Title Background

Green and Filial Love: Two Notes on the Russell-Kane C Text: C.8.215 and C.17.48.

Green and Filial Love: Two Notes on the Russell-Kane C Text: C.8.215 and C.17.48.

The essay offers “two elucidations” regarding the readings in the new C edition. (1) Against Pearsall’s and Schmidt’s filial, R-K emend C.8.215 to read ‘Ther is no fyal loue with this folk for al here fayre speche,’ construing fyal as a variant of OF feel/feal from the ultimate Latin fidelis. Burrow and Turville-Petre, excerpting this passage in A Book of Middle English, print filial loue and gloss it as “loue such as should exist between sons” noting, however, that the word is not otherwise recognized until the sixteenth century and that some MSS. read final. Filial should be preserved as the correct reading and understood as the positive timor domini attested by Christian exegetical and patristic tradition, which distinguishes the amor filialis from the timor servilis. Thus Piers, as master of the half-acre, would seem to desire “filial love,” not servile fear, from “even his most recalcitrant subordinates.” The other variants fyal/final can be accounted for as misreadings of L’s new word—a scribe would hardly invent a word not known for another 130 years or so—and the free variation of i/y in late Middle English orthography. Other variants faithful/lel can be explained as glosses on an earlier fyal. (2) In the passage on the social dangers of ecclesiastical institutions accepting ill-gotten gains R-K preserve grene loue in C.17.48b where Pearsall and Schmidt had emended to grene leues. An allusion to Matthew 24:12 (et quoniam abundabit iniquitas refrigescet caritas multorum) may be noted in l.49 and in this context grene loue is the appropriate reading. The figure of “the greenness of inner love” is attested to in patristic and homiletic writing, and thus the sense of the passage as a whole may be construed: “grene loue would wexe if true religion could be restored” and the now-chilled charity would warm itself. A similar use of green collocated with grace within the context of the same argument can be found at B.15.424. The idea of green love is also attested to in other medieval poems and even in Marvell. On the grounds that it is the lectio durior and the reading of the best MSS., and because it is the intellectually more interesting reading than grene leues, the R-K reading is to be commended.


YLS 16 (2002): 67–83.


Hill, Thomas D.