Penthesilea have you favor unto
That for your death shall have much woe;
Such a woman should be loved and know,
Of whom so noble a voice is had.
Penthesilea was a full fair maiden and queen of the Amazons, and of marvelous worthiness in arms and in hardiness; and for the great goodness that the high name witnessed through the world of Hector the worthy, she loved in right heartily, and from the parties of the East she came to Troy in the time of the great siege to see Hector. But when she found him dead, she was distraught beyond measure; and with a great host of very chivalrous gentlewomen, vigorously she avenged his death and she did marvelous worthy deeds; and she did many great grievances to the Greeks. And because she was virtuous, it is said to the good knight that he should love her, and that is to understand that every good knight should love and prize every virtuous person, and namely a woman strong in virtue of wit and conscience. And this woman, who was woeful for the death of Hector, is understood to have worthiness and valor, when it is required in knighthood. And a wise man says: Bounty should be allowed anywhere it is perceived.
By Penthesilea, who was helpful, we may understand the virtue of charity, which is the third divine virtue that the good spirit should perfectly have within himself. Cassiodoire says that charity is as the rain which falls in the springtime, for it distills the drops of virtues under which green good will grow and good hope comes to fruition, that is to be patient in adversity, temperate in prosperity, patient in meekness, joyous in afflictions, well-willing to his enemies and friends, and namely to his enemies to be generous with his goods. To this purpose says Saint Paul the apostle: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.1
- Christine’s original Latin: “Caritas paciens, begigna est; caritas non emulatur, non agit perperam, non inflatur, non est ambiciosa, non querit que sua sunt.” Corinthians 13:4-5.