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Chevalier de la charrete, Lancelot, literary romance


At the conclusion of Chrétien de Troyes’s twelfth-century verse Chevalier de la charrete, a spring and sycamore allude to concupiscence and betrayal in Scripture, evoking the hero’s and the queen’s adulterous liaison. The author of the thirteenth-century French Prose Lancelot translates this allusion from a moment of joy for the queen to one of terror, foreshadowing a change in fortune for the hero and his prowess. Every subsequent adventure where the hero encounters a spring and sycamore points to his love for the queen as a source of corruption. Springs shaded by a pine tree hint at the sanctity of marriage and the need to protect it against intruders. Amidst these adventures, stags, lions, and a pious vagabond reference hagiography and Scripture, underscoring a thirst for the divine. As a consequence, readers may understand the romance as promoting the austere values of La Queste del Saint Graal, even apart from episodes prophesying the Grail quest.