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  • Title: Apollonius of Tyre
  • Editors: Tom Bishop, Andrew Forsberg

  • Copyright Tom Bishop and Andrew Forsberg. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: John Gower
    Editors: Tom Bishop, Andrew Forsberg
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Apollonius of Tyre

    270The Story of Appolinus of Tyre
    From Confessio Amantis, Book VIII, by John Gower.
    [Hic loquitur adhuc contra incestuosos amantum coitus. Et narrat mirabile exemplum de magno Rege Antiocho, qui vxore mortua propriam filiam violauit: et quia filie Matrimonium penes alios impedire voluit, tale ab eo exiit edictum, quod si quis eam in vxorem peteret, nisi ipse prius quoddam problema questionis, quam ipse Rex proposuerat, veraciter solueret, capitali sentencia puniretur. Super quo veniens tandem discretus iuuenis princeps Tyri Appolinus questionem soluit; nec tamen filiam habere potuit, sed Rex indignatus ipsum propter hoc in mortis odium recollegit. Vnde Appolinus a facie Regis fugiens, quamplura, prout inferius intitulantur, propter amorem pericla passus est.]
    Now he [the Confessor in Gower's poem] speaks against incestuous unions of lovers, and gives a marvelous example of the Great King Antiochus, who after his wife's death raped his own daughter; and because he wished to prevent others from possessing her in marriage, he issued an edict to the effect that if anyone sought her as a wife he would suffer a sentence of death unless he first correctly solved a certain riddle posed by the King himself. At last there came Appolinus, a discerning young prince of Tyre, and solved the riddle; but he did not receive the daughter; rather the enraged king conceived a mortal hatred for him. And fleeing away from the notice of the King, Appolinus suffered many perils on account of love, as is rehearsed below.
    Of a Cronique in daies gon,
    The which is cleped Pantheon,
    In loves cause I rede thus,
    Hou that the grete Antiochus,
    275Of whom that Antioche tok
    His ferste name, as seith the bok,
    Was coupled to a noble queene,
    And hadde a dowhter hem betwene:
    Bot such fortune cam to honde,
    280That deth, which no king mai withstonde,
    Bot every lif it mote obeie,
    This worthi queene tok aweie.
    The king, which made mochel mone,
    Tho stod, as who seith, al him one
    285Withoute wif, bot natheles
    His doghter, which was piereles
    Of beaute, duelte aboute him stille.
    Bot whanne a man hath welthe at wille,
    The fleissh is frele and falleth ofte,
    290And that this maide tendre and softe,
    Which in hire fadres chambres duelte,
    Withinne a time wiste and felte:
    For likinge and concupiscence
    Withoute insihte of conscience
    295The fader so with lustes blente,
    That he caste al his hole entente
    His oghne doghter forto spille.
    This king hath leisir at his wille
    With strengthe, and whanne he time sih,
    300This yonge maiden he forlih:
    And sche was tendre and full of drede,
    Sche couthe noght hir Maidenhede
    Defende, and thus sche hath forlore
    The flour which sche hath longe bore.
    305It helpeth noght althogh sche wepe,
    For thei that scholde hir bodi kepe
    Of wommen were absent as thanne;
    And thus this maiden goth to manne,
    The wylde fader thus devoureth
    310His oghne fleissh, which non socoureth,
    And that was cause of mochel care.
    Bot after this unkinde fare
    Out of the chambre goth the king,
    And sche lay stille, and of this thing,
    315Withinne hirself such sorghe made,
    Ther was no wiht that mihte hir glade,
    For feere of thilke horrible vice.
    With that cam inne the Norrice
    Which fro childhode hire hadde kept,
    320And axeth if sche hadde slept,
    And why hire chiere was unglad.
    Bot sche, which hath ben overlad
    Of that sche myhte noght be wreke,
    For schame couthe unethes speke;
    325And natheles mercy sche preide
    With wepende yhe and thus sche seide:
    "Helas, mi Soster, waileway,
    That evere I sih this ilke day!
    Thing which mi bodi ferst begat
    330Into this world, onliche that
    Mi worldes worschipe hath bereft."
    With that sche swouneth now and eft,
    And evere wissheth after deth,
    So that welnyh hire lacketh breth.
    335That other, which hire wordes herde,
    In confortinge of hire ansuerde,
    To lette hire fadres fol desir
    Sche wiste no recoverir:
    Whan thing is do, ther is no bote,
    340So suffren thei that suffre mote;
    Ther was non other which it wiste.
    Thus hath this king al that him liste
    Of his likinge and his plesance,
    And laste in such continuance,
    345And such delit he tok therinne,
    Him thoghte that it was no Sinne;
    And sche dorste him nothing withseie.
    Bot fame, which goth every weie,
    To sondry regnes al aboute
    350The grete beaute telleth oute
    Of such a maide of hih parage:
    So that for love of mariage
    The worthi Princes come and sende,
    As thei the whiche al honour wende,
    355And knewe nothing hou it stod.
    The fader, whanne he understod,
    That thei his dowhter thus besoghte,
    With al his wit he caste and thoghte
    Hou that he myhte finde a lette;
    360And such a Statut thanne he sette,
    And in this wise his lawe he taxeth,
    That what man that his doghter axeth,
    Bot if he couthe his question
    Assoile upon suggestion
    365Of certein thinges that befelle,
    The whiche he wolde unto him telle,
    He scholde in certein lese his hed.
    And thus ther weren manye ded,
    Here hevedes stondende on the gate,
    370Till ate laste longe and late,
    For lacke of ansuere in the wise,
    The remenant that weren wise
    Eschuieden to make assay.