The Canterbury Tales

by: Geoffrey Chaucer

  The Knight’s Tale Part Four

page The Knight’s Tale Part Four: Page 13

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Duk Theseus, with al his bisy cure,
Caste now wher that the sepulture
Of good Arcite may best y-maked be,
And eek most honurable in his degree.
And at the laste he took conclusioun,
That ther as first Arcite and Palamoun
Hadden for love the bataille hem bitwene,
That in that selve grove, swote and grene,
Ther as he hadde his amorous desires,
380His compleynt, and for love his hote fires,
He wolde make a fyr, in which thoffice
Funeral he mighte al accomplice;
And leet comaunde anon to hakke and hewe
The okes olde, and leye hem on a rewe
In colpons wel arrayed for to brenne;
His officers with swifte feet they renne
And ryde anon at his comaundement.
And after this, Theseus hath y-sent
After a bere, and it al over-spradde
390With cloth of gold, the richest that he hadde.
And of the same suyte he cladde Arcite;
Upon his hondes hadde he gloves whyte;
Eek on his heed a croune of laurer grene,
And in his hond a swerd ful bright and kene.
He leyde him bare the visage on the bere,
Therwith he weep that pitee was to here.
And for the peple sholde seen him alle,
Whan it was day, he broghte him to the halle,
That roreth of the crying and the soun.
Theseus then made the arrangements for a suitable funeral that would honor the noble Arcite. He put a lot of thought into all the details of the funeral and ultimately decided that he would hold the ceremony in the grove where he’d first seen Arcite and Palamon dueling exactly a year ago. Theseus instructed his men to cut down several of the largest oak trees in the grove and lay them next to each other in the clearing in order to make a funeral pyre. He then bought a coffin to the grove, which he draped with the best golden clothes that he owned. He also made sure that his men dressed the body of Arcite in the finest clothing, including white gloves, a crown made of laurel, and a brand new sword. Theseus kept the coffin open and placed it inside the hall of his palace so that the people could see his body, mourn, and pay their respects. Theseus himself cried bitterly over Arcite’s body.