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When bright Phoebus passed was the Ram
John Lydgate, The Siege of Thebes — 4716 lines in couplets
Note: All MSS are more or less imperfect, except Oxford, Bodleian Library Laud misc. 557 (SC 1124) and London, British Library Arundel 119.
Author(s): John Lydgate
Title(s): The Siege of Thebes
Subjects: two-line
Versification: — aa



Manuscript Witnesses:
1.Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Bodley 776 (SC 2559), ff. 1-71
First Lines:
Whan aurora was in þe morowe rede
and Iubiter in þe crabbes hed…
Last Lines:
…Here is now ended a fynal destruccioun
of mighty Thebes þat strong & roial toun
Note: Lacks lines 1-8 of Prologue.
Attributed Title: Here endeth þe Destrucc… (at the end, partly unreadable)
2.Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Digby 230 (SC 1831), ff. 1ra-27vb
First Lines:
ffully in purpos to come vnto dinere
Vn to Ospringe and breke þere oure faste…
Last Lines:
…And Ioye eternal whan we hens wende
Of my tale thus I make an ende
Note: Begins imperfectly.
Attributed Title: Here endith the Sege of Thebes And begyneth the Sege of Troye (at the end)
3.Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Laud misc. 416 (SC 1479), ff. 227-254ra
First Lines:
Whan bright phebus passid was þe ram
Mid of aprell & in þe bull cam…
Last Lines:
…And ioy eternall whan we hennys wend
Of my tale þus I make an end
Attributed Title: Here endith þe distruccion of thebes (at the end)
4.Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Laud misc. 557 (SC 1124), ff. 1-66
5.Source: Oxford, Bodleian Library Rawlinson C.48 (SC 11914), ff. 5-78
First Lines:
Whan phebus passid was the Ram
Mid of aprill & in the bole cam…
Last Lines:
…And thus eendith the fynal destruccioun
Off worthi Thebes the myhti Roiall toun
Attributed Title: Explicit finalis destructio Cuntatis Thebanorum (at the end)
6.Source: Oxford, Christ Church 152, ff. 292-350v
First Lines:
Whan Phebus passed was the Ram
Midde of Aprile and into the bole cam…
Last Lines:
…Of Martes swerdes shal nomore manace
Nor his spere greuous to sustene
Note: Imperfect at the end.
Attributed Title: The sege of Thebes (f. 282)
7.Source: Oxford, St John’s College 266, ff. 292-350v
Note: Exemplar for Lydgate, John, The Storye [of The Siege] of Thebes, [de Worde, 1497?] ; see Bone (1931); listed as MS 256 in Brown and Robbins (1943).
8.Source: Cambridge UK, Cambridge University Library Addit. 707 (fragment), single leaf
Note: Lines 14-21, 54-58, 92-98, and 134-140.
9.Source: Cambridge UK, Cambridge University Library Addit. 3137, ff. 14-48
10.Source: Cambridge UK, Cambridge University Library Addit. 6864, ff. 1-75v
11.Source: Cambridge UK, Magdalene College Pepys 2011, ff. 1-76v
First Lines:
WHan phebus passed was the Rame
Midde of Aprill and in to þe boll came…
Last Lines:
…And Ioy eternall whan we hense wende
And of my Tale thus y make an Ende
Attributed Title: The Destruccioun of Thebes (contemporary) (f. 1); Here endeth the distruccioun off Thebes secundum lidgate Monke off Bury (f. 76v)
12.Source: Cambridge UK, Trinity College R.4.20 (652), ff. 1-76v
13.Source: Cambridge UK, Trinity College O.5.2 (1283), ff. 191ra-211va
14.Source: London, British Library Addit. 5140, ff. 360-425v
First Lines:
WHan briht phebus passid was the Ram
Myd of Aprill and in to the boole cam…
Last Lines:
All clad in blak with her wymplys white
With gret honour and dwe reuerence…
Note: Lines 1-4503.
Attributed Title: Incipit ultima de fabulus Canuarie / translata per Dompnum / Iohannem lidgate monachum / in redundo a Canuaria Incipit prologus (f. 259v)
15.Source: London, British Library Addit. 18632, ff. 6-33ra
First Lines:
Whanne briȝt Phebus passed was the ram
Mid of April and into the bole cam…
Last Lines:
…And ioye eternal whan we hennes wende
And of my tale thus y make an end
Note: Lines 1-4503.
16.Source: London, British Library Addit. 18632, f. 33rb
Transcription:
Whanne briȝte Phebus Passed was þe Ram
Mid of April & in to þe bole cam
And Saturne olde with his ffrosti fface
In virgyn taken haþ his place
Malincolik and slow of mocioun
And was al so in þe opposicioun
[…]
Of gret Rome so royal and Large
Whane the ladies departed from Arge
o her cuntrees ful trist and desolat
Lo here the fyn of contek and debat
Lo here þe miȝt of Mars the sterre
Lo what hit is to bi gune a werre
How hit concludiþ ensample ye may se
ffirst of grekes and sith of this Citee
Note: A 6-line fragment of the beginning of Siege of Thebes, then an 8-line passage, possibly also extracted from Siege of Thebes, both written by the same hand as the full copy just ended in first column.
17.Source: London, British Library Addit. 29729, ff. 17-83
First Lines:
Whan brighte phebus passid was the Ram
Mid of aprill & intoþe bole cam…
Last Lines:
…And Ioye etarnall whan we hens wende
of my tale thus I make an ende
Note: Below last line, f. 83, ‘lawes deo’ [sic] by scribe (John Stow).
Attributed Author: Iohn lydgatt (f. 83)
Attributed Title: her endyth the sege of worthy thebes by Iohn lydgatt monk of bury on his sowll god have mercy wretyn by Iohn Stowe (f. 83, below end of text; written in rubric by scribe, John Stow)
18.Source: London, British Library Arundel 119, ff. 1-79
First Lines:
Whan briȝt phebus passed was þe Ram
Myd of Aprille & in to bole cam…
Last Lines:
…And ioye eternal whan we hens wende
Of my tale thus I make an ende
Attributed Title: here end the the destruction of Thebes (f. 79)
Editions:
Erdmann, Axel, and Eilert Ekwall, eds. Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes. 2 vols. EETS e.s. 108 (1911); 125 (1930); repr. 1984, 1973.
Erdmann, Axel, and Eilert Ekwall, eds. Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes. Chaucer Society 2nd ser. 46. London: Trübner, 1911.
Hammond, Eleanor Prescott. “Lydgate’s Prologue to the Story of Thebes.” Anglia 36 (1912): 360-76: 363-8 (Prologue only).
Edwards, Robert, ed. The Siege of Thebes. Kalamazoo, MI: Western Michigan University for TEAMS, 2001.
19.Source: London, British Library Cotton App. XXVII, ff. 3-51v
First Lines:
Whan bryght Phebus passyd was the Ram
Myd of Aprell and In to bole kam…
Last Lines:
…Off here wepynge was som whatt ouergon
The lyttyll course was grayun vnder stone…
Note: Lines 1-3408. Final folio is badly damaged.
20.Source: London, British Library Egerton 2864 [olim Ingilby, post Compton Hall], ff. 292v-341
First Lines:
[W]Han bright Phebus passid was the Ram
Mid of Aprill and to the foule cam…
Last Lines:
…And Ioye eternall whan we haue weende
And of my tale thus I make an eende
Attributed Title: Heer begynneth the last tale of Cauntirbury / talis tolde homward and maad bi dan John / Lidgate Monk of Bury (f. 292v); Heere endith the laste tale of Cauntirbury / maad and told be Dan Iohn Lidgate Monachi (f. 341)
21.Source: London, British Library Royal 18 D.II, ff. 147va-162va
First Lines:
Whan bright Phebus passyd was þe ram
Mid of Aprile and in the bulle cam…
Last Lines:
…And Ioye eternall whan we hens wende
Of my tale thus I make an ende. Amen
Attributed Author: In this preamble shortly is comprihendid a Mery conseyte of John lydgate Monke of Bury declarynge how he aionyde þe sege of Thebes to the mery tallys of Caunterburye (f. 147ra, in rubric)
Attributed Title: In this preamble shortly is comprihendid a Mery conseyte of John lydgate Monke of Bury declarynge how he aionyde þe sege of Thebes to the mery tallys of Caunterburye (f. 147ra, in rubric); Here now endeth as ye may see The destruccyon of Thebes the Cytee (f. 162va, rubric)
Facsimiles:
Digital Facsimile of British Library MS Royal 18 D II. 2015; http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Royal_MS_18_D_II.
22.Source: Coventry, Coventry Archives Acc. 325/1, ff. 137ra-167ra
First Lines:
WHan phebus passid was the Ram
Mid of Aprille and in to þe bole cam…
Last Lines:
…And ioie eternalle whan we hens wende
And of my tale thus I make an eende
Attributed Title: Here endith the Sege of Thebes / God sende vs loue and Pees (f. 167ra)
23.Source: Durham, Durham University Library Cosin V.ii.14, ff. 1-68
24.Source: London, Lambeth Palace Library 742
25.Source: Longleat, Marquess of Bath MS 257, ff. 1-48v
First Lines:
Whan that Phebus passed was the Ram
Mid of Aprill and into the bole cam…
Last Lines:
…ffull hevy chered and disconsolate
In this assemble afforn as I you told…
Note: Folios 28, 49-52 missing.
Attributed Title: The Sege of Thebes (RT)
26.Source: Untraced, Present whereabouts unknown olim Prince Frederick Duleep Singh’s MS, Old Buckenham Hall, Norfolk; sold Sotheby’s 7 Nov. 1899, lot 408
27.Source: Austin, University of Texas, Humanities Research Center HRC Pre-1700 MS 143 [olim Deene Park; post Cardigan-Brudenell, sold Sotheby’s, Feb. 1959], ff. 246-304
First Lines:
Whanne bright Phebus passyd was the Ram
Middys of Apprill and in to the bole cam…
Last Lines:
…And Ioy enternall when we hens wende
And of my tale thus y make an ende
Attributed Author: Explicit ffabula Monachi de Burie (f. 304)
Editions:
Lovell, Robert Earl, ed. “John Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes and Churl and Bird: Edited from the Cardigan-Brudenell Manuscript.” Diss. University of Texas at Austin, 1969: 1-215.
28.Source: Boston, MA, Boston Public Library med. 94 (1521) [olim Campbell; Robinson Sale Cat. 74, 1944, No. 268 and Robinson Sale Cat. 76, 1947, No. 233], ff. 1-74
First Lines:
Whan phebus passed was the Ram
myd of Aprille and in to the bole cam…
Last Lines:
…and of our synnes parfyt amendement
And ioye eternal whan we hens wende
and of my tale thus make I an ende
Attributed Author: Explicit destruccio Ciuitatis Thebarum (f. 74)
29.Source: New Haven, Yale University, Beinecke Library 661 [olim Mostyn Hall 258], ff. 1-61v
First Lines:
WHan phebus passed was the Ram
[En]d of Apprill & in to the Bole cam…
Last Lines:
…And ioye eternal whan we hens wende
of my tale thus I make an ende
Note: With rubric text-divisions or glosses written between lines of text instead of to side (‘Phebus in Ariete’, ‘Saturnus in Virgine’, etc.).
Attributed Author: Now is here ended the fynal destruccyon / of myghty Thebes that strong & roial toun (f. 61v)
30.Source: New York, Pierpont Morgan Library M4, ff. 1-74
First Lines:
Whan phebus passed was the Ram
Midde off Aprill and in to þe Bull kam…
Last Lines:
…And Ioye eternall whan we hense wende
And of my tale thus y make an ende
Note: With rubric text-divisions or glosses written between lines of text instead of to side (‘Phebus in Ariete’, ‘Saturnus in Virgine’, etc.).
Attributed Author: Now is here ended the fynal destruccyon / of myghty Thebes that strong & roial toun (f. 61v)



Print Witnesses:
1.Source: STC 17031. Lydgate, John, The Storye [of The Siege] of Thebes, [de Worde, 1497?]
Editions:
Stowe, John, ed. The Workes of Geffrey Chaucer…with diuers addicions, with the Siege of Thebes, compiled by J. Lidgate. London, J. Kyngston for J. Wight, 1561 (STC 5075).
Chalmers, Alexander, ed. The Works of the English Poets from Chaucer to Cowper. London, 1810; repr. New York: Greenwood, 1969: 1.570-606.
Wülker, Richard Paul, ed. Altenglisches Lesebuch. 2 vols. in one. Halle: Lippert, 1874, 1880: 2.105 (Prologue only).