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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: August 2014

10 - Remembering Antiquity in the Castilian Confessio Amantis

from III - The Classical Tradition


The fifteenth-century Portuguese and Castilian translations of the Confessio Amantis stand as both unique and commonplace artifacts in late medieval Europe: a pioneering occurrence of translation from an English original into Iberian vernaculars, they are at the same time a testimony to the habitual circulation of narratives speaking to the common literary and intellectual interests of European lay elites. First in Portugal and then in Castile, Gower's work appears to have fitted seamlessly into its host cultures' interests and preoccupations. As a mirror of princes, Book VII of the Confessio must have been particularly welcomed in a Portuguese royal court growing more and more interested in treatises focused on ethics, politics, and rhetoric. Both translations may also have been key in the emergence of the most sophisticated literary work in midand late fifteenth-century Iberia, sentimental fiction. Finally, in the specific case of the Castilian context of reception, on which I shall focus my inquiry, the Confessio echoed central fourteenth-century writings on love and wisdom in the vernacular tradition.

Approaching the Castilian Confesión del amante from the point of view of this tradition, Francisco Javier Grande Quejigo and Bernardo Santano Moreno concluded that it must have appeared particularly well suited for the education of high nobility. These noblemen “not only had to be moral and good rulers of their possessions, but also had to have a certain cultural veneer,” provided by their familiarity with classical narratives and authors.