Academics will freely admit that this man was a troubadour. But what is a Troubadour? They were important to the genesis of the Cathar mystique for a certainty and the Princeton people I will shortly quote will say that Chrétien was one of the first Troubadours in this region. Surely they do not think it would be one of the first involved in these arts. In point of fact they are very very ancient arts in the training of a Druid, who would become a minstrel and jester before taking up the involved study to be a Bard or Baird. Druids, Bairds and Ovates are the best known appellations for those who completed these long and arduous studies which were already suffering and shortening by the time of Pythagoras who was part of the last known Dean of Studies in the Mediterranean region. Abaris (Rabbi) the Druid was that Dean and his name gives us a clue as to one of the branches or systems which took over some of their training.

The Cathars were very Gnostic and open to the Pharisaic Rabbinical message. In Caesar’s Journals we are told the period of study was 20 years but it was 25 a millennium earlier and there were still other specialties one could study throughout their lives. One of those might lead to being called a Peryllat or ‘alchemist’. Many members of the family of Jesus were alchemists and it is quite likely that Yeshua bar Joseph studied with Comarius who also tutored Cleopatra. Apollonius of Tyana is part of the Jesus amalgam and the Cathars kept most of the Gaedhil/Gnostic learning alive. One of the charges that the Inquisition leveled against the Cathars had to do with Dianistic or Tantric sexual practices and I believe the sexual or Bhakti ‘union’ (Yoga) was part of their training and system which highly valued women including giving them high priestly functions and leadership roles including Esclarmonde de Foix who is reminiscent of Hypatia of Alexandria, who both should be studied as a great heroine for all time.

The Bairdic Educational system had included a seven year specialty in developing languages for their far flung colonies in the second millennium BCE and they developed such codes and Gematria as you see in Hebrew and the Aymará of Peru. I have delved into these Oghamic studies in many other books including one with the title From OM to Ogham. Plato observed that knowledge was declining due to the written word after the Phoenicians gave them their refined alphabet. Some scholars think a few of the poems attributed to Orpheus (a lesser Bard or Troubadour) are in fact the writing of Pythagoras. The Grail myths are rich repositories of the pre-Christian traditions.

“Little concerning the person we call “Chrétien de Troyes” (fl. ca. 1160-1191) can be affirmed with certainty. What we know must largely be inferred from the writings attributed to him. These include five romance narratives written in rhyming octosyllabic couplets during the final third of the 12th century (Érec et Énide [ca. 1165], Cligés [ca. 1176], Le Chevalier de la Charrette (Lancelot), Le Chevalier au Lion (Yvain) [ca. 1177? 1179-80?], and Le Conte du Graal (Perceval) [ca. 1190]); a sixth narrative, Guillaume d’Angleterre, has been attributed to him by some, although many scholars find this doubtful. At least two surviving lyric songs are said to have been composed by him (if so, he is the oldest known trouvère with work closely related to that of the Old Provençal troubadours). {The region is also known as Langue d’Oc or Languedoc. Occamy is ‘alchemy’ in one translation so we can see the importance of the Troubadour to Bairdic or Peryllat spiritual quest is the tongue or language and codes of alchemy.}

Certain works said by him to belong to his oeuvre–they are listed in the opening verses to Cligés–have not survived; these include, especially, a romance entitled Du roi Marc et d’Iseut la Blonde. One of the Ovidian poems given in the Cligés list appears as part of an early 14th-century compilation called the Ovide moralisé.

Of the above-mentioned titles two were left incomplete by Chrétien: the Charrette was brought to a close by Godefroi de Leigni, under Chrétien’s supervision (according to Godefroi); the Graal was (almost certainly) interrupted by the poet’s death.

Not only did each of our poet’s works undergo copying throughout the 13th century (all eight manuscripts of the Charrette were produced in that century), they were each subject to myriad reworkings, in verse and, especially, in prose. Perceval underwent a number of “continuations” and inspired many textual “spin-offs” before the Grail story it told came to be incorporated into the vast Prose Lancelot (along with the Charrette, which constitutes the midpoint text of this great compilation). Post-World War II scholarship has demonstrated that Chrétien’s oeuvre was fully integrated into the system of textual references and allusions underlying many important 13th-century texts–a series of “epigonal romances” (e.g., Fergus, Le Bel Inconnu) and a work like the Roman de la Rose (Guillaume de Lorris’s Narcissus episode, as M.A. Freeman has shown, “re-reads/re-writes” Ovid through a process of refraction involving Chrétien’s Blood Drops on the Snow scene in Perceval [Freeman 1976-77]). A romance composed as late as Froissart’s 14th-century Méliador “revives” Chrétien de Troyes’s Arthurian manner and matter, as P.F. Dembowski has demonstrated (1983).

Chrétien himself utilized a similar network of textual allusion in his own romances. Scholars interested in sources have for generations pointed to such “first-generation” romances as the romans antiques (Énéas, Troie, and Thèbes) and Wace’s Brut and Rou, not to mention the Tristan corpus (especially Thomas), as constituting a kind of quarry from which Chrétien extracted materials which he utilized in his own constructions. Chrétien’s bookish learning–he was clearly a clerc fully trained in the arts curriculum of his day–is evident in his love of such figures of ornamentation as adnominatio, rich rhyme, and chiasmus, and, as well, in the particularly fertile manner in which he refracted the Arthurian materials he borrowed from Geoffrey of Monmouth and Wace through the lens of such works of late Antiquity as Martianus Capella’s De Nuptiis Mercurii et Philologiae (in Érec et Énide) or the writings of Macrobius. As he states in the Prologue to Érec et Énide, he–and he proudly names himself–and his work must be distinguished from the fragmented and vulgar tales hawked before kings and counts by uneducated minstrels.” (6)

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