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The Canterbury Tales

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The voys of peple touchede the hevene,
So loude cryden they with mery stevene:
‘God save swich a lord, that is so good,
He wilneth no destruccioun of blood!’
Up goon the trompes and the melodye.
And to the listes rit the companye
By ordinaunce, thurgh-out the citee large,
Hanged with cloth of gold, and nat with sarge.
The crowd below shouted for joy at hearing that no one would die in the tournament. People said things such as, “God bless Theseus, who’s so wise and kind!” Then the trumpets and the music began, which signaled the beginning of the parade of knights marching through the banner-filled city toward the stadium.



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Ful lyk a lord this noble duk gan ryde,
Thise two Thebanes upon either syde;
And after rood the quene, and Emelye,
And after that another companye
Of oon and other, after hir degree.
And thus they passen thurgh-out the citee,
And to the listes come they by tyme.
It nas not of the day yet fully pryme,
Whan set was Theseus ful riche and hye,
Ipolita the quene and Emelye,
And other ladies in degrees aboute.
Unto the seetes preesseth al the route.
And west-ward, thurgh the gates under Marte,
Arcite, and eek the hundred of his parte,
With baner reed is entred right anon;
And in that selve moment Palamon
Is under Venus, est-ward in the place,
With baner whyt, and hardy chere and face.
In al the world, to seken up and doun,
So even with-outen variacioun,
Ther nere swiche companyes tweye.
For ther nas noon so wys that coude seye,
That any hadde of other avauntage
Of worthinesse, ne of estaat, ne age,
So even were they chosen, for to gesse.
And in two renges faire they hem dresse.
Theseus rode in the parade looking very noble. Palamon and Arcite rode next to him, one on either side. Behind him rode Queen Hippolyta and then her sister Emily, followed by a large group of noble Athenians. They rode all the way through Athens until they arrived at the stadium Theseus had constructed for just this occasion just before nine in the morning. After Theseus, Hippolyta, Emily, and other noble ladies had seated themselves in the seats with the best views, the crowd surged forward and rushed to find their seats. Then Arcite and his hundred knights flying a red flag strode into the stadium through the western gate of Mars, while Palamon and his hundred knights simultaneously entered through the eastern gate of Venus flying a white flag. The knights formed single-file lines on each side of the stadium. Both sides were so equally matched in honor, nobility, age, and skill that no one could really say which side would win.

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