The Book of the Duchess and Other Poems

The Book of the Duchess and Other Poems Character List

The Book of the Duchess Narrator

A man (who may or may not have resembled Chaucer himself) who is an insomniac and dreams the vision of the story in this poem. The personal details are probably conventional rather than idiosyncratic, for similar details are found in other narrators of the Continental love poems.


The king in the story in Ovid's Metamorphoses. In some editions the spelling of his name is modernized to Ceyx or sometimes Ceys.


The queen in the story in Ovid's Metamorphoses. The narrator of The Book of the Duchess reads this book while lying awake one night. Chaucer also spells it, within the same poem, as "Alcione."


The Roman god of sleep in Ovid's Metamorphoses.

Black Knight

The man the narrator meets in his dream vision. He tells the story of the loss of his wife, Lady White.

Lady White

In the text of The Book of the Duchess referred to as "White." The lost love of the Black Knight.


Lady Fortune, the allegorical representation of chance against whom the Black Knight rails in The Book of the Duchess.

The House of Fame Narrator

Another man who narrates a fantastic dream he has had by making it into a poem.


The hero of the ancient Roman epic The Aeneid, a defeated Trojan who emigrates to Italy to found Rome. The story of this poem is recounted by the dreamer in The House of Fame.


Queen of Carthage; Aeneas has an affair with her on a stopover on his way to Italy.


The Roman goddess of love. Aeneas's divine mother.


King of the Roman gods. His name is often shortened to "Jove."


Queen of the Roman gods. She had a grudge against Trojans and tried to prevent Aeneas from reaching Italy.


The talking bird sent by the god Jupiter in The House of Fame. It takes up the dreamer and brings him to the House of Fame in order to hear stories of love. The eagle is a parallel to the eagle in Dante's Inferno.

The Parliament of Fowls Narrator

A bookish poet who reads Cicero, falls asleep, and dreams.

Scipio the Younger

The man who experiences the dream in Cicero's "Dream of Scipio."

Scipio Africanus

The younger Scipio's grandfather, who is his otherworldly guide. He also serves as the narrator's guide in The Parliament of Fowls.


Perhaps the most notable ancient Roman orator, lawyer, and writer. Author, among much else, of the "Dream of Scipio," another dream-vision.

Dame Nature

A female personification of nature. Before her all the birds assemble on St. Valentine's Day in order to choose their mates.


A female eagle brought by Nature to the St. Valentine's gathering.

Royal tercel

The first of the three male eagles to vie for the formel's hand.