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The beasts beneath the round table : the role of animals in Malory's Morte D'Arthur Dagg, Melvin Harold 1969

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THE BEASTS BENEATH THE ROUND TABLE: THE ROLE OF ANIMALS IN MALORY'S MORTE D'ARTHUR by MELVIN HAROLD DAGG B.A. University of British Columbia, 1967 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in the Department of ENGLISH We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard -THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA A p r i l , 1969 In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f the r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r an advanced degree a t the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C olumbia, I a g r e e t h a t the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and Study. I f u r t h e r a g r e e t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be g r a n t e d by the Head o f my Department o r by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . I t i s u n d e r s t o o d t h a t c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n of t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . Department o f English The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Columbia Vancouver 8, Canada D a t e A p r i l , 24, 1969. ABSTRACT This thesis explores the role of animal imagery in Malory's Morte Darthur. Each chapter of the thesis attempts to achieve this aim by examining the animals from different, though related perspectives. F i r s t l y , wherever possible, Malory's animal imagery is com-pared to the traditional mythological context of the animal under discus-sion, and to the appearance of that animal in other relevant Arthurian literature. This approach has proved most useful in Chapter Four, devoted to the dragon, where Malory's use of the dragon is i n i t i a l l y antithetical to the traditional connotations associated with i t , whereas as the Morte progresses the dragon reverts to i t s traditional meaning of evil and terror. Similarly, the subject of Chapter Three, the Questing Beast, has entailed a study of the French sources not used by Malory, simply because Malory did not include the complete story of the Questing Beast in the Morte. Without examining those sources, therefore, we would know neither the complete meaning, nor the complete story of this fascinating creature. Secondly, the thesis examines the relationship of the ani-mals in the Morte to Malory's characters. In Chapter One i t is shown that Torre and Tristram, unlike Gawain and Pellinor, are worthy of love because of their.association with the symbol and token of love, the brachet. In Chapter Two the black bulls envisioned by Gawain are associ-ated with Arthur's entire court, with the exception of the three Grail questers, Percival, Galahad, and Bors, who are represented as white bulls. Chapter Three attempts to show that the flawed characters of Pellinor and Palomides are mirrored in the ugly, elusive, meaningless object of their quest, the Questing Beast. Most significant of a l l , however, is the s i -multaneous association of the dragon with Arthur, his Kingdom, and his Knights in the final chapter of the thesis. Thirdly, the thesis examines the thematic function of Malory's animal imagery. Both Gawain's vision of the black and white bulls, and the changing meaning of the dragon symbol, foreshadow and com-ment on the cause of the tragedy with which the Morte ends. In both Chapter Two, treating the image of the bulls, and Chapter Four, dealing with the dragon, I have strongly suggested that the image of both the bulls and the dragon implresthat Arthur's entire court, Arthur included, is responsible for the ruin of the Round Tabie and the fellowship i t represented. - ' Thus the thesis concludes that the animals within Malory's Morte Darthur are of extreme importance, not merely as separate entities, but as symbols of varying social and ethical significance, and as thema-. t i c devices contributing to the unity of the whole work. CONTENTS Page PREFACE . . . . ' i INTRODUCTION iv CHAPTER I The Brachet . . . . . . . . . . . 1 CHAPTER II The Bulls of Arthur's Court . . . . . . . . . . 17 CHAPTER III The Questing Beast . . . . . . 39 CHAPTER IV Dragons of Dissension . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 CHAPTER V Conclusion . 79 Appendices I Sources of the Questing Beast . . . . . . . . . 84 Appendices II Arthur's Dragon Dream 87 Bibliography . . . . . . . . 1. .. . . . . . . . . . . 91 PREFACE While preparing this thesis I have been impressed by the relative scarcity of really useful c r i t i c a l commentary on Malory. Schol-ars have not ignored Malory, but many of their efforts have done l i t t l e to illuminate his work. It is ironic of the least pretentious of English writers should be victimized by criticism that often can only be called egocentric. Though G.L. Kittredge and Edward Hicks have pro-vided the biographical background, and Eugene Vinaver has prepared an authentic text, modern Malory scholarship has since s p l i t into two opposed groups whose vindictive volley of articles often aims not at discussing Malory, but at destroying opposing c r i t i c a l judgments. The f i r s t group, led by Vinaver, claims that Malory's work must be read as eight separate tales which, when considered as a whole, have "no unity of structure or design."^ Opposing Vinaver is a school of c r i t i c s led by R.M. Lumiansky who insist that Malory's work has an organ-2 i c unity of i t s own. Both groups are, of course, correct. There are Eugene Vinaver, "Sir Thomas Malory," in ALMA, ed. R.S. Loomis(Oxford, •1959), p. 545. D.S. Brewer, "Form in the Morte Darthur." Medium Aevum, XXI (1952) 14-24; and '"the hoole book,'" in Essays on Malory, pp. 41-63; R.M. Lumiansky esp. "The Question of Unity in Malory's' Morte Darthur." Tulane Studies  in English, V (1955),j>j>.29-39; Charles Moorman, esp. "Internal Chronology in Malory's Morte Darthur," Journal of English and Germanic Philology, LX (1961)ff.240-49; and Robert H. Wilson, esp. "How Many Books Did Malory Write?" University of Texas Studies in English, XXX (1951 )5Pf>.l-23. See also the essays in Malory's Originality, A Cri t i c a l Study of Le Morte  Darthur, ed, R.M. Lumiansky (Baltimore, 1964); and Charles Moorman, The Bookeof Kynq Arthur: The Unity of Malory's Morte Darthur (Lexing-ton, Ky., 1965.) : i i narrative inconsistencies in Malory's work which render a reading of i t as one unified story d i f f i c u l t . There are also, however, thematic threads running through the entire work which make i t possible to see, at least in i t s broad outline, a single, cyclical story of the birth, r i s e , and f a l l of the Arthurian court. But the inability of each c r i t i c a l group to compromise, to recognize the valid aspects of the other's argument, to deal in actualities, rather than absolutes, has lessened the contribution of both groups to the study of Malory. "For i f literary criticism existed in a vacuum, such arguments would be pardonable. But i t does not; and in their frenzied efforts to defend their own c r i t i c a l views, Malory, not opposing c r i t i c s , ultimately suffers. Faced with such contrary c r i t i c a l opinions, the words of C.S. Lewis are reassuring: I do not for a moment believe that Malory had any intention either of writing'a single 'work' or of writing many 'works' as we should under-stand the expressions. He was tel l i n g us about Arthur and the knights. Of course his matter was one -- the same king, the same court. Of course his matter was many -- they had many ad-ventures. The choice we try to force upon Malory is really a choice for us. It is our imagination, not his, that makes the work one or eight or f i f t y . We can read i t either way. We can read i t now one-way, now another. We partly make what we read. C.S. Lewis, "The English Prose Morte'1 in Essays on Malory, ed. J.A.W. Bennett (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963), p. 22. ~ i i i The simplicity of Lewis' statement only increases i t s importance. Refus-ing to restrict either his imagination, or his reading of Malory, by accepting either of the opposing c r i t i c a l arguments, Lewis instead returns to what should be the focal point of a l l literary criticism, the work i t -self. I only hope, that in a much smaller manner, that i s what I too have accomplished in this study of the animal imagery in Malory's Morte. INTRODUCTION In Malory's time, man's close af f i n i t y with animals raised their importance to a level d i f f i c u l t to comprehend today. The dog was not merely a pet, rather, a hunting hound upon whose prowess an entire court depended for i t s livelihood -- indeed, hunting hounds were so important that Edward, Second Duke of York, commanded a boy be kennelled with the hounds at a l l times to care for their needs. The hart is s t i l l hunted today for sport, but to medieval man the value of it s meat rendered i t a v i t a l necessity. These, are •". animals which existed then and today. In the mind of medieval man, however, also existed creatures of a quite different nature. There, in the recesses of his mind, fabulous creatures, some half-man, half-beast, must have lurked, spawned by myth and folklore, and kept alive by the Physiologus, subsequent bestiaries, and literature. These creatures did not suddenly materialize in the mind of medieval man, but were born in sources which return "to the most distant past, to the Fathers of the Church, to Rome, to Greece, to Egypt, to mythology, ultimately to oral tradition which must have been contemporary with the caves of Cromagnon.""' • But they were s t i l l very much alive in the Middle Ages where,Looming between the pages of a twelfth century bestiary, g r i f f i n s , syrens, dragons, unicorns, a whole host of unlikely creatures, are T.H. White, The Bestiary (New York: Putnam, 1954), p. 231 V carefully described in detailed prose and i l l u s t r a t i o n . There, even the more orthodox creatures, as in the literature of the time, took on human characteristics. Thus the writer of the Ancrene Riwle used animals to symbolize the Seven Deadly Sins of humans: ... go with great caution, for in this wilderness there are many evil beasts: the Lion of Pride, the Serpent of venomous Envy, the Unicorn of Wrath, the Bear of deadly Sloth, the Fox of Covetousness, the Sow of Gluttony, the Scorpion with i t s t a i l of stinging Lechery, that i s , lust.2 o "There is a great deal of trickery about the fox," continues the writer of the Ancrene'Riwle, while The Bestiary adds that the fox "never runs straight ... he is a fraudulent and ingenious animal." 4 Fraudulent and ingenious he has remained to this day, but in the literature of the Middle Ages he came to be regarded not as a mere animal, but as a representative of a certain human type. Thus the fox, in Middle English Literature, is not only always cunning, devious, and sly, but as in The Fox and the Wolf and The Nun's Priest's Tale, he is gifted with the faculty of speech and is more human than animal. In the Middle Ages Reynard the Fox was as sly a v i l l a i n as any human has ever been, and became the subject of a large body of literature, notably, the twenty-seven branches of the French Beast Epic, the Roman de Reriard. Thus when, in Malory's Morte, The Ancrene j j w l e , trans, M. B. Salu (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1955), p. 86. 3 Ibid., p. 90. 4 T. H. White, The Bestiary (New York: Putnam, 1954), p. 53. vi Sir Launcelot wrote to Sir Tristram, warning him of King Mark's vi l l a i n y 5 by referring to him as "Kynge Foxe," the unseemly appellation summoned up a l l the connotations of cunning and evil which the medieval mind associated with the fox. This thesis is an»examination of animals, real and unreal, in Malory's Morte. It begins with the lowly lap dog, and proceeds to examine one of the most fantastic creatures the human imagination has ever breathed l i f e into, the Questing Beast. In no way, however, is the thesis intended to be a comprehensive, inclusive treatment of a l l the animals in Malory. Rather, the thesis attempts to explore the meaning of a chosen number of animals and their implications in the larger themes of the Morte, while also, wherever possible, comparing Malory's use of animals with that found in other Arthurian literature. I have also attempted to examine the traditional myths, legends, and beliefs associated with the beasts under discussion. I have had, however, to minimize such -material, mentioning only what is relevant, not exploring extraneous material at the expense of examining the material in Malory in depth. The thesis is not, then, an exploration of archetypes, but rather, a detailed examination of the aesthetic function of a chosen number of animals within the Morte i t s e l f . For the beasts in Malory warrant close examination. Dog or dragon, the animals in Malory have one thing in common, they exist Malory, Works, ed. Eugene Vinaver (London: Oxford University Press, 1954), p. 462. v i i not just as animals, but attain symbolical significance extending far beyond their own being. That is to say, they are not separate entities, but rather, function as integral and important links in the thematic and narrative movement of the Morte. Thus each chapter of this thesis has a dual subject, a beast per se, and that beast's relationship to the Morte. as a whole. To study the dragon, for example, is also to study Arthur and his kingdom, for, as w i l l be shown, the dragon is a symbol of both. The movement and ordering of the thesis is from the real to the imaginary. It begins, therefore, by examining actual animals, the common lap dog, or brachet, and the image of the bulls. Yet though the bulls are real, the shift to the imaginary has already begun, for unlike the brachet, the bulls are beheld in a dream vision. The final two chapters complete this s h i f t , focussing f u l l y on the fantastic, the Questing Beast and the dragon. As the thesis attempts to show, however, a l l the animals, real and imaginary, are of symbolic significance. Thus, even the common brachet, with which the thesis begins, has a unique meaning. Indeed, Malory indicates that he intended the brachet to be considered in a special context by differentiating, throughout, between the brachet and the hunting hounds with which the work abounds. Thus, in the "Torre and Pellinor" episode, though there are thirty pairs of hounds, there is only one brachet: Ryght so as they sate there com rennying inne a whyght herte into the h a l l , and a whyght brachet nexte hym, and thirty couple of blacke rennynge houndis com a f f t i r with a grete cry.6 6 Ibid., p. 76. v i i i This i n i t i a l appearance of the brachet establishes a pattern recurring throughout Malory. For the appearance of the brachet precedes the entry into Arthur's court of a lady riding a white palfrey. It is this recurring link between the lady, the brachet, and the role of the brachet, sometimes as a symbol of love, sometimes as a token of love, 9 which i s examined in the f i r s t chapter. Chapter Two deals with only one section of Malory's Morte, "The Tale of the Sankgreall." Yet in so doing, I have attempted to stress the relationship of Malory's treatment of the Grail Quest to the thematic movement of the Morte as a whole, by showing that the animal imagery in this section foreshadows the f a l l of Arthur's court. This has necessitated limiting my discussion to an intensive study of one passage, rather than attempting to explore the meaning of the many animals appearing in "The Tale of the Sankgreall." The most elusive beast in Malory, both because of i t s nebulous meaning, and because i t is never caught, the quite fantastic Questing Beast, is the subject of the third chapter. Perhaps part of the beast's mystery can be attributed to the fact that only a segment of i t s story is told in the Morte. Although I have outlined the remainder of that story by referring to other sources, I have also suggested that the Questing Beast should be considered as i t appears in Malory alone. Chapter Four is a detailed examination of the single symbol that, to me, has proved most meaningful in terms of Malory's entire work, the dragon. Symbolically representing Arthur, the dragon's meaning ix changes as Arthur and his kingdom change, as king and kingdom move towards their tragic end. In describing that end, both in Chapter Four, and Chapter Two, I have attempted to show that Arthur's entire fellowship, himself included, was responsible for the ruin of the Round Table. It is not Iagos, but Othellos, who create tragedy. Similarly, not Mordred and Aggravayne, but Arthur, Lancelot, and Gawain, create the tragic set of circumstances from which they cannot escape. CHAPTER I THE BRACHET In a fourteenth century illustration two lovers, riding on horseback, are pictured. Everything in the illustration suggests court-ship --the mood of the riders is complemented by their horses, their heads turned inward, eyeing each other favorably. But there i s a third party in the picture whose presence might at f i r s t seem incongruous. Nestled in the lady's lap is a tiny white dog, indeed, the ill u s t r a t i o n is entitled "Courting on horse-back with a dog chaperone."^ Beryl Rowland, commenting on Chaucer's Prioress's aff i n i t y for dogs such as the one in the i l l u s t r a t i o n , hints at their significance when she notes that they were "popular with ladies in secular l i f e and, i t seems with roman-2 - ' t i c young ladies in particular." Indeed, continues Mrs. Rowland, the lap dogs are a sign not only of the Prioress's disobedience and sentimen-t a l i t y but of "her secret romantic longings." Whether or not such roman-t i c longings can be attributed to the Prioress solely on the basis of her fondness for dogs is questionable. But Mrs. Rowland's linking of the lap Dorothy Hartley and Margaret M. E l l i o t , ed. Life and Work of the People  of England (4 Vols; London: Botsford, 1928), II plate 18, p. 67. 2 Beryl Rowland, '"Blynde bestes': aspects of Chaucer's animal world" (Vancouver: University of British Columbia, 1962), p. 140. 3 Ibid. 2 dog with love is certainly not. For throughout the Morte a certain kind of dog, approximating the lap dog, and called by Malory a "brachette" 4 is always associated with women, and often with love, The importance, but perhaps not the exact meaning, of the brachet in Malory can be seen by examining Book III of the Morte, "Torre and Pellinore," where the brachet not only becomes the central object of the three-part quest, but also, by implication, aids in establishing the thematic emphasis of this particular section of The Morte. In Book III the white brachet f i r s t appears in Arthur's court in the company of a white hart, thirty pairs of hounds, and significantly, a lady riding a white palefrey. The association of the lady with the brachet, and the focussing of attention on i t , rather than the hart or hounds, is immedi-ately achieved when a knight seizes the brachet and rides from Arthur's court with i t . That the brachet is valued highly by the lady is indicated not only by the volume of her plea to Arthur, for "she made such a noyse," but also, by the diction in which she voices her appeal: Right so com in the lady on a whyght palfrey and cryed alowde unto kynge Arthure and sayd, "Sir, s u f f i r me nat to have thys despite, for the brachet ys myne that the knyght hath ladde away."5 Malory, Works, ed. Eugene Vinaver (London: Oxford"University Press, 1954), p. 76. 5 Ibid. 6 Ibid. 3 "Suffer" and "despite" both suggest something other than an insignificant pet is represented by the brachet, indeed, the words suggest a deep loss, as i f the lady's honour has been tainted, as i f she has been personally insulted, i f not assaulted. Arthur, however, is unmoved, and when, a moment later, an unknown knight rides into the court and abducts the lady, he is only relieved: So whan she was gone the Kynge was gladde, for she made such a noyse,' It is however, Merlin, who realizes the importance of retrieving the brachet, hinting that unless the quest is achieved Arthur's court is doomed to dishonour: 'Nay,' seyde Merlion, 'ye may nat leve hit so, thys adventure, so lyghtly, for thes adventures muste be brought to an ende, other el l i s hit woll be disworshyp to you and to youre feste,'8 Moreover, i t is Merlin who assigns to Torre the task of retrieving the brachet. In doing so Merlin raises the value of the brachet above that of the white hart, which Gawain is to retrieve, to a plane equal to, and perhaps even surpassing the lady herself, the object of Pellynor's part in the quest. For the white brachet is a symbol of love, and i t s 7 Ibid. 8 Ibid. 4 abduction by the unknown knight is symbolic of love defiled. By assign-ing to Torre the task of retrieving the brachet Merlin not only acknowl-edges i t s importance, but also puts into practice one of the most basic tenets in the Morte: that i s , the pursuers of the quest are chosen for their direct relationship to the object sought, the quester must suit and complement his quest. For Merlin, gifted with the power of--foreknow!edge, knows at the outset what the tale i t s e l f proves, that only Torre is worthy of achieving the white brachet. Each of the three quests is a "test of 9 the knights", notes Edmund Reiss, and as the tests are carried out i t becomes clear that only Torre passes them, and is thus worthy of the brachet and what i t symbolizes. That the brachet is symbolic of love, and of the lady, and that this is the theme of the tri-p a r t i t e quest is partially confirmed by Reiss's earlier comment: This section thus turns from the masculine world of comradeship to what might be called the feminine world outside the fellowship.1° Reiss's comment is strengthened s t i l l further i f we remember that the framing device within which the three-part quest unfolds is the marriage of Arthur and Guinevere. Moreover, a close examination of the three quests, and the questers themselves, reveals not only a unified theme, but also the relationship of the white brachet to that theme. Edmund Reiss, Sir Thomas Malory (New York: Twayne, 1966), p. 58. Ibid., p. 53. 5 Gawain's quest is the f i r s t that is related, and his un-worthiness of either the brachet, or the love i t symbolizes, indeed, even of the white hart he is assigned to retrieve, is vividly emphasized when he returns to court not with the white hart, but instead, with the body of a lady draped across his horse, her head hanging from his neck. Gawain's failure is the result of his unwillingness to grant mercy to a knight who begs i t of him. As Gawain raises his sword to slay the knight, the knight's lady throws herself upon her knight, thus yielding her head to Gawain's sword. The knight, saved at the expense of his lady's l i f e , and because of her love, reproaches Gawain, at once emphasizing the nature of Gawain's crime, and reinforcing the recurring theme of the t r i -partite quest: 'Nay, nay', seyd the knyght, 'I take no forse of thy mercy now, for thou haste slayne with vilony my love and my lady ,, that I loved beste of a l l erthly thynge.' By slaying the knight's "love," the lady that he "loved beste of a l l erthly thynge", Gawain has not merely murdered, but sinned against love, and against women, just as the knight who stole the lady's white brachet had sinned against love and women. Significantly, i t is a court of four ladies who intervene moments later, after Gawain and Gaherys have been outnumbered and overcome by four knights, and ironically grant the two knights the mercy Gawain would not give to the knight who was the Malory, Works, ed. Eugene Vinaver (London: Oxford University Press, 1954), p. 79. 11 6 now dead lady's lover. But the four women grant Gawain mercy only on the condition that he return to Arthur's court with the head of the slain maiden slung round his neck, "and the hole body of hir before hym on hys 12 horse mane", Gawain is not to be allowed to forget easily what he has sinned against. Significantly too, i t is the ladies, not the men of Arthur's court, who judge him upon his return. The displeasure of 13 Guinevere, and the specific judgment of the "queste of ladyes" who be-set Gawain both c l a r i f y the nature of his crime: Than the Kynge and the quene were gretely displeased with s i r Gawayne for the sleynge of the lady, and there by ordynaunce of the queene there was sette a queste of ladyes uppon s i r Gawayne, and they juged hym for ever whyle he lyved to be with a l l ladyes and to fyght for hir quarels; and ever that he sholde be curteyse, and never to refuse mercy to hym that as kith mercy. Thus was s i r Gawayne sworne uppon the four Evaungel-ystis that he sholde never be ayenste lady, ne jantillwoman but i f he fyght for a lady and hys adversary fyghtith for another.^ Both the earlier four women, and here, the ladies of Arthur's court, act much as a court of love, finding Gawain guilty of sinning against love, and thus, unlike Torre, unworthy of achieving the white brachet which symbolizes love. 12 13 14 Ibid., p. 81. Ibid. Ibid. Like Gawain, Pellinor too, is unworthy, and as his quest shows, he too sins against love. Though he successfully achieves his part of the quest, the return of the lady whose brachet was stolen, in his very eagerness to achieve his immediate end, he f a i l s in the larger purpose of the quest. Arriving in a forest Pellinor encounters a "damesell" holding a wounded knight in her arms, but because "he was so 15 egir in hys queste" that though "she cryed an hondred tymes a f t i r helpe"^ Pellinor would not stop to aid the wounded knight and the be-seeching maid. Because Pellinor would not stop, the wounded knight died, "wherefore for pure sorow the lady slew hi r s e l f f with hys sworde."^ But the f u l l consequences of Pellinor's unwillingness to act are not re-vealed until he returns to Arthur's court. Significantly, i t i s , again, a woman, Guinevere, who admonishes Pellinor: 'A, Kynge Pellynore," seyde quene Gwenyver, 'ye were gretly to blame that ye saved nat thys ladyes lyff.'18 For like Gawain, Pellinor has sinned against women, and against love. But unlike Gawain, Pellinor has sinned in a manner that affects him per-sonally, so personally that the very crime carries with i t i t s own punishment, as Merlin reveals: 15 16 17 Ibid., p. 86 Ibid. Ibid. 18 Ibid. 8 'Truly ye ought sore to repente hit,' seyde Merlion 'for that lady was youre owne doughtir, begotyn of the lady of the Rule, and that knyght that was dede was hir love and sholde have wedded hi r , and he was a ryght good knyght-,g of a yonge man, and wolde a proved a good man.' 1 Significantly, Merlin mentions the proposed marriage of the dead pair, emphasizing that like Gawain, Pellinor too has sinned against love. Torre alone is worthy of achieving the white brachet, and he does so only after a series of adventures so hazardous that they make i t impossible to view the object of his quest, the white brachet, with anything more than the highest significance. Whatever the white brachet i s , i t is not a mere lap dog. It is an object covetted by women, and fought over by men. Significantly Torre finds the white brachet within the pavilion of a sleeping woman, from whom he takes i t , only to be appre-hended by the lady's knight shouting, "abyde and yelde my brachette that 20 thou toke frome my lady!" That Abel 1 us, the lady's knight, values the white brachet above even his l i f e , is dramatically exemplified when Torre; overcoming him in battle, demands he yie l d , only to hear Abel 1 us swear to die, rather than return to his lady without the white brachet: 'That woll I nat,' sayde Abelleus 'whyle lastith the l y f f and the onles that thou wolte ge t soule in my body, 2 i : geff me the brachette.' 1 9 Ibid. 2 0 Ibid., p. 83. 2 1 Ibid., p. 84. 9 But Torre too knows the value of the brachet, and moreover, the meaning of his quest, and thus is prepared even to k i l l Abellus to return the white brachet to i t s rightful owner: 'That woll I nat, 1 sayde Sir Torre, 'for hit was my queste to brynge agayne the brachette, thee, other bothe.'22 Immediately a damsel rides forth, requesting a g i f t from Torre. Torre agrees, only to have the damsel demand the head of Abellus, denouncing 23 him as the "falsyste" and the "moste outerageous knyght that lyvith" and the slayer of her brother. Here Torre unlike Gawain's unnecessary slaying, is j u s t i f i e d in taking the l i f e of Abellus. To not do so would be to f o r f e i t not only the object of the quest, the white brachet, but his promise to the damsel who demanded Abellus' l i f e . That Torre is the only knight worthy of achieving the white brachet is shown as he returns to court. Unlike Gawain and Pellinor, he has not sinned against love, but has returned with the symbol, the token of love, the white brachet. Thus i t is more than f i t t i n g that before arriving at Arthur's court he be rewarded with the love of the damsel whose brother he had revenged. 24 "I pray you come and lodge with me hereby at my place," invites the lady, while Malory adds, with characteristic brevity^ 2 2 Ibid. 2 3 Ibid. 24 Ibid., p. 85. 10 And so he rode with her, and had passynge good chere with her.25 Moreover, upon his return to court, Torre's conduct, unlike that of Gawain and Pellinor, produces not reprimands, but pleasure: And than the kynge»and the quene by Merlions advise made hym swere to t e l l of hys adven-tures, and so he tolde and made prevys of hys dedys as hit ys before reherced, where- ? f i fore the kynge and the quene made grete joy. To the joy of the king and queen is added the praise of Merlin, who des-27 cribes Torre as "jantyl and curteyse and of good tacchys," a l l a t t r i -butes of the courtly knight which maKe i t apparent why Torre has suc-ceeded where Gawain and Pellinor have failed. The quester must suit the quest, and only Torre i s , as revealed by his actions, capable of return-ing the token of love, the white brachet, to Arthur's court. The brachet, then, is not only a token of love, but a highly valued one. Indeed, in Book IX, Sir Dynas holds the brachet's value above that of the love i t represents, and rightly so. For while Sir Dynas is hunting, his paramour slips from his castle for a meeting with her secret lover, taking with her "hir two brachettis." Here, as 2 5 Ibid. 2 6 Ibid. 2 7 Ibid. 11 in the tri - p a r t i t e quest, the transfer of the brachets seems to imply a transfer of love. Thus, because of Sir Dynas's lady's false love, he desires only to retain her brachets. Indeed, i t is the loss of the bra-chets, not his paramour, which angers Sir Dynas: And when Sir Dynas cam home and myste hys paramoure and hys brachettes, than was the more wrother for hys brachettis, more than for hys lady.28 Even after confronting his false lady and her lover, and hearing her beg for mercy and pledge to return to him, Sir Dynas angrily refuses her, content instead to return to his castle with his brachets. As a symbol and remembrance of a love that once was true, but has now turned false, they hold more meaning for him than the return of a false, fickle woman. But brachets, like Sir Dynas's paramour, are also capable of betrayal, and both King Mark's discovery of Tristram as the lover of his queen, La Beall Isode, and Tristram's ensuing ten year exile from Cornwall, are the result of a seemingly insignificant, harmless brachet. Significantly, the brachet was presented to Tristram as a love token from the King of France's daughter: So in the meanewhyle there com a messager . with lettyrs of love fro Kynge Faramon of Fraunces doughter unto Syr Trystrams that were peteuous lettyrs, but in no wyse Tryst-rams had no joy of hir lettyrs nor regarde Ibid., p. 409. 12 unto hir. Also she sente hym a l y t y l l bra-chet that was passynge fayre, But whan the kynges doughter undirstoode that Trystrams wolde nat love h i r , as the booke seyth, she dyed for so.rou. And than the same squyre that brought the lettyrs and the brachet cam ayen unto Sir Trystrams, as a f t i r ye shall here in the tale folowynge.29 Here the brachet is seen as an integral part of the love offering, accom-panying the princess's letters, and although Tristram rejects the pre-ferred love of King Faramour's daughter, i t is undoubtedly his well-known 30 love of animals, and the hunt, which moves him to retain the brachet, which ironically, contributes to his downfall at King Mark's court. Malory here severs the thread of the brachet narrative, splicing i t with a myriad of episodes out of which the varied fabric of "The Book of Sir Tristram De Lyones" is woven, returning to the brachet episode only after Tristram has been reduced to madness and is found naked in the forest by King Mark, who takes him to his court, unaware of his identity. Tristram thus arrives at the palace of Tintagel unrecog-nized by any human other than his lover, Queen Iseult. But i t is the token of love, the brachet, which the King of France's daughter had pre-sented to Tristram as a sign of her affection, which through i t s own show of affection, betrays the two courtly lovers who so closely parallel Ibid., p. 282. Ibid., p. 279. 13 Lancelot and Guinevere, by revealing the presence of Tristram in King Mark's court. The response of the brachet is intuitive, natural. Unfet-tered by human guile or restraint i t revels in the joy of the physical presence of Tristram: And anone thys l i t y l l brachet felte a savoure of Sir Trystram. He lepte uppon hym and lycked hys learys, and hys earys, and than he whyned and quested, . . . and she smelled at hys feete and at hys hondis and on a l l the partyes of hys body that she myght com to,31 Perhaps this a b i l i t y of the brachet to exist in a natural state of ani-mal affection, responding only with the senses, is the real source of the brachet as a symbol of love. For the brachet's intuitive recognition of Tristram is immediately complemented by Iseult's discovery of Tristram's presence, coupled with her fear that because of the brachet's love their own love w i l l be endangered: 'A, my lorde, s i r Trystram! Blyssed by God ye have youre l y f f ! And now I am sure ye shall be discoverde by thys l i t y l l brachet, for she woll never leve you.32 Iseult's fear is well-founded, for moments later Sir Andred, who in his continual efforts to ensnare Tristram and Iseult closely resembles the attempt by Gawain's brothers, Sir Aggravayne and Sir Mordred, to betray Lancelot and Guinevere, recongizes Tristram, and reveals his presence Ibid., p. 374. 3 2 Ibid. 14 to King Mark. Again i t is the innocent love of the brachet which here is responsible for the separation of Tristram and Iseult, for although Iseult hastily removes herself from Tristram's company when King Mark and Andred enter, the brachet continues to cling innocently to Tristram, causing Andred to remark, "Sir, thys ys Sir Trystramys, I se well by that 33 v brachet." King Mark's reaction to Andred's discovery is immediate and Tristram is exiled, rather than executed, only at the insistence of Mark's nobles. So incensed is King Mark that he demands death, sparing his l i f e 34 only because "hys barownes wolde nat assente thereto." The brachet's recognition of Tristram, and his subsequent punishment, is not unique, but rather, appears to be a variation of a relatively common, recurring motif. Edward, Second Duke of York, in his Master of Game, t e l l s a story not unlike the Tristram episode in i t s broader outlines. It too, like the Tristram episode, is a story of i l l i -c i t love within a king's court in which a dog aids in the discovery and persecution of the lover. Yet in i t s details this story varies consi-derably from the Tristram, Iseult tale. For the son of King Claudoneus, who f a l l s in love with the Queen of Lyonnys, when she and her husband v i s i t the French king's court, i s , unlike Tristram, a v i l l a i n who justly deserves his punishment. Unlike Iseult, the queen does not return his proffered love, and f i n a l l y he is driven to murder the queen's husband. J J Ibid., p. 375. 3 4 Ibid. 15 Nevertheless, i t too is a story of an i l l i c i t love within a king's court in which a dog aids in the discovery and persecution of the lover. For i t is King Lyoness's dog which is responsible not only for the discovery of his murdered master's body, but also for the resulting punishment of the king of France's son. In both this aspect and the royal setting, i t 35 is clearly connected to the Tristram-Iseult episode. So too is an epi-sode in the romance entitled Sir Tryamoure. Again the conflict is within a royal court, and again the lover is depicted as a murderous v i l l a i n . Here, however, the role of the dog, obviously not a brachet, but a grey-hound, is carried one step further when the dog not only identifies the Of king's false steward, Marrocke, but springing at his throat, k i l l s him. Thus both episodes, through the common themes of i l l i c i t love, courtly setting, and identification of the false lover, have much in common with the Tristram episode. In summary, several observations on Malory's use of the brachet should here be noted. F i r s t l y , the appearance of a brachet is always associated with women. Thus Sir Launcelot need only follow the black brachet which he sights in a forest to a nearby castle to find The Master of Game, ed. William A and F. Bai11ie-Grohman (London, 1909), pp. 76-78. Sir Tryamoure in Romances of Chivalry ed. John Ashton (New York: Putnam, 1887, pp. 174-178. 16 "a lady wepyng and wryngyng hir hondys." Secondly, the brachet is often associated with love, either as a token of love, as in the case of the brachet sent to Tristram, or as a symbol of love, as in the t r i -partite quest of Gawain, Torre and Pellinor. Finally, this association of the brachet with women, and with love, is not peculiar to Malory, but is found both in illustrations and literature of the period. Malory, Works, ed. Eugene Vinaver (London: Oxford University Press, (1954), p. 202. 17 CHAPTER II THE BULLS OF ARTHUR'S COURT No other section of Malory's Morte is so permeated with symbolic beasts as The Tale of the Sankgreal. Arthur's entire court is envisioned as a herd of black bulls in the midst of which three white bulls roam. Two birds, "one whyght as a swanne,"^ the other "merveylous black," tempt Bors in a dream vision. Even the handle of the Grail sword Galahad grips is compounded of the "sealis . . . of two dyverse 3 bestis." Lions guard the entrance to the Castle of Corbenic in which Lancelot is granted his brief glimpse of the Grail; Bors, Perci.val, and 4 Galahad follow four lions and a white hart into a hermitage; Galahad, throughout, is repeatedly referred to as a lion. Yet such animal symbo-lism pales before Percival's dream vision of the lady who takes him on a four day journey in less than an hour on the back of her "inkly black" charger which changes into a the sea's edge. Here lions, ser-pents, "wylde bestes,"^ and a woman who entices Percival into her bed, Malory, Works, ed. Eugene Vinaver (London: Oxford University Press, 1954), p. 688. 2 Ibid., p. 689. 3 Ibid., p. 706. 4 Ibid., p. 717. 5 Ibid., p. 663 6 Ibid., p. 664. 18 only to disappear "unto a smooke and a blak clowde," abound in the most sustained, staggering array of the fantastic found in Malory: And when Sir Percival cam nye the brymme he saw the watir so boysteous he.doutted to passe over h i t , and than he made a sygne of the crosse in hys forehed. Whan the fende felte hym so charged he shooke of Sir Percivale, and he wente into the watir cryynge and rorynge and makying grete sorowe, and hit semed unto hym that the watir brente. Than Sir Percivale perceyved hit was a fynde . . . and anone he saw he was in a wylde mounteyne whych was closed with the se nyghe a l l aboute, that he myght se no londe about hym whych myghte releve hym, but wylde bestes. And than he wente downe into a valey, and there he saw a serpente brynge a yonge lyon by the necke, and so he cam by Sir Percivale. So with that com a grete lyon cryynge and roryng a f t i r the serpente. And as faste as Sir Percivale saw thys he hyghed hym thydir, but the lyon had overtake the serpente and be-gan batayle with hym. And than Sir Percivale thought to helpe the lyon, for he was the more natural beste of the two, and therewith he drew hys sworde and sette hys shylde afore hym, and there he gaff the serpente suche a buffett that he had a dedely wounde. When the lyon saw that, he made no sembalaunte to fyght with hym but made hym a l l the chere that a beest mighte make a man. . . . and the lyon wente allwey-aboute hym fawnyng as a spaynell, and than he stroked hym on the necke and on the sholdirs and thanked God of the feliship of that beste. And aboute noone the lyon toke hys l i t y l l whelpe and trussed hym and bare hym there he com fro. Than was Sir Percivale alone. Ibid., p. 669. 19 And whan Sir Percivale slepte he dremed a mervaylous dreme; that two ladyes mette with hym and that one sate uppon a lyon, and that other sate uppon a.serpente; and that one of them was yonge, and that other was olde, and the yongist, hym thought, seyde, "... for tomorne thou muste fyght with the strongest champion of the worlde." . . . Then com forth' the tothir lady, that rode uppon the serpente, and she seyde "... I have norysshed in thys place a grete whyle a serpente whych pleased me much and served me a grete whyle. And yestirday ye slew hym as he gate hys pray." . . . And so she departed fro Sir Percivale and leffte hym slepynge . . .8 But Percival's imaginatively charged dream vision is interrupted by "an 9 old man . . . of a strange countrey" who wakens him in order to reduce his vision to s t r i c t Christian allegory. The woman upon the lion is "the ol< „11 new law of Holy Chirche,"^ informed the d man, while "she that rode on the serpente signifieth the olde law. Percival's dream, and the rigidly Christian terms in which i t i s interpreted, i s , in fact, typical of the manner in which the visions of a l l the Grail knights are presented. Behind every tree, in ^ Ibid., pp. 663-665. g Ibid., p. 666. 1 0 Ibid. ^ Ibid. The "new law" is embodied in the teachings of Christ. The "olde law" is rejected because i t seldom goes deep enough to get at the heart of the matter. From the points of view of this "new" teach-ing, the truly "unclean" man was the hypocrite, even though he kept himself r i t u a l l y pure. every hut, lurks a hermit, philosopher, or old man, intent on turning each quester's vision into a detailed homiletic sermon. Perhaps the u timate disappointment of the Tale of the Sankgreal is that in this, th most imaginative section of Malory, l i t t l e is l e f t to the imagination. Even the whiteness of the swan seen by Bors only belies the blackness within, warns an abbot: • And by the whyght birde may men undirstonde the fynde, and I shall te l l e you how the swan ys whyght withoutefurth and blacke within: hit ys iprocresye, which ys withoute yalew or pale, and semyth withouteforth the servauntis of Jesu Cryste, but they be withinfurthe so horrible of fylth and synne, and begyle the worlde so evyl1.12 But the white hart which Bors, Percival and Galahad follow into "an 13 ermytage" is not so beguiling, indeed, the white hart represents Christ: For the harte, whan he ys olde, he waxith yonge agayne in his whyght skynne. Ryght so commyth agayne oure Lorde frome deth to l y f f , for He lost erthely fleysshe, that was the dedly fleyssh whych He had takyn in the wombe of the Blyssed Virgyne Mary. And for that cause appered oure Lorde as a whyghte harte withoute spot.14 Indeed, P.E. Tucker's description of the Tale of the Sankgreal as "a rigorously didactic work"^ 5not only summarizes the sentiment of the 1 2 Ibid., p. 697. 1 3 Ibid., p. 718 1 4 Ibid. P.E. Tucker, "The Place of the 'Quest of the Holy Grail' in the 'Morte Darthur', "MLR, XLVIII (January 1953), p. 392. 21 tale, but also, the sentiment of the passages just cited, and in so doing, explains the tale's anomalous existence as a story separated both thematically and in narrative, from the main movement of the Morte. For though the rest of the Morte concerns i t s e l f with tournaments, battles, quests, love, the Tale of the Sankgreal moves beyond these earthly con-cerns to an ethereal realm of shadow without form, a world "of abstract 16 thought" in which there is a "complete indifference to physical reality Yet despite the religious sentiment of the Tale of the  Sankgreal, i t does not exist as an entity entirely separated from the whole of the Morte. Though Bors, Galahad,and Percival, three relatively minor knights, now move into the foreground as the three successful grail questers, the familiar figures of Lancelot and Gawain are also pre-sent. Functioning in a manner quite in keeping with their characters, Lancelot and Gawain infuse continuity into a tale otherwise disconnected from the main body of Malory's work. Thus P.E. Tucker sees the Tale of  the Sankgreal not as a theological treatise, but instead, suggests "that the Quest of the Grail in Malory's works can best be understood as part 18 of the story of Lancelot." Thus too, the Quest can be seen not in terms of the success of Galahad, Percival,and Bors, in attaining the G r a i l , but rather, in terms of the failure of Lancelot to achieve the Eugene Vinaver, The Works of Sir Thomas Malory (3 vols.; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967), I I I , p. 1539. Ibid. P.E. Tucker, The Place of the 'Quest of the Holy Grail' in the "Morte Darthur," MLR, XLVIII (January 1953), p. 392. 22 Gr a i l , and by implication, the failure of Arthur's court. Thematically, then, Lancelot's failu r e , and the failure of the earthly values he repre-sents, point towards the ultimate crumbling of Arthur's kingdom in the Morte proper. Charles Moorman, perhaps exaggerating the thematic and 19 allegorical unity in Malory,, sees the Grail quest as an integral and v i t a l part of the movement of the Morte towards i t s ultimate conclusion: Malory, i t seems to me, having envisioned from the beginning an Arthurian cycle of growth, decay, and f a l l , saw in the Grail a symbol not of mankind's general failure, but of the ultimate failure of Arthur's would-be ideal secular c i v i l i z a t i o n , a failure which he projected in the Lance!ot-Guenevere re-lationship, in the prophecies of Merlin, and in the feud between the houses of Lot and Pellinor, and which was to culminate in the 20 dissension and struggle of the last two "Tales". While i t is extremely dubious whether in the "beginning" Malory envisioned anything other than the French manuscript he was reading at that immedi-21 ate moment, i t is also, nevertheless, true that certain suggestions of "an Arthurian cycle of growth, decay and f a l l , " are present in The Tale 19 The later reappearance of characters k i l l e d in earlier episodes (e.g. Breunis Saunz Pity, Tarquyn and Merlin) makes i t d i f f i c u l t to accept the "unity" theory seriously, especially in the exaggerated form in which i t is presented in Lumiansky's Malory's Originality. on Charles Moorman, "The Tale of the Sangreal: Human Frailty", in Malory's Originality, ed, R.M. Lumiansky (Baltimore: The Johns Hop-kins Press, 1964), p. 187. Malory's numerous references to his "French Book" (e.g. "for as the Freynshe book seyth" (p. 820), both in his text arid e x p l i c i t s , , sug-gests how closely Malory relied upon and followed his sources, and leads me to believe that he did not envision "from the beginning an Arthurian cycle," but rather, became aware of such a cycle as his  work progressed. 23 of the Sankgreal. To this extent even the animal symbolism, didactic as i t often i s , like the Arthur-dragon symbol discussed in a later chapter, exists not only in i t s immediate context, but also in. the wider context of Malory's whole work. So i t is that in order to connect the Grail adventure with the rest of the Morte, allusions to the Gr a i l , and the Grail knights, gain in frequency as the book of Sir Tristram de Lyones draws to a close. Before the Grail adventure has begun, the Grail has already begun to take precedence as the more earthly concerns of the Book of Sir Tristram are set aside. Before the Tale of the Sankgreal begins, before Galahad is ever born, his birth, and the stature he w i l l attain, over-shadowing even his father, is foreshadowed in the following golden letters Lancelot reads 22 written on a "tombe" : 'HERE SHALL COM A LYBARDE OF KYNGES BLOOD AND HE SHALL SLE THIS SERPENTE. AND THIS LYBARDE SHALL ENGENDIR A LYON IN THIS FOR-AYNE CONTREY WHYCHE LYON SHALL PASSE ALL OTHER KNYGHTES.23 Thus, Lancelot, the leopard, slays the serpent plaguing king Pelles' . kingdom and then, through enchantment, lies with the king's daughter, Elaine, bringing about the birth of Galahad, who here, and throughout the Grail adventure, is symbolized as a lion. Later, after the Grail Malory, Works, ed., Eugene Vinaver (London: Oxford Pres, 1954), p.583. 2 3 Ibid. 24 24 Quest has begun, an "ermyte" explains to Lancelot the significance of associating Galahad with a lion: And the last was the ninth knyght, he was sygnyfyed to a lyon, for he sholde passe a l l maner of erthely knyghtes: that ys s i r Galahad whych thou gate on Kynge Pelles doughter.25 But though the figure of the lion aids in creating an image of Galahad as the knight who w i l l "passe a l l maner of erthely knyghts," i t also serves as part of a systematic pattern of criticism of Lancelot's charac-ter which begins in the latter part of the Book of Sir Tristram and is intensified in the Tale of the Sankgreal. Thus, before Galahad is born, Lancelot learns that his son is to surpass his own greatness, and once the Grail quest has begun, Galahad, Percival,and Bors, are eulogized, while Lancelot is rebuked by every hermit and holy man he meets. No longer "the best knyght of the worlde," Lancelot is now the best only 27 "of ony synfull man of the worlde." Later, after a lengthy lecture, 28 Lancelot is "lykened to an olde rottyn tre." Warned that he has no more chance of seeing the Sankgreal "than a blynde man that sholde se a 29 bryght swerde," Lancelot is belittled and bullied into doing penance 2 4 Ibid., p. 674. 2 5 Ibid., p. 675. 2 6 Ibid., p. 632. 2 7 Ibid., p. 633. 2 8 Ibid., p. 656. 2 9 Ibid., p. 672. 25 by wearing a shirt of rough hair next to his skin: And than s i r Launcelot and he went to supere. And so leyde hem to reste, and the heyre prycked faste s i r Launcelots skynne and greved hym sore, but he toke hyt mekely and suffirde the payne.30 Even in his sleep he is awakened*by an "olde man" admonishing him: 'A, Launcelot, of e v i l l , wycked fayth and poore be!eve! Wherefore ys thy wyll turned so lyghtly toward dedly synne?'31 Previously the perfect knight, Lancelot is now seen as the imperfect re-presentative of an imperfect world, and the source and centre of that imperfection, both in Lancelot, and Arthur's court, is clearly captured in the following vision granted Gawain: Sir Gawayne hym semed he cam into a medow f u l l of herbis and floures, and there he saw a rake of b u l l i s , an hundrith and f y f f t y , that were proude and black, save three of hem was a l l whyght, and one had a blacke" spotte. And the othir two were so fayre and so whyght that they myght be no whytter. And thes three bullis which were so fayre were tyed with two stronge cordis. And the remnaunte of the bullis seyde among them, 'Go we hens to seke bettir pasture!' And so som wente and som com agayne, but they were so megir that they myght nat stonde up-ryght. And of the bullys that were so whyght Ibid., p. 676. Ibid., p. 677. 26 that one com agayne and no mo. But whan thys whyght bulle was com agayne and amonge thes other, there rose up a grete crye for lacke of wynde that fayled them. And so they depar-ted, one here and anothir there.32 ( i t a l . mine) When a l l the c r i t i c a l rhetoric is cleared away, and the religious al l e -gory swept aside, perhaps what ultimately renders the Tale of the Sank- greal so tedious is i t s thematic essence, here contained in Gawain's dream vision: that i s , only the chaste can succeed in what i s , to Malory, "the greatest of the court's adventures and the final test of 33 the Round Table," indeed, preferably, only virgins are chosen for the quest. Thus Bors, the only non-virgin of the three successful questers, 34 is here symbolically represented as imperfect. "The other two," Percival and Galahad, "were so fayre and so whyght that they myght be no 35 whytter," but the bull symbolizing Bors is blemished by a "blacke 3fi spotte" s y m b o l i C / O f his single indiscretion. For unlike the virginal Percival and Galahad, Bors, i t w i l l be remembered, "was a vergyne sauff for one, that was the doughter of Kynge Braundegorys, and on her he gate 32 33 34 35 36 Ibid., p. 680. Charles Moorman, "The Tale of the Sankgreal!: Human Frailty," in Malory's Originality, ed. R.M. Lumiansky (Baltimore: The Johns Hop-kins Press, 1964), p. 191. Malory, Works, ed. Eugene Vinaver (London: Oxford University Press, 1954, p. 680. Ibid. Ibid. 27 37 a chylde whyche hyght Elayne^' For this single indulgence in the plea-sure of the real world, a world foreign to the ethereal upper reaches in which the Grail glides mysteriously in and out of halls and across cha-epls, for this single f a l l from such lofty height, Bors' character is marred, and he is subjected to confession and penance before being allowed to resume his search for the Grail. But Bors1 blemish, or imperfection, the fact that he moves in a sphere slightly lower than Perceval and Gala-had, and closer to the earthly values of the Arthurian court, is not without reason, as Edmund Reiss reveals: . . . Bors must of necessity be less than Galahad and Perceval so that he may return to the world of Arthur's court and relate the adventures of the three Grail Questers. Were he as perfect as his two comrades, he would remain apart from the world as. they 3 8 do and be transported to Paradise with them. Bors' return, and the removal of Perceval and Galahad from this world, are also foreshadowed in the image of the bulls -- "and of the bullys that 39 were so whyght that one com agayne and no mo." L i t t l e wonder then, that Lancelot, marred not by a single indiscretion, but by his unfailing devotion and love for Guenevere, moves so clumsily in the ethereal regions in which the g r a i l , and the 3 7 Ibid., p. 589. 38 Edmund Reiss, Sir Thomas Malory (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1966), p. 145. 39 Malory, Works, ed., Eugene Vinaver (London: Oxford University Press, 1954), p. 680. 28 three Grail questers so effortlessly glide. For unlike them he grazes among the black bulls, which, as a hermit reveals, represent the entire Arthurian fellowship, with the exception of the three Grail Questers: 'And by the bullys ys undirstonde the felyshyp of the Rounde Table whych for their synne and their wyckednesse bene blacke; blackenes ys as much to sey withoute good vertues or workes.40 But though the words with which the hermits and holy men lecture Lancelot for loving Guenevere are as cold and inhumane as the didactic religious allegory they preach, Lancelot's own admission of his sin carries with i t a genuine conviction and sense of guilt: 'My synne and my wyckednes hath brought me unto grete dishonoure! For whan I sought worldly adventures for worldely desyres I ever encheved them and had the bettir in every place, and never was I discomfite in no quarell, were hit ryght were hit wronge. And now I take uppon me the adventures to seke of holy thynges, now I se and undir-stonde that myne olde synne hyndryth me and shamyth me, that I had no power to stirre nother speke whan the holy bloode appered before me'41 Indeed, the sermons of the hermits who lecture Lancelot are intended not for Lancelot, but for the reader. For Lancelot himself is f u l l y aware that, unlike his son, he is only too human, with a l l the f r a i l t y and Ibid., p. 683. Ibid., p. 654. 29 nobility that humans possess. For the f a l l of Arthur's court i s , despite the religious sententia of the Tale of the Sankgreal, not a religious f a i l i n g , but a human one, caused not by a lack of religious f a i t h , but by failings in-herent in the human condition, i f the Round Table must f a i l , " i t w i l l f a i l not because of religious condemnation, but because of a human tra-gedy, which rests upon the conflict of love and loyalty," writes Eugene 42 Vinaver. Thus, though the Tale of the Sankgreal is a rigorously di-dactic religious allegory, and though Gawain's dream vision is an example of that allegb**y, his vision of Arthur's court as a herd of bulls also reveals the very human failings which eventually cause that human tragedy. Nor i s i t coincidental that the only two unsuccessful grail questers given extensive treatment in the Tale of the Sankgreal are the same two knights whose shifting sense of loyalty and assertion of pride ultimately shatters Arthur's kingdom -- Lancelot and Gawain. For i t is Lancelot and Gawain, not Aggravayne and Mordred, who destroy Arthur's kingdom. Aggravayne and Mordred merely take advantage of situations created by Lancelot and Gawain -- Aggravayne of the love of Lancelot and Guenevere, Mordred of the quarrel between Lancelot, and Gawain. It is precisely this involvement of Lancelot and Gawain, not the duplicity of Aggravayne and Mordred, which raises the death of Arthur and his kingdom to a tra-gedy of the highest level. For the essence of that tragedy is that the Eugene Vinaver, Malory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1929), p. 79. 30 Round Table is not shattered by scheming, evil men like Aggravayne and Mordred, but by basically noble, good men like Lancelot and Gawain, who only momentarily allow their pride and/fragmented loyalties to lower them to the same level of destructiveness as Aggravayne and Mordred. So i t is that the bulls of Gawain's vision are "proude and black, 4 3 for i t is the overwhelming pride of Lancelot and Gawain which destroys Lancelot and Gawain's reason, their king, and their country. But the loss of Lancelot's, Gawain's, and Arthur's reason, and the manner in which i t is supplanted by petty, personal pride, is not a sudden, but a gradual process. Both Gawain, and Arthur, for exam-ple, are f u l l y aware that without Lancelot the kingdom is lost. Thus when Aggravayne and Mordred approach their brother Gawain with their plan to confront Arthur with the fact of Lancelot and Guenevere's love, Gawain adamantly refuses to take part in their plot, "for," says Gawain, "I know 44 what woll f a l l e of hi t . " For Gawain foresees that from the minor dis-sent of his two brothers may evolve a major breach involving the entire kingdom in c i v i l war: .•'Nat be my counceyle,' seyde s i r Gawayne, 'for, and there aryse warre and wrake betwyxte s i r Launcelot and us, well, brothir, there woll many kynges and grete lordis holde with s i r Launcelot,'45 Malory, Works, ed. Eugene Vinaver (London: Oxford University Press, 1954), p. 680. Ibid., p. 818. Ibid., p. 818.-819. 31 Mordred and Aggravayne, determined to implement their plan, ignore Gawain's warning, and the significance of their refusal to heed that warning is f u l l y understood by Gawain, who, with frightening clarity foresees„the realm destroyed, the Round Table shattered: 'Alas! 1 seyde s i r Gawayne and s i r Gareth, 'now ys thys realme holy destroyed and myscheved, and the noble felshyp of the Round Table shall be disparbeled.'46 Even after Lancelot slays Gawain's brother, Aggravayne, Gawain refuses to allow family fealty to take precedence over loyalty to the Round Table. Arthur, head of that fellowship, already plotting Lancelot's death and Guenevere's burning, cannot comprehend Gawain's refusal to demand revenge for Lancelot's k i l l i n g of Aggravayne: 'Why say you so?' seyde king Arthur. "For, perde, ye have no cause to love hym! For thys nyght last past he (Lancelot) slew youre brothir s i r Aggravayne, a f u l l good knyght, and allmoste he had slayne youre othir brother, s i r Mordred, . . . and also remembir you, s i r Gawayne, he slew two sunnes of youres, s i r Florens and s i r Lovell.'47 But Gawain refuses his king's overt invitation to take part in a quarrel he knows w i l l destroy the kingdom, refuses even to be present at the burning of Guenevere. Nevertheless, at Arthur's insistence, Gawain's 4 6 Ibid. 4 7 Ibid., p. 830. 32 younger brothers, Gaheris and Gareth, though unwilling, are among the knights who lead Guenevere to the f i r e '-- i t is their presence and conse quent death which draws Gawain to the centre of a struggle from which he had striven to remain aloof. For in the foray that follows Guenevere's rescue from the f i r e , Lancelot, though he saves Guenevere, slays Gareth and Gaheris. Hearing of his brothers' deaths Gawain faints, weeps, and in a f i t of remorseful rage hurls aside his former reservations and fore sight to demand the death of Lancelot: 'My kynge, my lorde, and myne uncle, 'seyde s i r Gawayne, 'whyte you well, now I shall make you a promyse whych I shall holde be my knyghthode, that frome thys day forwarde I shall never fayle s i r Launcelot untyll that one of us have slayne that othir. And there-fore I requyre you, my lorde and kynge, dresse you unto the warre, for wyte you well, I woll be revenged uppon s i r Launcelot; and therefore, as ye woll have my servyse and my love, now haste you thereto and assay your frendis. For I promyse unto God,1 seyde s i r Gawayn, 'for the deth of my brothir, s i r Gareth, I shall seke s i r Launcelot thorowoute seven kyngs realmys, but I shall sle hym,other e l l i s he shall sle me.' 48 Pride and fragmented family loyalties have replaced loyalty to the lar-ger fellowship of the Round Table. Yet i t is "only on his death-bed, after the breach between Lancelot and Arthur has been irreconcilably widened by the wars waged against Lancelot, that Gawain realizes that his own pride drew him to the centre of the ever-increasing circle of dissent which ultimately engulfed the entire kingdom: Ibid., p. 835. 33 And thorow me and my pryde ye have a l l thys shame and disease, for had that noble knyght, s i r Launcelot, ben with you, as he was and wolde have ben, thys unhappy warre had never ben begunne; for he, thorow hys noble knyght-hode and hys noble bloode, hylde a l l youre cankyrde enemyes in subjeccion and daungere. And now,' seyde s i r Gawayne, 'ye shall mysse s i r Launcelot. But alas that I wolde nat accorde with hym!' 49 ( I t a l . mine) Only, as he dies, and as the kingdom dies, does Gawain realize that his proud assertion of family loyalty led .to the alienation of Lancelot from the realm, and the consequent seizing of power by Mordred. It is thus more than f i t t i n g that of a l l the Arthurian knights,. Gawain should be granted the vision of Arthur's court as a herd of proud black bulls. But is not only Gawain, but Arthur's entire court that is symbolized as a herd of proud black bulls, and as head of that court Arthur himself is a victim of the pride that destroys his kingdom. One of the most revealing passages pertaining to the Arthur-Lancelot-Guenevere triangle suggests that Arthur was well aware of the love of Lancelot and Guenevere before Aggravayne and Mordred ever confronted him with their accusation of the couple's adultery. For as Arthur listens to Aggravayne and Mordred's charge, and their plan to ensnare and incriminate Lancelot and Guenevere, Malory makes the following comment: Ibid., p. 863. 34 For,as the Freynshe booke seyth, the kynge - was f u l l lothe that such a noyse shulde be uppon s i r Launcelot and his quene; for the . kynge had a demyng of h i t , but he wold nat here thereoff, for s i r Launcelot had done so much for hym and for the quene so many tymes that wyte you well the kynge loved hym passyngly well.50 ( I t a l . mine) Publicly confronted with what he had privately known, what he had "a 51 demyng of", Arthur is forced to i n i t i a t e the series of disasters which seal his doom. Thus Aggravayne and Mordred's charge is not news to Arthur, i t only confirms what he had suspected, even known. Nevertheless, the charge has the desired effect upon Arthur, for though i t reveals nothing not known to him, i t forces him to act. For implicit in the charge of Aggravayne and Mordred is a threat. Though the charge of adul-tery is levelled at Lancelot and Guenevere, the threat implicit in that charge is directed at Arthur -- that he is a cuckold. Already aware that he is being cuckolded, but now aware that others share his knowledge, he is forced to send Guenevere to the flames in a desperate attempt to re-gain his pride and restore his image. Thus, prior even to the involve-ment of the s t i l l neutral Gawain, the usually impartial Arthur allows his pride to take precedence, and in so doing becomes partially responsible for setting into motion the tragedy from which none w i l l escape. Of the principals caught in this tragedy i t is Lancelot, however, who is the least culpable, and most capable of exercising o u Ibid., p. 820. 5 1 Ibid. 35 restraint. Insulted^by Gawain, and attacked by Arthur, Lancelot with-draws within the walls of Joyous Garde, refusing to engage Arthur's forces, 52 "for to ryde oute of thys castell and to do batayle I am f u l l lothe, Lancelot t e l l s his knights. Even after the increasing insistence of Gawain and Arthur's insults has forced him onto the f i e l d , he goes unwil-lin g l y , instructing " a l l hys knyghtes in ony wyse to save Kynge Arthure 53 and Sir Gawayne." Fleeing to France rather than attacking again the fellowship he more than any of Arthur's knights embodied, Lancelot, " f u l l 54 lothe to ryde oute . . . for shedynge of Crysten blood," but "dryvyn 55 thereto as beste t y l l e a bay," is forced to accept Gawain's challenge to individual combat. Yet Lancelot too must be counted among the proud black bulls envisioned by Gawain. For though Lancelot practices restraint once the court conflict is underway, his i n i t i a l actions are governed by his own pride, and a blinding sense of loyalty, not to the Round Table, but to Guenevere. Indeed, i t is Lancelot's avowal to fight for his 56 queen "in right othir in wronge" which is partially responsible for the ruin of the Round Table. For i t i s Lancelot's misfortune to love, and therefore feel forced to defend Guenevere against charges which he 5 2 Ibid., p. 839. 5 3 Ibid. 5 4 Ibid., p. 852. 5 5 Ibid., p. 855. 5 6 Ibid., p. 755. 36 knows she is guilty of. Only after the death of Arthur and Guenevere, and the destruction of the kingdom, does Lancelot realize the part his own pride played in the tragedy from which he alone survived: .'. . So whan I sawe his corps and hir corps so lye togyders, truly myn herte wold not serve to systeyne my careful body. Also whan I remembre me how my defaute and myn orqule and my pryde that they were bothe layed ful lowe, that v/ere pereles that ever was lyvyng of Cristen people, wyt you wel, 1 sayd syr Launcelot, 'this remembred, of their kyndenes and myn unkyndenes, sanke so to myn herte that I myght not susteyne myself.'57 ( I t a l . mine) Only here, at the tomb of his king and queen, does Lancelot see that his own pride was responsible for their death like Gawain and Arthur, Lancelot learns too late that he also was among the proud black bulls en-visioned by the knight he slew. Finally, the actual actions of the black bulls envisioned by Gawain suggest the shifting sense of fragmented loyalties, the insta-b i l i t y , and the mutability of the men who made up, and then destroyed 58 Arthur's kingdom. Unlike the "three bullis which were so fayre," the black bulls symbolizing Arthur's knights betray their instability in • 59 their dissatisfied cry, "Go we hens to seke bettir pasture!" Moreover, 5 7 Ibid., p. 880 5 8 Ibid., p. 680 5 9 Ibid. 37 their i n a b i l i t y to "stonde upryght," and their disorderly dispersal as "they departed one here an anothir there" 6^ foreshadows not only the^ break-up of the Round Table, but also, captures, in the physical move-ment of the bulls, the essence of the instability and disloyalty of the men who enabled Mordred to seize power. For the actions of these black bulls epitomize the fickle i n f i d e l i t y of Arthur's knights, an i n f i d e l i t y which, as the tragedy enacted in "The Day of Destiny" draws to a close, moves Malory to make the following comment: . . . For than was the comyn voyce amonge them that with kynge Arthur was never othir l y f f but warre and s t r y f f , and with s i r Mordrede was grete joy and blysse. Thus was kynge Arthur depraved, and evyll seyde off; and many there were that kynge Arthur had brought up of nought, and gyffyn them londis, that myght nat than say hym a good worde. Lo, ye a l l Englysshemen, se ye nat what a mys-chyff here was? For he that was the moste kynge and nobelyst knyght of the worlde, and moste loved the felyshyp of noble knyghtes, and by hym they a l l were upholdyn, and yet myght nat thes Englyshemen holde them contente with hym. Lo thus was the olde custom and usayges of thys londe, and men say that we of thys londe have nat yet loste that custom. Alas! thys ys a greate defaughte of us Englysshemen, for there may no thynge us please no terme.62 "Go we hens to seke bettir pasture," cry the black bulls, foreshadow-ing the f a l l of Arthur's court, and once that f a l l has taken place, 60 Ibid. 61 Ibid. 62 Ibid., 63 Ibid., p. 861-62. p. 862. 38 Malory comments, "there may no thynge us please no terme." Both state-ments reveal the basic i n s t a b i l i t y , i n f i d e l i t y , and mutability of the men who destroyed the Round Table. Thus, in an image essentially devised for a rigorously didactic religious sermon., the human weaknesses of pride and i n s t a b i l i t y , not the religious f a i l i n g s , are revealed as the causes of the f a l l of the Round Table. Ibid., p. 862. .39 CHAPTER III THE QUESTING BEAST "Perhaps the most extravagant of a l l Arthurian fancies," wrote J.D. Bruce, "is that of la beste glatissante"^ or, in Malory, the Questing Beast. Appearing throughout Arthurian romance, the Questing Beast is as varied in appearance and meaning as i t is ubiquitous. In the Perlesvaus and Gerbert de MontreuVs Continuation of the Conte del Graal, for example, i t is small and white, resembling a pregnant bitch in 2 appearance, while i t s meaning is s t r i c t Christian allegory. In Malory, however, the Questing Beast is more awesome in appearance, having the head of a serpent, the body of a leopard, the buttocks of a li o n , and the feet of a hart. Moreover, in Malory, i t s meaning complements the com-plexity of i t s appearance indeed, is as elusive as the beast i t s e l f , for i t is never caught, only seen and chased. Yet in i t s very recurring appearance and disappearance i t provides a thread of unity through the diverse and sometimes seemingly disconnected narratives which comprise Malory's Morte. J.D. Bruce, The Evo1ution of Arthurian Romance (2 vols.: Gloucester, Mass.:' Peter "Smith, 1958), I, p. 465. ~ See Appendix II for a comparison of both passages. 40 The f i r s t appearance of the Questing Beast in The Tale of Arthur is preceded by a number of supernatural signs signalling the complete departure from the realm of reality which the Questing Beast 3 represents. Arthur dreams of "gryffens and serpentes," and after awaken-ing, a "grete harte" 4 appears which Arthur chases until his horse f a l l s 5 . •  . dead. Even more than the dream, then, the chase of the hart, and the dying horse, seem to be a sequence of devices for the transition from the real to the unreal. Yet no sequence of devices or signs can prepare either the reader, or Arthur, for the visual sight of the Questing Beast drinking from the well, nor the sounds which issue from within that beast--such sights and sounds must be recounted as they were written: ...he sette him downe by a fowntayne, and there he f e l l e downe in grete thought. And as he sate • so hym thought he herde a noyse of howundis to the som of thirty, and with that the kynge saw com towarde hym the strongeste beste that ever he saw or herde of. So thys beste wente to the welle and dranke, and the noyse was in the bestes bealy (lyke unto the questyng of thirty coupyl houndes, but alle the whyle the beest dranke there was no noyse in the bestes bealy). And therewith the beeste departed with a grete noyse, whereof the kynge had grete mervayle. And so he was in a grete thought, and therewith he f e l l e on slepe.6 Malory, Works, ed Eugene Vinaver (London: Oxford University Press, 1954), p. 33. 4 Ibid. 5 Both the chase of the hart and the dying horse are repeated in identical form immediately prior to the appearance of the supernatural ship which materializes before Arthur, under the direction of Morgan Le Fay, in the later "Arthur and Accolon" episode (Malory, p. 98). 6 Ibid., p. 33. 41 In several of i t s most predominant features, Arthur's encounter with the Questing Beast bears a remarkable resemblance to a passage from 7 William of Malmesbury's Gesta regum, which William Nitze believes may have been one of the ultimate sources from which the Questing Beast was o derived. King, hunt, and dream are common to both episodes in an ordering of detail which makes such recurring motifs seem more than coincidental. Malory's immediate source, was however, the Suite du Merlin. There, as in Malory's f i r s t description of the Questing Beast, and William of Malmesbury' account of the beast envisioned by King Eadgar, the beast i t s e l f is far more correctly termed la beste glatissante ('the barking beast') than the Questing Beast proper. That i s , i t is more correctly thought of as resembling a female hound, or, as William of Malmesbury would have i t , " 9 "... a bitch, of the hunting breed, pregnant," than the Questing Beast late appearing throughout Maiory's Book of S i r Tristram De Lyones, having a serpent's head, leopard's body, and lion's buttocks. In the Perlesvaus too, the beast is more suggestive of a small, white pregnant dog, than the awesome creature chased by Palomides throughout Malory's Book of Sir  Tristram. Indeed, the account of the birth of the beste glatissante, paraphrased from the Post-Vulgate Queste (M. S. B. N. f r . 112, Livre IV) 7 See Appendix I for passage referred to. William A. Nitze, ed. Perlesvaus (2 vols; Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1937), I I . p. 139. g William of Malmesbury, Chroncile of the Kings of England trans. J.A. Giles (London: Henry G. Bonn, 1847), p. 156. 42 by Fanni Bogdanow clearly aids in explaining the identification of La best  glatissante wi th dogs: There was once ... a king named Hypomenes who had a beautiful daughter well versed in the seven arts, but in particular in nigromance, who f e l l in love with her brother. The latter repulsed her, and as the damsel was about to k i l l herself in despair, the devil appeared to her in the form of a handsome man and promised to help i f she would do his w i l l . She did so, and then on the devil's advice accused her brother of having done violence to her. Hypomenes had his son imprisoned, and after the barons had condemned him to death, the damsel urged that he be given alive to dogs 'en jeusnes deset jours'. But before his death the brother warned his sister that God would take vengeance and that she would be delivered of a devil in the form of 'une beste la plus diverse qui oncques fust veue.' 'Et pur ce que tu a chiens as livree ma char, avra ceste beste dedens son ventre chiens que toutes voiez yront glastissant en memoire et en reproche des bestes a qui tu me faiz l i v r e r . 1 A l l happened as the brother predicted, and as soon as the beste was born i t ran away 'qu'il n'eust homme au chastel ne au palaiz qui retenir la peust, mais toutes voiez entendoient i l bien le glatissement qu'elle demenoit1 J 0 Thus the dogs which bark incessantly within the beast's womb are symbolic of the hounds which Hypomene's daughter had devour her brother, and the beast, in i t s ugliness, is symbolic of the devil which entered into her. Fanni Bogdanow, The Romance of the Grai1 (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1966) p. 126. Translation: ... to dogs which had been fasting for seven days ... in the form of the most strange beast which had ever been seen. And because you gave up my flesh to dogs this beast w i l l have in i t s belly dogs which w i l l go barking in a l l directions in memory and in reproach to the beasts to which you had me delivered ... i t ran away because there wasn't a man in the castle who could restrain i t , they heard, in a l l directions, the barking which i t made. 43 In Malory, however, the meaning of the Questing Beast is as amorphous as the beast i t s e l f . It is a " f u l l wondirfull beyste and a grete syfnyfycasion,"^ writes Malory, while neglecting to impart that "sygnyfycasion." Instead, Malory increases the mystery of the beast's 12 meaning by stating that "Merlyon prophesyed muche of that byeste," while again, never divulging what Merlin prophesied. But Malory's reticence was, in a l l likelihood, not a deliberate literary device designed to surround the Questing Beast with enigma, but rather, the result of a genuine ignorance of the beast's complete history. Although conjecture, i t seems logical to assume that Malory did not divulge the Questing Beast's "syfnyfycasion," quite simply, because he did not know i t . Only by examining the French Arthurian cycle in i t s vast totality could Malory have known the f u l l story of the Questing Beast, for as Eugene Vinaver has noted, what is contained therein is not a series of stories, but the many branches of one story: The French Arthurian Prose cycle with i t s Various ramifications was not an 'assemblage of stories', but a singularly perfect example of thirteenth-century narrative art, subordinate to a well-defined principle of composition and maintaining in a l l i t s branches a remarkable sense of cohesion. It was an elaborate fabric woven out of a number of themes which alternated with one another like the threads of a tapestry: Malory, Works, ed., Eugene Vinaver (London: Oxford University Press, 1954), p. 531. 1 2 Ibid. 44 a fabric whose growth and development had been achieved not by a process of indiscriminate expansion, but by means of a consistent lengthen-ing of each thread J 3 The modern scholar can spread this fabric before him and examine each of i t s threads. Doing so he sees that the Questing Beast is alluded to in the Suite du Merlin, where Pellinor hunts i t ; that i t reappears in the First Version of the prose Tristan, where Palomides is the "Chevalier a la beste glatissant;"^ 4 and f i n a l l y , after Palomides has hunted i t for fourteen years, in the Poste-Vulgate Queste, Palomides, Perceval, and Galahad together slay the beast. Only in the Post-Vulgate Queste, after the beast has been slain, is the story of i t s birth revealed by King Pellean, who relates the narrative of Hypomenes' daughter. Malory, however, was unable to examine this entire fabric, only some of i t s threads, which he then rewove into his own pattern. For he wrote and died in prison, and though the Suite du Merlin and the prose Tristan were two of his sources, the key Post-Vulgate Queste, containing the narrative of the birth of the Questing Beast, was unavailable to him. That Malory himself was aware of his limited.sources is revealed at the end of The Tale of King Arthur, where, in a painfully personal passage, he also reveals his plight as a knight-prisoner: Ibid., p. v i i i . Fanni Bogdanow, The Romance of the Grail (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1966), p. 125. 45 And this booke endyth whereas Sir Launcelot and Sir Trystrams com to courte. Who that woll make ony more lette hym seke other bookis of Kynge Arthure or of Sir Launcelot or Sir Trystrams; for this was drawyn by a knyght presoner, Sir Thomas Malleorre, that God Sende hym good recover. Amen.15 "Very seldom does Malory indulge in reflections not to be found in the original romances from which he worked," wrote Edward Hicks, adding, "this is one of those rare passages, and i t is natural to see in i t the impelling force of bitter personal experience."^ Hicks was commenting on Malory's closing address to the reader with which the Morte ends, but Hicks' comment is equally applicable to the words with which Malory closes The Tale of King Arthur, which I have here quoted. For i f Hicks' detailed and thoroughly researched biographical study is correct in assuming that the Sir Thomas Malory imprisoned in Newgate Gaol is the same Sir Thomas who wrote the Morte, then implicit in this passage is not only the frustration of an imprisoned man, but also, the frustration Malory must have f e l t on finding that London's Grey Friars Library (located next to Newgate Gaol, and from which, says Hicks, Malory was allowed to borrow manuscripts) contained segments of, but not the complete cycle of French Arthurian literature. "Who that woll make ony more lette hym seke other bookis of Kynge Arthure or of Sir Launcelot or Sir Trystrams; for this was drawyn by a knyght presoner"^ -- others 15 Malory, Works, ed. Eugene Vinaver, p. 133. Edward Hicks, Sir Thomas Malory, His Turbulent Career (Cambridge: Harvard .University Press, 1928), p. 85. ^ " ^ Malory, Works, ed. Eugene Vinaver, p. 133. 46 w i l l have to render the complete French Arthurian cycle into English, for I, by my very confinement, have been confined to those sources immediately available to me, Malory surely implies. That he was able to rework those sources, fashioning them into what Eugene Vinaver has called "the one work of real poetic value in the whole f i e l d of Arthurian 18 f i c t i o n " is indicative not only of his genius and originality, but also of the way in which, ultimately at least, he overcame the confinement imposed on a "knyght presoner." Malory's treatment of the Questing Beast is a very specific example of the way in which Malory overcame this a r t i s t i c "confinement," or i n a b i l i t y to gain access to the complete French Arthurian cycles. Shut off from the complete history of the Questing Beast, and therefore, unaware of i t s complete meaning, Malory thus uses the Questing Beast in • a new and original manner, so that within the Morte the beast assumes an existence related to, yet separated from it s sources. Within the Morte i t becomes a new and separate entity with a new and separate meaning. The Suite du Merlin, for example, from which Malory derived his f i r s t description of the Questing Beast, forms part of a larger work which Fanni Bogdanow entitled "the Roman du Graal."l^Thus, Ibid., v i i . Fanni Bodganow, "The Suite Du Merlin and the Post-Vulgate Roman Du Graal" in ALMA, ed Roger Sherman Loomis (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 195977 P- 332. 47 in the Sui te, Merlin t e l l s Arthur that the Questing Beast is "'une des aventures dou GraaV and that he w i l l not know the truth about i t until 20 Perceval l i Galois, Pellinor's son, w i l l t e l l him." Here Merlin is alluding to and anticipating the k i l l i n g of the Questing Beast in the Post-Vultage Pjjeste_, the final segment of what Bogdanow calls the "larger work" of which both the Sui te and the Post-Vulgate Queste are a part. In Malory, however, the Questing Beast is neither "une des aventures dou Graal," nor is i t ever linked with Perceval, but rather, i t later becomes the quest of Palomides in the Book of Sir Tristram De Lyonnes. Ignorant of, or ignoring the complete history of the Questing Beast, only a part of which was contained in the Suite, but already seeing his own work, the Morte, as an at least partially unified larger whole, Malory deleted Merlin's allusion in the Suite to the later adventures of Perceval and the Questing Beast in the Post-Vulgate Queste, and in i t s place wrote the following interpolation foreshadowing Palomides pursuit of the beast 21 in Malory's later The Book of Sir Tristram: Whos name was kynge Pellynor that tyme folowed the questynge beste, and a f f t i r hys dethe Sir Palomydies folowed hit.22 Fanni Bogdanow, The Romance of the Gra i l , (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1966), p.125. Thomas L. Wright, "The Tale of King Arthur: Beginnings and Foreshadowings:" in Ma 1 ory's Origina 1 i t y , "ed., R. M. Lumiansky (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1964), p. 49. This is one of many examples of what Wright calls "Malory's use of allusion to correlate widely separate episodes in Le Morte Darthur," allusions which, says Wright, have no source, and are original to Malory. Malory, Works, ed. Eugene Vinaver, pp. 33-34. 48 In the Roman du Graal, which contains the Suite du Merlin from which Malory drew his Tale of King Arthur, the Questing Beast is chased f i r s t by Pellinor, then Palomides, and f i n a l l y i s tracked down and slain by Perceval, • Palomides, and Galahad. In Malory, however, i t is hunted only by Pellinor and Palomides. Thus Malory, though working from the Suite, has here rewritten his source so that the* above passage alludes only to those knights who chase the Questing Beast within his own work, the Morte, rather than his source. The question of Malory's originality has created c r i t i c a l reputations and innumerable articles. As already stated, however, Malory's original treatment of the Questing Beast may well have been the result of his ignorance of, or ina b i l i t y to gain access to the complete story of the Questing Beast, so much of which was contained in one of the final segments of the Roman du GraalI, the Post-Vulgate Queste. Thus, in the Monte, the Questing Beast achieves an existence and a meaning at least partially separated from that of i t s sources. The remainder of this chapter, therefore, is an attempt to explore the meaning of the Questing Beast as i t exists in Malory alone, by analyzing i t s relation-ship to the two knights who quest after i t , Pellinor and Palomides. For Pellinor and Palomides, by their very imperfection, are suited to the imperfection of the object of their quest, the ugly, elusive Questing Beast. In Chapter One i t was seen that the conduct of Pellinor was antithetical to that of the virtuous Torre in the tri-partite quest of the "Torre and Pellinor" episode. For unlike Torre, Pellinor, i t was shown, sinned against love by causing the death of his own daughter 49 and the knight to whom she was betrothed. Here, however, I wish to dwell not upon the nature of Pellinor's sin, but the cause of i t . For in two separate passages what is emphasized is the eagerness of Pellinor to achieve his quest at the expense of human l i f e , of the chivalric code, of a l l that the quest i t s e l f stands for. Pellinor refuses to answer the "damesell's" plea for help, quite simply, because she is not an assigned part of his quest, and therefore he sees her not as a human in need of aid, but as a mere obstacle standing between him and the achievement of his quest: . 'Helpe me, knyght, for Jesuys sake!" Butking  Pellynore wolde nat t a r r y h e was so egir in hys  queste; and ever she cryed an hondred tymes a f t i r helpe. When she saw'he wolde nat abyde, she prayed unto God to sende hym as much nede of helpe as she had, and that he myght feele hit or he deyed. So, as the booke t e l l i t h , the knyght there dyed that was wounded, wherefore for pure sorow the lady slew hirs e l f f with hys swerde.23 ( I t a l . mine) Because Pellinor "was so egir" he achieves the lady who was the object of his quest, but i t is only upon his return to court that he discovers that he did so at the expense of his own daughter's l i f e . There, his error of eagerness is emphasized s t i l l further through self-recriminations: 'Alas! hir l y f f myght I have saved, but I was ferse in  my queste that I wolde hat abyde.24 ( I t a l . mine) Malory, Works, ed. Eugene Vinaver, p. 86. Ibid., p. 90. 50 Without a chivalric code, without a sense of humanity, the quest, pursued as an end in i t s e l f , is meaningless. The Questing Beast, as opposed to the g r a i l , symbolizes that meaninglessness of a quest for the mere sake of a quest, and Pellinor has shown by his action and inaction that he is worthy only of pursuing the Questing Beast, a beast, as I have already suggested which symbolizes the meaninglessness of quests pursued for no moral or chivalric code or purpose, other than the pursuit i t s e l f . The evil of Pellinor is mirrored in the ugliness of the beast he pursues. The quester suits and complements the object of his quest. Just as Galahad, Perceval, and Bors, because of their flawless character, are chosen to achieve the quest of the Holy Grail, so too, Pellinor and Palomides are destined to pursue the Questing Beast because of their flawed characters. An analysis of Palomide's character and i t s relationship to the Questing Beast, i s , however, more complex than that, for i t involves us in the weighty matter which comprises one third of Malory's entire work, the lengthy Book of Sir Tristram De Lyonnes. Vinaver has 25 described this book as Malory's "longest and least attractive," while E.K. Chambers has concluded that Malory" ... would have done better to 26 have l e f t the Tristan alone." Indeed, c r i t i c s have consistently agreed Eugene Vinaver, "Sir Thomas Malory" In ALMA, ed. R.S. Loomis (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959), p. 545. E.K. Chambers, Sir Thomas Malory, English Association Pamphlet, No. 51 (January 1922), p. 5. 51 that Malory's Book of Sir Tristram De Lyones is a "seemingly haphazard array of adventures''^? a book which Malory failed to give "a ... meaning 28 ... capable of supporting i t s complex and delicate narrative frame." In summary, the book is usually seen as a seemingly disjointed series of adventures which f a i l to f i t together into a single, unified whole, either within the Tristram story, or within the larger structure of the entire Morte. Yet such adverse criticism is only partially j u s t i f i e d . For while i t is true that Malory ignores the tragic death of Tristram and Iseult, merely mentioning i t in a debased and highly condensed form in the later Book of Sir Launcelot and Queen Gwynevere, and while i t is also true that much of The Book of Sir Tristram is concerned with the detailed recounting of a series of tournaments totally divorced from the narrative within which they appear, i t is also, nevertheless, true, that certain recurring narrative threads run through the total fabric, giving the book some of the unity, some of the entrelacement, which c r i t i c s claim i t so severely lacks. One such thread is the figure of Palomides, who throughout appears as the rival of Tristram for the love of Iseult, and as the hunter of the Questing Beast. Before examining the figure of Palomides, however, I must repeat, and then set aside, my basic premise -- that the Questing Beast symbolizes a meaningless, purposeless quest, and that the pursuer of i t i s , by his very pursuit of i t , therefore, a man whose l i f e lacks meaning. 27 Edmund Reiss, Sir Thomas Malory (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1966), p. 113. 28 Eugene Vinaver, ed., The Works of Sir Thomas•Malory (3 vols: Oxford Clarendon Press, 1967), i . p. TxxxvTii". 52 Edmund Reiss, in one of the most illuminating books ever 29 written on Malory, dismisses Palomides as "flawed by an envy of Tristram." It is my intention, however, to show that Palomides' character is much more complex indeed, as complex as the book i t s e l f , - and that his character is not merely that of the hopeless lover whose passion for Iseult is never returned, a l l of which implies an immutability of character, but rather, that Palomides' character develops and changes as the Book of S i r  Tristram i t s e l f develops. His position as the unrequited lover of Iseult may remain unchanged, but during the course of the book his character changes from that of the jealous enemy of Tristram to a noble man of almost heroic, but also, tragic stature. I f , as Reiss suggest,.Palomides is "flawed by an envy of Tristram," i t i s , indeed, a tragic flaw. I n i t i a l l y the relationship between Tristram and Palomides and their conflicting love for Iseult is quite l i t e r a l l y one of black and white. In their i n i t i a l confrontation Palomides wears a black shield; Tristram rides a white horse, wears white armour - - i n direct opposition 30 to Palomides he enters the f i e l d appearing as a "bryght angel 1." The connotations of the two conflicting colours are too simple to warrant explication, and i t need hardly be noted that Tristram soundly defeats Palomides, sparing his l i f e only on the following condition: ... that ye forsake my lady, La Beale Isode, and in no manner of wyse that ye draw no more to hir ...31 29 Edmund Reiss,'Sir Thomas Malory (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1966), p.113. 30 Malory, Works, ed. Eugene Vinaver, p. 290 3 1 Ibid., p. 291. 53 This, however, is the one condition that Palomides, despite his oath to do so, cannot f u l f i l l . For i t is his misfortune and his tragic downfall to remain the constant but unreciprocated admirer of Iseult. Consequently he suffers in true courtly fashion. Preparing to f l i n g himself into a 32 well after having "wayled and wrange hys hondys," he is saved from drowning his sorrows and himself, ironically, by the restraining hand of Tristram; si t t i n g at the same table as Iseult he is speechless, and loses his appetite, for food at least --" he was so ravysshed that he myght . 33 unnethe speke ... they wente unto mete, but Sir Palomydes might nat ete," in "The Tournament at Loneszep," while Arthur, Tristram, and Launcelot slumber b l i s s f u l l y , Palomides spends a sleepless night during which he 34 "wayled and wepte oute of mesure;" and looking at himself reflected in the water of a well he sees that he has become" ... discoloured and 35 defaded, a nothynge lyke as he was ..." as he laments a love he knows he can never attain. Conversely, while Palomides suffers in the true courtly fashion, Tristram revels in the pleasures of courtly love. It is Tristram's task to deliver Iseult to her future husband, King Mark, but before they ever reach Cornwall they have drunk from the golden flask the heady wine which binds them together in a knot tighter than any marriage ceremony: 3 2 Ibid., p. 394. 3 3 Ibid., p. 536. 3 4 Ibid., p. 563. 3 5 Ibid., p. 577. 54 Than they lowghe and made good chere and eyther dranke to other f r e l y , and they thought never drynke that ever they dranke so swete nother so good to them. But by that drynke was in their bodyes they loved aythir other so well that never hir love departed, for well nother for woo. And thus hit happed fyrst, the love betwyxte s i r Trystames and La Beale Isode, the whyche love never departed dayes of their lyff.36 Within Mark's own castle "they lyved with joy and play a longe whyle, „37 and at the Castle of the Joyous Gard they "made joy togydrys dayly with 38 a l l maner of myrthis that they coude devyse." While Palomides suffered, Tristram and Iseult loved, with a freshness, an innocence, that was never attained in the parallel relationship of Lancelot and Guinevere. One would expect, then, Palomides and Tristram to be mortal enemies, and indeed, at the outset they are. Theirs is clearly an enmity founded on a love for the same woman. In the opening book, after Palomides has momentarily achieved success by abducting Iseult in Tristram's absence, Governayle rushes towards Palomides with the follow-ing warning: 'Sir Palomydes, make the redy, for wete thou welle Sir Trystrames hoyvth yondir and sendyth the worde he is thy mortal! foo.'39 ( I t a l . mine.) 36 37 38 39 Ibid., p. 312. Ibid., p. 323. Ibid., p. 506. Ibid., p. 322. 55 And as the fight begins, i t s cause, and the source of the ardour which impels both knights, is again stressed: And there began stronge batayle on both partyes, for bothe they fought for the love of one lady.40 And so too, they continue to fight through the entire Book of Sir  Tristram, and i t is not my purpose to relate here those continual encounters from which Tristram always emerges victorious. But the supposed object of Palomides1 questings, the Questing Beast i t s e l f , is noticably absent from this and Palomides1 numerous other encounters with Tristram and Iseult. Palomides1 pursuit of Iseult has taken precedence over his pursuit of the Questing Beast. But as in a l l encounters with Tristram, Palomides is here soundly defeated, forced shamefully from the f i e l d , and from the woman he loves —" and so s i r Palomydes departed with grete hevynesse."4^ Significantly, however, he is soon seen once again pursuing the Questing Beast. Unsuccessful in his f i r s t attempt to win the favour of Iseult, he hopelessly attempts to sublimate his desire for her in his f u t i l e pursuit of the meaningless, ugly, Questing Beast: And thys meanewhyle com s i r Palomydes, the good knyght, folowyng the questyng beste that had in shap lyke a serpentis hede and a body lyke a lybud, buttokked lyke a lyon and footed lyke an harte. And in hys body there was such 4 0 Ibid. 4 1 Ibid., p. 323. .56 a noyse as hit had bene twenty couple of houndys questynge, and suche noyse that beste made wheresomever he wente. And thys beste evermore s i r Palomydes folowed, for hit was called hys queste.42 But though the Questing Beast is here "called hys quest", Palomides is not yet ready to accept i t as such. Not until the end of the Book of Sir  Tristram, when Iseult's continued rejections have rendered his hope of attaining her love an impossibility, does Palomides resign himself to his fate as the alienated and only participant in the most meaningless quest in Malory's Morte. The i n i t i a l image of the Palomides who appears in black armour opposing the angelic whiteness of Tristram is thus a deceptive and damaging one. Unsuccessful lover he i s , saracen he i s , v i l l a i n he is not rather, a man whose nobility increases until his inability to attain the favour of Iseult, coupled with his f u t i l e search for the Questing Beast, reaches near tragic proportions. Palomides is not consistently e v i l , but rather, a knight whose chivalric code develops as the book i t s e l f develops. P.E. Tucker describes Palomides in the following manner: Palomides is given an important role in Malory's version. At f i r s t he and Tristram meet and fight for the love of Isode, but as Palomides comes  under the influence of Tristram's courtesy he  gives up his 1ove.43 (ItaT." mine.) Ibid., pp. 358-359. P.E. Tucker, "Chivalry in the Morte" in Essays On Malory Ed. J.A.W. Bennett (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963), p. 74. 57 Despite Tucker's description, Palomides is not merely a f o i l for Tristram, nor does he ever 'give up his love of Isode.' Rather, Palomides is a complex, f u l l y developed character whose nobility and love increase as the Book of Sir Tristram unfolds. Palomides, though i t is true he moves closer to and f i n a l l y reconciles himself with Tristram, develops as an individual, not as someone "under the influence of Tristram." In the episode entitled by Vinaver "The Red City," Palomides is seen successfully accomplishing his own quest, and moreover, a clear indication of his resolve to become a chivalric knight, totally unaided by the "influence of Tristram," is given In the following key passage: ...he belyved in the bestemaner and was f u l l faythefull and trew of his promyse, and well condyssonde; and bycause he made his avow that he wolde never be crystynde unto the tyme that he had enchyeved the beste glatysaunte, the whyche was a f u l l wondirfull beyste and a grete sygnyfycasion; for Merlyon prophesyed muche of that byeste. And also s i r Palomydes avowed never to take f u l l Crystyndom untyll that he had done seven batayles within lystys.44 ( I t a l . mine). The key word in this entire passage, repeated once in the present, and once in the past tense, is "avow," Palomides is very much his own man, operating under the influence of no one but himself, certainly not under the influence of Tristram. It is his_ intention to Malory, Works, ed., Eugene Vinaver, p. 531. 58. conquer the Questing Beast; his intention to fight seven battles before being christened -- a l l he has in common with Tristram is his love for Iseult. Moreover, his triumph in rescuing the beseiged Red City is attained solely through his own defeat of Sir Helyus, unaided by Tristram or anyone else, and though the newly freed city offers him "the thirde 45 parte of their goodis," he refused in order to resume his own clearly defined plans, plans which, despite their noble quality, appear to have been l i t t l e influenced by Tristram -- they are his avowals. Significantly, the "Red City" episode closes with Palomides returning to Joyus Garde, where he is rendered speechless and unable to eat by the appearance of 45 Iseult. At least at this point Tucker's statement that Palomides "gives up his love" is certainly not true. Any knight who has just suffered one hundred blows in a two hour struggle with Sir Helyus, and is now unable to eat because of the sight of Iseult is s t i l l very much under her spell. The opening of "The Tournament at Lonezep," however, seemingly confirms Tucker's statement, for here Tristram, Palomides, and Iseult are seen riding together towards the castle of Lonezep. Together, Tristram and Palomides decide to fight against Arthur's retinue, not out of enmity, but to counter-balance the power of Lancelot in the f i e l d . A l l seems to support Tucker's statement, and indeed, during the actual • Ibid., p. 533. Ibid., p. 536. 59 battle Tristram remounts Palomides to renew the attack on Arthur's party. However, a closer examination of the battle reveals several significant incidents which completely refute Tucker's statement. For during the battle, while Palomides ostensibly fights alongside Tristram, his heart and mind are s t i l l separated from Tristram and attached to Iseult: And in his harte, as the booke saythe, s i r Palomydes wysshed that wyth his worshyp he myght have ado with s i r Trystram before a l l men, bycause of La Beall Isode.4? Such a statement hardly needs comment. Moreover, later in the tournament Palomides disguises himself with a silver shield and attacks Tristram --the old enmity, the old jealousy, contrary to Tucker's view, remains, and the source of i t a l l , Iseult, watching the joust, later warns Tristram: ... ye were betrayed ... in youre presence suche a felonne and traytoure as ys s i r Palomydes ... 48 Palomides claims that in the myriad of disguises he did not recognize Tristram, and again they seem brothers in arms, a relationship which again supports Tucker's statement. But the sleepless night of Palomides, which immediately follows, already quoted, refutes Tucker's view. Despite the reconciliation between Tristram and Palomides in the final episode of the Book of Sir Tristram, entitled by Vinaver, simply, "Conclusion," Palomides, though he f i n a l l y loves and respects Tristram, Ibid., p. 545. Ibid., p. 560. 60 also, s t i 11 loves Iseult. On the of the last episode of The Book of Sir Tristram de Lyones, Palomides s t i l l thinks of her as 49 "... pyerles of a l l othir ladyes..." Despite Palomides1 confession and baptism, which immediately follows, he clearly s t i l l loves Iseult, but he now knows that his love is a hopeless one -- he is l e f t with nothing. ... ... Nothing except the Questing Beast. Demonic in origin and grotesque in appearance, i t is symbolic of the evil woman out of whose womb i t was born, a woman antithetical to "Iseult the Fair." In i t s very elusiveness i t symbolizes a meaningless quest, for in Malory i t is never caught, only quested after. Thus the final line of Malory's Book of Sir  Tristram captures the fate of both Palomides and Tristram in striking apposition. Tristram is to return to the Joyus Garde and to Iseult, but the rejected Palomides, his l i f e rendered void without Iseult, is doomed to follow the meaningless t r a i l of the Questing Beast: And than s i r Trystram returned unto Joyus Garde, and s i r Palomydes folowed a f t i r the Questynge Beste. In view of the heroic stature attained by Palomides, especially in "The Red City" episode, and in view of my earlier stated theory that Ibid., p. 622. Ibid., p. 623. 61 the Questing Beast is symbolic of a purposeless quest, Palomides1 fated search for i t is in i t s e l f tragic. For unlike Pellynor, whose ugly character is mirrored in the Questing Beast he seeks, Palomides is worthy of more. Unlike Pellynor, his character is not flawed throughout, but rather, contains a tragic flaw. Though the Questing Beast intensifies the evil of Pellynor, i t only heightens the tragedy of Palomides. 62 CHAPTER IV DRAGONS OF DISSENSION In the mind of any man, of any culture, the dragon summons up a conditioned response of evil in a l l i t s many-scaled, serpentine man-ifestations. To the Christian writers of The Bestiary the dragon is the devil.^ The Chinese associate the dragon with drought, and consequent 2 desolation of the land. In Indian myth, too, the demons of drought are 3 dragons who vindictively imprison the rains. J.G. Frazer, commenting on the universality of this belief, summarizes i t s many variants in the f o l -lowing manner: A certain country is infested by a many-headed serpent, dragon, or other monster, which would destroy the whole people i f a human victim, generally a virgin, were not delivered up to him periodically.4 In summary, not only is the dragon e v i l , but invariably i t is associated with a blighted i n f e r t i l e land. Either through drought or destruction, unless appeased, or sl a i n , i t reduces the country to a barren wasteland. T.H. White, ed. The Bestiary (New York: Capricorn Books, 1960) p. 161. J.G. Frazer, The Golden Bough, abridged edition (London: McMillan, 1924), p. 74. Lewis Spence, The Minor Traditions of British Mythology (London: Rider and Company, 1948), p. 128. J.G. Frazer, The Golden Bough, p. 146. 63 Nor is the association of the dragon with the wasteland merely confined to the more torrid areas of the earth's surface, where drought is a common occurrence. The English homily De Festo Sancti  Johannis Baptistae, as quoted by John Brand, alludes not only to dragons, but to the desolation sickness, and death they wreaked upon the country and i t s inhabitants: Then as these dragons flew in th'ayre they shed down to that water froth of thir kynde, and so envenymed the waters, and caused moche people for to take theyr deth therby, and many dyverse sykenesse.5 Moreover, "The Story of Lludd and Llevelys" in The Mabinogion clearly associates the dragon with the series of plagues which threaten to des-troy Lludd's kingdom, rendering i t into a barren wasteland: . . . men lost their hue and their strength and the women their children, and the young men and the maidens lost their senses, and a l l the animals and trees and the earth and the waters, were l e f t barren.6 Here is a wasteland as barren as any associated with the Grail romances, yet i t s cause is not a wounded King, but a dragon, as Llevelys, Lludd's brother, reveals: John Brand, Observations on the Popular Antiquities (2 vols.; London: George Bell & Sons, 1890), I. 300. Lady Charlotte Guest, trans., The Mabinogion (London: J.M. Dent. 1906), p. 90. 64 "And the second plague," said he, "that is in thy dominion, behold i t is a dragon."7 And in Beowulf, too, i t is the disturbance of the dragon's l a i r by an innocent wanderer which augments the fiery reign of terror and destruc-tion which descends upon the Geats. In Malory, however, the dragon is i n i t i a l l y associated not with e v i l , pestilence, death -- the wasteland, but rather, with Arthur himself. In three separate, lengthy passages in Malory, Arthur is clear-ly symbolized as a dragon. How can the image of Arthur, "the once and future king," the heroic leader of the Celts in their victories over the Saxons, how can this figure be reconciled with the evil traditionally associated with the dragon? It is the purpose of this chapter to provide, i f not an answer, at least an explanation for the existence of two such diverse connotations connected with the dragon symbol. For while the evil evoked by the dragon is antithetical to i t s i n i t i a l association with Arthur, that e v i l , nevertheless, develops as the evil within Arthur's court develops, until f i n a l l y the dragon fu l l y evokes i t s traditional terror in the tragic f a l l of Arthur and his court. Malory's f i r s t direct association between Arthur and a dragon occurs in Arthur's dream vision, prior to his defeat of Lucius in "The Noble Tale of King Arthur and the Emperor Lucius." Because of the 7 Ibid., p. 92. dream's importance, and because i t s meaning shifts as i t progresses, is quoted here in i t s entirety. In the words of Malory, then, "Here Folowyth The Dreme of Kynge Arthure": As the Kynge was in his cog and lay in his caban, he f e l l e in a slumberyng and dremed how a dredfull dragon dud drenche much of his peple and com fleyng one wynge oute of „ the waste partyes. And his hede, hym semed, was enamyled with asure, and his shuldyrs shone as the golde, and his wombe was lyke mayles of a merveylous hew, and his tayle was f u l l e of tatyrs, and his feete were florysshed as hit were fyne sable. And his clawys were lyke clene golde, and an hyde-ouse flame of fyre there flowe oute of his mowth, lyke as the londe and the watir had flawmed a l l on fyre. Than hym semed there com oute of the Oryent a grymly beare, a l l blak, in a clowde, and his. pawys were as byg as a poste. He was a l l to-rongeled with lugerande lokys, and he was the fowlyst beste that ever ony man. sye. He romed and rored so rudely that merveyle hit were to t e l l e . Than the dredfull dragon dressyd him ayenste hym and come in the wynde .lyke a faucon, and freyshely strykis the beare. And agayne the gresly beare kuttis with his grysly tuskes, that his breste and his brayle was bloode, and the reed blood rayled a l l over the see. Than the worme wyndis away and f.leis uppon hyght and com downe with such a sowghe, and towched the beare on the rydge that fro the toppe to the tayle was ten foote large. And so rentyth the beare and brennys hym up clene that a l l f e l l e on pouder, both the fleysh and the bonys, and so hit flotered abrode on the sea. 8 Malory, Works, ed. Eugene Vinaver (London: Oxford University Pre 1954), pp. 142-143. 66 Despite the "dredfull" appearance of the dragon, despite the "hydeouse" flames flying from his mouth, the dragon is here associ-ated not with e v i l , nor the wasteland, but with Arthur himself, as the "phylozopher" who interprets Arthur's dream reveals. Here not the dragon, 9 but the bear "betokyns som tyraunte that turmentis thy peple, Arthur is told. Arthur, then, in the form of a dragon, is seen as the conqueror of what the dragon traditionally symbolizes, e v i l . Dismissing, for the moment, the "phylozopher's" reassurance to Arthur that as the dragon he symbolizes the conquering force of good, and turning to the dream vision i t s e l f , certain physical features of the dragon evoke neither terror nor e v i l . The bright blue azure hue of his enamelled head, his armoured wombe of "merveylour hew," and above a l l , his shining shoulders of flaming gold extending to the tips of his claws, where i t must have ended in a finely wrought pattern, suggest not only a monarchical, but a magnificent figure. But the figure of Arthur as a golden dragon is original neither to Malory, nor the the French romances — indeed, not even to Arthur himself, but is the legacy of Arthur's father, Uther Pendragon, passed on to Arthur by that most imaginative of executors, forger of documents, f a l s i f i e r of history, Geoffrey of Monmouth: And the crown of the kingdom was put upon his head, and then came back to Ythr memory of what Merddin had said to him, and Ythr commanded to be made two dragons of gold, of marvellous craftwork, in likeness of 9 Ibid., p. 143. 67 that he had seen heading the shaft of light. And one of these images Ythr gave to the chief Church at Kaer Wynt; the other he had carried before him when he went to battle. And from that time on he was called Ythr ben dragwnJ u So i t i s that the golden dragon becomes a symbol carried into battle by Arthur, sometimes appearing on his helmet, and on his head was a golden helmet with the likeness of a dragon of f i r e on i t . . sometimes seen on his shield, And before him was the image of a golden dragon, the sign of refuge for a l l wounded men . . .12 and f i n a l l y , in Malory, Arthur and the golden dragon become one through a dream vision in which his victory over both the giant of Saint Michael's Mount, and his defeat of the emperor Lucius, are foreshadowed by the 13 golden dragon's defeat of the giant bear. In summary, the golden dra-gon is an omen of goodness, and of victory, specifically of victory over e v i l , and Arthur's association with i t is symbolic of his own victory over e v i l . Thus far, then, the dragon, in Malory, bears none of the 10 11 12 13 Geoffrey of Monmouth, The Historia Regum Britannia, eds. Acton Gris-com & Robert E l l i s Jones (London: Longmans, Green 1929, 1906), p. 90. Ibid., p. 438. Ibid., p. 483. Arthur's dragon-bear dream also appears in Geoffrey's Historia (see Appendix), but, as w i l l later be shown, Geoffrey's Arthur-dragon i s , unlike Malory's, not golden. 68 traditional associations of e v i l , and of the wasteland, but rather, is a symbol of-Arthur and Arthur's realm, at the height of his, and i t s g l o r y J 4 "The dragon during the middle ages seemed quite as much an 15 actuality as the elephant or camel," begins J.S.P. Tatlock in an a r t i -cle entitled "The Dragons of Wessex and Wales,1! which then goes on to partially dispel the dragon's "actuality" by explaining i t s existence only as an ensign born into battle by a host of British kings,^ who, Tatlock implies, were inspired to do so by Arthur, through Geoffrey of Monmouth: At Hastings Harold's estandart was a rallying point and a resort for the wounded. Just so in Geoffrey of Monmouth's highly contemporary picture of Arthur's great victory over the Romans, the king's post is at the rear, with his dragon vexillum to which in case of need , 7 the wounded and weary might betake themselves. Tatlock's a r t i c l e , and the passages from Geoffrey's Histori a, aid in understanding the link between the golden dragon ensign of Geoffrey's 14 15 16 17 In Geoffrey's Historia, Wace's Roman de Brut, Layamon's Brut, and Malory's immediate source, the a l l i t e r a t i v e Morte Arthur, this was indeed the height of Arthur's realm, followed immediately by his be-trayal by Modred. Malory, however departed from his source, reser-ving Arthur's f a l l and Mordred's betrayal for his final tale, so that he might gain a sense of continuity, and also, incorporate the later French romances into his expanded story. J.S.P. Tatlock, "The Dragons of Wessex and Wales," Speculum, VIII (1933), 223. • -Richard I, John,and Henry I I I , are several who used the dragon ensign, says Tatlock. Ibid., p. 227. . 69 Arthur and Arthur's golden dragon dream in Malory. But neither explains the source of Malory's golden dragon. For though Geoffrey, like Malory, included Arthur's dream vision in which the dragon defeats the giant bear, at no time does Geoffrey refer to the fact, as Malory does, that the • 18 dragon is golden. Moreover, a reading of the a l l i t e r a t i v e Morte Arthur, Malory's immediate source for "Th'e Tale of the Noble King Arthure," reveals that although the dream vision of the dragon and bear is again repeated, the dragon, again, unlike Malory's version, but as in Geoffrey's, is not golden. In fact, the golden dragon has no known previous literary source other than the imaginatively original mind of Malory himself. I have be-laboured this point because too often c r i t i c s of Malory do quite the opposite -- ferreting out Malory's sources at the expense of Malory's own originality. Here, however, a study of the sources only shows how Malory, in a flash of imaginative insight, by changing a single line from the all i t e r a t i v e Morte Arthur, His schoulders ware schalyde a l l in clene sylver,19 to 20 and his shuldyrs shone as the golde . . . fuses a l l the good connotations of the golden dragon emblem of Geoffrey's See appendix for the text of a l l three dragon-bear dreams. John Finlayson, ed. Morte Arthur (London: Edward Arnold, 1967), p. 38, p. 766. Malory, p. 142. 70 Arthur, which is "honorable to carry," with a l l the traditional evil connotations of the dragon, producing a symbol containing both elements, the good and the e v i l . Thus, though Arthur is here at the height of his power, Malory, by creating a dual symbol, has already prepared for the later peeling off of the gold to reveal Arthur's kingdom crumbling, and the dragon which symbolizes i t , and i t s ruler, in a l l the evil and ugli-ness with which the dragon is traditionally associated. For the glittering gold shining from the shoulders of the dragon symbolic of Arthur is gilding, a thin plating that crumbles away as realm and ruler move towards the tragedy which ends Malory's Morte. For the dragon that appears before Bors in the concluding tale of the lengthy book of Tristram, though the letters "kynge Arthur" are written in gold upon i t s forehead, foreshadows, in the ugliness of i t s appear-ance and actions, the ultimate fate of Arthur and his kingdom. Placing the tale of "Lancelot and Elaine," the tale in which Sir Bors beholds this, the second Arthur-dragon, within the context of Malory's movement towards Arthur's final fate, Edmund Reiss makes the following statement: Not yet ready for the final disasters, he s t i l l shows the world of the Round Tale as developing;. . .22 Developing i t i s , and as Reiss rightly points out, the quest for the Holy Grail is the final stage of i t s development. But i t is also 2 1 J.S.P. Tatlock, op. c i t . , p. 227. Edmund Reiss, Sir Thomas Malory (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1966), p. 119. 71 -disintegrating, and Bors1 vision becomes, for Malory, a b r i l l i a n t fore-shadowing not only of that disintegration, but the manner in which i t w i l l take place: Ryght so furthwythall he sawe a dragon in the courte, passynge parelous and orryble, and there semyd to hym that there were lettyrs off golde wryttyn in hys fordede, and s i r Bors thought that the lettyrs made a sygnyfycacion of 'kynge Arthure.' And ryght so there cam an orryble lybarde and an olde, and there they faught longe and ded grete batayle togydryrs. And at the laste the dragon spytte oute of hys  mowthe as hit had bene an hondred dragons; and  lyghtly a l l the smale dragons slew the olde  dragon and tore hym a l l to pecys.23 (I t a l . mine) The hideous vision of the parent dragon spewing a hundred of i t s own kind out of i t s mouth, only to have them turn on i t , tearing i t to shreds, is paralleled by the equally tragic end of Arthur, "father," i f not through birth, then as founder of the fellowship of the Round Table, which, turning on him, tears i t s parent to pieces on the battlefield, and in so doing destroys not only Arthur, but the fellowship he founded, and which his knights, ironi c a l l y , were supposed to have represented. It seems almost superfluous to here mention the obvious, that Mordred, bastard son of King Arthur and Queen Margawse, delivers the fatal wound that k i l l s Arthur. For though inf l i c t e d by Mordred, i t is the re-opening of an old wound that.has festered in Arthur's kingdom since i t s birth, and to which a l l his knights, with the possible exception of the three Grail Questers, Galahad, Perceval and Bors, have contributed. Gawain's Malory, VJorks, p. 590. 72 breach with Lancelot, brought about by the jealous scheming of Gawain's brothers, Aggravayne and Mordred, using the i l l i c i t love of Lancelot and Guinevere as the centre from which to spread dissension that grows like a festering wound, until a l l are involved, the wound bursts, and Arthur's kingdom is torn asunder -- these are the principal players in the tragedy that is "The Tale of the Death of Arthur 0 n These are the dragons spewing from the mouth of their parent, viciously turning on him in a childish f i t of rage, destroying him, and, so too, destroying themselves, destroy-ing their source of nourishment, of inspiration. A l l t h i s , then, is foreshadowed in Bors' vision in which the parent dragon, now "olde" and "orryble," operates as a double symbol, at once representing both the condition to which Arthur's kingdom w i l l f a l l , while also representing the f a l l of Arthur himself. Wilfred L. Guerin summarizes that f a l l , succinctly suggesting its depth, in the following manner: The essence of the eighth large division of Le Morte Darthur, which Malory himself may have entitled the "Deth of Arthur," is tra-gedy. It is the f a l l of an ideal society, . the collapse of a dream much greater than the members of the Round Table themselves; i t is a contrast between what the God-like man can aspire to, and what his baser self can do.24 Wilfred L. Guerin, "The Tale of the Death of Arthur": Catastrophe and Resolution," in Malory's Originality, ed., R.M. Lumiansky (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1964), p. 233. 73 And Malory, in a moment of foreshadowing, suggests that the f a l l is even further, descending below the "baser self" to reveal animals devouring themselves. Perhaps this is the larger tragedy, the nightmare of our own existence. The gold is gone, man is gone, only a hoard of hungry reptiles remain, gorging themselves on their parent. Arthur himself experiences the f u l l horror of that night-mare the evening before his battle with Mordred: So uppon Trynyte Sunday at nyght kynge Arthure dremed a wondirfull dreme, and in hys dreme hym semed that he saw uppon a chafflet a chayre, and the chayre was faste to a whele, and there uppon sate kynge Arthure in the rychest clothe of golde that myght be made. And the kynge thought there was undir hym, farre from hym, an hydeous depe blak watir, and therein was a l l maner of serpentis and wormes and wylde bestis fowle and orryble. And suddenly the kynge thought that the whyle turned up-so-downe, and he f e l l e amonge the serpentis, and every beste toke hym by a lymme. And than the kynge cryed as he lay in hys bed, 'Helpe! helpe!'25 And so Arthur awakes screaming, only to relive the reality of what he has just dreamed, to be slain by Mordred. Clearly a variation of Bors' Arthur-dragon dream, Arthur here, however, appears not as a dragon, but as the king, as i f to add f i n a l i t y to the fate that awaits him. For the smaller dragons of Bors' dream, now "serpentis and wormes and wylde bestis fowle and orryble", are already gathering on the battlefield to conclude the final chapter of Arthur's fate, so f i t t i n g l y entitled "The Day of Malory, Works, ed. Eugene Vinaver (London: Oxford University Press, 1954) p. 865. 74 Destiny". Thus the dragon, through i t s changing cycle of metamorpho-s i s , is like the wheel on which the fortunes of Arthur, and his realm, turn and change. At Arthur's height, while the forces of Rome fearfully gather to meet the onslaught of his knights, he dreams of a golden dra-gon overcoming a giant bear, foreshadowing, his own victory over the giant of Saint Michael's Mount, and the emperor Lucius. But the vision of Sir Bors, before the quest of the Holy Grail has ever begun, already looks ahead to the crumbling of Arthur's kingdom, and Arthur's death. No longer golden, nor victorious, now "olde" and "orryble," the dragon is devoured by i t s own brood, foreshadowing Arthur's defeat by his own court. Finally, the evening before his battle with Mordred, Arthur awakes screaming, having looked into the pool of reptiles from which no one, not even Gawain or Lancelot, can save him. In summary, the dragon, through i t s changing appearance and actions, is a double symbol, at once representing Arthur, and Arthur's kingdom, and his and i t s changing fortunes. Finally, then, I wish to close this chapter by coming f u l l c i r c l e , as Malory's Arthur-dragon does, to comment on the traditional mythological meaning of the dragon, and i t s aptness as a symbol of Arthur and his court. Dragons, despite a l l notions to the contrary, have probably never existed, except in the imagination. Instead, they seem to be an allegorical mode of expressing the e v i l , disaster, or calamity, ravaging 75 a country or kingdom. Drought, in Indian myth, is a dragon slain by a thunderbolt thrown by Indra -- a complex explanation which produced a 26 wealth of literature, the Rigveda,, in order to explain a very natural 27 phenomenon. China too has i t s variant of the dragon drought. Similarly, the dragons of the legend of "Lludd and Llevelys," which appears both in The Mabinogion and in Geoffrey's Historia Regum Britanniae, attesting to i t s popularity, are, i t w i l l be remembered, associated with plague. Even more relevant, and certainly more Arthurian, are the dragons discovered by Merlin, dwelling beneath the castle of Vortigern in Geoffrey's Historia. Vortigern, in Geoffrey's lengthy legendary genealogy, is the treacherous king who invites Hengist and his fellow "Saxons" to Britain, only to have them slay the Britons and seize his kingdom. Vortigern, however, flees to Wales where he attempts to build the castle beneath which Merlin dis-covers two sleeping dragons, whose presence, Merlin explains, causes the mortar of the castle to crumble, making i t s completion impossible. Clearly, the dragons, and the crumbling mortar, are allegorical manifes-tations of Vortigern's misrule of such significance that they prompt Mer-l i n to make his famous prophecies. The dragons are, Merlin t e l l s Vorti-gern's magicians, "what lies hidden under the foundation. . . which is 28 preventing i t from holding firm." Excavation continues until two dragons, one white, and one red, are revealed. In the prophecies that pe Alfred Nutt, Popular Studies in Mythology Romance and Folklore, Vol. I I , p. 23. ?7 O.G. Frazer, The Golden Bough, p. 74. po Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia, trans. Lewis Thrope (Baltimore: Penguin), p. 169. (Prophecies are missing from Giscom's manuscript.) 76 follow, Merlin makes i t clear that the red dragon represents the Britons, 29 while the white dragon, the Saxons. . But the implication throughout is that together they represent the fighting between the two races, the dis-sension which causes Vortigern's castle, like his kingdom, to crumble. The dragons, then, are an omen of miisrule, of dissension -- their pre-sence represents the warring factions which s p l i t Geoffrey's beloved island asunder. Moreover, Geoffrey's fear of the wars which plague Britain is not confined merely to Merlin's prophecies, but is a recurring motif. After Geoffrey relates Mordred's slaying of Arthur, for example, Geoffrey berates the Britons in a passage that parallels his prophecies, and in meaning, remarkably resembles the allegorical implications of Vor-tigern's crumbling castle: . . . 0 unhappy race of ynys brydain, that you were thus humbled. For before this your ances-tors conquered other peoples through the ages, and now are you bitterly repaying, until you can not defend your own land from the hands of the alien nation. Poor ynys brydain, accept penance as you have deserved, and recognize the words of god in the gospel, "Every kingdom which is divided and separated within i t s e l f there the houses shall f a l l upon another." For i t is the disunion of the bryttaniait and their jealousy that have destroyed this island, and therefore i t i s that cruel pagans overcome the inheritors of this is!and.30 These then are the dragons, the dragons of dissension which plague Geoffrey's island. Indeed i t is this very plague, the plague of dissen-sion, and these two very same dragons, which Llud, at the advice of his See appendix for prophecies. Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia, ed., Acton Griscorn, p. 506. 77 brother Llevelys, buried, and which are later uncovered by Merlin. Noted mythologist Lewis Spence ascertains they are the same two dragons, at the exact site where LIud had had them buried,31 and, moreover, this is supported by Geoffrey's account of Llud's success at easing them into a drunken slumber: "The second plage of your kingdom is the island dragon and another dragon of the alien nation seeking to conquer her; and your dragon from rage and anguish gives that shriek which you hear. And this is the way," said he, "in which you may know this. When you go home, measure the island, i t s length and it s breadth, and in the place where you find the centre of the island, there order a pit to be dug in the earth, and let a large cauldron of mead, the very best you can get, be set in the p i t , and cover the cauldron with a satin cloth. And do you keep watch over these things yourself, and you w i l l hear the dragons furiously fighting in the air. And when they are worn out with fight-ing, taking the form of two pigs they w i l l settle down on the cloth, drink the mead, and pull the cloth with them to the bottom of the cauldron, and there f a l l asleep. And then wrap the cloth about them and bury them deep in the earth in the strongest place that can be found in your kingdom; and, whilst they are there, no plague w i l l come to ynys Brydain from anywhere.32 And so the dragons, omens of dissension, slumber beneath British s o i l , buried by Llud, uncovered by Merlin beneath Vortigern's castle, and re-vealed in Merlin's prophecies. But they also lurk beneath Arthur's Lewis Spence, The Minor Traditions of British Mythology (London: Rider, 1948), p. 120. Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia, ed. Acton Griscorn, p. 303. castle in .Camelot, where, beheld by Bors, re-emerging in Arthur's ni mare, they rise to the surface on the battle-field, rallying around Mordred to ruin the kingdom and ravage their parent dragon, Arthur. 79 CONCLUSION Of the four beasts in.the Morte which this thesis has basi-cally concentrated upon, only one can be termed natural. For though the bull is an actual animal, those that materialize before Gawain do so in a dream vision, they are not of this world. Only the lowly lap dog, or brachet, can be termed an actual animal of the natural world, and signi-ficantly, i t symbolizes the most natural of instincts, love. Sought in the tr i - p a r t i t e quest, the brachet's attainment by Torre distinguishes him as the single knight worthy of the love the brachet symbolizes. Not merely part of the social setting, the brachet, though a part of the world of r e a l i t y , has here entered into the world of romance as the ob-ject of the quest. But as the token of love in King Mark's court, the brachet returns to i t s natural role, intuitively responding to Tristram, totally innocent of the effect of that response. Although essentially s t i l l in the world of real animals, the fact that the bulls beheld by Gawain appear in a dream vision places them further s t i l l from the natural world of the brachets. Simultaneously, their symbolical significance is also enhanced. Here is an image sug-gesting not a mere love token, but an image that embodies Arthur's entire court, and moreover, reveals the weaknesses and strengths of that court. For as has already been shown, the black bulls, through their proud and unstable actions, foreshadow and symbolize the assertion of pride and shifting sense of loyalties of Arthur's knights which ultimately cause Arthur's kingdom to crumble, while the white bulls suggest the purity, 80 chastity, and moral strength of the three Grail questers. Totally removed from the world of animals, and indeed, from any world other than the imagination, is the Questing Beast. Cer-tainly the most fantastic creature in Malory, i t is also the most nebu-9 lous in meaning, and as the thesis has shown, i t is symbolic of a mean-ingless quest, and is moreover, a significant comment on the purposeless l i f e of the knights who pursue i t . Although not revealed in Malory, an examination of the sources surrounding the beast has shown that i t is demonic in origin. Although less fabulous than the Questing Beast, the dragon, nevertheless, is the most meaningful symbol in this study, indeed, per-haps in Malory's entire Morte. Mythologically e v i l , i t nevertheless i n i -t i a l l y emerges as a symbol of goodness which then reverts to i t s tradi-tional meaning of evil and terror. Simultaneously symbolizing Arthur and his kingdom, the dragon's metamorphosis from the monarchical symbol of Arthur to the ugly monster spewing up i t s own brood, only to be devoured by them, complements perfectly the movement of the Morte towards it s • tragic conclusion, and in so doing, provides powerful comment on the knights who initiated and concluded that tragedy. The pattern in which this thesis has studied these beasts, here summarized, is a movement from the natural to the unnatural. Paral-leling this movement from the natural to the unnatural is a movement from good to e v i l . Thus the brachet, the most natural of the beasts, is 81 also the most virtuous, symbolizing love. The bulls, though natural animals, are presented in the unnatural context of Gawain's dream vision. Significantly, then, Gawain's vision contains both good and e v i l , the proud black bulls of Arthur's court, and the three white bulls, the Grail questers. The Questing Beast, however, represents a shift to the far end of this scale of values, i t epitomizes e v i l . For, i t w i l l be remembered, the Questing Beast was sired by Satan (see page 42 of thesis). Finally, this evil extends to i t s ultimate end in the image of a hoard of hungry dragons devouring their parent dragon (see pages 71-72 of thesis). It need hardly be noted that the f a l l of Arthur's court from an ideal society to i t s bestial depths follows precisely the same pattern of movement from good to evil outlined here. Thus not only the presence, but also the importance of the animals in Malory's Morte Darthur is seen. They provide insight into both the characters and the themes of the Morte. Moreover, their very existence aids in imbuing the Morte with the aura and atmosphere of a world extending back beyond even the Middle Ages, beyond any age -- the timeless world of the imagination. But the animals within Malory's Morte Darthur are immortal. Spenser's serpentine Errore, "a thousand yong ones issuing from her,"^ Edmund Spenser, The Fairie Queene, Bk. I., Canto 1.15. 82 which, after Errore is sl a i n , "sucked up their dying mother's blood," bears a remarkable resemblance to Malory's description of the dead parent dragon devoured by i t s own offspring. Despite the s t r i c t allegorical significance of both Errore and Spenser's dragon, the reader of Spenser's Faerie Queene is never far from the world of Malory's romance, nor the beasts that lived in that world. Similarly, Milton's figure of Sin is seen to be a combina-tion of Homer's Scylla, Spenser's Errore, and Malory's dragon5 the horror of which is increased s t i l l further by the incessant barking of dogs, reminiscent of the ugly Questing Beast: Before the gates there sat On either side a formidable shape; The one seemed woman to the waist, and f a i r , But ended foul in many a scaly fold' Voluminous and vast, a serpent armed With mortal sting. About her middle round A cry of Hellhounds never-ceasing barked With wide Cerebrean mouths f u l l loud, and rung A hideous peal; yet when they l i s t , would creep, If aught disturbed their noise, into her womb, And kennel there, yet there s t i l l barked and howled Within unseen.3 Within the womb of Milton's serpentine figure of Sin the barking hounds of the Questing Beast live on. 2 Ibid., 25. 3 John Milton, Paradise Lost, Bk. I I , 11. 648-659. 83 Tennyson's Idylls of the King, too, is riddled with beast imagery, and in this century Malory's Morte has given birth to T.H. White's The Once and Future King. There Arthur and his knights once again l i v e , even i f i t is in a sometimes facetiously farcical context. But though the tone is modern, the past has been preserved in the host of beasts, real and mythical, running through i t s pages. Griffins and unicorns have wandered out of White's translation of The Bestiary and into his modernized retelling of Malory's story. Percival's vision of the lion and serpent is preserved, 4 and once again Palomides and Pellinor 5 pursue the Questing Beast. Early in White's work a badger, gifted with speech, prepares to read to the unwilling young Arthur a "treatise"^ he has been preparing. The subject of that treatise would have fascinated Malory, for in many ways i t , and the advice the badger offers his unwil-ling listener, is the essence of Malory's Morte Darthur: "It w i l l be good for you, dear boy. It is just the thing to top off an education. Study birds and fish and animals: then finish off with Man."7 4 T.H. White, The Once and Future King (New York: Putnam, 1939), pp. 476-7. 5 Ibid. 6 Ibid., p. 193 7 Ibid. 84 APPENDIX I William of Malmesbury, Gesta regum, trans, J.A. Giles, p. 156 And here I deem i t not irrelevant to commit to writing what was supernaturally shown to the king. He had entered a wood abundant in game, and, as usually happens, while his associates were dispersed in the thicket for the purpose of hunting, he was l e f t alone. Pursuing his course, he came to the outlet of the wood, and stopping there waited for his companions. Shortly after, seized with an i r r e s i s t i b l e desire to sleep, he alighted from his horse, that the enjoyment of a short repose might assuage the fatigue of the past day. He lay down, therefore, under a wild apple-tree, where the clustering branches had formed a shady canopy a l l around. A river, flowing softly beside him, adding to his drowsiness, by its gentle murmur soothed him to sleep; when a bitch, of the hunting breed, pregnant, and lying down at his feet, t e r r i f i e d him,in his slumber. Though the mother was silent yet the whelps within her womb barked in various sonorous tones, incited, as i t were, by a singular delight in the place of their confinement. .85 I am indebted to William A. Nitze for the following paraphrases from the Perlesvaus and Gerbert de Montreuil's Continuation of the Conte del graal in Perlesvaus (2 vols.; Chicago,: The University of Chicago Press, 1937), I I , pp. 134-136. 5486: Perlesvaus enters the Solitary Forest. In the midst of a clearing he sees a red cross. He also sees a knight and a damsel, seated at op-posite ends of the clear-ing, clad in white and holding gold vessels. 5528: Two priests ap-proach the cross; one begins to worship and the other to weep and beat i t with rods. Per-lesvaus asks why, i f he is a priest, he does so shameful a thing. The priest replies that he w i l l not t e l l , and Per-lesvaus goes on his way. 5494: A small beast, as white as snow, comes running, frightened by the twelve whelps within her, baying like hounds in the chase. Perlesvaus stops to look with pity, for the beast is beautiful, with eyes like emeralds. It runs f i r s t toward the knight, and then toward the damsel, but i t can-not stop because of the baying of the whelps. It then turns to Perles-vaus, but the knight t e l l s him not to interfere. The beast takes refuge at the cross. Then the whelps can no longer 8296: After meeting a number of people who have been burned, Perceval en-ters upon a path which no knight ever traveled with-out death or injury. In the midst of a clearing he sees a beautiful cross. At the cross are two hermits, one making great outcry and beating i t with a handful of rods, the other worshiping i t . Perceval thinks that he w i l l ask why one of them beats the cross, though he does not won-der why the other prays to i t . 8376: Perceval's attention is now interrupted...A beast, grant a merveille, leaps from a clump of bush and runs past Perceval. She is f i l l e d with young, which bay within her unceasingly. After running for a long time, the beast at last breaks in two, and the whelps emerge and devour her. They then go mad and k i l l each other. 86 P stay within. They issue forth. The beast crouches on the ground as i f begging for mercy. The whelps tear the beast to pieces but are unable to eat i t s flesh, nor can they pull the body away from the » . cross. Then they flee into the forest. .5520: The knight and the damsel gather the flesh and blood in their vessels, kiss the ground, worship the cross, and depart. Perlesvaus dismounts and worships the cross. 5528: Two priests come up and order him to leave the cross and allow them to approach...(see above). 8427: Perceval later arrives at the castle of the thirteen hermits, where he receives the shield destined for the Grail hero. The chief hermit turns out to be Elyas Anais en sornon: 5984-6026: The Hermit Li Rois Hermites aa non. King explains that the 8623: The hermit beats the cross beast is the Creator and because i t is the physical instrument the hounds are the twelve . of the Passion, tribes of Israel. One priest beats the cross because i t is the phys-ical instrument of the Passion. 8674: Perceval is told that the beast he saw was the church, and the whelps were the people who disturb the sacred service by talking and complaining of hunger. 87 APPENDIX II Arthur's dragon-bear dream i . Geoffrey of Monmouth (Griscorn p. 468) And when he had reached the middle of the ocean, a sleep as of the dead held him much of the night, and he saw a dream. He saw flying from the south a sort of monster, with a terrible voice, alighting on the shore of ffraink; and he saw a dragon coming from the west, and by the glare of i t s eyes the sea was lighted up. And he saw the dragon and the Bear engaging; and when they had fought for a long time, he saw the dragon spitting out gleaming flames of f i r e upon the Bear, and burning him up completely. And perplexing was the dream to Arthyr. And then he awoke and told his comrades of the vision; and thus did they make interpretation; "Thou, Lord, shalt fight some monster of a giant and conquer him, for the dragon signifies thyself." i i . Morte Arthure (ed. John Finlayson, p. 38) The kynge was in a gret cogge with knyghtez f u l l many, In a cabane enclosede, clenlyche arayede, Within on a ryche bedde rystys a l i t t y l l , And with the swoghe of the see in swefnynge he f e l l . Hym dremyd of a dragon, dredfull to beholde, Come dryfande over the depe to drenschen hys pople, Ewen walkande owte of the weste landez, Wanderande unworthyly overe the wale ythez; Bothe his hede and hys hals ware halely a l l over Oundyde of azure, enamelde f u l l faire: His schoulders ware schalyde a l l in clene sylvere, Schreede over a l l the schrympe with schrinkande poyntez; Hys wombe and hys wenges of wondyrfull hewes, His tayle was totaterd with tonges ful huge, In mervaylous maylys he mountede f u l l hye; Whaym that he towchede he was tynt for ever. Hys feete ware floreschede a l l in fyne sabyll, And syche vennymous flayre flowe fro his lyppez, That the flode of the flawez a l l on fyre semyde, Thane come of the Oryenete ewyn hym agaynez A blake bustous bere abwen in the clowdes With yche a pawe as a poste and paumes f u l l huge, With pykes f u l l perilous, a l l plyande tham semyde; Lothen and lothely, lokkes, and other, A l l with lutterde legges, lokered unfaire, Filtyrde unfrely, wyth fomaunde lyppez, The foulleste of fegure, that formede was ever, He baltyrde, he bleryde, he braundyschte therafter; To bataile he bounnez hym with bustous clowez: 88 He romede, he rarede, that roggede a l l the erthe, So ruydly he rappyd at to ryot hym selven. Thane the dragon on dreghe dressede hym agaynez, And with hys dinttez hym drafe one dreghe by the walkyn: He fares as a fawcon, frekly he strykez; Bothe with feete and with fyre he feghttys at ones. The bere in the bataile the bygger hym semyde And byttes hym boldlye wyth balefull tuskez; Syche buffetez he hym rechez with hys brode klokes, Hys brest and his brayell whas blodye a l l over. He rawmpyde so ruydly, that a l l the erthe ryfez, Rynnande on reede blode as rayne of the heven. He hade weryede the worme by wyghtnesse of strenghte, Ne ware i t fore the wylde fyre, that he hym wyth defendez. Thane wandyrs the worme awaye to hys heghttez, Commes glydande fro the clowddez and cowpez f u l l even, Towchez hym wyth his talounez and terez hys rigge Betwyx the ta i l e and the toppe ten fote large. Thus he brittenyd the bere and broghte hym o lyfe, Lette hym f a l l in the flode, fleete whare hym lykes! So they thrynge the bolde kyng bynne the schippe-burde, That nere he bristez for bale on bede whare he lyggez. Than waknez the wyese kynge, wery foretravaillede, Takes hym two phylozophirs, that folowede hym ever, In the sevyn scyence the sutelest fonden, The conyngeste of clergye undyre Criste knowen; He tolde them of hys tourmente, that tym that he slepede--'Drechede with a dragon, and syche a derfe beste, Has mad me f u l l wery; ye t e l l me my swefen, Ore I mons welte as swythe, as wysse me oure Lorde!' 'Sir,' said they son thane, theis sagge philosopherse, 'The dragon that thow dremyde of, so dredfull to schewe, That come dryfande over the deepe, to drynchen they pople, Sothely and certayne thy selven i t es, That thus sail l e z over the see with they sekyre knyghtez. i i i . Malory (ed. Eugene Vinaver, pp. 142-143). As the kynge was in his cog and lay in his caban, he f e l l e in a slumberyng and dremed how a dredfull dragon dud drenche muche of his peple and com fleyng one wynge oute of the weste partyes. And his hede, hym semed, was enamyled with asure, and his shuldyrs shone as the golde, and his wombe was lyke mayles of a merveylous hew, and his tayle was fu l l e of tatyrs, and his feete were floryssed as hit were fyne sable. And 89 his clawys were lyke clene golde, and an hydeouse flame of fyre there flowe oute of his mowth, lyke as the londe and the watir had flawmed a l l on fyre. . Than hym semed there com oute of the Oryent a grymly beare, a l l blak, in a clowde,.and his pawys were as byg as a poste, He was a l l to-rongeled with lugerande lokys, ' and he was the fowlyst beste that ever ony man sye. He romed and rored so rudely that merveyle hit were to t e l l e . Than the dredfull dragon dressyd hym ayenste hym and come in the wynde lyke a faucon, and freyshely strykis the beare. And agayne the gresly beare kuttis with his grysly tuskes, that his breste and his brayle was bloode, and the reed blood rayled a l l over the see. Than the worme wyndis away and f l e i s uppon hyght and com downe with such a sowghe, and towched the beare on the rydge that fro the toppe to the tayle was ten foote large. And so he rentyth the beare and brennys hym up clene that a l l f e l l e on pouder, both the fleysh and the bonys, and so hit flotered abrode on the sea. Anone the kynge waked and was sore abasshed of his dreme, and in a l l haste he sente for a philozopher and charged hym to te l l e what sygnyfyed his dreme. 'Sir,' seyde the phylozopher, 'the dragon thou dremyste of betokyns thyne owne persone that thus here sayles with thy syker knghtes; and the colour of his wyngys is thy kyngdomes that thou hast with thy knyghtes wonne. And his tayle that was a l l to-tatered sygnyfyed your noble knyghtes of the Rounde Table. B. Excerpt from the Prophecies of Merlin, The Historia Regum Britannia Geoffrey of Monouth (trans. Lewis Thorpe, Penguin, p. 171) While Vortigern, King of the Britons, was s t i l l s i t t i n g on the bank of the pool which had been drained of i t s water, there emerged two Dragons, one white, one red. As soon as they were near enough to each other, they fought b i t t e r l y , breathing out f i r e as they panted. The White Dragon began to have the upper hand and to force the Red One back to the edge of the pool. The Red Dragon bewailed the fact that i t was being driven out and then turned upon the White One and forced i t backwards in i t s turn. As they struggled on in this way, the King ordered Ambrosius Merlin to explain just what this battle of the Dragons meant. Merlin immediately burst into tears. He went into-a prophetic trance and then spoke as follows 90 'Alas for the Red Dragon, for i t s end is near. Its cavernous dens shall be occupied by the White Dragon, which stand for the Saxons whom you have invited over. The Red Dragon represents the people of Britain, who w i l l be overrun by the White One: for Britain's mountains and valleys shall be levelled, and the streams in i t s valleys shall run with blood. 'The cult of religion shall be destroyed completely and the ruin of the churches shall be clear for a l l to see. 'The race that is oppressed shall prevail in the end, for i t w i l l resist the savagery of the invaders. 90 'Alas for the Red Dragon, for i t s end is near. Its cavernous dens shall be occupied by the White Dragon, which stand for the Saxons whom you have invited over. The Red Dragon represents the people of Britain, who w i l l be overrun by the White One: for Britain's mountains and valleys shall be levelled, and the streams in i t s valleys shall run with blood. 'The cult of religion shall be destroyed completely and the ruin of the churches shall be clear for a l l to see. 'The race that is oppressed shall prevail in the end, for i t w i l l resist the savagery of the invaders. 91 BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary Sources. Malory, Thomas. The Works of Sir Thomas Malory, ed. Eugene Vinaver. London: Oxford University Press, 1954. - ' . The Works of Sir Thomas Malory, ed. Eugene Vinaver. 3 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967. Secondary Sources. The Ancrene Riwle, trans. M.B. Salu. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1955. Bartholomew, Barbara. "The Thematic Function of Malory's Gawain." College English, vol. XXIV (1963), pp. 262-7. B e n n e t t , J.A.W., ed. Ess a y s on M a l o r y . O x f o r d : C l a r e n d o n P r e s s , 1963. Bogdanow, Fanni. The Romance ot me Grail. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1966 . "The Suite du Merlin and the Post-Vulgate Roman du Graal" in ALMA, ed. R.S. Loomis. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959, pp.325-335. Bradbrook, M.C. Sir Thomas Malory. London: British Council, 1958. Brand, John. Observations on the Popular Antiquities. 2 vols. London: George B e l l , 1890. Brewer, D.S. "Form in the Morte Darthur." Medium Aevum, vol XXI (195Z), pp. 14-24. [ — ' Bruce, J.D. The Evolution of Arthurian Romance. 2 vols. Gloucester, Mass: Peter Smith, 1958. -Chambers, E.K. Arthur of Britain. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1927. Chambers, E.K. Sir Thomas Malory English Association Pamphlet, No. 51 January, 1922. Donaldson, E.T. "Malory and the Stanzaic Le Morte Arthur." Studies in  Philology, vol. XIVII (1950), pp. 460-472. Frazer, Sir J.G. The Golden Bough, Abridged Edition. London: Macmillan, 1924. 92 Geoffrey of Monmouth. The Historia Regum Britanniae of Geoffrey of Monmouth, ed. Acton Griscom. London: Longmans, 1929. ' : '• : •• . The Historia, trans. Lewis Thorpe. Baltimore: Penguin.. Guerin, Wilfred L. "Malory's Morte Darthur, Book VIII. "Explicator, vol. XX No. 8 (April, 1962), Item 64. ~ y " . "The Tale of the Death of Arthur". Catastrophe and Resolution," in Malory's Originality, ed. R.M. Lumiansky. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1964, pp. 99-117. Hartley, Dorothy and Margaret M. E l l i o t . Life and Work of the People of  England. 4 vols. London: Botsford, 1928. Hicks, Edward. Sir Thomas Malory, His Turbulent Career: A Biography. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1928. Lewis, C.S. „ "Ibe-.English Prose Morte" in Essays on Malory, ed., J.A.W. Bennett, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963, pp. 7-28. Loomis, R.S. "Arthurian Tradition and Folklore." Folk-lore, vol. 69, March 1958, p. 1. Lumiansky, R.M. "The Relationship of Lancelot and Guinevere in Malory's Tale of Lancelot. Modern Language Notes, vol. XXV. (1956),pp. 181-90 _i "Malory's Steadfast Bors." Tulane Studies in English, vol. v i i i (1958), pp. 5-20. • ed.« Malory^s O r i g i n a l i t y . Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. . "The Question of Unity in Malory's Morte Darthur." Tulane 1964. . Studies in English, V (1955), pp. 29-39. The Mabinogion, trans. Lady Charlotte Guest. London: Dent, 1906. The Master of Game by Edward, Second Duke of York, ed. Wm. A. and F. B a i l l i e -Grohman, London: Chatto and Windus5 1909 Moorman, Charles. "Lot and Pellinor; The Failure of Loyalty in Malory's Morte Darthur." Mediaeval Studies, Vol, XXV (1963), pp. 83-92 "Internal Chronology in Malory's Morte Darthur." Journal of English and Germanic Philology, LX (1961), pp. 240-49 _. "Malory's Treatment of the Sankgreall" PMLA, LXXI (1956) pp. 158-172 •• The Booke Of Kyng Arthur; The.-Unity -of Malory. ?s -'MgrCe Darthur . (Lexington, Kentucky Press, 1965; 93 -" . "The Tale of the Sankgreal!: Human Frailty," in Malory's Originality, ed. R.M. Lumiansky. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1964. Morte Arthure, ed. John Finlayson. London: Edward Arnold, 1967 Nutt, Alfred. Popular Studies in Mythology, Romance and Folklore Vol. II Nutt, Alfred. Studies in the Legend of the Holy Grai1. London: Glaisher, 1936 Perlesvaus, Ed., William A. Nitze. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1937 The Physiologus, trans. James C a t i l l . London: Toutledge, n.d. Reiss, Edmund. Sir Thomas Malory. New York: Twayne. 1966 The History of Reynard The Fox, modernized by W.W. Stallybrass. London: Routledge, n.d. Robin, Ansell P. Animal Lore n English Literature/London: John Murray, 1932. Romances of Chivalry, ed. John Ashton. New York: Putnam, 1887. Rowland, Beryl. Blynde Bestes: Animal Imagery in Chaucer. University of B.C. 1962. Rumble, Thomas C. "The Tale of Tristram: Development by Analogy," in Malory's  Originality, ed., R.M. Lumiansky. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press 1964, pp. 118-83. Spence, Lewis. The Minor Tradition of British Mythology. London: Rider, 1948 Spenser, Edmund. The Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, ed., J.C. Smith and E. De Selincourt. London: Oxford University Press, 1912. Stuart, D.M. A Rock of Birds and Beast. London: Methuen, 1957 Tatlock, J.S.P. "The Dragons of Wessex and Wales." Speculum, 1933, p. 223 . . The Legendary History of Britain. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1950 Tucker, P.E. "Chivalry in the Morte" in Essays on Malory, ed. J.A.W. Bennett. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963, pp. 64-103. "• • • - "The Place of the 'Quest of the Holy Grail' in the 'Morte Darthur" 1. MLR, XLVIII (January 1953). p. 392. Vinaver, Eugene. Malory. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1929. "Sir Thomas Malory"in ALMA, ed. R.S. Loomis. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959, pp. 541-52. 94 Williams of Malmesbury. Chronicle of the Kings of England, trans. J.A. Giles. London: Henry G. Bonn, 1847. Wilson, Robert H. "How Many Books Did Malory Write?" University of Texas Studies in English, XXX (1951) pp. 1-23. White, T.H. The Bestiary, New York: Putnam, 1954. • . The Once and Future King, New York: Putnam, 1958 Wright, Thomas L. "The Tale of King Arthur: Beginnings and Foreshadowings" in Malory's Originality, ed. R.M. Lumiansky. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1964. 


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