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Bulfinch's Mythology: The Age of Chivalry

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Author Topic: Bulfinch's Mythology: The Age of Chivalry  (Read 615 times)
Jana Chand-Medlock
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« Reply #30 on: October 27, 2009, 12:59:29 am »

This is a specimen of the language which was in use among the
nobility of England in the ages immediately after the Norman conquest.
The following is a specimen of the English that existed at the same
time among the common people. Robert de Brunne, speaking of his
Latin and French authorities, says:-

"Als thai haf wryten and sayd
Haf I alle in myn Inglis layd,
In symple speeche as I couthe,
That is lightest in manne's mouthe.
Alle for the luf of symple men,
That strange Inglis cannot ken."
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Jana Chand-Medlock
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« Reply #31 on: October 27, 2009, 12:59:39 am »

The "strange Inglis" being the language of the previous specimen.
It was not till toward the end of the thirteenth century that the
prose romances began to appear. These works generally began with
disowning and discrediting the sources from which in reality they drew
their sole information. As every romance was supposed to be a real
history, the compilers of those in prose would have forfeited all
credit if they had announced themselves as mere copyists of the
minstrels. On the contrary, they usually state that, as the popular
poems upon the matter in question contain many "lesings," they had
been induced to translate the real and true history of such or such
a knight from the original Latin or Greek, or from the ancient British
or Armorican authorities, which authorities existed only in their
own assertion.
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Jana Chand-Medlock
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« Reply #32 on: October 27, 2009, 12:59:55 am »

A specimen of the style of the prose romance may be found in the
following extract from one of the most celebrated and latest of
them, the Morte d'Arthur of Sir Thomas Mallory, of the date of 1485.
From this work much of the contents of this volume has been drawn,
with as close an adherence to the original style as was thought
consistent with our plan of adapting our narrative to the taste of
modern readers.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2009, 01:00:39 am by Jana Chand-Medlock » Report Spam   Logged
Jana Chand-Medlock
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« Reply #33 on: October 27, 2009, 01:01:12 am »

"It is notoyrly knowen thorugh the vnyuersal world that there been
ix worthy and the best that ever were. That is to wete thre paynyms,
thre Jewes, and thre crysten men. As for the paynyms, they were tofore
the Incarnacyon of Cryst whiche were named, the fyrst Hector of Troye;
the second Alysaunder the grete, and the thyrd Julyus Cezar,
Emperour of Rome, of whome thystoryes ben well kno and had. And as for
the thre Jewes whyche also were tofore thyncarnacyon of our Lord, of
whome the fyrst was Duc Josue, whyche brought the chyldren of
Israhel into the londe of beheste; the second Dauyd, kyng of
Jherusalem, and the thyrd Judas Machabeus; of these thre the byble
reherceth al theyr noble hystoryes and actes. And sythe the sayd
Incarnacyon haue ben the noble crysten men stalled and admytted
thorugh the vnyuersal world to the nombre of the ix beste and
worthy, of whome was fyrst the noble Arthur, whose noble actes I
purpose to wryte in this present book here folowyng. The second was
Charlemayn, or Charles the grete, of whome thystorye is had in many
places both in frensshe and englysshe, and the thyrd and last was
Godefray of boloyn."
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Jana Chand-Medlock
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« Reply #34 on: October 27, 2009, 01:01:31 am »


It has been well known to the literati and antiquarians of Europe,
that there exist in the great public libraries voluminous
manuscripts of romances and tales once popular, but which on the
invention of printing had already become antiquated and fallen into
neglect. They were therefore never printed, and seldom perused even by
the learned, until about half a century ago, when attention was
again directed to them, and they were found very curious monuments
of ancient manners, habits, and modes of thinking. Several have
since been edited, some by individuals, as Sir Walter Scott and the
poet Southey, others by antiquarian societies. The class of readers
which could be counted on for such publications was so small that no
inducement of profit could be found to tempt editors and publishers to
give them to the world. It was therefore only a few, and those the
most accessible, which were put in print. There was a class of
manuscripts of this kind which were known, or rather suspected, to
be both curious and valuable, but which it seemed almost hopeless ever
to see in fair printed English. These were the Welsh popular tales,
called Mabinogeon, a plural word, the singular being Mabinogi, a tale.
Manuscripts of these were contained in the Bodleian Library at Oxford,
and elsewhere, but the difficulty was to find translators and editors.
The Welsh is a spoken language among the peasantry of Wales, but is
entirely neglected among the learned, unless they are natives of the
principality. Of the few Welsh scholars none were found who took
sufficient interest in this branch of learning to give these
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Jana Chand-Medlock
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« Reply #35 on: October 27, 2009, 01:01:54 am »

productions to the English public. Southey and Scott, and others
who, like them, loved the old romantic legends of their country, often
urged upon the Welsh literati the duty of reproducing the
Mabinogeon. Southey, in the preface to his edition of Morte
d'Arthur, says: "The specimens which I have seen are exceedingly
curious; nor is there a greater desideratum in British literature than
an edition of these tales, with a literal version, and such comments
as Mr. Davies of all men is best qualified to give. Certain it is that
many of the Round Table fictions originated in Wales, or in
Bretagne, and probably might still be traced there."
Again, in a letter to Sir Charles W. W. Wynn, dated 1819, he says:-
"I begin almost to despair of ever seeing more of the Mabinogeon;
and yet, if some competent Welshman could be found to edit it
carefully, with as literal a version as possible, I am sure it might
be made worth his while by a subscription, printing a small edition at
a high price, perhaps two hundred at five guineas. I myself would
gladly subscribe at that price per volume for such an edition of the
whole of your genuine remains in prose and verse. Till some such
collection is made, the 'gentlemen of Wales' ought to be prohibited
from wearing a leek; ay, and interdicted from toasting cheese also.
Your bards would have met with better usage if they had been
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Jana Chand-Medlock
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« Reply #36 on: October 27, 2009, 01:02:25 am »

Sharon Turner and Sir Walter Scott also expressed a similar wish for
the publication of the Welsh manuscripts. The former took part in an
attempt to effect it, through the instrumentality of a Mr. Owen, a
Welshman, but, we judge, by what Southey says of him, imperfectly
acquainted with English. Southey's language is, "William Owen lent
me three parts of the Mabinogeon, delightfully translated into so
Welsh an idiom and syntax that such a translation is as instructive as
an original." In another letter he adds, "Let Sharon make his language
grammatical, but not alter their idiom in the slightest point."
It is possible Mr. Owen did not proceed far in an undertaking which,
so executed, could expect but little popular patronage. It was not
till an individual should appear possessed of the requisite
knowledge of the two languages, of enthusiasm sufficient for the task,
and of pecuniary resources sufficient to be independent of the
booksellers and of the reading public, that such a work could be
confidently expected. Such an individual has, since Southey's day
and Scott's, appeared in the person of Lady Charlotte Guest, an
English lady united to a gentleman of property in Wales, who, having
acquired the language of the principality, and become enthusiastically
fond of its literary treasures, has given them to the English
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Jana Chand-Medlock
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Posts: 115

« Reply #37 on: October 27, 2009, 01:02:38 am »

reader, in a dress which the printer's and the engraver's arts have
done their best to adorn. In four royal octave volumes containing
the Welsh originals, the translation, and ample illustrations from
French, German, and other contemporary and affiliated literature,
the Mabinogeon is spread before us. To the antiquarian and the student
of language and ethnology an invaluable treasure, it yet can hardly,
in such a form, win its way to popular acquaintance. We claim no other
merit than that of bringing it to the knowledge of our readers, of
abridging its details, of selecting its most attractive portions,
and of faithfully preserving throughout the style in which Lady
Guest has clothed her legends. For this service we hope that our
readers will confess we have laid them under no light obligation.
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Jana Chand-Medlock
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Posts: 115

« Reply #38 on: October 27, 2009, 01:05:47 am »

Chapter 2


ACCORDING to the earliest accounts, Albion, a giant, and son of
Neptune, a contemporary of Hercules, ruled over the island, to which
he gave his name. Presuming to oppose the progress of Hercules in
his western march, he was slain by him.
Another story is that Histion, the son of Japhet, the son of Noah,
had four sons,- Francus, Romanus, Alemannus, and Britto, from whom
descended the French, Roman, German, and British people.
Rejecting these and other like stories, Milton gives more regard
to the story of Brutus, the Trojan, which, he says, is supported by
"descents of ancestry long continued laws and exploits not plainly
seeming to be borrowed or devised, which on the common belief have
wrought no small impression; defended by many, denied utterly by few."
The principal authority is Geoffrey of Monmouth, whose history,
written in the twelfth century, purports to be a translation of a
history of Britain, brought over from the opposite shore of France,
which, under the name of Brittany, was chiefly peopled by natives of
Britain, who from time to time emigrated thither, driven from their
own country by the inroads of the Picts and Scots. According to this
authority, Brutus was the son of Silvius, and he of Ascanius, the
son of AEneas, whose flight from Troy and settlement in Italy will
be found narrated in "The Age of Fable."
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Jana Chand-Medlock
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« Reply #39 on: October 27, 2009, 01:06:18 am »

Brutus, at the age of fifteen, attending his father to the chase,
unfortunately killed him with an arrow. Banished therefor by his
kindred, he sought refuge in that part of Greece where Helenus, with a
band of Trojan exiles, had become established. But Helenus was now
dead, and the descendants of the Trojans were oppressed by
Pandrasus, the king of the country. Brutus, being kindly received
among them, so throve in virtue and in arms as to win the regard of
all the eminent of the land above all others of his age. In
consequence of this the Trojans not only began to hope, but secretly
to persuade him to lead them the way to liberty. To encourage them
they had the promise of help from Assaracus, a noble Greek youth,
whose mother was a Trojan. He had suffered wrong at the hands of the
king, and for that reason the more willingly cast in his lot with
the Trojan exiles.
Choosing a fit opportunity, Brutus with his countrymen withdrew to
the woods and hills, as the safest place from which to expostulate,
and sent this message to Pandrasus: "That the Trojans, holding it
unworthy of their ancestors to serve in a foreign land, had
retreated to the woods, choosing rather a savage life than a slavish
one. If that displeased him, then, with his leave, they would depart
to some other country." Pandrasus, not expecting so bold a message
from the sons of captives, went in pursuit of them, with such forces
as he could gather, and met them on the banks of the Achelous, where
Brutus got the advantage, and took the king captive. The result was,
that the terms demanded by the Trojans were granted; the king gave his
daughter Imogen in marriage to Brutus, and furnished shipping,
money, and fit provision for them all to depart from the land.
The marriage being solemnized, and shipping from all parts got
together, the Trojans, in a fleet of no less than three hundred and
twenty sail, betook themselves to the sea. On the third day they
arrived at a certain island, which they found destitute of
inhabitants, though there were appearances of former habitation, and
among the ruins a temple of Diana. Brutus, here performing sacrifice
at the shrine of the goddess, invoked an oracle for his guidance, in
these lines:-
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Jana Chand-Medlock
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« Reply #40 on: October 27, 2009, 01:06:31 am »

"Goddess of shades, and huntress, who at will
Walk'st on the rolling sphere, and through the deep;
On thy third realm, the earth, look now and tell
What land, what seat of rest, thou bidd'st me seek;
What certain seat where I may worship thee
For aye, with temples vowed and virgin choirs."

To whom, sleeping before the altar, Diana, in a vision thus

"Brutus! far to the west, in the ocean wide,
Beyond the realm of Gaul, a land there lies,
Seagirt it lies, where giants dwelt of old;
Now, void, it fits thy people: thither bend
Thy course; there shalt thou find a lasting seat;
There to thy sons another Troy shall rise,
And kings be born of thee, whose dreaded might
Shall save the world, and conquer nations bold."
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Jana Chand-Medlock
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« Reply #41 on: October 27, 2009, 01:06:44 am »

Brutus, guided now, as he thought, by Divine direction, sped his
course towards the west, and, arriving at a place on the Tyrrhene sea,
found there the descendants of certain Trojans who with Antenor came
into Italy, of whom Corineus was the chief. These joined company,
and the ships pursued their way till they arrived at the mouth of
the river Loire, in France, where the expedition landed, with a view
to a settlement, but were so rudely assaulted by the inhabitants
that they put to sea again, and arrived at a part of the coast of
Britain now called Devonshire, where Brutus felt convinced that he had
found the promised end of his voyage, landed his colony, and took
The island, not yet Britain, but Albion, was in a manner desert
and inhospitable, occupied only by a remnant of the giant race whose
excessive force and tyranny had destroyed the others. The Trojans
encountered these and extirpated them, Corineus in particular
signalizing himself by his exploits against them; from whom Cornwall
takes its name, for that region fell to his lot, and there the
hugest giants dwelt, lurking in rocks and caves, till Corineus rid the
land of them.
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Jana Chand-Medlock
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« Reply #42 on: October 27, 2009, 01:07:22 am »

Brutus built his capital city, and called it Trojanova (New Troy),
changed in time to Trinovantum, now London;* and, having governed
the isle twenty-four years, died, leaving three sons, Locrine,
Albanact, and Camber. Locrine had the middle part, Camber the west,
called Cambria from him, and Albanact Albania, now Scotland. Locrine
was married to Guendolen, the daughter of Corineus; but, having seen a
fair maid named Estrildis, who had been brought captive from
Germany, he became enamored of her, and had by her a daughter, whose
name was Sabra. This matter was kept secret while Corineus lived;
but after his death, Locrine divorced Guendolen, and made Estrildis
his queen. Guendolen, all in rage, departed to Cornwall, where
Madan, her son, lived, who had been brought up by Corineus, his
grandfather. Gathering an army of her father's friends and subjects,
she gave battle to her husband's forces, and Locrine was slain.
Guendolen caused her rival, Estrildis, with her daughter Sabra, to
be thrown into the river, from which cause the river thenceforth
bore the maiden's name, which by length of time is now changed into
Sabrina or Severn. Milton alludes to this in his address to the river-
and in

"Severn swift, guilty of maiden's death";-
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Jana Chand-Medlock
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« Reply #43 on: October 27, 2009, 01:08:23 am »

his "Comus" tells the story with a slight variation, thus:-

"There is a gentle nymph not far from hence,
That with moist curb sways the smooth Severn stream;
Sabrina is her name, a virgin pure:
Whilom she was the daughter of Locrine,
That had the sceptre from his father, Brute.
She, guiltless damsel, flying the mad pursuit
Of her enraged step-dame, Guendolen,
Commended her fair innocence to the flood,
That stayed her flight with his cross-flowing course.
The water-nymphs that in the bottom played
Held up their pearled wrists and took her in,
Bearing her straight to aged Nereus' hall,
Who, piteous of her woes, reared her lank head,
And gave her to his daughters to imbathe
In nectared lavers strewed with asphodel,
And through the porch and inlet of each sense
Dropped in ambrosial oils till she revived,
And underwent a quick, immortal change,
Made goddess of the river," etc.

* "For noble Britons sprong from Trojans bold,
And Troynovant was built of old Troy's ashes cold."
SPENSER, Book III, Canto IX. 38.
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Jana Chand-Medlock
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« Reply #44 on: October 27, 2009, 01:08:40 am »

If our readers ask when all this took place, we must answer, in
the first place, that mythology is not careful of dates; and next
that, as Brutus was the great-grandson of AEneas, it must have been
not far from a century subsequent to the Trojan war, or about 1100
years before the invasion of the island by Julius Caesar. This long
interval is filled with the names of princes whose chief occupation
was in warring with one another. Some few, whose names remain
connected with places, or embalmed in literature, we will mention.


Bladud built the city of Bath, and dedicated the medicinal waters to
Minerva. He was a man of great invention, and practised the arts of
magic, till, having made him wings to fly, he fell down upon the
temple of Apollo, in Trinovant, and so died, after twenty years'
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