The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale
How we cite our quotes:
'Se how they blede! Be they noght wel arrayed?
Thus hath hir lord, the God of Love, ypayed
Hir wages and hir fees for his servyse!
And yet they wenen for to been ful wyse,
That serven love, for aught that may bifalle!'
Theseus gently mocks the lovers at the same time as he portrays the god of love as a cruel taskmaster. They've paid this god with their own blood. Theseus asks: Is the man who faithfully serves such a lord truly wise?
But all moot ben assayed, hoot and cold;
A man moot ben a fool, or yong or oold;
I woot it by myself ful yore agon,
For in my tyme a servant was I oon.
And therfore, syn I knowe of loves peyne,
And woot how soore it kan a man distreyne,
As he that hath been caught ofte in his laas,
I yow foryeve al hoolly this trespaas.
Now the service of love is the action that unites all humanity, however foolish it may be. Having suffered lovesickness himself, Theseus decides to grant the two knights mercy. In this, he proves himself to be in agreement with Arcite, who declared love to be a higher law than all others.
First in the temple of Venus maystow se
Wroght on the wal, ful pitous to biholde,
The broken slepes and the sikes colde,
The sacred teeries and the waymentynge,
The firy strokes, and the desirynge
That loves servantz in this lyf enduren;
The othes that her covenantz assuren.
This passage raises an interesting question: how can all the symptoms of love sickness – the sighs, the tears, the lamenting – be portrayed on a wall? The passage later suggests that this portrayal is accomplished through depictions of the stories of various lovers, both ill-fated and successful.