He yaf nat of that text a pulled hen
That seith that hunters ben nat hooly men,

from Geoffrey Chaucer – The Canterbury Tales (General Prologue) on Rap Genius


(= He didn’t give a plucked hen for that text / That says hunters aren’t holy men)

A plucked hen was of little value, but it’s significant that Chaucer gives us the Monk’s opinions based on his love of food.

Scholars haven’t agreed on what the text that Chaucer referes to is. Most likely, it’s from Gratian’s Decretum, a collection of texts compiled by the Benedcitine monk Gratian around 1140. There’s a passage based on St. Jerome’s Tractatus de Psalmo, 90.3, which reads ‘Esau was a hunter, therefore he was a sinner. And indeed in holy scripture we do not find any virtuous hunter’.

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