The twelfth-century French poet Chrétien de Troyes is a major figure in European literature. His courtly romances fathered the Arthurian tradition and influenced. Yvain,. The Knight of the Lion by Chrétien de Troyes. Translated by W. W. Comfort. For your convenience, this text has been compiled into this PDF document by. Yvain: Chrétien de Troyes: wife of his overlord Arthur; Yvain, a brilliant extravaganza, combining the theme of a widow’s too hasty marriage to her husband’s.

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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. There is a concerning lack of both critical and common consensus over the definition of violence. In classic deadpan OED style, the editors cite as a source a Daily Telegraph article from a few years prior: Second Edition, eds J.

Weiner, 20 vols Oxford: Clarendon Press,xix, —55, definitions 1. The sixth definition has been labelled obsolete in this edition, a label I intend to challenge. 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 new5 OED. Princeton University Press,pp. Cornell University Press,p.

The deliberate exercise of physical force against a person, property, etc. Lacy and Joan T. Brewer,pp. For conventional readings of Yvain as described, see Robert G. Identities Lost and Found Oxford: Oxford University Press,pp. For a contrary perspective, see Edward C. University Press of Southern Denmark, chretein, pp. Blackwell,p.

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.

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. Philip Schaff, 14 vols Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,iv, ; Augustine, City of God I.

Both texts accessed through the online Christian Classics Ethereal Library, available at http: 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. 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.

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.

Yvain, the Knight of the Lion

Cook,15 the almost blow-for-blow correspondences between the battles themselves have yet to attract the same 12 Translation is from Bernard of Clairvaux, In Praise of the New Tvain, trans.

Conrad Greenia, in Bernard of Clairvaux: Cistercian Publications,p. 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. University of California Press, yvajn, p. A Collaborative History, ed. Roger Sherman Loomis Oxford: The descriptions of the combat in the two texts form a rough equivalence at a number of points.


The first point of significant difference between the two combats comes after the opening pass with lances.

Yvain, the Knight of the Lion – Wikipedia

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: Garland, hereafter Ereclines — Garland, hereafter Yvainlines — 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.

Yvain is demonstrably the better fighter, having achieved in one blow what took Erec four, but he is also demonstrably less courteous. 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.

Fiert et refiert tot a bandon: Where Erec is tempted but refrains, however,Yvain carries through with the transgressive act. Mary Dalwood San Francisco: City Lights,pp.

This is not the case for the events that come immediately after the combat, where the mortally wounded Esclados turns to flee and triyes pursued by Yvain into his town.

Esclados escapes by leading Yvain into a trap that locks him inside the town gatehouse. Like most fugitives, Yvain is motivated by fear. Droz,pp. I would like to thank the anonymous reviewer for their feedback on this translation. This sense of irony and ambiguity carries over to the functioning of the ring itself, which is decidedly faulty.

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: This pleased my lord Yvain. This could explain why, unlike the Celtic Owein where the protagonist is cnretien 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 31 Yvain, lines — Ice mon seignor Yvain plaist.

Et qant ele li ot ce dit, sel mena seoir en. Phantom, cowardly creature, why are you afraid of me when you were so bold before my husband? The revitalisation of justice necessitates recourse to two of the four cardinal virtues: 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.

Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies,pp. Victor Cousin, 2 vols Paris: Durand,ii, — p. 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. S,pp. I would like to thank the anonymous reader for bringing this to my attention. Garland, hereafter Lancelotline 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.


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. The parallels between Yvain and Lancelot do not end here. After Yvain emerges from his hiding place and Lancelot awakens from his repose, each 42 Lancelot, lines — Quod si praevales, et voluntate superandi vel vindicandi forte occidis hominem, vivis homicida.

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: Presented with these two options, Lancelot turns to Gawain and says to him: 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.

Because Yvain is not trying to rescue his beloved, the dynamics of glory are slightly different. 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. 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: After they had buried the knight all the people departed.

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. These poetic techniques serve the same function in both episodes. 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.

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: