Ichoose to work on the return of the Greek Mythology: the setting ofThe Knight Tale from Geoffrey Chaucer’s the Canterbury Tales sinceto some extend there exist a temptation to compare this story to thatof The Iliad by Homer. Therefore, I analyze the heroic idealsdepicted in The Iliad by Homer with the Heroic ideals depicted in TheKnight Tale since to some extend the Knights Tales are a directedreflection of the heroic ideas we witness in The Iliad.
AsI wrote this work, I got to understand more the social, religious,and cultural aspects of these times. For instance, I got tounderstand despite the vast differences in The Iliad and CanterburyTales, which cover different times in world history that is, thepolytheistic culture while the other is from a monotheistic culture,some element in the social order are similar. In both works, there isa constant significance of the divine and what it takes to define agood man. The Tale of the knight for instance show cases a culturethat has great emphasis on bravely, loyalty, and a fair treatment inincidents of war and love. Similarly, from the Iliad, through thecharacter of Achilles, cultures’ most valued aspects are heroismthus, I realized both cultures highly value bravery and skills inwar.
Thehardest part in writing this project was probably trying tounderstand the two cultures coming from different times. However, theproject bares some strength in the way heroism and religiousapproaches of the different times have been discussed. On the otherhand, I think the essay bares some weakness in expressing the changessocial order from different cultures. I would like feed on how Ianalyzed the work from different times and culture and how I canbetter do this in future.
Topic:The Return of Greek Mythology
TheReturn of Greek Mythology
Thoughthe setting is in different historical, social, and cultural times,the stories of The Iliad by Homer and The Knight’s Tales share someideals, which make it seem as though the Knight’s Tale is directreflection of the heroic ideals found in Iliad story set before it.This can be justified by the facts that two epic accounts of socialorders and culture are similar, in that, subjects in both epicsrecognize themselves as subjects to serve a higher authority. Therefection of a heroic ideal from the Iliad is further reflected inthe way bravery is brought out in the Knight’s Tale. The knight andhis culture are seen to have great emphasis on personal bravery,loyalty, love, and a fair treatment in a war. This can be said to thereflection of Iliad’s Achilles, through whose character the leadergets to learn the most valued aspect of the culture of his time isbravery through his heroism.
Fromthe Knight’s Tale, bravery in war is depicted when both knightsequally seem willing to engage in combat, whereby they both seem tohave ferocity and skills in arms, as they are compared to tigers,lions and boars. “They foynen ech a oother wonder longe. / Thoumyghtest wene that this Palamon In his fighting were a wood leon, /And as a crueel tigre was Arcite / As wilde bores gonne they tosmyte / That frothen whit as foom for ire wood.” (Part ll,1651-59). This is a reflection of heroism from ancient Greek, Iliaddepicting the character of the hero Achilles, who is arguably a mighthero that fought in many bloody wars.
Onthe other hand, I do not think the tale of the Knights depicts areflection of the Iliad. Despite the fact that both cultures tend tovalue bravery and skill in war, this might be attributed to the factthat Homer’s Iliad is linked to a time characterized by long andbloody wars, the social order automatically emphasized bravery inwar. On the other hand, Chaucer’s time there are wars and theheroes in this period are based on Christian concepts and blending inother traditions such as an emphasis of chivalry. Despite, thisdifference, the social order is defined the heroes of the time as theknights do it and Achilles do it for the Iliad.
“Outof the ground a furie infernal sterte, / From Pluto sent at requeste of Saturne, / For which his hors for fere gan to turne, / And leepaside, and foundred as he leep,” (ll. 2684-2687). Chaucer is givingthe description of the battle area and he conveys the chaos involvedin the scene, setting the stage for Palamon’s grievous injury. Thiscan be seen as a depiction of the bloody wars that exist in Homer’sIliad.
Throughthe setting of colors, Chaucer in the Tale of the Knights show anappearance of the Greek gods Venus, Mars, and Diana who are not interms. The gods’ ague on whose knight would actually win when theKnights fight each other (Chaucer 3). This kind of scene can beenscene to reflect the Iliad epic by Homer, illustrating the idea thatpowerful forces outside the human reach and control, are at work andthey influence everything that happens in the world. At the beginningof part four, Arcite is seen to ride with Mars baring a red banner,whereas Palamon rides with Venus baring a white banner, depicting thedifferent forces in control which is also the case in the Iliad.However, Chaucer unlike the ancient Greeks chooses to show an eventlike death not to be because of a tarsal between gods but ratherbecause of an orderly God who has an orderly plan for the world, showcasing a Christian point of view different from the ancient Greeksetting.
Boththe Iliad and the Knight’s Tale stress on the importance divinityin everyday life. For instance, in the societies of the Iliad, thegods and goddesses have a direct influence in the mortal happeningsillustrated in the epic, and they were the central character inconflict and finding resolutions for the same. According to Homer(3), there existed a dominant social order I the time before him andgods were directly involved with the lives of the characters. Thus,he culture in the Iliad puts man and gods in direct communication.This is reflected in the Knight’s Tale as we see the nightcommunicate to the different gods and goddesses before they went outfight reflecting importance of divinity in everyday life as is in theIliad.
Inconclusion, we can say The Knight’s Tale reflects some cultural andsocial aspects acts of the ancient Greek Iliad such as heroism,religion, bravery, and war. Despite changes in culture there stillexist dominant social orders seen in the Iliad ones determined byheroes in the society.
Chaucer,Geoffrey. Canterburytales: The knight`s tale.Macmillan, 1903.
Homer.TheIliad of Homer.Vol. 3. General Books, 2010.