The Siege of Thebes: Secunda Pars

The marginal Latin glosses, identified by a capital L in the left margin next to the text, are transcribed and translated in the notes and can be accessed by clicking on (see note) at the corresponding line.


1 Wearing a wimple each one and in dark-brown clothes



1-64 Latin marginalia: Phebus in Ariete. Lydgate's opening to The Siege of Thebes echoes the opening of the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales (I[A]1-18). The difference is that Chaucer's periodic sentence connects the renewal of nature and spirituality in a complex but controlled syntactic structure, while Lydgate's syntax collapses under the weight of successive clauses. Pearsall, John Lydgate, p. 153, suggests that Lydgate's effort at imitation reveals his confidence rather than diffidence, based on the achievement of Troy Book. Erdmann (2.95) argues that lines 18-19 ("The tyme in soth whan Canterbury talys / Complet and told at many sondry stage") characteristically omit the verb "to be"; they also mark a point at which Lydgate enters the literary time scheme of the spring convention and Chaucer's evidently popular text. In Troy Book, Lydgate tries and similarly fails to imitate Chaucer's opening; see 1.3907-43 for direct imitation and 3.1-36 for a reprise of the structural technique. Among the important early textual witnesses to The Siege of Thebes, Bodley MS 776 provides an indirect commentary on Lydgate's imitation; it lacks the opening eight lines and a portion from the middle of the passage yet still conveys the essential tone and fictional premise. Johnstone Parr, "Astronomical Dating for Some of Lydgate's Poems," PMLA 67 (1952), 253-56, interprets the astrological references to yield the date of 27 April 1421 for Lydgate's return pilgrimage. Hammond, p. 369, observes that Chaucer places the sun in Aries, while Lydgate indicates the pilgrims' later departure from Canterbury by saying that the sun had passed into Taurus, the next zodiacal sign.

3 Latin marginalia: Saturnus in Virgine. As in Chaucer, Saturn is both a god and a planet. In The Knight's Tale, Palamon claims that he is in prison because of Saturn (I[A]1328), and later it is Saturn who resolves the strife between Venus and Mars by imposing a violent outcome (I[A]2438-78) to the tale. In Statius (Thebaid 2.356-62), Polynices invokes Saturn as a figure of justice, as he contemplates his return to Thebes from his year of exile. It is Jupiter (Thebaid 1.196-247) who loses his patience with Theban and Greek transgressions and promises strife.

7-8 Latin marginalia: Jubiter in capite Cancri. The gloss occurs three lines early because of marginal decoration.

19 Complet and told. Koeppel proposed to emend to Complet are tolde in order to furnish a verb.

22-25 Lydgate's taxonomy of tales recalls the Host's intention of introducing "myrthe" and "disport" to the Canterbury Pilgrimage (General Prologue I[A]761-76).

28-30 Marginalia: The Cook, the Millere, and the Reve. Lydgate mistakenly has the Reeve drunk, along with the Cook and Miller; see Spearing, Medieval to Renaissance in English Poetry, p. 75.

32 Lydgate mistakenly ascribes the baldness of the Miller in The Reeve's Tale (I[A]3935) to the Pardoner.

33 Marginalia: Pardonere.

34 Lydgate mistakenly ascribes the Summoner's "cherubinnes face" (I[A]624) to the Pardoner. Recent scholarship associates such inaccuracies with Lydgate's oblique challenge to Chaucer's authority rather than mere accidents. See Pearsall, "Lydgate as Innovator" and "Chaucer and Lydgate"; Ebin, "Chaucer, Lydgate, and the 'Myrie Tale'," and John Lydgate; Bowers, "The Tale of Beryn and The Siege of Thebes: Alternative Ideas of the Canterbury Tales"; Allen; and Strohm, England's Empty Throne. Erdmann (2: 96) points out that Lydgate turns to The Knight's Tale with more precision at the end of the poem (lines 4463-540). Spearing, "Lydgate's Canterbury Tale," p. 337, counts some thirty allusions there to the opening, background story of The Knight's Tale.

35 In The Canterbury Tales, the conflict is between the Summoner and the Friar.

39-57 Marginalia: ¶ Chaucer. Lydgate's praise of Chaucer recalls similar passages in Troy Book 2.4677-719, 3.550-57, 3.4234-63, 5.3519-43. Lydgate does not actually name Chaucer until line 4501. Spearing, "Lydgate's Canterbury Tale," says of Chaucer's absence from the frametale of Lydgate's poem: "the implicit claim of the Siege is that in it Lydgate becomes the father whose place he usurps" (p. 338).

43 making. "Making" is formally correct poetic composition, as distinct from the creative activity associated with "poetry." Chaucer typically describes his craft as "making."

52 his sugrid mouth. In Troy Book, Lydgate invokes Orpheus "wyth thyn hony swete / Sugrest tongis of rethoricyens" (Prol.56-57), but quickly contrasts the "dillygence of cronycleris" (Prol.246) with Homer's "veyn fables" (Prol.263): "With sugred wordes under hony soote / His galle is hidde lowe by the rote" (Prol.277-78). Thereafter, in the narrative of Troy Book, "sugre" and "sugred wordis" denote treacherous, deceitful speech in the private and public spheres. Blake, "Caxton and Chaucer," pp. 32-33, notes that this passage is adapted by William Caxton in his praise of Chaucer in the prologue to his second edition (c. 1484) of The Canterbury Tales.

53-54 keping in substaunce / The sentence hool withoute variance. Lydgate's remark on Chaucer as a poet seeking to write true history echoes his praise of Guido delle Colonne (Prol.359-60) and his hope for his own poem at the end of Troy Book (5.3540-43).

55-56 the chaf . . . the trewe piked greyn. Compare the end of The Nun's Priest's Tale: "Taketh the fruyt, and lat the chaf be stille" (VII[B2]3443).

59-60 Marginalia: ¶ At the Tabarde in Suthwerk. The original departure point for the pilgrims in the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales (I[A]20).

65 Marginalia: ¶ The Hoste

73-74 Marginalia: ¶ Discryving of the Monk. a palfrey slender, long, and lene. In The Canterbury Tales, the Clerk's horse is described as lean (I[A]287).

75 With rusty brydel mad nat for the sale. Bowers glosses the latter part of the line to mean "not worth selling," which is certainly possible given the reference to his man's "voide male" ("empty purse") in line 76. But the sense of sale is more likely "hall," particularly of a palace, castle, or mansion (see MED sale, noun 1.a). Unlike Chaucer's Monk, who would dress well and prefers the King's feast (roasted swan), Lydgate's modest Monk, with his lean horse and rusty bridle, does not yearn for or affect the pretensions of court. The MED does not cite this specific line, but neither does it cite "for the sale" as an idiom for selling.

79 her governour. Lydgate uses the same term for the Host as Chaucer does in the General Prologue (I[A]813).

81-82 Marginalia: ¶ The wordes of the Host to the Monk.

82-83 Daun Pers, / Daun Domynyk, Dan Godfrey, or Clement. The Host addresses Lydgate in the same manner as he does the clerics among the Canterbury pilgrims; compare the address to the Monk: "Wher shal I calle yow my lord daun John, / or daun Thomas, or elles daun Albon" (VII[B2]1929-30) and later "Wherfore, sire Monk, daun Piers by youre name, / I pray yow hertely telle us somwhat elles" (VII[B2]2792-93). The Monk's Tale is a de casibus tragedy that begins with the fall of Lucifer and Adam, moves through ancient figures like Alexander and Julius Caesar, and ends with some of Chaucer's contemporaries; its theme and tone complement the story of Thebes.

85 ne belle. The bridle of Chaucer's Monk is adorned with bells that "Gynglen in a whistlynge wynd als cleere / And eke as loude as dooth the chapel belle" (I[A]170-71).

90 a wonder thredbar hood. Compare the description of the Clerk in the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales: "Ful thredbare was his overeste courtepy" (I[A]290).

92 Marginalia: ¶ Lydgate.

93 Marginalia: ¶ Monk of Bery.

96 Marginalia: ¶ The wordes of the Host.

101 franchemole. A dish consisting of a mixture of ingredients boiled or roasted in a sheep's stomach (MED). Other fifteenth-century sources gloss it as a pudding or lucanica (a smoked sausage).

tansey: a pudding or omelet with tansy (MED), a plant of the genus Tanacetum.

froyse: a kind of pancake containing chopped meat or fish (MED).

104 in a feynt pasture. Bowers (p. 21) cites the Host's chiding the monk for grazing in a "gentil pasture" (VII[B2]1933).

114 collik passioun. Bowers (p. 21) cites the passage on colica passio in John Trevisa's fourteenth-century translation of Bartholomaeus Anglicus' De proprietatibus rerum.

116 ff. The Host's dietary advice sounds a bit like Pertelote's to the indulgent Chauntecleer in The Nun's Priest's Tale as she would govern what he puts in his "crop" (VII[B2]2961-67).

122 orloger. Compare Parliament of Fowls, line 350: "The kok, that orloge is of thorpes lyte," and The Nun's Priest's Tale, where Chauntecleer's crowing is said to be a more certain time piece than "an abbey orlogge" (VII[B2]2854). In Troy Book, the phrase "the cok, comoun astrologer" (1.2813) is a direct echo of Troilus and Criseyde 3.1415, the scene after the lovers' consummation.

126 by kokkis blood. An echo of the Host's oath "for cokkes bones" in The Canterbury Tales (IX[H]9 and X[I]29) and the Parson's reproof of swearing (X[I]591).

128-45 In bringing Lydgate under the "newe lawe" of the pilgrim "compenye" and having him set aside his monastic rule, the Host repeats the substance of the agreement that founds the temporary community and creates the dramatic frame of The Canterbury Tales (I[A]769-818).

143-44 Marginalia: ¶ How oure Host spak to Daun John.

164-66 Marginalia: ¶ How oure Host bad Daun John telle a tale.

165 jape. The term means both a trick and a joke. In the link introducing the Pardoner's Prologue, the Host asks the Pardoner, "Telle us som myrthe or japes right anon" (VI[C]319). Erdmann (2:100) also cites the Cook's Prologue (I[A]4343); compare the Pardoner: "a jape or a tale" (X[I]1024a). Both senses of the term converge in Nicholas' intent to "amenden al the jape" (I[A]3799) at the end of The Miller's Tale.

167 But preche not of non holynesse. Chaucer's Host, instructing the Clerk to recount "som myrie tale" (IV[E]9) and "som murie thyng of aventures" (IV[E]15), admonishes him: "But precheth nat, as freres doon in Lente" (IV[E]12).

168 some tale of myrth or of gladnesse. Erdmann (2:100) notes the Host's words to Chaucer at the beginning of Sir Thopas: "Telle us a tale of myrthe, and that anon" (VII[B2]706); compare VII(B2)964, VII(B2)3449, VIII(G)597, and X(I)46. Ebin, "Chaucer, Lydgate, and the 'Myrie Tale,'" p. 331, argues that Lydgate extended Chaucer's concept of a tale of "solaas" and "sentence" by adding the element of a mirror or moral speculum with practical as well as spiritual benefits; compare Ebin, John Lydgate, pp. 57-58.

Prima Pars

188 Upon the tyme of worthy Josué. Orosius' Historiarum adversum paganos libri vii is the model for a universal history aligning Biblical and classical events. Erdmann (2:100) cites Boccaccio, Genealogie deorum gentilium 2.63 on calculations about the founding of Thebes.

199-227 Erdmann (2:100) points out that the source Lydgate actually is referring to as myn auctour and Bochas bothe two is Boccaccio's Genealogie deorum gentilium 5.30. Boccaccio is the source for much of the mythology that Lydgate adds or amplifies. Koeppel (pp. 23-24) points out that Thomas Warton identified Boccaccio as Lydgate's source in his History of English Poetry (1774-81). Clogan, "Imagining the City of Thebes in Fifteenth-Century England" (p. 161), suggests the alternative that Lydgate's mention of Amphion's song could have come from Lactantius Placidus' commentary on the Thebaid (Boccaccio's source) or from a gloss to Statius.

200-03 Marginalia: How Kyng Amphyoun was the first that bilt the cyté of Thebes be the swetnesse of his soune. On Amphion's raising of the walls of Thebes by the sweet harmonies of the harp (lines 201-10), see also Chaucer's The Manciple's Tale, where Phebus' music is said to surpass that of Amphioun "That with his syngyng walled that citee" (IX[H]117). Chaucer also alludes to Amphioun in The Knight's Tale, when Arcite laments, "Allas, ybrought is to confusioun / The blood roial of Cadme and Amphioun" (I[A]1545-46).

212-15 Marginalia: ¶ The exposicioun of John Bochas upon this derk poysie. In the poetic treatise that comprises Books 14-15 of the Genealogie deorum gentilium, Boccaccio insists that one of the defining traits of poetry is its allegorical covering, which is designed to hide meaning from common readers.

215-16 Sense requires "He" as the subject of Seith or for Seith to be ignored and Gaf to be construed as the main verb.

222-24 Marginalia: ¶ The significacioun of the harpe of Mercure.

231-36 Marginalia: ¶ How Kyng Amphion be mediacioun of his soft spech wan the love and the hertes of the puple.

234-39 The power of Amphion's song, which is the crafty speche of prudence (line 226), recalls Priam's rebuilding of Troy and the corresponding political allegiance that he instills in the craftsmen who become its citizens (Troy Book 2.479-1066). Ebin, John Lydgate, p. 53, remarks that Lydgate goes past his source in Boccaccio's Genealogie deorum gentilium to sing with "crafty speech" to demonstrate the triumph of words over arms.

244-85 Lydgate's excursus on the duties of kingship is consistent with the advice John Gower gives in the Prologue and Book 7 of his Confessio Amantis and with precepts Lydgate sets out early, in Troy Book, and late in his career, in his translation of the Pseudo-Aristotelian Secreta Secretorum. Allen sees two of Lydgate's explicit themes as "the maintenance of cordial relations among those in positions of power and the mutual cooperation between monarch and populace, with the initiative borne by the monarch" (p. 124). Renoir, The Poetry of John Lydgate (p. 112), counts some 22 instances (555 lines) in The Siege of Thebes where Lydgate offers advice to royalty. On the danger and practical nature of such rhetoric, see Judith Ferster, Fictions of Advice: The Literature and Politics of Council in Late Medieval England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996), and Richard Firth Green, Poets and Princepleasers: Literature and the English Court in the Late Middle Ages (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1980).

246 Latin marginalia: ¶ Nota.

248-51 Marginalia: ¶ What availeth to a kyng or to a prince to ben goodly and benygne of his port to his puple.

265-68 Marginalia: ¶ How the poor puple supporten and beren up the estat of a kyng.

276 Latin marginalia: ¶ Nota.

277-80 Marginalia: ¶ What the goodlihede of a prince avaylleth to wynne the hertes of hys puple.

286-87 Marginalia: ¶ Ensample of Kyng Amphioun.

293-305 Erdmann (2:102) points out that Lydgate confuses the details of the white ox in Ovid's account of Cadmus (Metamorphoses 3.1-137) with the story of Dido's founding Carthage.

294-97 Marginalia: ¶ How aftere the opynyoun of some auctours Cadmus bilt first the cité of Thebes.

303-08 Marginalia: ¶ How the contré of Boece toke first his name of a bolys skyn after called Thebes.

309-13 Marginalia: ¶ How Kyng Cadmus was exiled out of Thebes be prowesse of Kynge Amphyoun.

319 clerkes. Erdmann (2:102) points out that the reference is to Boccaccio. In Troy Book (Prol.147-225), clerks preserve both the "pleyne trouthe" and the reputation of heroes against the corrosive power of time.

330-33 Marginalia: ¶ How the lyne of Amphioun be discent was conveied to Kyng Layus.

339-40 Marginalia: ¶ Kyng Layus and Jocasta hys wiff.

343-44 These lines are iambic tetrameter.

368 The chyldes fate and disposicioun. Astral determinism is a position that Christian writers from Augustine onwards rejected, though it remained a topic of speculation for poets like Bernardus Silvestris in his Cosmographia, Experimentarius, and Mathematicus (the last a story of fated patricide based on pseudo-Quintilian's Declamatio Maior 4). Laius' consultation with his diviners reflects the late-medieval interest in both the philosophical problems of the ancient world and its cultural practices; see Alastair Minnis, Chaucer and Pagan Antiquity (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1982), chapters 1-2.

369-73 Marginalia: ¶ How the astronomyens and phylisophres of Thebes calked out the fate of Edyppus.

370 The root ytake at the ascendent. The root (Latin radix) is the time from which the astrological tables were calculated for a particular location. The ascendent is the first and most powerful astrological house that the sun enters in its twenty-four hour circuit.

380 yeeres collecte. Anni collecti are astrological tables showing a planet's position in twenty-year cycles, as distinct from those for single years (anni expansi). See Chaucer's The Franklin's Tale V(F)1275, and his Treatise on the Astrolabe 2.44-45 (supplementary propositions) for the means of calculating positions according to degrees, minutes, seconds, and small fractions.

383 eche aspecte and lookes ek dyvers. Aspect is "the relative position, described in angular distance, of one planet or sign to another at a certain time" (MED), regarded as a good or evil influence; lookes is merely a repetition of aspecte.

385 Latin marginalia: ¶ Nota.

386-90 Marginalia: ¶ The cursed constellacioun and indisposicioun of the hevene in the nativyté of Edyppus. J. Parr, "The Horoscope of Edippus in Lydgate's Siege of Thebes" (p. 122), concludes that Lydgate does not present a technically exact horoscope for Oedipus but constructs instead an arrangement of planets - Saturn and Mars with Venus waning - that would convey the inevitability of patricide rhetorically.

388 Satourn. The Knight's Tale (I[A]2443-69) emphasizes Saturn's melancholic character; see also Raymond Klibansky, Erwin Panofsky, and Fritz Saxl, Saturn and Melancholy: Studies in the History of Natural Philosophy, Religion, and Art (New York: Basic Books, 1964), pp. 159-95.

392 The same hour. Compare phrasing at line 1057.

393 Latin marginalia: ¶ Nota.

394-98 Marginalia: ¶ How the fate of Edippus disposed that he shulde sleen his owne fadere.

396 The syntax requires "was" to be understood: "the clerks' judgment was that his father shall be slain."

442-47 Marginalia: ¶ How the huntys of Kyng Poliboun fonde the chyld in the forest and presented hym to the kynge.

465-66 Spearing, "Lydgate's Canterbury Tale," p. 351, notes that Lydgate's mention that Polyboun lacks an heir surprisingly echoes the narrator's remark about Criseyde: "But wheither that she children hadde or noon, / I rede it naught, therfore I late it goon" (Troilus and Criseyde 1.132-33).

482-83 The pairing of Contrarie and Froward recurs in lines 1033, 1340, 3178; compare 2895-97.

538-40 And within a spirit ful unclene, / Be fraude only and fals collusioun, / Answere gaf to every questioun. Compare Lydgate's excursus on idolatry in Troy Book 2.5472-74, as Agamemnon sends Achilles and Pirithous to consult the Delphic oracle: "And therin was, thorugh the devels sleighte, / A spirit unclene, be false illusioun, / That gaf answere to every question." Spearing, "Lydgate's Canterbury Tale," pp. 357-58, finds the attitude close to that in the Franklin's Tale: "swiche illusiouns and swiche meschaunces / As hethen folke useden in thilke dayes" (V[F]1292-93). On idolatry, see below, lines 4047-54.

566 a maner tornement. The tournament that Laius holds recalls Theseus' tournament in The Knight's Tale in its dual aim of proving chivalric worth and promoting reputation (I[A]2106-16).

579-81 Marginalia: ¶ How Edippus slogh his fader of ignoraunce at the castel.

581 cruelly hym slogh. Compare Troilus' death at the hands of Achilles: "Despitously hym slough the fierse Achille" (Troilus and Criseyde 5.1806).

611-15 Marginalia: ¶ How Edippus passed by the hyll wher the monstre lay that was called Spynx.

619-21 Marginalia: ¶ The descripcioun of the foule monstre.

660-62 Marginalia: ¶ Of the problem that Spynx putte to Edippus.

680 in his manly herte. The phrase is repeated later in the description of Tydeus at the ambush (line 2175).

697-700 Marginalia: ¶ How Egippus expounded the problem that Sphynx put to hym.

726-35 Erdmann (2:105) regards the sentence as a series of run-on clauses, but the syntax is elliptical rather than broken: no man may escape the truth that, when Fortune's wheel turns, it does no good for anyone to resist further when he sees his time end and Atropos cuts the life-thread that Clotho first wove. The sentence comes to a full stop here.

809-16 In conceding that Oedipus was ignorant when he married Jocasta yet suffered punishment and overthrow, Lydgate interprets the myth according to Boethian Fortune. In the Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius explains Fortune as the confluence of remote sources that the individual cannot foresee or adequately understand.

823 I am wery mor therof to write. Compare Chaucer's expression of exasperation in The Legend of Good Women: "I am agroted herebyforn / To wryte of hem that ben in love forsworn" (line 2454-55).

831 Clyo nor Calyopé. Chaucer calls upon these two muses in the proems to books 2 and 3 of Troilus and Criseyde, Clio, muse of history, to help him "storie" the courtship of Criseyde; and Calliope, muse of epic poetry, to help him recount the consumma-tion of their love. Lydgate's point here is that Oedipus' marriage will not be blessed by "hevenly armonye" (line 830), regardless of the telling.

837 Marcian ynamed de Capelle. Martianus Capella was the fifth-century North African writer who composed the De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii, an encyclopedia of the Seven Liberal Arts prefaced by the allegorical story of the wedding of Philology and Mercury. Chaucer makes the wedding a point of satiric contrast for the marriage of January and May in The Merchant's Tale (IV[E]1732-41).

853-56 Marginalia: ¶ The infortunat folk that weren at the weddynge: Cerebus, Herebus, Nygh[t] and her thre doghtren, Drede, Fraude, Trecherie, Tresoun, Poverté, Indygence, Nede, Deth, Cruel Mars.

869 Fraternal Hate. Compare Statius, Thebaid 1.1: "Fraternas acies."

870-72 Marginalia: ¶ Alle thise folk weren at the wedding of Edyppus and Jocasta.

873 To make the towne desolat and bare. Repeated at line 4372. The image of the desolate city is taken from the opening of the Book of Lamentations traditionally ascribed to Jeremiah. Dante uses it to represent the death of Beatrice in the Vita Nuova (ch. xxviii). In the Filostrato, Boccaccio revises Dante's use of the figure in order to signify the absence of his fictitious lover and Criseida's empty house after she has left Troy and abandoned Troiolo. Chaucer employs Boccaccio's image to describe Criseyde's "paleys desolat" (5.540-53). Compare Anelida and Arcite lines 57-63 for the image in Chaucer's summary of the carnage of the Theban expedition (Simpson, p. 28).

994 Latin marginalia: ¶ Tragedia Senece de Edippo rege Thebarum. The Oedipus written by Lucius Annaeus Seneca follows the main lines of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex but adds spectacular scenes such as occult rituals and Jocasta's death on stage.

1009 devoide both of love and drede. Lydgate recalls the phrasing that describes the relation of the Lombard prince Walter to his nobles and people at the beginning of Chaucer's The Clerk's Tale: "Biloved and drad" (IV[E]69). Compare line 1205, where the phrasing is applied to Adrastus as a monarch who holds power by virtue and popular consent.

1010 whan Edippus for meschief was thus dede. Lydgate follows the narrative of the prose romances. In Statius, Oedipus is alive when Creon comes to power following the deaths of Etiocles and Polynices.

1020 Latin marginalia: ¶ Nota.

1021-26 Marginalia: ¶ How every man oght of dieuté to do reverence to fader and modere, or ellis ther wil folowe vengeaunce.

1025-38 This sentence has no control over syntax; from line 1033 onwards, it is a sequence of elliptical clauses.

1046b Latin marginalia: ¶ Secunda pars.

Secunda Pars

1047 Bowtoun on the Ble. In the frametale of The Canterbury Tales, the Second Nun's life of St. Cecilia has just ended when the Canon's Yeoman overtakes the pilgrims at Boghtoun under Blee (VIII[G]556), which is located about five miles from Canterbury. Lydgate imagines the pilgrims now returning to London as he tells his tale of Thebes. They have already passed the locations where the Manciple and Parson told their tales on their way to Becket's shrine.

1050 Of the clok that it drogh to nyne. The time-telling trope resonates with Chaucer's time-telling passages, one in the Introduction to The Man of Law's Tale, where Harry Bailly urges the pilgrims on because it is already 10 o'clock and time is slipping away, and another just outside Canterbury as the Parson is called on to tell his tale. Lydgate's pilgrims are off to a good start as it is only 9 o'clock and Lydgate has already finished the first part of his triptych tale.

1054-56 Zephyrus . . . hoolsom eir. Another allusion to The Canterbury Tales. Compare the opening lines of the General Prologue, particularly I(A)5-18.

1088-89 Marginalia: ¶ The controvercy of the bretheren.

1104-30 Simpson remarks that a "bureaucratic" and clerical wisdom is undone by the knightly interests of Eteocles and Polynices.

1121-22 Marginalia: ¶ The convencioun of the brotheren.

1161-70 Polynices' journey recapitulates Oedipus' earlier journey.

1190-92 Marginalia: ¶ How Polymytes cam into the lond of Arge.

1195 Chysoun. Adrastus was King of Sicyon.

1196 Chaloun. Adrastus is the son of Talaus: "senior Talaionides" (Thebaid 2.141); see also Hyginus, Fabulae 68A.1, 69, 69A.1, 70.

1211 Marginalia: ¶ Deyphylé.

1212 Marginalia: ¶ Adrastus.

1222-24 Marginalia: ¶ The drem of Kyng Adrastus of a bor and a lyoun.

1266 Tidyus. As Erdmann points out (2:108-09), Lydgate and his sources are uncertain about the details of Tydeus' exile. Tydeus' fratricide, mentioned in line 1271 but unemphasized in Lydgate's poem, ironically reinforces the theme of internecine conflict. His first meeting with Polynices leads to violence, but they reconcile as allies and brothers-in-law.

1270-81 Statius refers briefly to Tydeus' killing of his brother (Thebaid 2.402-03, 2.452-54).

1349 pompous and ellat. The phrase is applied later to another heroic knight, in a mythological excursus on Lycurgus (line 3530); compare Troy Book 1.3110, 4.250, 5.37.

1352-54 Marginalia: ¶ How Tydeus and Polymyte strif for her loggyng.

1374-86 Lydgate's equation of Adrastus with Theseus in Chaucer's The Knight's Tale is indicated by the repetition of the phrase Withoute juge (lines 1366, 1382; compare I[A]1712: "Withouten juge or oother officere").

1408-29 In the Thebaid 1.679-92, Polynices identifies himself by mentioning Cadmus, Thebes, and Jocasta. Adrastus tells him that the rest of the story is well known, adding that his house has its own sins and that posterity does not bear the blame of its ancestor.

1437 Cusshewes. A cuisse is a piece of armor that covers the thighs with plate armor front and back. Greaves are armor for the lower leg. Lydgate describes the inverse scene in Troy Book (3.50), where the knights arm themselves with the same pieces as mentioned here.

1460 Lucyfer. Lydgate seems to mean Lucifer as the sun, as Erdmann indicates in his gloss, but normal Middle English usage construes him as the morning star. Compare Chaucer's Boece 3.m1.9 and Troilus and Criseyde 3.1417.

1484 his arowes of gold and not of stiel. Cupid's arrows representing courtly virtues and vices are mentioned in the Roman de la rose. Compare Chaucer's Romaunt 946-47: "But iren was ther noon ne steell, / For al was gold."

1488 Depe yfiched the poynt of remembraunce. Compare Anelida's complaint in Anelida and Arcite, which laments Arcite's betrayal (lines 211, 350).

1499 spices pleynly and the wyn. Spices were taken with wine. Compare The Squire's Tale V(F)291-94 and The Legend of Good Women, line 1110.

1502-05 Touchyng her reste . . . Demeth ye lovers . . . in my boke. Lydgate's deferential trope originates in Chaucer. See, e.g., Troilus and Criseyde 3.1310-16. Lydgate picks up the phrase "the grete worthynesse" from Troilus and Criseyde 3.1316 in his line 1509.

1532 feeldys. The field is the surface of the shield on which a charge of heraldic device is displayed.

1541 lik as writ Bochas. Genealogie deorum gentilium 2.41.

1562-65 Lydgate uses the device of occupatio in a manner reminiscent of The Knight's Tale and alluding closely to The Squire's Tale (V[F]65-68), where the Squire in fact demonstrates his inability to control the figure rhetorically. Unlike Chaucer's narrators, Lydgate adheres to the ideal of brevity. A sotyltee is an ornamental device used at fine banquets, sometimes made of sugar and consumed, but sometimes also a table decoration that might establish the motif of the feast.

1615-21 Adrastus' plan to divide his kingdom between Polynices and Tydeus so that he can pursue the lust of my desyris (line 1617) and myn ese (line 1621) recalls Walter's governance before his marriage to Griselda in The Clerk's Tale as much as King Lear's disastrous division of his realm in Shakespeare's play. Allen, p. 125, suggests that Lydgate may be drawing on the ironic lesson of Troilus and Criseyde that human plans can be thwarted by the malice of others.

1629 verray gentyl knyght. Compare Chaucer's phrasing in his idealizing portrait of the Knight in the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales: "He was a veray, parfit gentil knyght" (I[A]72). Lydgate idealizes Tydeus, suppressing the details of his cannibalism as he dies on the battlefield; see below lines 4235-37.

1663-73 Another Chaucerian example of occupatio. See note to lines 1562-65.

1669-70 th'amerous lookes . . . leyd doun lyne and hokes. The notion that lines with hooks stream from the eyes of lovers to ensnare others lies at the heart of courtly love traditions. See Andreas Capellanus, De amore, 1.3. Relying on Isidore of Seville's Etymologiae 10.1.5, Andreas traces the origin of the word "love" (amor) to the word for "hook" (hamus): Nam qui amat captus est cupidinis vinculis aliumque desiderat suo capere hamo [for the lover is caught in bonds of desire and longs to catch another on his hook (hamo)]. See also Chaucer's "Merciles Beaute" where "Your yën two wol slee me sodenly" (line 1); or "The Complaint of Mars," where the lover is troubled by "the stremes of thin yën" (line 111).

1721-22 Marginalia: ¶ Comendacioun of Trouthe. See note to lines 1728-32 below.

1724 as a centre stable. Compare the description of Cambyuskan in Chaucer's The Squire's Tale (V[F]22): "Of his corage as any centre stable."

1727 Latin marginalia: ¶ Nota.

1728-32 Marginalia: ¶ How trouth is preferred in the book of Esdre aforn kyngges, wymmen, and wyn. The reference is to 3 Esdras 3-4.43, where wisemen demonstrate through debate that Truth is stronger than the king, wine, or women. The story is a great favorite among late fourteenth-century English poets. See Gower, Confessio Amantis 7.1783-1984, where Truth, which is stronger than all contenders, is identified as a primary point of virtue. Chaucer's Prudence gives an amusing variation on the story, where jasper is declared stronger than gold, wisdom stronger than jasper, and women strongest of all (The Tale of Melibee VII[B2]1106-08). 3 Esdras may be found in the appendix to Weber's Stuttgart edition of the Vulgate (1986), 2.1910-30. An interesting translation may be found in The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments with the Apocryphal Books, trans. from the Latin Vulgate by John Wycliffe and his Followers, ed. Josiah Forsball and Sir Frederic Madden (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1850; 1982), vol. 2.542-75.

1732 ben ek set asyde. The syntax of this clause is confusing. The general sense is that kings, wine, and women have little value and power in comparison to truth. Erdmann (2: 66) observes that the syntax of the line confused a number of scribes.

1736-41 The story of the rebuilding of the wall is alluded to in 2 Esdras 2:1-8, but the account is greatly expanded in 3 Esdras 2 and 4, as the king is convinced that the keeping of his word to rebuild the wall is most important of all. See note to lines 1728-32.

1743-45 Marginalia: ¶ Trouth and mercye preserven a kyng from al adversyté. Proverbs 20:28. "Misericordia et veritas custodiunt regem et roboratur clementia thronus eius" ("Mercy and truth preserve a king, and his throne is upheld by mercy"); compare Proverbs 16:12.

1748-50 Marginalia: ¶ Chaunge nor doublenesse shuld not be in a kyng.

1766 Interlinear gloss: trouth. Added to explain grammatical referent of it: truth wol clerly shyne.

1785-86 Marginalia: ¶ The counsayl of flatareres.

1790 blowen in an horn. Compare Theseus' remark about the loser of the contest to win Emily: "He moot go pipen in an yvy leef" (I[A]1838); and the luckless priest in The Miller's Tale (I[A]3387): "Absolon may blowe the bukkes horn."

1801-03 Marginalia: ¶ How the yeer was come out that Ethiocles regnyd.

1814-60 Lydgate and his sources omit the portion of the story in which Argeia pleads that Polynices not return to Thebes to claim the throne. It is subsequent to this scene that Polynices seeks counsel with Adrastus and Tydeus volunteers to undertake the mission. In Lydgate, Tydeus' refusal to hear any objection recalls Hector's refusal in Troy Book to heed Andromache's and Priam's protests against his taking the field against the Greeks.

1846-49 Marginalia: ¶ Tydeus took upon hym to doun the massage of Polymyne.

1867-70 Marginalia: ¶ The sorowe of Deyphilé whan Tideus went toward Thebes.

1889-90 The sense requires "was sittyng."

1901-04 Marginalia: ¶ How wisly and how knyghtly Tideus did his massage.

1932-35 Marginalia: ¶ The request that Tideus mad in the name of Polymyt under the title of the convencioun.

1963-64 Marginalia: ¶ The answer of Ethiocles.

1983 A four-beat line.

2047-49 Marginalia: ¶ The knyghtly answere ageyne of Tydeus.

2116-18 Marginalia: ¶ How manly Tydeus departed from the kyng.

2147-51 Marginalia: ¶ How falsly Ethyocles leyde a busshment in the way to have slayn Tydeus.

2157-58 The ambush of Tydeus repeats Oedipus' encounter with the Sphinx.

2173-75 Marginalia: ¶ How Tydeus outrayed fifty knyghtes that lay in a wayt for hym.

2197 rampaunt. Lydgate uses the adjective both in the sense of "threatening, fierce" and in the heraldic sense of a lion or griffon "standing in profile on the left hind leg" (MED).

2197-200 Erdmann (2:117) notes that the images here recall the battle of Palamon and Arcite in The Knight's Tale (I[A]1655-58).

2204 Now her, now ther. Tydeus' slaughter of his enemies echoes Pandarus' account to Criseyde of Troilus' prowess on the battlefield: "Now here, now ther, he hunted hem so faste, / Ther nas but Grekes blood - and Troilus" (Troilus and Criseyde 2.197-98).

2239-42 Marginalia: ¶ Hou trouth with lityl multitude hath evere in the fyn victory of falshede.

2244 chanpartye. Chaucer (The Knight's Tale I[A]1949) and Lydgate (Troy Book 2.5357, 2.5681, 3.2923) use the term in a number of contexts to mean "dispute" or "contend."

2269-71 Marginalia: ¶ How Tydeus al forwounded cam unto Ligurgus lond.

2274-75 As Erdmann (2:118) points out, the garden Tydeus enters recalls the one in which Palamon and Arcite first see Emily in The Knight's Tale (I[A]1056-61). The reference is interesting for what does not occur in Lydgate's poem: when he is healed of his wounds, Tydeus thanks Lygurgus' daughter for her assistance and returns to Argos.

2306-09 Marginalia: ¶ How Barurgus [Ligurgus] doghter fond Tydeus sleping in the herber al forwounded.

2355-58 Marginalia: ¶ How wommanly the lady acquyt hir to Tydeus in his desese.

2377-79 Marginalia: ¶ Hou Tydeus was refresshed in the castel of the lady.

2424-25 Marginalia: ¶ Hou Tydeus repeyred hym to Arge al forwoundyd.

2484-88 Marginalia: ¶ How Ethiocles was asstonyed whan he herd the deth of his knyghtes.

Tercia Pars

2553-67 Erdmann (2:120) cites Chaucer's Anelida and Arcite, lines 50-53, as a source, and Spearing, "Lydgate's Canterbury Tale," p. 362n33, suggests a formal resemblance to "O crueel goddes" (The Knight's Tale I[A]1303). But compare the apostrophes to Mars in Troy Book Prol.1-37 and 4.4440-537.

2586-88 Marginalia: ¶ The gret purveaunce of Kyng Adrastus touard Thebes.

2602 Cylmythenes. The passage from the Roman de Edipus printed by Erdmann (2:120) makes it clear that the proper name is an error for the title King of Mycenae: "La vint Parthonolopeus qui estoit filz du roy Archade et cil de Michenes et le Roy ypomedon . . . ." In the Thebaid, Parthonopeus is the last of the heroes named in Statius' list.

2613-15 Marginalia: ¶ The kyngges and princes that cam with Adrastus.

2661-63 As Erdmann (2:121) notes, these lines recall the passages in The Knight's Tale where the knights gather (I[A]2095-127) and later begin the tournament (I[A]2491-512). Lydgate's phrasing is close but not exact: uncouth devyses (line 2662) reformulates Chaucer's "devisynge of harneys / So unkouth and so riche" (I[A]2496-97) and Every man after his fantasye (line 2663) makes a significant change in "Everych after his opinioun" (I[A]2127). These verbal approximations belie the profound difference between Adrastus' preparations for war and Theseus' efforts to contain violence through ceremony and game.

2682-85 Marginalia: ¶ What vayleth a kyng to payen his puple trewly her sowde.

2713-14 Marginalia: ¶ Hou love vayleth mor a kyng than gold or gret richesse.

2750-53 Marginalia: ¶ How Ethiocles made hym strong ageyn the commyng of the Grekes.

2759 gonnys. Compare line 4315 and Chaucer's The Legend of Good Women, line 637, which has guns at Antony and Cleopatra's defeat at Actium (Erdmann 2:121). Cannons are mentioned in English and Italian documents from the early fourteenth century onwards.

2801-04 Marginalia: ¶ How the Bysshope Amphiorax was sent for to come to the Grekes. Renoir, The Poetry of John Lydgate, p. 123, argues that Lydgate presents a more positive view of Amphiarus than the closest French source, the Roman de Edipus, and makes him a source of wisdom.

2823-24 Marginalia: ¶ The proph[e]cie of Amphiorax.

2832 ther was non other geyn. Lydgate's characteristic expression of necessity; compare Troy Book 1.3490, 2.7370, 3.5244, 3.5299, 4.618, 4.1400, 4.3111, 5.1947.

2841-72 Lydgate's casual misogyny here and at lines 4449-62 plays against his more complex treatment of women in Troy Book 3.4343-448, where he seems to reprove Guido delle Colonne's antifeminism but ends by affirming part of it.

2853-57 Marginalia: ¶ How the wif of Amphiorax of conscience to save her hath discured her husbond.

2946-48 Marginalia: ¶ How age and youth ben of diverse opynyons.

2958 Joye at the gynnyng; the ende is wrechednesse. Compare the definitions of tragedy in Dante's Letter to Can Grande della Scala and the Prologue to Chaucer's The Monk's Tale (VII[B2]1971-81).

2969-72 Marginalia: ¶ How that wysdam withoute supportacioun avayleth lit or noght.

3007-09 Marginalia: ¶ The gret meschief that Grekes hadde for watere.

3034 "This Ligurgus seems to be another person than the king of the same name mentioned 2308, 2353, and the country as well as the garden are apparently quite unfamiliar to Tydeus" (Erdmann 2:123). Chaucer confuses Lycurgus of Nemea (mentioned in Teseida 6.14) with Lycurgus of Thrace (mentioned in Thebaid 4.386 and 7.180); see The Riverside Chaucer, p. 837, the note for The Knight's Tale I(A)2129.

3040-43 Marginalia: ¶ How Tydeus compleyned to the lady in the herber for water.

3069-71 Marginalia: ¶ How the ladye taught Tydeus to the welle.

3154-92 The story of Hypsipyle told here, Erdmann (2:123) points out, combines Lydgate's prose sources with Boccaccio's Genealogie deorum gentilium 5.29, his De claris mulieribus 15, and Chaucer's The Legend of Good Women, 3155-87. In Statius, the story is told at length (Thebaid 5.28-498).

3188 Marginalia: ¶ Jason.

some bookis telle. Chaucer's The Legend of Good Women recounts the collusion of Jason and Hercules to seduce and betray Hypsipyle in the paired stories of Medea and Hypsipyle (1368-679). See also Gower's telling of the story of Jason, Medea, and the golden fleece in Confessio Amantis 5.3247-4361.

3192 Marginalia: ¶ Hercules.

3193 Marginalia: ¶ Ysyphylé.

3195 Hir fadres name of which also I wante. Hypsipyle's father is named Thoas; see Statius, Thebaid 5.239 and Chaucer, The Legend of Good Women, line 1468.

3204 fayre Jane. Giovanna (Joanna), daughter of Robert of Anjou, king of Naples, where Boccaccio lived between 1327-41. Giovanna is the last figure mentioned in Boccaccio's De claris mulieribus. Though originally intended for Giovanna, the work, begun in 1361 and revised until 1375, is dedicated to Countess Andrea Acciaiuoli.

3207 conpiled. A compilatio is a collection of narratives with some organizing principle, as opposed to a collectio, which merely gathers the materials without an organizing scheme. Chaucer and Gower describe their authorial role as that of a compilator, someone who writes the materials of others and augments them but adds nothing of his own.

3217-18 Marginalia: ¶ How the child was slayn with the serpent.

3313-16 Marginalia: ¶ Hou Adrastus and all th' estatus of Grekis praiden Lygurgus for the lif of Ysyphilé.

3326 herberiours. A harbinger is a servant who rides ahead to arrange his master's lodging.

3379 The rage gan myne. Erdmann (2:126) proposes a source in Criseyde's inclination toward Troilus: "And after that, his manhod and his pyne / Made love withinne hire for to myne" (Troilus and Criseyde 2.676-77).

3379-83 Marginalia: ¶ The sorow that the Kyng Ligurgus made for the deth of his child and the lamentacioun of the quene.

3384 Erdmann (2:126) cites Criseyde's isolation in the Greek camp: "Hire nedede no teris for to borwe" (Troilus and Criseyde 5.726).

3398 pité which is in gentyl blood. The phrase "pitee renneth soone in gentil herte" recurs throughout Chaucer's poetry (The Knight's Tale I[A]1761, The Man of Law's Tale II[B1]660, The Merchant's Tale IV[E]1986, The Squire's Tale V[F]479, The Legend of Good Women F 503). Guido Guinizelli's doctrinal canzone "Al cor gentil rempaira sempre amore" ("Love returns always to the gentle heart") gives one of the most important medieval expressions to the idea; see also Dante, Convivio 4.16.3-5. In Statius, the corresponding virtue is clementia, which has political significance (mercy that can supersede the mechanisms of justice) rather than aristocratic and moral meaning.

3417-18 Marginalia: ¶ Ageynes deth may be no recur.

3418-19 And our lif her, who tak hed therto, / Is but an exile and a pilgrymage. Compare Egeus' speech of consolation to Palamon immediately after Arcite's death in The Knight's Tale: "This world nys but a thurghfare ful of wo, / And we been pilgrymes, passynge to and fro" (I[A]2847-48). Adrastus' speech of consolation to Lycurgus (lines 3409-49) also recalls Theseus' speech on providence at the end of The Knight's Tale and the practical wisdom of Agamemnon's speech to Menelaus after the loss of Helen (Troy Book 2.4337-427).

3430 fraunchyse. The term refers broadly to freedom and nobility of character and specifically to special rights and privileges, including right of sanctuary and freedom from arrest in certain places (MED); see also Erdmann 2:177.

3432 supersedyas. Writ to stay legal proceedings or to suspend the powers of an officer (MED and Erdmann 2:199). Erdmann 2:126-27 and Schirmer, p. 64, relate the reference to the murder of Duke John of Burgundy (10 September 1419) and cite Troy Book 5.3553-56 as a parallel.

3468-70 Marginalia: ¶ How the quen wil algate han the serpente dede.

3487-89 Marginalia: ¶ How Parthonolope saugh the serpent.

3510 Boccaccio, Genealogie deorum gentilium 3.29

3521-22 Latin marginalia: ¶ Nota de Ligurgo rege Traccee.

3522-35 In The Knight's Tale, Lycurgus is the champion who accompanies Palamon against Arcite (I[A]2128-29); compare Teseida 6.14. Like Chaucer, Lydgate confuses Lycurgus, the father of the slain infant Opheltes, with Lycurgus, the king of Thrace who repudiated Bacchus (Thebaid 4.386); see above, line 3034.

3528 Latin marginalia: ¶ Bachus de vini.

3537-40 Latin marginalia: ¶ Nota de xii arboribus in libro Bochacii de Genealogia Deorum. Boccaccio sets out the genealogical scheme in the first proem to the Genealogie deorum gentilium.

3541 Certaldo. Boccaccio was born in the village of Certaldo, not far from Florence. He returned there after retirement from public life and called himself "John of Certaldo."

3589-92 Marginalia: ¶ The forey that the Grekis made in the contré about Thebes.

3620-22 Marginalia: ¶ The variaunce in Thebes among hemsilf.

3647-50 Marginalia: ¶ Nota The word of the Qwene Jocasta to Ethiocles.

3655 lat us shape another mene. Chaucer uses the phrase to describe Fate's plan for killing Hector (Troilus and Criseyde 5.1551), and Lydgate uses the phrase through-out Troy Book to express practical deliberation in political matters.

3661-70 Ebin, John Lydgate, pp. 54-55, remarks that Lydgate amplifies the climax of Jocasta's speech by reiterating the example of Amphion's elevation of words over arms.

3663-65 Marginalia: ¶ How perilous it is to be governyd any querel.

3687 dryve so narowe to the stake. Erdmann (2:129) notes similar phrasing in The Knight's Tale: "be broght unto the stake" (I[A]2552), "ydrawen to the stake" (I[A]2642), and "broght to the stake" (I[A]2648).

3766-67 Marginalia: ¶ The answer of Tydeus.

3822-932 The episode of the tiger is amplified in details from Statius by Lydgate's sources, and Lydgate uses it to make the same point as in Troy Book - disastrous consequences follow from remote and oblique causes.

3904-05 Marginalia: ¶ The manhod of Tydeus.

4011 thus I lete him dwelle. A favorite transitional device in Chaucer; see The Knight's Tale I(A)1661, The Man of Law's Tale II(B1)410 and 1119, The Franklin's Tale V(F)1099, The Shipman's Tale VII(B2)306, Troilus and Criseyde 5.195, The Legend of Good Women, lines 2348 and 2383, and "Complaint of Mars" lines 74, 122.

4029-30 Marginalia: ¶ How Amphiorax fil doune into hell.

4041-44 Spearing, "Lydgate's Canterbury Tale," p. 340, finds the model for Amphiarus' descent to hell in Aurelius' address to Apollo in The Franklin's Tale (V[F]1073-75).

4047-54 Lydgate's style echoes Chaucer's ambiguous anaphora on pagan rites and poetry at the end of Troilus and Criseyde 5.1849-55. On idolatry, see above, lines 538-40. See also the note to lines 4620-30 below.

4167-69 Marginalia: ¶ How Grekes chose hem a new dyvynour in stede of Amphiorax.

4205 That as the deth fro his swerd they fledde. The description of Tydeus parallels that of Troilus in his effort to secure Criseyde's admiration through deeds of arms: "Fro day to day in armes so he spedde / That the Grekes as the deth him dredde" (Troilus and Criseyde 1.482-83).

4212-15 The plot to ambush Tydeus resembles the plots that Achilles organizes in Troy Book to kill first Hector and then Troilus.

4218-19 Marginalia: ¶ How pitously Tydeus was slayn with a quarell.

4235-37 Boccaccio, Genealogie deorum gentilium 9.21 in fact records the full details of the scene in Statius, where Tydeus gnaws on the head of Menalippus; compare Dante's version of the scene with Ugolino (Inferno 33.1-90), to which Chaucer directs the curious reader in The Monk's Tale (VII[B2]2458-62).

4239-41 Marginalia: ¶ He that slogh Tydeus was callyd Menolippus.

4240-54 Lydgate's treatment of the rest of the Argive heroes is in marked contrast to that of Statius, who sets the rhythm of his poem around the successive deaths of the kings who join Adrastus to move against Thebes.

4277-80 Marginalia: ¶ How everich of the Theban bretheren slogh other toforn the cyté.

4281 compassioun. Schlauch, p. 19, emphasizes that the combat between the brothers is presented "in the spirit of the Roman de Thèbes," where the equivalent term is pitié (9630). Lydgate's use of compassioun in this scene is the culmination of an ambiguous pattern: the term applies earlier to the decision not to kill the infant Oedipus, to Lycurgus' daughter's healing of Tydeus after the ambush, to Hypsipyle's response to the desperate situation of the Greek army, and to Adrastus' sympathy for Lycurgus as the king holds the body of his infant son.

4315 See above, line 2759.

4341-44 Marginalia: ¶ How al the gentyl blood of Grece and Thebes was distroyed on o day.

4345-48 In Statius, Adrastus is the only hero to survive the assault on Thebes. Lydgate follows his prose source in having both Adrastus and Campaneus survive (Erdmann 2:134). In the Roman de Thèbes, Campaneus is struck down by Jupiter's thunderbolt.

4372 the cité bar and destitut. See above, line 872.

4384 Creon is chosen governor of the city in the French tradition of the story, while he seizes power in Statius. Compare Anelida and Arcite, lines 64-68.

4386-88 Marginalia: ¶ How Creaunt the old tyraunt was chosen kyng of Thebes.

4412-15 Erdmann (2:133) cites the references to queens and duchesses in The Knight's Tale (I[A]922-23), but Lydgate amplifies the number of titles and makes explicit the social standing of the women.

4416-18 Marginalia: ¶ How alle the ladyes of Gr[e]ce arayde hem toward Thebes.

4448-62 See above, lines 2841-72. Erdmann (2:134) finds a tinge of satire in the passage.

4489-92 Marginalia: ¶ How Creon wil not suffre the bodies nowther to be buryed nor brent.

4501 And as my mayster Chaucer list endite. The ending portions of Lydgate's poem are linked with the opening of Chaucer's The Knight's Tale both at a narrative level and at the level of specific textual detail. Later (line 4531), Lydgate directs attention to the text itself in a summary of the tale.

4523 Wel rehersyd at Depforth in the vale. The reference is to The Reeve's Tale, not The Knight's Tale.

4525-28 Marginalia: ¶ How the fynal destruccioun of Thebes is compendeously rehersyd in the Knyghtes Tale.

4541-53 The alternative narrative that Lydgate notes - "as some auctours make mencioun" (line 4541) - is the narrative that Statius recounts at the end of the Thebaid.

4563-66 Marginalia: ¶ How Duk Theseus delyvered to the ladies the bodyes of her lordys.

4565-607 Lydgate's occupatio echoes The Knight's Tale (I[A]2919-66), the description of Arcite's funeral, and the longest sentence in Chaucer. Lydgate had used it earlier in Troy Book 4.3251-61.

4603-06 Marginalia: ¶ Kyng Adrastus with the ladyes repeyred hom ageyn to Arge.

4610 ye gete no more of me. A repeated formula in Chaucer: The Merchant's Tale (IV[E]1945), The Squire's Tale (V[F]343), The Franklin's Tale (V[F]1556), The Manciple's Prologue (IX[H]102), House of Fame, line 1560, Parliament of Fowls, line 651, The Legend of Good Women, line 1557; compare The Monk's Tale (VII[B2]2292) and Parson's Prologue (X[I]31).

4623-26 Marginalia: ¶ CCCC yere tofore the fundacioun of Rome was Thebes destroyed.

4628-30 Lydgate's repetition in these lines recalls the ending of Troilus and Criseyde where the narrator repudiates antiquity, its cultural practices, and poetic topics.

4634-39 Marginalia: ¶ The worthy blood of Grece was distroyed at the siege and the cyté fynaly brouht to nought. Renoir, The Poetry of John Lydgate, p. 125, points out that Lydgate's repudiation of war echoes Amphiarus' earlier warning to the Greeks about the outcome of war (lines 2887-910).

4649-50 Marginalia: ¶ Belliona is goddesse of bataill.

4661-64 Marginalia: ¶ How that werre byganne in hevene by the pride and surquedye of Lucyfer. Erdmann (2:135-36) cites Isaiah 14:12 and 17:1 and Revelations 20:1-3 and 12:7, 9. Kurose, p. 22, notes parallels in Troy Book 2.5845-83 and examines the implications in Lydgate's treatise The Serpent of Division. He wrongly equates division with mutability, confusing cause and effect (pp. 24-25).

4668 Marginalia: ¶ Lollium.

4697 Latin marginalia: ¶ Surget gens contra gentem lucc xxi?. Luke 21:10: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom."

4703 Pees and quyet, concord and unyté. Lydgate echoes the terms of the Treaty of Troyes, reached in 1420. At the end of Troy Book, he refers to the same convencioun (5.3398) and sees in Henry V's marriage to Katherine of Valois the promise of "Pes and quiete" (5.3435). Pearsall, John Lydgate, suggests that the peace Henry negotiated was "the fulfilment of the whole historical teaching of the Thebes-story" (p. 156) and that Lydgate turned consciously to the ending in Troy Book. Lawton, pp. 778-79, argues that Lydgate developed the theme of the waste of war out of Troy Book and expressed his deeply-held convictions in this passage. Ayers, p. 468 n26, is skeptical about using 31 August 1422 as a terminus ante quem for dating The Siege of Thebes, since he finds the poem's optimistic ending and the echo of the Treaty of Troyes "conventionally Christian in character." Simpson (p. 15) also places the poem after Henry's death, in the struggle between Bedford and Gloucester.

4704 Here Lydgate echoes the last stanza of Troilus and Criseyde, where Chaucer, borrowing from Dante's prayer for virtuous warriors in Paradiso 14.28-30, lays his hero and his poem to rest.


43 trouthe. MS: trouth. In a number of instances I have added a final -e to restore the meter. See the following: spare (line 112), bothe (lines 151, 199, 707, 844, 1416, 1575, 1638, 2092, 2626, 2721, 3023, 3093, 3151, 3241, 4226), shulde (lines 218, 424,1516,1722,1918, 2812, 2830, 2858, 3404), moste (lines 266, 733), myghte (line 300), silfe (line 372), woode (lines 390, 2374, 2523, 3438), wexe (lines 496, 985), wolde (lines 579, 1393, 1833, 3097, 3162, 3401), hymsilve (line 662), trouthe (lines 673, 1722, 1725, 1762, 2649, 2786, 2963), Thilke/thilke (lines 699, 1240, 1841, 3616, 3862, 3920, 3983, 4240, 4255), foure (lines 705, 3526), seide (line 777), dyde/dide (lines 833, 3531, 3652, 3851, 3854), erthe (lines 1011, 4148), hoole (line 1057), berthe (1079), groche (line 1139), heghe (lines 1154, 2273, 2300, 2757, 2817), herte (line 1169), silfe (line 1249), grene (lines 1276, 2288, 2290, 2304, 3564), hadde (line 1289), thikke (lines 1365, 2145), tolde (line 1368), torche (line 1370), derke (line 1383), Tweyne (line 1439), whiche (lines 1547, 3903), laste (line 1575), fulle (line 1630), Sore/Soore/soore (lines 1687, 3393, 4367), betwixe (line 1719), alle (lines 1721, 2720), croune (line 1840), blake (lines 1869, 3596, 4042), olde (lines 1914, 4031, 4566), avayle (line 2021), while (lines 2040, 2314), slouthe (line 2108), moone (line 2272), pleyne (line 2360), made (lines 2394, 2449), highe (line 2485), wirke (line 2795), wiste (line 2819), hoore (line 2879), dirke (lines 2909, 4073), gonne (line 2929), Conveye (line 3081), allone (line 3186), fayre (line 3204), taile (line 3219), remedye (line 3261), mighte (line 3304), newe (line 3369), herde (lines 3372, 4104), sighe (line 3380), aboute (line 3397), sharpe (lines 3406, 3900), sheede (line 3477), lieve (line 3547), larke (line 3552), broughte (line 3591), thynke (line 3601), strengthe (line 3777), helpe (line 4103), drede (line 4156), Atwene (line 4337), dede (line 4495), looke (line 4532), waye (line 4596), atwixe (lines 4684, 4702).

45 memoyré. For the rhyme with gloyré (line 46), compare lines 2239-40.

46 whom. MS: who.

58 deden. MS: ded. In a number of instances I have supplied a medial vowel or ending

inflection where the meter and syntax require it. See the following: franchemole (line 101), benignely/Benygnely, (lines 506, 3060), Amonges (lines 615, 2802), diden (line 629), slayen/Islayen/yslayen (lines 948, 2224, 2525, 3873, 3877, 3910, 4196, 4241, 4342, 4361), hymsilven (line 1119), humblely (line 1388), withouten (lines 1412, 1725), officeres (line 1430), aboven (lines 1721, 2720), therageynes (line 2010), Ageynes (lines 2078, 2237, 2245, 3137, 4102), stoundemele (lines 2304, 3387), rasoures (line 3169), wildely (line 3866), wichecraft (line 4101), lechecraft (line 4228), hennes (line 4715).

67 logged. MS: louged.

109 with. MS omits.

110 to. MS omits.

114 collik. MS: collis. Erdmann (2:99) notes Latin "collica passio" but emends to "Collikes passioun."

163 It. MS omits.

165 a. MS omits.

176b Incipit Pars Prima. MS: Incipit Pars Prima. Per &c.

177 curtesye. MS: curteseye.

185 and. MS: of.

203-04 Lines transposed in MS.

215 Seith. MS: Seth.

234 outward. MS: after.

239-42 Lines repeated with minor variation in 289-92, but evidently not cancelled in this passage.

280 which that. MS: which.

283 clerkes can reporte. I have retained the MS reading against other early witnesses, which Erdmann uses to emend to as clerkes can reporte. Parenthetical clauses are characteristic of both Chaucer's and Lydgate's style. The error in the next line shows the scribe construing the parenthetical clause as the main clause.

284 But that. MS: That but.

285 nought. MS: nat.

324 space. MS: space in soth. MS reading hypermetric. Erdmann proposes (2:93) that this error originates with the first copyist of the poem.

seven. MS: vii.

358 perceyved. MS: conceyved.

365 come. MS: corve.

368 fate. MS: face.

379 soght. MS: foght.

founde out bothe. MS: founde out of both.

380 collecte. MS: correcte. See also Explanatory Notes.

382 hour. MS: tour.

455 halle. MS: alle.

461 purpoos. MS: propoos.

493 uttrely. MS: uutrely.

498 his. MS: her.

500 mused. MS: musen.

504 a. MS omits.

508 ground. MS: trouthe.

527 he. MS: it.

532 Edippus. MS: Egippus.

544 paganysmes. MS: paganysme.

553 fend. MS: fond.

561 Unto a. MS: Unta.

564 perteynent. MS: perceynent.

644 monster. MS: moyster.

649 preef. MS: preest.

690 vyle. Other MSS: foule; see Erdmann 2:105 for arguments for either reading.

725 remewe. MS: renewe.

752 grete. MS: right.

799 her. MS: hur.

804 be. MS omits.

813 punished. MS: punshed.

814 ar. MS: er.

863 Indigence. MS: Iindigence.

865 Compleynt. MS: compleyn.

882 Of which. MS: Of the which.

928 To execute. MS: Execute. Erdmann (2:93) regards the confusion of lines 927-28 as an error deriving from the common exemplar of all the extant witnesses. I have preserved the MS reading "To certeyn men" (line 927), which Erdmann takes as a scribal mistake for To execute (line 928) because of its attestation in all MSS and its metrical regularity.

982 ful. MS: fal.

990 hem. MS: ham.

1000 sones. MS: sonnes. Compare line 1445.

1013 Wers. MS: Werre.

1022 honur. MS: nur.

1023 and. MS omits.

1028 cherissh. MS: cherssh.

1033 contrayre. MS: contrarye. See below line 3988.

1046b Incipit Secunda Pars Eiusdem. MS: Incipit Secunda Pars Eiusdem. Secunda pars.

1051 And. MS: An.

1052 peerlys. MS: perelys.

1053 eire. MS: heire.

1056 eir. MS: heir.

1070 devoyded. MS: devoyden.

1078 forbern. MS: forborn.

1098 But. MS omits.

1112 thorgh. MS: thorg.

1116 regnen. MS: regne.

1132 ascendeth. MS: descendeth.

1203 To. MS: Be.

1216 and. MS omits.

1221 mariage. MS: marige (corr. mariage)

1222 yet. MS: right.

1256 without. MS: with.

1271 his. MS: is.

1280 banished. MS: banshed.

1300 entered. MS: entred.

1309 tydinges. The alternative reading in some MSS - Tydeus - makes sense as well.

1346 yarmed. MS: armed.

1351 on. MS: or.

1357 And. MS omits. Erdmann (2:109) regards this error as deriving from the exemplar common to all extant witnesses.

1358 Kyng. MS: And kyng.

1375 gentil. MS: getil.

1384 myght. MS: mygh.

1392 tarying. MS: taryng.

1393 light. MS: ligh.

1400 He axed. MS: I-axed.

1442 ermyn. MS: hermyn.

1445 sonne. MS: sone. Compare line 1000.

1448 for to. MS: to.

1465 Contenaunce. MS: Contenaunces.

1467 frecchnesse. MS: frocchnesse.

1484 arowes. MS: harowes.

1540 lokys. MS: hokys. Other MSS: crokes.

1565 it. MS omits.

1583 To. MS: The.

and. MS: of. Erdmann's emendation, retained here, offers an aristocratic perspective rather than the more worldly view of the MS: The grete estat of habundaunce of good.

1591 Atwixe. MS: Atwixt.

1631 thanked he. MS: thanked. Following Eilert Ekwall's suggestion 2:111.

1646 And. MS: An.

1695 oth. MS: both.

1721 aboven alle. This line and the following one are metrically deficient in MS: above al; compare line 2720 for similar MS forms.

1738 Be the. MS: The. Erdmann (2:113) regards this error as characteristic of the exemplar common to all extant witnesses.

1749 mutabilité. MS: mutablite.

1750 unstabileté. MS: unstablete.

1755 fro. MS: for.

Whel. MS: wel.

1766 at. MS: a.

1776 And. MS: I.

walles. MS: wal.

1784 flaterye. MS: flatrye.

1790 blowen. MS: blowe.

1802 The. MS: Th.

1803 rekenyng. MS: reknyng.

1815 falshed. MS: falsed.

1861 hem. MS: hym.

1892 his. MS: this.

1896 to. MS omits.

1901 Sir. MS omits.

1909 to. MS omits.

1941 That. MS: Tha.

1957 in maner. MS: in a maner.

1966 which. MS: woch.

1981 than. MS: that.

1988 high. MS: gret.

2006 of. MS omits.

2010 al. MS: of.

2022 tyding. MS: dyding.

2029 walles. MS: wall.

2045 best. MS: lest.

2073 rightwisnesse. MS: righwisnesse.

2078 in feeld to hold batayle. MS: to hold no batayle.

2081 next of his alye. MS: his next alye. Erdmann (2:116) cites Troy Book 1.2882 ("And alle the lordis eke of hir allye") in support of the emendation for meter.

2084 ye. MS: the.

her. MS: ther.

2097 a rowe. MS: arawe.

2109 justly. MS: justyly.

2130 dispitous. MS: dispititous.

2140 or. MS: ar.

2220 was. MS omits. Erdmann (2:117-18) argues the omission occurs in the exemplarcommon to all extant witnesses.

hem. MS: ham.

2224 lay. MS omits.

2239 which. MS: woch.

2251 late. MS: layt.

2297 ayr. MS: hayr.

2307 eyre. MS: heyre (corr. eyre).

2368 so. MS: omits so.

2374 at. MS: al.

2433 wherfor. Other MSS and Erdmann: wherto.

2475 sheding. MS: the sheding.

2487 oyther. MS: oythe.

2491 That. MS: Tha.

2494 no thing. MS: not.

2574 massageres. MS: massagers.

2583 saude. MS corr. from saide; Erdmann emends to sende. Compare Troy Book 5.1354: "And sowden up every manly man."

2613 Pyrrus. MS: of Pyrrus.

2618 yarmed. MS: armed.

2633 ful. MS: shal.

2645 oth. MS: hoth.

2717 love. MS: gold.

2720 aboven alle. MS: above al; compare line 1721.

2739 Which in. MS: With inne.

2833 no. MS: to.

2848 han. MS: hath.

2856 oth. MS: hoth. See also line 2860.

2864 hem. MS: hym.

2900 Ther. MS: The.

2920 Thei. MS: The.

2944 by. MS omits.

lorn. MS: born.

3007 nor. MS: no.

3026 floures and of herbes. MS: herbes and of flours.

3027 ayr. MS: hayr.

3051 ly logged. Other MSS: be (be loggyng).

3064 knowe. MS: knewe.

3086 yet. MS: that. MS reading is plausible: "But for your sake, I shall risk that - my life, my death - for true affection, in order to provide for your rescue." Other witnesses read: now.

3099 to a. MS: ta.

3108 rood. MS: abood (corr. bood)

3168 husbond. MS: husbondys.

3195 wante. MS: wente.

3197 hym. MS: hem.

3211 To. MS: Til.

til. MS: to.

3219 Hyr. MS: hy.

3230 O. MS: I.

3232 her. MS: ther.

3251 quene. MS: king.

3292 thys. MS: thy.

3299 al at onys. MS: altonys.

3315 Cosyn. MS: Cosy.

3323 In. MS: An.

3346 our. MS: your.

yif that. MS: that. See Erdmann 2:125-26.

3364 kynges. MS: kyng.

3376 rent. I have retained the MS reading against Erdmann and other MSS: hente.

3383 the. MS omits.

3384 nedeth. MS: nede.

3385 ny. MS: by.

3436 But. MS: That.

3447 yif that. MS: that. MS reading is plausible: loos of thyng that ye list to see. Alter-native readings are if and that if.

3477 blood for. MS: bloood for.

3488 for to. MS: to.

3496 Hent. MS: Rent.

3504 avoided. MS: avoiden.

3518 hir. MS: hur.

3565 the Thebans. MS: Thebans.

3566 han. MS: an.

3577 to. MS: ta.

3595 hynde. MS: ynde.

3597 tusshy. MS: trusshy. Other MSS: tussky, tuskyd.

3603 occisiones. MS: occasions. Major substantive error for Erdmann (2:128); compare line 4204.

3611 to. MS omits.

3628 were. MS: that were.

3665 put our mater. MS: puter.

3684 on. MS omits.

3712 a pes. MS: pes.

3787 remewe. MS: remowe.

3831 The whiche. MS: which.

3845 ytake. MS: take.

3850 to. MS omits.

3852 good. MS: gret.

3903 espieth. MS: espeth.

3942 gete. MS: getys.

3950 Prothonolopé. MS: Protholonope.

3965 drow. MS: droweth.

3988 contrayre. Erdmann emends to contrarie; see above note to line 1033.

4008 And. MS: Ant.

4011 lete him. MS: lote hem.

4043 Pluto. MS: Plyto.

4045 his. MS: is.

4095 socour. MS: her socour.

4180 in. MS omits.

4187 They. MS omits.

him. MS: hem.

4204 occisioun. MS: occasioun. Compare line 3603.

4228 but that. MS: that.

4249-50 Lines transposed in MS.

4256 passyd was. MS: was passyd.

4286 out. MS omits.

4294 yslawe. MS: yslowe.

4298 loud. MS: land.

4306 ronne. MS: room.

4322 hem. MS: ham.

4326 Thorgh. MS: Torgh.

amyng. MS: hamyng.

4362 and. MS: an.

4373 nor. Erdmann emends to ne.

4374 and. MS: an.

4378 that. MS omits. Understood sense "unless" ("but that").

4389 Althogh. MS: Al they.

4390 by. MS omits.

choys. MS: ioys.

4447 hevynesse. MS: hevnesse.

4467 mervaylyd. MS: amervaylyd.

4471 Campaneus. MS: Companeus.

4490 Wisshing. MS: Whisshing.

4491 bothen. MS: both. Compare line 2801 for bothen.

4518 preiden. MS: preide.

4549 That. MS: Tha.

4571 ayre. MS: hayre.

4600 departe. MS: parte.

4626 departyden. MS: partyd.

4639 wyldernesse. MS: wydernesse.

4679 Luk. MS: bok. Compare rubric citing Luke 21:10: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom" (from the signs of the end of the world). Other MSS read bok or the boke, referring to the Bible in general.

4696 mor. Erdmann emends to more.

whettyd. MS: whtyd.

4714 amendement. MS: amedement.
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The Siege of Thebes: Secunda Pars

from: The Siege of Thebes  2001



























































































































































































































































































































Secunda Pars.

Passed the throp of Bowtoun on the Ble,
By my chilyndre I gan anon to se
Thorgh the sonne that ful cler gan shyne
Of the clok that it drogh to nyne
And saugh also the silver dropes shene
Of the dewe, lich peerlys on the grene,
Vapoured up into the eire alofte,
Whan Zephyrus with his blowing softe
The wedere made lusty, smoth, and feir,
And right attempre was the hoolsom eir -
The same hour all the hoole route
Of the pylgrymes rydyng round aboute,
In my tale whan I gan precede,
Rehercyng forth as it was in dede,
Whan Edippus buryed was and grave,
How his sones the kyngdam for to have
Among hemsilf be ful mortal hate
For the crowne gonne to debate
Which of hem justly shal succede
And the sceptre of the toune possede,
Advertyng nought neither to right ne wronge
But eche of hem to make her partie stronge
And his querele proudely to sustene:
From whoos hertes was devoyded clene
Of brotherhode the faithful alliaunce.
Fals covetise so made hem at distaunce,
Fully worchyng into destruccioun
And ruyne of this noble toun.
So hoote brente the hatred and envie
Of bothe two thorgh pompous surquedye
That nowther wold pleynly in a poynt
Other forbern; they stod in such disjoynte
How as they hadde of berthe be foreyns,
Tyl of the toune the noble citezeyns,
Knyghtes, barounes with many worthi lord,
Shope a way to mak hem of accord,
And to set hem in quyete and in pees.
But for his part this Ethiocles
Allegge gan that he was first yborn,
For which he oght of resoun go toforn
In the cité to be crowned kyng,
Sith be lawe ther was no lettyng.
For unto hym longeth the herytage
Be discent and be title of age.
But Polymyte of ful hegh disdeyn
Al opynly gan replie ageyn
And for his part seide, in special,
Reson was non that he shuld have alle
Regaly and domynacioun
And the lordship hooly of the toun,
And he right nought, out of the cyté
But lyve in exile and in poverté,
Ful concludyng, withoute feer and dred,
Rather than suffre that he wil be ded.
And thus, allas, thorgh her envious strif,
At the ende everich loste his lif,
At gret mischief as ye shal after here.
But thylke tyme the lordes al yfere
Ful bysily did her dyligence,
By gret avis and ful high prudence,
To setten hem in quyete and in reste,
Conseylyng hem pleynly for the beste,
To leve her strif of wisdam and resoun
And condescende to some conclusioun
Which to both myghte most availe;
That fynaly thorgh her governaile,
The lordes alle beyng tho present,
They han hem broght to be of on assent,
Of on hert as brother unto brother,
Everich of hem to regnen after other,
Yeer be yeer as it cam aboute,
So that the ton shal absent hym oute
Fully that yeer and hymsilven guye
Be his manhode and his chyvalrye,
Haunte hymself in dedys marcyal,
Whil his brother in his see royal
Holdeth his sceptre the cité to governe;
And whan the yeer his cours hath ronne yerne
And is come out, he shal ha repair
To regne in Thebes lik as lord and hair,
There to receyve fully his dignyté,
Whil the tother voideth the cité,
Paciently taking his aventure
To he ageyn his honure may recure.
Thus entrechaunge every yere they shal:
The ton ascendeth; that other hath a fal.
They most obeye of hert and take it wel,
Lich as the tourn resorteth of the whel.
For this was hool the composicioun
Atwene the bretheren and convencioun,
Ful knet up be gret avisement,
Tofor the goddys be oth of sacrament,
Never after to groche ne to varye
But acomplisshen shortly and not tarye,
Lich as th'acord enrolled in the toune,
From poynt to poynt made mencioun.
But alderfirst be reson of his age,
Ethyocles hadde th'avauntage
To regne aforn and to were a croune,
Polymyte hym hastyng out of toune
Duryng that yeer (it may non other be),
Whil his brother sat in his royal see
Ful richely upon fortunes wheel;
And rode hym forth armed bright in stele,
This Polymyte, sothly as I rede,
Hymsilf allone on a ryal stede,
Withoute guyde al the longe day,
Beyng aferd to kepe the heghe way,
In his herte havyng suspecioun
To his brother of malice and tresoun,
Lest he pursued thorgh fals unkynd blood
To have hym ded for covetise of good,
That he allon myght ha possessioun
Duryng his lif fully of the toun.
For which in hast, havyng no felawe,
Polymyte aside gan hym drawe
By a forest joynyng to the see,
Knowyng right nought the syyt of the contré,
Ful of hilles and of hegh mounteyns,
Craggy roches and but fewe playns,
Wonder dredful and lothsom of passage,
And therwithal ful of beestis rage,
Holdyng his way of herte no thyng light,
Maat and wery to it drowe to nyght.
And al the day beholdyng enviroun,
He neyther saugh castel, toure, ne toun,
The whiche thing greved hym ful sore.
And sodeynly the se began to rore,
Wynde and tempest hidously t'arise.
The reyn doune bete in ful grisly wise,
That man and beest therof were adrad
And negh for fer gan to wexe mad,
As it sempte by the wooful sownes
Of tygres, beres, boores and lyounes,
Which for refut hemsilf forto save
Everich in hast drogh unto his cave.
But Polymyte in this tempest huge,
Allas the whil, fyndeth no refuge,
Nor hym to schrowde saugh nowher no socour
Til it was passed almost mydnyght hour
A large space that the sterres clere,
The clowdes voyde, in hevene did appere,
So that this knyght out of the forest large
Gan approchen to the londe of Arge,
Seyng a palays myghty of beeldyng,
Of which Adrastus called was the kyng,
A manly man riche and wonder sage
And ronne was somdel into age,
Born of the ile which called is Chysoun,
And whylom sone of the kyng Chaloun.
And for his witt, in story as is kouth,
He chosen was in his tendre youth
Of alle Arge to be crowned kyng,
Chief of alle Grece by record of wryting,
Not be dissent nor successioun
But al only of fre eleccioun
To holde of Arge the sceptre in his hond,
As most worthy of alle Grekes lond,
Loved and drad for wisdam and justice.
And as the story pleynly can devise,
This worthy kyng hadde doghtres two,
Passyng fair and right good also.
It were to longe her beauté to discryve.
And the eldest called was Argyve,
Deyfyle ynamed the seconde.
And Adrastus, lich as it is founde,
This worthy kyng hadde sone non,
To succede after he be gon,
For which he was duryng al his lyff
Trist in hert and passingly pensif.
But hool his trust and his hope stod
Be aliaunce of some worthy blood
Brought inne by mene of his doghtres tweyn,
That he shal be relesed of his peyne
Thorgh recomfort of some hie mariage.
And sothly yet ful high in his corage
He troubled was be occasion
Of a sweven and a vision
Shewed to hym upon a certeyn nyght.
For as hym thoght in his inward sight
Whyl he slept, by cleer inspeccioun,
A wylde boor and a fers lyoun
Possede shal, thise bestes in her rage,
His doghtres two be bond of mariage
In shorte tyme within a certeyn day,
Which broght his herte in ful grete affray.
But thing in soth that destiné hath shape
Her in this world ful hard is to eskape,
Eke merveylous a man t'eschewe his faate.
And Polymyte, of whom I spak late,
With the tempest bete and al bereyned,
Be grace only the cité hath atteyned,
Wher Adrastus ful statly of degré
Thilke tyme helde his royal see.
The troubly nyght, myrk and ful obscure,
Hath brought this knyght only be aventure
Thorgh the cité, enclosed with a wal,
Unto the paleys chief and principal,
Wher as the kynge in his chambre alofte
Lay in his bed and slepte wonder softe.
Eke alle his folk hadde her chambres take,
Lik as Fortune peraunter hadde shape,
The silfe tyme because it was so late;
And casuelly no porter at the gate,
As it had be right for the nonys.
And in a porche bilt of square stonys,
Ful myghtely enarched envyroun,
Wher the domys and plees of the toun
Weren execut and lawes of the kyng,
And ther this knyght, without mor tarying,
Wery and maat from his stede alight,
Hangynge the rene in al the hast he myght
Uppon his arme surer hym to kepe,
And leyde hym doune and gan anon to slepe,
As hym sempte that tyme for the beste.
And whil that he lay thus forto reste,
Of aventure ther cam a knyght ryding,
The worthiest in this world lyvyng,
Curteys, lowly, and right vertuous,
As seith myn autour, called Tidyus,
Eurous in armes and manly in werkyng,
Of his byrthe sone unto the kyng
Of Calydonye, a londe of gret renoun.
And he, allas, out of that regioun
Exiled was for he his brother sclowe,
As Stace of Thebes writ the manere howe,
Al be that he to hym no malys mente.
For on a day, as they on huntyng wente
In a forest for herte and for hynde,
So as he stod under a grene lynde
And casuelly lete his arow slippe,
He slough his broder called Menalippe;
Thorgh mortal sort his honde was begyled,
For which he was banished and exiled,
As the lawe narowe sette his charge.
And for this caas he cam first to Arge,
Into the porche wher Polymyte slepe,
Of aventure ere he toke eny kepe,
The same nyght hidously beseyn
With the tempest of thonder wynde and reyn;
And filt also anoy and gret damage
Thorgh the forest holding his passage,
As Polymyte hadde do toforn,
In peryl ofte likly to be lorn,
With beestes rage set on every side,
Til of grace withouten eny guyde
He rode thorgh Arge the grete myghty toun,
Streght to the paleys and the chief dongoun,
Lich as I tolde wher Polymyte lay;
And at his comyng made a gret affray,
For he was blynde thorgh derknesse of the nyght
And hym to gwy he ne fonde no light
Whan he cam inne of priket nor of torche,
Til he unwarly entered the porche
And wold han take ther his herbygage.
But Polymyte stert up in a rage,
Sodeynly awaked as I rede,
With the nyinge of his proude stede.
And first of al, whan that he byhelde
A knyght yarmed upon his brest a shelde
And gan the maner of his aray adverte,
Of verrey ire upon his hors he sterte,
And cruelly gan tydinges enquere
Whennys he cam or what he dede there,
And bad in hast his answer to devise.
And Tydeus, in ful humble wise,
Answerd ageyn of verrey gentillesse
And seid in soth that of hegh distresse,
Of the tempest and the derke nyght,
He dryven was lich an erraunt knyght,
Of nede only and necessité
And high constreynt of his adversité,
To take loggyng wher so that he myght,
And in that courte therfor he alight
Withoute mor, thenkyng non outrage
Nor to no wight moving ne damage.
Than Polymyte of malys and hegh pride
Tolde hym shortly he shuld not abide
Nor logge ther, thogh he had it sworn.
"For I," quod he, "toke it up toforn
And wil it kepe during al this nyght,
I seie thee platly maugré al thy myght."
Quod Tydeus, "That is no curtesie
Me to devoyde but rather vileynye,
Yif ye take hede that seme a gentil knyght.
And I suppose ye han no title of right
To this loggyng be way of heritage
More than have I, for alle youre felle rage.
And, pardé, yit it shal be no desese,
Til tomorowe thogh ye do me ese,
Of gentillesse only with youre leve;
To suffre me, it shal litil greve."
But ay the more Tydeus spak faire,
Polymyte was froward and contrayre
And shortly seide it geyneth not to stryve,
That of force he shal devoide blyve,
Or uttrely atwen hem bothe two
This thyng to trie he most have ado.
And Tydeus, seyng no bettre mene,
Ful lik a knyght in steel yarmed clene,
Without abood faste gan hym spede
Wonder lyvely forto take his stede;
And thus thies knyghtes, pompous and ellat,
For litil cause fillen at debat.
And as they ranne togider on horsbak,
Everich on other first his spere brak.
And after that, ful surquedous of pride,
With sharpe swerdes they togyder ryde
Ful yrously thise myghty champiouns,
In her fury lik tygres or lyouns.
And as they hurtle that all the paleis shoke,
Kyng Adrastus out of his slep awoke,
And made in hast his chamberleynes calle
And thorgh the courte his worthy knyghtes alle,
Comaundyng hem to descende and se
And reporte what it myghte be,
This wonder noyse in his courte be nyght.
And whan they saugh two straunge knyghtes fight
In platys bright and in thikke male,
Withoute juge, they hadde grete mervale
And disamayed of this unkouth thing,
As they fond tolde to the kyng.
And Adrastus for derknesse of the nyght,
From his chambre with many torche light
Into the courte is discended doun,
All his meyné stondyng envyroun,
Of thyes knyghtes having ful gret wonder.
And of manhode he put hem first asonder,
Hem comaundyng lich a gentil kyng,
To leven her strif and sesen of fighting;
And entred inne with a knyghtly loke;
And first fro hem her swerdes both he took,
Affermyng ek, as to his fantasie,
It was a rage and a gret folye
So wilfully her lyves to juparte,
Withoute juge her querel to departe
And specialy in the derke nyght
Whan neither myght of other han no sight,
Charching hem upon peyne of her lif
To dissever and styntyn of her strif.
And Tydeus in al the hast he myght,
Ful humblely from his stede alight,
And right mekely with cheer and contenance
Put hym hooly in the governance
Of Adrastus in al maner thing.
And Polymyte mad ek no tarying
To light also and wolde not withsey
The kyngges biddyng lowly to obey,
So as hym ought with diew reverence.
And as thei stood both in his presence,
He gan enquere first of her estaat,
The cause also why they weren at debat,
Of her cuntrees sothly and her age;
He axed ek touching her lynage,
Be discent of what stok thei were born.
And Tydeus his answer gaf toforn;
Tolde pleynly and made no lesyng,
How that he was sone to the kyng
Of Caledoyn and rightful heir therto;
And of his exile the soth he told also,
As ye han herde in the storye rad.
And Polymyte, with cheer and face sad,
Unto the kyng touching his contré
Seyde he was born in Thebes the cité,
And Jocasta, the grete famous quene,
His moder was withouten eny wene.
But of his fader whilom kyng and lord,
For verray shame he spak not a word,
Only for he (yif I shal not feyne)
His fader was and brother bothe tweyne:
The which, in soth, he was ful loth to telle.
And eke the kyng wold hym not compelle
Of gentillesse but bad, withoute blame,
Of his birth forto have no shame;
For hool the caas and maner every dell
Touchyng his kynne he knewe the ground ful wel,
Lich as it was, by ful clier report.
Enforsyng hym forto do confort
With all his myght and his bysy peyne,
This manly kyng to the knyghtes tweyne;
And to hem seide, aforn hym as they stood,
He wiste wel that of ful worthy blood
They were dyscended, touchyng ther kynrede;
And made in hast his officeres lede
The straunge knyghtes beyng at debat
Thorgh his paleys to chambres of estat,
Eche by hymsilf forto take his ese.
And everything, in soth, that myght hem plese,
Was offred hem lich to her estates.
And whan they weren disarmed of her platis,
Cusshewes, greves, and her sabatons,
Her harneys voyded and her habergons,
Tweyne mantels unto hem wer broght,
Frett with peerle and riche stonys, wroght
Of cloth of golde and velvyt cremysyn,
Ful richely furred with ermyn,
To wrap hem inne ageyn the colde morowe,
After the rage of her nyghtes sorowe,
To take her reste to the sonne arise.
And than the kyng in ful prudent wise
First of alle was not rekkeles
The knyghtes hertes for to sett in pees,
That ever after, I dar afferme it wel,
Eche was to other trew as eny stele
During her lif both in word and dede
Under a knotte bounde of brotherede.
And Adrastus the worthy kyng famous
A feeste made riche and plentevous
To thise knyghtes, hymsilf therat present.
And after mete ful goodly he hath sent,
This noble kyng, for his doghters dere
Of gentyllesse forto make chere
To the knyghtes come fro so ferre.
And lik in soth as Lucyfer the sterre
Gladeth the morow at his uprysing,
So thoo ladies at her incomyng,
With the stremes of her eyen clere,
Goodly apport, and wommanly manere,
Contenaunce and excellent fayrnesse,
To alle the court broghten in gladnesse.
For the frecchnesse of her hevenly cheres
So agreable was to the straungers
At her entré that in special
Hem thoght it lik a thyng celestial,
Enhastyng hem in ful knyghtly wise
Ageynes hem goodly to arise.
And as they mette with humble contenaunce,
Ful konyngly did her observaunce,
Hem conveying to her sitting place.
But sothly I ha leyser non nor space
To reherce and put in remembraunce
Hooly the maner of her daliaunce.
It were to longe for you to abide.
But wel I woot that the god Cupide,
By influence of his myghty hond
And the fervence of his firy brond,
Her metyng first fortuned hath so wel
That his arowes of gold and not of stiel
Iperced han the knyghtes hertes tweyn
Thorgh the brest with such a lusty peyn
That ther abood sharpe as spere or launce,
Depe yfiched the poynt of remembraunce,
Which may not lightly raced ben away.
And thus in joye they dryve forth the day
In play and revel for the knyghtes sake.
And towardes nyght they her chambres take
At dieu tyme, as her fader bad;
And on her way the knyghtes han hem lad
Reverently up be many staire;
Takyng lieve gan anon repaire
To her logging in a ful statly toure,
Assigned hem be the harberioure.
And after spices pleynly and the wyn
In coppes grete wroght of gold ful fyn,
Withoute tarying to bed streght they gon.
Touchyng her reste, wher thei slepte or non,
Demeth ye lovers that in such maner thing
B'experience han fully knowlecchyng,
For it is nat declared in my boke.
But as I fynde, the kyng al nyght woke,
Thoghtful in herte, the story specifies,
Musing sore and ful of fantasies,
First adverting the grete worthynesse
Of this knyghtes and the semlynesse,
Her lusty youth, her force and her manhode,
And how thei weren ycome of royal blode.
Al this he ganne to revolve aboute,
Ay in his herte havyng a maner doute,
Atwene two hangyng in balaunce
Where he shulde maken an aliaunce
Atwene his doghtren and the knyghtes tweyn.
For on thyng ay his herte gan constreyn,
The remembrance of his avisioun,
Of which toforn I made mencioun,
Touchyng the lyon and the wilde boor
(It nedeth nat to reherce it mor),
Casting alway in his fantasie,
What it myghte cleerly signyfie,
This dirke dreme; this was hid and cloos.
But on the morowe Adrastus up aroos,
And to the temple the righte way he took,
And gan preie devoutly on his book
To the goddes his dreme to specefie.
And they hym bad homward forto hye
And to beholde in the knyghtes sheldys
The felle beestys peynted in the feeldys,
Which shal to hym, be cleer inspeccioun,
Ful pleynly make declaracioun
Of his dreme which he hadde in the nyght.
And Adrastus enhasted hym ful right
In her sheldes wisly to beholde,
Wher that he saugh, as the goddes tolde,
In the sheldes hangyng upon hokys
The beestes rage with her mortal lokys.
And to purpos, lik as writ Bochas,
Polymyte ful streght enbraced was
In the hyde of a feerce lyoun;
And Tydeus aboven his haberioun
A gypon hadde hidous sharpe and hoor,
Wroght of the bristels of a wylde boor.
The whiche beestis, as the story lerys,
Wer wroght and bete upon her banerys,
Displaied brood whan they shulde fight.
Wherof the kyng whan he hadde a sight
Att hys repeir in herte was ful glad,
And with a face ful demur and sad
With his lordes, that he about hym hadde,
To the temple he thys knyghtes ladde.
And whan they hadde with all circumstaunces
Of rytys olde don her observaunces,
Hom to the court they resort ageyn.
And in an halle riche and wel beseyn,
This worthy kyng of herte lyberal
Made a feeste solempne and royal,
Which in deyntys surly dyd excelle.
But it were veyn every cours to telle,
Her straunge sewes and her sotyltees,
Ne how they sat lik to her degrees;
For lak of tyme I lat it overslyde.
And after mete Adrastus toke asyde
The knyghtes two and lik a prudent man
In sykré wise thus his tale he gan.
"Sirs," quod he, "I ne doute it nought
That it is fressh and grene ay in your thoght
How that first by goddys ordynaunce,
And after next thorgh fatys purveaunce,
And be workyng of Fortunes hond,
How that ye weren brought into this lond
Bothe tweyn but now this laste nyght;
Of whoos comyng I am ful glad and light
First in myself, shortly to expresse,
Whan I considre and se the liklynesse
Of your personys with the circumstancys
And hool the maner of your governancys,
Seyng ful wel - wherto shuld I feyne -
Ye likly be herafter to atteyn
To grete estat and habundaunce of good
Thorgh youre birth and your royal blood:
Ye may not fayle but ye have wrong,
For ye are both manly and right strong.
And forto sette youre hertes mor at reste
My purpoos is I hope for the beste,
So that in you be no variance
To make a knotte as be allyaunce,
Atwixe yow and my doghtres two,
Yif youre hertes accorde wel therto.
And for I am fully in dyspeyr
To succede for to han an heir,
Therfor ye shal han possessioun
Duryng my lyf of half this regioun
Forwith in hond and hool after my day.
Ther is no man that therto shal sey nay.
And sothly after whan that I am grave,
Eche of yow shal his party have
Of this kyngdam, as I have provided;
This to seyn, it shal be devyded
Atwen yow two, everich to be crowned,
Youre pourparties be equyté compowned
So egally in every mannys sight
That ech of yow rejoyse shal his ryght.
And by your wit ye shul the lond amend,
And of manhode knyghtly it diffend
Ageyn oure enmyes and oure mortal fon.
And for the daies passed ben and gon
Of my desyres and my lusty youth,
I am ful set forto make kouth
That ye shal han lik myn opynyoun
The governaunce of this regioun.
To this entente me semeth for the beste,
Ye to governe and I to lyve in reste,
Fully to folowe the lust of my desyris,
Hunte and hauke in wodes and ryverys
Whansoever I ha therto plesaunce,
And for to han non other attendance
Unto nothing but unto myn ese.
For which shortly yif it agré and plese
That I have seid to you that be so wis
And be according unto youre avis,
Delaieth not but in wordes pleyn
What yow semeth gif answere ageyn."
And whan Adrastus hadde his tale fyned,
Tydeus with hed ful lowe enclyned,
As he that was a verray gentyl knyght,
With al his power and his fulle myght
Ful humblely thanked he the kyng
Touchyng his profre of so high a thyng
And for his parte seide he wolde assente
Fully of herte, nevere to repente,
To all that ever the kyng hath sayd.
And Polymyte was also wel apayd,
In the story as it is conprehendid.
And so they ben bothe condescendyd
The kyngges wille to fulfille in dede
From poynt to poynt and therupon procede,
Whersoever that they wynne or lese.
And Tydeus made his brother chese,
Of gentillesse and of curtesye,
Which that was most to his fantasye
Of the sustren for to han to wive.
And he in soth chosen hath Argyve,
Which eldest was ful wommanly to se.
And Tydeus tok Deyphylee,
Of her beauté most sovereyn excellent.
   And Adrastus thorghoute his lond hath sent
For his lordes and his baronage
To be present at the mariage
Of the knyttes and make no lettyng.
And they echon cam at his bidding
In goodly wyse meke and ful benygne
Ageyn the day that he dide assigne.
And thyder cam ful many lusty knyght
Ful wel beseyn and many lady bright
From every coost and many frecssh sqwyer,
The story seith, and many comunere,
To byholde the grete ryalté
And the maner of thys solempnyté.
But to telle all the circumstances
Of justes, revel, and the dyvers daunces,
The feestes riche, and the gyftes grete,
The pryvé sighes and the fervent hete
Of lovys folk brennyng as the glede,
And devyses of many sondry wede,
The touches stole and th'amerous lookes
By sotyl craft leyd doun lyne and hokes
The jalous folk to traysshen and begyle
In their awayt with many sondry wile -
Al this in soth descryven I ne can.
But wel wote I the newe fame ran
This menewhil with ful swift passage
Unto Thebes of this mariage.
And by report trewe and not yfeyned,
The soune therof the eeres hath atteyned,
Myn auctour writ, of Ethyocles,
Touchyng th'onour and the gret encres
Of Polymyte heghly magnyfied,
And how that he newly was allyed
With Adrastus in the londe of Arge.
The whiche thyng he gretly gan to charge,
Dredyng inly that this mariage
Shal after turne unto his damage,
Sore musyng and castyng up and doun
The grete power and the hegh renoun
Of Adrastus, the which of Grekes land
Hadde al the power soget to his hand,
Lest that he for Polymytes sak
Wold upon hym a newe werre make,
But yif that he, lik the convencioun,
At tyme sette delyvered the toun
To his broder by bond of oth besworn,
Be covauntes assured her toforn,
Yif ye remembre late as I you told:
Which he was nat in purpos forto hold,
But from his heste caste forto varye,
And therupon list no lenger tarye
Lich his desire to shape remedyes.
And first he sente for his next allies
In whoom he hadde most his affiaunce,
For his lordes that hadde governaunce
Of his kyngdom to come to hym anon.
And whan they weren present everichon,
He seide pleynly, wenyng for his best,
That his hert shal never lyve in rest
But in sorowe and in a maner drede,
Tyl his brother outrely be dede,
That he in Thebes in his royal sete
Myght allone regnen in quiete:
He mente hymsilf shortly, and non other,
Unperturbed of Polymyte his brother.
And at this counsayl divers of entent,
I fynde writ thre folkes were present -
Some in soth that feithful were and trewe,
And some also that can chaunge of newe,
And other ek that betwixe tweyn
Covertly kowde under colour feyn.
   The firste seide, aboven alle thyng,
Trouthe shulde longe to a kyng,
Of his word not be variable
But pleyn and hool as a centre stable.
For trouthe first, withouten eny wene,
Is chief pyler that may a kyng sustene
In joye and honour for to lede his lyff.
For trouth whilom hadde a prerogatiff,
As of Esdre the book can specyfie;
Record I take of prudent Neemye
That worthy kyngges for al her grete pride,
Wyn, and wymmen ben ek set asyde,
With all her power and domynacioun
Havyng reward in comparisoun
To trouthes myght and trouthes worthynesse.
For as Esdre pleynly doth expresse,
Who taketh hede, in the same place,
Be the influence sothly and the grace
Of trouthe allon this olde Neemye
Gat hym licence to reedifie
The wallys newe of Jerusalem.
Which trouth is tresour chief of every rewme,
For Salamon writ how that thynges tweyne -
Trouth and mercy lynked in a cheyne -
Preserve a kyng lik to his degré
From al meschief and adversité.
Allas, therfor that eny doublenesse,
Variaunce, or unsicrenesse,
Chaunge of word or mutabilité,
Fraude or deceyte or unstabileté
Shuld in a kyng han domynacioun
To causen after his destruccioun.
Of kyngges redeth the story doune be rowe,
And seth how many han ben overthrowe
Thorgh her falshede fro Fortunes Whel.
For unto God pleseth never a del
A kyng to ben double of entent,
For it may happe that the world is blent
Ful ofte sith be sleght of her werkyng.
But this the trouthe - God seeth everythyng
Right as it is, for ther may be no cloude
Toforn his sight trouthe forto shrowde.
It may be clipsed and derked be disceyte,
By fals engyne liggyng in aweyte,
As a serpent forto undermyne;
But at the last it wol clerly shyne,
Who that seith nay, shew his brighte bemes.
For it in soth of kyngdames and of reawmes
Is berer up and conservatrice
From al meschief, sothfast mediatrice
To God above, whoso list to se,
To kepe a kyng in prosperité
On every side, as I afferme dar.
For which, ye kyngges and lordes, beth wel war
Your bihestes justly forto holde,
And thenk how Thebes with his walles olde
Distroied was - platly this no les -
For doublenesse of Ethiocles,
Which his puple after sore abouht,
Only for he nat by counsell wroght
Of hem that wern bothe trewe and wis
(Hym lyst nat worchen after her devys)
But lefte trouthe and sette his fantasye
To be governed by fals flaterye,
That bad hym thenke how he was a knyght,
And to holde of force, more than right,
Duryng his lyf lordship of the toun,
And not to lese his possessioun
For no bond nor heestes mad toforn,
But lete his brother blowen in an horn,
Wher that hym lyst or pypen in a red.
This was the counsail platly and the reed
Of swich as liste nat to seyn the soth
But falsly flater with her wordes smoth.
And whan they hadde hool her tale fyned,
Ethyocles fully is enclynyd,
Whosoever therat laugh or wepe,
Lik her counsayl possessioun to kepe,
Who that sey nay or gruche therageyn;
Hym to contrarye he thoght was but veyn.
   But in this whyl hath the shene sonne
The twelve signes round aboute ronne
Sith Ethiocle be just rekenyng
In Thebes was crowned lord and kyng,
Holdyng the sceptre and the dyademe,
That be resoun, as it wolde seme,
The tyme was ful complet and the space
Of covenaunte he shulde voide his place
And Polymyte ek his journé make
Toward Thebes, pocessioun to take
Of dieu title but he hadde wronge,
Which thoght in soth the yeer was wonder longe
Of his exil er it kam aboute.
And for he hadde in hert a manere doute,
Lest in his broder ther wer falshed found,
T'aquyte hymsilf lik as he was bound,
To Adrastus he gan declar his herte,
Beseching hym this mater to adverte
And therupon to give a counsayl sone
Touchyng his right what was best to done,
Wher it was bet to gon or to abyde
Or liche a knyght manfully to ryde
Hymsilf allone and make no massage,
For to chalaunge his rightful heritage
Withinne Thebes oyther be pees or stryf,
And therupon to juparte his lif.
Thus was he set for al his ferce brother.
But Adrastus sothly thoght another
Bet was to sende than hymsilf to gon,
Lest he were trapped among his mortal fon,
Havyng his brother suspecte in this cas
That be fraude or be some fallas
He wolde werk to his destruccioun,
Yif he wer hardye to entren into toun.
For which he bad hym prudently tak hede,
Ful concludyng how it was mor spede
That some other be to Thebes sent
To apparceyve fully the entent
Of Ethiocle outward be some signe
And wher that he his croune wil resigne
For thilke yeer, lik as he made his ooth,
And whan he knewe how his purpoos goth
Therupon to werken and procede:
Thus Adrastus wisely gan hym rede.
And whil they trete upon this matere,
Tydeus with a manly chere
Sade uttrely for his broder sake
This massage he wold undertake
With hool th'empris of th'enbassyat,
Wer it wilful or infortunat:
He wil not spare what so that betide.
But Adrastus on the tother syde
And Polymyte in conclusioun
Weren contrarye to that opynyoun
And seide sothly, as hem thoghte right,
Sith that he was so wel a preved knyght
And discended of so worthy blood,
That they nolde for non erthly good,
For all Thebes with the regalye,
Put his body in such jupartie.
But all this thyng avayled hem right noght,
For he wol forth how dere that it be boght,
Takyng lieve first of all th'estatys,
And armed hym in mayle and sure platys,
And shope hym forth upon his journé.
Who made sorowe but Deyphylé,
With bitter teeres dewed al her face,
Ful ofte sith swownyng in the place,
Trist and mournyng in her blake wede
Whan she saugh that he took his stede?
So inwardly encres gan her mone,
Seyng her lord so ride forth allone
Upon his way, this worthy Tydeus.
And in al hast, the story telleth us,
He spedde hym so, makyng no delayes,
That in space of a fewe daies
The heghe toures of Thebes he gan se,
And entred is into the cité,
Wisly enqueryng wher the paleys stood;
And lik a knyght thidere he streght rood,
Markyd ful wel in many mannys sight,
Lich Mars hymsilf, in stiel armed bright,
Til he atteyned hath the chief dongoun,
Wher as the kyng helde his mancyoun.
And thorgh the paleys with a knyghtly look
Into the hall the righte way he took,
From his stede whan he lighte doun,
Not afered but hardy as lyoun,
Wher as the kyng with lordes a gret route
In the halle sittyng rounde aboute,
He entred inne most manful of corage,
T'execute the fyn of his massage.
And as hym thought convenient and due,
Ful konnyngly he gan the kyng salue,
Requiring hym, of kyngly excellence,
In goodly wise to geve hym audience
And not disdeyne neither in port ne cheer,
Sith he was come as a massagere
From Polymyte his owne brodere dere,
Gynnyng his tale thus, as ye shal here.
"Sir," quod he, "unto your worthynesse
My purpoos is breefly to expresse
Th'effecte only, as in sentement,
Of the massage why that I am sent.
It were in veyn longe processe forto make.
But of my mater the verrey ground to take,
In eschewyng of prolixité
And voyde away al superfluyté,
Sith youresilf best ought to understond
The cause fully that we han on hond
And ek conceyve th'entent of my menynge,
Of rightwisnesse longgyng to a kynge,
First considred, yif that ye tak hede,
Whan Edippus the olde kyng was dede,
How that yoursilf and youre brother blyve
For the croune contagiously gan stryve
As mortal foon by ful gret hatrede
Which of yow two shulde first succede,
Til that ye were be meenys reconcyled -
Ye to regne and he to be exiled
Out of this towne for a yeeres space
And than ageyn resorte to his place
To regne as kyng and ye to voyden oute,
So as your tourne be processe kam aboute
Everich of yow paciently t'endure
Th'enterchaungyng of his aventure,
Who were put out or stood in his estat,
Therupon to make no debat,
Lich the covenaunt and convencioun,
Enrolled up by lordys of this toun,
Which of reson may not be denyed.
And sith ye han a yeer yoccupied,
Polimytes requereth yow of right
T'aqwite you lik a trewe knyght
In eschewyng of mortal werre and strif,
Sith ye han had a prerogatif
As eldest brother forto regne aforn.
And thenketh eke how that ye ar sworn
Your oth to kepe and make no tarying,
Holy adverting lich a prudent kyng
That trouth is mor in conparisoun
Than all the tresour of your regyoun,
Mor acceptable unto god and man
Than all richesse that ye rekne kan.
Wherefor in hast (and lat ther be no slouthe),
Quyteth yoursilf justly of your trouthe
Unto youre brother, avoyding this cyté,
And lat hym regnen in his ryalté,
The croune of Thebes a yeer to occupie.
Than wol al Grece preise and magnyfie
Youre hegh renoun and may sey non other
But ye han quytt you justly to your brother.
This hool th'effecte of al that I wil seyn,
Answer expectaunt what ye list sende ageyn."
   Whan Tydeus hadde told his tale,
Ethiocles, trist and wonder pale,
His conceyt first in maner hath refreyned,
Dyssimulyng under colour feyned,
Shewyng a cheer in maner debonayre,
To his entent wonderly contrayre,
Inward in herte wood and furious;
Turnyng his face towarde Tydeus,
He gan abraid, and at the last outbrak,
And even thus unto hym he spak.
"I ha gret mervaile," quod he, "in my thoght
Of the massage which that thow hast broght,
That my brother, as thow hast expownyd,
Desyreth so in Thebes to be crownyd,
Havynge reward to the habundance,
The grete plenté, and the suffisaunce
That he hath nowe with the kyng of Arge;
That me semeth he shuld lityl charge
To han lordship or domynacioun
In the boundis of this lytyl toun,
Sith he regneth so fresshly in his flours,
Surmountyng all his predecessours
Be newe encres thorgh fortunis myght;
Wherof in hert I am right glad and light,
Fully trustyng, yif I hadde nede
To his helpe, that withoute drede
Lik a brother than I shuld hym fynde
To meward feithful, trewe, and kynde,
Supposing pleynly evermor
Of this regne he set but lityl stor
Nor cast hym not for so short a while
As for a yeer, his brother to exile,
To lyve in poverté and gret distresse.
He wol not suffre it of his high noblesse.
It were no token as of brotherede
But a signe rather of hatrede
To interrupte my possessioun
Of this litil pore regioun."
Al that he spak, who that couth adverte,
Of verrey scorn, rooted in his herte;
As it sempte, the story can you teche,
By the surplus sothly of his speche,
He myghte nat no lenger hym refreyne
But platly seide, "as atwene us tweyne,
I mene thus Polymytes and me,
Ther nys no bonde nor no sureté
Nor feith ymade that may hym avaylle,
As he cleymeth to ha the governaylle
Of this cité, nowther yere nor day.
For I shal lette hym, sothly, yif I may,
That he shal not be title of no bond
Rejoysse in Thebes half a foot of londe.
Late hym kepe all that he hath wonne!
For I purpoos, as I ha begonne,
To regne in Thebes enforth al my lyve,
Maugré al hem that therageynes stryve
And in despit of his frendes all
Or the counsaylle that hym list to calle.
Lat hym be sur, and know this right wel,
His manacyng I dred never a del.
And sikerly, as to my devis,
It scheweth wel that thow were not wis
But supprised with a manere rage
To take on thee this surquedous massage,
And presume to do so hegh offence
So boldely to speke in my presence.
But al yfere avayle shal right noght.
For the tyding that thou hast ybroght
Shal unto hym be but disencrees.
He better were to ha ben in pees
Than of foly and presumpcioun
Ageynes me to seke occasioun.
For whil I lyve - and therto her myn hond -
As I seide erst, he wynneth her no lond,
Whyl the walles of this toune may stond.
For fynaly I do thee understond
That they shal first be bete doune ful lowe
And alle the toures to the erth ythrowe,
Er he in Thebes have eny thynge ado.
Lo, her is al. Retourne and sey him so."
   Whan Tydeus saugh the fervent ire
Of the kyng with angre set afire,
Ful of despit and malencolye,
Conceyvyng eke the grete felonye
In his apport, lik as he wer wood,
This worthy knyght a lityl while stood
Sad and demur, or oght he wolde seyn.
But at the laste thus he spak ageyn.
"Certes," quod he, "I conceyve of newe
Aboute thee, thy counsel is untrewe -
I dar it seyn and vowen at the best -
Nor thow art not feithful of thy behest,
Stable of thy word that thow hast seid toforn
But deceyveable and falsly ek forsworn
And ek periur of thyn assured ooth.
But whersobe that thow be lief or loth,
I seye thee shortly - hold it for no fage -
Al shal turn unto thy damage;
Trust it wel, and in ful cruel wyse
Alle Grekes londe shal upon thee ryse
To ben avenged and manly to redresse
The gret untrouth and the hegh falsnesse
Which that thow hast ageyn thy brother wroght.
It shal ful dere after this be bought.
And verrely in dede, as thow shalt lere,
Kyng Adrastus wil medle of this matere
And alle the lordes about hym envyroun
That bounde ben to his subjeccioun;
Prynces, dukes, and many a noble knyght,
In sustenyng of thy brotheres right,
Shal on a day with sper and with sheld
Ageynes thee be gadered in a feld,
Knyghtly to preve al be on assent
That thow art fals and double of entent,
Of thy promys atteynt and ek outrayed.
And leve me wel it shal not be delayed
But in al hast execute in dede.
Lik thi desert thow shalt ha thy mede.
For God above of his rightwisnesse
Swich open wrong shal in hast redresse,
And of his myght al such collusioun
Reforme ageyn and al extorsioun.
For this the fyn, falshede shal not vaile
Ageynes trouth in feeld to hold batayle.
Wrong is croked, bothen halt and lame.
And here anon in my brotheres name,
As I that am next of his alye
In his querel, I shortly thee deffye,
Fully avysed with al myn hool entent.
And ye lordes that ben her present,
I yow requere of your worthynesse
To saye trouth and to ber wittnesse,
Whan tyme comth, justly to recorde
How your kyng falsly can discorde
From his heest of fals variaunce.
And thenk how ye on feith and lygaunce
Ar bounde echon - ye may not go therfro -
Forto obeye and serve, bothe two,
This nexte yeer now anon folowyng
As to your lord and your trewe kyng
Polemytes, thogh he be now absent,
By just accord maad in parlement,
At youre devis which sitten her a rowe,
Engrosed up, as it is wel knowe,
And enrolled only for witnesse
In youre regestres to voyden al falsnesse,
That non of you vary may of newe
Fro that I say, but he be untrewe.
For which I rede yoursilf to acquyte.
Lat no tyme lenger you respit
But at onys withoute mor tarying,
Of manly force fetteth hom your kyng,
Maugré his foon, lik as ye ar bounde,
And lat in yow slouthe non be founde,
To put hym justly in pocessioun -
This my consayl in conclusioun."
Whan Tydeus hadde his massage saide,
Lik to the charge that was on hym laide,
As he that list no lenger ther sojourne,
Fro the kyng he gan his face tourne,
Nat astouned nor in his hert afferde
But ful proudly leyde hond on his swerde,
And in despit who that was lief or loth,
A sterne pas thorgh the halle he goth
Thorghout the courte, and manly took his stede,
And out of Thebes faste gan hym spede,
Enhastyng hym til he was at large,
And sped hym forth touard the londe of Arge.
Thus leve I hym ride forth a while,
Whilys that I retourne ageyn my style
Unto the kyng which in the halle stood
Among his lordes furious and wood,
In his herte wroth and evel apayd
Of the wordes that Tydeus hath said,
Specialy havyng remembraunce
On the proude, dispitous diffiaunce
Whilys that he sat in his royal see,
Upon which he wil avenged be
Ful cruelly, what evere that befalle.
And in his ire he gan to hym calle
Chief constable of his chyvalrye,
Charchyng hym faste for to hye
With al the worthy chooce of his housholde,
Which as he knewe most manful and most bolde,
In al hast Tydeus to swe
Toforn or he out of his lond remwe,
Up peyn of lyf and lesyng of her hede,
Withoute mercy anon that he be dede.
And of knyghtes fyfty weren in nombre,
Myn autour seith, unwarly hym t'encombre,
Armed echon in mayle and thikke stiel
And therwithal yhorsed wonder wiel.
At a posterne forth they gan to ryde
By a geynpath that ley oute aside,
Secrely that no man hem espie,
Only of tresoun and of felonye.
They haste hem forth al the longe day
Of cruel malys forto stoppe his way,
Thorgh a forest all of on assent,
Ful covartly to leyn a busshement
Under an hill at a streite passage,
To falle on hym at mor avauntage,
The same way that Tydeus gan drawe,
At thylke mount wher that Spynx was slawe.
He nothing war in his opynyoun
Of this conpassed conspiracioun
But innocent and lich a gentyl knyght
Rood ay forth to that it drowe to nyght,
Sool by hymsilf, withoute companye,
Havyng no man to wisse hym or gye.
But at the laste liftyng up his hede,
Toward eve he gan taken hede,
Mid of his way right as eny lyne,
Thoght he saugh ageyn the mone shyne
Sheldes fressh and plates borned bright,
The which environ casten a gret lyght,
Ymagynyng in his fantasye
Ther was treson and conspiracye
Wrought by the kyng his journé forto lette.
And of al that he nothyng ne sette,
But wel assured in his manly herte
List nat onys asyde to dyverte,
But kepte his way, his sheld upon his brest,
And cast his spere manly in the rest.
And the firste platly that he mette
Thorgh the body proudely he hym smette,
That he fille ded, chief mayster of hem all;
And than at onys they upon hym falle
On every part be compas envyroun.
But Tydeus thorgh his hegh renoun
His blody swerde lete about hym glyde,
Sleth, and kylleth upon every side
In his ire and his mortal tene,
That mervaile was he myghte so sustene
Ageyn hem all in every half besette.
But his swerde was so sharpe whette
That his foomen fonde ful unsoote.
But he, allas, was mad light afoote
Be force grounded in ful gret distresse;
But of knyghthod and of gret prouesse
Up he roos, maugré all his foon;
And as they cam, he slogh hem oon be on,
Lik a lyoun rampaunt in his rage.
And on this hille he fond a narow passage,
Which that he took of ful high prudence;
And liche a boor stondyng at diffence,
As his foomen proudly hym assaylle,
Upon the pleyn he made her blode to raylle
Al enviroun, that the soyl wex rede
Now her, now ther as they fille dede,
That her lay on and ther lay two or thre.
So mercyles in his cruelté
Th'ilke day he was upon hem founde.
And attonys his enemyes to confounde,
Wher as he stood this myghty champioun
Be side he saugh with water turned doun
An huge ston large, rounde, and squar;
And sodeynly, er that thei wer war,
As it hadde leyn ther for the nonys,
Upon his foon he rolled it at onys,
That ten of hem wenten unto wrak
And the remnaunt, amased, drogh abak;
For on by on they wente to meschaunce.
And fynaly he broghte to outraunce
Hem everychon Tydeus, as blyve,
That non but on was left of hem alyve
Hymsilf yhurt and ywounded kene,
Thurgh his harneys bledyng on the grene.
The Theban knyghtes in compas rounde aboute
In the vale lay slayen all the route,
Which pitously ageyn the mone gape;
For non of hem, shortly, myght eskape
But dede echon as thei han deserved,
Save on excepte the which was reserved
By Tydeus of intencioun
To the kyng to make relacioun
How his knyghtes han on her journé sped,
Everich of hem his lyf left for a wed,
And at the metyng how they han hem born -
To tellen al he sured was and sworn
To Tydeus ful lowly on his kne.
By which ensample ye opynly may se
Ageynes trouth falshed hath no myght.
Fy on querilis nat grounded upon right,
Withoute which may be no victoyré.
Therfor ech man ha this in memoyré:
That gret power, shortly to conclude,
Plenté of good, nor moch multitude,
Scleight or engyne, fors or felonye
Arn to feble to holden chanpartye
Ageynes trouth, who that list take hede.
For at the ende falshede may not spede
T'endure longe - ye shul fynde it thus.
Record I take of worthy Tydeus,
Which with his hand thorgh trouthes excellence
Fyfty knyghtes slogh in his dyffence
But on except, as I late tolde,
Sworn and assured with his honde upholde
The kyng t'enforme how they wern atteynt.
And Tydeus, of bledyng wonder feynt,
Maat and wery and in gret distresse,
And overleyd of verray feblenesse,
But as he myght hymsilve tho sustene,
He took his hors stondyng on the grene,
Worthed up, and forth he gan to ryde
An esy pas with his woundes wyde.
And sothly yit in his opynyoun
He was alway affered of tresoun.
But anguysshous and ful of bysy peyne
He rode hym forth til he did atteyne
Into the boundes of Lygurgus lond,
A worthy kyng and manly of his hond.
And he ful paal only for lak of blood
Tydeus saugh wher a castel stood,
Strong and myghty belt upon a roche,
Toward which he faste gan approche,
Conveyed thider be clernesse of the ston
That be nyght ageyn the moone shon,
On heghe toures with crestes marcyal.
And joyneaunt almost to the wal
Was a gardyn lityl out be syde,
Into which Tydeus gan ride
Of aventure be a gate smal.
And ther he fond, forto rekne al,
A lusty herbere unto his devis,
Soote and fressh lich a paradys,
Verray hevenly of inspeccioun.
And first of al he alyghte doun,
The goodly place whan that he byheld,
And fro his nek he voyded hath his sheld,
Drogh the brydyl from his horses hede,
Let hym goon, and took no maner hede
Thorgh the gardyn that enclosed was,
Hym to pasture on the grene gras.
And Tydeus, mor hevie than is led,
Upon the herbes grene, whit, and red,
As hym thoughte that tyme for the best,
He leid hym doune forto tak his rest,
Of werynesse desirous to slepe;
And non awayt his body forto kepe;
And with dremes grocched ever among.
Ther he lay to the larke song
With notes newe hegh up in the ayr,
The glade morowe rody and right fayr,
Phebus also, casting up his bemes,
The heghe hylles gilte with his stremes,
The sylver dewe upon the herbes rounde;
Ther Tydeus lay upon the ground
At the uprist of the shene sunne,
And stoundemele his grene woundes runne
Round about, that the soyl depeynt
Of the grene with the rede meynt.
And every morowe for hoolsomnesse of eyre
Lygurgus doghter maked her repeyr,
Of custom ay among the floures newe
In this gardyn of many dyverse hwe
Swich joye hadde, forto taken hede,
On her stalkes forto sen hem sprede,
In the allures walking to and fro.
And whan she hadde a litil while goo
Herself allon casting up her sight,
She byheld wher an armed knyght
Lay to rest hym on the herbes colde;
And hym besyde she gan ek byholde
His myghty stede walkyng her and ther.
And she anon fille in a maner fer,
Speceally whan she saugh the blood
Sprad al the grene aboute ther she stood.
But at the laste she kaught hardynesse
And wommanly gan her forto dresse
Toward this knyght, havyng a manere drede
And gret doute lest that he were dede.
And of her wille sothly this was chief -
That she thoughte forto mak a prief
How that it stood of this man, ful ofte.
   And forth she gooth and touched hym ful softe,
Ther as he lay with her hondes smale.
And with a face dedly bleyk and pale,
Lich as a man adawed in a swogh,
Up he stert, and his swerd he drogh
Nat fully out, but put it up ageyn,
Anon as he hath the lady seyn,
Beseching hir only of her grace
To han pité upon his trespace
And rewe on hym of her wommanhede.
For of affray he was falle in drede,
Lest he hadde assayled ben of newe
Of the Thebans preved ful untrewe;
For dred of which he was so rekkeles,
Ful humblely hym yelding to the pes,
Tryst in hymsilf he passed hadde his boundes.
And whan that she saugh his mortal woundes,
She hadde routh of verrey gentyllesse
Of his desese and of his distresse,
And bad he shulde no thing be dismayd,
Nor in herte sorowful nor affrayd,
Disconfort hym in no maner thing.
"For I," quod she, "am doghter to the kyng
Callyd Lygurge, which gretly me delyte
Every morowe this gardyn to visyte;
It is to me so passingly disport.
Wherfor," quod she, "beth of good comfort,
For no wight her touchyng your viage
Shal hynder you nor do yow no damage.
And yif ye list of al your aventure
The pleyne trouth unto me discure,
I wil in soth do my bysynesse
To reforme youre grevous hevynesse
With al my myght and hool my dylygence,
That I hope of youre gret offence
Ye shal han helpe in your adversité.
And, as ferforth as it lith in me,
Trusteth right wel, ye shul no faute fynde."
And whan he saugh that she was so kynde,
So wommanly, so goodly and benygne
In al her poort be many dyvers signe,
He unto hir be ordre wold not spare
His aventuris fully to declare,
In Thebes first touching his massage,
And at the hil of the woode rage;
Of his woundes and his hurtes sore
(It were but veyn to reherce it mor)
By and by he told her every del,
The which in soth she liked nevere a del
But hadde routh and compassioun
Of his meschief wroght be fals tresoun,
Byddyng in hast that he shuld hir swe;
And wommanly, as her thoghte dwe,
To a chambre she ladde hym up alofte,
Ful wel beseyn, therin a bed right softe
Richely abouten apparayled
With cloth of gold, al the floor yrayled
Of the same, both in length and brede.
And first this lady of her wommanhede
Hir wymmen badde, as goodly as they kan,
To be attendaunt on this wounded man.
And whan he was unarmed to his sherte,
She made first wassh his woundes smerte,
And serche hem wel with dyvers instrumentes,
And made fette sondry oynementes
And leches ek, the beste she koude fynde,
Ful craftely to staunche hem and to bynde.
And everything that may do hym ease
T'aswage his peyn or his woo t'apese
Was in the courte and the castel sought
And by her byddyng to his chambre brought.
And for his sake she hath after sent
For swich deyntees as wern convenyent,
Moost nutrityf be phisikes lore,
Hem that wern syk or wounded to restore,
Makyng her wymmen ek to taken kep,
And wayt on hym anyghtes whan he slep,
And be wel war that nothing asterte
That was or myght be lusty to his herte.
And with al this she preied hym abyde
Til he were strong and myghty forto ride,
In the castel to pley hym and disporte,
And at leysere hom ageyn resorte,
Whan he myght bywelde hym at his large.
But al for nought; he wil hom to Arge,
Toke his lyeve on the nexte day,
Without abood to hast hym on his way,
Lowly thonkyng unto her goodnesse
Of her fredam and bountevous largesse,
So wommanly that hir list tak hede
Hym to refressh in his grete nede,
Beheestyng hir with al his ful myght
He wolde be hir servaunt and hir knyght
Whyl he leveth, of what she wold hym charge.
   And forth he rood til he cam to Arge
In ful gret hast and wolde nowher dwelle.
But what shuld I rehercen owther telle
Of his repeir the coostes or the pleyns,
The craggy roches or the hegh mounteyns,
Or al the maner of his hoomcomynge,
Of the metyng nor the welcomynge,
Nor the joye that Adrastus made,
Nor how his sustre and his wif were glade,
Nor how that they (wherfor shuld I write?)
Enbraced hym in her armes white,
Nor the gadryng about hym and the pres,
Nor of the sorowe that Polymytes
Mad in hymsilf to sen hym so soor wounded,
His grevous hurtes, his soorys ek unsounded,
His dedly look and his face pale
(Of alle this to gynne a newe tale
It were in soth a maner ydylnesse),
Nor how hymsilf in ordre did expresse
First how that he in Thebes hath hym born,
Nor how the kyng falsly was forsworn,
Nor of the awayt nor tresoun that he sette,
Whan fyfty knyghtes on the way hym mette,
As ye han herd al the manere howe,
Withoute which my tale is long ynowe.
But Adrastus made men to seche
In every coost for many diverse leche
To come in hast and make no tarying,
Upon a peyne be biddyng of the kyng,
To don her craft that he wer recured
And of his force in every part assured.
And they echon so her konnyng shewe
That, in space of a daies fewe,
He was al hool maad of his siknesse.
Tho was ther joye and tho was ther gladnesse
Thorghout the courte and thorghout al the toun.
For every man hath swich opynyoun
In Tydeus for his gentyllesse,
For his manhood and his lowlynesse
That he was holde the moste famous knyght
And best byloved in every mannys sight
Thorghoute Grece in every regioun.
But now most I make a digressioun,
To telle shortly as in sentement,
Of thilke knyght that Tydeus hath sent
Into Thebes only to declare
The grete meschief and the evel fare
Unto the kyng how it is befalle,
The opyn trouth of his knyghtes alle,
How Tideus hath slayn hem everychon,
That, sauf hymsilf, ther eskaped non,
Which was reserved from sheding of his blood
The kyng to telle pleynly how it stood.
And whan he hadde rehersed every poynt,
Ethiocles stood in such disjoynt
Of hatful ire that he wex nye wood.
And in his tene and his felle mood,
Of cruel malys to the knyght he spak
And felly seid that it was for lak
Only of manhood thorgh her cowardys
That thei wern slayn in so mortal wyse.
"And hanged be he highe by the nekke
That of your deth or of your slaughter rekke,
Or you compleyn oyther on or all
Of the meschief that is yowe befall.
I do no force that non of you asterte.
But fye upon your fals couard herte,
That on knyght hath, thorgh his hegh renoun,
Brought yow all in confusioun,
Ful graceles and ful unhappy to."
"Nay," quod this knyght, "it is no thing so.
It is thyn unhappe pleynly and not oures
That so many worthy werreoures,
Which al her lif never hadde shame,
Except this quarel taken in thy name
That grounded was and rooted on falssenesse:
This was cause in verray sikernesse
Of our unhappe I woot wel and non other,
And the untrouth don unto thy brother,
And that thow were so opynly forsworn;
A parcel cause why that we wer lorn
Was fals brekyng of thyn assured oth."
And tho the kyng almost mad for wroth
In purpoos was forto slee this knyght,
Oonly for he seide to hym right.
The which, allas, both at eve and morowe,
Supprised was with a dedly sorowe,
Renewed ay in his remembraunce
With the pitous and unhappy chaunce
Of the meschief and mysaventure,
Touching the deth and disconfiture
Of his feeres and of hymsilf also;
That the shamfast inportable wo
So frat on hym with such a mortal stryf
That he was wery of his owne lif,
Hent a swerd, and aside sterte,
And rove hymsilf even to the herte,
The kyng hymsilf beyng tho present;
That the rumour and the noys is went
Thorghoute Thebes and the woode rage
Be swich as wern joyned by lynage
To the knyghtes slayen at the hille;
That all atonys of oon herte and wille
They wold han ryse thorghout the cité
Upon the kyng avenged forto be,
Which of her deth was chief occasioun.
But the barouns and lordes of the toun
Ful bysy wern this rumour to dysesse,
Of high prudence to stynten and appese,
In quyete everythyng to sette.
And after that the bodyes hom they fette
Of the knyghtes, lik as ye han herde,
Aforn yslawe with the blody swerde
Of Tydeus ful sharpe whet and grounde.
And in the felde, so as they hem founde,
Only of love and affeccioun
Solemneply they broght hem into toun.
And lik the maner of her rytis olde,
They weren first brent into asshes colde,
Everich buryed lich to his degré.
Lo, her kalendys of adversité,
Sorowe upon sorowe, and destruccioun,
First of the kyng and all the regyoun,
For lak oonly, lik as I yow tolde,
That biheestes trewly wern not holde -
The firste grounde and roote of this ruyne,
As the story shal clerly determyne
And my tale herafter shal yow lere,
Yif that yow list the remenaunt for to here.

Explicit Secunda pars
John Lydgate
Incipit pars Tercia

village; Boughton under Blean; (see note)
portable sundial; immediately

approached; (see note)
bright; (t-note)
pearls; (t-note)
air; (t-note)
(see note)
very mild; healthful air; (t-note)
whole group


themselves by murderous hatred

Neither taking heed of
them; their side
fully lacking; (t-note)

arrogant pride
tolerate; conflict; (t-note)
As though; from birth been strangers

Devised; them


Since; obstacle; (see note)
belonged; inheritance
By; right


Royal power; dominion
nothing at all

each one
sorrow; hear
same; together; (see note)

With much thought

set aside; out of
in agreement

Each one; (t-note)

the one; withdraw

occupy; martial exploits; (see note)

its; quickly
the other leaves

Until; recover
exchange (change places)

turning returns
whole; agreement
concluded; deliberation
afterwards to complain

written in a roll

first of all

before; wear


royal stallion

take; main road

acted; unnatural

companion; (see note)


Continuing on; not at all cheerful
Tired; until

sea; roar

beat; ghastly manner
grow insane
seemed; sounds

Every one; drew


having left

Argos; (see note)

powerful; wise
(see note)
long ago; Talaus; (see note)
skill; history; known

by descent


held in awe
too; describe
Deiphile; (see note)
(see note)
no son

Sad; melancholic; (t-note)

Join; means

remedy; noble; (t-note)
truly; heart; (see note); (t-note)




in truth

Also; avoid
beaten; drenched with rain

At that time; seat
dim; dark
by chance

Also; their
by chance
by chance
for the occasion

arched over all around
judgments; pleas

delay; (t-note)
Tying; rein; haste

it seemed to him

humble; powerful
author; Tydeus; (see note)
Prosperous; deeds
(see note)
because; slew; (t-note)
Although; hatred

bucks; hinds
lime tree
slew; Menalippus
deadly chance; deceived
strictly; punishment

By chance before; notice
in a dreadful state

[he] felt; discomfort

did before
Until by chance


unawares; (t-note)
awakened; imagine

armed with
dress notice
true; mounted
fiercely; news ask; (t-note)

great trouble


Then; hatred
even if

plainly despite

cast out
If; notice who
have; claim
By God; inconvenience
if you assist me
[Out] of; permission

withdraw quickly
settle (by arms); undertake
armed; (t-note)

proud; (see note)
fell in strife
Each one; (see note)


collide; shook; (t-note)

armor plate; chain mail
were astonished; strange
tried to tell

retinue; around

courage; them apart; (see note)
end their; cease



Charging them
separate; cease

dismount; oppose; (t-note)

ask about; social rank
in conflict
lineage; (t-note)

gave first

serious; (see note)

if; dissemble

truth; reluctant

Out of nobility; ordered; reproof

Concerning; family



high rank

leg armor (see note), shin armor; armored shoes
set of armor taken off; coat of mail

Adorned; pearls
velvet crimson
ermine; (t-note)

until; (t-note)

sworn bond; brotherhood



Lucifer (the sun; see note)

those; arrival
eyes bright

brightness; appearance; (t-note)





(see note); (t-note)

fixed; (see note)
pulled out


lodging; splendid
knight who arranges lodging for guests
spices (or spice cakes; see note); (see note)

whether; (see note)



one; distress



obscure dream; hidden; enclosed

fierce; heraldic fields (see note)


ferocious looks; (t-note)
regarding this matter; Boccaccio; (see note)

mail jacket
short doublet; grey
embossed; banners



splendid; furnished

delicacies surely
useless; (see note)
exotic sauces; ornamental desserts
according to their rank
pass by; (t-note)


new always




why; dissemble





In advance; entirely; death


shares; settled



prepared; known
by my decree

(see note)

if; be agreeable
What; who

give; back
speech ended
(see note)




Whether; gain; lose



knights; delay

well appointed
region; squire
[a] commoner

(see note)

secret; heat
burning; coal
heraldic symbols; clothes
stolen; (see note)
amorous; betray
truth describe
know; rumor spread widely

made up
sound; ears




Unless; following the agreement

here before
If; lately
did not intend
promise planned; deviate
wish; linger

close allies

every one


devious in meaning
kinds of people

between the two

(see note); (t-note)

(see note)
(see note)
once; precedence; (see note)
Witness; Nehemiah

held at low value; (see note)


(see note)

power; (t-note)

permission to rebuild

treasure principal; realm
(see note)

instability; (see note)

to the end
their; (t-note)
not at all
duplicitious in
occur; blind
many times by deceit

Before; veil
obscured; dimmed by deceit
cunning; ambush

(see note); (t-note)

misfortune, truthful mediator

plainly; lies
afterwards; paid the penalty for
because; acted


(see note)

(see note); (t-note)

plainly; advice
those who did not wish; truth
entirely their tale finished

bright; (see note)
Since; (t-note)

By agreement

due; was mistaken

(see note)
treachery; (t-note)
To discharge his duties
reveal his intentions

Whether; better

resolved; arrogant
truly; someone else

by; deceit

If; bold enough




what he intends

(see note)
Said decidedly; brother's

enterprise; embassy



would not

no matter what the cost

chain mail and armor plates
got ready to start

(see note)
Oftentimes; fainting
Sad; clothes


high towers

reached; tower

crowd; (see note)
[was] sitting

purpose; (t-note)
courteously; address
be angry; bearing nor countenance

(see note); (t-note)

gist; meaning





at once
perniciously; contend




According to
Written on a roll

since; held the throne; (see note)
To perform your duties
avoiding; war


Wholly considering


Acquit; promise
departing from

reputation; say
have acquitted yourself
I await your answer

thought; restrained; (t-note)

face; affable


upbraid; shout out; (see note)


It seems to me; care


then; (t-note)
Toward me
(see note)




between us two

is not any



uninterruptedly; life
Despite; them; contend; (t-note)

council; might wish

not at all
surely; opinion

overtaken; madness

news; (t-note)

hand [in promise]
before; gains here
would have you


Realizing; fury
bearing; insane

Serious; before anything

realize; once more

declare; completely; (t-note)
before; (see note)

whether you like it or not

paid for
truly; learn
intervene in

with one intent
convicted; broken away from

According to your merits; reward


kinship; (t-note)
challenge you

did deviate
promise through
avoid it

arrangement; in a row; (t-note)
Written out in legal form

what; unless
advise; discharge your duty

Despite; enemies



(see note)

in the open country

writing instrument

angry; discontented


Charging; hasten
best men

Before; go away; (t-note)
their heads
immediately; slain

without warning; overpower
chain mail

backgate; (see note)
short cut


lay an ambush

(see note)

direct; guide


obstruct; (see note)
did not care

Wished; once


commander of them
then at once
on every side; encircling

murderous rage

on every side
enemies; disagreeable
to dismount

despite; enemies
threatening (see note)

around; grew
(see note)

That same; discovered [to be]
at once; destroy

As if; for the occasion
enemies; at once
were killed
astounded, drew
one by one; destruction
put to death
Them; quickly
all around
company; (t-note)
Who; moon

one; kept




(see note); (t-note)

deceit; treachery
Are; hold the field; (see note)


Except for one, [just] as; (t-note)

to inform; overpowered



constant pain

built; rock; (see note)

(see note)

By chance

pleasant arbor; fancy

Truly; in appearance



until; sang

from time to time; fresh
mixed; (see note)
morning; (t-note)


garden walks


was frightened

around where
regained her courage


awakened from his swoon

As soon as

have pity



not at all


excellent pleasure; (see note)
person; concerning

if; wish
try (make an effort)


insofar as

bearing by
in sequence

wild; (t-note)

part; (see note)
not at all



had brought (fetched) various
stop the flow of blood


delicacies; appropriate
according to medical learning

by night
be lacking

move about freely



lives, whatever
(see note)

relate or
return; regions



wounds; unhealed

a form of



region; physicians




prowess; humility

the same

every one

preserved; (t-note)

mental conflict
nearly went mad
anger; savage
their cowardice
(see note)
let him be hanged
lament either; (t-note)
do not care; escaped


not at all; (t-note)

in truth

A portion of; lost
then; insane for anger

Just because


Seized; moved suddenly

savage anger

at once

their; cause

stop; relieve

home; carried


their ancient rituals
Everyone; according to
hear beginnings

beginning; source
If; wish


Go To The Siege of Thebes, Tercia Pars