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The Canterbury Tales
Geoffery Chaucer

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"You there, you Pardoner," he said, "tell us at once some mirth or sport." [319]

"By Saint Ronan, it shall be done," he said, "but first I will drink and eat a bit of bread here at this ale-house." But immediately the gentle people began to call out, "No, do not let him tell some ribald or coarse joke; tell us some moral thing that we may learn some wisdom, and then will we gladly listen." [326]

"I agree, certainly," he said, "but I must have time to think up some virtuous thing while I drink." [328]

Here follows the Prologue of the Pardoner's Tale.

Radix malorum est cupiditas1; Ad Thimotheum, sexto.

"Gentle people," he said, "when I preach in churches, I strive for a resounding voice, and I ring it out as round as a bell, for I know by heart all that I say. My theme is and always was one and the same: Radix malorum est cupiditas. [334]

"First I pronounce where I come from, and then I show my bulls2, one and all, but first the seal of our liege lord the king on my patent3. I show that first to secure my body, lest any man, priest, or clerk would be so bold as to disturb me in Christ's holy labors. After that I then proceed with my tales, and show bulls of popes and cardinals and patriarchs and bishops, and I speak a few words in Latin to give a flavor to my preaching and to stir men to devotion.



1 Radix malorum est cupidita. Desire for earthly things is the root of evil. 1 Timothy 6.10.
2 bulls Letters of authorization from the pope and other high-ranking officials
3 patent Leather patents, indicating his authority to sell pardons.
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