The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale
Rules and Order Quotes Page 7
How we cite our quotes:
Thanne may men by this ordre wel discerne
That thilke Moevere stable is and eterne.
Wel may men knowe, but it be a fool,
That every part deryveth from his hool;
For nature hath nat taken his bigynnyng
Of no partie nor cantel of a thyng,
But of a thyng that parfit is and stable,
Descendynge so til it be corrumpable.
Theseus takes the orderliness of creation as evidence of the First Mover's nature as stable and eternal. If Creation is orderly and ruled, and all Creation derives its existence from God, then God must be orderly and ruled. Theseus establishes the nature of Creation as parts derived from God's whole. The idea, which, again, derives from ancient Greek philosophy, is that things take their existence from God's existence. Things only differ essentially in how much they participate in this existence, in their degrees of "being." Created things are imperfect and "corrumpable," or subject to change. However, everything derives its existence from God, who is perfect and "stable," or unchanging.
And therfore, of his wise purveiaunce,
He hath so wel biset his ordinaunce,
That speces of thynges and progressiouns
Shullen enduren by successiouns,
And nat eterne, withouten any lye.
Theseus gets to the point of his speech with this passage. He asserts that God's "ordinaunce," or plan for the world, is that creation shall endure through "successiouns," or descendants, of one created thing from another, and not eternally. If things existed eternally, they would be God, and not creation. This argument allows Theseus to show how death is a part of God's orderly universe and not just a random act of fate.