1386 - Chaucer, Geoffrey - Troilus and Criseyde

From International Robin Hood Bibliography
Date 1386
Author Chaucer, Geoffrey
Title Troilus and Criseyde
Mentions Many speak of Robin Hood that never shot in his bow [proverb]
Chaucer reciting Troylus and Criseyde (early 15th cent. MS at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge).

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2014-08-17. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2021-03-21.


And whoso seith that for to love is vice,
Or thralldom, though he feele in it destresse,
He outher is envious, or right nyce,
Or is umyghthy, for his shrewednesse,
To loven; for swich manere folk, I gesse,
Defamen Love, as nothing of him knowe.
Thei speken, but thei benten nevere his bowe![1]

Source notes

In the printed source, the first line quoted begins with a double quotation mark; this stanza is part of a longer speech.

Editor's notes

Cf. the proverb, "Many talk of Robin Hood, that never shot in his bow." See Hazlitt, p. 311. Root notes that two of the scribes (those of MSS. Hl4 and Ph) recognize the saying and supply glosses referring to Robin Hood.'[2]


outher] conj. either.
nyce] ignorant; foolish; weak; wanton.
unmighty] impotent.
shrewednesse] wickedness.
swich] such.[3]

IRHB comments

Chaucer here paraphrases the proverb "Many speak of Robin Hood that never shot in his bow", substituting Love for Robin Hood. This is the first known occurrence of the proverb.




Also see


  1. Book II, ll. 855-61. Chaucer, Geoffrey; Robinson, Fred Norris, ed. The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. Second Edition (London; Oxford, 1974), p. 411.
  2. Chaucer (1974), p. 820.
  3. Chaucer (1974), pp. 966, 967, 977, 986, 987