The Canterbury Tales

by: Geoffrey Chaucer

  The Pardoner’s Tale Page 5

page The Pardoner’s Tale: Page 5

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Stilbon, that was a wys embassadour,
Was sent to Corinthe, in ful greet honour,
Fro Lacidomie, to make hir alliaunce.
And whan he cam, him happede, par chaunce,
That alle the grettest that were of that lond,
Pleyinge atte hasard he hem fond.
For which, as sone as it mighte be,
He stal him hoom agayn to his contree,
And seyde, ‘ther wol I nat lese my name;
150Ne I wol nat take on me so greet defame,
Yow for to allye unto none hasardours.
Sendeth othere wyse embassadours;
For, by my trouthe, me were lever dye,
Than I yow sholde to hasardours allye.
For ye that been so glorious in honours
Shul nat allyen yow with hasardours
As by my wil, ne as by my tretee.’
This wyse philosophre thus seyde he.
The Greek writer named Stilbon, who was a wise ambassador, was once sent from Sparta on a diplomatic mission to Corinth to strike an alliance between the two powers. But when he arrived, he happened to find all the Corinthian leaders participating in a great gambling tournament. That’s why he turned around and immediately went straight back to Corinth, where he told the Corinthians, “I don’t want to lose my good name, and I won’t do you the dishonor of allying Sparta with gamblers. Send another ambassador to make the deal if you want, but I’d rather die than ally you with gamblers.” That’s what the wise philosopher said.
Loke eek that, to the king Demetrius
160The king of Parthes, as the book seith us,
Sente him a paire of dees of gold in scorn,
For he hadde used hasard ther-biforn;
For which he heeld his glorie or his renoun
At no value or reputacioun.
Lordes may finden other maner pley
Honeste y-nough to dryve the day awey.
Then there’s the example you can find in the writings of John Salisbury of the king of Parthia in Persia, who sent a pair of golden dice to King Demetrius, a gambler. This was a true sign that the king of Parthia looked down on Demetrius because of his bad habit. There are certainly lots of more important things a king can do all day besides gambling!