Monday 21 July 2014

ENGL21021 Medieval Metamorphoses


Medieval Metamorphoses    

Dr Anke Bernau                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         



Preliminary Reading List

A number of the primary texts will be provided for you in a course booklet at the beginning of the course. However, should you wish to begin your reading over the summer, which you are encouraged to do, you will be able to locate the texts according to the bibliographical information given below.

The TEAMS Middle English Texts online website lists all of their available online texts alphabetically (either according to author surname, or, if the author is anonymous, according to  title) at:



Useful textual notes: The TEAMS online editions provide excellent introductions to texts, as well as excellent footnotes and textual notes. The latter can be accessed through the highlighted numbers within the text itself (online), which can be clicked on,  as well as by clicking on the ‘see note’ comment in the margins.



·         Ovid, Metamorphoses: A New Verse Translation, trans. by David Raeburn (London: Penguin, 2004). [You will have a copy of this text, which you will bring with you each week.] **It is important that you use THIS edition.**



Weeks 1-2. Poetry and Transformation:


Week 1:

1.      Ovid, 'Prologue’, in Book 1 of the Metamorphoses, p. 5 (ll. 1-4) and ‘Epilogue’, in Book 15, p. 636 (ll. 871-79).

2.      John Gower, Confessio Amantis, Prologue to Book I, ll. 1-92 and ll. 1053-88 [available online at TEAMS: ]


Week 2:

1.      Extract from The Romance of the Rose, trans. and ed. by Frances Horgan

            (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994); on Pygmalion, pp. 321-26 (ll. 20787-21164).

2.      Geoffrey Chaucer, from the Prologue of ‘The Physician’s Tale’ , in The Canterbury Tales, ed. by Robert Boenig and Andrew Taylor (Plymouth: Broadview Press, 2008), pp. 255-259 (p. 255, ll. 1-57).

3.      John Gower,  ‘Prologue’ to Book 4 [on ‘Sloth’], ll. 1-24, ‘Prologue’ on Cowardice, ll. 313-70, and the tale of  ‘Pygmalion and his Statue’, ll. 371-450.Available at TEAMS:


Weeks 3-4. Poetry and Loss (Orpheus and Eurydice)

1.      Ovid, 'Orpheus and Eurydice', Metamorphoses, 10. 1-154 (pp. 382-89) [see also pp. 389-419].

2.      Robert Henryson, Orpheus and Eurydice edited by Robert L. Kindrick [Originally Published in The Poems of Robert Henryson, ed. Kindrick (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1997)]. Available at:

(WEEK 3: ll. 1-633; WEEK 4: 634 – end of poem)).


[see TEAMS online, under ‘R’ for ‘Robert Henryson’]


Week 5: The Labyrinth (Theseus and Ariadne)

1.      Ovid, 'The Minotaur and Ariadne', Metamorphoses, 8. 152-82 (pp. 301-3).

2.      Ovid, 'Ariadne to Theseus',  in Heroides, trans. by Harold Isbell (London: Penguin Books, 1990; repr. 2004), pp. 89-95.

3.      John Gower, Confessio Amantis, Prologue to Book V [‘On Avarice’, ll. 1-140, and the prologue to the form of Avarice known as ‘Ingratitude’, ll. 4885-936;; then the story of Theseus and Ariadne, V. 5207-504 [as exemplary of ‘Ingratitude’]. Available at TEAMS:

  1. Geoffrey Chaucer, The Legend of Good Women, 'The Legend of Ariadne', from Legend of Good Women , in The Riverside Chaucer, gen. ed. Larry D. Benson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), pp. 620-24ll. 1886-2227.
  2. Geoffrey Chaucer, extract on Ariadne from House of Fame (ll. 397-426).



[Week 6: Reading Week]


Weeks 7-8. Sorcery and Betrayal (Medea)

1.      Ovid, 'Medea and Jason', Metamorphoses. 7.1-452 (pp. 248-70)

2.      Ovid, ‘Medea to Jason’, from the Heroides. trans. Harold Isbell (London: Penguin Books, 1990; repr. 2004), pp. 103-15.

3.      John Gower, Confessio Amantis, on ‘Perjury’, V. 2859-960, and the story of Jason and Medea as exemplary of perjury: V. 3219-4242 [on Perjury as aspect of Covetousness]. At TEAMS:


4.      Geoffrey Chaucer, 'The Legend of Hypsipyle and Medea', from Legend of Good Women , in The Riverside Chaucer, gen. ed. Larry D. Benson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), pp. 614-17, ll. 1368-1679.


Weeks 9-10. Rape and Representation (Tereus, Procne and Philomena / Arachne)

1.      Ovid, ‘Arachne’, Metamorphoses, 6. 1-145 (pp. 210-17).

2.      Ovid, ‘Tereus, Procne and Philomela’, Metamorphoses. 6.412-674 (pp. 230-43)

3.      Gower, Confessio Amantis , on ‘Rapacity’, V. 5505-550 and the story of Tereus, Procne and Philomena, V. 5551-6074 [as exemplary of 'Rapacity']. At TEAMS:


4.      Chaucer, 'The Legend of Philomela', from Legend of Good Women , in The Riverside

Chaucer, gen. ed. Larry D. Benson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), pp. 624-26., ll. 2228-2393



Week 11: Course Revision


Additional Material: Monuments to Poetry: Ice and Glass


  • Geoffrey Chaucer, House of Fame, Bk 1 (lines 1-508)
  • John Lydgate, Temple of Glas,. TEAMS edition: ed. by J. Allan Mitchell [Originally Published in John Lydgate, The Temple of Glas, ed. by Mitchell (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2007). ll. 1-214. Available at:





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