Family Tree of Parzival, according to Wolfram von Eschenbach
. Wagner omitted a generation, making Amfortas the son of Titurel, and did not
given any hint that Herzeleide -- and therefore also her son Parsifal -- were members of the Grail family. For those interested in a more complete analysis of the
characters in Parzival
and their families, the entire
fictional aristocracy has been mapped by Dr. Rolf Sutter: the results are here
in a chart made by Sam Jakobsson of Swedish Radio. Click to zoom in, then scroll
Right: Detlef Roth as Amfortas in the recent Bayreuth production (2009)
Keeper of the Grail, Fisher King. In Wagner's music-drama he is the son of Titurel. In
Act 1 of the music-drama Wagner makes a pun on the word Amt, server, and the name Amfortas. Wagner described the suffering Amfortas as
my third-act Tristan inconceivably intensified (letter to Mathilde Wesendonk,
30 May 1859).
Amfortas is Wagner's version of the Fisher King, also called the Wounded King or the Grail King, of the medieval Grail
romances. In Wolfram's Parzival he was called Anfortas.
Disciple of the Buddha Shakyamuni. In Wagner's unfinished music-drama Die Sieger,
the love of Prakriti for Ananda is a central element of the story.
In Wolfram's poem, the Grail King Anfortas is the grandson of Titurel, brother of Herzeloyde and therefore maternal uncle to Parzival. The name has been derived
from the Latin, infirmitas and also from the Old French, enfertez, both words meaning infirmity. Wagner renamed the king to Amfortas.
The missionary who converts Josaphat to Christianity in the early medieval tale of
Barlaam and Josaphat. Later Barlaam becomes a hermit living by a spring in the desert. After long wandering, his convert finds the old man
again. Barlaam was probably an important element in Wagner's development of his character Gurnemanz.
In Wolfram's poem, a magician who traps knights in his marvellous Castle of
Maidens. The most obvious basis for Wagner's Klingsor, although Wagner did not take much more than a name from Wolfram's character. In
Parzival although Clinschor does not appear in the events of the story, we are told that he owns the Castle of Maidens, which is also the Castle of Wonders
and the Proud Castle, and that he had imprisoned the women there with a magic spell. Wolfram relates that Clinschor had been castrated by a
cuckolded husband and that this enabled him to develop magical powers. Wagner adapted the castration sorceror for his Klingsor although in
his case the mutilation was self-inflicted. See also: Mára, Theodas.
Condrie or Cundrie or KundrieIn Wolfram's poem, the Loathly Damsel is
called Condrie. There is also a sweet Cundrie, sister of Gawain, who is one of the maidens imprisoned by Clinschor and
released by her brother. One element of Wagner's Kundry.
In Wolfram's poem, the wife of Parzival and mother of Loherangrin and
Kardeiz. She is the cousin of Sigune, and therefore somehow related to the family of Grail kings, and the maternal niece of Gurnemanz. Although Condwiramurs does not often appear directly in Wolfram's poem, Parzival's fidelity to her is a continuing theme of the poem. Her
name has been derived from the Old French conduire amours, "to guide love".
In Wolfram's poem, the son of Titurel and father of Anfortas, Herzeloyde, Repanse de
Schoye, Schoysiane and Trevrizent. Wagner simplified the family tree by making Anfortas the son of Titurel.
In both Wolfram and Wagner, the father of the eponymous hero, who dies
in far Arabian
land without having seen his new- born son.
In the first act, Amfortas asks about the knight Gawan, more usually "Gawain". It is not clear whether Gawan has joined
the Grail knights, or whether he has found and followed the path to the Grail domain but failed in the Quest. Wagner had no use for Gawan, unlike Wolfram, who contrasted the two heroes, Gawan and Parzival.
Gawain is generally said to be the nephew of Arthur. His parents are Lot of Orkney and Morgause (though his mother is
said by Geoffrey of Monmouth to be Anna ). Upon the death of Lot, he becomes the head of the Orkney clan, which includes in many sources his brothers Aggravain,
Gaheris, and Gareth, and his half-brother Mordred. Gawain figures prominently in many romances. In the French romances he is generally presented as one who has
adventures paralleling in diptych fashion but not overshadowing the hero's, whether that hero be Lancelot or Perceval. In the English tradition, however, it is much
more common for Gawain to be the principal hero and the exemplar of courtesy and chivalry, as he is in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the other
Arthurian romances of the Alliterative Revival. In Malory's Morte d'Arthur, however, he has a role similar to that in the French romances, in that Lancelot
is the principal hero. Loomis has pointed out that there are multiple references to Gawain as a healer in the Dutch Lancelot and that in
Chrétien's Perceval appear the lines:
Right: Gawain meets a wounded knight in this painting from Ludwig
's castle of Neuschwanstein.
Of wounds and healing lore
Did Sir Gawain know more
Than any man alive.
To make the sick knight thrive,
A herb to cure all pain
That in a hedge had lain
He spied, and thence he plucked it.
The attentive reader will have made the connection to the first scene of Wagner's drama. Gawain is singular (at least in the Arthurian tradition) as a knight who is also a
physician. Tolkien fans might note this and other similarities between Gawain and Aragorn.
In Act 2 of Wagner's music-drama, one of the names by which Klingsor addresses
Kundry. Cosima's diary relates,
... at lunch he tells me: "She will be called Gundrygia (sic), the weaver of war", but then he decides to
keep to Kundry [14 March 1877]. Although it has been speculated that the name was that of a Valkyrie, the author has not been able to find the name Gundrygia or
Gundryggia in any of the Old Norse sources, which contain many Valkyrie names. There is, however, a striking resemblance to the name Gunn (meaning strife or battle),
one of Odin's principal Valkyries, and this might have been the inspiration for Wagner to transform Kundry into Gundryggia. In conjunction with
the name Herodias, a reference to Gunn who rides with Odin in the Wild Hunt would reinforce the connection between Kundry and Herodias, the Princess of Judea, who in Heinrich Heine's Atta Troll also joins the
The spelling used by Wagner in his prose draft for the character he later called Gurnemanz.
Wagner's first act narrator is most obviously based on a character in Wolfram's
Parzival. Gurnemanz de Graharz is Parzival's first tutor and the maternal uncle of Condwiramurs. Parzival has grown up without knowing his father and in the company of women and girls. In the poem Gurnemanz becomes a kind of father-figure to
young Parzival. Some of this relationship is detectable in Wagner's very compressed encounter between Parsifal and
Gurnemanz, who has now become a senior knight of the Grail order. Gurnemanz is also Wagner's third act hermit, but here it was another character in Parzival who was a model. This is the hermit Trevrizent whom Parzival met on Good Friday. Wolfram
makes him the brother to Anfortas and Herzeloyde and therefore a maternal uncle of the young man.
Gurnemanz might also be identified with the hermit Barlaam who converts Josaphat to Christianity in the medieval
religious tale of Barlaam and Josaphat. Like Gurnemanz, Barlaam appears early in the story but he loses touch with
his convert and becomes a hermit. At the end of the story Josaphat wanders for two years in the desert in search of Barlaam before he finds the old man again. This is actually closer to Wagner's story in that Josaphat searches for the hermit
Barlaam, while Parzival apparently stumbles upon the hermit Trevrizent while seeking the way
A Welsh hero (the hawk of May) who appears in the Mabinogion. In the tale of Peredur we meet Gwalchmai son of Gwyar where Chrétien (in his Perceval) presents Gawain.
Therefore it has been traditional to identify Gwalchmai with Gawain, even to the extent of regarding Gwalchmai as the Welsh original of the
character who became Gawain in the medieval romances.
In Act 2 of Wagner's music-drama, one of the names by which Klingsor addresses Kundry. This might have been her original name. Herodias (as described by Eugène Sue in his novel, Le juif errant of 1844) is the female
equivalent of Ahasuerus, the Wandering Jew. Heine's Herodias, in his poem Atta Troll of 1841, corresponds either to Wilde's
Salome or to her mother Herodias.
Right: Gamuret and Herzeloyde in this painting from Ludwig
's castle of Neuschwanstein.
In Wagner's music-drama, the mother of Parsifal. Like Tristan, her son is the innocent cause of his
In Wolfram's poem, the sister of Anfortas and mother of
From the Greek Ιωασαϕ. The hero of the medieval story of Barlaam and Josaphat, which, although it has been ignored by most commentators on Wagner's drama, is after Wolfram's Parzival the most
important medieval source used by Wagner in the development of his Parsifal. Although most widely circulated in Greek, Barlaam and
Josaphat has been found in medieval translations into sixty different languages. Wagner's copy (now at Haus Wahnfried) was a modern edition of the German
translation made by Rudolf von Ems in the early 14th century.
In Wagner's music-drama, the magician who had once tried to gain acceptance as a Knight of the Grail. Unable to
remain chaste, Klingsor castrated himself and was rejected by Titurel. Since that time, he has desired both the
Spear and the Grail. Wagner described Klingsor as the embodiment of
a peculiar quality that Christianity brought into the world (not, as the sentence is
mistranslated in Gutman's notorious biography of Wagner,
a characteristic evil). Although Wagner took and modified the name of the sorcerer from Wolfram's
Clinschor, Klingsor appears to perform the same function in the story of Parsifal as did the sorcerer Theodas in the story of Josaphat. In both cases the sorcerer attempts to turn the spiritual hero from his path by sending
to him a beautiful seductress who promises to allow her soul to be saved on condition that the hero spends with her a night of passion. It is possible that another
model for Klingsor was the demon Bertram in Meyerbeer's Robert le diable.
Right: Klingsor and Kundry, by Fantin-Latour.
In Wagner's music-drama, the High Messenger of the Grail, who reveals to Parsifal his name and tells him of the death
of his mother. In the domain of the Grail, Kundry is a strange, wild woman who often is found sleeping in the undergrowth. When she awakes, she serves the Knights of
the Grail, not least in seeking a cure for Amfortas. Then she mysteriously disappears. On the other side of the mountains, in the domain of Klingsor, Kundry is transformed into a beautiful maiden who seduces Knights of the Grail, enabling Klingsor to capture and
destroy them. As a result of an ancient curse, she is trapped in an eternal cycle of rebirth. Her name suggests a messenger, since
Kunde means "news".
There is little resemblance between Wagner's Kundry and Wolfram's Condrie. There is something of Condrie in Wagner's creation, but there are
also elements of at least two other female characters from Wolfram's poem: Sigune and Orgeluse. More importantly,
Kundry was blended from both Herodias and Prakriti.
Wagner's first act Kundry appears to be a blend of Wolfram's Condrie (the messenger who is also a heathen sorceress) and Sigune (the cousin who tells Parzival about himself and about the death of his mother). The Kundry of the second act is partly Herodias, partly Wolfram's Orgeluse (the haughty lady who caused the wounding of Anfortas) and (when
transformed by the power of the sorcerer) the beautiful, nameless princess who attempted to seduce Josaphat. Wagner's third act Kundry is
primarily Wagner's own creation, a penitent Magdalen. She might also be identified with the Prakriti of Die Sieger,
whom Wagner intended to present as the first woman to be admitted to the Buddha's community. In fact the last words that Wagner wrote dealt with this very
In Wolfram's poem, the Swan Knight, son of Parzival and Condwiramurs. Wagner
chose a variant of the name for his opera, Lohengrin.
Probably the most important single literary source for Wagner's character Klingsor. Mára appears in
Buddhist literature as the Lord of Death or the Lord of Illusion, who attempted to prevent the enlightenment of the Buddha Shakyamuni. In these scriptures he is invariably a symbol of evil, sin, desire and temptation. His domain is one of sensuous pleasure. In Sanskrit
texts he is a deva, lord of desire and lust, and appropriately his daughters are named Rati (lust or attachment), Arati (aversion, discontent or unrest) and
Trsná (craving, desire or thirst). These are the three daughters who are sent to seduce Shakyamuni as he approaches total
The mountain, hidden in a forest, on which resides the castle of the Grail. In Wolfram's poem, the mountain is called Munsalvæsche, or the savage mountain. This might be derived from Montsegur, the
last refuge of the Albigensians or Cathars of southwestern France. The castle fell to the crusaders in the spring of 1244.
In Wolfram's poem, the haughty lady, who is loved by Anfortas. One of the elements of
Wagner's Kundry. Her name is derived from the French orgueilleuse, meaning "proud lady". She lives in a castle owned by Clinschor that is referred to by respectively Chrétien, Wolfram and the anonymous author of Peredur as "Proud Castle" or
"Castle Pride", which is also the "Castle of Marvels" or "Castle of Wonders". In the poems by Chrétien and Wolfram it is identified with the "Castle of Maidens",
when many women and girls are held captive; in the tale of Peredur there is only one maiden held captive in the Proud Castle.
Left: "Parsifal in Quest of the Holy Grail" by Ferdinand Leeke (1859-1925).
The spelling of the hero's name that Wagner finally adopted, taken from a dubious etymology by Joseph Görres,
in his 1813 edition of Lohengrin. It was claimed that
fal parsi was Arabic for pure fool, and "Parsifal" was
derived as an anagram of this phrase.
The hero of Wolfram's poem.
The hero of Chrétien's poem and its continuations.
The hero of a story in the Mabinogion, who appears to be a derivative of the Celtic original (or
equivalent) of Perceval and Parzival. Wagner found the story Peredur Son of Evrawc
in Comte de Villemarque's Contes populaires des anciens Bretons. Peredur of the long lance was an ancient traditional hero of the Old North, whose
name is found in the Gododdin together with that of Gwalchmai. With Owein and Geraint ab Erbin this tale is known
as one of the Three Romances in the Mabinogion. The three tales are united in their similarity of style and subject-matter: the names of the protagonists in
all three have close parallels in those of their counterparts in the corresponding poems of Chrétien de Troyes - Perceval li
Gallois, Yvain, Erec et Enide. In the Welsh version, Peredur's story contains within it the germ of the Grail legend, which was developed more
explicitly by Chrétien de Troyes. See Goetinck's Peredur: A Study of Welsh Tradition in the Grail Legends.
The self-sacrificing heroine of Die Sieger, Wagner's unfinished Buddhist drama. In an earlier
incarnation, Prakriti had rejected, with mocking laughter, the love of the son of a Brahmin. Wagner wrote that the Buddha's acceptance of Prakriti into what had
been, until that time, an all-male community was
a beautiful feature of the legend.
In Wolfram's poem, the Grail Bearer, sister of Anfortas. Perhaps one of the
elements of Wagner's Kundry. Her name has been derived from the Old French, Repense de Joie.
In Wagner's prose draft, the name (meaning Pain-sorrow) given to Parzival's mother, later
renamed to Herzeleide (Heart's sorrow).
(son of the clan of Shakya). A character in Wagner's unfinished Buddhist drama Die
Sieger. The historical Shakyamuni is commonly known as the Buddha, although Buddhists refer to him as
the Buddha of the present age. Both Wagner and
Schopenhauer referred to the Buddha by his title of the Victoriously Perfect.
In Wolfram's poem Parzival, a granddaughter of Titurel and
hence a cousin of Parzival. Sigune is found in another poem by Wolfram, Titurel. One of the elements of Wagner's Kundry.
Right: Pogàny's "Titurel Bears the Sacred Spear".
The name of the sorcerer who sends a nameless, beautiful maiden to seduce Josaphat in
the early medieval tale of Barlaam and Josaphat. Together with Mára he was probably one of the sources for Wagner's
In both Wolfram and Wagner, the original Winner of the Grail and the founder of the
Community of Grail Knights. Titurel was, for Wagner, a Wotan who had attained redemption through denial of the world. His role in Parsifal seems to be
primarily a symbolic one: he represents extreme old age in the same way that Amfortas represents extreme sickness and intense suffering.
In Wolfram, Anfortas presents Parzival with a magic sword,
whose hilt is made of ruby. This sword, which Anfortas has carried into battle many times, was forged by the smith Trebuchet. Parzival's cousin Sigune later reveals to him that the sword will shatter at the second blow, but that it might be repaired in the magic spring at Karnant.
In Wolfram's poem, the brother of Anfortas, for whose
sake he has renounced chivalry and become a hermit. He is the second tutor to Parzival. In Wagner's music-drama, this character is renamed Gurnemanz.