The Power of the Deities
In “The Knight’s Tale,” by Geoffrey Chaucer, a handful of gods are mentioned. In this tale of two men fighting for a woman, various deities are called upon for assistance. Specifically, Venus, Mars, Diana, Saturn, and Fortune. Which god is more powerful than the other? This short response paper will review evidence from “The Knight’s Tale” and rank the gods from least to most powerful.
The goddess of Fortune, also known as the Roman goddess Fortuna, is associated with both good and bad fortune. In his tale, Chaucer depicts the goddess as a woman spinning her wheel to determine the fortunes of her people. Chaucer writes, “Thanks be to ...view middle of the document...
Emily says, “Chaste goddess, well indeed thou knowest that I desire to be a virgin all my life,” and she tells Diana, “I do not crave the company of man” (Chaucer 63). When Emily has finished her plea, Diana appears with a bow in her hand and sadly informs her that she must marry one of the men. Diana states that it is confirmed by the “eternal written word” and there is nothing the she can do about it (Chaucer 64). To demonstrate even more the lack of power Diana possess, she is not even able to tell Emily which man she must marry, stating, “But unto which of them I may not tell” (Chaucer 64). Unlike the goddess Fortuna, Diana makes a brief appearance and gives voice, but she is unable to influence the tale with a use of her power. For this reason, she is ranked fourth in the list of deities.
Selecting the next of the gods and goddesses is a difficult task. The two in contention are Mars, the god of war, and Venus, the god of love. It only makes sense it would be difficult to compare these two. Completely opposite in nature, Venus stood for love and peace while Mars was a symbol of war and blood. Another cause of conflict is the fact that these two deities are siblings of Jupiter. In “The Knight’s Tale,” Mars is mentioned many times and credited with a long list of victories. The dilemma with Mars is that he doesn’t explicitly display his power as a mighty god, we only hear him being praised. As with the goddess of Fortune, Mars never shows himself or speaks to any of the characters. The one word Mars could be credited for, “Victory!” was heard when Arcita finished praying to him (Chaucer 66). His power can be imagined since he is the god of war and war is typically related to destruction. Destruction is the easiest of all power to see because it is a physical power. It is also easy to imagine the power and might of Mars when his father is Jupiter. Jupiter is the king of gods and is better known by his Greek name, Zeus. The god Saturn mentioned one other display of Mars’ power. When Venus asked Saturn to intervene in the argument between her and Mars, he replied, “Mars has his will, his knight has all his boon” (Chaucer 72).
Before ranking the god of Mars, it is best to list the attributes of Venus. As mentioned before, Venus is the goddess of love. She might be better known by her Greek name, Aphrodite. She is also a sister to Mars and daughter of Jupiter. It’s easy to be confused about Saturn’s role because in many places he refers to Venus as daughter. Such as, “My daughter, hold your tongue,” but this relationship will be addressed a little later (Chaucer 72). One might think the goddess of love would not have a lot of power, but that is what the “The Knight’s Tale” is all about. Her power of love has destroyed the bond between the two cousins Arcita and Polomon. Her power created a war between the knights for the love and affection of Emily. To assist in illustrating the power of Venus, the prayers spoken to her can be analyzed. The...