‘Will Actyf, Actyf, Pacience, and Liberurn Arbitrium: Two Recurring Quotations in Langland’s Revisions of Piers Plowman C Text, Passus V, Passus V
Examines three additions in the C revision, the “autobiographical passage” (C.5), Patience’s lesson to Activa Vita (C.15), and Liberum Arbitriurn’s definition of charity for Will and Actyf (C.16), all of which contain “Non de solo vivit homo nec in pane et in pabulo” (Matt 4:4) and “fiat voluntas tua” (Matt 6:10), spoken either by Will, who in citing these verses betrays ignorance of their content and context, or by Patience and Liberurn Arbitrium, who correct Will’s misperceptions. Argues that each recurrence of this pair of verses “serves to rewrite all the important revelation of the narrator’s self that Langland conspicuously interpolates into C Passus V.” This reappearing pair of quotations also encourages consideration of even larger themes, such as the responsibility of the individual in the greater well-being of the commune, the necessity for patience, the role of labor in the life of the community, the efficacy of charity in the attempt to do well, better, best. The repetition of the verses forms a triad that corresponds to the Three Lives: by inversion of the terms of C.5, Dowel means to labor; in C.15 Dobet means to be patient; and Dobest is associated with the life of patient poverty and charity.
TSLL 30 (1988): 461-77.
Stock, Lorraine Kochanske.