Feb 1 – The Knight’s Tale Part 3

In this section, the narrator spends a large amount of time describing in detail the three temples for the gods that Theseus has constructed. What do you think these descriptions have to say about the gods they represent? For example, what does the construction of the temple for Venus have to say about courtly love?

6 thoughts on “Feb 1 – The Knight’s Tale Part 3

  1. The narrator seems to be connecting the gods themselves to the thing they represent. Venus obviously embodies love, therefore she has famous servants of love depicted upon her walls, and a giant statue to commemorate her beauty. The temple of Venus was described as beautiful and richly adorned with many paintings in honor of the beautiful goddess of love. There are good characteristics such as desire, beauty, riches as well as the bad ones such as foolhardiness, lies and flattery depicted on the walls to show the double-sided nature of love. The richness and beauty of the temple emphasize the outward and public nature of courtly love. Suitors were supposed to publically show their love through wealth, deeds and honor and Venus’ temple reflects these values.

  2. The temples are connected to the gods themselves. The temple of Mars has death and war depicted on the walls of future and past rulers. Mars is the Roman god of war so this connects with his character. Dyane is the virgin goddess of the hunt and so we see this represented when Emelye goes to the temple. I think in the case of Dyane it shows the importance of purity in women and remaining chaste until marriage. I also think the temples remind us of Fortune and fate. There is the idea that all of these characters are in the hands of the gods and by the depictions on Mars’ temple walls one can infer that the future is set. The walls show the death of Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, which happen much later than the tale. There is a hint of the mysterious with the gods and the temples. They reveal very little to the characters, but give enough to guide them in some way shape or form.

  3. The three temples are important for many reasons, which is why they are given so much description. As we see later in this part, when they go to the temples to sacrifice, each of the three are meant to align with our three main characters values or desires; Palamon to get the girl, Arcite to win the battle, and Emilie to remain chaste. By giving the temples such lavish and well-rounded descriptions, they also help to develop our characters further. As Laurel explained above, Venus’ temple shows not only the positive features of love like beauty and riches, but also jealousy and foolhardiness. The realistic rather than romanticized approach is true of the other temples as well; Mars is seated upon a chariot looking very heroic, however, the temple also displays anger, cruelty, and bloodshed and goes into great detail of it. Dyane is described as “shame faced” but doesn’t get nearly as much description as the other two temples, likely to mirror how little we know about Emilie and to show how insignificant her agency really is in the story.

  4. Each character goes to the temple dedicated to the god or goddess that they believe will assist them the most in the upcoming scenario. Pal goes to pray to Venus, the goddess of love because he knows that the true fate of the battle to lie in the hands of fortune but through Venus he believes his chances to succeed are much higher. The thorough description of the temple of Venus gives some literary background on the story of Venus that establishes that she is the daughter of Jove. The extensive details that are artistically displayed in the temples show the importance and relevance that the gods had in the culture of this time period. In the temple of Dyanem where Emelye gives her prayers and sacrifice, is described to be the place where she finds answers to her hearts suffering. Mars the god of war is who Arcite gives his sacrifices to. Again, Chaucer provides details about the history of Mars and his affiliation to war. Each God that is represented has a direct purpose for being selected by the characters because they individually decided to pray to the God or Goddess that they believe would assist them the most in the upcoming battle.

  5. I thought that it was interesting how, as Mary Boyd pointed out, that Mar’s temple represented the defeat of people rather then victories like you would in a god of war’s temple. We have the major defeats rather then victories. The other temples are much more correlative to what we think of those god’s traditionally rather then Mars. I think that this is interesting because it fits more into how Fortune works within the work, Arcite is defeated, and furthers the theme of how Fortune is more powerful then other gods.

  6. The extended descriptions dedicated to the Roman gods speak volumes to the reverence the Knight (or Chaucer and his contemporaries) had to the period of antiquity. The setting of the story takes place in Athens as well, so it may be fitting for the tone of the story to idealize and romanticize the past. I find it fascinating that in a period dominated by the Catholic church, Chaucer’s writings still invoke the Roman gods in such grand ways. Would this raise concerns among the church? Or were clergy members just as fascinated by ancient culture?

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