From Ritual to Romance
by Jessie L. Weston
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5
Home - Random Browse


[1] Cf. OEuvres de Ruteboeuf, Kressner, p. 115. [2] My attention was drawn to the poem by references to it in The Mediaeval Stage, Chambers.


[1] Cf. my Sir Gawain and the Grail Castle, pp. 3-30. The best text is that of MS. B.N., fonds Franc. 12576, ff. 87vo-91. The above remarks apply also to the Elucidation, which is using a version of the Bleheris form. [2] B.N. 12577, fo. 136vo. [3] Cf. Sir Gawain at the Grail Castle, pp. 33-46. [4] Cf. B.N. 12576, ff. 220-222vo and fo. 258. [5] Hucher, Le Saint Graal, Vo. I. pp. 251 et seq., 315 et seq. [6] Cf. Modena MS. pp. 11, 12, 21, etc.; Dr Nitze, The Fisher-King in the Grail Romances, p. 373, says Borron uses the term Rice Pescheur, as opposed to the Roi Pescheur of Chretien. This remark is only correct as applied to the Joseph. [7] Modena MS p. 61 and note. [8] Ibid. p. 63. [9] The evidence of the Parzival and the parallel Grail sections of Sone de Nansai, which appear to repose ultimately on a source common to all three authors, makes this practically certain. [10] This is surely a curious omission, if the second King were as essential a part of the scheme as Dr Nitze supposes. [11] Cf. Chapter 2, p. —-. [12] I cannot agree with Dr Nitze's remark (op. cit. p. 374) that "in most versions the Fisher King has a mysterious double." I hold that feature to be a peculiarity of the Chretien-Wolfram group. It is not found in the Gawain versions, in Wauchier, nor in Manessier. Gerbert is using the Queste in the passage relative to Mordrains, and for the reason stated above I hold that heither Queste nor Grand Saint Graal should be cited when we are dealing, as Dr Nitze is here dealing, with questions of ultimate origin. [13] Cf. my Legend of Sir Lancelot, pp. 167 and 168. [14] Cf. Heinzel, Ueber die Alt-Franz. Gral-Romanen, pp. 136 and 137. [15] Cf. Legend of Sir Perceval, Vol. II. p. 343, note. These three kings are found in the curious Merlin MS. B.N., f. Franc. 337, fo. 249 et seq. [16] Vide supra, pp. —-. —-. [17] Op. cit. p. 184. [18] Cf. Chapter 5, p. —-, Chap. 7, p. —-. [19] Diu Crone, ll. 17329 et seq. [20] In the Parzival Titurel is grandfather to Anfortas, Frimutel intervening; critics of the poem are apt to overlook this difference between the German and French versions. [21] Cf. Chapter 2, p. —-. [22] Cf. here my notes on Sone de Nansai (Romania, Vol. XLIII. p. 412). [23] In connection with my previous remarks on the subject (p. —-) I would point out that the Queste and Grand Sainte Graal versions repeat the Maimed King motif in the most unintelligent manner. The element of old age, inherent in the Evalach-Mordrains incident, is complicated and practically obscured, by an absurdly exaggerated wounding element, here devoid of its original significance. [24] Heinzel, op. cit. p. 13. [25] For an instance of the extravagances to which a strictly Christian interpretation can lead, cf. Dr Sebastian Evans's theories set forth in his translation of the Perlesvaus (The High History of the Holy Grail) and in his The Quest of the Holy Grail. The author places the origin of the cycle in the first quarter of the thirteenth century, and treats it as an allegory of the position in England during the Interdict pronounced against King John, and the consequent withholding of the Sacraments. His identification of the character with historical originals is most ingenious, an extraordinary example of misapplied learning. [26] For a general discussion of the conflicting views cf. Dr Nitze's study, referred to above. The writer devotes special attention to the works of the late Prof. Heinzel and Mr Alfred Nutt as leading representatives of their respective schools. [27] R. Pischel's Ueber die Ursprung des Christlichen Fisch-Symbols is specifically devoted to the possible derivation from Indian sources. Scheftelowitz, Das Fischsymbolik in Judentem und Christentum (Archiv fur Religionswissenschaft, Vol. XIV.), contains a great deal of valuable material. R. Eisler, Orpheus the Fisher (The Quest, Vols. I and II.), John, Jonas, Joannes (ibid. Vol. III.), the Messianic Fish-meal of the Primitive Church (ibid. Vol. IV.), are isolated studies, forming part of a comprehensive work on the subject, the publication of which has unfortunately been prevented by the War. [28] Mahabharata, Bk. III. [29] Cf. Scheftekowitz, op. cit. p. 51. [30] Cf. The Open Court, June and July, 1911, where reproductions of these figures will be found. [31] Op. cit. p. 403. Cf. here an illustration in Miss Harrison's Themis (p. 262), which shows Cecrops, who played the same role with regard to the Greeks, with a serpent's tail. [32] Ibid. p. 168. In this connection note the prayer to Vishnu, quoted above. [33] Cf. Eisler, Orpheus the Fisher (The Quest, Vol. I. p. 126). [34] Cf. W. Staerk, Ueber den Ursprung der Gral-Legende, pp. 55, 56. [35] Df. S. Langdon, Sumerian and Babylonian Psalms, pp. 301, 305, 307, 313. [36] Cf. Eisler, The Messianic Fish-meal of the Primitive Church (The Quest, Vol. IV.), where the various frescoes are described; also the article by Scheftelowitz, already referred to. While mainly devoted to Jewish beliefs and practices, this study contains much material derived from other sources. So far it is the fullest and most thoroughly documente treatment of the subject I have met with. [37] Cf. Eisler, op. cit. and Scheftelowitz, pp. 19. 20. [38] Cf. Eisler, op. cit. p. 508. [39] Cf. Scheftelowitz, op. cit. pp. 337, 338, and note 4. [40] Hucher, Le Saint Graal, Vol. I. pp. 251 et seq., 315 et seq. [41] Cf. A. Nutt, Studies in the Legend of the Holy Grail, p. 209. [42] Cf. Eisler, The Mystic Epitaph of Bishop Aberkios (The Quest, Vol. V. pp. 302-312); Scheftelowitz, op. cit. p. 8. [43] Cf. The Voyage of Saint Brandan, ll. 372, et seq., 660 et seq. [44] Op. cit. ll. 170 et seq., and supra, p. —-. [45] Vide supra, p. —-. [46] Op. cit. p. 168. [47] Cf. The Messianic Fish-meal. [48] Op. cit. p. 92, fig. 42 a. [49] Op. cit. p. 23, and note, p. 29. [50] Parzival, Bk. IX. ll., 1109 et seq., Bk. XVI. ll. 175 et seq. [51] Cf. Sir Gawain at the Grail Castle, p. 55. Certain of the Lancelot MSS., e.g., B.N., f. Fr. 123, give two doves. [52] Cf. Scheftelowitz, p. 338. Haven, Der Gral, has argued that Wolfram's stone is such a meteoric stone, a Boetylus. I am not prepared to take up any position as to the exact nature of the stone itself, whether precious stone or meteor; the real point of importance being its Life-giving potency. [53] Op. cit. p. 381. [54] Ibid. p. 376 et seq. [55] Ibid. p. 20. [56] Ibid. p. 377.


[1] Elucidation, ll. 4-9 and 12, 13. [2] Potvin, ll. 19933-40. I quote from Potvin's edition as more accessible than the MSS., but the version of mons is, on the whole, an inferior one. [3] Potvin, ll. 28108-28. [4] This is to my mind the error vitiating much of Dr Nitze's later work, e.g., the studies entitled The Fisher-King in the Grail Romances and The Sister's Son, and the Conte del Graal. [5] Op. cit. Introduction, p. X. [6] Rohde, Psyche, p. 293, and Cumont, op. cit. p. 44. [7] Anrich, Das alte Mysterien-Wesen in seinem Verhaltniss zum Christentum, p. 46. [8] Op. cit. p. 136. [9] Cumont, op. cit. p. 84. [10] Op. cit. pp. 104, 105. [11] Cf. Anrich, op. cit. p. 81. [12] Hepding, Attis, p. 189. [13] Cumont, Mysteres de Mithra, pp. 19 and 78. [14] Ibid. p. 188. [15] Ibid. pp. 190 et seq. [16] Vide Hepding, Attis, Chap. 4, for details. [17] Dieterich, Eine Mithrasliturgie, p. 174. [18] Hepding, op. cit. p. 196. [19] Cf. my Legend of Sir Perceval, Vol. II. p. 313. Hepding mentions (op. cit. p. 174) among the sacra of the goddess Phrygium ferrum, which he suggests was the knife from which the Archigallus wounded himself on the 'Blood' day. Thus it is possible that the primitive ritual may have contained a knife.


[1] Cumont, op. cit. Introd. pp. XX and XXI. [2] Thrice-Greatest Hermes, Vol. I, p. 195. [3] Op. cit. p. 141. [4] Op. cit. p. 142. [5] Op. cit. pp. 146 et seq. Reitzenstein, Die Hellenistischen Mysterien Religionen, Leipzig, 1910, gives the document in the original. There is also a translation of Hippolytus in the Ante-Nicene Library. [6] Quoted by Mead, op. cit. p. 138. [7] Op. cit. pp. 146, 147. [8] Op. cit. p. 151. [9] Op. cit. p. 152. Mr Mead concludes that there is here a lacuna of the original. [10] Op. cit. p. 181. In a note Mr Mead says of the Greater Mysteries, "presumaby the candidate went through some symbolic rite of death and resurrection." [11] Op. cit. pp. 185, 186. I would draw especial attention to this passage in view of the present controversey as to the Origin of Drama. It looks as if the original writer of the document (and this section is in the Pagan Source) would have inclined to the views of Sir Gilbert Murray, Miss Harrison, and Mr Cornford rather than to those championed by their sarcastic critic, Sir W. Ridgeway. [12] Op. cit. p. 190. [13] Vide supra, p. —-. [14] Cf. Legend of Sir Perceval, Vol. II. Chapters 10 and 11. [15] Cf. my Quest of the Holy Grail, Bell, 1913, Chap. 4, for summary of evidence on this point. [16] Cf. Heinzel, Alt-Franz. Gral-Romanen, p. 72.


[1] Op. cit. p. 71. [2] Op. cit. p. 3. [3] Op. cit. p. 4. [4] Cumont, op. cit. pp. 129-141 et seq. [5] Op. cit. p. 148. [6] Dieterich, Eine Mithrasliturgie, the text is given with translation and is followed by an elaborate commentary. The whole study is most interesting and suggestive. [7] Cf. Bousset, Der Himmelfahrt der Seele, Archiv fur Religionswissenschaft, Vol. IV. [8] Cumont, op. cit. pp. 199 et seq. [9] Adonis und Esumn, p. 521. [10] Cf. Mead, op. cit. p. 179, note; Cumont, Mysteres de Mithra, p. 183. [11] Cumont, Les Religions Orientales, pp. 160 et seq. [12] Mysteres de Mithra, p. 77. [13] Les Religions Orientales, pp. 166, 167, Mysteres de Mithra, p. 57. [14] Mead, op. cit. pp. 147, 148, and note. [15] Without entering into indiscreet details I may say that students of the Mysteries are well aware of the continued survival of this ritual under circumstances which correspond exactly with the indications of two of our Grail romances. [16] The Quest of the Holy Grail, pp. 110 et seq. [17] Professor A. C. L. Brown, Notes on Celtic Cauldrons of Plenty, n. p. 249, translates this 'wells,' an error into which the late Mr Alfred Nutt had already fallen. Wisse Colin translates this correctly, berg, gebirge. [18] I suspect that the robbery of the Golden Cup was originally a symbolic expression for the outrage being offered.


[1] MS B.N. 12576, ff. 87vo et seq. A translation will be found in my Sir Gawain at the Grail Castle, pp. 13-15. [2] MS B.N. 12576, ff. 150vo, 222, 238vo. [3] Cf. here Prof. Kittredge's monograph Arthur and Gorlagon. [4] Cf. Malory, Book XVI. Chap. 2. [5] Cf. Perlesvaus, Branch XV. sections XII.-XX.; Malory, Book VI. Chap. 15; Chevalier a deux Espees, ll. 531 et seq. [6] B.N. 12576, fo. 74vo. [7] Cf. B.N. MS 1433, ff. 10, 11, and the analysis and remarks in my Legend of Sir Lancelopt, p. 219 and note. [8] Cf. passage in question quoted on p. 137. [9] B.N. 12576, fo. 150vo. [10] Perlesvaus, Branch I. sections III., IV. [11] Cf. my notes on the subject, Romania, Vol. XLIII. pp. 420-426. [12] Cf. Nitze, Glastonbury and the Holy Grail, where the reference is given. [13] Vide supra, p. —-. [14] Cf. Legend of Sir Perceval, Vol. II. p. 261. I suggested then that the actual initiation would probably consist in enlightenment into the meaning of Lance and Cup, in their sexual juxtaposition. I would now go a step further, and suggest that the identification of the Lance with the weapon of Longinus may quite well have rpelaced the original explanation as given by Bleheris. In The Quest, Oct. 1916, I have given, under the title "The Ruined Temple," a hypothetical reconstruction of the Grail Initiation. [15] Owain Miles, edited from the unique MS. by Turnbull and Laing, Edinburgh, 1837. The Purgatory of Saint Patrick will be found in Horstmann's Southern Legendary. I have given a modern English rendering of part of Owain Miles in my Chief Middle-English Poets, published by Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, U.S.A. [16] Cf. op. cit. pp. 148 et seq. [17] Op. cit. pp. 155 and 254.


The Author

[1] Cf. Mead, Thrice Greatest Hermes, Vol. III. p. 295. On this point the still untranslated corpus of Bardic poetry may possibly throw light. [2] The Quest of The Holy Grail (Quest series, Bell, 1913). [3] On the point that Chretien was treating an already popular theme, cf. Brugger, Enserrement Merlin, I. (Zeitschrift fur Franz. Sprache, XXIX.). [4] That is, the relationship is due to romantic tradition, not to Mystery survival, as Dr Nitze maintains. [5] Cf. Romania, Vol. XXXIII. pp. 333 et seq. [6] Cf. Legend of Sir Perceval, Vol. I. Chap. 12, for the passages referred to, also article in Romania, XXXIII. [7] Cf. my Quest of the Holy Grail, pp. 110 et seq. [8] Cf. Tristan (Bedier's ed.), Vol. I. l. 2120. [9] A critic of my Quest volume remarks that "we have as little faith in Wauchier's appeal to a Welshman Bleheris as source for his continuation of Chretien's 'Perceval' as we have in Layamon's similar appeal to Bede and St Austin at the beginning of the 'Brut.'" The remark seems to me singularly inept, there is no parallel between the cases. In the first place Layamon does not refer to Bede and St Austin as source, but as models, a very different thing. Then the statement is discredited by the fact that we possess the writings of these men, and know them to be of another character than Metrical Chronicles. In the case of Wauchier his reference does not stand alone; it is one of a group, and that group marked by an extraordinary unanimity of statement; whoever Bleheris may have been he was certainly possessed of two definite qualifications—he knew a vast number of tales, and he possessed a remarkable gift of narration, i.e., he was a story-teller, par excellence. Thus he was, a priori, a probable source for that section of Wauchier's work which is attributed to him, a section consisting of short, picturesque, and mutually independent tales, which formed part of a popular collection. It is misleading to speak as if Wauchier refers to him as general source for his Perceval continuation; the references are clearly marked and refer to Gawain tales. Apart from the fact that Wauchier's reference does not stand alone we have independent evidence of the actual existence of such a group of tales, in our surviving Gawain poems, certain of which, such as Kay and the Spit, and Golagros and Gawayne are versions of the stories given by Wauchier, while the author of the Elucidation was also familiar with the same collection. If evidence for the identity of Bleheris is incomplete, that for his existence appears to be incontrovertible. Would it not be more honest if such a would-be critic as the writer referred to said, 'I do not choose to believe in the existence of Bleheris, because it runs counter to my pre-conceived theory of the evolution of the literature'? We should then know where we are. Such a parallel as that cited above has no value for those familiar with the literature but may easily mislead the general reader. I would also draw attention to the fact noted in the text—the extreme improbability of Wauchier, a continental writer, inventing an insular and Welsh source. This is a point critics carefully evade. [10] Cf. Bledhericus de Cornouailles, note contributed by M. Ferd. Lot, to Romania, Vol. XXVIII. p. 336. M. Lot remarks that he has not met with the name in Armorica; it thus appears to be insular. [11] Cf. Revue Celtique, 1911, A note on the identification of Bleheris. [12] Ed. Rhys-Evans, Vol. II. p. 297; cf. also Revue Celtique. [13] In the course of 1915-16 I received letters from Mr Rogers Rees, resident at Stepaside, Pembrokeshire, who informed me that he held definite proof of the connection of Bledri with both Grail and Perceval legends. The locality had been part of Bledri's estate, and the house in which he lived was built on the site of what had been Bledri's castle. Mr Rogers Rees maintained the existence of a living tradition connecting Bledri with the legends in question. At his request I sent him the list of the names of the brothers of Alain li Gros, as given in the 1516 edition of the Perlesvaus, a copy of which is in the Bibliotheque Nationale, and received in return a letter stating that the list must have been compiled by one familiar with the district. Unfortunately, for a year, from the autumn of 1916, I was debarred from work, and when, on resuming my studies, I wrote to my correspondent asking for the promised evidence I obtained no answer to my repeated appeal. On communicating with Mr Owen I found he had had precisely the same experience, and, for his part, was extremely sceptical as to there being any genuine foundation for our correspondent's assertions. While it is thus impossible to use the statements in question as elements in my argument, I think it right in the interests of scholarship to place them on record; they may afford a clue which some Welsh scholar may be able to follow up to a more satisfactory conclusion. [14] Had Wauchier really desired to invent an authority, in view of his date, and connection with the house of Flanders, he had a famous name at hand—that of Chretien de Troyes. [15] Cf. Legend of Sir Perceval, Vol. II. p. 307 and note. I have recently received Dr Brugger's review of Mr R. H. Griffith's study of the English poem, and am glad to see that the critic accepts the independence of this version. If scholars can see their way to accept as faits acquis the mutual independence of the Grail, and Perceval themes, we shall, at last, have a solid basis for future criticism. [16] Cf. my Notes, Romania, Vol. XLIII. pp. 403 et seq.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5
Home - Random Browse