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This was later transmuted into a Christianized character named Sibyl in the Christian mythology of the Early Middle Ages.


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Queen Sebile falls in love with the Frankish king Charlemagne 's nephew and Roland 's brother, Baudoin, for whom she betrays her husband. After Guiteclin is killed, she marries Baudoin, who thus becomes the King of Saxony. Iblis is the most virtuous woman, as proven by a magic cloak test an arguably central motif of the entire tale [12] , who falls in love with Lancelot in a prophetic dream before even meeting him.

After Lancelot slays her father in combat she faints when he fights and instantly forgives him after his victory [13] and he learns his name and real identity, Princess Iblis marries him as the new king of this realm.


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  • Lancelot later leaves to defeat hundred knights and marry the Queen of Pluris marrying for the fourth time , but eventually escapes from her and returns to the faithful Iblis and their kingdom. Ruling their combined lands together, they have four children, and later they both die on the same day. In the early 13th-century French epic poem Huon de Bordeaux , Sebile is a cousin of the story's eponymous hero, the Frankish knight Huon of Bordeaux.

    She uses her magical abilities to aid Huon in slaying her captor: a monstrous, foot-tall giant named Pride l'Orgueilleux , whom Huon defeats and beheads after a terrible duel. In the early 13th-century French Lancelot-Grail prose cycle, Queen Sebile Sedile le roine or Sebile the enchantress Sebile l'enchanteresse [26] becomes a villainous character. Amazed by how fairy-like handsome he is, they argue over who among them would be the most deserving of his love for reasons other than their equal social rank and magical powers at least in the French original version, as Malory turns Morgan into a clearly dominant leader of the group [30].

    Each of them states different reasons to be chosen, with Sebile emphasizing her merry character, youth and beauty. The next day, the Queens appear before the awoken Lancelot in their finest clothes and ask him to choose one of them as a lover; if he refuses, he will never leave his prison. Despite this threat, Lancelot, faithful to his secret beloved, Queen Guinevere , categorically and with contempt refuses all three "lewd witches". Humiliated and angered by this, the queens throw Lancelot into a dungeon; he is later freed by the daughter of the King of Norgales' enemy either the Duke of Rochedon or King Bagdemagus of Gore , who asks him to fight for her father in an upcoming tournament.

    Sebile remains a powerful sorceress, whose special skills include invisibility, but is clearly inferior to the Lady; this is evidenced in the episode where Sebile and the Queen of the Norgales together attack the Lady's castle with their magic in Sebile's case, trying to set it on fire without any real effect, while the Lady retaliates by effortlessly taking their clothes off and making the naked Sebile visible for all. This results in a quarrel that goes from an exchange of worst insults to a physical brawl that leaves Morgan battered half to death by the younger Sebile; [26] [32] the Queen of Norgales then saves the remorseful and terrified Sebile from Morgan's revenge by reminding Morgan how they both stole Lancelot's brother Ector de Maris from her but she had forgiven them, and Morgan and Sebile soon fully reconcile.

    There are also other knights that Sebile is known to desire, especially Lamorak. Queen Sebile has an affair with Arthur's knight Sagramore Sagremor , who is at first her prisoner until he seduces her. Sagramore converts Sebile to Christianity when she hastily baptizes herself after he refuses to sleep with a heathen. The villain is defeated in great battle and captured after a personal duel against Sagramore with Sebile's help. In the anonymous French prose romance Perceforest , a massive prequel to the Post-Vulgate written c.

    Sebile falls in love with Alexander on sight; she incites him into her mist-concealed Castle of the Lake later the Red Castle by magic and keeps him there through seduction. Their mutual love then grows, especially after Sebile nurses him back to health from a grave wound and Alexander lifts a siege of her castle by defeating her enemies. In one episode, travelling Sebile is attacked by four evil knights who want to rape her, but the Scottish knight Tor of Pedrac arrives at the last moment and slays the villains their severed heads are then preserved with a spell and given to him as a memorial of this deed.

    Other characters include her cousin Gloriane, the lady of Castle Darnant. Another Sebile later appears at the end of the 14th century in the French Le Roman d'Eledus et Serene as a maidservant of the heroine Serene, "versed in the science of love". In central Italy, Sebile features in a local version of the Venusberg motif from Germanic mythology. In de la Sale's La Salade written c. One could, however, question just how unselfish such imperial pleasures might really be. His diversion to Britain allows Alexander to reward two of his followers with lucra- tive land grants at no cost to himself.

    And because of the marriages arranged by Alexander at the beginning of the story borrowed from the Voeux du paon , the installation of these particular kings results in a close-knit web of pro-Greek, anti-Roman alliances reaching from one end of the empire to the other. When the villainous Roman Antipater later assassinates Alexander and his Asian allies and attempts to take over the eastern empire, Perceforest is able to shelter the two queens and their infant sons until they can return to their king- doms.

    It is nonviolent — at least in its incep- tion — because the grateful British knights make no resistance; non-exploitative because the Greek emperor is the very soul of generosity. Perceforest inscribes itself as the link joining up the great locations of Euro- pean culture, allowing for a grand historical narrative that takes in Priam, Brutus, Alexander, Joseph of Arimathea, and Arthur.

    In so doing, its author creates a picture of ethnic and cultural conflict, fusion, and exchange that is remarkably sensitive and detailed. But the ethical dimension is also of great importance — sexual norms, religious values, modes of government, uses of violence — as is, for that matter, the aesthetic: personal beauty, fine clothing, the arts, landscaping. It tells of a period of history utterly unknown. The twelfth-century Alexander romances by Thomas de Kent and Alexandre de Paris do mention, in passing, that Alexander had extended his rule over parts of western Europe.

    Gaullier-Bougassas and Harf-Lancner, vv. Still, nowhere outside of Perceforest do we read of an extended stay in Britain or other Western locations. A Greek scholar who has been studying in France, he is doubly foreign. This translator — the persona adopted by the Perceforest narrator — claims to have introduced stylistic improvements in order to make the story more entertaining. The Roman de Perceforest, in other words, is presented as an embellished French translation of a Latin translation of a Greek chronicle that had been hidden away for over a thousand years.

    On the one hand, then, the story told in Perceforest emerges from beneath layers of exotic otherness and obscurity; but it also sits at the very heart of Brit- ishness, purporting to explain how the most famous era in medieval vernacular romance came to be. The text is populated by the ancestors of the Arthurian world, as is made abundantly clear every time a marriage takes place and the narrator announces the illustrious progeny that will result.

    This improbable Greek kingdom of Great Britain is responsible for both cultural institutions and mate- rial props that are essential to the Arthurian world. The Saxon chronicler Widukind, writing c. However, the identification of the Saxons as Greek was not widely disseminated and there is no evidence that the Perceforest author would have been aware of it. Writing c. Palmer, vv. It is this infusion of a foreign element that enabled the most famous of British kings to be what he was. It is because of an eventual recon- quest of Britain by the descendants of those whom Alexander displaced, that this Greek heritage is suppressed, abolished by royal decree from all public discourse.

    Only the chronicle, walled up in an abbey, survives to be discovered centuries later. The Byzantine and Asian East, seemingly far removed from British cultural history, are nonetheless at its heart. British culture is grounded in a hybridity that is hidden and disavowed, yet utterly essential. In her words: Itinerant and adaptive, focusing colonial myths, activating imperialist energies, what we shall call the travelling metaphor formed an essential constitutive element of an intensely imagined colonial system.

    Still less would I wish to argue for an essentialist level- ling of all forms of imperialism and colonialism throughout European history. Nonetheless it is useful to consider the literary and theoretical works of post- medieval colonialism as a kind of backdrop or counterpoint to Perceforest. As a prelude to my detailed reading of this very rich text, I wish briefly to identify certain concepts that link Perceforest with the post colonial literature of later centuries.

    In Scotland Gadifer and his men are perceived first as demons, and then as vastly superior humans. For they believed that they were fairies and that they did not die] I. Lydoire is able to develop such a high level of expertise in magic and astrology because, as a girl, she received a thorough philosophical training from none other than Aristotle. The idea of Europeans being perceived as gods has a long history, and is already active at the very beginnings of New World exploration. But one thing is certain: westerners venturing into hitherto uncharted territory have long harboured expectations of being perceived as gods, and Perceforest is one more piece of evidence that these beliefs predated European contact with New World peoples.

    See also Greenblatt, Marvelous Possessions, pp. This too is a controlling idea in Perceforest, where Alexander magnanimously delays his expedition to Babylon in order to assist in the cultural regeneration of Britain. Perhaps the most recent example, while not strictly speaking colonial, is the American invasion of Afghanistan in though clearly and explicitly launched in response to the al-Quaeda attacks of 11 September , it has often been portrayed in the popular media as a mission on behalf of Afghan women.

    Dasanama lan kosok bali saka aigret ing bausastra dasanama Basa Inggris

    An uninformed observer of the American news coverage during that period might almost be forgiven for thinking that Washington was more concerned with the abolition of the burka than with the capture of Osama bin Laden. But in both instances, the military, political, and economic interests of an expansionist power are obscured beneath the rhetoric of a civi- lising mission that appropriates woman as an object to be saved. The trope of saving women from their own kind is most obvious in episodes in which girls are rescued from the incestuous designs of their fathers — the princess Flamine of the Roide Montaigne, and the young giantess Galotine — but its importance goes well beyond these stories of domestic sexual violence.

    Though Perceforest initially embarked on his war against the lignaige Darnant in an effort to break their monopoly on the natural resources of the forests, these economic and material concerns fade rapidly under a narrative emphasis on Perceforest as the saviour of British women. Flamine and Galotine are saved from incestuous rape in order to marry their rescuers; Sebille, a lady of the forest who is rescued from would-be rapists, has a love affair with Alexander and bears his son.

    The British girl Lyriope, who is saved from being raped by her cousin when Gadifer and Le Tor kill her brother and capture the family castle, becomes a royal ward and is given in marriage to Le Tor. This formulation could equally be applied to the scenarios imagined in Perceforest. The recasting of class violence or military conquest in the form of erotic or amorous intrigue is a well established feature of medieval vernacular literature, familiar in the pastourelle encounters between a shepherdess and a knight as well as in the tales of amorous Saracen princesses in Crusade epic.

    This common ground between otherwise disparate genres points to a more pervasive discur- sive strategy within medieval culture. One could say much the same thing about certain ladies in Perceforest, some of whom display an aggressive sexuality that threatens to rob men of their autonomy. Sebille, for example, initiates her liaison with Alexander by enchanting him so that he stays at her castle for two weeks, despite his intention to depart after just one night. In some respects, his account portrays Tahiti as a utopia of erotic delights.

    This clash of desire and revulsion marks a moment of double hybridisation. French seed is sown in a Tahitian body, to produce bodies that are still Tahitian but with a French differ- ence; while a French body is overwritten with Tahitian customs. In both cases a subject is produced who is not quite fully French or Tahitian, but something partaking of both. And the result is a new British Alexander: the knight Alexandre Remanant de Joie, a Briton on whose body is written the semblance of his illustrious Greek father.

    Despite the sense of mission that characterises much colonial literature, then, such works can also betray an underlying current of insecurity and disorienta- tion, as the coloniser struggles to preserve a sense of self in an alien surrounding. Crusoe sets out to build himself an estate where he can live as lord of his own domain, replicating insofar as possible the conditions of his homeland.

    Proust, II. It is only when he learns to detach himself from his idealised image of Alexander and to accept the heroic and courtly potential of his British subjects that Perceforest is finally able to become a true, and effective, British king. As for Gadifer, he is severely injured in a hunting accident in the Scottish forest, and becomes permanently disabled when a local woman, in league with the indigenous resistance, poisons his wounds. His wife Lydoire reacts by hiding the entire royal family in an invis- ible castle.

    And the Scottish court is crippled by a pathological aversion to contact with its own subjects. Invisible in her castle but spying on all around her, as if in a medieval panopticon, Lydoire metes out severe punishments to anyone deemed disobedient or negligent, while even the most faithful knights are largely kept at bay.

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    Both courts also reflect a perva- sive fear of a resurgence of the indigenous lignaige Darnant, a once-powerful clan whose warrior ethos might be described in modern terms as terrorist. If they should ever once again gain the upper hand. The Perceforest author thus pits the chivalric culture of Greek imperial rule — the idealised image of his own culture — against an imagined era of barbarity, located in a distant and lawless past. Having suffered under the Roman lash, Britain is now well able to wield it.

    But the discourse of colonialism also appropriates that very sense of estrangement, that alienation from the self, and rewrites it as self-aggrandisement. The gaze of the colonised fixes the colonial foreigner as an object of difference, an intruder to be expelled, a curiosity to be examined. And it must therefore be contained by the more powerful gaze of the colonisers, certain of their superiority, and thus able to transform fear, hostility, even indifference into adoration, wonder, desire. The violence of the colonial encounter is realised, in part, through the imposition of this perspective onto the conquered people, who are made to internalise an image of themselves as awestruck by the conquerors and grateful for their attentions.

    And when it comes to foreign blood, we cannot be regenerated by anything better than the blood of the Greeks. This infusion of blood from an unconquered imperial power, slightly exotic but still European, will produce a new lineage, a new culture that will make Britain unique in the world. Blood, or semence, is not the only object of colonial desire. The mission civilisatrice also assumes, and aggressively imposes, a desire for assimilation to the colonising culture.

    For a historical example, again from the eighteenth century, we can turn to the famous verses of the African-American poet Phillis Wheatley. Captured by slave traders in Africa and sold at auction in Boston at the age of about seven, purchased by a Quaker family who kept her as a servant but gave her a classical education, Wheatley came to see her traumatic abduction as an enabling, indeed salvific, opportunity.

    The hybridity of her voice, both African and Christian, allows for an assertion of African self-worth that challenges colo- nial racist assumptions. The intricate world of Perceforest also includes numerous characters whose assimilation to a new cultural order severs them completely from the life into which they were born. A ce lez lui fut esrachie Sa sauvaigine, la boscage. IV [When the lion had embraced her, he kissed her right breast. At that the woodland lass lost her uncouth ways. Priande echoes and even inten- sifies this perspective, rewriting the trauma and violence of that first encounter as a moment of enlightenment, a sexual and cultural awakening that did not so much replace a former identity, as it bestowed an identity where formerly there had been none.

    Priande is a fictional character, her eager conversion imagined by the male author who has created her. Yet she is also a forerunner of the persona created by Wheatley. In both cases, the young female persona refuses to acknowledge her objectification as commodity or spoil of conquest, claiming instead a subject position that redefines her encounter with an alien culture.

    And 45 Wheatley, Collected Works, p. Emphasis hers. But Perceforest does also show another side, the resistance of certain Britons to the new Greco-British culture and their persistence in seeing themselves as the rightful heirs to the land. Since this is a fictional history, it is impossible to probe the experiences and subjectivities of the outlawed clan members, either male or female, beyond what we are given in the text. Complicitous with his heroic Greek king, the narrator constructs all resistant members of the lignaige Darnant as malicious and unprincipled characters.

    Still, we are given occasional glimpses of these clan members as people in their own right. Their grief at the death of their kinsmen, for example, seems very genuine, and their desire for vengeance cannot completely be discounted. In a meeting of clan elders, the virtuous Gelinant du Gat informs his kinsmen that they are reaping the fruits of their own sinful ways.

    We are even allowed a momentary insight into the private thoughts of a clans- woman who is part of a conspiracy to abduct several knights of the Franc Palais. For an instant — if only for an instant — we may imagine that we see not a band of barbaric outlaws, but a community fighting for its life, committed to relations of kinship and to the traditions of their ancestors, and to recovering the independence they have lost. Their castle, hidden in the depths of the forest and rendered invisible through enchantment, allows them to operate their war of attrition without fear of counter-attack.

    This invisibility is itself a powerful form of resistance. Literally removing themselves from the hostile gaze of the foreign king and his henchmen, placing themselves outside the reach of his desire, the indigenous people fix the king in a gaze that seems to emanate from the very land itself to isolate and incapacitate him as an alien presence, a power- less stranger in a strange land. Perceforest is a text well suited to either task. True, it posits a historical movement leading inexorably to the triumphant emer- gence of Christendom and British, or perhaps more precisely English, hegemony.

    But Perceforest is a patently fictional history, deliberately crafted to portray this happy outcome as the overdetermined product of human, natural, and super- natural forces. I do not mean, however, to imply that Perceforest was a radical or subver- sive text, or that contemporary readers would necessarily have understood it as implying the contingency of cultural values. Where we see the creation and impo- sition of gender norms, for example, a medieval reader might see the affirmation and restoration of a natural order. But the deconstruction and analysis of these textual strategies is illuminating.

    I will begin in Part I with the figures of Gadifer and Perceforest, Greek kings of Trojan Britain, and the way that their mission civilisatrice is carried out through specific acts of legislation and through the construction of courts and cities. Their rule rewrites British identity, as categories of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, even humanity are reconstrued, and the nature of culture itself is explored. Part III will examine the categories of blood and ethnicity that emerge from the text — Greeks, Trojans, the lignaige Darnant — and their role in the construction of history as a matrix for both individual and cultural identity.

    James M. Gadifer, now king of Scotland, decides to explore his kingdom. And although his entourage does include some very capable Scottish knights, he finds that much of Scotland is a sparsely inhabited wilderness. Initially terrified, they mistake the new arrivals for devils; the men cower in the bushes while the women rush forward in a savage attack. But once they realise that these strange, armour- clad creatures are people, they quickly accept the sovereignty of the king, eager for the blessings of civilisation. Colonial Fantasies: Grateful Subjects and Godlike Rulers This scenario, then, allows for a pleasant fantasy of oneself as exotic Other.

    The terror manifested by the people in this first encounter would be an understand- able reaction to an invading army of heavily armed warriors, but it turns out that their fear goes well beyond such relatively down-to-earth concerns. It was not simply fear of human marauders that inspired the violent, riotous reception, but a fear much darker and more primal: that of being devoured by something monstrous, something evil. When Gadifer, having removed his helmet, speaks to a man old enough to remember the uncorrupted language spoken by his own father — and thus capable of commu- nicating with the new arrivals — he asks why the people reacted as they did.

    Once the king and his knights have removed their armour and dressed in their finery, the people are completely won over and indeed press forward for a closer look. Having changed their garb from that of war to that of the court, the knights still have a powerful allure, but already their impact is changing from one of terror to one of fascination and desire.

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    Lecoy, v. Having learned from his mother that the only being more beautiful than the angels is God himself, Perceval decides that the most handsome of the knights must be God, and adopts a worshipful posture. In the eyes of this uncultured Welsh lad, in other words, British knights are an absolute limit of beauty and splendour that simply cannot be surpassed in this world or in any other.

    A similar expectation that those endowed with intellectual, artistic, or tech- nical skills would be regarded as gods underlies a medieval tradition of euhemer- istic readings of classical mythology. The innovations that might lead to deification — gathering people into communities, teaching them to build towns and to cultivate the land — are very similar to those that Gadifer brings to the inhabitants of the Scottish Wilds, and recur in other founding legends as well.

    Most relevant for the present purposes are the tales of Trojan settlement in both Gaul and Britain, where the emphasis is again on agriculture, legislation, and the construction of fortified cities. Far from being a royal imposition, these are gifts so vital as to ensure the reverence and awestruck grati- tude of the recipients and their descendants forever after. Gadifer does have an almost supernatural effect upon the land as he passes through it, as though it responds to the power of his gaze and the force of his desire.

    Le paysage est pour nous un objet construit. For us the landscape is a constructed object. Of this landscape that I admire, I am the predator. As they were talking about the delightful place, they look ahead in the depths of the meadow and see that there were domestic cows and that children ten or twelve years old were running among them, naked except that they were wrapped in sheepskins.

    Gadifer articulates the desire to popu- late the land and, as if in response, he discerns signs of human presence. I remember that my father spoke the way you do. And by the time Gadifer moves on, after a stay of only two months, the people have become his loyal subjects, the forest has been cleared and a road constructed, and the once wild land has become a city. Thanks to the intervention of a Greek king acting through the agency of the global emperor Alexander, this once lost people have literally been rescued from oblivion and re-formed as Britons.

    Having determined who these people are, his next enquiry concerns their living arrangements. The old man explains that they live in the forest and take shelter during the winter under piles of dried grasses. Sy vous rassembleray, se je puis, et mectray en meilleur estat. I will gather you together, if I can, and improve your condi- tion. The description of the Scottish Wilds echoes stock criticisms made by medieval English writers about the Welsh, the Irish, and the Scottish Highlanders and Islanders: that they lived by livestock rather than farming, in dispersed huts rather than solidly built towns, with no rule of law until one was brought by the English.

    See Davies, First English Empire, pp. As Isidore of Seville explains: Nam urbs ipsa moenia sunt, civitas autem non saxa, sed habitatores vocantur. Etymologiae, ed. Lindsay, XV. Gadifer accordingly sends for workmen and sets them to building houses. From this construction of an urbs will flow, in turn, the civitas: the society of people bound by a common law, interests, and values.

    It is also only with the advent of towns and an organised human society that a visible tale of historical progress is inscribed upon the land.

    A Perceforest Reader Selected Episodes from Perceforest The Prehistory of Arthur's Britain

    It is not that these people had previously been suspended in an unchanging state: in fact, as has been seen, they had changed drastically over the generations, losing all memory of their origins, all knowledge of artisanal skills and civic institutions, even their very language. But this process left no mark on the land, which gave no visible sign that people were there at all, much less of their ongoing activities. Nor is there any evidence that the people themselves harboured any sense of occupying a place in history, framed by their own particular past and future.

    Houston has commented on the intimate relationship between the concept of place and that of history, as both past and future endow the present moment with meaning: Place. Place implies belonging. It establishes identity. It defines vocation. It envisions destiny. Place is filled with memories of life that provide roots and give direction. Indeed Henry of Huntingdon, writing in the twelfth century, identified a sense of history as quintessentially human: Habet quidem praeter haec illustres transactorum notitia dotes, quod ipsa maxima distinguat a brutis rationabiles: bruti namque homines et animalia unde sint nesciunt, genus suum nesciunt, patriae suae casus et gesta nesciunt, immo nec scire volunt.

    Historia Anglorum, ed. Arnold, p. The inhabitants of the Scottish wilderness are on the brink of losing their place in history alto- gether, and hence their power, as rational subjects, to define a collective identity through a shared series of meaningful events. Not only a feudal stronghold, Royauville is a centre of commerce and trade. It is also the site of an important victory over Roman invaders, and the story of this battle is one that its inhabitants are eager to tell. Royauville is a place with a history, and its history is in turn a part of world history: a focal point in the vast ongoing saga of relations between Greeks and Trojans as the descendants of both peoples spread themselves across the face of Europe.

    Naming is part of this process of mapping and networking, applicable to both people and places. But now that she is officially recognised as part of the Trojan diaspora, and of royal descent, that dynastic and ethnic past becomes the determining factor of her identity. Enshrined in her very name, it cannot now be forgotten. Lecoy, vv. The first two names that he comes up with are, of course, applicable only within a family group: they are relationship-specific and could not be used by any of his new acquaintances.

    But it is still generic and will not serve to identify him as an individual once he has entered the world at large, where there are many who can claim that title. It is as though, at this stage of his life, Perceval cannot conceive of any name other than one that expresses the feudal or familial relationship between him and his interlocutor.

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    His iden- tity, a complex mix of ethnicity, genealogy, class, feudal allegiance, and personal achievement or failure , resides within himself rather than simply mirroring his relationship with each individual interlocutor. Not only have people begun to emerge as individuals in need of names, but also the undifferentiated space of the Scottish wilderness has begun to coalesce into recognisable and individualised places that are equally in need of names.

    Its salient feature at this stage is that it is located in the wilds of the forest. And so Gadifer changes its name to Royauville. Paul Carter, commenting on the process of naming in the European voyages of the colonial era, stresses the importance of the cultural place where spatial history begins: not in a particular year, nor in a particular place, but in the act of naming. For by the act of place- naming, space is transformed symbolically into a place, that is, a space with a history. Moreover, now that Royauville is a named and recognisable place it can enter into a system of feudal exchange, and Gadifer immediately uses it in this way.

    Though a cultural place needs to be distinct from its surroundings, it must not be isolated either. His status as the founder of towns and the builder of roads helps to identify him as a rival to rulers of Trojan descent — most notably the Romans — to whom such works are normally attrib- uted. The Scottish wilderness is now demarcated by a distinction between town and countryside; it is now possible to move through the land with direction, from one known place to another. It is possible, indeed necessary, to make choices about which route one will take, which road one will follow.

    These diverging roads figure in the subsequent narrative, providing opportu- nities for knights to separate and enter into different adventures. The roads are the visible mapping of the many narrative threads that make up the romance, and thus the history of Greco-Trojan Britain: intersecting, converging and diverging as the knights meet up or go their separate ways. His incestuous intention of marrying his own daughter further reflects his fantasy of transcending genera- tions, of being the eternal and unchanging father and bridegroom to a potentially endless series of virginal daughter-wives.

    Each crossroads opens out on a mythical horizon] p. Again it is a royal gaze that looks out on to a barren landscape and sees a potential society, a kingdom governed by law. In both cases, the Greek sovereign imposes his view of history — the history that defines him as ruler — on to the land through, in part, the delineation of places. The island of Great Britain, once of so little importance that it was not even worth invading, will thus become the resplendent setting for a history encompassing not only Gadifer and Perceforest, but also Arthur and the Round Table, the Grail Quest, and ultimately the Plantagenets themselves, for whose ally and in-law Perceforest was written.

    The need for punishment arises as the town of Royauville is being built and those who are still homeless begin to invade the existing houses, ousting the rightful inhabitants. It is a visible staging of the law, inflicted onto the bodies of the guilty, imprinted in the memory of the observers through the blood that they see flowing, and emblematically on view at all times through the permanent presence of the whipping post itself. Fully internalised, this spectre of corporal punishment becomes a means of policing both oneself and others.

    Though civilisation is clearly presented as a good thing, still its imposition is not without ambivalence. The rule of law instills fear and constraint, even as the advent of civilisation bestows luxuries and pleasures. Or at least so we are told. The allusion to Original Sin is unmistakable and links this founding moment to others. Not only expulsion from Eden, with the agricultural and domestic labour that ensued and the advent of crime and punishment. But also the fall from the classical Golden Age, charac- terised by human exploitation of nature and the growth of cities and commerce.

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    Elsewhere the text hints at a nostalgic identification of primitivism, simplicity, and purity of heart. This last detail is particularly striking in view of the importance attributed elsewhere in the text to the institution of marriage, and to the need for a protracted courtship in which a knight proves his worth before daring to expect any sexual favours from his beloved. The text overall maintains a double focus, whereby the moral prescriptions, legal constraints, and material luxuries of aristocratic society can be a sign both of an advanced civilisation, and of cultural decadence.

    For the most part, nonetheless, the historical vision expressed in Perceforest diverges from the idealisation of the primitive past outlined in such texts as the Roman de la Rose. Rather than living in idyllic bliss, the people of Scotland, in their extreme ignorance and need, are fertile ground for the transplantation of Greek social, cultural, and economic institutions. As if in answer to the conflicted sense of civi- lisation as both progress and decline, Perceforest thus offers a second duality whereby the culture brought by Gadifer is both an imposition and a restoration.

    If civilisation is a fall from innocence, the wild state of the Scottish Trojans is no less a precipitous fall from culture. Their ancestors had lived in a glorious city famed for its wealth, learning, artistry, and military might. And yet of course these people are not Greeks but Trojans, survivors of a culture twice destroyed by the Greeks. How then should we interpret this story of a Greek king bringing civilisation to a race of Trojans who have reverted to savagery? Colonial Subjecthood: Imposition or Restoration? It is impossible to read Perceforest without bearing in mind the backdrop of the Trojan War.

    As the Scottish subjects recover their Trojan identity and their past, they emerge as people who were conquered and exiled by the Greeks; and now they are once again being ruled by a Greek king. In fleeing the destruction of Troy, their ancestors attempted to resist Greek hegemony, to preserve some measure of Trojan identity and autonomy. We see that this Trojan-ness does indeed shape their identity, but the very fact of being Trojan now includes the condition of having been conquered by Greeks.

    This dual context for defining the people of Britain — the grandeur and the failure that was Troy — will be a recurring theme as the romance unfolds its tale of British history. Cist est ausi com une beste. This lad is no different from an animal. Only gradually, and not always gracefully, will he give up these signs of Welshness to replace them with the signs of knighthood. The fissures in his identity mean that he will always be alienated from some part of his familial origins, always seeking to integrate the conflicting, indeed mutually exclusive, elements that have shaped his persona.

    At first encounter, the Scottish people seem to be almost wholly different from Gadifer and his knights, and menacing in the extreme. They wear skins rather than clothes, their hair is long and unkempt, they speak an incomprehensible language and manifest only utter terror or aggressive ferocity. Moreover, in this uncivilised realm, it is not the men but the women who fight. This turn of events violates the normal rules of chivalric warfare and creates a situation that Gadifer and his knights cannot easily cope with: their lives are in danger, but they cannot fight women with honour.

    They must make do by defending themselves with 22 Bhabha, Location, pp. Autre- ment en porroit yssir en pou de temps ung peril qui porroit grever et nous et aultruy. Otherwise, there could soon be a danger that would hurt us and others. Yet these are still people, and however ferocious the women may be they are still women, protected by the chivalric code that says that a knight can fight only against one who is equally armed, and that ladies are to be honoured.

    Still, it is recognition of their common humanity that forces Gadifer to limit the force with which his men can react. Nigel Bryant has recently adapted this immense romance into English; even in his version, which gives a complete account of the whole work but links extensive sections of full translation with compressed accounts of other passages, it runs to nearly half a million words. A Perceforest Reader is an ideal introduction to the remarkable world portrayed in this late flowering of the Arthurian imagination.

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