Although he didn't invent the Round Table or the tales of its fellowship, the twelfth-century poet Chrétien de Troyes was the first to recount in verse the adventures of Arthur's knights. He is also chiefly responsible for establishing the importance of the Arthurian legend in European literature and assuring its survival into modern times. This sensitive translation of Chrétien's verse narratives features four romances, including those of Erec and Enide, Cligés, Yvain, and Lancelot.
Erec and Enide's tale illustrates how honor can be restored to a troubled relationship through acts of public duty. Cligés' tale involves a forbidden relationship, in which a knight falls in love with his queen—who is also his uncle's wife. The story of Yvain explores the effects of long-term absence on a questing knight's marriage. Lancelot's adventure, the rescue of Guinevere, is Chrétien's enduring contribution to the tradition of Arthurian myth. The version included is a principal source of Mallory's popular Le Morte d'Arthur. Lively and accessible, these four romances form the most complete expression of the ideals of French chivalry by a single author.
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Alexander arms attack battle beside blows body Calogrenant cause Cligés comes companions Constantinople Count court courteous cries damsel dare daugh dead death delay desire distress Duke of Saxony dwarf emperor Enide Erec Erec and Enide escort eyes Fair lord fair sire fear Fenice fight gentle give glad gladly God’s sake Greece grief grieved Guivret hand happy harm hast hauberk hear heard heart helmet hold honour horse joust killed King Arthur King’s knew knight lady lance Lancelot land leave lion lodging lord Gawain lord Yvain Lunete maiden Meleagant mercy mounted neck never once other’s palfrey passed pleased Queen quickly replies ride Saxons says seneschal shame shield side soon speak squires steed strike sure sword tarry tell thee thou thought tower town truth vassal wife wish word wounded Yder