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Modern Philology 

Volume XII April IQI$ Number io 


The Lay of Lanval, 2 attributed to Marie de France and written 
during the third quarter of the twelfth century, is one of the gems of 
mediaeval romance. Its popularity in England is attested by the 
preservation in several manuscripts of an early English translation 3 
which became the basis of Thomas Chestre's deservedly famous 
Launfal.* The main thread of Marie's poem, which differs in certain 
points from Chestre's, may be summarized as follows: 

Lanval, one of the king's knights, who has become impover- 
ished by lavish giving, rides forth alone to seek solace. On arriving 
in a meadow, he dismounts from his horse and lies down by " une ewe 
curant." He is soon approached by two damsels. One carries a 
golden basin, the other a towel. Addressing the knight, they sum- 
mon him to their mistress, who, they tell him, is near at hand. 

1 This article forms the third of a series dealing with the Celtic elements in the 
Breton Lays. See Revue Celtique (B.C.), XXXI (1910), 413 ft. (reprinted in part in 
Studies in Philology [University of North Carolina], XI [1913] [Menasha, Wis.], 26 ft.); 
Kittredge Anniversary Papers, Boston, 1913, pp. 377 fT. 

2 Ed. Karl Warnke, Die Lais der Marie de France, 2d ed., Halle, 1900, pp. 86 ff. For 
other editions, see op. cit., p. iii. Cf. Miss A. H. Billings, Guide to the Middle English 
Metrical Romances (Yale dissertation), New York, 1901, pp. 152 f. 

» See Kittredge, Am. Jour. Philol., X (1889), 3; Percy Folio Manuscript, ed. Hales 
and Furnivall, I, London, 1867, pp. 144 ff.; Rudolph Zimmermann, Sir Landeval (KOnigs- 
berg dissertation), 1900; A. Kolls, Zur Lanvalsage (Kiel dissertation), Berlin, 1886. 
Cf. Miss Billings, loc. cit. 

' For editions, see Am. Jour. Philol., X (1889), 2. The text used for the present 
discussion is that of Ritson, Ancient Engleish Metrical Romancees, London, 1802, I, 
170 ff. Chestre's poem dates probably from the first or second quarter of the fourteenth 

585] 1 [Modern Philology, April, 1915 

2 Tom Peete Cross 

Following them a short distance, Lanval reaches a magnificent tent 
in which, reclining upon a couch, is a beautiful woman "en sa 
chemise senglement." 

tut ot descovert le cost6, 

le vis, le col, e la peitrine [vss. 104 f.]. 

The lady recognizes Lanval at once, and addresses him as follows: 
pur vus vine jeo fors de ma terre ; 
de luinz vus sui venue querre [vss. Ill f.]. 
.... jo vus aim sur tute rien [vs. 116]. 

If he is "pruz e curteis," he may have such "joie" and "bien" 
as never emperor, queen, nor king possessed. Lanval is immediately 
smitten with love, and promises to give up all other women for the 
lady. The latter now grants him her favors, but requires that he 
shall never mention their love. If his relation to her becomes known, 
he will lose her forever. She promises to visit him wherever he 
desires, provided the place be such that one can meet his "amie" 
there "senz repreuce e senz vileinie" (vs. 166). At their meetings 
he alone will be able to see or hear her. The lady now bestows 
rich clothing upon her lover, and after entertaining him at dinner, 
dismisses him. On reaching home, Lanval finds his retainers well 
clad. He has all the wealth he can desire, and is often visited by his 

Some time after the meeting with the lady of the tent, Lanval 
receives an offer of love from the queen, but he refuses to wrong his 
lord the king by accepting it, and, angered by the queen's taunts, 
boasts of his mistress, whose beauty he asserts far surpasses that of 
his temptress. On returning to his dwelling, he finds that the lady 
of the tent does not appear at his desire. Later the queen ac- 
cuses him of having insulted her, and he is arrested. It is decreed 
by the court that if at the expiration of one day he can produce his 
mistress and if she is as beautiful as he has described her, he shall be 
acquitted of the charge. Wild with grief at the loss of his "amie," 
he refuses to eat or drink. Those who visit him "mult dotouent 
qu'il s'afolast" (vs. 416). 

At the expiration of the allotted time the barons, finding Lanval 
unable to fulfil the requirement, are about to pronounce judgment 
when the lady of the tent, preceded by two companies of lovely 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Geaelent" 3 

damsels who herald her approach, arrives at court. Dropping her 
mantle, she advances into the hall. Her radiant beauty proves her 
lover's claim, and Lanval is acquitted. As she leaves the court, 
the knight leaps on her horse behind, and is carried off by her to the 
beautiful island of Avalun. 1 

Nuls n'en 01 puis plus parler, 

ne jeo n'en sai avant cunter [vss. 663 f.]. 

The main thread of Thomas Chestre's Sir Launfal agrees in 
general with that of Marie's poem, except that at the end of the 
English lay the hero accompanies his mistress on a horse which had 
been given him by her earlier in the story. Every year on a certain 
day the animal may be heard and seen, and its master is ready 
to joust with all comers. 2 

The twelfth-century lay of Graelent, 3 though neither the source 
nor the pendant of Lanval, tells a very similar story. It runs as 

Graelent, a noble knight "de Bretuns neV' (vs. 5), is loved by 
the queen of Bretaigne, but he refuses her offer of affection. Angered 
at the rebuff, the queen speaks ill of him to the king, who withholds 
the pay due Graelent for service in time of war. Sad at heart 
because of poverty, Graelent wanders into the forest, where he starts 
a white hind. On pursuing the animal, he comes to a beautiful 
fountain in which a maiden, with two attendant damsels, is bathing. 
Graelent steals up quietly and takes the lady's clothes. The latter 
at first becomes terrified and begs him to return her property, even 
going so far as to offer him gold. When, however, Graelent asks her 
love, she treats him scornfully. The knight now threatens to keep 

' For Marie's "Avalun" Chestre's poem substitutes "Olyroun," the name of a real 
island (Kittredge, Am. Jour. Philol., X, 13 f.), but the author knew that Launfal's destina- 
tion was fairyland, for he tells us so (vs. 1036). Cf. Koehler in Warnke's Die Lot's, Introd., 
p. cxii, n. 1. 

2 Besides the earlier translation of Marie's lay, Chestre used the anonymous lay 
of Graelent (see n. 3, below), and introduced into his poem two long episodes drawn from 
his imagination or rather from the common stock of conventional chivalric material 
(Kittredge, Am. Jour. Philol., X, 5). For the purposes of the present discussion these 
two extraneous episodes may be disregarded. As will appear from the following pages, 
Chestre also probably drew certain features of his work from popular tradition. 

' Ed. Roquefort, Poisies de Marie de France, I, Paris, 1820, pp. 486 ff. Roquefort 
erred in attributing Oraelent to Marie de France. Cf . Wolf, Ober die Lais, Heidelberg, 
1841, p. 238, n. 73; and Koehler in Warnke's Die Lais, Introd., pp. ex ff. See further 
Miss Billings, op. cit., p. 153. In the quotations from Graelent the more glaring errors in 
Roquefort's text have been rectified. 


4 Tom Peete Ckoss 

her garments. He finally induces her to leave the fountain and 
dress, whereupon he carries her into the dark forest and makes her 
his mistress. The lady now suddenly changes her manner entirely. 
She tells him that she has visited the fountain for the purpose of 
meeting him and that she has long known of his coming. She also 
grants him her love and promises him great riches, assuring him 
that she will visit him whenever he desires, provided he does not 
reveal her existence. 

Like Lanval, Graelent loses his mistress through a thoughtless 
boast. Each year at Pentecost the king is wont to give a banquet. 
At the conclusion of the feast the king 

La Reine faiseit munter 

Sor un haut banc e deffubler [vss. 418 f.]. 

I was then the duty of all present to praise her and to declare 
that they knew nothing so beautiful. Graelent, who happens to 
be present at one of these strange ceremonies, keeps silent. On 
being asked by the king why he withholds his praise, he announces 
that he knows a woman thirty times as fair as the queen. The king 
thereupon threatens him with life imprisonment if at the expiration 
of a year he cannot produce the woman whom he praises so extrava- 
gantly. Graelent later finds that his mistress does not appear at 
his desire, and is overcome with the most bitter remorse. Finally, 
however, the lady of the fountain returns, arriving at court just in 
time to save her lover from the threatened punishment. When she 
departs, Graelent mounts a wonderful horse (one of his mistress's 
gifts), and, in spite of her warning, follows her. He rides after her 
into a river. Here he is on the point of being drowned when he is 
saved by the lady and carried off. He has never returned. The 
horse, escaping from the water, mourns for the loss of his master. 
He may still be heard at this season of the year. 

The poems outlined above evidently represent variants of the 
same theme: a supernatural woman bestows her affection upon a 
mortal, but forsakes her lover when the latter breaks her command. 
This formula of the Offended F6e is widespread in the folk-lore of 
many ages and countries. It is found in the early literatures of 
India, Greece, Italy, and Western Europe, as well as in a large num- 
ber of modern folk-tales in various languages, and is probably most 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Graelent" 5 

familiar in the Melusine story. 1 From what source it found its way 
into the poems before us is the question of which a solution is 
attempted in the following pages. 


The Lays of Lanval and Graelent belong to that class of mediaeval 
episodic narrative poems known as "Breton Lays"; that is to say, 
they claim descent from Celtic tradition. Since, however, a number 
of mediaeval poems calling themselves "Breton Lays" show no 
discernible similarity to early Celtic literature, either in material 
or in method of treatment, 2 the label "Breton Lay" taken alone 
cannot be regarded as justifying the inclusion of any untested poem 
in the Celtic heritage of Western Europe. 

Per contra, we have no right to regard the occasional unsub- 
stantiated use of the term "Breton Lay" as warrant for concluding 
that the designation was never applied to stories of Celtic origin. 
The fact that a large number of mediaeval poems were called "Breton 
Lays " furnishes strong presumptive evidence that tales told originally 
by "li Bretun" 3 were known and relished in courtly circles during 
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Moreover, the application 
of the term to stories bearing no distinct trace of Celtic influence 
argues mightily for the existence and popularity of other stories 
regarding which the claim was justified. The conclusion seems 
unavoidable that mediaeval poets first attached the label only to 
stories derived from Celtic sources, and that the popularity of such 
stories inspired other writers to adopt the title as a literary device 
for attracting a larger audience by claiming for their work an origin 
of which it could not justly boast. 4 Indeed, the very existence of 
the term "Breton Lay" can be satisfactorily explained only on the 

1 See Gervais of Tilbury, Otia Imperialia, ed. Liebrecht, Hannover, 1856, pp. 4 ff. 
In the stories of Psyche (Apuleius, Met. iv) and of Lohengrin the place of the fairy- 
mistress is taken by the supernatural lover. 

2 Cf. Schofleld, Pub. Mod. Lang. Assn., XV (N. S. VIII) (1900), 173. 

3 The much-vexed question of whether "Bretun" means Britons (Welsh) or Bretons 
is immaterial. See Voretzsch, Einfuhrung in das Studium der altfr. Lit., 2d ed., Halle, 
1913, pp. 335 ff. For bibliography and a collection of material, see A. B. Hopkins, The 
Influence of Wace on the Arth. Boms, of Chrestien de Troies (University of Chicago diss.) 
Menasha, Wis., 1913, pp. 114 ff. 

* Compare the many palpable imitations of negro folk-tales which have appeared in 
recent years as a result of Mr. Joel Chandler Harris's successful retelling of the Brer 
Babbit stories. 


6 Tom Peete Cross 

hypothesis that the first Breton Lays in French were founded on 
stories actually current at one time in Celtic-speaking communities. 
Although, aside from the evidence of place- and personal names 
(which is often far from conclusive), 1 the considerations set forth 
above furnish the chief reasons for looking to Celtic tradition for the 
origin of Breton Lays, they cannot in justice be disregarded. The 
mediaeval poet tells us that the story he relates was once current 
among "li Bretun"; only in case a careful search through preserved 
Celtic literature dating from a period earlier than the middle of the 
twelfth century prove unfruitful, are we at liberty to regard his 
claim as in the slightest degree suspicious. 

It is also necessary to emphasize one or two facts sometimes 
overlooked by those unversed in the ways of tradition. The investi- 
gator of the Celtic origins of mediaeval romance has nothing to do 
with the ultimate origin of the stories with which he deals. They 
may be gemeinkeltisch; they may have got into Celtic from classical 
or oriental tradition, or from any other possible source; they may, 
as in the case before us, belong to that class of widespread tales whose 
beginnings are lost in the mists of unrecorded time. If the student 
of popular origins can show that the chief elements in a Breton Lay 
were present in Celtic literature at a sufficiently early period for 
them to have reached directly or indirectly the ears of mediaeval 
romancers, he has vindicated the truthfulness of the narrator. 

Before proceeding to an examination of the lays of Lanval and 
Graelent, we shall find it convenient to summarize another Breton 
Lay which resembles in some respects the stories outlined above. 
Guingamor, the hero of the poem which bears his name, 2 refuses an 
offer of love from his uncle's wife, the queen, and through her machina- 
tions is induced to undertake the capture of a mysterious white boar 
which uses in a perilous forest near the court. After chasing the 
animal for a long time "parmi la lande aventureuse," Guingamor 
crosses "la riviere perilleuse," and finally reaches a magnificent, 
though uninhabited, palace. Leaving the building to continue 

1 Cf. Voretzsch, loc. cit., and p. 393. On the Celticity of the name Lanval, see 
Zimmer, Gstt. gel. Anzeigen, 1890, pp. 798 f.; Schofleld, Pub. Mod. Lang. Assn., XV, 
176, n. 1. On the name Graelent, see infra, p. 37, n. 4. 

1 Ed. Gaston Paris, Romania, VIII, 51 fl. Cf. Schofleld, [Harvard] Studies and 
Notes in Philol. and Lit., IV (Boston, 1897), 231ft. 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Gbaelent" 7 

the hunt, he finds himself in a "lande." Here he discovers a foun- 
tain with gravel of gold and silver, in which a damsel is bathing a 
beautiful woman. Guingamor steals the lady's clothes, but she, 
far from showing any fear, addresses him at once, and, calling him 
by name, rebukes him for his discourtesy. Guingamor returns her 
garments, whereupon she offers to entertain him and give him the 
boar's head. She then grants him her love, and takes him back 
to the palace, which, on his arrival, he finds peopled with gay knights 
and ladies. At the expiration of what seems to him three days 
Guingamor prepares to return home. On departing he is warned by 
his mistress against eating food on his journey. When he reaches 
his own country, he finds that he has been absent three hundred 
years. Hunger seizes him, and he eats a wild apple he comes 
across on the road, whereupon he falls from his horse a weak old 
man. He is, however, rescued from his sad plight by two mys- 
terious women, and by them is carried back to his mistress's king- 
dom, where the lovers are reunited. 

It is obvious that in the Lay of Guingamor the story of the 
mortal who receives the love of a fee and meets with disaster by 
disregarding her injunction, is combined with an account of a pre- 
liminary journey to the feVs land. The hunt for the fairy swine, 
which furnishes the induction to the meeting with the lovely bather, 
the perilous forest and river, and the empty palace which later be- 
comes filled with knights and ladies, are all stock features of the con- 
ventional Journey to the Other World, both in popular literature and 
in mediaeval sophisticated romance. The scene of Guingamor's rela- 
tions with the lady is evidently the fairy world; in order to reach its 
happy fields he must leave the land of mortals; and his misfortune 
from eating the apple on his return is indisputable evidence that he 
has been a dweller in that realm whose viands no son of earth may 
touch and ever again eat food on mortal soil. 1 

1 The folk-tale of the Offended Fee combined with the preliminary Journey to 
the Other World occurs in other mediaeval documents. See, for example, the early 
fourteenth-century Italian romance of Lo bel Gherardino, ed. Francesco Zambrini, in 
Scelta di curiosita letter arte inedite o rare, LXXIX, Bologna (Romagnoli), 1867, 21 ff. 
Koehler {Die Lais der Marie de France, p. cxv) and Panzer (Bibl. des litt. Vereins in 
Stuttgart, CCXXVII [Tubingen, 1902], lxxxv), apparently misunderstanding a reference 
by Schofleld (Pub. Mod. Lang. Assn., XV [N.S. VIII] [1900], 164, n. 1), make the mistake 
of asserting that Lo bel Gherardino is published by D'Ancona in Una poesia ed una prosa 
di A. Pucci, Bologna, 1870. A somewhat similar story is told in the fifteenth-century 


8 Tom Peete Cross 

In the Lays of Lanval and Graelent the situation is different. 
Although certain features, such as the guiding damsels in Lanval 
and the hunt for the white deer in Graelent, were probably borrowed 
from the conventional Journey to the Other World, the main events 
were certainly felt by the narrators as taking place in the world of 
mortals. In Lanval the fee's habitation is far from the spot where 
she encounters her lover, for she tells him expressly: 

pur vus vine jeo fors de ma terre; 

de luinz vus sui venue querre [vss. Ill f.]. 1 

Like Argante, the elfin queen who heals Arthur's wounds, and 
like other fairy women of mediaeval romance, she dwells in the 
isle of Avalon, whither, be it noted, her lover does not go until 
the end of the story, and whence, Marie tells us, he has never 
returned. 2 

Italian romance of Liombruno, summarized by Panzer (loc. cit.) and Koehler (op. cit., 
pp. cxv f. ; Kleinere Schriften, I, 308 ff.). 

A late version found in the Middle High German romance of Seifrid von Ardemont 
is so much confused by the introduction of extraneous episodes as to be of little or no 
use for our purposes. The romance has been edited by Friedrich Panzer, "Merlin und 
Seifrid de Ardemont von Alberecht von Schafenberg in der Bearbeitung Ulrich Fiietrers," 
Bibl. des litt. Vereins in Stuttgart, CCXXVII, 61 ff.; cf. Paul's Grundriss, 2d ed., II, 1 
(1901-9), 288. In Gauriel von Muntabel, another late and extremely corrupt Middle 
High German romance, the circumstances under which the lover first met his fairy 
mistress are not described (Gauriel von Muntabel, eine hdfische Erzdhlung aus dem IS. Jahrh., 
ed. Ferdinand Khull, Graz, 1885). 

The same type of story is doubtless preserved in Chretien's Yvain. See A. O. 
L. Brown, [Harvard] Studies and Notes, VIII (1903), 1 ff.; Pub. Mod. Lang. Assn., XX 
(1905), 674 ff. 

See further Partonopeus de Blois (ed. G. A. Crapelet, Paris, 1834; cf. Schofleld, Eng. 
Lit. from the Norman Conquest to Chaucer, New York, 1906, pp. 307 f.). 

1 In Graelent too the fee's words imply that she has come from a distance (vs. 315). 
For other fairy women who have come long distances to look for their lovers, see Perceval 
le Gallois (Conte del Graal), ed. Potvin, vss. 40,589 ft.; Lay of Melion (vss. Ill ft.); 
Thomas Rymer (Child, Ballads, No. 37, A, st. 4). 

2 In the Lay of Desire, which gives a version of the Offended Fee somewhat similar 
to those found in Lanval and Graelent, though considerably altered by the introduction 
of extraneous features, the meeting between the lover and his mistress evidently takes 
place in the world of mortals. The hero sets out to visit a good old hermit, whose abode, 
in the forest of "la Blanche Lande" near his home in Scotland, he has often visited as a 
boy. On the way he meets at a fountain under a great tree a damsel bearing two basins 
of gold. The latter conducts DSsirg to her mistress, whom the knight finds nearby 
lying on a beautiful bed "dedens une foillee" and attended by a maiden. The lady at 
first flees from him, but when he urges his suit, she grants him her love. Before dis- 
missing him, she gives him a ring with the caution, "Si vus meffetes de nent, | L'anel 
perdrez hastivement". Later she forsakes her lover when he speaks of her at confession. 
After a year, however, she restores to him her favor, and, returning later, carries him off 
to her land, whence he has never returned. The Lay of Desire has been edited by Fran- 
cisque Michel, Lais inidits des XII e et XIII e siicles, Paris, 1836, pp. 10 ff. 

An even more obvious case in which the fairy mistress visits the world of mortals 
in search of her lover occurs in Peter von Slaufenberg, a Middle High German romance 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Gbaelent" 9 

Early Celtic literature is rich in accounts of journeys to the 
Other World. In one of the many variants of this theme a mortal 
visits fairyland and wins the love of a fee, sometimes losing her after- 
ward as the result of breaking her commands. In another equally 
well-defined type of Celtic fairy-mistress story there is no question 
of a journey to the Other World. The f£e visits the land of mortals 
in search of her lover, and remains with him until, through his dis- 
regard of her injunctions, she disappears. In other words, the motif 
of the Offended Fee exists in early Celtic literature independent of, 
as well as in combination with, the Journey to the Other World. 1 

which was written probably during the fourteenth century and which records a tradition 
associated with the Staufenberg family settled in the vicinity of Strassburg. See Edward 
Schroder's ed. in Zwei altdeutsche Rittermaeren, Berlin, 1894, pp. 1 f.; cf. Gott. gel. Anzeigen, 
1895, pp. 407 f. The story, which SchrSder regards as originating from a "keltisch- 
germanischer mythenwurzel," is briefly as follows: Peter von Staufenberg, while riding 
from his castle to Nuzbach to hear mass on Easter Day, finds by the roadside a beautiful 
woman sitting on a stone. On his addressing her and asking how she comes to be there 
alone, she replies, "da han ich, friint, gewartet din" (vs. 331), and adds that she has 
loved and protected him since the beginning of his career. When he asks her love, 
she acquiesces at once and promises to visit him whenever he desires, but she warns 
him that if he takes a mortal wife, he must die. She then presents him with a ring, 
which, however, is not said to possess any especial virtue. She later visits him often 
at his castle, and gives him rich gifts, which he distributes lavishly. At length when 
Peter is urged to take a mortal wife, and in explanation of his refusal tells of his fairy 
mistress, he is assured by a priest that his supposed lady-love is really "de tuvel in der 
helle." He therefore agrees to wed a lady of this world. Three days after the 
marriage he is a dead man. 

A further instance of the type of story in question is found in the fourteenth-century 
Italian romance of the Pulzella gaia (ed. Pio Rajna, Per nozze Cassin'd' Ancona, Florence, 
1893.) Galvano finds in a forest a serpent-lady who becomes his mistress. The lady 
bestows upon her lover a ring which will supply all his needs, but which will disappear if 
he reveals their love. Later Galvano refuses the love of a queen, as a result of whose 
hatred he is subsequently led to boast of his fairy mistress at a tournament. Just as the 
unfortunate lover is about to be executed for his inability to produce his mistress, the fee 
returns and by her beauty substantiates his claim that she is fairer than the queen. She 
departs, however, without becoming reconciled to him. Galvano finally recovers her 
favor, but not until he has passed through many dangers and difficulties. (On this 
romance, see further E. Freymond, Vollmoller's Krit. Jahresbericht, III [1891-94], 2, 
Erlangen, 1897, p. 167; Schofleld, Pub. Mod. Lang. Assn., XV, 163 fl\; Koehler, Warnke's 
Die Lais, pp. cxv f .) The Chatelaine de Vergi, written during the late thirteenth century, 
tells how a knight, beloved by a lady who forbids him to speak of their relations, loses 
his mistress by revealing the secret. It has been suggested that the story is based on a 
scandal at the court of Burgundy during the late thirteenth century (G. Raynaud, Rom., 
XXI [1892], 153) ; but there is also reason to believe that the foundation of the narrative 
was the folk-tale of the Offended Fee retold by a Burgundian author who hoped to enlist 
added interest for his work by connecting it with the history of his native province (cf. 
L. Brandin, Introd. to A. K. Welch's Eng. trans, of the Chatelaine de Vergi, London, 1908, 
pp. 8 f.). See further Kittredge, [Harvard] Studies and Notes, VIII (1903), 176. 

i In another familiar type of story the fairy mistress, although visiting the world of 
mortals in search of her lover, carries him off at once to fairyland. The motif of the fee's 
injunction and its breach may or may not be present. Cf. the romance of Thomas of 
Erceldoune (ed. J. A. H. Murray, E.E.T.S., London, 1875) and the corresponding ballad 
of Thomas Rymer (Child, Ballads, No. 37) ; the ballad of Tarn Lin (Child, No. 39) ; Miss 


10 Tom Peete Cboss 

The influence on mediaeval romance of Celtic stories involving 
both the fairy mistress and the Journey to the Other World has long 
since been recognized. The fact appears, however, never to have 
been emphasized that the equally important and far simpler type 
also finds parallels in mediaeval sophisticated literature. The 
thesis maintained in the following pages is that the Lays of Lanval 
and Graelent are ultimately based on Celtic tales in which the f£e 
seeks out her lover in the land of mortals, becomes his mistress, and 
lays upon him commands, the breach of which results in the severance 
of their relations. 1 


Early Celtic literature abounds in stories of supernatural women 
who visit the world of mortals in search of their chosen lovers. 2 An 
Irish romance whose similarity to the lays under examination makes 

Paton, Fairy Mythology of Arthurian Romance, Boston, 1903, pp. 19 f. ; Serglige Con- 
chulainn; Thurneysen, Sagen aus dem alien Irland, pp. 81 fl. ; Foes, of Nat'l. MSS of 
Ireland, I, plates 37 and 38; II, App. IVA-I, D'Arbois de Jubainville, L'Epople celtique 
en Irlande, I, 170 ft. (cf. especially Zlmmer, Kuhn's Zt. fur vergl. Sprachforsch. u. Lit., 
XXVIII, 594 fl.) ; Laoidh Oisin ar Thlr na n-6g (Ossianic Soc. Trans., IV [Dublin, 1859J, 
235 fl.) ; Acallamh na Senorach, ed. S. H. O'Grady, Silva Oadelica (S.G.), II, London, 1892, 
p. 204; Walter Map, De Nugis Curialium, IV, ix, ed. Wright (Camden Soc), 1850, pp. 
170 fl.; Echtra Condla (see below, p. 10,Jn. 2). 

1 In the case of the Irish documents utilized in the course of this discussion, lists of 
editions and translations other than those referred to may be found in a Bibliography 
of Irish Philology and of Printed Irish Literature [ed. R. I. Best] (National Library of 
Ireland), Dublin, 1913; referred to as Bibliog. 

' The Echtra Condla, one of the earliest and most beautiful Irish romances, tells 
how a fairy woman seeks her lover in the world of mortals and carries him off to the over- 
sea Elysium. For editions and translations see Bibliog., pp. 106 f. Cf. F. Lot, Bom., 
XXVII, 559 fl. ; Nutt, Voyage of Bran, I, London, 1895, pp. 144 fl. ; A. C. L. Brown, 
I wain, [Harvard] Studies and Notes, VIII (1903), 28 f. See also C. Gough, Prince Connla 
of the Golden Hair and the Fairy Maiden, Dublin (Gill), n.d. For other Celtic stories in 
which fairy women visit earth to seek for mortal lovers, see Eachtra Airt meic Cuind (.Eriu, 
Jour, of the School of Irish Learning (Dublin), III (1907), 150 fl.; Royal Irish Academy, 
Irish Manuscripts Series, I, 1 (1870), 38 f.; Dindshenchas, Folk Lore, III (1892), 478 f., 
505; R.C., XV (1894), 437 f.; R.C. XVI (1895), 32 fl.; Silva Oadelica, II, 479; Laoidh 
Oisin, Oss. Soc. Trans., IV (1859); cf. Bibliog., pp. 207 f., and Jour. Cork Hist, and 
Arch. Soc, 2d ser., II (1896), 186 fl. For other cases of supernatural women in the world 
of mortals see S.G., II, 203, 214 fl., 239 fl., 257; Irische Texte, IV, 1, p. 236; III, 2, 
p. 473. Cf. R.C, XXI (1900), 159; XXXII (1911), 53 f. It has been shown that the 
source of the Old French, Irish, and Latin versions of the Werewolf's Tale (except 
Marie's Lay of Bisclavret) contained a story in which "a fee abandons the Other 
World and marries a mortal" (Kittredge, [Harvard] Studies and Notes, VIII [1903], 195). 
See also Seumas MacManus, Donegal Fairy Tales, pp. 177 fl. ; William Bottrell, Tradi- 
tions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall (2d ser.), Penzance, 1873, pp. 288 fl. 
(cf. Robert Hunt, Popular Romances of the West of England, new ed., London, 1903, 
p. 149). Cf. Wace, Roman de Rou et des Dues de Normandie, ed. H. Andresen, Heilbronn, 
1879, II, 3, p. 284, vss. 6, 409 f., where the author informs us that "li Breton" of his day 
believed that fees might be encountered in the forest of Brecheliant. See further Gervais 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Gbaelent" 11 

it of the greatest interest for our present purpose is the Aidead 
Muirchertaig mate Erca (Death of Muirchertach mac Erca). 1 
Though the story in its present form postdates the Scandinavian 
invasion of Ireland, it must have been in existence before the middle 
of the twelfth century. 2 The thread of the narrative runs as follows : 
Muirchertach, king of Ireland, while out hunting one day, sits 
on a hill. "He had not been there long when he saw a solitary 
damsel beautifully formed, fair-headed, bright-skinned, with a green 
mantle about her, 3 sitting near him on the turfen mound; and it 
seemed to him that of womankind he had never beheld her equal 
in beauty or refinement." He immediately becomes enamored of 
her. The lady tells him that she is his darling and that she has come 
to seek him. She adds that her name (which is Sm, "Storm") 
must never be mentioned by him, and that for her he must abandon 

ol Tilbury. Ot. Imp., ed. Liebrecht, pp. 4ff., 65 fl.; Jour. Oriental Society, XX, 150; 
Leopold von Schroeder, Mysterium und Minus im Rigveda, Leipzig, 1908, p. 239. 
Laistner, Das Ratsel der Sphinx, Berlin, 1889, II, 427. For modern Celtic fees who 
visit the world of mortals, see below, p. 33, n. 2, p. 34, n. 2, p. 37, n. 3. 
i Ed. Whitley Stokes, R.C., XXIII (1902), 396 S. 

* The death of M. is mentioned in the Book of Leinster (LL) (written ca. 1150) in a 
poem attributed to Cinaed Ua Artacain (t 975) : D'Arbois de Jubainville, Essai d'un 
catalogue de la litttrature (pique de VIrlande, Paris, 1883, p. 29; R.C., XXIII, pp. 328, 
339. Two poems on M. are quoted by the annalist Tigernach (t 1088). Our story is 
referred to in the prose Dindshenchas (R.C., XVI [1895], 66), which, though written 
down probably during the twelfth century, contains a great deal of material current 
during the ninth and tenth centuries. Though the point is of doubtful value for estab- 
lishing the date of the A.M., attention should be called to the conclusion of Alfred 
Anscombe that Muirchertach died a.d. 515 (St. Oildas of Ruys and the Irish Regal 
Chronology of the Sixth Century, privately published, 1893, p. 44). See also Folk Lore, 
III (1892). 512. note. 

* In Launfal (vs. 235) the maidens who summon the knight are dressed in green. 
For Celtic examples of green as a color for other-world beings or objects, see R.C., XXI, 
159; XXIV, 136, 149; XXVIII, 155; &riu, III, 169; S.G., II, 203, 257; Ir.T., IV, 1, 
p. 255; Ir.T., Extrab'd., p. 340; Patrick Kennedy, Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts, 
London, 1866, p. 121; Ulster Jour, of Arch., 1st ser., VI (1858), 360; VII (1859), 136; 
Hogan, Lays and Legends of Thomond, new ed., Dublin, 1880, p. 149; J. G. Campbell, 
Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, Glasgow, 1900, pp. 14 f., 
133; Marie Trevelyan, Folk-Lore and Folk-Tales of Wales, London, 1909, p. 204; Y 
Cymmrodor, V (1882), 105. Among the mediaeval romances, see Perceval (ed. Potvin), 
vss. 20,005, 29,822; Libeaus Desconus, St. 26, 1. 307; Child, Ballads, No. 37; cf. the 
Green Knight of our best Middle English romance. Examples might be multiplied. 

In the final episode of Graelent the fee is dressed in red. Red is also a popular color 
in fairy lore. In Celtic, see, for example. Facsimiles of National Manuscripts of Ireland 
(ed. J. T.Gilbert), I, Dublin, 1874, xxxvii; K.CXXII, 22, 36; Ir. T. , II, 2, pp. 242, 248 f. 
Cf. R.C., XXI (1900), 157; Eriu, III, 153; G. Dottin, Contes et Ltgendes d'Irlande, 
Le Havre, 1901, pp. 11 ff.; J. G. Campbell, op. cit., pp. 14, 22, 29; Y Cymmrodor, V, 102, 
135; Brown, Iwain, A Study, p. 105; Pub. Mod. Lang. Assn., XX (1905), 678, n. 2. 
Among the mediaeval romances, see Perceval, vss. 2,063 f, 9,292, 10,185 fl., 15,524; 
Chevalier de la Charrete (Lancelot) (ed. Foerster), vss. 1,671, 5,519; Lancelot of the 
Laik (ed. Skeat, E.E.T.S., 1865), vss. 990 f. 


12 Tom Peete Cross 

his mortal wife. Muirchertach takes her home to Tara, and, after 
expelling the queen, places Sin on the throne by his side. The 
woman claims to be a follower of God, 1 but she gives evidence of 
various uncanny powers and causes her lover no end of trouble. 
One night she creates a great storm, during which the king acci- 
dentally mentions the word sin. Thereupon she surrounds the 
house with a host of spirits and sets it afire. Muirchertach, unable 
to escape, leaps into a vat of wine and is drowned. At the funeral 
of the king the woman reappears. She tells how Muirchertach had 
killed her father, mother, and sister in battle, and how she had 
attached herself to him for the purpose of revenge. She had, how- 
ever, apparently fallen in love with her intended victim, for she 
dies of grief for his death. If we separate from this story the Chris- 
tian elements, which tend to transform the fee into a demon, and the 
feud motive, which tends to make her a mortal woman, we have 
something like the following: 

A beautiful and capricious woman from the Other World comes 
to the land of mortals, seeks out her chosen lover, declares her affec- 
tion for him, and enthralls him by the sole power of supernatural 
love and beauty. 2 She forbids him to mention her name. The 
disregard of her command results in disaster. 

Meetings between fees and their earthly favorites are also 
described in the Acallamh na Senorach (Colloquy of the Old Men), 3 
which, though compiled in its present form about the end of the thir- 
teenth or the first half of the fourteenth century, 4 contains, fitted 
into the framework of a dialogue between St. Patrick and the last 
survivors of the Fenian band, many topographical legends and other 
scraps of Celtic tradition which date from a much earlier period. 
An episode in this thesaurus of early Irish folk-lore 6 describes a 
meeting between the king of Connacht and a princess of the Tuatha 
De Danann, who seem to have been early identified with the sidhe, 

J For other examples of fairy beings who profess faith in Christianity, see R.C. 
XXXI (1910), 414, n. 1. 

2 Late in the story we have a suggestion of Sin's original character in the statement 
that M. thought she was "a goddess of great power" (bandla o morcumachta): ed. cit., 
pp. 406 f. 

'The best edition is that of Stokes, Ir.T., IV, 1 (1900). For other editions, see 
Bibliog., p. 189. Cf. O'Curry, Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish 
History, ed. of 1873, Dublin, pp. 307 fl., 594 fl.; On the Manners and Customs of the 
Ancient Irish, Dublin, 1873, III, passim. 

« See Stern, Zt. far celtische Philologie (C.Z.), III, 614. * Ir.T., TV, 1, pp. 269 f. 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Graelent" 13 

or fairies. One day Aillenn Fial-chorcra (Purple- Veil), daughter 
of the Tuatha De Danann king Bodb Derg (Red), with thrice fifty 
attendants, appears to St. Patrick and the king of Connacht. 
Though the statement is not explicitly made, it is evident from the 
context that she declares her love for the king. St. Patrick, appar- 
ently fearful lest his royal protege' be unequally yoked with an 
unbeliever, requires that as a preliminary to the wedding the lady 
shall accept Christianity. This she does, and the couple are married. 

Earlier in the Acallamh 1 the king of Connacht receives a similar 
visit, though with not quite such happy results. One evening he 
is approached by a beautiful damsel. "Whence art thou come, my 
damsel ?" asks the king. The maiden, after replying that she comes 
from the glittering brugh (evidently a fairy palace) in the east, 
announces that she is Aillenn Ilcrothach (Multiform), daughter of 
Bodb Derg, and that her visit is prompted by love for the king. 
The latter, although deeply impressed with her beauty, confesses 
that he is unfortunately married and must in consequence content 
himself with his mortal wife. Somewhat doubtful what course to 
pursue, he consults St. Patrick, who decides that when his mortal 
wife dies, he shall be free to wed Aillenn. The fee, after exhibiting 
herself to the crowd, returns to the Other World. 

An interesting variant of our theme turns up in the Leighes Coise 
Chein, an extraordinary Middle Irish hodgepodge composed of 
fragments of traditional popular material. 2 An episode in this 
scrap-heap of Irish folk-lore runs as follows: 

O'Cronogan, a West Munster chieftain, 3 one day finds a mysteri- 
ous greyhound, half white, half green, 4 apparently sent by the fee 

> Ed. cit., pp. 245 fl.; S.G., II, 243. 

2 Edited and translated from the late flfteenth-century MS, Egerton 1781, by S. H- 
O'Grady, S.G., I, 296 fl.; II, 332 ff. The Ltighes Coise Chiin is referred to as the most 
noteworthy specimen of Highland Scottish prose literature in the Rev. Donald Mac- 
Nicol of Lismore's Remarks on Dr. Johnson's Journey to the Hebrides, which appeared 
in 1779 (cited, Folk and Hero Tales [Argyllshire Ser., II], Maclnnes and Nutt, London, 
1890, p. 464). According to J. G. Campbell (Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands 
of Scotland, p. 127, note), its reputation "still survives very extensively throughout 
the Highlands." 

» The events are traditionally assigned to the reign of Brian Boroimhe (Angl., Boru) ; 
I.e., the early eleventh century (cf. O'Curry, Lectures, p. 213). This fact, of course, has 
no bearing on the ultimate date of the tale. 

4 On polychromatic dogs in Celtic and mediaeval romance, see Miss Gertrude 
Schoepperle, Tristan and Isolt, Frankfurt a /M. and London, 1913, II, 322 fl.; cf. p. 321, 
n. 3. See also the fairy dogs in R.C., XXIV (1903), 129; S.G., II, 233 f. 


14 Tom Peete Cboss 

who appears farther on in the story. Later the hound chases a hare, 
which, running up to O'Cronogan and crying, "Sanctuary!" takes 
refuge in the hunter's bosom and immediately becomes a lovely 
young woman. The maiden conducts O'Cronogan into a fairy- 
mound, promises him anything he may desire, becomes his mistress, 
and next day accompanies him home. O'Cronogan, on reaching 
his native town, "saw there great houses and halls, and this was to 
him a source of wonder," for the place had recently been burned by 
Brian Boru, the king of Ireland, because of O'Cronogan's refusal 
to pay tribute. For three years the fairy woman remains with 
O'Cronogan, and there is prosperity within his gates, but on being 
insulted by Cian, her husband's overlord, she disappears. 

The Aislinge Oengusso (Vision of Oengus), 1 which, though found 
in no manuscript earlier than the fifteenth or sixteenth century, 
certainly antedates the twelfth century, 2 tells how Oengus mac 
ind Oc s is approached one night in his sleep 4 by the most beauti- 
ful fairy woman in Ireland. After visiting her lover for a year, the 
lady, for no apparent reason, disappears. Oengus suffers greatly 
from love-sickness, but after a long search finds his sweetheart in 
the form of a swan at a lake, where he also is transformed into a 
swan, and the two are reunited. 

An episode very much to our purpose occurs in the well-known 
collection of Welsh romantic tales known as the Mabinogion. 5 
Though the exact age of the Mabinogion is still a matter of dispute, 

i Ed. R.C., III. 347 ff. 

• It Is mentioned In the Booh of Leinster (ca. 1150) among the remsclla, or preliminary 
tales, to the great Irish epic of the Tdin B6 Cilalnge. The list of remsclla occurs in a 
passage which may go back to the ninth century. Cf. Zimmer, Kuhn'e Zt., XXVIII 
(1887), 438; cf. p. 434, and Windisch, Ir.T., Extrab'd., pp. liii ff. 

' Usually regarded as a supernatural being (D'Arbois, Le Cycle myth, irlandau, 
Paris, 1884, pp. 269, 274; Nutt, Voyage of Bran. I, 212). 

4 For other visits of fairy beings to sleeping mortals, see Ir.T., II, 2, p. 198; cf. 
Ir.T., Ill, 2, pp. 473, 489. Compare the following episode in Spenser's Faerie Queene 
(I, ix, 12-15) : Arthur, after hunting all day, falls asleep at the foot of a tree. It seems 
to him that a beautiful maiden appears, gives him her love, and tells him that she is 
the Queen of Fairies. On awakening, he finds "nought but pressed gras where she had 
lyen." Cf. Miss Paton, Fairy Mythology, p. 29, n. 1. For other ladies loved in dreams, 
see The Seven Sages of Rome, ed. Killis Campbell (Albion Series), Ginn & Co., 1907, 
Tale XIV (p. 110) ; cf. Introd., pp. ex f. See further the Alsatian folk-tale recorded in 
Jour. Am. Folk-Lore, XIX (1906), 243. 

' Text of the Mabinogion, etc., ed. Rhys and Evans, Oxford, 1887, p. 11; The White 
Book Mabinogion, ed. J. G. Evans, Pwllheli, 1907, p. 9; cf. Loth, Les Mabinogion, I, 
Paris, 1913, pp. 96 ff. 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Gkaelent" 15 

it is generally accepted that the mdbinogi of Pwyll, Prince of Dyved, 
embodies genuine Celtic tradition practically unaffected by foreign 
influences. In this tale Pwyll is visited by an unknown lady on a 
white horse. He learns from her that he is the object of her affec- 
tion, and as a result of an agreement with her he visits her father's 
court at the end of a year, frees her from an unwelcome suitor, and 
marries her. In the meantime he preserves a discreet silence con- 
cerning his relations with her. The lady, whose name is Rhiannon, 
is certainly a fee. 1 

The importance of this story in connection with the present 
investigation can hardly be overestimated. The love-story of 
Pwyll and Rhiannon shows that even among the wreckage of Welsh 
tradition proof exists that the fairy mistress in the world of mortals 
was known to the Celts of Britain. 

It is useless to multiply examples. Those given above demon- 
strate beyond the possibility of doubt that stories of fees who hanker 
after earth-born lovers and who visit mortal soil in search of their 
mates existed in early Celtic tradition entirely apart from the con- 
ventional Journey to the Other World. In early Celtic, as well as 
in mediaeval romance, there may have been heroes who, like Sir 
Thopas, set out with the avowed purpose of seeking elf-queens for 
their lemans, but there were also plenty of mortals who received 
unexpected amatory visits from fairy princesses without the necessity 
of going off to the Other World. 


The setting for the meetings between the fees and their lovers in 
our poems is worthy of consideration. In Graelent the lady is discov- 
ered by her lover at a fountain; 2 in Lanval the hero, when approached 
by the fee's attendants, is reclining "sur une ewe curant" (vs. 45) 
and is looking "a val lez la riviere" (vs. 54). That the association 

1 Compare the observations of Kittredge, [Harvard] Studies and Notes, VIII, 206. 

3 For other examples of fees at fountains in mediaeval romance, see Perceval (ed. 
Potvin), vs. 27,399 ff., 31,654 ff., 32,175 ff.; cf. Elucidation (Perceval), vss. 29 ff.; Ill, 
87, n. 2; Brun de la Montaigne, ed. Paul Meyer (S.A.T.Fr.), Paris, 1875, vs. 3,095 ff. 
(cf. vs. 1,536 ff.); Li Romans de Dolopatkos, ed. Brunet and Montaiglon (Bibl. elzevi- 
rienne), Paris, 1856, vs. 9,177 ff. See also the maiden (really a mermaid in disguise) 
whom Clerk Colville meets at a fountain (Child, Ballads, No. 42). Cf. De la Warr B. 
Easter, A Study of the Magic Elements in the Romans d' Aventure and the Romans Bretons, 
Baltimore, 1906, p. 46; Schofleld, Pub. Mod. Lang. Assn., XV, 134. 


16 Tom Peete Cross 

of supernatural women with fountains or other bodies of water in 
the Lays of Lanval and Graelent, as well, it may be added, as in other 
romances of the matiere de Bretaigne, is not the result of the courtly 
poet's desire for picturesque decoration, appears in the highest 
degree probable from the evidence of early Celtic fairy-mistress 

The important place held by female water-divinities and feminine 
river-names among the early Celts has been strongly emphasized. 
"Before the Roman conquest the cult of water-goddesses, friends 
of mankind, must have formed a large part of the religion of Gaul. 
.... Thus every spring, every woodland brook, every river in 
glen or valley, the roaring cataract, and the lake were haunted by 
divine beings, mainly thought of as beautiful females." 1 It is not 
at all unlikely that the cult of waters also existed in early Ireland. 2 
In any case, the appearance of female other-world beings to chosen 
mortals at fountains or larger bodies of water is common enough in 
early Irish literature. 

One of the best-known instances is found in the famous Toch- 
marc Maine (Wooing of Etain) . 3 Though wanting in the oldest manu- 
script of the Tochmarc Etdine, 4 the episode in point occurs in the 
Togail Bruidne Da Derga (Destruction of Da Derga's Hostel), which 
belongs to the Etain cycle and is far older than the twelfth century. 5 
The following summary is based on the version contained in the 
Togail: 6 

Eochaid Feidlech, king of Ireland, at the earnest solicitation of 
his subjects, consents to take a wife, and sends messengers through- 
out Ireland in search of a suitable consort. One day as the king and 
his retinue were crossing "the fairgreen of Bri L&th" [a well-known 

1 J. A. MacCulloch, Religion of the Ancient Celts, Edinburgh, 1911, p. 184. 

2 For bibliography, see Dom Louis Gougaud, Les Chr mentis celt., 2d ed., Paris, 1911, 
p. 14, n. 3. 

3 For editions see Bibliog., p. 84; Miss Gertrude Schoepperle, Tristan and Zsolt, 
II, 422, n. 3; cf. Thurneysen, Sagen aus dem alten Irland, 1901, pp. 77 fl. ; O'Curry, 
On the Manners and Customs, II, 192 f.; Ill, 162 f., 191. 

'The Lebar na h-Vidre (LU), written before 1104. It is, however, found in the 
fifteenth century MS, Egerton 1782, for editions of which see Bibliog., p. 84. 

* On the date, see B.C., XXXI (1910), 441, n. 1; Kittredge, (Harvard] Studies and 
Notes, VIII, 192, n. 3; Zimmer, Kuhn's Zt.. XXVIII, 587 ff.; C.Z., V (1905), 522. Cf. 
O'Curry, On the Manners and Customs, II (1873), 192 ff. 

« Ed. and trans. Whitley Stokes, B.C., XXII (1901), 14 ff. 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Graelent" 17 

fairy mound], he saw at the edge of a fountain " a woman with a 
bright comb of silver adorned with gold, washing in a silver basin 
wherein were four golden birds and little, bright gems of purple 
carbuncle in the rims of the basin." Then follows a long and some- 
what florid description of the maiden's personal charms. 1 "Verily, 
of the world's women 'twas she was the dearest and loveliest and 
justest that the eyes of men had ever beheld. It seemed to them 
[the king and his companions] that she was from the elf -mounds." 
Eochaid immediately asks her favors. She replies that she knows 
who he is and that it is for love of him she has come to the fountain. 
He thereupon takes her home as his wife. Owing to the confused 
and fragmentary character of the story, Etain's life-history from this 
point cannot be traced with complete certainty; but according to 
at least one version, Eochaid loses her, though in a way quite differ- 
ent from that in which the heroes of our French poems lose their 

The close parallelism between the opening episodes of the 
Tochmarc Maine and the lays under examination is significant. 
The story of the beautiful and unfortunate fairy princess Etain is 
full of popular motives, and is one of the most ancient Celtic fairy 
romances. It was certainly popular in mediaeval Ireland. If the 
accepted translation of the Egerton version be correct, Etain's 
beauty was proverbial; 2 and before the twelfth century the story 
was so well known as to be made the subject of a jocose reference 
in the Aislinge Meic Conglinne. 3 It is also referred to in the Book 
of Leinster (LL) (ca. 1150) as one of a list of tales with which every 
Irish man of letters was required to be acquainted 4 — a fact which 
proves its popularity among the Goidelic Celts before the middle of 
the twelfth century. It is even possible that it formed part of the 
repertory of the numerous Irish raconteurs whose fame in England 
and on the Continent is so often attested in mediaeval literature. 

1 On descriptions of personal appearance in early Celtic and in the mediaeval 
romances, see Nitze, Mod. Philol., XI (1914), 452, n. 1. See further Ulster Jour, of 
Arch., lstser., VII (1859), 134. 

2 The Egerton text reads : "Is don ingen siu atrubrath cruth each co hEtain, 
coem each co hEtain" (Ir.T., I [1880], 120; cf. B.C., XXII, 15-16). 

1 Ed. Kuno Meyer, London, 1892, p. 152. Cf. Kittredge, [Harvard] Studies and 
Notes, VIII, 196, n. 1. 

1 O'Curry, Lectures, p. 585, n. 123. 


18 Tom Peete Cross 

Another interesting appearance of a fairy woman at a fountain 
turns up in the Eachtra Mac Echach Muigmedoin, 1 which has already 
furnished material toward the establishment of the Celtic origins 
of Arthurian romance. 2 The oldest version is found in the Book 
of Leinster, and the story is pretty certainly older than the twelfth 
century. The hero, the famous Niall of the Nine Hostages, finds 
at a fountain a loathly lady. In exchange for a drink of water the 
prince gives her a kiss, whereupon she becomes surpassingly beauti- 
ful, and tells him that she is the Sovranty of Erin. The rest of the 
story makes it clear that the old woman is in reality a supernatural 
being who has assumed a loathly disguise in order to test the mortal 
whom she chooses to favor. 3 

Though our earliest Irish romances show a great deal of confusion 
between the subterranean, subaqueous, and transoceanic fairylands, 
the relation in the popular mind between supernatural beings and 
the fountains at which they may appear is made pretty evident 
from a passage in the Seel na Fir Flatha (Tale of the Ordeals), 4 
which, though found in no manuscript earlier than the fourteenth- 
century Yellow Book of Lecan, contains " the fullest account extant 
of the twelve ordeals of the ancient Irish." According to this 
document, the wife of a certain King Badurn saw at a fountain two 
fairy women (da mnai as na sidhaib). "When they beheld the 
[queen] coming toward them, they went under the well." The 
woman follows them, and finds at the bottom of the fountain a 
fairy palace. 

That the popular fancy of the early Celts connected beings of 
other-worldly aspect with the bodies of water near which they might 
appear may perhaps be inferred also from the legend which tells 
how St. Patrick and his companions, while resting beside a well 

'For the account in verse (from LL.), see Itriu, IV (1908), 101 ff.; for that in 
prose, R.C.. XXIV (1903), 190 ff. See also 3.G., II, 368 ff. Of. O'Curry, On the 
Manners and Customs, II, 147; Lectures, p. 531. According to Irish tradition, Eochaid 
Mugmed6n was high-king about the middle of the fourth century after Christ. 

2 See Maynadier, The Wife of Bath's Tale (Grimm Lib., 13), London, 1901, pp. 25 ff., 
and Appendix A. 

• In a modern Ossianic tale given by Campbell (Popular Tales of the West Highlands, 
III, London, 1892, 421 ff.), Diarmaid is visited by an ugly hag, who becomes beautiful 
when he takes her under his blanket. She lays upon him an injunction, and disappears 
when he violates it. After a long search he finds her in the land under the sea. 

• Ed. Ir.T., Ill, 2, pp. 183 ff. 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Graelent" 19 

at Cruachan, are mistaken for firsldhe (fairy men) by the daughters 
of King Loegaire. 1 

But fountains were not the only approaches to the Celtic fairy- 
land under the water. 2 Beneath certain of the lochs and rivers 
of Erin were magnificent other-world duns, from which strangely 
beautiful women sometimes emerged, appearing on the banks 3 or 

1 For a discussion of the story, which probably became connected with St. Patrick 
during the fifth or sixth century, see Bury, Life of St. Patrick, London, 1895, p. 138. 
In the Gilla Decair (S.G., II, 302), Dermait, accompanied by an other-world being, 
dives into a fountain and finds at the bottom a beautiful country. In a modern Welsh 
composition, apparently made up of scraps of tradition, a "black knight," who is asso- 
ciated with the land beneath the waves, dives into a well when he is pursued (Y Cymmrodor, 

V [1882], 90). 

! The water fee is only one of a large class of other-world beings who inhabit the 
subaqueous world. In Irish, cf. Fled BHcrend, Ir. Texts Soc, II, (1899), 39, 62 ff.; 
Story of Loegaire in LL, Facsimile (R.I. A.), p. 275, b, 22 to p. 276, 6, 25 (for the version 
contained in the Book of Lismore, see S.G., II., 290 ff.). See also Aided Echach maic 
Maireda, S.G., II, 265 11.; Joyce, Old Celtic Romances, pp. 97 ff. (cf. Miss Paton, Fairy 
Mythology, pp. 9 f., and O'Curry, Lectures, p. 294). Cf. B.C.. XV (1894), 432 ff.; Folk 
Lore, III (1892), 489 f.; XXI (1910), 476 ft.; Ir. T., I (1880), 131, 1. 13 ff.; Ancient Laws 
of Ireland, I, 74 f. (cited by Kittredge, [Harvard] Studies and Notes, VIII [1903], p. 227, 
n. 2, 8.«>.); Trans, of the Kilkenny Arch. Soc, II (1852-53), pp. 33, 313; MacCulloch, 
Relig. of the Anc. Celts, Edinburgh, 1911, p. 190; Rom., XXVIII, p. 325, n. 3; Miss 
Paton, op. cit., p. 167, n. 2; p. 169, n. 3; p. 185; Child, Ballads, No. 39; Reiffenberg, 
Chevalier au Cygne, I, lxi f. ; Giraldus Cambrensis, Itin. Cambr., I, chap. 8; Y Cymmrodor, 
IV, 170, 199; V (1882), 90, 124; Marie Trevelyan, Folk-Lore and Folk-Tales of Wales. 
London, 1909, p. 19; T. C. Croker, Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland, 
London, 1834, pp. 155 ff.; Jour. Am. Folk-Lore, XI (1898), 234; Le Roux de Lincy, Le 
Litre des Llgendes, Paris, 1836, pp. Ill ff.; Keightley, The Fairy Mythol., London, 1860, 
pp. 147 ff.; A. Wuttke, Der deutsche Volksaberglaube der Gegenwart, 3d ed., by E. H. 
Meyer, Berlin, 1900, pp. 49 f. 

» In the Tochmarc Emire, Derbforgaill (Cuchulainn's fairy mistress) and her maid 
appear in swan form at Loch Cuan (Miss Eleanor Hull, Cuchullin Saga [Grimm Lib., 8], 
London, 1898, p. 82; Arch. Rev., I [1888], 304; on the date, see Meyer, R.C., XI [1890], 
438 f.; Zimmer, Zt. f. d. Alt., XXXII, 239). In another very early tale, the Serglige 
Conchulainn (Thurneysen, Sagen, pp. 82 ff.; Facs. of National MSS of Ir., I, xxxvii), the 
birds which Cuchulainn attempts to kill, and which are evidently transformed fairy 
beings, appear at a lake. 

Attention should also be called to the fact that in a number of modern Celtic folk- 
tales of the Offended Fee the mistress is a water-dweller. See, for example, G. Dottin, 
Conies et LSgendes d'Irlande, Le Havre, 1901, pp. 7 ft.; Patrick Kennedy, Legendary 
Fictions of the Irish Celts, London, 1866, pp. 121 f.; Campbell, Pop. Tales of the West 
Highlands, III, London, 1892, pp. 421 ff.; Y Cymmrodor, IV (1881), 165 ff. (cf. Andrew 
Lang, Custom and Myth, New York, 1885, p. 82); Y Cymmrodor, V (1882), 59 ff. (for the 
same story, see D. E. Jenkins, Bedd Gelert, Portmadoc, 1899, pp. 161 ff.; cf. Hartland, 
Sci. of Fairy Tales, New York, 1891, p. 330); Y Cymmrodor, V (1882), 86 ff., 93, 94 ff. 
Professor A. C. L. Brown (Pub. Mod. Lang. Assn., XX [1905], 680 ff.) concludes that 
Chretien's Yvain and its Welsh analogue go back to a partially rationalized Celtic 
account; cf. Nitze, Mod. Philol., Ill, 273. For other Celtic fees who live under the 
water, see S.G., II, 265 ff. (cf. Miss Paton, op. cit., pp. 9 f.; Wood-Martin, Pagan Ireland, 
London, 1895, p. 29); Arch. Rev., I (1888), 155 (cf. R.I. A., Todd Lect. Ser., IX, 26 ff.; 
R.C., XV [1894], 294 f.) ; Curtin, Myths and Folk-Lore of Ireland, Boston, 1906, p. 38; 

Y Cymmrodor, V (1882), 105, 118 f., 120 f.; Marie Trevelyan, Folk-Lore and Folk-Tales 
of Wales, London, 1909, pp. 8 ff.; J. G. Campbell, Superstitions of the Highlands and 


20 Tom Peete Cross 

at the fords where the ancient highways crossed the streams and 
where they would be most likely to encounter the mortals upon 
whom they had deigned to cast the eye of love. 1 

Of especial interest just at this point is an episode in the ancient 
Irish epic of the Tdin Bo Cualnge, the earliest redaction of which 
goes back to the eighth century of the Christian era or perhaps to an 
even earlier period. The passage in question 2 tells how Cuchulainn 
is met at a ford by a young woman "of surprising form wrapped 
also in a mantle of many colors. 3 'Who art thou?' he asked. She 
made answer: 'Daughter of Buan the king. I am come to thee. 
For the record of thy deeds I have loved thee, and all my valuables 

Islands of Scotland, Glasgow, 1900, pp. 116, 201; F. M. Luzel, Contes pop. de Basse- 
Bretagne, II, Paris, 1887, pp. 349 fl.; Rhys, Celtic Folklore Welsh and Manx, Oxford, 
1901, passim; B.C., IV, 186 fl. See further Frazer, Golden Bough, 3d ed.. Part II, 
London, 1911, p. 94; Gervais of Tilbury, Otia Imperialia, ed. Liebrecht, Hanover, 1856, 
pp. 4, 134, n. See also Walter Map, De Nugis Curialium, Dlst. II, c. 11, ed. cit., p. 77; 
Faerie Queene, VI, x, St. 7; Nibelungenlied (ed. Bartsch), At., XXV, St. 1533 fl. See 
further Rltson, Fairy Tales, London, 1831, p. 14; MacCulloch, Relig. of the Anc. Celts, 
p. 190, n. 3; Tylor, Prim. Culture, II, New York, 1889, pp. 213 f.; Harvard Studies in 
Class. Philol., XV (1904), 81; Class. Quarterly, VII (1913), 184 fl.; Saga Bk. of The 
Viking Club, II (1898-1901), 272, n. 1. Cf. Nitze, Mod. Philol., XI (1914), 477, n. 1; 
Wood-Martin, Pagan Ireland, London, 1895, pp. 142 fl. ; Plummer, Vitae Sanctorum 
Hiberniae, I, cxlix fl. A sea-maiden was seen on the coast of Ireland as recently as 19101 
(Folk-lore, XXI, 342 f.). 

• At a period when roads were little more than wandering bridle paths and bridges 
were rare, shallow places where rivers could be forded were of course important. See 
Patrick Macsweeney, Ir. Texts Soc, V, 29, n, 1; Archdeacon Sherlock, Jour. Co. Kildare 
Arch. Soc, VI (1909-11), 293 fl. One of the stock episodes in early Irish literature and 
in the mediaeval romances describes an encounter at a ford between wandering knights 
or warriors of hostile tribes. See, for example Thurneysen, Keltoromanisches, Halle, 
1884, p. 20; Tochmarc Emire, Hull, Cuch. Saga, p. 84; R.I. A., Todd Lect. Ser., XVI 
(1910), 89; Fled Bricrend, Ir. Texts Soc, II, 43 fl.; Tdin Bi Ctlalnge, Ir.T., Extrab'd., 
passim (cf. Leahy, Heroic Roms. of Ir., London, 1905, I, 117 fl.; Boroma, R. C, XIII 
(1892), 53, 79 f.; Tain Bo Flidais, Ir. T., II, 2, pp. 217f., Celtic Ret., II (1905-6), 303 fl.. 
Ill (1906-7), 11 fl.; Perceval (ed. Potvin), vss. 11, 110 fl., 20,633 fl., 24,211 fl., 37,105 fl.; 
he Bel Inconnu (ed. Hippeau), vss. 359 f. (cf. Libeaus Desconus, st. 24, 1. 287); Erec et 
Enide (ed. Foerster), vs. 3,031; Lancelot of the Laik (ed. Skeat), vss. 790, 1,040, 2,583; 
Lai de VEspine (Roquefort, Potsies de Marie de France, p. 554), vss. 192 fl.; Eger and 
Grime, Percy Folio MS, ed.. Hales and Furnivall, London, 1867, vss. 101 fl. 

' Found only in LV. For trans., see Miss Hull, Cuch. Saga, pp. 164 f. ; cf. Zimmer, 
Kuhn's Zt., XXVIII (1887), 456 fl. 

> Compare the following episode in the Brislech mdr Maige Muirthemne: Cuchu- 
lainn, on the way to his last battle, encounters " at the entrance into the Ford of Washing 
on Emania's plain .... a maiden, slender and white of her body, yellow of her hair," 
washing "crimson bloody spoils." She is called "Bodb's daughter." She is the well- 
known "washer at the ford," the Morrigu (see below, p. 21) in one of her aliases. 
Note that she is here referred to as "the fairy woman" (Cuch. Saga, p. 247; cf. Bibliog., 
p. 88). In ancient Irish literature disaster is frequently portended by the appearance 
of the Badb (or Morrigu) washing bloody garments, arms, or heads at a ford. See 
Henderson, Ir. Texts Soc, II, 212; Jour. Ivernian Soc, I (1908-9), 159 f.; R.I. A., Todd 
Lect. Ser., XVI, 17. The modern banshee may also be seen washing when evil is about 
to occur. Cf. Folk Lore, XXI, 180, 188. 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Ghaelent" 21 

and my cattle I bring with me.' " The Ulster hero, who is just now 
engaged in an excessively hazardous undertaking, has no time for 
silken dalliance, and in consequence declines the fair stranger's 
love. She thereupon threatens to oppose him in battle, and later 
by her shape-shifting power so hampers him in one of his fights 
that he is wounded. 1 But her anger, like that of Lanval's mistress, 
does not burn forever. On the eve of Cuchulainn's last battle the 
pangs of disprized love are forgotten in anxiety for the great warrior's 
safety, and she seeks, though in vain, to avert his death. 2 

The mysterious woman who thus boldly offers her affection to 
Cuchulainn is the Morrigu (Morrigan). Though she is usually 
regarded as a battle-goddess and though her name is applied indis- 
criminately to three fatal sisters (Badb, Neman, and Macha), who 
preside over the field of slaughter and rejoice in the slain, 3 she is 
also associated with the fairy world, and is in some situations scarcely 
distinguishable from the beautiful women of the sldhe. She belongs 
to the Tuatha De Danann; after one of her encounters with Cuchu- 
lainn she is said to have returned to the fairy mound of Cruachan; 
and in the Tdin B6 CHalnge she is called "the Morrigu, daughter 
of Ernmas from the elf-mounds." 4 Her association with Macha 

' Cuch. Saga, p. 166; cf. Ir.T., Extrab'd., pp. 3121. 

2 CI. the Aided Conchulainn (Cuch. Saga, pp. 254 f.), where it is said that on the 
night before Cuchulainn's last battle "the Morrigu had unyoked his chariot, lor she liked 
not Cuchulainn's going to the battle, lor she knew that he would not come again to 
Emain Macha." In the Tain Bi Regamna, the events ol which tradition places severaj 
years belore Cuchulainn's death, the Morrigu appears to the Ulster champion, and in 
the course ol a rather violent argument tells him, " I am guarding your death-bed, and 
I shall be guarding it hencelorth" (Cuch. Saga., p. 105). See lurther B.C., I, 47; III, 
175 fl. 

> Heathen gods frequently have many names: Frazer, Golden Bough, 3d ed.. Part 
IV, London, 1911, pp. 318 fl. CI. MacCulloch, Relig. of the Anc. Celts, p. 71. For the 
identification ol the Morrigu with the Badb, see Windisch, Ir.T., Extrab'd., p. 312, 
n. 1. A gloss in LL equates her with Nemain (Windisch, op. cit., p. 338, note; p. 380, 
n. 1). See lurther Reeves, Ancient Churches of Armagh, privately printed, Lusk, 1860, 
p. 44; Cormac's Glossary (trans. O'Donovan and ed. Stokes, Calcutta, 1868, p. 25); 
R.C.. I, 34; XII, 128; XVI, 63; XXXI, 436, n. 1; Wood-Martin, Pagan Ireland, 
p. 127; Traces of the Elder Faiths in Ireland, I, 359. CI. Folk-Lore, XXI, 187, n. 1, and 
the documents there cited. The lollowing gloss occurs in the lourteenth-century MS, 
H. 2. 16 (T.C.D.): Machac. i. badb; no as i an tres morrigan: "Machae, a scald-crow; 
or she is the third Morrigan" (R.C., XII, 127). O'Clery's seventeenth-century glossary 
gives: Macha. i. Badhb (Macha; i.e., Badhb) (quoted by Windisch, op. cit., p. 840, n. 1). 
See lurther Windisch, Abhandl. der konigl. sdchsisch. Gesell. der Wise., Phil. Hist. Kl., 
XXIX (1913), 77 1., 109. 

'Ir.T., Extrab'd., p. 185; cl. pp. 313, 331; S.G., II, 225. In the Leabhar Gabhala 
she is associated with Ana (Anu) (Miss Paton, Fairy Mythology, p. 139), who in Cormac's 
Glossary is called mater deorum hibernensium (Three Irish Glossaries, ed. W[hitleyl 


22 Tom Peete Cross 

suggests the Noinden Ulad, an exceedingly close parallel to our type, 
which presents Macha with undoubted fairy characteristics and 
which will be treated later. 1 The heroine of the Noinden Ulad is 
called "Macha, daughter of Strangeness son of Ocean" (Macha 
inghen Sainreth mac Imbaith) — a fact which connects her at once 
with the watery world. 2 One of Cuchulainn's famous horses, the 
Liath (Gray One) of Macha, came out of a lake, 3 and his name 
implies that he had been sent from Macha's fairy abode as a gift 
to her mortal protege\ 4 

S[tokes], London and Edinburgh, 1862, p. 2), and who apparently figures under the name 
Aine as a fairy mistress in modern tales. Cf. Jour. Cork Hist, and Arch. Soc, 2d ser., II 
(1896), 367. B.C., IV, 186 ft. Miss Paton (Fairy Mythology, passim), in her comparison 
between the Morrigu and Morgan la fee, emphasizes both the love and enmity of the 
former toward Cuchulainn. Cf. Mead, Selections from the Morte Darther (Ath. Press 
Ser.), p. 257, note. Though Miss Paton's effort to connect the Irish name Morrlgan with 
the Arthurian Morga(i)n cannot be regarded as successful (Jeanroy, Bom. XXXIV [19051, 
117, n. 2 [cf. Lot, Bom., XXVIII (1899), 324]; D'Arbois de Jubainville, B.C., XXIV 
[1903], 325 f.), the personality Morga(i)n la fee of Arthurian romance is certainly close 
kin to the Celtic fairy women with whose character the Morrigu has so much In common. 

» See below, pp. 39 ft. 

» Cf . Brown, I wain, A Study, p. 32. On the possible etymological connection between 
the M orgain of Arthurian romance and the Irish Muirgen (child [lit., birth] of the sea), 
one of the names of an aquatic lady in early Irish romance, see Lot, Bom., XXIV, 324 ft. 
Cf. Rhys, Celtic Folklore, Oxford, 1901, p. 373. Miss Paton (Fairy Mythol., pp. 10 ff.) 
objects to this etymology on the ground that Morgain is seldom regarded as a water- 
dweller. It is, however, worth while to observe that Morgain's frequent association with 
the ocean island of Avalon may be a reflection of her original connection with the watery 
world. The Morgan, a kind of female water-nymph who figures in Armorican folk-lore, 
dwells in a magnificent palace of gold and crystal beneath the water. Cf. Villemarque, 
Barzaz Breiz, 6th ed., Paris, 1867, p. liv. See further Robert Hunt, Popular Bomances 
of the West of England, new ed., London, 1903, p. 149. 

• Cf. Miss Paton, op. cit., pp. 161 f. On Cuchulainn's horses', see Ir. Texts Soc, II, 
39; cf. pp. 62 ff.; Ir.T., Extrab'd., pp. 488 f., 670, n. 5. Subaqueous horses which 
came out of Loch Owel are associated with a fairy mistress of the Lanval type in an 
Irish folk-tale recorded in Y Cymmrodor, V, 93. In a Celtic story given by Henderson 
(Survivals in Belief among the Celts, Glasgow, 1911, pp. 137 f.), a water-horse plays a 
part somewhat resembling that of the Offended Fee. A horse living at the bottom of a 
lake on the island of Mull is caught by a farmer and used for plowing. When whipped, 
the animal becomes a terrible Boorie, and disappears in the lake. For similar stories, 
see Y Cymmrodor, V, 106 f.; William Bottrell, Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West 
Cornwall, 2d ser., Penzance, 1873, pp. 73 ff. St. Fechin of Fore had a water-horse 
which he forced to draw his chariot and which under his influence became "gentler 
than any other horse": B.C., XII, 347. For other Celtic water-horses, see Trans. 
Kilkenny Arch. Soc, 1st ser., I (1849-51), pp. 366 f., where a water-horse becomes the 
lover of a mortal maiden; J. G. Campbell, Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of 
Scotland, pp. 203, 214 f.; Pop. Tales of the West Highlands, IV, 336; Henderson, op. cit., 
pp. 142 f.; Rhys, Celtic Folk-Lore Welsh and Manx, I, Oxford, 1901, pp. 324, 334 ff.; 
Pic Nics from the Dublin Penny Jour., Dublin, 1836, pp. 66 ff. 

For other subaqueous animals in Celtic, cf . Campbell, Superstitions, p. 5 ; Plum- 
mer, Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae, I, pp. cxlvii, 66 ff. See also above, p. 19, n. 2. 

1 Attention should be called to the fact that in four of our mediaeval versions of the 
story of the Offended Fee — Lanval, Graelent, Lo bel Gherardino, and Pulzella gaia — the 
heroes receive fairy horses from their mistresses. 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Graelent" 23 

Another encounter between Cuchulainn and a supernatural 
woman at a ford occurs in the Fled Bricrend acus Longes Mac n-Duil 
Dermait (Feast of Bricriu and the Exile of the Sons of Doel D.), 
not to be confused with the longer Fled Bricrend, which forms part 
of the same cycle. In the shorter Fled Bricrend, which in its original 
form dates from the ninth century or an even earlier period, 1 Cuchu- 
lainn and his companions find at a ford a band of Connachtmen 
(their enemies) with Findchoem (Fair-Beautiful), the daughter of 
King Eocho, who, as appears later in the story, is a supernatural 
being. The lady declares her love for Cuchulainn, who at once 
takes her under his protection, carries her home, and, after going 
through some thrilling adventures, wins her for his mistress. 

In the Tochmarc Becfola, 2 which, though found in no manuscript 
earlier than the fourteenth century, has been recognized as embody- 
ing very ancient tradition, 3 Diarmait, son of Aed Slane (king of 
Ireland), meets at a ford a solitary, gorgeously appareled fairy 
woman (bentside), and takes her home as his mistress. [When 
questioned concerning her origin, Dermait refuses to tell.] 4 For a 
time the fee remains with her lover, but, like many other super- 
natural women who condescend to dwell for a time with mortals, 
she at length becomes weary of her earthly life and goes off with 
a fairy lover. 

A fairy woman by a stream also turns up in the Acallamh na 
Senorach, & from which we have already had occasion to quote. On 
one occasion Finn and his companions find at a ford "a lone young 
woman girt with a silken tunic and wrapped in a green mantle held 
with a brooch of gold; on her head was a golden diadem, emblem 
of a queen." The lady announces that she is Doireann, daughter 

i Strachan on linguistic grounds places it in a group of heroic tales which he regards 
as more or less faithful transcriptions of texts certainly as old as and perhaps even ante- 
dating the ninth century (Philol. Soc. Transactions, 1891-94, pp. 498, 5SS). For trans, 
see Jr. TV, II, 1, pp. 173 ft.; VEpopie celt, en Irlande, Paris, 1892, pp. 149 ft. Cf. O'Curry, 
Lectures, pp. 468 f.; On the Manners, III, 106, 360. 

« Ed. B. O'Looney, R.I. A., Ir. MSS Ser., I, 1 (1870), 174 ft.; S.G., II, 91 ff. 

• By O'Looney, op. cit., p. 172; O'Curry, Lectures, p. 283. 

1 The bracketed passage is taken from the version found in the fifteenth-century 
MS, Egerton 1781. 

* S.G., II, 220. See also Ir.T., IV, 1, p. 13S. In a much-abbreviated and evidently 
ill-comprehended modern tale recorded in the Jour. Galway Arch, and Hist. Soc, II 
(1902), 117, several men enter a cave and find a woman washing at a river. One of them 
never returns. 


24 Tom Peete Cross 

of Bodb Derg, son of the Dagda (i.e., she is a fairy princess), and 
that she desires to become Finn's mistress. The conditions she 
imposes are, however, so unsatisfactory that Finn declines the honor. 

Though Celtic stories of fees who appeared at fountains or fords 
were doubtless influenced by an actual practice among the early 
inhabitants of Western Europe and the British Isles, 1 the passages 
cited above make plain the points essential for our discussion: viz., 
the subaqueous fairy princess was perfectly familiar to the ancient 
Celts, and the appearance of beautiful women from fairyland to 
chosen mortals beside fountains or larger bodies of water is a stock 
feature of Celtic fairy-mistress stories. 

The facts just presented suggest that the fountain scene in 
Graelent originated in a Celtic account of a similar meeting between 
a fee and her mortal lover. 2 Though the likeness between our Celtic 
instances and the lover's meeting with his mistress in Lanval is not 
so striking, a comparison may prove instructive. In Marie's lay 
the hero is approached by two maidens carrying a gold basin and a 
towel from a stream to their scantily dressed mistress, who lies in a 
gorgeous tent near by. As Professor Schofield pointed out some 
years ago, 3 "the maidens are simply getting water .... for use 
in bathing the hands before meat," as was customary in good society 
during the twelfth century. If we make the almost inevitable 

' The daughters of King Loegaire, on the occasion of their meeting with St. Patrick, 
were coming to the fountain "to wash their hands, as was their custom." Joyce, Social 
History of Ireland, I, London, 1903, p. 255; cf. Bury, Life of St. Patrick, London, 1905, 
p. 138; Todd, St. Patrick, Dublin, 1864, p. 452. In the Bruiden Alha (R.C., XIV, 243), 
Find finds by the river Suir a herdsman's daughter washing her head, and carries her 
off. Cf. Atkinson, Facs. of the Yellow Book of Lecan (B.I.A.), pp. 13 f. In the Esnada 
Tige Bucket Cormac finds a poor maiden by a stream, and, falling in love with her, has 
her brought to him by force (B.C., XXV, 19 f.; Keating, History of Ir. [Ir. Texts Soc], 
II [1908], 305; cf. Gaelic Journal, V [1894-95], 186; Atkinson, Facs. of the Book of 
Leinster [B.I. A.], p. 61; Sir Samuel Ferguson, Lays of the Western Gael, London, 1865, 
pp. 243 f.). In the Acallamh no Sendrach we read that the daughter of the king of 
Munster used to visit the "well of the women" every morning with her attendants, 
"and in its blue-surfaced water they used to wash their faces and their hands" (S.G., 
II, 178 f.). For other cases, see Ir.T., II, 2, p. 234; B.C., VI, 179 (cf. Zimmer, Haupt's 
Zt., XXXII, 265, n. 1; Bibliog., p. 89); &riu, II, 179 f.; Ill, 22 f.; B.C., XXIV, p. 133 
(cf. Strachan, Phil. Soc. Trans., 1895-98, p. 79, n. 2); B.I. A., Todd Lect. Ser., VII, 
pp. 28 f.; B.C., XV, 425; XVI, 146, 309; Jour. Cork Hist, and Arch. Soc, 2d ser., II 
(1897), 330. See further, Tacitus Germania, chap. 16; Caesar B.G. vi, 21. See also 
above, p. 20, n. 1. 

2 All the evidence at the writer's command indicates that in Guingamor the fountain 
scene has been introduced into a portion of the story to which it did not originally belong. 
See the remarks in the Kittredge Anniversary Papers, p. 387. 

* Pub. Mod. Lang. Assn., XV, 145; cf. Zimmermann, Sir Landeval, p. 57, note. 

Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Gbaelent" 25 

assumption that the Lay of Lanval is ultimately based on a tale 
current among the folk, we may rest assured that such preprandial 
niceties and twelfth-century paraphernalia as are here described were 
not characteristic of the society in which the original took shape. 
Axel Ahlstrom's contention that the episode in Lanval is a reworking 
of the fountain-scene in Graelent, 1 and that Lanval's mistress had to 
be satisfied to take her bath indoors because the climate of Carlisle 
in Cumberland (where the scene of Marie's poem is laid) was too 
cold to admit of beautiful fees bathing in the open, scarcely deserves 
consideration. 2 Lanval is not the pendant of Graelent, and the open- 
ing episode in the former gives no evidence of being a transformed 
fountain-scene. 3 From our Celtic analogues it seems much more 
probable that originally Lanval's mistress appeared with two attend- 
ants bathing in a stream, and that when her character as a water- 
f£e was forgotten, 4 she was rationalized into a twelfth-century fine 
lady reclining in an ornate pavilion, her original scanty attire (if, 
indeed, she wore any clothes) was changed into a shocking des- 
habille, and her fairy companions were transformed into drawers 

1 MUanges de phil. romane, M&COn, 1896, p. 296. 

2 Studier i den fornfranska Lais-Litteraturen, TJpsala, 1892, p. 55. 

8 In Dtsiri the single attendant with two basins of gold at the fountain and the 
mistress with another attendant ' ' dedens une f oillee ' ' near by, are probably reminiscences 
of a fountain scene, it is true; but the confused character of the lay taken as a whole 
makes it probable that we have here a later and more corrupt, rather than an earlier 
and purer, version of the stories told in Lanval and Graelent. 

4 The value of the suggestion that the lady in Lanval was originally a water-fee is 
not affected by Marie's statement that she dwells in the far-off island of Avalun, 
nor by her own assertion that she has come a long distance to meet her lover. Chestre 
substitutes for the imaginary a real island, but adds the information that the lady's 
"fadyr was king of fayrye, | Of Occient fer and nyje (vss. 280 f.). Occient apparently 
means "ocean," which interpretation, if it be correct, connects Launfal's mistress with 
the watery world, and indicates that, however confused the poet may have been regard- 
ing the lady's place of residence, he had some inkling of her true character as a water-fee 
(cf. Schofleld, Pub. Mod. Lang. Assn., XV, 171, n. 1). However this may be, misunder- 
standing regarding the character of the fee and the location of her realm pretty certainly 
existed long before the story reached the ears of Marie. Confusion regarding the loca- 
tion of the Other World is common, even in our earliest Celtic stories. In one of the 
Dindshenchas poems, for example, the fairy-mound of Nento is said to be iar n-uisciu 
(beyond the water) (R.I. A., Todd Lect. Ser., IX [1906], 8f.); in another text (.Ir.T., 
Ill, 1, p. 238) it is located So huisce (under the water). See also the Echtra Condla 
Chaim (Windisch, Kurzgefasste irische Grammatik, pp. 118 f.) Instances might easily be 
multiplied. See Brown, I wain, p. 40, n. 2. Cf. Am. Jour. Philol., VII, 195 f. Judging 
by these facts, we should indeed be surprised if under rationalizing influences the 
subaqueous fairy world, as being least in accordance with human experience, were not 
replaced by the over-sea Elysium or some other more credible conception long before our 
story reached the ears of sophisticated writers of mediaeval romance. 


26 Tom Peete Cross 

of water for my lady's hands before her twelfth-century picnic 
luncheon. 1 


In Marie's lay there is obviously nothing accidental about 
Lanval's meeting with the fee. Of the maidens who conduct him 
to the tent, we read: 

Celes l'unt primes salu6, 

lur message li unt cunte\ 
"Sire Lanval, ma dameisele, 

ki mult par est curteise e bele, 

ele nus enveie pur" vus: 

kar i venez ensemble od nus! 

Salvement vus i cunduiruns. 

Veez, pres est sis paveilluns!" [vss. 69 ff.] 

The fee too knows his name, and addresses him as soon as he 

enters the tent. 

"Lanval," fet ele, "bels amis, 
pur vus vine jeo fors de ma terre; 
de luinz vus sui venue querre. 
Se vus estes pruz e curteis, 
emperere ne quens ne reis 
n'ot unkes tant joie ne bien; 
kar jo vus aim sur tute rien" [vss. 110 ff.]. 

Lanval is immediately attracted by her beauty and is smitten 

with love. 

II Pesguarda, si la vit bele; 

amurs le puint de l'estencele 

ki sun quer alume e esprent [vss. 117 ff.]. 

If she will consent to become his mistress, he will abandon all 

other women. 

"Bele," fet il, "se vus plaiseit 
e cele joie m'aveneit 
que vus me volsissiez amer, 
ne savriez rien comander 
que jeo ne face a mun poeir, 
turt a folie u a saveir. 
Jeo ferai voz comandemenz; 
pur vus guerpirai tutes genz" [vss. 121 ff.]. 

1 Originally the river or fountain was probably thought of as a goddess; then comes 
the idea of a tutelary divinity dwelling beneath the water; later the goddess of the silver 
wave becomes a mere water-fee; and finally we have the damsel of the romances, met, 
as it were, by accident beside a fountain or stream. Cf. Tylor, Primitive Culture, II, 
New York, 1889, pp. 209, 212. 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Graelent" 27 

The fee then grants him her love, and, after forbidding him to 
mention her existence, bestows upon him rich gifts, and promises 
to meet him at any place where one 

.... peiist aveir s'amie 

senz repruece e senz vileinie. [vss. 165 f.] 1 

She then dismisses him. 2 

In Guingamor the lover, like Lanval, falls in love as soon as he 

sees the lady. 

Des que Guingamors l'ot veue, 
Conmeuz est de sa biaut6 [vss. 434 f .] 3 

He steals her clothes, but she, far from showing any fear, addresses 
her would-be captor angrily, and, calling him by name, rebukes him 
for his discourtesy. She then takes matters into her own hands, and 

tells him: 

Venez avant, n'aiez esfroi; 

Herbergiez vos hui mes o moi [vss. 453 ff.]. 

She knows the purpose of his hunt, and offers to bestow on him 
the boar if he will live with her for three days. Upon his acquiescing, 
she receives him as her lover. 

These ladies, who so boldly offer themselves to men, have long 
since reminded scholars of the forth-putting women with which the 
pages of early Celtic literature are filled. 4 In early Irish saga both 

» In the ancient Irish romance of the Serglige Conchulainn, which contains the story 
ol the Offended Fee combined with the preliminary Journey to the Other World, Cuchu- 
lainn, on returning to the world of mortals, receives from his mistress a promise that 
she will meet him wherever he desires (L'Epopte celtique, I, 208; Foes, of Nat'l. MSS 
of It., II, IV-H). Cf. Tochmarc Emire, Cuch. Saga, p. 82. 

• The English Sir Launfal contains a very similar dialogue, except that the hero, 
instead of voluntarily promising, is required by his mistress, to give up all other women 
for her. In Chestre's poem Triamour (the lady of the tent) tells Launfal: 

Yf thou wylt truly to me take, 
And all wemen for me forsake, 
Byche i wyll make the [vss. 316 ft.]. 

It should be observed that in the Tochmarc Etdine the lover promises, and that in 
the Aidead Murchertaig he is required, to forsake all earthly women for the fee. 

> Mortal women also have a way of falling in love with fairy lovers on sight. Cf . 
Lay of Yonec (Warnke, Die Lais, pp. 123 ft.; B.C., XXXI, 413 ft.); Lay of Tydorel 
(Rom., VIII, 67 ff. v. 71.). In Christianized versions of fairy-mistress stories the f6e is 
not infrequently mistaken for an angel or the Virgin Mary. Cf. Child, Ballads, I, 319; 
II, 504; Sir Lambwell, vs. 136; Libeaus Desconus, St. 127, 1. 1,519 ff.; Miss Paton, op. 
cit., p. 77, n. 1. 

' Cf . Nutt, Studies in the Legend of the Holy Grail, London, 1888, p. 232. Schofleld 
in 1900 compared the episode of the forth-putting queen in our poems with the Morrfgu's 
offer of love and Cuchulainn's rebuff in the Tdin B6 Cdalnge (Pub. Mod. Lang. Assn., 
XV, 147, n. 1). See further, Nitze, Mod. Philol., IX, 315 f. 


28 Tom Peete Cross 

the fee and her mortal prototype generally take the initiative in 
love-making. 1 As Heinrich Zimmer showed in one of his latest 
discussions, 2 the women of early Irish saga exhibit a freedom in 
sexual matters which is quite foreign to the great Aryan peoples — ■ 
a situation which points to a high degree of antiquity for the tradi- 
tions recorded, and may even reflect a pre-Celtic (non-Aryan) culture. 
A dialogue strikingly similar to that between the fee and Lanval 
occurs in the passage summarized above from the Tochmarc Elaine. 
As soon as Eochaid sees Etain at the fountain, "a longing for her 
immediately seized the king" (gabais .... saint an ri[g n-]impe 
focetoir). He thereupon sends forward one of his retinue to seize 
the girl and hold her before him. On his inquiring whence she 
comes, the maiden replies, "I am Etain, daughter of the king of 
the horsemen from the elf -mounds" (Etainmissi, ingen Etair ri 
eochraidi a sidib). She also tells him that though fairy kings have 
wooed her, she would none of them. She has come for the sole pur- 
pose of meeting Eochaid, for, she explains, " Ever since I was able 
to speak, I have loved thee and given thee a child's love for the 
high tales about thee and thy splendour. And though I had never 
seen thee, I knew thee at once from thy description" (rot-carusa [7 
tucus] seirc lelbhan o ba tualaing labartha ar th'airscelaib 7 t'anius, 7 
ni-tacca nam, 7 atot-gen focetoir ar do thuarascbail) . 3 On hearing these 

i It is important to note that the term aitheda (applied to a well-known class of early 
Irish stories which tell how maidens or wives ran away with lovers) signifies "elopements," 
not, as often translated, "abductions." 

2 Sitzungsberichte der k6nigl.-preuss. Gesell. der Wiss., 1911, pp. 174 ff. Cf. R.C., 
XXXII (1911). 232. See further d'Arbois de Jubainville, Etudes sur le Droit Celtique, 
I, Paris, 1895, pp. 224 ff. 

• So too the Morrigu has fallen in love with Cuchulainn from hearsay (Cattle-Raid 
of Cualnge, trans, by Miss W. L. Faraday [Grimm Lib., 16], London, 1904, p. 74; Ir.T., 
Extrab'd., pp. 312 ff.; Introd., pp. xxvii f.). "Love in absence" (Lat. amor in absentia, 
Ir. grdd tcmaisi) is common in folk-lore. In Celtic, see R.C., XXIV, 128; Peredur ab 
Bfrawc, ed. Kuno Meyer, Leipzig, 1887, p. 27, sec. 58, 11. 10 f.; Loth, Les Mab., II, 98 
(cf. I, 248); Eriu, III, 153; Annals of the Four Masters (ed. O'Donovan), I, p. 18, n. 5; 
p. 30; Ir. T., II, 1, p. 80; II, 2, p. 216 f.; Ill, 2, pp. 301 f.; S.G., II, 120, 214, 307; Laoidh 
Oisin, Oss. Soc. Trans., IV, 239 f.; C.Z., VI, 107, n. 1; Folk Lore, III, 506; Battle of 
Magh Leana, ed. E. Curry (Celtic Soc), 1855, p. xxi; Keating, History of Ir., (Ir. Texts 
Soc.), II (1908), 165, 217, 283; Meyer, Cath Finntraga (Anec. Oxon., Med. and Mod. 
Ser. I, iv), Oxford, 1885, p. 6, cf. p. 78; Plummer, Vitae Sanctorum Hib., I, cxxxiii, n. 1; 
C.Z., V, 26. See further the Green Knight (Percy Folio MS, p. 60, vs. 47); Hist. Litt. de 
la Fr., XXX, 56, 82, 83; Perceval, vss. 10,385, 12,157 ff., 29,035 ff.; Partonopeus, vs. 
1,368; Yonec, vss. 131 f.; Walter Map (De Nugis Cur., Dist. Ill, c. ii, ed. cit., pp. 108 f.). 
Cf. Hartland, Leg. of Perseus, III, London, 1894, p. 9; Sci. of Fairy Tales, New York, 
1891, pp. 285 ff.; Pietro Toldo, Rom. Forsch., XVI, 621; Bugge, Home of the Eddie Poems 
(trans. Schofleld), London, 1899, pp. 190, 194; Faerie Queene, Book III, ii, 18. Professor 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Graelent" 29 

words, the king bids her welcome, and assures her, "Every other 
woman shall be forsaken for thee, and with thee alone will I be as 
long as thou has honor" (lecfider each bean do mnaih airiut, 7 is 
acut t'aenur biasa cein bas miad lat). Etain now accompanies the 
king to Tara and becomes his wife. 

The dialogue between Muirchertach and the fee in the Aided 
Muirchertaig is also worthy of attention. As soon as the king saw 
Sin, "all his body and his nature were filled with love for her, for 
gazing at her it seemed to him that he would give the whole of 
Ireland for one night's loan of her, so utterly did he love her at sight" 
(linustar a cholann uile da grad, 7 a aicned, uair dar leis re fegad 
doberad Erin uile ar a hiasacht o6n-aidche, mar do char co hadbal hi 
re faicsin). He "asked tidings of her," whereupon she replied, "I 
am the darling of Muirchertach son of Ere, king of Erin, and to seek 
him I came here" (leannansa do Muirchertach mac Erca, do rig 
Erenn, 7 is da shaigid tdnagus inso). She recognizes the king at 
once, and agrees to become his mistress on conditions much like 
those imposed by the fairy women in the Old French lays: for her 
he must abandon all other women, and he must never mention her 

In one of the episodes summarized from the Acallamh na Sendrach, 
the beautiful Aillenn, on being asked by the king of Connacht whence 
she comes, replies that she is from fairyland. "For what hast thou 
come?" says the king. "Thou art a sweetheart of mine," is the 
reply. In the story of Doireann from the same document the lone 
woman at the ford, on seeing the Fenian band, asks at once to speak 
to Finn. To the latter's question, " Who art thou, maiden, and what 
is thy desire?" she replies that she is a fairy princess, and adds, 
"To sleep with thee in exchange for bride-price and gifts have I 
come" (d'feis letsu thanac tarcend tindscra 7 tirochraici: 11. 4452 f.) 1 . 

In the shorter Fled Bricrend also the woman at the stream recog- 
nizes Cuchulainn at once and declares her love for him. "Who is 
it that you seek?" she is asked. "Cuchulaind mac Soaltam," 
she replies; "I have loved him because of the stories about him" 

George L. Hamilton refers me also to Chauvin, Bibliog. des ouvrages arabes, pp. 132, 255; 
Paris, Rev. hist., pp. 53, 225; Hist, litt., XXX, 152; E. Liebrecht, Gstt. gel. Anzeigen, 
1868, p. 196. 

1 O'Grady's translation of this passage (S.G., II, 220) is inexact. 


30 Tom Pkete Cboss 

(Cuchulaind mac Soaltaim . . . . ro chorus ar a airscelaib). She 
then asks for mercy, whereupon Cuchulainn "makes a hero-leap 
across .... to her." "She rises toward him, and throws both 
hands about his neck and gives him a kiss." Cuchulainn then takes 
her home with him. 1 

The dialogue between the prince and Rhiannon in the Mabinogi 
of Pwyll is of especial importance. As soon as Pwyll comes near 
the mysterious lady on the white horse, he inquires, " ' Princess, 
whence comest thou and why art thou travelling?' 'On my own 
errand,' answered she, 'and I am glad to see thee.' 'Welcome' 
[replied the prince]. Then he thought the face of all the maidens 
or women he had ever seen possessed no charm compared with hers 
(yna medylyaw a wnaeth bot yn diuwyn ganthaw pryt a welsei eiryoet 
o vorwyn a gwreic y wrth y phryt hi). 'Princess,' he continued, 'wilt 
thou tell me a word of thy errand?' 'Yes, by heaven,' answered 
she, 'my principal business was to seek to see thee' " (Pennaf neges 
uu ymi keisaw dy welet ti). At these words Pwyll expresses grati- 
fication, and inquires the lady's name. She replies that she is 
Rhiannon, and adds that though she has been urged to take a hus- 
band, she will marry no one but him (Riannon verch heueyd hen wyf 
i am rodi y wr om hanvod yd ydys. Ac ny mynneis inheu un gwr. 
A hynny oth garyat ti. Ac nys mynnaf ettwa. onyt ti am gwrthyt). 
"If I were permitted to choose among all the women and damsels 
in the world," answers the prince, "I would choose thee" (pei 
caffwn dewis ar holl wraged a morynyon y byt. mae ti a dewisswn). 

The striking similarity between the dialogues in the Celtic and 
the Romance accounts outlined above hardly needs emphasizing. 2 

• See also the words of Cuchulainn and the Morrfgu In the passage cited above from 
the Tdin B6 Ciialnge. For similar dialogues, see Laoidh Oisin (ed. cit., pp. 235 fl.) ; 
Eachlra Airt meic Cuind (.firiu. III, 153). In the latter the confusion in persons is prob- 
ably due to the fact that the romance is a combination of at least two different stories. 

* The likeness of the dialogue in the Tochmarc Ibtdine to that between a mortal and 
fee in the Lay of Melion has been used by Professor Kittredge in connection with his 
argument for the Celtic origin of the latter. ([Harvard] Studies and Notes, VIII [1903], 
192 f.) Melion while hunting encounters a beautiful maiden riding toward him through 
the forest. He salutes her, and addresses her as follows : 

" Dites mol dont vos estes nee 
Et que ici vos a menee." 
Celerespont: " Jel vos dirai, 
Que ja de mot ne mentirai. 
Je sui asses de haut parage, 
Et nee de gen til lignage; 
D'Yrlande sui a vos venue; 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Graelent" 31 

In every case the woman does the wooing. Even before the mortal 
arrives, she knows and loves him, and she has come for the sole 
purpose of meeting him and declaring her affection. Her love is 
irresistible, 1 and she bestows it where she wills. She is, however, 
never coerced into becoming the mistress of anyone, 2 and when she 
joins her fortunes to those of a mortal, she proposes her own condi- 
tions, which must be fulfilled to the letter if her lover is to enjoy 
her favor. 

Viewed in the light of the passages quoted above, the behavior 
of Graelent's mistress shows certain inconsistencies which can hardly 
be explained as the result of mere feminine caprice. On seeing the 
lady bathing with her damsels in the fountain, the hero, like Lanval, 
falls in love at once. After watching her for some time, he steals up 
quietly and gets possession of her clothes. The lady is at once 
filled with terror and begs him to return her garments, even going 
so far as to offer him money. When, however, Graelent replies 
that he is not a seller of clothes and boldly asks her love, she treats 
him with scorn. The knight now threatens to leave her naked in 
the forest unless she comes out of the water. She does so, but not 

Sachies que je sui mout vo drue; 

Onques home fore vos n'amai, 

Ne jamais plus n'en amerai. 

Forment vos ai ol loer; 

Onques ne voloie altre amer 

Fors vos tot seul, ne jamais jor 

Vers nul autre n'avrai amor" [vss. 103 fit.]. 

Mellon takes the lady home and marries her. 

In Mannecier's continuation of Chretien's Perceval (ed. Potvin), a she-devil (Chris- 
tianized fee) visits Perceval and tells him: 

SaciSs que de lointaine terre 

Sui chi venue por vous querre, 

Je vous conois, en moie foi, 

Moult mius ke vous ne faites moi; 

Allours de chi vous ai veu, 

Ne vous ai pas mescouneu [vss. 40589 ft.]. 

See further Thomas of Erceldoune (vss. 75 ff.); Thomas Rymer (Child, Ballads, 
No. 37, A, St. 4); Brun de la Montaigne (vss. 3104 ff.). 

i Though the irresistibleness of the fairy spell seems to have bred a certain amount 
of fear and suspicion even among the early Irish and though mortals are scarcely ever 
quite happy under fairy Influence, the other-world women of pagan Celtic story were 
an infinitely less pernicious race than the malignant female demons (transformed fees) 
who make love to mortals in some Christianized versions of our theme. On the harm- 
less character of the early Celtic fee, see Beauvois, Revue de Vhistoire des religions, VII 
(1883), 317 f. A good example of the Christianized type is furnished by Peter von 
Staufenberg (see above, p. 8, n. 2). For confusions of fees with demons in Celtic, see 
L'Epopie celt, en Irlande, I, 192; Ir.T., IV, 1, pp. 242 ff.; Plummer, Vitae Sanctorum Hib., 
I, clxxxi, n. 8; Y Cymmrodor. V, 70 f., 105; cf. Tylor, Prim. Culture, II, 190 f. 

2 Cf. Nutt, Studies on the Legend of the Holy Grail, London, 1888, p. 232; A. C. L. 
Brown, Iwain, A Study, p. 26. 


32 Tom Peete Cross 

until she has exacted a promise, "k'il ne li face nul anui" (vs. 257). 
When she is dressed, Graelent takes her into the dark forest, and 
there "a fait de li ce que li plest." The lady now changes her 
manner with astonishing suddenness. She informs Graelent that 
she has come to the fountain purposely to meet him; she gives him 
her love, promises him bountiful treasures, and declares that she 
will be with him whenever he desires. She warns him, however, 
that if at any time he reveals their relations, he will lose her. 

Graelent, vos estes leiaus 
Prox e curtois e asses biax: 
Pur vus ving jou a la fontaine, 
Pur vus souferai jou grant paine; 
Bien saveie ceste aventure [vss. 315 ff.]. 

Having won her affection, Graelent assures her that he will love 
her loyally and well and will never part from her. 

As Professor Schofield pointed out some years ago, 1 the inconsist- 
ency here lies in the fact that the lady, though at first apparently 
surprised and terror-stricken, later betrays the fact that she already 
knows her would-be captor and in fact has come to the fountain for 
the special purpose of meeting him. This contradiction Professor 
Schofield thinks is due to the influence of Germanic swan-maiden 
stories — a type of folk-tale in which a supernatural woman appears 
in swan form at a lake or fountain, and may easily be captured when 
deprived of her feather garment, which she lays aside before enter- 
ing the water and without which she is absolutely powerless. Like 
the Celtic fee, she is beautiful, but she is a weak, helpless creature, 
entirely lacking in the independence and regal condescension of her 
forth-putting kinswoman. 

The suggestion that the inconsistency in the language and atti- 
tude of Graelent's mistress is due to the influence of Germanic 
tradition requires examination. The two types of supernatural 
beings known as the "Celtic fee" and the "Germanic swan-maiden" 
(the former bold and imperious, the latter timorous and shrinking), 
are but the reflections of two different types of woman found in 
real life in different stages of the development of the human race. 
The heroine of our earliest Irish sagas and romantic tales is the 

1 Pub. Mod. Lang. Assn.. XV. 132 fl. 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Graelent" 33 

product of an extremely ancient social system, Celtic or pre-Celtic, in 
which, as Zimmer has shown, women exercised an astonishing free- 
dom in the choice or abandonment of their mates, as well as in their 
general attitude toward the opposite sex. Under a different social 
system, where marriage by capture was practiced or where marital 
bonds, once formed, were less easily severed, other-worldly maidens 
(like their mortal prototypes) were more skittish and could be 
induced to join their fortunes to those of mortal lovers only by guile. 
Which of these two social systems is the older does not concern 
us here. 1 The one which finally became established in Western 
Europe was that in accordance with which the man does the wooing, 
the woman playing a more or less passive r61e both before and during 
the marriage ceremony; hence the second type of fairy mistress 
gradually triumphed and still predominates in popular and sophis- 
ticated literature. The process must have begun early, for even in 
our oldest Irish sagas there are inconsistencies explicable only on the 
hypothesis that during the early Christian centuries stories originat- 
ing in a society where woman took the lead in matrimonial affairs 
were being retold by people among whom she was more coy and 
retiring. It is therefore in the highest degree probable that the other- 
world woman of the swan-maiden type, generally regarded as dis- 
tinctively characteristic of Germanic tradition, figured in Celtic 
popular literature before the twelfth century. 2 Side by side with her 

' The old view that the position ol women, even among the less advanced races of 
savage people, is necessarily one ol abject servitude needs to be modified (see Wester- 
marck, "The Position of Woman in Early Civilization," Sociological Papers, published 
by the Sociological Society, London, 1905, p. 147 ff.). MacCulloch (Relig. of the Anc. 
Celts, p. 223) suggests that the prominence accorded to goddesses and heroines and the 
frequency with which women choose their mates in the early Irish sagas, point to a state 
of society in which matriarchy was prevalent (cf. D'Arbois, Noun. rev. hist, de droit, 
XV [1891], 304 f.) ; and Hartland (Sci. of Fairy Tales, p. 289) thinks that stories in which 
women have power reflect the matriarchal stage of culture and calls attention to the 
fact that the persecuting husband appears only in later versions; but especial emphasis 
should be laid on Crawley's assertion that " there is no evidence that the maternal system 
was ever general or always preceded the paternal" (The Mystic Rose, p. 369). On the 
position of women in early Celtic civilization, see R.C., XXXI, 454, n. 1; Stokes, Anec- 
dota Oxon. (Med. and Mod. Ser., 5), p. cxi; Bibliog., p. 256 f. On the evidence for 
matriarchy among the early Celts, see MacCulloch, op. cit., p. 222 f. ; Y Cymmrodor, V, 50. 

2 The captured fee is found in a number of early Celtic traditions. The following 
story is told by Walter Map (De Nugis Curialium, Dist. II, c. xii, ed. cit., p. 79 ff.) 
concerning Wild Edric (lord of Ledbury North, on the border of Wales) and probably 
embodies a Celtic tradition current during the twelfth century. One day, while return- 
ing from the hunt, Edric loses his way in the forest. About midnight he comes to 
a brilliantly lighted house, within which he sees a band of lovely women. Smitten 


34 Tom Peete Cross 

there existed the so-called typically Celtic fairy-princess, who, long 
after the disappearance of the conditions which gave her birth, 
remained a stock figure in traditional tales, and who found greater 
favor with the writers of French romance because she fitted more 
readily into writings designed to exemplify certain doctrines of 
Courtly Love. 1 That the two types should have become confused 
in popular tradition is inevitable. The unreasonableness in the 
behavior of Graelent's mistress can therefore be most easily explained 
on the hypothesis that the lay in question is based directly or in- 
directly on a Celtic account in which the forth-putting fee was 
confused with the captured swan-maiden. 2 

with love, he seizes the most beautiful and carries her home. She yields to his caresses, 
but remains mute for three days. On the fourth day she exclaims, " Hail, my dearest! " 
and tells her lover that he will be happy and prosperous until he reproaches her with the 
place where she was found or "concerning anything of the sort." The lover promises 
to avoid the forbidden subject, but of course breaks his word and loses his wife. He 
dies of grief. 

It will be recalled that in the Tochmarc Eldine (one of our earliest cases) the king 
has Etain seized before he addresses her and that in the shorter Fled Bricrend an already 
captive maiden appeals to her future lover for help. In the undoubtedly pre-twelfth- 
century Aided Echach mheic Mhaireda (.S.G., II, 265 fl.), a mermaid is represented as 
being caught in a net. For another version of the story, see Marlyrology of Oengus, ed. 
Stokes (Hy. Bradshaw Soc, XXIX), p. 53. 

The frequency with which the timorous fee, helpless in the hands of her mortal 
captor, turns up in Irish, Scottish, and Welsh fairy-mistress stories taken down from 
popular sources in recent years can hardly be explained satisfactorily except on the 
hypothesis that she has long been indigenous to Celtic soil. A familiar Irish tradition 
tells how the Earl of Desmond found the lake-fee Aine combing her hair at the water's 
edge and by stealing her cloak won her love (B. C IV [1879-80J, 186 ft.). For other 
examples see Curtin, Myths and Folk-Lore of Ireland, Boston, 1906, p. 38; Kennedy, 
Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts, pp. 121 f. ; Folk-Lore, XXI, 341; Y Cymmrodor, 
IV, 187, 188, 192; V, 93, 118 f., 120 f.; J. G. Campbell, Superstitions of the Highlands 
and Islands of Scotland, p. 201. See further, below, p. 34, n. 2. 

Professor Nitze calls my attention to the fact that in the French Epic, which many 
consider Germanic in origin, woman often takes the initiative in love-making. In this 
connection he refers me to Raoul de Cambrai, vss. 5,696 ff.; Nitze, Mod. Philol., IX, 
315 fl.; Hartland, Primitive Paternity, pp. 306 fl. 

1 Cf. Nutt's remarks. Pop. Studies in Mythology, Romance and Folklore, London, 
1899, p. 26. An apparent reflection of this type, probably colored more or less by 
Christian prejudice, is found in modern Celtic folk-tales In which amorous fees carry off 
men against their will. Cf. Celtic Mag., IX (1884), 208 f.; Y Cymmrodor, V, 100. 

> The signs of confusion indicated above (p. 33, n. 2) as occurring in early Celtic 
literature are even more marked in modern Celtic versions of the Offended Fee. The 
following tale is translated by Sir John Rhys from the Welsh of Glasynys (Owen Wyn 
Jones) (F Cymmrodor, V, 86 fit.). A poor fisherman "makes the acquaintance of" a 
mermaid in a cave on the seacoast. At first the water-woman screeches wildly, but 
soon becomes calm enough to warn her captor against her brother and make an ap- 
pointment with him for the next day. She then departs, but later appears dressed "like 
a lady," and tells him that though she is a king's daughter, she has "come to live among 
the inhabitants of the land." She has "a cap of wonderful workmanship," which, 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Gkaelent" 35 

It is obvious that in both Graelent and Guingamor the garments 
by which the fountain ladies set such store are rationalized feather- 
skins, 1 and are derived ultimately from stories of animal marriages. 
To peoples in the animistic or totemistic stages of culture unions 

instead of preserving carefully as her only means of returning to her native element, 
she stupidly presents to her lover with the ridiculous injunction that he shall always 
keep it out of her sight. The two are now married. After several years of wedded 
felicity, the wife, on finding that her real character has been discovered by one of 
her children, dives into the sea, carrying her husband with her. The cap, without 
which she ought to be powerless to return to the Other World, has dropped out of 
the story. 

In another Welsh tale, current in the neighborhood of Bedd Gelert and said to have 
variants in many parts of Wales, a youth captures a fairy woman, but the lady agrees 
to marry him only on condition that he discover her name. This he succeeds in doing, 
but before the fee will become his wife, she imposes the further condition that he shall 
never touch her with iron. Long she remains with him, and his affairs prosper greatly, 
but when at length he accidentally touches her with an iron bit, she disappears ( Y Cym- 
mrodor, V, 59 ff.; cf. D. E. Jenkins, Bedd Gelert, Portmadoc, 1899, pp. 161 ff.; Y Cymmrodor 
IV, 180 ff.). According to a literary version of the same story, the fee, instead of show- 
ing fear at her lover's approach, exclaims, "Idol of my hopes, thou hast come at last!" 
The prohibition against touching the wife with iron is here imposed by the father, an 
indication that the lady, instead of being free, is hampered by paternal control ( Y Cymm- 
rodor, V, 63 A.). Cf. Y Cymmrodor, IV, 180, 188, 191, 201, 208. According to a variant, 
which seems to have come from the vicinity of Llanberis, a lake fee, on being seized by a 
farmer, screams lustily, whereupon her father appears and imposes a somewhat similar 
condition before he will allow the wedding to take place (Y Cymmrodor, V, 94 A.). See 
further the Carmarthenshire story told by Hartland, Sci. of Fairy Tales, pp. 275 f. 

A Breton folk-tale taken down in 1873 and recorded by Luzel (Contes pop. de Basse 
Bretagne, II, 349 A.), tells how a shepherd boy sees at a pond three white swans which 
have the power of transforming themselves into beautiful girls. By his grandmother's 
advice he steals the swan-garment of the youngest and most attractive. As in Graelent, 
the maiden alternately prays and scolds, but the youth holds on to her covering until 
she promises to transport him to her palace beyond the sea. On arriving in fairyland, 
the shepherd becomes the fee's lover. 

In an Irish popular story translated by George Dottin (.Contes et Ligendes d'Irlande, 
pp. 7 A.), a boy, while sitting on the shore, sees three swans approach him across the 
ocean. The birds eat the bread-crumbs which he offers them, but when he attempts 
to catch them, they elude his grasp. Drawn by an irresistible impulse, the youth fol- 
lows them across the ocean, paddling himself on a plank. He at last reaches a 
beautiful palace under the sea, where he finds three fair ladies. He later returns to 
earth, but pines away and dies of longing for the swan-women. This story suggests the 
well-known Carmarthenshire tradition copied by Rhys ( Y Cymmrodor, IV. 164 A,) from 
Rees's The Physicians of Myddvai (Welsh MS Soc), Llandovery, 1861: a youth wins the 
love of a water-fee by a gift of bread, but loses his mistress by breaking her command. 
Cf. Laistner, Das Ratsel der Sphinx, I, 189. 

1 As early as 1837 F. Wolf, reviewing Michel's edition of Disirt, regarded the line 
" Sanz guimple esteit echevelee, " applied to the attendant at the fountain, as an indica- 
tion of her original swan-maiden character. "Die hier angef Uhrte Jungf rau ist oAenbar 
eine Schwanjungfrau ; die ihr Schwanhemd abgelegt (sanz guimple), um In der Quelle 
zu baden (vgl. J. Grimm, deutsche Mythologie, S. 241)." See Kleinere Schriften von 
Ferdinand Wolf, ed., E. Stengel, Marburg, 1890, p. 128, n. 1. Stengel reprints Wolf's 
review as it appeared in the JahrbUcher fnr wissenschaftliche Kritik, Berlin, 1837, Bd. II, 
Sp. 139-58. It may be suggested that the unnecessary display of the fee's person in 
Lanval (en sa chemise senglemenl .... tut ot descovert le coste", le vis, le col e la 
peitrine), is also a reminiscence of an earlier bathing scene. 


36 Tom Peete Cross 

between men and animals are perfectly natural and acceptable, 1 
but to later and more enlightened peoples the moral and intellectual 
shock is too great. The bride, at first an animal sans phrase, becomes 
a supernatural woman in animal form, 2 and finally a fairy maiden 
whose power resides in her clothing. The predominance among 
civilized peoples of the swan over the many other forms of animal 
bride known to savages is probably due to a recognition of its pecu- 
liar appropriateness as a disguise for a beautiful f£e. The natural 
association of swans with water furnishes an easy explanation of the 
confusion between swan-women and water-fees, as in so many 
versions of the Offended Fee, including our two Old French 

That supernatural women who appear in the form of swans are 
not exclusively denizens of Germanic territory should be obvious to 
all students of popular literature. 3 As indicated above, unions 
between men and animals are found the world over. 4 Early Celtic 
literature contains many accounts of other-world women who appear 
in the form of birds. Of the cases most clearly germane to the present 
discussion may be mentioned the fairy mistresses of Oengus (Aislinge 

• Cf. S. Reinach, Cults, Myths and Religions, pp. 6 f. 

* In rationalized versions of the folk-tale of the Offended Pee the swan form of the 
lady is not infrequently explained as due to enchantment. Cf. Bibl. des lift. Ver. in 
Stuttgart, CCXXVII, lxxv f. 

8 On swan-maidens in general, see Hartland, Sci. of Fairy Tales, pp. 256 fl. ; Reiffen- 
berg. Chevalier au Cygne, I, Introd., esp. pp. lxi f. (cf. Laistner, Das Ratsel der Sphinx, 
Berlin. 1889, I, 116 ft., 241 ft.; II, 427, 432; Grimm, Deutsch. Mythol., Berlin, 1875, 
pp. 254 ff. Professor Hamilton also refers me to Hoffmann u. Grimm, Altdeutsche 
Blatter, I, 128 ff.; Groome, Gypsy Folk Tales, No. 50, pp. 188 ft.; Frobenius, Im Zeit- 
alter des Sonnengottes, I, 304 ff.; P. Ehrenreich, Myth. u. Leg. der sudamerik. UrvOlker, 
Berlin, 1905, p. 72 (Zt. f. Ethn., Supplement to v. 37); E. Maas, N. J. f. kl. Alt., 
XXVII, 26, n. 4 (referring to Anton. Liberal, 16). See further Nibelungenlied (ed. 
Bartsch), Aventiure XXV, St. 1533 ff.; cf. Schofleld, Pub. Mod. Lang. Assn., XV, 134. 

' Animal mates other than the swan occur in Celtic folk-lore. A passage in the 
fourteenth-century manuscript H. 2. 16 (T.C.D.) tells how a water-horse was the lover 
of a mortal maiden and by her became the father of a monstrosity (Trans. Kilkenny 
Arch. Soc., 1st ser., I [1849-51], 366 f.). The famous Oisin was the son of a deer. See 
Siha Gadelica, II, 476, 522. Cf. MacCulloch, Relig. of the Anc. Celts, p. 150; R. I. A., 
Todd Lect. Ser. XVI, p. xxviii, n. 3; Joyce, Social History of Ireland, Longmans, 1903, 
II, 460. Por other Celtic water-horse stories which seem to preserve traces of animal- 
marriages, see above, p. 22, n. 3. Cf. Kennedy, Legendary Fictions of the Ir. Celts, p. 122. 
In a Breton folk-tale (Luzel, Contes pop. de Basse Brelagne, I, 291 ff.), a nobleman marries 
a wild sow. After bearing nine children, the animal becomes a beautiful princess. See 
also the various accounts of seal-wives in Celtic (enumerated below, p. 37, n. 3). Cf. 
Hartland, op. cit., pp. 299 ff. On animal marriages see further, Jour. Am. Folk-Lore, 
XII (1899), 22 f.; XVIII (1905), 6. 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Graelent" 37 

Oengusso) 1 and Cuchulainn (Tochmarc Emire), 2 who appear to their 
lovers in swan form by the side of a lake; and the beautiful Etain, 
who disappears from her husband's dwelling in the form of a swan. 3 
The conclusion of the whole matter is that the fundamental 
elements of the fountain episodes in Graelent and Guingamor were 
probably accessible in Celtic tradition before the twelfth century, 
and that therefore it is unnecessary to look for them elsewhere. 4 

i B.C., Ill, 349. The swan-maiden character of the heroine is recognized by Hart- 
land, Sci. of Fairy Tales, p. 259, n. 1, and by Nutt, Studies on the Legend of the Holy 
Grail, p. 196, note. Cf. T. W. Rolleston, Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race, London, 
1911, pp. 121 f. 

2 Arch. Rev., I, 304; Miss Hull, Cuch. Saga, p. 82 (cf. Hartland, Legend of Perseus, 
London. 1894 fl., II, 50, 255). 

• Leahy, Heoric Rones, of Ir., II, 161; C.Z., V, 534. For other cases see Serglige 
Conchulainn (Thurneysen, Sagen, p. 82 ; D'Arbois, L'Epopte celt, en Ir., 1, 170 fl. ; Face, of 
Nafl. MSSof Ir., I, xxxvii); Bibliog., p. 94; Aided Conrdi maic Ddiri (Itriu, II, 18 fl.; C.Z., 
III, 40 ff.); Compert Conchulainn (Miss Hull, Cuch. Saga, p. 15); Acallamh no Senorach 
(Ir. T., IV, 1, p. 242 ff.; S.G., II, 141); Bruiden Da Chocae (R.C.. XXI, 155). See 
further Aidead Chlainne Lir (Joyce, Old Celt. Romances, pp. 1 ff. ; cf. Bibliog., pp. 82 f.); 
D'Arbois, La Civilis'n des Celtes, etc., Paris, 1899, pp. 194 fl.; Les Druides et les dieux 
celtiques a forme d'animaux, Paris, 1906, pp. 141 fl.; Cross, R.C., XXXI, 435 ff.; cf. 
B.C., XX, 89 f., 209 f.; Oss. Soc. Trans., V (1860), 235; Loth, Les Mabinogion, 1, 97, 
148, 307, n. 2 (cf . p. 265,n. 7; II,12f.); W.Larminie, West Irish Folk-Tales and Romances, 
London, 1893, p. 183 (cf. p. 186); R.C., IV, 188 (where the son of a fee appears in the 
form of a goose) ; and Y Cymmrodor IV, 177 f. (where in one version of the Myddvai 
story the lover "thought [the fairy woman] was a goose"). See also Gervais of Tilbury, 
Ot. Imp., pp. 115 f. In Todd's Irish Nennius (Dublin, 1848, pp. 210 f.) a man brings 
down with a stone a swan which immediately becomes a woman. For modern Celtic 
examples of the fairy mistress in swan form, see Luzel, Contes pop. de Basse- Bretagne, II, 
349 fl. ; Dottin, Contes et Legendes d'Irlande, pp. 7 fl. In the Scottish Highlands the sea- 
maiden may be captured when she is deprived of her skin. Her covering must, however, 
be carefully guarded, for if she gets possession of it, she is sure to slip it on and go back 
to her native element. There are many tales of unions between fishermen and sea- 
maidens. In- some stories the supernatural wife is a seal (silkie) . When the animal 
lays aside its skin, it becomes a woman. See Kennedy's account of the fisherman who 
got a silkie wife by stealing her skin (Legendary Fictions of the Ir. Celts, pp. 122 f.). For 
another version, see Keightley, The Fairy Mythol., London, 1860, pp. 163, 169 f . In more 
rationalized versions the muir-digh (sea-maiden) has "a cap of salmon skin" (Y Cymm- 
rodor, V, 93) or " a nice little magical cap" (Kennedy, op. cit., p. 121). Whoever gets the 
head-gear has the lady in his power. See further Curtin, Myths and Folk-Lore of Ir., 
Boston, 1906, p. 38; Folk-Lore, XXI, 184, 483. For other magic talismans owned by 
fairy-women, see Grimm, Deutsch. Mythol., p. 355; Laistner, Das Ratsel der Sphinx, I, 
154 fl. 

1 Professor Schofleld believes that the particular form of Germanic swan-maiden 
story which influenced the lay of Graelent was that connected with Wayland the 
Smith and his two brothers. It is referred to in the V0lundar kvida and is told in greater 
detail in the fourteenth century German romance of Friedrich von Schwaben. The title 
of the French poem he thinks results from the identification of the Old French G(u)alant 
(Wayland) with Gradlon Mor (Muer), a legendary Armorican king of the fifth century 
(Pub. Mod. Lang. Assn., XV, 128 fl.; cf. Koehler, Warnke's Die Lais, p. cxiv). The 
difficulty in deriving Graelent Mor from Gradlon Mor does not seem to be materially 
lessened by the introduction of the name G(u)alant into the problem. Moreover, as I 
have shown above, the swan-maiden elements in Graelent may be accounted for on a less 


38 Tom Peete Cross 

the GES 

In at least one of the Celtic stories outlined above — the Aided 
Muirchertaig — the fairy 1 mistress lays upon her lover a fires, or tabu : 
Muirchertach must never mention her name. Injunctions to silence 
in love, so common everywhere in popular stories of the Offended 
F6e, appear to have had their origin, not only in considerations of 
practical prudence, but also in that elaborate system of prohibitions 
with which early society is "entangled and hidebound." As Crawley 
observes, "the universal desire for solitude during the performance 
of certain physical functions, shared by man with the higher animals, 
is an extension of the organic instinct for safety and self-preservation. 
These functions, especially the nutritive, sexual, and excretory, are 
not only of supreme importance in organic life, but their performance 
exposes the individual to danger, by rendering him defenceless for 
the time being." 1 Probably some such consideration as this under- 
lies the savage custom which requires that for a certain period the 
lover shall visit his mistress, the husband his wife, secretly. 2 Again, 
among peoples relatively close to the primitive stage of culture, 
one's name is regarded as being in a very emphatic sense a part of 
one's self, and as such it must be guarded with the greatest care lest 
it become known to an enemy, who may use it to the detriment of 
the owner. 3 Thus supernatural beings the world over, following 
the example of the mortals to whose imagination they owe their 
existence, shrink from publicity. None but the chosen lover must 

complicated hypothesis; and the theft of the garments occurs in Guingamor, the title of 
which is not connected with the name G(u)alant. Attention should be called to the 
possibility that the swan-maiden episode in the V0lundarkvida originated in Celtic tradi- 
tion. It formed no part of the original Wayland saga (R. C. Boer, Arkiv for nordisk 
Filol., XXIII [n. f. XIX] [1907], 129 fl.); the story, which Bugge thinks reached the 
Scandinavians from England, makes one of the three maidens the daughter of an Irish 
king (Kiavalr Cearball) ; and the author had probably traveled in the British Isles ("The 
Norse Lay of Wayland and its Relation to English Tradition," Saga Book of the Viking 
Club, II (1898-1901), 283, 294 ff.; cf. Arkiv Sot nordisk Filol., XXVI (n. f. XXII), (1910), 
33 fl.; Home of the Eddie Poems, pp. 10, 390). 

i The Mystic Rose, p. 134. 

2 See MacCulloch, The Childhood of Fiction, New York, 1905, pp. 328, 336; J. J. 
Atkinson in Andrew Lang's Social Origins, Longmans, 1903, p. 265; Kittredge, Am. 
Jour. Philol., X (1889), 19. See further S. Reinach, Cults, Myths and Religions (trans., 
E. Frost), p. 36. Cf. Plummer, Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae, I, clxxxiii. 

8 Lord Avebury, Marriage, Totemism and Religion, Longmans, 1911, p. 119; 
MacCulloch, Childhood of Fiction, p. 337; Frazer, The Golden Bough, 3d ed., II ("Taboo," 
etc.), London, 1911, pp. 318 fl.; Hartland, Sci. of Fairy Tales, pp. 309 3. 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Graelent" 39 

know of his fairy mistress 's existence, lest others acquire the power 
which he alone should possess. 1 

As a prohibition similar to that in the Aided Muirchertaig forms 
an important part of the lays we are examining, and as it occurs 
in another Irish story of the Offended Fee in the World of Mortals, 
we must again summarize. 

The Noinden Ulad (Nine Days' Sickness of the Ulstermen) is a 
very ancient Irish tale. It is found in the Book of Leinster, and is 
mentioned in the same codex as one of the remscela to the Tain Bo 
Cualnge 2 — facts which prove its existence and popularity prior to 
the middle of the twelfth century. Its highly barbaric character, 
to which attention will be drawn later, also speaks strongly for its 
antiquity. The following summary is based on Windisch's transla- 
tion of the Leinster copy, with a few details added from the version 
contained in the fifteenth-century manuscript, Harleian 5280? 

"The debility of the Ulstermen, whence comes it? Not hard 
[to answer]!" Crunniuc, son of Agnoman, was a wealthy farmer. 
After the death of his wife he lived a solitary life in the mountains. 

1 Among certain savage tribes " persons most intimately connected by blood and 
especially by marriage .... are often forbidden, not only to pronounce each other's 
names, but even to utter ordinary words which resemble or have a single syllable in 
common with these names" (Frazer, op. cit., p. 335). Among the Tcherkes it is a gross 
insult to ask a man how his wife is (MacCulloch, op. cit., p. 336). For modern Celtic 
folk-tales containing tabus Imposed by fairy wives, see Y Cymmrodor, IV, 165 ff . 
See further Grimm, Deutsch. Mythol., pp. 353 ff.; Laistner, Das Bdtsel der Sphinx, I, 
186 ff. ("Das Namengeheimnis ") ; Eartland, Sci. of Fairy Tales, pp. 312 f. ; Y Cymmro- 
dor, V, 77, 94 ff. On the dislike of fairies for being seen by mortals, cf. Jour. Cork Hist, 
and Arch. Soc, 2d ser., I, 137; II, 319; XVII, 122, 127; Oss. Soc. Trans., Ill, 98 f.; 
MacCulloch, Relig. of the Anc. Celts, p. 130; Miss Hull, Folk Lore (1901), p. 51; Reiffen- 
berg, Chen, au Cygne, pp. lxxii, Ivi f. Compare the attitude of the other-world lovers 
in the lays of Yonec (cf. B.C., XXXI, 457, n. 2) and Tydorel (Rom., VIII, vss. 69 f., 214). 
The Celtic peasant of the isolated districts prefers to call the fairies the daoine maith 
(good people), daoine beaga (little people), or tylwyth teg (fair family), rather than speak 
of them by their real name, lest by so doing he incur their displeasure. Compare the 
Greek Eumenides and the Hebrew euphemistic names for the Deity. See further Frazer, 
op. cit., pp. 392 ft. See also the tabus in the stories of Cupid and Psyche, of Melusine, 
and of Lohengrin. See further Partonopeus, ed. Crapelet, vss. 4,512 ff.; Voretzsch, op. 
cit., p. 385. 

2 D'Arbois, Catalogue, p. 89. O'Curry thinks it was known to the compiler of the 
list of heroic tales In LL (Lectures, pp. 584 ff., n. 130). 

3 Ber. Uber die Verhandlungen der. kdnigl. sdchs. Gesell. der Wiss., Phil.-Hist. Ct., 
XXXVI (1884), 342 ff. Cf. Miss Hull, Cuch. Saga, pp. 97 ft. For other translations 
see Bibliog., pp. 88 ft. See further Todd, B.I. A., Ir. MSS Ser., I, 1, pp. 17 f.; Folk Lore, 
IV, 481; R.C., XVI, pp. 45 f.; Keating, Hist, of Ir. (Ir. Texts Soc), II (1908), 155 ft.. 
B.I. A., Todd Lect. Ser., XVI, 49; MacCulloch, Belig. of the Anc. Celts, pp. 71 f.; Sir 
Samuel Ferguson, Lays of The Western Gael, London, 1865, pp. 233 f. (cf. his "Tain- 
Quest," op. cit., p. 23). 


40 Tom Pekte Ceoss 

One day, when he was alone in his house, there entered a stately 
(Harl: young) woman, who behaved as though she had been there 
before. She prepared excellent food, 1 and that night slept with 
Crunniuc. The woman was pleased with her lover. Long she 
remained with him, and thanks to her he prospered greatly. Her 
name is Macha. One day Crunniuc prepared to attend one of the 
great periodical festivals of the Ulstermen at Emain Macha, the 
capital of the kingdom. " It behooves you," said the woman to him, 
"not to be overweening and say an imprudent thing." (Harl: "You 
must not go ... . that you may not run into danger of speaking 
of us, for our union will last only as long as you do not speak of me 
in the assembly.") " That shall not occur," said he; and so he went. 
At the fair the king's horses win the race. [Then bards came to 
praise the king and the queen and the poets and the Druids, the 
household, the people and the whole assembly]. The people cry that 
the king's horses are the swiftest in Ireland, but Crunniuc main- 
tains that his wife is swifter than they. At the king's command he 
is seized and threatened with death unless he can prove his assertion. 
The woman is informed of her lover's strait, and, though far gone in 
pregnancy, comes to his assistance. The king, brutally unmindful 
of her condition, forces her to run the race. She succeeds in winning, 
but at the end of the course she is taken with birth pangs and brings 
forth twins (Emain, Emuin). 2 Her dying cry causes all who hear 
her to suffer the weakness of a woman in childbed for four days and 
five nights — a form of debility which returns upon the Ulstermen 
periodically for nine generations. "Hence is the debility of the 
Ulstermen (Noinden Ulad), and Emuin Macha (Macha's twins)." 3 
In the Noinden Ulad an early Celtic version of the Offended 
Fee has been utilized to explain on the basis of popular etymology 

1 In an Ojibway tale referred to by Andrew Lang (.Custom and Myth, p. 79), a beaver 
appears to an Indian in the lorm of a woman, becomes his mistress, and sets his wigwam 
in order. For similar cases, see MacCulloch, Childhood of Fiction, p. 261 and note. 

2 In a Welsh tale translated by Rhys (Y Cymmrodor, V, 86 ft.), a mermaid married 
to a mortal gives birth to five sets of twins. On the disfavor with which twins are 
regarded among savage peoples, see Lubbock, Origins of Civilization, 1870, pp. 20 ff.; 
Crawley, op. cit., pp. 386 f.; J. A. Tillinghast, Pubis. Amer. Economic Assn., 3d ser.. 
Ill (1902), No. 2, p. 66. During the Middle Ages the mother of twins was generally 
suspected of being an adulteress. For many instances, see Koehler in Warnke, Die 
Lais, Introd., pp. xci ft. 

» Attention was called to this story in connection with Lamal and Qraelent by Pro- 
fessor Schofleld, Pub. Mod. Lang. Assn., XV, 165 ff. See also Brown, Iwain, A Study, 
pp. 31 ff. 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Graelent" 41 

the place-name Emain Macha and to account for the periodical 
weakness, from an attack of which the Ulster warriors are represented 
as suffering when the Amazonian Medb and her allies descend upon 
them on the famous cattle-raid of Cualnge. 1 Although, to suit the 
immediate purposes of the story, Crunniuc's mistress has been ration- 
alized into a mortal woman subject to death 2 and other mundane 
ills, she belongs to that company of fair immortals whose rela- 
tions with the sons of men play so large a part in early Irish litera- 
ture. Although, as already indicated, 3 Macha is usually regarded 
as one of the battle-goddesses of the ancient Irish, she is associated 
with the fairy people and with the beautiful world beneath or beyond 
the waves, 4 and in a poetical version of our story, preserved in the 
Book of Lecan and printed from O'Curry's transcript by Archbishop 
Reeves in his Ancient Churches of Armagh, 6 she is twice called the 
daughter of Midir of Bri L&th, who figures as the fairy lover of the 
heroine in the Tochmarc Etdine. Through these variants, which 
illustrate so admirably the confusion in the mind of the early Celts 
regarding the genealogy of their other-world beings, the original 
character of Crunniuc's mistress shines clearly. She is a fairy 
princess. Age cannot wither her nor custom stale her infinite variety; 
she bestows her affection according to her own choice; she forbids 

i This weakness may be a reminiscence of the couvade, a practice common to many 
savage peoples. See Brown, Iwain, A Study, p. 31, n. 1; Miss Hull, Cuch. Saga, p. 292; 
Tylor, Prim. Culture, I, 84; Lubbock, Origins of Civilization, 1870, pp. 10 ff.; Crawley, 
op. cit., pp. int.; Ploss, Dos Kind im Brauch u. Sitte, 2d ed., II, 248 ft. ; Das Weib, II, 
398 ff.; D'Arbois, B.C., VII, 225 ft. Cf. Ulster Jour, of Arch., 2d ser. (1895-96), 
pp. 140f. ; MacCulloch, Relig. of the Anc. Celts, p. 224 (cf. pp. 129f.); Wood-Martin, 
Traces of the Elder Faiths in Ir., II, 42 ff. The "pangs of a woman in child-birth" form 
part of a curse imposed by a woman in the Caithreim Conghail Cldiringhnigh, Ir. Texts 
Soc, V, 113. 

1 The disappearance of the fairy mistress or lover is not infrequently attributed to 
death (cf. B.C., XXXI, 459), but the canny ones among the folk know better. See, for 
example, the folk-tale printed in the Ulster Jour, of Arch., 1st ser., VII (1859), 134. 
One of the O'Neills married a beautiful woman, who for no apparent reason pined away 
and died, "it was said — but," adds the narrator, "if she did, no human eyes ever saw 
the corp'; there was a grand funeral — the O'Neill's always had that — but the lady 
wasn't in it: her own Gentle People [the fairies] took her to themselves, and had her in 
their own dominions before that, as every one in the castle knew well enough at the 
time." See also Kittredge, J. of Am. Folk-Lore, XVIII (1905), 12, n. 1. 

» Above, p. 21. 

'In the LL version she is called "Daughter of Strangeness son of Ocean." Cf. 
Brown, Iwain, A Study, p. 32. See above, pp. 22, 25, n. 4. 

« Privately printed, Lusk, 1860, pp. 41 ff. Cf. Keating, Hist, of Ireland, ed. cit., 
I (1902), 219; Folk-Lore, IV. 481; B. C, XVI, 45. 


42 Tom Peete Cross 

her mortal favorite to speak of her before the world; and when he 
breaks her command, she forsakes him. Young, beautiful, immortal, 
she is beyond the realm of moral and physical law. 

In both prose versions of the Noinden Ulad Macha's injunction 
takes the form of a prohibition against mentioning her name. The 
Harleian account is more specific: "'You must not go,' said the 
woman, 'that you may not run into danger of speaking of us, for 
our union will last only as long as you do not speak of me in the 
assembly'" ('Ni rega,' ol in ben, 'nachat rab boegal dier n-imradadh, 
ar bid hi ar n-oenta co sin dianom nimraidiu-sa issan oenach'). 

In the obviously corrupt version of the Leiges Coise Chein sum- 
marized above from a fifteenth-century manuscript, the fee forsakes 
her lover simply because she has been insulted by another man! 
Her departure, here so unsatisfactorily explained, is accounted for 
in a highly gratifying fashion in two modern Scottish Gaelic versions 
of the story, collected from oral tradition by the Rev. D. Maclnnes 1 
and J. G. Campbell. 2 In Maclnnes's version the fairy woman 
agrees to become the hero's wife on three conditions: the king must 
never be invited to dinner without her previous knowledge; her 
husband must never reproach her with her origin; she must never 
be left in the company of another man. The tabus are, of course, 
broken one after another, the departure of the lady being occasioned, 
as in the Irish account, by an insult from Cian. Instead of the 
triple tabu there was doubtless originally but one prohibition, that 
against reproaching the wife with her origin — mentioning the name 
which she bore in the Other World. Like the serpent-lady in Keats's 
poem, she should remain unaffected by the insults of others; it is 
only her lover who, by uttering the fatal word, can force her to 
desert him. 

In the Aided Muirchertaig the ges, though somewhat modified 
by Christian influence, is nevertheless perfectly clear. Sin tells 
her lover : " My name must never be uttered by thee, and Duaibsech, 
the mother of thy children, must not be in my sight, and the clerics 
must never enter the house that I am in" (cen m'ainm-sea do rdda 

i Recorded in Folk and Hero Tales (Argyllshire Ser., II), ed. Maclnnes & Nutt, 
London, 1890, pp. 207 ff. 

2 Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, pp. 127 fl. 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Graelent" 43 

duitsiu co brath, 7 cen Duaibsig mdthair do claindi do beith im aigid, 
7 cen na clerig do thoidecht i n-oentach Hum co brath). 

A prohibition against mentioning the fee's name is also implied 
in the Egerton version of the Tochmarc Becfola (see above, p. 23) : 
the king, when asked whence his mistress came, refuses to tell. 
So, too, in the Mabinogi of Pwyll (see above, p. 15), the prince, 
when questioned regarding the lady on the white horse, preserves a 
discreet silence. 1 "Whatever question was asked him concerning 
the maiden, he passed to other matters" (Pa amouyn bynnac a vei 
ganthunt wy y wrth y uorwyn y chwedleu ereill y trosseu ynteu). 2 

When we recall that the examples enumerated above are but a 
few preserved by accident from a mass of folk-tradition now lost 
in the backward and abysm of time, we may get some faint idea of 
how popular among the early Celts was the tale of a fairy woman 
who visits earth, and unites with a mortal lover upon whom she 
lays strange commands. 

The similarity of our Breton Lays to the Celtic stories in the 
matter of the prohibition need hardly be dwelt upon. In Lanval 
the fee tells her lover: 

"Amis .... or vus chasti, 
si vus comant e si vus pri: 
ne vus descovrez a nul hume! 
De ceo vus dirai jeo la sume. 
A tuz jurs m'avriez perdue, 
se ceste amurs esteit seue" [vss. 143 ff.] 

The heroine of the English poem words her command somewhat 

differently : 

.... of othyng, syr knyght, i warne the, 
That thou make no host of me, 

For no kennes mede; 
And yf thou dost, y warny the before, 
All my love thou hast forlore [vss. 361 ff.]. 

' In a Welsh tale translated by Rhys (F Cymmrodor, V, 84), a shepherd boy who 
has won the love of a fee evades all inquiries concerning his mistress's pedigree. 

2 In the Aislinge Oengusso (see above, p. 14), the presence of a ges in an earliest 
form of the story may be easily inferred from other versions of the type we are investi- 
gating. An astonishingly close parallel is furnished by the ancient Indian story of 
Purflravas and Urvaei. Here the goddess can remain with her lover only until she 
sees him naked. When he finds her again, she appears in the form of a swan at a lake. 
The tabu is omitted in the Vedic hymn dealing with the fortunes of the two chief char- 
acters, but it is preserved in the QatapathabTahmana and other documents of undoubted 


44 Tom Peete Cross 

Graelent's mistress addresses her lover as follows: 

". . . . une chose vus deffent, 
Que ne dires parole aperte 
Dunt nostre amurs seit descuverte 

Gardes que pas ne vus vant6s 

De chose par qoi me perd6s" [vss. 302 ff.; vss. 319 ff.]. 

Though some form of tabu is almost universally characteristic 
of stories in which supernatural beings enter into relations with 
mortals, the presence of the name-tabu in early Celtic literature, and 
in Breton Lays showing other evidences of Celtic influence, forges 
another link in our chain of evidence designed to establish the Celtic 
origin of Lanval and Graelent. It is important to note also that the 
popularity of fairy-mistress stories involving the name-tabu was 
doubtless greatly enhanced during the Middle Ages by their obvious 
suitability for enforcing one of the most important doctrines of 
Courtly Love: Amor raro consvevit durare vulgatus. 1 


Lanval's mistress, though capricious, is munificent. After being 
assured of the hero's love, she grants him the power to have whatever 
he desires. She gives him new garments, and when he reaches home, 
" ses umes treuve bien vestuz ' ' (vs. 202) . As the result of her bounty, 
Lanval is enabled to give and spend lavishly. The English Sir 
Launfal contains a more detailed account, which, though perhaps in 
part due to Chestre's imagination, may prove to contain one or two 
traditional features. The fee, before dismissing her lover, gives him 
a suit of impenetrable armor, and an "alner" wherein he will always 
find "a mark of gold." Next day she sends him "ryche clothes and 
armure bryght" (vs. 383), as well as gold, silver, and a horse named 
Blaunchard. In Graelent the lady promises her ami "Deniers e 
dras, or e argent" (vs. 306), and after his return home she sends 
him, along with the clothing and other gifts, the swiftest and most 
beautiful horse in the world. 

antiquity. See Leopold von Schroeder, My&terium u. Mimus im Rigveda, Leipzig, 1908, 
p. 239. I am indebted to Dr. W. E. Clark for calling my attention to this story. 

i Article XIII of the Code as arranged by Andreas Capellanus (Andreae Capel- 
lani, De Amore, Recens. E. Trojel, Havniae, 1892, p. 310). Cf. L. F. Mott, The System 
of Courtly Love, Ginn & Co., 1896, p. 59. 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Graelent" 45 

In the Noinden Ulad Crunniuc's mistress, like the fairy amies 
of Lanval and Graelent, at first brings her lover nothing but good 
luck. The Leinster version tells us that Crunniuc prospered greatly 
because of his connection with Macha: "thanks to her they had no 
lack of anything profitable, either food, clothing, or possessions" 
(to bui ni ba terc doib lee-si di each thorud eter biad 7 etach 7 indbass). 
The Harleian account contains the statement that "by his union 
with her his wealth became still greater" (Moiti dana a indbus-som 
dia hoentaid-sie) . 

It will also be recalled that in the unquestionably pre-twelfth- 
century account of Cuchulainn's meeting with the Morrfgu, the 
beautiful other-world woman offers her mortal favorite "all her 
cattle and possessions" as an inducement to accept her love. 

The happy results of union with a f6e are well illustrated in the 
story of O'Cronogan. The hero, on returning home with his fairy 
mistress, finds "great houses and halls" in place of the ashes of his 
dwelling, recently destroyed by the insatiable tax-collectors of Brian 
Boru. A later statement is more specific. "To three years' end 
that woman dwelt with him, and O'Cronogan prospered again [i.e., 
after Brian's distraint on him], so that he had a great troop of horse- 
men and many people" (ocus do bi in ben sin aige co cenn trl mbliadan. 
ocus do bi Cronogdin ag techt ar a agaid aris innus co roibe se marc- 
shluag mor ocus ddine imda). 1 

Another story of gifts bestowed by a fairy woman upon her 
mortal lover is told in the Annals of the Four Masters 2 in the Flat- 
hiusa h-Erenn, 3 and in the prose Dindshenchas, 4 which latter Kuno 
Meyer regards as "eine im 12. Jahrhundert verfasste Prosa- 
Auflosung der in den Schulen des 9. und 10. Jahrhunderts ent- 
standenen Lehrgedichte uber irische Topographie." 6 According to 
the version in the Dindshenchas, Crimthann, son of Lugaid, was the 
husband of Nar the fairy woman, 6 with whom he lived for six weeks. 

i The modern oral versions are careful to make clear that the fee bestows upon her 
lover a magnificent palace and great possessions: Folk and Hero Tales, pp. 215 fl.; 
Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands, pp. 127 ff. 

» Ed. O'Donovan, I, 93. 

> Cited by Henderson, Survivals in Belief among the Celts, p. 318. 

« R.C., XV, 332 it. 

5 Festschrift presented to Whitley Stokes, Leipzig, 1900, p. 1, n. 1. 

« According to L U she was of the Tuatha De Danann (.ar ba do Thuaith Dea ben. 
»'. Ndr), R.C., XV, 333, note. Her fairy character is also vouched for in both versions 
Of the Coir Anmann (Ir.T., Ill, 2, p. 286). 


46 Tom Peetb Cross 

"And to him she gave many treasures, including the gilt chariot 
and the draught-board of gold, and Crimthann's attach, a beautiful 
mantle, and many other treasures also." The Flathiusa h-Erenn, 
which is contained in the Book of Leinster and the Book of Lecan, 
includes among the gifts "a spear that caused mortal wounds" 
and "a sling of unfailing cast." 

An interesting example of fairy gifts turns up in the Tain Bo 
Dartada, 1 which in substance probably long antedates the twelfth 
century. 2 One night King Eocho Beg is visited in his sleep by a 
maiden and a young man. The former tells him that his visitors 
are from the fairy mound of Cuillne (sid Cuillni), and adds that on 
the morrow he shall have fifty horses, fifty bridles ornamented with 
gold and silver, and fifty suits of fairy garments. 3 The gifts arrive 
next morning, as is also the case in Lanval. 

The lays and Celtic stories enumerated above illustrate a belief 
which, like others brought out in the course of this study, is found 
pretty much all over the world: the favor of fairy beings brings 
good fortune. The nature of the gifts conferred by the fee upon her 
lover varies to suit the social milieux in which the stories took shape, 
but the Celtic and Romance accounts have this in common: each 
in the spirit of its own time has made the other-world woman bestow 
upon the mortal the things most to be desired by warriors in the 
barbaric and chivalric ages respectively — rich garments, a valuable 
chess-board, a gilt chariot, impenetrable armor, 4 and magic horses. 

1 Trans. Windisch, Ir.T., II, 2, pp. 198 fl.; cf. Bibliog., p. 96. See also B.C., XV, 
495 f. 

2 It Is given as one of the remsctla to the Tdin B6 CHalnge, and occurs in fragmentary 
form in LV. Cf. O'Curry, Lectures, p. 185; D'Arbois, Catalogue, p. 216. 

3 In the Edinburgh version of the very ancient Tain Bo Fraich (MS XL, Adv. Lib.), 
the hero, who is about to go a-wooing, receives from his aunt (a fee) a wonderful outfit 
of clothes, armor, horses, and attendants (R.C., XXIV, 128 f.). For other examples of 
fairy gifts in Celtic, see JSriu, I, 190, n. 3; Ulster Jour, of Arch., 1st ser., VII (1859), 131. 

1 This feature occurs only in Laun/al, and is not improbably the result of Chestre's 
own elaboration of the original theme. It is, however, worth while to note that magic 
swords and other arms, so common in Germanic tradition, are found in Celtic. See, for 
example, Oss. Soc. Trans., Ill, 91; Ir.T., Ill, 1, p. 209; III, 2, p. 337; Joyce, Old Celtic 
Romances, pp. 44 f.; Ir.T., Extrab'd., p. lix, p. 438, n. 1; R.I. A., Todd Lect. Ser., XIV, 
27; XVI, 49; Gaelic Jour., IX (1898-99), 268; Battle of Magh Rath, ed. O'Donovan 
(Ir. Arch. Soc), Dublin, 1842, p. 279; Plummer, Vitae Sanctorum Mb., I, clxxxv; Mac- 
Manus, Donegal Fairy Tales, p. 163; J. G. Campbell, Superstitions of the Highlands and 
Islands, p. 5; S.G., II, 121, 254; Ir. T., IV, 1, p. 256; £riu, I, 190, n. 3. See further 
Eeiffenberg, Chevalier au Cygne, I, xcviii ft*., cxlix; Miss Paton, op. cil., p. 199, n. 1; 
Brown, I wain, A Study, p. 42, n. 1 ; Hartland, Sci. of Fairy Tales, pp. 48 ff . Miss Schoep- 
perle (op. cit., II, 316) treats inhospitably the suggestion that Tristan's arc qui ne faut is 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Geaelent" 47 

In Launfal and in Graelent the minor gifts are described so briefly 
as to render doubtful the value of a detailed account of the Celtic 
parallels, but the horses appear worthy of a more careful exami- 
nation. 1 In Marie's version the hero finally goes off to the Other 
World on the fee's white horse. 2 The ending of Chestre's poem is 
somewhat different. Launfal rides away in company with the lady 
on the horse formerly given him by her. On a certain day each year 
horse and rider may still be seen. 

Every yer upon a certayn day 
Me may here Launfales stede nay, 

And hym se with syght. 
Ho that wyll there axsy Justus, 
To kepe hys armes fro the rustus, 

In turnement other fyght; 
Dar he never forther gon, 
Ther he may fynde justes anon, 

Wyth syr Launfal the knyght [vss. 1025 ff.]. 

When at the end of Graelent the (6e leaves the court, the hero 
mounts the wonderful steed given him by her, and follows. In 
spite of her warning, he rides after her into a stream, in which he 
is nearly drowned. He is, however, saved by the lady, and is carried 
off to her country. How he made the journey is not told. 

Ses destriers qui d'eve eschapa, 

Pur sun Segnur grant dol mena: 

En la forest fist sun retur, 

Ne fu en pais ne nuit ne jur; 

Des pife grata; forment heni, 

Par la cuntree fu 01. 

Prendre cuident e retenir, 

Unques nus d'aus nel pot saisir: 

II ne voleit nului atendre, 

Nus ne le puet lacier ne prendre [vss. 711 ff.]. 

At this season of the year he may still be heard. 

1 In Lo bel Gherardino and the Pulzella gaia also the heroes receive horses from their 
fairy mistresses. Cf . Hartland, Sci. of Fairy Tales, pp. 276 f. For Celtic horses with 
magic qualities, see Joyce, Old Celtic Romances, pp. 38, 77; S.G., II, 199; cf. Folk Lore, 
IV, 474; Campbell, Pop. Tales of the West Highlands, new ed., 1890, III, 24; Henderson, 
Survivals in Belief, p. 118. See further Hist, litt., XXX, 37; Schofleld, Pub. Mod. Lang. 
Assn., XV, 157 ft.; Reiffenberg, Chev. au Cygne, I, cxv; Child, Ballads, No. 30, St. 27. 

1 Fairy beings often ride white horses. Cf. Miss Paton, op. cit., p. 93, n. 5; Pwyll 
Prince of Dyved (Loth, Les Mab., I, p. 93); Campbell, Superstitions of the Highlands and 
Islands of Scotland, p. 30. Gervais of Tilbury, Ot. Imp., p. 122. 


48 Tom Peete Cross 

Even if, as Professor Schofield points out, 1 Chestre borrowed 
certain features of his poem from Graelent, the variations in the two 
episodes given above indicate that in the present instance the English 
poet not only discarded part of the French account but even intro- 
duced material from another source. It therefore seems probable 
even at first blush that in the final episodes of Launfal and Graelent 
we have partially independent scraps of popular tradition about 
supernatural horses: one steed carries its rider to the Other World; 
the other, also associated with fairyland, mourns in human fashion 
for the loss of its master. 

Fairy horses which transport mortals to fairyland are common 
enough in Celtic romance. In the Laoidh Oisln ar Thlr na n-Og, 2 
an eighteenth-century literary version of a traditional tale, a fairy 
princess visits Oisin, declares her love for him, and carries him off 
to the Other World on her white horse. The Acallamh na Sendrach 3 
tells how Ciaban and his companions journey part of the way to the 
Other World on the back of Manannan's famous steed, which is 
also used by travelers in the Aidead Chlainne Tuirend.* This beast 
goes equally well on land or sea, and is "as swift as the clear, cold 
wind of spring." In the Aidead Ferghusa, 6 contained in a fifteenth- 
century manuscript, 6 a dwarf attached to the court of King Fergus 
of Ulster visits the land of the Lepracans in company with one of the 
"little people" on a diminutive horse which has "an exquisite pure 
crimson mane, four green legs, and a long tail that floated in many 
curls." 7 

Graelent's horse recalls one of Cuchulainn's steeds, the Gray 
(Liath) of Macha, to which attention has already been drawn. 8 

> Pub. Mod. Lang. Assn., XV, 155 flf. 

2 Oss. Soc. Trans., IV, 245. » S.G., II, 199. 

• Joyce, Old Celtic Romances, p. 38. » S.G., II, 275. 

« Egerton 1782, written between 1419 and 1517. 

' In the Oilla Decair (S.G., II, 296 ff.), which, though found in no ancient manu- 
script, appears to contain much early material (cf. Brown, I wain, A Study, p. 103, n. 2), 
Conan and other Fenians are carried to the Other World on the horse of the Slothful 
Gillie (a supernatural being). Sir Walter Scott, in his Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border 
(ed. T. F. Henderson, Edinburgh, London, and New York, 1902, pp. 359 ft.), tells how 
Sir Godfrey Macculloch, when condemned to death, escaped by jumping on the white 
horse of an other-world being who appeared Just as the execution was about to take place. 
He was never seen afterward. See further Y Cymmrodor, V, 89; Larminie, West Irish 
Folk-Tales and Romances, pp. 211 ff.; Plummer, Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae, I, cxxxii, 
n. 7; p. 69, note. Cf. Miss Paton, Fairy Mythology, p. 93, n. 5. 

8 See above, p. 22. 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Graelent" 49 

The supernatural character of this animal is established by the fact 
that it dwelt at the bottom of a lake, and the name (Gray of Macha), 
renders plausible the suggestion that it was originally a gift from 
Macha, who appears with such marked fairy characteristics in the 
Noinden Ulad, and who is identified with the Morrigu, Cuchulainn's 
would-be mistress in the Tain Bo Cualnge. When Cuchulainn pre- 
pares for his last battle, 1 the Gray of Macha "came, and let his big 
round tears of blood fall on Cuchulainn's feet," 2 and tried to prevent 
his master from going forth. When wounded in the battle, the 
horse goes back to his home in the lake, but just before Cuchulainn 
is overpowered, he reappears, and with teeth and heels defends his 
master as long as the latter is alive. 3 Another striking parallel to 
the behavior of Graelent's horse is furnished by one of those scraps 
of popular tradition so often found imbedded in Irish Christian litera- 
ture. The story is told by Adamnan 4 concerning St. Columba and 
an old white pack-horse belonging to the great apostle's monastery. 
Just before Columba's death the animal approached the saint and 
gave evidence of profound emotion at the prospect of his demise. 5 
"Coepit plangere, ubertimque, quasi homo, lacrymas in gremium 
Sancti fundere, et valde spumans flere." A passage in the prose 
Dindshenchas from the Book of Lecan tells how the cattle of Iuchna 
Horsemouth, after their master's death were "for three days and 
three nights killing each other, bewailing Iuchna, so that their horns 
fell off them." 6 Another passage in the Rennes manuscript of the 
same document tells how certain cattle shed their horns in sorrow 
for their herd, who was smothered in a quicksand. 7 

Professor Schofield notes the similarity in the behavior of the 
horses in the Aided Conchulainn, the Vita Columbae, and Graelent; 

1 The episode occurs in the Aided Conchulainn, Miss Hull, Cuch. Saga, p. 254 (cf. 
p. 244). See also B.C., Ill, 176 ff.; Bibliog., p. 86; Plummer, Vitae Sanctorum Hib., 
I, cxxxii, n. 8. 

! On weeping tears of blood, see B.C., XXI, p. 393; B.I. A., Todd Lect. Ser., IV, p. 2. 

» Compare the fighting horses of Gwyn, The Black Book of Carmarthen, ed. J. G. 
Evans, Pwllheli, 1906, Introd., p. xi, p. 99, 5-6. 

1 Adamnani Vita S. Columbae, ed. J. T. Fowler, Clarendon Press, 1894, p. 156; 
trans.. Prophecies, Miracles and Visions of St. Columba, Clarendon Press, p. 133. Cf. 
Reeves, Life of St. Columba (Ir. Arch, and Celtic Soc), Dublin, 1857, p. 232; Historians 
of Scotland, VI (1874), 96, 212. 

« Professor Schofield is wrong in making the horse weep for St. Adamnan: Pub., 
Mod. Lang. Assn., XV, 159. 

« B.C., XV, 309, note; cf. S.G., II, 483, 531. ' B.C., XVI, 75. 


50 Tom Peete Cross 

but he also calls attention to the sorrowing of Sigurth's horse, Grani, 
in the so-called "Second" Lay of Guthrun in the Elder Edda, para- 
phrased in the Volsungasaga, and suggests the possibility that the 
feature "got to the Bretons, like the story of Wayland, through 
the Normans." 1 Thankful, helpful, or sympathetic animals are 
common enough in folk-lore, 2 but in the case before us the presence 
of the mourning horse both in Celtic and in a Breton lay exhibiting 
so many other points of resemblance to Celtic tradition seems to 
indicate the latter rather than Germanic as the source. Added 
weight is given to this conclusion by the fact that in the Aided 
Conchulainn the feature is connected with the Ulster hero and with 
Macha, the associate of the Morrigu, whose relations with Cuchu- 
lainn furnish other parallels to our lay. However, even if it could 
be proved that the sorrowing of Graelent's horse found its way into 
the French poem from a Germanic rather than a Celtic source, the 
conclusions to be deduced from the present study would not be 
materially affected, since the feature of greatest significance for the 
thread of the narrative is not the lachrymose character of the animal, 
but the fact that he is of fairy origin and that he transports his master 
to the border of the Other World. It is highly probable that in a 
simpler form of the story Graelent's horse, like Launfal's, simply 
carried his master to fairyland, perhaps returning at regular intervals, 
as did the famous Irish Each Labhra (Speaking Horse). 3 The episode 
of the return of horse and rider in Launfal resembles a tradition cur- 
rent in the vicinity of Cambridge and recorded by Gervais of Tilbury. 4 

1 Loc. cit. 

* On helpful animals, see Brown, Pub. Mod. Lang. Assn., XX, 679, n. 1; p. 703, 
nn. 1, 2, 3; p. 704, n. 4; Kittredge, [Harvard) Studies and Notes, VIII, 226, n. 3; Plum- 
mer, Vitae Sanctorum Mb., I, cxllii I. ; Lang, Myth, Ritual and Religion, Longmans, I 
(1906), 58 f.; Salomon Reinach, Cults, Myths and Religs. (trans. E. Frost), pp. 19 f. 

5 This animal was wont to issue from a mound on every midsummer eve, and answer 
questions regarding the events of the coming year. See Patrick Kennedy, Legendary 
Fictions of the Ir. Celts, p. 135, note; cf. MacCulloch, Relig. of the Anc. Celts, p. 215. 
In the Lai de I'Espine (Roquefort, Poisies de Marie de France, p. 554, vss. 192 ff.), there 
is an account of the "guS de I'Espine," where each year on St. John's Eve one can find 
a notable adventure. It is here that the hero of the story fights with two knights and 
wins a lady. In the Welsh Peredur, the hero, at the instance of a maiden, climbs a hill 
and "asks three times for someone to fight with him," whereupon a black knight on a 
bony horse appears from beneath a flat stone (cromlech ?) and attacks him. Cf . Loth 
(Les Mab., II, 117 f.), who compares Wauchier's continuation of Perceval (ed. Potvin, 
IV, 85). 

> Otia Imperialia, ed. Liebrecht, p. 26; the same story is told by the author of the 
Gesta Romanorum, who cites Gervais as his authority. See Gesta Rom., ed. Oersterley, 
Berlin, 1872, pp. 533 fl. Of. Herrtage's ed. of the English versions, E.E.T.S., M.S., 
XXXIII, 1879, p. 525. 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Gkaelent" 51 

Not far from Cambridge is a hill on whose summit a supernatural 
warrior on horseback meets all who challenge him on moonlight 


Though the feVs command and its subsequent disregard by her 
lover are constantly recurring features of the folk-tale of the Offended 
Fee, the events which furnish the motive for the catastrophe may be 
freely altered without disturbing the general development of the 
story. We should not, therefore, be surprised to find wide variations 
in this part of the narrative. 

In the Lanval poems the fatal revelation of the feVs existence is 
motivated by a device long familiar in popular literature. Queen 
Guenevere offers Lanval her favors. He refuses to dishonor the 
king by accepting her love, and in a thoughtless moment boasts of 
his amie's beauty just as Crunniuc does of his wife's speed. The 
jealous queen now accuses Lanval of having insulted her. 1 At her 
instigation the knight is condemned to produce his mistress by a 
certain day or suffer punishment. He finds to his utter dismay that 
the lady of the tent no longer appears at his summons, but just at 
the expiration of the allotted time she returns, proves her lover's 
claim, and departs with him to the Other World. 

Attention has already been called to the frequency with which 
the women of early Celtic literature offer themselves to men. 
Though the forth-putting woman was of course known outside of 
Celtic and though her popularity in literature was probably increased 
by the well-known Bible story of Potiphar's wife, it is important to 
insist that the attitude of women toward men reflected in early 
Celtic sagas and romantic tales strongly predisposes us to expect 
her to reappear in mediaeval documents the origin of which other 
considerations lead us to look for in Celtic. 

Queen Guenevere, 2 notorious for her adultery and described by 
Chestre as having "lemannys unther her lord" (vs. 47), immediately 

1 The same motif furnishes the cause for the lover's unfortunate words in the 
Chdtelaine de Vergi, in Gauriel von Muntabel, and indirectly in the Pulzella gaia (cf. 
Ahlstrom, Studier, p. 69, n. 5). See also Walter Map's story of Sadius and Galo (De 
Nugis Curialium, III, ii, ed. cit. pp. 108 ff.) ; Schofleld, Pub. Mod. Lang. Assn., XV, 147, 
n. 1. 

1 The connection of Guenevere with the episode is probably late, but it was her 
already notorious character which made possible the connection. Cf. Schofleld, op. 
cit.. p. 162, n. 1. 


52 Tom Peete Cboss 

suggests the famous Queen Medb of Connacht. The latter tells her 
hen-pecked husband, Ailill, that she " has never .... been without 
having one man in the shadow of another"; 1 she openly offers her 
favors (cardes mo sliasta fessin) to Dare mac Fachtnai in exchange 
for the brown bull of Cualnge; 2 and during the lifetime of her husband 
she entertains as her lover the exiled Ulsterman Fergus mac Roig 
and has children by him. 3 

Two of the most striking Celtic instances of the forth-putting 
woman occur in the Longes Mac n-Usnig (Exile of the Sons of 
Usnech) 4 and the Toruigheacht Dharmada agus Ghrdinne (Pursuit of 
Diarmaid and Grainne) . 5 The former is found in the Book of Leinster 
and certainly dates from a period long before the twelfth century. 
The latter appears to have been traditional as early as the ninth 
century. 6 In both, the heroines make violent love to men who at 
first resist their advances, and who are forced to accept their favors 
only by the imposition of a ges, or tabu. The following summary 
of another ancient tale is contained in Cormac's Glossary, which was 

1 See Zimmer's interesting observations on this passage (Sitzungsb. der kSnigl. preuss, 
Akad. der Wiss'n., Phil.-Hist. CI., 1909, p. 64). CI. op. cit., vol. for 1911, p. 178. 

2 Ir.T., Extrab'd., p. 14; Cattle Raid of Cualnge, trans. Miss Faraday, p. 101. In 
the Glenmasan MS of the Tain Bo Flidais Medb makes the same offer to others (Celtic 
Review, III [1906-7], 125). Cf. Fled Bricrend, Ir.T. Soc, II, p. 69; Keating, Hist, of 
Ireland (It. Texts Soc), II (1908), 189. 

» Celtic Review, I (1904-5), 227 ff.; Ir.T., II, 2, p. 176; Cattle Raid of Cualnge, trans. 
Miss Faraday, pp. 44, 52. Cf. Ir.T., Extrab'd., pp. 414, 860; R.I. A., Todd Lect. Ser., 
XIV, 33; R.C., XXVIII, 101; Zimmer, Sitzungsb. der kBnigl. preuss. Akad. der Wiss'n., 
Phil.-Hist. CI., 1911, p. 184; Keating, op. cit., II, 195. Flidais, the wife of a chieftain 
named Ailill Finn, loves Fergus mac Roig, and urges him to elope with her (Celtic Review, 
II [1905-6], p. 23; cf. Bibliog., p. 96); Blathnat, the wife of Curol mac Dairi, conspires 
against the life of her husband and elopes with Cuchulainn (Slriu, II [1905], 23; 
Keating, History of Ir., (Ir. Texts Soc), II, 223; cf. Bibliog., p. 87; Miss Hull, Cuch. 
Saga, p. 284, n. 1); and Clothru offers herself to her three brothers, and by them 
becomes the mother of Lugaid Riab n-Derg (R.C., XVI, 149; cf. O'Curry, Lectures, 
p. 479.). See also Compert Conchobuir, (Hibernica Minora, ed., Kuno Meyer (Anec. Oxon.), 
1894, Ap., p. 50). 

In the Duanaire Fhinn, (ed. MacNeil [Ir. Texts Soc], p. 30), Donn is changed into 
a stag by a woman who failed to seduce him. For an instance in Christian legend, see 
R.C., XXXI, 304. For a collection of passages illustrating the irregularity of the early 
Irish in sexual matters, see Zimmer, Haupt's Zt., XXXIII, 281, n. 1. On the forth- 
putting woman in early Celtic, see further Ir.T., Ill, 2, p. 311; Arch. Rev., I, 234; R.C., 
XXV, 347; XXVIII, 101; Zimmer, Kuhn's Zt., XXVIII, 451. Professor Schofleld calls 
attention to the similarity between the Potiphar's wife episode in our lays and the Morrigu- 
Cuchulainn scene in the Tdin B6 Ciialnge (Pub. Mod. Lang. Assn., XV, 147, n. 1). 

' Ed. Ir.T., I, 73; cf. Bibliog., pp. 92f. The so-called translation in Joyce's Old 
Celtic Romances (Longmans, 1907, pp. 427 ff.) omits part of the episode in point. 

6 Oss. Soc. Trans., Ill (1855), 40 ff.; cf. Bibliog., pp. 103 f. 

5 The evidence as to the date has been collected by Miss Gertrude Schoepperle, 
Tristan and Isolt, II, 398 f . 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Graelent" 53 

written not later than the tenth century. Caier, king of Connacht, 
adopted as his son his nephew Nede. "The mind of Caier's wife 
clave to Nede. She gave an apple of silver to Nede for his love. 
Nede consented not, and she promised him the realm of Caier, if he 
would go in to her." 1 

The woman whose love is slighted for dear honor's sake, and who 
out of jealousy falsely accuses him whom she has tempted, turns up 
in the Fingal Ronain? which in its main lines suggests the Greek 
account of Phaedra's love for Hippolytus. The story must have been 
known before the twelfth century, for it is contained in the Book 
of Leinster and is mentioned in the same manuscript along with other 
stories well known about the year 1150. 3 The Fingal Remain may 
be briefly summarized as follows: 

Ronan son of Aed, king of Leinster, marries Ethne, who dies, 
leaving one son Mael-Forthartaig. In spite of the son's protest, the 
king marries a young wife. The latter falls in love with Mael- 
Forthartaig, and offers herself to him, but the prince refuses on the 
ground that she is his father's wife. The queen now complains to 
her husband that Mael-Forthartaig has made improper proposals 
to her. Ronan thereupon slays his son. In revenge Dond, one of 
the young prince's foster-brothers, murders the woman's father along 
with the latter's wife and son. He then throws the father's head 
upon the bosom of the young queen, who, to cap the climax of these 
"carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts," commits suicide. 4 

Whether the story of the Fingal Ronain was invented by the 
Celts or was borrowed by them from classical tradition or from any 
other source, is of no especial importance here. It is sufficient that 
the tale as we have it existed in Celtic and that by the middle of the 
twelfth century it was popular enough to be included in a list of 
Irish stories with which every professional antiquarian was required 
to be familiar. In view of the large amount of variation possible 
in the part of our story under examination, it is of course especially 

1 Three Irish Glossaries, pp. xxxvi f. 

2 B.C., XIII, 372 fl. 

s The events are traditionally assigned to the seventh century after Christ (R.C. 
XIII, 368 f . ; O'Curry, Lectures, p. 277) ; but the historicity of the tale is not established! 

i Keating records the case of Core mac Luighdheach, who refuses the love of his 
stepmother, and who, on the woman's complaining to his father, is banished (Hist, of 
Jr. [Ir. Texts Soc], II [1908], 383 f.). 


54 Tom Peete Cross 

difficult to dogmatize as to its ultimate origin, but the material 
presented above at least renders it impossible to deny that the forth- 
putting woman found her way into the Lanval story from Celtic 
tradition. 1 

In Graelent an entirely different motive is used to explain the 
lover's ill-considered boast regarding his fairy mistress. Once a year, 
so runs the story, the king held a great assembly at court. After 
meat he had the queen placed on a bench: 

La Rei'ne faiseit munter 

Sor un haut banc e deffubler [vss. 417 f.]. 

It was then the business of the courtiers to praise her beauty. 
Graelent, who is present at this ceremony, fails to contribute his 
quota of admiration. 

A tox le conveneit loer, 

E au Roi dire et afremer 

K'il ne sevent nule si bele, 

Mescine, Dame ne Pucele. 

N'i ot un seul ne le prisast, 

E sa biaute' ne li loast, 

Fors Graelent qui s'en taiseit .... 

Des autres teneit a folie 

Ki de tutes parts s'escrieient 

E la Relne si loeient [vss. 423 ff.]. 

The knight, on being questioned by the king as to the cause of 
his silence, declares that he knows a woman more beautiful than the 
queen. Like Lanval and Crunniuc, he is seized at once and threat- 
ened with severe punishment unless he can produce the fair one of 
whom he boasts. 

1 Professor Schofleld believes that the author of Graelent knew at least two versions 
of the story of the Offended Fee: one containing the Potiphar's wife episode, the other 
the bench scene as the motive for the lover's boast; "for, although he does not use [the 
former] in the place where it was originally inserted, he did not leave It out altogether, 
but unwisely transferred It to the beginning of his lay, where .... it did nought but 
cause confusion and inconsistency" (Pub. Mod. Lang. Assn., XV, 170). Though the 
explanation seems plausible, attention should be called to the fact that In the lay of 
Guingamor, which also contains the Offended Fee, the Potiphar's wife episode comes 
at the beginning of the story, as it does also in Walter Map's tale of Sadius and Galo 
(De Nug. Cur., Ill, 2). In Map's account the knight, angry at the slighted queen's 
asking him why he is so thoughtful, boasts of loving a lady whom he has never seen and 
whose affection he does not win until long afterward. Whether or not the Potiphar's 
wife episode stood near the beginning of the story on which the author of Graelent 
based his poem, his source was certainly markedly different from that used by Marie, for 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Graelent" 55 

The scene here depicted is obviously not in its proper social 
setting. Professor Schofield has noted its similarity to the barbaric 
episode of the horse-race in the Noinden Ulad, 1 where, as we are 
told, "bards appeared to praise the king and the queen" and the 
whole crowd joined in declaring that the king's victorious steeds 
were the swiftest in Ireland. 2 There are, however, other features 
in the French account which suggest even more strongly that we 
have here a reminiscence of a primitive custom imperfectly fitted 
into a twelfth-century chivalric setting. It is true that the dropping 
of the mantle as a sign of respect was common both among men and 
women in mediaeval courtly circles, 3 but it is also true that no twelfth- 
century king would be likely to display his wife in a conspicuous 
place and force his courtiers to admire her in extravagant language 
unless he were "merry with wine" as was King Ahasuerus when he 
tried to force Queen Vashti to come forth "with the crown royal, to 
show the people and the princes her beauty." 4 On the other hand, 
the unabashed exhibition of the human figure with the avowed 
purpose of eliciting admiration appears to have been a common 
practice among the early Celts as among other peoples relatively 
low down the ladder of culture. 

An early example is found in the Tain Bo CHalnge, where it is 
said that Cuchulainn went forth "to show his beautiful, pleasing 
figure" (do thasbinad a chrotha dlgin alaind) to the women and maidens 
attached to the army of Connacht. For this purpose he decorates 
his person with the most bizarre and barbaric magnificence. "Then 
the maidens begged the men of Ireland to raise them upon the sur- 
faces of shields above the shoulders of the men, to view Cuchulainn's 
figure" (do thaidbriud chrotha Conculaind). 6 Another case, found in 

the fairy hunt, the fountain, the swan-maiden elements in the fee's character, the bench 
episode, and the behavior of the lover's horse, are all wanting in Marie's poem. The 
inconsistency in Graelent is apparently reflected in Launfal (see Schofield, op. cit., 
p. 162). 

1 Pub. Mod. Lang. Aesn., XV, 169. The assembly and horse-race in the Noinden 
Ulad may also be compared with the tournaments which furnish the setting for the lovers' 
unfortunate boasts in Liombruno and the PuUella gaia. 

s On the fondness of the early Celts for panegyrics, see Zimmer, Gott. gel. Anzeigen, 
1890, pp. 810 f.; Plummer, Vitae Sanctorum Hib., I, ciii, nn. 3, 4. Cf. Ir.T., I, 319 f. 

3 Hertz, Spielmannsbuch, 1900, p. 405, n. 5. 

« Esther 1:11. 

» Ir.T., Extrab'd., pp. 386 ff.; Miss Hull, Cuch. Saga, pp. 177 ff., cf. p. 200. 


56 Tom Peete Cross 

the Rennes manuscript of the prose Dindshenchas, is connected with 
the death of the famous King Niall of the Nine Hostages. While the 
king was on an expedition in France, one Eochaid "advised the 
women [of France] to ask that [Niall's] form might be shown to them. 
Wherefore, after undressing, Niall displayed himself to them" (taiselb 
iarna dietgudh doib). While thus engaged, he was slain by Eochaid. 1 
The Irish redactor of the "Destruction of Troy" (Togail Troi) con- 
tributes on his own account the information that Alexander came 
before Helen "to show his form and habit, his garment and vesture" 
(Tanic dano Alaxander i fiadnaisi na hingine do thaiselbadh a crotha 
7 a ecosca, a eirraid 7 etaig). 2 In the story of Aillenn the Multiform 
and the king of Connacht (see above, p. 13), the i6e, after her con- 
versation with the king and before returning to fairyland, displays 
herself to the people just as the lady does in Lanval, where we are 
expressly told that on her visit to the court to prove her lover's 
boast, she let fall her mantle before the assembled court, "que mielz 
la peiissent veeir" (vs. 622). 3 

The Irish parallels enumerated above reflect an extremely early 
state of society, 4 and the presence of the bench scene in Graelent, an 

1 R.C, XV, 295 f. According to a variant account given in the Orcuin Neill Noigial- 
laig, the king was slain "among the bards of the Pict-tolk as he was exhibiting his shape 
to them" (Otia Merseiana, II, Liverpool, 1900, pp. 84 fl.). Cf. Bibliog., p. 110. 

* Ir.T., II, 1 (1884), pp. 17 f., 81. 

3 The exposure of the person for the purpose of inspiring other emotions is also 
referred to in Celtic literature. When the youthful Cuchulainn returns in a berserk 
rage from his first manly exploit, a hundred and fifty "bold, stark-naked women" are 
sent to meet him "to show him all their nakedness and their shame." On seeing them 
the boy hides his face, whereupon he is seized and plunged into vats of water until his 
violence has passed (Ir.T., Extrab'd., p. 166). Compare the pagan Irish women who 
expose themselves naked to drive away Christian monks in the Vila Sancti David, ed. 
Rees, Lives of the Cambro-British Saints, Llandovery, 1853, p. 125; cf. Plummer, Vitae 
Sanctorum Hiberniae I, clxvi. In the Chase of Sid na mBan Finn (R.I. A., Todd Lect. 
Ser., XVI, 71), "fierce, stark-naked men" are sent against the stronghold of Finn and 
his band. For possible Gaulish instances, see Caesar B.G., VII. 4; cf. Ir.T., Extrab'd., 
p. 166, n. 2; D'Arbois, La Civilis'n. des Celles (Cours de litt. celt. VI), Paris, 1899, p. 
321. See also the naked wild Irishman in George Borrow's Wild Wales, chap. xiv. See 
further Herodotus, History, I, 8; John Gillies, Hist, of Anc. Greece, I, Dublin, 1786, p. 
124, n. 96; Stokes, R.C, XVI, 308, note. Cf. Roman de Thebes, vss. 939 ft., quoted by 
Professor Nitze ( Mod. Philol., XI, 452, n. 1), who personally suggests that the Sparrow- 
hawk Adventure in Erec et Enide may contain a reminiscence of a custom like that 
preserved in the bench episode in Graelent. For various versions of the Sparrow-hawk 
Adventure, see Mod. Philol., XI, 450, n. 1. 

' Leaving aside the perplexed question of the ultimate origin of the sentiment of 
modesty, we should recall that among savage peoples the feeling about nudity and 
clothing is toto coelo different from ours. Cf. S. Reinach, Myths, Cults and Religions 
(trans. E. Frost), pp. 177 f. 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Gbaelent" 57 

Old French poem portraying a social system in which such a ceremony 
is so obviously out of place, can hardly be explained except on the 
assumption that the author was imperfectly adapting to twelfth- 
century conditions an ancient Celtic story. 


Lanval and Graelent, after the loss of their amies, experience the 
most excruciating mental suffering. 1 Their troubles are, however, 
only temporary; in both cases the ladies finally return, thereby 
signifying their willingness to forgive the offending lovers. In our 
Celtic stories of the Offended Fee the ending is generally quite 
different. In only one — the Aislinge Oengusso — does the breach 
of the fee's commands result in aught but irreparable tragedy or 
eternal loss. 2 The fact that the two groups of stories differ so essen- 
tially in their conclusions need not, however, alarm us. They simply 
represent two different stages in the development of the same wide- 
spread theme, of which the Celtic accounts represent the earlier, 

1 Love-sickness is a constant result of the loss of the fee, both in popular and sophis- 
ticated versions of our story. So in Walter Map's tale of Wild Edric (De Nugis Cur., 
II, 12), the lover, after the disappearance of his mistress, "wept day and night even to 
the point of foolishness toward himself, for he wore out his life in perpetual grief." Com- 
pare the oft-quoted case of Cuchulainn, who, after being abandoned by Fand, "was for 
a long time without drink or food in the mountains" until he was finally cured of his 
madness (Thurneysen, Sagen aus dem alien Irland, p. 104; L'Epope"e celt, en Irlande, I, 
215). See Brown, Twain, A Study, p. 40, where the passage is compared with Yvain's 
madness after the loss of Laudine in Chretien's Chevalier au Lion. See further Ir.T., 
I, 121 f.; S.G., II, 196; cf. Kennedy, Legendary Fictions of the I. Celts, p. 124; Plum- 
mer, Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae, I, p. clxxxvi, n. 10; Mead, Morte Darthur (Ath. Press. 
Ser.), p. 245, note. On the connection between love-sickness and the lethargy which 
affects mortals brought under fairy influence, see the interesting remarks of Professor 
Nitze, Mod. Philol., XI, 14, n. 1, and p. ,25. On savage beliefs regarding the origin of 
love, see Crawley, op. cit., p. 29. One of the doctrines of mediaeval Courtly Love 
required [that the lover who had offended his lady-love should suffer great mental 
agony — a fact which doubtless assisted the popularity of stories like Lanval and Grae- 
lent. Cf. L. F. Mott, The System of Courtly Love, pp. 85 f., 122 f.; J. J. Meyer, Isoldes 
Gottesurteil in seiner erotischen Bedeutung, Berlin, 1914, p. 18. 

2 The tragic ending occurs in the following modern Celtic parallels: J. G. Campbell, 
Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands, pp. 116, 201; Y Cymmrodor, IV, 180 f. ; 
V, 59 fl., 93; cf. D. E. Jenkins, Bedd Gelert, pp. 161 ff. Cf. Map's story of Wild 
Edric (De Nug. Cur., II, 12), where the offended fee never returns. In the Irish swan- 
maiden story given by Dottin (Contes et Ligendes d'Irlande, pp. 7 ft.), the lover, after 
returning from the ffie's realm, pines away and dies. In the modern Ossianic tale pub- 
lished by Campbell (.Pop. Tales of the West Highlands, III, 421 ff.), the offended fee must 
be sought in the Other World and is recovered only with great difficulty. For other 
cases of punishment inflicted upon mortals by their fairy mistresses, see Reiflenberg, 
Chevalier au Cygne, I, Introd., pp. lx f.; Partonopeus de Blois (ed. Crapelet), Paris, 1834, 
vss. 5,412 ft.; Child, Ballads, No. 39, Notes; Nos. 41, 42; Giraldus Cambrensis, Itin. 
Camb., I, chap. 8; Laistner, Das Ratsel der Sphinx, I, 186 ff.; Y Cymmrodor, V, 99, 103; 
Lohengrin; and the various versions of the Melusine and Cupid and Psyche stories. 


58 Tom Peete Cross 

the romances the later form. E. S. Hartland has pointed out that in 
stories of our type "the episode of the recovery of the bride is scarcely 
ever found in the sagas of modern Europe, or indeed of any nation 
that has progressed beyond a certain mark of civilization. But," 
adds the writer, "it is common in their Mdrchen, as well as in the 
sagas of more backward nations. In the sagas of the advanced 
races, with rare exceptions, the most we get is what looks like a 
reminiscence of the episode in the occasional reappearance of the 
supernatural wife to her children, or as a banshee." 1 In the cases 
before us the tragic termination is much more in accord with the 
general character of the fee as she appears in our earliest Celtic 
documents. Her commands are but the result of an unalterable 
law of her fairy nature, and when they are broken, she returns to 
her own country. She has sisters all over the world, who, even in 
the absence of broken injunctions, can remain on earth for only a 
limited time. 2 As long as the story-teller remembered vividly the 
character of the Celtic fairy mistress, and felt the responsibility of 
the epic narrator who tells the story as it is laid upon him, just so 
long would the Offended Fee be irretrievably lost. At a later date 
or even at the same period in the hands of a narrator with a less 
conscientious attitude toward his work the happy ending might be 
added. This statement does not, however, mean that the feature 
of the recovery is confined to the realms of sophisticated literature. 
It is simply a question of whether the story is in the saga or the 
Marchen stage of development — whether the teller out of regard 
for artistic or other considerations allowed himself to give a more 
pleasing conclusion to his tale. 3 It is probable that the episode in 
which the f6e carries off her lover to the Other World was connected 
with the stories underlying Lanval and Graelent long before they 

i Sci. of Fairy Tales, pp. 284 f. Cf. Y Cymmrodor, IV, 193 f., 201: Gervais of Til- 
bury, Ot. Imp., p. 66. In discussing the Cupid and Psyche story, MacCulloch (.Childhood 
of Fiction, p. 258), regards the tragic ending as an indication of extreme antiquity. 

2 Cf. MacCulloch, Childhood of Fiction, p. 346; Lang, Custom and Myth, p. 83. 

1 In one of two variants of a Bedd Gelert tradition the offended ffie returns once to 
give instructions regarding the care of her children; in the other she cannot return to 
mortal soil, but is allowed to hold converse with her husband from an island of sod 
floating in a lake (F Cymmrodor, V, 59 ft.; D. E. Jenkins, Bedd Gelert, pp. 161 f., cf. 
Y Cymmrodor, IV, 193). A possible reflection of the original situation is found in the 
words of Lanval's mistress: If the lover reveals her existence, he will lose her forever 
("atuzjurz m'avrlez perdue"). So in Disirt and in Gauriel von Muntabel, though in 
the former the offended lady returns twice, and in the latter both offense and recon- 
ciliation occur twice. 


Celtic Elements in "Lanval" and "Graelent" 59 

reached the ears of courtly poets. 1 In the Aislinge Oengusso the 
Offended F£e is at last recovered; in the Noinden Ulad she returns 
long enough to extricate her lover from his difficulty; and, in any 
case, the happy ending would be readily suggested by another com- 
mon type of fairy-mistress story in which the fee visits the world 
of mortals and carries off her lover immediately, as happens in the 
Echtra Condla and the Laoidh Oisin. In the former the hero sails 
to a beautiful island in the feVs crystal boat; in the latter Oisin 
accompanies his mistress to Tir na n-Og on the latter's white horse. 

The popularity of the type of story in which the Offended Fee 
at last relents was doubtless greatly increased in the eyes of mediaeval 
courtly poets by the ease with which it could be made a vehicle for 
the doctrines of Courtly Love. Though the ideal courtly lover was 
absolutely subservient to his lady's will, was forbidden even to 
mention her name, and must undergo the most exquisite suffering 
on having offended her, in the end love was triumphant. 2 The 
offended amie's favor might long be withheld, and the hero might 
be forced to languish in love-sickness, wear out shoes of iron, or 
climb mountains of ice; but his constancy was at last rewarded and 
he regained the heaven of his lady's grace. 

From the standpoint of narrative interest also the recovery of the 
fairy mistress would prove more attractive to the writers of mediaeval 
romance. It offered endless opportunities for the introduction of 
thrilling and marvelous adventures through which the hero must 
pass ere he won back his lady-love. 3 In late and decadent versions 

1 Attention should, however, be called to ChrStien's Yvain, which presents somewhat 
the same difficulty as do our lays. Here the hero visits the Other World, and wins the 
love of a lady who is associated with a fountain. He returns to the world of mortals, 
and loses his mistress by breaking his promise, whereupon he goes temporarily insane. 
Upon recovering he goes through another series of thrilling adventures which finally 
lead him back to the fee's realm, where the two are reunited. There are abundant 
Celtic analogues to the leading episodes in the two parts of the romance: (1) the Journey 
to the Other World with the acquisition and loss of the fairy mistress; (2) the hero's 
experiences after his madness, and the recovery of the fairy mistress (cf. Brown, P.M.L.A., 
XX, 674 f.), but not a single early Celtic story furnishes a good parallel to both parts. 
As early as 1903 Brown had suggested that "the ultimate reconciliation of Iwain to 
Laudine, and probably also a journey of wonderful adventure that led him back to her 
land, formed a part of the Celtic material that ChrStien used" ([Harvard] Studies and 
Notes, VIII, 146). In the lay of Tydorel (Bom., VIII, 66 ff.), where the fairy mistress 
is replaced by the fairy lover, the latter disappears forever when his existence is discovered 
by a third party. Cf. my "Celtic Origin of the lay of Yonec," B.C., XXXI, 459 f. 

! See Mott, Syst. of Courtly Love, pp. 80, 98, 116. 

3 As, for example, in Partono-peus, Liombruno and the PuUella gaia. 


60 Tom Peete Cross 

he might even be made to lose and regain his mistress twice, as 
happens in Gauriel von Muntabel. In Desire too the story has appar- 
ently been lengthened from sheer love of long-winded narration, for 
the f6e returns twice — once to restore to Desire" her favor, a year 
later to carry him off to her own land. 

As the material presented in this study has abundantly shown, 
the claims of the authors that the lays of Lanval and Graelent are 
based on traditions current among the Celts are justified. The fee's 
visit to the world of mortals in search of her lover, her dialogue with 
him, her strange command, her relation with the fountain or stream 
(in one case the swan-maiden elements in her character), her muni- 
ficence, the disregard of her warning and the episodes connected 
therewith, her disappearance and the lover's subsequent remorse, 
her final return and her departure with her lover to the Other World, 
the fairy steeds and the part played by them, may all be accounted 
for in early Celtic tradition, and their presence in the French poems 
can most easily be explained on the Celtic hypothesis. In conclu- 
sion it should be added that these observations in no way con- 
tradict the fact that the lays are in spirit courtly and chivalric. 
Their mystery and charm, such as they are, differ essentially from 
the mystery and charm of Celtic romance. The bones are Celtic; 
the flesh is French. 

Tom Peete Cross 
University of Chicago