Plutarch (/ˈpluːtɑːrk/; Greek: Πλούταρχος, Ploútarkhos, Koine Greek: [plǔːtarkʰos]; c. AD 46 – AD 120), later named, upon becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus, (Λούκιος Μέστριος Πλούταρχος) was a Greek biographer and essayist, known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia. He is classified as a Middle Platonist. Plutarch's surviving works were written in Greek, but intended for both Greek and Roman readers.
Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, commonly called Parallel Lives or Plutarch's Lives, is a series of biographies of famous men, arranged in tandem to illuminate their common moral virtues or failings, probably written at the beginning of the second century AD. The surviving Parallel Lives (Greek: Βίοι Παράλληλοι, Bíoi Parállēloi) comprises 23 pairs of biographies, each pair consisting of one Greek and one Roman, as well as four unpaired, single lives. It is a work of considerable importance, not only as a source of information about the individuals described, but also about the times in which they lived.
De vita Caesarum (Latin; literal translation: About the Life of the Caesars), commonly known as The Twelve Caesars, is a set of twelve biographies of Julius Caesar and the first 11 emperors of the Roman Empire written by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus.
The work, written in AD 121 during the reign of the emperor Hadrian, was the most popular work of Suetonius, at that time Hadrian's personal secretary, and is the largest among his surviving writings. It was dedicated to a friend, the Praetorian prefect Gaius Septicius Clarus.
The Twelve Caesars is considered very significant in antiquity and remains a primary source on Roman history. The book discusses the significant and critical period of the Principate from the end of the Republic to the reign of Domitian; comparisons are often made with Tacitus whose surviving works document a similar period.
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (Classical Latin: [ˈɡa:jjʊs sʊ.e:'to:ni.ʊs traŋˈkᶣɪllʊs]), commonly known as Suetonius (/swɪˈtoʊniəs/; c. 69 – after 122 AD), was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order who wrote during the early Imperial era of the Roman Empire.
His most important surviving work is a set of biographies of twelve successive Roman rulers, from Julius Caesar to Domitian, entitled De Vita Caesarum. He recorded the earliest accounts of Julius Caesar's epileptic seizures. Other works by Suetonius concern the daily life of Rome, politics, oratory, and the lives of famous writers, including poets, historians, and grammarians. A few of these books have partially survived, but many have been lost.
The Floure and the Leafe is an anonymous Middle English allegorical poem in 595 lines of rhyme royal, written around 1470. During the 17th, 18th, and most of the 19th century it was mistakenly believed to be the work of Geoffrey Chaucer, and was generally considered to be one of his finest poems. The name of the author is not known but the poem presents itself as the work of a woman, and some critics are inclined to take this at face value. The poet was certainly well-read, there being a number of echoes of earlier writers in the poem, including Geoffrey Chaucer, John Lydgate, John Gower, Andreas Capellanus, Guillaume de Lorris, Guillaume de Machaut, Jean Froissart, Eustache Deschamps, Christine de Pizan, and the authors of the "Lai du Trot" and the Kingis Quair.
Jack Upland or Jack up Lande (c. 1389–96?) is a polemical, probably Lollard, literary work which can be seen as a "sequel" to Piers Plowman, with Antichrist attacking Christians through corrupt confession. Jack asks a "flattering friar" (cf. Piers Plowman's "Friar Flatterer") nearly seventy questions attacking the mendicant orders and exposing their distance from scriptural truth.
There are two pseudo-Chaucerian texts called The Plowman's Tale (aka Brent's Story).
In the mid-15th century a rhyme royal Plowman's Tale was added to the text of The Canterbury Tales in the Christ Church MS. This tale is actually an orthodox Roman Catholic, possibly anti-Lollard version of a Marian miracle story written by Thomas Hoccleve called Item de Beata Virgine. Someone composed and added a prologue to fit Hoccleve's poem into Chaucer's narrative frame. This bogus tale did not survive into the printed editions of Chaucer's Works.
The better-known Plowman's Tale was included in printed editions of Chaucer's Works. It is a decidedly Wycliffite anti-fraternal tale that was written ca. 1400 and circulated among the Lollards. Sometimes titled The Complaynte of the Plowman, it is 1380 lines long, composed of eight-line stanzas (ababbcbc with some variations suggesting interpolation) like Chaucer's Monk's Tale. There is no clear internal/design connection in The Plowman's Tale with Chaucer's Canterbury Tales or Piers Plowman. Anthony Wotton, who was probably the editor of the 1606 edition of The Plowman's Tale, suggested that The Plowman's Tale makes a reference to Jack Upland or, more likely, Pierce the Ploughman's Crede, since main character in The Plowman's Tale says, "Of Freres I haue told before / In a making of a Crede..." (1065–66). The Plowman's Tale also borrows heavily from the Crede.
Some sections of The Plowman's Tale, such as the prologue, were added in the 16th century to make it fit better as one of Chaucer's tales. The prologue announces that a sermon is to follow in the tale. Instead, a traveller with none of the characteristics of Chaucer's plowman (or any literary plowman of the era) overhears a Pelican and a Griffin debating about the clergy. Most of the lines are the Pelican's, who attacks the typical offences in an evangelical manner, discusses Antichrist, and appeals to the secular government to humble the church. The Pelican is driven off by force but is then vindicated by a Phoenix. The tale ends with a disclaimer wherein the author distinguishes his own views from those of the Pelican, stating that he will accept what the church requires.
The association of this and other texts with Chaucer was possible because Chaucer's General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales introduces a Plowman who never receives a tale. This omission seems to have sparked the creativity of others from an early date. In the General Prologue, the Host jokes about the Plowman's brother, who is the Parson. In some surviving manuscripts the Host suggests that the Parson is a "Lollere." As early as 1400, Chaucer's courtly audience grew to include members of the rising literate, middle-/merchant class, which included many Lollard sympathizers who would have been inclined to believe in a Lollard Chaucer.
The Pilgrim's Tale is an English anti-monastic poem. It was probably written ca. 1536–38, since it makes references to events in 1534 and 1536 – i.e., the Lincolnshire Rebellion – and borrows from The Plowman's Tale and the 1532 text by William Thynne of Chaucer's Romaunt of the Rose, which is cited by page and line. It remains the most mysterious of the pseudo-Chaucerian texts. In his 1602 edition of the Works of Chaucer, Thomas Speght mentions that he hoped to find this elusive text. A prefatory advertisement to the reader in the 1687 edition of the Works speaks of an exhaustive search for The Pilgrim's Tale, which had proved fruitless.
Guillaume de Machaut (French: [gijom də maʃo]; sometimes spelled Machault; c. 1300 – April 1377) was a medieval French poet and composer. He is regarded by many musicologists as the greatest and most important composer of the 14th century. One of the earliest composers on whom significant biographical information is available, Daniel Leech-Wilkinsoncalled Machaut "the last great poet who was also a composer". Well into the 15th century, Machaut's poetry was greatly admired and imitated by other poets, including Geoffrey Chaucer.
Machaut composed in a wide range of styles and forms. He is a part of the musical movement known as the ars nova. Machaut helped develop the motet and secular song forms (particularly the lai and the formes fixes: rondeau, virelai and ballade). Machaut wrote the Messe de Nostre Dame, the earliest known complete setting of the Ordinary of the Mass attributable to a single composer. Some of his best-known rondeaus are "Ma fin est mon commencement" and "Rose, liz, printemps, verdure".
The Complaint of Mars, is one of Geoffrey Chaucer's short poems that has elicited a variety of critical commentary. While this poem has been seen as allegorical, astronomical, and interpretive-appreciative in nature, a number of critics have examined the poem only as a description of an astronomical event. While this event is evident in the story, the discrepancies between the story and the actual condition in the skies has provided a useful examination of astrological beliefs in Chaucer's time.
The Canterbury Tales (Middle English: Tales of Caunterbury) is a collection of 24 stories that runs to over 17,000 lines written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer between 1387–1400. In 1386, Chaucer became Controller of Customs and Justice of Peace and, three years later, Clerk of the King's work in 1389. It was during these years that Chaucer began working on his most famous text, The Canterbury Tales. The tales (mostly written in verse, although some are in prose) are presented as part of a story-telling contest by a group of pilgrims as they travel together on a journey from London to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. The prize for this contest is a free meal at the Tabard Inn at Southwark on their return.
After a long list of works written earlier in his career, including Troilus and Criseyde, House of Fame, and Parliament of Fowls, The Canterbury Tales is near-unanimously seen as Chaucer's magnum opus. He uses the tales and descriptions of its characters to paint an ironic and critical portrait of English society at the time, and particularly of the Church. Chaucer's use of such a wide range of classes and types of people was without precedent in English. Although the characters are fictional, they still offer a variety of insights into customs and practices of the time. Often, such insight leads to a variety of discussions and disagreements among people in the 14th century. For example, although various social classes are represented in these stories and all of the pilgrims are on a spiritual quest, it is apparent that they are more concerned with worldly things than spiritual. Structurally, the collection resembles The Decameron, which Chaucer may have read during his first diplomatic mission to Italy in 1372.
It has been suggested that the greatest contribution of The Canterbury Tales to English literature was the popularisation of the English vernacular in mainstream literature, as opposed to French, Italian or Latin. English had, however, been used as a literary language centuries before Chaucer's time, and several of Chaucer's contemporaries—John Gower, William Langland, the Pearl Poet, and Julian of Norwich—also wrote major literary works in English. It is unclear to what extent Chaucer was seminal in this evolution of literary preference.
While Chaucer clearly states the addressees of many of his poems, the intended audience of The Canterbury Tales is more difficult to determine. Chaucer was a courtier, leading some to believe that he was mainly a court poet who wrote exclusively for nobility.
The Canterbury Tales is generally thought to have been incomplete at the end of Chaucer's life. In the General Prologue, some thirty pilgrims are introduced. According to the Prologue, Chaucer's intention was to write two stories from the perspective of each pilgrim on the way to and from their ultimate destination, St. Thomas Becket's shrine (making for a total of four stories per pilgrim). Although perhaps incomplete, The Canterbury Tales is revered as one of the most important works in English literature. It is also open to a wide range of interpretations.
Paris (Ancient Greek: Πάρις), also known as Alexander (Ἀλέξανδρος, Aléxandros), the son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy, appears in a number of Greek legends. Probably the best known was his elopement with Helen, queen of Sparta, this being one of the immediate causes of the Trojan War. Later in the war, he fatally wounds Achilles in the heel with an arrow as foretold by Achilles’s mother, Thetis. The name Paris is probably Luwian and comparable to Pari-zitis, attested as a Hittite scribe's name.