The Canterbury Tales

by: Geoffrey Chaucer

  The Knight’s Tale Part Three

page The Knight’s Tale Part Three: Page 11

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Whan thorisoun was doon of Palamon,
His sacrifice he dide, and that anon
Ful pitously, with alle circumstaunces,
Al telle I noght as now his observaunces.
But atte laste the statue of Venus shook,
And made a signe, wher-by that he took
That his preyere accepted was that day.
For thogh the signe shewed a delay,
Yet wiste he wel that graunted was his bone;
390And with glad herte he wente him hoom ful sone.
Palamon then offered sacrifices to Venus and made sure that he did them absolutely perfectly, without missing a single ritual. And a few moments after he finished, the statue of Venus in the temple shook, which Palamon interpreted as a sign that Venus had heard his prayers and would grant his request. He left the temple in a happy mood and prepared for the coming tournament.
The thridde houre inequal that Palamon
Bigan to Venus temple for to goon,
Up roos the sonne, and up roos Emelye,
And to the temple of Diane gan hye.
Hir maydens, that she thider with hir ladde,
Ful redily with hem the fyr they hadde,
Thencens, the clothes, and the remenant al
That to the sacrifyce longen shal;
The hornes fulle of meth, as was the gyse;
400Ther lakked noght to doon hir sacrifyse.
Smoking the temple, ful of clothes faire,
This Emelye, with herte debonaire,
Hir body wessh with water of a welle;
But how she dide hir ryte I dar nat telle,
But it be any thing in general;
And yet it were a game to heren al;
To him that meneth wel, it were no charge:
But it is good a man ben at his large.
Hir brighte heer was kempt, untressed al;
410A coroune of a grene ook cerial
Upon hir heed was set ful fair and mete.
Two fyres on the auter gan she bete,
And dide hir thinges, as men may biholde
In Stace of Thebes, and thise bokes olde.
Whan kindled was the fyr, with pitous chere
Unto Diane she spak, as ye may here.
A couple hours after Palamon had gone to the temple of Venus, Emily woke up at dawn and made her own way to the temple of the goddess Diana. She brought several servant girls with her, who brought all the stuff they needed to make a proper sacrifice to Diana, including the incense, fire, ceremonial clothing, and bull’s horns filled with mead. When the fires and incense had been lit and everyone had put on the prayer clothing, Emily went to the well and washed herself with the sacred water. And while I could tell you all the details about how she prayerd to Diana and made sacrifices—it really would be quite interesting to hear about all this—it’s always good to keep stories focused on just the essentials, you know. Ah, well, Emily had her beautiful glossy hair down, and she wore a simple crown made of twigs and leaves from an oak tree. She built two fires on the alter and starting performing all the rituals necessary to pray to Diana, which you can read about in the ancient scholar Statius’s book Thebaid, as well as other very old books. And when everything was ready, she said: