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Sche hoped neuer of him mariage
In (2) and (3) it will be seen that the author follows Guido in calling his heroine by the name of Bryxeida or Brixaida. In (1) the name is apparently Cresseide; but in the M.S. the words "Until Cresseide that" are re-written, in another hand, over the place where something has previously been erased. Probably the author here, as in the other passages, made use of Guido's name Brixeida. The alteration was no doubt due to some one less scrupulous than the original copyist and anxious to correct what must have seemed, to any acquainted with Chaucer's poem, a mere illiterate mistake.
No earlier date than the beginning of the 15th century can well be assigned to the existing copy; it may have been made at a moment when the interest in the old Troy Tale was newly stirred by Chaucer's Troilus and Creseide, but with regard to the original date of composition of the poem it is hard to believe that any writer coming after Chaucer would have continued to use the name Brixeida (Lydgate, though he follows Guido, does not) or still more that he could have refrained from giving the now famous episode at least as fully as it appears in Guido. Either the fame of Chaucer had not reached our author, a conclusion one hesitates to draw about the writer of so considerable a poem, and so assiduous a reader of romance; or his work belongs to the years before 1378-83.
It is tempting to define the period yet more exactly and to point to the mention of florins in the possession of the citizens of Troy, as unlikely before 1343 when Edward introduced the coin into English currency:
"Zoure tresoure & zoure florayns
§ 3. Relation of the Poem to Guido's Historia Troiana.
M. Aristide Joly, in his study of the Roman de Troie already referred to, raised the question whether the Troy Tale of the Laud M.S. was based directly upon the Latin of Guido de Columnia or upon a French version of his Historia Troiana.
There can be no doubt that Guido's work is, in some shape or another, the basis of the English poem. The author refers to it in two passages:
(a) Dares the heraud of Troye sais
And dites that was of the gregeis
And as thei were thei wreten hem bothe
The sothe to say withoute les
And of alle the gode lordes echon
And aftir hem come Maister Gy
(b) Witnes heres her of Dares
And Tites also withoute les
In wham myzt be no fraudes
Thei were ther bothe euen & morn
King Troyen and king frigais
Either of these passages might be taken as an indirect statement that the English writer drew his materials from Guido. He goes back a step further and mentions that Guido's sources were the contemporary historians Dares and Dictys. This is the pedigree which Guido himself assigns to his Historia. It has only of late years been proved, beyond a doubt, that he omitted the most important link in the chain, the Roman de Troie of Benoit de Sainte More. The Historia is but a dull and prosaic rendering into Latin of Benoit's spirited poem.
Our author accepted' Guido's own statements about the origins of his work, now proved to be false. Should we take warning and, in our turn, hesitate to accept his assertion that he told his tale after the manner of Master Guy?
The test of comparison proved fatal to Guido's pretensions to erudition: in this case the evidence it supplies is all in favour of our author's veracity.
The sequence of events in the English poem is almost identical with that of the Historia, as far as the fall of Troy, where it abruptly ends; in matters of detail the correspondence is also very close. The omissions, which offer some points of interest, may be briefly summarised,
1) All Guido's digressions into fable, unconnected with the main current of the story, and usually drawn from Ovid, such as his account of the origin of the Myrmidons.
2) His attempts at giving a rational explanation of the marvels of the tale, as befits him in his character of exact historian. Thus Guido adopts the interpretation, given by certain writers, that the golden fleece of Troy was only a great hoard of treasure. Again, he enlarges on the impossibility of interfering, as did Medea, by incantation and witchcraft, with the divinely appointed order of the universe.
The English writer does not profess to he more than a "gestour", consequently he is at less pains to give verisimilitude to his tale. He sees, for example, no reasons for giving, as do both Guido and Benoit, long descriptions of the geographical situation of places mentioned in the course of the story.
3) The omission of all Guido's moralising passages, especially the very numerous ones upon the frailty of women. These Lydgate gives at great length, though, at the same time, he holds up to scorn an author so lacking in chivalry as to express himself in this way.
"This lyketh Guido of women to endite
4) The omission of much of the episode of Troilus and Cresseida to which attention has already been drawn.
5) Guido considerably shortens Benoit's account of the marvels of the Chamber of Beauty. The English M.S. gives all Guido's scanty details, but incorporates with them his account of the building of Ilion previously omitted, and adds some original matter, such as the description of a tree with gold and silver fruit.
"Before the dore was set a tre
By far the most noteworthy additions) to the tale in the English poem are those passages describing dress, armour, warfare, feasting, various customs of mediæval life, giving a national colouring to the ancient Tale of Troy.
Besides the omissions and additions thus briefly summarised, there is nothing to detract from the closeness of the relations between the Troy Tales of Guido and of the English M.S.
But Guido's Historia underwent translation into several European languages, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and it is conceivable that the English author might have made use of one of these translations, without the relations between his poem and the Historia being thereby affected. M. Aristide Joly suggests that he employed a French translation in verse. Such translation may well have existed, though the best known work of the kind in French, the Recueil des Histoires de Troie, of Raoul le Fèvre, belongs to the end of the 15th century and is in prose.
As a rule, the existing versions of Guido in other tongues are not word-for-word translations, but rather free renderings or adaptations. Such renderings, leaving something to the original genius of the translator, were far more in the taste. of the age.
The existence of a word-for-word translation of Guido into French, at the period at which the English poem was composed, is not, in fact, a likelihood. The correspondence between the Historia and the English Poem in minute detail renders it almost impossible that any intermediate rendering other than an exact translation, can have been employed
by the English author.
We have some amount of direct evidence in the matter. In the passage already quoted the author of the English poem speaks of the Historia as having been turned by Guido "from grew into latyn" or again "translated wel and fine into Latyne";
1) An interesting episode is the account of the knighthood of Pyrrhus, very briefly told in Guido and Benoit. Shaw (Dresses and Decorations vol. II) reproduces, from some Tapestry in the Bibliothèque Nationale three scenes from the War of Troy representing Pyrrhus receiving the order of knighthood. Possibly there may have been some attempt to expand the Pyrrhus episode as Boccacio expanded that of the loves of Troilus and Cresseida.