Title Background

Lady Meed and God’s Meed: The Grammar of ‘<i>Piers Plowman</i>‘ B 3 and C 4.

Lady Meed and God’s Meed: The Grammar of ‘Piers Plowman‘ B 3 and C 4.

Skeat’s mispunctuation of B.3.245-46 and C.4.335-44 obscures the difference between God’s measured meed, which offers salvation to those who lead holy lives, and that personified by Lady Meed, which is out of proportion to desert and unrelated to righteousness. WL’s own clarification of the distinction, the grammatical metaphor of C.4, assumes the traditional understanding that Latin grammar may faithfully reveal the ideal order of its divine creator and that the special qualities of noun and adjective – thought to be the same part of speech -enable them to share an ability to signify the essence of a thing. God’s meed, or mercede, signifies a direct relation between the divine and human, by which each person (the adjective) may agree with Christ (the substantive) in gender, number, and case, and is at all points to be distinguished from the indirect relation signified by meed.