By Judson Boyce Allen
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Additional info for A Distinction of Stories: The Medieval Unity of Chaucer's Fair Chain of Narratives for Canterbury
Elementa sicut fit quando terra rarescit in aquam, aqua levificatur in aera, aer sub tiliatur in ignem. Item ignis spissatur in aera, aer grossificatur in aquam, aqua conglobatur in terra. Et hinc mutatio est naturalis de qua facit men tionem pictagoras dicens: quattuor etternus genitalia corpora mundus continet, etc. Moralis est ilia mutatio que attenditur circa mores scilicet cum mores mutantur. Ut de licaone in lupum quidem dicere de benigne in asperum vel econtra et raptorem vel econtrario, et sic de similibus que attenduntur circa mores.
Still another set of three, the artificial, the natural, and the "mistica et magica," occurs in a fourteenth-century French manuscript, now MS Vat. lat. "53 The mutatio of the person turned to stone in book 10 is similarly labeled in MS Vat. lat. 1598: "Item moralis est ista mutatio. Allegoria talis est. Philosophus quidam fuit qui cognita subtilitate herculis qui docuit terram esse tripartitam quam dedit intelligi per cerberum. Unde fingitur cerberum traxisse ab inferis desperavit post herculem nichil philosophicum dicere et stupore percussus destitit a sensu.
Robertson's work has been an immense contribution to literary medieval studies, but more in spite of than because of the creedal orthodoxy which he attempts to impose. Both the exegetical tradition and the related analogizing through which physical and moral facts were viewed have left for us a body of evidence whose impor tance he rightly defends, and about which he has published much pioneering and useful information. However, since our use of some of this evidence may suggest the too hasty conclusion that we are "Robertsonian," we would like to state bluntly and categorically that we are not.