The Canterbury Tales
Notes to the Miller's Tale
NOTES TO THE PROLOGUE
1. Pilate, an unpopular personage in the mystery-plays of the middle ages, was probably
represented as having a gruff, harsh voice.
2. Wite: blame; in Scotland, "to bear the wyte," is to bear the blame.
NOTES TO THE TALE
1. Almagest: The book of Ptolemy the astronomer, which formed the canon of astrological
science in the middle ages.
2. Astrolabe: "Astrelagour," "astrelabore"; a mathematical instrument for taking the altitude of
the sun or stars.
3. "Augrim" is a corruption of algorithm, the Arabian term for numeration; "augrim stones,"
therefore were probably marked with numerals, and used as counters.
4. Angelus ad virginem: The Angel's salutation to Mary; Luke i. 28. It was the "Ave Maria" of the
Catholic Church service.
5. Cato: Though Chaucer may have referred to the famous Censor, more probably the
reference is merely to the "Moral Distichs," which go under his name, though written after his
time; and in a supplement to which the quoted passage may be found.
6. Barm-cloth: apron; from Anglo-Saxon "barme," bosom or lap.
7. Volupere: Head-gear, kerchief; from French, "envelopper," to wrap up.
8. Popelet: Puppet; but chiefly; young wench.
9. Noble: nobles were gold coins of especial purity and brightness; "Ex auro nobilissimi, unde
nobilis vocatus," (made from the noblest (purest) gold, and therefore called nobles) says
10. Yern: Shrill, lively; German, "gern," willingly, cheerfully.
11. Braket: bragget, a sweet drink made of honey, spices, &c. In some parts of the country, a
drink made from honeycomb, after the honey is extracted, is still called "bragwort."
12. Piggesnie: a fond term, like "my duck;" from Anglo-Saxon, "piga," a young maid; but Tyrwhitt
associates it with the Latin, "ocellus," little eye, a fondling term, and suggests that the "pigs-
eye," which is very small, was applied in the same sense. Davenport and Butler both use the
word pigsnie, the first for "darling," the second literally for "eye;" and Bishop Gardner, "On True
Obedience," in his address to the reader, says: "How softly she was wont to chirpe him under