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Now let us ride, and herkeneth what I say.
And with that word we riden forth our way; And he began with a right mery chere His Tale anon, and faide as ye shul here. 860
Wuilom, as olde stories tellen us,
Ther was a duk that highte Theseus;
Of Athenes he was lord and governour,
And in his time swiche a conquerour,
That greter was ther non under the sonne;
Ful many a riche contree had he wonne.
What with his wisdoni and his chevalrie
He conquerd all the regne of Feminie,
That whilom was ycleped Scythia,
And wedded the fresfhe quene Ipolita,
And brought hire home with him to his contree
With mochel glorie and great folempnitee,
And eke hire yonge suster Emelie.
And thus with victorie and with melodie
Let I this worthy duk to Athenes ride,
And all his hoft in armes hiin befide.
7. 868. tbe regne of Feminie] The kingdom of the Amazons. So Penthefilea is called by Gower the Queen of Feminee, Conf. Amat. fol. 75, a. 97, b.
And certes, if it n'ere to long to here,
I wolde have told you fully the manere
How wonnen was the regne of Feminie
By Theseus and by his chevalrie,
And of the grete bataille for che nones
Betwix Athenes and the Amasones,
And how afleged was Ipolita,
The faire hardy quene of Scythia,
And of the feste that was at hire wedding,
And of the temple at hire home coming;
But all this thing I molte as now forbere:
I have, God wot, a large feld toere,
And weke ben the oxen in my plow:
The remenent of my Fale is long ynow.
I wil not letten eke non of this coute;
Let every felaw telle his Tale aboute,
And let fe now who fhal the fou per winne.
Ther as I left I wil agen beginne.
This duk, of whom I made mentioun,
Whan he was comen almost to the toun,
In all his wele and in his moste pride,
He was ware, as he cast his eye aside,
Wher that ther kneled in the highe wey
A compagnie of ladies twey and twey,
5.886. And of the temple] The editions, and all the msl. ex. cept two, read times. But The Thefeida says nothing of any tempelt; on the contrary it says that the pallage
Tofto fornito fu et senza pene. I bave therefore preferred the reading of my.C. i, and H A. as
Eche after other, clad in clothes blake;
But swiche a crie and swiche a wo they make,
That in this world n'is creature living
That ever herd swiche another waimenting;
And of this crie ne wolde they never stenten 905
Till they the reines of his bridel henten.
What folk be ye that at min home coming
Perturben so my fefte with crying ?
Quod Thefeus; have ye fo grete envie
Of min honour, that thus complaine and crie? 910
Or who hath you misboden or offended?
Do telle me, if that it may be amended,
And why ye be thus clothed alle in blake?
The oldest lady of hem all than spake,
Whan she had swouned with a dedly chere, 915
That it was reuthe for to seen and here.
She sayde, Lord, to whom Fortune hath yeven
Victorie, and as a conqueror to liven,
Theseus is described making his offerings, &c. upon his return
in a temple of Pallas, Thef. 1. ii.
V.907–13.) Imitated from The Theseida;
Chi son costoro, che a noftri lieti aventi
Cum crini sparti, batendose el pecto,
Di squalor piene in altri obscuri vellimenti,
Tutte piangendo, come se in despecto
Haveffen la mia gloria e l'altre genti.
The 3d line, I suspect, thould be read thus;
Di squalor piene in atri veftimenti. obfcuri was a glofs for arri.
7.911. mißboden] Injured; fo in a charter of Canute to the church of St. Paul, Monaft. v. iii. p. 304, that nan man heom misbeode.
Nought greveth us your glorie and your honour,
But we beseke you of mercie and socour: 920
Have mercie on our woe and our distresse:
Sonie drope of pitee thurgh thy gentillesse
Upon us wretched wimmen let now falle;
For certes, Lord, ther n'is non of us alle
That she n'hath ben a duchesse or a quene; 925
Now be we caitives, as it is wel sene :
Thanked be Fortune and hire false whele
That non estat ensureth to be wele.
And certes, Lord, to abiden your presence,
Here in this temple of the goddesse Clemence 930
We han ben waiting all this fourtenight:
Now helpe us, Lord, sin it lieth in thy might.
I wretched wight, that wepe and waile thus,
Was whilom wif to King Capaneus
That starfe at Thebes, cursed be that day; 935
And alle we that ben in this aray,
And maken all this mentation,
We loften alle our husbondes at that toun,
While that the siege therabouten lay:
And yet now the olde Creon, wala wa! 940
That lord is now of Thebes the citee,
Fulfilled of ire and of iniquitee,
9.940. wala wa] I shall take the liberty of constantly representing this interjection in tliis simple form, though in the ms. it is written very differently, walavay, weiluway, avelaqvay, 5c. from whence the more modern vulgar weladay. Waand la are both Saxon interjeâions of grief. The compound wala wa is used in Chr. Sax. Gibs. p. 191,
He for despit, and for his tyrannie,
To don the ded bodies a Vilanie,
Of alle our lordes, which that ben yslawe, 945
Hath alle the bodies on an hepe ydrawe,
And will not suffren hem by non affent
Neyther to ben yberied ne ybrent,
But maketh houndes ete hem in despite.
And with that word, withouten more refpite, 950
They fallen groff, and crien pitously,
Have on us wretched wimmen som mercy,
And let our forwe sinken in thin herte.
This gentil duk doun from his courser sterte With herte pitous whan he herd hem speke; 955 Him thoughte that his herte wolde all to-breke Whan he saw hem so pitous and fo mate That whilom weren of so gret esate, And in his armes he hem all up hente, And hem comforted in ful good entente,
960 And swore his oth, as he was trewe knight, He wolde don so ferforthly his might Upon the tyrant Creon hem to wreke, That all the peple of Grece fhulde speke How Creon was of Theseus yserved,
965 As he that hath his deth ful wel deserved.
And right anon, withouten more abode, His banner he difplaide, and forth he rode To Thebes ward, and all his host beside : No ner Athenes n'olde he go ne ride,
970 970. No ner Arbenes] Nere is used for nerre, and that for