Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chapter 18 [first half]

How Amadis fought and defeated Angriote and his brother, who guarded a valley pass to defend the idea that no one had a more beautiful lover than Angriote.

[Detail from Gustave Doré's illustration of Lord Alfred Tennyson's "Idylls of the King," 1868.]


As soon as Angriote's brother saw Amadis, he took up his arms, came at him, and said:

"Truly, knight, ye are crazy not to grant what they ask for, because ye shall have to fight me."

"That would please me more than agreeing to the biggest lie in the world," Amadis said.

"And I know that ye shall grant it elsewhere, where your shame will be greater," the knight said.

"I do not think so," he said, "if God wishes."

"Then be on guard," the knight said.

Then they charged at each other as fast as their horses could go and struck each other's shields with their lances, and the knight made Amadis's shield fail, but his hauberk stopped the lance and broke it. Amadis hit him so hard that he launched him over the haunches of his horse. The knight, who was very valiant, held on to the reins and broke them, and, with them in his hands, he hit his neck and his shoulders on the ground, which injured him so badly that he was not aware of himself or anything else.

Amadis dismounted, took the helmet from his head, and saw that he was so out of his senses that he could not speak. Amadis took his arm and pulled him up, and the knight came to and opened his eyes. Amadis told him:

"Ye are dead if ye do not surrender as my prisoner."

The knight, who saw the sword over his head, surrendered, fearing death. Then Amadis mounted his horse, for he saw that Angriote had mounted, taken up his arms, and sent a squire to him with a lance.

Amadis took the lance and charged at the knight, who came at him as fast as his horse could run. Their lances struck each other's shields and were broken, but did no harm. They passed each other riding perfectly, which in many other places other knights would not be able to do. Amadis put his hand on his sword and turned his horse toward Angriote, who said:

"Stay, my lord knight, do not hurry to fight with swords, as ye may well do, but I believe it will be to your harm." He said this because he thought no other knight in the world could wield a sword better than himself. "Let us joust until those lances fail us or until one of us falls from his horse."

"My lord," Amadis said, "I have much to do elsewhere and cannot waste time here."

"What!" Angriote said. "Ye think ye shall leave here so easily? I do not think so, but I beg you that before we use swords, let us joust again."

Amadis agreed, since it pleased him, and they hurried to take the lance that each liked the most, backed away from each other, then charged and struck each other bravely with the lances. Angriote hit the ground, and his horse fell on top of him. As Amadis passed, his horse tripped on the other horse, and he fell with it to the side. A piece of the lance that had entered in the shield was driven by the force of the fall through his hauberk into his flesh, but not deeply.

He got up quickly, as one who sought to avoid shame, especially since the fight involved his lady. He immediately pulled out the piece of lance, put his hand on his sword, and ran at Angriote, whom he saw with his sword in his hand.

Angriote told him:

"Knight, I hold you as a fine youth, and I beg you, before ye suffer more injuries, grant that my beloved is more beautiful than yours."

"Be still," Amadis said, "for my mouth shall never grant such a lie."

Then they began to fight and struck such mighty blows with their swords that they put fear into those who watched and into themselves, wondering how much they could suffer.

But this battle could not last long, for Amadis fought for the cause of the beauty of his lady, thus it would be better for him to die than fail in his duty at any point. He began to give blows with all his strength so hard that neither Angriote's great skill or courage in the use of his sword did any good. Soon, all Angriote's strength was spent. Amadis had managed to land his sword on his head and body many times, and in more than twenty places he was bleeding.

When Angriote saw that he was in danger of death, he pulled back as far as he could and said:

"Truly, knight, there is more skill in you than a man could imagine."

"Surrender as my prisoner," Amadis said. "It will be to your advantage, for ye are so injured that if the battle were to go to its finish, it would finish you, and I would regret it, for I esteem you more than ye think."

He said this for Angriote's great skill at arms, and for the courtesy he used with his lady, having her in his power. Since Angriote could do no more, he said:

"I surrender as your prisoner, and to the best knight in the world, as all those who bear arms should surrender, and I tell you, my lord knight, I do not to take it as a dishonor but as a great loss, for today I lose the person in the world whom I love most."

"Ye shall not lose her," Amadis said, "if I can help it. It would be unjust if the great restraint which ye showed her did not receive the pay and award that it deserves. Ye shall have it, and sooner than before. This I promise you as an honest knight when I return from the task to which I go."

"My lord," Angriote said, "where will I find you?"

"In the house of King Lisuarte," Amadis said, "where I shall return, God willing."

Angriote wanted to take him to his castle, but Amadis did not want to leave the road he was on. He bid them farewell and put himself at the guidance of the dwarf to give him the boon that he had promised. They rode for five days without finding adventure. Finally, the dwarf showed him a splendid and impregnable castle and said:

"My lord, in that castle ye must give me the boon."

"In the name of God," Amadis said, "I will give it to thee if I can."

"I am more confident of this than before," the dwarf said, "for I have seen your great deeds. My lord, do ye know the name of this castle?"

"No," he said. "I have never been in these lands."

"Know that it is called Valderin," said the dwarf.

And as they spoke, they arrived at the castle. The dwarf said,

"My lord, take up your arms."

"What," Amadis said, "will they be necessary?"

"Yes," he said. "Those who enter do not leave easily."

Amadis took up his arms and went ahead, with the dwarf and Gandalin behind him. When they entered the gate, he looked one way and the other, but he saw nothing. He said to the dwarf:

"This place seems uninhabited."

"By God," he said, "to me as well."

"Then why did thou bringest me here, and what boon dost thou wish me to give thee?"

The dwarf told him:

"Truly, my lord, I saw here the most brave knight, the best at arms that I think I shall see. He killed two knights in that gate. One of them was my lord, and he killed him viciously, as one who has never felt mercy. I wish to ask for the head of the traitor who killed him. I have brought other knights here to avenge him, and, alas, some he gave death and others cruel imprisonment."

"Surely, dwarf," Amadis said, "thou hast been loyal, but thou ought not bring knights if thou dost not tell them beforehand with whom they must fight."

"My lord," the swarf said, "the knight is well known as one of the bravest in the world, and if I were to say his name, none would be so bold as to dare to come with me."

"And dost thou know his name?"

"Yes, I do," said the dwarf. "He is called Arcalaus the Enchanter."

Amadis looked everywhere and saw no one. He got off his horse and waited until vespers, and said:

"Dwarf, what dost thou wish me to do?"

"My lord," he said, "night is coming, and I do not think it good to take shelter here."

"Even so," Amadis said, "I will not leave here until the knight comes or until someone tells me where he is."

"By God, I will not remain here," the dwarf said. "I am terrified, for Arcalaus knows me, and he knows that I mean to have him killed."

"However," Amadis said, "thou shalt stay here. I do not want to fail to fulfill the boon if I can."

Amadis saw a courtyard ahead and entered it, but he spotted no one. He saw a very dark place, with a stairway that went below ground. Gandalin brought the dwarf so he would not flee, for he was very afraid, and Amadis told him:

"Let us enter these stairs and see what is there."

"Oh, my lord," the dwarf said, "mercy. I would not enter that dreadful place for anything, and by God, let me go, for my heart is filled with fear."

"Thou shalt not go," Amadis said, "until thou hast the boon that I promised thee or thou seest how I do my will."

The dwarf, who was terrified, said:

"Let me go. I release you from the boon and will be content without it."

"If it were up to me," Amadis said, "I would order thee not to release me from the boon so that thou shalt not say later that I failed to do my duty."

"My lord, I release you and consider my debt fulfilled," he said, "and I will wait for you outside, where we came in, until I see that it is."

"Go with good fortune," Amadis said. "I will remain here until morning waiting for the knight."

The dwarf went on his way and Amadis went down the steps and saw nothing as he descended. He continued down until he found a level area. It was so dark he did not know where he went, and he kept going until he came upon a wall. He ran his hands over it and found a bar of iron with a key hanging from it. He opened a lock in an iron gate, and heard a voice that said:

"Oh, Lord God, how long will this suffering last? Oh, death, why do you delay when you are so needed?"


  1. Dear Friend

    I thank you for the work you've been doing - promoting Amadis.
    I'm portuguese, and for a while I've been trying to find medieval literature besides Gil Vicente, our "Theatre's Father", and Camões, our greatest poet.
    When I saw Amadis, both possibly portuguese and one of the greatest "hits" in medieval literature, I thought for myself: "I must read it!"

    I'm trying to explore my origins and how literature ended up like nowadays. I've been reading Marco Polo's journeys, Arabian Nights (One thousand and one nights), and I'm considering Dante's Divine Comedy and D. Quixote de la Mancha...

    I again congratulate you for the excelent job you've been doing, not only translating but also explaining in context...

    With nothing further for now, and expecting anxiiously for the following chapters,

    Filipe Sataridis

  2. Bom-dia, Felipe. Obrigada. You remind me that someday soon I must comment on the Portuguese roots of Amadis. Whether or not Vasco de Lobiera wrote the early version, Portugal had its own long and interesting history of novels of chivalry.

    I haven't spent as much time as I wish in Portugal, but I did get to Coimbra and saw the Fonte dos Amores, the stones in the spring were stained red with Inês's blood, as the legend says. (Red algae, more scientific minds claim, but it's still there after all these years, and it was amazing to see.) That story and some information about Camões would also be a fascinating historical side note, I think.

    Thank you again for your interest and compliments. I am excited to be able to share this work with the world.

    Sue Burke