The Runaway Gods of the Manciple’s Tale

  • Jameson S. Workman
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


If the Pardoner’s Tale and Miller’s Tale tell stories that kick God out of the world, the Manciple’s Tale tells a story that kicks God out of heaven. “It is significant,” writes Marijane Osborne, “that the tale features a euhemerized Apollo, his deity almost entirely suppressed.”1 Put simply: In the first two stories, the men try to become like gods. The Old Man would defy death. First in the bed of Eos and centuries later by killing Death and making sure the Fall stays put, that nothing comes to replace it. The Miller’s narrators attempt, to use Strohm’s words, an “unfettered attack on all forms of transcendence,”2 and pool their resources in order to collapse the universe into a single empty signifier. Both poetic worlds try to mean more than they can and they destroy each other, either one drunk at a time or one “poure scoler” at a time. The Manciple’s Tale is an opposite movement for similar ends. The gods try to become like men.


Literary Tradition Canterbury Tale Literal Language Physical Death White Bird 
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© Jameson S. Workman 2015

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