Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
The first words that the knight uttered there
Were, "A curse upon cowardice and covetousness!
You breed boorishness and vice that ruin virtue.
[. . .]
For fear of your blow taught me cowardice,
To give way to covetousness, be false to my nature,
The generosity and fidelity expected of knights.
Now I am false and unworthy, and have always dreaded
Treachery and deceit: may misfortune and grief
(2374 - 2376, 2379 - 2384)
"See, my lord," said the man, and held up the girdle,
"This belt caused the scar that I bear on my neck;
This is the injury and damage that I have suffered
For the cowardice and covetousness that seized me there;
This is the token of the dishonesty I was caught committing,
And now I must wear it as long as I live.
For a man may hide his misdeed, but never erase it,
For where once it takes root the stain can never be lifted."
(2505 - 2512)