The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale
by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale Rules and Order Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line)
And to the lystes rit the compaignye,
By ordinance, thurghout the citee large
Hanged with clooth of gold, and nat with sarge.
Ful lik a lord this noble duc gan ryde,
Thise two Thebanes upon either syde,
And after rood the queene and Emelye,
And after that another compaignye,
Of oon and oother, after hir degree.
The narrator emphasizes how everyone in Athens rides to the stadium in an orderly procession, proceeding in order of rank ("after hir degree"). We can't help but notice how much this "compaignye" resembles another one in The Canterbury Tales. Of course, we're speaking of the company of pilgrims who also proceed in order of rank, and who are also involved in a competition, except with tales instead of spears.
'The Firste Moevere of the cause above
Whan he first made the faire cheyne of love,
Greet was th'effect,a nd heigh was his entente;
Wel wiste he why, and what therof he mente,
For with that faire cheyne of love he bond
The fyr, the eyr, the water, and the lond,
In certeyn boundes that they may nat flee.'
Theseus sees God ("the Firste Moevere") as the boundary-maker. The "faire cheyne of love" Theseus mentions is the collection of everything in existence. Greek philosophers like Aristotle and Plato believed everything was bound together by divine power. God binds the world in this chain ("cheyne"), giving everything the boundaries of their existence. Beyond this, says Theseus, nothing may pass. This is a vision of an orderly, organized universe.
'That same prince and that same moevere,' quod he,
'Hath stablissed in this wrecched world adoun
Certeyn dayes and duracioun
To al that is engendred in this place,
Over the whiche day they may nat pace;
Al mowe they yet tho dayes wel abregge.'
Theseus's point here is that God the boundary-maker has established a boundary for a creature's days on earth, beyond which he may not pass. This boundary links all created things together: just as the earth, air, fire, and water exist in their bounded areas, so do mortal creatures.