Arthurian romances by Chrétien de Troyes, William W. Kibler, Carleton W. Carroll

By Chrétien de Troyes, William W. Kibler, Carleton W. Carroll

Fantastic adventures abound in those courtly romances: Erec and Enide, Cligés, The Knight of the Cart, The Knight with the Lion, and The tale of the Grail.

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Contrary to pure allegory, his symbolic mode is discontinuous and polyvalent: it does not function in a single predictable manner in each instance, and one interpretation does not necessarily preclude another. Rosemond Tuve (1966) says, writing of such works: ‘Though a horse may betoken undisciplined impulses in one context, a knight parted from a horse in the next episode may just be a knight parted from a horse’. The symbol may change meaning freely and associatively, or include several meanings in a single occurrence, or even disappear altogether.

He secures lodging at a town that is besieged by the giant Harpin of the Mountain and, though it nearly causes him to be too late to save Lunete, he remains and defeats the giant. In the second instance, Yvain agrees to defend the cause of the younger daughter of the lord of Blackthorn, who is about to be disinherited by her sister. But before the combat with her champion, Gawain, can be concluded, Yvain is called to enter the town of Dire Adventure and free three hundred maidens who are forced to embroider for minimal wages in intolerable conditions.

The intrigues that brought the Byzantine Emperor Manuel Comnenus to power over his elder brother, Isaac – who, like Alexander, received only the title – are remarkably akin to the situation by which Alis comes to the throne of Constantinople rather than his older brother Alexander. In the poem, the projected marriage of Alis to the daughter of the German emperor is, mutatis mutandis, an echo of the projected marriage between Frederick Barbarossa’s son and Manuel’s only daughter, Maria. As in the poem, Frederick received the Byzantine ambassadors at Cologne.

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