Above: Family Tree of Parzival according to Wolfram von Eschenbach
. Wagner omitted a generation, making Amfortas the son of Titurel, and in his libretto did not
give any hint that Herzeleide -- and therefore also her son Parsifal -- were members of the Grail family.
Right: Detlef Roth as Amfortas, Bayreuth 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 Parzival, 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, combined with the Provençal ending -as, both words meaning infirmity. Wagner renamed the king to Amfortas.
A legendary king of Britain. We can (and should) distinguish between the shadowy historical Arthur and the figure who appears in the Romances and other literature of
the Middle Ages and later times.
1. The Historical Arthur.
The earliest reference to Arthur appears in a poem called Y Gododdin, an elegy for warriors from a tribe known as the Gododdin, who lived in the south-east of Scotland. These warriors were
slain in the battle of Catraeth in about 600 CE. One line in the poem (but only in one of the two surviving versions) says that one of these warriors "was no Arthur". The oldest surviving manuscript
containing this Old Welsh poem dates from the thirteenth century and the poem was probably written no earlier than the ninth century. So a long time after the events it describes. It does suggest that
there had been a famous warrior called Arthur, active before 600 CE. Possibly the Irish prince Artúr mac Áedáin, who was a military leader in what is now the south of Scotland and who died in 582.
Around 829 CE, in a chronicle known as Historia Brittonum, Nennius writes about the conflict between the Romano-British and the Saxons with their allies during the second half of the 5th
century. Nennius names Arthur as the military leader of the Romano-British. He writes that there were twelve battles,
the last of which is at Mount Badon (mons badonicus), where Arthur alone kills
960 of the enemy. Unfortunately this does not agree with earlier accounts of the period by the monks Gildas (mid-6th century CE), who never mentions Arthur, and Bede (673-735 CE), who wrote that
the military leader at Mount Badon was Ambrosius Aurelianus. There is no reason to identify Ambrosius with Arthur, although it cannot be ruled out that they were one and the same. In the Welsh Annals,
of which the earliest surviving version is from 970 CE, there are two references to Arthur: one agreeing with Nennius that Arthur fought at Mount Badon, the other stating that Arthur and Medraut
(Mordred?) fell at the battle of Camlann. So there is no contemporary evidence for an historical "King Arthur" and nothing that was written down about him before the ninth century.
2. Arthur in Literature.
The literary Arthur first appears in the Welsh prose tale Culhwch and Olwen, which became part of the Mabinogion. In this story Arthur appears as the leader of a band of superheroes.
This and other Welsh stories were most likely known to Geoffrey of Monmouth (c.1100-c.1154 CE), a Welsh monk and later bishop, whose History of the Kings of Britain contains an account of
Arthur's life and deeds that is the basis of all subsequent Arthurian literature. In this account the historical Aurelius Ambrosius has a brother who is called Uther Pendragon, who becomes the father
of Arthur. Geoffrey developed the Welsh magician Myrddin into a new character, the prophet Ambrosius Merlinus, who became known as Merlin and immediately connected him with
Arthur. He also wrote a poem called the Life of Merlin. In the History Geoffrey tells of wonderful deeds performed by Merlin, such as importing Stonehenge from Ireland and setting it
up on Salisbury Plain. Also of how Merlin used magic to transform Uther into the likeness of the Duke of Cornwall, so that he could sleep with the Duke's wife Igerna (Igraine), by which Arthur is
conceived. On the death of the Duke, Uther marries Igerna and they have another child, a daughter called Anna, who marries King Lot of Lothian (although in later versions of the story he is the Earl of
Orkney). Lot and Anna have two sons: Gawain and Modred. When Uther has died, Merlin causes a sword to be placed in a stone: when young Arthur pulls out the sword, Merlin has him crowned king. This led
to a rebellion of eleven rulers, which is put down by Arthur, who is then the undisputed king. Arthur then attracts the noblest knights available, with whose help he wins campaigns against the Saxons
and even the Emperor himself. Finally there is a battle with the army of his nephew Modred, in which both Gawain and Modred are killed, and in which Arthur is fatally wounded.
Just how much of Arthur's life was Geoffrey's invention and how he reworked from older material is uncertain. The Norman poet Wace (c.1110-c.1174) wrote in French verse his Roman de Brut which
was based on a version of Geoffrey's History by an unknown hand. Wace selects and condenses, and sometimes adds to the narrative. In his introduction, Wace describes Arthur's court as a
gathering of the greatest nobles in the world, meeting as equals around the Round Table. It is probable that Wace's Roman was a source of inspiration for Chrétien when he wrote his five Arthurian romances.
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
In the Perceval, Blancheflor or Blanchefleur is a maiden who is rescued by Perceval when her castle is under siege. Ultimately Blancheflor and
Perceval are married.
A forest in Brittany, now called the Forest of Paimpoint, which is the setting for several Arthurian tales.
Like contemporary royal courts in the twelfth century, Arthur's court was in constant motion. Many Arthurian stories (such as Sir Gawain and the Green
Knight or The Knight of the Cart) begin with a stranger announcing a challenge to Arthur's court when it has assembled on a feast day. In The Knight of the Cart we are told that
the court had assembled at Camelot: this is the earliest known appearance of the name. In later Arthurian literature, Camelot is sometimes mentioned as Arthur's capital but in Wolfram, for example, the
court is based in Nantes.
The eponymous hero of Chrétien's romance, where he is the son of Alexander, the Emperor of Constantinople and his wife
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.
or Kondwiramur. In Wolfram's poem, the wife of Parzival and mother of Loherangrin and Kardeiz. She is the cousin of
Sigûne, 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 coin de voire amour, "to guide true love".
One of Arthur's knights and the husband of Enide in Chrétien's romance, Erec et Enide.
In Yvain, a knight who defended a magic fountain in the forest of Broceliande.
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.
The natural son of Lancelot. His mother is variously identified as Elaine, Amite or Perevida, and belongs to the Grail family. He is the hero of a late Grail
romance, the Quest of the Holy Grail. One day a sword in a stone is seen by Arthur's knights, in a river. Galahad is led to Arthur's court and when taken to the stone, he
succeeds in drawing the sword (a feat that in another story was performed by the young Arthur). Only Galahad is able to sit in the empty seat at the round table, the "Siege Perilous", which suggests
some kind of identification with the prophet Moses. Unlike other Grail questers, who typically only succeed on their second visit to the Grail Castle, Galahad has the advantage of having been born
there, so when he arrives as quester it is already his second visit. It might be said that the extreme purity of Galahad makes him "too good to be true": he is at the opposite end of the purity
spectrum from the older hero Gawain.
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 of Parsifal, 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 or Gauvain or WalewainGawain 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, a daughter of Uther Pendragon). 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 later 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.
from the Welsh Kincaled. Gawain's horse.
or Guenevere, from the Welsh Gwenhwyvar. The wife of King Arthur.
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 Wild Hunt.
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 (from the
French 'Gornemant') 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 to Amfortas.
A Welsh hero (the hawk of May) who appears in the Mabinogion. In the tale of Peredur we meet Gwalchmei son of
Gwyar where Chrétien (in his Perceval) presents Gawain. Therefore it has been traditional to identify Gwalchmei with Gawain, even to the extent of regarding Gwalchmei 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 mother's death.
In Wolfram's poem, the sister of Anfortas and mother of Parzival.
A sister of Gawain. From the French Idonie. Corresponds in Chrétien's poem to Clarissant.
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 Henri 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: Sigûne and Orgelûse. 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 Sigûne (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 Orgelûse (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 subject.
Right: Arthur's sword Excalibur returns to the Lady of the Lake.
In the Romances and in other Arthurian literature, this is a generic title for a female water spirit, comparable to the Undines and Rusalkas of folklore. Several of these lake fairies are mentioned in
various Celtic stories (the so-called Matter of Britain) and in the Romances. When Thomas Malory integrated the Post-Vulgate Cycle into his Morte d'Arthur he made no attempt to consolidate the
water spirits. One of them he named as Nimuë (in Caxton's edition) or Nynyve (in the Winchester MS): other watery enchantresses of Arthurian literature are variously named Viviane or
Vivienne, Ninianne or Nimiane. The first Lady to appear in Malory's compilation is only referred to as "The Lady of the Lake": she presents the sword Excalibur to Arthur. Obviously the Lady of the
Lake who (in Malory) is accidentally killed by the unfortunate Balin is not the same Lady of the Lake as the fairy who raised Lancelot. She stole Lancelot as a child, raised
him, and later cured his madness. A more detailed account of Lancelot's childhood was provided by Ulrich von Zatzikhoven and later developed in the Prose Lancelot. According to Ulrich in his
Lanzelet, the fairy who raised Lancelot is the mother of Mabuz, who has been identified with the Celtic god Mabon whose mother was Matrona. Confusingly, Matrona has been identified with
Morgan Le Fay. Also according to Ulrich the lake of this particular Lady is not real but an illusion created by Merlin. When she is not raising stolen
children, the Lady of the Lake gives and receives back swords.
In her study of this character in the Romances and in the Prose Lancelot (viz. The Legend of Sir Lancelot du Lac), Jessie Laidlay Weston observed
that Lancelot is conspicuous by his absence from all Arthurian literature earlier than the Cligés (c.1176) of Chrétien de Troyes. In that poem, however, he
is just a name in a list of Arthur's knights. The first story in which Lancelot appeared was Chrétien's The Knight of the Cart (1177-81), in which he is the central character. The simplest and
most plausible explanation is that Chrétien invented this character. Jessie Weston seems to have been unwilling to give much credit to Chrétien: she believed that his poems were based on earlier
material, which has been lost, so that we cannot know how much or how little he invented. What is certain is that Lancelot suddenly became one of Arthur's most important knights in around 1181 and
within a decade he had displaced Gawain at the king's right hand. Jessie Weston suggests that Lancelot's upbringing in a lake, which is a curious feature of his story, originated
in an old lay or song, with which Chrétien and other poets would have been familiar, in which a child is stolen and raised by a fairy. R.S. Loomis, the leading advocate for the Celtic origins of the
Romances, argued that Lancelot is the same character as Llwc Lleminawc in Preiddeu Annwfn, in which he accompanies Arthur into the Celtic Otherworld. By extension he could be identified with
Llenlleawc in Culhwch. It must be admitted, however, that the evidence for a Celtic antecedent of Lancelot is very thin indeed.
In the Lancelot poem of Chrétien de Troyes (The Knight of the Cart) there are several references to the
kingdom of Logres. Lancelot says that he was born in Logres. In the Perceval we are told that the bleeding lance will cause the destruction of the kingdom of Logres,
which was formerly the
land of ogres but this seems to be a poor attempt at establishing an etymology. In Wolfram's Parzival, Gawain has a troubled relationship with the
duchess of Logres (or Logroys) Orgelûse: in the end they are married, so that Logres becomes the kingdom of Gawain.
The origins of the word Logres are unclear but it seems to have first appeared after Geoffrey of Monmouth translated the Welsh word for what is now (approximately) England: Lloegyr into the
Latin Loegria, which in Wace's version became Logres. Later the name has been used with the meaning of Arthur's realm. In Boron's Story of Merlin it first appears as the name
of a country but later as the name of a city. In the later prose romances much of the action takes place in Logres but it is hard to say whether the name refers to a real kingdom or to a fictitious,
In Wolfram's poem, the Swan Knight, son of Parzival and Condwiramurs. Wagner chose a variant of the name for his
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
Originally a Welsh wizard called Myrddin. His name was latinised to Merlinus by Geoffrey of Monmouth, who made him the mentor of Arthur. Indeed, in Geoffrey's
History of the Kings of Britain, Arthur is only born because of Merlin's scheming and it is by means of the sword in the stone, another piece of Merlin's magic, that Arthur is accepted as
king. According to Robert de Boron, in the Merlin part of his Grail trilogy, Merlin's father was a demon and his conception was part of a demonic plot, which was neutralised when the boy was
baptized. So Merlin is only half human. His mother is called Aldan in Welsh tradition, Optima in the French romances, and Marinaia in Pieri's later version Storia di Merlino. According to
Malory (and later in Tennyson's Idylls) Merlin's downfall is caused by his infatuation with a woman (or water spirit): in Malory she is Nimuë but in Tennyson she is
Viviane. Some modern writers have suggested that there was an historical Myrddin, that he was a shaman or a druid. There is no evidence to support this suggestion. In their study
The Grail Legend, Emma Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz too see shamanistic elements in the story of Merlin. Earlier E. Davies had proposed that Merlin was originally a god and that his twin
sister Ganieda was a goddess.
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.
The half-sister of Arthur (according to Malory) who, if not actually a witch, has magical powers. She is mentioned by
Geoffrey of Monmouth in his Life of Merlin, where he says that Arthur did not die after his final battle because he was healed by Morgan le Fay, who made him immortal: he sleeps and one day
will return. In other romances, the Vulgate Merlin and the Huth-Merlin, Morgan is Arthur's niece, the daughter of Lot and sister to Gawain and Modred (Mordred). She is almost
certainly derived from the Celtic goddess Modron (also known as Matrona) and in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight she is referred to as
Morgan the goddess. Loomis' claim that her
prototype was the Morrigan, an Irish goddess, has fallen out of fashion.
In modern adaptations of Arthurian stories (notably John Boorman's movie Excalibur) she is sometimes called Morgana, perhaps from the Italian form "Fata Morgana". During the 20th century there
was a revival of Morgan le Fay as a character in works of popular culture, where she is variously portrayed as evil, good or ambiguous, but nearly always as being in conflict with her half-brother
Arthur. Although in some of the medieval stories there was a falling out between them, there was always a reconciliation, and they were never enemies.
One variant of the Lady of the Lake. Usually distinguished from other water spirits such as Viviane, although all of
them are Ladies of the Lake. Although several such figures appear in Malory's Morte d'Arthur, Nimuë is arguably the most important. According to Malory she is the enchantress who destroys
Merlin and then takes his place at Arthur's court. In other versions of the Merlin story, this role is taken by Viviane.
Right: The Damsel of the Lake, called Nimuë the Enchantress. Frank Cadogan Cowper.
In Wolfram's poem, the haughty lady of Logres, in whose service both Anfortas and Gawan suffer. In
Chrétien's Perceval and the First Continuation of that poem, the haughty lady is nameless. Her name in Parzival is derived from the French
orguelleuse, 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 Welsh/Breton tale of Peredur there is
only one maiden held captive in the Proud Castle. In Chrétien's poem Orgelûse meets the wandering Gawain and treats him with scorn, although
he remains courteous. Wolfram develops the story, writing that the Grail King Anfortas received his wound while fighting for Orgelûse.
Therefore she can be seen as one of the elements of Wagner's Kundry.
Right: "Parsifal in Quest of the Holy Grail", Ferdinand Leeke.
An historical character, the son of King Urien of Rheged, who fought against the English in the late sixth century. Owain became a character in Arthurian legend, where
he is the son of Urien by his wife, Morgan le Fay. See Yvain.
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
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 Old Welsh poem Y Gododdin together with that of Gwalchmei. With
Owein and Geraint ab Erbin the story of Peredur 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.
Ragnelle (Ragnel, Ragnell, Ragnall)A loathly damsel in the fifteenth century romance The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle. She
gives Arthur the answer to a riddle that will save his life and in return, demands to marry Gawain. Despite her ugly appearance, Gawain agrees, and on their wedding night she appears beautiful. She
says that he must choose whether she is to be beautiful at night when they are alone together, or in the day when they appear in public. Gawain gives Ragnelle the choice and by doing so breaks the
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.
After them appeared the queen.
So bright the maiden's face and mien,
All thought the dawn was breaking.
The clothes her raiment making
Were costly silks of Araby.
Upon a deep green Achmardi
She bore the pride of Paradise,
Root and branch, beyond all price.
That was a thing men call the Grail,
Which makes all earthly glory pale.
Repanse de Schoye was her name
Who bore the Grail of highest fame.
The Grail was such that she must be
Possessed of purest chastity
Who would fulfil its service high:
All false pretence she must deny.
Parzival, book 5, st.235 lines 15-30. English translation by Zeydel and Morgan.
In Wagner's prose draft, the name (meaning Pain-sorrow) given to Parzival's mother, later renamed to Herzeleide (Heart's
(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
In Wolfram's poem Parzival, a granddaughter of Titurel and hence a cousin of Parzival. Sigûne 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 magician Klingsor.
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. Possibly from the Provençal Treu = peace + rezems = redeemed.
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 Sigûne 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 to Gurnemanz.
Right: The Beguiling of Merlin, by Edward Burne-Jones.
A kind of Lady of the Lake although she is a character distinct from Nimuë. In the novel The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley ingeniously makes
Viviane the mother of both Nimuë and Niniane, all of them Ladies of the Lake, i.e. Celtic water spirits. In Tennyson's Idylls of the King it is Viviane who defeated Merlin with her magic and
imprisoned him inside a tree: in Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur and more recent versions of the story, Merlin is seduced and trapped by Nimuë or even, as in John Boorman's
movie Excalibur, by Morgan le Fay. In the DC Comics Universe, Vivienne is the Lady of the Lake while Nimuë is Madame Xanadu, her youngest sister, and their middle sister
is Morgaine (sic) le Fey.
The hero of a romance by Chrétien. The character was based on the Welsh hero Owain. On hearing about a magic
spring in the forest of Broceliande, Yvain hurries to be the first of Arthur's knights to challenge its defender Esclados. In their fight Esclados is
mortally wounded and Yvain pursues him to his castle, where he falls in love with his widow Laudine. Later Yvain makes a friend of a lion and takes the name "the Knight with the Lion".