Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 15, 1904.djvu/77
The framework here, it will be seen, is more elaborate than in Arthur and Gorlagon and is of a different nature. The mortal hero is set in motion by an inimical supernatural being, who wishes to be revenged upon his brother's slayer. He fails, in accordance with the convention of fairydom, as his success would be the hero's failure. The same contamination with the Gellert story appears as in Arthur and Gorlagon; also with the theme of the Child-Stealing Monster. The triadic arrangement is not so rigidly kept. The werwolf's wife, instead of being an altogether repugnant personage for whom no punishment is too bad, is not borne upon hardly by the story-teller and comes off at the end quite easily. We may surmise from this that Arthur and Gorlagon in addition to modification by the Gellert story, has likewise been modified by one of the current mediaeval versions of the familiar Eastern stories of woman's faithlessness and punishment.
Turn we now to the Mediæval parallels. Both style themselves "Breton lays"; one, the Lai de Melion, is certainly not later than 1250, and may be much earlier; the other, the Lai de Bisdaveret of Marie de France, is not later than 1180.
In Melion the hero, hunting in a wood, meets a beautiful woman who has come to him from Ireland, who loves but him alone and has never loved before; this falls in with a vow he had made to have no amie who had ever loved another. He marries her; she learns that he possesses a congenital talisman capable of transforming him into a wolf, lures from him the secret, makes use of it, and returns to her father, taking one of her husband's servants with her. The wolf follows, becomes leader of a band, and ravages the country. The father-in-law organises a hunt, in which all the wolves are killed except the werwolf; the latter ingratiates himself with his wife's father, by whom he is protected against her. He then attaches himself to Arthur, who comes on a visit to Ireland. One day he sees the servant who had accompanied his wife, and attacks him. The bystanders would slay him, but Arthur protects him, and divining a mystery, forces the servant to confess. Melion is re-transformed and comes to England with Arthur, leaving the guilty wife behind him.
This tale, as is evident, stands in close relation to both Arthur and Gorlagon and to Morraha, and represents a simpler stage