Feb 14, Parliament of Fowls

Notably, the “Parliament” is known as one of the first association of Valentine’s Day with the modern romantic conception of love. The narrator’s dreamwalk through the temple of Venus is filled with many “foules” choosing their mates along with a familiar celestial entourage gathered before Nature Herself. What do we notice about Venus’ appearance and why do you suppose Chaucer describes her in such detail in this dream vision? What do you make of Diana’s presence as well as the many other classical gods and heroes in relation to this open display of Love?

8 thoughts on “Feb 14, Parliament of Fowls

  1. Chaucer describes Venus as a golden-haired beauty, partially naked for men to view her. She has a mere veil as her clothing. Venus represents the god of Love and Chaucer describes her as a haughty overseer of the ‘sport’ of love. The further telling of the mythological characters such as Helen of Troy is an example of how each person loved and died. This is possibly meant to imply that love will end in heart break.

  2. Venus is described as being naked except for a translucent fabric across the lower half of her body. She is on a golden bed, with golden hair tied by a golden string. This description shows the beauty and allure of love. Later, the figures such as Callisto, Atalanta, Dido, and Scylla are used to show the dangers of falling in love and how people can be harmed by love and lust.

  3. We see Venus, with golden hair and little clothing, reclining on a golden seat. We also see Bacchus and Ceres at her side with Richness as her porter. I think this is supposed to be the image of abundance: Ceres being the goddess of abundant harvest, Bacchus of abundant wine, Venus of love, and Richness of wealth. We also are presented with references to those who, as Devon says, were harmed by love. I think this inclusion is supposed to show us how serious picking a mate is, and thus, it makes sense for the female eagle to be wary and need the help of Nature to decide who to choose.

  4. Venus is described as partially naked (as she is often depicted) with golden hair and a loose silky garment. She is displayed against an extravagant backdrop of a golden bed and is alongside the gods of food and wine. Notably, there are also two people there begging her help on their knees, perhaps a sly nod to the desperation that love can induce. Indeed, she seems to be contrasted with the other figures of Greek and various other lores that had found their undoing in love. Venus in this case seems to be the idealized vision of love – the fact that she lays on a bed of gold seems to hammer home that idea. Another way of thinking about her is that she is how one perceives love upon first falling in love. After all, she is mentioned before the more tragic characters and is a much more optimistic picture of love.

  5. Venus is displayed essentially as being a paragon of indulgence and excess, as she typically is. I think that this depiction has a couple of sides; the first is that on a more superficial side, she is shown as the idealized version of love. She represents everything people think love can give them; wealth, power, and security. However, I think she is described in such detail so as to give the readers a subtle warning that while love might appear perfect, and as though it is the answer to all your problems, that must come from within to actually have meaning. This is also evident in the ending of the story.

  6. It’s true that the painted images of heroes from Greek myths and legends to illustrate the dangers of falling in love, but I don’t think that’s their main function or intent in the poem. It doesn’t seem like the kind of thing meant to be moralizing or instructive. I feel like it’s less “Be careful, this is what could happen to you if you fall in love” and more “Behold fair Venus, radiant goddess, before whose altar countless heroes have laid their lives.” The fact that the reader sees Venus this way in her own garden, not only dressed in a way that is suggestive of the pleasures of love, but also on the day of Saint Valentine, which apparently is when birds choose their mates, all point toward emphasizing Venus herself. She is not only in her own element, but in her own hour, in the peak time of her power and influence. The overall effect, I think, is one of glorification rather than moralizing or warning.

  7. Venus is described to be a very sexual figure, as she is the goddess of love. Everything about scenario with her involves gold, whether is be her golden hair, golden bed, golden hair tie, etc. While she is the goddess of love, the other gods in the dream vision represent how love can also have a negative impact on the person in love. Ranging from falling out of love/heart break all the way to betrayal.

  8. The speaker describes Venus, goddess of love and sex, in great detail, noting her golden hair and exposed body only partially covered by a thin kerchief: “Hir gilte heres with a golden threde, Y-bounden were, untressed as she lay, And naked fro the breste unto the hede, Men might hir see; and, soothly for to say, The remenant wel kevered to my pay. Right with a subtil coverchief of Valence, Ther was no thikker cloth of no defence.” He also notes that she is accompanied by two other gods, Bachus (god of wine) and Ceres, that “doth of hunger bote.” Their presence is notable because they are typically characters of pleasure and luxury. As the proem continues, the speaker explains the love and death of many others. This portion of the work seems to be trying to show the perfect idea of love, as symbolized through Venus primarily, is not possible but some divine dream. Instead, the speaker says love, no matter how great, is lost through death.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *