crew, Chaucer the narrator (who is not the same, remember, as Chaucer the poet)befriends and describes them, inserting his own opinions freely.
THE KNIGHT’S TALEPLOTDuke Theseus of Athens wins the country of the Amazons and marries QueenHippolyta, taking her and her beautiful sister Emelye back to Athens. To hisamazement, he sees women wailing, but not because of his return. These womenhave lost their husbands during the siege of Thebes, and Thebes’ cruel tyrantCreon refuses to bury the bodies. Theseus immediately vows revenge and rides toThebes, where he vanquishes Creon and returns their husbands’ bones to thewomen.In a pile of bodies, pillagers find the young royal Theban knights Palamonand Arcite, who are cousins. They are still alive. Theseus sends them to Athens tobe imprisoned for life, and returns home.Locked in a tower, Palamon one May morning sees Emelye walking in thegarden, and falls instantly and madly in love with her. As he explains his love toArcite, his cousin also spies Emelye and he too is captured by her beauty. immedi-ately the cousins, who have been as close as brothers since birth, become swornenemies over the love of Emelye.Another duke, Perotheus, arrives in Athens to visit Duke Theseus. Perotheusalso knows Arcite well, and when he hears the knight is Theseus’ prisoner, hebegs for Arcite’s release. Theseus agrees on condition that Arcite never be seen in
any of Theseus’ lands, on pain of death. So Arcite returns to Thebes, heartbrokenthat he can never again see Emelye. At least Palamon, locked in the tower, canlook at her, he moans. Meanwhile Palamon sighs that he is wretched, but luckyArcite can gather an army in Thebes and return to conquer Athens to win the lady.Finally Arcite can’t stand it anymore and risks returning to Athens to see Eme-lye. He is so pale and thin from lovesickness that he’s unrecognizable, so he isable to become a page at Theseus’ court, still worshipping Emelye from afar.One morning Arcite is walking in a grove, exclaiming how unfair it is that hecan’t even disclose his identity. What he doesn’t know is that Palamon has es-caped from prison and is overhearing every word from behind a bush. He leapsout and vows to kill Arcite for loving Emelye.The two agree to meet the next day and fight to the death, but when they do,Theseus, Queen Hippolyta, and Emelye happen along and see the battle. Palamontells Theseus the whole story, declares his and Arcite’s love for Emelye, and ad-mits they both should die for disobeying him. Theseus has pity and declares atournament joust instead. Each knight may enlist one hundred other knights andwhoever wins the battle shall have Emelye.Palamon prays to Venus, goddess and planet of love. Arcite prays to Mars,god of war. In the heavens, Saturn promises Venus that her favorite, Palamon,shall win. Palamon is captured in the tournament, and Arcite wins. But as Arcitecomes forward to accept Emelye, Saturn shakes the ground so that Arcite’s horse
falls and kills him. As he dies, Arcite asks Emelye to have pity on Palamon if she
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