A young Theban knight, made captive by Duke Theseus, and shut up with Palamon in a prison at Athens. Here both the captives fell in love with Emily, the duke's sister-in-law. After a time both captives gained their liberty, and Emily was promised by the duke to the victor in a tournament. Arcite was the victor, but, as he was riding to receive the prize of his prowess, he was thrown from his horse, and died. So Emily became the bride of Palamon. (Chaucer: The Knight Tale.)
The story is perhaps better known through Dryden's version, Palamon and Arcite.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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