"Little Troilus": Heroides 5 and its Ovidian contexts in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde

Jamie C FumoStudies in Philology. Chapel Hill: Summer 2003.Vol. 100, Iss. 3;  pg. 278







Abstract (Document Summary)

Fumo re-approaches the question of Chaucer's relationship to Ovid, as well as that of Chaucer's allusive style, by investigating the function of Heroides 5, Oenone's letter to Paris, in the design and structure of the "Troilus and Criseyde." Heroides 5 contains both the beginning and the end of Troy and the Trojan War. Numerous critics said that it acts less as an inset narrative than as a function in Chaucer's poem in the sense that it condenses in pre-packaged, symbolic form the parameters of Chaucer's love epic.

Full Text (17736   words)

Copyright University of North Carolina Press Summer 2003

WHEN considering Chaucer's debt to Ovid's Heroides, it is common for our minds to fix upon that work promised by a sheepish Chaucer in the first lines of the narrative implosion that is the epilogue of Troilus and Criseyde: "And gladlier I wol write, yif yow leste, / Penolopees trouthe and good Alceste" (5.1777-78).1 Chaucer appears to have relished the tension availed by the Heroides as intertext within his work-its capacity to subvert, as it does the Virgilian veneer of the Dido story in the House of Fame, or be subverted, as it is by Chaucer's flattened and de-individualized reworking of the collection of complaints in the Legend of Good Women. It is doubtful, had Chaucer agreed with the many modern readers who find the Heroides to be thin, repetitive, even boring exercises, that he would have rechannelled them into his own poetic world as strikingly as he did, and in such writerly environs as Venus's temple and Alcestis's garden. Rather, I am inclined to think that Chaucer found many of his own interests reflected in what one of the most important modern defenders of the Heroides has called "a mirror of the relative nature of reality," wherein "[t]he world of myth is no longer reality or a symbolic reflection of reality, but to a large degree projections or extensions of individual minds" and each event "becomes a multi-faceted thing depending on who sees, experiences, and recounts it."2

Since Edgar Finley Shannon brought to light more than seventy years ago Chaucer's infusion of Criseyde's psychological process of falling in love with motifs from Helen's Ovidian heroid to Paris,3 much of Chaucer's intertextual treatment of individual heroides within Troilus and Criseyde-a notably epistolary poem itself-has gone unexplored. However, in the intervening decades, our appreciation of the special affinity between Chaucer and Ovid has been greatly advanced by Richard L. Hoffman, John M. Fyler, and Michael A. Calabrese, among others, and our recognition of the "deep classicism" and complex intertextuality that permeates the Troilus preeminently among Chaucer's writings has been enhanced by the important studies of Winthrop Wetherbee and John V. Fleming.4 The present essay re-approaches the question of Chaucer's relationship to Ovid, as well as that of Chaucer's allusive style, by investigating the function of Heroides 5, Oenone's letter to Paris, in the design and structure of the Troilus.

Though numerous critics have made passing note of Chaucer's curious use of Heroides 5 in two isolated moments in books 1 and 4 of the Troilus, and several have commented upon the irony embedded in these out-of-context allusions to an Ovidian text that describes sexual betrayal and forecasts the fall of Troy,5 no one has recognized Chaucer's sustained and allusive use of Heroides 5 and its function as a metanarrative structural device in the design of the poem. The intratextual energy of Heroides 5 within Ovid's own body of writings has likewise been overlooked, and regrettably so, for it is largely this aspect of the Oenone story that attracts Chaucer's creative interest and structures his own rewriting of it. In the hope of better illuminating the often shadowy contours of the Ovidian contexts of the Troilus, my approach is two-pronged: (1) to assess the details of Chaucer's reworking of Oenone's letter where it is explicitly cited and (2) to gauge the rich multivalence of the Ovidian text, its more implicit and deeply situated relevance to the design of Chaucer's poem, as an intertextual backdrop to many of the special formal and narrative qualities of the Troilus.

Heroides 5 as intertext, I would like to suggest, is a microcosm, an epitome, of the action of Chaucer's poem. The Ovidian text acts in Chaucer's poem as does the symbol of "Troilus" in early tradition as Piero Boitani describes it: like Troilus-"little Troy," in his youth the image of Troy's vitality and in his death the harbinger of its downfall-Heroides 5 contains both the beginning and the end of Troy and the Trojan War.6 It acts less as an inset narrative than as a "function" in Chaucer's poem; in the sense that it condenses in pre-packaged, symbolic form the parameters of Chaucer's love epic, we may, indeed, regard it as "little Troilus." In applying the design of the Ovidian story-which has no parallel in the Filostrato-to that of Troilus and Criseyde, Chaucer uses the heroid to manifest the relation between the genesis and the tragic outcome of the war in terms of the imperative for and collapse of "remedies of love," then transforms this perspective into a springboard for questioning-first in Ovidian and finally in Christian ways-the intimate connections between the poetic and the healing arts. In particular, we shall find, Chaucer appropriates Heroides 5 as a structural instrument to implicitly connect some of the poem's most insistent and puzzling dualities: the nature of Troilus's first and second sorrows, his character as masculine agent and femininized victim, and the circumstances of his death as warrior and as lover. The present essay investigates this question of intertextuality on the levels of narrative technique, characterization, gender, and imagery, and studies in some detail the archaeology of Troilus's textual subjectivity, the pre-(or over-) determination of his character by a textual tradition as inexorable as it is capricious.

In focusing upon Troilus as a site of poetic contestation, of Chaucer's dialogue and negotiation with his classical sources, I aim both to advance the details of our assessment of Chaucer's classicism and also to enhance our appreciation of the role and capacity of poetic craft, "the forme of olde clerkis speche" (5.1854), as constructed, staged, and tested in Troilus and Criseyde. Regarding the former objective, some methodological clarification is necessary from the outset. The responsible reader of the Troilus must master a tricky balancing act: to resist importing into the poem irrelevant structures or backgrounds mistakenly thought to be allusively present, and also to refuse to take this indisputably allusive and often sly poem at its word, thus becoming a victim of Pandarus's or the narrator's deviousness. It is one of the (winning) paradoxes of the poem that it seems to invite both mistaken responses. The poem's two demonstrably present allusions to Heroides 5 appear at first to be merely local, ornamental-but illusively so, I will argue. The provocative misquotation that characterizes both allusions demands that we go back to Heroides 5, reread, and compare, precisely because the misquoting characters (Pandarus and Criseyde) wish for us to forget about the contexts, and their wider implications, and read on innocently. When we study the source in question, we detect a systematic relevance beyond the narrow locality of the exact reference; in evaluating how it has been transformed, we become aware of how it in turn transforms, supplements, and challenges the literal content of Chaucer's Troilus. It is therefore with an interpreter's rather than an annotator's interest that I aim to reconstruct one intriguing angle of Chaucer's classical usage. Building upon both long-established methods of source-and-influence criticism and, with certain qualifications, the "broader and more dynamic sense of contextual appropriateness" to which theories of intertextuality are attuned,7 the present essay is grounded in the belief that the Heroides allusions are intended to lead us toward particular interpretive conclusions at particular moments, but it presses beyond this to read these allusions less as stable loci of a unified, uncontroverted, or allegorical meaning than as funnels of signification, which evocatively contribute to one level of the poem's shifting and exploratory perspectives upon the character of Troilus.8 The reticulated pattern of Ovidian allusion prompted by the Heroides intertext ultimately exposes the metatextual dimensions of Chaucer's Troy, an edifice-like Troilus-of textual fragments and echoes, as an image of the status of (pagan) poetry itself. Thus formulated, poetry emerges in the Troilus both as potential remedy of love and as doomed cultural foundation.


It is first important to recognize that Chaucer's interest in Oenone, the plaintive letter-writer of Heroides 5 who also appears in The House of Fame 1.399 and is alluded to in The Squire's Tale V.548, was quite unusual for his age. As previously mentioned, neither she nor her letter surfaces in Boccaccio's Filostrato; the medieval mythographers make no significant acknowledgments of her existence;9 and her role in Paris's love life is entirely eclipsed by that of Helen in the dominant tradition of Trojan material known to the West in the Middle Ages: the works of Joseph of Exeter, Benoit de Sainte-Maure, and Guido delle Colonne. In retelling the story of Paris, these last three writers mainly used the work of Dares, the supposed Trojan eye-witness of the war, and accordingly followed upon his largely sympathetic treatment of Helen. Dictys, Dares's Cretan competitor, on the other hand, does feature Oenone in a minor role as the woman Paris rejected for Helen who later mourned his death; however, the Ovide Moralise-the main channel of transmission of Dictys's work to the medieval West (though it drew on other traditions as well)-happens not to follow up Dictys's interest in Oenone and instead indulges in the popular fascination with Helen; it alludes to Oenone only briefly in material borrowed from the "double letters" between Paris and Helen in the Heroides (16 and 17).10 Ovid's fifth heroid stands alone in Latin literature in presenting Oenone as an important figure; it is thus to this fascinating psychological portrait of a betrayed female lover that we must trace Chaucer's largely unique absorption.11

If Chaucer's interest in the story of Oenone was unusual, Ovid's own attention to her experience was extraordinary-or so, at least, the extant textual tradition would make it seem. It is necessary to preface a brief overview of the challenges Heroides 5 presents to textual criticism with a summary of the action it narrates. The Trojan War in progress, Oenone, the fountain-nymph who lives on Mount Ida overlooking Troy, writes in alternating tones of tenderness and venomous sarcasm to her lover Paris, who has abandoned her for Helen, "Graia iuvenca" ["the Greek cow"] (118). As Oenone recounts, Paris, who had been exposed on Mount Ida as a child because of a prophecy that he would cause the downfall of Troy, employed himself as a shepherd and became her lover; until recently, the couple lived together in a pastoral bliss. Paris had vowed eternal fidelity to Oenone, and had even carved an oath into the bark of a tree near the river Xanthus: if he should ever spurn Oenone, then should the river flow backwards to its fount. But at some point (Oenone is a bit unclear) Paris discovers his true identity as a prince of Troy, and soon thereafter, Juno, Minerva, and Venus propose a certain beauty contest to him on Mount Ida. Paris tells her something about the Judgment (we do not know exactly what), then suddenly Paris is felling trees-ravaging, as it were, the natural sanctuary of their love-and building a ship in which to sail to Greece. Sure enough, Oenone later witnesses Paris sailing back to Troy in the same ship-with Helen in his arms. Oenone recalls a time long ago when Cassandra had warned her against loving Paris and the destruction that would be wreaked upon Troy on account of the "Graia iuvenca" Paris would lead to its shore. Paris cannot trust Helen, writes Oenone: she was unfaithful to Menelaus, and can be so to him as well. Also, unlike Helen, Oenone's love will not beget wars. As Howard Jacobson has perceptively described it, Oenone's complaint, in which she never wavers from her steadfast love to Paris despite his treachery, is a masterful portrayal of the workings of a frantic and desperate mind whose understanding of life is painfully naive, but whose impulses are instinctively and sweetly virtuous.12

Oenone's many shifts in rhetorical strategy over the course of the letter-from offended haughtiness to cheap self-aggrandizement to submissive pleading-take a rather surprising turn in the last twenty lines, in which Oenone apparently decides that presenting herself as a "good girl" will not impress Paris and that she must, instead, compete with Helen on her own sluttish level. Paris's first lover has also been the privileged victim of a "rape," Oenone mentions a bit too offhandedly: though she was able to repel the advances of bands of satyrs and even Faunus himself, she was powerless against the builder of Troy ("Troiae munitor"), Apollo, who won from her the spoil ("spolium") of her virginity (we are reminded of the war raging as she writes, over the booty of a woman) and initiated her into the secret of his medical arts as recompense.13 But alas, says Oenone, she cannot heal her wounded love even with Apollo's herbs: "deficior prudens artis ab arte mea" ["Skilled in an art, I am left helpless by the very art I know"] (150).

Ovid's treatment of Oenone departs radically from earlier tradition. The earliest treatments of the Oenone story that survive are from the Hellenistic period (with probable pre-Hellenistic influences),14 but the story in these accounts seems to represent a separate tradition from that which Ovid used: the focus there is not on the early days of Paris's and Oenone's romance, but rather on Paris's death in the war by the arrow of Philoctetes. Unlike Ovid's Oenone, the Oenone of early tradition herself possesses the mantic art (and thus needs no Cassandra) and, again, unlike Ovid's Oenone, is so bitter toward Paris after his rejection of her that she at first refuses to heal him when his wounded body is carried to her before his death.15 However, she finally decides too late to help and, finding her lover dead, kills herself. Whereas in the earlier tradition it is said that only Oenone can heal the wounded Paris, in Ovid's version Oenone complains of a love wound incurable by medical arts which only Paris can heal.16 Like Chaucer in his reworking of the Troilus story, Ovid rejects a tradition in which the turbulence of love forms a mere backdrop to the events of war in favor of a story that foregrounds a love vaguely shadowed by war. Most strikingly, in no version besides Ovid's is Oenone loved by Apollo.17 Faced with such discrepancies, some scholars have posited the existence of a lost literary version that would have contextualized Ovid's special interpretation.

We shall return to a number of these problems later, but first let us outline the general relevance of Oenone's epistle to Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde. In book 1, as Pandarus is wielding a dizzying array of rhetorical strategies in his attempt to convince Troilus to reveal with whom he has fallen in love so that he can be of aid in the conquest, he asks Troilus if he has read Oenone's letter. In this amusing example of a classical allusion presented as late-breaking news in an environment contemporaneous with the text's setting, Troilus, like a guilty undergraduate who did not read the assignment, is vulnerable to the suave but reckless theoretical maneuverings of his professor.18 According to Pandarus, the letter "an herdesse / Which that icleped was Oenone" wrote to "thi brother, Paris" (1.653-54) details the sad story of Apollo, who invented the art of healing but could not heal himself of his love for Admetus's daughter:

"'Phebus, that first fond art of medicyne,'

Quod she, 'and couthe in every wightes care

Remedye and reed, by herbes he knew fyne,

Yet to hymself his konnyng was ful bare,

For love hadde hym so bounded in a snare,

Al for the doughter of the kyng Amete,

That al his craft ne koude his sorwes bete.'"


Pandarus goes on to apply his reading to his own situation as an unsuccessful lover eager to guide Troilus in his pursuit of love: since this letter describes a doctor who can heal others but not himself, then Pandarus, who has never been able to heal himself, must be able to heal others.

As usual, Pandarus's logic is hilariously flawed.19 Pandarus, rivaling such other notoriously abusive exegetes as the Wife of Bath and Chaunticleer,20 has in fact suppressed the real relevance of Oenone's letter to Troilus's life: it narrates a story of a fateful courtship, love betrayed, incurable suffering on the part of the betrayed, and (proleptically) the very fall of Troy as a result of this betrayal. We would have to be as naive as Troilus to believe that the allusion to Heroides 5 is simply casual, that Chaucer does not expect us to take Pandarus's suppression of the actual subject of the letter as an invitation to re-read it in light of the design of his own poem. Further, Oenone's story as narrated in Heroides 5 is peopled with Troilus's relatives: Paris and Cassandra, as well as (in minor roles) Deiphebus, Hector, and Priam. Oenone herself, like the distraught Troilus in book 5, receives Cassandra's advice on her love affair and learns of the threat of a Greek cow, as Troilus does of a Greek boar.21

But already we begin to see that the texture of the Heroides microcosm is more complex than this outline of one-to-one correspondences admits. Troilus would seem at first to be the Paris figure, reenacting the Judgment of Paris by choosing passion over wisdom and so preparing to woo a woman-Criseyde, the Helen figure-who will usher in destruction.22 The rejected Oenone figure here could be read variously, depending on the severity of our moral outlook, as virginity, natural (versus idolatrous or cupidinous) love, youthful folly, the warrior's duty to his patria ("turpe rudimentum, patriae praeponere raptam" ["'Tis but a base beginning, to prize a stolen mistress more than your native land"], 97), or, in Boethian terms, rational man's natural home in the summum bonum, his true patria.23 At the same time, however, if we are to take the intertext as an adumbration of the shape of things to come, Troilus must be Oenone, whose suffering from love betrayed knows no remedy, and Criseyde the Paris figure, who crosses the line of nationality and, faced with a difficult judgment, "took fully purpos for to dwelle" (5.1029) with Diomede and the Greeks.24 The first perspective implies moral criticism of Troilus as agent, the second sympathetic understanding of Troilus as victim. The dialogue between these two contexts, I believe, remains central to the experience of Chaucer's poem and reemerges vociferously in the second explicit usage of Heroides 5 in book 4, where its symbolic resolution is signaled by a polyphony of charged mythological allusions.


Though the general outlines of Chaucer's interest in Heroides 5 should now be apparent, the most puzzling cameo appearance in that source text-that of Apollo-remains to be addressed. We have already confirmed the value of Maud Burnett McInerny's recent claim (which she explores only in passing) that the real "point" of Pandarus's allusion to Heroides 5 lies neither in the details of his mistaken summary of the letter nor in his rhetorical comparison of himself with Apollo, but in the study of Ovid's actual text which the allusion prompts.25 The present section, however, will depart from this theory by pursuing the relevance of the miscited Apollo in the context of the Heroides 5 allusion and his larger significance in Chaucer's poem. Building upon the striking congruence of Apollo and Paris on the erotic level, this section will focus on Apollo's dual role as god of poetry and of Troy, and will suggest some ways in which attention to the god reveals the mutually illuminating nature of intertextuality and metapoetics in the Troilus.

Pandarus's recitation, again, differs from the text of Oenone's letter in attributing the incurable love to Apollo instead of Oenone (thus obscuring the subject matter of erotic betrayal), and in explaining that the object of this love was the "doughter of the kyng Amete." While the first shift appears to be Chaucer's conscious manipulation of the text (more about this later), the second has a textual explanation. The corresponding lines in Heroides 5 are:

ipse repertor opis vaccas pavisse Pheraeas

fertur et a nostro saucius igne fuit.


[That same inventor of (medical) aid (i.e., Apollo) is said to have pastured the Pherean (Thessalian) cattle (i.e., of Admetus) and was wounded by our fire (i.e., of love). (My translation.)]

Apollo, who had several stints as a shepherd or herdsman over the course of his divine career, was sentenced by Jove to tend the cattle of Admetus after killing the Cyclops who had fashioned the thunderbolt of Jove that struck down his son, Aesculapius, for the transgression of restoring Hippolytus to life.26 Though some versions of the story portray Apollo as in love with Admetus himself, I have found no classical source that accounts for Apollo's love of Admetus's daughter.27 Commentaries on the Heroides attempted to fill in the gaps of Ovid's cryptic lines, however, and Sanford Brown Meech has argued, partly on the basis of these same lines, that Chaucer used an Italian translation of the Heroides by one Filippo Ceffi as a crib in construing Ovid's quite difficult Latin; in this translation, we learn that Apollo "amando la bella figliuola del re Ameto."28 Concerning Ovid's lines, John V. Fleming has pointed out that, whatever the object of Apollo's obscure affections in the Heroides, Chaucer clearly has woven one Ovidian allusion into another: he shifts the focus from Oenone's to Apollo's attempts at healing by introducing the language used to describe Apollo's irremediable passion for Daphne in Metamorphoses 1.523-24: "ei mihi, quod nullis amor est sanabilis herbis / nec prosunt domino, quae prosunt omnibus, artes!" ["Alas, that love is curable by no herbs, and the arts which heal all others cannot heal their lord!"].29

This is a promising line of inquiry into Ovid's conception of Apollo as well as, I will later suggest, Chaucer's reading of Ovid. A closer look at Apollo's "hunt" of Daphne in Metamorphoses 1 should stun the attentive reader of Heroides 5. First, we find that Apollo has a somewhat Humbertian predilection for nymphets-river nymphs, that is: Daphne, Apollo's first love, is the daughter of Peneus, the river-god, and unlike the nymph Oenone she manages to resist Apollo's blandishments and physical advances successfully (at least in her pre-arboreal form). Second, Apollo clearly alludes to and inverts the situation of Paris's and Oenone's love as described in Heroides 5:

non incola montis

non ego sum pastor, non hic armenta gregresque

horridus observo.

(Met. 1.512-14)

["I am no mountain-dweller, no shepherd I, no unkempt guardian here of flocks and herds."]

Oenone had loved Paris as a lowly shepherd (her self-aggrandizing account of the charity she, half-divine, performed in loving Paris in this state is merely rhetorical gall); all the trouble began when Paris's discovery of his royal birth incited in him delusions of grandeur. In the lines following the passage quoted above, Apollo goes on to boast of his royal domicile, his above-average intelligence ("per me, quod eritque fuitque / estque, patet" ["'By me what shall be, has been, and what is are all revealed'"], 1.517-18), and his important father-not Priam, but Jove! Apollo's proposal to Daphne rewrites Oenone's profession of love for the philandering Paris almost point-by-point, revealing the god's cluelessness about what the women he loves really want:

et cum pauper eras armentaque pastor agebas,

nulla nisi Oenone pauperis uxor erat.

non ego miror opes, nec me tua regia tangit

nec de tot Priami dicar ut una nurus[.]

(Heroides 5.79-82)

["But when you were poor and shepherded the flocks, Oenone was your wife, poor though you were, and none else. I am not dazzled by your wealth, nor would I be called one of the many wives of Priam's sons."]30

Apollo, then, plays the foolish Paris to Daphne's virginal Oenone in the first book of the Metamorphoses, only to succeed still less with Daphne than he (Apollo) does with Oenone herself in Heroides 5 on similar terms. Apollo had tried to woo Oenone with riches also; in this sense, the Daphne episode can be read as a gloss on Apollo's rape of Oenone as well as a commentary on Apollo's affinities with the conceited post-Judgment Paris, a rapist himself. We are faced here not with careless repetition of material, but with a quintessentially literate Ovidian injoke which, we shall find, is affirmed by his treatments of Apollo elsewhere. We must therefore keep in mind the crucial fact that, when Chaucer suggests that Troilus's erotic course of action in book 1 mirrors that of Paris in Heroides 5 at the same time that his curse against Cupid and submission at his arrow reenacts the drama that leads up to Apollo's love for Daphne in Metamorphoses 1, and rewrites Oenone's letter to expose this dynamic, he is bringing together two mythological episodes that Ovid himself had already implicitly and creatively united, thus proving his proficience as a reader of Ovid.31 There is a further correspondence between Paris and Apollo within the confines of Heroides 5: Oenone's first lover is described as "Troiae munitor,"32 but her second lover will bring about Troy's ultimate destruction. Yet Metamorphoses 1 reminds us (and Chaucer highlights the suggestion via Pandarus's miscitation) that this Apollo responsible for the very existence of Troy is weak and human, less a figure of omnipotence than of the sort of folly associated with Paris. He is a sick physician who cannot heal himself, a victim of Cupid's archery; and history's grandest city can hardly stand on such corruptible foundations.33

The significance of Apollo to the Troilus, hinted at in the distorted allusion to Heroides 5 in book 1, is worth dwelling on further, as it will provide us with a vocabulary with which to determine how and why Chaucer integrated the Oenone story with his poem's larger concerns about love and war, the nature of poetry and of health. In this spirit, I will now argue that both Chaucer and Ovid regard Apollo-god of poetry-as the emblem, the mythical referent, of the ars they differently practice: Chaucer in the significance with which he endows him in the Troilus as well as in his chilling role at the "earthly" climax of The Canterbury Tales, before all art is shattered along with the god's musical instruments at the end of The Manciple's Tale,34 and Ovid in a variety of ways that shall be outlined presently. Apollo's multifarious mythical heritage endows his character with an important ambiguity: identified with the sun, he is both god of healing and divine destroyer who spreads sickness with his arrows.35 In the treatments of both Ovid and Chaucer, the balance in Apollo's characterization usually tips toward the side of destruction, as in the failure of Apollo's medical arts to heal the practitioner in the texts we have so far examined. The discrepancy was compounded in the Middle Ages, when Ovidian allegorists popularized an image of Apollo as type of Christ that coexisted awkwardly with the foolish Apollo of their sources. Though Apollo's traditional role as oracle of truth and summit of wisdom is certainly assumed by both Ovid and Chaucer ("he that is . . . of wit Apollo" [TC 2.841-43] is a serious compliment), both take a cynical approach to Apollo in particular among the gods of the pantheon. The pagan poet refuses to take him seriously as vatic muse, while the Christian poet refuses to take him as a type of Christ.36 For both poets, Apollo is, in the final account, an emblem of uncontrollable passion and ineffective remedy, not of wisdom and moderation. Symbolically and allegorically, we expect the temperate Apollo to stand in opposition to the forces of disorder represented by Venus, as in Baccio Bandinelli's sixteenth-century painting The Fray of Cupid and Apollo.37 In the context of Ovid, however, the image only summons up the scene of the archery contest between Cupid and Apollo described in the first book of the Metamorphoses and reenacted in the first book of the Troilus: Apollo, fresh from his tiring slaughter of the Python with arrow and bow-Apollo was used to hunting such ferocious beasts as does and she-goats, Ovid adds-informs Cupid that archery is only for real men, at which point Cupid, with one pluck of his bow, conquers his challenger and metamorphoses Apollo's epic world into that of the elegiac.38

Ovid was sufficiently interested in this conception of Apollo to spotlight it in the first post-diluvian story in the Metamorphoses and in the last lines of Heroides 5. Indeed, we shall see, Ovid regarded Apollo as an especially rich candidate for intratextual and metatextual experimentation. Ovid appears to have had the "design" of this Apollo in mind throughout his early erotic poetry as well, where it functions as an implicit comment on the poet's ars. In his reading of Ovid, Chaucer was confronted with an image of the idealized Apollo consistently, playfully juxtaposed with that of the vulnerable, foolish Apollo, with the poet's (often ironic) self-image hanging in the balance. The Amores, for example, opens with an image that anticipates and forms the model for the archery contest of Cupid and Apollo in Metamorphoses 1: Ovid, whose manly pose prefigures that of Apollo when he slays Python and whose epic posturing is meant to invoke the specter of Virgil, was preparing to sing of "Arma gravi numero violentaque bella" ["Arms, and the violent deeds of war . . . in weighty numbers" (1.1.1)]. When Cupid steals a foot to create the elegiac meter, Ovid, again like Apollo, proceeds to heckle the troublesome "puer" on the issue of propriety: whereas in Metamorphoses 1 Apollo chides Cupid for presuming to take up the arms of real men, Ovid in Amores 1 scolds him for similarly presuming upon real poetry. Cupid submerges the Apollo of the later poem into the elegiac realm by subverting his epic ambitions, and Ovid's elegiac anticipation of this event as a poet in Amores is, significantly, presented metaphorically in terms of Apollo's defeat by Cupid: "vix etiam Phoebo iam lyra tuta sua est?" ["Is even the lyre of Phoebus scarce longer safely his own?"] (1.1.16).39 The result is the same for the two proud poet-figures, Apollo and Ovid: the naughty "puer" pierces them with his arrows and from that day forward their thoughts are all of love. In this light, the triumph of poetic power envisioned in the last poem of the first book of the Amores, in which the potent, unsullied Apollo pours Ovid full cups of poetic ambrosia from the Castalian fount, must be read as an exercise in delusion spoken by the same wounded, compromised poet of the first poem as a reflection of the same wounded god.

Ovid begins the Ars Amatoria with a similar vatic pose and a claim of Delphic truth: "vera canam" (1.30). The ground of this truth is not inspiration but experience-like the narrator of the Filostrato (but unlike the narrator of the Troilus) he does not require the aid of Apollo or the Muses, for his authority in matters of love comes from firsthand involvement.40 Though Ovid presents this experience as his strength, it is more literally his weakness, for again we find that Ovid has been pierced and branded by Cupid's bow, but that this time Ovid plans to avenge the attack by bridling and regulating love. The irony of Ovid's whole approach is, of course, obvious: "who shal yeve a lovere any lawe?" The whole point of Ovid's ars is that it will necessarily fail, and that Love, who has already won the first duel with the strength of his dart, will inevitably resist Ovid's attempt to control him.41 Clearly, the emerging correspondence we are charting between poet and Apollo is also present here: the poet is a parody of lofty Apollo (the "truth" he professes becomes instead a handbook of deception), as well as a mirror image of the passionate, love-stricken Apollo. This ironic duality is reinforced by Apollo himself, who makes an important personal appearance at the midpoint of Ars Amatoria. There, Apollo advises those of Ovid's students who would learn to love "sapienter" to follow him to his temple and regard its famous inscription: nosce teipsum. But the examples Apollo gives of this apparently morally "straight" statement collapse the whole episode into bathetic comedy: if, in the process of coming to know oneself, a lover realizes that he has fair skin, he should often lie with his shoulder visible; if he discovers that song is his god-given talent, he should be sure to sing loudly in the company of women. Just as Ovid's vatic pose of truth opened a treatise on deception, so does Apollo's injunction to self-knowledge instruct in the arts of self-deception.42

If Ovid's arts of love are ultimately rooted in vulnerability and sickness, then in the Remedia Amoris we savor the delicious irony of Ovid the physician's attempt to cure the patient he made ill in the first place. At the same time, Ovid stages the total collapse of his own ars that was always implicit from the beginning: after the third book of the Ars Amatoria disarms the strength of the strategies his male students are putting into practice by revealing men's secrets to women, the Remedia Amoris undoes, often point-by-point, the work of the Ars. It comes as no surprise, given these contexts, that in the Remedia Ovid invokes Apollo, in his capacities as patron of song and of healing, as the muse himself. In the Remedia, the failure of medicine that the Daphne episode of the Metamorphoses presents as the etiology of poetry (the conquest of the laurel) is anticipated when Ovid admits that (like Apollo) at times he has been "medicus turpiter aeger" ["a shamefully sick physician"] (314).43 It is not an imposed moralistic reading but a fact acknowledged by Ovid himself that Ovidian poetry cannot heal; it can only make us feel superficially better by aiding in self-deception through sickening art.44 In short, Ovid equates health with illusion, and it is only in this sense that the Apollonian powers of song and healing can merge, the student "carmine sanati" (814).45 Apollonian-and hence Ovidian-poetry does not effect healing; it obscures failed healing.

These theoretical structures, I am arguing, find creative expression in both the details of characterization and the overall conception of Chaucer's Troilus and are brought to the forefront by the associations which Pandarus's Apollonian rewriting of Oenone's letter stirs in the alert reader. One final Ovidian framework must be considered in light of Chaucer's interests. The Trojan War forms an important subtext in the Remedia Amoris that emerges early in the poem (l. 65) in Ovid's boast that if Paris had had access to the Remedia Amoris-as he did the Ars Amatoria46-Menelaus would have kept Helen and the fall of Troy would have been prevented. When Ovid invokes Apollo's aid just a few lines later, we may be reminded of the situation of Heroides 5. Ovid boasts that he-voice of Apollo, practitioner of that god's twin arts, and ailing physician-could have done for Paris what we know the same skill could not do for Oenone herself. But Paris's unconscious adherence to Ovid's remedies, we discover later, in fact caused the Trojan War: one way to cure yourself of love, says Ovid, is to keep two mistresses at once-that is how Paris, for instance, got over Oenone and was able to move on to Helen (457-58).

We may carry these implications still further and recognize that Apollo, who (Oenone reminds us) first raised the walls of Troy with the sound of his lyre,47 is in a sense a poet-figure, like Ovid and Chaucer, who summons forth the very material substance of the city of Troy as an artistic invention. Congruently, the extent to which authorship, like nation-building, was predicated upon involvement with the legend of Troy in the medieval West cannot be underestimated; to be sure, Chaucer reveals his awareness of this artistic imperative at every turn in the Troilus. The next section of this essay will culminate in an evaluation of the relevance of these Apollonian structures to Chaucer's final confrontation with issues of authorship, artistic success, and Trojan tragedy at the end of the Troilus. Thus far, our scrutiny of the transfigured allusion to Heroides 5 has suggested not only that intertextuality, which forces us to pause and consider the mechanics and dynamics of poetic craft, is in essence a metatextual phenomenon, but that both Ovid and Chaucer strategically chose to exploit this potential of intertextuality in their allusions to Apollo, god of poetry. We have seen that the particular significance of Apollo in Pandarus's reference is formed of the interwoven erotic, medical, and artistic aspects of the god in Ovid's writings; this, in turn, has exposed in Apollo's simultaneously erotic and artistic engagement with the story of Troy a kind of mythological template of what has been recognized (e.g., by Wetherbee) as the thematic centrality of poetry/poetic tradition-its power and tragic insufficiency-within Chaucer's tale of Trojan love. This notion, then, of Troy as ars founded upon and perpetuating irremediable passion-Apollo's as well as Paris's-allows us to see the seeds of its obliteration in abstract: like Ovid's ars, Troy is a self-destructive artifact, and the failure of Ovidian remedia to cure love (Paris's, but also, we shall see, Troilus's) will effect its collapse.


Troilus, in some versions of the myth son of Apollo by Hecuba, is closely associated with Apollo in Chaucer.48 Troilus's prideful combat with Cupid, as has been noted, echoes the episode of Apollo, the Python, and Daphne in Metamorphoses 1. Further, Troilus's alibi on the night of his first rendezvous with Criseyde is that he is at the temple of Apollo to receive wisdom about the coming events of the war.49 Apollo as builder of Troy (Chaucer acknowledges him as such in 4.120-22) has his counterpart in the poem in Troilus, "holder up of Troye" (2.644). Troilus holds up Troy both physically, with his martial deeds, and figuratively, as the emblem of Troy's glory (and tragic potential) while alive.

The omnipresence of sickness in Troilus has been well documented, and has been found largely to adhere to the Boethian model of reason as health and the passions as disease at the same time that it invokes the courtly (and medical) vocabulary of lovesickness and the lady-leech.50 As an ironic inversion of Lady Philosophy, Pandarus prescribes remedies that are sickening, like those of the poetic Muses exiled from the Consolation of Philosophy.51 Pandarus, in his use of Heroides 5, rhetorically compares himself to the Ovidian Apollo/Oenone figure incapable of self-healing; the poem's holder-up of Ovid, Pandarus takes up the approach of the Ars Amatoria to help Troilus win Criseyde. Strangely enough, Pandarus seems to have his task set out for him backwards, for Troilus is clearly in need of remedy from the very beginning, as he describes his first feelings of love as something of a death sentence: "Nor other cure kanstow non for me; / Ek I nyl nat ben cured; I wol deye" (1.757-58). Pandarus's way of curing Troilus's erotic ailment, then, is paradoxically to help him attain love. From this point of view, it is somehow not surprising that when Pandarus actually does make use of the Remedia Amoris in book 5 to heal Troilus's heartbreak, it fails utterly, and Troilus exposes it as a sham. It fails partly because "Troilus' embroilment with worldly cares prevents him from curing himself"52 and partly because Troilus's adherence to the naive yet commendable ideal of "trouthe" is irreconcilable with Ovidian ars.53 The failure of remedy, I suggest, is also a motif that implicitly links Troilus's incurable passion with a comment upon the circumstances of his death and, in a larger sense, the death of Troy.

In book 4 of the Troilus, Heroides 5 reemerges explicitly in the language of Criseyde's oath to Troilus that she will not be untrue to him while in the Greek camp:

And thow, Symois, that as an arwe clere

Thorugh Troie rennest downward to the se,

Ber witnesse of this word that seyd is here:

That thilke day that ich untrewe be

To Troilus, myn owene herte fre,

That thow retourne bakward to this welle,

And I with body and soule synke in helle!


Criseyde's words echo those addressed to Oenone that Paris carved in the tree:





In contrast with his earlier position as the Paris figure pursuing a destructive love, Troilus now becomes the Oenone figure and Criseyde mirrors Paris as active betrayer-for she will, of course, break her oath.54 At the same time, this second allusion to Heroides 5 connects with and fulfills the suppressed layer of the book 1 allusion which, as we noted, foreboded a Troilus-Oenone parallel. Troilus's inability to reconcile the reality of love with the forces of change, his overwhelming nostalgia and irrational desperation are all perfectly in character with the psychology of the betrayed Oenone in Heroides 5, and the failure of remedies further aligns their conditions. In fact, one of the latent ironies of Ovid's text is that Oenone, for all her innocence and constancy, is as much under the influence of irrational passion as she accuses Paris of being in his mad rape of Helen.55 For Chaucer to have formed the character of Troilus out of both the Ovidian Paris and Oenone, therefore, constitutes not a forced but an astute reading of Ovid's design; Ovid himself, we recall, had already rejected a tradition that highlighted Oenone's power to heal the wounded Paris in favor of one (perhaps Ovid's own invention) that instead substitutes Oenone's own cry for medical help.

Although the main allusion in book 4 of Troilus is doubtless to this passage from Heroides 5, I would argue that another context is simultaneously present, and that an understanding of the full symbolic import of Criseyde's oath can follow only from an appreciation of its intertextual depth. The most immediate and puzzling difference between Criseyde's words and those of Paris in Heroides 5 is Chaucer's substitution of the river Simois for the river Xanthus. Shannon's assertion that the inconsistency is insignificant, committed either for the sake of rhythm or because Chaucer was composing from memory, has been basically accepted.56 Chaucer would have known these two rivers as the most famous Trojan waterways, often mentioned together,57 and we might imagine that Chaucer wished the two betrayers to swear on different rivers out of a kind of clever propriety-one for the ladies, one for the gentlemen. But we need not indulge in such fanciful speculation if we consider the relevance of another Ovidian passage here:

ante retro Simois fluet et sine frondibus Ide

stabit, et auxilium promittet Achaia Troiae,

quam, cessante meo pro vestris pectore rebus,

Aiacis stolidi Danais sollertia prosit.

(Met. 13.324-27)

["Nay, Simois will flow backward, Ida stand without foliage, and Greece send aid to Troy before the craft of stupid Ajax would avail the Greeks in case I should cease to work for your advantage."]

Ulysses is speaking here and the context is the Trojan War. The scene is the Ithacan's rhetorical duel with Ajax (the born loser in such verbal contests) over who is entitled to the arms of the recently killed Achilles. Also involved in the debate is the question of who should be trusted with the crucial mission to Lemnos where Philoctetes had been left on the way to the war with a snake bite (or, in some versions, a wound resulting from an accident with one of his arrows);58 a prophecy has revealed that his bow and arrows, which once belonged to Hercules (the first conqueror of Troy), are necessary for the final blow to Troy.59 Ulysses succeeds in his mission, and in a matter of two anti-climactic lines, "inposita est sero tandem manus ultima bello. / Troia simul Priamusque cadunt" ["The final blow was at last given to the long-drawn war. Troy fell and Priam with it"] (13.403-04). Chaucer would have known from reading Servius that these arrows have a particular function: to pierce the body of Paris.60 We may wonder why Philoctetes's arrows are endowed with such importance if they are necessary only to ensure the death of Paris, "one of the less redoubtable Trojans,"61 and why indeed in many ancient accounts (in the tradition of Dictys) this blow is hardly-unlike in Ovid, an apparently unique case-the last of the war, the Trojan horse strategy being still to follow. However, it is clear that Philoctetes's action has symbolic import: the war symbolically ends when Paris, the person who began it, is killed.62

Several pieces of circumstantial evidence regarding Criseyde's oath and its Ovidian contexts must here be considered, even at the cost of this inquiry reading temporarily like a whodunit. First, in substituting the Simois for the Xanthus Chaucer chose a river with definite associations with the Judgment of Paris. The Simois has its source on Mount Ida, home of Oenone and scene of the Judgment, then flows down and joins the Xanthus in the plain of Troy.63 Bernardus Silvestris explicitly connects Paris's folly with the river Simois: "the Simois winds through the land of Troy-a happy land, had Paris loved more wisely."64 Much as Apollo's diseased ars supposedly upholds Troy's fortifications, Paris's destructive passion irrigates its very soil. Second, the larger context of Criseyde's oath is related to that of Metamorphoses 13. Criseyde's vow of faith is embedded in a rhetorical attempt to persuade Troilus that she, as Ulysses had argued before her, should be trusted to go off to another geographic location (the Greek camp instead of Lemnos) where she will convince someone through her powers of rhetoric and manipulation (her father instead of Philoctetes) to let her accomplish a certain mission (to come back to Troy, ostensibly to take care of business back home). These are unhappy parallels: Criseyde is aligned with Ulysses, the rhetorician and manipulative liar whom the Middle Ages knew from Virgil, and moreover she is echoing the words of a Greek who is about to put into motion the fall of Troy. The parallel becomes still more persuasive when we recall Ulysses's partnership with Diomede in the theft of the Palladium, and when we note that in one tradition Diomede accompanies Ulysses on the Philoctetes mission as well. There is further ironic resonance in the fact that Criseyde is making this oath because Greece is sending aid to Troy ("et auxilium promittet Achaia Troiae"), however perversely, in the person of Antenor. Finally, whereas Ulysses's success in his expedition results in the death of the symbolic enemy, Criseyde's failure successfully to complete her mission and keep her promise ultimately results in a death-the death of one of her own countrymen, a Trojan as symbolic as Paris, her own lover: Troilus.

If we tentatively accept the presence of both Heroides 5 and Metamorphoses 13 in Criseyde's oath, we have a situation in which Troilus is at once the betrayed Oenone and the felled Paris, and a further development of the alignment of Troilus with both figures within the allusive sphere of Heroides 5 itself. We recall that, in the use of Heroides 5 in book 1, Troilus was implicitly identified with Paris at the beginning of his Trojan career, the Judgment; the symbolic arc, illuminated by the intertextual range of the Simois image, now seems to extend the identification to the end of that career as well. However, we are still missing the murder weapon: if Criseyde is Ulysses and Troilus is Paris, where is the arrow of Philoctetes that should be the occasion of the oath on the Simois?

And thow, Symois, that as an arwe clere

Thorough Troie rennest downward to the se,

Ber witnesse, of this word that seyd is here . . .


No one appears to have noticed what an odd construction we have in this comparison of the river Symois to an "arwe clere," which is without parallel in the relevant lines of Heroides 5 and Metamorphoses 13.65 The phrase "to run like an arrow" as applied to the motion of a river is proverbial only after Chaucer.66 Chaucer may well have been aware, as Bernardus Silvestris explains, that the Simois is a curvaceous river that winds through Troy, so I doubt the idea of "straight as an arrow" is behind his simile. Rather, I suggest, Chaucer had in mind Philoctetes's arrows from the context of the Ulysses episode, and has colored Criseyde's well-intentioned oath with a murderous simile that results in an image of the city of Troy-of which Troilus is the human representative and "holder up"-fatally pierced with this poem's equivalent of the arrow that would secure the Trojan defeat. Troilus, after all, is this poem's symbolic Paris figure (Paris has no part in the poem himself): it is Troilus who has reenacted the Judgment of Paris and Troilus whose death will prove the decisive blow to Troy.

What, then, is this metaphorical arrow which Criseyde (as Ulysses) will wield against Troilus (as Paris)? To answer this question, we must approach it not as a lock to be opened in a single turn, but as a lacuna to be filled in gradually by following the associative motions of the poem and its imagery. One possibility is that it is Criseyde's broken oath itself. The image of words as deadly arrows is hardly outlandish to Chaucer; indeed, it is something of a cliche.67 Consider the counsel of Chaucer's Clerk:

For though thyn housbonde armed be in maille,

The arwes of thy crabbed eloquence

Shal perce his brest and eek his aventaille.


Troilus may feel like he is wavering between life and death purely out of melancholy at Criseyde's absence in book 5, but it is only when he receives ocular proof of her unfaithfulness, the broken promise symbolized by the transferred brooch, that Troilus's psychological river Simois runs backward and he turns against his own nature, actively seeking his own death on the battlefield: "From hennesforth, as ferforth as I may, / Myn owen deth in armes wol I seche" (5.1717-18). In a scene from happier days that eerily foreshadows these ominous resonances in Criseyde's oath, Troilus had made an oath to Pandarus that he would not boast of his affair with Criseyde or allow any blight to threaten her name. Like Criseyde, he swears on all of the gods; he phrases his central asseveration thus:

And, if I lye, Achilles with his spere

Myn herte cleve, al were my lif eterne,

As I am mortal, if I late or yerne

Wolde it bewreye.


Criseyde's oath presages and effects the situation of Troilus's symbolic death as the poem's Paris figure; Troilus's own oath presages the actual circumstances of his death at the hand of Achilles. This latter oath is all the more ironic since the image becomes a reality not because Troilus breaks his word and dishonors Criseyde's name, but because Criseyde breaks her word and dishonors her own name. The double deaths (as warrior and as lover) of the doubly-sorrowed Troilus converge as Troilus is slain by Achilles even as he, mortally wounded by the dart of Criseyde's broken promise, approaches the combat as a suicide. Troilus dies in battle as a soldier should, but he also dies for love.

This brings us to the larger significance of the "arrow" that causes the death of Troilus. This arrow that runs through the heart of Troy and Troilus (even as, for Criseyde, "bothe Troilus and Troie town / Shal knotteles thorughout hire herte slide" [5.768-69]) is also, we recall, an "arwe clere." The arrow is bright and shining like, perhaps, a crystal-clear river.68 But brightness is a loaded concept in Chaucer's poem, and it is always associated with one of two things: Love or Criseyde. In the Palladium, one model given for Troilus's process of falling in love alludes to the scientific theory of vision as extromission: the "subtile stremes of hire [Criseyde's] yen" (1.305) pierces him like an arrow, "Right with hire look thorugh-shoten and thorugh-darted" (1.325). Troilus, addressing Criseyde in book 3, again refers to her power of vision, and the phrase from book 1 gains a crucial adjective: "the stremes of youre eyen cleere" (3.129). Criseyde is, of course, imagistically identified with Love early in the poem just as she is with Fortune in the last two books, and it is thus in the invocation to Venus which opens book 3 that we find the concept of piercing streams/beams (formulated upon water imagery) explicitly combined with that of brightness: "O blisful light of which the bemes clere / Adorneth al the thridde heven faire!" (3.1-2). Criseyde's gaze is like a shining arrow. But so, moreover, is the correlative of that gaze, Love.

Troilus's descent into love in book 1 is described in two different ways: first, with recourse to the Ovidian commonplace (also familiar from the Roman de la Rose) of Cupid literally shooting his arrow at the victim, and second, in the more psychological, "courtly" fashion, in which Cupid's dart is replaced by that of the lady's gaze, which we have just examined. But the now-familiar first book of the Metamorphoses, which serves as a model of the former initiation into love, provides the closest analogue to the image of the deadly "arwe clere": the bright arrow with which Cupid shoots Apollo, just as he shoots Chaucer's Troilus. That arrow "auratum est et cuspide fulget acuta" ["is of gold and has a sharp, gleaming point"] (1.470); this is the destructive arrow of love of which Criseyde's treachery is only one image. In this sense, we must conclude, the same Love that wounds Troilus in the first place quite literally kills him. Troilus's death as a soldier ("Despitously hym slough the fierse Achille" [5.1806]) is one with his death as a lover, encrypted in his initial defeat by Love ("At which the God of Love gan loken rowe / Right for despit, and shop for to ben wroken / . . . For sodeynly he hitte hym atte fulle" [1.206-9]). In the textual motion effected by the collapse of Criseyde's oath, Troilus's first and second sorrows-the beginning and the end of love-collide. If we are to see, then, Troilus's death as a direct prefigurement of the destruction of Troy, the city falls explicitly because of the death of the "holder up of Troye," but Troilus's death occurs explicitly because of love. The paradox is magnificent: Criseyde's sexual treason, just as much as the shortsighted diplomatic details of her exchange, clinches the downfall of Troy.

The thread that ties this multitude of contexts and allusions together has just reemerged, and it is Apollo. We have seen the correspondences between Apollo's roles in the Daphne and the Oenone episodes. Now let us finally consider what I take to be the probable source of Apollo's strange appearance in Heroides 5. In the twelfth book of the Aeneid, shortly after a broken truce, Aeneas is wounded by an arrow of unknown origin. Iapyx, a male doctor, tends to his wound, but the arrow will not come out; Turnus, meanwhile, is wreaking havoc on the Trojan forces. Iapyx had been beloved of Apollo, "acri quondam cui captus amore / ipse suas artes, sua munera, laetus Apollo / . . . dabat" ["To whom once gladly did Apollo, having been captured with piercing love, offer his own arts, his own gifts"] (12.392-94; my translation).69 So Apollo, pierced with the arrow of love, offered Iapyx all of his powers: his augury, his lyre, and his swift arrows. Iapyx refused these, but asked instead for the gift of Apollo's medical arts so he could be most helpful to others. The identity of Apollo as guarantor of Iapyx's healing method in this scene with Aeneas is strongly emphasized-he proceeds "Paeonium in morem" (12.401) and applies "medica Phoebique potentibus herbis" (12.402)-but Apollo's artes do not help in this case ("nihil auctor Apollo / subvenit" [12.405-6]), for the arrow cannot be extracted. Venus then intervenes, and heals her son with secret herbs and ambrosia.

Up to this point, Apollo's presence in the Aeneid as a guardian figure has been wholly positive, but in, significantly, his last appearance in the epic he fails as Apollo Medicus. John F. Miller suggests that Virgil is hinting here at Apollo's weakness in the realm of love, that his sexual passion for Iapyx weakens the potency of his medicines: "The failure to cure Aeneas emerges as, in some sense, a legacy of Apollo's passion."70 (This theme, of course, is also central to Aeneas's conflict between duty and passion at Carthage.) Like Iapyx, Oenone in Heroides 5 refuses the first gifts that Apollo offers-there, gold and gems-and instead accepts the arts of healing; again like Iapyx, she finds these treatments to fail in a time of need. Indeed, Apollo not only gives his lover Iapyx his medical arts as he does with Oenone, but he is the sick physician-wounded by love's arrow himself-who features in Pandarus's reading of Ovid's Apollo. Ovid makes an important inversion of Virgil's scene in Heroides 5, however, and this change influences all future treatments of the motif: instead of Love (Venus) stepping in for Apollo and curing the wound, Love explicitly causes the wound in a way that Apollo's "acri . . . amore" in Virgil's scene only hints at. Apollo's medicine, then, cannot heal the wound inflicted by Love. This cannot help but color the composite image of Apollo, for we must see the gifts Apollo offers his beloved at first as subordinate to his healing arts (the secret of secrets) and so ultimately discolored by his medical inefficacy. In this layering of texts-Virgil's, Ovid's, and Chaucer's-we can detect the paradigm of a wounding in war (Aeneas, Paris) and a wounding in love (Apollo, Oenone) that is symbolically unified, the one an image or projection of the other. Chaucer, I am suggesting, both recognizes and complicates this dialectic by exposing the erotic dimensions of military action and the internecine aspects of erotic disgrace, even while destabilizing gender differences-portraying Troilus, for example, as both Paris and Oenone -through this dynamic allusive patterning.71

The remedia that have come to be associated with Apollo are ultimately of service in neither love nor war. We recall that in the traditional Paris story, Paris has the honor of killing Achilles, and that he does so with the aid of Apollo, who directs his arrow.72 In the Metamorphoses, Apollo brings about Achilles's death with "occulta . . . sagitta" (12.596) by helping Paris arch the bow and aim it at Achilles. On the other hand, Troilus as Paris-figure does not kill Achilles, but is killed by him. Apollo is not, in Chaucer's telling, on the side of the day's victory, but of defeat: Troilus's symbolic death (as Paris-figure) at the point of the shining arrow, as we have seen, echoes that of Apollo's defeat by another shining arrow in book 1 of the Metamorphoses and merges with the failure of Apollo's remedies in Aeneid 12 and Heroides 5. Calkas even suggests, in a passage not in the Filostrato, that Apollo is physically on the Greek side:

For certain, Phebus and Neptunus bothe,

That makeden the walles of the town,

Ben with the folk of Troie alwey so wrothe

That they wol brynge it to confusioun,

Right in despit of kyng Lameadoun;

Bycause he nolde payen hem here hire,

The town of Troie shal ben set on-fire.


Calkas claims that Apollo himself revealed to him that this was the state of play, but in no tradition that I know of is Apollo an enemy of Troy for this reason at this point.73 Instead, the insult to the gods traditionally is requited by Hercules's sack of Troy from which, we recall, Priam is the lone survivor. In Metamorphoses 12, Neptune actually appeals to Apollo's fondness for the Troy that was the work of his own hands in suggesting that the god help Paris slay Achilles:

o mihi de fratris longe gratissime natis,

inrita qui mecum posuisti moenia Troiae,

ecquid, ubi has iamiam casuras adspicis arces,



["O thou, by far the best beloved of my brother's sons, thou who with me (though vainly) didst build the walls of Troy, dost thou not groan at sight of these battlements so soon to fall?"]

In Chaucer's version, in contrast, the wounded Troilus mirrors the wounded Apollo even as Apollo himself fights on the side of the enemy while his ars, the walls of Troy, crumbles. Not only can Apollo not heal himself and those under his protection, the ars of which he is master is at war with itself: with Ovid in the Ars Amatoria, he can say, "Nee dubito, telis quin petar ipse meis" ["Nor do I doubt that I shall be attacked with my own weapons"] (3.590).

In Ovid's reading, the Trojan War began because of a failure of remedia-Paris did not cure his love for Helen-and in Chaucer's, it ended tragically for Troy for the same reason in the person of Troilus. Troilus here is both the Paris whose symbolic death at Philoctetes's arrow-the dart of love, the broken oath-ensures the Trojan defeat and the Oenone who discovers Apollonian remedies to be useless. Ovid in fact brings these contexts together in the Remedia, where, shortly after boasting that he could have prevented the Trojan War if Paris had consulted his remedies, he cites the case of Philoctetes as an exception to the rule that long-term sickness resists cure. Philoctetes, he says, should have cut off his wounded foot instead of letting the wound fester, but instead he somehow was healed and "Supremam bellis imposuisse manum" ["dealt the blow that ended all the war"] (114). The war began because Paris was not healed, and ended because Philoctetes was healed. In the lines just before a section of the Remedia Chaucer uses prominently in book 5 (do not read over your mistress's old love letters), Ovid steps back momentarily and insists that this does not constitute a war on love: he would not dare to pilfer the arrows of Cupid as did Ulysses to Philoctetes, "Nec sacer arte mea laxior arcus erit" ["nor by my art unstring the sacred bow"] (702). Instead, he writes under the protection of Apollo, who ensures that he can write nothing but wisdom, and whose presence is announced by his lyres and quivers: "Phoebe saluber" (704) aids his song. These lines which bring together, on the topic of archery, Philoctetes, Cupid, and Apollo, are then capped with a reference to the Judgment of Paris, whose substitution of love for good judgment no man should reenact when comparing his mistress's good qualities to those of others (by whom she should be eclipsed) so as to cure himself of love for her. It is clear that with the accumulation of these Ovidian contexts in the periphery Chaucer's particular juxtaposition of these storylines on the level of "remedies of love" has good precedent.74

It remains only to conclude by way of illuminating Chaucer's own conclusion, the controversial epilogue. It is undesirable, in my opinion, either to ignore the epilogue as a conventional afterthought or to seize it uncritically as the key that will decode the "agenda" of the poem. At the same time, for all the irresolutions it augments in its attempt at resolution, one must not hesitate to recognize in it the fulfillment of certain questions that have lingered within the poem's consciousness. The tragedy of Troilus pivots upon his refusal to be healed but is, in a larger sense, reflective of the impotence of available medicine and ars. Troilus is morally commendable in rejecting Ovidian remedia (which see love as cheap and replaceable), even though they possibly could have kept him alive, yet he also fails to recognize the promise of Boethian remedy. The final context in which the Ovidian intertext must be placed, however, is explicitly Christian, as Apollo-Troy's patron of ars-is displaced by Christ (here Apollo's antithesis, not his typological fulfillment), to whom Chaucer urges us to direct our faith. As Calabrese sees it, "Chaucer's reevaluation of Ovid thus finally provides the real 'remedia amoris.' Instead of looking for a temporary, fragile cure for an entangling passion, Chaucer repudiates carnal love."75 We can take this further: in the Christian perspective of the epilogue, Troilus's sickness becomes, in a sense, unredeemed humanity's diseased state, remedied by Christus Medicus (who took on the sickness of humanity so as to effect a cure):

This is the One Who, entering the penitentiary of our flesh, fettered Himself with the chains of expiation to loose the fettered, became sick to heal the sick. . . . [T]hus illness gives judgment against illness; thus death is put to flight by death; . . . The physician is ill that the ill may heal the diseased.76

The paradox of the doctor who cannot heal himself is definitively subverted by the trope of Christus Medicus: as doctor of humanity on the Cross, Christ was taunted by nonbelievers as he was once tempted by Satan, "He saved others: now let him save himself . . . If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself" (Luke 23:35, 37).77 But whereas other physicians are only human and will sooner or later succumb to illness themselves, Christus Medicus can never be overcome by disease.78 Instead, Christ's suffering on the Cross was the cure for the sick patient: "He was killed to cure him."79 With the rise of affective devotion in the Middle Ages, the context of love was inevitably grafted upon Christ's healing properties:

He is to-fore alle o[thorn]er i-coren,

he hele[thorn] alle luue wunde.80

In a sense, though the (symbolic) arrow that pierces Troilus is a fatal one, it is also the arrow which ultimately heals him of corporeal love and serves as an example for the poem's Christian readers to instead direct their love to him "that right for love / Upon a crois, oure soules for to beye, / First starf, and roos" (5.1842-44).

[Ihesu] let me fele what ioy hit be

To suffyre wo for loue of [thorn]e . . .

lat now loue his bow bende

& loue arowes to my hert send,

[thorn]at hit mow percen to [thorn]e roote,

For suche woundes shold be my bote.81

Chaucer's final confrontation with the nature of ars is implicit in the "remedium amoris" with which he ends his poem. Here, we may see his closing prayer to Christ borrowed from Dante as a kind of invocation to his new, true Muse substituted for the invocations of the impotent Apollo in Ovid's Remedia and in Ovidian ars in general. To Ovid's question "Quo non ars penetrat?" (Ars Am. 291) we might answer: the eighth sphere. Chaucer's final commentary on the tragedy of Troilus doubles as a commentary on his own poetic: in contrast with the Ovidian ambition that fata will yield to ars,82 and the resulting reality of self-destructive art, Chaucer finally understands his writing as superior to (though dependent upon) that of the poets of antiquity in that it participates instead in the nature of spiritual health. Art in the service of Christ, "makyng" in the service of the Maker, makes possible a triumph over death that eluded Troy and its poets alike.83

Princeton University


(C) 2003 The University of North Carolina Press





1 All Chaucer citations are from The Riverside Chaucer, gen. ed. Larry D. Benson, 3d ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987).

2 Howard Jacobson, Ovid's Heroides (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974), 349.





3 Edgar Finley Shannon, Chaucer and the Roman Poets (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1929), 160-68. The broader significance of Helen as textual model for Criseyde has since been profitably explored by Christopher C. Baswell and Paul Beekman Taylor, "The Faire Queene Eleyne in Chaucer's Troilus," Speculum 63 (1988): 293-311.

4 Richard L. Hoffman, Ovid and "The Canterbury Tales" (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1967); John M. Fyler, Chaucer and Ovid (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979); and Michael A. Calabrese, Chaucer's Ovidian Arts of Love (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1994); also Helen Cooper, "Chaucer and Ovid: A Question of Authority," in Ovid Renewed: Ovidian Influences on Literature and Art from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century, ed. Charles Martindale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 71-81. "Deep classicism" is John V. Fleming's phrase (Classical Imitation and Interpretation in Chaucer's "Troilus" [Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990], xiii). Winthrop Wetherbee pursues a similar line of thought in Chaucer and the Poets: An Essay on "Troilus and Criseyde" (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984). I hasten to note that I am conscious of the inherent dangers of the attention to deep allusive layers exemplified by the methodologies of these last two books, as voiced by A. C. Spearing, "Troilus and Criseyde: The Illusion of Allusion," Exemplaria 2 (1990): 263-77 (but cf. Victoria Kahn, "Intention, Interpretation, and the Limits of Meaning: A Response to A. C. Spearing and H. Marshall Leicester, Jr.," included in the same volume, 279-85). I believe that I am in accord with the spirit, if not the letter, of Spearing's interrogation when I assert that an awareness of our assumptions about authorial intention should inform, but not suffocate, our attempts to map the terrain of Chaucer's learning with the care that it deserves.

5 E.g., Robert Kilburn Root, ed., The Book of Troilus and Criseyde (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1926), 422-23, 526; Shannon, Chaucer and the Roman Poets, 122-23, 147-49; Calabrese, Chaucer's Ovidian Arts, 66-67; Mary-Jo Arn, "Three Ovidian Women in Chaucer's Troilus: Medea, Helen, Oenone," Chaucer Review 15 (1980): 6-8; Fyler, Chaucer and Ovid, 116, 134; "The Fabrications of Pandarus," Modern Language Quarterly 41 (1980): 116-17; and "Auctoritee and Allusion in Troilus and Criseyde," Res Publica Litterarum 7 (1984): 77.





6 Piero Boitani, "Antiquity and Beyond: The Death of Troilus," in The European Tragedy of Troilus, ed. Piero Boitani (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), 5.





7 The phrase is that of Stephen Hinds, Allusion and Intertext: Dynamics of Appropriation in Roman Poetry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 38. In what I find to be the most satisfying negotiation of current controversies over allusion, intertextuality, and authorial intention to date. Hinds refines a median position between philological and semiotic "fundamentalisms"-i.e., between author-centered study of influence and reader- or text-centered theories of intertextuality-which embraces the notion of a "subjectivized [i.e., author-controlled] literary history" (133) but also insists that the goals of philological criticism should be directed toward "an invitation to interpret rather than . . . the end of interpretation" (51). Of particular relevance is Hinds's advancement of a dialogic model of influence in which a given text both acts upon its tradition and is acted upon by it-in the terms of our argument, that Chaucer both uses and recreates his Ovid in a personal way, thus changing both our view of Chaucer's text and our reading of Ovid.

The many, often contradictory critical forms, both structuralist and post-structuralist, in which intertextuality is practiced are defined by a central controversy: whether intertextual polysemy ultimately enables a "correct" interpretation of the enriched text or instead destabilizes the unity of the text and the authority of its creator. I intend the term in the first of these two senses, as influenced by Hinds's more flexible, minimally ideological model. For opposing views on the relevance of modern intertextual theories to early literature, compare James W. Marchand, "Inter-, Intra-, and Intro-textual Analysis in Medieval Literature: The Case of Wolfram von Eschenbach," in The Ring of Words in Medieval Literature, ed. Ulrich Goebel and David Lee (Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1993), 203-17, with Andrew D. Weiner, "Sidney/Spenser/Shakespeare: Influence/Intertextuality/Intention," in Influence and Intertextuality in Literary History, ed. Jay Clayton and Eric Rothstein (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991), 245-70; and cf. R. J. Schoeck, Intertextuality and Renaissance Texts (Bamberg: H. Kaiser-Verlag, 1984).





8 In refining my position, I have found helpful the following theoretical explorations of allusion in the context of intertextuality: Ziva Ben-Porat, "The Poetics of Literary Allusion," PTL: A Journal for Descriptive Poetics and Theory of Literature 1 (1976): 105-28; Carmela Perri, "On Alluding," Poetics 7 (1978): 289-307; Claes Schaar, "Linear Sequence, Spatial Structure, Complex Sign, and Vertical Context System," Poetics 7 (1978): 377-88.

9 Boccaccio mentions her in passing in Genealogie Deorum Gentilium Libri, in Opere, vol. 10, ed. Vincenzo Romano (Bari: Giuseppe Laterza & Figli, 1951), 6.22, 23.





10 Judy Kem, Jean Lemaire de Belges's "Les Illustrations de Gaule et Singularitez de Troye": The Trojan Legend in the Late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance (New York: Peter Lang, 1994), 15-43, provides a useful summary of medieval versions of the Paris story. A more in-depth examination of the various traditions can be found in Margaret J. Ehrhart, The Judgment of the Trojan Prince Paris in Medieval Literature (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987). In his efforts to enhance the historical setting of the Troilus, Chaucer turned beyond his immediate source in Il Filostrato to Benoit's Roman de Troie (or at least a prose redaction), Guide's Historia destructions Troiae, and Joseph of Exeter's Frigii Daretis Ylias; there is no evidence that he was directly familiar with either Dares or Dictys. See Stephen A. Barney's explanatory notes on Troilus and Criseyde in the Riverside Chaucer, 1021-22.

11 Jean de Meun, another fervent Ovidian, preceded Chaucer in significantly alluding to Oenone in the Roman de la Rose. The allusion, which corresponds with one Chaucer makes in book 4, is spoken by La Vieille in 13185-98 (in the edition of Felix Lecoy [Paris: Librairie Honore Champion, 1966]). The Roman could very plausibly have whetted Chaucer's interest in Heroides 5 and incited him to go back to the original text-as this argument will insist that he did. I use the Loeb edition of Heroides and Amores, ed. and trans. Grant Showerman (1921; reprint, 1925). Translations are those of Showerman except where otherwise noted.





12 Jacobson, Ovid's Heroides, 176-94. See also T. C. W. Stinton, Euripides and the Judgement of Paris (London: Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, 1965), 40-50, and Edward M. Bradley, "Ovid Heroides 5. Reality and Illusion," Classical Journal 64.4 (1969): 158-62, for important discussions of narrative technique and character.

13 Some of the relevant lines here (140-45, 151-52) are considered spurious by modern editors (beginning with Merkel, 1888); Showerman includes them in the footnotes. A medieval reader, however, would not have doubted these lines' canonicity. See Stinton, Euripides, 42 and Jacobson, Ovid's Heroides, 185-87, for a defense of their textual propriety.





14 The earliest surviving treatments of Oenone are found in mythographers: Lycophron, Alexandra, in Callimachus, Lycophron, Aratus, trans. G. R. Mair (1921; rev. and reprint, 1955), 57-68 (3d C. B.C.E.); Apollodorus, The Library, trans. Sir James George Frazer, 2 vols. (1921; reprint, 1939), 2:3.12.6 (ad C. B.C.E.); and Parthenius, The Love Romances, in Daphnis and Chloe by Longus; The Love Romances of Parthenius, trans. S. Gaselee (1916; reprint, 1955), 4 (1st C. B.C.E.). Later versions of the story survive in Quintus Smyrnaeus, The Fall of Troy, trans. Arthur S. Way (1913), 10.262ff. (4th C. C.E.), and Colluthus, The Rape of Helen, in Oppian, Colluthus, Tryphiodorus, trans. A. W. Mair (1928), 102ff. (5th-6th C. C.E.); the former represents the most lengthy and pathetic Oenone narrative, as well as the only literary treatment of the story besides that of Ovid. For a complete bibliography and discussion of sources, see Stinton, Euripides, 40-50; Jacobson, Ovid's Heroides, 176-77; and Ovid's Heroides: Select Epistles, ed. Peter E. Knox (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 140-41.

15 Some versions have Oenone unable to heal him.

16 Even though the time frame of the story Ovid chooses antedates the events around which the story was traditionally centered, it would be in keeping with the general approach of the Heroides for Ovid to hint at these events, to "incorporate . . . the whole spectrum of events and emotions that define a particular myth" (Jacobson, Ovid's Heroides, 178) in one particular moment of time. Instead, Ovid positively contradicts the expectations of the tradition.

17 It is possible that Oenone's reception of medical skills from Apollo is patterned on Apollo's endowment of Cassandra, whom he loved, with the gift of prophecy. The conception of Apollo as Oenone's lover unique to Ovid may then have evolved from associations with her pre-Ovidian role as prophetess. On this, see Jacobson, Ovid's Heroides, 186-87 and the citations included there. Later in this study, however, I will posit what seems to me a more solid "source" for Oenone's reception of specifically medical arts from Apollo.





18 The theme of textual naivete in Troilus is notably treated by Fleming, Classical Imitation, 121-24, and Calabrese, Chaucer's Ovidian Arts, 36-39.

19 As Arn points out, Pandarus-the Trojan court's Lady Philosophy in drag-is a parody of a good teacher or doctor, for he withholds the healthful "truth" of the text he uses as medicine for his sick patient. A surface reading of the Ovidian allusion is well put by Arn: Pandarus transforms "the righteous plea of a betrayed and abandoned woman for the return of her husband and his love into an invitation for an honorable man to forsake his habit of mental and physical purity for the bed of a woman who will betray and abandon him" ("Three Ovidian Women," 8).





20 On Chaucer's exegetes, see D. W. Robertson, Jr.'s classic discussion in A Preface to Chaucer: Studies in Medieval Perspectives (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1962; reprint, 1969), 317-36.

21 Shannon notes the common mentions of Deiphebus and Cassandra's prophecies in Heroides 5 and Troilus (Chaucer and the Roman Poets, 159).

22 One of several repetitions of this action in Chaucer's poem occurs when Troilus, in falling in love with Criseyde during a religious service, treats the Palladium as if it were the Temple of Venus. For a discussion of Troilus's reenactment of Paris's sins and the theme of sexual idolatry, see Fleming, Classical Imitation, 113-24; cf. Baswell and Taylor, "Faire Queene," 302. This mythological correspondence is further corroborated by Criseyde's textual affinity to Ovid's Helen, convincingly demonstrated by Shannon; see n. 3.

23 In my opinion, all of these readings may be present in varying degrees, though Chaucer does not intend any single one of them to be quite correct. I cannot comfortably agree with Arn's assessment of what Troilus rejects as "mental and physical purity," as I am of the opinion that Troilus's prideful and immature rejection of "blynde" lovers' "lewed observaunces" (1.189) before being struck down for blasphemy by Cupid is-quite literally-a universe away from his enlightened rejection of "The blynde lust, the which that may nat laste" (5.1824) after death. Even though Troilus's virginal attitude toward love is nominally more "holy" (if we must apply such criteria), it certainly is appalling, and shows no hint of aptitude for the caritas the poem finally lauds. It seems to me that Troilus can only learn such spiritual love by passing through the tragic and pathetic experience of muddling the difference between the two loves ("O love! O charite!"), and that the vocabulary we develop for love of God is likewise conditioned by our natural experience of earthly love-an idea central, of course, to the aesthetics of affective spirituality in the Middle Ages. This is not to say that Troilus's carnal love is not criticized or rejected, or that the moral and martial improvements we see in him as a result of his love are not to a certain extent discolored by their tragically earthly referents, but it is to insist that Chaucer urges us to recognize the value of these things along with their limitations.





24 Maud Burnett McInerney briefly observes the Troilus-Oenone parallel in "'Is this a mannes herte?': Unmanning Troilus through Ovidian Allusion," in Masculinities in Chaucer: Approaches to Maleness in "The Canterbury Tales" and "Troilus and Criseyde," ed. Peter G. Beidler, Chaucer Studies 25 (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1998), 228.

25 Ibid., 228.





26 The episode is not in the Metamorphoses (hereafter Met. in the notes and in parenthetical citations), but can be found, for example, in Servius's commentary on Aeneid (Servii Grammatici qui Feruntur in Vergilii Carmina Commenterii, ed. Georgius Thilo and Hermannus Hagen, 3 vols. [1881-87], 6.398) and Hyginus, Fabulae, ed. H. I. Rose (Leiden: A. W. Sythoff, 1963), 49. In the Middle Ages, it was sometimes conflated with Met. 2.676-85 (in which Hermes steals the cattle Apollo is herding), which immediately follows the scene of Aesculapius's birth, Coronis's death (cf. The Manciple's Tale), and Chiron's education of Aesculapius. (See Jane Davidson Reid, The Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts, 1300-1990s, 2 vols. [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993], 1:179-80.) In this scene of the Met., Apollo is said to be distracted and vulnerable to Hermes's trickery "dumque amor est curae" ["while thy thoughts were all of love"]. I use the Loeb edition of the Metamorphoses, trans. Frank Justus Miller, 2 vols. (1916; reprint, 1984). Translations are those of Miller unless otherwise noted.

27 Out of his affection for Admetus, Apollo helped his human master perform the supposedly impossible task of drawing a chariot with a lion and a wild boar yoked together-necessary to win Alcestis as his wife-and later convinced the Fates to withhold Admetus's death if he could find someone to die for him. For an interesting reading of the relevance of this episode to the Alcestis allusion in book 5, see Wetherbee, Chaucer and the Poets, 141-43.





28 Sanford Brown Meech, "Chaucer and an Italian Translation of the Heroides," PMLA 45 (1930): 112-13. This translation can be consulted in the edition of Giuseppe Bernardoni, Epistole Eroiche di Ovidio Nasone Volgarizzate nel Buon Secolo della Lingua Seconda la Edizione di Sisto Riessinger del Secolo XV [. . .] (Milan, 1842). Some scholars remain skeptical about Chaucer's debt to this translation, however, and point out that Chaucer and Filippo could have used manuscripts of the Heroides with the same tradition of glosses. (See, e.g., M. C. E. Shaner's and A. S. G. Edwards's explanatory notes to The Legend of Good Women in the Riverside Chaucer, 1059.) The interpolation represented in Filippo's lines may reflect First Vatican Mythographer, in Scriptores Rerum Mythicarum Latini tres Romae Nuper Reperti, ed. Georgius Henricus Bode (Celle, 1834; reprint, Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1968), 3.204.34-35, and seems to be rooted in an association with Ars Amatoria (hereafter Ars Am. in notes) 2.239-40. Hoffman, Ovid, 197-98, discusses Apollo's love for Admetus's daughter but does not acknowledge the obscurities of the textual evidence. Root, Book of Troilus, 423, suggests that two passages from Boccaccio's Teseida (3.25, 4.46) form the source of Chaucer's line, though this explanation is contingent upon Chaucer's knowledge of the Teseida's glosses, a matter that remains controversial; see Vincent J. DiMarco's introduction to the explanatory notes of the Knights Tale in the Riverside Chaucer, 827, and cf. Piero Boitani, Chaucer and Boccaccio, Medium Aevum Monographs n.s. 8 (Oxford: Society for the Study of Mediaeval Languages and Literature, 1977), 113-16, 190-97. In my opinion, it is most likely that Chaucer had in mind here not the Teseida (which is not among his sources for this section of the poem) but either Filippo's Heroides translation or a manuscript in its tradition, and that Boccaccio also had been influenced by a manuscript in this tradition in composing the Teseida.

29 Fleming, Classical Imitation, 123-24.





30 Not surprisingly, the one Apollonian attribute the newly ambitious Paris lacks in Oenone's description is wisdom.





31 The observation that Troilus's heckling of and subsequent punishment by Cupid echoes Apollo's defeat by Cupid's arrow in Met. 1 after having accused the boyish god of being a lightweight is made by Fleming, Classical Imitation, 119-23.Troilus will later, in the height of his erotic fervor, invoke Apollo's aid: "O Phebus, thynk whan Dane hireselven shette / Under the bark, and laurer wax for drede; / Yet for hire love, O help now at this nedel" (3.726-28). Still later, Troilus will switch roles completely, as he will from that of Paris to that of Oenone as well, and become Daphne, "Ibounded in the blake bark of care" (4.229), imagining his existence as a textual object, like the laurel, to be plucked and mastered: "Men myght a book make of it, lik a storie" (5.585).

32 With Neptune, Apollo built the walls of Troy but the gods were not repaid by Laomedon for their service. Chaucer alludes to the story in Troilus and Criseyde 4.120-26. In De civitate Dei 3.2, Augustine discusses this episode and calls attention to the foolishness of worshiping an Apollo, god of prophecy, who could not foresee that Laomedon would fail to pay him (ed. Bernhard Dombart and Alfons Kalb, 2 vols. [Leipzig: Teubner, 1928-29], vol. 1).

33 The inefficacy of Apollo's healing arts is also described in the story of his murder of Coronis and subsequent change of mind: "conlapsamque fovet seraque ope vincere fata / nititur et medicas exercet inaniter artes" ["He fondles the fallen girl, and too late tries to bring help and to conquer fate; but his healing arts are exercised in vain"] (Met. 2.617-18). In this case, Apollo's medicine fails to heal his patient rather than himself.





34 For a very useful evaluation of Chaucer's treatment of Apollo at the end of the Canterbury Tales, see Michael Kensak, "Apollo exterminans: The God of Poetry in Chaucer's Manciple's Tale," Studies in Philology 98 (2001): 143-57. Kensak's illumination of medieval mythographic traditions of a destructive and inept Apollo forms a valuable complement to the present study, which explores instead the rather more complex and ambiguous manifestations of Apollonian insufficiency in the classical poets themselves and, in turn, Chaucer's Troilus. Kensak, whose interest lies in medieval, not classical, traditions of Apollo, considers the relevance of Ovid only very briefly (150), and in quite different terms from the present scrutiny of Apollo as artistic avatar.

35 For an overview of Apollo's complex nature in mythology, see Mike Dixon-Kennedy, "Apollo," Encyclopedia of Greco-Roman Mythology (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 1998), 37-40; also see H. David Brumble, Classical Myths and Legends in the Middle Ages and Renaissance: A Dictionary of Allegorical Meanings (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998), 28-32, and Kensak, "Apollo exterminans," 143-57, for medieval references for these commonplaces.

36 Cf. Frederick Ahl, "Apollo: Cult and Prophecy in Ovid, Lucan, and Statius," in Apollo: Origins and Influences, ed. Jon Solomon (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1994), 113-34, who reads Ovid's treatment of Apollo as a cynical political statement critiquing the Augustan appropriation of the god. Also relevant is L. P. Wilkinson's description of Ovid's "literal," as opposed to symbolic, style: "Ovid's method is to take the traditional story and 'play it straight,' to imagine what would . . . have happened in the circumstances, human nature being what it is, and gods and demigods only human in their emotions" (Ovid Recalled [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1955], 159). Compare the "literal" approach to Chaucer's classicism of John P. McCall, Chaucer among the Gods: The Poetics of Classical Myth. Though it would be a mistake to place too much weight on the white-washed allegorical readings of pagan gods as presented in works such as the Ovide Moralise, the identification of Apollo with Christ, or Wisdom, was clearly popular in the Middle Ages. For an overview, see Mary E. Barnard, The Myth of Apollo and Daphne from Ovid to Quevedo: Love, Agon, and the Grotesque (Durham: Duke University Press, 1987), 44-81. A representative example of Chaucer's cynical approach to this allegorical aspect of Apollo can be seen in the invocation to the god that opens book 3 of the House of Fame and rewrites Dante's invocation to Apollo that opens the Paradiso. Whereas Dante beseeches the allegorical Apollo for the honor of his laurel-in Christian terms the heavenly crown of glory-Chaucer instead is very aware of the god's violent aversion to presumption ("Nat that I wilne, for maistrye, / Here art poetical be shewed" [3.1094-95]; cf. 3.1229-32) and suggests that instead of being crowned with the laurel, he might show his appreciation by kissing it-thus reminding us of the unflattering romance that engendered the symbol of the laurel in the first place (cf. Apollo's kissing the laurel in Met. 1.553-56).





37 Brumble alludes to this work of art in his discussion of Apollo (Classical Myths, 31).

38 Chaucer embellishes this description of Apollo's anti-heroics even more when he retells the story in The Manciple's Tale: there, Apollo kills a napping Python, "Slepynge agayn the sonne upon a day" (IX.110). On the generic transformation of epic into elegiac, see Barnard, Myth of Apollo, 19-43. Arnulf of Orleans captures this idea in the preface to his commentary on Met. 1, in which he catalogues the metamorphoses that occur in the book. Before Daphne is transformed into a laurel, Arnulf states, Apollo is transformed into a lover ("Phebus in amantem"). See "Arnolfo d'Orleans, un cultore di Ovidio nel sec. XII," ed. F. Ghisalberti, Memorie del Reale institute lombarde di scienze e letters 24.4 (1932): 201.





39 In both Amores 1 and Met. 1, Ovid is playing with the recusatio convention (the interruption of a poetic composition by a lecturing deity), and in particular is subverting the Callimachean topos of Apollo as poetic director; in a complex reimagining of the technique, Ovid's Cupid thus appropriates Apollo's traditional role of power. On this, see W. S. M. Nicoll, "Cupid, Apollo, and Daphne (Ovid, Met. 1.452ff.)," Classical Quarterly n.s. 30 (1980): 174-82, and cf. John T. Davis, Fictus Adulter: Poet as Actor in the "Amores" (Amsterdam: J. C. Gieben, 1989), 66.

40 For a discussion of the paradox inherent in Ovid's simultaneously vatic and empirically grounded self-presentation, see Charles F. Ahern, Jr., Ovid as Vales in the Proem to the Ars Amatoria," Classical Philology 85 (1990): 44-48.





41 Fyler offers a good account of this idea and likens Ovid's epistemological approach to that of Chaucer. Both poets are skeptical of "the extent to which the artist, or indeed any human being, is capable of setting up structures of perception and understanding that are true, or at least sufficiently trustworthy to permit effective action in the world" (Chaucer and Ovid, 20). Two other important treatments of Ovid's primary concern with commenting upon the craft of poetry in his handbooks of love are Molly Myerowitz, Ovid 's Games of Love (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1985), and Peter L. Allen, The Art of Love: Amatory Fiction from Ovid to the "Romance of the Rose" (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992). Calabrese, on the other hand, argues that to medieval readers the substance of Ovid could not be divorced from commentary traditions which regarded Ovidian ars as coherent and useful (Chaucer's Ovidian Arts). In Calabrese's reading, Ovidian strategy is not at war with itself, but with reality.

42 Cf. Fyler, Chaucer and Ovid, 11-12.





43 Ibid., 13. Apollo, like Ovid in the Ars Amatoria, attempts to legislate his mad passion by transforming it into poetic art, metamorphosing Daphne once more from bark into text. To Ovid, poetry as an image of vatic wisdom in fact conceals the poet's loss of control, and the masculine prowess that Cupid usurped in the Python episode is reclaimed sexually in the control of the text and the resultant "consummation": Apollo vows that his hair, lyre, and quiver (the phallus that Cupid outmatched in a martial context even as he activated it in an erotic one) will always be entwined with the laurel.

44 Boethius's interpretion of this idea can be found in his depiction of Lady Philosophy driving away the poetical muses (Consolatio Philosophiae, in The Theological Tractates: The Consolation of Philosophy, trans. S. J. Tester (1918; rev. and reprinted, 1978), 1.pr.1.26-41), guilty of accustoming the mind to illness rather than curing it. Chaucer ultimately, I will argue, read Ovidian ars from this Boethian (and Christian) perspective. This view is in general agreement with that of Calabrese in Chaucer's Ovidian Arts, though he does not take into account the theme of healing in Chaucer's reading of Ovidian ars.

45 See Genealogie Deorum 5.3 for an account of the interrelation of the "ideal" Apollo's musical and medical talents, where it is explained that Apollo generates muscial harmony just as he effects bodily harmony, or health.

46 Another one of Ovid's in-jokes: the seduction strategies of Paris in his letter to Helen (Heroides 16) show clear mastery of many of the precepts Ovid would later compile in the Ars Amatoria.





47 As described in Her. 16.181-82 and Met. 11.194-220 (the latter does not give the detail of the lyre). Ovid probably alludes to the attribute of the lyre as well in the Her. 5 description of Apollo as "fide conspicuus Troiae munitor," in which "fide" could mean "faith" or "lyre" (see Knox, Ovid's Heroides, note to line 139, and Arn, "Three Ovidian Women," 7).





48 For this account of Troilus's origins, see Boitani, "Antiquity," 4. I have not found any evidence that Chaucer could have known this account; the possibility, however, is intriguing. For a reading of the Troilus-Apollo parallel, see Fleming, Classical Imitation, 113-24.

49 It is perhaps of interest that in certain Greek versions of the story Troilus was killed by Achilles in Apollo's temple, and Apollo's assistance of Paris with the slaying of Achilles in the same temple was thus exact retribution. See Boitani, "Antiquity," 17.

50 See Mary F. Wack, "Lovesickness in Troilus," Pacific Coast Philology 19 (1984): 55-61, and, for a broader view of the phenomenon, Mary F. Wack, Lovesickness in the Middle Ages: The "Viaticum" and Its Commentaries (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990); also see Carol Falvo Hefferman, The Melancholy Muse: Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Early Medicine (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1995), 66-94.

51 As Catherine Brown Tkacz argues in "'Troilus, the Syke': Boethian Medical Imagery in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde," Ball State University Forum 24.3 (1983): 3-12.





52 Ibid., 7.

53 As Calabrese argues in Chaucer's Ovidian Arts, 69.

54 There is probably latent irony in the very motif of a lover who will prove false swearing on a river; Ovid makes much of the association of rivers with uncontrollable passion (and the genealogy of nymphs like Oenone and Daphne) in Amores 3.6., where he begs a river to stop flowing so that he can reach his mistress: "flumina senserunt ipsa, quid esset amor" ["what love is, rivers themselves have felt"] (24). One of the rivers Ovid mentions in this passage is, incidentally, the Xanthus. On a different note, the present discussion of Troilus's simultaneously masculine and feminine Ovidian positions should be compared with McInerney's recent observation that Chaucer tends to use Ovidian texts in the Troilus "to trouble the normative gendered roles of lover and beloved" ("Unmanning Troilus," 228). Whereas McInerney (who treats Her. 5 briefly but does not discuss the Ovidian contexts explored in this essay) focuses exclusively on Troilus's feminization, however, it is the textual dialogue of masculinity and femininity, the bellicose and the erotic, in the character of Troilus which primarily interests me here.





55 It is an interesting literary coincidence that Aphra Behn's free seventeenth-century rendering of Her. 5 (included in John Dryden's collection, Ovid's Epistles Translated by Several Hands [1680]) dramatically infuses Oenone's experience after the departure of Paris with a number of details familiar to Troilus in his similar situation: she compulsively revisits the various places they have made love and frantically watches from her lookout for his returning ship. Tennyson's reading of the same Ovidian text particularly latches on to Oenone's unrelenting passion, portraying it as suicidal and as destructive as that of Paris. Tennyson's "Oenone" ends with a bone-chilling image: Oenone recalls Cassandra's prophecies about flame engulfing Troy, then says, "What this may be I know not, but I know / That, wheresoe'er I am by night and day, / All earth and air seem only burning fire" (262-64). Though we may detect a touch of "Myself am hell" in this, Tennyson's real inspiration must have been a passage in Her. 16, where Paris, writing his letter of seduction to Helen, recounts Cassandra's warning to him as he set sail for Greece that he would bring back conflagration with him. Paris, the first character in classical mythology actually to believe Cassandra, unfortunately also happens to be the densest: "vera fuit vates; dictos invenimus ignes, / et ferus in molli pectore flagrat amor!" ["A truthful prophetess was she; I have found the fires of which she spoke, and flames of fierce love rage in my helpless breast!"] (16.125-26). Literary history, at least, sees Paris and Oenone as an appropriate match.





56 Shannon, Chaucer and the Roman Poets, 147-48, believes that Chaucer also had in mind Amores 1.15.9-10, where Ovid says that Homer's name will live on "Tenedos dum stabit et Ide, / dum rapidas Simois in mare volvet aquas" ["as long as Tenedos shall stand, and Ida, as long as Simois shall roll his waters rushing to the sea"]. Beyond the mention of Simois and the image of it running into the sea, however, this passage has nothing in common with Chaucer's; it is not an oath and it does not imagine the river running backwards-in fact, it is an image of the permanence and stability of nature. Even if Chaucer did learn from this passage that the Simois runs into the sea, he clearly did not have it foremost in mind. Chaucer could have learned of the existence of the Trojan river Simois from any number of places, as will be discussed.

57 E.g., Her. 13.53, Aeneid, ed. H. Rushton Fairclough, 2 vols. (1916; rev. and reprint, 1946), 1:15.634, Lucan, Bellum Civile, in Lucani Opera, ed. Renatus Badali (Rome: Instituto Poligrafico, 1992), 9.962-75. None of these bears any textual relation to Chaucer's passage. Simois is mentioned independently of Xanthus in the following passages, similarly without relevance to Chaucer's usage: Her. 1.33-34 and 7.145, Ars Amatoria 2.134, Aeneid 1.100. Chaucer's passage invokes the topos of the impossibilia; cf. Thebaid, ed. Alfredus Klotz, rev. Thomas C. Klinnert (Leipzig: Teubner Verlag, 1973), 7.553, for an image of (non-Trojan) rivers running backwards as an example of the trope, and cf. also Troilus 3.1495-98 and Barney's note in The Riverside Chaucer. Catherine Sanok, though aware of the possibility of a reference to Her. 5, tentatively refers Criseyde's oath to the Thebaid; however, Sanok's brief discussion ignores the conventional nature of the rhetoric and argues on the basis of form only, not content ("Criseyde, Cassandre, and the Thebaid: Women and the Theban Subtext of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde," Studies in the Age of Chaucer 20 [1998]: 52).





58 Ajax points out that Ulysses is the last person who should win the privilege to fetch Philoctetes, since it was he who was responsible for insulting the wounded Philoctetes by abandoning him on Lemnos in the first place (13.45-54). Ulysses retorts sarcastically that Ajax's powers of eloquence will surely do the trick in assuaging Philoctetes's resentment. For differing accounts of how Philoctetes was wounded, see Dictys (The Trojan War: The Chronicles of Dictys of Crete and Dares the Phrygian, trans. R. M. Frazer, Jr. [Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press, 1966]), 45; Hyginus, Fabulae, 102; and Servius on Aeneid 5.61-62 (repeated by the First Vatican Mythographer in Scriptores Rerum, 1.59). For ancient interpretations of the story of Philoctetes, consult Oscar Mandel's indispensable study, Philoctetes and the Fall of Troy (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1981).

59 Met. 9.229-34 narrates the circumstances of Hercules's endowment of Philoctetes with his arrows on his funeral pyre. Laomedon's refusal to pay Apollo and Neptune their wages for building the walls of Troy culminated in Hercules's sack of Troy with his arrows, when he killed all of Laomedon's sons but one-Priam. (See Met. 13.23.)

60 I have found this climactic event described in Servius and in Dictys; in Joseph of Exeter, Benoit, and Guido, Paris is instead killed by Ajax and Philoctetes plays no part in the story. Dictys is unique among this group of accounts in including both the storylines of Philoctetes and of Oenone, who mourns Paris's death.

61 Mandel, Philoctetes, 10.

62 Some versions in fact have Philoctetes's arrow piercing Paris in the groin, true seat of Troy's demise (see Pierre Grimal, The Dictionary of Classical Mythology, trans. A. R. Maxwell-Hyslop (1951; Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986), 346). Another aspect of the episode's symbolic meaning involves the fact that Paris has recently killed Achilles, backbone of the Greek effort, and so must endure the Greeks' revenge. That it was Paris who killed Achilles is a consummate insult.





63 See Leonhard Schmitz, "Simois," in A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, ed. William Smith, 3 vols. (London, 1849-1867), 3:828.

64 The "Cosmographia" of Bernardus Silvestris, trans. Winthrop Wetherbee (New York: Columbia University Press, 1973), 81.





65 The grammatical position of "clere" here is ambiguous; it could be an adjective modifying "arwe" (as I take it to be) or an adverb modifying "rennest." The meaning is much the same either way, however: either the arrow is bright or the arrow runs brightly through Troy.

66 Bartlett J. and Helen W. Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases from English Writings Mainly before 1500 (Cambridge: Belknap-Harvard University Press, 1968), A190; cf. Q7, where a similar construction (a river runs as far "as quarel of alblast") is cited c.1300. This differs from Chaucer's usage, however, in emphasizing distance, not motion.





67 See MED s.v. "arwe" 4(d). Cf. Langland, Piers Plowman B-text, 20.225: "Many a sheef of othes / And brode hoked arwes" (William Langland, The Vision of Piers Plowman, ed. A. V. C. Schmidt [Rutland, VT: Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc., 1978; reprint, 1991]).





68 As Norman Davis et al. gloss the word's meaning in this passage in A Chaucer Glossary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979), 23.





69 Text of the Aeneid from Fairclough's edition as cited above.

70 "Virgil, Apollo, and Augustus," in Apollo, ed. Solomon, 111. Iapyx, generally taken to be modelled on Machaon (Iliad, trans. Robert Fagles [New York: Penguin, 1990], 4.230-52), is considered Virgil's invention.





71 An evaluation of these details of Troilus's textual subjectivity on the level of gender might well refer the phenomenon of Troilus's identification with both Paris and Oenone less to the feminization of Troilus which has been much discussed by the poem's critics than to the notion of thematic aggregation: that is, the condensation and reorientation within a single character of the male/female dynamic that animates the relationship of the title characters. The complex and fluid intertextual associations that we have been sketching, however, are mainly exploratory in nature and resist neat theoretical packaging and essentialization (i.e., of gender). They function primarily to enrich and complicate (not deconstruct) the surface layer of the text from the incrementally achieved perspective of intertext and subtext, for example by infusing it with irony and a deep sense of textual determinism.

72 Some versions have Achilles's death at Paris's hand occur treacherously in the temple of Apollo, while others have Apollo actively intervening on the battlefield.





73 Chaucer's alteration clearly accentuates the power of destiny over Troy. The story of the gods' building of the wall and financial disagreement with Laomedon, as B. A. Windeatt (ed., Troilus and Criseyde [London: Longman, 1984]) details in his note on 4.120-2.6, is told in Met. 11.194-220, Servius on Aeneid 2.610, First Vatican Mythographer in Scriptures Rerum, 1.136, Second Vatican Mythographer in Scriptores Rerum, 2.193, Third Vatican Mythographer in Scriptores Rerum, 5.7, Boccaccio, Genealogie, 6.6, and Hyginus, Fabulae, 89.





74 Given Chaucer's conjunction in book 4 of the story of Paris's death at the hand of Philoctetes and Oenone's letter, we may well ask whether Chaucer could have known in some form the version of the Paris saga not used by Ovid in Her. 5-namely, Paris's call for the long-forgotten Oenone as he is dying from his wound. In this version, Paris is carried to Oenone on Mount Ida but she refuses to heal him; however, she later changes her mind too late and, finding him dead, kills herself. Dictys preserves some but not the most important parts of this version (Oenone finds out about his death and kills herself, but the healing strand is eliminated), but even Dictys's version does not appear to have been picked up by any medieval writer, and Chaucer probably did not know Dictys first-hand. The possibility just exists that Chaucer could have known the story in some form, for, in the opinion of some scholars, "the immediate source for Chaucer's Ovidian letter (and indeed for all his Ovidian material) may be still to seek" (Arn, "Three Ovidian Women," 9-10).





75 Calabrese, Chaucer's Ovidian Arts, 79.

76 Alan of Lille, Anticlaudian or the Good and Perfect Man, trans. James J. Sheridan (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1973), 154-55. The motif is deeply rooted in St. Augustine; see Rudolph Arbesmann's thorough study (which also takes into account the pagan backgrounds of the healing god), "The Concept of 'Christus Medicus' in St. Augustine," Traditio 10 (1954): 1-28.





77 Cited from the Douay-Rheims translation of the Vulgate. See also Mark 15:31 and Matt. 27:42; cf. Luke 4:23-24.

78 Augustine, Enarrationes in Psalmos 45.11 (Patrologia Latina 36.521); Arbesmann, "Concept," 20.

79 Augustine, Enarrationes in Psalmos 109.3 (Patrologia Latina 37.1447); Arbesmann, "Concept," 18.

80 Friar Thomas de Hales's "Love Ron," in English Lyrics of the XIIIth Century, ed. Carleton Brown (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1932), 73, lines 155-56.

81 Lyric no. 91, in Religious Lyrics of the XIVth Century, ed. Carleton Brown (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924), lines 105-12.





82 As Aesculapius proclaims in Fasti (ed. James George Frazer, rev. G. P. Goold (1931; rev. ed., 1996), 6.743 and as Apollo himself realizes cannot happen in Met. 2.617-18. The two episodes-Aesculapius's resurrection of Hippolytus and Apollo's failed attempt to save the life of Coronis-are, incidentally, linked by the reminder in the former that Aesculapius is the son of Apollo by Coronis.

83 I am grateful to all of the readers who have improved various drafts of this study, particularly John V. Fleming, whose generous counsel and encouragement over the course of this project has been instrumental.