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The Canterbury Tales: The Second Nun's Tale

The Canterbury Tales: The Second Nun's Tale


by Geoffrey Chaucer


Character Analysis

Maximus is the executioner Almachius orders to kill Valerian and Tiburtius. Finding himself filled with pity for the brothers, and struck by their "loore," or teaching, he gets the execution delayed in order to listen to their preaching at his household for one night. After this night, he and his family receive Christian baptism. Maximus is martyred for his faith soon after Valerian and Tiburtius.

Maximus demonstrates yet one more way in which conversion can be effected – this time, through emotion. The "pitee" Maximus feels for the brothers causes him to open his heart and mind enough to hear their teaching. This leads not only to his conversion, but to the conversion of his entire family. As a former "bad guy" turned good, moreover, Maximus is also something of a foil to Almachius, a demonstration that pagans can be converted if their heart's in the right place. This implies that something is seriously wrong with Almachius.

Maximus Timeline