This carved wooden panel, now held in the collection of the Museum of London, depicts a scene from Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘The Pardoner’s Tale’ (one of The Canterbury Tales ). This moral tale, which concerns three young men who find a hoard of treasure, teaches that 'radix malorum est cupiditas' – 'greed is the root of evil'. A little like a comic strip, the panel depicts three sequential moments from the tale: after one of the men buys wine (right) which he poisons to keep the treasures for himself, he is stabbed to death by the other two men (middle), who lastly sit down and drink the poisoned wine (left).
Containing a recess for a lock (see top right), the panel was originally part of a chest which would have been kept within a domestic interior.
- Article by:
- Tom White
- Form and genre, Language and voice
Literacy rates in the Middle Ages were low, but those who were unable to read could experience literature through ways other than private, silent reading. Tom White explains how 'illiterate' individuals encountered literary texts and traditions through textiles, wall paintings, sculptures and listening to works read aloud.