(Vv. 2279–2310.) "Alexander," says the Queen, "any love is worse than hate, when it torments and distresses its devotee. Lovers know not what they do when they conceal their passion from one another. Love is a serious business, and whoever does not boldly lay its foundation firm can hardly succeed in completing the edifice. They say there is nothing so hard to cross as the threshold. Now I wish to instruct you in the lore of love; for I know well that Love is tormenting you. Therefore, I have undertaken to instruct you; and do you take good care not to keep anything back from me, for I have plainly seen in the faces of you both that of two hearts you have made but one. So beware, and conceal nothing from me! You are acting very foolishly in not speaking out your mind; for concealment will be the death of you; thus you will be the murderers of Love. Now I counsel you to exercise no tyranny, and to seek no passing gratification in your love; but to be honourably joined together in marriage. So, I believe, your love shall long endure. I can assure you that, if you agree to this, I will arrange the marriage."
(Vv. 2311–2360.) When the Queen had spoken her mind, Alexander thus made reply: "Lady," he says, "I enter no defence against the charge you make, but rather admit the truth of all you say. I wish never to be deserted by love, but always to fix my thoughts on it. I am pleased and delighted by what you have so kindly said. Since you know what my wishes are, I see no reason why I should conceal them from you. Long ago, if I had dared I would have confessed them openly; for the silence has been hard. But it may well be that for some reason this maiden may not wish that I be hers and she mine. But even if she grant me no rights over her, yet will I place myself in her hands." At these words she trembled, having no desire to refuse the gift. Her heart's desire betrays itself in her words and her countenance. Falteringly she gives herself to him, and says that without exception her will, her heart, and her body all is at the disposal of the Queen, to do with her as she may please. The Queen clasps them both in her arms, and presents one to the other. Then laughingly she adds: "I give over to thee, Alexander, thy sweetheart's body, and I know that thy heart does not draw back. Whoever may like it or like it not, I give each of you to the other. Do thou, Soredamors, take what is thine, and thou, Alexander, take what is thine!" Now she has her own entire, and he has his without lack. At Windsor that day, with the approval and permission of my lord Gawain and the King, the marriage was celebrated. No one could tell, I am sure, so much of the magnificence and the food, of the pleasure and entertainment, at this wedding without falling short of the truth. Inasmuch as it would be distasteful to some, I do not care to waste further words upon the matter, but am anxious to turn to another subject.
(Vv. 2361–2382.) That day at Windsor Alexander had all the honour and happiness that he could desire. Three different joys and honours were his: one was the town which he captured; another was the present of the best kingdom in Wales, which King Arthur had promised to give him when the war was over; that very day he made him king in his hall. But the greatest joy of all was the third—that his sweetheart was queen of the chess-board where he was king. Before five months had passed, Soredamors found herself with child, and carried it until the time was fulfilled. The seed remained in germ until the fruit was fully matured. No more beautiful child was ever born before or since than he whom they now called Cliges.
(Vv. 2383–2456.) So Cliges was born, in whose honour this story has been put in the Romance tongue. You shall hear me tell of him and of his valorous deeds, when he shall have grown to manhood and obtained a good report. But meanwhile in Greece it came about that he who ruled over Constantinople drew near his end. He died, as indeed he must, not being able to outlive his time. But before he died he assembled all the nobles of his land to send and seek for his son Alexander, who was happily detained in Britain. The messengers start out from Greece, and begin their voyage over the seas; but a tempest catches them in its grasp, and damages their ship and company. They were all drowned at sea, except one unfaithful wretch, who was more devoted to Alis the younger son than to Alexander the eider. When he escaped from the sea, he returned to Greece with the story that they had all been lost at sea as they were conducting their lord back from Britain, and that he was the only survivor of the tragedy. They believed this lie of his, and, taking Alis without objection or dissent, they crowned him emperor of Greece. But it was not long before Alexander learned that Alis was emperor. Then he took leave of King Arthur, unwilling to let his brother usurp his land without protest. The King makes no opposition to his plan, but bids him take with him so great a company of Welshmen, Scots, and Cornishmen that his brother will not dare to withstand him when he sees him come with such a host. Alexander, had he pleased, might have led a mighty force; but he has no desire to harm his own people, if his brother will consent to do his will. He took with him forty knights besides Soredamors and his son; these two persons, who were so dear to him, he did not wish to leave behind. Escorted as far as Shoreham by the entire court, they there embarked, and with fair winds their ship made way more quickly than a fleeing stag. Within a month, I think, they arrived in port before Athens, a rich and powerful city. Indeed, the emperor was residing there, and had convoked, a great assembly of his noblemen. As soon as they arrived Alexander sent a privy messenger into the city to learn whether they would receive him, or whether they would resist his claim to be their only lawful lord.
(Vv. 2457–2494.) He who was chosen for this mission was a courteous knight with good judgment, named Acorionde, a rich man and eloquent; he was a native of the country, too, having been born in Athens. His ancestors for generations had always exercised lordship in the city. When he had learned that the emperor was in the city he went and challenged the crown on behalf of his brother Alexander, accusing him openly of having usurped it unlawfully. Arriving at the palace, he finds plenty of people who welcome him; but he says nothing to any of those who greet him until he learns what is their attitude and disposition toward their lawful lord. Coming into the presence of the emperor he neither greets him nor bows before him nor calls him emperor. "Alis," he says, "I bring thee tidings of Alexander, who is out yonder in the harbour. Listen to thy brother's message: he asks thee for what belongs to him, nor does he demand what is unjust. Constantinople, which thou dost hold, should be his and shall be his. It would be neither just nor right that discord should arise between you two. So give him the crown without contest, for it is right that thou shouldst surrender it."
(Vv. 2495–2524.) Alis replies: "Fair gentle friend, thou hast undertaken a mad enterprise in bearing this message. There is little comfort in thy speech, for well I know that my brother is dead. I should rejoice, indeed, to learn that he was still alive. But I shall not believe the news until I have seen him with my eyes. He died some time ago, alas! What thou sayest is not credible. And if he lives, why does he not come? He need never fear that I will not bestow on him some lands. He is a fool to hold aloof from me, for in serving me he will find profit. But no one shall possess the crown and empire beside me." He liked not the speech of the emperor, and did not fail to speak his mind in the reply he made. "Alis," he says, "may God confound me if the matter is thus allowed to stand. I defy thee in thy brother's name, and dutifully speaking in his name, I summon all those whom I see here to renounce thee and to join his cause. It is right that they should side with him and recognise him as their lord. Let him who is loyal now stand forth."
(Vv. 2525–2554.) Upon saying this he leaves the court, and the emperor summons those in whom he has most confidence. He requests their advice concerning this defiance upon his brother's part, and wishes to learn if he can trust them to lend no support or help to his brother's claim. Thus he tries to test the loyalty of each; but he finds not one who sides with him in the dispute, rather do they all bid him remember the war which Eteocles undertook against his own brother Polynices, and how each one died by the other's hand. "So, too, it may happen to you, if you undertake a war, and all the land will be distressed." Therefore, they advise that such a peace be sought as shall be both reasonable and just, and that neither one make excessive demands. Thus Alis understands that if he does not make an equitable agreement with his brother all his vassals will desert him; so he says that he will respect their wishes in making any suitable contract, provided that however the affair may rum out the crown shall remain in his possession.
(Vv. 2555–2618.) In order to secure a firm and stable peace Alis sends one of his officers to Alexander, bidding him come to him in person and receive the government of the land, but stipulating that he should leave to him the honour of emperor in name and of wearing the crown: thus, if Alexander is willing, peace may be established between them. When this news was brought to Alexander his men made ready with him and came to Athens, where they were received with joy. But Alexander is not willing that his brother should have the sovereignty of the empire and of the crown unless he will pledge his word never to take a wife, and that after him Cliges shall be emperor of Constantinople. Upon this the brothers both agreed. Alexander dictated the terms of the oath, and his brother agreed and gave his word that he would never in his life take a wife in marriage. So peace is made, and they are friends again, to the great satisfaction of the lords. They hold Alis as their emperor, but all business is referred to Alexander. What he commands is done, and little is done except through him. Alis has nothing but the name of emperor; but Alexander is served and loved; and he who does not serve him for love must needs do so from fear. Through the effect of one or the other of these two motives he has all the land within his power. But he whom they call Death spares neither the strong man nor the weak, but kills and slays them all. So Alexander had to die; for a disease caught him in its grip from which he could obtain no relief. But before he was surprised by death he summoned his son and said to him: "Fair son Cliges, thou canst never know that prowess and valour are thine unless thou go first to make test of them with the Bretons and French at King Arthur's court. If adventure takes thee thither, so conduct and demean thyself that thy identity be not known until thou hast tried thy strength with the most excellent knights of that court. I beg thee to heed my counsel in this matter, and if the occasion arises have no fear to measure thy skill with thy uncle, my lord Gawain. Do not forget this advice, I pray."
(Vv. 2619–2665.) After he had thus exhorted him, he did not live long. Soredamors' grief was such that she could not survive him, but died after him of a broken heart. Alis and Cliges both mourned him becomingly, but finally they ceased their grief, for sorrow, like everything else, must be outlived. To continue in sorrow is wrong, for no good can come from it. So the mourning was ended, and the emperor refrained for a long time from taking a wife, being careful of his word. But there is no court in all the world which is free from evil counsel. Great men often go astray, and do not observe loyalty because of the bad advice they take. Thus, the emperor hears his men giving him advice and counselling him to take a wife; and daily they so exhort and urge him that by their very insistence they persuade him to break his oath, and to accede to their desire. But he insists that she who is to be mistress of Constantinople must be gentle, fair, wise, rich, and noble. Then his counsellors say that they wish to prepare to go away to the German land, and seek the daughter of the emperor. She is the choice they propose to him; for the emperor of Germany is very rich and powerful, and his daughter is so charming that never was there a maid of her beauty in Christendom. The emperor grants them full authority, and they set out upon the journey well provided with all they need. They proceeded on their way until they found the emperor at Regensburg, when they asked him to give them his oldest daughter at the instance of their lord.
(Vv. 2669–2680.) The emperor was pleased with this request, and gladly gave them his daughter; for in doing so, he does not debase himself, nor diminish his honour in any way. But he says that he had promised her to the Duke of Saxony, and that they would not be able to lead her away unless the emperor should come with a great army, so that the duke would be unable to do him any harm or injury while homeward bound.
(Vv. 2681–2706.) When the messengers heard the emperor's reply, they took leave and departed. They returned to their lord, and bore him the answer. And the emperor selected a chosen company of the most experienced knights whom he could find, and took with him his nephew, in whose interests he had vowed never to marry a wife, but he will not respect this vow if he can once reach Cologne. Upon a certain day he leaves Greece and draws near to Germany, intending to take a wife despite all blame and reproach; but his honour will be smirched. Upon reaching Cologne, he found that the emperor had assembled all his court for a festival. When the company of the Greeks reached Cologne, there was such a great number of Greeks and Germans that it was necessary to lodge more than sixty thousand of them outside the city.
(Vv. 2707–2724.) Great was the crowd of people, and great the joy of the two emperors when they met. When the barons had gathered in the vast palace, the emperor summoned his charming daughter. The maiden made no delay in coming straightway into the palace. She had been made very fair and shapely by the Creator, whose pleasure it had been to arouse the people's admiration. God, who had fashioned her, never gave man a word which could adequately express such beauty as she possessed.
(Vv. 2725–2760.) Fenice was the maiden's name, and for this there was good reason: for if the Phoenix bird is unique as the most beautiful of all the birds, so Fenice, it seems to me, had no equal in beauty. She was such a miracle and marvel that Nature was never able to make her like again. In order to be more brief, I will not describe in words her arms, her body, her head and hands; for if I should live a thousand years, and if my skill were to double every day, yet should I waste all my time in trying to tell the truth about her. I know very well, if I should undertake it, that I would exhaust my brain and waste my pains: it would be but misspent energy. The damsel hastened until she came into the palace, with head uncovered and face unveiled; and the radiance of her beauty lighted the palace more brightly than four carbuncles would have done. Cliges stood, his over-cloak removed, in his uncle's presence. The day outside was somewhat dark, but he and the maiden were both so fair that a ray shone forth from their beauty which illumined the palace, just as the morning sun shines clear and red.
(Vv. 2761–2792.) I wish to attempt in a very few words to describe the beauty of Cliges. He was in his flower, being now almost fifteen years of age. He was more comely and charming than Narcissus who saw his reflection in the spring beneath the elm-tree, and, when he saw it, he loved it so that he died, they say, because he could not get it. Narcissus was fair, but had little sense; but as fine gold surpasses copper, so was Cliges better endowed with wisdom, and even then I have not said all. His locks seemed made of fine gold, and his face was of a fresh rosy colour. He had a well-formed nose and shapely mouth, and in stature he was built upon Nature's best pattern; for in him she had united gifts which she is wont to scatter wide. Nature was so lavish with him that she gave him all she could, and placed all in one receptacle. Such was Cliges, who combined good sense and beauty, generosity and strength. He possessed the wood as well as the bark; he knew more of fencing and of the bow than did Tristan, King Mark's nephew, and more about birds and hounds than he. In Cliges there lacked no good thing.
(Vv. 2793–2870.) Cliges stood in all his beauty before his uncle, and those who did not know who he was looked at him with eager curiosity. And on the other hand, the interest was aroused of those who did not know the maiden: wonderingly they gaze upon her. But Cliges, under the sway of love, let his eyes rest on her covertly, and withdrew them again so discreetly that in their passage to and fro no one could blame his lack of skill. Blithely he looks upon the maid, but does not note that she repays him in kind. Not flattering him, but in sincere love, she gives him her eyes, and takes back his. This exchange seems good to her, and would have seemed to her better still had she known something of who he was. But she knows nothing except that he is fair, and that, if she is ever to love any one for beauty's sake, she need not seek elsewhere to bestow her heart. She handed over to him the possession of her eyes and heart, and he pledged his in turn to her. Pledged? Rather gave outright. Gave? Nay, upon my faith, I lie; for no one can give away his heart. I must express it some other way. I will not say it, as some have done who make two hearts dwell in one body, for it bears not even the semblance of truth that there should be in one body two hearts; and even if they could be so united, it would never seem true. But if it please you to heed my words, I shall be able explain how two hearts form but one without coming to be identified. Only so far are they merged in one as the desire of each passes from one to the other, thus joining in one common desire; and because of this harmony of desire, there are some who are wont to say that each one has both hearts; but one heart cannot be in two places. Each one always keeps his own heart, though the desire be shared by both, just as many different men may sing a song or tune in unison. By this comparison I prove that for one body to contain two hearts it is not enough to know each other's wish, nor yet for one to know what the other loves and what he hates; just as voices which are heard together seem to be merged in one, and yet do not all come from one mouth, so it is with a body which can contain but one heart. But there is no need of further argument, for other matters press upon me. I must speak now of the damsel and of Cliges, and you shall hear of the Duke of Saxony, who has sent to Cologne a young nephew of his. This youth informs the emperor that his uncle, the duke, sends word that he need expect no peace or trace with him, unless he sends to him his daughter, and that the one who is intending to carry her away with him had better not start home, for he will find the road occupied and well defended unless the maiden be surrendered.
(Vv. 2871–3010.) The youth spoke his message well, without pride and without insult. But he found neither knight nor emperor who would answer him. When he saw that they all held their peace and treated him with scorn, he left the court in defiant mood. But youth and thirst for daring deeds made Cliges defy him in combat as he left. For the contest they mount their steeds, three hundred of them on either side, exactly equal thus in strength. All the palace is quite emptied of knights and ladies, who mount to the balconies, battlements, and windows to see and watch those who were about to fight. Even the maiden, whose will Love had subdued beneath his sway, sought for a point from which to see. She took her place at a window, where she sat with great delight, because from there she could get a view of him whom she holds secretly in her heart with no desire to remove him thence; for she will never love any other man. But she does not know his name, nor who he is, nor of what race; for it is not proper to ask questions; but she yearns to hear tidings which will bring joy to her heart. She looks out of the window at the shields with their gleaming gold, and she gazes at those who wear the shields about their necks, as they prepare for the trial at arms. But all her thoughts and glances soon rest upon one object, and to all others she is indifferent. Whereever Cliges goes, she seeks to follow him with her eyes. And he in turn does his best for her, and battles openly, in order that she at least may hear it said that he is bold and very skilled: thus she will be compelled to prize him for his prowess. He attacks the duke's nephew, who was breaking many a lance and sorely discomfiting the Greeks. But Cliges, who is displeased at this, braces himself firmly in his stirrups, and goes to strike him so speedily that in spite of himself he had to vacate the saddle-bows. When he got up, the uproar was great; for the youth arose and mounted, thinking to avenge his shame. But many a man only falls into deeper disgrace who thinks to avenge his shame when he has the chance. The young man rushes at Cliges, who lowers his lance to meet him, and thrusts at him with such force that he carries him to earth again. Now his shame is doubled, and all his followers are in dismay, seeing that they can never leave the field with honour; for not one of them is so valiant that he can keep his seat in the saddle when Cliges thrust reaches him. But those of Germany and the Greeks are overjoyed when they see their party drive off the Saxons, who retreat discomfited. With mockery they pursue them until they come up with them at a stream, into which they drive them for a plunge. In the deepest part of the ford Cliges unhorsed the duke's nephew and so many of his men that they escaped grieving and sad in their shame and confusion. But Cliges, twice victor, returned in glee, and entered a gate which was near the apartment where the maiden was; and as he passed through the gate she exacted as toll a tender glance, which he paid her as their eyes met. Thus was the maiden subdued by the man. But there is not a German of the lowland or highland, possessing the power of speech who does not cry: "God! who is this in whom such beauty is radiant? God! how has it happened that so suddenly he has attained such great success?" Thus one man and another asks: "Who is this youth, who is he, I say?" Thus, soon throughout the city it is known what his name is, and who is his father, and what pledge that was which had been made to him by the emperor. So much was said and noised about that the news reached the ears of her who in her heart rejoiced because she could no more say that Love had made sport of her, nor had she any ground for complaint. For Love has made her give her heart to the fairest, most courteous, and valiant man that could anywhere be found. But some force must be employed, if she would gain possession of him who is not free do her will. This makes her anxious and distraught. For she has no one with whom to take counsel concerning him for whom she pines, but must waste herself in thought and vigils. She becomes so affected by these cares that she loses her colour and grows wan, and it becomes plain to all that her loss of colour betokens an unfulfilled desire. She plays less now than she used to do, and laughs less and loses her gaiety. But she conceals her trouble and passes it off, if any one asks what her ailment is. Her old nurse's name was Thessala, who was skilled in necromancy, having been born in Thessaly, where devilish charms are taught and wrought; for the women of that country perform many a charm and mystic rite.
(Vv. 3011–3062.) Thessala saw pale and wan her whom Love holds in his bonds, and thus she addressed her with advice: "God!" she said, "are you bewitched, my lady dear, that your face should be so pale? I wonder what your trouble is. Tell me, if you can, where this pain attacks you most, for if any one can cure you, you may safely trust me to give you back your health again. I can cure the dropsy, gout, quinsy, and asthma; I am so expert in examining the urine and the pulse that you need consult no other physician. And I dare say that I know more than ever Medea knew of enchantments and of charms which tests have proven to be true. I have never spoken to you of this, though I have cared for you all your life; and now I should not mention it did I not plainly see that you are so afflicted as to need my ministrations. My lady, you will do well to tell me what your sickness is before its hold becomes more severe. The emperor has committed you to me in order that I may care for you, and my devotion has been such that I have kept you safe and sound. Now all my pains will come to naught if I do not relieve this malady. Take care not to conceal from me whether this is sickness or something else." The damsel dares not openly expose her desire in all its fullness for she is in fear lest she be disapproved and blamed. And when she hears and understands how Thessala boasts and highly rates herself as being expert in enchantments, charms, and potions, she decides to tell her what is the cause of her pale and colourless face; but first she makes her promise to keep her secret and never to oppose her will.
(Vv. 3063–3216.) "Nurse," she said, "I truly thought I felt no pain, but I shall soon feel differently. For as soon as I begin to think about it, I feel great pain, and am dismayed. But when one has no experience, how can one tell what is sickness and what is health? My illness is different from all others; for when I wish to speak of it, it causes me both joy and pain, so happy I am in my distress. And if it can be that sickness brings delight, then my trouble and joy are one, and in my illness consists my health. So I do not know why I complain, for I know not whence my trouble comes, unless it is caused by my desire. Perchance my desire is my disease, but I find so much joy in it that the suffering it causes me is grateful, and there is so much contentment in my pain that it is sweet to suffer so. Nurse Thessala, now tell me true, is not this a deceitful ill, to charm and torment me both at once? I do not see how I can tell whether this is a disease or not. Nurse, tell me now its name, nature, and character. But understand well that I have no desire to be cured of it, for my distress is very dear to me." Thessala, who was very wise about love and its symptoms knows full well from what she hears that it is love which is tormenting her; the tender, endearing terms she uses are certain proof that she is in love, for all other woes are hard to bear, except that alone which comes from love; but love transforms its bitterness into sweetness and joy, then often transforms them back again. The nurse, who was expert in this matter, thus replies to her: "Have no fear, for I will tell you at once the name of your malady. You told me, I believe, that the pain which you feel seems rather to be joy and health: now of such a nature is love-sickness, for in it, too, there is joy and bliss. You are in love, then, as I can prove to you, for I find no pleasure in any malady save only in love. All other sickness is always bad and horrible, but love is sweet and peaceable. You are in love; of that I am sure, nor do I see any wrong in that. But I shall consider it very wrong, if through some childish folly you conceal from me your heart." "Nurse, there is no need of your speaking so. But first I must be sure and certain that under no circumstances will you speak of it to any living soul." "My lady, surely the winds will speak of it before I do without your leave, and I will give you my word so to favour your desires that you may safely trust in having your joy fulfilled through my services." "In that case, Nurse, I shall be cured. But the emperor is giving me in marriage, wherefore I grieve and am sorrowful; for he who has won my heart is the nephew of him whom I must take. And though he may find joy in me, yet is my joy forever lost, and no respite is possible. I would rather be torn limb from limb than that men should speak of us as they speak of the loves of Iseut and Tristan, of so many unseemly stories are told that I should be ashamed to mention them. I could never bring myself to lead the life that Iseut led. Such love as hers was far too base; for her body belonged to two, whereas her heart was possessed by one. Thus all her life was spent, refusing her favours to neither one. But mine is fixed on one object, and under no circumstances will there be any sharing of my body and heart. Never will my body be portioned out between two shareholders. Who has the heart has the body, too, and may bid all others stand aside. But I cannot clearly see how he whom I love can have my body when my father gives me to another, and his will I do not dare resist. And when this other is lord of my body, and does something which displeases me, it is not right for me to summon another to my aid. Nor can this man marry a wife without breaking his plighted word; for, unless injustice be done, Cliges is to have the empire after his uncle's death. But I should be well served by you, if you were so skilful as to present him, to whom I am pledged and engaged, from having any claim upon me. O Nurse, exert yourself to the end that he may not break the pledge which he gave to the father of Cliges, when he promised him solemnly never to take a wife in marriage. For now, if he should marry me his promise would be broken. But Cliges is so dear to me that I would rather be under ground than that he should ever lose through me a penny of the fortune which should be his. May never a child be born to me to cause his disinheritance! Nurse, now do your best, and I will always be your slave." Then the nurse tells her and assures her that she will cast so many charms, and prepare so many potions and enchantments that she need never have any worry or fear concerning the emperor after he shall have drunk of the potion which she will give him; even when they shall lie together and she be at his side, she may be as secure as if there were a wall between them. "But do not be alarmed, if, in his sleep, he sports with you, for when he is plunged in sleep he will have his sport with you, and he will be convinced that he has had you when wide awake, nor will he think it is all a dream, a fiction, and illusion. Thus he will have his sport with you when asleep, he will think he is awake."
(Vv. 3217–3250.) The maiden is highly pleased and delighted by the nurse's kindness and offer of help. Her nurse inspires good hope in her by the promise which she makes, and which she binds herself to keep; with this hope she expects to obtain her desire, in spite of wearisome delay, for if Cliges' nature is as noble as she takes it to be he cannot fail to take pity upon her when he learns that she loves him, and that she has imposed virginity upon herself in order to insure his inheritance. So the maiden believes her nurse, and puts full confidence in her. One promises to the other, and gives her word, that this plot shall be kept so secret as never to be revealed. At this point their conversation ceases, and the next morning the emperor summons his daughter. At his command she goes to him. But why should I weary you with details? The two emperors have so settled the matter that the marriage is solemnised, and joy reigns in the palace. But I do not wish to stop to describe all this in detail. Rather will I address myself to Thessala, as she diligently prepares and tempers her potions.
(Vv. 3251–3328.) Thessala steeps her drink, putting in spices in abundance to sweeten and temper it. After having well beaten and mixed it, she strains it clear, with no sharp or bitter taste, for the spices she puts in give it a sweet and pleasant fragrance. When the potion was prepared, the day had drawn to a close, the tables were set for supper, and the cloths were spread. But Thessala delays the supper, because she must discover by what device and what agent she can have the potion served. At supper, finally, all were seated, and more than six dishes had been passed, and Cliges served behind his uncle's place. Thessala, as she watches him, thinks how ill he serves his own interests, and how he is assisting in his own disinheritance, and the thought torments and worries her. Then in her kindness she conceives the plan of having the potion served by him to whom it will bring both joy and honour. So Thessala summoned Cliges; and when he had come to her, he asked her why she had sent for him. "Friend," said she, "I wish to present the emperor at this meal with a beverage which he will esteem highly, and I want him to taste no other to-night, either at supper or when he goes to bed. I think he cannot fail to relish it, for he never has tasted a better drink or one that has cost so much. And I warn you, take good care to let no one else drink of it, for there is but a little of it. And this, too, I beg of you, not to let him know whence it came; but tell him it came about by chance that you found it among the presents, and tasted it yourself, and detected the aroma of the sweet spices in the air; then, seeing the wine to be all clear you poured it into his cup. If by chance he should inquire, you can satisfy him with this reply. But have no suspicion yourself, after what I have said, for the drink is pure and healthful, full excellent spices, and I think it may some day bring you joy." When he heard that advantage would come to him, he took the potion and went away, for he did not know there was any harm in it. He set it in a crystal cup before the emperor, who took it without question, trusting in his nephew. After taking a long draught of the beverage, he straightway feels its strength, as it descends from head to heart, and rises again from heart to head, and penetrates every part of him without doing the slightest harm. And by the time they left the tables, the emperor had drunk so much of the pleasing drink that he can never escape it influence. Every night he will sleep under its influence, and its effects will be such that he will think he is awake when sound asleep.
(Vv. 3329–3394.) Now the emperor has been deceived. Many bishops and abbots were present to bless and hallow the marriage- bed. When the time came to retire, the emperor, as was his right, lay beside his wife that night. "As was his right;" but the statement is inexact, for he neither kissed nor fondled her, yet they lay together in one bed. At first the maiden trembled with fear and anxiety lest the potion should not act. But it has so mastered him that he will never desire her or any other woman except in his sleep. But when asleep he will have such sport with her as one may have in dreams, and he will think the dream is true. Nevertheless, she is on her guard, and at first, holds aloof from him, so that he cannot approach her. But now he must needs fall asleep; then he sleeps and dreams, though, the senses are awake, and he exerts himself to win the favours of the maid. while she, realising the danger, defends her virginity. He woos her and calls her gently his sweetheart, and thinks he possesses her, but in vain. But he is gratified by this vain semblance, embracing, kissing, and fondling an empty thing, seeing and speaking to no purpose, struggling and striving without effect. Surely the potion was effective in thus possessing and mastering him. All his pains are of no avail, as he thinks and is persuaded that the fortress is won. Thus he thinks and is convinced, when he desists after his vain efforts. But now I may say once for all that his satisfaction was never more than this. To such relations with her he will for ever be condemned if indeed he can lead her to his own land; but before he can get her to safety, I judge that there is trouble in store for him. For while he is on his journey home, the duke, to whom his bride had been betrothed, will appear upon the scene. The duke gathered a numerous force, and garrisoned the frontiers, while at court he had his spies to inform him each day of the emperor's doings and preparations, and how long they are going to stay, and by what route they intend to return. The emperor did not tarry long after the marriage, but left Cologne in high spirits. The German emperor escorted him with a numerous company, fearing and dreading the force of the Duke of Saxony.
(Vv. 3395–3424.) The two emperors pursued their journey until they were beyond Regensburg, where one evening they were encamped in a meadow by the Danube. The Greeks were in their tents in the fields bordering upon the Black Forest. Opposite to them the Saxons were lodged, spying upon them. The duke's nephew stood alone upon a hill, whence he could reconnoitre for a chance to inflict some loss or harm on the enemy. From that point of vantage he espied Cliges with three of his young men disporting themselves with lances and shields, eager for a conflict and shock of arms. If he could get the chance the duke's nephew would gladly attack them and do them harm. Starting out with five companions he concealed them in a valley close by a wood, so that the Greeks never saw them until they emerged from the valley; then the duke's nephew made an attack, and striking Cliges, wounded him slightly in the back. Cliges, bending over, avoids the lance which passed him, inflicting only a slight hurt.
(Vv. 3425–3570.) When Cliges felt himself wounded, he charged the youth, and struck him with such force that he drove his lance quite through his heart, and stretched him dead. Then all the Saxons in fear of him betook themselves to flight through the woods. And Cliges, ignorant of the ambuscade, courageously but imprudently leaving his companions behind, pursues them to the place where the duke's troops were in force preparing to attack the Greeks. Alone he goes in hot pursuit after the youths, who, in despair over their lord whom they had lost, come running to the duke and tell him weeping of his nephew's death. The duke saw no joke in this affair; and, swearing by God and all His saints that he will take no joy or pride in life so long as the slayer of his nephew remains alive, he adds that whoever will bring him his head will be his friend and will serve him well. Then a knight made boast that if he can find the guilty man, he will present him with Cliges' head. Cliges follows the young men until he falls among the Saxons, when he is seen by him who had undertaken to carry off his head, and who starts after him without delay. But Cliges haste had turned back to escape from his enemies and came in to where he had left his companions; he found none there, for they had returned to camp to relate their adventure. And the emperor ordered to horse the Greeks and Germans in one band. Soon all through the camp the knights are arming and mounting. Meanwhile Cliges is hotly pursued by his enemy, all armed and with helmet closed. Cliges, who never wished to be numbered among the coward and craven-hearted, notices that he comes alone. First, the knight challenged him, calling him "fellow," unable to conceal his rage: "Young fellow," he cried, "thou shalt leave me here a pledge for my lord whom thou hast killed. If I do not carry away thy head with me, I am not worth a counterfeit besant. I must make of it a present to the duke, and will accept no other forfeit. In return for his nephew, I shall make such restitution that he will profit by the exchange." Cliges hears him reproaching him thus boldly and with impudence. "Vassal," he says, "be on your guard! For I will defend my head, and you shall not get it without my leave." Then the attack begins. The other missed his blow, while Cliges struck him with such force that horse and rider went down together in one heap. The horse fell upon him so heavily that he shattered completely one of his legs. Cliges dismounted on the greensward and disarmed him. When he had disarmed him, he appropriated his weapons, and cut off his enemy's head with the sword which had just now been his. After severing his head he fixed it firmly on the point of his lance, thinking to offer it to the duke, to whom his nephew had promised to present his own if he could meet him in the strife. Cliges had no sooner put on the dead man's helmet and taken his shield and mounted his steed, letting his own stray at large to terrify the Greeks, than he saw advancing with more than a hundred banners flying several full squadrons of Greeks and Germans. Now the fierce and cruel struggles will soon begin between the Saxons and the Greeks. As soon as Cliges sees his men advancing, he betakes himself toward the Saxons, his own men hotly pursuing him, and not knowing him in his disguise. It is no wonder that his uncle is in despair and fear, when he sees the head he is carrying off. So all the host pursue him fast, while Cliges leads them on to provoke a fight, until the Saxons see him drawing near. But they, too, are quite misled by the arms with which he has armed and equipped himself. He succeeds in deceiving and mocking them; for the duke and all the rest, when they saw him approaching lance in rest, cried out: "Here comes our knight! On the point of his lance he carries Cliges' head, and the Greeks are hotly pursuing him!" Then, as they give their horses rein, Cliges spurs to meet the Saxons, crouching low beneath his shield, the lance out straight with the head affixed. Now, though he was braver than a lion, he was no stronger than any other man. Both parties think that he is dead, and while the Saxons rejoice, the Greeks and Germans grieve. But before long the truth will out. For Cliges no longer held his peace: but, rushing fiercely at a Saxon, he struck him with his ashen lance upon the head and in the breast, so that he made him lose his stirrups, and at the same time he cried aloud: "Strike gentlemen, for I am Cliges whom you seek. Come on, my bold and hardy knights! Let none hold back, for the first joust is already won! He is a coward who does not relish such a dish."
(Vv. 3571–3620.) The emperor's joy was great when he heard the voice of his nephew Cliges summoning and exhorting them; he was greatly pleased and comforted. But the duke is greatly chagrined now when he sees he is betrayed, unless his force should prove the stronger. While he draws together his troops in serried lines, the Greeks do the same, and pressing them close, attack and rush upon them. On both sides lances are lowered as they meet for the proper reception of a hostile host. At the first shock shields are pierced and lances shattered, girths are cut and stirrups broken, while the horses of those who fall to earth are left without a rider. But regardless of what any other does, Cliges and the duke meet in the fray; holding their lances low, they strike one another upon the shield with such violence that the strong and well-made lances fly into splinters. Cliges was skilful on horseback, and sits straight in his saddle without shaking or losing his balance. But the duke has lost his seat, and in spite of himself quits the saddle-bows. Cliges struggled and strove to capture him and carry him away, but his strength did not suffice, for the Saxons were around about fighting to rescue him. Nevertheless, Cliges escapes from the conflict without receiving harm and with a precious prize; for he makes off with the duke's steed, which was whiter than wool, and was worth more to a gentleman than the fortune of Octavian at Rome. The steed was an Arabian. The Greeks and Germans are overjoyed to see Cliges on such a mount, for they had already remarked the excellence and beauty of the Arab steed. But they were not on their guard against an ambuscade; and before they are aware of it great damage will be done.
(Vv. 3621–3748.) A spy came to the duke, bringing him welcome news. "Duke," says the spy, "not a man remains in all the encampment of the Greeks who is able to defend himself. If thou wilt take my word for it, now is the time to have the emperor's daughter seized, while the Greeks are seen intent upon the battle and the strife. Lend me a hundred of thy knights, and I will put the lady in their hands. By an old and secluded path I will lead them so carefully that they will not be seen or met by any man of Germany, until they can seize the damsel in her tent and carry her off so handily that no resistance will be made." At this the duke is highly pleased. He sent a hundred and more tried knights with the spy, who so successfully conducted them that they carried the maiden away captive without exerting any force; for they could abduct her easily. After carrying her some distance from the tents, they send her on under escort of twelve of their number whom they accompany but a short distance. While the twelve led the damsel on, the others went to tell the duke how successful they had been. The duke's desire being now satisfied, he at once makes a truce with the Greeks until next day. The truce was sworn by both parties. The duke's men then turned back, while the Greeks without delay repaired each man to his own tent. But Cliges stays behind alone, stationed upon a little hill where no one caught sight of him, until he saw the twelve pass by with her whom they were carrying off at topmost speed. Cliges, in his thirst for glory, rides at them without delay; for he thinks within himself, and his heart tells him, that it is not for nothing that they flee. So, as soon as he espied them, he spurred after them; and when they saw him coming on, a foolish thought occurred to them: "It is the duke," they said, "who comes. Let us rein in a little; for he has left the troops and is riding hard after us alone." Every man thinks that so it is. They all want to turn back to meet him, but each one wishes to go alone. Meanwhile, Cliges must needs descend a deep valley between two mountains. He would never have recognised their blazons, if they had not come to meet him, or if they had not awaited him. Six of the twelve come to meet him in an encounter they will soon regret. The other six stay with the damsel, leading her gently at a walk and easy jog. And the six ride quickly on, spurring up the valley, until he who had the swiftest horse reached him first and cried aloud: "Hail, Duke of Saxony! God bless thee! Duke, we have recovered thy lady. The Greeks shall not get her now, for she shall be placed in thy hands." When Cliges heard the words this fellow shouts, his heart is not gay; rather is it strange that he does not lose his wits. Never was any wild beast—leopard, tiger, or lion—upon seeing its young captured, so fierce and furious as Cliges, who sets no value upon his life if he deserts his sweetheart now. He would rather die than not win her back. In his trouble he feels great wrath, which gives him the courage he requires. He urges and spurs the Arab steed, and rushes to give the Saxon such a blow upon his painted shield that without exaggeration, he makes his heart feel the lance. This gives Cliges confidence. He drove and spurred the Arab charger on for more than the space of an acre before he came upon the next Saxon, for they came up singly, each fearless of his predecessor's fare, for Cliges fights them one by one. As he takes them thus individually, no one receives another's aid. He makes a rush at the second one, who, like the first, thought to give him joy by telling him of his own evil fate. But Cliges has no concern to heed his talk and idle charter. Thrusting his lance into his body so that the blood spurts out when it is withdrawn, he deprives him of life and the gift of speech. After these two he meets the third, who expects to find him in good humour and to make him rejoice over his own mischance. Spurring eagerly he came up to him; but before he has time to say a word, Cliges ran a fathom of his lance through the middle of his body, leaving him senseless on the ground. To the fourth he gives such a blow that he leaves him fainting on the field. After the fourth he goes at the fifth, and after him he attacks the sixth. None of them could defend himself, but each was left silent and mute. He stood in less fear of the others now, and more hardily pressed after them, taking no further thought of the six dead men.
(Vv. 3749–3816.) Feeling no further care for them, he starts to present a debt of shame and woe to the others who are leading the maid away. He caught up with them, and made such an onslaught upon them as a hungry and ravenous wolf makes when leaping upon its prey. Now he feels his luck has come, when he can display his chivalry and bravery openly before her who is his very life. Now may he die, if he does not rescue her! And she, too, is at death's door from anxiety for his sake, though she does not know that he is no near. Lance in rest, Cliges made an attack which pleased him well; for he struck first one Saxon and then another, so that with a single rush he carried them both to earth, though it cost him his ashen lance. And they both fall in such distress, being wounded in the body, that they have no power to rise again and do him any harm or ill. The other four in bitter rage join in an attack upon Cliges; but he neither quails nor trembles, and they are unable to dislodge him from his seat. Quickly drawing his keen sword from its sheath, in order to please her who awaits his love, he rode hard at a Saxon and, striking him with his whetted blade, he severed his head and half his neck from the body: such was the limit of his pity. Fenice, who witnesses what transpires, does not know yet that this is Cliges. She wishes that it were he, indeed, but because of the present danger she says to herself that she would not have him there. Thus, doubly she shows the devotion of a sweetheart, fearing at once his death, and desiring that honour may be his. And Cliges sword in hand attacks the other three, who face him bravely and puncture and split his shield. But they are unable to lay hands upon him, or to pierce the meshes of his hauberk. And whatever Cliges reaches cannot stand against his blow, but must needs be split and torn apart; for he turns faster than a top driven and lashed by the whip. Boldness and love, which holds him enthralled, make him eager for the fray. He pressed the Saxons so hard that he left them all dead and defeated, some only wounded, and others dead—except one whom he let escape, disdaining to kill him when left alone at his mercy; besides, he wished him to tell the duke of the loss and injury he had sustained. But before this fellow left Cliges, he begged him to tell him his name, which later he repeated to the duke, thus rousing his bitter ire.
(Vv. 3817–3864.) Now bad luck had fallen to the duke, who was in great distress and grief. And Cliges takes back Fenice, whose love torments and troubles him. If he does not confess to her now, love will long be his enemy, and hers too, if she holds her peace and speaks not the word which will bring him joy; for now each can tell the other privily the thoughts that lie within the heart. But they so fear to be refused that they dare not reveal their hearts. For his part, he fears lest she will not accept his love, whereas she, too, would have spoken out had she not feared to be rejected. In spite of this, the eyes of each reveal the hidden thought, if only they had heeded this evidence. They converse by glance of eye, but their tongues are so cowardly that they dare not speak in any wise of the love which possesses them. No wonder if she hesitates to begin, for a maid must be a simple and shrinking thing; but he—why does he wait and hold back who was so bold for her just now, but now in her presence is cowardly? God! whence comes this fear, that he should shrink from a lonely girl, feeble and timid, simple and mild? It is as if I should see the dog flee before the hare, and the fish chase the beaver, the lamb the wolf, and the dove the eagle. In the same fashion the labourer would forsake his pick with which he strives to earn a livelihood, and the falcon would flee from the duck, and the gerfalcon from the heron, and the pike from the minnow, and the stag would chase the lion, and everything would be reversed. Now I feel within me the desire to give some reason why it should happen to true lovers that they lose their sense and boldness to say what they have in mind when they have leisure and place and time.
(Vv. 3865–3914.) Ye who are interested in the art of Love, who do faithfully maintain the customs and usage of his court, who never failed to obey his law, whatever the result might be, tell me if there is anything that pleases because of love without causing us to tremble and grow pale. If any one oppose me in this, I can at once refute his argument; for whoever does not grow pale and tremble, whoever does not lose his senses and memory, is trying to filch and get by stealth what does not by right belong to him. The servant who does not fear his master ought not to remain in his employ nor do his service. He who does not esteem his lord does not fear him, and whoever does not esteem him does not hold him dear, but rather tries to deceive him and to steal from him what is his. The servant ought to tremble with fear when his master calls or summons him. And whoever commits himself to Love owns him as his lord and master, and is bound to do him reverence and fear him much and honour him, if he wishes to be numbered in his court. Love without alarm or fear is like a fire without flame or heat, day without sun, comb without honey, summer without flowers, winter without frost, sky without moon, and a book without letters. Such is my argument in refutation, for where fear is absent love is not to be mentioned. Whoever would love must needs feel fear, for otherwise he cannot be in love. But let him fear only her whom he loves, and for her sake be brave against all others. Then if he stands in awe of his lady-love Cliges is guilty of nothing wrong. Even so, he would not have failed to speak straightway with her of love, whatever the outcome might have been, had it not been that she was his uncle's wife. This causes the festering of his wound, and it torments and pains him the more because he dares not utter what he fain would say.
(Vv. 3915–3962.) Thus they make their way back to their own people, and if they speak of anything it is nothing of much concern. Each seated on a white horse, they rode rapidly toward the camp, which was plunged in great sorrow. The whole army is beside itself with grief, but they are altogether wrong in supposing Cliges to be dead: hence their bitter and poignant grief. And for Fenice, too, they are in dismay, thinking never to win her back again. Thus, for her and him the whole army is in great distress. But soon upon their return the whole affair will change its aspect; for now they have reached the camp again, and have quickly changed the grief to joy. Joy returns and sorrow flees. All the troops come together and sally forth to welcome them. The two emperors, upon hearing the report about Cliges and the damsel, go to meet them with joyful hearts, and each can hardly wait to hear how Cliges found and recovered the empress. Cliges tells them, and, as they listen, they are amazed and are loud in their praises of his courage and devotion. But, for his part, the duke is furious, swearing and proclaiming his determination to fight Cliges, if he dares, in single combat; and it shall be agreed that if Cliges wins the battle the emperor shall proceed unchallenged, and freely take the maiden with him, and if he should kill or defeat Cliges, who had done him such injury, then let there be no truce or stay to prevent each party from doing its best. This is what the duke desires, and by an interpreter of his, who knew both the Greek and the German tongues, he announces to the two emperors his desire thus to arrange the battle.
(Vv. 3963–4010.) The messenger delivered his message so well in both languages that all could understand it. The entire army was in an uproar, saying that may God forbid that Cliges ever engage in the battle. Both emperors are in a fright, but Cliges throws himself at their feet and begs them not to grieve, but if ever he did them any favour, he prays them to grant him this battle as a guerdon and reward. And if the right to fight should be denied him, then he will never again serve for a single day his uncle's cause and honour. The emperor, who loved his nephew as he should, raised him by the hand and said: "Fair nephew, I am deeply grieved to know you are so keen to fight; for after joy, sorrow is to be expected. You have made me glad, I cannot deny it; but it is hard for me to yield the point and send you forth to this battle, when I see you still so young. And yet I know you to be so confident of yourself that I dare not ever refuse anything that you choose to ask of me. Be assured that, merely to gratify you, it should be done; but if my request has any power, you would never assume this task." "My lord, there is no need of further speech," said Cliges; "may God damn me, if I would take the whole world, and miss this battle! I do not know why I should seek from you any postponement or long delay." The emperor weeps with pity, while Cliges sheds tears of joy when the permission to fight is granted him. Many a tear was shed that day, and no respite or delay was asked. Before the hour of prime, by the duke's own messenger the challenge to battle was sent back to him accepted as he had proposed.
(Vv. 4011–4036.) The duke, who thinks and confidently trusts that Cliges will be unable to stave off death and defeat at his hands, has himself quickly armed. Cliges, who is anxious for the fight, feels no concern as to how he shall defend himself. He asks the emperor for his arms, and desires him to dub him a knight. So the emperor generously gives him his arms, and he takes them, his heart being keen for the battle which he anticipates with joy and eagerness. No time is lost in arming him. And when he was armed from head to foot, the emperor, all sorrowing, girds the sword upon his side. Thus Cliges completely armed mounts his white Arab steed; from his neck he hangs by the straps an ivory shield, such as will never break or split; and upon it there was neither colour nor design. All his armour was white, and the steed, and the harness, too, was all whiter than any snow.
(Vv. 4037–4094.) Cliges and the duke, now being armed, summon each other to meet half way, and they stipulate that their men shall take their stand on either side, but without their swords and lances, under oath and pledge that not a man will be so rash, so long as the battle lasts, as to dare to move for any reason, any more than he would dare to pluck out his own eye. When this had been agreed upon, they came together, each yearning ardently for the glory he hopes to win and for the joy of victory. But before a single blow was dealt, the empress has herself borne thither, solicitous for Cliges' fate. It seems to her that if he dies, she, too, must needs do so. No comfort can avail to keep her from joining him in death, for, without him, life has no joys for her. When all were gathered on the field—high and low, young and old—and the guards had taken their place, then both seized their lances and rushed together so savagely that they both broke their lances and fell to the ground, unable to keep their saddles. But not being wounded, they quickly get upon their feet and attack each other without delay. Upon their resonant helmets they play such a tune with swords that it seems to those who are looking on that the helmets are on fire and send forth sparks. And when the swords rebound in air, gleaming sparks fly off from them as from a smoking piece of iron which the smith beats upon his anvil after, drawing it from the forge. Both of the vassals are generous in dealing blows in great plenty, and each has the best of intentions to repay quickly what he borrows; neither one holds back from repaying promptly capital and interest, without accounting and without measure. But the duke is much chagrined with anger and discomfiture when he fails to defeat and slay Cliges in the first assault. Such a marvellously great and mighty blow he deals him that he falls at his feet upon his knee.
(Vv. 4095–4138.) When this blow brought Cliges down, the emperor was struck with fear, and would have been no more dismayed had he himself been beneath the shield. Nor could Fenice in her fear longer contain herself, whatever the effect might be, from crying: "God help him!" as loud as she could. But that was the only word she uttered, for straightway her voice failed her, and she fell forward upon her face, which was somewhat wounded by the fall. Two high nobles raised her up and supported her upon her feet until she returned to consciousness. But in spite of her countenance, none who saw her guessed why she had swooned. Not a man there blamed her, but rather praised her for her act, for each one supposes that she would have done the same thing for him, if he had been in Cliges' place, but in all this they are quite astray. Cliges heard, and well understood, the sound of Fenice's cry. Her voice restored his strength and courage, as he leaped up quickly, and came with fury, toward the duke, so charging and attacking him that the duke in turn was now dismayed. For now he found him more fierce for the fray, stronger and more agile and energetic than when at first they came together. And because he feared his onslaught, he cried: "Young man, so help me God, I see thou art brave and very bold. If it were not for my nephew now, whom I shall never more forget, I would gladly make peace with thee, and leave thy quarrel without interfering in it more."
(Vv. 4139–4236.) "Duke," says Cliges, "what is your pleasure now? Must one not surrender his right when he is unable to recover it? When one of two evils must be faced, one should choose the lesser one. Your nephew was not wise to become angrily embroiled with me. You may be sure that I shall treat you in like fashion, if I get the chance, unless you agree to my terms of peace." The duke, to whom it seems that Cliges' vigour is steadily growing, thinks that he had better desist in mid- career before he is utterly undone. Nevertheless, he does not openly give in, but says: "Young man, I see thou art skilful and alert and not lacking in courage. But thou art yet too young; therefore I feel assured that if I defeat and kill thee I shall gain no praise or fame, and I should never like to confess in the hearing of a man of honour that I had fought with thee, for I should but do thee honour, and myself win shame. But if thou art aware of honour's worth, it will always be a glorious thing for thee to have withstood me for two rounds at arms. So now my heart and feeling bid me let thee have thy way, and no longer fight with thee." "Duke," says Cliges, "that will not do. In the hearing of all you must repeat those words, for it shall never be said and noised abroad that you let me off and had mercy on me. In the hearing of all those who are gathered here, you must repeat your words, if you wish to be reconciled with me." So the duke repeats his words in the hearing of all. Then they make peace and are reconciled. But however the matter be regarded Cliges had all the honour and glory of it, and the Greeks were greatly pleased. For their part, the Saxons could not laugh, all of them having plainly seen that their lord was worn out and exhausted just now; but there is no doubt at all that, if he could have helped himself, this peace would never have been made, and that Cliges' soul would have been drawn from his body had it proven possible. The duke goes back to Saxony sorrowing, downcast, and filled with shame; for of his men there are not even two who do not regard him as worsted, defeated, and disgraced. The Saxons with all their shame have now returned to Saxony, while the Greeks without delay make their way with joy and gladness toward Constantinople, for Cliges by his prowess has opened the way for them. The emperor of Germany no longer follows and convoys them. Taking leave oú the Greek troops and of his daughter and Cliges, and finally of the emperor, he stayed behind in Germany. And the emperor of the Greeks goes off happily and in joyous mood. Cliges, brave and courteous, calls to mind his sire's command. If his uncle, the emperor, will give him his permission, he will go and ask him for leave to return to Britain and there converse with his great-uncle, the King; for he is desirous of seeing and knowing him. So he presents himself before the emperor, and requests that he consent to let him go to Britain to see his uncle and his friends. Gently he proffered his request. But his uncle refused, when he had listened to the request he made. "Fair nephew," he said, "it is not my will that you should wish to leave me. I shall never give you without regret this permission to go away. For it is my pleasure and desire that you should be my companion and lord, with me, of all my empire."
(Vv. 4237–4282.) Now Cliges hears something that does not suit him when his uncle refuses the prayer and request he made. "Fair sire," said he, "I am not brave and wise enough, nor would it be seemly for me to join myself with you or any one else in the duty of governing this empire; I am too young and inexperienced. They put gold to the test when they wish to learn if it is fine. And so it is my wish, in brief, to try to prove myself, wherever I can find the test. In Britain, if I am brave, I can apply myself to the whetstone and to the real true test, whereby my prowess shall be proved. In Britain are the gentlemen whom honour and prowess distinguish. And he who wishes to win honour should associate himself with them, for honour is won and gained by him who associates with gentlemen. And so I ask you for leave to go, and you may be very sure that if you do not grant me the boon and send me thither I shall go without your leave." "Fair nephew, I will give you leave, seeing you are so disposed that I cannot keep you back either by force or prayer of mine. Now since prayer, prohibition, and force do not avail, may God give you the desire and inclination promptly to return. I wish you to take with you more than a bushel of gold and silver, and I will give for your pleasure such horses as you may choose." He had no sooner spoken than Cliges bowed before him. All that the emperor, mentioned and promised him was straightway brought thither.
(Vv. 4283–4574.) Cliges took all the money and companions that he wished and needed. For his personal use he took four horses of different colours: one white, one sorrel, one fallow red, and one black. But I must have passed over something which it is not proper to omit. Cliges goes to ask and obtain leave to depart from his sweetheart Fenice; for he wishes to commend her to God's safe keeping. Coming before her, he throws himself upon his knees, weeping so bitterly that the tears moisten his tunic and ermine, the while keeping his eyes upon the ground; for he dares not raise his eyes to her, as if he were guilty of some crime and misdeed toward her, for which he seems overcome with shame. And Fenice, who timidly and fearfully looks at him, does not know the occasion of his coming, and speaks to him with difficulty. "Rise, friend and fair sir! Sit here beside me. and weep no more, and tell me what your pleasure is." "Lady, what shall I say, and what leave unsaid? I come to ask your leave." "Leave? To do what?" "Lady, I must go off to Britain." "Then tell me what your business is, before I give you leave to go." "Lady, my father, before he departed this life and died, begged me not to fail to go to Britain as soon as I should be made a knight. I should not wish for any reason to disregard his command. I must not falter until I have accomplished the journey. It is a long road from here to Greece, and if I should go thither, the journey would be too long from Constantinople to Britain. But it is right that I should ask leave from you to whom I altogether belong." Many a covert sigh and sob marked the separation. But the eyes of none were keen enough, nor the ears of any sharp enough, to learn from what he saw and heard that there was any love between these two. Cliges, in spite of the grief he felt, took his leave at the first opportunity. He is full of thought as he goes away, and so are the emperor and many others who stay behind. But more than all the others, Fenice is pensive: she finds no bottom or bound to the reflections which occupy her, so abundantly are her cares multiplied. She was still oppressed with thought when she arrived in Greece. There she was held in great honour as mistress and empress; but her heart and mind belong to Cliges, wherever he goes, and she wishes her heart never to return to her, unless it is brought back to her by him who is perishing of the same disease with which he has smitten her. If he should get well, she would recover too, but he will never be its victim without her being so as well. Her trouble appears in her pale and changed colour; for the fresh, clear, and radiant colour which Nature had given her is now a stranger to her face. She often weeps and often sighs. Little she cares for her empire and for the riches that are hers. She always cherishes in her remembrance the hour when Cliges went away, and the leave he took of her, how he changed colour and grew pale, and how tearful his expression was, for he came to weep in her presence humbly and simply upon his knees, as if constrained to worship her. All this is sweet and pleasant for her to remember and think about. And afterward, as a little treat, she takes on her tongue instead of spice a sweet word which for all Greece she would not wish him to have used contrary to the sense she had understood when he first had uttered it; for she lives upon no other dainty, and there is nothing else that pleases her. This word alone sustains and nourishes her, and assuages all her pain. She cares to eat and drink of no other dish or beverage, for when the two lovers came to part, Cliges had said he was "altogether hers." This word is so sweet and tastes so good that from the tongue it stirs her heart, and she takes it into her mouth and heart to be all the more sure of it. Under any other lock she would not dare to store this treasure. Nowhere could it be lodged so well as in her own bosom. She will never leave it exposed at any price, being in such fear of robbers and thieves. But there is no ground for her anxiety, and she need have no fear of the birds of prey, for her treasure is not movable, but is rather like a house which cannot be destroyed by fire or flood, but will always stay fixed in a single place. But she feels no confidence in the matter, so she worries and strives to find and hold some ground on which to stand, interpreting the situation in divers ways. She both opposes and defends her position, and engages in the following argument: "With what intention should Cliges say `I am altogether yours' unless it was love that prompted him? What power can I have over him that he should esteem me so highly as to make me the mistress of his heart? Is he not more fair than I, and of higher rank than I? I see in it naught but love, which could vouchsafe me such a boon. I, who cannot escape its power, will prove by my own case that unless he loved me he would never say that he was mine; unless love holds him in its toils, Cliges could never say that he was mine any more than I could say that I was altogether his unless love had put me in his hands. For if he loves me not, at least he does not fear me. I hope that love which gives me to him will in return give him to me. But now I am sore dismayed because it is so trite a word, and I may simply be deceived, for many there be who in flattering terms will say even to a total stranger, `I and all that I have are yours,' and they are more idle chatterers than the jays. So I do not know what to think, for it might well turn out that he said it just to flatter me. Yet I saw his colour change, and I saw him weeping piteously. In my judgment, the tears and his face confused and pale were not produced by treachery, nor were they the fruits of trickery. Those eyes from which I saw tears roll down were not guilty of falsehood. Signs enough of love I saw, if I know anything about it. Yes, in an evil hour I thought of love; woe is me that I ever learned it, for the experience has been bitter. Has it indeed? Yes, verily. I am dead when I cannot see him who has stolen my heart away by his cajoling flattery, because of which my heart leaves its dwelling, and will not abide with me, hating my home and establishment. In truth I have been ill treated by him who has my heart in his keeping. He who robs me and takes what is mine cannot love me, of that I am sure. But am I sure? Why then did he weep? Why? It was not in vain, for there was cause enough. I must not assume that I was the cause of it, for one is always loath to leave people whom one loves and knows. So it is not strange if he was sorry and grieved and if he wept when he left some one whom he knew. But he who gave him this advice to go and dwell in Britain could not have smitten me more effectively. He is cut to the quick who loses his heart. He who deserves it, should be treated ill; but I have never deserved such treatment. Alas, unhappy one, why has Cliges killed me when I am innocent? But I am unjust to accuse him thus without cause. Surely Cliges would never have deserted me if his heart were like mine. I am sure his heart is not like mine. And if my heart is lodged in his it will never draw away, and his will never part from mine, for my heart follows him secretly: they have formed such a goodly company. But, after all, to tell the truth, they are very different and contrary. How are they different and contrary? Why, his is the master and mine the slave; and the slave can have no will of his own, but only do his master's will and forsake all other affairs. But what reference has that to me? My heart and service are no concern to him. This arrangement distresses me, that one is master of us both. Why is not my heart as independent as his? Then their power would be equalised. My heart is now a prisoner, unable to move itself unless his moves as well. And whether his heart wanders or stays still, mine must needs prepare to follow him in his train. God! why are our bodies not so near one another that I could in some way bring back my heart! Bring back? Foolish one, if I should remove it from its joy I should be the death of it. Let it stay there! I have no desire to dislodge it, but rather wish that it tarry with its lord until he feel some pity for it. For rather over there than here ought he to have mercy on his servant, because they are both in a foreign land. If my heart knows well the language of flattery, as is necessary for the courtier, it will be rich ere it comes back. Whoever wishes to stand in the good graces of his lord and sit beside him on his right, to be in the fashion now-a- days, must remove the feather from his head, even when there is none there. But there is one bad feature of this practice: while he is smoothing down his master, who is filled with evil and villainy, he will never be so courteous as to tell him the truth; rather he makes him think and believe that no one could compare with him in prowess and in knowledge, and the master thinks that he is speaking the truth. That man does not know himself who takes another's word about qualities which he does not possess. For even if he is a wicked and insolent wretch, and as cowardly as a hare, mean, crazy, and misshapen, and a villain both in word and deed—yet some man will praise him to his face who behind his back will mock at him. But when in his hearing he speaks of him to some other, he praises him, while his lord pretends not to hear what they say between themselves; if, however, he thought that he would not be heard, he would say something his master would not like. And if his master is pleased to lie, the servant is all ready with his consent, and will never be backward in averring that all his master says is true. He who frequents courts and lords must ever be ready with a lie. So, too, must my heart do if it would find favour with its lord. Let it flatter and be obsequious. But Cliges is such a knight, so fair, so open, and so loyal, that my heart, in praising him, need never be false or perfidious, for in him there is nothing to be improved. Therefore I wish my heart to serve him, for, as the people's proverb runs, `He who serves a noble man is bad indeed if he does not improve in his company.'"
NOTE: Endnotes supplied by Prof. Foerster are indicated by "(F.)"; all other endnotes are supplied by W.W. Comfort.
- A reference to the Roman de Thèbes, 1160 circ.
- The disregard of Alis for his nephew Cligès is similar to that of King Mark for Tristan in another legend. In the latter, however, Tristan joins with the other courtiers in advising his uncle to marry, though he himself had been chosen heir to the throne by Mark. cf. J. Bedier, Le Roman de Tristan, 2 vols. (Paris, 1902), i. 63 f.
- See Endnote #14 above.
- Cf. Shakespeare, Othello, ii. I, where Cassio, speaking of Othello's marriage with Desdemona, says:
"… he hath achieved a maid
That paragons description and wild fame;
One that excels the quirks of blazoning pens,
And in the essential vesture of creation
Does tire the enginer."
- Ovid (Metamorphosis, iii. 339-510) is Chrétien's authority.
- Cf. L. Sudre, "Les Allusions à la légende de Tristan dans la littérature du Moyen Age", Romania, xv. 435 f. Tristan was famed as a hunter, fencer, wrestler, and harpist.
- "The word 'Thessala' was a common one in Latin, as meaning 'enchantress', 'sorceress', 'witch', as Pliny himself tells us, adding that the art of enchantment was not, however, indigenous to Thessaly, but came originally from Persia." (Natural History, xxx. 2).—D.B. Easter, Magic Elements in the romans d'aventure and the romans bretons, p. 7. (Baltimore, 1906). A. Jeanroy in Romania, xxxiii. 420 note, says: "Quant au nom de Thessala, il doit venir de Lucain, très lu dans les écoles au XIIe siècle." See also G. Paris in Journal des Savants, 1902, p. 441 note. Thessala is mentioned in the Roman de la Violetta, v. 514, in company with Brangien of the Tristan legend.
- Medea, the wife of Jason, is the great sorceress of classic legend.
- This personage was regarded in the Middle Ages as an Emperor of Rome. In the 13th-century poem of Octavian (ed. Vollmuller, Heilbronn, 1883) he is represented as a contemporary of King Dagobert!
- This commonplace remark is quoted as a proverb of the rustic in Ipomedon, 1671–72; id., 10, 348–51; Roman de Mahomet, 1587–88; Roman de Renart, vi. 85–86; Gower's Mirour de l'omme, 28, 599, etc.
- It is curious to note that Corneille puts almost identical words in the mouth of Don Gomes as he addresses the Cid (Le Cid, ii. 2).