The Canterbury Tales: Novel Summary: The Monk's tale

The Monk's tale

The monk gives character sketches of many tragic figures in history and literature
Lucifer, who started as an angel, was demoted to hell because of sin and became Satan.
Adam, the work of God's hands, was banished from paradise for disobeying God.
Samson, well liked of God, committed suicide when his wife betrayed him by removing his hair, the source of his strength. 
Hercules, who did many great deeds and killed many monsters, was killed by a poisonous shirt given to him by his beloved.
Nebuchadnezzar, a wealthy king who persecuted the Israelites, was stripped of his throne by God, and only allowed to live in society near the end of his life.
Belshazzar, his son, had a similar fate to that of his father, losing his kingdom and being forced to live with animals. 
Zenobia, a warrior queen of Palmrya, was a strong woman.  When she eventually decided to take a husband, she refused to mate with him except to try to have a child.  She had two sons in this way.  She and her husband ruled together, and they were feared and respected.  One day, a stronger force, the Roman Empire, conquered her and she was led as a slave in that army.
Pedro, King of Spain, was driven out of his kingdom by his brother and killed.
Peter, King of Cyprus, who ruled Alexandria as well, was killed while sleeping.
Bernardo of Lombardy was imprisoned by his nephew, and died in prison.
Ugolino of Pisa was imprisoned with his children, two young boys.  They were fed little food, and then they were fed no food, and his children cried and asked their father to eat them so that he could live, but in the end, they all died.  The story is told in more detail in Dante's Divine Comedy, the monk says.
Nero, a hedonistic emperor of Rome, killed his brother, destroyed Rome and the Senate, and many other despicable things.  Seneca taught Nero when he was young, and Seneca died of shame when Nero started his persecusetion and destruction.  Angry subjects chased Nero in the night, and he had no one to help him, and hid in a garden, where he committed suicide by making two men decapitate him so that his body could not be desecrated. 
Holofernes, an army captain, who conquered many countries, was killed in his sleep by a woman named Judith, who decapitated him.
Antiochus, a king, was overconfident in his power and decided to attack Jerusalem.  However, God afflicted him with a terrible illness, but Antiochus decided to attack anyway.  He died of his rotting wounds, and no one would bury the body because it was so disgusting. 
Alexander, who had conquered the entire known world, who was the greatest soldier and leader that ever lived, was poisoned by his friends.
Julius Caesar, The emperor of Rome during the highlight of the Roman Empire, was betrayed and murdered by his friend, Brutus Cassius. 
Croesus, a king of Lydia, was spared from death from a fire, but did not change his attitudes, and when he decided to start war again, he had a dream that prophesied that he would die by hanging, and he did.

 The Canterbury Tales Study Guide

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