The Canterbury Tales

by: Geoffrey Chaucer

  Prologue to the Wife of Bath’s Tale Page 22

page Prologue to the Wife of Bath’s Tale: Page 22

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But now to purpos, why I tolde thee
That I was beten for a book, pardee.
Upon a night Iankin, that was our syre,
Redde on his book, as he sat by the fyre,
Of Eva first, that, for hir wikkednesse,
Was al mankinde broght to wrecchednesse,
For which that Iesu Crist him-self was slayn,
That boghte us with his herte-blood agayn.
Lo, here expres of womman may ye finde,
720That womman was the los of al mankinde.
“So anyway, Jankin beat me so hard because of that book. One night, you see, Jankin was sitting by the fire reading from this book about how Eve caused the fall of man, which is why Jesus had to be killed to save us all.
Tho redde he me how Sampson loste his heres,
Slepinge, his lemman kitte hem with hir sheres;
Thurgh whiche tresoun loste he bothe his yën.
“Then he told me all about how Delilah cut off all of Samson’s hair while he was sleeping, which ultimately led to the loss of his eyesight.
Tho redde he me, if that I shal nat lyen,
Of Hercules and of his Dianyre,
That caused him to sette himself a-fyre.
“Then he went on about Dejanira and how she caused Hercules to set himself on fire.
No-thing forgat he the penaunce and wo
That Socrates had with hise wyves two;
How Xantippa caste pisse upon his heed;
730This sely man sat stille, as he were deed;
He wyped his heed, namore dorste he seyn
But “er that thonder stinte, comth a reyn.”
“And he talked about all the trouble the Greek philosopher Socrates had with his two wives and how he just sat there and said, ‘When it rains, it pours,’ when Xantippe threw piss on his head.
Of Phasipha, that was the quene of Crete,
For shrewednesse, him thoughte the tale swete;
Fy! spek na-more—it is a grisly thing—
Of hir horrible lust and hir lyking.
“And then he read the story of Pasiphaë, the queen of Crete, who slept with a bull and gave birth to the half-man, half-bull minotaur. Oh God, I can’t talk about that anymore—it’s too disgusting! Suffice it to say, he loved that story a lot.