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The Canterbury Tales

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80





The statue of Venus, glorious for to see,
Was naked fleting in the large see,
And fro the navele doun all covered was
With wawes grene, and brighte as any glas.
A citole in hir right hand hadde she,
And on hir heed, ful semely for to see,
A rose gerland, fresh and wel smellinge;
Above hir heed hir dowves flikeringe.
Biforn hir stood hir sone Cupido,
Upon his shuldres winges hadde he two;
And blind he was, as it is ofte sene;
A bowe he bar and arwes brighte and kene.
The altarpiece was a glorius statue of Venus that depicted her naked, floating in the ocean so that she was covered from the waist down by green waves that sparkled like glass. She held a stringed lyre in her right hand and wore a garland made of beautiful and sweet-smelling roses on top of her head. Doves flew above her head, while her son, Cupid, stood in front of her. Cupid had wings, carried a bow and arrows, and was blind, just as most other sculptures and paintings depict him.



90



Why sholde I noght as wel eek telle yow al
The portreiture, that was upon the wal
With-inne the temple of mighty Mars the rede?
Al peynted was the wal, in lengthe and brede,
Lyk to the estres of the grisly place,
That highte the grete temple of Mars in Trace,
In thilke colde frosty regioun,
Ther-as Mars hath his sovereyn mansioun.
And while I’m at it, I should tell you all about the artwork inside the temple of Mars too. This temple was decorated with scenes of the horrors of war, the same scenes you’ll find in the temple to him in the region of Thrace, where Mars lives.





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110



First on the wal was peynted a foreste,
In which ther dwelleth neither man ne beste,
With knotty knarry bareyn treës olde
Of stubbes sharpe and hidous to biholde;
In which ther ran a rumbel and a swough,
As though a storm sholde bresten every bough:
And downward from an hille, under a bente,
Ther stood the temple of Mars armipotente,
Wroght al of burned steel, of which thentree
Was long and streit, and gastly for to see.
And ther-out cam a rage and such a vese,
That it made al the gates for to rese.
The northren light in at the dores shoon,
For windowe on the wal ne was ther noon,
Thurgh which men mighten any light discerne.
The dores were alle of adamant eterne,
Y-clenched overthwart and endelong
With iren tough; and, for to make it strong,
Every piler, the temple to sustene,
Was tonne-greet, of iren bright and shene.
The first scene of the painting on the wall was that of a dark and scary forest on top of a hill that was filled not with people or animals, but with old, knotted trees and stumps. You could hear the creaking of the wood and the howling of the wind just by looking at the painting. A painting of a temple dedicated to Mars stood at the bottom of the hill, complete with a statue of the god dressed in a full suit of steel armor and ready for battle. It made him look pretty frightening. The temple gates were gaping, and you could imagine hearing the wind slam them shut. The columns holding up the roof were enormous and made of solid iron. The temple doors, which were made of the indestructible metal adamant, were shut and locked up tightly. The north side of the temple was lit, but everything else was dark.

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