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This form of ennobling love was inspired by the classical writings of Aristotle (d. This idea of ennobling friendship was adapted and spiritualized in monastic writings that praised the love between cloistered monks mutually sworn to the love of Christ and to each other as brethren.Aelred of Rievaulx is the strongest proponent of spiritual brotherhood.Some romances, such as the many versions of , combine aristocratic and monastic forms of writing about sworn brotherhood into a form of secular hagiography.
The Knight intends to win this contest and he brings out his narrative big guns to prove it.
This, paradoxically, actually helps to ratify the worthiness of the story-telling pilgrimage itself.
When Theseus conquers the Amazons, he disrupts their sisterly social organization by marrying their queen, Hippolyta, and adopting her sister, Emelye, as a member of his household, effectively replacing sisterly organization with a form of autocratic patriarchy.
When he conquers the Thebans, he puts an end to a downward spiral of fraternal slaughter, abuse, and vengeance, and imprisons the only surviving nobles, the sworn brothers who will become the chivalric heroes of the narrative.
The Middle English , for instance, questions whether sworn brotherhood is worth the sacrifices it demands, sacrifices which sometimes include wives and children.
Chaucer tests this social ideal of noble friendship by playing it off on parallel stages of gender and genre: the epic brotherhood of the Thebans and the epic sisterhood of the Amazons.
They shift between resistance and accommodation of new regimes while reshaping those regimes in turn.
Why were brotherhood, sisterhood, and fellowship important for Chaucer and his readers?
Yet after this seeming victory, Chaucer does not allow the imperatives of brotherhood and sisterhood to vanish.
Theseus is left on the one hand with Palamon and Arcite, imprisoned perpetually, and the enormity of their misery demands redress.