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From The Knight's Tale, lines 838-883:
Duke Theseus interrupts the fight between Arcita and Palamon and learns their true identity
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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Knight's Tale
lines 884-926: The queen and ladies ask for mercy


      This worthy duc answered anon agayn,
885And seyde, "This is a short conclusioun,
Youre owene mouth, by your confessioun,
Hath dampned yow, and I wol it recorde.
It nedeth noght to pyne yow with the corde,
Ye shal be deed, by myghty Mars the rede!"
      This worthy duke presently spoke again,
885Saying: "This judgment needs but a short session:
Your own mouth, aye, and by your own confession,
Has doomed and damned you, as I shall record.
There is no need for torture, on my word.
But you shall die, by mighty Mars the red!"
890       The queene anon, for verray wommanhede,
Gan for to wepe, and so dide Emelye,
And alle the ladyes in the compaignye.
Greet pitee was it, as it thoughte hem alle,
That evere swich a chaunce sholde falle.
895For gentil men they were of greet estaat,
And no thyng but for love was this debaat,
And saugh hir blody woundes wyde and soore,
And alle crieden, both lasse and moore,
"Have mercy, lord, upon us wommen alle!"
900And on hir bare knees adoun they falle,
And wolde have kist his feet ther as he stood;
Til at the laste aslaked was his mood,
For pitee renneth soone in gentil herte.
And though he first for ire quook and sterte,
905He hath considered shortly in a clause
The trespas of hem bothe, and eek the cause,
And although that his ire hir gilt accused,
Yet in his resoun he hem bothe excused.
As thus: he thoghte wel, that every man
910Wol helpe hymself in love, if that he kan,
And eek delivere hym-self out of prisoun;
And eek his herte hadde compassioun
Of wommen, for they wepen evere in oon.
And in his gentil herte he thoughte anon,
915And softe unto hymself he seyde, "Fy
Upon a lord that wol have no mercy,
But been a leon, bothe in word and dede,
To hem that been in repentaunce and drede,
As wel as to a proud despitous man,
920That wol maynteyne that he first bigan.
That lord hath litel of discrecioun
That in swich cas kan no divisioun,
But weyeth pride and humblesse after oon."
And shortly, whan his ire is thus agoon,
925He gan to looken up with eyen lighte,
And spak thise same wordes al on highte:
890      But then the queen, whose heart for pity bled,
Began to weep, and so did Emily
And all the ladies in the company.
Great pity must it be, so thought they all,
That ever such misfortune should befall:
895For these were gentlemen, of great estate,
And for no thing, except love, was their debate.
They saw their bloody wounds, so sore and wide,
And all cried out- greater and less, they cried:
"Have mercy, lord, upon us women all!"
900And down upon their bare knees did they fall,
And would have kissed his feet there where he stood,
Till at the last assuaged was his high mood;
For soon will pity flow through gentle heart.
And though he first for ire did shake and start,
905He soon considered, to state the case in brief,
What cause they had for fighting, what for grief;
And though his anger still their guilt accused,
Yet in his reason he held them both excused;
In such wise: he thought well that every man
910Will help himself in love, if he but can,
And will himself deliver from prison;
And, too, at heart he had compassion on
Those women, for they cried and wept as one,
And in his gentle heart he thought anon,
915And softly to himself he said then: "Fie
Upon a lord that will have no mercy,
But acts the lion, both in word and deed,
To those repentant and in fear and need,
As well as to the proud and pitiless man
920That still would do the thing that he began!
That lord must surely in discretion lack
Who, in such case, can no distinction make,
But weighs both proud and humble in one scale."
And shortly, when his ire was thus grown pale,
925He looked up to the sky, with eyes alight,
And spoke these words, as he would promise plight:




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From The Knight's Tale, lines 927-970:
Duke Theseus grants mercy but stipulates some conditions
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