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Here may ye seen, what lover so he be, A woman dar and kan as wel as he.
EXPLICIT LEGENDA TESBE.
IJICIK^ LEGENDA DIDONIS, CARTHAGINIS
/~1 LOBIE and honour, Virgile Mantuan,
Be to thy name! and I shal as I kan
Folowe thy lanterne as thou goste byforne,
How Eneas to Dido was forsworne,
In thyne Eneyde. And of Naso wol I take
The tenour and the grete effectes make.
Whanne Troy broght was to destruccion
By Grekes sleight, and namely by Synon,
Feynyng the hors offred unto Minerve,
Thurgh which that many a Trojan moste sterve,
And Ector had after his deeth appered;
And fire so woode, it myghte nat ben stered,.
In al the noble tour of Ylion,
That of the citee was the cheef dungeon;
And al the countree was so lowe ybroghte.
And Priamus the kyng fordoon and noghte;
And Eneas was charged by Venus
To fleen away; he tooke Ascanius
That was his sone, in his ryght hande and fledde,
And on his bakke he baar, and with him ledde
His olde fader, cleped Anchises;
And by the wey his wyfe Creusa he lees,
And mochel sorwe hadde he in his mynde,
Er that he koude his felawshippe fynde.
But at the last, whanne he hadde hem founde,
He made him redy in a certeyn stounde,
And to the see ful faste he gan him hye,
And sayleth forth with al his companye
1 Thislegende is taken from the ^Eneid, and Ovid's Heroldea, epist. vii.
TWarde Ytayle, as wolde destanee.
But of his aventures in the see,
•Nys nat to purpos for to speke of here,
For it acordeth nat to my matere.
But as I seyde, of hym and of Dydo
Shal be my tale, til that I have do.
So long he saylled in the salte see,
Til in Lybye unneth arryved he,
So was he with the tempest al to-shake.
And whanne that he the havene had ytake,
He had a knyghte was called Achates,
And him of al his felawshippe he ches
To goon with him, the contree for tespye.
He tooke with him na more companye,
But forth they goon, and lafte hise shippes ride,
His fere and he, withouten any guyde.
So longe he walketh in this wildernesse, Til at the last he mette an hunteresse, A bowe in hande, and arwes hadde she; Hire clothes knytte were unto the knee. But she was yit the fairest creature That ever was yformed by nature; And Eneas and Achates she grette, And thus she to hem spak whanne she hem mette.
'Sawe ye,' quod she, 'as ye han walked wide, Any of my sustren walke yow besyde, With any wilde boor or other beste, That they han hunted to in this foreste, Ytukked up, with arwes in her cas?'
'Nay soothly, lady!' quod this Eneas; 'But by thy beaute, as yt thynketh me, Thou myghtest never erthely woman be, But Phebus suster artow, as I gesse. And yf so be that thou be a goddesse, Have mercy on oure labour and oure woo.*
'I nam no goddesse soothely,' quod she thoo; 'For maydens walken in this contree here, With arwes and with bowe, in this manere.
This is the regne of Libie ther ye been,
Of which that Dido lady is and queene.'
And shortly tolde al the occasion
Why Dido come into that region,
Of which as now me lusteth nat to ryme;
It nedeth nat, it nere but los of tyme.
For this is al and somme; it was Venus
His owene moder, that spak with him thus;
And to Cartage she bad he sholde him dighte,
And wanysshed anoon out of his sighte.
I koude folwe worde for worde Virgile,
But it wolde lasten al to longe while.
This noble queene, that cleped was Dido,
That whylom was the wife of Sicheo,
That fairer was than the bryghte sonne,
This noble toune of Cartage hath begonne;
In which she regneth in so grete honoure,
That she was holde of alle quenes floure,
Of gentillesse, of fredome, of beautee,
That wel was him that myght her oones see.
Of kynges and of lordes so desired,
That al the worlde hire beaute hadde yfired,
She stoode so wel in every wyghtes grace.
Whanne Eneas was come unto that place,
Unto the maistre temple1 of al the toune,
Ther Dido was in hir devocioun,
Ful prively his wey than hath he nome.
Whanne he was in the large temple come,
I kannat seye if that hit be possible,
But Venus hadde him maked invisible;
Thus seyth the booke, withouten any les.
And whanne this Eneas and Achates
Hadden in the temple ben over alle,
Thanne founde they depeynted on a walle,
How Troy and al the londe destruied was.
'Allas, that I was borne!' quod Eneas.
1 Maistre means principal: it is applied in this sense to strete, as in the expression the maister-strete.
'Thurghout the worlde our shame is kid so wide
Now it is peynted upon every side.
We that weren in prosperitee,
Be now disclaundred, and in swiche degre,
And with that worde he braste out for to wepe
So tendirly that routhe yt was to seene.
This fresshe lady, of the citee queene,
Stoode in the temple, in hire estat royalle,
So richely, and eke so faire withalle,
So yonge, so lusty, with hire eighen glade,
That yf that God that hevene and erthe made,
Wolde han a love, for beaute and goodenesse,
And womanhede, and trouthe, and semelynesse,
Whom sholde he loven but this lady swete?
There nys no woman to him halfe so mete.
Fortune, that hath the worlde in governaunce,
Hath sodeynly brought in so newe a chaunce,
That never was there yit so fremed a cas.
For al the companye of Eneas,
Which that he wend han lqren in the see,
Aryved ys noght fer fro that citee.
For which the grettist of his lordes, some
By aventure ben to the citee come
Unto that same temple for to seke
The queene, and of hire socour hire beseke;
Swiche renowne was ther spronge of hir goodnesse.
And whanne they hadde tolde al hire distresse, And al hir tempeste and hire harde cas, Unto the queene appered Eneas, And openly beknew that it was he. Who had joye thanne, but his meinee, That hadden founde hire lord, hire governour?
The queene sawgh they dide him swich honour, And had herde ofte of Eneas er thoo, And in hire herte hadde routhe and woo, That ever swiche a noble man as hee Shal ben disherited in swiche degree.
And sawgh the man, that he was lyke a knyghte,
And suffisaunt of persone and of myghte,
And lyke to ben a verray gentilman.
And wel hys wordes he besette kan,
And hadde a noble visage for the noones,
And formed wel of brawnes and of boones;
And after Venus hadde swiche fairenesse,
That no man myghte be halfe so faire I gesse,
And wel a lord him semed for to bee.
A-nd for he was a straunger, somewhat shee
Lyked him the bette, as God do boote,
To somme folke often newe thinge is swoote.
Anoon hire herte hath pitee of his woo,
And with pitee, love come alsoo;
And thus for pitee and for gentillesse,
Refresshed mote he ben of his distresse.
She seyde, certes, that she sory was,
That he hath had swiche peril and swiche cas;
And in hire frendely speche, in this manere
She to him spak, and seyde as ye may here.
'Be ye nat Venus sonne and Anchises?
In good fayth, al the worshippe and encres
That I may goodly doon yow, ye shal have;
Youre shippes and your meyne shal I save.'
And many a gentil worde she spak him too,
And commaunded hire messageres goo
The same day, withouten any faylle,
Hys shippes for to seke and hem vitaylle.
Ful many a beeste she to the shippes sente,
And with the wyne she gan hem to presente,
And to hire royalle paleys she hire spedde,
And Eneas alwey with hire she ledde.
What nedeth yow the feste to discryve?
He never better at ese was his lyve.
Ful was the feste of deyntees and richesse,
Of instrumentes, of songe, and of gladnesse,
And many an amorouse lokyng and devys.
This Eneas is comen to Paradys
VOL. HI. o .