The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale
by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale Strength and Skill Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line)
Ther maistow seen comyng with Palamoun,
Lygurge hym-self, the grete kyng of Trace.
Blak was his berd, and manly was his face.
Hise lymes grete, hise brawnes harde and stronge,
Hise shuldres brode, hise armes rounde and longe;
An hundred lordes hadde he in his route,
Armed ful wel, with hertes stierne and stoute.
(1270-1273, 1277-1278, 1295-1296)
This passage talks about the strength of the companies that ride with Palamon and Arcite. Both knights have allied themselves with a powerful, famous lord. The passages emphasize the fearsome appearance of the lords, which reflects upon the fearsomeness of the company of 100 he brings with him.
With Arcita, in stories as men fynde,
The grete Emetreus, the kyng of Inde.
Upon a steede bay, trapped in steel,
Covered in clooth of gold dyapred weel,
Cam ridynge lyk the god of armes, Mars.
Arcite has enlisted the help of Emetreus, king of India, for the joust. Like Lycurgus he is fearsome looking and battle-ready, "ridynge lyk the god of armes, Mars." In contrast to the portrayal of Lycurgus, however, this portrait emphasizes not only the strength, but also the riches, of the mighty king.
'And wel I woot, er she me mercy heete,
I moot with strengthe wynne hir in thep lace.
And, wel I woot, withouten help or grace
Of thee, ne may my strengthe noght availle.
Thanne help me lord, tomorwe, in my bataille.'
In his prayer to Mars, Arcite clarifies his view of the relationship between individual strength and skill and success in battle. He will bring his strength to the battle, he says, but in order to win it, he needs a little bit of luck, which he hopes Mars will supply.