In sterres, many a wynter therbiforn,
Was writen the deeth of Ector, Achilles,
Of Pompei, Julius, er they were born;
The strif of Thebes; and of Ercules,
Of Sampson, Turnus, and of Socrates
The deeth; but mennes wittes ben so dulle
That no wight kan wel rede it atte fulle.
– Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales, The Man of Law’s Tale. When anticipating the death of the Sultan, the Man of Law says that the death of all human beings is written in a book in heaven by God, before they are born. That includes all the great men like Hector, Achilles, Pompei, Caesar, Sampson and Socrates. But mortals are too dull-witted to read and interpret the divine book of fate.