Three manuscript copies of John Gower's Vox Clamantis contain large frontispiece images of a fashionable archer shooting at a suspended globe, headed by the short poem “Ad mundum mitto mea iacula, dumque sagitto.” The text-image ensemble aligns with Gower's ethical and rhetorical imperatives and was likely designed to idealize his posture as a social satirist and sum up the ambitions of his life's work. This essay adds another dimension to understanding this memorial image, reading the archer through a technical figure of mathematical astronomy. Seeing in the illustration a silhouette of an elementary chord diagram, the essay argues that Gower's archer imagery presents an allusive visual emblem, positioning himself in an elevated sphere with broader implications for the integration of medieval poetic and scientific disciplines. Representational strategies common to the arts show their dependence on conceptual models, graphical interfaces, and technical objects commensurate to the described world.
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May 1, 2023
David Aers Sarah Beckwith
Research Article| May 01 2023
John Gower Illustrated: The Archer Images, Astronomical Science, and Poetic Identity
J. Allan Mitchell
Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (2023) 53 (2): 287–321.
J. Allan Mitchell; John Gower Illustrated: The Archer Images, Astronomical Science, and Poetic Identity. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 May 2023; 53 (2): 287–321. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-10416613
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