Previous Previous:
From The Manciple's Tale, lines 196-202:
Phoebus' wife has a secret lover
Previous
Librarius Homepage
© Librarius
All rights reserved.



From The Canterbury Tales:
The Manciple's Tale
lines 203-239: Phoebus' wife commits adultery


       And so bifel, whan Phebus was absent,
His wyf anon hath for hir lemman sent;
205Hir lemman? Certes, this is a knavyssh speche,
Foryeveth it me, and that I yow biseche.
The wise Plato seith, as ye may rede,
The word moot nede accorde with the dede.
If men shal telle proprely a thyng,
210The word moot cosyn be to the werkyng.
I am a boystous man, right thus seye I.
Ther nys no difference trewely
Bitwixe a wyf that is of heigh degree-
If of hire body dishoneste she bee-
215And a povre wenche, oother than this,
If it so be they werke bothe amys,
But that the gentile in hire estaat above,
She shal be cleped his lady as in love,
And for that oother is a povre womman,
220She shal be cleped his wenche, or his lemman;
And God it woot, myn owene deere brother,
Men leyn that oon as lowe as lith that oother.
       And so befell, when Phoebus was absent,
His wife has quickly for her leman sent.
205Her leman? Truly, 'tis a knavish speech!
Forgive it me, I do indeed beseech.
The wise old Plato says, as you may read,
The word must needs accord well with the deed.
And if a man tell properly a thing,
210The word must suited be to the acting.
But I'm a vulgar man, and thus say I,
There is no smallest difference, truly,
Between a wife who is of high degree,
If of her body she dishonest be,
215And a poor unknown wench, other than this -
If it be true that both do what's amiss -
The gentlewoman, in her state above,
She shall be called his lady, in their love;
And since the other's but a poor woman,
220She shall be called his wench or his leman.
And God knows very well, my own dear brother,
Men lay the one as low as lies the other.
       Right so bitwixe a titlelees tiraunt
And an outlawe, or a theef erraunt,
225The same I seye, ther is no difference.
To Alisaundre was toold this sentence:
That for the tiraunt is of gretter myght,
By force of meynee for to sleen dounright,
And brennen hous and hoom, and make al playn,
230Lo, therfore is he cleped a capitayn;
And for the outlawe hath but smal meynee,
And may nat doon so greet an harm as he,
Ne brynge a contree to so greet mescheef,
Men clepen hym an outlawe or a theef.
235But, for I am a man noght textueel,
I wol noght telle of textes never a deel;
I wol go to my tale as I bigan.
Whan Phebus wyf had sente for hir lemman,
Anon they wroghten al hir lust volage.
       Between a tyrant or usurping chief
And any outlawed man or errant thief,
225It's just the same, there is no difference.
One told to Alexander this sentence:
That, since the tyrant is of greater might,
By force of numbers, to slay men outright
And burn down house and home even as a plane,
230Lot for that he's a captain, that's certain;
And since the outlaw has small company
And may not do so great a harm as he,
Nor bring a nation into such great grief,
Why, he's called but an outlaw or a thief.
235But since I'm not a man the texts to spell,
Nothing at all from texts now will I tell;
I'll go on with my tale as I began.
When Phoebus' wife had sent for her leman,
At once they wrought all of their libertinage.




Next Next:
From The Manciple's Tale, lines 240-261:
The crow witnesses the adultery and tells Phoebus about it
Next