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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Monk's Tale
lines 783-838: De Julio Cesare


De Julio Cesare

       By wisedom, manhede, and by gret labour
From humble bed to roial magestee
785Up roos he, Julius the conquerour,
That wan al th'occident by land and see
By strengthe of hand, or elles by tretee,
And unto Rome made hem tributarie;
And sitthe of Rome the emperour was he,
790Til that Fortune weex his adversarie.
       By wisdom, manhood, and by great labour,
From humble bed to royal majesty
785Up rose he, Julius the conqueror,
Who won the Occident by land and sea,
By force of arms, or else by clear treaty,
And unto Rome made all this tributary;
And then of Rome the emperor was he,
790Till Fortune came to be his adversary.

O myghty Cesar, that in Thessalie
Agayn Pompeus, fader thyn in lawe,
That of the Orient hadde al the chivalrie
As fer as that the day bigynneth dawe,
795Thou thurgh thy knyghthod hast hem take and slawe,
Save fewe folk that with Pompeus fledde,
Thurgh which thou puttest al th'orient in awe,
Thanke Fortune, that so wel thee spedde!
O mighty Caesar, who in Thessaly
Against great Pompey, father of yours in law,
That of the East had all the chivalry
From farthest places that the sun e'er saw,
795You, by your knighthood broke them for death's maw,
Except those few men who thence with Pompey fled,
Whereby you put the Orient in awe.
Thank Fortune now that you so well have sped.

       But now a litel while I wol biwaille
800This Pompeus, this noble governour
Of Rome, which that fleigh at this bataille,
I seye, oon on hise men, a fals traitour,
His heed of-smoot to wynnen hym favour
Of Julius, and hym the heed he broghte;
805Allas, Pompeye, of th'orient conquerour,
That Fortune unto swich a fyn thee broghte!
       But now a little while I will bewail
800This Pompey, this so noble governor
Of Rome, who fled when battle's chance did fail;
I say, one of his men, a false traitor,
Smote off his head to win himself favour
With Julius, and there the head he brought.
805Alas, Pompey! Of Orient conqueror,
That Fortune such an end for thee hath wrought!

       To Rome agayn repaireth Julius,
With his triumphe lauriat ful hye;
But on a tyme Brutus Cassius
810That evere hadde of his hye estaat envye,
Ful prively hath maad conspiracye
Agayns this Julius in subtil wise,
And caste the place in which he sholde dye
With boydekyns, as I shal yow devyse.
       To Rome again repaired great Julius,
To have his triumph, laureate full high;
But on a time Brutus and Cassius,
810Who ever had of great estate envy,
Full secretly did lay conspiracy
Against this Julius, in subtle wise,
And fixed the place at which he soon should die
By dagger thrusts, as I shall you apprise.

815This Julius to the Capitolie wente
Upon a day, as he was wont to goon;
And in the Capitolie anon hym hente
This false Brutus and his othere foor,
And stiked hym with boydekyns anoon
820With many a wounde; and thus they lete hym lye.
But nevere gronte he at no strook but oon,
Or elles at two, but if his storie lye.
815This Julius, to the Capitol he went
Upon a day, as he'd been wont to go,
And there they seized on him, as well they meant,
This treacherous Brutus and each other foe,
And struck him with their daggers, high and low,
820And gave him many a wound and let him die;
But never groaned he, save at one stroke, no
Or two perchance, unless his legend lie.

So manly was this Julius of herte
And so wel lovede estaatly honestee,
825That though hise deedly woundes soore smerte,
His mantel over hise hypes caste he,
For no man sholde seen his privetee.
And as he lay of diyng in a traunce,
And wiste verraily that deed was hee,
830Of honestee yet hadde he remembraunce.
So manly was this Julius in his heart,
And so well loved he stately decency,
825That, though his deadly wounds did burn and smart,
His mantle yet about his hips cast he,
That no man there should see his privity.
And as he lay there, dying, in a trance,
And knew that he was dying, verily,
830Of decency yet had he remembrance.

Lucan, to thee this storie I recomende,
And to Sweton, and to Valerius also,
That of this storie writen word and ende,
How that to thise grete conqueroures two
835Fortune was first freend, and sitthe foo.
No man ne truste upon hire favour longe
But have hir in awayt for evere moo!
Witnesse on alle thise conqueroures stronge.
Lucan to tell this story I commend,
Suetonius too, Valerius also,
Who of the tale have written to the end
And told how, of these mighty conquerors two,
835Fortune was first the friend and then the foe.
No man may trust in Fortune's favour long,
But as one fearing ambush must he go.
Witness the end of all these conquerors strong.




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