Violence and transgression in Chretien de Troyes's Yvain, le Chevalier au Lion.
1984 Daily Telegraph 5 Oct. 20/2 [At the Labour Party Conference] much violence was done to the word violence, which it appears can be used to describe almost anything you do not care for. (2)
Though the latest version of the OED has removed this source and labelled the definition it accompanied obsolete, (3) this second-edition entry is in fact not dissimilar to the idea floated by William Ian Miller when he suggested that '[v]iolence may simply be what we accuse the Other of when are contesting interests'. (4) Though Miller quickly backed away from this position, arguing that it did not 'sufficiently dispose' of the topic of violence, his provisional definition has resonances with both modern and medieval discourses on violence that are worth exploring.
Among modern scholars of the medieval there is a tendency to see violence in the restricted physical sense implied by the first definition of the old (and new (5)) OED. We can see this tendency at play in the critical scholarship surrounding Chretien de Troyes's twelfth-century romance Yvain, le Chevalier au Lion where the violence of the tournament and of combat in general is contrasted with the supposed non-violence of amorous emotion in a dramatised conflict between love and chivalry. On this interpretation, Yvains broken promise that he would return to his wife within a year of leaving for the tournaments is imagined to be the destabilising point in a story that had just reached a state of equilibrium in happy matrimony. (6) Although this 'minimalist' conception of violence allows scholars to work with a precise definition that is amenable to analysis, by restricting acts of violence to the intentional and direct, this framework 'misses out on too many other important dimensions of the phenomenon of violence';7 in this case, the construction of Yvains victory over Esclados and his subsequent attempt to win the hand of Laudine as acts of violence.
This article seeks to introduce elements of a more 'comprehensive' framework of violence into the study of Yvain through a focus on the text s representations of intent and emotion as moral phenomena within the Augustinian concept of the 'inner disposition'. A comprehensive definition of violence is one which 'recognises the link between intimate individual actions and social/structural determination', where violence is defined chiefly in terms of violation rather than force. (8) Contrary to those critics who see in Yvain the story of a hero laid low by a single act of folly, I argue that Yvain s estrangement from his wife Laudine is portrayed as the just result of a series of transgressions or violations of the encoded patterns of social behaviour expected of courtly knights.
I have divided the article into three parts, each of which will explore an inter- or intra-textual transformation of conflict and/or violence from one form to another. The first part will examine the intertextual parallels in representations of physical conflict between Chretiens 'earlier' romance, Erec et Enide, and Yvain s battle with the knight of the spring, suggesting that Chretien alludes to the (relatively) morally upright combat between Erec and Yder to intensify the morally transgressive combat between Yvain and Esclados. The second part will explore the intertextual parallels in representations of non-physical conflict through a comparison of Yvains attempt to conceal himself from Esclados's grieving household with an episode from Lancelot, le Chevalier de la Charrette, where Lancelot demonstrates his moral worth by sleeping in a luxurious bed that had been denied to him. The third part will explore how the transgressive, non-physical conflicts of the first half of Yvain are transformed into morally normative, physical conflicts in the second half of the romance, making particular reference to Yvains battle with the two 'sons of the devil' which, I argue, alludes to and transforms Yvains earlier conflict with Esclados's grieving household. The article will conclude with some observations about why there are no transformations from physical conflict to non-physical conflict in this romance, together with some suggestions as to how the findings of this article might be applied to other fields of study.
I. Esclados the Red and the Inner Disposition
Augustine of Hippo first conceived of the moral framework of the inner disposition in the fifth century. It was adopted by Church reformers of the eleventh century and amplified by the twelfth-century abbot Bernard of Clairvaux. Augustine, initially responding to an accusation that Moses had done a great evil by waging war upon Egypt, argued that neither death nor suffering were to be considered evil in war, since death acts as the gateway to the afterlife while suffering 'proves, purges, [and] clarifies the good' even as it 'damns, ruins, [and] exterminates the wicked'. (9) For Augustine, the true evils of war were to be found not in the flagellation of the body or the burning of earthly possessions, but rather within the internal states or inner dispositions of the warrior's immortal soul: the 'desire to harm, cruel revenge, a fierce and irreconcilable spirit, the wild desire to go to war again, the desire to dominate, and similar things, these are the things which are rightly condemned in war'. (10) Augustine's attempted reconciliation of Christian pacifism and militarism was a key part of the eleventh-century reformation of the Church that transformed the concepts of the miles Christi, the 'warrior of Christ', and the miles secularis, the 'warrior of the world'. Prior to this reform, military duty was understood to be contrary to the spiritual fight against the Devil, which was the province of the clergy, apostles, missionaries, hermits, and martyrs. The reforms of the eleventh century led to a radical reduction of the distance between these two concepts with the papacy of Leo IX 'considered a breakthrough, leading directly to the idea that crusades were the highest embodiment of the miles Christi concept'. (11) The most influential spokesperson of this movement in the twelfth century was undoubtedly the Cistercian abbot Bernard of Clairvaux, who wrote in his Liber ad milites templi de laude novae militiae (c. 1120-1136) that:
danger or victory for a Christian depends on the dispositions of his heart and not on the fortunes of war. If he fights for a good reason, the issue of his fight can never be evil; and likewise the results can never be considered good if the reason were evil and the intentions perverse. (12)
According to Bernard, it is the dispositions of the heart, not the fortunes of war, which are the true determiners of victory for the warrior of Christ. This is not practical advice upon how to win a physical dispute, although the belief that God mediated within earthly disputes could arguably render it so; rather, it is advice on how to win a moral dispute between virtue and vice, sanctity and sin, virtuous conformity and transgression. Although Bernard's works are typically associated with the crusades, it is not at all clear that the idea of the crusade was distinct from other methods of violent dispute resolution in this period. As Tomaz Mastnak has shown, '[w]hat we usually take to be the concept of crusade, or "the crusade idea", appears on closer study to have been something much vaguer ... a magma of images, beliefs, fantasies, expectations, feelings, and sentiments'. (13) Although Yvain is no crusader, following Mastnak, it would appear reasonable to suggest that we can use the Augustinian-Bernardian framework of the inner disposition to explore the text's allusions to Yvain's intentions and emotional life.
This process is made easier by the fact that Chretien appears to have written the dispute with Esclados after the pattern of his earlier romance Erec et Enide. As Jean Frappier has observed, these two romances share a 'striking parallelism' in their structure, particularly in their treatment of an encounter with a mysterious knight. (14) Both protagonists, following a meeting with a dwarf, assert that a mysterious knight has stained their honour (Yvain by Esclados, Erec by Yder). Each knight then sets off on a brief adventure to seek vengeance, culminating in a single combat in which he is victorious. Although the lead-up to the battle with the mysterious knight Esclados has been thoroughly examined by Robert G. Cook, (15) the almost blow-for-blow correspondences between the battles themselves have yet to attract the same kind of critical attention. It is here where criticisms of Yvains actions can be made most clearly.
The descriptions of the combat in the two texts form a rough equivalence at a number of points. In Erec, we are told that on their first pass, the knights 'struck each other with such power | that the shields were pierced and broke, | the lances shattered and splintered. (16) While, in Yvain, they struck so hard:
that they pierced through the shields at their sides and smashed their hauberks; the lances shattered and splintered and the pieces flew into the air. (17)
From here, the knights went at each other with their swords: in Erec 'they savagely went at each other | with the cutting edges ... | slicing shields and deforming hauberks', (18) while in Yvain, they 'sliced through the shield straps | and completely split the shields'. (19) Although chivalric combats are frequently comprised, at least in part, of familiar literary tropes such as the shattering of lances and the knocking of jewels from helms, the description of Yvains battle with Esclados, coupled with its location within the narrative arc of the romance, suggests an equivalency with the combat in Erec against Yder.
The first point of significant difference between the two combats comes after the opening pass with lances. Where in Erec the two knights draw their swords after being forcibly dismounted by the impetus of their opponent's charge, in Yvain the knights remain on horseback to continue the battle. Although the dismount occurs without much comment in Erec, in Yvain, the fact that the combatants remain on horseback is given a brief, but significant, gloss:
... they fought most honorably, for they never struck or wounded their horses at all, nor did they deign or desire to; but they remained on horseback and never fought on foot: and therefore the battle was more splendid. (20)
While, at first blush, this may appear to be praising the knights, Chretien rhymes the final line about how the battle was more beautiful or splendid ('s'an fu la bataille plus bele) with a description of how Yvain then proceeded to smash the helmet of Esclados into pieces ('En la fin, son hiaume escartele). The juxtaposition of end-rhymes is a technique Chretien uses many times in Yvain to establish an ironic twist on his words, which here serves to undermine the apparent nobility of the battle through comparison with the gruesome wound dealt to Esclados.
The subtle twisting of the combat in Erec continues when we learn that the two knights 'did not move from their positions | any more than two blocks of stone'. (21) Although a common trope of medieval romance--it signals that the knight will not move out of fear--Chretien turns this conventional image into criticism through comparison with the brief respite Erec and Yder take upon seeing their damsels weeping and praying to God for their respective victories. After Erec calls out to Yder that '[i]t is a very shameful and humiliating thing | that this battle is taking so long', (22) both knights withdraw to rest for a moment so that they can return to battle afresh and perform further deeds of arms. Such mutual respect and concern for honour are completely absent in the battle between Yvain and Esclados, who speak not a word to one another before, during, or after the battle. Furthermore, we might note that stone--specifically a heart of stone--is a common biblical metaphor for one who refuses to let either God or Love into their heart. It would seem significant, then, that the description of Yvain and Esclados as two blocks of stone takes place within a combat devoid of the supporting cast of damsels and prayers which serves so often both to amplify and legitimise romance combats through their framing of a battle in spiritual terms.
Edward C. Schweitzer, who dissented with the conventional view that this combat represents a triumph for Yvain, described it as presenting 'a glimpse of disturbing inhuman ferocity which transgresses the limits of a courtly ideal'. (23) Nowhere is this clearer than in the description of the final blow thatYvain deals to Esclados, which is so redolent of Erecs final blow to Yder that the two passages are worth quoting side-by-side: (24)
The other struck Erec, and Erec struck him; he gave him such a blow, unimpeded on his helmet, that he quite stunned him. He struck him freely, again and again: he gave him three blows in quick succession, broke the helmet completely apart and sliced the coif beneath. The sword went all the way to his skull: it sliced through one of the bones in his head, but it did not touch his brain. Finally my lord Yvain smashed the knights helmet; the knight was stunned and weakened by the blow; he was confounded, for he had never before felt such a blow, which had split his head to the brain beneath the hood until the chainmail of his shining hauberk was stained with brains and blood, which caused him such great pain that his heart nearly failed him.
Yvain is demonstrably the better fighter, having achieved in one blow what took Erec four, but he is also demonstrably less courteous. Where in Erec we are told specifically that the sword did not touch Yder's brain, allowing Yder to plea for mercy and Erec to magnanimously grant it, in Yvain the final blow is a mortal wound. (25) This is not problematic in and of itself since Yvain slays many people throughout the romance and is lauded for it almost every time. It is important to recognise, however, that every person Yvain slays is described as wicked or evil, or has done something to justify his death. While nothing is black and white with a writer as sophisticated as Chretien, there is more than sufficient evidence within the text to suggest that Esclados did not 'deserve' to die, and that by slaying him Yvain has transgressed that most sacred and yet most plastic of taboos: 'Thou shalt not kill.' (26)
II. How Yvain Hid under the Bed
Yvains navigation of the moral framework of the inner disposition during his confrontation with Esclados is so entwined with his recourse to physical violence that there is no need to differentiate between his transgression of social norms and his illegitimate use of violence for they are essentially one and the same. This is not the case for the events that come immediately after the combat, where the mortally wounded Esclados turns to flee and is pursued byYvain into his town. Esclados escapes by leading Yvain into a trap that locks him inside the town gatehouse. Facing the possibility of being torn to pieces by the lord's grieving people, Yvain is rescued by the damsel Lunete and offered a choice: conceal himself with a magic ring, or be ripped apart by the mob.
Lunetes magic ring has sustained multiple interpretations, from the dialectic to the comic. (27) What unites the majority of these readings is the idea that Yvain, in choosing to hide with the aid of the magic ring, acts prudently by taking steps to avoid an outright confrontation with a force that he cannot hope to defeat. This reading places Yvains health and self-interest above the desire of the lord's people to exact justice for the injury done to their lord, a reading that would be justified if we were to interpret Yvains victory over Esclados as legitimate. If, however, we read Yvains victory as unjust, then we must necessarily reinterpret Yvains attempt to conceal himself as the actions of a fugitive attempting to evade justice.
Like most fugitives, Yvain is motivated by fear. Despite being assured by Lunete that 'whoever wore the ring on his finger | need have no fear of anything', (28) once Yvain takes it off he admits that he 'never thought [he would] be so afraid' (29) as he had been when the mourners were searching for him. Lunete foreshadows Yvains fear when she promises him the use of her magic ring, with the observation that: 'He is not a worthy man who fears too much; | That is why I believe you are a worthy man | For you have not been too afraid.' (30) The repetition and negation of 'worthy man' in these lines, coupled with the end-rhymes on 'soiez' ('you are) and 'esmaiez' ('frightened), creates a sense of irony and ambiguity reminiscent of Chretien's earlier description of the Yvain-Esclados combat, where the rhyme on 'plus bele' ('more beautiful) and 'escartele' ('broke into pieces') undermined the supposed nobility and legitimacy of the fight. This sense of irony and ambiguity carries over to the functioning of the ring itself, which is decidedly faulty. When the deceased Escladoss wounds begin to bleed afresh in Yvain's presence, the mourners redouble their search such that 'Yvain was constantly | struck and jostled there where he lay'. (31) Lucienne Carasso-Bulow contrasts this account of Yvain's bruising with a Celtic variation of the same tale, Owein, where a magic ring, in addition to granting invisibility, protects Owein from being touched and allows him to leave the room unharmed, and also with the thirteenth-century romance, Cristal et Clarie, where a magic ring prevents harm coming to Cristal. 'We know of no other example in 12 th century literature', Carasso-Bulow observes, 'where a character is beaten although he is invisible. (32)
Perhaps what is being suggested here is not that the ring is somehow of reduced potency, but that it is in fact something of a veneer upon a decidedly mundane method of avoiding detection. Consider the shift in poetic focus from a description of the magic ring to the luxurious bed, which occurs with suspicious alacrity. Provided Yvain wears the ring, he is told that:
... no one could ever see him, no matter how wide open his eyes, any more than he could see the wood with the bark growing over it. This pleased my lord Yvain. And after she [Lunete] had told him this, she led him to sit upon a bed covered with such a costly quilt that even the Duke of Austria didn't have its equal. (33)
The analogy, if one is looking for it, is clear: as the ring covers Yvain and bark covers wood, so the quilt covers the bed, and by extension, anyone hiding under it. This could explain why, unlike the Celtic Owein where the protagonist is free to move about the room,Yvain is told that he must remain in the bed if he wishes to remain undetected. Rather than confront the grieving search party, Yvain chooses to hide himself, metaphorically, under the bed. For this action, Esclados's widow, Laudine, brands him a coward:
He's a coward, since he fears me; it's great cowardice that makes him not dare show himself before me. Ah! Phantom, cowardly creature, why are you afraid of me when you were so bold before my husband? (34)
The constant riff upon the theme of fear serves to emphasise Yvain's transgression of the moral framework of the inner disposition as he attempts to obscure the course of justice in this episode.
Justice, according to the twelfth-century theologian Peter Abelard, is 'the virtue by which we will that each and everyone one have what he deserves as long as it causes no common harm'. (35) Although it is self-evidently a moral good to will that everyone have what he or she deserves, Abelard acknowledges that 'this good will which is called justice sometimes dies away because of fear or cupidity'. The revitalisation of justice necessitates recourse to two of the four cardinal virtues: temperance, by which we may 'bridle ... lustful desire'; and fortitude, which 'takes up the shield against fear' and is defined as the 'reasonable endurance of trials and the undertaking of dangerous tasks'. Such endurance depends particularly upon the 'love of justice which we call good zeal in repelling or avenging evils'. (36) Within this moral framework, Yvain can be seen to have transgressed his duty as a Christian knight to uphold the cardinal virtue of fortitude by failing, through fear, to undertake the dangerous task of bringing about justice. The fact that Yvain acts pragmatically in order to preserve his own life would have been no defence within a culture which venerated those who gave their lives as martyrs in the pursuit of justice.
As it was in his fight with Esclados, Yvain's transgression is highlighted through comparison to a series of events from one of Chretiens other romances, in this case the encounter with the luxurious bed from Lancelot, le Chevalier de la Charrette. (37) Having set out on an adventure with his companion Gawain to rescue the abducted Guinevere, Lancelot stops for the night when he is offered hospitality from a richly dressed damsel, the 'fairest in all the land'. (38) After sharing a splendid meal--not unlike the meal Lunete prepared for Yvain after she gave him the ring but before hiding him in the bed--Lancelot and Gawain are shown to a hall where two long, high beds have been prepared for them. Alongside these two beds is a third, '[m]ore resplendent and richer than the others ... | [with] all the perfections | one could devise for a bed', (39) in which Lancelot is forbidden to sleep. Riding roughshod over the damsel's warning that 'in this third bed nearest us | only the one who has earned the right may sleep', (40) Lancelot removes his armour and lies down in this splendid bed to rest. At midnight, a flaming lance strikes point-first from the ceiling, grazing his side and setting fire to the bed. Unperturbed, Lancelot puts out the flame and hurls the lance away before lying back down to pass the rest of the night in peaceful repose.
In both Lancelot and Yvain, the protagonists face challenges to their chivalric identities and fortitude. At the time Lancelot is shown to his bed, his name has not yet been revealed to either the reader or his host; he is identified only as the knight who has ridden in a cart. Chretien explains the significance of this moniker by telling the reader that in Lancelot's day, a cart was used to ridicule and shame criminals in the same way that the pillory or stocks were used in the twelfth century. As Lancelot is driven through the streets, he is mocked loudly by the great and the small, the old and the young, who ask the dwarf driving the cart of what crime the unknown knight is guilty and whether he would be 'flayed or hanged, | Drowned or burned upon a fire of thorns?'. (41) The damsel is evidently aware of the manner in which Lancelot has arrived, for when he demands to know why he has been refused the right to sleep in the third bed, she replies that: 37 38 39 40 41
A knight who has ridden in a cart Is shamed throughout the land; He has not the right to be concerned With what you have asked about, And especially has no right to lie herein, For he might soon regret it. (42)
Lancelot is refused the right to sleep in the magnificent bed because of the accusation that he does not possess the proper chivalric identity: he has been shamed, and he is a criminal rather than a true knight. According to the damsel, only a worthy knight may sleep in the bed; a state of affairs reinforced by the mysterious threat that Lancelot will pay dearly if he, as a false knight, were to lie on the bed. Lancelot's insistence that he sleep in the most splendid bed amounts to an assertion of his own worth as a true knight. If we consider justice to be 'the virtue by which we will that each and everyone one have what he deserves', then we can read Lancelot's insistence that he sleep in the most luxurious bed as an act of justice: as the greatest of all the worldly knights, Lancelot deserves the most splendid bed available for his repose. We might also read Lancelot's willingness to endure the unnamed dangers which would accompany sleeping in the bed as Abelard's 'reasonable endurance of trials and the undertaking of dangerous tasks', that is to say, an act of fortitude in the pursuit of justice.
The challenge that faces Yvain is precisely the reverse of the challenge that faced Lancelot. Where Lancelot demonstrates his fortitude, chivalric identity, and zeal for justice by resting in the bed denied to him, Yvain is tasked with proving the same by declining to rest in the bed offered to him. By sleeping in the bed,Yvain perverts the course of justice, which in this case means avoiding responsibility for the slaying of Esclados. 'If you happen to be killed while you are seeking only to kill another', cautioned Bernard of Clairvaux, 'you die a murderer. If you succeed, and by your will to overcome and to conquer you perchance kill a man, you live a murderer. (43) Through his fear, which appears to be magnified out of proportion when compared to Lancelot's courage in a similar situation, Yvain compounds his unjust slaying of Esclados by denying the just vengeance that the grieving people desire.
The parallels between Yvain and Lancelot do not end here. After Yvain emerges from his hiding place and Lancelot awakens from his repose, each knight catches a glimpse of his beloved from a high window that drives him into paroxysms of devotion. Unable to reach their ladies, the knights engage in conversations with damsels who offer to help them find a way to their beloveds. In Lancelot, the damsel informs Lancelot and his companion Gawain that in order to reach Guinevere they must cross one of two deadly bridges: the less dangerous Underwater Bridge, which is submerged within a flowing river, or the more dangerous Sword Bridge, whose path is as sharp and narrow as the edge of a keen sword. Presented with these two options, Lancelot turns to Gawain and says to him:
"Sir, I willingly share with you: Choose one of these two ways And leave me the other; Take whichever you prefer". (44)
By suggesting that they take different paths, Lancelot is offering to share the potential glory that would be won by rescuing Guinevere. Remaining together, the two knights would most likely win equal accolade if they were to rescue Guinevere, but by separating, they are able to cover more ground and increase the chance of a successful rescue. By offering to split up--and, perhaps more importantly, offering Gawain the chance to choose the less dangerous Underwater Bridge--Lancelot magnanimously offers to share the likelihood of winning glory from a successful rescue.
We can contrast Lancelot's behaviour here with Yvain's behaviour toward Lunete after he emerges from hiding. Because Yvain is not trying to rescue his beloved, the dynamics of glory are slightly different. Yvain rolls together the shame associated with the potential failure of the quest--Lancelot failing to rescue Guinevere; Yvain failing to bring back proof of his victory over Esclados--with the knights love for his beloved by havingYvain fall in love with Laudine as she attends the funeral for her deceased husband, Esclados. Yvain explains how he is upset to see the mourners burying the body of Esclados before he is able to obtain some proof of his victory, for 'if he doesn't have some proof | that he can show in the assembly | then he will be thoroughly shamed', (45) and Kay would never believe him on the strength of his word alone. This fear of being shamed is coupled with the new love he feels for Laudine, a 'new love [which] has sweetened him | with its sugar and honeycomb'. (46) Yvains newfound love is a most excellent occurrence, we are told, for Love, too often:
She behaves like the person who pours out his balm on the ashes and dust, who hates honor and loves baseness, who mingles soot with honey, and mixes sugar with soot. (47)
What we have here is another example of Chretiens seemingly pervasive irony. By repeating the image of sugar and honey, which he had used to describe Yvains love in order to describe the kind of person who 'hates honor and loves baseness', Chretien implies that Yvain is precisely this kind of person. He reinforces this irony, once again, with a subtle juxtaposition of end-rhymes that bridge the gap between the aside and the narrative:
But this time she has not done so: she has taken lodging in freeheld land, for which no one can reproach her. After they had buried the knight all the people departed. (48)
We are told that Love has acted worthily on this occasion, and that no-one can reproach her for having committed a 'wrong' or 'injury' ('dom nus ne li puet feire tort'); yet in the very next line we are reminded of the 'tort' of Escladoss death at the hands of Yvain ('Qant et ot anfoi le mort). As with the end-rhymes on 'plus bele' ('more beautiful) and 'escartele' ('broke into pieces'), 'soiez' ('you are) and 'esmaiez' ('frightened), these end-rhymes produce a sense of irony which undermines the sincerity of Yvain's positive representations.
Having wrenched himself away from the window through which he had been watching Laudine, Yvain encounters Lunete again. This time, Lunete fulfils a function analogous to that of the direction-giving damsel in Lancelot in that she offers a method for Yvain to reach his beloved. Unlike in Lancelot, the method offered--and the method accepted--involves Lunete approaching Laudine on Yvains behalf in an attempt to soften her heart towards her husbands murderer. It is Lunete who faces the trial of Laudine's anger, while Yvain had 'lavished upon him | everything that he needed' (49) within Lunetes room. Yvain's laziness here in allowing Lunete to pursue his suit on his behalf continues the theme of failing to uphold the virtue of fortitude by evoking the contraries of fortitude, the 'certain infirmities of mind and incapacities in resisting vices, such as laziness and pusillanimity which makes man negligent'. (50) Lunetes intervention here, as with the other parallels to Lancelot, serves to emphasise Yvain's moral failings.
Taking a step back from the narrative, we might see in this episode a concern with what we could call 'non-violent' transgressions; namely, the obstruction of justice and the failure to uphold virtue. This interpretation separates Yvain's encounter with Esclados and his adventure with the magic ring into a binary opposition of 'violence' to 'non-violence', yet when we examine the pervasive use of irony and repeated allusions to Chretiens earlier romances, we begin to suspect that these episodes are not as separate as they at first seem. There is, first, the interweaving of the justice of Yvain's slaying of Esclados with the justice of his concealment; it would be only if he were justified in slaying Esclados that he could be justified in hiding from the grieving people, for this would make their thirst for vengeance itself unjust. There is also the pervasive use of irony and allusion to Chretiens earlier romances to consider. These poetic techniques serve the same function in both episodes. They undermine Yvain's appearance as a virtuous knight by implying that his victories are in fact defeats: although he kills Esclados, he lives as a murderer; and although he escapes the clutches of Esclados's grieving household, he fails to win the heart of Laudine. For while the two are wedded and Laudine 'so honored | [Arthurs court] ... | that some fool among them might have thought | that the favors and attentions she | showed them came from Love', (51) this marriage appears to be one of convenience, intended to give Laudine a replacement guardian for her spring, not love:
But we can consider simple-minded those who believe, when a lady is polite to some poor wretch, and makes him happy and embraces him, that she's in love with him; a fool is happy for a little compliment, and is easily cheered up by it. (52)
Though referring nominally to the love Laudine shows the court, this passage implies that her love for Yvain is illusory. This is a far cry from the 'pinnacle of happiness' some critics have made it out to be. Yvain's adventures in the first half of the poem have as their running theme transgression, a failure to uphold the ideals of knighthood. Violence in this poem, in the form of physical conflict, is presented as congruent with non-violence; both are subsumed within the greater pattern of norm and transgression.
III. 'Sparked by Fear and Shame': The Sons of the Devil
So far, we have looked at the way in which certain parts of Yvain criticise Yvains behaviour through the reversal of elements found in two of Chretiens earlier romances, Erec and Lancelot. Although I have suggested that the common thread in the episodes analysed has been a focus on transgression rather than on the use of violence or non-violence, it is true that in the correspondences between Erec and Lancelot and Yvain, we see only like correspond with like: the violence of Erec's conflict with Yder is transformed into a violent battle between Yvain and Esclados, while the non-violence of Lancelot's encounter with the magic bed is transformed intoYvains avoidance of violence through the use of a magic ring. Even if we were to accept, based on the readings so far, the argument that transgression is the uniting factor in this part of the romance, it might still be possible to argue that the text indicates a phenomenological separation between the categories of violence and non-violence.
This section argues against this hypothetical proposition through an analysis of a transformation that occurs within the bounds of Yvain itself; that is, when Yvain is forced to do battle with 'two sons of the devil' (53) at the town of Pesme Aventure during the second half of the romance. Arriving at the town as the day grows late, Yvain and his maiden companion are greeted by shouts, curses, and warnings that they should continue on their way and not stop at the town. Baffled by this rude welcome, Yvain demands an explanation. An old woman explains: 'They dare not tell you why, | but they warn and scold you | because they want to rouse your fears.' (54) Yvain chooses to ignore the warnings because, he says, 'my pure heart draws me [to the town], | and I shall do what my heart desires'. (55) Once inside, Yvain is dismayed to discover three hundred maidens who, though they are working with threads of gold and silk, wear coats that are worn through at the breasts and elbows and whose 'necks were gaunt and their faces pale | from the hunger and deprivation they'd known'. (56) The maidens reveal to Yvain how the King of the Isle of Maidens had, on his eighteenth birthday, come to the town of Pesme Aventure and encountered within two devils who challenged him to combat. We are told how 'the king, who was terrified, | saved himself as best he could' (57) by promising to send thirty maidens a year to the town to weave silk in return for mercy from the devils. The bargain struck, the tribute was to continue until the day a worthy knight would come who could defeat the devils in combat. For this reason, a custom was instituted in the town whereby any knight who spent the evening in hospitality, as Yvain eventually did, would be forced to battle the devils the following morning.
The lead-up to Yvains battle with these devils contains a number of elements that suggest the episode should be read as an intra-textual transformation of Yvains encounter with the grieving search party from whom Yvain escaped with the aid of the magic ring. Consider the insults the townspeople shouted as Yvain approached: by attempting to frighten Yvain away, the townspeople immediately cast the episode as a challenge to Yvains courage; the same challenge he faced when given the choice between confronting Escladoss grieving household or hiding from them. This parallel is repeated again during the story about the King of the Maidens. Both Yvain and the King profess fear for their bodily safety and seek to save themselves as best they can; Yvain by concealing himself with the magic ring, the King by bargaining with his maidens. In both of these compromises, we can see a perversion of justice and recourse to fear, the defining emotion of the episode with the magic ring. We can also see in the lead-up to Yvains battle with the devils an allusion to the secondary emotional challenge of the magic ring episode, that of overcoming shame. The shame Yvain has to deal with in that episode is the shame of his unprovable victory over Esclados, for he knows that if he does not have proof to show his fellow knights 'then he [would] be thoroughly shamed, | for Kay is so wicked and perverse, | full of insults and mockery, | that he'll never convince him', (58) without some tangible evidence of his victory. This shame is a direct result of Yvains illegitimate conduct in his battle with Esclados which saw him not only conduct the fight without witnesses, but also fail to place Esclados in a position where he could yield and thus later testify to the truthfulness of Yvains victory. In the episode at Pesme Aventure, this shame is transformed into the shame inflicted upon the maidens as a result of the King's giving them over to 'shame, grief, and misery' at the hands of the devils. The injustice of this deal is represented primarily in terms of the disparity between what the maidens produce and what they earn. Although there is 'not a one of [the maidens] whose work | doesn't bring in twenty sous or more', an amount the maidens profess to be sufficient to make a duke wealthy, they never have more to live on than 'four deniers', one-sixtieth of what their work is said to be worth. They are forced to live in poverty and are 'so shamed and ill-treated' they are unable to tell Yvain more than a small fraction of what they suffer. (59)
The two negative dispositions, fear and shame, which Yvain struggled against in the magic ring episode are embodied directly by the figures of the two sons of the devil. This metaphor is pushed most strongly within the combat itself, which begins when:
The two champions charged Yvain to injure him and bring him shame, ... his shield shattered and dissolved like ice; they made such holes in it that you could put your fist right through it. (60)
Their intention to 'bring [Yvain] shame' is a clear enough reference to the embodiment of shame, but what is less clear is the reference to fear contained in the unusual destruction of the shield. The use of weapons as metaphors for the role of the cardinal virtues (fortitude, temperance, prudence, justice) in the human struggle against sin goes back to at least the fifth century and the allegorical poem Psychomachia, composed by the poet Prudentius. In this text, the virtues are represented as human figures dressed for combat with their corresponding vices, with Faith being the first virtue to take the field against Idolatry. The battle is swift and graphic: Faith tramples Idolatry's head and squeezes her eyes out of her skull, stopping her breath until she dies a hard death. The remaining battles are equally visceral. (61) Within Yvain, we can read the image of the devils breaking Yvain's shield like ice as both a metaphor for their attempted destruction of his virtues in general and his fortitude specifically. The two devils Yvain faces are not just metaphors for fear and shame; they are their allegorical embodiments:
And how did he handle the two demons? Sparked by shame and fear, he defended himself with all his strength. (62)
Lest the reader think the comparison is entirely retrospective, the word used here to describe the devils ('maufez') is the same word used by Escladoss grieving townspeople when they complain that the devils ('maufe') must have hidden Yvain from them:
he must still be in here, I think, or else we are all bewitched, or the devils have stolen him from us. (63)
Yvains encounter with the sons of the devil is a case study in the equivalence of non-violence and violence as demonstrated in the transformation of a moral conflict (Yvain's decision to hide) into a martial conflict (Yvain's defeat of the devils). What is important in both of these episodes is the moral conflict: the struggle to uphold the ideals of knighthood, chivalry, and Christianity that Yvain failed in the first part of the story but succeeded in the second.
Nor is this the only example of an intra-textual transformation from nonviolence to violence in Yvain. Calogrenants confrontation with the ugly peasant who directs him to the magic spring in Yvain has been read as an echo of Erec's confrontation with the ugly dwarf in Erec on account of both the structure of the narrative and the similarities between the long description of the peasants great ugliness and conventional descriptions of the medieval romance dwarf. (64) The peasant's grotesque mockery of Calogrenants questions 'sets the churl, quietly tending his herd of wild bulls, against Calogrenant on his quest as if one were a distorted reflection of the other'. (65) The two engage in a verbal confrontation, one in which Calogrenant comes off as second best; powerless and directionless compared to the peasant, his questions are cut through by the peasant's direct speech.
Yet the peasant looks not only back to the dwarf of Erec but also forward to the giant Harpin of the Mountain whom Yvain encounters during the latter part of the poem. In contrast to Chretiens extended description of the peasant, the appearance of the giant is left largely up to the reader's imagination. We are told only that the giant carried a 'large, squared stave' and wore a 'bearskin', both attributes which hark back to the earlier description of the peasant who carried a 'great club in his hand' and wore around his neck 'two pelts freshly-skinned | from two bulls or two oxen'. (66) Significantly, these two items are the only parts of the peasants description that do not feature in conventional descriptions of the medieval romance dwarf. When coupled with the peasant's towering stature--although the peasant had a 'long twisted and humpbacked spine', he had 'climbed upon a tree trunk, | where he towered a good seventeen feet high' (67)--it would appear that we are supposed to read Yvain's martial encounter with the giant Harpin of the Mountain as a transformation of Calogrenants purely verbal encounter with the monstrous peasant. (68)
Yet another transformation from the non-violent to the violent can be observed in the fight between Yvain and Gawain that forms the climax of the poem. The two knights find themselves as champions on opposite sides of a trial by combat, their visors down, and their identities hidden from one another. As the two knights battle with lance and sword, the narrator engages in a discourse on the contrariness of love and hate. This battle and its accompanying discourse expands upon Yvain's earlier monologue, delivered as he gazed upon Laudine as she buried her husbands body: (69)
I shall love my enemy forever, for I must not bear her any hatred if I do not want to betray Love. I must love whoever Love chooses. And should she consider me her friend? Yes, indeed, because I love her. Yet I must call her my enemy because she hates me, and rightfully so, since I have killed the one she loved. Am I therefore her enemy? My lord Gawain truly loves Yvain and calls him his companion; and Yvain loves him, wherever he might be ... Is this not true and total Love? Indeed, yes! And the Hatred, is it not fully in evidence? Yea, for it is certainly clear that each doubtless would like to cut off the other's head ...
Again, the pattern is clear. The defining feature of these conflicts is not their physicality or lack thereof, but their engagement with moral frameworks: here, it is the reconciliation between Love and Hate, or (in its popular phrasing) love and chivalry. The only repeated episode that does not conform to this pattern is Yvains battle with Esclados, which is transformed into a similarly physical battle with the Seneschal and his two companions. Following a declaration of his intention to defend another's honour--his cousin Calogrenant in the first instance, the damsel Lunete in the second--these episodes are constructed as parallel chiefly through location and cause; both combats are fought at the location of the magic spring in order to defend a third party against shame.
The astute or sceptical reader may still have reservations about the equivalence of violence and non-violence in Yvain, for all of the transformations discussed here have been from non-violence to violence, from the non-physical to the physical; there have been no examples thus far of a violent conflict being resolved through non-violent metaphors. Though outside of the scope of this article to prove, I would like to suggest that the ubiquity of transformations from non-violence to violence in Yvain likely reflects Chretien s understanding of his target audience's martial value system. The story is, at its heart, a tale of the redemption of a sinful knight who fights purely for earthly causes and reasons. Through his trials and personal growth, Yvain provides a model for male aristocratic warriors to emulate. It is thus unsurprising that the text shows violence as the transformed state of non-violence, for what could be more exciting to the warrior than to conceive of every struggle as a battle? In hagiographical literature, where the target audience is not warriors but clerics, it is far more common to find examples of violence transformed into non-violence. Consider the story of St Senans encounter with a dragon:
The monster approached Senan and Raphael, opening its mouth so wide that its entrails could be seen. Senan lifted up his hand and made the sign of the cross in its face. The creature fell silent, and the saint commanded it to leave the island in the name of the Trinity, and to hurt no one in the districts it passed through, nor in the place where it would settle. At Senan s words the monster immediately left the island and went to Dubloch of Sliab Collain. It hurt no one, neither on its journey, or after arriving, for it did not dare oppose Senans word. (70)
In this story, we see the classic encounter between hero and dragon that has been played out in literature and myth since time immemorial. Senans struggle on the island can be seen to parallel Yvain's own battle with a dragon in the forest (see Yvain, lines 3345-85), but whereasYvain defeats his dragon with a sword, Senan vanquishes his opponent with faith and prayers. Senans story draws upon a long tradition which equated a personal struggle with vice with the communal war against the Devil. Spiritual warfare, battle fought with not sword and shield but faith and prayer, was considered to be the highest calling of the Christian from almost the first days of the faith; by the third century ce the term miles Christi had become synonymous with 'Christian', and the phrase militare deo simply denoted that a person was living a pious life. (71) The reduction of the distance between the concepts of the miles Christi and the miles secularis over the course of the eleventh and twelfth centuries meant that by the time we reach Yvain, we have come to a point where the weapons which a warrior chooses--sword and shield or faith and prayer--are seen as complementary, two sides of the same struggle. The struggles against dragons in the stories of Senan and Yvain do not represent a struggle against a physical beast, but rather the struggle against what was believed to be the symbol of Satan's personal sin, pride. (72) Rather than being distinguished by their recourse to 'violent' or 'non-violent' means of conflict resolution, we should acknowledge that medieval audiences would have recognised both episodes as united in their transposition of an inner conflict between humility and pride with an outer conflict between hero and dragon.
Violence, in either its presence or its absence, is not the primary phenomenological category in Yvain, and neither (perhaps) is it in medieval literature in general. Violence--physical violence--functions instead as a representation, the sign of a deeper conflict between virtue and vice, the righteous and the repugnant, the divine and the devilish.
The University of Western Australia
(1) 'violence', Oxford English Dictionary: Second Edition, eds J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner, 20 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), xix, 654-55, definitions 1.a and 6, respectively. The sixth definition has been labelled obsolete in this edition, a label I intend to challenge.
(2) For more on the politics of the OED, see John Willinsky, Empire of Words: The Reign of the OED (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), pp. 145-61 (esp. p. 159).
(3) 'violence, n.', OED [accessed 26 March 2015].
(4) William Ian Miller, Humiliation: And Other Essays on Honor, Social Discomfort, and Violence (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993), p. 77.
(5) The current edition reads: '1. a. The deliberate exercise of physical force against a person, property, etc.; physically violent behaviour or treatment; (Law) the unlawful exercise of physical force, intimidation by the exhibition of such force. Formerly also: the abuse of power or authority to persecute or oppress (obs.).'
(6) See Tony Hunt, 'Le Chevalier au Lion: Yvain Lionheart', in A Companion to Chretien de Troyes, eds Norris J. Lacy and Joan T Grimbert (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2005), pp. 156-68. Many of the secondary sources on Yvain referred to in this article date from before 1990 due to Yvain having received 'proportionally less critical discussion than Chretien s other romances' (ibid., pp. 157-58) after this time. For conventional readings of Yvain as described, see Robert G. Cook, 'The Structure of Romance in Chretiens "Erec" and "Yvain"', Modern Philology, 71.2 (1972), 128-43; George Hardin Brown, 'Yvains Sin of Neglect', Symposium, 27 (1973), 309-21; Sylvia Huot, Madness in Medieval French Literature: Identities Lost and Found (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. 29-31. For a contrary perspective, see Edward C. Schweitzer, 'Pattern and Theme in Chretiens Yvain', Traditio, 30 (1974), 145-89; and Rasmus Thorning Hansen, 'Monsters and Miracles in Yvain', in Monsters, Marvels, and Miracles: Imaginary Journeys and Landscapes in the Middle Ages, eds Leif Sondergaard and Rasmus Thorning Hansen (Odense: University Press of Southern Denmark, 2005), pp. 113-44.
(7) Vittorio Bufacchi, 'Two Concepts of Violence', Political Studies Review, 3.2 (2005), 193-204 (pp. 197-98).
(8) Philippe Bourgois, 'U.S. Inner City Apartheid: The Contours of Structural and Interpersonal Violence', in Violence in War and Peace: An Anthology, eds Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Philippe Bourgois (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004), p. 304; Bufacchi, pp. 197-99.
(9) Augustine, Reply to Faustus the Manichaean XXII.74, in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Series 1, ed. Philip Schaff, 14 vols (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), iv, 301; Augustine, City of God I.8, in Select Library, ed. Schaff, ii, 6. Both texts accessed through the online Christian Classics Ethereal Library, available at http:// www.ccel.org/.
(10) Augustine, Reply to Faustus the Manichaean XXII.74. The translation of this passage is my own; the original translator employed the ambiguous phrase 'love of violence' where I have translated the more literal 'desire to harm'.
(11) Wojciech Iwanczak, 'Miles Christi: The Medieval Ideal of Knighthood', Journal of the Australian Early Medieval Association, 8 (2012), 77-92.
(12) Translation is from Bernard of Clairvaux, In Praise of the New Knighthood, trans. Conrad Greenia, in Bernard of Clairvaux: Treatises III (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1977), p. 131; for the original Latin, Bernard of Clairvaux, Liber ad milites templi de laude novae militiae, PL, 182. 922-23: 'Ex cordis nempe affectu, non belli eventu, pensatur vel periculum, vel victoria christiani. Si bona fuerit causa pugnantis, pugnae exitus malus exitus esse non poterit; sicut nec bonus judicabitur finis, ubi causa non bona, et intentio non recta praecesserit.'
(13) Tomaz Mastnak, Crusading Peace: Christendom, the Muslim World, and Western Political Order (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), p. 56.
(14) Jean Frappier, 'Chretien de Troyes', in Arthurian Literature in the Middle Ages: A Collaborative History, ed. Roger Sherman Loomis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1959), pp. 157-91 (p. 181).
(15) Cook, 'The Structure of Romance', pp. 128-43.
(16) The edition and translation cited is Chretien de Troyes, Erec and Enide, ed. and trans. Carleton W Carroll (New York: Garland, 1987) (hereafter Erec), lines 866-68: 'Par si grant vertu s'antre fierent | que li escu piercent et croissent, | les lances esclicent et froissent.'
(17) The edition and translation cited is Chretien de Troyes, The Knight with the Lion, or Yvain (Le Chevalier au Lion), ed. and trans. William W Kibler (New York: Garland, 1985) (hereafter Yvain), lines 820-23: 'qu an.ii les escuz de lor cos | percent et li hauberc deslicent; | les lances fandent et esclicent | et li troncon volent an haunt.'
(18) Erec, lines 878-85: 'les espees des fuerres traient, | felenessemant s'antre essaient ... | tranchent escuz, faussent haubers.'
(19) Yvain, lines 826-27: 'les guiges des escuz colpees | et les escuz dehachiez toz.'
(20) Yvain, lines 855-61: 'Et de ce firent molt que preu | c onques lor cheval au nul leu | ne ferirent ne maheignierent, | qu'il ne vostrent ne ne deignierent; | mes toz jorz a cheval se tienent | que nule foiz a pie ne vienent: | s'an fu la bataille plus bele.'
(21) Yvain, lines 836-37: 'n onques d'un estal ne se muevent | ne plus qu feissent dui gres.'
(22) Erec, lines 901-02: 'Molt est grant honte et grand leidure | quant este bataille tant dure.'
(23) Schweitzer, 'Pattern and Theme', p. 158.
(24) Cf. Erec, lines 972-82: 'Cil fiert Erec, et Erec lui: | tel cop a delivre li done | sor le hiaume que tot l'estone. | Fiert et refiert tot a bandon: | trois cos li done de randon, | li hiaumes escartele toz | et la coisfe tranche desoz. | Jusqu'au test l'espee n'areste: | un os li tranche de la teste, | mes nel tocha an la cervele'; and Yvain, lines 862-72: 'En la fin, son hiaume escartele | au chevalier mes sire Yvains; | del cop fu estonez et vains | li chevaliers; molt s'esmaia | qu'ainz si felon cop n'essaia, | qu'il li ot desoz le chapel | le chief fandu jusqu'au cervel, | tant que del cervel et del sanc | taint la maille del hauberc blanc, | don si tres grant dolor santi | qu'a po li cuers ne li manti.'
(25) Note that this reading does not hold that Erec is entirely flawless; we are told, after all, that 'Erec would have cut off [Yder's] head | had the other not cried out for mercy' (Erec, lines 991-92). Where Erec is tempted but refrains, however, Yvain carries through with the transgressive act.
(26) For an exploration of the plasticity of the taboo on violence, see Georges Bataille, Erotism: Death & Sensuality, trans. Mary Dalwood (San Francisco: City Lights, 1986), pp. 63-80.
(27) Tony Hunt, 'The Dialectic of Yvain', Modern Language Review, 72 (1977), 285-300 (p. 289); Eugene Vance, 'Chretiens Yvain and the Ideologies of Change and Exchange', Yale French Studies, 70 (1986), 42-62 (pp. 51-53); Lucienne Carasso-Bulow, The Merveilleux in Chretien de Troyes' Romances (Geneva: Droz, 1976), pp. 121-22.
(28) Yvain, lines 1032-33: 'puis na garde de nule chose | cil qui l anel an son doi a.'
(29) Yvain, line 1270: 'ja si grant ne cuidai avoir.'
(30) Yvain, lines 998-1000: 'N est mie prodom qui trop dote: | Por ce cuit que prodom soiez | Que n'iestes pas trop esmaiez.' These lines are my own translation. I chose to deviate from Kiblers translation because his structure obscured the repetition of the complex term prodom, which I have here translated perhaps too simply as 'worthy man'. I would like to thank the anonymous reviewer for their feedback on this translation.
(31) Yvain, lines 1192-93: 'Puis fu molt feruz et botez | mes sire Yveins, la ou il jut.'
(32) Carasso-Bulow, The Merveilleux, pp. 121-22.
(33) Yvain, lines 1034-43: 'que ja veoir ne la porra | nus hom, tant ait les ialz overz, | ne que le fust qui est coverz | de l'escorce, qui sur li naist. | Ice mon seignorYvain plaist. | Et qant ele li ot ce dit, | sel mena seoir en .i. lit | covert d'une coute si riche | qu'ainz n'oit tel li dus d'Osteriche.'
(34) Yvain, lines 1223-28: 'Coarz est il, qant il me crient; | de grant coardise li vient, | qant devant moi mostrer ne s'ose. | Ha! fantosme, coarde chose, | por qu'ies vers moi acoardie, | qant vers mon seignor fus hardie?'
(35) Peter Abelard, A Dialogue of a Philosopher with a Jew, and a Christian, trans. Pierre J. Payer (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1979), pp. 112; for the original Latin, see Peter Abelard, Dialogus inter Philosophum, Judaeum, et Christianum, in Petri Abaelardi Opera, ed. Victor Cousin, 2 vols (Paris: A. Durand, 1849), ii, 643-719 (p. 686): 'Justitia itaque virtus est, communi utilitate servata, suam cuique tribuens dignitatem, haec est ea virtus qua volumnus unumquemque habere id quo dignus est, si hoc commune non inferat damnum.'
(36) Abelard, Dialogue, pp. 114-15; Abelard, Dialogus, ii, 86-87: 'sicut haec ipsa bona voluntas quae justitia dicitur, timore aliquo vel cupiditate evanescit'; 'adversus cupiditatem temperantia sumet frenum'; 'adversus timorem fortitudo clypeum'; 'Est quidem fortitudo considerata, id est rationabilis laborum perpessio et periculorum susceptio'; 'quod maxime pendet de amore justitiae, quem bonum zelum dicimus in propulsandis videlicet aut vindicandis malis'.
(37) The precise chronology of Chretiens literary output is uncertain, though it is believed that Lancelot and Yvain were written in approximately the same period of 1177-81. See Jean Frappier, Etude sur Yvain ou le Chevalier au lion de Chretien de Troyes (Paris: S.E.E.S, 1969), pp. 12-16. I would like to thank the anonymous reader for bringing this to my attention.
(38) The edition and translation cited is Chretien de Troyes, Lancelot, or the Knight with the Cart, ed. and trans. William W Kibler (New York: Garland, 1981) (hereafter Lancelot), line 432: 'n'avoit si bele an la contree.'
(39) Lancelot, lines 463-66: 'plus bel des autres et plus riche ... | quan seust deviser an lit.'
(40) Lancelot, lines 473-74: 'mes an cest lit qui est deca | ne gist qui desservi ne l a.'
(41) Lancelot, lines 412-13: 'Iert il escorchiez ou panduz, | noiez ou ars an feu despines?'
(42) Lancelot, lines 486-91: 'Horiz est chevaliers an terre | puis quil a este an charrette; | si n'est pas droiz qu'il s'antremete | de ce don vos m'avez requise, | entesmes ce que il i gise, | qu'il le porroit tost comparer.'
(43) Translation is from Bernard of Clairvaux, In Praise of New Knighthood, pp. 127-45; for the original Latin, Bernard of Clairvaux, Liber ad milites templi de laude novae militiae, PL, 182. 923: 'Si in voluntate alterum occidendi te potius occidi contigerit, moreris homicida. Quod si praevales, et voluntate superandi vel vindicandi forte occidis hominem, vivis homicida.'
(44) Lancelot, lines 685-88: 'Sire, je vos part sanz rancune: | prenez de ces deus voies l'une, | et l'autre quite me clamez; | prenez celi que mialz amez.'
(45) Yvain, lines 1349-51: 'si il n'en a tesmoin et grant | que mostrer puisse a parlemant, | onc iert il honiz en travers.'
(46) Yvain, lines 1360-61: 'Mes de son sucre et de ses bresches | li radolcist novele amors.'
(47) Yvain, lines 1402-06: 'Celui sanble qui an la cendre | et an la poudre espant son basme | et het enor et aimme blasme, | et de destranpre suie de miel, | et mesle cucre avoeques fiel.'
(48) Yvain, lines 1407-11: 'Mes or n'a ele pas fet ceu, | logiee s'est an franc aleu, | dom nus ne li puet feire tort. | Qant en ot anfoi le mort, | s'an partirent totes les genz.'
(49) Yvain, lines 1586-87: 'si li fist creance et despans | de tot quanque il li covint.'
(50) Abelard, Dialogue, p. 114; for the original Latin, Abelard, Dialogus, ii, 687: 'quaedam infirmitates animi, et impotentiae vitiis resistendi recte nominantur, ut ignavia sive pusillanimitas, quae remissum hominem reddunt.'
(51) Yvain, lines 2459-62: 'la dame tant les enore | chacsun ... | que tel foi i a, cui il sanble | que d'Amors veignent li atret | et li sanblant qu'ele lor fet.'
(52) Yvain, lines 2463-69: 'Et cez puet an nices clamer | qui cuident qu el les voelle amer, | qant une dame est si cortoise | qu'a un maleureus adoise | qu'ele li fet joie et acole; | fos est liez de bele parole, | si l'a an molt tost amuse.'
(53) Yvain, line 5275: '.ii. filz de deable.'
(54) Yvain, lines 5153-55: 'Ne le porcoi dire ne t'osent, | mes il te chastoient et chosent | por ce que esmaier t'en vuelent.'
(55) Yvain, lines 5180-81: 'Mes mes fins ouers leanz me tire: | si ferai ce que mes cuers vialt.'
(56) Yvain, lines 5208-09: 'les cos gresles et les vis pales | de fain et de meseise avoient'; for the significance of the image of the impoverished weaver-women, see Sophie Cassagnes-Brouquet, 'La Pire des Aventures: Le chevalierYvain et les tisseuses de soie', Clio, 38 (2013), 235-40.
(57) Yvain, lines 5283-84: 'li rois qui grant peor ot | s an delivra si com il pot.'
(58) Yvain, lines 1351-54: 'donc iert il honiz en travers, | tant est Kex et fel et pervers, | plains de ranpones et d'enui, | qu'il ne garra james a lui.'
(59) Yvain, lines 5296-97: 'a honte ... | et a dolor et a meseise'; lines 5318-19: 'que il n i a celi de nos | qui ne gaaint .xx. solz ou plus'; line 5312: '.iiii. deniers'; line 5330: 'De honte et de mal avons tants.'
(60) Yvain, lines 5578-89: 'Por lui leidir et feire honte | li passent li dui champion ... | et li escuz pecoie et font | come glace; tex trois i font, | que son poing i puet an boter.'
(61) Aurelius Prudentius Clemens, Prudenti Psychomachia, online edition from The Latin Library, available at www.thelatinlibrary.com/prudentius/prud.psycho.shtml [accessed 8 February 2015]. The idea of the virtues as weapons took on a new vigour with the rise of the Cistercian movement in the twelfth century. See Istvan Bejczy, The Cardinal Virtues in the Middle Ages: A Study in Moral Thought from the Fourth to the Fourteenth Century (Leiden: Brill, 2011), pp. 105-35.
(62) Yvain, lines 5591-93: 'Et il, que fet des .ii. maufez? | De honte et de crieme eschaufez | se desfent de tote sa force.'
(63) Yvain, lines 1129-31: 'qu ancor est il ceanz, ce cuit, | ou nos somes anchante tuit | ou tolu le nos ont maufe.'
(64) See Vernon Harward, The Dwarfs of Arthurian Romance and Celtic Tradition (Leiden: Brill, 1958), p. 30. Harward, giving examples of the conventional features of romance dwarves, observes that descriptions of 'the flat "camus" nose, large head, unkempt hair and beard, abnormal colour, hunched back, and warped limbs'--all features shared by the peasant of Yvain--'are repeated so often that to prolong the descriptions would be tiresome'.
(65) Schweitzer, 'Pattern and Theme', p. 149; cf. Nicola McDonald, Pulp Fictions of Medieval England: Essays in Popular Romance (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004), p. 53.
(66) Yvain, line 4095: 'pel ... | grant et quarr'; line 4203: 'piax'; line 293: 'une grant macue en sa main'; lines 312-13: '.ii. cuirs de novel escorchiez, | ou de ii. Tors our de .ii. bues.'
(67) Yvain, line 307: 'longue eschine torte et bocue'; lines 321-22: 'fu montez desor .i. tronc, | s'ot bien .xvii. piez de lonc.'
(68) Cf. Dana M. Oswald, Monsters, Gender and Sexuality in Medieval English Literature (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2010), pp. 160-63; Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Of Giants: Sex, Monsters, and the Middle Ages (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), pp. xi-xx.
(69) Cf. Yvain, lines 1454-63: 'toz jorz amerai m anemie, | que je ne la doi pas hair | se je ne voel Amor trair. | Ce qu'Amors vialt doi je amer. | Et doit me ele ami clamer? Oil, voir, por ce que je l'aim. | Et je m'anemie la claim | qu'ele me het, si n'a pas tort, | que ce qu'ele amoit li ai mort. Donques sui ge ses anemis?'; and Yvain, lines 6009-22: 'Por voir mes sire Gauvains aimme | Yvain et conpaingnon le claimme; | et Yvains lui, ou que il soit ... | N'est e Amors antiere et fine? | Oil, certes! Et la Haine, | don ne rest ele tote aperte? Oil, que ce est chose certe | que li uns a l'autre sanz dote | voldroit avoir la teste rote .'
(70) 'The Life of Senan, son of Gerrcenn', in Lives of Saints from the Book of Lismore, ed. Whitley Stokes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1890), pp. 54-74 (pp. 66-67), lines 2228-35: 'O dorocht iarum an peisd cufeochair cusin maigin i mbui Senan, oslaicidh a craes cu mbo reill a hinathar [dfhaicsin] tar in croes docum in cleirig. Dothocuib Senan a laimh la sodhuin, 7 dobert sigin croichi Crist [i]na haghaid. Sochtais in pheisd iarsin, et is edh so raraid Senan fria: "Atberim fruit", ar se, "ind ainm an Athar 7 anMaic 7 in Spirto Noib, facuibh an n-indsi-sea, 7 ni derna urchoit isin crich tarsa raghai na isin crich cosa ricfa" Luidh acedair in peist la breithir Senain asind ailen gu riacht Dubloch Slebi Collain, 7 ni derna urcoid do neoch co rainic sin na iar rochtain, ar ni lamhair techttar breithir Senain.' Italics and insertions are reproduced as per the original. Translation quoted from Samantha J. E. Riches, 'Encountering the Monstrous: Saints and Dragons in Medieval Thought', in The Monstrous Middle Ages, eds Bettina Bildhauer and Robert Mills (Toronto: University ofToronto Press, 2004), pp. 196-218 (p. 197).
(71) Katherine Allen Smith, War and the Making of Medieval Monastic Culture (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2011), pp. 71-111.
(72) George C. Druce, 'The Elephant in Medieval Legend and Art', Journal of the Royal Archaeological Institute, 76 (1919), 1-73.
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|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2015|
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