from MS. Paris, Bibl. nat. f.fr. 1450
(formerly 75355, formerly Cangé 27, then 69), fol. 238-264, lines
4838-5154, edited by [AB 424] Brunet, Charles and Anatole de Montaiglon, Li
romans de Dolopathos […], Bibliothèque Elzévirienne,
Paris: P. Jannet, 1856, pp. 168-178, to accompany the English translation
of Johannes de Alta Silva’s (Jean de Haute-Seille’s) Latin original (ed. [AB
655] Oesterley, Hermann) by [AB 665] Gilleland, Brady B., Johannes de
Alta Silva: Dolopathos […], Binghamton, NY: Center for Medieval and Early
Renaissance Studies, 1981, pp. 40-42.
[Line 4838 of 6,450 rhymed couplets = 12,900 octosyllables]
“Good King,” he goes, “a young man / there was once, rich and handsome, /
a noble man and of high lineage. / He had great land and a great inheritance.
/ He was of a large family and had considerable belongings, / such as a
rich man is supposed to have. / Never did he care for avarice, / nor was
there [ever] a creature as generous [as he]. / He spent everything and gave
[it away], / nothing did he keep. / Never would he have kept a thing, /
if there was someone who asked him for something; / he would never have
refused anybody. / He wanted to make [people] talk of him, / he wanted to
have a great reputation / before all those [people] of the country. / He
was known to many a person. / Knights he had and sergeants, / weapons and
horses he gave them, / and from another he did not take anything. / Well did
he want to drink and to eat well / and to change every month robes, / beautiful
horses and new weapons, / riding horses and harnesses and saddles. / Well
spoken was he and of beautiful expression, / from him nobody went away refused,
/ [neither] damsel nor rascal, / [neither] minstrel nor actor. / He wanted
to have all these supplies / of entertainment, of dogs and of birds. / He
did not care for gaining / for keeping nor saving / anything that came into
his hand. / Never did he think of the next day. / His family marveled much
at this, / and many a times they chastized him / and blamed [him for] his
mischievousness. / Because of that he did not at all give it up. / He did
not care for chastizing [himself], / nor for flattering or for praying. /
All those he hated who spoke to him [about it] / and who chastized him for
it. / He thought that they envied [him] / for his glory and for his life[style].
/ But to him who does not want to believe advice / bad things come, I am
not surprised by it. / May you know for sure, whoever may complain about
it, / [that] he who loses a lot and gains little / can well become a poor
man. / Greater sense has he [who] keeps / lots of things than has he [who]
gains [them]. / He who did not want to save / carried on until he had no
more to spend. / By necessity it behooved him to sell / his land and his
entire inheritance, / for he [had] led too opulent a lifestyle. / Everywhere
he was of great renown, / people spoke of nobody else. / [But even] a deep
well one can cause to dry up, / and great riches [one can] reduce to little.”
[Line 4898] “The young man became poor, / of his folly he was reminded
/ when he had nothing [left to do] but to depart. / But late he came to repent,
/ Too late he recognized his misdeed, / well he knew that he had committed
foll[ies]. / So now he did not know what he could do; / what he had done
he could not undo. / He had nothing to take nor to give, / he had nothing
with which to put on festivities. / [Yet] he was loved as much as he had
been / and served and called sire / and held in great affection. / But, since
he had come into poverty, / no one cared for him. / He suffered considerable
shame and worry, / for all those turned him the[ir] back / who once used
to serve him. / Such love is soon corrupted / if by giving it is not sustained.
/ So much has he listened to folly / that he has spent his belongings, /
that his family and his friends / became then his enemies; / to see him they
[Line 4923] “Good King, now hear well the story. / The
young man had very great anger, / he knew not what to do nor what to say.
/ So he thought, since change came to him / [and] since such misfortunes came
to him, / of suffering shame in another country / than in the one in which
he was born. / Know that he was much anguished, / sad, pensive and angry.
/ Well has he come from a mountain top to a valley. / He had only one single
horse / and one greyhound and one hawk. / He cannot go with that any other
way. / He no longer had [money] worth four deniers. / But the hawk and the
greyhound / were very good as exchange value[s]. / He does not know what
to do in any guise, / neither to stay nor to leave. / In the middle of the
night he [eventually] leaves the city. / Nobody knew [of] his departure /
except only for his wife / who has recently given birth. / Her he took with
him, / and he carries away the child in the cradle [as well]. / Thus he passes
through the [city] gate / and it was raining thickly / and the wind was
blowing [all] too hard. / His bird and his dog he takes with him. / Like
a knight errant he struggles on. / Nobody knew what he had become. / So
much he rides that he has come / straight into another region. / Tall he
was and handsome and a valiant man. / He has entered a city / [which was]
rich and of great nobility. / It was more than past the ninth hour, / it
was already close to vespers. / He does not know where he could have lodgings,
/ he does not have any money nor other means / with which he could pay [the
lodgings]. / And [yet] it is well time to find lodgings.”
[Line 4924] “King, listen now to what happened to him.
/ Right straight to a square he came. / There he stopped until a burgher,
who was very valiant and courteous, / saw him; well he realized and knew,
/ now that he had seen him, / that he was not at all a peasant. / The burgher
was rich and powerful, / very slowly he went toward him. / The [other] one
waited for him to come there. / The burgher very quickly salutes him, / and
he who trembles from anguish / returns his salutation to him simply / and
bows profoundly. / «Who are you», he goes, «[my] friend?»
/ «I was born in this other country», / goes he who is very
anxious, / And he said that he is not at all totally alone. / He showed
him his company / and told his entire life, / how he had maintained himself
/ and how he had come [there] / and says that, if he were to find lodgings
[for him], / big or small, he does not care which, / he would willingly lodge
there. / In the city he would stay, / but he has not [the means] to pay.
/ [The burgher] took pity and so he replies: / «Friend, I live over
beyond this bridge, / but I have over here a house; / for five years no one
stayed there, / and it is of stone, big and large. / This one I lend you
as a lodging / [for] as long as you want to stay there, / nor would you ever
pay rent for it». / The [other] one replies: «Handsome, gentle
sire, / may the great God of the heaven[s] recognize it for you, / I do not
seek nor demand more of you». He now lent him / the key and showed
[him] the house. / The knight unlocked it, / he enters the house and then
brings down / his wife and his little child. / He put his dog and his bird
in it [too], / [and] he undertook to arrange well [a place] / where he could
put his horse. / He attached it by the halter. / He loved it much and held
[it] dear; / he did as much [as necessary] until it had [feed] to eat. /
He was joyous and delighted about the house. / As well as he could he equiped
himself / to remain in the city.”
[Line 5017] “King, know you well for true / that he had not at all as
much as he wanted, / nor the possessions that he was used having, / for
he had nothing that [he could] spend, / nor was he able either to buy or
to sell. / He lived off the dog and off the bird. / Marvelously things went
beautifully for him / when he took some prey. / His wife had very great
joy from it, / for from other things they did not live, / nor did they have
any other sustenance. / Noble they were by appearance. / They did not have
the power nor the courage / to labour meanly, / and so they did not know
how, / like other poor [people], they could beg, / nor for [the love of]
God demand bread. / The knight went hunting / every day, more than he used
to. / His wife remained [at home] going without food, / if [good] fortune
did not do so much for her / that her sire took [some] prey / of which, whatever
it was, [some left-over] remained for her. / And several days she went without
food / until her sire returned, / who brought into the house / either a hare
or other venison. / If he took either one they ate, / and, if it was necessary,
they went without food. / As much as he had taken, whatever it is, / they
had used and taken it.”
[Line 5048] “King, hear now [the story] of the knight. / It was not made
today or yesterday. / He got up one day very early / and took a stick into
his hand; / On his horse he put the saddle; / he takes his hawk he calls
his dog. / For his life and his better health / he went to search venison.
/ He searches forest and countryside / but he does not find [anything] that
he could take. / He is much saddened and angered by this / to his house he
went back. / His wife opened the door for him, / he enters there, [he] who
brings nothing. / The lady looks at him [and] his hands: / «Sweet sister»,
he goes, «it’s for tomorrow, / certainly today I could not take [any]
[Line 5065] “That night it behooved them to wait, / they
did neither eat nor drink, / they were sad and ill at ease. / In the morning,
as soon as the day broke, / the knight went back. / He takes his hawk and
leaves the dog / which was happy on a leash, / this time he did not take
it [with him on the hunt]. / The lady was much annoyed / who had already gone
without food for two days. / She took care of her child / and put it back
to sleep in its cradle. / She felt quite sick and aching and sorrowful. /
Much sickness has he who is dying of hunger. / The lady has neither wheat
nor bread / nor anything [else] she could eat. / Hunger squeezes and anguishes
her, / and her sire remained [away] too [long], / nor did she know when he
would come [back]. / It is said that a person in need has no law. / A lady
very near her / lived. She was a rich woman / and was a former [court] dame.
/ All sad and deep in thought / [the knight’s wife] went to this lady, /
for need makes her do this, / and asks that she give her [something] to eat.
/ Her child she left all alone [behind]. / Watch now, at this point, totally
free / a serpent which came forth out of the wall. / To the child, who lay
in the cradle, / it came in order to strangle it. / Under a huge corner
stone / it had lived for a long time. / The greyhound shakes itself forcefully,
/ it shakes and reshakes and exerts itself so much / that it broke his leash
by force. / When it was unleashed it leaps, / comes to the serpent and assails
it. / Fiercely does it do battle with it. / With its teeth it drags and
fights it / until it kills it and strains / until far from the cradle it
carries it. / The cradle they had turned over / [while] thus they fought
each other. / It was turned over in such a way / that [down] toward the
ground was the face / of the child and the bottom [of the cradle] was up.
/ Then, at this hour, / the knight enterd the house, / who had taken quite
a bit of venison. / When he sees the cradle overturned / and sees the blood
shed / which appears the floor, / then he is very profoundly astounded, /
and when he saw the bloodied dog / which had broken its leash, / all the blood
in [his] body boils. / He believes that [the dog] had been so hungry / that
it ate the little child. / Not for little [would] he have changed his mind.
/ When he sees nothing at all of his wife, / he believes that she has fled
/ and that she did not dare wait for him. / Good king, now you must listen
well. / He was angry beyond measure, / he considered neither reason nor right.
/ Out of the sheath he draws the sword, / his horse he kicked in the body,
/ his good hawk he crippled in the thighs. / At that point he did not leave
[things. On the contrary,] / his good greyhound he slices right through the
middle, / from the shoulder to the hip. / Now he was worth less than
he used to be. / Himself he wanted to kill, / he would have struck himself
through the stomach. / When the lady enters the house, / when she sees [all]
this, she became / all sad and lost. / She comes to the cradle and lifts
it up; / when she sees [the baby] fall out, it grieves her much. / She breastfeeds
the child gently / and tenderly kisses it much. / The knight sees the serpent
/ that his greyhound had killed. / So now he noticed and knows [full] well
/ the good will which was in the dog. / So now he was sad beyond [all] manner,
/ Well would he have liked to be put on a stretcher. / [Line 5154] So now
he repents, but too late.”
The [unnamed] second sage’s story
Brunet and Montaiglon lines 5293-6414, pp. 183-220; Gilleland
[Line 5293] “Sire, there was some time back / a rich king
of great valour / who his worth and his power / put into amassing possessions.
/ Of this he could not tire, / night and day he put his efforts into it,
/ so much so that he had a great tower full / of coins and of silver and
of gold. / He amassed a very rich treasure. / This king had a knight / whom
he loved and held dear. / Many times he had tested him, / and he had found
him very loyal, / valiant and courteous, loyal and wise. / Never did he find
in him anything outrageous. / Because he knew him [to be] loyal / the great
treasure that he had / he commends to him and he gives him the key. / All
his riches he gives over to him. / The knight guards the treasure / that
he has received under his guard. / He put himself in charge of the entire
court, / he put great effort and great work into it. / He paid and received
/ whatever had to come [from and] to the court. / [be it in] coins or hay
or oats, / on him was all the effort. / He knew very well how to achieve
[it all], / as long as he could hold the job. / [But] one cannot last forever.
/ He could no longer suffer nor bear / the danger of court and the effort
/ which was harsh and grievous for him. / He had become old and feeble. /
He came to his lord / and says that he is in difficulty, / for he is old
and feeble; / [that] he can no longer bear the pain [of his work], / [that]
he can no longer maintain his court. / Therefore he is looking for someone
else who maintain [it] for him / and take the key of the treasure. / He would
do what he commands, / [but] gently he asks him [the king] for leave / and
says that he wants to relax, / [that] he is [worn out from] work as much
as is to be expected, / that he will not live much longer. / Therefore he
prays and requests that kindly / he let him relax freely / in as little [time]
as he has to live / among his sons and his household / which will be very
joyful and happy. Well it seems to the king right and reason[able] / that
he let him leave for his house. / But willingly would he retain him / if
it were for him a pleasure. / He gives him quite a lot of great riches, /
then he lets him have [his] leave. / And he gave him his keys back / that
he had had many a day. / The king gives them to another.”
[Line 5353] “King, listen, this is not at all an unreasonable
thing [to do]. / So now hear about the old knight. / His sons were horsemen,
/ except the first-borne who was a knight, / gifted and of handsome manner.
/ This old knight had sergeants, / sons and daughters and other people.
/ But he who was a knight / busied himself with the entire house. / All
held him as [their] lord / and all honoured him. / His father loved him
severely, / all his relatives [loved him] excessively. / [His father] gave
him [things] at his discretion, / he worked hard at elevating him / and
ordered him to spend / liberally and to listen / to nothing else but to
doing good / until he had a grand reputation / and gave liberally everywhere;
/ [his father orderd him further] to work hard at acquiring friends. / And
[t]he [son] worked hard at these things, / [he] who gave very liberally /
when he had [had] leave from his father. / A very handsome and powerful knight
/ and a very skillful [one] was there in him. / And quietly and in the open
/ he did so much that his father became a poor man, / and so it behooved
him / to reappropiate and sell his land. / Much did poverty make a great
war against him. / The son, as was to be expected, / wanted to amass riches.
/ A horse and weapons he needed, / and his friends, who used to / bring him
honour and superiority, / were seeking other company. / When his father saw
this / and recognized his crazy sense, he goes:
[Line 5392] «Son, I made you lord / of my land and of my honour.
/ I believed that you might be a great lord. / You have done worse than
you should have. / You have spent too liberally. / Everything is reappropiated
and sold. / I have only one house [left over] / from all of my rich estate.
/ So now I do not know what I must do. / With you I believed to have great
joy. / You had begun well. / Courteous and brave and of high standing /
I believed I made you, and I would do it / most willingly, if I could. /
You have no neighbour who would be your worth / if [ever] you were lacking
in possessions. / Poverty makes many a gentleman worse. / I have heard much
good being said of you. / I am in pain when a good achievement / thus does
not have a good beginning. / No advice here comes [to mind] except a single
one, / [and] that one is vile and anguishing: / it behooves you to become
a thief / if you want to hold on to your […] / weapons and chivalry, / or
else will be lost / the glory and the great renown / which go of you throughout
the region. / You will have nothing to give otherwise / and I cannot see
how / we could have better advice. / In this tower there is a great
treasure, / and I have watched over it for a long time. / At midnight in
secret / we could have a good portion of it, / if you were so daring».
/ The son replies: «By the faith, / handsome, gentle father, that I
owe you, / there is no place so dangerous, / nor a danger so marvelous /
that I would not have dared go with you / [and] that I would have believed
and thought / that my life was sustained by [the treasure] / and [that] my
honour was not endangered by it».”
[Line 5436] “King, hear now [the story] of this old [father]. / Need makes
[one] learn a great deal of tricks, / nor did he think that he had / glory
through virtue without riches. / At midnight they got up / [and] go right
straight to the king’s tower. / The father, who had guarded it, / had many
a times looked at it. / There was no part [of the tower] that he did not
know, / nor any cavity that he had not seen. / They carry all [kinds of]
tools as they knew [how to] / [and worked] until they had a hole in the strong
wall. / The father, who knew the tower / and had seen the tools, / entered
boldly inside / and took, at his command / and at his pleasure, from the
treasure, / and when it came to return outside / he gives it to his son who
is awaiting him. / The father returns outside thereafter; / he repairs and
rearranges the hole / so that nothing appears, then he turns away from it.
/ They come to their house loaded, / there they unloaded their goods. / Thus
has the son recovered / his great worth and his renown. / Henceforth he never
[again] payed [dearly] for listening [to the calls] / to go to tournaments
and to spend [money]. / Through his hole into the tower he went / the very
moment he needed money. / Now he had the reputation for prowess, / for courtliness
and for generosity. / He was very much [part] of the king’s court, / all
of [its] business and [its] secret[s] / he knew before anyone else knew [them].
/ I do not think that the king had / a knight whom he appreciated as much.
/ Thus he maintained himself for a long time.”
[Line 5474] “King, hear how things happened. / The king
came one day into his tower, / [he] who wanted to see his treasure. / Well
he noticed that of his gold / he had lost a very great portion. / Well he
saw it but did not speak of it at all. / He was very sad and angry / and pretended
to be joyful. / At his court there was an old man / who knew many tricks
and artifices. / A very good thief he had been, / as long as it was in his
power. / The king kept him at his court / [and] gave him all he needed. /
He had taken him in a case [of theft] / and had had his eyes torn out,. /
Because of this he kept him with him, / since he could not find anybody else
/ who knew how to advise him better / about thing[s] he must do. / Many a
good strategy he knew / that he had taught the king. / The king came to the
old man / who was very old and white-haired. / All his damage [to his treasure]
he tells him / [and] says that he does not know where the robber climbs in[to
the tower] / who thus takes his treasure from him. / So now [he asks] that
he tell him in this matter what occurs to him, / by what means he can take
his thief / and his treasure and his possessions.”
[Line 5504] “King, hear now what replied / the old [blind] man when he
heard him. / «Sire», he goes, «know for sure, / if you
really want to know / whether your guardsman steals it from you / or whether
somebody else uses to come in there, / [that] I will very well teach it
to you. / Now hear what I will tell you. / A bundle of fresh grass you will
take, / in the tower you will make it burn / and close the door and nail
[it shut] / so that nothing of it escapes through the door. / Proceed [thus]
until the green grass burns. / Around the tower you watch / where the smoke
will escape from it. / If it escapes from it, do not yet speak about it.
/ Come to me and tell me about it. / He who did this is not off the hook.
/ From me you will get such advice / that you will know it for sure».”
[Line 5522] “King, now hear what this king did. / As the blind man said
/ and as he had planned for him, / he did it as quietly as he could. / Great
smoke he made in the tower, / well he stood watch all around. / The tower
was very big and square / and the smoke was very big. / He [had] closed
door and windows, / they were well sealed all around / so that through there
smoke [could] not escape. / The smoke looked for and searched / until it
went straight / to wheree the tower was in pieces. / The hole was not fully
/ filled in with stone[s] and cement. / The smoke escaped through there
/ so that the king saw it perfectly / now that it ecapes from it. / The
king said and told / the blind man how it happened, / when he returned to
talk to him. The blind man who knew much / and who had seen many an evil,
replies: / «Handsome sir, now you can know / that your treasure and
your possession[s], / that you had assembled, / thieves have stolen from
you through this hole, / and [that], if by a trick they are not surprised
/ so that they be retained and taken, / they will steal from you all the
rest, / everything they will carry away through the hole, / for a thief
willingly transgresses [the law] / when good derives to him from his transgression»
/ This the blind man said to the king. / Afterwards he said to him: «[My]
lord, now believe me, / It behooves you to proceed with [superior] skills,
/ for he who wants to deceive a thief [will learn that,] / if he does not
deceive him wisely, / the thief very soon becomes aware of it, / for it
stands to reason, it seems to me, / that a man who steals be alert. / I
know [full] well that a thief knows what to do. / It behooves you to conceal
this affair, / in no sense, in no manner / [must] you seem or appear [to
know] that you have lost possessions, / if you want to get the thieves.
/ Know this: if they hear you say about it / a single solitary word, they
will think / that you for sure had noticed [the theft] / and that you
would have to guard the hole. / If you believe me, you will not say [a word
of] it / nor will you speak of it to anyone. / Rather take a deep tub, /
long and wide, sturdy and round,, / and put [in it] bitumen and a resinous
[substance] / and glue and other compounds / that I know well how to mix
for you. / Then boil it [all] so well […] / that, if you were to touch it
with your hand, / you would not be able to extract it from it. / Such glue
will be good to your liking, / and the tub will be sitting / in front of
the hole, until it happens / per chance that [the thief] comes there, / who
has already been there another time / and who has broken into your tower.
/ Surely he will enter there, / but this glue will retain him. / And he will
remain [there], whether he wants or does not want to, / until the next day,
[regardless of] whoever may be in mourning about it. / And this I well want
you to know: / if by clever means you do not pull him out of there, / thirty
bulls will not pull him out of there / but rather will tear him apart. /
Thus will be deceived those / who have gotten your gold illegally».”
[Line 5602] “The king became joyous and happy, / but he
marveled seriously / about the meaning that he has found in this [affair],
/ [he] who had suffered many a bad thing. / He was happy and got very well
organized / as to what he, [the blind man, had] planned. / He sat the tub
in the tower / and put it so close to the wall / that nobody would have known
how to avoid it / if he had not seen it there. / And [the tub] was full of
such a very strong glue / that one did not get out of it by any means. / Then
he closed its door quietly [and] / did not want to make another mention of
it. /  The thing that is destined [to happen] /  cannot be turned
away, / be it good, be it bad, whoever complains about it. / There is no
event that does not happen / [as it is] destined to, including bad event[s].
/ A thick[-black] and dark night / brings the son and the father back [to
the tower]. / Not heeding his pain, / his grief nor his shame, / the father,
who [is about to] climb into the tower, / comes to the hole and uncovers
it. / He does not struggle nor flail about. / This path he knew very well,
/ he had several times entered there. / See him now caught and in a bad spot,
/ for fully shoed and fully dressed / he fell straight into the glue / and
is so forcefully caught / that he cannot remove a limb, / except only the
eyes and the mouth, / for the glue touches him [all the way] to the chin.
/ The father sees well that he is caught / and that he has been surprised
by a stratagem. / He calls himself cowardly and hurting. / He calls his son
whom he loves much:
[Line 5642] «Son», he goes, «you have lost me. / Into
such bitumen and into such glue / have I fallen, know it for sure, / that
I cannot be pulled out of it. / [Simply] suffer it [all], for your grief /
would be lost and a useless thing. / But I have many times heard it said /
that from among two evils one must elect / the one in which there is less
grievance. / Pull out your knife and step forward / and come quickly and cut
off my head. / Handsome son, may it not ever be to your grief. / Henceforth
I will not be known, / [I] who will have absolutely no head». / King,
he spoke the truth, that’s my opinion. / One knows man by the face. / If the
father were to be known, / then the son would be compromised. / He could well
be damaged in this / and bring shame unto his lineage. / He had a very angry
heart, / [he] who saw his father entrapped. / He is sad and marvels about
it. / He comes forward and tries / to pull him out; he puts all his strength
into it, / but neither a trick nor force is of any use to him. / In his heart
he had such sorrow and such anger / that he knew not what to do nor what
to say. / Nor does he know in any way / which of the two evils he should
elect, / either to kill his father or to leave [him]. / It makes his sorrow
augment much. / It is for him too grievous and bitter a thing / if it behooves
him to kill his father / and to wet his hands in his blood. / About this
he does not know how to counsel himself. / [On the other hand] he fears too
much that he may be compromised / if his father is known. / Love forbids
him to kill him, / but the doubt and the fear / that he himself has about
his life / conspire [to advise] him that he kill him, / and his father [too]
who counsels him [to kill him]. / So he comes forward and gets ready. / His
knife he holds all naked / [and] very pensive and sad / he cut off his father’s
head. / Then he does not prolong his stay there, / with him all angry he
carries off [the head] / [and] returned to his house. / The next day the
king got up, / who went straight away to his tower. / Well he sees the punched-through
wall / and sees the bloodied tub. / On the glue the blood appears. / He looks
into the tub and sees / the corpse, but it had no head at all. / He comes
back to the blind man / [and] told him the adventure. / The blind man smiles
and swears, / he is much astounded and says truthfully / that of very great
skill is / the thief who knew how to do all this [and adds:] / «He
was certainly debonair, / a noble man and of high parentage. / And he would
have brought shame upon his lineage / if he had at all been known. / So that
he would not be discovered / he had his head cut off. / It is a very grievous
thing [with which] to charge [somebody]. / Neither your thief nor your treasure,
whatever/whoever it/he may be, you cannot have [back]».”
[Line 5715] “To this the king goes [replies]: / «Nothing
worries me / concerning my treasure, if God saves me, / but in my heart I
would have great joy / if I could know the one / who has such great skills.
/ I do not care about my treasure, / but [in order] that I may know him /
 it behooves me to hear from you /  such advice by means of which
I may know him». / The blind man said: «By my faith, / very good
advice I believe I [will] give you. / You will have the corpse be dragged,
/ when it will have been thrown out of the tub, / through your villages and
through your cities, / and you will order your people / to mobilize knights
and sergeants / armed on the[ir] prize horses. / Order that those be taken
/ who will come to cry for the corpse, / and you have them, without delay,
/ immediately, come to you. / Hardly could it happen that, / if a relative
sees him being dragged around, / it does not behoove him [or her] to shed
tears and to cry, / and, if a son or wife sees him, / I do not believe […]
/ that he [or she] can refrain from shedding tears».”
[Line 5743] “The king heard the advice. / He hesitated no more nor waited.
/ It seems to him a good thing to do. / He has the corpse pulled out of the
tub, / he has it attached to horses, / and he has it dragged and pulled /
through the streets of the city. / The knights were mounted, / they rode in
front and behind, / and they took very great care / to see if anybody was
crying. / In front of the door of the one / whom they were dragging they passed,
/ they dragged him closely in front. / The adventure happened thus: / when
the corpse came to the door, / [the corpse] which was being so vilely dragged,
/ there was his first-born son / who had been his companion. / When he sees
his father’s body / being so vilely treated / and to such shame dragged [around],
/ he had in [his] heart very great distress. / His great sorrow and his great
sadness / he would have willingly hidden if he could have; / never would
anybody have known nor seen them, / if he could have protected his heart
from them. / But, despite himself, it behooves him to think about it [all],
/ and the thinking summons the heart, / so that from the heart rises up [in]
him / the teardrop that comes to him. / When he sees that it behooves him
to cry / and to be surprised by this doubt [?], / he immediately took for
[a good] reason / and deliberately a knife / and he [also] takes a small
stick / as if [it were] to do carpentry. / Without hesitating and without
stopping / he sliced directly through the center / [of] the left pulse of
his hand. / Now then he had occasion to cry, / and he cried without halting,
/ and so loud did he cry out / that there is not a single person, big or
small, / who did not hear [his] voice. / Then his mother came running there
/ and his sisters and all his brothers, / and when they saw their father /
being dragged around so shamefully, / they showed all together / such great
sorrow and such great grief / that never any man heard greater ones. / For
their father they showed such sorrow, / but for their brother they [acted]
/ as if they were [also] crying for him. / All make haste to show great sorrow
/ and all shouted «Brother, brother», / but the great[er] sorrow
was for the father. / When the king’s people see the sorrow, / they take them
and send them / all tied up before their lord. / Never did any man have greater
joy / than has the king when he sees them, / for everything he had lost /
he thinks he has recovered, / he believes sincerely he has found. / So he
calls them sweetly, / to them he speaks wisely / like he who was a wise man.
/ Very well he showed them reason / and said that, if they recognized / his
treasure and gave [it] back to him, / they would act [according to] very
great wisdom. / If they gave back to him his belongings, / he would never
ask them [for] more, / but he would henceforth love them always. / He promises
them his love and his forgiveness. / He does not make toward them another
threat, / if they want to give back to him his belongings. / And if it behooves
him to wait [too] long / until they give them back by force, / he will not
let one of them stay behind, / but, without saying more, will let them all
/ die to [their] shame and martyrdom. / When they had heard the king, / they
were sad and astounded. / The knight took courage / and said to the king
very wisely: / «Sire, good king, for God’s mercy, / your people have
led us here / who have brought upon us very great shame. / Much grieve me
and much afflict me / your anger and your threat. / Handsome lord, by your
grace, / do you believe that we would cry / over something like our seeing
/ this corpse [as it] is dragged around before us? / We did not hold it so
dear; / [as for] seeing [it], we did not cry over that, / nor did we exhibit
sorrow because of it. / But [line 5844] it is not surprising that he cries,
/ [line 5843] he who runs into evil and infuriating [things], / and one must
have greater sorrow / over one’s body than over one’s belongings. / If I
cried, I had good reason. / I can well show [a] rightful motive: / bad luck
and [a] misadventure, / great and hard, have come over me today, / and so
I do not know by which sin / with my left hand I sliced / straight and entirely
into [my] pulse. / And because of this I am very grievously hurt, / for I
was a young knight / and very readily trained myself [in the use] / of weapons
and knightly arts. / Because of this [injury] it will be possible that I
lose / the great appreciation and the renown / which run across the country
about me, / and I can well experience death because of it. / Because of this
my friends are not very much wrong / if they weep for me».”
[Line 5864] “Then he showed his hand without finger / so
that all saw it bloodied. / The king out of pity loses his mind over it /
when he has seen the wound, / and he says that he has been right / [for] it
is not extraordinary if to him who suffers misfortune / does not come the
desire to weep. / Quickly now he dismissed him. / He who has cunningly acted
/ took [his] leave and leaves. / Thus he saved by his stratagem / himself
and his entire household. / The king does not realize anything at all about
it. / He believed entirely that he had told him the truth. / [The son] was
saved by his intelligence. / Thus happened [this] adventure. / The king returned
to the blind man, / he wanted to receive further advice. / The blind man told
him truly / that he would find at very great cost / what he had begun [so]
painfully. / Nevertheless, since he wants to do it, / he recommends again
strongly to drag / the corpse through the whole city / where it had already
been dragged. / When he has very immediately said it, / the king ordered
to do it, / and so it was done immediately. / By horses most shamefully /
it was dragged from street to street. / Thus the thing happened, / [namely]
that they found the knight / at his door exactly as the day before. / He had
a small child of his / beside him and when he sees his father / [being] treated
so demeaningly, / (who was to have given him a thousand mark / for not holding
back from mourning / when the corpse came to him, / which was [indeed] coming
so shamefully,) / he quietly let his child / fall into a well, / so that
never anyone could see it, / [as a result] of which you could have heard
him yell and scream, / pound his chest, pull his hair / and shout: «Beautiful
folk, woe!» / The mother did not hold back, / nor did his brother(s)
and his sisters: / the[ir] yelling was very painful / and they felt very
great pain. / One of them climbed down inside the well / in order to pull
the little child out. / When the king’s people saw [them] display / the very
great sorrow that they felt, / they all ran there and thus see / the knight
who wept so very much / and who with his fists struck himself / as if he
hated his life. / The lady they did not take, / nor the sisters who were
mourning, / but they take him [the knight] and bind / his hands behind his
back tightly. / So much do they hold him under great domination / that he
does not have the power to defend himself. / Without saying more and without
waiting / they led him before the king; / the others dragged the corpse.
/ Those who were leading the knight / presented him before the king. / The
king recognized him well / for he had seen him many times. / Very deeply
was he astounded / and forcefully he spoke to him: / «Thief»,
he goes, «now you are taken, / your disloyalty has surprised you. /
[5939-5943] It behooves you to return my treasure. / God does not want it
to be lost, / and I want it to be returned to me. / Return it, I know well
that you have it, / badly you have taken it from me. / [5949-5958] Now return
it!» […] / And he, who took the treasure / and who knew very well how
to fake, / started to sigh and to pity [himself] / and said: «Alas!
how miserable, suffering / I am and unfortunate. / How full I am of great
misfortune! / God hates me very much and [so does] his power. / [5967-5989]
King, throw me out of this torment / that I have in this mortal life! / A
man who has no joy does not live. / It is more worthwhile to die promptly
/ than to live so very shamefully». When the king, who was his lord,
/ heard him say these words / and saw [him] weep so tenderly / and confess
so harshly / and [heard] that he prays and requests so strongly / that, instead
of a gift [of forgiveness] and comfort, / [the king] kill him for God[’s sake]
and for pity[’s sake], [6002-6005] he had in [his] heart very great pity
for him. / Now he had him freed, / had him given a thousand silver mark /
to ease his pain.”
[Line 6010] “He was not at all freed through a caprice /
but through great wisdom. King, hear now what I [will] tell [you] truthfully.
/ The knight went back / completely freed in such a manner [as you have heard].
/ And the king to his adviser / returned to get advice. / He asks him for
advice and help / and says that he lost [the fruits of] his effort[s]: / he
cannot find out nor know / who has taken his treasure, / The blind man responded,
/ now that he has listened to him: / «Handsome sire, you will know
it [only] with [great] effort. [6024-6028] Well I know that he had company,
he was not at all without companion. / [6031-6036] Look for forty knights,
/ the best you will find. / [6039-6040] Twenty [of them] will have white
weapons, / the other twenty will be armed / with entirely black weapons,
/ and their horses and their banners [will be black as well]. / You will
have a gallows erected, / there you will hang your culprit. / [6047-6055]
They will be able to trick the culprit.» / [6057-6063] Now the king
does not want to wait any longer. / At the gallows he had the corpse hanged
/ close to the city outside [its limits]. / And on one side and the other
he put / twenty knights [each], lances at the ready, / the ones white, the
others black. / [As for] the corpse, the king ordered them, / upon their eyes,
to guard it well, / not to sleep but to keep watch.”
[Line 6073] “The knight[ed son] heard / that the king has hanged his father,
/ and he saw it very clearly. / He was very grievously sad about it. / It
seemed to him a vile act and a great outrage. / So he thought in his heart
/ that he would free his father / or give himself over to death. / He wants
more to die than to live in shame. / [6081-6097] He was marvelously well armed,
/ he had a good, strong and fast horse. / It was entirely covered, […] /
half in white, half in black, / in order to deceive the knights. / In this
manner did he arrange himself: / toward the black [knights] he turned [his]
white [side] / and the black one he put toward the white ones. / Everyone
believed according to his understanding / that he was [part] of the other
company. / [6108-6112] And he rode right straight / toward the gallows at
great speed. / Nobody spoke to him. / Right now when he came there / he pulled
the sword out of the scabbard, / he cut the rope right through the middle,
/ his father he carries off before him [in the saddle]. / [6120-6121] Now
he had the body and he had the head. / So much did he according to his knowledge
wander [?] / that [in the end] according to his wish he buried him. / And
those who were supposed to guard him/it, / when in the small [hours of the]
morning they do not see him/it, / they were very frightened. / They told everything
to their lord, / how they had been deceived. / [6130-6133] And the king said
that he did not know / how he could know [the thief]. / He was very regretful
about his treasure. / For advice he came back to the [blind] old man. / [6138-6148]
And this one told him to send [his men] out to fetch / all the knights of
his land[s] / and to have a feast announced / and a tournament called for.
/ [6153-6154] He knows certainly for sure / that he will surely come / who
had stolen his treasure. / [6158-6180] Much pleased the king and much sat
well with him / what the blind man said to him. / So he had the feast announced.”
[Line 6187] “[The son] knows that it behooves him to come.
/ Richly he decks himself out and comes / to court in beautiful company, /
for he liked [the culture of] knighthood much. / He was well known at court.
/ [6192-6196] All [the knights] had come to court. / [6198-6199] Right in
[their] midst, on a chair, / was sitting the king’s daughter. / [6202-6204]
When the knight saw her / [his] blood and [his] heart moved him, / despite
himself it behooves him to love [her], / but he does not know where this [feeling]
comes from. / [6209-6212] But he does not dare show any sign of it. / [6214-6230]
When they had all sufficiently eaten / he goes to ask the king for leave.
/ [6233-6240] At midnight all alone / he took his sword very quietly, / no
other weapon does he carry with him. / [Back at the palace] he finds the
door wide open. / He bypasses [sleeping] knights and sergeants. / So much
does he work and so much he exhausts himself / that [finally] he came to
the young lady’s bed / in her white and beautiful chamber. / Love grips him
hard, /  for naked [body] against naked [body] and mouth on mouth /
he lies down beside the king’s daughter. / [6253-6259] As [the king] has
instructed her / the young lady set out [to follow the instructions] / and
put such a mark on his forehead / that he could well be recognized [as the
thief]. / He did not notice anything. / So long did he stay there / until
he left happily. / [6267-6268] His sergeants jumped up against him / who
happily welcomed him back. / The torches burnt brightly, / in the center of
[his] forehead they see the mark. / The one who sees the mark first / said
to his lord that he had / on the forehead a purple mark. / The knight marvels
much at this, / asked for water to wash [it off], / [6278-6280] [but] the
more he washed the more [the mark] appeared. / The knight realized well /
[and] thinks that he has been tricked. / [6284-6288] He came to the sergeants
and marks them [all], / on everyone he made a mark on the forehead. / [6291-6296]
Then he slept until the next day.”
[Line 6298] “But the king got up very early / whom he had also marked. /
The first knight that he sees, / he saw him marked. So he ordered to apprehend
him / and swears that he will make him hang; / he will not be able to have
a ransom / if he does not soon return his treasure. / He has spoken and said
enough. / The knight denies it [all] / and said that he knew nothing about
it / nor that he had had his treasure. / «Certainly», goes the
king, «you do have it. / You have on [your] forehead a mark / which
well shows it to me and instructs [me]». / «Alas», goes
he, «handsome sire, alas! / On your forehead [as well] do I see a mark».
/ [6315-6320] Thereupon [the king] does not know what he must say. [So] he
sends for his old blind man / [and] tells him the entire adventure. / And
he replies: «Sire, […] / [6325-6335] fetch me a very little child, /
I will give it my knife to hold. / [6338-6341] And know [full] well that it
will give / the knife to him for sure / who had your gold and your treasure».
/ As the blind man says / the king did it without contradicting [him]. / [6347-6366]
The blind man calls the child / [6368-6373] and the child took the knife.
/ It looked at all the knights. / The [robber] knight did not tarry: / when
he saw that the child came / toward him, holding the knife, / with very great
cunning he came forward / [and] goes: «Now this, now this. / I will
exchange my beautiful bird [that I have here] / for that knife, if you want
to». / The child proffers him the knife. / The king jumped up at this
/ and said: «Knight, you are caught». / The knight […] / said
to the king: «Well now. / [6388-6389] The child did not give me / the
knife, for I bought it. / [6392-6396] May now a judgement be heard about
it». / The blind man was astounded / and said to the king: «Sire,
[for] mercy[’s sake]! / The man that is here is a wily one. / Through his
sense and through his craftiness / he will have your gold and your treasure.
/ He is certainly by judgement / absolved of this experiment. / For nothing
would you exert yourself about it, / for you would be unable to trick him.
/ Do not exert yourself any longer about it. / I recommend to you that you
give him / your daughter in marriage. / A handsome, brave and intelligent
knight / is in him; she will be well married». / Thus did the affair
turn out: / that with great pomp and with great joy / the king offers his
daughter to him.”
Virgil’s (an “eighth” sage’s) story
Brunet and Montaiglon lines 10324-11024, pp. 353-373.
[Line 10324] [Virgil said:] “In my childhood
I had a companion / [who was] brave and wise and of handsome bearing / and
was a senator’s son. / Never, any day of my life did I see / a better scholar
of philosophy. / Much had he heard and seen, / so much had he learned and
read / that he did not care for women, / because of the great evil that was
therein. / [10333-10335] The most valiant of his relatives / wanted him to
get married. / [10338-10362] And he thought well that he would do so much
/ that he would never marry a woman: / there was too great an encumbrance
in it. / Therefore he asked for a very good workman, / a very good cutter
of stone, / [10368-10369] [and] had him cut an image; / so beautiful a one
had not been cut before. / [10372-10374] And he said to those of his relatives
/ that in the semblance of the image / he absolutely wants to have a wife
/ or otherwise he does not want to have another. / [10379-10385] One day it
occurred by chance / that in front of his house were passing by / people who
were wandering across the country, / they were from the country of Greece.
/ They stopped in front of the image, / all bowed before it gently / and saluted
[it] loudly. / They had a great celebration and great joy. / At the windows
toward the street / was he [, the senator’s son,] with very great company
/ [10396-10398] and asked what people they were, / why they were celebrating
[?] that image. / One of them replies: «Handsome noble sire, / [10402-10403]
in [one of] the port[s] where we arrived / we found a very beautiful tower
/ I do not know [the] lady or young woman / who is locked away in the tower.
/ [10408-10409] Very hard it weighs on me / that she cannot come out of the
tower, / she does not do everything she wants. / Much were we in very great
poverty, / for we had come from the sea. / She had for us such great pity
/ that, for God’s and friendship’s [sake] / she threw us so much silver and
gold / that we still fare much better because of it. / [10420-10422] It is
my opinion that I see her / when I see that image there». / [10425-10437]
Well has the good scholar [and senator’s son] heard / what these people have
replied to him. / [10440-10441] With him were his relatives, / the best and
the most valiant, / and they say: «Handsome nephew, we want you, /
since thus is what we hear, / to be able to find a wife». [10447-10453]
Now he does not know what to become. / He does not want a wife, neither wrongly
nor rightly. / He does not love any [woman], nor does he believe [in marriage]
/ Nevertheless he reflected, / because he was very much pressured, / that
he wanted to see peace [reign]. / [10460-10465] He equips and readies his
ship, / for he wants to go there by ship. / 10468-10473] So much he sails
over the sea / that he saw in port the square tower / that they had described
to him. / [10477-10483] Well does he want the lady to see him, / and he,
if he can, wants to see her. / In that tower he saw her sitting, / leaning
against a window. / [10488-10495] In order to see better she rose up, / well
she saw the young man. / So he comes forward and salutes her. / She responds
to him sweetly / and then he says to her very quickly: / «I want to
ask and beg you, / if it does not annoy you, / to tell me for what thing
/ you are locked away in this tower». / She replies: «I will
tell it to you, / I will certainly never hide it from you. / Lord of this
land is / a man who married me. / [10509-10510] Such is his sense that in
no respect / does he believe in either me or another woman. / For this he
has locked me up in here. / [10514-10516] Never would anyone but him enter
here, / there are very strong locks / and at all times he carries with him
/ the keys to the building and to the door. / [10521-10528] Right now he
has gone [away] to his business / where he has to do his chores. / He should
not stay [away] for long, / so I beg you, request and command / that you
tell me from which country / you are and what you come seeking». /
He saw that he well had leisure / to tell her all [that was] his pleasure
/ for nobody was around nor was listening. / «[My] lady», he
goes, «[I’ll have you] know, without [any] doubt, / that I am a fairly
rich man / and [that] I came here for [no other reason than] you. / [10541-10542]
I heard [people] tell in my country / that thus you were imprisoned. / I
thought to myself that I would come / [and] take you away to my country».
/ [10546-10550] Women are very foolish and crazy. / This one believes him
upon his word / and said: «You have come to get me?» / «For
sure, truly, [my] lady, to this country / I came for you alone». /
[10556-10560] She saw [that he was] very handsome. / «Friend»,
she goes, «now, / if I wanted to undertake it, / you could put me onto
your ship». / [10565-10567] «[My] lady, so you become my friend»,
/ he goes, «already I am your friend. / [10570-10572] But I cannot
see how [I can embark you]». / [10574-10575] «I will tell you
what you will do. / [10577-10578] After [my husband’s return] come back to
talk to him / and say that you want to reside / on his land and under his
power. / Promise him a fairly great sum of money. / You would lodge close
to here, / you would make a very rich tower. / [10585-10586] Underground
you will make a passage, / may nobody know it nor see it. / Thus you could
come to me». / [10590-10592] The young man thanks her much for it.
/ [10594-10596] When the lord had come back / [the young man] now came to
him. / [10599-10603] Very well the two were speaking [to one another]. /
When the lord had looked at him / he asked him gently / what [kind of] man
he is and from what country. / He said: «Sire, I am a man of war, /I
was born in the city of Rome. / [10610-10614] This country [here] pleases
me much. / [10616-10617] Willingly would I lodge myself here / because [this
place] is close to the coast. / Sire, in order to make a lodging / give me
[a piece] of your land. / I fully want you to [receive my] service for it».
/ [10623-10634] The lord responds now: / «May you all be welcome! /
I will let you [have] land. / I will lodge you willingly, / take as much
[land] as you wish». / [10640-10641] And he thanked him immediately
for it. / He had all the equipment. / A tower he made very quickly, / it
was very strong and very beautiful in design. / It was sitting close to the
other tower. / [10647-10651] Very well knew how to plan / he who went digging
underground, / for so much did he dig the passage forward / that one could
well, without stopping, / go from one tower to the other. / [10657-10660]
The young man went to speak, / when[ever] he wanted, to his lady / who abandoned
her body to him / and gave him all her possessions. / The lord does not notice
it, / how she deceived him. / He knew nothing of that passage. / [10668-10683]
One day [the young man] had with very great pomp / [his tower] very richly
prepared / [and then] summons the lord to a meal, / for this the lady made
him do. / The lord was very gracious / [and] graciously gave into / what
his host asked of him. / He went there very privately, / for he came there
all alone. / [10693-10704] Inside a large painted room / [10706-10707] the
master [of the tower] led the lord. / [10709-10710] Hand in hand both sat
down / on a very rich and very large bed. / [10713-10717] «[My] lord,
while awaiting the food / until it is time to set the tables / let’s play
chess and “tables”», / goes [the young man]. […] / [10721-10725] One
set was of ivory, / and the other was of ebony / [10728-10732] and when the
lord realizes it, / with great surprise he looks at them: / many a times had
he seen them. / [10736-10739] Right away he climbed up the stairs, / fully
running he went up in the [lady’s] tower. / The host [meanwhile], who knew
many tricks, / [10743-10748] carried back the chess and “tables” [boards].
/ The lord entered in the tower, / he sees the chess and the “tables” / that
he had seen in the [host’s] tower. / Thereupon he did not know what he should
[Same deceptive play with the meal utensils (10754-10810)
as well as with jewellery and a golden cup (10811-10843): the lord recognizes
them at the host’s table but finds them in the lady’s tower where the host
has returned them] / [Same trick also with the lady who is the host’s wife
in the host’s tower and the lord’s wife in the lady’s tower; in fact, the
lord sends them both off to Rome as a couple, realizing too late that he has
given away his own wife (10844-10973)] /
[Line 10974] “But never did anyone such a grieving man / see as was the
lord / when he felt himself deceived, / for he almost left his senses / when
he had thus lost his wife. / Because of mourning he thought [he was] losing
his life. / He had his ship prepared, / he had very rich equipment. / After
them they go quickly, / so much they sailed, he and his men, / that they arrived
in the port of Rome. / The lady heard the news / that one is coming back
to fetch her by ship. / She now calls her friend / [and tells him] that she
has heard the news, / and said: «Do you know what you will do? / That
image you will show him / and you will say that thus has [the lady of the
image] been changed / through sin and by fate». / When the lord had
arriv«ed / he came in all haste to Rome. / He asks the [young] Roman
[senator’s son] for his wife / and prays that for God[’s sake] he returns
her. / The Roman, who knew well how to feign, / began to complain very strongly
/ and said: «Handsome sire, know this: / that my vices and my sins /
and my digressions have taken her from me. / Sire, she has become stone».
/ [11003-11018] So then the lord responded / and said that he would take it
away [with him], / that [even] for a thousand gold mark he would not leave
it [behind]. / He had it carried off onto his ship, / richly has he packaged
it. / He came back to his country, / deceived was he in this manner.”
[Line 11025] “Virgil said: «King, listen now. / This
is the fine truth, without a doubt: / when the lady [of inclusa’s tower] had
stayed [there a while] / the Roman who had brought her, / who did not want
to take a wife / and who used to hate them so much, / was by her so very
strongly surprised / and was so much smitten by her love / that he wanted
to marry her loyally. / From me he sought briefly advice in the matter / and
I said that I would never be in[volved], / [that] in this I would never laud
him. / She had left her husband / who brought her such great honour, / how
then could [this situation] be commendable? / And I said that he could very
well know / that at very great pain repents / the lady because she act[ed]
badly, / and I said that, having a woman for a friend, / he has no interest
in [my moral] philosophizing. / He said that he would well think about all
that, /[but that] for all that he would not abandon her, / and would very
well keep her. / Thus he married her, despite my [opinion]. / When the lady
had been married, / he treated her very harshly. / Love has never been without
jealousy, / and what he had stolen from somebody else / made him all the more
jealous. / Right away he expected that thus / somebody, whoever it may be,
would steal [her] back from him. / So s/he never left the house / until he
made a […] tower / with a Saracen stone vault / and paved underneath and above
[?]. / Therein he locked the lady up. / There were many beautiful areas and
beautiful chambers / but there was neither a hole nor a window / where one
could stick one’s head out. / She was locked up once again, / he did not
want anyone to see her, / and know [it] well: if anyone could [see her], /
she would not have seen him/her, / neither man nor woman, except him. / He
carried the key at all times, / and he kept it very close [to him]. / At
night he kept it under his ear [cushion], / he watched over it marvelously
well. / But the more woman is watched over / the more she is encouraged /
to do evil and crazy things.”
Brunet and Montaiglon lines 11025-11218, pp. 373-379; Gilleland pp. 78-79
[Line 11076] “The Roman had one day [some business] to do, / he was a little
bit busy, / but he was not very far away. / The lady was very angry / about
the fact that she was so watched over. / She called herself grieving and miserable.
/ Often it happens that what one loves / one sees [only] through a very small
hole. / I do not know [whether it was] through a window or through a door
[that] / this lady saw a young man, / courtly and pleasant and handsome, /
who was right [there] in front of the tower. / As soon as the lady sees him,
/ she loved him violently. / Very soon [after seeing him] and very hastily
/ she came to a window / and waved to him with her naked hand / which was
white and beautiful. / And when he sees that she calls him, / [only] with
very great pain would he have held himself [back] / from coming [to her] right
now. / The lady threw him a note, / to the young man it was not something
to complain about, / and said that she greeted him / and that she offered
him her love. / She let him know the hour and the place / when he was supposed
to have her favours. / The young man became happy because of it. / At night,
when the husband came back, / the lady was in a very good mood. / She gave
him full joy, / she embraces him, she kisses him / in order to be agreeable
to him and please him, / and so that she may better deceive him. / His wishes
she lets him have, / [but] much she serves him according to her wishes. /
They had plenty to eat, / drinks they did not at all forget. / They had much
good wine, / and the lady gave him so much of it, / [and] of the best, that
soon she made him drunk. / He who has drunk very hard / sleeps much more reliably
because of it. / The husband slept who had drunk well.”
[Line 11120] “As soon as the lady saw / that he is sleeping, she took the
key away from him. / She went to the young man / who was waiting for her under
the tower. / He pays her well what he owes her. / The lady stayed there so
long / that [meanwhile] her husband woke up. / He was suffering very great
pain / when next to him he did not find her. / He was violently angry about
it, / so he got up quickly, / closed the door and lies down again. / Never
a word issued forth from his mouth. / When [the lady] had according to her
wishes / been next to the young man, / doing what behooved [them to do], /
she came back to the door of the tower / but found it very well locked. /
To the door of the tower turned [his attention] he / who in his bed was watching
for the clarity [of the morning]. / She prays, [in the name of] Saint Charity,
/ that he let her enter back inside. / She wanted to swear to him and wager
/ that never, no day of her life, / she would ever again do such a villainous
thing, / and it seemed well [and] truly / that she was weeping tenderly.
/ He said [that] never would she enter [back] in / and said that he would
have her chased / through the streets of the city / and [have her] live in
great misery. / «Certainly», she goes, «you will not do
[this]. / Never will you thus shame me, / nor will I ever beg you, / for
I will drown myself on the spot». / Next to the window there was well,
/ the lady sees a huge rock, / with both hands she lifted it up / and then
she threw the rock [down the well].”
[Line 11159] “The husband hears plainly / the noise and the splash / when
the rock falls into the well. / He jumped from the bed and opened the door.
/ Because he had angered her / he believed that she had drowned herself. /
Never he thought to come there [to the rescue] in time. / The lady was of
very good intelligence. / Into the shadow of a pillor she had retreated, /
[whence] she looks at and watches her husband / who exerted himself to help
her. / With his pole that he held / he thought to pull her out of the well.
/ He had turned his back toward his wife, / she went inside, / locks the
door and slammed the bar [across]. / In her bed she went back to sleep. /
Now can he in turn shout at the door, / […]. / When he saw that he would not
find any [help], / [and that…] / he would die painfully from the cold, /
he went back to the well all naked, / [it would have taken] little for him
to be totally frozen. / So he came back hurting much / from the cold that
[made him] clench his teeth. / He got himself very grievously worked up.
/ To his door he came back now, / he thought he could enter his house. /
[…] / […] he found his door well locked. / To the window towards the well
/ he came very fast. / He begged the lady sweetly / that she come unlock the
door for him. / She took to hating him / and said that at such an hour /
men who were wise had [long since] come [home]. / Him she calls a lecher and
a client of prostitutes / and said that with him she has nothing to do. /
May he now repose in the middle of the street, / she wants very well that
one see / if a man must thus go [?]. / Even if his entire face were to freeze,
/ she would not go open the door. / He, who did not know with what to cover
[himself], / said to her that, if she were to open the door, / never any day,
at any place, / would she be locked up by him, / nor would she ever be accused
of [infidelity]. / The lady through the window / took the bar off with her
right hand, / then she unlocked the tower. / He, who had well tested his
wife, / had the next day the tower torn down, / nor did he want anymore do
battle with her. / Never since then did he imprison her, / he gave her free
reign. / He knows perfectly [now] that nobody can watch over / an evil woman
/ since she [does what she] wants [anyway].”
Libro de los engaños
e asayamientos de las mugeres
Hancock, Zennia Désirée. “The Spanish Shahrazad
and her Entourage: The Powers of Storytelling Women in Libro de los
engaños de las mujeres.” Diss. University of Maryland (College
Park) 2004. [AB 88-2004]
Abstract: The anonymous Libro de los
engaños e asayamientos de las mugeres is a collection of exempla
consisting of a frame tale and twenty-three interpolated tales. It forms
part of the Seven Sages/Sindibad cycle, shares source material with
the Arabic Alf layla wa layla (A Thousand and One Nights),
and was ordered translated from Arabic into Romance by Prince Fadrique of
Castile in 1253. In the text, females may be seen as presented according
to the traditional archetypes of Eve and the Virgin Mary; however, the ambivalence
of the work allows that it be interpreted as both misogynous and not, which
complicates the straightforward designation of its female characters as "good"
and "bad." Given this, the topos of Eva/Ave as it applies
to this text is re-evaluated. The reassessment is effected by exploring the
theme of ambivalence and by considering the female characters as hybrids
of both western and eastern tradition. The primary female character of the
text, dubbed the "Spanish Shahrazad," along with other storytelling women
in the interpolated tales, are proven to transcend binary paradigms through
their intellect, which cannot be said to be inherently either good or evil,
and which is expressed through speech acts and performances. Chapter I reviews
the historical background of Alfonsine Spain and the social conditions of
medieval women, and discusses the portrayal of females in literature, while
Chapter II focuses on the history of the exempla, the Libro
de los engaños, and critical approaches to the text,
and then identifies Bakhtin's theory of the carnivalesque and Judith Butler's
speech act theory of injurious language as appropriate methodologies, explaining
how both are nuanced by feminist perspectives. A close reading of the text
demonstrates how it may be interpreted as a misogynous work. Chapter III
applies the theoretical tools in order to problematise the misogynous reading
of the text and to demonstrate the agency of its female speaker-performers;
the analysis centres on the Spanish Shahrazad, who represents a female subjectivity
that transcends binary depictions of women and represents a holistic ideal
of existence that is reflected in the calculated, harmonized use of both
her intellect and corporeality. © Zennia Désirée
Biaggini, Olivier. “Quelques enjeux de l’exemplarité
dans le Calila e Dimna et le Sendebar.” Cahiers
de narratologie 12 (2005).
Read the full article at <http://revel.unice.fr/cnarra/document.html?id=28>
Calila e Dimna
L’histoire de la transmission du Calila
est bien connue dans ses grandes lignes. L’œuvre dérive de
récits indiens d’inspiration bouddhique qui mettent en scène
des animaux, qui furent composés en sanskrit dans les premiers
siècles de notre ère, et dont la diffusion a dû
être aussi bien orale qu’écrite. Ces récits ont eux-mêmes
été regroupés assez tôt en collections
nommées tantras dont le but affiché était de proposer
aux princes des règles de conduite et de bon gouvernement. L’une
de ces collections qui est parvenue jusqu’à nous, le Panchatantra
ou «livre des cinq tantras» (IIIe siècle), a fourni
à la tradition du Calila, directement ou indirectement,
une bonne part de sa matière narrative. À partir de la
version sanskrite primitive, le texte a trouvé sa place dans d’autres
cultures grâce à des traductions en diverses langues, comme
le syriaque ou le tibétain, et surtout le persan (pahlevi) qui
a permis à son tour la transmission de l’œuvre au monde musulman.
En effet, au VIIIe siècle, un Perse islamisé de Bagdad,
Muhamad Ibn al-Muqaffa’, personnage dont nous gardons des traces historiques
précises, compose une traduction arabe qui allait être vouée
à une diffusion immense dans le monde musulman: le Kalila wa
Dimna. On n’a pas conservé la version persane originale mais,
au terme du prologue de sa traduction arabe, Ibn al-Muqaffa’ en atteste
l’existence. Par ailleurs, dans une deuxième pièce liminaire,
il attribue cette version à un sage persan, Borzouyeh (qui deviendra
Berzebuey dans la version castillane), médecin et philosophe. Ce
Borzouyeh, sur l’ordre du roi Chosroes, aurait entrepris un grand voyage
en Inde au terme duquel il aurait rapporté des livres, dont l’œuvre
qui nous occupe, qu’il aurait traduite du sanskrit au persan. Cette deuxième
pièce liminaire de l’œuvre est tout entière consacrée
au récit de cette quête de sagesse qui s’achève par
la découverte et la translation du livre. En toute logique, le récit
devait apparaître déjà dans la version persane perdue.
Enfin, Ibn al-Muqaffa’ fait précéder le corps de l’œuvre d’une
troisième pièce liminaire qui elle est, au moins en partie,
directement imputable et qui consiste en une autobiographie fictive de
Borzouyeh: à partir des événements de sa vie, le
médecin livre, à la première personne, une réflexion
désabusée sur la foi et sa fragilité, où résonne
un scepticisme religieux qui pourrait bien, pour une bonne part, être
davantage celui d’Ibn al-Muqaffa lui-même. C’est cette structure
que l’on retrouve dans la première traduction de l’œuvre dans une
langue occidentale, le Calila e Dimna castillan (introduction d’Ibn
al-Muqaffa’; récit du voyage sapientiel de Borzouyeh-Berzebuey
en Inde et de l’invention de l’œuvre; récit autobiographique de Berzebuey).
La traduction castillane ne reçoit pas de nouveau prologue de la
main de son traducteur mais porte tout de même la marque de son promoteur
dans l’explicit d’un des manuscrits conservés (ms. A):
Aquí se acaba el libro de Calina et Digna. Et fue
sacado de arávigo en latín, et romançado por
mandado del infante don Alfonso, fijo del muy noble rey don Fernando,
en la era de mill et dozientos et noventa et nueve años. El
libro es acabado. Dios sea sienpre loado.
Ici s’achève le livre le Calila e Digna. Il fut tiré
de l’arabe en latin et mis en roman par ordre de l’infant Alphonse,
fils du très noble roi Ferdinand, l’année de l’ère
hispanique de 1299. Le livre est achevé. Que Dieu en soit
loué pour toujours.
L’explicit désigne donc l’infant Alphonse
(futur Alphonse X, fils de Ferdinand III de Castille et León) comme
le commanditaire de la traduction. Malgré ce que laisse apparemment
entendre cette déclaration, presque tous les critiques s’accordent
aujourd’hui pour considérer que la traduction du Calila
s’est faite directement à partir du texte arabe (ce qu’indique
sa remarquable fidélité à la lettre du texte original).
De même, on ne saurait déduire de l’explicit que
la date de la traduction est 1299 de l’ère hispanique, soit 1261
de l’ère chrétienne, pour la bonne raison qu’Alphonse
n’était plus infant en 1261 (il monte sur le trône en 1252,
à la mort de son père). La critique considère que
le manuscrit comporte une erreur et qu’il faut comprendre 1289, date renvoyant
à 1251 de l’ère chrétienne. Quelles que soient les
circonstances précises de la traduction, elle donne naissance
à une version alphonsine de l’œuvre, que nous conservons à
travers deux manuscrits. C’est cette version qui a permis, au tout premier
chef, l’entrée en Espagne de contes orientaux en langue vernaculaire.
On retrouve certains de ces contes, réélaborés ou
croisés avec d’autres sources, sous la plume de grands auteurs
du XIVe siècle tels don Juan Manuel et l’Archiprêtre de Hita.
En revanche, la popularité européenne de la collection
a été assurée par une autre version, le Directorium
humanae vitae de Jean de Capoue (fin du XIIIe siècle ou début
du XIVe siècle) qui dérive du Kalila wa Dimna arabe
par l’intermédiaire d’une traduction en hébreu. À
la fin du XVe siècle, le Directorium fait revenir le texte
dans l’aire culturelle péninsulaire grâce à traduction
castillane, imprimée pour la première fois à Saragosse
en 1493, intitulée Exemplario contra los engaños y peligros
del mundo, et qui donnera lieu à d’assez nombreuses éditions
tout au long du XVIe siècle. Malgré l’existence de cette
branche occidentale de l’œuvre, le nombre de traductions dans des langues
européennes vernaculaires est resté très limité.
Il n’en va pas de même pour le Sendebar,
dont la fortune littéraire a été assurée
aussi bien par une branche orientale primitive que par une branche
occidentale postérieure. Les origines orientales de l’œuvre sont
mal connues. On ne sait toujours pas aujourd’hui si l’œuvre primitive
a été écrite en sanskrit, en persan ou en hébreu.
La théorie qui semble prévaloir met en parallèle
la tradition du Sendebar et celle d’autres recueils d’origine
orientale (notamment le Calila et le Barlaam e Josafat)
pour considérer que l’œuvre a été produite en Perse
à partir d’un matériau en grande partie indien. La difficulté
provient du fait que nous ne conservons que des versions tardives dans
chacune de ces traditions (la branche orientale se compose de versions
en persan, hébreu, syriaque, grec, arabe [Les sept vizirs,
intégré aux Mille et une nuits] et castillane
qui, toutes, dériveraient d’un intermédiaire arabe). Toutes
ces versions ont entre elles des similitudes certaines, mais leurs contes
varient ici et là, et elles tirent le plus souvent leur titre du
nom du sage chargé de l’éducation du prince: Sindibad en arabe,
Sindabar en hébreu, Syntipas en grec, Çendubete en castillan.
En ce qui concerne la version castillane, le prologue révèle
clairement qui a été son commanditaire, l’infant Fadrique,
frère du roi Alphonse X, et, par lui, le livre se déclare
directement issu d’une version arabe:
Plogo et tovo por bien que aqueste libro fuese trasladado
de arávigo en castellano para aperçebir a los engañados
e los asayamientos de las mugeres. Este libro fue trasladado en
noventa e un años.
Il lui a plu et paru bon que ce livre fût traduit
de l’arabe en castillan pour mettre en garde contre les tromperies et les
manigances des femmes. Et ce livre a été traduit en l’année
De cette mention découle l’autre titre que
l’on donne couramment au Sendebar : Libro de los engaños
(Livre des tromperies). La date de la traduction (1291), une
fois convertie dans le calendrier de l’Incarnation, donne 1253, soit
deux ans après la date supposée de la traduction du Calila.
Parce qu’il provient directement de l’arabe, le Sendebar castillan
appartient à la branche orientale de la tradition. À cette
arborescence primordiale de la tradition, s’oppose une branche occidentale,
dite des Sept sages, issue de plusieurs traductions latines, réalisées
dès le XIIe siècle, dont le fameux Liber de septem
sapientibus à partir duquel ont été réalisées
la plupart des versions vernaculaires européennes. La plus ancienne
est la française (Les sept sages de Rome) mais il en
existe dans une dizaine d’autres langues. Là encore, la branche
occidentale n’exclut pas l’Espagne puisque, outre une version catalane,
les Sept sages ont produit plusieurs versions castillanes tardives,
dont la Novella de Diego de Cañizares dans la seconde
moitié du XVe siècle (une adaptation de la Scala Coeli
de Jean Gobi, mais à la manière du Décameron
de Boccace). D’une manière générale, les textes
latins tels le Liber de septem sapientibus et d’autres (le Dolopathos
sive de rege et septem sapientibus, de la fin XIIe siècle
ou du début du XIIIe siècle) ont permis une diffusion immense
du texte dans toute l’Europe médiévale et moderne. Une remarque
s’impose cependant: dans la branche occidentale, la plupart des contes
orientaux n’ont pas été transmis. Seuls 4 des 23 contes
du Sendebar castillan se retrouvent dans la branche occidentale,
ce qui révèle à quel point l’œuvre a été
modifiée dans son passage de l’Orient à l’Occident. En fait,
la transformation n’affecte pas profondément la structure essentielle,
c’est-à-dire le cadre narratif. Celui-ci a joué son rôle
de cadre rigide jusque dans les évolutions dues à la transmission
du texte: les contes enchâssés dans le cadre ont été
considérés comme interchangeables, ce qui explique la disparition
de certains d’entre eux au cours de la transmission.
In his thesis (Rome University "La Sapienza") Roberto
1802 Bulgarian translation of the Greek Syntipas
and compares it with the Greek model.
His thessis is entitled "Sofronij
Vračanski e la rinascita culturale bulgara tra il XVIII e gli inizi del
Sofronij Vračanski (Sophronius of Vraca, 1739-1813)
was bishop of Vraca.
His hand-written translation is being
held in the Kiril and Metodi National Library in
Sofia. Sofronij Vračanski’s
translation was copied by hand in 1850 by Pop Krastjo
Pop Atanasov, of Razgrad (same library). Sofronij Vračanski’s translation was published
in vol. I of Sacinenija v dva toma, Sofia, 1989.
The earliest published translation dates from 1844,
by Hristaki Pavlovic (Kiril and Metodi National
Library, Sofia, and National Library, Zagreb). (Skowronski
and Marinescu [AB 55-1992], passim).
Sofronij Vracanski was an influential figure of the Bulgarian National Revival;
we owe him the first translations of several works, in his effort to acculturate
the Bulgarian people and emancipate them from Turkish domination. Our cycle
of the Seven Sages is part of his cultural program which aims to
accustom the Bulgarian people to read seculare and exotic literature (Roberto
Natali Wienstein. “'Life and Death are in the Power of the 'Woman’: Parables
of Sendebar, Version MS Vatican 100: Edition and Analysis.” M.A. Thesis.
Tel-Aviv University 2009.
From the Abstract
In this thesis I suggest an interpretation
of one of the versions of Mishle Sendebar
in MS. Vatican 100. This version was written in Hebrew by an
anonymous copyist in the 15th century, in South-East Europe or
the Middle East (there are no inconclusive pieces of evidence).
This unique text, which was rediscovered by Morris Epstein sixty
years ago, is a cultural asset of the Hebrew storytelling art. It
calls for a methodological perspective that incorporates tools of
folklore and folktale research as well as the tools of comparative
literature such as intertextuality and gender and feminist theory.
My analysis suggests several analytical directions in understanding
this work and points to some new conclusions.
In the first part of the thesis the
text is deciphered and copied, in full, from MS. Vatican
100, held in the Apostolic Library. The text is clarified, corrected
and compared with other versions of the work. The Vatican 100
version is unique in the Mishle Sendebar
differs from the other Hebrew versions that are at our disposal.
Many of the work's chapters are more elaborate here than in other
manuscripts, and the language is more poetic. The preparation of
this version included adding another apparatus that relates to the
intertextuality of the work. I explain why this is an important
enhancement of the artistic value of the Vatican 100 version. The copying
and exceptionalness of the work is a central part of my research,
since they point to creative innovation.
In the second part of my essay I
analyze the text with a focus on three major themes:
A. The work in its cultural context:
the time and place in which it was created, told and copied.
Here the studies of Morris Epstein and Yossef Dan will
be discussed. Furthermore, a part of this discussion will be
dedicated to other elements of medieval folktale research.
B. A short discussion of the intertextual
apparatus of the text, accompanied by examples from the
text, and initial applications of modern narratological theories.
C. Discussion of the female characters.
The themes raise many questions concerning
the poetics of the copyist-writer of MS. Vatican 100,
since many factors – historical, literary, and inter-cultural
– were involved in its creation. Although it is written in
Hebrew, its essence and its origins come from non-Jewish folk
literature. The work should be examined as a folk-creation of multiple
authors as well as multiple origins. From a historical point of
view, little is known about the "material life" in the Middle Ages.
Researching aspects of popular culture, which had a profound influence
on the work, proved difficult since, apart from the surviving
texts, little evidence can be found.
There is also the problem of understanding the medieval notion of
subjectivity and the way the subject was constructed by writers and
story-tellers of the time. Consequently, the text raises the problem
of how to analyze pre-modern works using modern tools of analysis.
Since we have no concrete information
about wheere and when it was copied, our reading of the work
has a limited cultural context, and therefore is anachronistic
and based on personal interpretations. During the last decades,
there have occurred numerous feminist and gender readings of many
of the canonized texts from various times. In the part dedicated
to a gendered reading of the text, I suggest that reading it as a misogynist
piece of writing will miss its poetic qualities, its grace, its
importance and its female voice. All this, I think, is hidden in the
work. This is why I choose to focus on an integrated perspective,
and not just on the feminist one, a perspective that criticizes the
misogynist aspect and examines rather both the male and the female
The copyist-writer gave the work
a whole new generic setting. By intensifying the tension
and drama, he makes it slip from an exemplum
prose work to something resembling romance, with a more complex
content that is not usual in a classic folktale. The distinctions
between "good" and "bad", "positive" and "negative" are blurred
in the characterizations. My reading
is based, first and foremost, on the gap between the morality
as stated by the male characters acting within the frame-narrative,
and what is implied in the stories they tell. On the surface,
the stories warn against women’s treachery and cunning, their
lack of morals and wisdom. Whereas we learn from the stories about
the wide verity of female ways and characters and that almost all
of them are characterized by wisdom and wit, their motives are often
different, even opposed to those stated by the men. The multiplicity
of female representations allows deviation from the female stereotypes
that were widespread in medieval Europe, and enables the creation
of a complex female character, a character that can be greedy or cunning
and at the same time humble and modest; a woman can be educated and
knowledgeable and at the same time treacherous. The male characters,
on the contrary, are not as well-rounded as the female ones; they are
one-dimensional, designed according to culturally stereotypical codes,
and cannot be contradictory.
Whether through the personal thematic
and poetic choices made by the copyist-writer, or through
the multiple representations that reflect the "multiple existence"
of the folktale, MS. Vatican 100 exposes a wide diapason of voices
and stands, which exceed the patriarchal misogynist cultural boundaries.
Versions of folktales
are as abundant as their tellers. Each particular storyteller
gets an opportunity to tell a known story within a new context.
The repetition of the "old story" involves changes, additions,
omissions. The " new story" can include the original "old" one and
at the same time object to its content and themes and read them in
a subversive manner. A retold story is always a "new story" and not
an exact copy of the prior or popular version. MS. Vatican 100 contains
traces of various connotations and unique voices (for example female
voices), and their extraction is possible through the thematic elements
and the structure of the work.
John Mandeville's "Old Man of the Mountain"
(see also infra
1 and infra 2)
1. Koran, surahs 18.30-31, 56.12-24, and 56.27-38.
2. Polo, Marco. The Travels
. Trans. Ronald
Latham. Penguin Books, 1958. And numerous other editions.
3. Pollard, A. W., ed. The Journal of Friar Odoric
[da Pordenone]. 326-362 in The Travels of Sir John Mandeville
[...]. London:Macmillan, 1900. Rpt. New York: Dover
4. Ibn Khallikan (13th cent.): 226-228 in
Metlitzki, Dorothee [830-1977]. The Matter of Araby in
. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977.
5. John Mandeville (14th cent.):
a. Kohanski, Tamarah, ed. The Book of John
Mandeville: An Edition of the Pynson Text. Tempe: Arizona
Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2001.
b. Itinerarius domini Johannis de
Mandeville militis, MS. Madrid, National Library I-381 (Vulgate
version, Latin incunable, ca. 1485),
c. Four Spanish editions:
i. Libro de las
marauillas del mundo [...]. Valencia: Jorge Costilla, 1521.
ii. Libro de las
marauillas del mundo [...]. Valencia:, 1524.
iii. Libro de las marauillas
del mundo [...]. Valencia: Juan Navarro, 1540.
iv. Libro de las marauillas
del mundo [...]. Alcalá de Henares, 1547.
d. MS. London, British Library, Cotton
Titus.c.xvi (15th cent.) (Pinto lists [p. 69] five editions
from 1725 to 1967)
e. MS. Escorial M iii 7-115 iii-Est.
15.4 (14th cent.), ed. Pilar Liria-Montañés, Libro
de las maravillas del mundo de Juan de Mandevilla, Saragossa:
Caja de Ahorros de Zaragoza,
Aragón y Rioja, 1979. (Pinto lists [p. 70] one further
edition from 2001)
Pinto (830-2005), Ana. Mandeville’s
Rihla in Disguise
. Linea 300,
24. Madrid: Editorial Complutense, 2005. 74 p. ISBN
(trans. Latham 70-72)
The Old Man [called Alaodin] gave his men to
understand that this garden was Paradise. That is why he had made
it after this pattern, because Mahomet assured the Saracens that
those who go to Paradise will have beautiful women to their hearts'
content to do their bidding, and will find there rivers of wine and
milk and honey and water. [...] and the Saracens of this country
believed that it really was Paradise. [...] And the Old Man kept with
him at his court all the youths of the country from twelve years old to
twenty, all, that is, who shaped well as men at arms. These youths knew
well by hearsay that Mahomet their prophet had declared Paradise to be
made of such a fashion as I have described [...] When the Old Man wanted
emissaries to send on some mission of murder, he would administer the
drug to as many as he pleased; and while they slept he had them carried
into his palace. When these youths awoke and found themselves in the castle
within the palace, they were amazed and by no means glad, for the Paradise
from which they had come was not a place that they would ever willingly
have left [...]. When he asked them whence they came, they would answer
that they came from Para¬dise, and that this was in truth the Paradise
of which Mahomet had told their ancestors […]. And the others who heard
this and had not been there were filled with a great long¬ing to go
to this Paradise; they longed for death so that they might go there, and
looked forward eagerly to the day of their going.
When the Old Man desired the death of some great lord,
he would first try an experi¬ment to find out which of his Assassins
were the best. He would send some off on a mis¬sion in the neighbourhood
at no great distance with orders to kill such and such a man [...].
Then, in order to bring about the death of the lord or other man
which the Old Man desired he would take some of these Assassins of
his and send them wherever he might wish, telling them that he was
minded to dispatch them to Paradise: they were to go accordingly and
kill such and such man; if they died on their mission, they would go
there all the sooner. Those who received such a command obeyed it with
a right good will, more readily than anything else they might have been
called on to do.
He [the chief Ismail] divided the extreme ends
of the garden into four parts, in the first there was a quince
and pears and apples and figs and grapes and mul¬berry and prunes
and crab-apple anf jujube and cherries and apricots and sycamore-figs
and carobs. And in the second part citrons and oranges, and lemons and
sour pomegran¬ates and sweet fruit and mastic, and in the third
part watermelon and four sorts of cucumber and cabbage of all kinds
and in the fourth part there were roses and jasmin and privet and
palm-trees and narcissus and aromatic plants and violets and lilies and
anemones and eglantine and camomiles. And rills of water meandered through
the whole of the garden, and he laid around the pavilion meadows and
pools, and he planted on its sites all kind of trees where he placed gazelle
and ostriches and wild asses and wild cows and oxen, and wandering at random
from the pools were geese and ducks and Ethiopean pheasants and quails
and partridges and there were also hares.
2. Odorico da Pordenone:
Itinerarius de mirabilibus orientalium Tartarorum (1329-30)
(ed. Pollard 356-357)
Travelling on further towards the South, I arrived
at a certain country called Melistorte, which is a very pleasant
and fertile place. And in this country there was a certain aged man
called Senex de monte, who round about two mountains had built
a wall to enclose the said mountains. Within this wall there were the
fairest and most crystal fountains in the whole world: and about
the said fountains there were most beau¬tiful virgins in great number,
and goodly horses also, and in a word, everything that could be devised
for bodily solace and delight, and therefore the inhabitants of the country
call the same place by the name of Paradise. The said Old Senex,
when he saw any proper and valiant young man, he would admit him into his
paradise. Moreover by certain conduits he makes wine and milk to flow abundantly.
This Senex, when he hash a mind to revenge himself or to slay any
king or baron, commandeth him that is governor of the said paradise,
to bring thereunto some of the acquaintance of the said king or baron,
permitting him a while to take his pleasure therein, and then to give
him a certain potion being of force to cast him into such a slumber as
should make him quite void of all sense, and so being in a profound sleep
to convey him out of his paradise: who being awaked, and seeing himself
thrust out of the paradise would come so sorrowful, that he could not in
the world devise what to do, or whither to turn him. Then would he go unto
the foresaid old man, beseeching him that he might be admitted again into
his paradise: who saith unto him, You cannot be admitted thither, unless
you will slay such or such a man for my sake, and if you will give the attempt
only, whether you kill him or no, I will place you again in paradise, that
there you may remain always.
3. Ibn Khallikan
(Odoric was a Franciscan missionary who traveled by
sea to Beijing from Padua [c. 1318] and returned by an overland route by
1330. His account of the Valley of the Assassins occupies ll. 2492-2500 of
. From Tamarah Kohanski and C. David Benson [830-2007],
eds., The Book of John Mandeville
. Consortium for
the Teaching of the Middle Ages (TEAMS), Middle English Texts
Series. Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2007.
was translated into French in
1351 by Jean le Long
, Le yteneraire Odric de Foro Julii
; edited in
Les voyages en Asie au XIVe siècle du bienheureux Odoric
de Pordenone, religieux de Saint-François
, by Henri Cordier,
(ed. Melitzki 226-228)
When night came he looked around at the men and saw
which of them possessed a steadiness that aroused admiration, and
then said to him: «Oh So-and-So, come here and sit by my side»,
[...] and he bestowed the cup on him and he gave him to drink and
he told of the virtues of the Imam 'Ali [..] and the chief Isma'il did
not complete his narration until the one sitting by his side fell
asleep and after a quarter of an hour, the drug began to work in the
man and he fell down, and when he lay prostrate the Chief Isma'il [
... ] carried him on his shoulders and put him in the subterranean passage
leading to the garden, and [..] brought him to the pavilion in which
he was received by the youths and young slave-girls [..1. When the young
man awoke the youths who were at his service said: «And we are only
awaiting your death and this is the place which is yours and this is the
palace of the palaces of Paradise and we are, the houris and the children
of paradise and if you were dead you would be with us, but you are sleeping
and the hour has come for your awaken¬ing». [...] Then the Chief
Isma'il took a goblet and put in it hashish and gave it him to drink,
and when he fell asleep he took him up and carried him through the subterranean
passage into the rooms in the mansion, and when he awoke he saw himself
among the same companions in the place where he was before.
(Ibn Khallikan's Kitab Wafayat Ulayn is a late
13th-cent. collection popularly known as The Obituaries of Eminent
Men or The Biographical Dictionary. It includes a biography
of Hassan ibn Sabbah (Catholonabeus), the master of the Assassins.
From Tamarah Kohanski and C. David Benson [830-2007], eds. The Book
of John Mandeville. Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle
Ages (TEAMS), Middle English Texts Series. Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute
Publications, 2007. P. 140)
4. MS. Cotton Titus.c.xvi
(ed. Pollard, The Travels 183-184)
There was dwelling
a rich man; and it is not long since; and
men clept him Gathonolabes. And he was full of cautels and of subtle
deceits. And he had a full fair castle and a strong
in a mountain, so strong and so noble, that no man could devise a
fairer ne stronger. And he had let mure all the moun¬tain about
with a strong wall and a fair. And within those walls he had the fairest
garden that any man might behold. And therein were trees bearing all
manner of fruits, that any man could devise. And therein were also all
manner virtuous herbs of good smell, and all other herbs also that bear
fair flowers. And he had also in that garden many fair wells; and beside
those wells he had let make fair halls and fair chambers, depainted all
with gold and azure; and there were in that place many diverse things, and
many diverse stories: and of beasts, and of birds that sung full delectably
and moved by craft, that it seemed that they were quick. And he had also
in his garden all manner of fowls and of beasts that any man might think on,
for to have play or sport to behold them. And he had also, in that place,
the fairest damsels that might be found, under the age of fifteen
vears, and the fairest young striplings that men might get, of
that same age. And all they were clothed in cloths of gold, full richly.
And he said that those were angels.
And he had also let
make three wells, fair and noble and all environed with stone of
jasper, of crystal, diapered with gold, and set with precious stones
and great orient pearls. And he had made a conduit under earth, so
that the three wells, at his list, one should run milk, another wine
and another honey. And that place he clept Paradise.
And when that any good
knight, that was hardy and noble, came to see this royalty, -he
would lead him into his paradise, and show him these wonderful things
to his disport, and the marvellous and delicious song of diverse
birds, and the fair damsels, and the fair wells of milk, of wine
and of honey, plenteously running. And he would let make divers instruments
of music to sound in an high tower, so merrily, that it was joy for
to hear; and no man should see the craft thereof. And those, he said,
were angels of God, and that place was Paradise, that God had behight
to his friends, saying, dabo vobis terramfluentem lacte et melle.
And then would he make
them to drink of certain drink, whereof anon they should be drunk.
And then would them think greater delight than they had before. And
then would he say to them, that if they would die for him and for
his love, that after their death they should come to his paradise;
and they should be of the age of those damosels, and they I should
play with them, and yet be maidens. And after that yet should he I put
them in a fairer paradise, where that they should see God of nature
visibly, in his I majesty and in his bliss. And then would he shew them
his intent, and say them, that if they would go slay such a lord, or
such a man I that was his enemy or contrarious to his list, that they
should not dread to do it and C for to be slain therefore themselves.
For after their death, he would put them into another paradise, that was
an hundred-fold fairer than any of the tother; and there should they dwell
with the most fairest damosels that might be, and play with them ever-more.
And thus went many
diverse lusty bachelors for to slay great lords in diverse countries,
that were his enemies, and made themselves to be slain, in hope
to have that paradise. And thus, often-time, he was revenged of
his enemies by his subtle deceits and false cautels.
And when the worthy men of
the country had perceived this subtle falsehood of this Gatholonabes,
they assembled them with force, and assailed his castle, and slew
him, and destroyed all the fair places and all the nobilities of
that paradise. The place of the wells and of the walls and of many
other things be yet apertly seen, but the riches is voided clean.
And it is not long gone since that place was destroyed.
5. MS. Escorial M iii 7-115 iii-Est. 15.4
Alli solia aver un Rico hombre
no a gaines de tiempo que clamavan Gathalonabes qui hers muy capteloso
et avia un grant Castiello en una montaynna assi fuert et assi
noble como ningun hombre podria devisar et toda la monaynna eill
avia fecho en murar muy noblement. Et dentro estos couros el avia
el mas bel gardin que hombre podiesse veer, do avia arboles portantes
todas maneras de fruitas que hombre podria ninguna part trobar. Et
si y avia fecho plantar todas yerbas e arboles bien odorantes qui trahen
bellas flores. Et y ay muy bellas fuentes. Et avia fecho fazer cerca
delas fuentes bellas salas e bellas cam-bas todas pintadas d'oro e d'azur.
Et havia fecho fazer couchas e diversas colas e de diversas muserias
d'istorias et de diverssas bestial et aves qui cantavan e movian por
engenio assi como si fuessen todos bivos. Et si avia puesto en este
gardin todas las maneras d' aves que el pudo trobar e todas las bestial
en que hombre puede prender de puerto ni solaz agoardar. Et y avia puesto
las mas beillas donzeillas de jus l'age de .xv. aynnos que el podia trobar
e los mas beillps jovenes de tal age et todos heran vestidos de paynno d'oro
e dizian que heran angeles.
Et avia fecho fazer
tres fuentes beillas e nobles todas environadas de piedras de jaspre
e de cristal orlados d'oro e de piedras preciosas e de perlas e avia
fecho fazer con¬duites por de jus tierra si que aquellas .iij.
fuentes quoando eill queria el fazia l'una correr de leche
Potra de vino l'ocra de miel. Et este logar el clamava parayso.
Et quando algun buen
cavallero qui fuese prez e hardido lo venia veer el los levava en
su paradiso e lis mostrava las diversas cocas el de puerto e los diversos
cantos d'avez e las beillas doncellas e las bellas fuentes de leche
de vino e de miel. Et fazia sonar diverssos insturmentes de Musiqua
en una alts torre sin veer los juglares. Et dizian que heran angeles
de dios. Et que este hera el paradiso que dios avis prometido a sus
amigos en diziendo: dabo vobis terrain fluentem lac melle.
Et de pues eill les
fazia bever del bevrage de que heran luego Imbriagos. E de pues
eill lis semblava en cors que mas grant d'eill lis dizia que si
eillos querian morir por amor d'eill que eillos vendrian en aquel
paradiso cmpues la muert e serian de l’age de sus don¬zellas
et jugarian siempre con eillas e siem¬ire fincarian pucellas.
Et -ncora eill los metria en un otro mas bel paradiso alli do eillos
veirian vesiblement a lion de natura en su magestat e en su gloria.
:à lora eillos se presentavan aeill afazer coda ;u voluntat.
Et de pues eill lis dizia que fues¬;en amatar cal seynnor qui hera
su contrario. Et que eillos no ouiessen pas miedo de se fazer matar
por amor d'eill que eill los metria -mpues la muert en un otro paradiso
.C. fezes mas beillo. Et alli fincarian con mas beillas donzeillas asiempre
Et assi fueron aquellos
cavalleros, matar le grandes seynnores dela tierra e se fazian
,illos mesmos matar en esperança de yr enparadiso. Et assi
aquel viellart se vengava le sus enemigos por sus captelas e por sus
Et quoando el Rico hombre
en estas comarquas fue apercebido enla cautela e malveztat e malicia
eillos se asemblaron e fueron aassallir su castiello et mataron
el vie¬Ilart e destruyeron todos los beillos logares e todas
las noblezas que y heran en este paradi¬so; el logar delas
fuentes e delas otras cosas y son encora; Mas las Riquezas no y
son pas fincadas. Et si no ha pas grandament que el logar fue destruido.
The Dog File
- Étienne de Bourbon calls the
dog Guinefort. (1)(2)(3)(11)
- The dog's master is the knight Folliculus
in the Gesta Romanorum. (5)(6)
- The dog's master is a farmer
in Aesop. (5)(7)
- In a Welsh version, Prince Llewellyn,
son-in-law of King John, has a greyhound named Gellert.
- In India, the dog is replaced by a mongoose
whose master is the Brahman Devasarman (meaning "having
the luck of the gods" or "blessed by the gods." (5)(9)
- In another Indian version, the
animal is a mongoose, too, and its master is the very
poor Brahman Vidyadhara. (5)(10)
- The story takes place, according to
Étienne de Bourbon, in the diocese of Lyon, near
the enclosed nuns' village called Neuville, on the estate
of the Lord of Villars ("châtelain" of Villars-les-Dombes
), some 40 km north of Lyon (15). Étienne
de Bourbon also mentions a nearby river, called the Chalaronne,
a tributary of the Saône. (1)(2)(3)(11)(16)(18)
- In a Jewish tale, the events occur
on a remote island. (4)(5)
- In a certain city in the Panchatantra.
- In another Indian version, on the banks
of the Ganges, in a town named Mithila.
What happened later?
- The lord's people throw the dead dog
into a well in front of the manor door, throw a great
pile of stones on top of it, and plant trees beside
it, in memory of the event (Étienne de Bourbon).
- Guinefort revered Dombe region.
- Folliculus breaks his lance in three pieces
and vows a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where he
spends the rest of his days in peace. (5)(6)
- people continue to visit Guinefort's
grove up until the 1930s or 1940s, and there are ruins
of a chapel dedicated to Saint Guinefort at Trevon in
Brittany (Cotes d’Armor). (12)(18)
- Jean-Claude Schmitt discovered vestiges
of the Guinefort cult and pilgrimage.. (17)
- Llewellyn buries the dog outside
the castle walls within sight of Snowdon, and raises
over the grave a great cairn of stones. And to this day the place
is called Beth Gellert, or the Grave of Gellert. (5)(8)(14)(18)
- The Brahman's wife beats herself
on the head, the breast, and her other body parts.
She must now taste the fruit of her own tree of sin, the
pain of her son's death (5)(9)
- In the Ganges version, the Brahman's
wife puts an end to her life, and the Brahman first kills
his child and then kills himself. (5)(10)
- The earliest text documenting the cult
of Guinefort is recorded from the location of its actual shrine,
a sacred grove in the woods near the small village
of Sandrans, in Dombes, north of Lyon.
- In accordance to ancient Celtic tradition,
the father, along with the rest of the family, committed the
dog’s body to a well, and planted a grove of trees
around it. (12)
- in 1987 a movie was made about
the dog and his cult called The Sorceress (France 1988).
- the 1987 French film Le moine
et la sorcière depicts the religious controversy
over Guinefort as seen through the eyes of Etienne de Bourbon,
a Dominican inquisitor. (14) The film is a historical
drama, 97 minutes, written by Pamela Berger of Boston College,
director: Suzanne Schiffman; with Tchéky Karyo and
Christine Boisson. (16)
- the legend of Guinefort has a small
but pivotal role in the novel The Stolen Child (2006)
by Keith Donohue. (14)
- Guinefort venerated locally
on August 22. (14)
(1) Étienne de Bourbon,
"On the Worship of the Dog Guinefort," in "The
Gift of Strength," in "Gifts of the Holy Spirit."
A. Lecoy de Marche, ed., "De supersticione,"
Anecdotes historiques…d'Étienne de Bourbon, Paris:
Renouard, 1877), 314-29; translated by Paul Hyams at http://falcon.arts.cornell.edu/~prh3/262/texts/Guinefort.html
(2) Jean-Claude Schmitt, The
Holy Greyhound: Guinefort, Healer of Children since the Thirteenth
Century, Cambridge, 1983.
(4) Angelo S. Rappoport, The
Folklore of the Jews, London: The Soncino Press, 1937,
(6) Charles Swan, transl.,
Gesta Romanorum; or, Entertaining Moral Stories,
London: George Bell and Sons, 1877.
(7) The Fables of Æsop, Based
on the Texts of L'Estrange and Croxall, New York and
Boston: Books Incorporated, n.d., pp. 201-02.
(8) Joseph Jacobs, Celtic Fairy Tales,
London: David Nutt, 1892, no. 21, pp. 192-94.
(9) Theodor Benfey, Pantschatantra:
Fünf Bücher indischer Fabeln, Märchen und
Erzählungen, Leipzig: F. A. Brockhaus, 1859, II:
(10) Georgiana] Kingscote and Pandit
Natêsá Sástrî, Tales
of the Sun; or, Folklore of Southern India, London and Calcutta:
W. H. Allen, 1890, 162-64.
In her review of
Ritter, Erika 841-2009b). The
Dog by the Cradle, the Serpent Beneath: Some Paradoxes
of Human-Animal Relationships. Toronto:
Key Porter, 2009. 359 p.
Christine Sismondo writes:
“There’s an old story about a greyhound left at home to care
for his master’s baby. While the parents are out, a snake
comes into the room. To protect his charge, the dog attacks
and kills it but, in the process, also knocks over the cradle.
When the parents return, they discover an overturned
cradle and a blood-stained greyhound grinning up at them.
Writ of habeas corpus suspended, the master
shoots his best friend. Soon after, he discovers the baby
-- still sleeping in the overturned cradle, and the snake’s
de ad body behind it. This story -- and the many versions
of it told from ancient Persia to medieval Europe --[...]
captures some of the basic contradictions involved in human-animal
relationships, in that the dog had built up a lifetime of trust
and love, to the point that it was left to look after a baby. Despite
this, one moment of doubt led to its human caretakers exacting a
swift and merciless ‘justice’” (The Globe & Mail [Toronto]
28 February 2009, p. F10). See also <http://www.erikaritter.com/excerpt1.htm>.
(French Version M)
from MS. London, British Library,
Royal 17.C.xxxvii, fol. 7r-61v (1366, R
(The Book of John Mandeville
[55r] In this lond was somtyme a ryche man that men called
Catholonabeus, and he had a fayre castel uppon an hylle and a strong. And
he had y-lete make a good walle all aboute the hille, and withynne was a
fair gardeyn in which were many fair trees beryng all manner fruyt that he
myghte fynde. And he let plante therynne of alle manner herbes and of good
smel. And ther were many fayre [55v] welles therby, and by hem were y-maked
many fayre halles and chambres, wel y-dyght with goold and asure. And he
hadde y-leet make bryddes and beestis that turned aboute by gynne in an orlage,
and songe as they had be quyke. And he had in his gardeynes maidens of 15
yer olde, the fairest that he myghte fynde, and knave children of the same
elde, and they were clothed in clothes of goolde and he sayde that thay were
angeles. And he had y-maked a condite under erthe so that when he wolde,
that condyte shold renne somtyme mylke, somtyme wyne, and somtyme hony. And
this place is called Paradis. And when any yong bacheler of that contré,
knyght other squyer, cometh to hym for to solacy hym and disporte hym, he
ledith hym into his Paradis, and showeth hym all these diverse thynges and
his damyselles and hys welles, and he dyd smyte his instrumentz of musyke
in a heye tour that may noght be seye, and he seyde they were angeles of
God and that place is Paradys that God graunted to hym that beleved, when
He sayde thus: Dabo vobis terram fluentem lac et
. That is to say: “I shal gyve yow londe flowyng
mylke and hony. ” (From MS. London, British Library, Royal 17.C.xxxvii,
(Quoted from Tamarah Kohanski and
C. David Benson, eds., The Book of John Mandeville
Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle Ages (TEAMS), Middle
English Texts Series. Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications,
2007. ISBN 978-1-58044-113-1. P. 86, ll. 2473-2491.)
Catholonabeus is also known as
Hassan i Sabbah and “The Old Man of the Mountain,” For
echoes of assassinus
from Marco Polo, Odoric of Pordenone’s
, Ibn Khalikan’s Kitab Wafayat ulAyn
(The Obituaries of Eminent Men
or The Biographical
), and others, see Warner
, ed., The Buke of John
(1889): 216n137; Deluz
Le livre de Jehan de Mandeville
(1988); and Pinto
, Mandeville’s Travels
(from Newsletter 32 [December 2005]: 6-7)
Jacobs, Joseph. Indian Fairy Tales. New York:
“There were probably other Buddhist collections of a
similar nature to the Jatakas with a framework.
When the Hindu reaction against Buddhism came, the
Brahmins adapted these, with the omission of Buddha as
the central figure. There is scarcely any doubt that the so-called
FABLES OF BIDPAI were thus derived from Buddhistic
sources. In its Indian form this is now extant as a Panchatantra
or Pentateuch, five books of tales connected by a Frame.
This collection is of special interest to us […], as it has
come to Europe in various forms and shapes. I have edited Sir Thomas
North’s English version of an Italian adaptation of a Spanish translation
of a Latin version of a Hebrew translation of an Arabic adaptation
of the Pehlevi version of the Indian original (Fables of Bidpai.
Bibliothèque de Carabas. London: D. Nutt, 1888). In this
I give a genealogical table of the various versions, from which
I calculate that the tales have been translated into 38 languages
in 112 different versions, 20 different ones in English alone. Their
influence on European folk-tales has been very great: it is probable
that nearly one-tenth of these can be traced to the Biddai literature.
Other collections of a similar character, arranged in
a frame, and derived ultimately from Buddhistic
sources, also reached Europe and formed popular reading
in the Middle Ages. Among these may be mentioned THE
TALES OF SINDIBAD, known to Europe as The
Seven Sages of Rome: from this we get the Gellert story (cf.
[canis in] Celtic Fairy Tales), though it also occurs
in the Bidpai. Another popular collection was that associated with
the life of St Buddha, who has been canonised as St. Josaphat: BARLAAM
AND JOSAPHAT tells of his conversion and much else besides, including
the tale of ‘The Three Caskets,’ used by Shakespeare in the Merchant
Some of the Indian tales
reached Europe at the time of the Crusades, either
orally or in collections no longer extant. The earliest
selection of these was the Disciplina clericalis
of Petrus Alphonsi, a Spanish Jew converted about 1106;
his tales were to be used as seasoning for sermons, and strong
seasoning they must have proved. Another Spanish collection
of considerably later date was entitled El Conde Lucanor
(Engl. trans. by W. York): this contains the fable of ‘The Man,
his Son, and their Ass,’ which they ride or carry as the popular voice
decides. But the most famous collection of this kind was that known
as GESTA ROMANORUM
, much of which was certainly derived
from Oriental and ultimately Indian sources, and so might more appropriately
be termed Gesta Indorum
All these collections,
which reached Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries, became very popular, and were used by monks
and friars to enliven their sermons as EXEMPLA
Crane has. given a full account of this very curious phenomenon
in his erudite edition of the Exempla of Jacques de Vitry
(Folk Lore Society, 1890). The Indian stories were also
used by the Italian novellieri; much of Boccaccio and his school being
derived from this source. As these again gave material for the
Elizabethan Drama, chiefly in W. Painter’s Palace of Pleasure
a collection of translated Novelle
which I have edited
(London, 3 vols., 1890), it is not surprising that we can at times
trace portions of Shakespeare back to India. It should also be
mentioned that one-half of La Fontaine’s Fables
are derived from Indian sources.” (http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/ift/ift31.htm
(from Newsletter 32 , 7-8)
Anon. The Erl of Tolous
. At www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/teams/erltonts.htm
In The Erl of Tolous
, “Syr Dyoclysyan
probably refers to the third century Roman leader,
Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus. According
to the Oxford Classical Dictionary
rose through the ranks to become Emperor Numerian’s bodyguard.
He distinguished himself initially by avenging Numerian’s
death, striking down the praetorian prefect, Aper
a name which also means ‘wild boar.’ The naming of a boar
may have particular intertextual significance since a companion
text […], the Seven Sages of Rome
, not only points
to Dioclesian, but contains a short didactic narrative about
a wild boar (‘Aper’ appears in the margin). But Diocletian’s
most famous contribution to the Roman Empire was his establishment
of a tetrarchy, a four-part joint rulership. He established
himself Augustus in the East, took Galerius to be his Caesar,
and elevated an old comrade who had proven valorous in combat,
to Augustus in the West and assigned Constantius Chlorus to
be his Caesar. The two Caesars were bound to their Augusti by marriage
with their daughters…. Diocletian’s genius was as an organizer,
and many of his administrative measures lasted for centuries. The
tetrarchy was an attempt to provide each part of the Empire with
a ruler and to establish an ordered, non-hereditary succession.
In [the edition by Thornton] the Erl of
appears under the title heading, Romance
with the subtitle Erl of
Toulous and the Empress Beaulibone
while in [MS.] C
[Cambridge] the title appears as an incipit: Here
foloweth the Erle of Tolous
(from Newsletter 32 , 4-5)
. Jacobs, Joseph. Celtic
. New York: Putnam, 1910.
“I have paraphrased the well-known poem
of Hon. W. R. Spencer, ‘Beth Galert, or the Grave
of the Greyhound,’ first printed privately as a broadsheet
in 1800 when it was composed. […] It was published
in Spencer’s Poems, 1811, pp. 78-86. […] Spencer states in
a note ‘The story of this ballad is traditionary in a village
at the foot of Snowdon where Llewellyn the Great had a house.
The Greyhound named Gelert was given him by his father-in-law,
King John, in the year 1205, and the place to this day is called
Beth-Gelert, or the grave of Gelert.’ As a matter of fact, no trace
of the tradition in connection with Bedd Gellert can be found
before Spencer’s time. […] Borrow in his Wild Wales
gives the legend, but does not profess to derive it from local
The only parallel in Celtdom is that noticed
by Croker in his third volume, the legend of Partholan
who killed his wife's grey-hound from jealousy:
this is found sculptured in stone at Ap Brune, co. Limerick.
As is well known, and has been elaborately discussed by
Mr. Baring-Gould (Curious Myths of the Middle Ages
p. 134 seq.), and Mr. W. A. Clouston (Popular Tales and
, ii 166 , seq.), the story of the man who rashly
slew the dog (ichneumon, weasel, &c.) that had saved his
babe from death, is one of those which have spread from East
to West. It is indeed, as Mr. Clouston points out, still current
in India, the land of its birth. There is little doubt that it
is originally Buddhistic : the late Prof. S. Beal gave the earliest
known version from the Chinese translation of the Vinaya Pitaka
in the Academy
of Nov. 4, 1882. The conception of an animal
sacrificing itself for the sake of others is peculiarly Buddhistic;
the ‘hare in the moon’ is an apotheosis of such a piece of self-sacrifice
on the part of Buddha (Sasa Jataka
). There are two forms
that have reached the West, the first being that of an animal
saving men at the cost of its own life. I pointed out an early
instance of this, quoted by a Rabbi of the second century, in
my Fables of Aesop
, i. 105. This concludes with a strangely
dose parallel to Gellert ; ‘They raised a cairn over his grave,
and the place is still called The Dog's Grave.’ The Culex attributed
to Virgil seems to be another variant of this. The second form of
the legend is always told as a moral apologue against precipitate
action, and originally occurred in The Fables of Bidpai
its hundred and one forms, all founded on Buddhistic originals (cf
, Einleitung, 201). [It occurs in the
same chapter as the story of La Perrette, which has been traced,
after Benfey, by Prof. M. Mitiler in his Migration of Fables
, i. 500-74); exactly the same history
applies to Geltert.] Thence, according to Benfey, it was inserted
in the Book of Sindibad
, another collection of Oriental
Apologues framed on what may be called the Mrs. Potiphar formula.
This came to Europe with the Crusades, and is known in its Western
versions as the Seven Sages of Rome
. The Gellert story
occurs in all the Oriental and Occidental versions ; e.g., it
is the First Master’s story in Wynkyn de Worde’s (ed. G. L. Gomme,
for the VilIon Society.) From the Seven Sages
it was taken
into the particular branch of the Gesta Romanorum
in England and known as the English Gesta, where it occurs as c.
xxxii., ‘Story of Folliculus.’ We have thus traced it to England whence
it passed to Wales, where I have discovered it as the second apologue
of ‘The Fables of Cattwg the Wise,’ in the lob MS. published by the
Welsh MS. Society, p.561, ‘The man who killed his Greyhound.’ (These
Fables, Mr. Nutt informs me, are a pseudonymous production probably
of the sixteenth century.) This concludes the literary route of the
Legend of Gellert from India to Wales: Buddhistic Vinaya Pitaka
- Fables of Bidpai
- Oriental Sindibad
Seven Sages of Rome
- ‘English’ (Latin) Gesta Romanorum
- Welsh Fables of Cattwg
31 (2004): 9-10]
Diederichs, Ulf, ed. and trans. “Von
der Verführbarkeit der Frauen oder Die treulose
Witwe [Of Women‘s Seduceability or The Unfaithful Widow].”
261-63 (nr. 107) in Das Ma‘assebuch: Altjiddische Erzählkunst.
Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 2003. 845 p. ISBN
Die Geschichte geschah. Ein Sprichwort geht, die
Weiber haben leichten Verstand, sie sind bald zu
Denn es geschah einmal, daß eine Frau,
deren Mann gestorben war, in großes Jammern und Klagen verfiel.
Und sie wollte ja nicht gern ihren lieben Mann vergessen und trieb sich
Tag und Nacht auf dem Friedhof (beß-chájim, “Haus des
Lebens”) herum und weinte und schrie recht jammervoll um ihren lieben Mann.
Da war einer, der war Wächter (scháumer)
bei einem Galgen. Den bewachte er, daß man
keinen Gehängten vom Galgen herabnehmen sollte,
bei Leibesstrafe durch den König. Und dieser Galgen
stand nicht weit weg vom Friedhof. Und dieser Wächter
ging des Nachts zu der Frau und redete so lange auf sie ein,
bis er sie dazu überredet hatte, daß sie bei ihm lag.
Und in der Zeit, als er bei ihr gelegen war,
wurde einer vom Galgen herab gestohlen. Und wie er wieder zum Galgen kam,
da sah er nichts und niemanden. Da war er sehr erschrocken, denn er fürchtete,
der König werde ihn hängen lassen, dieweil
er nicht gut gehütet hatte. Da ging er zu der Frau
und erzählte ihr sein Unglück. Da sagte die Frau
zu ihm: “Fürchte dich nicht allzusehr. Nimm doch meinen
Mann aus dem Grab (kéjwer
) und häng ihn
an die Stätte.” Da ging er hin und zog mit ihr gemeinsam
den Mann aus dem Grab, und sie hängten ihn an den Galgen.
Da seht ihr nun, wie die Frau
um ihren Mann so arg gejammert und geweint hat, doch
gleichwohl hat sie den bösen Trieb (jéjzer-hóre
in sich gehabt, so daß sie sich vom Wächter
überreden ließ. Seither geht das Sprichwort,
die Frauen haben geringen Verstand und sind leicht zu überreden,
einem zu Willen zu sein, selbst wenn sie in Trauer sind.
This story happened. A proverb goes: womenfolk have
feeble understanding, they are soon persuaded.
For it happened once that a woman, whose husband
had died, fell into great laments and complaints.
And she did indeed not want to forget her dear husband
and roamed day and night about the cemetery (beß-chájim,
“House of Life”) and cried and shouted quite pitifully for
her dear husband.
There was someone who was watchman (scháumer)
at some gallows. These he watched so that none
of the hanged be lifted off the gallows, under penalty
of death by the king. And these gallows stood not too far
from the cemetery. And this watchman went at night to the woman
and talked to her as long as it took him to persuade her to lie
And during the time he had lain with her one
[of the hanged] was stolen off the gallows. And when he came back to the
gallows he saw nothing and nobody. Then he was very shocked for he feared
that the king would have him hanged, because he had not watched well. So
he went to the woman and told her his bad luck. And the woman said to him:
“Don‘t be afraid too much. Take my husband from the grave (kéjwer)
and hang him in [the stolen one‘s] stead.” So he
went there and together with her pulled the husband out
of the grave, and they hanged him on the gallows.
So you see now how the woman
lamented and cried so much about her husband, yet
she had the evil impulse (jéjzer-hóre)
in her so that she let herself be persuaded by the watchman. Ever
since the proverb goes that women have little understanding
and can be persuaded easily to do a man‘s bidding, even when
they are in mourning.
Mary B. Speer. "The Faithful
Greyhound, the Feckless Knight, and the Good Mother: Mirrors and Marvels
in the Dolopathos." Belfast: Eighth Triennial Congress of the International
Courtly Literature Society, 1995.
Following up on "Specularity in a Formulaic Frame
Romance: ’The Faithful Greyhound’ and the Roman
des sept sages," a talk presented at the 1992
ICLS meeting and published in the proceedings, this paper
extends the inquiry into specular identification as a concept
useful for interpreting tales in courtly frame romances.
Here the focus is again on the story known to folklorists
as "The Faithful Greyhound," but this time in the highly significant
remaniements achieved by John of Hauteville in the Latin
Dolopathos (late 12th century) and by Herbert in his French
"translation" of that Dolopathos (early 13th century).
John has recast the traditional story of the lord, the dog, and
the baby in order to mirror the frame of his romance and to criticize
irresponsible knightly behaviour. John’s clerical version is indeed
"new," as the sage who narrates it claims. An original introductory
section highlights the folly of a young knight who bankrupts
himself to take part in tournaments and is then forced to go
into exile. The equally innovative climax makes the knight’s wife
an active partner in the family drama rather than a passive victim.
The pragmatic moral that the tale usually illustrates--do not act
in haste--is transformed by John into a deeper, more somber lesson
that cautions against judging by appearance and calls into question
the fundamental values of secular chivalry. Herbert, writing for
a courtly audience, is obliged to attenuate John’s critique while
retaining the "merveilles" of this richly specular tale.
Yasmina Foehr-Janssens. "Une recluse fort (peu)
courtoise." Belfast: Eighth Triennial Congress
of the International Courtly Literature Society, 1995.
Dans un article déjà ancien, A.
Hilka a dressé l’inventaire des différentes
occurrences d’un récit tiré du Roman
des sept sages de Rome
et intitulé Inclusa
(cf. [Analytical Bibliography
no. 865]). Si l’on
en croit le nombre de rédactions parallèles,
cet apologue a connu une grande fortune narrative. Il propose
des thèmes familiers de la littérature narrative
d’inspiration courtoise, lai ou roman. On y rencontre un
mari jaloux, une malmariée et un jeune étranger
amoureux de la belle. Le récit débute par une
résurgence narrative du motif de l’"amour de loin", suscité
par un rêve, ou par la vision d’une image de beauté.
Son intrigue repose sur la quête d’une épouse
et donne lieu à de nombreuses descriptions d’objets et de
parures magnifiques. Cette richesse thématique explique
peut-être que le récit serve de toile de fond à
deux romans importants: Flamenca
et Joufroi de Poitiers.
Pourtant, dans les versions
du Roman des sept sages
qui le rapportent, Inclusa
sert de machine de guerre contre les femmes et prend des
allures de fabliau anti-courtois. Fidèles à
leur habitude d’illustrer leurs interventions par des narrations
enchâssées, les sages s’en servent pour fustiger
la crédulité du mari et la duplicité des
femmes. Comment rendre compte de cette discordance
entre l’esprit d’un conte et son emploi idéologique?
se situe au coeur d’une stratégie littéraire
propre au Roman des sept sages
. Le sens ne s’y élabore
pas de manière linéaire. Entre les différents
niveaux de narration, se tissent des réseaux de signification
complexes. Pour comprendre les raisons qui commandent le choix
comme exemple sapiental, nous étudions
la forme de ce récit, ses rapports avec les autres anecdotes
retenues et avec l’histoire-cadre, ainsi que la personnalité
du narrateur de cette histoire. La version K (ms. B.N. 1553)
sera notre terrain de recherche privilégié,
mais nous pourrons aussi nous servir de [la version] C (ms. Chartres,
Bibl. 620), autre témoin de la plus ancienne version francaise
des Sept sages
. Dans le cadre de la littérature
narrative d’expression francaise, les principes de la "fin’amor"
font l’objet d’un débat largement ouvert à la controverse.
S’il est de notoriété publique que les oeuvres
de Marie de France et de Thomas d’Angleterre témoignent
de cette fermentation intellectuelle, nous aimerions montrer que
des textes de réputation plus didactique n’échappent
pas à cette polémique et, bien plus, en vivent.
Entre lai et fabliau, Inclusa
offre un beau terrain d’exploration
pour qui s’intéresse à la toujours délicate définition
de la "courtoisie".
Jill Whitelock. "The Seven Sages of Rome and Orientalism
in Middle English Literature, with an Edition
of the Poem from Cambridge, University Library, Dd.I.17." Diss.
Part One examines the Seven Sages
in the context of Orientalism, taking as its cue the
poem’s source, The Book of Sindbad, and its
occurrence in Dd.I.17 alongside several works about the
Orient. In Chapter 1, J.W. surveys the scope of Orientalism
in Middle English literature and manuscripts, and assesses
how the Seven Sages fits into such a study. In Chapter
2, J.W. considers the relationship between the Seven Sages
and The Book of Sindbad with regard to myths of origin
in studies of tale transmission and Orientalism in general. Much
Seven Sages criticism has been preoccupied with the work’s
origins in The Book of Sindbad, with discovering the links
between the two texts and the Sindbad’s ultimate place
of genesis. J.W. argues that this has often led to a narrow critical
approach which ignores the multiplicity of geographically and
chronologically diverse transmissions. In Chapter 3, J.W. explores
how myths of origin are also thematic concerns in the Seven Sages
itself and its story of a father and son who are also Emperor and Prince
of Rome, and how this theme may have prompted the work’s concern with
the genre of romance when appropriated by its Western redactor. J.W. examines
the problem of classifying the Seven Sages in terms of genre,
arguing that rather than being a straightforward romance, the work
uses the romance mode as one way of reading the text of The Book
In Part Two, J.W. presents
a new edition of the Seven Sages from Dd.I.17. Unlike the previous
edition by Thomas Wright (1845), hers includes a
full codicological description of the manuscript, an
analysis of the poem’s dialect, a study of the relationship
of this version to the other Middle English Seven Sages
as well as its originality, and extensive textual notes and a
French Version M is unique among all Seven Sages
versions in that it contains six non-canonic stories. These are translated
here from MS. Florence, Ashburnham 52 (cat. Ashburnham Libri 125) of
the fourteenth century, as edited by Hans R. Runte.
In the overall frame of the Seven
Sages the six stories should present arguments against either the
empress (Anthenor, Cardamum) or the emperor’s son (filius,
nutrix, spurius, assassinus). That function they fulfill only imperfectly
in most cases, leading us to hypothesize that the scribe(s), confronted
with an incomplete or damaged model, did not understand the dynamics
of the frame and filled the lacunæ before them with any narrative
material immediately at hand. While the resulting flawed version of the
Seven Sages has nevertheless been copied at least three times (MSS.
Paris, Bibl. nat., Fr. 573 [formerly 7069]; Paris, Bibl. de l’Arsenal 2998
[formerly 232 B.L.F.]; Paris, Bibl. de l’Arsenal 2999 [formerly 233 B.L.F.]),
it has not surprisingly remained without sequel.
Superficially aware of the eastern flavour of the Seven Sages,
the scribe(s) of Version M expressly sought to situate the new exempla
in “oriental”, Islamic locales from the time of Caesar to that of the
crusades: the stories take place in Antioch (filius), Babylon
(filius, spurius), Constantinople and Greece (nutrix),
Araby (Anthenor), Persia (Cardamum), and an unidentified
land of the Saracens (assassinus), and they pit Christianity
against Islam (spurius, Cardamum, assassinus), either on the
battlefield (spurius, assassinus) or by unabashed proselytizing
(Cardamum). Despite their incongruousness, they thus lend a historical
perspective to the Seven Sages and nudge the narrative intent from
secular didacticism to (a degree of) religious militancy; they also point
to the crusades and to crusaders’ accounts (from the ninth crusade [1271-1272]
backwards) as possible sources for Seven Sages narrative materials,
an aspect of research that has been totally ignored to date.
[The empress’s fourth story]
[fol. 147d] This is the story of the evil debauched
By [my] faith, said then the lady, it is true
that once upon a time there was in Antioch a prince who had the name
Belsasor. He loved much the intercourse with dames and damsels. And
it came to pass that above all the others there was one beloved by whom
he had a boy for a son whom he loved much, and so much did he invest his
love in him that he lost a great deal of his worth in the process. So much
did time go by that the boy was fourteen years old, and it was the mother’s
fate to die and the prince was much affected by this, and it came to pass
that he held the boy in very great love more after the mother’s death than
before. And for [fol. 148a] [all] that it took not long at all before the
prince was drawn to putting his heart upon another young lady who was the
daughter of the sultan of Babylon. And she was so young that she was not
ten years [old] when the prince first had her. Very strongly did he put his
heart into the matter for she was [so] very beautiful [that] it was a great
marvel, and with that she was so wise that in the entire country there was
nobody who could take on her good sense. From that it came to pass that the
prince’s son formed an evil plot, for because of the young lady’s love for
her sire he took to [pursuing] the young lady with great love. And he who
was an evil plotter beguiled her in such a manner that one day he came to
where the young lady was and she welcomed him in very good humour, so that
he said to her:
-- My sweet dear lady, it behooves me to tell
you a thing that I wish to be very secret.
-- Certainly, she said, sweet friend, and I
will very willingly do it [as long as] it is a thing that I must do.
-- In God’s name, he said, it must be done.
-- And I agree to it, she said.
Then he said to her:
-- You are very young and my father is old and
frail, and I well know that you have little intercourse with him, wherefore
I say to you that your beauty has led me to this: I want to kill my
father and have you, whichever way the thing may go. And thus we will
have as much intercourse with one another as we want, so I want you to
consent to this thing.
When the young lady heard this she was much
astonished and could not reply to his wish, and said:
-- Ha, sweet friend, for the grace of God, this
thing would be too terrible to do, by your leave,
because for nothing that there is would I agree to
-- By my head, he said, you must agree to it,
whether you want to or not.
-- Friend, she said, by your
leave [fol. 148b] once more, I don’t believe
that your father is destined to live long, for he has little health,
and if he were to die a [natural] death, then [the situation] would be
nicer and could not be better.
-- In God’s name, he said, it behooves you to
do my wish.
-- Friend, she said, may it not please God that
I am such that this happens to me, but shut up now and never speak
of it [again].
When he heard this he saw well that by his will
he would not arrive at his aim, so he said:
-- Now I know well that you love my lord father
much. And know for sure that I love you better than ever before, and
I would not want that you do another thing about it. So make sure that
this thing be hidden.
-- By [my] faith, she said, by me no word of
it will be moved, but may it not come from you [either].
-- It won’t, he said.
Then they ceased speaking about this thing,
and [so it went] until the lady was in doubt about her lord whom she loved
out of great love, and her heart told her that the father’s son persued his
death and his destruction. So she did not know what to do nor what to say,
except that [so it went] until one day they were together under the very
great sign of love between the prince and the young lady, and it came to
pass that the lady took to weeping very tenderly.
-- [My] lady, said he, what have you [to weep
about]? I want to know it.
-- Ha, [my] lord, she said, for God’s mercy,
I would not tell it to you for anything, for I know for sure that I
would be blamed for it.
-- [My] lady, he said, try
as you may, it behooves you to tell the reason
wherefore this [feeling of] discontent comes over you, because for nothing
[in the world] would I relieve you of [telling] it.
When the lady saw that it behooved her to tell
that of which she could not excuse herself, she said:
-- In God’s name, sire, I suspect that those
who must love you better [than anyone else] are pursuing your bad end
before time and before the hour.
-- [My] lady, he said, how do you know this?
-- In God’s name, sire, she said, don’t [fol.
148c] ask me more about it, for you would dismember me before I [could]
tell you more about it.
-- By [my] faith, [my] lady, he said, this looks
like treason to me, when they should be my friends and are [in fact]
So the prince thought about something which
he told [her]:
--[My] lady, it weighs heavily on me when my
enemies are around me and I cannot know [a single] one among them.
Even if evil comes of it to me, I doubt that you are not at fault in
it, for this [very] day I cannot know whether anyone loves me as much
as you [claim]. And therefore I don’t know whom to love and whom to
-- Verily, sire, do you believe that it is I?
-- By [my] faith, [my] lady, he said, since
you told me that you would rather let [me] pull your limbs apart, I don’t
know what to say about it.
When she heard this she said:
-- In God’s name, so I will tell it to you,
even if they were to burn me for it.
Then she told [him] exactly as his son had requested
her [to act]. So when the prince had heard it, he began to smile and
-- [My] lady, do you think then that my son
had such a thought toward me?
-- By [my] faith, sire, she said, I don’t know,
but because of the concern I have for you did I say as much. But he
told me afterwards that he had done it to test me.
-- By [my] faith, he said, I well believe it.
Then this matter remained thus until the prince’s
son one day displeased his father, and it came to pass that [the latter]
could not refrain himself from saying:
-- And you, how were you so bold that you dared
seek out my wife with evil intention?
When he heard this he was so astounded that
he did not dare excuse himself for it. But this [very] day he made his preparations
and in the night murdered his father [where he was sleeping] beside
the lady, whence it came to pass that the lady was put into the situation
where she had to say that the prince had died of a grievous illness that
he had. Thus the son killed the father in such a manner that nobody [fol.
148d] knew it except a [patricidal] knight and the lady who did not dare
speak about it, but he put her under his will despite all those whom
it could annoy.
Filius may be seen as a simple and not very
subtle inversion of the framing Phaedra theme. An analogue story, entitled
“De la bonne impératrice”, can be found in the French fabliaux
tradition (Legrand d’Aussy, Fabliaux ou contes, fables et romans
[The empress’s fifth story]
Already in 1876 none other than Gaston Paris found this story to be “almost
unintelligible.” Even some massaging of the original can only partially render
the text less opaque:
Unlike the burgher and his wife, who like crazy nurses uselessly
mutilate themselves rather than their supposed son in order to prove,
to no avail, their parenthood and thus prevent the lord from appropriating
their otherwise heirless land, the child’s real mother, caring more for
herself than for her illegitimate son, refuses three times to mutilate
herself but under the threat of death clings to the child, thus betraying
her motherhood, confirming physical resemblances and ensuring that the lord
will “inherit” the childless couple’s land.
In the empress’s arsenal of arguments against power-hungry sons
the central attempts at proving motherhood must seem rather ineffective;
the son’s eventual slide into tyranny may serve the empress’s objective
better but feels artificially added on.
[fol. 150bis a] This is the exemplum of the crazy
At the time of the emperor Constant[ine] of Constantinople
there was a prince in Greece who had his land entirely free as far as all
those [who lived] in the country were concerned, for there was such a custom
that all those who would die without a male heir of their flesh [their] land
fell to the prince. Wherefore there happened a great marvel in this country.
There was a burgher who was staying in a good town and so [it went that]
he was so rich that he surmounted his lord in treasure. It came to pass that
the burgher could not have an heir of his flesh who after him would have
his domain, and so [it went until] the burgher called one day on his wife
-- [My] lady, it seems well to me that we will
no longer have a child who could hold our land, for you have already
passed the natural term for having children.
-- Sire, she said, God could still well do it,
if He wanted to, [fol. 150bisb] but I have little confidence.
-- By [my] faith, he said, exactly the same can
I say to you.
-- In God’s name, said the lady, sire, if you
wanted to believe me, I thought up a thing that we could do. I have a
sister of mine who has recently become pregnant,
and I would do as if I were it, too. And when it would come to
giving birth to [her child], we would act in such a way that people would
believe that it was ours.
-- In God’s name, [my] lady, said the burgher,
quite similarly do I have a sister who has recently become pregnant whom
I want to have the advantage in this matter.
-- So, she said, I see well how the thing will
go. It will thus be that [instead] we will seek a woman who is not of
my lineage nor of yours.
-- I agree to it, he said.
So they seek a poor girl who was pregnant from
a man of the Church. And that [girl] they cause to be guarded so secretly
that nobody ever had any suspicion of it. The lady on the other side
conducts herself very carefully according to what she wanted to achieve.
Time went by until the child had to come forth. So you can know [perfectly]
well that it was watched over carefully [by the burgher’s wife]. And it
came to pass that the true mother had to feed it. So much did she put
her heart into it that people talked much about it. And it came to pass
that news came to the lord of the town that [the burgher] had a son to whom
one had said that he would have [the burgher’s] possessions. Then a man
came to [the lord] and said to him:
-- Sire, if I suspect that that burgher and his
wife want to deceive you, you will doubt this [news] at your risk.
-- How? he said.
-- By [my] faith, went then the newscarrier,
I believe that the burgher’s wife has passed the right term for having
-- So know it [for sure], the lord said then.
So he put himself to the task of knowing the
age of the burgher[‘s wife] and it was found that she had passed the
age of having children. Then people began to murmur that the [fol. 150bisc]
lord had had it researched in order to have the burgher’s land. So the
news came to the burgher and his wife and they had much doubt. It was not
long before the lord came to the town. Then he asked for the burgher and
his wife. They came before him and he put it to them and said:
-- Tell me how you have been so bold as to say
that this child is yours.
-- Sire, they say, for God’s mercy, whose would
-- In God’s name, he said, this I will soon know.
So he asked for the child. And the real mother,
when she heard this, was very astonished and believed that they were
to destroy the child, so she began to cry most pitifully and said that
nobody except herself would carry the child. So she took it in her arms
and carried it before the lord. When the lord saw it he looked at its nurse
[and mother] and then at the child and realized that they resembled one
another in all ways. And the burgher[’s wife] took the child in her arms
-- A very great sin commits he who has said to
my lord that you [, child,] are not mine.
-- [My] lady, said the lord, it must be ascertained.
Then he took the child, who was already three
years old, and put an iron pick in its hand and said to it:
-- Go to your mother and say to her: Mother,
it is necessary that you make an eye fly from the head of whoever of
the two of us pleases you better, for thus commands it our lord.
The child, who had more understanding than anyone
of his time, came to the lady [the burgher’s wife whom it thought to
be its mother] who believed that she was its mother and spoke to her exactly
as one had told it to speak. When the lady heard this she was much astounded
-- Handsome son, you will have no culpability
in this game, I prefer the crime [to fall] on me rather than on you.
So the false mother took the pick [that was]
in the child’s hand and in front of all [present] made one of her eyes
[fol. 150bisd] fly from her head [because as a mother she would rather
injure herself than her child]. When she had done this she said:
-- [My] lord, now you have seen that I would
not have done this if I were not a mother.
-- By [my] faith, he said, exactly the same must
be done to him who says that it is his son.
Exactly as the lady had done, so did her husband
[the burgher who needed the child in order not to lose his property to
the lord]. And when this was done the lord said to [the poor girl and
] the true mother:
-- Exactly the same you must do.
-- May it God, she said, not please that I have
two such crimes [on my conscience].
-- Ha, [my] lord, said then a wise man, the young
girl has spoken well.
-- How, said then the lord, what does this mean?
-- By [my] faith, he said, I believe that the
two crimes are such that the first one is the [child’s] birth and the
other the loss of the eye.
-- By my head, the lord said, it can well be
[thus], and we will know it [for sure] in [the fullness of] time.
Then he said:
-- Young girl, take the pick and do as [did]
the other one.
-- [My] lord, she said, if you do not tell me
the reason why I would commit such a folly, it would be an outrage to
go through with it.
-- Sire, said the wise man, again she speaks
-- How? said the lord.
-- I will tell you, he said, according to my
understanding. If indeed the child were the burgher’s and his wife’s,
they have committed a great folly in poking out their eyes according to
[the fact] that no force has made them do it. And if [the poor girl] were
to poke out hers as well without any force [having been] applied, then
she would have committed an outrage.
-- By my head, said the lord, the girl is wise,
but I want to test her further.
So he called the child and said:
-- Go to your [other] lady and tell her to lead
you to your mother, or else I will have her head cut off.
The child came to the girl and told her accordingly.
When he had told her, [as] the true mother [she] took him by the hand
and said to him while kissing him:
-- Sweet friend, they make you say what they
want.But for [all] this the truth will not stir.
Then [fol. 151a] the wise man said again:
-- Now you will see that she will not change
her mind [and pretend not to be his mother] despite whatever you have
-- How is this? said the lord.
-- Has she not done [according to] your command?
-- In which manner? said the lord.
-- Did you not see, he said, that when the child
had said what you had ordered him to say, she took him by the hand and
pulled him toward her saying that the truth did not change at all [simply]
because he had not understood [that the woman who had led him was his
mother] [and had therefore] erred? That was to say that she was his mother,
nor would anybody but herself lead him [to herself], out of the fear [all]
had of your threat.
-- How, he said, could I know this?
-- By [my] faith, he said, you are crazy if you
don’t perceive it.
-- I do, he said, very well, but counsel me [as
to] what I have to do.
-- By [my] faith, he said, willingly. You will keep this thing aside [for
now] and you will pretend as well that you don’t know the truth about
it, for you cannot [yet] take [possession of] your claim [to the burgher’s
and his wife’s property]. And furthermore you have nothing as long as
anyone of them is alive, instead they will enlarge [their property] before
they reduce it. And if you call their bluff regarding their
malice, it could definitely not be that you don’t
err in this case. But let them now [be] and tell them this proverb: “[She]
who loves [her child] more than a mother is [like] a crazy nurse” [“The
burgher’s wife who pretends to love ‘her’ child more than its real mother
is like a crazy nurse”].
-- You have spoken well, went then the lord.
Thereupon the burgher and his wife were called
and the lord said to them:
-- “Crazy is the nurse who [like you] loves [her
child] more than the mother.” Just as much can I tell you, says the lord
to the burgher and to his wife, if you had not loved [or pretended to love]
your child too much, [this situation] would definitely not have befallen you
[and you would have prevented me from getting your property].
-- Ha, [my] lord, they say, for the grace of
God, if we had acted differently, you would never have believed that
[the child] was ours.
--So now go away, he went.
Then they departed [fol. 151b] from there and
went back to their house in this manner.
When the burgher and his wife had returned to
their house they believed well that their lord had noticed nothing, and
so it was that they felt themselves much diminished
[in] that each one had thus lost an eye, but this
they could not reverse, so it had to be suffered. It came to pass that
the child grew and developped until he came to the age of fifteen years,
and the story said that he was so wise and [so] full of very great cunning
concerning the enemy that he knew where he had come from and how the lord
of the land would dispossess him of what he was to have. So he did so much
by [means of] his gifts and by intrigue that he was entirely lord over him.
And so long did he go on that he put him to death by poisons that he gave
him. And when he had done this he acquired so many friends through the great
presents that he gave [out] that he put the entire country under his control.
In that he was thus lord of the country, he thought to himself that he was
too dependent and [that] the burgher and his wife held great power over
him, so he gave them [some] of his poisons to drink and put them to death
before time and before hour. And then he went and rose so far [fol. 151c]
through his malice that he was entirely lord of the empire of Constantinople.
It is impossible to see how the empress can use this
story as an argument against her supposedly power-hungry and therefore
patricidal stepson. The proverb summing up what Le Roux
de Lincy has called “une imitation assez
curieuse du jugement de Salomon” (Le livre des proverbes
[…], p. xviii), namely “Crazy is the nurse who loves [her child] more than
the mother”, is attested in numerous medieval proverb collections.
[Jesse’s, the fifth sage’s story]
Jesse’s story partially mirrors the frame narrative:
the emperor there and king Anthenor here have remarried; both have a
child from their first marriage, a son in the frame, a daughter here,
against whom each one’s second wife spins her intrigue; the (step)son is
used as a warning against an heir usurping his father’s power, the (step)daughter
is simply an obstacle in the wife’s socio-political ambitions. In the
overall scheme of the frame it is Jesse’s turn to demonstrate the evil
that is woman. Anthenor’s second wife fits this objective moderately well
in that she plots to have the emperor marry her daughter from a previous
marriage instead of Anthenor’s daughter from his first wife. She succeeds
by spreading the rumour that her stepdaughter is frigid and by convincing
her that the emperor is impotent. But irony wills that her daughter does
not bear the emperor an heir and that her stepdaughter is happily married
to the king of Greece. And injustice wills that Anthenor suffers the emperor’s
wrath, while nothing is said about his wife’s fate, whereby the persuasive
force of Jesse’s story is considerably lessened.
[fol. 151d] In this place begins master Jesse
his story and speaks in this manner
Anthenor was king of Araby at the time of Caesar
who conquered that empire. He had had a wife, from her he had a young
[fol. 152a] lady as daughter. Much did the father love and cherish her
for her [good] sense and her beauty, for in all the kingdom there was no
one as beautiful or as wise. And with all this the country loved her much,
for when[ever] a disturbance happened in the land and in the country, she
was had the means and put things [back] in order, wherefore her [good]
sense was much praised. It happened as it had to happen that Anthenor heard
[people] talk about the queen of Armenia who was [almost] too beautiful,
and the talk went so [far] that the one had the other by marriage. Now then
this lady had a very beautiful daughter, too, whom she loved like a mother
[should]. Caesar, the emperor of Rome, was these days without a wife, and
the princes came to him and convinced him that he should get married. And
he said that in that case they should seek him a wife. And they had the agreed-upon view that
they knew no one as wise and as beautiful as the daughter of Anthenor, the
king of Araby. So Caesar ordered [that people] be sent to seek her out. So
the most praised [men] of the empire got ready and came to Araby. But before
they talked to the king they had their arrival made known. When king Anthenor
knew this news he was very joyful about it. Then he let his barons know that
they should all come to him in order to honour the princes of Rome more [than
was customary]. It came to pass that the queen knew [about] this thing [and]
that she very much had a great desire to confirm this marriage for her [own]
daughter, [a marriage] that she would otherwise have [already] well pursued.
Then came the night when Anthenor was with his wife who knew very well [how]
to attract him and said:
-- [My] lord, one thing I know well to tell you,
[namely] that if you do not have good [fol. 152b] advice about this marriage
that you want to make, you can come to great confusion because of it.
-- How? said Anthenor.
-- [My] lord, she said, no man can have her as
a [sexual] companion, and she does not have it in her power [to do anything
-- How, he said, do you know it?
-- [My] lord, may God truly help me, I know it
-- [My] lady, he said, be careful [what you say
-- In God’s name, she said, I tell the whole
-- By [my] faith, Anthenor said, about this I
am very angry and I have given it bad consideration.
-- [My] lord, she said, I will advise you well.
I have here my daughter with me, who is very refined and wise, you will
say to the princes of Rome that she is your daughter and that you love
her much [to be] with my lord the emperor, and they will well believe that
it be she whom they ask for.
-- [My] lady, said then Anthenor, you speak well,
and I will do it upon your advice.
Thus the night went by and it came to the next
morning when the princes of Rome had come and made their message to the
king who knew [how] to make them very welcome and made for them great
festivities and said that he was very glad that the emperor wanted to
have his daughter who was very beautiful and marvelously wise. Then Anthenor
took his council aside and said to them:
-- Handsome lords, see here these princes of
Rome who have come for my [very own] daughter, this you see well. But
now it is thus that one has let me know that it is not in her power to
be with a man, so I am very disturbed by it. And because I do not want
at all to do this thing without your advice, I have made you come to me.
Then spoke a wise man and said:
-- [My] lord, how do you know that this is true
what you say about my lady?
-- By my head, he said, as late as last night
I did not know anything about it. But [fol. 152c] her stepmother has
given me to understand it.
-- How little wise you are, that one said, to
believe her stepmother about a matter with respect to which she would
want to advance herself before anybody else.
-- By my head, you have spoken the truth. It
behooves [us] therefore to find out first of all from my daughter how
things stand in his matter.
-- You speak the truth, that one goes, let’s
go speak to her in council and privately.
So Anthenor put himself between [the wise man]
and [a] young knight [of his council] and [together] they came to the
young lady who had already been taught what her stepmother wanted to work
toward [, namely that the emperor was impotent]. Then the father reasoned
with her and said to her:
-- Daughter, tell me how it suits you that my
lord the emperor wants to have you for [his] wife?
-- In God’s name, father, she said, he will never
have me with my good will.
-- Why, daughter? the father said.
-- I do not wish to tell you anything further
about it now, she goes.
Then Anthenor came to the knight and said to
-- I know for sure that things are as I told
you [: my daughter does not want the emperor].
-- By my head, said the knight, I will not believe
it, rather [I think] that her stepmother has arranged this.
-- She did not, said Anthenor, you will doubt
it at your peril.
So it came to pass that Anthenor believed his
wife about what she made him understand, and [he believed] the young
girl about the other thing, [namely] that it was not in Caesar’s power
to have a woman’s company by which he might procreate. Thus treated [Anthenor’s
wife] the father and the daughter, whence it came to pass that in this
malicious situation the barons of the kingdom recommended to their lord
that, since it was thus that the girl did not want the emperor, he did
not send him anything else but a wise excuse. This thing he did not at
all want to do without the opinion of his wife. Therefore he came to her
and told her how his barons advised him what to do.
-- [My] lord, she said, this you will not do
at all. But the emperor would greatly despise your ex- [fol. 152d]cuse,
and he would not at all believe that the thing went differently. You will
send him my daughter instead of yours, and thus through the will of mine
you will have love and confederation with Caesar who is very vainglorious
-- You have spoken well, Anthenor went then.
So it came to pass that Anthenor against the
opinion of his barons sent his stepdaughter instead of his daughter to
the emperor. Thence it then happened to him that this young lady was with
the emperor for a long time without any child being able to be born of
this [union]. On the other side Anthenor’s girl [and] daughter was sought
by the king of Greece. The father came to her and said:
-- Now I don’t know which excuse to have concerning
-- Which excuse, she said, do you want to have
-- Concerning what I have heard about [the fact]
that it is not in your power to know [in the biblical sense] [a] man.
-- You have had, she said, poor understanding,
for I don’t know at all that this is true.
-- And why, he said then, did Caesar the emperor
of Rome not please you?
-- Because, she said, I heard that he himself
does not have the power [to do] what you are putting onto me.
Then Anthenor knew how his wife had deceived
her/him. Thence it happened to him afterwards that his daughter wants
to have the king of Greece and had from him in the first year a very handsome
son. Treason which cannot at all be hidden all the time obliged Caesar
to know this thing. Because of which he was so [much] out of his mind that
he had Anthenor destroyed without any counterforce that he [, Anthenor,]
might have been able to have from [any] man who could have helped him.
[The empress’s sixth story]
[fol. 153c] Of the evil stepson
Honour and shame make me say that once in the city of Babylon there
was a sultan who was very much an expert of the law of the Saracens. It
came to pass that one day he had had a battle with the Christians from
[amongst] whom he took in this battle a Christian knight who was very brave
and wise and of grand stature. And because of this the sultan had him
have a very honest prison and made him often and quickly eat in front of
him. That one was marvelously handsome and gracious, and [so it went] until
one of the sultan’s wives once saw the knight and said to herself that the
Christian did much to [make people] love [him], and [that] she would do
so [regarding] him. So she did so much that she let him know that, if he
wanted to do as much as to come to her in order to do his will [with her]
and [if] she were to [try to] conceive from him until a male heir came from
it, she would do [what it took in order] for him to convert a great portion
of the Saracens’ law to Christian law. The knight coveted the lady who [fol.
153d] was very beautiful a grant devise, and more for the sin of the flesh
than for another good. So long went on this affair until one had company
with the other several times, and it came to pass that the lady was left
pregnant. The sultan knew [full] well in what state the lady was, but he
did not at all believe that this was [caused] by anybody but himself, so
he had her most richly looked after like the one whom he loved more than
all the others. So long went the lady’s pregnancy that she had a male
heir, about which the sultan was as delighted as [if it had been] a marvel.
But as soon as the lady had lain her time [in bed], it behooved [her] to
die of an illness that she had taken while giving birth, and it behooved
her to go to [her] end. The sultan made himself very sad because of it and
ordered [that] the child be taken care of caringly. For he had [as] a plan
that he would give him his land after him because of the love he had had
for the mother. That one got much better and grew within twenty years. So
then he was as tall as the father and was so chivalrous that the father marveled
very greatly whence this great chivalry came to him and how he dared undertake
what he did. And so much I tell you about that one, [namely] that the sultan
was little appreciated in the country, except for the son who came every
day while the father, it seemed to them, went into decline. And it came
to pass that one day the barons of the country assembled and say that
it would be a good thing if their young man were totally in possession
of the sultanate, for the father could henceforth help himself [only] poorly.
All to a single word they agreed to it. Then it came to pass that a Christian
king was in the land of Jerusalem and did many [fol. 154a] an evil to
their people. The princes came to the sultan and say to him that they
advise that he undo himself of the sultanate and make his son its lord.
When the sultan heard this he was so sad and so out of [his] mind that
he swore [by] all his gods that he would never have a stake in the land,
rather he would have him destroyed. So one night he had his son taken and
put and had him put in prison in order to detain him. But the princes did
so much that night that the son came to the father and killed him in sight
of his men.
[Lentulus’s, the sixth sage’s story]
[fol. 154c] This is the exemplum of Cardamum
[fol. 154d] It is an honourable thing to comport
oneself wisely in this century according to the adversities and the
tribulations that God consents to exist in this mortal life, as did
once Cardamum the senechal of Persia. For as we find in our writings,
Barbarus was king of Persia. He had had a wife, and from her he had a young
girl for a daughter whom he loved as much as you will hear henceforth.
And it came to pass that a great problem arose for this Barbarus outside
his land where it behooved him to go with all his might. He loved much
his senechal because of [his] very great intelligence and the knighly quality
that was in him. Now he did not know which [option] to carry out: either
take his senechal with him to [solve] that problem, or leave him in his
land to protect it and his daughter, about which [choice] he had the greatest
doubt as to the thing he would have to do. It came to pass that the love
he had for his daughter surpassed everything else [and] made him leave
it to Cardamum to protect his daughter and his land. He had his men assemble
and started out to where he had [his] problem. Cardamum remained [fol.
155a] with the girl who was but eleven years old and had the name of Caradiane
from her mother. The senechal looked at her and saw [that she was] very
beautiful, and with that he knew that she was wise for her time. So he said
within himself that very great treason would commit he who would treat the
girl badly while she was charged to him. Therefore he reflected in which
manner he could make for better protection [for her]. He who paid attention
to the good [in the world] saw within himself that he could not offer [her]
better protection than to teach her [how to do] good works and [how] to be
carefully close [to him], whereby no man nor any woman could say or do a
thing to her that was not good. So he said to her one day:
-- My very dear girl, much you must love the god who has made
you so beautiful that all those who see you fill with joy about your
-- Verily, sire, she said, if [only] he had given me [good] sense
whereby I [could] know [how] to know and love him, whereby I would do
his work on earth in order to have the reign of heaven which lasts for all
When the senechal heard her say this he was very joyous and said
-- My very dear girl, I will have you have a master who regarding
this will teach you what it is about.
-- Well have you spoken, she went then.
So the senechal had a good cleric and expert in the Saracens’ law
come [to her]. This one began to teach the girl about the law [and] what
it was about. But she into whom the Holy Ghost had descended took his speech
away from him and made him convinced of everything [s]he said, so that
by the power of grace and wisdom he converted to what she said. When the
senechal knew this, he himself could not [do] better than to agree with
her. Then she acted [further] until she [came to] know a holy man [fol.
155b] of the law of the Christians. This one came before her and then looked
at her and saw that she was enlightened by the beauty of the seven gifts
of the Holy Ghost. So he spoke to her and she to him and they agreed fully
that the holy man found more good in her than she in him. Thus these three
[Caradiane, Cardamum and the cleric] were converted with the help of God’s
misericord, and to the good happiness of the senechal and of the girl. So
it came to pass that the senechal had this thing done so secretly that there
was nobody who paid any attention to it.Thence it came to pass that when
the father [Barbarus] had returned [from abroad], he had contracted the marriage
of the girl and the one with whom he had had to deal. Then he had her come
before him and said to her what agreement he had negotiated between her
and him. So the girl replied to the father and said to him:
-- Father, this thing cannot be done without my agreement
-- And in that case I cannot prevent, he said, my war[like problem]
to begin again.
-- Handsome father, she said, I have no misgivings about your peace
[with your adversary],yet I like the war between the two of you better
than my not having to keep toward my God what I have vowed to Him.
-- What thing, he said then, have you vowed to Him?
-- Father, she said, myself wholly, that is body and soul.
-- Because of this, he said, you will not in the slightest fail
in [your promise]?
-- No, she said, if it pleases Him.
-- It behooves you to have the one I tell [you], goes the father.
-- Never will I have him, she said, [not even] for the [greatest]
thing that there may be. For I like much better that you break your agreement
than I mine.
What would I tell you? So long went the things of this affair that
it behooved the girl’s father to learn how she had been converted and
had vowed her virginity to our Father Jesus Christ. When the father heard
this he was very angry, and so [it went] until in the end he knew how the
senechal had agreed to it. And so this Barbarus does not want, out of the
love he had for his daughter and for his senechal, that the two be martyrized
and put to death. Whence it came to pass that this Barbarus became enraged
and died a vile [and] ugly death.
This is the story of “The Old Man of the Mountain,” literature
on which fills whole libraries. In the empress’s scheme of arguments against
patricidal sons the story has little value, unless one argues that the
frame’s (step)son resembles one of the children being raised as future
assassins. Its inclusion merits attention for another reason: while the
story was known at least since Marco Polo (1298), its
particular combination of the motif of the paradisiacal garden with the
motif of the underground education can be traced back to Odorico da Pordenone (1286-1331), a missionary to
the Middle and Far East (India, China) who wrote about his travels; Version
M can thus be dated fairly safely to the beginning of the 14th century.
[The empress’s seventh and last story]
[fol. 156b] The exemplum of the Hakesin who
[fol. 156c] It is true that there are some great lords
in the land of the Saracens who have small children one half year old
taken and and have them raised by a woman in cisterns where they cannot
see any distraction nor any amusement. And when they are so big that they
know well [how] to understand what one says to them, then one has lodgings
made in such a manner that they are inside the earth and that one can see
from them other manors which are noble and full of all [kinds of] distractions
like meadows and gardens and noble orchards. And then there are ladies and
damsels and knights who distract and amuse themselves and sing and create
the greatest joy[ful environment] that one can create. And so those children
whom one raises in those cisterns see them. So they ask what [kind of] people
they are whom they see comport themselves so nobly. Then those who initiate
them tell them that they are those who have killed the Christians. And then
they have the very great [desire] to know in which manner [fol. 156d] they
can come to such joy that everyone covets by nature. Then their masters tell
them that nobody can come to that before they have killed some Christian.
And so they have the very great desire to do [just] that, so that, when it
comes to pass that they are adult and fully grown up, one helps oneself to
them in such a way as I will tell you. When it comes to pass that a great
pack of Christians comes into the
land of Jerusalem and there are some who are feared by the Saracens, they
take these Hakesins of whom I have spoken above and send them as messengers
to the Christians, and one tells them whom they must kill. And thus they
have the Christians murdered by those unfortunate ones of whom I have told
1. souffres vous [back]
2. vous souffres [back]
3. ne vous vaut [back]
4. vous me tenres cesti chose en respit [back]
5. se vous leur faisies ja sages de leur malisse
6. il se tinrent mout a dechiut [back]
7. il orent conseil [back]
8. meute [back]
9. Runte, Hans R. Li Ystoire de
la male marastre: Version M of the Roman des sept sages de Rome: A
Critical Edition [...]. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für romanische
Philologie. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1974. lxii + 117 p. ISBN 3-484-52046-9.
10. Le Roux de Lincy, Antoine-Jean-Victor.
Roman des sept sages de Rome en prose [...]. Paris: Techener,
1838, p. xviii. [back]
11. Paris, Gaston-Bruno-Paulin. Deux rédactions
du Roman des sept sages de Rome. Paris: Didot, 1876, p. XXVI. [back]
Three stories from
too literally translated by
Hans R. Runte
(from [AB 516] Palermo, Joseph, Le roman
de Cassidorus, 2 vols., Paris: A. & J. Picard, 1963, 1964)
In the first part of the Cassidorus
Continuation (comprising twenty-four stories), Rome’s twelve nameless
princes are duelling against the empress Helcana on whether the emperor
Cassidorus should or should not marry. The princes’ stories are meant
to advise against marriage (which, according to the stars, would hasten
their death), whereas Helcana’s stories want to entice Cassidorus to marry
her (which he does in the end)
Helcana’s sixth and eighth rebuttals recall
the stories inclusa and Virgilius in the Seven Sages
In the second part (comprising fourteen stories), after Helcana’s
death and Cassidorus’s marriage to the empress of Rome, Rome’s seven sages
are duelling against Helcanus, Cassidorus’s and Helcana’s son, on whether
the twelve princes should or should not be executed for having conspired
against Helcana and her marriage to Cassidorus. The sages’ stories are meant
to defend the princes and their stance against marriage and women, whereas
the intent of Helcanus’s stories is to have the princes convicted of treason
and executed (which they are).
Helcanus’s seventh and concluding rebuttal recalls the story nutrix
in French Version M of the Seven Sages.
[Helcana’s sixth story]
In the Seven Sages,
inclusa is told by the seventh sage against the empress as a cautionary
example of a craftily unfaithful woman. Helcana’s story goes up against
the princes’ opposition to marriage and celebrates woman’s persistence and
faithfulness. If there is an echo of inclusa in Cassidorus,
it is a very faint and much simplified one.
How the maiden [Helcana] tells Cassidorus
[MS. Paris, Bibl. nat. f. fr. 22548, fol.
197ra] There was once a king in Frisia
who could not [fol. 197rb] have a wife who would be able to
please him. So it came to pass that as soon as he had one of them [women]
in his bed and she did not please him, he had her killed the next day,
as noble a woman as she may be, and [this went on] until he was renowned
for it everywhere. It came to pass that he heard speak of a lady, daughter
of one of his country’s princes. He had her summoned by a knight of his.
This [latter] did not dare contradict [the king] in this matter, and he
saw the girl and told her that such was [the king’s wish]. The girl said
that she is much delighted by it, for she could not apply herself [to
anything] better than to having in her lord a friend, and [that] he was
doing her a very great honour. When the father heard her speak thus, he
had very great pity for her, when she had thus replied, for there was not
a [single] woman in the entire country who dared having [the king] for
her husband. And he knew that his daughter was the most beautiful and the
most wise [woman] he knew, and he feared death so little. The father had
his daughter prepared as very nobly as he could, and he himself had her
put on a horse and led her to his lord, and he said to him that he was
giving him as a gift the most beautiful jewel that he had. The king looked
at the girl, who was marvelously beautiful, and in addition she was cheerful,
and so she pleased him much. He addressed her and said to her:
-- Damsel, it seems to me that you are not astounded. Know that,
if you do not please me, I must do to you what I have done to the others.
She began to smile and said:
-- Sire, I do not doubt that, if you are not worse than another man,
I will please you reasonably [enough]. And if things were such that all
this is true, I would con- [fol. 197rc] sider myself well done
by, if you had had me, and then I would die by my lord’s will.
And when the king heard her speak thus, he felt very pleasant and
-- Damsel, because of the word[s] you have spoken to me I assure
you of my love, and you will have no concern, whatever may have to come
Thus the damsel won her lord’s love, and it came to pass that they
were so much together that the damsel was pregnant and delivered
a very beautiful girl. To the king she was almost too dear. And so it came
to pass that because of the great love he had for the girl, he had her
kept so carefully that he did not want anybody to go near her that could
harm her. When she was fifteen years old, he had her kept in a tower and
put a young lady with her to watch over and teach her. It came to pass that
she grew in understanding and in beauty, and was everywhere talked about,
because of which the king had a marvelous custom, for there was no one,
not even a nobleman, to whom he wanted to show her, if he did not serve
him one year. Several served him much because of this custom. It came to
pass that the son of the duke of Athens heard [people] talk about this,
and it pleased him much to see her. He put himself on the move and did not
finish until he came to Frisia, and he did his service very well and very
beautifully. He came to the king and said to him:
-- Sire, I have served you a year. I want to have my wage[s].
The king told him [that] whatever wages he was asking to receive
he would receive, for he had served him very well.
-- Sire, he said, you cannot pay me better than [to allow me] to
[fol. 197va] see your daughter.
The king took him by the hand and led him into the tower and said
-- Here’s the beautiful jewel.
[T]he [duke’s son] saw the girl and and she [saw] him, and so much
did the one please the other that the fire of love ignited within them.
The young man was pensive and made a sign to the girl that she had his
heart entirely [and] excessively. She heard him well enough and in turn
signified immediately that she too gave hers over to him. The king did
not notice this thing but said:
-- [My] girl, adieu.
Then they departed from there and came to the palace. The young man
took his leave from the king and now put himself on the move to go to the
country whence he was. The girl remained in such a state [that she was]
like the one who thought often of the young man. Time passed and the king
wanted to marry his girl during his lifetime. The girl was much sought after
by one and all. The king of Hungary heard [people] talk about her and had
her requested. When the king of Frisia learned it, he was very pleased
by it. He came to the girl and told her that thus it was. And now the king
of Hungary wanted to have her.
-- Sire, she said, he is wrong, I do not care for him and never will
he have me for [his] wife.
When the father heard it, he was much angered by it and said:
-- Damsel, you will do it, for I do not know right now where you
could better plan [for your future].
-- If you do not know it, said the girl, it does not follow that
somebody else does.
-- So you will tell me [when] it [happens], said the king.
-- Never, by God, said she, will you know it from me ahead of time.
The king could not know whom she wanted, nor could anybody render
her reasonable. He put the damsels under torture, [to find out] if they
knew anything about it. There was not one [fol. 197vb] who said
anything about it, like [all] those who knew nothing about it. What did
the king do? He had his daughter so restrained that she did not see the
light [of day] for ten years, however much one managed to say to her, she
did not want to say anything about what she wanted. [Her] renown went very
far and so [far] that the young man [and son of the duke of Athens], who
was already a knight, heard [people] talk about it and thought well that
this was for him. He took to his route in the noblest manner he could and
did not stop [until] he came to Frisia. The king was in the country, and
this [young man] spoke to him and said:
-- Sire, I ask you for your daughter, for she must have none other
When the kinghears him he said:
-- Friend, I do not know whom she wants. What is your name?
-- Sire, he said, I am the duke of Athens and my name is Scalibor.
Then the king took him by the hand and led him before his daughter
-- Is this the one whom you want to be king after me?
-- Father, she said, He is truly it. Never will I have anybody else
So Scalibor had the girl thanks to her [good] sense, nor does she
find it worthwhile to love anybody else but him.
[Helcana’s eighth story]
In the Seven Sages, Virgilius is the
empress’s fifth story told as an example of male plotting and power-grabbing.
Helcana’s story, though less developed, echoes this message.
How the maiden [Helcana] told Cassidorus
a story about an emperor of Rome
[MS. Paris, Bibl. nat. f. fr. 22548, fol.
200rb] It is true that in the city
of Rome, where your ancester was born, there once was an emperor who was
very little loved by the barons of the country. There was in the city
a mirror like there still is. It was high on top of a great marble tower,
and one saw [in it] throughout the entire country those who wanted to
do harm to the city. It came to pass that there was a rich prince in the
city who at that time waged war against Rome. He thought to himself that
as long as the mirror was whole, he would not have power in the city. But
this mirror was protected so well that nobody who would want to do harm
to it could touch it, and if he did it, he was immediately destroyed. The
prince who waged war against Rome thought of a great ruse, for the emperor’s
senechal was well disposed toward him. He did so much that he talked to
him and told him a thing that you will hear [and] that he did. The emperor
of Rome had a very handsome son, and he was only five years old. The emperor
loved him as his child. The senechal took the [fol. 200rc]
child in his arms and, under the very great semblance of love, carried
him into the tower with the mirror, and there were several knights with
him. They began to play here and there in the lower part of the tower, and
then the senechal came and carried the child before the mirror. The child
looked at the mirror and saw in it him who held him and also himself. He
began to laugh and stretches his little hands toward it, and the senechal
pulls him back and then puts him close to [the mirror] in order to warm
him. And when he saw that he was eager to touch it, he put him so close
that the child strikes with the fist and felled and splintered the mirror,
and huge pieces of it came down, and thus the whole light of the mirror
goes out. When the senechal has done what he pursued, he shouted and made
noise. Those who were close enough came there and said:
-- Who did this?
The senechal said that the child broke
it. News if it came to the emperor, and he asked who had done this. One
told him, his son. The emperor does not want to kill his son. And therefore
it did not take long for him to be shamed and destroyed. When he who had
thought up the treason learned [what had happened], he fitted himself
out, himself and his people, and they entered Rome and took the emperor
and his son and put both of them to the sword.
(see also above)
[Helcanus’s seventh story]
In Version M, nutrix is the empress's
fifth story. In Cassidorus, it is not only as muddled and unconvincing
as in Version M, it is also exceedingly long-winded. The story makes little
sense as the empress's example of patricidal sons, while fitting Helcanus's
pro-woman stance slightly better.
How the child [Helcanus] told his father
a story about Vaspiour who begot a son with his daughter
[MS. Paris, Bibl. nat. f. fr. 22549,
fol. 66vb] In this country there once
was a man, sire, said the child, who had the name of Vaspiour. He had
taken a wife [and] from this wife he was left with a lovely damsel for
a daughter. But then it was customary at that time that certain people
were vassals and [that] those who were vassals could not have but one
wife in their entire life, and [that,] if there was no male heir of one’s
[own] flesh, [one’s] land remained with the lord from whom one held it.
This Vaspiour was such that he could not have from his wife any [male]
fruit who could hold his land. He was very sad, as someone [should] who
had surpassed all his neighbours in possessions. When he realized this,
he envisaged a proud stratagem, for his daughter was lovelier than all
the ladies of the country. The father said to her:
-- Beautiful daughter, I am very sad about the fact that after [fol.
66vc] me you will have nothing of my land.
She replied very wisely:
-- Father, I will have what I should have.
-- By my head, said the father, so this thing will go differently.
Whereupon they did so much to one another that the damsel was left
pregnant by [her] father. When he learned this he was overjoyed and came
to his daughter and said to her:
-- Pay close attention that no one will know that you are pregnant,
except your mother, and she will never know by whom this was, unless I
let myself be led [to tell her] about it.
And she said that she would act thus. Vaspiour said to his wife that
she was highly unrealistic to be so hard toward [t]he[i]r daughter that…
… -- she told me her private matters before [she told them to] you.
So he told her that she was, to his great sadness, pregnant by a
man who was not from the[ir] country. And when the mother learned it,
she was very angry and said:
-- Can this be true?
-- True, he said, but do you know what I have been thinking? I have
been thinking that you, too, will act as if you were pregnant, as she is,
and [that,] when she will be at the point where she must give birth, you
will pretend that the child is yours and mine, and if it is male, then that
will be better. And so we cannot better safeguard the honour of our daughter
and [of] her [gentle]man.
-- Well you speak, she said, but I am passed the natural term beyond
which I can reasonably no longer have child[ren].
-- Let it not bother you, he said, for there will be nobody to notice
Thus was this stratagem well built. The damsel delivered a handsome
son at the point where she had to, and one believed [fol. 67ra]
that [Vaspiour’s wife] was his mother. The child developed and grew. His
rightful mother made no fuss about him. [Instead] she who had nothing [to
do] with the matter [i.e. Vaspiour’s wife] except what you have heard,
showed him such a sign of love that soon she turned up with him in whatever
place where the child was going. So many hardly believable signs of love
did she show him that it came to pass that the[ir] reputation went to the
sovereign lord under whom they were living.
The lord, who was subtle and malicious, wondered how a woman of such
an age could have [a] child, because of whom he could lose such riches
as [the child’s father] had gathered together. Therefore he had inquiries
made about her age, and the whole truth was told him; and so he ordered
to look for wise educated men who could know the truth about this [matter].
They told him that it was against nature for her to have delivered [her son],
if what one had made them understand was true. When the lord learned this,
he had Vaspiour come before him and said to him:
-- Tell me the truth [in response] to my question.
-- Sire, he said, what is it?
So the lord told him that he knew [full] well that the child he took
for his [own] from his wedded wife wasn’t it at all. When Vaspiour heard
his lord, he thought indeed that [t]he [lord] knew the whole truth about
it [all], so he said:
-- Ha! sire, by God’s mercy, what then have you heard, [you] who
say such a thing?
-- I have heard a thing such, he said, [as to make me say] that if
you do not tell me [the] truth, I will have you destroyed.
-- Sire, he said then, if I knew that in exchange for telling the
truth you were to assure me that [fol. 67rb] in the process
I would have no misfortune [befall me], I would tell you the whole truth.
--- By my head, said the lord, never because of me will you lose
in the process.
So Vaspiour told him the whole truth, how he had been tempted by
his daughter, and he excused himself, for his honour and hers, for having
done in part in this matter what had been done there. And he said to his
lord that his wife did not at all know that the child was his, but [that]
he had made her understand that it was [the child] of a foreign man. When
the lord had heard these words, he was much moved and said:
-- By my head, crazily did you think taking away my right [to your
riches]. So now I forbid you on your life to act similarly with my knowledge
toward your wife, and [I order you] absolutely not to tell her but to
let me deal with it.
Vaspiour was overjoyed when [he realized that] he could to this point
get away with [his stratagem]. The lord had his [i.e. Vaspiour’s] wife
and his daughter come before him. He first argued with the lady and said
-- Is this child yours?
-- And whose would he be, she said, if not mine?
The lord replied:
-- Your daughter’s who is of a better age than you.
-- Sire, she said, my daughter never had a child, rather it is mine.
-- And do you love him as [much as you love] yourself?
And the lady answered him that she loved him more than herself.
-- You are a deceitful nurse, the lord said then, and this [whole
affair] I will understand in [the fullness of] time.
Then the lord came to the damsel and said to her:
-- One has made me understand that this child is yours. Tell me the
truth about it.
-- Sire, she said, if he we- [fol. 67rc] re mine, it would
be against what is right and against what is reasonable.
When she had said this, there was no one who understood her to be
right, except the lord who for her answer [privately] praised her greatly
in his heart, for he understood [full] well that she told the truth [about
her not wanting to be known as an incestuous, unmarried mother] and [in
public] he considered her honour before those who heard her. Afterwards
he asked still another question:
-- Is the child nothing to you?
-- Sire, she said, he is my brother [as well as my son, Vaspiour
being our common father].
-- Well I believe, said the lord [, lying], that you tell the truth.
So tell me now how much you love him.
-- I wouldn’t know how to tell you the truth about it, for I have
never put myself to the test about it.
When the lord heard her, her answer pleased him a good deal. Then
he shouted for the child and said to him:
-- Go and take this brooch to your mother and tell her: Mother, let
the one between the two of us whom you love more [keep] both eyes in the
head, and tear the third [eye] from the other head, for so it behooves
[us] to act.
The child who had not yet at all a very great understanding came
to the old woman whom he believed to be his mother and told her everything
in such a manner as the lord ordered him. She was entirely astounded by
this thing and looked at her lord and said:
-- Sire, by God, why do you say such a thing?
-- Because, he said, I want to.
She suspected worse [to happen]; on the other hand she knew perfectly
well that she was being tested [regarding the stratagem] according to which
she [and Vaspiour] would be able to deceive him. And still she loved the
child so much and had her heart put into it so much that she rather had
a misdeed and an evil thing [done to herself] than [to] him. And so she
[fol. 67va] took the brooch [that was] in the child’s hand and,
in [plain] view of all those who were there, made one of her eyes fly from
her head, and then she said to him:
-- Sire, she said, I fulfilled your wish, but I have very dearly
paid for it. Sire, you can well see it.
Thereupon the lord said:
-- Even if you had loved [him] more [than usual] as a mother, such
[a sacrifice] was never my intention.
And when she heard the explanation, she truly realized that misplaced
love and false greed had deceived her. Now she went to the lord, at [his]
feet, and said to him [and asked] that she receive mercy from him according
to the misdeed that she had done. And then the lord had pity on her and
said to her:
-- As much you let others enjoy their mercy, as much may you have
-- Sire, she said, great thanks.
And it came to pass then that the child was grown up, and he and
his [biological] mother were hated by those of the town, so that by necessity
it was appropriate to empty the house of the damsel and her son. So it
came to pass that the child, when he saw this, took leave of his mother
and said that he would go outside the region until this thing had blown
over. Such as he planned it, so he carried it out. The old lady who took
to hating her daughter and her husband who had persuaded her to do this,
said to herself that just as she had bought so she would resell. […]
[Vaspiour’s wife falsely accuses her daughter of theft; the latter
is incarcerated: fol. 67va-68ra]
[fol. 68ra] […] [A]nd it came to pass that the daughter’s
son came [back] from foreign lands, [he] who like those [others] had
become a great learned man. There was nobody in the city who recognized
him, nor did he want to let himself be known. He inquired about his mother
as if he knew nothing about her. It was told him that she had been put
in prison, such as you have heard. When he learned this he was altogether
astounded, and he did not know for anger what he could do. In this rage
he did not say anything that one could have noticed, rather he waited until
he came to a wise man and had thought about his business. He asked him about
certain things concerning his mother’s rights, and he [i.e. the wise man]
told him that it was true that the lord, to whom it fell to take the law
[and apply it], would not have had her judged of his [own] authority.
-- By God, sire, he [i.e. the son] said, well do I believe you in
this, but [fol. 68rb] one thing I would like to ask of you.
-- Which one? he said.
-- That you let the lady [my mother] have [a judgment under] the
law, and as such you would grant her a great advantage.
Then the wise man looked at him and said:
-- How wise are you to say this? Do you want then to put the damsel
-- Sire, no, but I will rather save her.
-- If you can through so much save her, the wise man said, that would
be a beautiful masterpiece.
-- Sire, yes, [and] rightfully [so].
So he said and did so much that the wise man came to the lord and
asked him on behalf of the damsel that she have [a judgment under] the
law, and that he let her have [it], for in prison she did not want to be
day after day. The lord replied that, since his/her request was such, he
did not want to refuse her/him this. The day was chosen for the damsel to
be saved or destroyed. When her mother learned this, she was very angry,
for she knew perfectly well that her daughter was to be put to death on the
ground of the [false] proof that had been established [that she was a thief],
yet she had not deserved it. And the [state of] rage in which she had been,
had passed; she was rather very repentant [about the time] when she had
pursued her; and [yet all] this was too late, for it behooved her to continue
her complaint [against her daughter], if she did not want to be herself
in her [daughter’s] situation. But this she would not do at all, for, since
[things] were thus, she would not be so crazy as to lose her life, as she
had been [when she lost] her eyesight. The day came when one was to judge
the dam- [fol. 68rc] sel. The lord had those come who had to
judge her, and the old lady [, her mother] was called, and one asked her,
concerning the [allegedly stolen] cup which had been found in the straw
of her daughter’s bed, if it was hers.
-- Sire, said then the old lady, truly it is mine.
-- Who knows this? said then the lord.
So she could not by herself prove that it was hers, nor could [her
husband] Vaspiour prove it, nor did he want [to prove] any day of his
life that he wanted to rescue the damsel from death. When the provost saw
this, he was all astounded. And he asked the damsel whose cup it was. She
said that it was not hers.
-- Whose then? the provost said.
-- Sire, she went then, several times I saw it at my father’s, as
far as I know.
When he heard this, […] they began to look at one another. Then the
[son who had become a] learned man came forward and said:
-- Handsome sires, by what are you astounded? By hearing the truth?
When they had heard him, they were still further astounded than before,
when he undertook to speak to such a thing. The lord called him and asked
him from where he was. He replied to him:
-- Sire, I am he who knows the truth about this thing.
-- By my head, said the lord, you we well need. So now make us wise
[and enlighten us] about it [all].
So it came to pass that the [son and] learned man, who knew the truth
about this thing, according to what his fate and his experience had taught
him, said to the old lady who had for many a day raised him:
-- Woman outside nature, where reason fails and has been in you diminished
a good deal, why have you pursued your [own] death [fol. 68va]
before natural death summons you?
Then she looked at him and now recognized him by certain things and
was [so] astonished that she did not know what to do or say, except that
at last she said [and asked] why he was saying it.
-- Because, said he, you yourself have lit the fire by which you
will be burnt.
And the learned man said then that, if she were to exculpate the
other, whom she had accused, she would do well, for she had wrongly done
it, and that, if she were not exculpate her, he would tell the whole treason
such as she had perpetrated it. She did not want to acknowledge this at
this time, and when the learned man saw it, he told the lord and the provost
the whole affair such as it had gone [and] that he did not want to lie about
anything [connected] with it. The lord and the others who had heard this
did not know whether this was true, so they said:
-- Master, how will we be able to know [whether] this [is true]?
If we are not otherwise [made] wise about it, this [our current understanding]
is not enough.
Thereupon the learned man put the old [lady] under oath, such that
she could not deny it but acknowledged that everything had happened as
he had said.
When the judges heard this, they marvelled greatly as to why she
wanted to rob her daughter of her life without reason. Then a fire was
lit and the old [lady] was thrown into it. When Vaspiour saw this thing,
he did not know how to counsel himself, when because of him [fol. 68vb]
wife was destroyed. Consequently he was [something] like totally desperate.
From now on he emerged from his house and went away into exile.