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From The Wife of Bath's Prologue, lines 653-716:
The fifth husband reads about the vices of women and lectures the WoB
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From The Canterbury Tales:
The Wife of Bath's Prologue
lines 717-793: The fifth husband reads about the vices of women and lectures the WoB


       But now to purpos, why I tolde thee
That I was beten for a book, pardee.
Upon a nyght Jankyn, that was oure sire,
720Redde on his book as he sat by the fire
Of Eva first, that for hir wikkednesse
Was al mankynde broght to wrecchednesse,
For which that Jhesu Crist hymself was slayn,
That boghte us with his herte blood agayn.
725Lo, heere expres of womman may ye fynde,
That womman was the los of al mankynde.
       Tho redde he me how Sampson loste hise heres,
Slepynge, his lemman kitte it with hir sheres,
Thurgh whiche tresoun loste he bothe hise yen.
730       Tho redde he me, if that I shal nat lyen,
Of Hercules and of his Dianyre,
That caused hym to sette hymself afyre.
       No thyng forgat he the penaunce and wo
That Socrates hadde with hise wyves two,
735How Xantippa caste pisse upon his heed.
This sely man sat stille as he were deed;
He wiped his heed, namoore dorste he seyn
But, "Er that thonder stynte, comth a reyn."
       Of Phasipha, that was the queene of Crete,
740For shrewednesse hym thoughte the tale swete-
Fy! Speke namoore - it is a grisly thyng -
Of hir horrible lust and hir likyng.
       Of Clitermystra for hire lecherye,
That falsly made hir housbonde for to dye,
745He redde it with ful good devocioun.
      But now to tell you, as I started to,
Why I was beaten for a book, pardieu.
Upon a night Jenkin, who was our sire,
720Read in his book, as he sat by the fire,
Of Mother Eve who, by her wickedness,
First brought mankind to all his wretchedness,
For which Lord Jesus Christ Himself was slain,
Who, with His heart's blood, saved us thus again.
725Lo here, expressly of woman, may you find
That woman was the ruin of mankind.
       Then read he out how Samson lost his hairs,
Sleeping, his leman cut them with her shears;
And through this treason lost he either eye.
730       Then read he out, if I am not to lie,
Of Hercules, and Deianira's desire
That caused him to go set himself on fire.
       Nothing escaped him of the pain and woe
That Socrates had with his spouses two;
735How Xantippe threw piss upon his head;
This hapless man sat still, as he were dead;
He wiped his head, no more durst he complain
Than 'Ere the thunder ceases comes the rain.'
       Then of Pasiphae, the queen of Crete,
740For cursedness he thought the story sweet;
Fie! Say no more - it is an awful thing -
Of her so horrible lust and love-liking.
       Of Clytemnestra, for her lechery,
Who caused her husband's death by treachery,
745He read all this with greatest zest, I vow.
       He tolde me eek for what occasioun
Amphiorax at Thebes loste his lyf.
Myn housbonde hadde a legende of his wyf
Eriphilem, that for an ouche of gold
750Hath prively unto the Grekes told
Wher that hir housbonde hidde hym in a place,
For which he hadde at Thebes sory grace.
       Of Lyvia tolde he me, and of Lucye,
They bothe made hir housbondes for to dye,
755That oon for love, that oother was for hate.
Lyvia hir housbonde, on an even late,
Empoysoned hath, for that she was his fo.
Lucia, likerous, loved hir housbonde so,
That for he sholde alwey upon hire thynke,
760She yaf hym swich a manere love-drynke
That he was deed, er it were by the morwe.
And thus algates housbondes han sorw.
       Thanne tolde he me, how that Latumyus
Compleyned unto his felawe Arrius,
765That in his gardyn growed swich a tree,
On which he seyde how that hise wyves thre
Hanged hemself, for herte despitus.
"O leeve brother," quod this Arrius,
"Yif me a plante of thilke blissed tree,
770And in my gardyn planted it shal bee."
       Of latter date of wyves hath he red,
That somme han slayn hir housbondes in hir bed,
And lete hir lecchour dighte hir al the nyght,
Whan that the corps lay in the floor upright.
775And somme han dryve nayles in hir brayn
Whil that they slepte, and thus they han hem slayn.
Somme han hem yeve poysoun in hir drynke.
He spak moore harm than herte may bithynke,
And therwithal he knew of mo proverbes
780Than in this world ther growen gras or herbes.
"Bet is," quod he, "thyn habitacioun
Be with a leon, or a foul dragoun,
Than with a womman usynge for to chyde."
"Bet is," quod he, "hye in the roof abyde
785Than with an angry wyf doun in the hous,
They been so wikked and contrarious.
They haten that hir housbondes loveth ay."
He seyde, "a womman cast hir shame away
Whan she cast of hir smok," and forther mo,
790"A fair womman, but she be chaast also,
Is lyk a goldryng in a sowes nose."
Who wolde leeve, or who wolde suppose
The wo that in myn herte was, and pyne?
       He told me, too, just when it was and how
Amphiaraus at Thebes lost his life;
My husband had a legend of his wife
Eriphyle who, for a brooch of gold,
750In secrecy to hostile Greeks had told
Whereat her husband had his hiding place,
For which he found at Thebes but sorry grace.
       Of Livia and Lucia told he me,
For both of them their husbands killed, you see,
755The one for love, the other killed for hate;
Livia her husband, on an evening late,
Made drink some poison, for she was his foe.
Lucia, lecherous, loved her husband so
That, to the end he'd always of her think,
760She gave him such a, philtre, for love-drink,
That he was dead or ever it was morrow;
And husbands thus, by same means, came to sorrow.
       Then did he tell how one Latumius
Complained unto his comrade Arrius
765That in his garden grew a baleful tree
Whereon, he said, his wives, and they were three,
Had hanged themselves for wretchedness and woe.
"O brother," Arrius said, "and did they so?
Give me a graft of that same blessed tree
770And in my garden planted it shall be!"
       Of wives of later date he also read,
How some had slain their husbands in their bed
And let their lovers shag them all the night
While corpses lay upon the floor upright.
775And some had driven nails into the brain
While husbands slept and in such wise were slain.
And some had given them poison in their drink.
He told more evil than the mind can think.
And therewithal he knew of more proverbs
780Than in this world there grows of grass or herbs.
"Better," he said, "your habitation be
With lion wild or dragon foul,' said he,
"Than with a woman who will nag and chide."
"Better," he said, "on the housetop abide
785Than with a brawling wife down in the house;
Such are so wicked and contrarious
They hate the thing their husband loves, for aye."
He said, "a woman throws her shame away
When she throws off her smock," and further, too:
790"A woman fair, save she be chaste also,
Is like a ring of gold in a sow's nose."
Who would imagine or who would suppose
What grief and pain were in this heart of mine?




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From The Wife of Bath's Prologue, lines 794-834:
Irritation, anger, a fight, deafness and a happy end
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