Gower’s book of advice for Alexander

Gower’s book of advice for Alexander

John Gower

early 15th century

England

Manuscript

John Gower (c.1330–1408) wrote major works in Latin, French and English. His great English poem Confessio amantis (A Lover’s Confession) is a story collection that often uses classical, biblical and romance narratives to explore ethical dilemmas through the prism of love and desire. In book 6 of the poem, Genius (the priest of Venus) relates to Amans (Lover) the story of Nectanabus, who tricks Queen Olimpias into believing that he is a god and sleeping with him, thus conceiving Alexander the Great. Not knowing that Nectanabus is his father, the young Alexander later kills him by throwing him from a tower. After this story, book 7 recounts the advice on being a good ruler said to have been given to Alexander by the philosopher Aristotle.

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