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The Canterbury Tales
Geoffery Chaucer

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When this duke had come close to the town in all his triumph and highest pomp, he cast his eye at one side and noticed a company of ladies, clad in black, kneeling in the highway, two by two. But they made such a cry and woe that no living creature in this world ever heard another such one; nor would they stop this crying until they had caught the reins of his bridle. [904]

"What people are you who disturb the festival of my homecoming thus with lamentations?" said Theseus. "Have you so great ill-will toward my honors that you so complain and cry? Or who has done you ill? Tell me if it may be amended. And why you are thus clothed in black? [911]

The eldest lady of them all spoke (but first she swooned with such a deathly look that it was pitiful to see): "Lord, to whom Fortune has granted victory and to live as a conqueror, your glory and honor grieves us not. We beg for aid and for mercy upon our woe and distress. From your nobility let some drop of pity fall upon us wretched women; for surely, there is none of us, lord, who has not been a queen or a duchess. Now are we poor wretches, as you may see, thanks to Fortune and her false wheel that does not ensure prosperity to any estate. And surely, lord, here in the temple of the goddess Clemency we have been this entire fortnight awaiting your coming. [929]

"Now help us, lord, since it is within your power! I, wretch that I am, thus weeping and wailing, was once wife to King Capaneus, who perished at Thebes--cursed be the day! And we who are in this plight and make this lament all lost our husbands while the siege lay about that town. And now, alack, old Creon who is now lord of Thebes, full of anger and iniquity, by his tyrannical malice has drawn the dead bodies of our slain lords upon a heap, to do them indignity, and will allow them by no means to be either buried or burned, but in scorn gives them to hounds to eat." [947]
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