The Canterbury Tales

by: Geoffrey Chaucer

Original Text

Modern Text

The statue of Mars upon a carte stood,
Armed, and loked grim as he were wood;
And over his he’ed ther shynen two figures
Of sterres, that been cleped in scriptures,
That oon Puella, that other Rubeus.
This god of armes was arrayed thus:—
A wolf ther stood biforn him at his feet
With eyen rede, and of a man he eet;
With sotil pencel was depeynt this storie,
170In redoutinge of Mars and of his glorie.
The statue of Mars inside the temple rode a chariot, and he looked as fierce and angry as ever. The constellations Puella and Rubeus that are often associated with him shone brightly over his head. A red-eyed wolf was at his feet, visciously tearing the flesh of a man. The painting was quite amazing and was a true tribute to Mars.
Now to the temple of Diane the chaste
As shortly as I can I wol me haste,
To telle yow al the descripcioun.
Depeynted been the walles up and doun
Of hunting and of shamfast chastitee.
Ther saugh I how woful Calistopee,
Whan that Diane agreved was with here,
Was turned from a womman til a bere,
And after was she maad the lode-sterre;
180Thus was it peynt, I can say yow no ferre;
Hir sone is eek a sterre, as men may see.
Ther saugh I Dane, y-turned til a tree,
I mene nat the goddesse Diane,
But Penneus doughter, which that highte Dane.
Ther saugh I Attheon an hert y-maked,
For vengeaunce that he saugh Diane al naked;
I saugh how that his houndes have him caught,
And freten him, for that they knewe him naught.
Yet peynted was a litel forther-moor,
190How Atthalante hunted the wilde boor,
And Meleagre, and many another mo,
For which Diane wroghte him care and wo.
Ther saugh I many another wonder storie,
The whiche me list nat drawen to memorie.
This goddesse on an hert ful hye seet,
With smale houndes al aboute hir feet;
And undernethe hir feet she hadde a mone,
Wexing it was, and sholde wanie sone.
In gaude grene hir statue clothed was,
200With bowe in honde, and arwes in a cas.
Hir eyen caste she ful lowe adoun,
Ther Pluto hath his derke regioun.
A womman travailinge was hir biforn,
But, for hir child so longe was unborn,
Ful pitously Lucyna gan she calle,
And seyde, ‘help, for thou mayst best of alle.’
Wel couthe he peynten lyfly that it wroghte,
With many a florin he the hewes boghte.
And now, as quickly as I can, I’ll tell you all about the temple devoted to the celibate goddess Diana. All up and down, the walls were painted with scenes of hunting and those depicting chastity. There were portraits of lots of hunters, including Callisto, who pissed Diana off and was transformed into a bear as punishment and later was placed in the sky as the North Star. Her son is a star too. There was also a painting of Daphne, whom Diana changed into a tree. You could also see a painting of Actaeon, the poor hunter whom Diana changed into a deer after he’d seen her naked. The painting even showed his hunting dogs tearing him apart because they didn’t realize that the deer was their master. You could also see Atalanta and Meleager, the couple who hunted the wild boar, and many paintings of other people too, none of which I can recall off the top of my head. The statue of Diana inside the temple featured her sitting on a deer with all her hunting dogs at her feet as well as the moon. She wore bright green clothes and held a bow and arrows in her hands. Her eyes were pointed toward the ground toward the underworld. There was a sculpture of a woman crying out for mercy in the middle of childbirth next to the statue of Diana. The artists who made these sculptures and paintings really knew how to make scenes come to life, and you could tell they spared no expense in creating the altar.