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Canis, gaza and (inclusa-)puteus
too literally translated from

He[r]bert, trans., Dolopathos

by Hans R. Runte


The [unnamed] first sage’s story

from MS. Paris, Bibl. nat. 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 were ashamed.”

[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] prey».”

[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 pp. 43-49.

[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. / [5617] The thing that is destined [to happen] / [5616] 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 / [5723] it behooves me to hear from you / [5722] 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.” / [6184-6186]

[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, / [6250] 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 say.”

[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.”


Brunet and Montaiglon lines 11025-11218, pp. 373-379; Gilleland pp. 78-79

[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.”
[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 Hancock.

Origin and Transmission
Excerpted from

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 <>

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 91.
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.

Bulgarian Version

In his thesis (Rome University "La Sapienza") Roberto Adinolfi examines Sofronij Vračanski’s 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 XIX sec."

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 Adinolfi).

Mishle Sendebar

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, preserved 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 tradition and 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 characters.

The copyist-writer gave the work a whole new generic setting. By intensifying the tension and drama, he makes it slip from an exemplum-genre 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 Publications, 1964.
4. Ibn Khallikan (13th cent.): 226-228 in  Metlitzki, Dorothee [830-1977]. The Matter of Araby in Medieval England. 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 Travels: A Rihla in Disguise. Linea 300, 24. Madrid: Editorial Complutense, 2005. 74 p. ISBN 84-7491-769-7.

Five Texts:

1. Marco Polo
(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.
(Pinto 60)

2. Odorico da Pordenone: Itinerarius de mirabilibus orientalium Tartarorum
(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.
(Pinto 60-61)

(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 his Itinerarius. 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. 137-138)
(The Itinerarius was translated into French in 1351 by Jean le Long d'Ypres, 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, Paris, 1891)

3. Ibn Khallikan
(ed. Melitzki 226-228)

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.
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.

(Pinto 61)

(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, sometime, 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.
(Pinto 62-64)

5. MS. Escorial M iii 7-115 iii-Est. 15.4
(ed. Liria-Montañés, Libro 126-127)

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 jamas.
     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 seductiones.
   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.
(Pinto 62-64)

: The Dog File
(see also infra)
- 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. (5)(8)(18)
- 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 [13])
, 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. (5)(9)
- 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. (11)
- 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). (12)
- 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
(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, pp. 173-75.

(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: 326-27.

(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 <>.


(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 mel. That is to say: “I shal gyve yow londe flowyng mylke and hony. ” (From MS. London, British Library, Royal 17.C.xxxvii, fol. 54r-55v).

(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 Itinerarius, Ibn Khalikan’s Kitab Wafayat ulAyn (The Obituaries of Eminent Men or The Biographical Dictionary), and others, see Warner, ed., The Buke of John Maundeuill (1889): 216n137; Deluz, Le livre de Jehan de Mandeville (1988); and Pinto, Mandeville’s Travels (2005): 60-64.

East and West

(from Newsletter 32 [December 2005]: 6-7)

Jacobs, Joseph. Indian Fairy Tales. New York: Putnam, 1912.
“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 of Venice.
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. Prof. 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 (Bks. vii-xii) are derived from Indian sources.” (

(from Newsletter 32 [2005], 7-8)

821-n.d. Anon. The Erl of Tolous. At

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, Diocletian 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 Toulous appears under the title heading, Romance of Dyoclicyane 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 [2005], 4-5)

840-1910. Jacobs, Joseph. Celtic Fairy Tales. 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, p.146, gives the legend, but does not profess to derive it from local tradition.
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 Fictions, 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 in its hundred and one forms, all founded on Buddhistic originals (cf Benfey, Pantschatantra, 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 (Sel. Essays, 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 current 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 - Occidental Seven Sages of Rome  - ‘English’ (Latin) Gesta Romanorum - Welsh Fables of Cattwg.”

[from Newsletter 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 3-423-13143-8.

Die Geschichte geschah. Ein Sprichwort geht, die Weiber haben leichten Verstand, sie sind bald zu überreden.
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 with him.
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? Inclusa 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 surprenant d’Inclusa 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. Cambridge 1998.
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 of Sindbad.

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 glossary.

Six Stories from French Version M
too literally translated
Hans R. Runte

filius  nutrix (see also below) Anthenor  spurius  Cardamum  assassinus

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 stepson

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 it.

-- 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] my enemies.

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 disbelieve.

-- 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 said:

-- [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 […] V.125-129).

Nutrix (see also below)
[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 nurse

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 and said:

-- [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 children.

-- 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 it be?

-- 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 and said:

-- 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 and said:

-- 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:

[Refusal 1]

-- 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:

[Refusal 2]

-- 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 true.

-- 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:

[Refusal 3]

-- 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 told her.

-- How is this? said the lord.

-- Has she not done [according to] your command? he said.

-- 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 about it].

-- How, he said, do you know it?

-- [My] lord, may God truly help me, I know it for sure.

-- [My] lady, he said, be careful [what you say about] this.

-- In God’s name, she said, I tell the whole truth.

-- 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 him confidentially:

-- 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 and proud.

-- 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 this request.

-- Which excuse, she said, do you want to have then?

Anthenor said:

-- 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 the senechal

[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 beauty.

-- 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 days!

When the senechal heard her say this he was very joyous and said to her:

-- 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 accord.

-- 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.

[The empress’s seventh and last story]

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.

[fol. 156b] The exemplum of the Hakesin who kills man

[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 you here.


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 [back]
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. [back]
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 Cassidorus

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 canon.

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 her story

[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 said:

-- 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 to pass.

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 to him:

-- 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 than me.

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 and said:

-- 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 but him.

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.

[nutrix] (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 [Cassidorus]
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 it.

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 to her:

-- 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.

She said:

-- 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 yours.

-- 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 to death?
-- 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.