Analogues of the Pardoner's Tale from the Italian Novelle

Brief summary of Tale LXXXIII of the Novellino:

As Christ was walking with His disciples through a wild country, they suddenly espied some bright golden piastres, and said, "Let us take some of these for our use." But Christ reproved them, warning them that they would soon see the fatal effects of avarice.

Soon after, two men found the gold; and one of them went to fetch a mule to carry it off, whilst the other remained to guard it. On his return with the mule, the former offered to his companion two loaves, which he had bought for him. The latter refused at the moment, and shortly afterwards took an opportunity of stabbing the other as he chanced to be stooping down. He then took the two loaves, gave one to the mule, and ate the other himself. The loaves were poisoned; and man and mule fell dead. Then our Lord, passing by once more, pointed out to His disciples the three dead bodies.


Brief summary of Tale LXXXII of the Novellino (1572 ed.):

A hermit lying down in a cave, sees there much gold. At once he runs away, and meets three robbers. They see no one chasing the hermit, and ask him what he is running away from.

"Death, which is chasing me."

"Where is he? Shew him us."

"Come with me, and I will."

The hermit takes them to the cave, and shews them Death -- the gold. They laugh at him, and make great joy, and say, "The hermit is a fool." Then the three robbers consult as to what they shall do. The second proposes that one shall go to the town, buy bread and wine and all things needful; but the crafty Devil puts into the heart of the robber who goes to the town, that he shall feed himself, poison his mates, and then have all the treasure, and be the richest man in that country.

Meantime, the other robbers plot to murder their mate as soon as he comes back with the bread and wine, and then share the treasure. Their mate returns from the city, and they murder him at once. Then they eat the food he has brought, and both fall dead.

Thus doth our Lord God requite traitors. The robbers found death. The wise man fled, and left the gold free.


The summaries are by F.J. Furnivall, printed by W.W. Skeat in Vol. III, pp.441-42, of his edition of Chaucer.