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The Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale
by Geoffrey Chaucer
Theseus Timeline and Summary
On his way home from conquering Scythia, Theseus meets a group of mourning women who ask him to take revenge on Creon, lord of Thebes, for refusing to allow them to bury their husbands' bodies. Theseus agrees, and wages war on Thebes, defeating Creon. Theseus takes Palamon and Arcite hostage without hope of ransom. Theseus agrees to release Arcite at the request of their mutual friend, Perotheus. Out hunting one day, Theseus stumbles upon Arcite and Palamon dueling over Emily. Theseus makes a speech about how love is a cruel master that causes men to do foolish things. Theseus decrees that Arcite and Palamon must return to Athens with 100 soldiers each and engage in a joust that will determine who marries Emily. Theseus constructs a huge stadium for the joust, complete with temples of Mars, Venus, and Diana. Theseus hosts a welcome banquet for Palamon and Arcite's companies. Theseus presides over the joust. Theseus hosts an evening banquet after the joust, and gives gifts to all the men who fought in it. After Arcite's death, Theseus arranges a lavish funeral for him. After he recalls Palamon to Athens, Theseus gives a speech before him, Emily, and his counselors about the meaning of death and the proper response to it. Theseus asks Palamon to marry Emily.