(Vv. 6814-6818.) Thus Chretien concludes his romance of the Knight with the Lion; for I never heard any more told of it, nor will you ever hear any further particulars, unless some one wishes to add some lies.
ENDNOTES: NOTE: Endnotes supplied by Prof. Foerster are indicated by "(F.)"; all other endnotes are supplied by W.W. Comfort.
(1) "cele feste, qui tant coste, Qu'an doit clamer la pantecoste." This rhyme is frequently met in mediaeval narrative poems. (F.) (2) The contemporary degeneracy of lovers and of the art of love is a favourite theme of mediaeval poets. (3) Cf. "Roman de la Rose", 9661, for the stinking manure pit. (F.) (4) The forest of Broceliande is in Brittany, and in it Chretien places the marvellous spring of Barenton, of which we read in the sequel. In his version the poet forgets that the sea separates the court at Carduel from the forest of Broceliande. His readers, however, probably passed over this "lapsus". The most famous passage relating to this forest and its spring is found in Wace, "Le Roman de Rou et des dues de Normandie", vv. 6395-6420, 2 vols. (Heilbronn, 1877-79). Cf. further the informing note by W.L. Holland, "Chretien von Troies", p. 152 f. (Tubingen, 1854). (5) This grotesque portrait of the "vilain" is perfectly conventional in aristocratic poetry, and is also applied to some Saracens in the epic poems. Cf. W.W. Comfort in "Pub. of the Modern Language Association of America", xxi. 494 f., and in "The Dublin Review", July 1911. (6) For the description of the magic fountain, cf. W.A. Nitze, "The Fountain Defended" in "Modern Philology", vii. 145-164; G.L. Hamilton, "Storm-making Springs", etc., in "Romantic Review", ii. 355-375; A.F. Grimme in "Germania", xxxiii. 38; O.M. Johnston in "Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association", xxxiii., p. lxxxiii. f. (7) Eugen Kolbing, "Christian von Troyes Yvain und die Brandanuslegende" in "Ztsch. fur vergleichende Literaturgeschichte" (Neue Folge, xi. Brand, 1897), pp. 442- 448, has pointed out other striking allusions in the Latin "Navigatio S. Brandans" (ed. Wahlund, Upsala, 1900) and elsewhere in Celtic legend to trees teeming with singing birds, in which the souls of the blessed are incorporated. A more general reference to trees, animated by the souls of the dead, is found in J.G. Frazer, "The Golden Bough" (2nd ed. 1900), vol. I., p. 178 f. (8) Cf. A. Tobler in "Ztsch. fur romanische Philologie", iv. 80- 85, who gives many other instances of boasting after meals. See next note. (9) Noradin is the Sultan Nureddin Mahmud (reigned 1146-1173), a contemporary of the poet; Forre is a legendary Saracen king of Naples, mentioned in the epic poems (cf. E. Langlois, "Table des noms propres de toute nature compris dans les chansons de geste", Paris, 1904; Albert Counson, "Noms epiques entres dans le vocabulaire commun" in "Romanische Forschungen", xxiii. 401-413). These names are mentioned here in connection with the brave exploits which Christian knights, while in their cups, may boast that they will accomplish (F.). This practice of boasting was called indulging in "gabs" (=Eng. "gab"), a good instance of which will be found in "Le Voyage de Charlemagne a Jeruslaem" (ed. Koschwitz), v. 447 ff. (10) It is evident in this passage that Chretien's version is not clear; the reader cannot be sure in what sort of an apartment Yvain is secreted. The passage is perfectly clear, however, in the Welsh "Owein", as shown by A.C.L. Brown in "Romanic Review", iii. 143-172, "On the Independent Character of the Welsh `Owain'", where he argues convincingly for an original older than either the extant French of Welsh versions. (11) The damsel's surprise and fright at the sight of Yvain, which puzzled Professor Foerster, is satisfactorily explained by J. Acher in "Ztsch. fur franzosische Sprache und Literatur", xxxv. 150. (12) For magic rings, cf. A. Hertel, "Verzauberte Oertlichkeiten", etc. (Hanover, 1908); D.B. Easter, "The Magic Elements in the romans d'aventure and the romans bretons" (Baltimore, 1906). (13) Much has been written on the widespread belief that a dead person's wounds would bleed afresh in the presence of his murderer. The passage in our text is interesting as being the earliest literary reference to the belief. Other instances will be found in Shakespear ("King Richard III., Act. I., Sc. 2), Cervantes ("Don Quixote"), Scott ("Ballads"), and Schiller ("Braut von Messina"). In the 15th and 16th centuries especially, the bleeding of the dead became in Italy, Germany, France, and Spain an absolute or contributory proof of guilt in the eyes of the law. The suspected culprit might be subjected to this ordeal as part of the inquisitional method to determine guilt. For theories of the origin of this belief and of its use in legal trials, as well as for more extended bibliography, cf. Karl Lehmann in "Germanistische Abhandlungen fur Konrad von Maurer" (Gottingen, 1893), pp. 21-45; C.V. Christensen, "Baareproven" (Copenhagen, 1900). (14) W.L. Holland in his note for this passage recalls Schiller's "Jungfrau von Orleans", Act III. Sc. 7, and Shakespeare, first part of "King Henry IV.", Act V. Sc. 4: "When that this body did contain a spirit, A kingdom for it was too small a bound; But now two paces of the vilest earth Is room enough." (15) Foerster regards this excuse for Kay's defeat as ironical. (16) It is hoped that the following passage may have retained in the translation some of the gay animation which clothes this description of a royal entry into a mediaeval town. (17) This idea forms the dominating motive, it will be recalled, in "Erec et Enide" (cf. note to "Erec", v. 2576). (18) The parallel between Yvain's and Roland's madness will occur to readers of Ariosto's "Orlando Furioso", though in the former case Yvain's madness seems to be rather a retribution for his failure to keep his promise, while Roland's madness arises from excess of love. (19) Argonne is the name of a hilly and well-wooded district in the north-east of France, lying between the Meuse and the Aisne. (20) An allusion to the well-known epic tradition embodied in the "Chanson de Roland". It was common for mediaeval poets to give names to both the horses and the swords of their heroes. (21) For the faithful lion in the Latin bestiaries and mediaeval romances, see the long note of W.L. Holland, "Chretien von Troies" (Tubingen, 1854), p. 161 f., and G. Baist in Zeitschrift fur romanische Philologie, xxi. 402-405. To the examples there cited may be added the episodes in "Octavian" (15th century), published in the "Romanische Bibliothek" (Heilbronn, 1883). (22) This is the first of three references in this poem to the abduction of Guinevere as fully narrated in the poem of "Lancelot". The other references are in v. 3918 and v.4740 f. (23) Yvain here states the theory of the judicial trial by combat. For another instance see "Lancelot", v. 4963 f. Cf. M. Pfeffer in "Ztsch. fur romanische Philogie", ix. 1- 74, and L. Jordan, id. Xxix. 385-401. (24) A similar description of a distressed damsel wandering at night in a forest is found in "Berte aus grans pies", by Adenet le Roi (13th century). (25) The lion is forgotten for the moment, but will appear again v. 5446. (F.) (26) This entire passage belongs in the catagory of widespread myths which tell of a tribute of youths or maidens paid to some cruel monster, from which some hero finally obtains deliverance. Instances are presented in the adventures of Theseus and Tristan. (27) The old French monetary table was as follows: 10 as = 1 denier; 12 deniers = 1 sol; 20 sous = 1 livre (28) It appears to be the poet's prerogative in all epochs of social history to bemoan the degeneracy of true love in his own generation. (29) The sleeves of shirts were detachable, and were sewed on afresh when a clean garment was put on. (F.) (30) This was an axiom of feudal society, and occurs more frequently in feudal literature than any other statement of mediaeval social relations.
LANCELOT or, The Knight of the Cart
(Vv. 1-30.) Since my lady of Champagne wishes me to undertake to write a romance, (1) I shall very gladly do so, being so devoted to her service as to do anything in the world for her, without any intention of flattery. But if one were to introduce any flattery upon such an occasion, he might say, and I would subscribe to it, that this lady surpasses all others who are alive, just as the south wind which blows in May or April is more lovely than any other wind. But upon my word, I am not one to wish to flatter my lady. I will simply say: "The Countess is worth as many queens as a gem is worth of pearls and sards." Nay I shall make no comparison, and yet it is true in spite of me; I will say, however, that her command has more to do with this work than any thought or pains that I may expend upon it. Here Chretien begins his book about the Knight of the Cart. The material and the treatment of it are given and furnished to him by the Countess, and he is simply trying to carry out her concern and intention. Here he begins the story.
(Vv. 31-172.) Upon a certain Ascension Day King Arthur had come from Caerleon, and had held a very magnificent court at Camelot as was fitting on such a day. (2) After the feast the King did not quit his noble companions, of whom there were many in the hall. The Queen was present, too, and with her many a courteous lady able to converse in French. And Kay, who had furnished the meal, was eating with the others who had served the food. While Kay was sitting there at meat, behold there came to court a knight, well equipped and fully armed, and thus the knight appeared before the King as he sat among his lords. He gave him no greeting, but spoke out thus: "King Arthur, I hold in captivity knights, ladies, and damsels who belong to thy dominion and household; but it is not because of any intention to restore them to thee that I make reference to them here; rather do I wish to proclaim and serve thee notice that thou hast not the strength or the resources to enable thee to secure them again. And be assured that thou shalt die before thou canst ever succour them." The King replies that he must needs endure what he has not the power to change; nevertheless, he is filled with grief. Then the knight makes as if to go away, and turns about, without tarrying longer before the King; but after reaching the door of the hall, he does not go down the stairs, but stops and speaks from there
these words: "King, if in thy court there is a single knight in whom thou hast such confidence that thou wouldst dare to entrust to him the Queen that he might escort her after me out into the woods whither I am going, I will promise to await him there, and will surrender to thee all the prisoners whom I hold in exile in my country if he is able to defend the Queen and if he succeeds in bringing her back again." Many who were in the palace heard this challenge, and the whole court was in an uproar. Kay, too, heard the news as he sat at meat with those who served. Leaving the table, he came straight to the King, and as if greatly enraged, he began to say: "O King, I have served thee long, faithfully, and loyally; now I take my leave, and shall go away, having no desire to serve thee more." The King was grieved at what he heard, and as soon as he could, he thus replied to him: "Is this serious, or a joke?" And Kay replied: "O King, fair sire, I have no desire to jest, and I take my leave quite seriously. No other reward or wages do I wish in return for the service I have given you. My mind is quite made up to go away immediately." "Is it in anger or in spite that you wish to go?" the King inquired; "seneschal, remain at court, as you have done hitherto, and be assured that I have nothing in the world which I would not give you at once in return for your consent to stay." "Sire," says Kay, "no need of that. I would not accept for each day's pay a measure of fine pure gold." Thereupon, the King in great dismay went off to seek the Queen. "My lady," he says, "you do not know the demand that the seneschal makes of me. He asks me for leave to go away, and says he will no longer stay at court; the reason of this I do not know. But he will do at your request what he will not do for me. Go to him now, my lady dear. Since he will not consent to stay for my sake, pray him to remain on your account, and if need be, fall at his feet, for I should never again be happy if I should lose his company." (3) The King sends the Queen to the seneschal, and she goes to him. Finding him with the rest, she went up to him, and said: "Kay, you may be very sure that I am greatly troubled by the news I have heard of you. I am grieved to say that I have been told it is your intention to leave the King. How does this come about? What motive have you in your mind? I cannot think that you are so sensible or courteous as usual. I want to ask you to remain: stay with us here, and grant my prayer." "Lady," he says, "I give you thanks; nevertheless, I shall not remain." The Queen again makes her request, and is joined by all the other knights. And Kay informs her that he is growing tired of a service which is unprofitable. Then the Queen prostrates herself at full length before his feet. Kay beseeches her to rise, but she says that she will never do so until he grants her request. Then Kay promises her to remain, provided the King and she will grant in advance a favour he is about to ask. "Kay," she says, "he will grant it, whatever it may be. Come now, and we shall tell him that upon this condition you will remain." So Kay goes away with the Queen to the King's presence. The Queen says: "I have had hard work to detain Kay; but I have brought him here to you with the understanding that you will do what he is going to ask." The King sighed with satisfaction, and said that he would perform whatever request he might make.
(Vv. 173-246.) "Sire," says Kay, "hear now what I desire, and what is the gift you have promised me. I esteem myself very fortunate to gain such a boon with your consent. Sire, you have pledged your word that you would entrust to me my lady here, and that we should go after the knight who awaits us in the forest." Though the King is grieved, he trusts him with the charge, for he never went back upon his word. But it made him so ill-humoured and displeased that it plainly showed in his countenance. The Queen, for her part, was sorry too, and all those of the household say that Kay had made a proud, outrageous, and mad request. Then the King took the Queen by the hand, and said: "My lady, you must accompany Kay without making objection." And Kay said: "Hand her over to me now, and have no fear, for I shall bring her back perfectly happy and safe." The King gives her into his charge, and he takes her off. After them all the rest go out, and there is not one who is not sad. You must know that the seneschal was fully armed, and his horse was led into the middle of the courtyard, together with a palfrey, as is fitting, for the Queen. The Queen walked up to the palfrey, which was neither restive nor hard-mouthed. Grieving and sad, with a sigh the Queen mounts, saying to herself in a low voice, so that no one could hear: "Alas, alas, if you only knew it, I am sure you would never allow me without interference to be led away a step." (4) She thought she had spoken in a very low tone; but Count Guinable heard her, who was standing by when she mounted. When they started away, as great a lament was made by all the men and women present as if she already lay dead upon a bier. They do not believe that she will ever in her life come back. The seneschal in his impudence takes her where that other knight is awaiting her. But no one was so much concerned as to undertake to follow him; until at last my lord Gawain thus addressed the King his uncle: "Sire," he says, "you have done a very foolish thing, which causes me great surprise; but if you will take my advice, while they are still near by, I and you will ride after them, and all those who wish to accompany us. For my part, I cannot restrain myself from going in pursuit of them at once. It would not be proper for us not to go after them, at least far enough to learn what is to become of the Queen, and how Kay is going to comport himself." "Ah, fair nephew," the King replied, "you have spoken courteously. And since you have undertaken the affair, order our horses to be led out bridled and saddled that there may be no delay in setting out."