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from “The Pardoner’s Tale” from The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
Reading Warm-up B
Read the following passage. Pay special attention to the underlined words. Then, read it again,
and complete the activities. Use a separate sheet of paper for your written answers.
When people became sick in medieval times, they
usually attempted to cure themselves with home remedies. If these remedies failed, though, they turned to an
expert for advice. The expert whose counsel they sought
was often an apothecary, the medieval equivalent of a
town pharmacist. Lives could depend on his quick diagnosis of an illness and his careful intervention with the
proper medicine. Like today’s doctors, apothecaries had
to be prudent in administering cures, taking care not to
intervene unnecessarily if the patient was likely to heal
all by himself or herself.
Apothecaries were respected professionals, not con
artists or swindlers who set out to deceive those who
came to them for help. Becoming a master apothecary
required a seven-year apprenticeship and a great deal of
dedication and discipline. An apothecary would not wish
to betray a patient by promising a cure he could not
deliver. Apothecaries did charge for their services,
though, and it would have been hypocrisy for most
apothecaries to claim that they worked only out of a
sense of duty.
Besides dispensing drugs, ointments, and potions,
apothecaries needed to obtain the ingredients for their
medications. To do this, they would plant and cultivate
the right herbs and other plants, watering and tending
them. Then, they would collect and dry the needed roots,
barks, and seeds. It was essential that an apothecary
learn which part of the plant to harvest, and exactly
when it should be cut or dug up. A mistake in this area
could be devastating or even fatal, since one part of the
plant could be edible and another part poisonous.
Of course, treatments did not always provide a cure. If
an apothecary had too many failures, his business would
suffer. If unsatisfied, a customer could easily become an
adversary, seeking to harm the apothecary with slandering
remarks that would damage his reputation.
Unit 1 Resources: From Legend to History
© Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
1. Circle the word that is a clue
to the meaning of counsel.
Name two experts modern
people go to for counsel.
2. Underline the phrase that is a
clue to the meaning of
prudent. Why do doctors
need to be prudent in treating illness?
3. Circle the words that name
people who deceive others.
Then, give a synonym for
4. Circle the words that tell
what would betray a patient.
Explain why this act would
betray the patient.
5. Underline what it would be
hypocrisy to claim. Then, circle the phrase that shows
why it would be hypocrisy.
6. Underline the phrase that
tells what you do to cultivate
a plant. Then, use the word
cultivate in a sentence of
your own.
7. Underline the phrase that
tells what an adversary may
seek to do. Tell what
adversary means.
8. Circle the words that tell
what slandering remarks
would damage. Describe a
defense against slandering
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