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Count Caloain's Courting of Enide The situation underlying the courtly love lyric, namely a lover's courting of a lady, was translated into the narrative of courtly romance less frequently than might be expected. Furthermore, when courting takes place in a romance, it is not necessarily treated seriously by the author, but may be presented ironically, verge on melodrama or lead to a cruel denouement reminiscent of some of the fabliaux. In works such as Marie de France's Equitan^ or La Chastelaine de Vergi2 or, to take a later example, some of Marguerite de Navarre's stories in the HeptamSronf the author has constructed a plot from forces hostile to the lovers, causing their downfall or destruction. With these thoughts in mind, I wish to examine Count Caloain's courting of Enide in Chre'tien de Troyes' romance Erec et Enide.4 It is part of a central episode (lines 3080-3652), which is the third adventure after the couple's departure from Carnant to prove Erec's prowess and Enide's love. Most scholars have passed quickly over the courting scene. Let m e mention the two most significant recent comments. Professor Norris Lacy has appreciated the importance of the episode in the structure of the romance, seeing the mock love-test as an analogue of Erec's testing of Enide. Dr Leslie Topsfield perceived that Erec abdicated to Enide his own function of "deflecting attacks against her". There is still room for close scrutiny of the episode and further commentary, especially on the dialogue of courtship, lines 3275-3406. The full episode evolves as follows: a squire encounters Erec and Enide in the forest, provides them with a picnic meal and takes them to comfortable lodgings in a nearby castle. Impressed by the beauty of the couple, the squire praises them highly to the lord of the castle, Count Caloain, who, in order to see for himself, visits them in the evening. He converses with Erec, then asks permission to sit beside Enide and offer her his service. Erec consents; the Count begins to court Enide. Initially she rejects him, but when he threatens to kill Erec on the spot, she pretends to accept his love, his offer of relief from her present hardship as well as the proposal to kill Erec, provided that the murder is delayed until the next day. The Count agrees and they all say goodnight. Before daybreak, Enide wakens Erec, warns him of the treachery and danger; they escape, but are pursued by the Count with one hundred members of his household. Enide has resumed her subservient role, but disobeys once more by warning Erec as the enemy approaches. In combat, Erec kills the senechal and injures the Count, who repents of his villainy, attributing it to Enide's beauty which inspired his "coup de foudre". Erec and Enide, meanwhile, ride away. Let us now examine in detail the courting scene. Firstly, it is Enide's beauty which compels the Count to keep looking at her and to give her all his attention, so that, as in the poetry of the troubadours, love and desire are 54 G.M. Cropp formed from sight of the lady: tant l'esgarda com i l plus pot, tant la covi et tant l i plot... (3281-82) He gazed at her as much as he could, he coveted her and found her so very pleasing... The Count asks permission to sit beside Enide, par corteisie et par deduit (3288), "out of courtliness and pleasure", and to pay his respects (3292-93), justifying his willingness to serve her as por amor de vos (3295), "for love of you", that is, claiming, by right of a short acquaintance with Erec, the further right to court his wife. If this behaviour seems to us curious, then Chretien de Troyes apparently thought so too, as he inserted the adverb molt covertement, "with dissemblance, stealthily", into the lines describing the Count's movement away from Erec and towards Enide (3284-85). Erec, who is said to be neither jealous nor suspicious, gives the Count permission to joer et parler (3299), "to amuse himself and talk", as though he too...


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pp. 53-62
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