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Now been thise listes maad, and Theseus,
210That at his grete cost arrayed thus
The temples and the theatre every del,
Whan it was doon, him lyked wonder wel.
But stinte I wol of Theseus a lyte,
And speke of Palamon and of Arcite.
And when the stadium had finally been completed, Theseus felt pretty happy with the results. But, before I talk any more about him, let me switch gears quickly and tell you more about Arcite and Palamon.
The day approcheth of hir retourninge,
That everich sholde an hundred knightes bringe,
The bataille to darreyne, as I yow tolde;
And til Athenes, hir covenant for to holde,
Hath everich of hem broght an hundred knightes
220Wel armed for the werre at alle rightes.
And sikerly, ther trowed many a man
That never, sithen that the world bigan,
As for to speke of knighthod of hir hond,
As fer as God hath maked see or lond,
Nas, of so fewe, so noble a companye.
For every wight that lovede chivalrye,
And wolde, his thankes, han a passant name,
Hath preyed that he mighte ben of that game;
And wel was him, that ther-to chosen was.
230For if ther fille to-morwe swich a cas,
Ye knowen wel, that every lusty knight,
That loveth paramours, and hath his might,
Were it in Engelond, or elles-where,
They wolde, hir thankes, wilnen to be there.
To fighte for a lady, benedicite!
It were a lusty sighte for to see.
Well, the day of the tournament came very quickly, and Arcite and Palamon assembled their one hundred battle-ready knights in the new stadium in Athens. God, a tournament fought for the love of a woman. That would definitely be a sight to see, now wouldn’t it? Lots of Athenians said that never had so many of the world’s most noble and valiant assembled in one place for such a tournament. Knights had come from far and wide and applied to fight for Arcite and Palamon, but only 200 men total were chosen to participate. Well, you know yourselves that if it was announced that this kind of tournament was going to be held tomorrow—either here in England or somewhere else—every knight who ever dreamt of honor and glory would come out of the woodwork to get a piece of the action.