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The spousals of Hippolyta the queen;
And therefore where I left, I will pursue
24. I, the knight, the chief in rank of the pilgrims to Canterbury.
29. Accidents, happenings, occurrences. Forborne. Compare forbear, line 24.
31. Mine host, the proprietor of the Tabard in Southwark, who accompanied the pilgrims to Canterbury and was general director of their story-telling
36. Mended with a new, made better by a story to follow.
39. Utmost, highest degree of. Chaucer has “In his moste pryde” (K. T., 37).
41. Quire, choir ; a body of people, usually (but not here) singers. Cf. II., 313.
46. Embraced, i.e., as suppliants.
“Tell me," said Theseus, "what and whence you are,
The most in years of all the mourning train
50. Weeds, garments of mourning ; originally, simply garments. 51. Or, an archaic or poetic use for “either." 56. Sounded, an old form of “swooned.”
To make their moan, their lords in battle lost
90 With groans, and hands upheld, to move his mind,
, Besought his pity to her helpless kind.
The prince was touched, his tears began to flow, And, as his tender heart would break in two, He sighed; and could not but their fate deplore, So wretched now, so fortunate before. Then lightly from his lofty steed he flew, And raising one by one the suppliant crew, To comfort each, full solemnly he swore, That, by the faith which knights to knighthood bore, 100 And whate'er else to chivalry belongs, He would not cease, till he revenged their wrongs; That Greece should see performed what he declared, And cruel Creon find his just reward. He said no more, but shunning all delay Rode on, nor entered Athens on his way; But left his sister and his queen behind, And waved his royal banner in the wind,
79. To make their moan. In our modern form of the construction we should omit the to of the infinitive, e.g., Thou seest them make their moan.
92. Kind, race, kindred. Cf. II., 319, 324.
Where in an argent field the God of War
spare the widows' tears, their woful cries, And howling at their husbands' obsequies;
109. Argent field, i.e., the surface of his banner was white, the argent of heraldry. God of War, Mars.
115. His pennon bore, etc. “ The poet here introduces a distinction well-known in heraldry. The banner (line 108] was a square flag, which only barons of great lineage and power had a right to display. The pennon was a forked streamer borne by a knight : Theseus carried both to the field, each bearing a separate device.”—Scott.
116. Cretan fight. Theseus's famous fight with the Minotaur in the labyrinth of Minos, in Crete, is referred to.
117. Generous, spirited, courageous. Cf. III., 443. Rage, eagerness, excitement, madness. For construction, cf. II., 188.
132. Howling. Dryden follows Chaucer in his frequent use of the word. Palamon, for example, “howleth” at the death of Arcite
How Theseus at these funerals did assist,
Thus when the victor chief had Creon slain,
and Arcite one, Much famed in fields, with valiant Palamon. From these their costly arms the spoilers rent, And softly both conveyed to Theseus' tent: (K. T., 1959. But compare P. and A., III., 848). The word can. not be regarded, as in modern times, as undignified.
133. Did assist, was present at as a spectator.
139. To rapine bred, trained or accustomed to plunder and spoil the dead after a battle.
143. Whom, the foes. They, the youthful knights.
147. In equal arms, in similar armour, here, rather than with equal prowess, as in II., 198.
148. Surcoats, loose garments worn by knights over their armour, 158. Softly, gently.