Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chapter 21 [final third]

[How Amadis came to pledge his aid to the beautiful girl.]

[Detail from "The Lady and the Unicorn," a series of six wool and silk tapestries made from designs drawn in Paris in the late 1400s, on display at the Musée National du Moyen Âge, Paris, France.]


The lions paced from one side of the courtyard to the other and tried to get out through the gate. The people in the castle did not dare leave the building, not even the damsel who cared for the animals, for they were so excited and enraged by the bloodshed that they would obey no one. The people inside did not know what to do.

They asked the lady to beg Amadis to open the gate, for they thought that he would do it for her rather than for anyone else because she was a woman. But she, thinking of the great and evil misdeed she had done him, did not dare ask for any mercy. Finally, when she could not hope for any other remedy, she came to the window and said:

"My lord knight, we have erred badly against you without realizing it, yet may your humble courtesy prevail over our guilt, and if it please ye, open the gate for the lions, because if they leave, we shall be unafraid and free from danger. Thus everything will be set right with you, as it ought to be, for what we did and committed. However, I also wish to say that my intention and will was only to have you imprisoned."

He gently responded:

"My lady, ye did not have to do what ye did, for I was willingly yours, as I am for all the ladies and damsels who need my service."

"Then, my lord," she said, "will ye not open the gate?"

"No, may God help me," he said. "Ye shall not have this courtesy from me."

The lady left the window weeping. The beautiful girl said:

"My lord knight, there are those here who are not guilty of the evil ye received. Instead, they deserve thanks for doing that which ye do not know of."

Amadis felt great affection for her, and said:

"My pretty friend, do ye wish me to open the gate?"

"I would be very thankful to you for it," she said.

Amadis went to open it, and the girl said:

"My lord knight, wait a little, and I will tell the lady to deliver you your men who are here."

Amadis appreciated that greatly and considered her discreet. The lady agreed and said that she would give him Gandalin and the dwarf immediately. And the old knight, of whom ye have heard, told Amadis to take a shield and a mace so he could kill the lions when they left the gate.

"I want those for another reason," Amadis said, "and may God not help me if I do ill to someone who has helped me so well."

"Truly, my lord," he said, "ye esteem loyalty in men as much as ye do in wild beasts."

Then they threw him a mace and a shield. Amadis put what remained of his sword in its scabbard and put the shield on his arm. With the mace in hand, he went to open the gate. The lions, when they realized it was open, ran out and fled into the fields.

Amadis, who had hidden at the side of the gate, entered the castle. Immediately the lady and everyone else came out and went to him and he to them, and they received him very well and brought him Gandalin and the dwarf.

Amadis told her:

"My lady, I lost my horse here. You may order another to be given to me, but if not, I shall leave on foot."

"My lord," the lady said, "remove your armor and rest here tonight, for it is late. Ye shall have a horse, since it would be unreasonable for such a knight to go on foot."

Amadis took what she said for the best, and went immediately to disarm in a chamber. They gave him a cloak to cover himself and took him to the windows, where the lady and the girl were waiting for him. When they saw him, they were amazed by how handsome he was and by his age, being so young to do such amazing feats at arms.

Amadis looked at the girl, who seemed even more beautiful to him, and then said to the lady:

"Tell me, lady, if ye please, why did the statue in the carriage have its head cut in two?"

"Knight," she said, "if ye promise to do what must be done, I will tell you, but if not, I must not."

"My lady," he said, "it is not wise for a man to grant what he does not know, but when I know it, if it is something that touches upon that which a knight may reasonably do, I will not fail to do it."

The lady said he had spoken well, and ordered all the ladies and damsels and other people to leave. She held the girl close and said:

"My lord knight, that figure in stone that ye saw was made in the memory of the father of this beautiful girl, and he lies within the tomb in the carriage. He was the crowned king, and he was sitting in his throne during a feast. His brother came up and said that the crown on his head equally belonged to him, since they were both in line for it. Then he took out his sword, which he had brought in under his cloak, and struck him on top of the crown. The sword drove through his head as ye saw it depicted.

"Since he had planned this treason, he had brought many knights with him, and because the King was dead, leaving no other son or daughter besides this girl, the brother immediately took over the kingdom, which he still has in his power. At that time, the old knight who brought you to this girl was on guard. He fled with her and brought her here to me in this castle because she is my niece. Then I acquired the body of her father, and every day I put it in the carriage and go with it through the countryside. I swore that I would show it to no one except by force of arms, and would not tell the victorious knight about it unless he agrees to avenge that treason.

"And if ye, good knight, obliged by reason and virtue, wish to justly employ the great valor and brave heart that God gave you in that mission, having you, I shall continue in the same way until I find two more knights, which shall be necessary so that you three can fight in this cause with that traitor and his two sons, since they have an agreement among themselves not to fight one by one but to be together in battle if they are challenged."

"My lady," Amadis said, "ye have done right to see a way to avenge the greatest treason I have ever heard of. And truly, he who did it cannot last for long without being dishonored, for God will not suffer it. If ye could manage that they came to fight one by one, with the help of God I would accept that battle."

"They will not," the lady said.

"Then, what do ye wish me to do?" he said.

"Be here a year from today if you are alive and have free will," she said. "By then I will have found the two knights, and ye shall be the third."

"I will gladly do that," Amadis said, "and do not trouble to look for the other two, for I plan to bring them on that date, and they will fight to do what is right."

He said this because he believed he would have found his brother Sir Galaor and his cousin Agrajes by then, and with them he would dare to attempt such a great deed.

The lady and girl thanked him sincerely, telling him to look for very good knights because they would have to be the best to win, for he could be sure that the evil king and his sons were among the most valiant and brave knights in the world.

Amadis said:

"If I find one of the knights that I seek, I would not be troubled much for the third, no matter how brave they are."

"My lord," the lady said, "where are ye from and where shall we seek you?"

"My lady," Amadis said, "I am from the court of King Lisuarte, and I am a knight of Queen Brisena, his wife."

"Well, now," she said, "let us eat, for after making such a pact, it will do us good."

Then they entered a very beautiful hall where they were given a fine meal, and when it was time to sleep, they took Amadis to a chamber to lodge in, and only the damsel who had set free the lions remained with him. She said:

"My lord knight, there is someone here who helped you, although ye do not know it."

"And how was that?" Amadis said.

"It was to save you from death, which had closed in on you," she said. "By order of my lady, that beautiful girl, who pitied you because of those who were doing you wrong, I let loose the lions."

Amadis was surprised by the discretion of a person of such a young age, and the damsel said:

"Truly, I believe that if she lives, she will have in her two things far above all else, beauty and wisdom."

Amadis said:

"Indeed, so it seems to me. Tell her that I owe her thanks, and she should consider me her knight."

"My lord," the damsel said, "what ye say gives me great pleasure, and she will be very happy when I tell her."

She left the chamber, and Amadis went to his bed, and Gandalin and the dwarf to another bed that lay at the feet of their lord. They had heard all that had been said. The dwarf, who did not know about the history of his lord and Oriana, thought that he loved the beautiful girl because he had paid so much attention to her and had promised to be her knight. This belief proved not to help Amadis and in time led to a disaster that brought Amadis close to a cruel death, as shall be told farther along.

The night passed and morning came. Amadis got up, heard Mass with the lady, and then asked for the names of those whom he would have to fight. She said:

"The father is called Abiseos, the older son Darasion and the other son Dramis, and all three are greatly experienced in arms."

"And the land," Amadis said, "what is its name?"

"Sobradisa," she said, "which shares a border with Serolois, and its other border is surrounded by the sea."

Then he armed himself, mounted a horse that the lady had given him, and, as he was about to say goodbye, the beautiful girl came with a fine sword in her hands that had been her father's. She said:

"My lord knight, for my love, carry this sword for as long as it lasts, and may God help you with it."

Amadis thanked her, laughing, and said:

"My dear lady, ye have me as your knight do to all things that may be to your benefit and honor."

She was delighted with that, and it showed in her face. The dwarf, who saw all this, said:

"Truly, lady, ye have won no small thing to have such a knight as yours."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Don Quixote confronts lions in a parody of Amadis of Gaul's adventure

Wherein is shown the furthest and highest point which the unexampled courage of Don Quixote reached or could reach; together with the happily achieved adventure of the lions.

[This plaque is on the wall of the Convent of the Discalced Trinitarians on Lope de Vega Street in Madrid. It's near the site of Miguel de Cervantes' home, where he died in 1616. As the plaque says, he lies in the convent's crypt, in accordance with his last wishes, but don't plan on visiting him. Last year a newspaper reporter tried. "We know he's here," a nun told him, "but we don't know exactly where." Whether due to the remodeling of the chapel in the convent or to the amnesia of hundreds of years, Cervantes' remains have been misplaced. I think he would find that funny. Photo by Sue Burke.]


Lions occur frequently in chivalrous tales, including Chapter 21 of Amadis of Gaul. Miguel de Cervantes parodied this episode in Don Quixote de la Mancha. A cart approaches with a mysterious cargo, which turns out to be a pair of lions, and Don Quixote madly challenges them, much as Amadis rashly challenged the knights guarding the cart. Cervantes also parodies the authorial outbursts in Amadis.

By the way, you can get the full text of Ormsby's landmark translation of Don Quixote from Project Gutenburg at:

Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes, translated by John Ormsby in 1885. Book II, Chapter XVII [excerpted]:

... Don Quixote put [his helmet] on, and settling himself firmly in his stirrups, easing his sword in the scabbard, and grasping his lance, he cried, "Now, come who will, here am I, ready to try conclusions with Satan himself in person!"

By this time the cart with the flags had come up, unattended by anyone except the carter on a mule, and a man sitting in front. Don Quixote planted himself before it and said, "Whither are you going, brothers? What cart is this? What have you got in it? What flags are those?"

To this the carter replied, "The cart is mine; what is in it is a pair of wild caged lions, which the governor of Oran is sending to court as a present to his Majesty; and the flags are our lord the King's, to show that what is here is his property."

"And are the lions large?" asked Don Quixote.

"So large," replied the man who sat at the door of the cart, "that larger, or as large, have never crossed from Africa to Spain; I am the keeper, and I have brought over others, but never any like these. They are male and female; the male is in that first cage and the female in the one behind, and they are hungry now, for they have eaten nothing today, so let your worship stand aside, for we must make haste to the place where we are to feed them."

Hereupon, smiling slightly, Don Quixote exclaimed, "Lion-whelps to me! To me whelps of lions, and at such a time! Then, by God, those gentlemen who send them here shall see if I am a man to be frightened by lions. Get down, my good fellow, and as you are the keeper open the cages, and turn me out those beasts, and in the midst of this plain I will let them know who Don Quixote of La Mancha is, in spite and in the teeth of the enchanters who send them to me."

... The carter, seeing the determination of this apparition in armour, said to him, "Please your worship, for charity's sake, señor, let me unyoke the mules and place myself in safety along with them before the lions are turned out; for if they kill them I am ruined for life, for all I possess is this cart and mules."

"O man of little faith," replied Don Quixote, "get down and unyoke; you will soon see that you are exerting yourself for nothing, and that you might have spared yourself the trouble."

The carter got down and with all speed unyoked the mules, and the keeper called out at the top of his voice, "I call all here to witness that against my will and under compulsion I open the cages and let the lions loose, and that I warn this gentleman that he will be accountable for all the harm and mischief which these beasts may do, and for my salary and dues as well. You, gentlemen, place yourselves in safety before I open, for I know they will do me no harm."

... Hearing this, Sancho with tears in his eyes entreated him to give up an enterprise compared with which the one of the windmills, and the awful one of the fulling mills, and, in fact, all the feats he had attempted in the whole course of his life, were cakes and fancy bread. "Look ye, señor," said Sancho, "there's no enchantment here, nor anything of the sort, for between the bars and chinks of the cage I have seen the paw of a real lion, and judging by that I reckon the lion such a paw could belong to must be bigger than a mountain."

"Fear at any rate," replied Don Quixote, "will make him look bigger to thee than half the world. Retire, Sancho, and leave me; and if I die here thou knowest our old compact; thou wilt repair to Dulcinea — I say no more." To these he added some further words that banished all hope of his giving up his insane project.

...Sancho was weeping over his master's death, for this time he firmly believed it was in store for him from the claws of the lions; and he cursed his fate and called it an unlucky hour when he thought of taking service with him again; but with all his tears and lamentations he did not forget to thrash Dapple so as to put a good space between himself and the cart. The keeper, seeing that the fugitives were now some distance off, once more entreated and warned him as before; but he replied that he heard him, and that he need not trouble himself with any further warnings or entreaties, as they would be fruitless, and bade him make haste.

During the delay that occurred while the keeper was opening the first cage, Don Quixote was considering whether it would not be well to do battle on foot, instead of on horseback, and finally resolved to fight on foot, fearing that Rocinante might take fright at the sight of the lions; he therefore sprang off his horse, flung his lance aside, braced his buckler on his arm, and drawing his sword, advanced slowly with marvellous intrepidity and resolute courage, to plant himself in front of the cart, commending himself with all his heart to God and to his lady Dulcinea.

It is to be observed, that on coming to this passage, the author of this veracious history breaks out into exclamations. "O doughty Don Quixote! High-mettled past extolling! Mirror, wherein all the heroes of the world may see themselves! Second modern Don Manuel de Leon, once the glory and honour of Spanish knighthood! In what words shall I describe this dread exploit, by what language shall I make it credible to ages to come, what eulogies are there unmeet for thee, though they be hyperboles piled on hyperboles! On foot, alone, undaunted, high-souled, with but a simple sword, and that no trenchant blade of the Perrillo brand, a shield, but no bright polished steel one, there stoodst thou, biding and awaiting the two fiercest lions that Africa's forests ever bred! Thy own deeds be thy praise, valiant Manchegan, and here I leave them as they stand, wanting the words wherewith to glorify them!"

Here the author's outburst came to an end, and he proceeded to take up the thread of his story, saying that the keeper, seeing that Don Quixote had taken up his position, and that it was impossible for him to avoid letting out the male without incurring the enmity of the fiery and daring knight, flung open the doors of the first cage, containing, as has been said, the lion, which was now seen to be of enormous size, and grim and hideous mien. The first thing he did was to turn round in the cage in which he lay, and protrude his claws, and stretch himself thoroughly; he next opened his mouth, and yawned very leisurely, and with near two palms' length of tongue that he had thrust forth, he licked the dust out of his eyes and washed his face; having done this, he put his head out of the cage and looked all round with eyes like glowing coals, a spectacle and demeanour to strike terror into temerity itself. Don Quixote merely observed him steadily, longing for him to leap from the cart and come to close quarters with him, where he hoped to hew him in pieces.

So far did his unparalleled madness go; but the noble lion, more courteous than arrogant, not troubling himself about silly bravado, after having looked all round, as has been said, turned about and presented his hind-quarters to Don Quixote, and very coolly and tranquilly lay down again in the cage. Seeing this, Don Quixote ordered the keeper to take a stick to him and provoke him to make him come out.

"That I won't," said the keeper; "for if I anger him, the first he'll tear in pieces will be myself. Be satisfied, sir knight, with what you have done, which leaves nothing more to be said on the score of courage, and do not seek to tempt fortune a second time. The lion has the door open; he is free to come out or not to come out; but as he has not come out so far, he will not come out today. Your worship's great courage has been fully manifested already; no brave champion, so it strikes me, is bound to do more than challenge his enemy and wait for him on the field; if his adversary does not come, on him lies the disgrace, and he who waits for him carries off the crown of victory."

"That is true," said Don Quixote; "close the door, my friend, and let me have, in the best form thou canst, what thou hast seen me do, by way of certificate; to wit, that thou didst open for the lion, that I waited for him, that he did not come out, that I still waited for him, and that still he did not come out, and lay down again. I am not bound to do more; enchantments avaunt, and God uphold the right, the truth, and true chivalry! Close the door as I bade thee, while I make signals to the fugitives that have left us, that they may learn this exploit from thy

The keeper obeyed, and Don Quixote, fixing on the point of his lance the cloth he had wiped his face with..., proceeded to recall the others, who still continued to fly, looking back at every step, all in a body, the gentleman bringing up the rear. Sancho, however, happening to observe the signal of the white cloth, exclaimed, "May I die, if my master has not overcome the wild beasts, for he is calling to us."

They all stopped, and perceived that it was Don Quixote who was making signals, and shaking off their fears to some extent, they approached slowly until they were near enough to hear distinctly Don Quixote's voice calling to them. They returned at length to the cart, and as they came up, Don Quixote said to the carter, "Put your mules to once more, brother, and continue your journey; and do thou, Sancho, give him two gold crowns for himself and the keeper, to compensate for the delay they have incurred through me."

"That will I give with all my heart," said Sancho; "but what has become of the lions? Are they dead or alive?"

The keeper, then, in full detail, and bit by bit, described the end of the contest, exalting to the best of his power and ability the valour of Don Quixote, at the sight of whom the lion quailed, and would not and dared not come out of the cage, although he had held the door open ever so long; and showing how, in consequence of his having represented to the knight that it was tempting God to provoke the lion in order to force him out, which he wished to have done, he very reluctantly, and altogether against his will, had allowed the door to be closed.

"What dost thou think of this, Sancho?" said Don Quixote. "Are there any enchantments that can prevail against true valour? The enchanters may be able to rob me of good fortune, but of fortitude and courage they cannot."

Sancho paid the crowns, the carter put to, the keeper kissed Don Quixote's hands for the bounty bestowed upon him, and promised to give an account of the valiant exploit to the King himself, as soon as he saw him at court.

"Then," said Don Quixote, "if his Majesty should happen to ask who performed it, you must say the Knight of the Lions; for it is my desire that into this the name I have hitherto borne of Knight of the Rueful Countenance be from this time forward changed, altered, transformed, and turned; and in this I follow the ancient usage of knights-errant, who changed their names when they pleased, or when it suited their purpose."...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chapter 21 [middle third]

[How Amadis continued his search for his brother Galaor, and what he encountered along the way.]

[A stable at the ruins of the castle of the Marquis of Santillana, built between the 14th and 15th centuries, in Buitrago del Lozoya, Spain. Photo by Sue Burke.]


Amadis left Urganda's damsels, as we have told you, and traveled until midday, when he left the forest through which he had ridden. He found himself in a plain, where he saw a handsome fortress and a carriage traveling across it, the biggest and most beautiful that he had ever seen. It was pulled by twelve palfreys and was covered from top to bottom by a rich scarlet silk cloth, so nothing could be seen of what was inside, and it was guarded on all sides by eight armed knights.

When he saw the carriage, Amadis came toward it, wanting to know what it was. As he neared, a knight came forward and told him:

"Pull back, my lord knight, and do not dare approach."

"I do not come for ill purposes," Amadis said.

"However it be," the other knight said, "do not do it, for ye are not such as ought to see what goes here. And if ye continue to try, it will cost you your life, for ye must fight with us, and here are such that could defend it well alone against you and even better if all fight you at once."

"I know nothing of their skill, but still, if I can, I will see what is in that carriage."

Then he took up his arms, and the two knights that rode ahead came at him, and he at them. One struck his shield and the knight's lance broke, while the other missed with his blow. Amadis quickly knocked down the one who had hit him, turned to the other who had passed and met him so hard that he put both that knight and his horse on the ground.

He tried to go toward the carriage, but two other knights came at him as fast as their horses could gallop, and he went at them. He hit one so hard that that knight's armor served for naught, and, with his sword, he struck the other on top of his helmet with such a blow that the knight had to hold on to the neck of his horse, senseless.

When the remaining four saw that their comrades had been defeated by a single knight, they were frightened to see such an amazing thing, and moved as a group with great anger against Amadis to attack him. But before they arrived, he knocked the other knight to the earth.

They attacked, and some struck his shield while the others missed. Amadis came at the one who rode ahead to attack him with his sword, but that knight came so fast that they collided, and their shields and helmets met so hard that the knight fell from his horse, stunned out of his wits. The three knights turned to Amadis and stuck great blows. Amadis knocked the lance out of the hands of one of them with his sword, then used the lance to hit him in the throat so hard that the iron and the wooden shaft came out of the back of his neck, and threw him to the earth dead.

Then he rode as fast as he could at the other two, and hit one on the helmet with all his strength and knocked it from his head. Amadis saw his face, which was very old, and felt pity for him. He said:

"Truly, my lord knight, ye ought to cease these practices, for if ye have not won honor yet, from here forward your age will excuse you from winning it."

The knight told him:

"My dear sir, to the contrary, young men ought to try to win honor and prestige, and old men ought to try to maintain it as long as they can."

When Amadis heard the old man's thoughts, he said:

"Knight, I hold what ye said to be better than what I said."

As they were speaking, Amadis looked up and saw that the remaining knight was riding as fast as his horse could go toward the castle, and that the others who could get up were chasing their horses. He went to the carriage, lifted up the cloth and put his head inside.

He saw a marble funeral monument, and on the lid was the image of a king dressed in royal clothing with a crown on his head, but his crown was split down to his head, and his head split down to his neck. He saw a lady sitting on a bench with a girl next to her, and the girl seemd more beautiful than any other he had seen in all his days.

He said:

"My lady, why does this statue have its face split in half?"

She looked at him and saw that he was not a member of her company, and said:

"What is this, knight? Who allowed you to see this?"

"I did," he said, "for I wanted to see what was traveling inside here."

"And our knights," she said, "what did they do about it?"

"They did me more harm than good," he said.

Then the lady lifted up the cloth and saw that some of her men were dead and that others were chasing their horses, and she was very upset. She said:

"Oh, knight, cursed be the hour when ye were born for the devilish acts that ye have done!"

"My lady," he said, "your knights attacked me, but if it pleases you, answer my questions."

"May God help me," she said, "ye shall learn nothing from me, for I have been vilely dishonored you."

When Amadis saw how angry she was, he left there and went on his way where the road took him. The lady's knights put the dead into the carriage, and they rode with great shame toward the castle.

The dwarf asked Amadis what he had seen in the carriage. Amadis told him, and how he could learn nothing from the lady.

"If she were an armed knight," the dwarf said, "she would have told us soon enough."

Amadis did not answer and continued on his way, but when he had ridden a full league, he saw the old knight whose helmet he had knocked off coming up behind him and calling for him to wait. Amadis stopped, and the knight arrived unarmed and said:

"My lord knight, I come to you with a message from the lady whom ye saw in the carriage. She wishes to remedy the discourteous way she spoke to you and asks you to lodge in the castle tonight."

"Good sir," Amadis said, "I saw her so impassioned for what happened between you and me, that the sight of me ought to give her more anger than pleasure."

"Believe, my lord," the knight said, "that your return would make her very happy."

Amadis, who thought that a knight so old would not lie, and who saw the affection with which he made the request, turned back. As they rode, they spoke, and Amadis asked if he knew why the stone figure had its head cut in half, but the old knight did not wish to say.

When they neared the castle, the knight said that he wanted to go ahead so that the lady would know he would be arriving. Amadis rode more slowly, and when he arrived at the gate, he saw the lady and the beautiful girl in a window in the tower above it. The lady said to him:

"Enter, my lord knight, and we thank you for coming."

"My lady," he said, "I am very happy to give you pleasure instead of anger."

He entered the castle, and as he went ahead, he heard a great movement of people in the palace. Then armed knights rode out of it and soldiers left on foot, and as they came, they said:

"Stay, knight, and be our prisoner. If not, ye are dead."

"Truly," he said, "I shall not willingly be imprisoned by such deceitful people."

Then he strapped on his helmet but could not put on his shield because they came too fast, and they began to attack on all sides. But as long as his horse lasted, he defended himself bravely, bringing down at his feet those whom the blade of his sword reached.

When he saw that he was surrounded by too many people, he went to a shed in the courtyard, and there he defended himself amazingly well. He saw them take the dwarf and Gandalin prisoner, and his heart was filled with more courage than ever to defend them.

But so many people came and attacked him on all sides with such blows that at times he fell to his knees on the earth. There was no way he could escape death, for he knew they would not put him in prison since he had killed six of his adversaries and had badly injured others.

However, God and His great love saved him very well, in this manner: The girl, who was watching the battle and saw him do amazing deeds, took great mercy on him. She called one of her damsels and said:

"My friend, the great valor of the of that knight has moved me to pity. I would rather have all our men die than him alone. Come with me."

"My lady," the damsel said, "what do ye wish to do?"

"To let my lions loose," she said, "so they can kill those who hold the best knight in the world in a such danger. I command you as my vassal to let them loose, for no one other than you can do it, since they know only you. I will take the blame."

The girl returned to the lady. The damsel went to free the lions, both of them, very brave, who were on a chain. As the animals entered the courtyard, she shouted to everyone to protect themselves, for she had set them loose. But before anyone could flee, they tore to pieces all those they could reach with their sharp, strong claws.

Amadis saw people fleeing to the castle wall and towers, leaving him free while the lions occupied themselves with those whom they had before them. He immediately ran as fast as he could to the gate of the castle, went outside, and closed it behind himself so the lions would remain inside.

He sat down on a rock, very tired, as one who had just fought hard, his bare sword in his hand, one-third of it broken off.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Summary, Chapters 0 to 20

A recap of the story so far, to refresh our memories.

["Capitu. xviij. de como Amadis se combatio con Angriote: y con su hermano: los quales guardauan vn passo de vn valle en que defendian que ninguno tenía mas hermosa amiga que Angriote." Introduction to Chapter 18 of the 1526 edition, published by Jacobo and Juan Cromberger in Seville, Spain. "Of how Amadis did combat with Angriote, and with his brother, who guarded a pass of a valley in which they defended (the idea) that none had a more beautiful ladylove than Angriote."]


Chapters 0 to 15

Amadis is born in secret and out of formal wedlock to Princess Elisena of Little Brittany and King Perion of Gaul. He is abandoned at birth, then discovered and adopted by a Scottish knight, Gandales. Because Gandales finds the newborn at sea, he calls him "Childe of the Sea." When Amadis is seven years old, King Languines of Scotland takes him and Gandales's son Gandalin to his court. There, at age twelve, Amadis meets Princess Oriana of Great Britain, then ten years old, and the two fall hopelessly in love — hopeless because such a lowly boy has no chance to wed such an important princess.

Amadis becomes a knight, with Gandalin as his devoted squire. A sorceress who watches over him, Urganda the Unrecognized (so called because she can disguise herself as anyone), gives him a magic lance. He performs several astounding feats with it before he joins an army to help King Perion, whose kingdom has been invaded by the King of Ireland. Amadis wins the war by defeating the King of Ireland in one-on-one combat, and immediately afterwards, with the help of the level-headed Damsel of Denmark, he learns his true identity.

Meanwhile, his brother Galaor has been kidnaped while still a toddler by a giant. When he grows up, Galaor becomes a knight with the help of Urganda and begins his own career as one of the finest knights in the land. However, he is not as smart as Amadis and is not at all chaste.

After Galaor's first battle, a damsel guides him to the castle of the Duke of Bristol and, there, to the bedroom of Princess Aldeva. The Princess and Galaor share their love; this traditional medieval erotic episode involves comic-violence skirmishes with Duke's dwarf. Then Galaor goes to another castle and, after more comic violence, frees a damsel being held prisoner there, who treats his wounds and his amorous urges.

Amadis, meanwhile, is traveling to King Lisuarte's court in Windsor in Great Britain, where Oriana is. On the way he is insulted by a knight named Dardan, who is also trying to cheat a widow out of her inheritance. At Windsor, Amadis avenges himself and the widow, and is welcomed into King Lisuarte's court, where he becomes a knight in service to Queen Brisena. In secret, he goes to a garden at night and speaks through a window with Oriana, and they declare their love to each other.

(A more detailed recap of Chapters 0 through 15 is available here.)

Chapter 16

Agrajes, a cousin of Amadis, rescues Princes Olinda of Norway, his beloved, from a storm, and she continues traveling to Windsor. He meets his uncle Galvanes and they also decide to travel to Windsor, but in Bristol they learn that the Duke of Bristol will burn alive the damsel who led Galaor to Aldeva. Though the explanation they hear is untruthful and leaves out the sex, they believe it and confront the Duke, who is not moved to release her.

Agrajes and Galvanes rescue the damsel from the flames and fight off the Duke, who swears enmity against all knights-errant. Then they meet a knight named Olivas, who also hates the Duke, and the three knights head for Windsor.

Chapter 17

Amadis leaves Windsor in search of Galaor, but on the way he meets a badly injured knight in service to King Lisuarte, whose wife explains that he was defeated by a knight who hates Lisuarte because one of his knights (Amadis) killed Dardan. Amadis avenges him, then continues on his way.

He meets a dwarf named Ardian (not the Duke's dwarf), who agrees to guide him to a castle where Amadis hopes to find Galaor.

On the way, Amadis meets a knight named Angriote who claims his ladylove is the most beautiful in the world and tries to force Amadis to agree.

Chapter 18

Amadis defeats Angriote.

He continues on to the castle, which belongs to Arcalaus the Sorcerer, and finds it deserted. He discovers a horrible dungeon, kills its guards, and frees Princess Grindalaya, who being held there. While he is doing that, Arcalaus's men attack Gandalin and the dwarf. Amadis frees them, but discovers that they are all trapped inside the castle. At dawn, Arcalaus appears. Using sorcery, he defeats Amadis, leaves him for dead, takes his horse and armor, and rides off to the court of King Lisuarte.

Chapter 19

Two mysterious damsels arrive at the castle, release Amadis from the spell, and save his life. He frees the remaining prisoners in the dungeon — one hundred fifteen men and thirty knights, including Gandalin and the dwarf — who are all very grateful. He makes peace with Arcalaus's wife, and sends a knight named Brandoivas with Princess Grindalaya to King Lisuarte's court.

Amadis continues on his way and meets the two damsels who had released him from the spell. They are under attack by two knights, and he defeats them. The damsels turn out to be nieces of Urganda. They all continue on their separate ways.

Chapter 20

Arcalaus arrives at King Lisuarte's court and announces that he has killed Amadis. Everyone hates him, so he leaves. Oriana nearly dies of sorrow. Then Brandoivas and Grindalaya arrive, tell the truth, and everyone is happy. The Queen learns that Grindalaya's sister is Aldeva (the one who made love to Galaor) and sends for her.

Chapter 21 (so far)

This chapter opens by telling how Galaor gets fooled by a knight (using a very old trick), so Galaor kills him. The knight's ladylove follows Galaor, hurling insults, and vows to get him killed as they enter a forest named Angaduza....


If you are new to the story and have time to read only one chapter, I recommend Chapter 9, in which Amadis, still known as Childe of the Sea, fights the King of Ireland: a perilous battle described in lyrical prose. (Link here.)