passing time. In the fable of "The Cat and the Mouse," 27 the entire narrative is recounted by simple subject-verb sentences, with the order of the parts of speech identical throughout. Each sentence begins with "the cat" or "the mouse", occasionally preceded by an adverb. There is l i t t l e realistic narrative detail, only straightforward recounting of events. The cat and mouse are endowed with the human characteristics of speech and reason, but no attempt is made to give them the human characteriza-tion of, for example, the ass in Dan Michel's fable. Their words are quoted and their actions are described, a l l very loosely, and with no real feeling for the story. The same criticism applies to the fable of the "Eagle and the Crow. The animals mechanically recite their speeches and go through the necessary motions. There is no attempt to communicate the sorrow or pain of the eagle, or the wicked satisfaction of the crow. Events and dialogue are strung together loosely with connectives, and there is l i t t l e sense of movement or of l i f e . This fable is brief enough to warrant quoting in f u l l to illustrate the general qualities of the Gesta Romanorum fables. In a tyme the Egle had sore Eyen; and he cownseyled with the Crowe, and asked, what he myght do agayne the disese. The Crow seide, "I shall bryng the an herbe, i f thou wilte gife me good hire for my laboure." The Egle seide, " i f thou make myn Eyen hole, thou shalte haue wele for thy trauayle." Then the Crow toke Onyonus and Spourge, and made perof a playster, and leyde i t on the Egles Eyen; and in shorte tyme he was blynde. Then the crowe toke the bryddys of the Egle, and deuovred hem; and disesed the Egle with many betyngs. the Egle than saide to the crowe, "acursyd be thou and thy medisyne also; for pou haste made me blynde, and deuouryd My bryddys, and sesist not to bete me." The crow seide, "also longe as thou myght se, I myght not come by thy briddes, that I gretly desyred, but now pat I desyred is ful f i l l e d . " A l l of the fables in the Gesta collection have these faults. The narratives 52 and the animal characters never really come alive. However, we must remember that these tales, like many other exempla, may often be no more 28 than plot outlines for the individual preacher to expand at will. Depending on his talent and inclination, the fable heard from the pulpit might have been a much better tale than the brief narrative that is recorded. Yet fables of this type s t i l l contribute to our understanding of the fable as a genre in the Middle Ages. The date of these particular fables is late—the English translations of the Gesta were made early in the fifteenth century—but the prevalence of this use of the fable from the twelfth century onwards, and the repetition of the same fables from the twelfth century onwards, justifies to some extent considering these fables as representative, particularly when we remember the popularity of the numberous versions of the Gesta Romanorum throughout the Middle Ages. As exempla, these fables illustrate the didactic attitude of the Middle Ages to the fable, an attitude inseparable from the conception of the genre. They represent one of the two kinds of fables that transmitted the genre to the English poets, both kinds being chiefly or entirely moral or didactic in character. The exempla fables of the clerics, more than the Isopets, were readily available to a large and varied audience, but the Gesta  Romanorum especially is recognized as containing or recording the source material for much medieval literature. There are sixteen animal narratives in the Gesta, but only eight warrant classification as fables. Those discussed above, plus the six others listed in note 52, are obviously fables according to our criteria: they are brief narratives with animals endowed with human qualities as characters, and the events portrayed point to a realization about the nature of mankind—a "moral" or bit of wisdom. "The Eagle and the Crow," "The Wolf and Swine," "The Ass and the Swine," and "The Hen and her Chicks" are considered to be most likely derived from the fables of Odo of Cheriton.53 The first also appears in the JLnglo-Latin Gesta and is quoted by later Latin exempla writers, notably 2§ Bromyard. The other fables are considered to be definitely based on Odo's 5I4. versions. "The Burial of the Wolf" describes the court of the lion in a way that suggests Odo may have taken the incident from one of the branches of the Roman de Renart.-^ Another exemplum, "The Ape and the N u t s , a l s o based on one in Odo's collection, is not a fable. It describes the ape's habit of eating, and draws a moral application to men from it--the familiar kernel and chaff analogy. The ape is not a character at a l l and there is no real narrative. Rather, this is an exemplum simile, drawn probably from bestiary material; i t describes the habits of an animal in an apparently scientific manner and draws an appropriate theological lesson from the des-cription. "How a Serpent Punished the Ingratitude of a K n i g h t i s derived from a Latin "Aesop," and also appears in the fables of Marie de I-Q France. However, neither is this a true animal fable. The serpent speaks, but its qualities are supernatural rather than human; i t has the power to reward or to punish, according to the actions of the knight of the story. The tale teaches a moral, but not so much by way of illustrating human characteristics as by illustrating the ways of providence with mankind. This story is like several other animal stories in the Gesta, of a type popular in the exempla collections. These deal with a good or a wicked figure—in the Gesta Romanorum, i t is one who lived during the reign of a particular Roman Emperor--who encounters an animal with supernatural qualities who acts as an instrument of divine justice. These stories are interesting to our study in their choice of animal characters, for these often embody the stan-59 dard characteristics applied to animal figures in medieval exegesis, but they cannot be classified as animal fables. There is one other English collection of exemplar literature that 30' contains several fables. This is the fifteenth-century English translation of the early fourteenth-century Latin Alphabetum Narrationum, "a work held „6o in the highest esteem by our English preachers. The English Alphabet  of Tales contains five fables. There are no accompanying "moralitees", and thus we cannot examine the technique of adding these explanations to the fables in this collection. However, i t is certain that the fables were meant for use as exempla, either with or without the type of exegetical accompaniment found in the Gesta Romanorum. A l l the stories of the Alphabet are classified according to the sort of subject matter for which they can serve as exempla. The classification is followed by a brief statement of the moral or truth they illustrate, a l l of this preceding the narrative. One of the fables^ 1 describes two travellers, one an honest man and the other a flatterer, questioned by a patriarchal ape. The flatterer is rewarded for his lies and the honest man punished for telling the ape he is not an emperor. The narrative is followed by a statement regarding the way i t can be used: This tale is gude to t e l l agayn flaterers, & agayns paim pat wull here no thyng bod at is to per plesur.°2 Perhaps this remark is appended because the "moral" of the fable is a cynical rather than a moral observation on human nature. Generally speaking, the narrative faults of the fables of the Gesta  Romanorum apply to the Alphabet of Tales as well. The fables in the latter tend to be longer and somewhat more drawn out, without the benefit of in-creased effectiveness of characterization or narrative. No real descriptive detail is added. In the fable mentioned above, the narrative is stretched out over more sentences than is necessary to describe the events i t does. There are two partial exceptions. In Tale 706,^3 "The Man, the Serpent and the Fox," the narrative, while containing a plot more complex than usual, 31 is quite concise, "but recounted with l i t t l e s k i l l . Again, each incident is added to the preceding one with a single connective, and almost every sentence has the same simple structure. The basic plot of the fable is a good one—it is from the Disciplina Clericalis--and a more vivid characteriza-tion of the serpent and the fox is possible, but the possibilities are only hinted at in the flat dialogue. Tale 6^1,^ "The Lamb and the Wolf," is, in spite of its monotonous sentence structure, a rather good example of the effectiveness of concise narration in an Aesopic fable, certainly when i t is compared with the other fable exempla. Unfortunately, the author spoils the effect equally concisely. Potencia. Potentes frequenter querunt occasiones contra pauperes. Esopus tell i s in his fables how be lambe & be wulfe war bothe thrustie, and bai come bothe vnto pe watir to drynk; & pe wulfe dranke abown, & be lambe benethe. Than be wulfe sayd vnto pe lambe; "whi haste bou troubled pe watyr vnto me?" And be lambe ans-swerd hym agayn & sayd; "How sulde I make be watir drovy when i t t come from the vnto me?" And pan pe wulfe said; "Whi bannys bou me?" And be lambe sayd; "Kay, I ban be nott." And ban be wulfe said; "Thi fadur did vnto me mekull i l l , and now I sail venge me of the." And with bat he ran on be selie lambe and worod i t t . And pis had be lambe bat did no trys-pas. The last sentence is not only unnecessary, but i t spoils what has gone before. The injustice the writer decries is far more effectively condemned by the bluntness of the wolf's remarks and final act, unmitigated by the pathetic note at the end. The flavour of Aesopic fable is captured, and then lost again with the final line. The classifications of the Aesopic fables in the Alphabet of Tales is more in accord with the intrinsic moral statement of the fables than are the exegetical "morals" of the Gesta Romanorum fables. The narratives are ex-panded no further than necessary to point to the moral cited at the beginning 32 of each fable, and the animals have enough human characterization to echo the tone of the Classical Aesopic fable. The fact that the truths they illustrate are realistic impressions of human nature and society reinforces this tone. This tone plus the absence of theological interpretation leaves an/ impression more secular than that left by the fables of the Gesta  Romanorum. That both groups of fables exist solely for their didactic function of illustrating a precept is undeniable. however, for the interest in both is not in the narrative but in its lesson. We ought to notice that of the five Aesopic fables, three begin with the remark "Esopus te l l i s in his fables" or something similar. One refers to a well-known source of fable exempla, Petrus Alphonsus, and Tale 191? the same as that told in Lydgate's The Churl and the Bird, has no acknowledged source, although i t too appears in the Disciplina Clericalis. There is also a bestiary-derived exemplum in the Alphabet, meant for use as an illustrative simile. Once again, i t is concerned with the folly of the ape. The Middle English fables as exempla do not illustrate any literary-development of the genre. Instead, they remain within the limits of the Aesopic fable without developing any of the characteristics of that type of fable beyond mediocrity. This is understandable, for their purpose is not a literary one. They do illustrate, however, a medieval attitude to narrative literature, and particularly to the fable, and thus reveal one important aspect of the medieval fable as a genre. Inherent in its form is the ability to illustrate major moral truths. It is not simply a literary exercise that centres around the choosing of a minimum of words and incidents to illustrate a truism, which then may--as in the Isopets—or may not—as in the earlier Classical fables—be explained in an appended "moral". The writers of the Isopets found this "moral" more interesting, for i t allowed more scope for individual elaboration. In the exempla the moralitas of the exemplum in its context outside the narrative usurps the interest of the narrative to both writer and audience, for the narrative exists only to produce this effect. The exempla include the earliest known attempts at animal fable in Middle English.-^ Created to teach a lesson by means of entertainment, they are nonetheless primarily moral, although of course the inclination of indi-vidual preachers may often have transformed the brief examples that are recorded into very amusing and memorable tales. But the narratives as we know them are used to illustrate a moral or theological thesis, and have no independent status. The authors are not interested in the narrative or in the characters beyond the general moral of each tale, even though an occasional circumstance produces a narrative or an animal character described realisti-cally and unpredictably. In brief, the authors of these works are not really interested in the fable as a genre. This is self-evident from the nature of sermon exempla, which are nonetheless of interest to our study not only because they are among the fi r s t Middle English fables, but precisely because they illustrate the moral and didactic tendency of the fable, particularly in the Middle Ages. 3k FOOTNOTES 1 For discussions of the nature and content of the medieval exempla, see G. R. Owst, Preaching in Medieval England (Cambridge: Cambridge Univer-sity Press, 1926) and Literature and Pulpit in Medieval England (1933; *"P"t. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1966); J. A. Mosher, The Exemplum in the Ear]y  Religious and Didactic Literature of England (New York: Columbia University Press, 1911)7 2 His Dialogues collects many exempla (Patrologia Cursus Completus, Series Latina, ed. J.-P. Migne \Paris, 1853], vol. 148). 3 Sir Brooke Boothby, Fables and Satires, with a Preface on the Esopean  Fable (Edinburgh: h.p., 1809), p. xxxi. h See for example Geoffrey of Vinsauf, Poetria Nova, trans. Margaret F. Nims (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1967), pp. 22-23, 65. 5 Owst, Pulpit, p. 152. ^ Macrobius, Somnium Scipionis, I, 2; Isidore of Seville, Etymologies, I, 4 l . 7 Mosher, p. J. 8 Ibid., p. 12. Exempla apparently were not used commonly in sermons until the time of the preaching friars (the twelfth century). 9 See Gaston Paris, La Litterature Franchise au Moyen A*ge, 4th ed. (Paris: Librairie Hachette, 1909), p. 127. 10 Bernhard ten Brink, History of English Literature, trans. Horace M. Kennedy (London: Bell, 1914), I, 264T Mosher, p. 13. For a discussion of the use of exempla by the preaching friars, see Owst, Preaching, pp. 6O-67 and pp. 80-B^n ^ St. Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, trans. D. W. Robertson, Jr. (Indianapolis, New York: Bobbs Merrill, 1958), p. 51-12 Richard Morris, ed., An Old English Miscellany, EETS OS 49 (London: Trubner, 1872), pp. 1-25; also in Albert S. Cook, A Literary Middle English  Reader (Boston: Ginn, 1915), pp. 188-198; Bruce Dickins and R. M. Wilson, eds. Early Middle English Texts (Cambridge; Bowes and Bowes, 1951), pp. 58-59. 13 Morris' edition, lines 384-454. Song of Solomon, 3:15« Cf. chapter five, note 37 below. Aristotle, Physiognomica, ed. and trans. T. Loveday and E. S. Foster, Vol. VI of The Works of Aristotle (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913). l ^ Aristotle, Historia Animalium, ed. and trans. D'arcy Wentworth 35 Thompson, Vol. IV of The Works of Aristotle (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910). In Book X, 1, Aristotle says that longer-lived animals are more capable of developing "passions", but he does not actually associate animals with particular psychological attributes, except for the sheep. In Book IX, 3> the sheep is called "naturally dull and stupid." Further discussion of psychological qualities is limited to the differences between the sexes. In this work Aristotle does state that the qualities of men and animals are often alike (VIII, l ) . 17 Heraldry incorporated animal symbolism that was not inconsistent with the kind of explanations given in the bestiaries but intended positive rather than negative aspects for the animals. See H. Allcock, Heraldic I Design (New York: Tudor, 1962); J. Thorold, The Wreath of Heraldry (Bath: n. p., 1830); and W. C. Wade, The Symbolisms of Heraldry (London: Redway, I898). 1 Mary MacLeod Banks, ed., An Alphabet of Tales, EETS OS 126 and 127 (London: Kegan Paul, Trench and Trubner, 1904 and 1905), p. 478. 19 Sidney J. H. Herrtage,. ed. The Early English Versions of the Gesta  Romanorum, EETS ES 33 (London: Kegan Paul, Trench and Trubner, 1B79J7 p. 373. 20 Richard Rolle, The Pricke of Conscience, ed. Richard Morris, in The  Philological Society's Early English Volume, l"8~62-l864 (Berlin: Asher, l86~3), lines 6916-17 and lines 9447-4"9"7 2 1 Woodburn 0. Ross, ed., Middle English Sermons, EETS OS 209 (London: Oxford University Press, 1940). 22 Theodor Erbe, ed., Mirk's Festial: A Collection of Homilies by Johannes Mirkus, EETS ES 96 (London: Kegan Paul, Trench and Trubner, 1905), P. 119. 23 Mabel Day, ed., The English Text of the Ancrene Riwle, EETS OS 225 (London: Oxford University Press, 1952), p. 90. A l i s t of the seven deadly sins (pp. 87 ff.) describes each as an animal with a bestiary-type explanation similar to that offered for the fox. The animals, besides the fox, are the lion of pride, the serpent of envy, the unicorn of wrath, the bear of sloth, the swine of gluttony and the scorpion of lechery. P4 c Arthur Brandeis, ed., Jacob's Well. An English Treatise on the  Cleansing of Man's Conscience. EETS OS 115 (London: Kegan Paul, Trench and Trubner, 1900), p. 118. 2 5 Day, p. 90. 26 Brandeis, p. 90. 27 Ross, p. l 8 l . 28 See note 23 above. 29 See p. 31 below. 36 3 0 Owst, Pulpit, p. 206. 3 1 Mosher, p. 54. 3 2 Owst, Pulpit, p. 205. 33 Mosher, pp. 66-67. 34 J Herrtage, pp. xv f f . ; Mosher, p. 79; Owst, Preaching, p. 300. 35 Mosher, pp. 80-82. 36 Frederick Hipper and Marbury Ogle, eds. and trans., Master Walter  Map's Book De Nugis Curialium (Mew.York: Macmillan, 1924), p. xvii. 37 See pp. 3-6. In his Literature and Pulpit in Medieval England, Owst suggests that attempting to define the "terms of formal moralization" is ineffective, as "no such restriction of usage seems to have existed, even among the latest medieval homilists." He then suggests that we treat the terms loosely, and establishes the following sensible divisions. "The best use of these terms that can be devised in the circumstances, therefore, is to treat the word "Example' as the general all-inclusive term for any kind of homiletic simile or illustration, while reserving the 'Narration' for stories of men and women, the 'Fable' for animal tales, and the 'Figure' for similitudes from natural objects'.' (p. 152). 38 Richard Morris, ed., Old English Homilies and Homiletic Treatises of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries, EETS OS 29~TLondon: Trubner, 1868), PP. 51-53-39 ibid., p. x i . ^° Leon Herrmann, Avianus, pp. 30-31; Hull, p. 109. The fable also appears in the Isopet de Chartres and in the Avionnet. See Bastin, I, 134 and II, 352-53. 4 l This description is peculiar to the Middle English version. kP ^ Richard Morris, ed., Dan Michel's Ayenbite of Inwyt or Remorse of  Conscience, EETS OS 23 (London: Trubner, 1866), p. 155-"^3 Ibid., unpaginated Preface. 44 Hull, p. 129; Herrmann, PhSdre, pp. 239-40. 45 Warnke, pp. 53-56. ^ Max Plessow, Geschichte der Fabeldichtung in England bis zu John Gay, Palaestra LII (1906; rpt. New York: Johnson, 1967), p. xxxvl. 47 Mosher, p. 79-37 48 „ . Herrtage, p. xix. ^9 Ibid., pp. xvii-xx. 5 0 Ibid., pp. 371-72. 5 1 Ibid., pp. 367-68. 5 2 Besides "The Cat. and the Fox" and "The Eagle and the Crow," the English Gesta includes the following fables: "The Cat and the Mouse" (pp. 364-65), "The Wolf and the Swine" (pp. 368-69), "The Ass and the Swine" (pp. 369-70), "The Hen and her Chickens" (pp. 370-71), "The Wolf and the Hare" (pp. 373-74), and "The Burial of the Wolf" (pp. 372-73). The page numbers refer to Herrtage's edition. 53 Herrtage, p. 501. 54 ibid., p. 502. 55 See chapter four below. 56 Herrtage, p. 373-57 ibid., pp. 242-45. 58 ibid., p. 487; Warnke, pp. 236-43. 59 See especially the interpretations in the Gesta of these stories: "The Three Cocks" (pp. 98-IOI), "The Lion who punishes a false wife" (pp. 245-49), and "Androcles and the Lion" (pp. 327-31). The page numbers refer to Herrtage's edition. 60 owst, Pulpit, p. 92. 6 1 Banks, pp. 24-25. 6 2 Ibid., p. 25. 6 3 Ibid., pp. 473-74. ^ Ibid., p. 421. 5^ The testimony of Marie de France is accepted by most scholars: . . ."there is no reason to doubt the word of Marie de France who . . . tells us that she . . . translated her Fables from English into French." (j. A. W. Bennett and G. V. Smithers, eds., Early Middle English Verse and  Prose (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), p. xiv. 38 CHAPTER TWO THE FABLES OF JOHN LYDGATE Early in the fifteenth century John Lydgate wrote a collection of Aesopic fables, Isopes Fabules, and a longer fable borrowed from a French version of the Disciplina Clericalis, "The Churl and the B i r d . U n f o r -tunately, Lydgate's poems do not advance the narrative status of the fable much beyond what i t achieved in the utilitarian exempla, even though his writing poems rather than examples in homilies suggests an interest in poetic achievement. The Isopes Fabules contain l i t t l e real narrative, and consist almost entirely of moralization. "The Churl and the Bird" is a happier result of Lydgate's interest in the animal fable, however, and when he allows himself to indulge in narration after a dull prologue, he offers a good tale. The Isopes Fabules were not written for practical use as exempla, but nonetheless they do not carry the genre beyond the bounds i t has in the collections intended for the use of churchmen. Lydgate's fables are in verse, in the Chaucerian stanza, suggesting that they are meant to be taken seriously as the work of a literary man. They are much longer than any of the medieval fables we have considered, including Latin and French as well as Middle English versions. In form they resemble the Isopets: they are in verse, the collection is preceded by a prologue, and each f&ble has its own moralitas. But a closer examination will reveal that the presentation of Lydgate's Fabules relates them more closely to the exemplum tradition than to the Classical form or the medieval imitations of the Aesopic fable. Lydgate apparently wrote his fables as a kind of academic exercise. 2 It has been believed that they were written while he was studying at Oxford at the beginning of the fifteenth century, although Derek Pearsall^ suggests 39 that at least the last three fables, which are much slighter than the fi r s t four, were written later, perhaps as an exercise to be returned to. Lydgate's interest in writing fables can be understood in terms of the history of medieval fable literature as we have examined i t to this point. The use of fables as Latin grammatical exercises as well as in homiletics would interest Lydgate as student and as clergyman. His source is a Latin Romulus, probably k one which was based on the fables of Marie de France or at least like them, so he would have been exposed to the Isopets' treatment of Aesopic fable in this way at least. It is quite likely, though, that he would have been familiar with the popular continental verse fables, certainly with the two collections of Alexander Neckam. Lydgate's moralizing impulse suggests that neither exemplum fables nor the moral Isopets would have disagreed with his inclina-tions. But whatever his i n i t i a l motivation, Lydgate's purpose in the Isopes  Fabules is clear enough. In this f i r s t English collection of fables, the narrative style of the Aesopic fable almost disappears, for i t is completely overshadowed by the didactic purpose. The Prologue to the Fabules makes i t clear that the poet's intent is didactic. His preoccupation is apparent in the opening stanza: Wisdom ys more in prise, pen gold in cofers, To hem. bat haue sauour in lettrure. Olde examples of prudent philosophers Moche auaylyd to folke pat dyd her cure To serche out lykenes in nature, In whyche men myght conceue & clerely see Notable sentence of gret moralyte. (lines 1-7) Here we have the rationale for the interest in animals and natural history that produced the bestiaries. Lydgate uses i t to justify his writing about animals. The next three stanzas describe the wisdom that is to be found in "fables rude", as precious stones are found under "blak erpe." These ko statements are conventional medieval justifications for writing anything fictitious--Henryson's Prologue to his fable collection expresses similar sentiments—but Lydgate's interest in the "wisdom" of the fables and his feelings about the inferiority of narrative itself, as expressed in these stanzas, are borne out in the fables themselves. Lydgate's first fable is that of the "Cock and the Jewel". Before the narrative even begins, Lydgate goes on at length—six stanzas and four lines—to describe the qualities of a cock, borrowing bestiary material and standard exegesis to explain the virtues of this noble fowl. The quality he stresses is the chief one ascribed to the cock in medieval exegesis, that of wakefulness. The cock represents the virtuous creature who puts aside the sin of sloth and a l l its attendant evils. He guards against the devil, singing away the blackness of night and heralding the morning. Thys foule ys waker ayen be vyce of sloube, In vertu strong & hardy as a lyon, Stable as a geaunt, opon a grounde of troupe, Ayene a l l vyces be morall champion, And with pe entewnes of hys melodious soun He yeuep ensample, as he hys voyce dop reyse, Howe day & night we the lord shall preyse. (lines 92-98) Having established the virtues of his hero—and thus stressed the importance of those virtues—Lydgate begins his fable. This reminds one of the exemplum technique: the poet has uttered a lengthy discourse on the qualities of a particular beast, and now sets about to illustrate these virtues in a narrative describing the beast in action. A l l the while, however, we can scarcely forget that the poet is discussing a virtue embodied in the animal kingdom for the edification of human beings. Ten lines are now devoted to narrative. The cock is up early looking for breakfast. He finds a jewel while he is looking for food. The fact that hi he finds this jewel in a dunghill is mentioned by Lydgate, but the possibi-liti e s for moralizing on this narrative detail do not occur to him. Instead, he digresses into four stanzas of moralizing on the cock's "dylygent trauayle" and the dreadful fate of those men who are slothful and ignore the cock's good example. Another stanza is thus necessary to remind us of the narrative— i t repeats what was told before. Next follows the speech of the cock to the stone. Here Lydgate inserts lapidary material to stress the virtues and beauties of the stone: the well-read cock recognizes the peculiar worth of this one. However, he decides that i t is of no use to him: Yet for a l l by vertuous excellence Twene pe & me ys no conuenience. (lines l 6 0 - 6 l ) Then—for six stanzas—the cock moralizes on why this is so. Each must remain where i t belongs, he says, and a l l must make decisions according to their own state. Precious stonys nopyng appertayne To gese nor fovlys, at pasture on pe grene. (lines 195-96) The cock thus states the moral at the conclusion of the action, as the animals in Aesopic fable often do. Lydgate, in the tradition of the Isopets and the exempla, appends a "Lenuoy" in which he states the moral. This is a repetition of his own remarks interspersed between the few lines of narrative and the discourse of the cock. Diligence—the putting aside of sloth—leads men on to right decisions, which always means the acceptance of one's estate, of one's position in the ordered universe. Before going on to the other fables in Lydgate's collection, let us pause briefly to examine this one in terms of the criteria for Aesopic fables. Certainly, we have here a brief narrative—only sixteen lines, excluding the k2 cock's speech, are devoted to narration of events, and three of these are repetitive. The cock is endowed with human qualities in that he speaks and reasons. But neither of these characteristics apply in the same way as they did in the imitations of Aesopic fables we have examined to this point. Lydgate's cock is not a representation of a certain kind of human being. He embodies a human virtue, a theological virtue, and is so weighted with exegetical associations that he cannot function as an independent charac-ter. Whereas Aesopic beasts represent or illustrate human characteristics or actions, this cock is a static embodiment of a preconceived pattern of virtues he has been created to illustrate. And we are not at a l l conscious of the narrative, of the description'of his particular activities, pointing to the moral, for the moral is stated and restated before, during, and after the narrative so often that the narrative becomes entirely secondary. It is simply a minor illustration of a point the poet is making: " the cock rep-resents a l l these virtues; for example, look at his reaction to this situation. Now let his virtues be a lesson to you." The narrative is an exemplum of sorts, but its Aesopic elements are clouded beyond recognition. Lydgate has created his own kind of fable from the medieval fable traditions he knew. But let us examine the other Isopes Fabules before we attempt to define Lydgate's handling of the genre. Lydgate's second fable is the familiar story of "The Wolf and the Lamb." The poet begins with moralizations: there is no compromise between right and wrong, and of necessity the weak have no power against the strong. This time however he restricts his prefatory remarks to three stanzas, and then sets the stage for his drama between strength and weakness. Unfortunately, the few prefatory remarks have already removed the vigour of characterization possible in this story, for the lamb and wolf, long before they appear, are reduced k3 to symbols of right and wrong, weakness and strength, by the opening moralizations and profusion of examples: Atwene rancour & humble pacience Ther ys in nature a gret diuision: A sely shepe make may no resistence Ageyn pe power of a strong lyon: Who hape most myght, pe febler gladly sewes: The pore habe few hys party to socour. The rauenous wolf opon be lambe dope lour; . . . . (lines 232-35, 2kl-k3) The narrative is interrupted after the stage is set with a moralization on what is to come: the strong can afford to attack the weak without ju s t i f i -cation. The wolf makes his accusation and the lamb answers. There is only one speech by each party. Rather than illustrating the wolf's unreasonable-ness by letting him trump up one feeble excuse after another, as he does in -the Alphabet, Lydgate combines a l l of the wolf's accusations into one. The three accusations in the traditional tale illustrate the wolf's wicked nature much more directly than a l l Lydgate's pejorative adjectives can. The lamb's response is rather fatalistic. He retires from the water immediately, after only the comment that the wolf is unjust. I may not chese: be choyse to yow ys f a l l . Hyt were but foly for me with yow to stryue. Ye shall for me haue your desyres a l l : Of your ryght I wyll nat yow depryue." (lines 281-84) His behaviour is in keeping with the moral Lydgate draws from this fable: the law may not help the poor and weak, but they go to heaven, and thus their meekness is rewarded. This rather despicably complacent platitude Lydgate seems determined to accept. It is like his favourite moral: we must a l l accept our station in l i f e and be content with i t . He does, however, seem to realize that his moral in "The Wolf and the Lamb" is not very satisfactory, and to make i t more acceptable commends the usefulness of the lamb—even a dead lamb—and stresses the wickedness and uselessness of the wolf. His fable, he says in conclusion, has pointed out the great diversities— injustices, but he does not use the word--that exist in nature and society, and has praised one and condemned the other. His praise and condemnation, however, are very calm. His moral is that these things exist, but they will be rewarded by Heaven or Hell, and therefore we must accept them now, as nature teaches us through cases like that described in the fable. Like the analogous Aesopic fable, this illustrates a truth about the nature of human l i f e , but rather than illustrating i t to impart wisdom and awareness of the evils of the world, and to register protest against them, Lydgate's moral tries to reconcile them, and diminishes the tale's unpleasant reality. "The Frog and the Mouse" opens also with four stanzas of moralizing against deception, attached of course to Lydgate's doctrine that deceit or truthfulness are characteristics of certain types of creatures who represent similar natures in human beings. Once again then the possibility for indivi-duality in the animal characters about to appear is removed; they are to be types drawn upon by the poet to illustrate his thesis. Aftyr peyr naturall disposicions In man & beste ys shewyd experience: Som haue to vertew peyr inclinacions, Oone to profyte, anoper to do offence; Som man pesyble, som man dob violence; Som man delytep in troupe in hys entent, Anoper reioysep to be fraudulent. (lines 372-378) He then endeavors to present a sympathetic portrait of his mouse, part of whose characterization seems to be suggested by the country mouse in the well-known fable of the two mice. She is content with her lot in l i f e and expresses this sentiment in eight stanzas: this is a great virtue, according 45 to Lydgate, and he relishes in its expression. The mouse's pompous speech makes her quite ridiculous, though not intentionally; she is like the cock in the first fable—a vehicle for moralization rather than a char-acter. The mouse is kind to her guest the frog, who offers to show her his 5 home but actually means to drown her en route. In the original fable the mouse only wishes to cross the river for food; the device of the two animals visiting each other is Lydgate's own, and one is inclined to believe he employed i t in order to include the lengthy discourse on the happiness of being content with what one has. It is not necessary to the story, for the frog's behaviour would not be any less vicious i f he had not first been the mouse's guest. That fact, however, gives Lydgate opportunity to moralize on "pe vyce of ingratitude" as well as on the vice and the due reward of deceit, the moral which the fable is meant to illustrate: For whyche Isopus in hys fynall entent Thys fable wrote f u l l sobly in hys wyt: Who useb fraude, with freude shalbe quyt. (lines 523-25) The most satisfying fable in Lydgate's collection is "The Hownde and the Shepe." The opening moralization is restricted to two stanzas which describe the evil nature and appearance of false witnesses. The narrative follows, but i t is introduced by a remark characterizing its function: Whyche byng the evil of bearing false witness to preue by exsamples f u l l notable Of olde Isopus whylorn wrote pys fable. (lines 538-39) The fable is identified as a purely exemplary narrative before i t starts, but the narrative itself manages to break free from the restrictions placed around i t . It is lengthy without being loose or wordy; the added details a l l contribute to the effectiveness of the narrative as an illustration, noT just of a moral, but of an actual human situation. There is a certain 46 sense of realism in the characterizations of the animals and the descrip-tions of their court. For example, witness Lydgate's description of the sheep's amazement at being accused: The sely sheepe, astonyed on his sight, Stoode abasshed ful like an innocence; To helpe hymself cowde fynde no diffence. (lines 565-67) Lydgate even attempts irony, with some success, in this fable. The hound describes his two witnesses thus: "To offende trewth the wolf doth gretly drede, He is so stidefast and triew of his nature, The gentil kyte hath refused al falshede, He had lever grete hunger to endure, Lovyng no raueyn vnto his pasture, Thanne take a chykken, by record of writyng, To his repast, or any goselyng." (lines 596-602) The consistent portrayals of both these creatures in the fables, in bestiary literature, and in the beast epics makes the hound's oath even more insincere than i f one were familiar only with the natural animals. And in the two fables preceding this one, Lydgate has portrayed the wolf and the kite as anything but true and gentle. The fate of the sheep even prompts our moraliz-ing poet to a l i t t l e scholarly wit: The ram of Colchos bare a flees of gold, Whiche was conquered manly by Iason; But this sheepe, when he his flees hath sold, With cold constrayned, wynter cam vpon, Deyd at myschief, . . . . (lines 624-28) A l l in a l l , the narrative provides a scene much more lively and realistic than those in the other fables of the Isopes Fabules. The sheep is not prone to uttering long-winded moral discourses, and a l l the animals behave in a manner that gives the fable a quality not unlike the humour and realism of similar scenes in Henryson's fables and the beast epics. The evil of hi bearing false witness and the shame of hypocrisy are communicated well, in an entertaining fashion and with a touch much lighter than usual by the end of the narrative. Unfortunately, the effect is lost. His sheep dead, Lydgate launches into a lengthy and truly heavy-handed discourse that destroys the realism achieved in the narrative and reduces the remarkably independent fable to another example in a series of moral illustrations. There are three stanzas devoted to "examples" of the evils that begin with false witness. This is followed by a diatribe in which the Bible and Robert Holkot, and finally Aesop, are cited. The length and scope of this sermon against false witnesses effectively reduces the fable to the status of a simple exemplum whose only importance to the author is derived from the work in which i t is included. The remaining three stories in the Isopes Fabules are shorter and slighter than the fi r s t four fables. The fable of "The Wolf and the Crane" is brief but effective as an illustration of the ingratitude of the wicked and powerful, in the style of the Aesopic fable. Once again, however, Lydgate insists on adding a lengthy moral that cites similar instances of tyranny and urges men to avoid tyrants. The moral is simply a needless addition of six stanzas that repeats what the fable has expressed but thus denies the fable the independence i t deserves. "The Sun's Marriage" is another exemplum, but not an animal fable. The final fable, "The Hound and the Cheese," is brief and imitative enough to be truly Aesopic but the hound is not endowed with any human qualities. And once more Lydgate presses his moral upon us in two subsequent stanzas, urging us to be content with our lot in l i f e . In the parts of his Isopes Fabules, excepting "The Hownde and the Shepe," that are narrative, Lydgate's fable style is Aesopic. When he tells his story he does more or less imitate the manner of the Isopets, the Classical fables, 48 and the exempla. But Lydgate does so much more than merely t e l l a story in his fables that one cannot feel justified in calling them Aesopic. The narrative is suspended in a welter of moralizations and exemplary similes. The appended "morals" are not explanations of the narratives, but elaborations of the moralizing that appears before and during the narra-tive. The narrative itself thus becomes a mere illustration of Lydgate's moral sermon; basically i t is simply an exemplum. Neither does the length of the moralizations Lydgate adds provide any saving grace; they are heavy and monotonous, for they are entirely repetitive, and bring no fresh approach to the narrative. The basic moral of the fable is repeated in a number of ways, is illustrated with additional brief examples, and is related to the chief moral sentiment that unites the collection, that of the necessity and virtue of accepting one's station. Lydgate expands the genre in length, but not in scope. His amplified fables do not really go beyond the simple exempla, and are in fact less successful because they pretend to more. The length of Lydgate's fables would lead one to suspect that his animal characters would be more fully developed. Lydgate was certainly familiar with some of the effects of the beast epics on the portrayal of animals, i f only through the Nun's Priest's Tale, but in a l l the fables except "The Hownde and the Shepe" he does not appear at a l l influenced by this novel and vital form of animal characterization, unless we consider his naming the cock in the f i r s t fable an influence. Again excepting the characters in "The Hownde and the Shepe," Lydgate's animals scarcely have the realistic characterization of the animals in the better exempla—the ass in the Ayenbyt  of Inwyt, for example. The cock and the mouse are simply mouthpieces, the wolf a stock type, the lamb a rather unbelievable embodiment of the meekness the poet recommends. Bestiary and traditional exegetical associations so k 9 crowd the cock that he cannot emerge from his figurative function. Lydgate can perhaps be given credit for combining bestiary and fable material, but his narratives gain nothing by the combination. A l l the material he adds--bestiary, lapidary, didactic, theological—tends to be either repeti-tive or superfluous, reducing his fables to nothing more than exempla within an entirely didactic framework. "The Churl and the Bird" is a much more successful fable. Written not much later than the Isopes Fabules, i t owes much of its success to a strong Chaucerian influence on its language.^ It also owes much to the quality of the story itself, a popular tale from the Disciplina Clericalis involving a clever bird and a foolish man. The bird is fully characterized, and her wit, wisdom, and enjoyment of teaching her captor a lesson are communicated through her extensive dialogues with him. Lydgate's bird, in spite of her lengthy moralizing speeches, is not simply a vehicle for a moral but is indeed an independent character. The narrative begins with a description of a pleasant setting, the garden carefully built by the churl, into which the bird is introduced naturally. Mid the gardeyn stood a fressh laurer, Theron a brid syngyng, bothe day & nyht, With sonnyssh fetheris brihter than gold wer, Which with hir song makith heuy hertis liht, That to bihold i t was an heuenly siht How toward evyn & in the dawenyng, She did hir peyn most amorously to syng. (lines 57-63) The churl captures the bird and places her in a cage, Lydgate managing to narrate this event with effective brevity (lines 76-77). The bird's cleverness, however, is the strongest quality of the narrative. She refuses to sing in captivity, and when the churl suggests making a, aeal of her instead 50 she offers him "thre greet wisdames" (line 159) in exchange for her freedom. She does hold true to her promise, but, happy to be free again, cannot resist teasing her foolish captor: "Thou were," quod she, "a verry natural foole, To sofre me departe of thi lewdnesse, Ther is a ston which callid is iagounce, Off old engendrid withynne my entrayle, " . . . (lines 225-26, 232-33) The churl is appropriately regretful, and by his lament proves that the bird's low opinion of him is just. She then explains how the wisdom she has given him was as wasted on him as a precious stone would have been, and relishes in explaining how he has already forgotten each of the three lessons. The portrait of a small bird reproving a man for stupidity is truly delightful, for, ironically, here the human being is churlish—bestially stupid--and the animal enlightened: "It were but foly with the for to carpe, Or to preche of wisdamys more or lasse, I hold hym mad that bryngith foorth an harpe, Ther-on to teche a rude, for-dullid asse; And mad is he that syngith a fool a masse; And he most mad that dooth his besynesse To teche a cherl termys of gentilnesse." (lines 337-4-3) That such words are spoken by a bird indicates that Lydgate does here recog-nize the possibilities of developing animal characters as commentators upon human beings. Lydgate's narrative in this fable is sometimes marred by his usual 7 moralizing bent. "He extracts every ounce of morality": the bird elabor-ates the three lessons when the churl has disregarded them, she utters a long discourse on the value of freedom and the dangers of captivity, and even offers further illustrations of Lydgate's favourite moral. 51 "Thus euery thyng, as clerkes specifie, Frute on trees, & folk of euery age, Fro whens thei cam, their taken a tarage." (lines 3 k8-50) The Prologue, "the language of which is very turgid,"^ provides the typical justification of writing fables. Scripture uses the same means to teach lessons, and thus poets have used parables also; natural objects, after a l l , are useful for ill u s t r a t i n g Lydgate's typical theme: Thus of a l thyng ther been dyuersites, Some of estat, & som of lowe degrees. (lines 27-28) But in a l l fairness to Lydgate we must notice that neither in Prologue nor the concluding stanzas does he repeat the lessons of his narrative in more than a few brief summarizing remarks. The fable is l e f t to stand on i t s own, and the dominant impression l e f t in the minds of the audience is the bird's delight in her freedom and in her own wit. Even her remarks about "like to l i k e " take the form of very attractive description of the natural scene: "And semblably in A p r i l l and i n May, Whan gentil briddis make most melodie, The cobkkow syngen can but o lay, In othir tymes she hath no fantasye; . . . ." (lines 3kh-k7) "The vynteneer tr e t i t h of his holsom wynes, Off gentil frute bostith the gardeneer, The ffissher cast his hookis & his lynes, To catche f f i s s h in euery fresh ryveer, .' . . ." (lines 351-5 k) "The Churl and the Bird," then, illustrates that the fable, even in the hands of an unlikely fabulist, can be expanded into a genuinely successful narrative, combining literary quality with a comment upon human beings as well. For a l l Lydgate's seriousness, the comment in "The Churl and the Bird" 52 an amused one. As in "The Hownde and the Shepe," Lydgate develops his animal character and enjoys its animal nature, balancing that with the human role i t is given. Lydgate's collection of fables as a whole, however, does not evince any interest in the fable as narrative poetry. In the Isopes Fabules, the fable is to Lydgate a moral vehicle, and the narrative does not interest him any more--indeed, sometimes i t interests him much less—than i t did the preachers. Lydgate's two felicitous encounters with his chosen genre in "The Churl and the Bird" and "The Hownde and the Shepe," however that fable may be smothered by the moralizations that are welded to i t , give solitary suggestions that the genre can yield more literary fruit than its exponent seems aware of in his other fables. 53 FOOTNOTES The edition cited throughout is that of Henry Noble MacCracken, The Minor Poems of John Lydgate, EETS OS 192 (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 193M, II, 566-99 (isopes Fabules) and 468-85 ("The Churl and the Bird"). Derek Pearsall, John Lydgate (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1970), p. 192; Walter F. Schirmer, John Lydgate, trans. Ann E. Keep (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 196l) , pp. 22-23. 3 p. 192. h Plessow, pp. x l i i - i i i ; Schirmer, p. 23-5 It is found in the Novus Aesopus, the Isopet de Paris, the Isopet  de Chartres, the Isopet I, the Isopet de Lyon and the various Romulus collections (see Bastin, I, l ) , as well as in the fables of Phaedrus. Henryson retains the original plot. ^ Alan Renoir, The Poetry of John Lydgate (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967), pTT^. 7 Pearsall, p. 198. Ibid., p. 199. 5 k CHAPTER THREE ROBERT HENRYSON'S TRANSFORMATION OF THE MORAL FABLE There are only two known collections of animal fables from the medieval period of English literature, and each represents a different extreme of literary worth. Were the collection of Lydgate unique, there would be l i t t l e justification for examining traditional Aesopic development in Middle English. But in the late fifteenth century1 the Scottish poet Robert Henryson wrote a collection of fables, largely based upon the tradi-tional and long popular Aesopic versions, but treated with such originality and real literary ability that the humble fable as we have examined i t so far can scarcely be recognized. In at least seven of the Morail Fabillis  of Esope the Phrygian, Henryson reworks traditional Aesopic fables, and in a l l we can see his awareness of the role of the beast fable as exemplum, not least through his appreciation of its didactic purpose. But unlike the exempla and Lydgate's fables, Henryson's collection does not find its sole raison d'etre in this didactic purpose. Henryson teaches and delights: the Morall Fabillis are moral, but they are also excellent fables, excellent narrative poems, and there can be no doubt that Henryson intended them to be such. Like Lydgate, Henryson groups his fables into one collection introduced by a prologue. Also like Lydgate, he uses his Prologue as an apology- for the genre and for his own poor s k i l l . The argument is a Smiliar one, and employs the conventional metaphors of nutshell and kernel, soil and fruit. However, in the Prologues of the two poets, one can already detect the great difference-in their attitudes to the fable, the difference that is so marked when the two collections are each seen whole. Lydgate begins, not with the pleasures 55 of poetry, the chaff through which the f r u i t is produced, hut with the pleasures of wisdom, the f r u i t i t s e l f . Henryson begins with the praise of poetry's beauty that is i n i t s e l f at least partial apology for i t s f i c t i o n : Thocht feinyeit fabils of aid poetre Be not a l grunded upon truth, y i t than Thair polite termes of sweit rhetore Richt plesand ar unto the e i r of man; . . . . (lines 1-k) The remainder of Lydgate's apology indeed makes very l i t t l e reference to this pleasant chaff; i t is the "moralytees f u l l notable of sentence" of Aesop that are so pleasant. One wonders why Lydgate bothers with the fable at a l l when he is so convinced that the lesson alone is quite pleasant enough. Lydgate uses four stanzas to praise these pleasures; Henryson also uses four stanzas to justify his choice of genre, but he puts them to much betjter use. Henryson praises poetry at the opening of his Prologue not only for its pleasures but for i t s value as a corrector of mankind's weaknesses through metaphor, thus establishing himself, like other medieval fabulists, as a moralist. However, his seriousness does not injure his judgment of art. Poetry has nonetheless "sweit rhetore" and "subtell dyte;" he never gives poetry, other than his own, any of the sententious attributes Lydgate does--"fables rude," or a comparison with "blak erbe." Clearly, Henryson loves and respects good poetry, and means to give i t further credit by writing good poetry himself. But his interest is not only style. Subject matter, too, need not be entirely moral to be valuable. The third and fourth stanzas of the Prologue already suggest the realism and humanitarianism with which the Morall F a b i l l i s have always been credited.3 Henryson is quite aware that the sobre mien is not always the way to successful instruction. The argument of the exponents of pulpit exempla is brought forth, but here 56 i t has a genuine humanity: And clerkis sayis i t is richt profitabill Amangis ernist to ming ane merie sport, To light the spreit and gar the tyme be schort. (lines 19-21) Henryson sums the matter up with an expression that illustrates the time-lessness of a work often considered a document of fifteenth-century Scottish 4 views and circumstances: Forthermair, ane bow that is ay bent Worthis unsmart and dullis on the string: Sa dois the mynd that is ay diligent In ernistfull thochtis and in studying: With sad materis sum merines to ming Accordis weill: . . . . (lines 22-27) The Prologue, then, shows Henryson to be genuinely concerned to delight as well as teach. In stanza two he has stated that i t is up to the readers of his stories to find the "morall sweit sentence" in the "subtell dyte of poetry:" "To gude purpois quha culd i t weill apply. Following the expression of the need to entertain and the conventional medieval topos of apologising for his lack of s k i l l , ^ Henryson gives what seems at first a conventional explanation of writing animal fables, their ability to show How mony men in operatioun Ar like to beistis in conditioun. (lines 48-49) By having the Prologue culminate in the two stanzas that draw the parallel between man and beast, he makes i t clear that whatever he says about animals in the fables to follow, he intends to be applicable to men as well. The in i t i a l explanation of the purpose of the fable given in the first stanza--"to repreif the haill misleving/ Off man be figure of ane uther thing,"--is elaborated by the fruit and chaff image, and stressed through the repetition 57 of "figure" in the last stanza. "Esope . . ./Be figure wrait his huke" clearly indicates that the animals we are to meet in the fables are really figures of humanity. But Henryson's arranging his Prologue the way he does, letting i t build up to the consciousness of bestiality in human beings, though followed by a reminder that the fable uses animals figurally, stresses his awareness of a consequent interchange and multiplication of meaning: his animals figure human qualities or human beings, but human beings also, through their behaviour, "in brutal beistis are transformate." Thus the correspondence is more complex than a simply figural one. Indeed, i t is a whole series of two-way correspondences between fable characters and human beings, from the basic fact of animals speaking and thinking in the narra-tives to the application of figure, and from human beings—through their behaviour—providing models for the portrayal of the animals to varying extents, to their actually being like these animals in a literal sense. Henryson is using conventional ideas about the fable, but his consciousness of their implications for animal narratives gives us a broader perspective on the tales that are to follow. Not only in the morals we are to extract, but in our literal reading of the narratives themselves, we are to be aware of a constant co-existence, of multiple human-animal correspondences. One of Henryson's great strengths is that this awareness works as effectively upon the solaas of his fables as upon the sentence. Given Henryson's obvious concern that the fable delight as well as teach, an examination of the ability of the Morall Fabillis to "light the spreit" seems justified before going on to consider them from a more complete generic point of view. As the sources of the Fabillis include both traditional 7 Aesopic fables and stories drawn from the cyclical beast epics, the latter emphasizing the entertainment function of narrative much more than the 58 former, we ought to examine fables based upon both. "The T a i l l of the Wolf Q and the Wedder and "The T a i l l of the Uplondis Mous and the Burges Mous" belong to the former category, while "The T a i l l of the Wolf that gat the Nek-hering throw the wrinkis of the Foxe that begylit the Cadgear" is based upon stories from the Reynard epics. Henryson's consistent handling of both kins of material suggests that these two forms of animal narrative are not so separate as is sometimes thought; both types, at least, t e s t i f y ' to equal concern on the poet's part for writing good poetry, and t e l l i n g a good story. "The T a i l l of the Wolf and the Wedder" is a good starting point for an examination of Henryson's narrative style as i t is shaped to f u l f i l l his expressed wish in the Prologue: i t is f i l l e d with unreserved comedy, "> even burlesque, that is obviously enjoyed for i t s own sake. It also i l l u s -trates Henryson's reworking of source material for the improvement of the narrative—unlike what is often the case with medieval Aesopic fables, the motives of the characters and the circumstances of the narrative are rationalized. The humour of "The Wolf and the Wether" is inherent in the basic plot as Henryson found i t i n the corpus of Aesopic fable:9 a wether is dressed in the skin of a fierce dog in order to protect the flock of the shepherd when the dog who has been the scourge of the neighbouring predators dies. He i s , of course, ultimately revealed and destroyed. Henryson ela-borates this basic situation and f u l l y exploits i t s comic potential. In his poem, the wether deceives himself as his belligerence becomes more and more successful, and climbs to the heights of f o l l y by pursuing a wolf long after i t is necessary for him to do so; i t is this "ludicrous belligerence that is the essence of the comedy. " ^ The comic tone of the tale is set shortly after the opening lines have established the situation: the shepherd, upon the loss of his dog, bursts 59 into a iamentatio elevating the dog (who is shortly afterwards to be unceremoniously skinned) to the rank of hero: "Now is my darling deid, allace.'" quod he; "For now to beg my breid I may be boun, With pyikstaff and with scrip to fair off toun; For a l l the beistis befoir bandonit bene Will schute upon my beistis with ire and tene.' " (lines 2471-75) One must acknowledge the suspicion that the shepherd is somewhat inadequate, and the suspicion is confirmed when he replies to the wether's suggestion, "This come of ane gude wit; Thy counsall is baith sicker, l e i l l and trew; Quha sayis ane scheip is daft, thay l i e i t of i t . " (lines 2490-92) Four stanzas of the narrative are taken up with the wether's furious--and completely pointless—pursuit of the wolf. The irony of the situation is repeatedly brought forward, so that the fury of the chase is undercut and thus transformed to the ridiculous. The beginning of the wether's pursuit is compared with the behaviour of a dog, reminding the reader that the wether is a wether clothed in a dog's skin: Went never hound mair haistelie fra the hand Quhen he wes rynnand maist raklie at the ra . . . . (lines 2518-19) This is not a hound chasing a roe, but a wether chasing a wolf, a ludicrous situation made even more so by the wether's vow "to God that he suld have him" (line 2524). The behaviour of the wolf in the course of the chase is developed with an obvious enjoyment of the ridiculous. His fear causes him to defecate repeatedly, and in complete despair he casts away the lamb he has stolen. The tale reaches the heights of the ridiculous--and indeed in so doing precludes the need for a pointed moral--when the wether, victorious in his aim until now, shows his "gude wit" by calling out 6o "in faith, we part not swa: It is not the lamb bot the that I desyre; I sail cum neir, for now I se the tyre." (lines 253 k-36) Another eight lines of chase seem to confirm the wether's supremacy and the defeat of the wolf, but in one line that is a masterstroke of ironic undercutting, the entire foolish situation is returned to the reality beneath the wether's feint: The wedder followit him baith out and in, Quhill that ane breir-busk raif rudelie off the skyn. (lines 2 5 k k - k 5 ) After the rough and tumble pursuit through bush and briar, the narra-tive jolts to a halt, and the wolf blinks his eyes as reality confronts him. His bad temper is understandable, and the potential for humour is not left unfulfilled. The wether's feeble and most wether-like reply to the wolf's angry questions is another example of a single line conveying a good part of the comic impact, and, like the vivid pursuit and brief un-masking, can be readily visualized: "'Maister,' quod he, I meant 'bot to have playit with yow'" (line 2558). The wether as hero is rapidly reduced to his true stature. The fable does not end, however, until Henryson has delivered a few more strokes to underline the ironies of the appearance-reality dichotomy that is the basis of the comedy. In reply to the wolf's angry description of the pains he has suffered, the wether subserviently replies, "'My mynd wes never to do your persoun i l l ' " (line 2575)> i t is by now painfully obvious that he is completely incapable of such action. His fierce pursuit of the wolf and his pride end in these remarks, once again rendered obviously meaningless by the realities of the situation: 61 "And I sail gar my freindis blis your banis: Ane f u l l gude servand will crab his maister anis." (lines 2579-&0) In a last ironic touch, Henryson shows the one way in which the wether can be useful to the wolf, and at the same time provides the obvious conclusion to his folly; he is dispatched in a brief two lines. While the events of this fable—the death of the dog, the wether's plan, the pursuit of the wolf, and the final confrontation—are described with comic relish and considerable detail, the turning points of the plot are given in brief one or two-line accounts. The strength of the humour lies in the ironies resulting from the posturing of the wether as something he is not--the ludicrous disparity between appearance and reality—and Henryson ^ accentuates them through punctuating his narrative with these brief but complete depictions and suggestions of the reality beneath the appearance. Thus the intervening narrative too is seen in ironic terms. Henryson*s s k i l l in dealing with fable material can be further i l l u s -trated in this poem by a brief examination of his adaptation of source material. We have already noticed the emphasis on the self-deception and belligerence of the wether, and the great effectiveness this has one the [ comedy. In the Aesopic version,^ the wether is very passive, and there is 1 J no mention of the wolf dropping the lamb and the wether persisting in the 1 J chase. Also, the dog's sudden death makes more sense than the old age that -<( \ carries him off in Caxton's Aesopic version: one would wonder how he had been l : so fierce i f so old, and why the shepherd was so unprepared. Finally, in Henryson there is no" mention of the wolf eating the wether; he ki l l s him \ to vent his anger, not to satisfy his hunger. This detail makes the wether's 12 protestations of playing games and doing service a l l the more ridiculous. "The T a i l l of the Wolf that gat the Nek-hering throw the wrinkis of the 62 Foxe that begylit the Cadgear" relies on irony for i t s humour as well, but both irony and humour are of a subtler kind. Henryson i s here dealing not with the subject-matter of Aesopic fable, but with yet another episode in the dispute between the f u l l y developed characters of the beast epics, 13 the fox and the wolf. Several of Henryson's fables are about these famous figures, and we w i l l examine them in other contexts, but one w i l l serve as a good i l l u s t r a t i o n of his narrative treatment of this type of fable subject matter. The wolf, in the fourth fable called "Waitskaith", Ik is here unnamed, but the fox is Lowrence, as in fables three, four and ten. The plot is true to beast epic: the fox, as usual, tricks the wolf, who is foolish enough to believe him, so that the wolf suffers and the fox reaps several advantages. With his usual capacity for ironic understatement and implicit double meaning, Henryson develops the humour inherent in the situation through characterization. While this is also true of "The Wolf and the Wether," -this fox and wolf fable is subtler, for i t involves the playing off of one meaning against another within the dialogue, rather than simply ill u s t r a t i n g a disparity between appearance and reality through action. The fable opens with a debate between the wolf and Lowrence. The wolf is attempting to secure regular meals by forcing the fox to be his servant: he knows the fox to be wily enough to be certain of success. The fox w i l l not comply, making various excuses about his failures, which he sums up by saying, . . ."that beist ye micht c a l l blind That micht not eschaip than f r a me an myle: How micht I ane off tharae that wyis begyle? My tippit twa .; ' e i r i s and my twa gray <ene. .;: Garris me be kend quhair I wes never sene. " (lines 1988-92) 63 In other words, he can fool no creature for they a l l know him to be un-trustworthy and dangerous. The wolf refuses to believe him, and ironically his incredulity is justified for he is in the process of illustrating that there is one creature at least who is foolish enough to trust the fox. "'It is ane auld dog, doutles, that thow begylis'" (line 2009), he says when the fox holds out against service, and prides himself when Lowrence seems to respond to this by a quick show of fealty; but his words prove ironically true. The stupidity of the wolf is apparent enough here, and the ironic humour rests largely on that character's conception of himself as clever. But i t is the fox's character which is the most finely drawn in this passage. The fox sees the wolf first when they meet, and immediately feigns obeisance. He manages to sound innocent and righteous—for example, he says he would not creep up upon sleeping creatures. But when the wolf becomes angry, Lowrence is quick to dissemble subservience, and do as he is bid. His response is replete with double meaning. When the wolf demands an oath of loyalty, he replies "'that ane word makes me wraith'" (line 2023) --ostensibly because the wolf doesn't trust him, but no doubt actually because loyalty is entirely foreign to his nature. The following episodes--the two appearances of the cadger and the conference of the fox and wolf between them—contain characterizations of the wolf and the cadger as greedy, and stupid in their greed, that stand in marked contrast to the characterization of the fox. In their greed, both these characters believe in Lowrence's ruse; they are blinded not by the fox, but by their own shortcomings. The portrayal of the cadger is cleverly executed in comic irony. Greedy and foolish, he gloats over the "dead" fox as i f the fur were already warm mittens, and dances a l i t t l e jig in the roadway to celebrate his good 6k fortune. His behaviour, and his "'ye ar deir welcum'" (line 2067) to the fox, are of course ironic, for we know that he will soon feel quite differently. The poet takes no small delight in the situation, for he presents a vivid picture of the scene in the roadway: the fox busily throws herring out behind, the wolf gathers them up, and the cadger, oblivious, marches on ahead singing happily. Syne.be the heid the hors in hy hes hint; The fraudfull foxe thairto gude tent hes tane, And with his teith the stoppell, or he stint, Pullit out, and syne the hering ane and ane Cut off the creillis he swakkit doun gude wane: The wolff wes war, and gadderit spedilie; The cadgear sang "Huntis up, up.'" upon hie. (lines 2077-83) The wolf, however, is not content with what he has, for he has heard the cadger offer the fox a "nek-hering," and is too stupid, and greedy, ^ to realize what the cadger meant. The fox instantly sees the opportunity both to beguile the wolf and to keep a l l the fish for himself. He immedi-ately begins to play upon the wolf's greed by describing a fabulous "nek-hering," "'callour, pypand lyke ane pertrik ee'" (line 2127). He then proceeds to teach the wolf the trick he has just played; the wolf is not wise enough to realize the same trick can scarcely work twice, or to question 1/ the stipulations the fox gives him. These stipulations are doubly ironic in that both fox and audience know the cadger is angry and now carrying a staff. The last ironic touch is his warrant that "'ye sail de na suddand deith this day.1"1 (line 2157) But the wolf does not even question the qualifying ^ adjective. It is at this point that the opening passage of the fable adds yet another degree of ironic humour to the wolf's behaviour. Henryson makes certain that we do not miss remembering the debate: Als styll he Lthe wolfj lay as he wer verray deid, Rakkand nathing off the carlis favour nor feid; 65 Bot ever upon the nek-tiering he thinkis, And quyte forgettis the foxe and a l l his wrinkis. (lines 2164-67) When the cadger has clubbed him and he staggers away, the narrator says, "He mycht not se--he wes sa verray blind" (line 2 l84) , a f i n a l irony at the expense of the wolf who is blind l i t e r a l l y , for the blood in his eyes, and figuratively, for he has been blind to the tricks of the fox, i n spite of his protestations at the beginning of the tale. Although the fox plays the role of deceiver--and is condemned for i t i n the moralitas—the fable is as much a tale of self-deception as is that of the foolish wether. The f i n a l word of the moralitas too is that i t i s greed which makes men blind, and makes i t possible for them to be deceived. We have thus far examined Henryson's ironic handling of two very di f f e r -ent kinds of beast fable material. In "The Wolf and the Wether," the narra-tive dwells upon a combination of burlesque humour with an acute sense of the ridiculous resulting from a dichotomy between appearance and reality. This same dichotomy prevails in a fox and wolf tale, but is based upon care-f u l l y drawn characterization, albeit by this time of standard characters: the ambivalence in the notoriously two-faced fox, and the blindness of the wolf. In each case, an animal character impels the situation through seeming or through thinking he i s , what he is not. But beneath the level of meaning created by these ironic disparities is yet another such level which is at the basis of the animal fable as a genre: the animals are behaving as human beings. Other fabulists apologize for i t as f i c t i t i o u s , and then seem no longer conscious of i t . Henryson, however, is supremely aware of this paradox at the root of his genre; interested as we have seen him to be in the above fables with the ironic consequences of the difference between appearance and reality, he plays upon the paradox as an additional means of 66 making his fables memorable. Let us fi r s t examine his method of using this paradox on the narrative level before going on to consider the impli-cations in terms of the complete fables, narratives plus moralities. Henryson's spirited re-telling of the age-old tale of the town mouse and the country mouse offers ample opportunity to witness his awareness of the paradox inherent in his chosen genre, while also being another excellent illustration of his comic ability. The fable is handled with a very light ^ touch, a l l the more admirable for the plot being such a familiar one. Any j ^ moralizing--with one exception—that occurs in the narrative is spoken by the country mouse, but even this does not weigh heavily on the tale because of the comic, though sympathetic, portrayal of her. The gentle humour has a dual origin: the visit of an unsophisticated country relative to the seemingly comfortable home of the worldly-wise mouse is a situation with familiar comic potential, and the portrayal of mice as human beings is comical in itself. The two situations are cleverly related to each other; the country mouse's country l i f e resembles the l i f e of a natural mouse, ^ and thus makes us aware, in the context of the tale, of the paradox of the fable fiction. The mice are much more recognizably mouse-like before they reach the city than afterwards. Their food is what one would expect a natural mouse to eat, and their journey to the city is a stealthy one, "In stubbill array throw gers and come,/ And under buskis" (lines 253-5 k )- But when evi-dences of mouse-ness appear simultaneously with human behaviour, the mice successfully embody the sense of incongruity of the behaviour of animals in fables that is usually latent in other examples of the genre. The menu in the town mouse's home is one which would belong to human beings—mutton and beef, and the dainties of "lordis fair"--but . . . —thay drank the watter cleir 67 Insteid off wyne: bot yit thay maid gude cheir. (lines 272-73) Their meal is enhanced somewhat unusually as well: And ane quhyte candill owt off ane coffer stall, Insteid off spyce to gust thair mouth withall. (lines 286-87) The spirits and the subsequent plight of the mice are treated with great comic relish. The mirth of the two mice is captured and portrayed with a sympathetic good humour in such lines as these: This maid thay merie quhill thay micht na mair, And "Haill, Yule.' Haill.'" cryit upon hie. (lines 288-89) Here the narrator interposes two lines one might call moralization: Yit efter joy oftymes cummis cair, And troubill efter grit prosperitie: . . . . (lines 291-92) But the speedy resumption of the narrative that hurries the reader past these lines, and the exuberant comedy found in the succeeding ones, suggest that the poet is providing transition from the colourful but static dinner scene to the ensuing scramble of the mice to avoid capture; the lines reinforce the moral, but they do so without being obtrusive. The interest at this point is in the story, and the narrator obviously enjoys, with a good-humoured detachment, the sudden change in the scene, one which again restores the mice to animals: The spenser come with keyis in his hand, Opinnit the dure, and thame at denner fand. Thay taryit not to wesche, as I suppose, . . . . (lines 293-95) The anguish of the country mouse, who has never had to cope with such a situation, is described with similar detachment. When the steward has 68 departed, the mice return to their feast only to be menaced more seriously in a scene that once again reminds us that they are mice; indeed, the new threat being a cat makes the awareness of "mouseness" unavoidable. When, after a breathless struggle that has been described as "a delightfully used parody of the wheel of Fortune t o p o s , a t last the country mouse escapes, her r e l i e f is described with a matter of fact "hir cheir wes a l l the better" (line 3^0). The fable now concludes quickly. The end of the tale, with i t s obvious moral implicit in the decision of the country mouse, is given through that character's words and through the brief concluding remarks of the narrator. The country mouse rather breathlessly declaims the dangers of her sister's good l i f e , and resolves to have no part of them. Her words, taken out of context, ring like a vehement sermon against world-liness: "Thy mangerie is mingit a l l with cair--Thy guse is gude, thy gansell sour as g a l l ; The subcharge off thy service is bot s a i r — Sa s a i l thow find heir efterwart na f a l l . " (lines 3kh-k7) But the lines as they are set in the fable do not carry this impression. The words are spoken by a very upset and dishevelled mouse, whose plight has been described comically and in a rather detached way. Overt moraliza-tion is withheld for the moralitas. The moralitas repeats the lesson the mouse utters and illustrates in the narrative, suggesting at the same time a figural reading of the tale. But within the tale too the reminders of the mice's being animals, not men, have done more than simply increase the comedy. The country mouse is constantly shuttled between rural naivete—as when she cannot escape the cat--and sophisticated pleasures, but also between "mouse-ness" and "human-ness". When things seem to go well for her, something occurs to remind 69 her of her true nature. The disparity of her role in the narrative seems to be inspired, and made ironic, by the nature of animal fable-that a mouse should be portrayed as behaving as a human being at a l l . On the literal level, the disparity heightens the comedy; on the moral level i t teaches mouse and audience the obvious lesson, but with the subtle addition that the reality beneath appearance will inevitably re-assert itself, that the only way to end her insecurity is to return to the country—or, to mouseness. When the moralitas adds the figural level, with the resulting ironies stemming from the double meanings that have already informed the narrative, the implications for human beings are more clear. But by referring the lesson to the narrative itself, Henryson saves his tale from a rigid single-minded interpretation, for the referral is a reminder of the sympathy he has for the country mouse, of the comedy, and of the irony of her situation: 0 wantoun man, that usis for to feid Thy wambe, and makis i t a god to be, TLukeJ to thy self.1 I warne the weill; but dreid The cat cummis, and to the mous hes ee. (lines 38I-8U) The moralitas on its own suggests a harsh morality, but the moralitas in conjunction with the fable reminds us only that as funny as the behaviour of the country mouse may be, i t is, on the human level, not at a l l funny, just as on the animal level, for the country mouse herself, i t is most serious. We are not to recoil against laughing at the absurdities and ironies we see, but we are to realize that humour is not enough, that the world is serious."^ Perhaps the most serious fable in Henryson's collection is fable eight, "The Preiching of the Swallow." In form i t is unlike the others, for the narrator experiences the fable almost as a dream vision. The "narrative" 70 begins with a long passage discussing the ways of God. The ideas ex-pressed are most conventional: man is not capable of understanding the ways of God and should not try to do so, for his understanding is imperfect. But nature, the book of God's works, was created for his education, and he may learn useful lessons by natural observation—chiefly, that God is "gude, fair, wyis and bening" (line 1652). There follow several stanzas expressing the wonders of the created world which testify to the goodness of God, and a passage on the diversities of the seasons, which shows the narrator's obvious delight in their beauty and variety. The narrator ends his description of the seasonal cycle with Spring, "and i t is into the des-cription that he walks to experience the action: That samin seasoun, into ane soft morning, Rycht blyth that bitter blastis wer ago, Unto the wod, to see the flouris spring And heir the mavis sing and birdis mo, I passit furth, . . . . (lines 1713-17) The action of the narrative occurs around him: the swallow preaches to the flock of birds in the very place where he is sitting. He goes away dazed, but returns to find the birds again. This is not dream vision, for the narrator does not sleep, and the vision is prolonged through the seasons, but there is enough of the dream vision figure in the narrator to imply that i ft an explicit allegory is to follow. The narrative includes a great deal of moralizing. The swallow fi r s t preaches to the birds of the wisdom of preparing ahead of time to prevent possible danger. He speaks as a learned ecclesiastic, quoting Latin pro-verbs and referring to the sayings of "clerks". "For clerkis sayis i t is nocht sufficient To considder that is befoir thyne ee," . . . . (lines 1755-56) 71 Although the "clerk" who describes the cycles of the seasons earlier in the poem does not say this, we are reminded of the passage on the hardships of winter following the joy and bounty of summer. This con-sciousness of change is reinforced by a stanza describing the natural cycle of spring changing into summer. The birds' answers to the swallow are expressive of the blindness of mortals Henryson has alluded to in other fables and in the third stanza of this one. They pay no heed while they are able to enjoy themselves, and their spokesman, the lark, flings proverbs he misapplies and misunderstands back at the swallow, thus com-pounding the evidence of his blindness.^9 The outcome of i t a l l seems in-l evitable, and is sadly moralized upon by the swallow:20 "Lo," quod scho, "thus i t happinnis mony syis On thame that will not tak counsall nor reid Off prudent men or clerkis that ar wyis;" . . . . (lines 1882-84) ; The suggestion is also that those who are not clever enough to learn ! prudence from observing the ways of the world around them should take , counsel from those who are. Yet for a l l its morality, this fable is not a dull series of maxims held together by a thin thread of narrative that has been inserted as in a discourse. The opening passage is itself f i l l e d with successful descrip-tion and an obvious enjoyment of what is being described, even though much 21 of i t may be somewhat conventional. Similar passages in the narrative are as effective as the earlier descriptions of the seasons, as is the stanza on the plight of the foolish birds in winter: The wynter come, the wickit wind can blaw; The woddis grene were wallowit with the weit; Baith firth and f e l l with froistys wer maid faw, Slonkis and slaik maid slidderie with the sleit: The foulis fair for fait thay f e l l off feit; 72 On bewis bair i t wes na bute to byde, Bot hyit unto housis thame to hyde. (lines 1832-38) The plight of the captured birds is described equally vividly. Poetic echoes in the narrative are not the only links i t has with the opening passage of the poem. The seasons described initially are the setting for the narrative, which can even be seen as "merely a drama-tic expansion of this passage."22 Thematically, the two are held together, not by the moral the swallow concludes with nor even by the subject of the verse treatise. Rather, i t is the theme that in the fallen world there is s t i l l much beauty for man to enjoy—as the narrator does in the narra-tive, and as the birds do while summer lasts--but that this natural order includes not only lessons about the beauty of God's creation, but also lessons fallen man must learn to preserve his l i f e , meaning of course his eternal l i f e . God made The difference off tyme and ilk seasoun Concorddand t i l l our opurtunitie, As daylie by experience we may se. (lines 1675-77) The narrator sees, by experience, that the cycle of the seasons shows him that a l l things change, and that he must be prepared for that change. The narrative in one sense becomes an exemplum for the treatise opening the poem, but not in the simple way of sermon exempla. Instead, the narrative extends the meaning of the narrator's words, so that rather than being a straightforward illustration of the maxim that a l l things are made for man's benefit, i t expands upon the meaning of that maxim to include not only the temporal benefits of recognition of beauty but those of recog-nition of man's situation as well. 73 The moralitas develops this theme yet one step further. The birds, of course, are said to figure fallen man made blind by desire of things temporal. The fowler is the devil, and the swallow, obviously, the preacher who, through awareness of the wisdom given in the opening passage, that knowledge comes through observation of nature, is sensible of man's situation. The shortsightedness of the birds' actions thus be-comes the shortsightedness of man's behaviour in a world where he is con-stantly threatened with eternal death. As the cycles of seasons described in both the verse treatise and the narrative have shown, "in this world thair is na thing lestand" (line 19 k0). Man may see this for himself on the literal level, as the narrator did initially; but the remainder of the fable elaborates this idea, in the narrative on the moral level and in the moralitas on the allegorical level. The elaboration on the opening passage is made by the wise clerk, the preacher, and the speaker of the moralitas ends the fable with a line identifying himself with the protective preacher figure, playing on the double meaning made possible by his allegory: And thus endis the preiching of the swallow, (line 1950) The possibilities for fable as exemplum have been expanded from the con-ception of a tale as a static illustration of an idea to a narrative as a story called to mind by an idea, elaborating upon that idea, and in turn calling forth further elaborations on other levels of meaning. This fable is much more serious than Henryson's other fables that we have examined. There is neither burlesque as in "The Wolf and the Wether" nor the lighthearted humour of "The Two Mice." The verse form too is much more serious. Whereas the fables are generally considered to be intentionally "low style", in "The Preiching of the Swallow" Henryson 2 3 uses techniques of "high style" --dream vision stance, fine descriptive passages of nature, Classical allusions, alliterative verse. The swallow speaks with a genuinely educated voice. As a result, this is one fable in which we do not perceive the underlying ironies usual in the other fables; the allegory is too dominant, and the sense of fore-boding that pervades the narrative precludes the possibility of any comic irony.. But this is not to deny that here too Henryson consciously exploits the ironies of the genre. It is an irony resulting from the consciousness that people behave as blindly as these birds do; the consciousness is established by the presence of the opening passage, and its organic link with the narrative, and is reinforced by the clearly allegorical intention. The disparity between "The Preiching of the Swallow" and the other Morall  Fabillis could lead one to puzzle over its inclusion in the collection, but i f we extend its theme in literary terms, we can surely see in i t the ultimate justification of writing fables at a l l . Remembering the knowl-edge that is gained within the context of the single poem, we can apply i t to bur reading of the other Morall Fabillis: A l l creature He maid for the behufe Off man and to his supportatioun Into this eirth, baith under and abufe, . . . . (lines 1671-73) But we must examine Henryson's more typical fables, in which the narrative and moralitas are not so clearly integrated, to come to a fuller understanding of his attitude to the function of the moralitas. The first fable, "The Cock and the Jasp," is interesting from this point of view because the moralitas reverses the moral assigned by Lydgate, and some comparison with that fabulist will shed further light on Henryson's handling of fable moralities. 75 The fable is a brief one but in i t we can observe some of the characteristics of Henryson's art that we have noticed in other fables. For one thing, the circumstances of the narrative are rationalized. Lydgate's cock simply finds the jewel; Henryson explains that i t was probably swept out of a house by careless serving girls. This serves not only to rationalize the story, but "by explaining and domesticating the pit-jasp" Henryson keeps the narrative on the level of "barnyard realism. Most of the rest of the tale is taken up with the cock's soliloquy to the jewel. Henryson gives two stanzas—first and last—to narrative, the second to the rationalization, and the intermediate five to this soliloquy, a more concise version of a brief tale than Lydgate presents. Henryson's cock is as given to moralizing as Lydgate's; his tone, however, is altogether dif-ferent. The cock begins by seeming wise--he utters the wisdom Lydgate re-peats throughout the same fable, and in a l l his others, that each should live according to his nature. But what immediately follows suggests that this cock's nature is indeed bestial, and perhaps by his own choosing, for he is rather obsessed with food. He attempts to support his preference for seeking food with an old wive's proverb, but falsely applies i t to what he has said: "Thy cullour dois bot confort to the sicht, And that is not aneuch my wame to feid; And wyfis sayis lukand werkis ar licht." (lines 100-102) This alone makes us suspicious of his seeming wisdom. He then, ironically, after showing his base instincts by dwelling on his hunger, utters a pompous rhetorical rejection of the jewel that with Lydgate would pass for wisdom: "Quhar suld thow mak thy habitatioun? Quhar suld thow dwell bot in ane royall tour? Quhar suld thow sit bot on ane kingis croun, 76 Exaltit in worschip and in grit honour? Rise gentill jasp, of a l l stanis the flour, Out of this midding, and pas quhar thow suld he; . . . ." (lines 106-111) Henryson1s acute sense of irony is once again confirmed: in the next two lines the cock leaves the jewel "law upon the ground" and continues his 25 search for dinner. The moralitas to this fable, although at f i r s t perhaps surprising i f we approach i t after reading Lydgate, moves smoothly from the narrative. The foolishness of the cock's behaviour is borne out by Henryson's equating the stone with prudence and knowledge. Biblical authority is called upon to give weight to the argument: the cock is like . . . ane sow, to quhome men for the nanis In hir draf-troich wald saw precious stanis. (lines 146-4-7) The cock's greed for food makes him blind, and his confidence in his wisdom is thus made a l l the more ridiculous for the truth that he misses. The cock rhetorical questions are mocked by the rhetorical questions of the moralitas And the cock's leaving the stone for more suitable finders is recalled by a final irony at more than the cock's expense: Of this mater to speik i t wer bot wind; Thairfore I ceis and will na forther say: Ga seik the jasp quha will, for thair i t lay. (lines 159-61) When we remember where the jewel lay in the narrative, we must also remember that human beings, on the li t e r a l level, are also responsible for its lying there. The moralitas and the narrative derive mutual benefit from each other through this irony. The cock's foolishness is entertaining, and is made more so when that foolishness is further elucidated by the moralitas. The "lesson" of the moralitas is double-edged in that Henryson implies that 77 the cock we have been laughing at, and the kind of man he figures, is not the only creature whose selfishness keeps him ignorant. Indeed, in the harmony of narrative and moral one can see the difference between Henryson's conception of the fable and Lydgate's. For Lydgate's moral to be valid, his cock must be an ensample of a creature living accord-ing to his nature; in other words he must remain a lit e r a l cock.^6 By-having i t so, Lydgate freezes his character and his narrative, killing what-ever possibilities of irony and suggested meanings might exist within the cock's behaviour as an educated man, and thus actually destroying the reason for writing an animal fable at a l l . A human character would have done as well. In Henryson's fable, however, the cock functions as a figure of a man 27 in a bestial state. ' He is thus able to function literally as a cock, and the fact that he speaks, especially rhetorically, at the same time is part of the essence of the humour. His character is developed to show his literal bestiality beneath his fine feathers, and i t is thus possible for him to be a figure of bestiality as well. The ironies in the double recog-nition of animal-behaving-as-man/ man-behaving-as-animal can function towards both their humorous and moral effects. By freeing the cock from the role Lydgate gives him, Henryson frees him as a character, so that he can function plausibly on the literal level as well as the figural. "The T a i l l of the Foxe that begylit the Wolf in the Schadow of the Mone" is another fable drawn from beast epic material. Its ironic humour is based upon the same kind of appearance-reality dichotomy as dominates "The Fox, the Wolf and the Cadger," for the rivalry between Lowrence and the wolf forms the substance of its plot. Much the same can be said of this poem as of the other; i t is very entertaining and f i l l e d with subtle mockery of stupidity and greed, and derives no small amount of comedy from the famous mistake of 78 the volf's seeing the moon's reflection in the well as a cheese. As a recent Henryson scholar says, " i t is characteristic of Henryson's generally sardonic outlook that the wolf abandons the oxen . . . for an illusory cheese. A comic stupidity almost always forms part of his concept of the ?8 evil man. But i t will now be more useful to our study to determine how Henryson applies the moralitas to this kind of fable. In both "The Fox, the Wolf and the Cadger" and "The Fox and the Wolf," the moralitas consists of a brief allegorical interpretation of the animals, in each case consisting of four stanzas. To summarize briefly, the wolf is sinful man; the fox is a deceiver, either as the devil or the world; the cadger is death, the herring and cheese are covetousness, and the husbandman is the good Christian. The allegory is predictable, indeed, typical for the fox and the wolf. One is tempted to believe that Henryson's allegory in the moralitas is a dutiful addition that he feels he must impose to be consistent with his practice and purpose in the rest of the collection, and that there might on occasion be truth in this not uncommon remark on Henryson's fables: "the moralities are the poorest parts of the fables, because they alone are PQ unnecessary. But i f Henryson's dual purpose in writing the Morail Fabillis is to be answered, will not the ironic humour of these tales, and the unmiti-gated success of the fox, so obviously enjoyed in the narratives, overshadow the moral? It is clear enough that the wolf would not be subject to the fox's wiles i f he were less greedy. But the relish one cannot help but feel for the fox's success on the animal level will not be so answerable to the moral level as the comedy one enjoys while watching the wolf. The moralitas, then, must put a human perspective on the attraction we feel for the fox. This perspective does not interfere with our enjoyment of his antics as a fox, however, for the fable and moralitas are more closely integrated than is 79 fir s t apparent. In "The Fox, the Wolf and the Cadger" we saw enough of the comic portrayal of the greed of the wolf to understand that the allegory finds enough expression in the fable to preclude being considered merely a superimposition. The animals on the literal level are imbued with the qualities of what they figure on the allegorical level. Thus the wolf's foolishness in jumping into the well bucket in "The Fox and the Wolf," while being consistent with his realistic portrayal in the narrative, is also consistent with the vision that sees him as a sinful man blinded by his own greed. The allegory imposed by the moralitas does not hinder the functioning of the animals in the narratives as the highly developed fox and wolf characters they are, for the genre implies that the characteristics so amusing in the wolf, for example, are modelled upon human characteristics; thus when the moralitas demands that we see the wolf as a figure of an evil man, the connection does not hinder enjoyment of the wolf's behaviour, as that behaviour is inspired by man's bestiality, in this case, stupidity and greed. The connections between wolf and man are implied without the allegory, but the allegory reinforces the implications. The narrative of "The Fox, the Wolf and the Cadger" goes yet further in its implication by showing, on the literal level, the kind of natural man figured by the wolf in the person of the cadger. The comic situations, then, such as the wolf leaping into the well-bucket fully expecting to find a cheese, or the cadger happily thinking about mittens while a very live fox steals his fish, are emphasized, rather than subdued, by the. seriousness of the purpose behind them. "It is this seriousness of purpose that causes Henryson to draw out the ironic reversals in the original narrative with s t i l l greater c l a r i t y , n o t only to allow application of allegory to the tale, or to stress justification of rewards for behaviour on moral grounds, but to f u l f i l l the potential of his develop-8o ment of the genre, which is based on .'intrinsic recognition of human-animal correspondences in fictions which begin by giving animals the powers of speech and reason. Thus the fable can "light the spreit," for its characters are alive and real within the fiction, and can carry its moral theme as well. Indeed, the two functions complement each other in </ terms of the poem as well as in terms of the audience. The last of the Morall Fabillis, "The T a i l l of the Paddok and the Mous," deals, like "The Wolf and the Wether," with the theme of a blatant disparity between appearance and reality, but in the case of this fable there is l i t t l e humour involved. Its mood is a dark one, and the moralitas continues the mood with a sermon on false appearances—the theme of the moral level of the fable--and a brief allegorical interpretation. On the surface i t seems that in this fable Henryson comes as close as he does anywhere to a simple exemplum, for the narrative seems only to express the moral that fair words hide false intent. A closer examination, however, reveals some amazing subtleties in this final tale. The mouse does seem sensible of the moral lessons given in the f i r s t part of the moralitas. She knows better than to believe she is wise to trust the frog, for she recognizes his ugliness--and can quote some physiological scholarship; she doesn't trust his fair words— "Let be thy preiching.'" quod the hungrie mous. (line 2851) She is not at a l l comfortable about swimming, does not wish to tie herself up, and makes the frog swear an oath before she finally goes with him. Indeed, the mouse is portrayed as a piteous l i t t l e creature, and her death is a purely haphazard circumstance. The irony here is the bitter one that the weak have very l i t t l e opportunity to avoid disaster, in spite of a l l >7 81 the lessons they may have learned. It is made complete by death coming through the kite, who is completely uninvolved in the moral issue between mouse and frog. The sermon about credulity in the moralitas is in a sense rather / unnecessary, for i t l i t t l e avails the mouse to have this kind of wisdom. It is only in the allegory following the sermon that we begin to make \ sense of the narrative: man must endure the evils of l i f e in the fallen j world, avoid them as best he can, and be prepared to have his trials end I ! at any moment; faith is his only hope of salvation. Here, as in "The Preiching of the Swallow," the paradox of animals behaving as human beings is overshadowed by a consciousness of the unhapply plight of human beings as creatures, like animals, of a mortal world. The consciousness is not fully realized until we reach the allegorical explication in the moralitas, ^after the narrative has led us to pity the plight of the helpless and con-demn the evils of the wicked, an i n i t i a l reaction corroborated by the narra-tor who begins the moralitas with a fervent condemnation of wickedness deceiving innocence. But while our and the narrator's reactions rise to "categorical descriptions of Everyman," 3-*- the narrative itself, like the other fable narratives, is realistic enough to avoid being confined by the allegory. "The effect of mixing personified abstraction with such precise particulars is not only to drive home the moral point but also to present a vivid memento mori which has a broader application."-^ The broader application is not so much to "everyman" in the general sense as "everyman" in the particular sense. The concluding theme of mortality / is impressed upon the consciousness of the audience by the vividness of the narrative, with its dramatic climax. The mouse has been portrayed as essentially human, but with enough "mouseliness" in the portrayal to suggest 82 the piteous qualities of her animal nature in the "lowly, troubled person"33 she represents—witness the "exquisite play on the human-animal situation that opens the poem: Upon ane tyme, as Esope culd report, Ane l y t i l l mous come t i l l ane rever-syde; Scho micht not waid—hir schankis were sa schort; Scho culd not swym; scho had no hors to ryde: . . . . (lines 2777-80) The paradox of the fable situation, as in "The Preiching of the Swallow," is played upon for just enough subtle irony to heighten the impact of the narrative that i n turn gives the moralitas i t s directness and validity. Henryson1s fables go further in f u l f i l l i n g the "teach and delight" object-ive claimed by writers of animal fables than any of the examples of the genre we have examined so far. Certainly, he places more emphasis on entertainment than the writers of exempla, and most certainly, than Lydgate. But the functions of entertainment and instruction are not separated in the Morall F a b i l l i s . They are not comic tales with a sobre moral dutifully appended. Both the effectiveness of the moral and the success of the narrative are achieved through the c r i t e r i a of the fable as a genre in medieval terms. Henryson is aware of the paradox latent in the portrayal of animals with human characteristics, and he uses that paradox, intertwining i t with a l l the subsequent ironies of correspondences between men and animals on the moral and figural levels. The comedy of the narratives is based largely upon the ironies of self-deception, ^ of the disparities between appearance and reality, and their consequences. The moralities are also based upon man's deception of himself in his failure to see his natural condition—in short, man's blindness. The narratives con-firm the moral themes, but the two together are replete with the ironies one sees when facing the natural world, or man's natural condition, and Henryson makes i t possible for us to see just that by showing us animals behaving as men. 83 And "beneath i t a l l , he never lets us forget, on literal, moral, or allegori-cal levels, the ultimate irony that men do behave as these animals do, and that they are therefore subject to the same consequences, whether those be looking as foolish as the wether bereft of his sham skin, being as flustered as the country mouse away from her natural habitat, being injured and laughed at together as the wolf who never learns to mistrust the fox, or unprepared as the mouse facing death while tied to her enemy. The correspondences between animals and man drawn out as they are make i t possible for narrative and moralitas to co-exist, without tension or disparity, in one fable. The Morall  Fabillis consist of, and are developed through, multiple levels of irony based on these correspondences, and these levels take the fable as a genre out of the realms of simple comic tale and utilitarian apologue into the realm of poetry. 84 FOOTNOTES John MacQueen, Robert Henryson, A Study of the Major Narrative  Poems (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967), Appendix I, p. 189, gives 1475-1490 as the most l i k e l y date of composition. David K. Crowne ("A Date for the Composition of Henryson's Fables," JEGP, 6 £.962]; 583-90) suggests dates later than l48l on the basis that Henryson used Caxton's printed text of Aesop (l48l) and the Reynard (i486) as sources. Denton Fox !("Henryson and Caxton," JEGP, 67 [j-9683; 586-93) summarizes scholarship that dates Henryson's fables and shows that as Caxton cannot safely be assumed to be Henryson's source the dates of his texts should not be used as means of dating the Morall F a b i l l i s . The question becomes particularly important to those scholars interested in historical interpretations of the fables; see chapter five and Marshall W. Stearns, Robert Henryson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1949). p The edition cited throughout is that of Charles E l l i o t t , Robert  Henryson Poems (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963), pp. I-89. The earliest edition is that of David Laing, The Poems and Fables of Robert Henryson (Edinburgh: Paterson, 1865). Other editions are those of H. Harvey Wood (The Poems and Fables of Robert Henryson ^London and Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 19 3 3^) a n A G- Gregory Smith (The Poems of Robert Henryson, The Scottish Text Society, 55 ("Edinburgh and London: Blackwood, 1906J), Vol. II. 3 See particularly Stearns, passim. ^ Some examples and variations of this critical(gttitude may be seen in George Eyre-Todd, ed., Mediaeval Scottish Poetry, Abbotsford Series of the Scottish Poets, 2 (Glasgow: William Hodge, 1892), p. 88; A. M. Kinghorn, The Middle Scots Poets (London: Edward Arnold, 1970), pp. 25 f f . ; John Speirs, The Scots Literary Tradition, 2nd ed. (London: Faber and Faber, 1962), pp. ^ti-hk; Kurt Wittig, The Scottish Tradition in Literature (Edinburgh and London: Oliver and Boyd, 1958), p. 41; Mary Rowlands, "The Fables of Robert Henryson," DaLhousie Review, 39 (1959-60), 491-502; and T. F. Henderson, Scottish Vernacular Literature, 3r<3- ed. (Edinburgh: Grant, 1910), pp. 125-31- See particularly Stearns, who interprets Henryson's poems almost entirely from this point of view. 5 MacQueen (pp. 95-98) discusses the influence of Boccaccio's De Genealogia Deorum on Henryson's narrative technique. ^ A. W. Jenkins, "The Mind and Art of Robert Henryson," Diss. University of California, Berkeley, 1967, P- 5, a n d- MacQueen, p. 98. 7 1 It would not be practical to enter into a discussion of sources in <, this study, for there is by no means agreement among scholars as to what <, sources Henryson used. Suffice i t to say that of the fables rooted in Aesopic tradition, other than "The T a i l l of Schir Chantecleir and the Foxe," Henryson's expansions and reworkings are unique, and to l i s t the most usually suggested sources: the Anonymous Neveleti of Gualterus Anglicus, an imitation of Phaed-rus; Caxton's Aesop (and Reynard, with branches of the Roman de 8 5 Renart, for the fables developing Reynardian material); the Disciplina  Cl e r i c a l i s; the Ysopets; the Fabulae of Odo of Cheriton; fables current through their use in sermons, and thus based upon the exempla collections discussed in chapter one; Chaucer's Nun's Priest's Tale. Editions of these works, and scholars' considerations of Henryson's sources, are l i s t e d i n the Bibliography. Denton Fox, in "Henryson and Caxton," makes the following sensible suggestion, worth quoting in f u l l : "While Henryson was a learned poet, and at times clearly followed written sources, i t would be a mistake to visualize him as a modern scholar, working i n the midst of a l i t t e r of variant versions of a fable, and selecting here and there appropriate de-t a i l s . A more appropriate, i f more vulgar, analogy might be a modern parent who, i n t e l l i n g a familiar story, such as 'Red Riding-hood,' to a child, draws partly on his memory of versions that he has listened to and read, and partly on his imagination. Like such a parent, Henryson himself might not always be able to point to his precise source" (pp. 592-93). See also Donald MacDonald, "Narrative Art in Henryson's Fables," Studies in Scottish  Literature, 3 (1965)-, 101-113. Q In the interest of economy, I w i l l shorten the t i t l e s of the Morall  F a b i l l i s in the text as follows: "The T a i l l of the Wolf that gat the Nek-hering throw the wrinkis of the Foxe that begylit the Cadgear" -"The Fox, the Wolf and the Cadger;" "The T a i l l of the Wolf and the Wedder" -"The Wolf and the Wether;" "The T a i l l of the Uponlandis Mous and the Burgis Mous" - "The Two Mice;" "The T a i l l of the Foxe that begylit the Wolf in the schadow of the Mone" - "The Fox and the Wolf". The remainder of Henryson's fables w i l l be dealt with in the following chapters,.where their subject matter relates to that of other Middle English fables. Whereas the observations made in this chapter apply to most of the collection, three of the fables (discussed in chapter six) are set apart by their specific s a t i r i c purpose. 9 The version printed by Caxton appears in R. T. Lenaghan, ed., Caxton's Aesop (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967), pp. l60-oTI Caxton translated a French translation of Steinhowel's Aesop, a fifteenth-century collection of Romulus tales, Gualterus Anglicus' verse rendering of the Romulus, and other fables of the Aesopic type labelled under the catch-all t i t l e , Extravagantes. 1 0 MacDonald, "Narrative Art," p. 105-^ See note 9 above. 1 2 MacDonald, "Narrative Art," p. 106. ^3 The beast epics--the term applied to the collections of episodic tales of Reynard the Fox popular throughout Europe in the Middle Ages—are b r i e f l y considered in chapters four and five. They do revolve essentially around the enmity of the fox and wolf, caused by felonies each has committed against the other, though many other stories involving other animals go far beyond this central impetus. See the comprehensive study by John Flinn, Le Roman  de Renart dans l a litterature frangaise et dans les l i t e r a t u r e s Strange*res  au Moye,n J?ge (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1963). 86 The fox is also called "Russell" in this fable (the wolf using the name more or less generically in line 1962), as he is in Chaucer. Both "Lowrence" and "Russell" are common names for the fox in medieval beast literature (see p. 134, note to line 429, and p. l42, note to line 1962 in E l l i o t t ' s edition; p. 229 and p. 245, notes to the same lines, in Wood's edition). 15 1. w. A. Jamieson, "A Further Source for Henryson's ' F a b i l l i s ' , " Notes and Queries, 212, N. S. l 4 (1967);. 4o4. 1^  Harold E. Toliver, "Robert Henryson: From Moralitas to Irony," English Studies 46 (1965):, 304. 17 MacQueen, p. l 6 l . !® Denton Fox, "Henryson's Fables," English Literary History, 29 (1962); 351. 19 Numerous characters in Henryson's fables misuse proverbs and sententiae, both comically and as an i l l u s t r a t i o n of their lack of wisdom, for example, the cock in "The T a i l l of the Cok and the Jasp," line 102, the wolf i n "The Fox's Confession," and the wolf in "The T r i a l of the Fox." In an equally serious fable, "The T a i l l of the Paddok and the Mous," the frog, repeatedly, and consciously, misuses proverbial wisdom. On the use of proverbs and sententiae, in these ways and others, to aid characterization, see Donald MacDonald, "Chaucer's Influence on Henryson's Fables: The Use of Proverbs and Sententiae," Medium Aevum, 39 (1970); 21-27. 20 "The poem produces a strong feeling of approaching danger and of a blindness that no warning can pierce.' It is f i l l e d with pity and a sort of second-sight which makes one think of Cassandra . . . ." (Edwin Muir, "Robert Henryson," Essays bn?.Literature and Society, enlarged and rev. ed. (London: Hogarth Press, I96T), pp. 15-16. 21 There is some disparity i n c r i t i c a l opinion as to how conventional this passage i s , and in what ways. Wittig (p. 37) feels that summer and autumn are conventional portrayals but not winter. G. G. Smith (Scottish  Literature, Character and Influence London: Macmillan, 1919 , p. 66) says that in the description of winter Henryson is using the " a r t i f i c i a l and 'ennamelit' " style typical of the Scottish Chaucerians. MacQueen (p. 162) feels that the passage on the seasons is conventional but more in the sens of Renaissance style than medieval, and compares i t with Spenser's poetry. Henryson's natural description in general usually has been f e l t to be highly original. See Henderson, pp. 125-31; Henry S. Canby, The Short  Story in English (New York: Holt, 1909), pp. 89-93; Wittig, pp. 37, 42-43; H. Harvey Wood, "Robert Henryson," Edinburgh Essays on Scots Literature (University of Edinburgh, 1933; rpt. Freeport, New York: Books for Librair-ies Press, 1968), pp. 9-10; Wood's edition of Henryson's poems, pp. xv-x v i i , etc. My feeling is that Henryson is using conventional descriptive techniques in "The Preiching of the Swallow" to elevate his style, that i t may be more in line with the serious tone of the fable. A f u l l discussion of the conventions of descriptions of the seasons may be found in Rosamond 87 Tuve, Seasons and Months, Studies i n a Tradition of Middle English Poetry (Paris: Librairie Universitaire, 19337* Compare also Gavin Doublas' description of winter i n the Prologue to Book VII of The Bukes of Eneados. 2 2 Fox, "Fables," p. 352. 23 I am using the terms employed by MacQueen in his study of Henryson, pp. 9k, 182, and 185-86. 2 h Fox, "Fables," p. 3k2. 25 Several Henryson scholars see a disparity between narrative and moralitas i n this fable, and feel either that the audience is meant to .agree with the cock (MacQueen, p. 107), or that Henryson "has allowed his own colourful fable to run away with him, and is now returning to his duty" (Wittig, p. ko). Apart from the cock's bestial concerns and his pride in considering himself learned, his stupidity within the narra-tive is confirmed by this line. It is unfortunate that so many readers have missed the delightful irony of the cock's grave summons to the jewel to "rise up," followed by his wandering off, i n most rooster-like fashion, to search for something edible. 2 ^ Jenkins, "Henryson," pp. 16-19. 2 ? Ibid. 28 MacQueen, p. Yjk. 29 Canby, p. 32. 3° Jenkins, "Henryson," p. kO. 31 Toliver, p. 30k. 32 ibid. 33 Jenkins, "Henryson," p. 25. 3 k Pearsall, p. 197-35 See the discussion of Lydgate's "The Frog and the Mouse," pp. kk-k5 above. Limitations on space prevent comparison between the two fabulists -but see Derek Pearsall's excellent and witty comparisons of the two fabulists' versions of this fable, pp. 19k-97 of John Lydgate. 88 CHAPTER FOUR THE BEAST EPICS AND MIDDLE ENGLISH ANIMAL FABLE In the last chapter we noted that Henryson drew on the beast epic 1 tradition for the plots and characters of some of his Morall Fabillis. The beast epics are not sufficiently represented in medieval English litera-ture to warrant a close examination of them here, but their undeniable in-fluence on writers from the exempla compilers, such as Odo of Cheriton, to Henryson and Chaucer does necessitate a brief look at the continental tradi-tion. The one English example of this kind of animal tale, the anonymous late thirteenth-century The Vox and the Wolf, must also be seen against the background of the cycles i t is drawn from. The interest in pure entertain-ment that dominates the best of the beast epics has no small responsibility for the quality of the narratives of such tales as Lydgate's "The Hownde and the Shepe," the best in his collection, of Henryson's fox and wolf fables, and of the Middle English animal tales we are yet to examine. While we can scarcely undertake in this study an examination of the literary characteristics of the entire beast epic tradition, a brief summary of scholars' conclusions w i l l be useful, particularly as beast epic and beast fable are often said to be at completely opposite generic poles. The chief distinguishing factor between the two is that of intent: the fable has a moral purpose, while the beast epic exists only to entertain. The animal characters of beast epic are fully developed, neither types nor vague figures speaking words predetermined by the moral they are to illustrate. The beast epics are longer and contain many episodes involving the central characters. They are comic, usually satirical but in a good-natured way, and never to —the extent of losing their lightheadedness, at least before they degenerate 89 into allegorical commentary on contemporary conditions. And a point not to be overlooked is that the vernacular beast epics, unlike earlier Latin tales having the wolf as a central character, took the fox—more correctly, Reynard the fox—as their hero. His success is delighted in, and neither morality nor allegory is imposed to condemn him. The origin and rise of beast epics in Europe have been discussed exten-sively by many scholars. Varying attitudes to the origins include two polarized viewpoints: that the cycles developed out of a popular tradition p of beast sagas or beast tales, and that they were the work of monastic •3 poets.-1 Exponents of the latter viewpoint feel that popular animal tale tradition is a result of the currency of beast epics in the Middle Ages, but many scholars concede that i t is reasonable to assume a certain amount of folk interest as a stimulus.*1 The evidence brought to light by scholar-ship shows however that the beast epics are largely traceable to clerical interest in the fable, followed by more extended animal stories.^ It is generally conceded that monastic poets or trouveres educated in the clerical schools developed these stories into episodic cycles. The earliest extant extended narrative with animal characters is a Latin poem dating from the middle of the tenth century, Ecbasis cuiusdum  captivi per tropologiam.^ It employs the interpretations given various animals—notably the wolf—in medieval exegesis to describe allegorically the plight of the writer. The narrative consists of two fables, an outer fable which develops the parable of the lamb caught by the wolf and returned, and an inner fable which the wolf must t e l l to explain his fear of the fox. The latter is the traditional Aesopic tale of the t r i a l of the fox at the court 7 of the sick lion. 1 Ecbasis is clearly in the tradition of clerical use of animal stories. A moral—the necessity of renouncing the world—is added to 90 the end of the tale, and "the incidents smack of Aesopic didacticism." 0 But i t goes further than Aesopic fable in that i t combines episodes and in so doing communicates a sense of the existence of these animals as charac-ters outside the narrative. The next example is a Latin poem, Ysengrimus,^ dating from the middle of the twelfth century. It is the f i r s t European work to make use of proper names for animal characters, but this statement holds true only i f i t precedes the f i r s t branch of the Roman de Renart, a question s t i l l open to speculation.-'-0 Didactic in tone,"'""'" i t relates twelve adventures of the wolf, Ysengrimus, and the fox, Reinardus, a l l but one of which appear in the 12 Roman de Renart also. Among these are the tale of the sick lion's court, and a version of the cock and fox fable found i n Chaucer's Hun's Priest's  Tale. 13 The French beast epic, le_ Roman de Renart, is the basis for the spread of beast tales throughout Western Europe. Parts of i t were transla-ted and reworked into several other languages, and many of the episodes i t relates are considered to be the sources, however indirectly, of similar stories in Middle English literature. The terms roman and "beast epic" are misleading, for the various branches of the Roman de Renart were not written by one person at one time. Rather, they are episodic tales written by many different poets from the middle of the twelfth to the middle of the thirteenth centuries, and were copied together because of the similarity of their sub-ject matter. Concus et rediges s'eparement, les contes de Renard, ou "branches," comme les designaient leurs auters eux-memes, ont €te bient6t reunis, parce qu'il semblait logique de copier a l a suite, dans un me*me manuscrit, des recits dont les protagonistes, Renard le goupil et Isengrin le loup, animaient d'innombrables episodes ou se donnaient libre cours l a malice effrontee de l'un et l a stupidite* hargneuse de 1'autre.1^ 91 Each branch may contain from one to several stories, and not a l l are about the fox. The sequence of the branches is different in the various manu-scripts, and many stories may appear in several versions."'"'' The earliest extant branch, sometimes numbered two and sometimes sixteen, is unusual in not being anonymous--its author is identified as Pierre de St. Cloud--and important for the instant popularity i t received, as is evident in the continuations and imitations that subsequently produced the Roman. It is also the branch containing a version of the story told by Chaucer, that of Pinte, Chantecler, and Renart.^ Yet more popular than Pierre de St. Cloud's branch is the later poem, nonethless consistently numbered branch 17 one, that purports to explain the reason for the war between Renart and Isengrin which Pierre de St. Cloud undertook to describe. The reason is what occurs at the t r i a l of the fox after his accusation by Isengrin and Chantecler. Isengrin's accusation involves Renart's violation of the wolf's wife, and the conclusion of the t r i a l episode is an interesting variation on the plot of the sick lion fable that is elaborated in the Ecbasis and the Ysengrimus, though the latter includes this variation also: the wolf and his wife must give Renart their "shoes" to enable him to go on pilgrimage to repent of his misdeeds. The episode is an illustration of the increased human characterization of the animals developing upon the plot of an Aesopic narrative. Reynard stories continued to be written in French after 1250, but they became repetitious and lost their original vigour. Excessive didacticism and bitter satire replaced the comic mocking tone of the Roman. The fox i ft became "the type of successful hypocrisy and wickedness," and he and the other animal characters were enveloped in allegory prompted by political and religious controversy.^ 92 The Roman de Renart inspired many other animal tales of its type. The earliest of these is the Middle High German poem Reinhart Fuchs, 20 written towards the end of the twelfth century by Heinrich de Glichezare. It contains an encounter between the cock and fox similar to that found in 21 branch two and in Chaucer. The most successful reworking of the episodes of the Roman is a Middle Dutch version 2 2 based in part upon branch one. 2 3 Van den Vos Reinaerde, written in the third quarter of the thirteen century, is customarily considered to be "the beast epic in its most artistically mature form."2^ Not only was i t translated into Latin--the Reinardus Vulpes of Baldwin the Young—but, through its expansion and continuation in another Middle Dutch verse epic, the fourteenth-century Reinaerts Historie, reached England through the printing press of William Caxton in l48l and eventually was the source for Goethe's Reineke Fuchs. Caxton's The History of Reynard the Fox2^ is his translation from the Dutch, probably the prose redaction 26 of Reinaerts Historie printed by Leeu at Gouda in lkT9« Caxton's transla-tion is believed by many scholars to be Henryson's chief source for his 27 Reynardian fables. This brings us to the question of whether or not, or to what extent, the beast epics were known in England before ikQl. A l l arguments must re-main inconclusive because of the scarcity of evidence, but several scholars have pointed out that there are some indications that the English were acquain-ted with Reynard the fox. Besides The Vox and the Wolf, which in a l l respects \ is like an episode from a continental beast epic, there is a library catalogue of Dover Priory, drawn up in 1389* which lists a manuscript of a Reynard 28 1 tale since lost. Reynard's name appears four times in Sir Gawain and the 2Q 30 Green Knight 7 and once in Chaucer's Legend of Good Women. Odo of Cheriton has a fable entitled De Ysingrymo, in which the wolf wishes to become a monk, 93 as he often does in the beast epics, as well as many fox fables recounting event popularized in the Roman and including the animals' names. In several of these fables Odo introduces English. Nicole de Bozon also uses the familiar animal names in his fables, and in one fable quotes in English. The use of English in both suggests an English source, i f only an oral one.3"*" Kenneth Varty's extensive study shows that the beast epic characters must have been familiar in medieval England to some extent, for not only do the animals appear in religious art, but often they clearly illustrate episodes from the beast epics. 3 2 However, in spite of these suggestions that tales of the beast epic type were known in England, there is only one example before Chaucer for our examination, the late thirteenth-century The Vox and the Wolf. It is some-times called a beast fabliau,33 ^0 differentiate i t from the moral fable, and perhaps because, containing only two episodes, i t can scarcely be called a beast epic. The Vox and the Wolf contains the story of a fox duping a wolf into a well that appears in related versions as a moral fable in the Disciplina Clericalis and in Odo's and Nicole de Bozon's fables. 3^ The fable is believed to be of Hebrew origin, and to have become current in Europe through Petrus Alphonsus' knowledge of a tale told by Rabbi Raschi 35 in the eleventh century, although i t has also been related to the ancient Indian fable of "The Fox and the Goat. "36" The Roman de Renart includes the tale, but substitutes for the illusory moon reflection in the well a more complex explanation of the wolf's thinking his own reflection that of his wife. The Middle English poem is felt to be based upon branch four of the 37 Roman or a similar poem. It shows considerable ingenuity in reworking its original,3® however, and is "no unworthy representative"39 0 f the continental beast epic tradition. 9k The Vox and the WolfH'u exemplifies the essence of its continental counterparts. While relating only two episodes, i t nonetheless places them in the context of the extensive adventures of its hero, Reneward. The cock, Chauntecleer, will not be persuaded to trust the fox because he recalls the many woes the fox has caused his flock before. When the fox and wolf converse before the wolf enters the well, their recollections of past events are reminiscent of other adventures in the Reynard cycle. The wolf remembers the fox and his family dining with him several days before, and he "confesses" the suspicions he had of the fox's adultery with his wife. And, of course, the fox and wolf immediately recognize each other and converse as the intimate acquaintances they are in the beast epics. Reneward and Sigrim, then, are clearly characters, not simply a fox and a wolf. As in the beast epics, the episodes are narrated with considerable detail, and the tale certainly is developed with entertainment as its object: i t is highly comic and includes no moralization on its theme. The comedy is achieved chiefly through the "excellent characterization,"^1 handled parti-cularly through dialogue and the development of the plot itself which, as in the beast epics, involves the cleverness of the fox in action. Reneward does indeed live up to his reputation in the poem, and i t is his amazing ingenuity that produces so much of the humour. The humour is chiefly ironic, involving the fox's outwitting his gullible opponent and the audience's knowledge that he is clearly outwitting him while he is not able to see through the fox's words. In this sense, the f i r s t episode rein-forces the ironic humour of the second, for Chauntecler does recognize the fox's malintent—if only because of past experience—in spite of his feigned good will, while Sigrim is too foolish to doubt an even less likely story. The poem opens with a hungry Reneward visiting the hen-house. He tries 95 to persuade Chauntecler that his coming is always for their good: I have letten pine hennen blod. Hy weren sike ounder be ribe, 1*at hy ne mi3tte non lengour libe Bote here heddre were itake. 1?at I do for almes sake— . . . . (lines 40-44) These lines ring ironically indeed, particularly after the description of his hunger and search for food. After the conversation between Chauntecler and Reneward, the poem seems to have cut out a detail, for i t appears from subsequent remarks (lines 68 and 98) that the fox has helped himself to the 42 hens. Overtaken by thirst, he finds the well and unwittingly traps himself. The author's capacity for ironic understatement is now exercised at the ex-pense of the fox, whose thirst has got the better of him: Al bus he com to be grounde, And water inou ber he founde. 1*o he fond water, 3erne he dronk (Him boute bat water bere stonk . . . i) (lines 91-94) Upon the arrival of the wolf, i t is immediately clear that the fox has a plan for escape: ^e vox hine ikneu wel for his kun, And bo eroust kom wiit to him; For he boute, mid sommne ginne, Himself houpbringe, bene wolf berinne. (lines 123-26) His good humour returns, and we are conscious of a preconceived notion of Sigrim's stupidity and gullibility that promises a comic situation. Throughout, Sigrim ignores common sense and allows himself to believe the fox, initiall y from stupid curiosity, and then because his hunger over-rules what common sense he has. To begin with, Reneward identifies himself as "bi frend" (line 133) and says i f he had known he was in the neighbourhood 96 he would have prayed that the wolf join him. This remark should make Sigrim suspicious, particularly in the context of their traditional rivalry, hut he is only surprised: "Mid pe?" quod pe wolf, "warto? Wat shulde Ich ine pe putte do?" (lines 137-78) This is the last trace of common sense on Sigrim1s part, for Reneward now begins his psychological persuasion of the wolf he knows so well. He happily describes the paradise he has in the well, carefully intertwining descriptions of general bliss with suggestions of food. It does not yet occur to the wolf to join the fox, but although he laughs and recalls how recently they dined together, he seems to believe the fox is dead. Reneward quickly responds that he is indeed dead and happy to be so. His previous description, the location of Paradise in the bottom of the well, and the audience's knowledge of the truth of the matter and of the fox lend conslder-"able irony to his exclamation "Gode ponke, nou hit is bus fat Ihc am to Criste vendJ" (lines 158-59) He describes the woes of the world, contrasts them to the "ioies fele cunne" (line 166) of Paradise in most pious fashion, and ends his speech with "Her beb bobe shep and get." (line I67) The irony of this line is comical enough after the pious description of Paradise; i t is reinforced by our knowledge of the fox's consciously choosing his words to fool the wolf. As characterization, i t is excellent, for i t illustrates the cleverness of Reneward in appealing to the wolf's weakest point—and in the last sentence of his description—without pressing the point and arousing Sigrim's suspicions. 97 Clearly enough, i t is this last remark of Reneward to which Sigrim responds. He begs to be allowed to join the fox, but even though his ruse is successful, Reneward is not content simply to escape. As R. M. Wilson points out, he is here the same well-developed character he is in the beast epics. "Eagerly hoping to persuade Sigrim to get into the bucket he cannot, even at the risk of arousing his suspicions, lose the chance of humiliating his old enemy."^ 3 Rather, he insists that the wolf fi r s t con-fess his sins and be shriven. The wolf begs the fox to be his priest, pleading hunger as the reason for speed. Reneward can afford even to hesi-4 tate before agreeing, and to encourage the wolf to add to his fi r s t con-fession. The episode reaches its high point when the wolf "confesses" his suspicions of the fox, repents believing his own eyes when he found Reneward in bed with his wife, and begs the fox to forgive him. The conclusion of the poem is replete with the comic irony of the wolf's situation. The fox's parting taunts play upon his role of confessor, and J in so doing add insult to the wolf's injury" "f*i bi3ete worp wel smal.' Ac Ich am perof glad and blibe ^at bou art nomen in clene liue. f i soule-cnul Ich wile do ringe, And masse for bine soule singe.'" (lines 248-52) The narrator adds a few remarks of his own to reinforce the comic irony: ^e wrecche binepe noping ne vind Bote cold water and hounger him bind. To colde gistninge he wes ibede— Wroggen hauep his dou iknede! (lines 253-56) The ultimate irony is brought out in the fate of the "shriven" wolf who thought to go to Paradise. The monks who find him in the well cry "' e deuel is in pe putte.''" (line 282), and the poem concludes with the narrator's 98 ironic comment on the wolf: For he ne fond nones kunnes blisse Ne hof dintes for3eueness. (lines 294-95) It has been pointed out that the moralizing of the fox upon his fool-ishness in entering the well (lines 96 f f . ) hearkens back to the morality of beast f a b l e . ^ R. M. Wilson notes that " i t was part of the game that the beast tale should be outwardly as moral as the most pious literature. This suggestion is valuable in that i t c l a r i f i e s the non-didactic charac-ter of the poem. Although the fox's predicament and the wolf's behaviour illustrate the truth of Reneward's sententia, the fox's lament is really a mock moral. .Reneward's consciousness of the reason for his stupidity--"lust' --gives him the idea of tricking the wolf. Sigrim's "lust" for sheep and. goats blinds him to the common sense of his i n i t i a l reaction, "Wat shuld Ich in be putte do?" The moralizing of the fox, then, is harmonized into the narrative, and indeed reinforces the irony i n that,.rather than reform-ing Reneward, i t contains the worldly wisdom that enables him to carry on his career. The poem retains the familiar characteristic of part of the animal tale tradition, but reworks i t on the terms of the animal characters and the humorous ironic tone. It is evident that the characters of The Vox and the Wolf are developed with many human characteristics. Reneward's sententious moralizing, his knowledge of medicine, his professions of charity, his c l e r i c a l role, a l l reinforce his portrait as a highly sophisticated character. The relation-ship between Sigrim and Reneward--their dining together, the suspicions of adultery—is obviously inspired by human characteristics. These are the characteristics that McKnight l i s t s as differentiating The Vox and the Wolf 99 from "pure fable. ,,4"D While he no doubt means the typical brief Aesopic fable, we must realize that the fable too portrays animals as human beings. Even the simplest Middle English exemplum involves animals speaking and thinking. And we have seen already in Henryson's Morall Fabillis that their success is due to his ability to develop the ironies of a comination of human and animal characteristics. The author of The Vox and the Wolf, too, is fully conscious of these ironies. When the fox is introduced, we are reminded of his "fox-ness" through this contrast with a human being: Him were leuere meten one hen H^ en half an oundred wimmen.1 (lines 7-8) And again, the anthropomorphism of Reneward is ironically played upon when he laughs after leaping over the wall surrounding the hen-house: (For he com in wipouten leue Bopen of haiward and of reue.f) (lines 25-26) His being a fox makes this fact self-evident, but its being stated reminds us that we are looking at an animal functioning on both human and animal terms. The confession scene, too, illustrates the development of the ironies latent in such a portrayal. The wolf's concept of Paradise is a wolfish one— i t has sheep and goats--and his plea to the fox to be his confessor is the urgency of hunger. This in itself is ironic in its comic perversion of r e l i -gious ideals and sacramental and ecclesiastical regularity, but the irony is underlined and extended through the reminder the wolf's hopes give that he is a ravening wolf absurdly capable of considering the human hope of Paradise. In the behaviour of Reneward and Sigrim, the irony is extended from the comic episodes of the narrative to encompass the nature of animal narrative itself. 100 Reneward's offer to bleed the hens is ironic not only because he is Reneward masquerading to satisfy his hunger, but because he is portrayed as a fox capable of the learning of a doctor who yet behaves as a fox; the confession episode, not only because Reneward is duping Sigrim but because he is portrayed as a fox with the knowledge of the priestly function who yet behaves as a crafty fox. The characters i n The Vox and the Wolf are not more human at the expense of their animal natures; rather, their considerable J human qualities are integrated with their animal natures, incongruous as that integration clearly i s . The incongruity of the integration produces so much of the comedy of the tale. On the simplest level, the humour is the result of the interplay of the cleverness of the fox and the stupidity of the wolf. But these charac-t e r i s t i c s are manifested in human terms constantly referred back to animal terms, so that the humour is also produced by the interplay of the animal and the human i n each character. The last lines of the poem capsulize the ironic humour of the plot and of the characterization. The fox has duped the wolf into a situation the opposite of what he expected. The wolf's fool-ish hopes are thwarted, and h i s fate is described in terms of the human hopes he had, which rec a l l his wolfish perversion of them: *f*e wox bicharde him, mid iwisse, For he ne fond nones kunnes blisse Ne hof dintes for^eueness. The wolf's stupidity determines his fate, but the expression of his stupidity — h i s characterization as a wolf with human attributes—produces the additional irony of his fate. The characterization of Reneward and Sigrim, so basic to the poem, develops the paradox indigenous to animal fable, that of animals behaving as human beings, and this development f u l f i l l s the potential for comic irony inherent i n that paradox to no small extent. 101 But this too is the accomplishment of Henryson's comic narratives. The characters he found in Aesopic tradition—such as the foolish wether and the country mouse—are fully developed and effectively communicate the ironies of beast fable portrayals. In his fox and wolf fables, Henryson 47 retains the f u l l character development of his sources. ' He alters aspects 48 of the tales to shape the comedy to moral ends, that the moral interpreta-tion may be more evident through suggestions in the narrative, but the narra-tives entertain in the same way The Vox and the Wolf does. In "The Fox, the Wolf and the Cadger" we noticed the same use of irony as is developed in The Vox and the Wolf. The animals are imbued with human characteristics which are constantly juxtaposed with their animal natures. Lowrence, the fox, has the same reputation as the beast epic fox. "The Taill of the Foxe that begylit the Wolf in the schadow of the Mone," which like The Vox and the Wolf involves the trapping of the wolf in the two-bucket well, reflects similar consciousness of the play upon the combination of the animal and the human in the characters. In Henryson's version, the fox does not first trap himself; he simply uses the wolf's stupidity and the plight of the husbandman to gain a few chickens and have a laugh at the wolf's expense. Lowrence and the wolf are particularly anthropomorphic: they con-verse with the husbandman on matters of justice in legal language.^9 The wolf is his characteristic stupid self but tries to be clever with misapplied proverbs about loyalty—the question is not one of loyalty—and the legality of oaths. Lowrence is in true form, feigning a nice sense of justice and himself laughing at the irony of his posturing. In short, the scene presents, besides the irony of the fox and wolf using judicial sentiments for selfish motives, the basic irony of a man conversing on justice with a fox and wolf by nature interested only in his oxen and chickens. Besides successfully 102 entertaining, Henryson's presentation of these ironies makes his audience conscious of the implications of human-animal correspondences. Lowrence's words to the husbandman suggesting he be bribed with hens is comic, because he is so much the fox even in his anthropomorphic role as judge, but also imply something unsavoury about human judges through the very fact of Lowrence's being assigned this role. Henryson makes the implication explicit in the moralitas, but i t is hard to miss on the narrative level: "I am ane juge" quod Lowrence than and leuch: "Thair is na buddis suld beir me by the rycht; I may tak hennis and caponis weill aneuch, For God is gane to sleip;" . . . . (lines 2329-32) \ In the narrative, as in the beast epics, Lowrence is allowed to get away I with i t , for his craftiness is the germ of the entertainment, but Henryson's j purpose necessitates that the implied human perspective be clarified in the ( moralitas. Henryson does not always allow his Reynard the success of the beast epic fox. In two fables, "The T a i l l how this foirsaid Tod maid his Confessioun to Freir Wolf Waitskaith" and "The Tail l of the Sone & Air of the foirsaid Foxe, callit Father wer: Alswa the Parliament of fourfuttit Beistis, haldin be the Lyoun,"5® the fox meets his end as punishment for his misdeeds. In "The Fox's Confession," Lowrence is shot by the keeper of the flock he has robbed. "The Trial of the Fox" is a continuation of "The Fox's Confession," and includes the Parliament familiar from beast epic, as well as another fox and wolf tale and the t r i a l itself. The fox is found guilty and hanged. These two fables are more serious than "The Fox and the Wolf" and "The Fox, the Wolf and the Cadger," and clearly Henryson's moral purpose is responsible \J for the alterations. But both tales s t i l l reflect the comic spirit of beast epic, and although irony supports the morals, i t is equally responsible for 103 the humour. A brief examination of one of them w i l l confirm these state-ments. "The Fox's Confession" presents the familiar picture of one of the two beast epic protagonists appearing as a cleric.51 During the confession of Lowrence, both confessor and penitent abuse the sacrament shamelessly, as we might expect.52 The elaborate confession scene, preceded by Lowrence's astrological ponderings, illustrate the degree to which Henryson's animals are developed on human terms, but these characteristics coexist with their animal natures, both producing ironic humour and suggesting the two-way correspondence between human and animal nature. The confession's ironic comedy is the result of the fox arid the wolf's treatment of the sacrament; again, the implication that the human attributes of the animals can include their irreverence, though not brought out in the moralitas, cannot be over-looked when a wolf is presented as a f r i a r . But the comedy in the incon-gruity of the presentation is nonetheless enjoyed: So saw he ^Lowrence"] cummand ane l y t t i l l than frome hence Ane worthie Doctour in Divinite; Freir Wolff Waitskaith, in science wonder sle, To preich and pray wes new cummit fra the closter With beidis in hand, sayand his Pater Woster. (lines 666-69) Likewise, Lowrence's travesty of the Eucharist must be culpable on moral ( i . e. human) terms, hence his subsequent death and the moralitas' warning against such behaviour i n human beings, but on the narrative level i t is s t i l l a b r i l l i a n t comic depiction of Reynardian roguery, obviously enjoyed for i t s own sake. Catching no f i s h after his promise to fast, Lowrence steals a kid, rushes with i t to the sea, and exclaims "Ga doun Schir Kid, cum up Schir Salmond againi" Quhill he wes deid; syne to the land him drewch, And off that new-maid salmond e i t anewch. (lines 751-53) 10U Even when pierced by an arrow, Lowrence remains the Reynardian hero— more so, perhaps, than the moralizing fox in The Vox and the Wolf—and complains that there is so l i t t l e humour left in the world: "Now," quod the Foxe, "allace and wellawayi Gorrit I am and may na forther gang; Me think na man may speik ane word in play, Bot nowondayis in ernist i t is tane." (lines 768-71) It seems indicative of Henryson's enjoyment of Lowrence that the moralitas dwells more on cautioning the audience against being unprepared for death than on the fox's wickedness. Like Reneward, Lowrence's character is developed through a comic integration of human and animal characteristics, and is individual enough to exist beyond a rigid moral or allegorical inter-pretation. Henryson draws out the inevitable implications for human beings that the moral purpose of his fables might be fulfilled, but he leaves Lowrenee/Reynard as the character he is that his entertainment purpose might not be jeopardized. Henryson, then, uses episodes and characterization similar to those in the beast epics. We have seen repeatedly how his consciousness of the paradox of portraying animals with human attributes and the consequent ironies of such a portrayal contribute to the humour and inform the morals of his fables. In the Reynardian fables, the paradox is developed chiefly in the characters of Lowrence and the wolf, but Henryson's other animals, while perhaps not as entertaining as the crafty fox, are well developed characters also. The two mice, the learned swallow, and the well-read mouse of the final fable are a l l like Lowrence in that they are an integration of human and characteristics. •": • Characterization is the basis of the similarity between Hefiryson's </ 105 F a b i l l i s and The Vox and the Wolf. The humour of animal tales such as these is largely ironic, involving the disparity between what is clear to the audience and often one of the characters and what is clear to the character who is the butt of the joke. The irony is frequently underlined by the narrator's detached understatement. But this comic irony of situation is the development of the characterization. The animals 1 strengths and weaknesses produce the tale. The animals, however, are not simply animals but characters with both human and animal characteristics combined. The combination i s a paradoxical one, whether i t involves an elaborately anthro-pomorphic Reynard or simply a fox who speaks. The extent to which the para-doxical characterization is developed, however, clearly influences i t s comic possibilities. The f u l l development of Reneward and Lowrence is res-ponsible for the comedy of the episodes we have examined. Henryson, however, also develops his fable characters i n this way to underline the human-animal correspondences that support his moral. The Vox  and the Wolf does not moralize upon i t s events or i t s characters, and while we may smile to see so much of mankind in Reneward and Sigrim, we are l e f t with them as characters to be enjoyed on the terms of the narrative. It does not attempt to achieve the sophisticated intertwining of "teach and delight" attained by Henryson. But to avoid calling The Vox and the Wolf a beast fable simply on the grounds of i t s not having a deliberate moral denies i t s share in, and i t s contribution to, the essence of beast fable, the paradox of animals behaving to some extent as human beings. Even in the simple Aesopic fables, as the exempla we have examined in chapter one, where the animals serve only as examples of human conduct, their being animals makes the human behaviour—and the lesson—memorable, though tale and lesson may be limited. Whether there is a moral purpose involved or not, the success io6 with which this paradoxical characterization is realized and developed measures the success of the Middle English beast fables we have examined. 107 FOOTNOTES x For studies of the beast epic, see the works cited in this chapter, and particularly John Flinn, cited in chapter three, note 13 above. p This idea was f i r s t expressed by Grimm and developed by L. Sudre in Les Sources du Roman de Renart (Paris: Bouillon, 1893). See also Richard Bauman,-^The Folktale and Oral Tradition in the Fables of Robert Henryson," Fabula, 6. Band (Berlin, 1964), 108-24, and Donald B. Sands, ed., The History of Reynard the Fox Translated and Printed by William Caxton in  1481 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1960J7 P« 29. 3 L. Foulet, Le Roman de Renart (Paris: Champion, 19l4), especially chapter one and the conclusions. ^ D. C. Tinbergen, ed., Van Den Vos Reinaerde, 19th ed. revised by L. M. Van Dis (Groningen: Wolters-Noordhoftf, 1969), pp. 10-12; William Rose, ed., The Epic of the Beast (London: Routledge, 1924), pp. xxvi-xxvii. 5 R. Bossuat, Le Roman de Renard (Paris: Hatier, 1967), pp. 66-67, 84; Flinn, pp. 31-33; Foulet, pp. 18, 566-67. ^ Ecbasis cuiusdum captivi per tropologiam Escape of a Certain Captive  Told in a Figurative Manner, trans, and ed. E. H. Zeydel, University of North Carolina Studies i n the Germanic Languages and Literatures, 46 (Chapel H i l l : University of North Carolina Press, 1964). 7 An Aesopic version also appears in Caxton's collection; see R. T. Lenaghan, ed., Caxton's Aesop (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967), PP- l46-4~9~!! Zeydel prints and translates an eighth-century Latin version of the fable, pp. 97-101. Q Sands, p. 30. 9 See Rose, pp. x v i - x x i i i . 1 0 Sands, p. 29-1 1 Ibid. x Rose, p. xxvii. 13 Two standard editions of the Roman are Le Roman de Renart, ed. D.-M. Meon, 4 vols. (Paris: Treuttel and Wurtz, 1826"]-and Le Roman de Renart,ed. Mario Roques, Classiques Francaises du Moyen Age, 78, 79, 81,"85, 5 vols. (Paris: Champion, 1948-58). Bossuat summarizes the texts of each branch and includes c r i t i c a l commentary. 1^ Bossuat, p. 6. 1 5 Flinn, p. 30. 108 It i s printed by James R. Hulbert in "The Nun's Priest's Tale," Sources and Analogues of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, ed. W. F. Bryan and Germaine Dempster (New York: Humanities Press, 1941), pp. 646-58. IT Bossuat, p. 32. !® Kenneth Sisam, ed., The Nun's Priest's Tale (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1927), P- x x i i . !9 See Bossuat, pp. 145-51? and Flinn, pp. 3-9 and the chapters dealing with French reworkings of the epic, chapters four to eight. 20 G. Baesecke, ed., Heinrichs des Glichezares Reinhart Fuchs (Halle: Niemeyer, 1925). 2 1 The episode from Reinhart Fuchs is printed in Hulbert, pp. 658-62. 22 Tinbergen and Van Dis, as cited above, note 4. 23 Ibid., pp. 16-17, and Sands, pp. 20-24. 2^ - Sands, p. 28. 25 Edited by Donald B. Sands, as cited above, note two. 26 Ibid., pp. 3-5. 27 See chapter three, note 7> and note 47 below. R. M. Wilson, Early Middle English Literature, 3rd ed. (London: Methuen, 1968), pp. 243-44. 29 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, ed. J. R. R. Tolkien and E. V. Gordon, 2nd ed. revised by Norman Davis (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967), Renaude, 11. 1898 and 19l6, Reniarde, 1. 1728, and Reynarde, 1. 1920. 3° The_ Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, ed. F. N. Robinson, 2nd ed. (Boston: Houghton M i f f l i n , 1957), p. 5l6, 1. 2448. 3 1 See Flinn, p. 672; Owst, Pulpit, pp. 204-205; Rose, p. xxxvi; Wilson, pp. 244-45. However, Sands (in his introduction to his edition of Caxton's Reynard) does not feel that the English were familiar with beast epic type literature before Caxton printed Reynard. 32 Reynard the Fox, A Study of the Fox in Medieval English Art (Leicester University Press,'1967JT See also his article^ "The Pursuit of Reynard in Medieval English Art and Literature," Nottingham Medieval—~^ Studies, 5 (1961), 62-8l, and Flinn, pp. 678-79. 33 Sands, p. 35; G. H. McKnight, "The Middle English Vox and Wolf," PMLA, 23 (1908), 499-500. J. M. Smith (The French Background of Middle  Scots Literature ^Edinburgh and London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934J7 P> 78, 109 suggests that fables are a type of fabliau, i n that both are short stories in verse and "the counterpart of the romantic idealism of the literature of courtly love." 34 Wilson, p. 247. 35 McKnight, pp. 500-504. 36 Ten Brink, p. 257. 37 Flinn, p. 676, discusses the relationship between The Vox and the  Wolf and branch four of the Roman. See also Bennett and Smithers, p. 66, and Wilson, p. 247. 38 Several scholars have pointed out the plausib i l i t y of the Middle English narrative in relation to the account i n the Roman, where the wolf is lured into the well by thinking the fox is there with his wife (Bennett and Smithers, p. 66, ten Brink, p. 257)' Wilson (p. 248) offers the opposite viewpoint. He also points out (pp. 247-48) one noteworthy lapse in the Middle English poem, and that is the thoughtlessness of the fox in jumping into the bucket i n the f i r s t place. In the French branch he sees his re-flection, thinks his wife is in the well, and descends to see what is wrong. But perhaps the English poet f e l t that this was not suitable behaviour for Reynard either--after a l l , i t is like the mistake of the stupid wolf. He says only that the fox . . . ne hounderstod nout of pe ginne: He nom pat boket and lp perinne, For he hopede inou to drinke. (lines 77-79) 39 Wilson, p. 249-^ The edition used throughout is that in Bennett and Smithers, pp. 65-76. Other editions may be found in A. S. Cook, pp. 188-198, and Dickins and Wilson, pp. 62-70. ^ Dickins and Wilson, p. 62. ^ Wilson suggests that this is a deliberate cutting; ten Brink (p. 258) assumes a gap in the text. ^3 Wilson, pp. 248-49. ^ Bennett and Smithers, p. 67. ^ Wilson, p. 249-^ McKnight, p. 499-47 Henryson's collection includes five Reynardian fables, the four mentioned here and "The T a i l l of Schir Chanteclei'r and the Foxe," which ? w i l l be examined in the next chapter. On the sources of these fables, see ) note 7, chapter three and especially MacQueen, Appendix III, pp. 208-21. 110 See also J. M Smith, pp. "J9-81, who concludes Henryson must have been familiar with French narratives; Bauman (pp. 112-14) suggests that those aspects of Henryson's narratives not found i n either Caxton or the Roman must have come from folktale sources. On "The Fox, the Wolf and the Cadger," see Gavin Bone, "The Sources of Henryson's 'Fox, Wolf, and Cadger,'" The Review of English Studies, 10 (1934); 319-20, and A. W. Jenkins, "Henryson's The Fox, the Wolf, and the Cadger again," Studies in Scottish Literature, 4~Tl96o77 107-112. On Odo of Cheriton as a source for "The T r i a l of the Fox," see Jamieson, pp. 403-405« k 8 Jenkins, "Henryson," p. 40. k9 Stearns, pp. 119-20. 50 Hereafter referred to as "The T r i a l of the Fox" and "The Fox's Confession" 51 Many episodes of the Roman de Renart and beast tales based upon i t involve the wolf or the fox f u l f i l l i n g some ecclesiastical function. Cf. The Vox and the Wolf. In later derivations of the beast epics, such portrayals are primarily heavily s a t i r i c a l ; see chapter six. 52 John B. Friedman, "Henryson, the Friars, and the Confessio Reynardi, JEGP, 66 (1967),' 550-61, clearly outlines this abuse. Friedman sees the fable as an anti-mendicant argument. While i t is not possible to ignore the satire inherent i n the portrayal of the wolf as a f r i a r and in the abuse of the sacrament, Friedman's reading underrates the comic relish with which the animals are described and Lowrence's duping the wolf into doing as he wishes. Stearns (pp. 114-17) sees Lowrence as a sympathetically por-trayed figure of the poor man^isled by a bad priest, citing Lowrence's "complete, immediate faith in the wolf" in lines 671-78 as "almost touching" (p. 114). I suspect that he has been fooled by the clever fox, for Lowrence obeisance to the wolf is simply another Reynardian trick: anything but peni-tent—indeed, he fears only for his skin—he wishes to fool the wolf into absolving him. His show of penitence succeeds in fooling the wolf, and his arguments about his need complete the ruse. Obviously, the wolf's concep-tion of his function is anything but ideal, but much of his behaviour is explicable by his s t u p i d i t y — i r o n i c a l l y , after his introduction in lines 666-69—and g u l l i b i l i t y . I l l CHAPTER FIVE THE APOGEE OF THE BEAST FABLE: CHAUCER'S NUN'S PRIEST'S TALE The Nun's Priest's Tale is considered by most Chaucer scholars to be one of the best of the Canterbury Tales, high praise indeed for a poem belonging to a genre usually associated with the didacticism of would-be Aesops. A supremely comic tale, i t nonetheless includes a great many of the serious themes that Chaucer focuses upon in his other poetry. The tale of a cock and hen contains consideration of dream psychology and physiology, marriage, the question of free w i l l , as well as a series of suggestions about the human failings evoked by the portrayal of the animals. The seriousness of these themes, and the fact of the portrayal of the animals as sophisticated characters, has led some scholars to read the tale as a serious allegory. Any one-sided allegorical reading, however, tends to obscure the poem's immense range of subject matter and unfailing comic tone. The comedy ranges from the narrator's joke i n portraying a cock and hen as he does, through mock-heroic tone, satire of romance and rhetoric, the'burlesque of the climac-t i c chase of the fox, to a humorous perspective on the moralitas i t s e l f . Indeed, i t is the comedy of the Nun's Priest's Tale that is most consistently recognized and admired by Chaucer's readers. And i t is through an examination of the comedy that one can understand how in Chaucer's hands the animal fable 1 achieves i t s finest expression i n medieval literature. To recognize the originality of the Nun's Priest's Tale we must see i t in relation to similar animal fables. Chaucer incorporates both the tradi-tional homiletic sphere of fable exempla and the comic anthropomorphic char-acterization of beast epics. The basic plot of the cock and fox story comes from Aesopic fable, although in the extant Aesopic fables that antedate 112 the twelfth century the "bird in question is usually a crow. These fables contain elements of either of the two tricks i n the Nun's Priest's Tale and the analogous tale in the Roman de Renart."^ Marie de France includes 2 the cock and fox fable i n her collection, but i t is li k e l y that her trans-forming the bird to a cock is indebted to the development given the old fables in the Renart tales.3 Her fable is Aesopic, however, as is that trans-it. lated and printed by Caxton from a continental collection. Clearly, the same story serves both the didactic purpose of the Aesopic fable and the entertainment purpose of the Roman. Chaucer's source is most obviously the Roman tradition: his narrative includes—indeed emphasizes—events before the entry of the fox, and his animals are highly developed characters. Branch two of the Roman de Renart^ contains a story of the cock, hen and fox much like Chaucer's. Scholars have suggested that the existence of another French version would account for some of Chaucer's departures from the Roman, particularly the names of Renart and Pinte becoming Russell and Pertelote.^ However, seeking to explain a l l of Chaucer's deviations from the Roman, or Reinhart Fuchs, which is also similar, in terms of addi-7 tional sources neglects the obvious originality of Chaucer's fable. What is more important is to examine the changes Chaucer does make and their effect on the tale as a whole. Besides the addition of the discussions of dreams, y marriage, Fortune and free w i l l , of which only the f i r s t i s suggested in the Roman, several aspects of the characterization are altered as well. Chauntecleer is transformed from the "gullible fool into a sympathetic char-Q acter." In the Roman, Pinte advises Chantecler to heed the warning his / dream has given him. The role of the fox is diminished in Chaucer and the emphasis is on the cock and hen. The wealthy farmer, Constans de Noes, who /ovns the hen-yard becomes an anonymous, poor and humble widow. We w i l l 113 examine each of these alterations in terms of the tale presently. On the whole, however, the plot of the Nun's Priest's Tale and the extent to which the animals are developed as characters with human attributes are inspired by the beast epic treatment- of Aesopic material.9 But the Nun's Priest's Tale does make use of the tradition of the didac-t i c fable in other ways. We have witnessed the popularity of fables as exempla, particularly in homiletics, for their a b i l i t y to teach and delight together. In the Prologue to the Nun's Priest's Tale, the Host has asked the priest to t e l l "swich thyng as may oure hertes glade" (line 28ll);"*" 0 after the Monk's tragedies the company wants a merry tale. The priest is happy to oblige, and does t e l l a merry tale, but one which is in keeping with his c l e r i c a l position. Accordingly, the cock and fox each state the W&'fr^f moral of their respective failings (lines 3^31-32, 3434-35), and the narrator summarizes both morals: Lo, swich i t is for to be recchelees And necligent, and truste on flaterye. (lines 3^36-37) The priest concludes his fable with a standard vindication of the use of f i c t i o n : But ye that holden this tale a folye, As of a fox, or of a cok and hen, Taketh the moralite, goode men. For seint Paul seith that a l that writen i s , To oure doctrine i t is ywrite, ywis; Taketh the fruyt, and l a t the chaf be s t i l l e . (lines 3438-43) The narrative, too, is interspersed with "morals" interpolated by the narra-tor. Before the fox appears, Chauntecleer is depicted in a l l his happy glory; the narrator ominously remarks 114 For evere the latter ende of joye is wo. God woot that worldly joye is soone ago; . . . . (lines 3205-6) Later, he digresses on the evils of women's counsel. And when the fox has begun to persuade Chauntecleer, the narrator interrupts to warn against flattery and suggest his audience protect themselves against i t by reading Ecclesiastes (lines 3325-30). When he has brought up the subject of free w i l l , the Nun's Priest cannot resist making several remarks on the subject, even while protesting I wol nat han to do of swich mateere; My tale i s of a cok, as ye may heere, . . . . (lines 3251-52) In t e l l i n g his merry tale, then, the Nun's Priest is s t i l l conscious of his c l e r i c a l role and habits, and does not l e t his audience miss any of 12 the morals his tale can offer. Although the Nun's Priest so frequently offers these moralizations, the characters of the tale are by nojmeans^sj.mple__jrehicles for his state-ments. Chauntecleer and Pertelote are highly developed characters whose behaviour is the essence of the tale's comedy. One of the most noticeable comic aspects of their portrayal is Chaucer's technique of constantly re-minding the audience that these sophisticated lovers are, after a l l , a cock and a hen. "It is a comic device inherent i n the beast-fable to make a J bird talk li k e a learned man and then show i t going off to have a dustbath, but i t has never been done better than here." 1 3 We have observed such delib-erate juxtaposition i n other fables, but Chaucer's s k i l l in drawing out the comic ironies of his characters' dual natures cannot easily be riva l l e d . "Faire damoysele Pertelote" is introduced as the heroine of a romance, but her graces are twice mockingly qualified, by the reminder that she is a hen. 115 She is the fairest of a l l Chauntecleer's paramours, for she is "the f a i r -es te hewed on h i r throte" (line 2869). Her conduct has been a standard of courtesy "syn . . . she was seven nyght oold" (line 2873): "the description of a courtly lady becomes ensnared in the lif e - c y c l e of a h e n . W h e n Chauntecleer praises his love, he does so in the language of the courtly lover, but rather than praising her red cheeks or l i p s , he suddenly reminds us of the unprepossessing stare of a chicken: Madame Pertelote, so have I b l i s , Of o thyng God hath sent me large grace; For whan I se the beautee of your face, Ye been so scarlet reed aboute youre yen, It maketh a l my drede for to dyen; . . . . (lines 3158-62) Some of his praises of Pertelote acquire comic overtones i n their being applicable to both a woman and a hen, but in different ways, such as Chauntecleer's affectionate "whan I feele a-nyght your softe syde" (line 3167). Pertelote's reprimand to Chauntecleer for his cowardice also contains a play upon the cock portrayed as a man: Have ye no mannes herte, and han a berd? (line 2920) The irony is doubled by the nature of the question, for obviously Chauntecleer does not have a beard. Pertelote's vehement appeal to the romance standards of heroism becomes empty rhetoric when this line restores the perspective on speaker and hero. Similarly, Chauntecleer's vow later in the poem is ironic when i t is remembered that he is a rooster, but also in that the vow can only be meaningless, and that he really does not wish Pertelote to be as learned as he i s : By God.' I hadde levere than my sherte That ye hadde rad his legende, as have I. (lines 3120-21) 116 X The last two examples suggest that Chauntecleer and Pertelote some-times become carried away with their human natures. They regard each other f i n human terms, as is expected i n a fable, but occasionally expand these terms beyond what can coexist with their animal natures. A further i l l u s -tration is provided by Pertelote, when she advises Chauntecleer on his dream: Though i n this toun is noon apothecarie, I shal myself to herbes techen yow . . . . (lines 29 k 8-49) Chaucer has made a point of describing the limits of Chauntecleer's and Pertelote's world; the idea of finding an apothecary in a "toun""'"'' that con-sists of one rooster and seven hens in a yard enclosed by a stick fence and a ditch indicates the extent to which Pertelote has developed her imagination. It is not only through the characters that the Nun's Priest's Tale brings out the comic ironies of beast fable portrayal. The tale opens with the introduction of the widow and her two daughters, but the f i r s t creature to be dignified with a name is the "sheep that highte Malle" (line 2831). The tone for the fantasy is set, for now we expect a beast fable in which, ironically, animals are more interesting characters than human beings. The 1/ contrast of the f i r s t description of Chauntecleer to that of the widow under-lines the irony. The widow's frugal, simple l i f e includes her small hen-yard, but in that hen-yard appears the splendid figure of Chauntecleer, dazzling i n his "mock-heroic br i l l i a n c e . " " ^ Her rooster and his hens lead a l i f e of courtly customs and erudition, but Chauntecleer, " r o i a l , as a prince is in his halle" (line 3184), is after a l l only the possession of a poor and humble widow. However, once the widow has been introduced, Chauntecleer and Pertelote •take over the narrative and, for the moment, focus our attention on the world 117 •within the fence and ditch, their -world. In that world they are seen with the accomplishments and a b i l i t i e s of highly sophisticated human beings. They are courtly lovers, endorsing the ideal of the romance tradition—and, because they are hen and rooster, are a parody of that tradition. They have read widely and can debate with scholarly enthusiasm. At the same time, they are li k e a human husband and wife. In their total behaviour their highly individual characters emerge as those of human beings, but always through the touchstone of our consciousness, prodded by the narrator, that they are cock and hen. Chauntecleer is f i r s t presented as the hero. His reputation is based on his a b i l i t y to crow at the right time, and this a b i l i t y is described as would be a chivalric hero's prowess in arms: In a l the land, of crowyng nas his peer. (line 2850) Of course, his physical beauty and the adoration of his court add to his status. He is a "gentil cok," and his heart belongs "trewely" to Pertelote. That he has six other hens as "paramours" is partly the irony of beast fable portrayal, for no farmer would keep only one hen and one rooster, but the validity of Chauntecleer's "true love" i n the courtly tradition is thus undercut. Pertelote, behaving as a courtly lady, reprimands Chauntecleer for cowardice and refuses her love to none but a fearless hero. Again the reali t i e s of their animal existence mock the courtly sentiment: what rooster in his right mind would not fear a fox? Chauntecleer, after demonstrating his superior intelligence and learning in the debate on dreams, becomes 17 again the polite courtly lover and extols Pertelote's beauty. His joy in her love elevates him to the rank of prince, and an heroic simile that l8 would describe someone like Palamon in a serious tale is applied to the 118 cock: He looketh as i t were a grym leoun, And on his toos he roraeth up and doun; . . . . (lines 3179-80) Once again, the disproportion between Chauntecleer's human sentiments and his rooster's physiognomy undercuts his heroic status. The f i n a l episode of the fable sees Chauntecleer's wives moaning for him as i f he were an epic hero: Certes, swich cry ne lamentacion, Was nevere of ladyes maad whan Ylion Was wonne, and Pirrus with his streite swerd, Whan he hadde hent kyng Priam by the berd, And slayn hym, as seith us Eneydos, As maden alle the hennes in the clos, Whan they had seyn of Chauntecleer the sighte. (lines 3355-61) The human world intervenes in the frantic chase that follows, and restores the perspective on Chauntecleer with r e a l i s t i c description of farmyard con-19 fusion. In human terms Chauntecleer's heroics are laughable; the comedy relies on the disproportion between Chauntecleer's conception of himself— and the hens' conception of him--and the fact that he is only a cock. But i t is not only the grander human aspirations that elaborate the characters of Chauntecleer and Pertelote. In the debate on dreams, cock and hen are like a human husband and wife. Pertelote is the practical wife and Chauntecleer the husband too proud to accept his wife's somewhat motherly advice. She pooh-poohs Chauntecleer's fear that his dream might be a fore-warning, and diagnoses i t with the efficiency of a brisk nurse, recommending a suitable diet to fore s t a l l "fevere terciane" or "an agu" (lines 2959-60). 20 W. C. Curry has pointed out that i n terms of medieval science Pertelote's diagnosis and prescriptions are correct and reveal considerable knowledge of physicians' lore. Indeed, her earnestness throughout the course of her 119 lengthy examination reveals genuine concern for her husband. Chauntecleer, however, replies with the wounded dignity of the hero who has just been rebuked for cowardice and has had to li s t e n to an argu-ment that reduces his avisioun to a simple indisposition: "Madame," quod he, "graunt mercy of youre loore, But nathelees, as touchyng daun Catoun, . . . men may i n olde bookes rede Of many a man moore of auctorite Than evere Caton was, so moot I thee, . . . . (lines 2971-72, 2974-76) His pride ruffled, he reminds Pertelote of his superior understanding and learning, and silences her with a lengthy defence of heeding dreams. Chauntecleer's role in the debate shows that he is no simple rooster, and PI that he is quite capable of interpreting his own dream correctly. He ends his argument, however, with a suggestion that he has a less dignified reason to refuse Pertelote's advice as well: . . . and I seye forthermoor, That I ne t e l l of laxatyves no stoor, For they been venymous, I woot i t weel; I hem diffye, I love hem never a deeli (lines 3153-56) One suspects that Pertelote has imposed her medications on Chauntecleer before. Chauntecleer and Pertelote emerge from their various human role as distinct and complete characters. Their incongruous combination of human and animal traits is comic, and their simply human traits are comic as well, but the portrayal is nonetheless sympathetic. Part of our sympathy for them stems no doubt from their being so very human, but their weaknesses are not seen with a stern eye. Pertelote is a genuinely affectionate wife, somewhat ludicrous in her officiousness, but likeable for her sincerity. 120 Chauntecleer is proud, but this aspect of his portrayal is tempered by his affection for Pertelote, his sense of duty, his wisdom, and, not least, his vulnerability. The latter i s gently suggested in his ruffled reaction to Pertelote's solicitude, his expressed distaste for laxatives, his unwill-ingness to offend Pertelote or have a quarrel, and the joy he expresses when their debate is ended. And Chauntecleer i s , after a l l , a very splendid rooster. The courtly and the heroic pretensions of Pertelote and Chauntecleer may be laughable, but the very fact that we can laugh at them with so much pleasure ensures that we w i l l f e e l a sympathetic interest in the cock and hen. Chauntecleer and Pertelote are indeed so human in so many ways that when we laugh at them we are laughing at human beings also. As in many of Henryson's fables and i n The Vox and the Wolf, the incongruities of animals behaving as human beings produce comedy, laughter at both the animal charac-ters and at human behaviour. Particular human t r a i t s , such as pride or foolishness, are put into perspective in the animal characters, particularly when these are comic, because we can regard them from a distance, but this perspective shifts constantly as the distance between fable character and human being is altered. Thus while we are able to see how pretentiously Chauntecleer behaves while we are watching a rooster, we suddenly see that man and rooster have more in common than the power of speech, and find our-selves laughing at a human foible. In the Vox and the Wolf, the human view remains implicit in the ironic humour that pervades the tale; in Henryson, i t asserts i t s e l f i n the moralitas. Chaucer, however, builds a human distance into the narrative structure of his fable; lik e our varying viewpoints of Chauntecleer, i t shifts, but more dramatically. 22 Unlike other fables that include human characters, the Nun's Priest's 121 Tale separates the worlds of the widow and the hen-yard. It is out of the good widow's spare and sober way of l i f e that a l l the exuberance and a l l the delusions of the world of Chauntecleer and Pertelote grow, u n t i l at last the human world erupts into the animal one, in an energetic and breathless attempt to rescue a valu-able piece of property. This treatment of the human and animal on two different levels, each b l i s s f u l l y unaware of the other's mode of experiencing l i f e and each pursuing i t s ends with equal vigour and deter-mination, is responsible for much of the comic effect of the tale. 23 We have noted before how the contrast between the widow and Chauntecleer points out the irony of the rooster's splendour and how the pursuit of the fox deflates Chauntecleer's heroic stature. The comedy produced is that of a comic perspective. The framework provided by the i n i t i a l and concluding descriptions of the widow's small farm, of which Chauntecleer is only a small part, gives the audience the perspective on the rooster that makes his pride the more ludicrous. Chauntecleer is no bigger than his kingdom: to Pertelote and his other wives, he may be a prince, but outside the stick fence and ditch he is another animal, like Malle the sheep and Colle the dog. In his pride he forgets that like the rest of the world he is mortal, f a l l i b l e . "I am so f u l of joye and of solas, That I diffye bothe sweven and dreem." (lines 3170-71) He looketh as i t were a grym leoun, And on his toos he rometh up and doun; Hym deigned nat to sette his foot to grounde. (lines 3179-81) For the audience i t is a short step backwards to see that Chauntecleer's comic pretensions i n the world of the fable are lik e mankind's comic pre-tensions in the world as a whole. 122 But the audience's perspective is not l e f t as a distant one. While the widow is i n i t i a l l y a model of temperance and good judgment, her second appearance is as the leader of a chaotic chase that does not speak for moderation. She does not swoon as a tragic heroine, hut her behaviour is ok no less hysterical than Pertelote's. Together with ducks, bees, dogs, and other human beings, the widow bursts into Chauntecleer's world: she deflates i t , but she also becomes part of i t . In the pandemonium of the chase, we are given an overwhelming view of shared preoccupation in which the boundaries between human and animal world are broken entirely. The role of the description of the widow's frugal l i f e returns us to the question of Chaucer's motives in changing aspects of the version be-lieved to be his source, branch two of the Roman de Renart. The wealthy farmer to whose farm Chantecler belongs i n the Roman would not be as effective a figure in Chaucer's tale as is the poor widow. Her simple l i f e contrasts sharply with Chauntecleer's splendour, underlining the ironies of the portrayal of the animals. Chauntecleer's and Pertelote's pretentious human behaviour is made the more ridiculous by the widow's lack of pretentiousness, both because they are only chickens in her humble establishment and because her human behaviour is more commendable than the human characteristics of Chauntecleer and Pertelote. 2^ Besides lending perspective to the comic portrayal of the cock and hen, the widow also provides a moral perspective on the f o l l i e s of pride and pretension. The change in the roles of Chauntecleer and Pertelote regarding the interpretation of Chauntecleer's dream is basic to the development of Chaucer's tale. To begin with, i t provides the basis for the long debate on dreams. Chauntecleer is not a fool, as his escape from the fox t e s t i f i e s ; his wisdom and his correct interpretation of his dream result i n the 123 rationale for his f a l l being focused on his pride and consequent susceptibility to flattery. Chauntecleer 1s more sympathetic portrayal increases the comic effect of the tale and makes him a more effective rep-resentative of human behaviour than a simply foolish cock. Pertelote*s reaction to the dream suggests a light-hearted realism at work in the anthropomorphic development of the animals. Pinte in the Roman interprets her husband's dream prophetically, seeing him in the terms Chauntecleer i n the Nun's Priest's Tale wishes to be seen in. Chaucer knew more of matrimony than that. It is the husband that would have high pretensions about the significance of his dreams, the wife who would throw the cold water of common sense upon them.^T Pertelote's rather ordinary housewifeish nature reveals i t s e l f and points out the shallowness of her courtly pretensions, heightening the comedy of the mock-heroic portrayal arid of the reflection on human behaviour she suggests. Chauntecleer and Pertelote are developed more r e a l i s t i c a l l y as human beings with a combination of strengths and weaknesses that speak of mankind as a whole. The fox's role in Chaucer's fable is not a central one; unlike Renart i n the Roman, Russell is not the hero, or mock-hero, but the v i l l a i n . There has been a great deal of speculation about why Chaucer changed the fox's 28 name, especially when he was familiar with i t . Russell, too, is the name for a son of Renart i n Renart le Nouvel and the Dutch Reinaert de 29 Vos. If the adventures of Reynard were well-known to Chaucer's audience, changing the name would be i n keeping with Chaucer's making the cock, rather than the fox, his hero. Chaucer's fable is a microcosmic portrayal of the human world, but a comic one; Chauntecleer as hero, and as man, is more suitable than Reynard, whose rogueries, while certainly comic, cannot be seen with such an indulgent eye. The fox as man would suggest a harshness 12k that is out of keeping with Chaucer's humane vision. There are "fals flatours," certainly, hut the poet's concern is with the hulk of humanity, and for this reason, I suspect, he is more interested i n characterizing Chauntecleer and Pertelote than the sly col-fox. Russell, however, s t i l l is portrayed with l i v e l y interest. He pro-vides an opportunity for the narrator to parody certain rhetorical prac-tices. The moralist's voice introduces him a a "homycide": 0 false mordrour, lurkynge in thy deni 0 newe Scariot, newe Genylon, False dissymulour, o Greek Synon, That broghtest Troye a l outrely to sorwei (lines 3226-29) The mock-heroic voice elevates the fox, crouching in a "bed of wortes," to the ranks of history's famous traitors. But the fox, after a l l , is only behaving according to his nature. The solemn voice of the rhetorician mocks i t s e l f when our vision returns to the hen-yard and the animal world. As R. T. Lenaghan 3 0 points out, the narrator is enjoying a joke at the expense of the rethor who inflates his subject-matter beyond common sense. The fox, then, provides a means of satirizing yet another human f o l l y . Apart from the inflated condemnations that really have very l i t t l e to do with Russell himself, the fox is portrayed humorously and somewhat indul-gently. His cleverness in duping Chauntecleer shows that Chaucer is quite as capable of developing upon the wiles of Reynard as the trouve*res. He speaks to the cock as one learned man to another: the intricacies of music are of interest to him--. . . ye han i n musyk moore feelyinge Than hadde Boece . . . 31 (lines 3293-9k) --and has read of the wisdom of Chauntecleer's kind in "Daun Burnel the Ass 125 He thus cleverly combines flattery with an appeal to Chauntecleer's pretensions to learning. The fox's f a i r words too have ironic double meanings which Chauntecleer does not see through: My lord your fader—God his soule blesse.'--And eke youre mooder, of hire gentillesse, Han i n myn hous ybeen to my greet ese; . . . . (lines 3295-97) By the end of the tale, Chauntecleer and Russell, each both victim and victor i n terms of cleverness, exchange moralities in a matter-of-fact way, both the wiser for their experience. The fox is the mock v i l l a i n who illustrates Chauntecleer's foolishness and blindness, but he too learns to "observe a law of governance" and "recognize the advantages of self-control."32 Chauntecleer*s capture by the fox through his susceptibility to flattery and the fact that Pertelote misinterprets the dream and dis-tracts him on the fateful morning have led many readers to feel there is a consistent allegorical purpose i n the poem. Chauntecleer's weaknesses are his pride and recklessness, both related to his joy in Pertelote. The analogies to the F a l l are thus inevitably suggested, but an attempt to sustain an allegorical reading is thwarted by details of plot and char-acterization, and not least by the comic tone. To see the hen-yard bor-dered by a stick fence and ditch as an earthly paradise33 is to miss the ironies of Chauntecleer, the wise and splendid hero and lover, being in reality a rooster whose earthly paradise is a simple hen-yard. It is Chauntecleer, not Pertelote, who f a l l s through personal vanity,3 k and although the Nun's Priest, i n making the comparison between Eve and Pertelote while decrying "wommanes conseil," may be making his audience aware of the correspondences, the tale as a whole does not suggest that 126 Pertelote's counsel is responsible for Chauntecleer's error. Chauntecleer does not take her advice and does not give i t any credit. He simply ignores his dream because he is happy. Granted, his "joye and solas" in Pertelote is largely responsible for his recklessness, but Pertelote cannot be blamed for making Chauntecleer happy. Chauntecleer's f o l l y is too comic, both in i t s portrayal and in the fact that he corrects i t and saves himself, for the reminders of the F a l l to dominate the tale. The delightful humour of the pursuit scene, too, is surely beyond being seen as a conception of "moral disorder" resulting from the F a l l . ^ "The comedy of f o l l y and conceit . . . is enhanced by the oblique comparison with the Fall,"36 and like so many other suggestions in the poem, this comparison relates the world of the fable to the human world. It is yet another examplev of the comic anthropomorphism of Chaucer's fable characters. Several readers of the Nun's Priest's Tale have seen i t as an allegorical warning to the clergy or the Christian man to beware of heretics. These interpretations are based partially on typical symbolic meanings given the animals i n medieval exegesis, the fox as heretic or false cleric,37 and the cock as a priest or Christian. 3^ Charles Dahlberg39 sees Russell as a symbol of a Franciscan f r i a r , and Chauntecleer as a member of the secular clergy; he reads the tale as an anti-mendicant allegory exhorting kn parish priests to be alert to their duties. Part of his argument is based on the sloth of the secular clergy, which drove members of their flocks to the mendicants. Chauntecleer, however, i s not slothful. His attention to his duty is stressed—indeed, he ends the debate on dreams because day has come: But thilke tale is a l to longe to t e l l e , And eke i t is ny day, I may nat dwelle. (31k9-50) 127 And on the morning of the day on which Chauntecleer meets the fox, he is doing his duty, which, as he is a rooster, includes being attentive to Pertelote and helping his flock find food. Dahlberg's reading does not elucidate much more of the fable than the episode between the cock and the fox, which is only a small part of the tale as a whole. M. J. Donovan con-In structs aVLmilar but more general reading. It should be noted that neither of these readings takes Pertelote into account, other than seeing her as a general representation of woman who leads man astray and an indi -cation of Chauntecleer's tenuous spi r i t u a l state. Indeed, of a l l the subjects the poem treats, none is sufficiently consistently presented to warrant considering i t a unifying theme, for a l l are eventually mocked by the fable portrayal. The very fact that a rather ludicrous rooster can consider such serious matters as he does makes us laugh at the serious matters as well. This is not to say that the serious matters, or even the comic f a l l of Chauntecleer, are entirely funny. Rather, the perspective that the comedy of beast fable portrayal provides makes i t possible for us to laugh at serious matters and in laughing see them in relation to the world as a whole. To begin with, the Nun's Priest's Tale is after a l l another tale of a character at the top of the Wheel of Fortune who is threatened by Fortune's instability. The Monk's Tale has been a series of tragic tumblings from the Wheel, and the Nun's Priest t e l l s a tale that w i l l please a company wanting a change; as the knight says, a happy tale of man's fortunes . . . is gladsom, as i t thynketh me, And of swich thyng were goodly for to t e l l e . (Prolqgue , lines 2778-79) The priest's tale puts the monk's tragic vision into perspective: Chauntecleer's f a l l , or near-fall, has a reason—his pride--of which we 128 are so aware because we have been laughing"at i t merrily for some time. But also, the qualities that elevated Chauntecleer in the f i r s t place, his wakefulness and ready voice, recur in time to save him. Thus the unhappy aspect of l i f e is counterbalanced by the comedy of a happy reso-lution. The monk's concept of tragedy goes no further than this statement: For evere the latter ende of joye is wo. (line 3205) The priest mimics i t , and then proceeds to show that the matter is not so simple. The Wheel of Fortune is unstable, but man is not completely help-43 less. He does, after a l l , have free w i l l . The underlying belief in free w i l l , one of many serious themes incor-porated into this comic tale, comments on the incompleteness of the monk's point of view in the previous tale, and is used for comic effect in this one. Chauntecleer avoids tragedy by exercising his wits; he thus denies the "necessitee" implied by his "avisioun" through retaining his free w i l l . The priest has brought up the matter, interrupting his narrative with his interest in the question of predestination, but proceeds to show, in the remainder of his tale, that when man retains his free w i l l , necessity is conditional. However, while this theme is certainly part of the tale, we must be careful not to lose the perspective the comic portrayal gives us. The priest ends his discussion of "necessitee'' with a reminder of his fable, though not with a return to the narrative: I wol nat han to do of swich mateere; My tale is of a cok, as ye may heere, . . . . (lines 3251-52) The question is a very serious one indeed, but when i t is applied to the doings of a rooster, i t cannot be regarded too seriously. In terms of Chauntecleer's portrayal, of the comic tone and of the happy ending, the 129 inflated, diction of the narrator's lament for Chauntecleer's f a i l i n g to heed his dream is a comic mockery of seriousness: 0 Chauntecleer, acursed be that morwe That thou into the yerd flaugh fro the hemes.' Thou were f u l wel ywarned by thy dremes That thilke day was perilous to thee; But what that God forwoot moot nedes bee. (lines 3230-34) The solemn discussion of free w i l l and necessity indeed adds to the comic incongruities of the poem: a serious subject adorns a frivolous one. We are shown the Wheel of Fortune as straddled by a rooster. On one level, the themes of free w i l l and of Fortune are put into perspective by the priest, but this lesson for mankind cannot become solemn unless we lose our perspective on the hero, Chauntecleer, and Chaucer does not l e t us lose that perspective. Pertelote's role and the Nun's Priest's remarks on woman's counsel have been seen as evidence of the Nun's Priest's Tale's belonging to the ranks of medieval anti-feminist l i t e r a t u r e . ^ Pertelote's counsel is certainly short-sighted, but the criticisms she meets with are not severe; again, the comic tone of the poem prevents our taking the anti-feminist theme too seriously. Chauntecleer and Pertelote are sympathetically por-trayed, even in their weaknesses, and there is a genuine delight communi-cated to the reader when Chauntecleer describes his happiness: "Madame Pertelote, my worldes b l i s , Herkneth thise b l i s f u l briddes how they synge, And se the fresshe floures how they sprynge; Ful is myn herte of revel and solas!" (lines 3200-3) Chauntecleer's Mulier est hominis confusio is borne out by the fable, but not by Pertelote's behaviour so much as by his own weakness. But even this 130 weakness is understandable and justifiable. "Chaucer's humane and comic realism forbids the dour antifeminist implications and provides a counter-poise in that other truth, that other affirmation, Amor vincit omnia."k5 Pertelote's genuine affection, and Chauntecleer's genuine joy, balance the view of woman and marriage, as does Chauntecleer's soothing Pertelote with "the most felicitous mistranslation of a l l time," k6 "Womman is mannes joye and a l his b l i s . " (line 3166) And of course, the seriousness of any thematic implication is moderated by the comedy of the fable portrayal: these serious reflections on the joys and dangers of human l i f e are presented through the tale "of a cok and hen." Several of these serious themes are also undercut by a deliberate con-fusion of the causal relationships in the tale. It is not clear when Chauntecleer f i r s t sees the fox after his dream and his reckless f l i g h t from the beams. Neither dream nor the reckless pride apparently caused by joyful contemplation of Pertelote leads to instantaneous woe. The blurring of responsibility caused by presenting a prophetic dream, a wife who gives poor counsel, and a hero who knows better than to behave as he does, is reinforced by the obscured chronology.'4'''' Several other potentially serious subjects are treated lightheartedly in the Nun's Priest's Tale. The debate on dreams includes a great deal of information on the subject of sleep^visions and their importance, but i t is nonetheless essentially comic that Chauntecleer, a rooster, should be possessed of this knowledge. While Chauntecleer characterizes himself by thinking his dream an "avisioun," he is nonetheless correct, so that the comedy shifts to encompass the very incongruity of allowing a rooster such 131 a dignified role. Indeed, the dream i t s e l f mocks a human "avisioun" by i t s particular s u i t a b i l i t y to a rooster: Chauntecleer dreams of being forced to wear a fur coat with a tight bone collar, an obvious metaphor for being 48 swallowed by a fox. Numerous scholars have pointed out the significance of the date of Chauntecleer's fall--May 3rd—and related this date and other astrological phenomena in the poem to i t s serious themes.^9 Chauntecleer is under the influence of Venus, and susceptible to a f a l l , but also, because of the rebirth of the New Adam, has the potential for rebirth. Certainly, Chaucer would not have taken the trouble to c l a r i f y the date of Chauntecleer's mishap i f he had not meant to suggest something of these associations. Chauntecleer is the servant of Venus, and his error i s implied when the Nun's Priest ironically appeals to Venus: 0 Venus, that art goddesse of plesaunce, Syn that thy servant was this Chauntecleer, And in thy servyce dide a l his poweer, Moore for delit than world to multiplye, Why woldestow suffre hym on thy day to dye? (lines 3342-46) Mention of Friday brings to mind another example of the f a l l of princes, and the Nun's Priest elevates Chauntecleer to the company of King Richard^I, also slain on a Friday. Such stress on Friday, particularly by a priest, suggests the theological significance of that day as well, but the poem does not develop the suggestion. The significance given to Friday in the poem indeed functions to underline the comic incongruities of Chauntecleer's mock-heroic portrayal: a rooster is the f a i t h f u l servant of Venus and the companion in tragedy of King Richard. This very portrayal prevents our taking the morality implicit in the priest's appeal to Venus too seriously. One suspects that the priest wishes us to realize how suitable i t is that 132 Chauntecleer should f a l l on Venus' day, but he does not dwell on moral weakness. He shifts to a rhetorical interest i n another apostrophe, this time to a rhetorician. In this passage, we are returned to the mock-heroic conception of Chauntecleer; the moral significance of Friday as Venus * day is a passing allusion, a deepening of the consciousness of the p o s s i b i l i -ties of extracting a significance for human conduct, but i t is not solemn-ized. The s a t i r i c a l reflection on the poetry of Geoffrey of Vinsauf ironically undercuts the relevance of dwelling on the day of the week at a l l : 0 Gaufred, deere maister soverayn, That whan thy worthy kyng Richard was slayn With shot, compleynedest his deeth so soore, Why ne hadde I now thy sentence and thy loore, The Friday for to chide, as diden ye? For on a Friday, soothly, slayn was he. (lines 33u7-52) In a sense, them, Chaucer snatches back the " f r u i t " he has offered by relating Chauntecleer's f a l l to the associations of Friday. Chaucer's comic approach to rhetoric and romance in the Nun's Priest's Tale includes, ironically, a comic approach to beast fable i t s e l f . To begin with, the didactic moralizing of exempla is satirized at several points. Chauntecleer, in his grand attempt to convince Pertelote of the truth of dreams, "uses the exemplum technique. During the lengthy tale of the two travellers (lines 2985 f f . ) he becomes so carried away with his tale that he forgets the lesson he meant to illustrate:50 "Mordre wol out, that se we day by day. Mordre is wlatsom and abhomynable To God, that is so just and resonable, That he ne wol nat suffre i t heled be, Though i t abyde a yeer, or two, or thre, Mordre wol out, this my conclusioun." (lines 3052-57) 133 He carries on his narrative to prove this point, and then recalls the moral he began to illu s t r a t e , adding i t somevhat anticlimactically: "Heere may men seen that dremes been to drede." (line 3063) The multiplication of "morals" at the end of the fable suggests, too, a comic glance at the simple-mindedness of an Aesopic fable. When the Nun's Priest says "Taketh the Moralite," we can only ask with bewilderment, "Which one?"51 The earnestness of the narrator in drawing out the morality of his tale sometimes comes under comic scrutiny. The priest digresses to stress the e v i l of woman's counsel: Wommennes conseils been f u l ofte colde; Wommanes conseil broghte us f i r s t to wo, And made Adam from Paradys to do, . . . . (lines 3256-57) Chauntecleer, however, is not following Pertelote's counsel; he is neglecting his dream because of his amorous interest and his pride and happy confidence in general. It i s noteworthy that these lines follow the digression on free w i l l , which implies that i t is i n Chauntecleer's power to alter the fate predicted in his dream. The priest's part i a l i t y undercuts their seriousness. He backs away from them rather quickly too, in keeping with the comic tone of his tale. The Nun's Priest pauses on numerous occasions in the narrative to point a moral. In each ease the moral is corroborated by the narrative to some extent, but is tempered by the comedy of the portrayal of Chauntecleer and Pertelote, by the possibility of another moral application, or by the satire on pompous rhetorical moralizing. There is not one moral for which the tale functions as an exemplum. The Nun's Priest has f i l l e d his tale with moralities, but he is caught up in their multiplicity—even to the I 3 k extent of adding another possible cause for misfortune—when Chauntecleer's fate is at last confronted: 0 destinee, that mayst nat been eschewed! Alias, that Chauntecleer fleigh fro the hemes! Alias, his wyf ne roghte nat of dremes! And on a Friday f i l a l this meschaunce. (lines 3338-41) And ironically, once again, not one of these "causes" is the most obvious cause of Chauntecleer's plight: This Chauntecleer his wynges gan to bete, As man that koude his traysoun nat espie, So was he ravysshed with his f l a t e r i e . (lines 3322-24) The fable explodes in a welter of morals and of moral associations. In one sense, we can f e e l that the Nun's Priest himself is being satirized when he t e l l s us to take the morality, for his tale is beyond this simple exhortation. But the rhetorical stance of the lines such as those quoted above suggests that the narrator too is poking fun at those who see at tale only in terms of an obvious "moral" and neglect to recognize the 52 diversities of human experience. The simple-minded moralizing mocks the Aesopic fable as a didactic tool, and the tale as a whole mocks by sheer contrast the i l l u s t r a t i v e fable that represents only one view of human behaviour. Just as there is not f i n a l moral statement in the Nun's Priest's  Tale, there can be no f i n a l statement to capsulize the technique of the portrayal of Chauntecleer and Pertelote. They are certainly as anthro-pomorphic as any of the characters in the f u l l y developed beast epics. But were i t not for Chaucer's frequent reminders of their animal appearances, we would sometimes forget they are chickens, as in the long debate on dreams for example. Indeed, as we noted above, the animals themselves sometimes 135 seem to forget; and they never speak of themselves but as human beings. The priest often reminds himself and his audience that his tale is "of a eok," for he comments upon his characters in human terms also. The tale, then, even mocks i t s own form of character portrayal. Certainly, the Nun's Priest's intention is that we see the human in the animal, but the comic tone of the tale as a whole, and the suggestions that beast fable characters developed to this extent can overstep the bounds of their portrayal, imply that the poet is as amused with his genre as he is with the didactic uses to which i t has been put. But the comic tone of the Nun's Priest's Tale does not deny any of the values offered in the poem; i t simply shows that a l l these values are relative. The c r i t i c a l temper of the poem . . . produces no negative effect, but a continuously humane suggestion of the r e l a t i v i t y of things. The shifting style and the succession of topics never rest long enough to serve a single view or a single doctrine or an unalterable judgment.53 Chauntecleer's pretensions are mocked by the fact that he is a rooster, the priest's moral or learned digressions are .mocked by being applied to a cock; the rhetorician's terminology is mocked by his subject matter. Yet, Chauntecleer is a splendid rooster, the priest's remarks on free w i l l have a great deal of validity, and the rhetorician's voice utters truths of i t s own. The comic contradictions of the fable are also those of the human world. Man's complacent answers to his problems, like his pretensions to heroism or learning, are put into perspective by a portrayal of the comic inst a b i l i t y of a l l sublunary v a l u e s , a n d indeed of sublunary l i f e . The tale's comedy often includes parody and enjoyment of the paradoxes of man-kind's reactions to his mortal condition, but i t s basis is the underlying 136 tone of sympathetic enjoyment of humanity, the essence of which is tolerance. Chauntecleer and Pertelote amuse us with their pretensions, hut they also engage our sympathy, for their foolishness is of a universal kind. The narrator ends his tale on a note of true comedy and humanity. Chauntecleer saves himself and learns his lesson, the fable world is l e f t behind, and with i t the disparities of the mortal world: Now, goode God, i f that i t be thy wille, As seith my lord, so make us all e goode men, And brynge us to his heighe blisse.' Amen. (lines 3kkh-k6) Before concluding our discussion of Chaucer's handling of beast fable, i t w i l l be worthwhile to compare the Nun's Priest's Tale with Robert Henryson's treatment of the same basic tale, "The T a i l l of Schir Chantecleir and the Foxe."^ Henryson's fable, unlike Chaucer's, concentrates upon the capture of the cock by the fox. While he clearly borrow aspects of Chaucer's characterizations and mock epic tone, the Scottish poet has a more clearly defined moral p u r p o s e . C h a n t e c l e i r ' s character is developed to il l u s t r a t e the f o l l i e s of vainglory, and Lowrence is a more clever flatterer than Russell. The action of Henryson's fable is limited to the capture, pursuit, and escape of Chantecleir. While the narrative i l l u s -trates the comic efficacy of fable portrayal, i t s particular moral purpose requires that that portrayal be executed along lines very different from The Nun's Priest's Tale. To begin with, Chantecleir i s not so well-developed nor so sympathetic a character as i s Chauntecleer. Most of his characterization is accomplished through the dialogue of the three hens. Chantecleir as he appears i n the fable is a rather foolish figure. He has only one line before his capture 137 by the fox, and that does not speak well for his intelligence; he replies to the fox's recollections of the amity between Chantecleir's family and himself, "Knew ye my father?" quod the cok, and leuch. (line 446) He is duped by the fox into listening; "leuch" does not seem to indicate incredulity, for i f i t did surely the cock would flee. It has been pointed out that "leuch" in Henryson often means " g i g g l e d , a n d such a reading is i n keeping with Chantecleir's foolish pride, for here he i s flattered by the fox's words and behaviour. His foolishness is further illustrated by Henryson's original development of the fox's request that Chantecleir sing with his eyes closed. Lowrence, after hearing Chantecleir sing, i n -sists that the cock's father could do better: "For," quod the tod, "he wald—and haif na dout— Baith wink and craw and turne him thryis about." (lines "'472-73) Henryson makes i t clear why Chantecleir behaves so foolishly: he is "infect with wind and fals vanegloir" (line 474). But his intelligence is not of a high order either, for crafty as the fox may be, he is no stranger to Chantecleir. He has disturbed the hen-yard before, In pyking off pultrie baith day and nicht; . . . . (line 423) As is often the case in Henryson's F a b i l l i s , pride and comic stupidity go hand in hand. The cock's escape from the fox seems to owe more to divine intervention than to his own wit. He is "with sura gude s p i r i t inspyrit" (line 558)) and the narrator later adds another similar suggestion: 138 This tod, thocht he wes fals and frivolus, Desavit wes he menis richt mervelous; . . . . (lines 565, 567) The cock does not succumb to a second attempt by Lowrence to beguile him, however. Donald MacDonald points out that Henryson borrows an element from Chaucer's tale, the fox's second attempt to capture Chantecleir, even though the narrative logic of Henryson's poem would seem to demand "that the cock revert to his original role of a vain and gullible f o o l . " - ^ In the Nun's Priest's T ale the incident is added to show that Chauntecleer has learned his lesson, for he is a regenerate figure. Chantecleir as an embodiment of foolish vainglory is spared because Henryson is t e l l i n g a comic tale and because he follows the traditional story. The fox i n Henryson's fable is a major character. His cunning and deceit are s k i l f u l l y brought out by the poet's "remarkable a b i l i t y to reveal character through dialogue."59 The ironies of Lowrence's words are typical of Henryson's portrayal of the crafty fox in other F a b i l l i s : Your father f u l l oft f i l l i t hes my wame, And send me meit f r a midding to the muris: . . . . (lines kkl-2) Lowrence*s caution i n winning Chantecleir's confidence speaks for a greater degree of rationalization on Henryson's part than on Chaucer's, and of characterization of the fox as well. The characterization i s f u l f i l l e d , again, through an increased anthropomorphism i n the fox. Lowrence does not wait for the cock to see him and be startled, but approaches him on his knees, speaking politely and going through the motions of wishing to pay service to his "maister". He does not ask Chantecleir to sing u n t i l he has given the history of his acquaintance with the elder rooster, and does not ask Chantecleir to close his eyes u n t i l the f i r s t challenge to sing as 139 well as his father has been f u l f i l l e d . Lawrence is only fooled by Chantecleir because he is weary and weak with hunger, and afraid of the pack of hounds close on his heels. Lowrence's comic guile focuses our attention on the success of clever flattery. The digression that introduces Henryson's contributions to the cock 60 and fox fable, Pertok, Sprutok, and Toppok, includes mock heroics and a s a t i r i c a l glance at marriage no doubt inspired by the Nun's Priest's Tale. Henryson's depiction of the hens is considerably different from Chaucer's portrayal of Pertelote, however. While his wives' censures point to Chantecleir's moral weaknesses, their behaviour is in effect s e l f - c r i t i c a l , and the selfishness their words reveal is a far less gentle comment on women. Each hen expresses a human attitude to Chantecleir, and the self-ishness—or b e s t i a l i t y — o f each attitude is reinforced by the fact that these are hens. Pertok expresses a courtly point of view in her mock-heroic lament, but her sorrow is rapidly shown to by "feinyeit", so that she is not unlike the fox whose f a i r words mask selfish motives. She states that Chantecleir's love was really only "lust but lufe," a criticism in keeping with her courtly sentiments, but in the following lines she shows that her interest too is only that of lust: " Sister, ye wait, off sic as him ane scoir Wald not suffice to slaik our appetye." (lines 525-26) This comic reversal reveals her true nature. Sprutok, whose words effect Pertok's rapid change of tone, is a cheerful realist with, views "the Wife 6l of Bath would have understood and relished." She resents the cock's jealousy and overbearing nature, but her major criticism is that he is not amorous enough. The comic portrayal of Sprutok the hen as a merry widow is another example of Henryson's playing upon fable portrayal to suggest human-animal correspondences: "The proverb sayis, 'Als gude lufe cummis as gais.' I w i l l put on my halydayis clais And mak me fresch agane this j o l i e May. Syne chant this song, 'Wes never wedow sa gay.'"' Finally, Toppok delivers her speech "lyke ane Curate", self-righteously presenting a r i g i d moral viewpoint. She comments on Chantecleir's pride and c r i t i c i z e s his adultery, the latter being quite ridiculous in terms of the animal nature of the hero assigned by the widow to keep "ane l y t t i l l flok." Her finding Chantecleir "lous" and "lecherous" reflects unfavourably on both the other two hens and on herself. But her severely judgmental position is mocked in the tale, not only by the pomposity of her words in contrast to the narrative but by her assuming to determine God's attitude to Chantecleir. Not long after she declares Chantecleir f a l l s by "the verray hand off God" (line 5 k2), Chantecleir saves himself when he is "with sum gude s p i r i t inspyrit." The suggestion is comically ambiguous, but Toppok's con-viction is clearly shortsighted. Altogether, the juxtaposition of the varying rhetorics of the hens-makes each ridiculous by contrast. The foolishness of Chantecleir's pride is ironically elaborated as well, for while he is yet alive his wives, over whom he no doubt reigned very proudly, are enjoying the prospect of a new love and condemning him outright. The satire of the views expressed by Pertok, Sprutok and Toppok in this comic digression is more pointed than the Nun's Priest's Tale's s a t i r i c glances at women and marriage. The hens are amusing, but they are not por-trayed very sympathetically—indeed, one rather pities Chantecleir for having to return to them. Pertok's insincerity, Sprutok's selfishness and Toppok's self-righteousness betray more antifeminist tendencies on the part of the narrator than-does the Nun's Priest's portrayal of the misled but well-meaning i k l Pertelote. It is only the comic irony of fable portrayal--the congruities and incongruities between the hens' animal natures and their human roles--that prevents the satire from becoming bitter. Pertok, Sprutok and Toppok express a comic combination of human and animal characteristics, but their self-centeredness and hypocrisy cannot be indulged in s t r i c t l y human terms. In the world of the fable, Chantecleir finds a saving grace and Lowrence is an amusing for, but when vainglory and flattery are examined in the human world, they must be condemned. Forthy as now schortlie to conclude, Thir twa sinnis, f l a t t e r i e and vaneglore, Ar vennomous; gude,folk, f i e thame thairfoir. 1 (lines 610-12) Henryson's specific moral purpose, then, controls the development of his animal characters. They are anthropomorphic and comic, but the irony that reveals their character reveals a specific human weakness the narrator wishes to single out. The fable is aetiological, and in this sense Henryson is closer to the exemplum tradition; he portrays his characters that they may illustrate a moral point, but the means by which the il l u s t r a t i o n is executed is comic and artful as well, involving f u l l character develop-ment. Chaucer develops his characters in the tradition of comic animal fable, endowing them with a complex range of human qualities, but alters the exem-plary aspect of the fable. The "moralitee" is so elusive because there is no single moral to which the narrative has been shaped. Rather, i t presents diverse attitudes to l i f e and tests them against each other. The Canterbury Tales do provide an il l u s t r a t i o n of an animal tale i n the exemplum tradition. The Manciple's Tale^ 3 describes the fate of a crow con-demned by Apollo for t e l l i n g an unhappy truth. It is not really a fable; while the crow speaks, he does so only because Apollo has taught him to do lh-2 so. He does not function in human terms, other than speaking, and the tale insofar as i t concerns him is related to myths that explain the appearances of animals, rather than to fable. The tale is told by the Manciple as a straightforward exemplum. He emphasizes the role of the crow in his commentary, whereas i t is the conduct of the human characters that ought to come under scrutiny; the moral he extracts is superficial and misses the more valuable " f r u i t " that li e s in the narrative. Like the Nun's Priest's Tale, the Manciple's Tale parodies single-minded reading and limited vision, but i t is particular rather than universal in scope. The Nun's Priest's Tale is Chaucer's one undertaking in the beast fable genre. It draws upon both the tradition of the exempla and Aesopic fables and that of the comic beast epics, and synthesizes the two in a poem that combines comedy with instruction and makes each inextricable from the other. The lesson is that of experience: the world and man's means of coping with i t are diverse, often amusing, and one can learn from observation and from experience i t s e l f . Laughter is both cause and effect of the lesson of Chaucer's "tale of a cok." In Chauntecleer and his fellow fable characters, the essence of beast fable portrayal is realized and i t s paradox transcended: Chauntecleer and Pertelote comically suggest human beings and their vanities and spur considerable laughter at the f o l l i e s of our world as well as their own. But as amusing as they are in the roles the fable gives them, the end of the tale admits a kinship beyond paradox. The correspondences between human and animal are too many to allow us to hold the world of the fable apart or withdraw or append a single "moralitee". Comic and cosmic, the Nun's  Priest''s Tale gives us Chauntecleer, a paradoxically human rooster, and leaves us with a view, human and humane, of the mortal world. Chaucer l k 3 contributes to the beast fable the ultimate irony that his "tale of a fox, or of a cok and hen" is also a tale of man and woman in miniature. 144 FOOTNOTES x Sisam, pp. v i i , v i i i - x i i i , prints texts of these fables. 2 Marie de France, Fables, ed. A. Ewert and R. C. Johnston (Oxford: Blackwell, 1942), pp. kO^a. 3 Ibid., p. x i . k Lenaghan, pp. 138-39-5 The text is printed in Hulbert, pp. 646-58. ^ Hulbert (p. 645) summarizes scholarship on the sources of the Nun's Priest's Tale, as does Robinson in his notes to the tale (p. 751)• fit is generally f e l t that Chaucer's tale descends from the Roman, either V indirectly (Sisam, pp. xxiv f f . ) or, as more recent scholars feel, directly. See note 7 below. Nevill Coghill (The Poet Chaucer (London: Oxford University Press, 1949i rpt. I96OJ, p. 156) observes: "I have counted over four-and-twenty learned allusions to different authors in this story, and one might almost say that Chaucer's source for i t was not the Roman de Renard so much as a life-time of delighted reading and natural observation." 7 See Flinn, pp. 679-85, and I. C. Lecompte, "Chaucer's Nonne Prestes  Tale and the Roman de Renard, " Modem Philology, 14 (1917), 739* 8 MacDonald, "Narrative Art," p. 107. 9 Flinn, 686-87. 10 A l l references to the text of the Nun's Priest's Tale are from the edition of F. N. Robinson, The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, 2nd ed. (Boston: Houghton M i f f l i n , 1957), PP- 199-205. 11 John M. Steadman ("Flattery and the Moralitas of the Nonne Preestes Tale," Medium Aevum, 28 p-9593, 177) suggests that the brevity of the "moralitee" indicates "an indebtedness to the tradition of the beast-fable." The morals spoken by the cock and the fox, however, also appear in branch two of the Roman in a form almost identical to that i n Chaucer, which indicates that the Roman is thus indebted. 12 The su i t a b i l i t y of this tale for the Nun's Priest has been remarked upon by many recent scholars. There has also been a considerable amount of interesting analysis of the priest's character and relation to the other p i l -grims, as well as the relation of his tale to other tales, such as the Monk's Tale and the Tale of Melibee. As interesting as these considerations are, the limits of this study prevent their examination beyond what light they may throw on the tale as a development of beast fable. See particu-l a r l y Arthur T. Broes, "Chaucer's Disgruntled Cleric: The Nun's Priest's  Tale," PMLA, 78 (1963), 156-62), on the priest; Samuel B. Hemingway, "Chaucer's Monk and Nun's Priest," Modern Language Notes, 31 (1916), 479-83, and Charles S. Watson, "The Relationship of "The Monk's Tale' and 'The Nun's Priest's Tale,'" Studies i n Short Fiction, 1 (1963-64), 277-88, on 145 the Nun's Priest's Tale and the Monk's Tale; W. W. Lawrence, Chaucer and  the Canterbury Tales (New York and London;- Columbia University Press, 1950), pp. 13k-3o on the Nun's Priest's Tale as part of the marriage group and a reaction against the Host, the Prioress and the Tale of Melibee; R. M. Lumiansky, Of Sondry Folk, The Dramatic Principle i n the Canterbury Tales (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1955), pp. 105-17? on the character of the priest and the relation of his tale to the Host's remarks, Melibee, the Monk's Tale, and the Prioress. 13 D. S. Brewer, Chaucer (London, New York and Toronto: Longmans, Green, 1953), p. 156. l k Bernard F. Hupp£, A Reading of the Canterbury Tales (Albany, New York: State University of New York, 196577 P- 175-15 Although "toun" can be read as "farm", the line does indicate that Pertelote sees her surroundings i n terms of an establishment that could have such manifestations of human c i v i l i z a t i o n as an apothecary. John Speirs, Chaucer the Maker (London: Faber and Faber, 1951); p. l86. See George Clark, "Chauntecleer and Deduit," English Language Notes, 2 (1964-65), 168-71, who shows that Chaucer alludes to the idealized lovers Mirth and Gladness in the Roman de l a Rose when he portrays Chauntecleer and Pertelote, and thus heightens the mock-heroic comedy of his tale. !® T. W. Craik, The Comic Tales of Chaucer (London: Methuen, 1964), p. 72. j . Kieran Kealy, "Satire i n The Nun's Priest's Tale," unpublished typescript, pp. 15-16; he shows also that this r e a l i s t i c description reinforces the satire of a r t i f i c i a l rhetoric and illustrates the necessity of seeing the world as i t i s . 20 Chaucer and the Mediaeval Sciences, 2nd ed. (London: Allen and Unwin, I960), pp. 221-267" 2 1 Curry (pp. 229-30) points out that i t is characteristic of Chauntecleer's proud nature for him to see his dream as an "avisioun", the sort of dream that only comes to great men. 22 E. g., Henryson's the "Fox and the Wolf," i n which the husbandman goes through legal proceedings with the two animals, the "The Wolf and the Wether," in which the shepherd shares the wether's scheme. 2 3 p. M. Kean, The Art of Narrative, Vol. II of Chaucer and the Making of English Poetry (London and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972), pp. 138-39. oh In Henryson's version of the fable, the widow also swoons in mock-heroic fashion. Henryson links the animal and human worlds through parallel 146 behaviour, but he seems to have caught Chaucer's amused attitude to the widow as well. 25 i t has been pointed out that the widow also serves as a means for the priest to chastize some of the other pilgrims, such as the Monk, the Prioress, and the Pardoner. Her l i f e is the healthy l i f e of moderation, unlike that of the priest's fellow clerics. See Broes, p. 160. 2 ^ Trevor Whittock, A Reading of the Canterbury Tales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 196b), p. 230. 27 Coghill, p. 155. 2 8 See p. 92 above. 2 9 Flinn, p. 684. 3° "The Nun's Priest's Fable," PMLA, 78 (1963), P« 305-3 1 Emma M. Dieckmann, in " . . .'Moore feelynge than had Boece, . . Modern Language Notes, 53 (1938), 177-80, points out that this statement too is ironic for Boethius 1 s t r i c t mathematical treatment of music had been questioned since the eleventh century. Chauntecleer*s having'more "feeling" than Boethius is thus no great compliment. Both Chauntecleer's pretentiousness regarding his wisdom and his f o l l y in general thus are given another comic blow. 32 Paul G. Ruggiers, The Art of the Canterbury Tales (Madison, Milwaukee, and London: University of Wisconsin Press, 1965), pp. 194-95« 33 Speirs, Chaucer, p. 188. Speirs reads the poem "as a tragi-comic allegory of the F a l l " (p. 189), as does Huppe (pp. 174-84). For a general criticism of this kind of interpretation, see E. T. Donaldson, "Patristic Exegesis and the Criticism of Medieval Literature: The Opposi-tion, " i n C r i t i c a l Approaches to Medieval Literature, ed. D. Bethurum (New York: Columbia University Press, i960), pp. 1-26. 3^ Speirs (Chaucer, p. 190) notes this as well. 35 ibid., p. 192. .36 Kean, p. 137. 37 Song of Solomon, 2: 15, "Take us the foxes,the l i t t l e foxes, that spoil the vines," was interpreted by Gregory as a warning against hypo-crisy (Friedman, p. 501). Allegorical interpretations of the fox in the Middle Ages are summarized by M. S. Donovan, "The Moralite of the Nun's Priest's Sermon," Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 52 (1953), 498-501. 38 Broes sees the cock as a representative of the priest himself, who is suffering the evils of woman's counsel through being in the service of the Prioress. He feels that Chauntecleer is positively portrayed and that his failings can he blamed on Pertelote. Broes' views, whitewashing Chauntecleer, seem untenable. 39 Charles Dahlberg, "Chaucer's Cock and Fox," Journal of English and  Germanic Philology, 53 (1954), 277-90. ^ Cf. J. B. Friedman's interpretation of Henryson's "The Fox's Confession" as anti-mendicant satire. k l Donovan, as cited above, note 37« k2 Brewer, Chaucer, pp. 156-57' k3 Watson, pp. 281-83. k k See for example Carleton Brown, "Mulier est Hominis Confusio," Modern Language Notes, 35 (1920), 479-82, Broes, and J. Burke Severs, "Chaucer's Originality in the 'Nun's Priest's Tale,'" Studies in Philology, 43 (1946), 22-41. 45 Ruggiers, p. 190. k6 Stanley E. Fish, "The Nun's Priest's Tale and i t s Analogues," College  Language Association Journal, 5 (1962), 227-k7 Kealy, pp. 9-11. See also Fish, pp. 225-27-k® The Roman also describes the dream this way. k9 John P. McCall, "Chaucer's May 3?" Modern Language Notes, 76 (1961), 203-205; J. D. North, "'Kalenderes Enlumyned ben they' Some Astronomical Themes in Chaucer," The Review of English Studies, 20 (1969), 4l8-44; George R. Adams and Bernard S. Levy] "Good and Bad Fridays and May 3 in Chaucer," English Language Notes, 3 (1965-66), 243-48; and Standish Henning, "Chauntecleer and Taurus," English Language Notes, 3 (19&5-66), 1-4. 50 This exemplum also mimics the Prioress' Tale. See note 12 above. 51 Pearsall, pp. 151-52. 52 Stephen Manning, "The Nun's Priest's Morality and the Medieval Attitude Toward Fables," Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 59 (i960), 403-l6. Manning makes i t clear that the priest's admonition to take the morality mocks the attitude that insists a fable be justified by i t s moral lesson. "Chaucer's poking fun at this attitude in the f i n a l section of his poem is one more example of what he is doing in the tale as a whole: r i d i -culing the rhetorical and poetic practice of his day" (p. 4l6). ^3 Charles Muscatine, Chaucer and the French Tradition (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1969), p. 242. 148 5 k ibid., p. 242. 55 Quotations from Henryson's fable are from E l l i o t t ' s edition, pp. 13-19-5^ MacDonald, "Narrative Art," pp. 107-113? discusses Chaucer's and Henryson's versions of the fables, also differentiating Henryson's by i t s more serious moral purpose. 57 Denton Fox, "The Scottish Chaucerians," i n Chaucer and Chaucerians, ed. D. S. Brewer (London and Edinburgh: Nelson, 1966), p. 173« 58 Donald MacDonald, "Henryson and Chaucer: Cock and Fox," Texas  Studies in Literature and Language, 8 (1966-67), 458. 59 Fox, "Chaucerians," p. 174. 0^ On the names for the hens, see Wood's edition of Henryson, p. 230. ^1 Stearns, p. 66. 62 Fox, "Chaucerians," p. 175. 63 Robinson, pp. 225-27-149 CHAPTER SIX SATIRE AND SOCIAL CRITICISM IN THE ANIMAL FABLE When animals are portrayed with human characteristics, i t is a natural consequence that there w i l l be a certain s a t i r i c reflection on human beings. Even animals who merely speak and briefly reason are no longer animals, but characters modelled to some extent on man. Latent in the conception of fable characters is the unflattering notion that human actions can be those of ani-mals. Thus a fox or an ass speaking in:,an Aesopic fable mocks human be-haviour, i f only to the effect of il l u s t r a t i n g a vice or a weakness. How-ever, a fox whose human a b i l i t y extends beyond the utterance of a few lines of flattery w i l l inevitably serve to mock whatever human tra i t s he possesses. The fabulists who develop the anthropomorphic portrayal of their characters also realize the s a t i r i c a l propensities of their genre. An animal, particu-l a r l y one who traditionally embodies a vice or f o l l y , or is portrayed as possessing one, points a s a t i r i c a l finger at the human equivalent of the role in which he is cast. Well-developed animal fables include some degree of satire, often enough as part of a moral purpose i n the broadest sense. The Nun's Priest's Tale, which f u l f i l l s in so many ways the potentiali-ties of the animal fable, employs comic satire to point out human foibles. Its s a t i r i c tone can best be described as Horatian, for human weakness is seen with amusement rather than indignation."*" Indeed, one of the most delightful illustrations of Horace's satire is an early example of a sophisti-2 cated fable, his Mus Urbanus et Mus Rusticus, which gently mocks the vanity of human wishes. The satire of Chaucer's tale is both general and specific. The Nun's Priest mocks the tragic vision of the Monk and the foibles of the 150 other pilgrims goodnaturedly, for the unreal world he describes provides a distance that prevents any comment from becoming an expression of a personal i n c l i n a t i o n . 3 Courtly conventions come under humorous scrutiny when Chauntecleer and Pertelote take over the tale. The rhetorical prac-tices mocked by the repeated assumptions of the rethor's voice satirize the weaknesses of yet another form of human endeavor, and the simplistic moralizing of animal fable i t s e l f is comically satirized when the narrator mimics a capsulized moral appendage. The comic portrayal of the fable char-acters reveals human weaknesses and f o l l i e s that relate to specific people and practices as well as to mankind as a whole. But criticism i s tempered by the humane perspective that values a l l the joys and lessons of experience. The superbly comic portrayal of Chauntecleer and Pertelote is so delightful because i t is also sympathetic. It is this sypathetic view that is responsible A for the narrator's distance from his subjects. He appreciates the diversi-ties of the human world and, aware of the kinship between human and fable worlds, he allows the characters freedom of action without imposing his own viewpoint—or any single viewpoint—on their behaviour. The satire of the Nun's Priest's Tale is directed at many forms of human weakness, but i t communi-cates the assurance that man is regenerate, and laughter regenerative. Henryson also uses satire to f u l f i l l the twofold purpose of his Morall  F a b i l l i s , although the tone and extent of his satire varies. One cannot formulate any ri g i d classification of the Morall F a b i l l i s according to the kind of satire or moral criticism that Henryson effects. Even "The Two Mice," a superb comic portrayal of human f o l l y and vulnerability that i s beyond restriction to particulars of time and place, contains s a t i r i c reflec-k tion on the new burgher classes of fifteenth-century Scotland. A l l Henryson's fables operate on multiple levels of ironic correspondences 151 between the animal and the human, so that a general human weakness, a specific social vice, and a type of human being susceptible to a particular bestial t r a i t a l l may be suggested within a few stanzas of one fable. However, in the F a b i l l i s we can witness the several sorts of s a t i r i c re-flection on the human world that are to be found in medieval animal tales. While the mockery of human behaviour in "The Two Mice" is considerably sub-dued by the sympathetic portrayal of an appreciably human figure, Henryson has less patience with the failings of some of his other comic characters, notably Pertok and her sisters and the cock of "The Cock and the Jasp." Their weaknesses are completely laughable, but they are also human weak-nesses that are no longer quite so amusing when the fable world is l e f t behind. The Reynardian fables in Henryson's collection contain more specific satire as the anthropomorphic development of the animals includes their assuming specific human roles. In these fables, however, the satire is tempered by comedy also. One of the fables we have examined already, "The Fox, the Wolf and the Cadger," can be seen as a s a t i r i c a l comment on the merchant class, as represented by the cadger.^ The cadger is the butt of the fox's clever trick, and his stupidity and greed are paralleled in the wolf. It is stupidity and greed that are satirized in the main, and the application to the merchant class i s simply a passing blow struck in the course of a great deal of comedy. "The Fox and the Wolf" satirizes misuse of the law while developing the craftiness of the fox and greed of the wolf anthropomorphically. The satire in this fable is oblique, for the portrayals within the world of the fable remain comic; i t is the human beings like these beasts "in conditioun" who are the targets. Even Freir Wolf Waitskaith in "The Fox's Confession" is delightfully comic in his complete ineptitude for 152 his office. But the enormous gulf between the wolf's character and what we would expect to be the character of a f r i a r is narrowed when the wolf sustains his mock-holy role throughout the tale. In "The T r i a l of the Fox" there i s a similar portrait of the wolf as a learned "Doctour off Divinitie" and a sort of chancellor to the king. The episode is yet another example of Lowrence's clever outwitting of the wolf, who in spite of his learning is too foolish to see even a simple ruse. The comedy plays upon the dif f e r -ence between the learned appearance and protestations of the wolf and his stupidity: when he has been kicked in the head, he is mocked by the fox as the "Doctour off Divinitie,/ With his reid cap" (lines 1052-53). The human characteristics thus reinforce the comic ironies that illustrate the animals 1 characters, upon which rest both entertainment and moralitas, but as i n the other fox and wolf fables there i s a s a t i r i c a l reflection involved as well. The portrayal of a wolf as a cleric or an o f f i c i a l of the state naturally suggests that these have something in common. When the wolf is further characterized as being extremely foolish, the s a t i r i c a l reflection on the human role sharpens. These fables a l l parody human roles by assigning to them the animal characters which in ideal terms would seem least suitable. J The characters are developed as individuals, both through their basic animal natures and their human tr a i t s , but these two ostensibly opposite natures mingle, so that one cannot distinguish between them. The learned Waitskaith, newly come from the cloister, might be hypocritical and stupid because he is a wolf, but on the other hand, he is also a f r i a r . The anthropomorphic portrayal in highly-developed fables such as Henryson's and Chaucer's i s of course responsible for the extent of s a t i r i c reflection on the manners and ideas of the times, as well as on universal human behaviour. When animals are to be portrayed as functioning i n human terms and with a society of their own, the contemporary scene w i l l naturally 153 serve as a model.w The Roman de Renart and i t s early analogues also contain considerable comic satire at the expense of a l l the human models i t employs. Courtly conventions, the legal system, and c l e r i c a l faults are alike r i d i -/ 7 v culed when taken over by Reynard and his companions.' Writing of branch one, Robert Bossuat remarks that Assurement, l'auteur . . . connait les defauts du systeme politique et de 1'organisation sociale. II les denonce par l a voix du goupil, mais sans violence, et pour* amuser un public ou tous les milieux sont meles. Clerical weaknesses, however, do meet stronger criticism in the Roman, 9 though the portrayals of fox and wolf as clerics are especially comic. John Flinn, in his recent comprehensive study of the Roman de Renart and its analogues, summarizes the s a t i r i c a l s p i r i t of the French beast epics. Je suis convaincu qu c'est . . . bien consciemment que les trouveres francais ont satirise, en l a travestissant, l a societe francaise du Xlleme et du Xllleme siecle, et qu'ils se sont souvent con-tentes de faire r i r e leurs contemporains sans leur faire de l a morale.10 The Middle English The Vox and the Wolf retains the potential for. satire alongside a comedy that reveals the influence of the beast epics, but i t is-not developed to satirize particular human roles. Rather, i t reflects s a t i r i c a l l y on human nature and behaviour in general. The lu d i -crous attitude of Sigrim to Paradise is surely a jest at the expense of human hypocrisy, and Reneward's mock-solemn posing as confessor and parish priest suggests the ease with which a serious office may be abused, and its abuse accepted. But Reneward and Sigrim are individual characters, not rep-resentatives of the clergy or their flockj their abuse of religion is an \/ individual one, and is not held up as being in any way exemplary. In a l l of the fables which develop the anthropomorphic characteristics of animal characters into conceptions as individual as Reneward, or 154 Chauntecleer, or Lowrence, satire often joins comedy as a result of the expansion of human-animal correspondences. The satire is tempered hy comedy, however, so that while i t ridicules human weaknesses or suggests the abuse of a human role, i t is part of a number of effects of the fable portrayal. It may join comedy and irony to underline a moral application, or to entertain, or both. This light satire, however, is developed through individual characters and comments on human vanity and weakness that the individual can apply to himself. While the weaknesses may be expressed by a convention, as are insincerity and pretension through protestations of courtly sentiments, they are nonetheless the shortcomings of individuals. However, the fable has also been the vehicle of a different kind of criticism. Animal society modelled on human society can be held up as a representative comment on the shortcomings of the human world as a whole. Phaedrus adapted the fable to the purposes of sharp p o l i t i c a l satire, which, although sometimes a personal reaction to individuals, often involves making his characters represent classes or groups. x ± The oppression of the weak by the strong is obviously often seen in the animal world, and as a result the "morals" of Aesopic fables can be more worldly than otherwise. Marie de France often appends moralities to c r i t i c i z e social and p o l i t i c a l injustices, brought to mind by the unfortunate victims of the fables. "Marie fut bien 1? le fabuliste du regime feodal au XHIe siecle." The clerics who used •exempla sometimes introduced themes of social criticism in the fables in the same way as Marie de France. The fable of the wolf and the lamb in the Gesta  Romanorumx3 is recommended as an exemplum against oppression of the poor. Latin fables by English clerics also contain social satire, as well as satire on other clerics. Nicole de Bozon and John Bromyard particularly satirize the social vices of their times, the fox often being used to signify 155 bad prelates. Bromyard describes a wolf who k i l l s more than he needs to maintain servants, an expensive lady, the promotions of his sons and 15 the dowries of his daughters. The satire is made explicit by the addition of anthropomorphic characteristics to the animal portrayed in the fable. When the anthropomorphic portrayal of animals involves their f u l f i l l i n g particular human roles, satire of those roles can be expected. However, in some animal fables, social or p o l i t i c a l criticism and satire for a didactic purpose is the only basis for the anthropomorphic portrayal. While the simple Aesopic fable can illustrate a moral that reinforces a social criticism, the anthropomorphically developed animal fable heightens the i l l u s t r a t i v e potential through more specific similarities between human and animal worlds. However, satire without comedy and didacticism without interest i n the entertainment function of the narrative restrict the fable once again. Its narrative style may be effective and i t s purpose w e l l - f u l f i l l e d , but the characters are reduced to examples that have no real world of their own. Three of Henryson's fables are clearly social and p o l i t i c a l allegories. The moralitas to each relates the narrative to contemporary events. The ironies of the characters' behaviour are brought out in these fables, but the tone is serious and the satire more so. The voice of the narrator is \ no longer detached, but reveals a strong commitment to exposing the evils he decries. "The T a i l l of the Scheip and the Doig" 1^ is a straightforward satire on the failings of the legal system in fifteenth-century Scotland, trans-formed by the moralitas into allegorical terms. The familiar " t r i a l " scene of beast epics is here a serious portrayal of a fraudulent court. 156 The animals take on the human roles of a court proceeding, and the ironies of their doing so are not those of comic incongruity, but of a bitter reality within the incongruity. The details and intricacies 17 of legal proceedings are elaborated, 1 with a host of animals f u l f i l l i n g various functions: the wolf is judge, the fox, clerk and notary, and so on. The sheep pleads his case in legal language, and the members of the court speak in the same way. The anthropomorphic characterization is developed to the extent of the dog's having purchased for "fyve schi l l i n g or mair" (line U83) the bread he alleges the sheep has stolen from him; the sheep personally sells his fleece to a merchant and then buys bread again; the various members of the court read and discuss "Of c i v i l e law volumis f u l l mony" (line 1216). The contrast between the behaviour and the animal natures of the characters, however, is not comic. Rather, the incongruity of the animals' portrayal informs the seriousness of the fable's criticisms. The members of the court seem to f u l f i l l their duties in their serious use of legal procedure, but their own bias of course perverts justice. The moralitas states that men such as these "settis a l thair cure/ Be fals meinis to mak ane wrang conquest" (lines 1260-6l); Henryson figures such men in the kind of animals one expects similar behaviour from, the beasts of prey. And he makes i t perfectly clear throughout the narrative that these beasts deliberately pervert justice for their own ends: Ane fraudfull wolff was juge that tyme, and bure Authoritie and jurisdictioun, . . . . (lines 1150-51) The bias of the officers of the court is indicated: Schir Corbie Ravin wes maid apparitour Quha pykit had f u l l mony scheipis ee, . . . . (lines I I 6 O - 6 1 ) 157 The animals are in league to ensure the protection of their kind and their method of li v i n g ; the kite and vulture The doggis pley togidder tuke on hand, Quhilk wer confidderit s t r a i t l i e in ane hand Aganis the scheip to procure the sentence; Thocht i t wes fals thay had na conscience. (lines 1177-80) There is an occasional avowal of honesty, ironically placed after the narrator has confirmed the reverse. The repeated reminders of fraud, lack of conscience, and conspiracy are too serious for comic enjoyment of \f the fable scene: This cursit court, corruptit a l l for meid, Aganis gude faith, law and eik conscience, For this fals doig pronuncit the sentence. (lines 1241-43) The characters are f u l l y developed as v i l l a i n s . Their v i l l a i n y is express-ive of their animal natures—they are a l l beasts of prey—and i t s human development is of a piece with those natures. The narrator is not the distant onlooker he is in many of the F a b i l l i s , and the moralitas simply extends what he has presented very clearly in the narrative. The narrative is continued into the moralitas as well. The narrator describes encountering the sheep after the t r i a l , and devotes two stanzas to the sheep's lament: Bot of this scheip and of his c a i r f u l l cry I s a i l reheirs; for as I passit by Quhair that he lay, on cais I luk i t doun, And hard him mak sair lamentatioun. (lines 1282-85) The sheep is a helpless, pathetic figure; the narrator's strong commitment informs the portrayal of court and victim, and guarantees an affective response. "The T a i l l of the Wolf and the Lamb"-1- similarly exemplifies the 158 bestiality of human behaviour that is responsible for the social i l l s Henryson condemns. Again, the satire is too serious for laughter. The ^ wolf is "cruell," "richt ravenous and f e l l " (line 26lk), with none of the comic stupidity of Waitskaith or the "wolf that gat the nek-hering." His dispute with the lamb consists of his perverting justice to suit himself. The lamb's replies are sensible and sound, and thwart the wolf on a l l counts. The animals are developed to suit the fable's purpose, rather than to function as credible characters. That a young lamb should make such formal x speeches, each expressing a knowledge of either natural philosophy, theology, • 19 ; or law, is hard to believe. ' Yet, the way he is presented brings out the depths of the wolf's depravity—the wolf is "reduced . . . to a self -j acknowledged monster." 2 0 The moralitas draws out the similarity between animals and men and c r i t i c i z e s directly what the narrative has exposed s a t i r i c a l l y : powerful creatures, including "fals perverteris of the Lawis" and "Lordis that hes land be Goddis lane" (lines 2715 and 27 k3), who oppress the poor and in so doing place their souls in mortal danger. Satirized i n the narrative through the character of the ravening wolf, such men are c r i t i c i z e d yet further in the moralitas, for a natural wolf knows no better than to behave as he does: 0 man, but mercie quhat is in thy thocht? War than ane wolf and thow culd understand.' (lines 2735-36) "The T a i l l of the Lyoun and the Mous"2± is a p o l i t i c a l commentary. </ In structure i t is a dream vision; the narrator is walking in the country on a June day, sleeps, and dreams of Aesop, who t e l l s him the fable and 22 provides the application. The conversation between the dreamer and Aesop includes a remark about the times as well; Aesop says of t e l l i n g fables, 159 "For quhat is i t worth to t e l l ane fenyeit t a i l l , Quhen haly preiching may na thing a v a i l l ? " (lines 1389-90) The fable of the l i o n who spares a mouse and is later saved by him is well-known. Henryson alters the basic universal moral, however, to p o l i t i c a l allegory. The l i o n is the king lax in his duty whose people are becoming unruly but who are nonetheless loyal to him and save him from his treacher-23 ous barons. The intention is made explicit in the moralitas, though Henryson is cautious about drawing too many direct parallels: Thir r u r a l l men that stentit hes the net Mair t i l l expound as now I l e t t allane--Bot king and lord may w e i l l wit quhat I mene: Figure heirof oftymis has bene sene. (lines 1609, l6l2-l4) In spite of their allegorical intent, however, the animal characters are quite well-developed, and indeed their characters speak for Henryson's attitude to their human equivalents. The l i o n as the noble monarch of the forest is sufficiently dignified, but also basically wise and merciful. He recognizes that there is no excuse for the mice's disrespect for his "Nobill persoun," but he thinks "according to ressoun" (line 150k) and shows them mercy. The leader of the mice is a clever and likeable charac-ter. His long speech to the li o n is reasonable and just; he can use legal language to effect, and he can show due respect to the monarch. The li o n has threatened to hang him, but the mouse's speech plays upon the animal-human in the characters and remarks that a l i o n w i l l have l i t t l e satisfaction in eating a mouse. Indeed, though the mice represent . . . bot the commountie, Wantoun, unwyse, without correctioun (lines 1587-88) l6o the wisdom of this mouse and the solidarity of the mice as a group speak favourably both for characters and for figural representation. The lion's solitary plight is a sharp contrast to the leadership of the mouse when he calls on his fellows for help: "Cum help to quyte ane gude turne for ane-uther; Go, lous him sonei" And thay said: "Ye, gude brotherJ" (lines 1557-58) In these three fables, then, Henryson uses the genre as a vehicle for p o l i t i c a l and social commentary. He is pointing not at human weakness as manifested in individuals but at the effects of human weakness on society. "The Lion and the Mouse" has a happy ending, but i t is not a comic fable. What we are not so aware of is the incongruity between the animals and the human roles they f i l l . This is partly because Henryson has chosen animals that traditionally conform to the behaviour he wishes to il l u s t r a t e : mice as common men, li o n as monarch, lamb as innocent man, wolf as v i l l a i n . In "The Wolf and the Lamb" and "The Sheep and the Dog" fables this choice is i t s e l f ironic, for one realizes that the wicked animals suit their human roles because human beings have perverted those roles. But this is also true of the sympathetic characters. The common people are like helpless sheep or lambs because of the injustices of society, and like "wantoun" mice because their ruler has been sleeping rather than ruling. Man's behaviour, then, makes i t possible for him to be figured by beasts. In these fables, however, the seriousness of the purpose dominates, the narra-tive, and while the characters are memorable in their own way, they are not as individual as those of the other F a b i l l i s . The narrator's express purpose makes i t necessary that his parti a l i t y characterize them throughout each fable. The fable as a vehicle for social commentary and satire manifests i t s e l f 161 elsewhere in Middle English literature. Langland's Piers Plowman contains a fable that comments on the contemporary relationship between the common people and the state by portraying the commons as rats and mice fearful of a cat that dominates them ruthlessly. The common people and the court both are satirized through the likeness: the rats are a ragged mob and the 25 cat k i l l s indiscriminately and for pleasure. The fable narrative involves a description of a council held by the rats and mice to determine what they might do to prevent the havoc the cat wreaks in their lives. One rat ?6 suggests they b e l l the cat, and a b e l l is accordingly bought, though no one dares apply i t . A wise mouse rises and speaks against belling, or k i l l i n g , the cat, and the fable ends with the narrator leaving the interpreta-tion to the audience. The moralitas, however, has been uttered by the wise mouse, and the truth of what he says is borne out by the description of the rats and mice. Clearly, the rats have reason to fear a cat who k i l l s wantonly, but the mouse points out that they too are wanton. The picture of the mass of common people l i v i n g as they wish is dramatically, and paradoxically, realized through the fable's suggestion of a horde of rats and mice gone out of control: For better is a l i t e l losse pan a longe sorwe— ^e mase amonge vs alle pou^i we mysse a schrewe. For many mannus malt we mys wolde destruye, And also 3e route of ratones rende mennes clothes, . . . . (Prologue, lines 195-98) By portraying these creatures as a social group the fable illustrates very successfully the nature of this group. The need for rule is understood through the chaotic picture of rats and mice with no cat to control them. A few remarks about the cat indicate that he too is at fault, but again the mouse makes i t clear that were this tyrannous cat disposed of, the mob 162 of rats could not be successfully controlled by a "kitten", or child-king: 'twere be catte is a kitoun be courte is f u l elyng. For may no renke here rest haue for ratones hi ny3te. (Prologue, lines 190, 192) The fable supports the principle of rule and order while at the same time satirizing the weaknesses of various levels of society and of individual figures in particular. It is interesting that the spokesman for the rational point of view should be a wise mouse, whose knowledge of the necessity of leadership is not unlike that of the mouse in Henryson's "The Lion and the Mouse." He is able to see the weaknesses of his own kind, and to see the necessity of ordering them--to see his own position in relative terms. The moral is made the more effective in coming from the ranks of the commons themselves; the mouse, like Langland, clearly feels unconfortable at the thought of his fellows being i e f t to their own devices. Langland's fable is developed in a f a i r l y sophisticated manner. The characters are portrayed anthropomorphically: they hold a council and quote Latin proverbs; some can read Holy Writ, and they purchase a b e l l with "catel". The aspects of their animal natures that are stressed are those which are most powerful in terms of the tale's purpose. The rats are in a,:, large group; they are destructive and noisy; the mice are destructive as well, and, of course, they fear a cat. The fable's effectiveness l i e s in i t s suitability as an i l l u s t r a t i o n . Langland uses the animal natures of his characters to make his point about human society. The rats and mice are purely representative, and while i t is paradoxical to present human beings in this way, the paradox is the germ of the satire and the moralitas i t conveys. 163 The portraying of animals in human roles to f u l f i l l an express and ) exclusively s a t i r i c a l purpose becomes a marked characteristic of the later \ development of the beast epics on the continent.^ By the end of the thirteenth century in France Reynard was the means of expressing particular oft social and p o l i t i c a l enmities. Renart le Bestourne and Le Couronnement de Renart 2^ are late thirteenth-century manifestations of strong anti-? mendicant satire, i n both of which Reynard becomes a f r i a r but continues his typical a c t i v i t i e s . In the latter he is eventually crowned king. 30 Renart le Nouvel, written by Gielee in 1288, portrays the fox and his sons as fr i a r s who united a l l disagreeing orders under their direction. A l l these poems are basically allegorical, representing Reynard, and with him f r i a r s , Pope, and princes, as vice and the lion, Noble, as virtue.31 The early fourteenth-century Renart le Contrefait3 2 ±s a reworking of the entire Reynard cycle by an anonymous clerk at Troyes. The interests and morality of a rising middle-class are reflected, not least in a hatred of the nobility, J and in the conclusion of this vast compilation. Reynard i n the end repents of his sins and condemns the sins of his time. There is one example of a similar development in Middle English. An early fourteenth-century "Song on the Times"3k contains a fable of a fox, a wolf and an ass tried at the lion's court. The poem opens with a lament on the sorry state of l i f e in this world, and then proceeds to des-cribe how "fals and l i t h e r is this lond" (line 9). Covetousness, pride and contention are the great sins that result in oppression of the lawful man. The corruption of the king's ministers, who are subject to bribery, results in the oppression of the just and the triumph of the wicked. Of thos a vorbisen ic herd t e l l e (line 45) 164 continues the narrator, and then t e l l s a fable meant to illustrate the state of the land. The lion, however, is as culpable as the vaguely-suggested ministers--"men"—who accuse the ass, and the fable satirizes the court and the law most of a l l . The wolf, fox and ass are called to court because they have been accused of wickedness, though i t is immediately made clear that the ass is innocent. Wolf and fox bribe the court—apparently the l i o n himself--by sending, respectively, and typically, geese and hens, goats and mutton. The ass knows himself innocent and fears no harm. Appearing before the lion, the fox justifies himself by saying that he bought a l l his geese and hens dearly, "And here ham up myn owen rigge." (line 84) He is immediately forgiven. The wolf's defence is more sharply s a t i r i c a l . He begins by identifying himself as a noble, and the lion's manner immediately follows suit: "What hast i-do, bel amy, That thou me so oxist pes?" (lines 93-94) The wolf confesses to having slain a sheep and "fewe gete"; he then adds that he "ne 3af ham dint no p i l t " (line 104), and is immediately forgiven, on the grounds that he behaved according to his nature. The ass, however, is tried simply for eating grass; the l i o n ironically addresses him as "bel ami" also, after already having indicated his prejudice: Me thenchith thou cannist no gode. Whi nadistou, as other mo? Thou come of l i t h e r stode. (lines 110-112) This remark precedes the ass's defence. The ass is punished because the 165 l i o n judges that ^ f l ^ W That was a3e t h i kund, For to ete such gras s o : — . . . (lines 119-20) and the fable concludes with the death of the ass and the f i n a l remark of the l i o n that this is "a l for lawe" (line 123). The poem continues with the narrator's complaint of the times. The fable is in a sense an exemplum, for i t is il l u s t r a t i n g the theme of the poem which encloses i t . Like Henryson's fables of social commentary, i t describes a social weakness which is c l a r i f i e d and commented upon outside the narrative. While the remainder of the poem is straightforward criticism, the fable i t s e l f incorporates a bitt e r satire that illustrates the theme of the poem and goes yet further in i t s suggestions. The animals' society mirrors human society—a king, court, laws—and the animals commit human offences such as bribery. They are cast as representatives of human vices,, the wolf and fox representing the corrupt and wealthy who oppress the ordinary man, represented by the ass. The l i o n too embodies power corrupted by covetousness, but as a representative of an ultimate authority he is the vehicle for the most serious s a t i r i c a l reflection. The animals' characters V are not developed beyond these representations; their animal natureS5are simply used to support the representation and heighten the s a t i r i c a l effect. The forgiveness of a ravening wolf and the condemnation of a helpless ass underline the lion's perversion of justice revealed in the grounds for his judgments. The portrayal of these animals i n human roles effectively serves the purpose of the s a t i r i s t , but that purpose allows only a single human-animal correspondence. The ironies of fable portrayal are not developed; the characters remain static embodiments of human vices, and the serious-ness of the moral condemnation that is the rationale for the choice of 166 animal characters precludes comedy. These fables of social satire, like the other fables which mock individual human failings, are able to do so because of the perspective which the genre provides. The fable, in that i t is an animal f i c t i o n , is a world of it s own that can be regarded by the audience from a separate vantage point. Langland's rats present a sharp picture of the confusion of a disordered mob, and "The Song on the Times" capsulizes the essence of legal corruption i n illu s t r a t i n g the blindness of covetousness that w i l l not distinguish a wolf from an ass. But in the satires, the perspective does not alter to provide new insights as the correspondences shift and vary; i t remains the static perspective imposed by the narrator. The ani-mals cannot be developed as individual characters because they must rep-resent types of human society the narrator wishes us to observe. We are j not engaged by the fable world, but regard i t from a distance as an explicit i ! lesson about our own. The s a t i r i c a l propensity of the animal fable is witnessed i n the varying s a t i r i c a l uses of the genre. After the Middle Ages, this aspect of the fable continued to find expression, most notably in the fables of La Fontaine.^ In English, Spenser's Mother Hubberd's Tale_3^ is a satire of p o l i t i c a l corruption inspired by and based at least to some extent on the Roman de Renart. In Spenser's and La Fontaine's fables, the function of the s a t i r i s t , too, is that of the moralist. Their fables expose and decry human vices and weaknesses, although i n Spenser's tale the satire is more specific, and dominates the tale. In the Middle English fable satires, the animals are representative of a particular social situation, and thus a single human-animal corres-pondence is emphasized. Characterization and i t s resulting ironies receive 167 l i t t l e attention. When the paradox of portraying animals as human is accepted in the poems as an accurate representation of human reality, that paradox is transformed to straightforward allegorical satire on various human institutions. The highly developed animal characters of other medieval fables are akin to these beasts in their human behaviour, but the fable satires are interested in the animals allegorically only. Like the fable exempla, these satires can f u l f i l l their single purpose well enough. But in both, one misses the art that makes a fox a Reynard. 168 FOOTNOTES Smith Palmer Bovie, trans., The Satires and Epistles of Horace (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959), pp. 138-43. See" also his commentary, pp. 92-93-o J. K. Kealy discusses the priest's fulfillment of the demand that he "both teach and delight i n terms of Horatian satire, "a form of satire which gently laughs at the f o l l i e s of man rather than raging at his vices" (p. 2). 3 He lapses once, in his denunciation of "wommanes counsel," but hastily corrects himself and "reestablishes his s a t i r i c distance" (Kealy, p. 11). k MacQueen, pp. 121-24. 5 Stearns, pp. 111-14. ~\ 6 see William W. Lawrence, Medieval Story and the Beginnings of the  Social Ideals of English-speaking People, The Hewitt Lectures, 2nd~ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1926), pp. 146-55. 7 The good-natured satire most readers find in the Roman de Renart is denied by A. Jeanroy in Le Roman de Renard, Principaux Episodes (Paris: E. de Boccard, 1926JT but compare Levrault, who takes the extreme opposite view: "Au fond, ce qu'ils [les trouveres^J ecrivent pour les clercs mecontents ou les plebeiens goguenards, c'est le parodie am§re de 1'epopSe et l a satire cruelle du moyen lage" (p. 43). 8 Bossuat, p. 112. 9 See Bossuat, p. 112, and Flinn, pp. 36-69. Flinn suggests (pp. 67-<^  68) that the satire of parish priests may have been prompted by class "| differences--the trouveres were better educated than the simple country * priests. 1 0 Flinn, p. 36. -11 See Herrmann's commentaries, Phedre, pp. 148, 243. ' ^12 Levrault, p. 37-^3 See p. 31 above. l k Cf. the portrayal of the fox in various c l e r i c a l roles in medieval English art, Varty, Reynard, passim. . 1 5 Owst, Pulpit, pp.- 321, and 240, 253, 323, 353* See also Margaret Schlauch, English Medieval Literature and i t s Social Foundations (Warsaw: Panstwowe Wydawnicto Naukowe, 1956), p. 163. 16 Quotations from this fable are from E l l i o t t ' s edition, pp. 35-40. 169 17 MacQueen, pp. 127-29, shows that the legal procedure is that of fifteenth-century Scottish courts. 1 8 E l l i o t t , pp. 78-83. 19 MacQueen, pp. 131-32. 20 Stearns, p. 122. 2 1 E l l i o t t , pp. kO-k-9. 22 MacQueen, pp. 68-70, explains the prologue to this fable by suggesting that the fable was published separately. Stearns, pp. 15, l8, feels that Henryson wished to protect himself by attributing the p o l i t i c a l satire and the remarks of the moralitas to Aesop. -3 Stearns, pp. 15-18, provides the background for the satire, con-temporary events in Scotland and the reign of James III. 2 k The edition used is that of J. A. W. Bennett, Piers Plowman (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972). See also W. W. Skeat's edition, The  Vision of William Concerning Piers the Plowman, 10th ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, I923; rpt. 1948). Both edit the Prologue and seven Passus of the B-Text. The fable appears in the Prologue in the B-Text, lines 214 f f . It is omitted i n the A-Text, but in the C-Text i t appears in Passus 1, lines 163 f f . Skeat notes (p. x) that i t is related to events of 1377, when the commons were dissatisfied. The cat represents Kind Edward III and the kitten Richard, later Richard II, who on the death of the Black Prince had become heir apparent (p. 102). In his extensive notes to a later edition (Oxford University Press, 1886, II, 17) Skeat notes that the rats "are the burgesses and more influential men among the commons; the mice those of less importance." Bennett sees the rats as the lords or the knights of the shire and the mice as the rising middle classes. He suggests that the cat may be John of Gaunt rather than Edward III, and points out the his t o r i c a l facts that support his reading (Notes, pp. 100-101). ^ As Stearns notes, Henryson's fable portrayals of the peasantry are ^-more sympathetic than Langland 1s. In Langland's fable, however, i t is the rats who are least sympathetically portrayed; they also i n i t i a t e the scheme to b e l l the cat. 26 , Skeat (p. 101) notes that a Latin metrical version of the same \ fable exists i n a fourteenth-century manuscript, and that i t also appears / i n a fourteenth-century Ysopet. See Bastin, I, 10. A similar fable appears in Avianus: a peasant puts a b e l l on a fierce dog, who thinks he has been honoured (Herrmann, Avianus, p. 27). 27 See p. 91 above. 28 See Bossuat, pp. Bastin and E. Faral, Onze Poemes de Rutebeuf (Paris: Geuthner, 1946) See Bossuat, pp. 145-46; Flinn, pp. 174-201. It is edited by Juli a 170 ""~-^ 29 Edited in volume four of Meon's edition of the Roman, pp. 1-123, cited in note 13, chapter four above. See Flinn, pp. 202 f f . 3° Edited by Henri Roussel, Renart le Nouvel (Paris: n. p., 196l). 31 Bossuat, p. 150. 32 Edited by Gaston Raynaud and Henri Lemaitre, Le Roman de Renart  le Contrefait, 2 vols. (Paris: Librairie Ancienne Honore* Champion, 1914). See Flinn, pp. 365 f f . 33 Paris, p. 132. 3 k The edition cited throughout is that of Thomas Wright, The  P o l i t i c a l Songs of England from the Reign of John to Edward II (London: Camden Society, IB39), pp. 195-205. The poem also appears in~T. Wright and J. 0. Halliwell, eds., Reliquae Antiquae (London, l84l; rpt. New York: AMS Press, 1966), I, 35 La Fontaine, Fables, ed. E. Brin (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1958). 36 Spenser,"Mother Hubberd's Tale," in The Works of Edmund Spenser, ed. E. Greenlaw, C. G. Osgood, F. M. Padelford, R. Heffner (Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 19 k7), IX, 101-40. See pp. 568-80 for a summary of scholarship on satire and contemporary allusion in the poem. 37 Spenser's editors summarize considerations of the sources of "Mother Hubberd's Tale," IX, 585-93-171 CONCLUSIONS A wide range or purpose and accomplishment characterizes the Middle English animal fable. But whether meant to be didactic or entertaining or both, the fables, by the nature of their characterization, combine narra-tive f i c t i o n with a reflection on the human world. The dual purpose—to teach and delight together—of the best Middle English animal fables relies on the shifting perspective provided by multiple correspondences between animal characters and human beings. The anthropomorphic development of the animals multiplies the correspondences between human and animal, so that entertainment as well as enlightenment is heightened, and the possi-b i l i t i e s for s a t i r i c a l reflection on the f o l l i e s of mankind increase. Human behaviour, however, is constantly played against animal nature in the more, successful fables, so that i t is not anthropomorphic develop-ment alone that i s responsible for their success. Rather, an increased humanity in a cock or a fox is ironically juxtaposed with reminders of the fact that we are watching a cock and a fox, not men. Tales like The Vox  and the Wolf and Henryson's and Chaucer's fables constantly refer us back to animal qualities, whether in physical appearance or in simple bestiality of one kind or another. The fabulist produces a delight in the ironies of his fantasy, and often reinforces his moral " f r u i t " by those very ironies. Henryson's express purpose is to show "How mony men in operatioun/ Ar like to beistis in conditioun" (Prologue, lines 48-49). When an animal character has enacted a human role, and then does something one would expect only an animal to do, there is an obvious suggestion that our expectations are too optimistic; i f the animal characters are like men i n some ways, i t follows that the simile can extend to more aspects of their behaviour. While the ironies of the portrayal i t s e l f can be purely comic, such as Chauntecleer's 172 praising Pertelote's red-lined eyes, similar juxtapositions of the human and animal often imply another correspondence. Thus when Chauntecleer is portrayed as having six wives besides his "true love," the animal reality deflates the fable's heroic portrayal of Chauntecleer, but at the same time the human context into which Chauntecleer has placed himself suffers a de-fl a t i o n a l s o — a t least u n t i l we remember that Chauntecleer is a useful beast in a poor widow's farmyard. While the most successful character portrayals rely on the ironically ambiguous question, which, now, is s t r i c t l y human and which animal, the fables which serve a single purpose also provide a single answer. The didactic exempla and the straightforward satires also rely on the conscious juxta-position of the human and the animal, but without allowing a lapse in the single perspective that focuses the audience's vision on the exemplary charac-ter of the animals. In the brief Aesopic fable exempla or i n Lydgate's Fabules, there i s l i t t l e human development of the characters. They have the gifts of speech and reason, which apply their animal behaviour to the human sphere. Thus Lydgate's cock does not foolishly ignore a stone of wisdom; he ignores something he cannot eat, and as he is a cock, not a man, i t is his business to eat. The event is meant to figure a man wisely rejecting what is beyond or outside his station i n l i f e , whereas Henryson's cock in the same situation, like a man, rejects what he cannot be bothered with and justifies himself with a too-easily accepted platitude. Lydgate's animals are pure illustrations of Lydgate's moral lessons to mankind, and yet, as i n this case, their animal natures are the justification for their behaviour, so that the characters do not really figure human beings as independent characters, but serve as illustrations of Lydgate's unfailingly applicable moral, each to his own nature. Such fable animals, for a l l their speech, remain animals 173 i n an ill u s t r a t i v e lesson, and the potential ironies of more human char-acterization remain dormant. While Lydgate and the sermon exempla do not develop the human aspects of the animal characters, the s a t i r i c a l fable in "A Song on the Times" and Henryson's three fables of social criticism are less concerned -with the animal aspects of the characters. In these fables the fact of the charac-ters' animal identities is used only to satirize, c r i t i c i z e and illustrate human roles. The irony of fable portrayal is here the single irony of viewing human social actions as those of wicked beasts and helpless victims. It i s a bitter irony and supports the sharp criticism of the failings of human society. The paradox of presenting a beast as a man is accepted by the fabu-l i s t for his s a t i r i c a l purpose, and subsumed i n the animals' allegorical function. The fable in Piers Plowman is similar, but Langland plays upon the animal portrayal more than do the other s a t i r i s t s . His purpose is illus-tration also, but he uses the animal nature of his rats and mice to heighten the effectiveness of his il l u s t r a t i o n . The human behaviour of the animals in the other fables corresponds to their animal natures—and human nature as well—but the natural animal tr a i t s are not developed beyond, for example, the depiction of the wolf as ravenous and lambs and sheep as helpless. Human portrayal is the interest, and the animals are the vehicles for empha-sizing the author's views. The juxtaposition of human and animal traits reinforces the c r i t i c a l effect of these fables, but the point is made with greater effectiveness when the animal traits are not secondary. In the Aesopic exempla and the satires, the fable is restricted by the intention to illustrate a single moral or a particular social weakness. The characters are, respectively, purely exemplary or allegorical equivalents of human roles. The allegory is sometimes imaginatively realized, but the char-acters have no l i f e beyond i t . 17 k In the fables which set about truly to teach and delight, the corres-pondences between human and animal produce delightful characterization and multiple reflections on human conduct as well. Increased anthropomor-phism combines with a constant awareness of the characters' animal natures to create characters in the f u l l sense of the word. Chauntecleer or Lowrence or Sigrim are the products of imaginative minds developing the simply talking animals of Aesopic fable into f u l l y realized individuals. These fables are not always comic;"The Preiching of the Swallow" and "The Paddock and the Mouse," through excellent characterization and, especially in the former, s k i l f u l narrative structure, communicate the wisdom of en-lightened observation of the mortal world. The delight of these fables is that of characterization and, especially in "The Preiching of the Swallow, superb poetry. Comedy, however, is the hallmark of most of the Middle English fables that live up to the possibilities of the genre. Eight of Henryson's F a b i l l i s , the Hun's Priest's Tale, The Vox and the Wolf, and Lydgate's "The Churl and the Bird" and "The Hownde and the Shepe," as well as the better sermon exempla, are comic. As we have seen, the comedy is largely that of comic irony developed from characterization. The fable characters, a delightful combination of human and animal t r a i t s , give us many memorable tales, but they also reflect on human behaviour, i f sometimes only in a comic way. What sets the fable apart from other short f i c t i o n is not simply the fact that i t has animal characters or that i t is didactic. The Middle English fables we have examined are not really animal stories, and neither do they a l l have a didactic purpose or an appended moral. Rather, they are marked by their peculiar characterization. Fable characters to some extent have human attributes. They function in many ways as human beings, have human 175 s k i l l s , and often are part of a complete society. Indeed, human characters appear in the fables as v e i l and form part of the animals' society, often to the extent of speaking and dealing with them as i f there were nothing unusual in discussing legal niceties with a fox and wolf. Human beings in a general and sometimes a specific way are the models for the fables' char-acterization. Inevitably, the characters w i l l reflect back upon their models, especially as, being animals, their human qualities w i l l stand out sharply. The s k i l l of the fabulist in playing upon the ironic double nature of his characters often produces more suggestions about his human models than a simply human character might manage, and herein l i e s the success of many fables both as entertainment and as a comment on humanity, though the two purposes are not always distinguishable. Because of the nature of fable animals, the fable can serve as the vehicle for a moral statement. It also contains the germ of satire i n the very paradox of i t s characterization, and satire to varying degrees is found in many of the Middle English fables, often linking lesson and laughter. Beginning with the premise that natural creatures were to be observed for man's edification, the Middle Ages took up the fable, and spread i t through schoolrooms as a vehicle for moral instruction and a means of teach-ing the s k i l l s of writing. Fable animals did not long remain natural crea-tures. Quickly developing their powers of speech and reason, they became fully-fledged characters, not animal and not human, but with so much of both natures that the two are inseparable. From the schoolroom and the pulpit the fable moved into the hands of those who saw in i t more than a didactic or rhetorical tool, and transformed the plots of simple apologues into memorable narrative poetry about paradoxically human animals. Chaucer had many 176 reasons for insisting "my tale is of a cok," but an audience who has been watching Chauntecleer knows better than to take him too l i t e r a l l y . 177 SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY TEXTS Entries are arranged by authors' names. In the case of anonymous works or collections, they are arranged by editors/ names. Aesop. Esope Fables. Ed. and trans. Emile Chambry. 2nd ed. Paris: Societe' d ^ d i t i o n "Les Belles Lettres," i960. Aristotle. Historia Animalium. Ed. and trans. D'arcy Wentworth Thompson. Vol. IV of The Works of Aristotle. Ed. W. D. Ross. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910. Physiognomonica. Ed. and trans. T. Loveday and E. E. Forster. Vol. VI of The Works of Aristotle. Ed. W. D. Ross. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913-Avianus. Oeuvres. Ed. and trans. Le*on Herrmann. Collection Latomus XCVT. Brussels: Latomus Revue d'Etudes Latines, 1968. Babrius. Aesop's Fables Told by Valerius Babrius. Trans. Denison B. Hull. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, i960. Banks, Mary MacLeod, ed. An Alphabet of Tales. EETS OS 126, 127. London: Kegan Paul, Trench and Trubner, 1904-1905. Bastin, Julia, ed. Recueil General des Isopets. 2 vols. Paris: Librairie Ancienne Honore Champion, 1929« Bennett, J. A. W., and G. V. Smithers, eds.. Early Middle English Verse  and Pro_se_. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 19667 Brandeis, Arthur, ed. Jacob's Well, an Englisht Treatise on the Cleansing  of Man's Conscience. EETS OS 115- London: Kegan Paul, Trench and Trubner, 1900. Caxton, William. Caxton's Aesop. Ed. R. T. Lenaghan. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967« The History of Reynard the Fox Translated and Printed by William  Caxton i n 1451. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, I960T Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. Ed. F. N. Robinson. 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton M i f f l i n , 1957-Day, Mabel, ed. The English Text of the Ancrene Riwle. EETS OS 225-London: Oxford University Press, 1952. Dickins, Bruce, and R. M. Wilson, eds. Early Middle English Texts. Cambridge: Bowes and Bowes, 1951. 178 Henryson, Robert. The Poems and Fables of Robert Henryson. Ed. G. Gregory Smith. The Scottish Text Society, 55. Edinburgh and London: Blackwood, 1906. Vol. II. The Poems and Fables of Robert Henryson. Ed. H. Harvey Wood. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1933' Poems. Ed. Charles E l l i o t t . Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963. Herrtage, Sidney J. H., ed. The Early English Versions of the Gesta Romanorum. EETS ES 33. London: Kegan Paul, Trench and Trubner, 1879; rpt. 1098. Horace. The Satires and Epistles of Horace. Trans. Smith Palmer Bovie. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959-Langland, William. The Vision of William Concerning Piers the Plowman. Ed. W. W. Skeat. 10th ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1923. Piers Plowman. Ed. J. A. W. Bennett. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972. Lydgate, John. The Minor Poems of John Lydgate. Ed. Henry Noble MacCracken. EETS OS 192. London: Oxford University Press, 1934. Marie de France. Die Fabeln der Marie de France. Ed. Karl Warnke. Bibliotheca Normannica, 6. Halle: Niemeyer, 1898. Fables. Ed. A. Ewert and R. C. Johnston. Oxford: Blackwell, 1942. Michel, Dan. Ayenbite of Inwyt or Remorse of Conscience. Ed. Richard Morris. EETS OS 23. London: Trubner, 186157 Mirk, John. Mirk's Festial: A Collection of Homilies. Ed. Theodor Erbe. EETS ES 9~F. London: Kegan Paul, Trench and Trubner, 1905. Morris, Richard, ed. Old English Homilies and Homiletic Treatises of the  Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries. EETS OS 29. 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