Gower 1483, 2 pages

John Gower's work first appeared in print in the late fifteenth century, when William Caxton produced an edition of Gower's "Confessio Amantis" (you can see two pages from the book, above). As Caxton puts it: "This book is intituled confessio amantis, that is to saye in englysshe the confessyon of the louer maad and compyled by Iohan Gower squyer...Enprynted at westmestre: By me willyam Caxton, 1483."

The figure of the archer and globe (above right) also appears as the frontispiece in many manuscripts of Gower's Vox Clamantis.

Archer and Globe

In the above manuscript, the image appears below four lines of Latin verse (translated into English here): "I throw my darts and shoot my arrows at the world, but where there is a righteous man, no arrow strikes. But I wound those who live wickedly. Therefore, let him who recognizes himself there look to himself." Although the symbolism of the globe is unclear, some believe the divisions of the globe  symbolize the three estates (nobility, clergy, and peasantry); in this context, the archer represents the poet, whose satire takes aim at all walks of society. This image is from British Library MS Cotton Tiberius A.IV, fol. 9.