The Carbuncle in the Adder's Head
Modern Language Notes, 58:1 (January), 1943, 34-39
Digital resource (JSTOR)
"To illustrate the Gospel precept 'Be ye wis as serpents" in his Confessio Amantis John Gower makes use of an interesting piece of folklore. It is the account of a 'serpent which that Aspidus / Is cleped' whose forehead is studded with the very precious stone, the carbuncle." - author
The author examines two components of this idea: the adder or asp that blocks its ears to avoid being charmed; and the dragon with a magical stone in its head. He concludes that Gower combined the two for dramatic effect.
Last update December 6, 2021