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“Scientia vera? Holcot and Chaucer on Astrological Determinism, Magic, Talismans, and Omens

Cartlidge, Neil

“Scientia vera? Holcot and Chaucer on Astrological Determinism, Magic, Talismans, and Omens Thumbnail


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Abstract

This article suggests that Robert Holcot’s Wisdom commentary served as the immediate source for the House of Fame, 1259–70, and the Parson’s Tale, X 603–7. To prepare the ground for these suggestions (which are new), it begins with a discussion of the two authors’ (apparently shared) skepticism about the limits of human knowledge. The Chaucerian narrator’s reluctance to learn about the stars in the House of Fame (991–1017) reflects the skeptical attitude to human knowledge that Holcot expresses in Lection 98. This lection seems to have provided the model for the list of magical/astrological charlatans in the House of Fame. Chaucer’s reference to magical “ymages” is not paralleled in Lection 98, but this is a key topic in Lection 159, which develops Saint Augustine’s account of superstitious practices in On Christian Doctrine. The distinctive spin Holcot puts on Augustine’s thinking shapes Chaucer’s discussion of such practices in the Parson’s Tale.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 3, 2019
Online Publication Date Jun 24, 2020
Publication Date 2020
Deposit Date Aug 27, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jul 28, 2020
Journal Chaucer Review
Print ISSN 0009-2002
Electronic ISSN 1528-4204
Publisher Penn State University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 55
Issue 3
Pages 279-297
DOI https://doi.org/10.5325/chaucerrev.55.3.0279
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1324188

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