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"Five husbands . . . at the church door"
In Chaucer's time, a wedding was performed at the church door and not inside the church or chapel.
Argus . . . pull his beard
a mythological giant with a hundred eyes whose duty was to guard a mortal (Io) whom Zeus loved. By Chaucer's time the word referred to any observant, vigilant person or guardian.
an Arabian physician (980-1037) who wrote a work on medicines that includes a chapter on poisons.
a prize awarded to the married couple in Essex who had no quarrels, no regrets, and, if the opportunity presented itself, would remarry each other. The Wife is still establishing the right of more than one marriage.
the act of depriving one of the right of church membership by ecclesiastical authority
The book that relates this and the previous incident is the Policraticus of twelfth-century writer John of Salisbury.
Lot's daughters got their father drunk and then seduced him (from the Book of Genesis in the Bible); the Pardoner's point is that Lot never would have committed incest if he had not been drunk.
Mark can tell
The miracle of the loaves and fishes and the barley bread is actually John, not Mark (see John VI:9), but this is a slight error for a woman of the Middle Ages to make.
Ptolemy . . . almagest
Ptolemy was a second century A.D. astronomer whose chief work was the Almagest. The Wife of Bath's quote shows that she is familiar with such a famous person.
objects esteemed and venerated because of association with a saint or martyr; here, the Pardoner's relics are false.
the biblical "strong man." He revealed the secret of his strength to Solome, who then betrayed him to his enemies.
Valerie and Theofraste
a work attributed to Walter Map, a minor satirist who disparaged marriage. All the writers the Wife of Bath quotes have written something either antifeminist, satiric, or unpleasant about marriage.
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