Chapter 16

Text

Narcissus, be sure you resemble not
Nor into much pride find yourself not;
For an over-winning haughty knight
Of many a grace is void full right.

Gloss

Narcissus was a young bachelor who, because of his great beauty, had such great pride that he shunned all others. And because he prized none but himself, it is said that he was so amorous and besotted with himself that he died, after he had gazed too long at himself in a well. From this we should understand that he was triumphant when he saw himself. Therefore the good knight should consider himself in his good deeds, where he has been victorious. And to this purpose says Socrates: Son, beware that you are not deceived in the beauty of your youth, for that is no durable thing.

Allegory

Now let us set in allegory applying to our purpose the seven deadly sins. Narcissus was an example of the sin of pride, which the good spirit should avoid. And Origene says in the Omelies: How should a man be proud of himself when he thinks of where he came from and what he will become; and in how frail a vessel we exist nakedly in, and in what sins he has engaged in, and what unclean matters he never ceased to participate in? And to this purpose Holy Scriptures say:

Where-of is that earth and asschis pridith him, or how dare a man raise him in arrogance, when he thinks where-of he is coming and what he shall become; and in how frail a vessel we exist nakedly in, and in what harlotries he plunged, and what unclean matters he never ceased to cast from his flesh all the condites of his body? And to this purpose says Holy Scripture: Though the pride of the godless person reaches to the heavens
and his head touches the clouds, he will perish forever.1

Footnotes

  1. Christine’s original Latin: “Si ascenderit ad celum superbia eius, et caput eius nubes tetigerit, quasi sterquilinium in fine perdetur.” Job 20:6-7.

Chapter 15

Text

Penthesilea have you favor unto
That for your death shall have much woe;
Such a woman should be loved and know,
Of whom so noble a voice is had.

Gloss

Penthesilea was a full fair maiden and queen of the Amazons, and of marvelous worthiness in arms and in hardiness; and for the great goodness that the high name witnessed through the world of Hector the worthy, she loved in right heartily, and from the parties of the East she came to Troy in the time of the great siege to see Hector. But when she found him dead, she was distraught beyond measure; and with a great host of very chivalrous gentlewomen, vigorously she avenged his death and she did marvelous worthy deeds; and she did many great grievances to the Greeks. And because she was virtuous, it is said to the good knight that he should love her, and that is to understand that every good knight should love and prize every virtuous person, and namely a woman strong in virtue of wit and conscience. And this woman, who was woeful for the death of Hector, is understood to have worthiness and valor, when it is required in knighthood. And a wise man says: Bounty should be allowed anywhere it is perceived.

Allegory

By Penthesilea, who was helpful, we may understand the virtue of charity, which is the third divine virtue that the good spirit should perfectly have within himself. Cassiodoire says that charity is as the rain which falls in the springtime, for it distills the drops of virtues under which green good will grow and good hope comes to fruition, that is to be patient in adversity, temperate in prosperity, patient in meekness, joyous in afflictions, well-willing to his enemies and friends, and namely to his enemies to be generous with his goods. To this purpose says Saint Paul the apostle: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.1

Footnote

  1. Christine’s original Latin: “Caritas paciens, begigna est; caritas non emulatur, non agit perperam, non inflatur, non est ambiciosa, non querit que sua sunt.” Corinthians 13:4-5.

Chapter 14

Text

Join with Pallas, the goddess,
And set her right with your worthiness
If you have her, good fortune you will feel
Pallas with Minerva is sitting very well.

Gloss

Also when it is said that Pallas should be joined with Minerva, which is true, men should understand that Pallas and Minerva is all one thing, but their names are different and they have different associations. For the lady that is called Minerva was also called Pallas after an island named Pallaunce,1 where she was born; and because she was generally wise in all things and discovered many new fair and subtle crafts, they called her the goddess of wisdom. Minerva is therefore associated with all things belonging to knigthood, and Pallas with all things that belognt o wisdom; and therefore it is said that wisdom and knighthood should be joined, which is very good, and that by arms we can also understand faith. To this purpose says Hermes: Join the love of faith with wisdom.

Allegory

And just as Pallas, who is known for wisdom, should be joined with knighthood, the virtue of hope should be joined with good virtues of the knightly spirit, without which he may not prevail. For Origene says in the Homilies upon Exodus that hope of the goods that are yet to come is the souls of those that travel in this deadly life, just as laborers do in hope of their payment after the labor of their business, and the same is true of champions that are in battle and hope that the crown of victory will be earned by their wounds. And to this purpose says Saint Paul the apostle:

liche as to laboreris the hope of their payment softith the labor of their business, and as to champions that be in battle the hope of the crown of victory is the woo of their wounds. And to this purpose says Saint Paul the apostle: “God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.”2

Footnotes

  1. This explanation for calling the goddess “Pallas Athena” is not widely accepted today. Greek myths posit a number of different reasons for the name. It is unclear which island Christine was referencing in this line.
  2. Christine’s original Latin: “Fortissimum solacium habemus, qui confugimus ad tenedam propositam; quam sicut anchoram habemus anime tutam.” Hebrews 6:18

Chapter 13

Text

Of all manner sorts of armor
You will be armed with, both well and sure,
Since your mother now signed shall be,
Minerva, which is perfect for you.

Gloss

Minerva was a lady of great cunning and fond of the craft of making armor, for before the people armed them with nothing but boiled leather; and for the great wisdom that was in this lady, they called her a goddess. And because Hector could work armor well, and that it was his perfect craft, Othea called him the son of Minerva, not withstanding that he was son to Queen Hecuba of Troy; and in the same way all that love arms are called the children of Minerva. And to this purpose an author says that knights given to arms might be subject to the same.

Allegory

Where it is said that good armor and enoguh strength are given to the good knight by his mother, we may understand the virtue of faith, which is a core virtue and is mother to the good spirit. And that she delivers armor enough, Casiodoire says in the Exposition of the Creed that faith is the light of the soul, the gate of paradise, the window of life and the ground of everlasting health, for without faith none may please God. And to this purpose, Saint Paul the Apostle says:

and strong i-noughe shall be delivered to the good knight be his mother, we may understand the virtue of faith, which is a dinuine virtue and is mother to the good spirit. And that she delivers armor enough, Cassiodoire says in the Exposition of the Crede that faith is the light of the soul, the gate of paradise, the window of life and the ground of everlasting health, for without faith none may please God. And to this purpose says Saint Paul the apostle: “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.”1

Footnotes

  1. Hebrews 11:6. Christine’s original Latin: “Sine fide impossible est placere Deo.”

Chapter 12

Text

As regards your falcon, be bold and plain
And of your word both clean and certain
Mercury shall teach you that, whole and sound,
He who knows good speech knows well the ground.

Gloss

Wednesday is named after Mercury, and quick silver is associated with it.1 Mercury is a planet that has influence over pontifical behavior, and of fair language filled with rhetoric. Therefore it is said that the good knight should have these qualities, for worshipful behavior and fair language is becoming to all noble people desiring the high price of worship, so that they should not say too much For Diogenes says that of all virtues the more the better, save of speech.

Allegory

By Mercury, who is called god of language, we may understand that the knight of Jesus Christ should be arrayed with good preaching and words of teaching, and also they should love and worship those that show those qualities. And Saint Gregory says in his Homilies that men should have the pressures of Holy Scripture in great reverence, for they are the messengers that go to our Lord and our Lord follows them. Holy preaching makes the way, and then our Lord comes into the dwelling place of our heart; the words of prayer makes the course, and so truth is received into our understanding. And to this purpose our Lord says to his apostles: “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

Footnotes

  1. The French word for Wednesday is “Mercredi,” and the elemental name today for “quicksilver” is Mercury.
  2. Luke 10:16. Christine’s original Latin reads “Qui vos audit, me audit, et qui vos spernit, me spernit.”

Chapter 11

Text

I do not doubt that Mars is your father,
Thou shalt follow him in every matter
For thin his and noble condition
Drawith therto thine inclination.

Gloss

Tuesday is named after Mars1; and the metal that we call iron is associated with him. Mars is a planet that gives influence of wars and battles. Therefore every knight that loves and practices arms and the deeds of knighthood and who has achieved greatness may be called a son of Mars. And therefore Othea named Hector so, not withstanding that he was the son to king Priam, and said that he would take after his father as much as a good knight out to do. And a wise man says tat by the deeds of man may be known his inclinations.

Allegory

Mars, the god of battle, may well be called the son of God, who battled victoriously in this world. The good spirit should, by example, follow his father Jesus Christ and fight against vices, Saint Ambrose says in the first book of Offices that, who-so will be God’s friend, he must be the fiend’s enemy; who-so will have peace with Jesus Christ, he must have war with vices. And even as in vain men make war in the field with foreign enemies there where the city is full of homely spies, on the same wise none may overcome the evils outward that will not consider strongly the sins of their souls; for it is the most glorious victory that may be for a man to overcome himself. And to this purpose speaks Saint Paul in the Epistle: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”2

Footnotes

  1. The French word for Tuesday is “Mardi,” derived from “Mars.”
  2. This passage comes from Ephesians 6:12. Christine’s original Latin reads: “Non est nobis colluctacio aduersus carnem et sanguinem, sed aduersus principes & potestates, aduersus mundin rectores tenebrarum harum, contra spiritualia nequicie, in celestibus.”

Chapter 10

Text

Do not resemble Phoebe, and why?
He is changeable and enemy
To steadfastness and to courage strong,
Is melancholy and full of wrong.

Gloss

Phoebe is also called the Moon, and Monday is named after him, and we associate him with the metal called silver. The moon rests at a fixed point and is associated with unsteadfastness and folly; and therefore a good knight should avoid these vices. And to this purpose Hermes says: Use wisdom and be steadfast.

Allegory

Phoebe the moon, who note for unsteadfastness, which a good knight should not have, nor on the same wise, the good spirit. As Saint Ambrose said in the Epistle of Simpliciam, a fool is changeable as the moon, but a wiseman is ever steadfast in one state, where he never breaks out of fear nor changes out of force; he rises not in prosperity, nor plunges in lack. There where wisdom is, there is virtue, strength, and steadfastness. The wiseman is ever of one courage; it neither lessons nor increases, for changing of nothing; he flourishes not in diverse opinions, but abides perfect in Jesus Christ, grounded in charity and rooted in faith. And to this purpose says Holy Scripture: “The discourse of a godly man is always with wisdom; but a fool changeth as the moon.”1

Footnotes

  1. This section of the Bible was removed from later versions, so in lieu of the New International I have chosen a translation from the old King James Bible. However, this translation does not fully encompass Christine’s metaphor. Her Latin, from the Vulgate bible, reads “Homo sanctus in sapiencia manet sicut sol; nam stultus sicut luna mutatur” (Ecclesiasticus 27:12). Roughly, my translation is “The wise man is steadfast like the sun, the fool is changeable as the moon.”

Chapter 9

Text

Let your words be clear and true in kind
Apollo shall guide your mind,
For none can instruct him
Suffer no wise under coverture.

Gloss

Apollo or Phebus, that is the sun, to whom the Sunday is given and also the metal that is called gold. The sun, because of his clearness, shows things that are hidden; and therefore truth which is clear and shows secret things, is associated with him. Truth is the virtue that should be in the heart and mouth of every good knight. And to this purpose says Hermes: Love God and truth, and give good council.

Allegory

Apollo, which is to say the Sun, is what we call truth, and therefore we should understand that man should have in his mouth the truth of the very knight Jesus Christ and flee all falseness. As Cassiodorus says in the book of the Praising of Saint Paul: The condition of falseness is such that, even when it is not opposed, it still fails and collapses; but the condition of truth is to the contrary, for it is so that that the more opposition it has, the more it increases and rises. To this purpose says Holy Scripture: Above all, truth wins.1

Footnotes

  1. Christine’s original Latin: “Super omnia vincit veritas. Secundi Esree iij capitulo.”