Culture and Cosmos is a peer-reviewed academic journal in the history of astrology and cultural astronomy published in association with the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology, University of Wales Trinity Saint David

Vol 18 no 2 (Autumn/Winter 2014 will be published in July/August 2016. Vol. 19 (2015) will be a double issue featuring the proceedings of the 2013 Sophia Centre conference on Celestial Magic and is scheduled for publication in September/October 2016. Vol. 20 (2016) will be a double issue featuring the proceedings of the 2014 Sophia Centre conference on the Marriage of Heaven and Earth.

Volume 17-1

'I specially note their Astronomie, philosophie, and other parts of profound or cunning art': The Use of Cosmic Registers by Chaucer and Others

Karen Smyth


This paper explores the primary role that medieval authors play in promoting the language of astronomy in vernacular contexts through rhetorical and poetic translations. Focus is on Geoffrey Chaucer's 'Treatise on the Astrolabe' and how his authorising strategies compare with Adelard of Bath's earlier translation from Arabic to Latin. Notable features of literary uses of technical registers in Chaucer's other works are also commented on, as is consideration made of a wide range of texts from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries. What becomes evident is that there is a keen artistic interest in the Middle Ages in not simply using astronomical or astrological expressions of time but of actually understanding the significance of these registers.

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