The Cauldron of the God: in Irish myth and medieval romance
eltic mythology is full of magic vessels. Another of the Four Treasures was the cauldron (coire) of the Dagda, which never ran dry and from which no one ever went away unsatisfied.
[Richard Cavendish, King Arthur and the Grail.]
t is possible that in his last opera Parsifal, Richard Wagner was reviving (consciously or unconsciously) a tradition that was older than the Grail romances in which he had found some of his raw material. The complementary relics of the Grail and the Spear as they appear in the opera are not only linked but drawn towards each other. It might even be said that these strange hallows in some way direct the action of the opera: at one point, Wagner's protagonist Parsifal says that he heard the Grail call out to him, asking the hero to save it from hands stained with sin. It is only when Parsifal holds the Spear in his hand that he knows that it belongs with the Grail, that he has a mission, and that his mission is to reunite the two of them.
agner's Grail is not a cauldron and neither were the Grails of the romances: in some cases a cup, in Wolfram a stone, and in other texts not clearly defined but a vessel larger than a cup. It is striking that Wagner's Spear starts to bleed only when it is in the presence of the Grail; in the last lines of the opera, the hero describes the yearning of the Spear for the blood that flows in the Grail. Here there is a reference to the interpretation of these objects as Christian relics: the blood that flows from the Spear into the Grail is the divine blood. For Wagner this was the essence of free-willed suffering, which in some mystical way he saw as the only hope for a regeneration of mankind.