The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale
by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale Friendship Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line)
'It nere,' quod he, 'to thee no greet honour
For to be fals, ne for to be traitour
To me, that am thy cosyn and thy brother,
Ysworn ful depe, and ech of us til oother,
That nevere for to dyen in the peyne,
Til that the deeth departe shal us tweyne,
Neither of us in love to hyndre other,
Ne in noon oother cas, my leeve brother,
But that thou shouldest trewely forthren me
In every cas, as I shal forthren thee.
This was thyn ooth, and myn also certeyn.'
This passage establishes the specifics of Palamon and Arcite's relationship. Not only are they cousins but also sworn brothers. Apparently, the terms of the oath they have sworn to one another specifically forbid hindering one another in love. This is a particularly inconvenient promise, since they're now in love with the same woman.
'Nay, certes, fals Arcite, thow shalt nat so!
I loved hire first, and tolde thee my wo
As to my conseil, and to my brother sworn,
To forthre me as I have toold biforn,
For which thou art ybounden as a knyght
To helpen me, if it lay in thy myght,
Or elles artow fals, I dar wel seyn.'
Talk about adding insult to injury. Not only does Palamon say that Arcite shouldn't love Emily; he also implies that Arcite is duty-bound as his sworn brother to help Palamon win her for himself. If we were Arcite, we'd be hopping mad right about now.
And myn is love, as to a creature;
For which I tolde thee myn aventure
As to my cosyn and my brother sworn.
Arcite echoes Palamon's claim that the only reason he mentioned Emily to his friend was because he trusted his sworn brother. This is a method of playing upon the other's feelings, of trying to make Palamon feel like he's betraying a confidence or sacred trust by claiming Emily for himself.