The Canterbury Tales

by: Geoffrey Chaucer

  The Knight’s Tale Part Two

page The Knight’s Tale Part Two: Page 8

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The destinee, ministre general,
310That executeth in the world over-al
The purveyaunce, that God hath seyn biforn,
So strong it is, that, though the world had sworn
The contrarie of a thing, by ye or nay,
Yet somtyme it shal fallen on a day
That falleth nat eft with-inne a thousand yere.
For certeinly, our appetytes here,
Be it of werre, or pees, or hate, or love,
Al is this reuled by the sighte above.
This mene I now by mighty Theseus,
320That for to honten is so desirous,
And namely at the grete hert in May,
That in his bed ther daweth him no day,
That he nis clad, and redy for to ryde
With hunte and horn, and houndes him bisyde.
For in his hunting hath he swich delyt,
That it is al his Ioye and appetyt
To been him-self the grete hertes bane;
For after Mars he serveth now Diane.
Destiny—the hand of God that makes God’s will happen throughout the world—is so powerful that no mere mortal can stop it. People might be able to postpone the inevitable, but ultimately God’s will is always done. Even if it takes a thousand years because everything that people think and want and do has already been predetermined by God. I’ll explain what I mean by telling you about Theseus. He loved hunting, you see—especially deer in May—and would wake at the crack of dawn every day to go hunting with his hunting horns and dogs. In this way he was not only a worshipper of the war god Mars, because he was so good in battle, but also a worshiper of Diana, the goddess of the hunt.
Cleer was the day, as I have told er this,
330And Theseus, with alle Ioye and blis,
With his Ipolita, the fayre quene,
And Emelye, clothed al in grene,
On hunting be they riden royally.
And to the grove, that stood ful faste by,
In which ther was an hert, as men him tolde,
Duk Theseus the streighte wey hath holde.
And to the launde he rydeth him ful right,
For thider was the hert wont have his flight,
And over a brook, and so forth on his weye.
340This duk wol han a cours at him, or tweye,
With houndes, swiche as that him list comaunde.
Well, it was a bright, sunny day, and Theseus was out hunting with his wife Hippolyta and her sister Emily, who was wearing green from head to toe. They were on their way to the same clearing that I mentioned previously because Theseus had heard that a magnificent stag roamed around there. They’d taken quite a roundabout way to get there, through trees and across streams, because he wanted to extend the hunt as long as possible.