William Morris panel based on The Legend of Good Women, 1861  The Legend of Dido 
 [text from Chaucer's Legend of Good Women (Riverside ed.)] 
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Incipit Legenda Didonis martiris, Cartaginis Regine.                                                                                    
Glorye and honour, Virgil Mantoan,  
Be to thy name! and I shal, as I can,  
Folwe thy lanterne, as thow gost byforn, 925
How Eneas to Dido was forsworn.  
In thyn Eneydos and Naso wol I take  
The tenor, and the grete effectes make.  
Whan Troye brought was to destruccioun  
By Grekes sleyghte, and namely by Synoun, 930
Feynynge the hors offered unto Mynerve,  
Thourgh which that many a Troyan moste sterve;  
And Ector hadde, after his deth, apeered;  
And fyr so wod it myghte nat been steered  
In al the noble tour of Ylioun, 935
That of the cite was the chef dongeoun;  
And al the contre was so lowe ybrought,  
And Priamus the kyng fordon and nought;  
And Enyas was charged by Venus  
To fleen awey, he tok Ascanius, 940
That was his sone, in his ryght hand, and fledde;  
And on his bak he bar and with hym ledde  
His olde fader ycleped Anchises,  
And by the weye his wif Creusa he les.  
And moche sorwe hadde he in his mynde, 945
Or that he coude his felaweshipe fynde.  
But at the laste, whan he hadde hem founde,  
He made hym redy in a certeyn stounde,  
And to the se ful faste he gan hym hye,  
And sayleth forth with al his companye 950
Toward Ytayle, as wolde his destinee.  
But of his aventures in the se  
Nis nat to purpos for to speke of here,  
For it acordeth nat to my matere.  
But, as I seyde, of hym and of Dido 955
Shal be my tale, til that I have do.  
So longe he saylede in the salte se  
Tyl in Libie unnethe aryved he  
With shipes sevene and with no more navye;  
And glad was he to londe for to hye, 960
So was he with the tempest al toshake.  
And whan that he the haven hadde ytake,  
He hadde a knyght, was called Achates,  
And hym of al his felawshipe he ches  
To gon with hym, the cuntre for t’espie. 965
He tok with hym no more companye,  
But forth they gon, and lafte his shipes ryde,  
His fere and he, withouten any gyde.  
So longe he walketh in this wildernesse,  
Til at the laste he mette an hunteresse. 970
A bowe in hande and arwes hadde she;  
Hire clothes cutted were unto the kne.  
But she was yit the fayreste creature  
That evere was yformed by Nature;  
And Eneas and Achates she grette, 975
And thus she to hem spak whan she hem mette:  
"Saw ye," quod she, "as ye han walked wyde,  
Any of my sustren walke yow besyde  
With any wilde bor or other best,  
That they han hunted to, in this forest, 980
Ytukked up, with arwes in hire cas?"  
"Nay, sothly, lady," quod this Eneas;  
"But by thy beaute, as it thynketh me,  
Thow myghtest nevere erthly woman be,  
But Phebus syster art thow, as I gesse. 985
And, if so be that thow be a goddesse,  
Have mercy on oure labour and oure wo."  
"I n’am no goddesse, sothly," quod she tho;  
"For maydens walke in this contre here,  
With arwes and with bowe, in this manere. 990
This is the reyne of Libie there ye ben,  
Of which that Dido lady is and queen"—  
And shortly tolde hym al the occasyoun  
Why Dido cam into that regioun,  
Of which as now me lesteth nat to ryme; 995
It nedeth nat, it were but los of tyme.  
For this is al and som, it was Venus,  
His owene moder, that spak with him thus,  
And to Cartage she bad he sholde hym dighte,  
And vanyshed anon out of his syghte. 1000
I coude folwe, word for word, Virgile,  
But it wolde laste al to longe while.  
This noble queen, that cleped was Dido,  
That whilom was the wif of Sytheo,  
That fayrer was than is the bryghte sonne, 1005
This noble toun of Cartage hath bigonne;  
In which she regneth in so gret honour,  
That she was holden of alle queenes flour  
Of gentillesse, of fredom, of beaute,  
That wel was hym that myghte hire ones se; 1010
Of kynges and of lordes so desyred  
That al the world hire beaute hadde yfyred,  
She stod so wel in every wightes grace.  
Whan Eneas was come unto that place,  
Unto the mayster temple of al the toun 1015
Ther Dido was in hire devocyoun,  
Ful pryvyly his weye than hath he nome.  
Whan he was in the large temple come,  
I can nat seyn if that it be possible,  
But Venus hadde hym maked invysible – 1020
Thus seyth the bok, withouten any les.  
And what this Eneas and Achates  
Hadden in this temple ben overal,  
Thanne founde they, depeynted on a wal,  
How Troye and al the lond destroyed was. 1025
"Allas, that I was born!" quod Eneas;  
"Thourghout the world oure shame is kid so wyde,  
Now it is peynted upon every syde.  
We, that weren in prosperite,  
Been now desclandred, and in swich degre, 1030
No lenger for to lyven I ne kepe."  
And with that word he brast out for to wepe  
So tenderly that routhe it was to sene.  
This fresshe lady, of the cite queene,  
Stod in the temple, in hire estat real, 1035
So rychely and ek so fayr withal,  
So yong, so lusty, with hire eyen glade,  
That, if that God, that hevene and erthe made,  
Wolde han a love, for beaute and goodnesse,  
And womanhod, and trouthe, and semelynesse, 1040
Whom shulde he loven but this lady swete?  
Ther nys no woman to hym half so mete.  
Fortune, that hath the world in governaunce,  
Hath sodeynly brought in so newe a chaunce  
That nevere was ther yit so fremde a cas. 1045
For al the companye of Eneas,  
Which that he wende han loren in the se,  
Aryved is nat fer from that cite;  
For which, the gretteste of his lordes some  
By aventure ben to the cite come, 1050
Unto that same temple, for to seke  
The queene, and of hire socour to beseke,  
Swich renoun was there sprongen of hire goodnesse.  
And whan they hadden told al here distresse, 1055
And al here tempest and here harde cas,  
Unto the queen apeered Eneas,  
And openly biknew that it was he.  
Who hade joye thanne but his meyne,  
That hadde founde here lord, here governour? 1060
The queen saugh that they dide hym swych honour,  
And hadde herd ofte of Eneas er tho,  
And in hire herte she hadde routhe and wo  
That evere swich a noble man as he  
Shal ben disherite in swich degre; 1065
And saw the man, that he was lyk a knyght,  
And suffisaunt of persone and of myght,  
And lyk to been a verray gentil man;  
And wel his wordes he besette can,  
And hadde a noble visage for the nones, 1070
And formed wel of braunes and of bones.  
For after Venus hadde he swich fayrnesse  
That no man myghte be half so fayr, I gesse;  
And wel a lord he semede for to be.  
And, for he was a straunger, somwhat she 1075
Likede hym the bet, as, God do bote,  
To som folk ofte newe thyng is sote.  
Anon hire herte hath pite of his wo,  
And with that pite love com in also;  
And thus, for pite and for gentillesse, 1080
Refreshed moste he been of his distresse.  
She seyde, certes, that she sory was  
That he hath had swych peryl and swich cas;  
And, in hire frendly speche, in this manere  
She to hym spak, and seyde as ye may here: 1085
"Be ye nat Venus sone and Anchises?  
In good feyth, al the worshipe and encres  
That I may goodly don yow, ye shal have.  
Youre shipes and youre meyne shal I save."  
And many a gentil word she spak hym to, 1090
And comaunded hire messageres to go  
The same day, withouten any fayle,  
His shippes for to seke, and hem vitayle.  
Ful many a beste she to the shippes sente,  
And with the wyn she gan hem to presente, 1095
And to hire royal paleys she hire spedde,  
And Eneas alwey with hire she ledde.  
What nedeth yow the feste to descrive?  
He nevere beter at ese was in his lyve.  
Ful was the feste of deyntees and rychesse, 1100
Of instruments, of song, and of gladnesse,  
Of many an amorous lokyng and devys.  
This Eneas is come to paradys  
Out of the swolow of helle, and thus in joye  
Remembreth hym of his estat in Troye. 1105
To daunsynge chaumberes ful of paramentes,  
Of riche beddes, and of ornementes,  
This Eneas is led, after the mete.  
And with the quene, whan that he hadde sete,  
And spices parted, and the wyn agon, 1110
Unto his chambres was he led anon  
To take his ese and for to have his reste,  
With al his folk, to don what so hem leste.  
There nas courser wel ybrydeled non,  
Ne stede, for the justing wel to gon, 1115
Ne large palfrey, esy for the nones,  
Ne jewel, fretted ful of ryche stones,  
Ne sakkes ful of gold, of large wyghte,  
Ne ruby non, that shynede by nyghte,  
Ne gentil hawtein faucoun heroner, 1120
Ne hound, for hert or wilde bor or der,  
Ne coupe of gold, with floreyns newe ybete,  
That in the land of Libie may be gete,  
That Dido ne hath it Eneas ysent;  
And al is payed, what that he hath spent, 1125
Thus can this quene honurable hire gestes calle,  
As she that can in fredom passen alle.  
Eneas sothly ek, withouten les,  
Hadde sent unto his ship by Achates  
After his sone, and after riche thynges, 1130
Bothe sceptre, clothes, broches, and ek rynges,  
Some for to were, and some for to presente  
To hire that alle thise noble thynges hym sente;  
And bad his sone how that he shulde make  
The presenting, and to the queen it take. 1135
Repeyred is this Achates agayn,  
And Eneas ful blysful is and fayn  
To sen his yonge sone Ascanyus.  
But natheles, oure autour telleth us,  
That Cupido, that is the god of love, 1140
At preyere of his moder hye above,  
Hadde the liknesse of the child ytake,  
This noble queen enamored to make  
Of Eneas; but, as of that scripture,  
Be as be may, I take of it no cure. 1145
But soth is this, the queen hath mad swich chere  
Unto this child, that wonder is to here;  
And of the present that his fader sente  
She thanked hym ful ofte, in good entente.  
Thus is this queen in pleasaunce and in joye, 1150
With alle these newe lusty folk of Troye.  
And of the dedes hath she more enquered  
Of Eneas, and al the story lered  
Of Troye, and al the longe day they tweye  
Entendeden to speken and to pleye; 1155
Of which ther gan to breden swich a fyr  
That sely Dido hath now swich desyr  
With Eneas, hire newe gest, to dele,  
That she hath lost hire hewe and ek hire hele.  
Now to th’effect, now to the fruyt of al, 1160
Whi I have told this story, and telle shal.  
Thus I begynne: it fil upon a nyght,  
Whan that the mone up reysed hadde his lyght,  
This noble queene unto hire reste wente.  
She siketh sore, and gan hyreself turmente; 1165
She waketh, walweth, maketh many a breyd,  
As don these lovers, as I have herd seyd.  
And at the laste, unto hire syster Anne  
She made hire mone, and ryght thus spak she thanne:  
"Now, dere sister myn, what may it be 1170
That me agasteth in my drem?" quod she.  
"This newe Troyan is so in my thought,  
For that me thynketh he is so wel ywrought,  
And ek so likly for to ben a man,  
And therwithal so moche good he can, 1175
That al my love and lyf lyth in his cure.  
Have yet nat herd him telle his aventure?  
Now certes, Anne, if that ye rede it me,  
I wolde fayn to hym ywedded be;  
This is th’effect; what sholde I more seye? 1180
In hym lyth al, to do me live or deye."  
Hyre syster Anne, as she that coude hire good,  
Seyde as hire thoughte, and somdel it withstod.  
But herof was so long a sermounynge,  
It were to long to make rehersynge, 1185
But finaly, it may nat ben withstonde:  
Love wol love, for nothing wol it wonde.  
The dawenyng up-rist out of the se.  
This amorous queene chargeth hire meyne  
The nettes dresse, and speres brode and kene; 1190
An huntyng wol this lusty freshe queene,  
So priketh hire this newe joly wo.  
To hors is al hir lusty folk ygo;  
Into the court the houndes been ybrought;  
And upon coursers swift as any thought 1195
Hire yonge knyghtes hoven al aboute,  
And of hire women ek an huge route.  
Upon a thikke palfrey, paper-whit,  
With sadel red, enbrounded with delyt,  
Of gold the barres up enbosede hye, 1200 
Sit Dido, al in gold and perre wrye;  
And she as fair as is the bryghte morwe,  
That heleth syke folk of nyghtes sorwe.  
Upon a courser stertlynge as the fyr –  
Men myghte turne hym with a litel wyr – 1205
Sit Eneas, lik Phebus to devyse,  
So was he fressh arayed in his wyse.  
The fomy brydel with the bit of gold  
Governeth he, ryght as hymself hath wold.  
And forth this noble queen thus lat I ride 1210
On huntynge, with this Troyan by hyre side.  
The herde of hertes founden is anon,  
With "Hay! go bet! pryke thow! lat gon, lat gon!  
Why nyl the leoun comen, or the bere,  
That I myghte ones mete hym with this spere?" 1215
Thus seyn these yonge folk, and up they kylle  
These bestes wilde, and han hem at here wille.  
Among al this to rumbelen gan the hevene;  
The thunder rored with a grisely stevene;  
Doun cam the reyn with hayl and slet, so faste, 1220
With hevenes fyr, that it so sore agaste  
This noble queen, and also hire meyne,  
That ech of hem was glad awey to fle.  
And shortly, from the tempest hire to save,  
She fledde hireself into a litel cave, 1225
And with hire wente this Eneas also.  
I not, with hem if there wente any mo;  
The autour maketh of it no mencioun.  
And here began the depe affeccioun  
Betwixe hem two; this was the firste morwe 1230
Of hire gladnesse, and gynning of hire sorwe.  
For there hath Eneas ykneled so,  
And told hire al his herte and al his wo,  
And swore so depe to hire to be trewe,  
For wel or wo and chaunge hire for no newe, 1235
And as a fals lovere so wel can pleyne,  
That sely Dido rewede on his peyne,  
And tok hym for husbonde, and becom his wyf  
For everemo, whil that hem laste lyf.  
And after this, whan that the tempest stente, 1240
With myrthe out as they comen, home they wente.  
The wikke fame upros, and that anon,  
How Eneas hath with the queen ygon  
Into the cave, and demede as hem liste.  
And whan the kyng that Yarbas highte it wiste, 1245
As he that hadde hir loved evere his lyf,  
And wowede hyre, to han hire to his wyf,  
Swich sorwe as he hath maked, and swich cheere,  
It is a routhe and pite for to here.  
But as in love, alday it happeth so 1250
That oon shal laughen at anothers wo.  
Now laugheth Eneas, and is in joye  
And more richesse than evere he was in Troye.  
O sely wemen, ful of innocence,  
Ful of pite, of trouthe and conscience, 1255
What maketh yow to men to truste so?  
Have ye swych routhe upon hyre feyned wo,  
And han swich olde ensaumples yow beforn?  
Se ye nat alle how they ben forsworn?  
Where sen ye oon, that he ne hath laft his leef, 1260
Or ben unkynde, or don hire som myscheef,  
Or piled hire, or bosted of his dede?  
Ye may as wel it sen, as ye may rede.  
Tak hede now of this grete gentil-man,  
This Troyan, that so wel hire plesen can, 1265
That feyneth hym so trewe and obeysynge,  
So gentil, and so privy of his doinge,  
And can so wel don alle his obeysaunces,  
And wayten hire at festes and at daunces,  
And whan she goth to temple and hom ageyn, 1270
And fasten til he hath his lady seyn,  
And beren in his devyses, for hire sake,  
Not I not what; and songes wolde he make,  
Justen, and don of armes many thynges,  
Sende hire lettres, tokens, broches, rynges – 1275
Now herkneth how he shal his lady serve!  
There as he was in peril for to sterve  
For hunger, and for myschef in the se,  
And desolat, and fled from his cuntre,  
And al his folk with tempest al todryven, 1280
She hath hire body and ek hire reame yiven  
Into his hand, there as she myghte have been  
Of othere land than of Cartage a queen,  
And lyved in joye ynogh; what wole ye more?  
This Eneas, that hath so depe yswore, 1285
Is wery of his craft withinne a throwe;  
The hote ernest is al overblowe.  
And pryvyly he doth his shipes dyghte,  
And shapeth hym to stele awey by nyghte.  
This Dido hath suspecioun of this, 1290
And thoughte wel that it was al amys.  
For in his bed she lyth a-nyght and syketh;  
She axeth hym anon what hym myslyketh—  
"My dere herte, which that I love most?"  
"Certes," quod he, "this nyght my faderes gost 1295
Hath in my slep so sore me tormented,  
And ek Mercurye his message hath presented,  
That nedes to the conquest of Ytayle  
My destine is sone for to sayle;  
For which, me thynketh, brosten is myn herte!" 1300
Therwith his false teres out they sterte,  
And taketh hire withinne his armes two.  
"Is that in ernest?" quod she, "wole ye so?  
Have ye nat sworn to wyve me to take"  
Allas, what woman wole ye of me make? 1305
I am a gentil woman and a queen.  
Ye wole nat from youre wif thus foule fleen?  
That I was born, allas! What shal I do?"  
To telle in short, this noble quen Dydo,  
She seketh halwes and doth sacryfise; 1310
She kneleth, cryeth, that routhe is to devyse;  
Conjureth hym, and profereth hym to be  
His thral, his servant in the leste degre;  
She falleth hym to fote and swouneth ther,  
Dischevele, with hire bryghte gilte her, 1315
And seyth, "Have mercy; let me with yow ryde!  
These lordes, which that wonen me besyde,  
Wole me distroyen only for youre sake.  
And, so ye wole me now to wive take,  
As ye han sworn, thanne wol I yeve yow leve 1320
To slen me with youre swerd now sone at eve!  
For thanne yit shal I deyen as youre wif.  
I am with childe, and yeve my child his lyf!  
Mercy, lord! have pite in youre thought!"  
But al this thing avayleth hire ryght nought, 1325
For on a nyght, slepynge he let hire lye,  
And stal awey unto his companye.  
And as a traytour forth he gan to sayle  
Toward the large contre of Ytayle.  
Thus he hath laft Dido in wo and pyne, 1330
And wedded ther a lady hyghte Lavyne.  
A cloth he lafte, and ek his swerd stondynge,  
Whan he from Dido stal in hire slepynge,  
Ryght at hire beddes hed, so gan he hie,  
Whan that he stal awey to his navye; 1335
Which cloth, whan sely Dido gan awake,  
She hath it kyst ful ofte for his sake,  
And seyde, "O swete cloth, whil Juppiter it leste,  
Tak now my soule, unbynd me of this unreste!  
I have fulfild of fortune al the cours." 1340
And thus, allas, withouten his socours,  
Twenty tyme yswouned hath she thanne.  
And whanne that she unto hire syster Anne  
Compleyned hadde – of which I may nat wryte,  
So gret a routhe I have it for t’endite – 1345
And bad hire norice and hire sister gon  
To fechen fyr and other thyng anon,  
And seyde that she wolde sacryfye, –  
And whan she myghte hire tyme wel espie,  
Upon the fir of sacryfice she sterte, 1350
And with his swerd she rof hyre to the herte.  
But, as myn auctour seith, yit thus she seyde;  
Or she was hurt, byforen or she deyde,  
She wrot a letter anon that thus began:  
"Ryght so," quod she, "as that the white swan 1355 Her. VII, 3-10
Ayens his deth begynnyth for to synge,  
Right so to yow make I my compleynynge.  
Not that I trowe to geten yow ageyn,  
For wel I wot that it is al in veyn,  
Syn that the goddes been contraire to me. 1360
But syn my name is lost thourgh yow," quod she,  
"I may wel lese on yow a word or letter,  
Al be it that I shal ben nevere the better;  
For thilke wynd that blew youre ship awey,  
The same wynd hath blowe awey youre fey." 1365
But who wol al this letter have in mynde,  
Rede Ovyde, and in hym he shal it fynde.  
Explicit Legenda Didonis martiris, Cartaginis Regine.