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EARLY ENGLISH POETRY,
BALLADS,

AND POPULAR LITERATURE
OF THE MIDDLE AGES.

EDITED FROM ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPTS
AND SCARCE PUBLICATIONS.

VOL. XVI.



LONDON.
PRINTED FOR THE PERCY SOCIETY.

BY T. RICHAKE

LINCOLN's-lNN-Klt.l.I>>.

M.DCCC.XLVI.



v. \ U



CONTENTS OF VOL. XVI.



/ THE SEVEN SAGES, WITH AN INTRODUCTORY
ESSAY.



EDITED BY THOMAS WRIGHT, ESQ.



THE ROMANCE OF SYR TRYAMOURE

E1.TED BY J, .. [IALLVW£LI.. ESQ.



THE SEVEN SAGES.



THE



SEVEN SAGES



ENGLISH VERSE,



EDITED FROM A MANUSCRIPT IN THE PUBLIC LIBRARY
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE



THOMAS WRIGHT, ESQ., M.A., F.S.A.

BOX. If.B.S.L., ETC.

ronRESPONDlNr. MBMBEB OK int INSTITUTE OK PBAHCE,
I ICADEMIK I)LS INSCRIPTIONS PT BEI.I.K.S I.KTTRES.j

4 5 A i



LONDON.
PRINTED FOR THE PERCY SOCIETY

BY T. RICHARDS, 100, ST. MARTIN'S LANE.



m ncrc.xLv,



COUNCIL



Cf;e percp Society «



President.
The Rt. Hon. LORD BRAYBROOKE, F.S.A.

THOMAS AMYOT, Esq. F.R.S. Tkeas. S.A.

WILLIAM HENRY BLACK, Esq.

WILLIAM CHAPPELL, Esq. F.S.A.

J. PAYNE COLLIER, Esq. F.S.A.

C. PURTON COOPER, Esq. Q.C., F.R.S., F.S.A

PETER CUNNINGHAM, Esq.

.TAMES HENRY DIXON, Esq.

WILLIAM JERDAN, Esq. F.S.A., M.R.S L.

CAPTAIN JOHNS, R.M.

T. J. PETTIGREW, Esq. F.R.S, F.S.A.

LEWIS POCOCK, Esq. F.S.A.

SIR CUTHBERT SHARP.

WILLIAM SANDYS, Esq. F.S.A.-

WILLIAM J. THOMS, Esq. F.S.A.

THOMAS WRIGHT, Esq. MA, F.S.A., Secretary and

Treasurer.



The following text of the Seven Sages, one of
the most remarkable collections of stories current
during the Middle Ages, is printed from a MS. in
the Bibl. Publ. Cantab, (known by the shelf-mark
Dd. 1, 17), which appears to have been written
about the end of the fourteenth century. It is
an incorrectly-written MS., but is the only copy
known which has not suffered mutilation. An
Essay on the history of these stories, with a few
notes on the text, will form another of the Society's
publications, to be bound with the text at the
end of the year ; and for that I reserve further
observations on the subject.






INTRODUCTION TO THE SEVEN
SAGES.



The romance of the Seven Sages is one of the
most remarkable of the medieval collections of
stories, and belongs to the same class as the cele-
brated Thousand and One Nights of the Arabians,
in which one simple story is employed as a means
of stringing together a multitude of subsidiary
tales. Its form would at once lead us to look for
its origin in the East ; and it is interesting to us,
because wc have materials which enable us to trace
distinctly its history throughout its migration from
distant India to Western Europe. Fortunately,
the task of tracing this history has been already
executed for us by a young and promising French
orientalist, now dead, M.LoiseleurDeslongchamps,
in his Essai sur les Fables Indiennes, et sur leur
Introduction en Europe, published in 1838 ; and as
that book is not much known in England, I shall
content myself with giving an abstract of as much
of it as relates to our present subject.

The title of the Indian romance was Sendabad,



i\l R0D1 I I ION TO



and it appears to have been composed at a very
remote, though unknown period. The Arabian
historian, Massoudi, who died in a.d. 956 (345 of
the hegira), says that this book was composed by
an Indian philosopher named Sendabad, who was
the contemporary of a king named Courou ; and it
appears that in Massoudi's time, there existed a
translation of it in Arabic or Persian. Two orien-
tal writers, cited by M. Loiseleur Deslongchamps,
state that the book of Sendabad was composed
under the Persian dynasty of the Arsacides, which
began 256 years before Christ, and ended towards
a.d. 223. From this Indian original were derived
three works founded on the same plot, but differing
a little in the details : the Arabian romance of
" The king, his son, the favourite, and the seven
viziers, 1-1 which was translated into English by
Jonathan Scott, in 1800; the Hebrew romance
of the Parables of Sendabar ; and the Greek ro-
mance of Syntipas (IwriTrae). In each of these,
a young prince, falsely accused by one of the
wives of the king, his father, of having attempted
to offer her violence, is defended by seven sages
or philosophers, who relate a series of stories
calculated to show the malice and perversity of
the female sex, and the danger of a condemnation
without proofs.



THE SEVEN SAGES. Ill

The date of the formation of these three ro-
mances is unknown. The Hebrew version of the
Parables of Sendabar (the last letter of which
word has probably arisen from confounding the
two Hebrew letters 1 and ")) is, at least, as old as
the end of the twelfth century. The Greek ro-
mance of Syntipas is preceded by a metrical pro-
logue, which informs us that it was the work of a
certain Andreopulus, who avows himself a wor-
shipper of Christ, and declares that he translated it
from the Syriac. It is here also stated, that a Persian
named Mousos was the first author of the work,
from which Silvestre de Sacy conjectured that a
person of the common Saracenic name of Mousa
had translated Sendabad into Arabic or Persian.

The Hebrew romance, which is preserved in
manuscript, appears to have been the original from
which a monk of the abbey of Haute-Selve, in the
bishopric of Nancy, in France, named John, com-
posed, early in the thirteenth century, the prose
Latin romance, entitled, Historia septem sapientum
Roma?, through which this work was communi-
cated to nearly all the languages of Western
Europe. A trouvere of the thirteenth century,
named Herbert, or Hebert, made a very free
translation, or rather imitation, in French verse, of
this Latin romance, in which he has added several

b 2



iv iNTl:ni>n i |m\ TO

stories, and altered considerably such stories of
the original as he has retained. This version is
best known by the title of Dolopathos, which is
here the name of the king whose son is the hero
of the poem. There appears to be no room for
doubt that Herbert lived in the first half of the
thirteenth century. Another trouvere, whose
name is unknown, composed also in the thirteenth
century, a French metrical romance of the Seven
Sages, which is a close version of the Latin ro-
mance ; and this was also translated into French
prose before the end of the same century.* The
English versions, of which there were several,
were evidently founded upon these French ver-
sions. The Latin romance was also translated at
a subsequent period into German, Dutch, and
Danish. t In Italy, in the sixteenth century, ap-
peared an imitation of this romance, under the title
of the Adventures of Prince Erastus (Li compas-
sionevoli avvenimenti d'JSrasto), which was evidently

* The anonymous French metrical romance was pub-
lished in Germany in 1836, by Professor Keller, with a very
learned introduction in German. The prose romance, with
large extracts from the romance of Dolopathos, was pub-
lished by M. Leroux de Lincy in 1838.

t On the editions of these translations, printed in the
fifteenth century, see Keller's Introduction to the Roman
des Sept Sages.



THE SEVEN SAGES. V

founded upon the Latin work of John of Haute-
Selve, although pretended to be taken from the
Greek. The adventures of Erastus were trans-
lated successively into French, Spanish, and
English.

Having thus briefly enumerated the different
known versions of this singular romance, it will
probably not be thought uninteresting to give a
comparative analysis of the three earliest versions,
beirinnins: with the Greek ^vvriTrac*

According to this romance, a king of Persia,
named Cyrus, had seven wives, none of whom had
borne him any children. But after having long
offered up his prayers to the deity, a son was born
to him ; and when the young prince had passed
his infancy, he was placed under several successive
masters, without making any progress in learning.
The king thereupon resolved to entrust the educa-
tion of his son to a philosopher named Syntipas,
who undertook to make him master of every
part of philosophy within six months. Syntipas
caused a large house to be built, and had painted
upon the walls of the apartments representations

* The Greek text was printed at Paris in 1828, by
Boissonade. It may be observed that there is a modern
Greek version, which is of little importance in the history
of the romance.



VI 1M KolJl « I LON TO

of all the subjects which he wished to impress
upon the mind of the royal youth. When every-
thing was ready, he placed his pupil in his new
residence, and the young prince made such rapid
progress, that at the end of the six months he
knew all that the philosopher had undertaken to
teach him. On the eve of the day fixed for the
completion of his education, the king reminded
Syntipas of his promise, and the latter prepared
to take the prince to court on the morrow. But
during the night, the philosopher consulted the
stars, and saw with consternation that the life of
the prince would be in danger, if he were carried
back to his father within seven days after the
period agreed upon. The philosopher informs his
scholar of his danger, and they agree that the
young prince shall go to court the next day, but
that he shall keep strict silence during the seven
days, while Syntipas hides himself to avoid the
king's anger. The youth accordingly repairs to
the palace, but, to the astonishment of his father
and the courtiers, he remains dumb to all the
questions that are put to him. One of the wives
of Cyrus begs to be intrusted with the prince,
takes him into her apartment, and employs prayers
and caresses to engage him to break his silence.
Finding all her endeavours useless, she tries to



THE SEVEN SAGES.



tempt his ambition, and undertakes to effect tbe
death of his father, and place him on the throne,
if he will promise to marry her. The prince, in
his indignation, is unable to restrain his tongue :
" Learn," cried he, " that I cannot answer thee at
present, but in seven days I will." The woman,
perceiving her own danger, now determines to
effect the ruin of the prince ; she tears her gar-
ments, scratches her face, and hurries to the king
to complain of the brutal treatment she has re-
ceived from his son. Cyrus, in his anger, condemns
the prince to death. At the court were seven
councillors, or philosophers, who enjoyed the
monarch's confidence; and when they heard of
the king's judgment, they could not believe the
prince guilty, but suspected some treachery on
the part of his accuser. They, therefore, resolved
each to pass a whole day with the king to endea-
vour to moderate his anger, fearing that Cyrus
might afterwards repent of the death of his son,
and look upon them as responsible for it. Each
tells the king a story.

This introduction is nearly the same in the He-
brew and Arabic stories, with the exception that in
the Parables of Sendabar, where the scene is placed
in India, the king, named Bibur, chooses, for the
preceptors of his son, seven philosophers, who have



I VI B0D1 I I ION TO



almost all names corrupted from the Greek, among
which we recognize those of Apollonius, Lucian,
Aristotle, and Hippocrates. Sendabar, the chief of
the philosophers, is finally charged with the education
of the prince. In the history of the Seven Viziers,
no names are given to these personages.

(1.) The philosopher, whose lot it was to take
the first clay, immediately repaired to the palace,
and prostrating himself before the king, said,—
" Sire, a king ought to come to no determination,
until he is well assured of the truth, as is evinced
by the following story." He then relates to him
how a king, who was passionately fond of women,
saw one day a lady of surpassing beauty, with
whom he fell violently in love. That he might
enjoy the object of his passion, he sent the husband
on a distant mission, and in his absence visited the
lady, and made a declaration of his love, but all
his prayers were useless. The lady represented
to him the unworthiness of his conduct, and the
king, unable to overcome her resistencc, retired,
unconscious that he had dropped his ring. The hus-
band, on his return, finds the ring near the bed,
and recognizes it as that of the king. Convinced
that the prince has penetrated into the conjugal
chamber, he resolves to abstain, in future, from
all commerce with his wife. At length the lady,



THE SEVEN SAGES. IX

from whom her husband had concealed his sus-
picions, and who, on her part, did not venture to
mention to him what had taken place, hurt at his
coldness, complains to her father and brothers,
who cited the husband before the king. " Sire,"
they said, " we have given to this man a field on
condition that he should sow it, and he leaves it
uncultivated: let him return it to us, or let him
cultivate it as he ought. 1 '' " What is thy answer to
this complaint? 1 '' said the king. " Sire," replied the
husband, " what they have stated is true. For a
time I cultivated the field which they had given
me, but one day I perceived in it the track of a
lion, and since that I have not dared to approach
it." — " Fear nothing," said the king ; " the lion, it
is true, entered into thy field, but he did no harm,
and will not return again ; cultivate it as before."

This stoxy is found with very little variations in
the Parables of Sendabar, and in the Seven Viziers.
In the former, instead of the ring, the king forgets
his cane. In the latter, the prince, who has supped
with the lady, performs his ablutions before his
departure, and leaves his ring under the cushion of
the sofa. The same tale is found in a Turkish
collection, entitled Adjaib-el-Measer, from which
Cardonne translated it under the title of La Pan-
toufle du Sultan, in the Melanges de Literature
Orientate.



\ INI RODUl I [OM TO

(2.) After having shown from this story that
we must not always trust in appearances, the first
philosopher tells another, in order to put the king
on his guard against the malice of womankind. A
merchant, curious to know what passed in his
house during his absence, bought a parrot which
had the quality of telling all it had seen and
heard. The merchant put it in a cage, and or-
dered it to watch the behaviour of his wife, while
he was occupied abroad with his business. As
soon as the merchant left his home, the parrot saw
that a lover came to visit the lady ; and he in-
formed the merchant of this circumstance on his
return. From this moment, the latter showed so
much coldness towards his wife, that she was con-
vinced he had been made acquainied with her
conduct, though she knew not how. A female
slave, who was in the confidence of her mistress,
and was very cunning, guessed that the parrot
was the informer, and they consulted together to
find an expedient to destroy the bird's credit,
which was done as follows : when night was come,
and the parrot appeared to be asleep, the lady
hung the cage beside a hand-mill, and suspended
over it a large sponge, full of water, then rapidly
turning the mill, she flashed a light at intervals
before the bird, which, dazzled by the light, and



THE SEVEN SAGES. XI

confounded by the noise, and soaked with the
water that kept running down from the sponge,
imagined it had been a violent storm. When he
made his report to the merchant the next morning,
the latter, knowing that it had been a calm night,
no longer believed what the parrot told him, and
became reconciled with his wife.

This story, which is found in the Parables of
Sendabar, and in the Seven Viziers, occurs also in
the Thousand and One Nights, and is repeated so
frequently under different forms in the literature of
the middle ages, that it is hardly necessary to
give references.

(3.) These two stories changed the determina-
tion of Cyrus, who now resolved not to put his
son to death. But the king's wife, next day, again
decides him to order his son's execution, by
relating a rather foolish story (found also in the
Hebrew and Arabic) of a fuller who was drowned
in attempting to save the life of his son. The
king is thus made, during the seven days, to
change his intention twice every day.

(4.) At the moment when the prince is being
led to execution, the second philosopher presents
himself, and recites a very unmeaning story of
two cakes, to show the king the rashness of his
judgment. (5.) He then tells the following storyj



Ml [NTBODU< I ION i"

to show that a woman's wit in contriving tricks is
inexhaustible. A married woman had an officer for
her lover. One day, when her husband was absent,
the lover sent his slave to know if he might visit
her, and the slave, being young and handsome,
pleased the lady, which led her to commit a new
act of infidelity. The officer, tired of waiting,
and impatient to see his mistress, went himself to
her house, and reached the door at the moment
she was indulging her new passion. She hastily
concealed the slave in her inner apartment, and
then received her lover with all her ordinary
tenderness, and was proceeding to further crimi-
nalities, when they were disturbed by the sudden
arrival of her husband. How to escape, it was
not easy to see. If she put the officer into the
inner chamber, he would find his slave, and dis-
cover the faithlessness of his mistress ; by the
other door, he would meet her husband. The lady
suddenly thought of an expedient: " Take your
sword in your hand," she said, " pretend to be in
a violent rage, load me with abuse, and rush out
into the street, without speaking to my husband. r
The officer did as he was told, and the husband,
terrified and alarmed, inquired of his wife the
cause of all this uproar. " That officer," she re-
plied, " came here in pursuit of his slave, whom



THE SEVEN SAGES. Xlll

I have concealed in our inner room, to save him
from his anger, and my refusal to deliver him
threw him into the rage in which you saw him."
The credulous husband immediately ran into the
street to watch the officer, and when he found
that he was no longer to be seen, he came back,
and said to the slave, " You may now go out in
peace, for your master is out of sight."

This story is found in the Parables of Sendabar,

and in the Seven Viziers. "We meet with it also in

the Indian collection entitled Hitopadesa, which

was compiled before the Mahoinmedan conquest, so

that we trace it direct to an Indian origin. It is

found in the Decameron, and is repeated over and

over again in the collections of the middle ages.

(6.) These two stories save the life of the prince

during the second day, but the next morning the

queen by the following tale procured a new order

for his execution. A young prince goes a hunting,

attended by one of the councillors of the king,

his father. In the ardour of the chase, he becomes

separated from his followers, and meets with a

lamia, or ogress, who presents herself to him as a

princess who had lost her way. He takes her up

behind him, but he soon perceives his danger, and

in his terror raises his eyes towards heaven, and

exclaims, " Lord Christ, have pity on thy servant,



\i\ INTKODTN TIOK TO

and deliver him from the demon !" Immediately
the lamia, darting from the horse, disappears un-
der the earth, and the young prince hastens back
in a state of agitation to his father's palace. The
queen represents this adventure as a snare set for
the young prince by the minister who accompanied
him, and takes the opportunity of prejudicing
Cyrus against his advisers.

This story is found in the two other versions, and
occurs also in the Thousand and One Nights. In
the Parables of Sendabar, instead of the lamia we
have a female demon named Schidah.

(7.) The third philosopher now comes forward
to counteract the queen, and tells the story of a
sanguinary war which arose between two neigh-
bouring countries on account of a bee-hive that
had been stolen ; to show that great events often
arise from small causes. (8.) In a second story,
he again represents to the king the ingenuity of
woman's malice. A man sent his w r ife to the
market to buy rice. The merchant of whom she
buys it, is captivated by her good looks ; he tells
her that rice is generally eaten with sugar, and
offers to give her some gratuitously, if she will
consent to gratify his desires. The woman re-
quires that the sugar shall be first given to her ;



THE SEVEN SAGES. XV

and wrapping it up with the rice in a cloth, she
intrusts it to the shop-boy, and follows the mer-
chant into his apartment. In the meantime, the
lad takes the sugar and rice away, and puts an
equal quantity of earth in its place. The woman
takes away her parcel without examining it, and
carries it to her husband, who is much astonished
at finding nothing in it but earth. The woman at
once perceives the trick which has been played
upon her, but without being in the least discon-
certed, she replies to her husband's enquiries,
" I fell down in the market, and lost my money ;
and I collected the earth from the spot where I
fell, in the hope that by passing it through a sieve,
the money would be found. 11 The simple husband
approves of what she had done, and loses his time
in sifting the earth without finding his money.

This story is found in the Indian collection trans-
lated into Persian under the title of the Tooti-nameh,
(the tales of a parrot,) as well as in the Parables of
Sendabar, and in the Seven Viziers. It also occurs
in the Directorium humance vitce of John of Capua,
fol. E 3, v°.

(8.) The king having again revoked his sen-
tence, the queen returns next day to the attack
with a singular story. A young prince departs



\\ I [NTRODUl TION TO

for the court of a king, whose daughter he is to
marry, accompanied by one of the ministers of the
king, his father. On the road, the minister, under
a false pretext, leaves the prince near a spring
which has the power of changing those who drink
of it into women, and, returning home, announces
to his father that he has been devoured by a
lion. The young prince, left alone, drinks of the
fatal spring, and immediately feels its effects.
Fortunately he meets with a peasant, who agrees
to become a Avoman in his place, on condition
that his natural form shall be restored to him at
the end of four months. The young prince re-
pairs to the court of the king, whose daughter had
been affianced to him, marries her, and eludes the
fulfilment of his promise to the peasant. The
guilty minister is put to death. The queen again
blames the conduct of the councillors of Cyrus,
and the order is given for the execution of his
son.

In the Parables of Sendabar, this story makes
part of that of the prince and the lamia. The prince,
after being changed into a woman, passes the night
near the enchanted fountain, which turns men into
women, and women into men ; and in the morning
he meets in the forest a troop of young girls, to
whom alone he discloses his rank, and the misfortune



THE SEVEN SAGES. XV11

which had happened to him. By their advice, he
drinks again of the fountain, and a second meta-
morphosis takes place. In the Seven Viziers, the
metamorphosed prince meets with a genius, who
leads him to another spring, by the virtue of which
his sex is restored to him. This is perhaps the
correct version of the story, which is rendered
confused in the Greek. The notion of springs
which change the sexes of those who drink of them,
is taken from the ancients.

(9.) The philosopher, whose turn it is to save
the prince's life on the fourth day, begins with a
singular tale, the object of which is to show the
danger of acting inconsiderately. The son of a
king laboured under a deformity which it is not
easy to express in English, i\v ^ civtog fl-a^ve fyza
cot evfi£yedt]Q, ojg Ik tov ttu^ovc fxij Kadoparrdai ra
tovtov aiSoia* One day that he was at the bath,
the keeper of the bath, when he saw him, shed
tears at the thought that the heir of the throne
would be incapable himself of having heirs. The
young prince asked him why he wept, and the
other told him his reflections. " Know," said
the prince, " that my father is going to marry me,
but having conceived the same doubts that you
now feel, I desire, in order to know if I ought to
marry, to converse with a woman, and I beg that

c



I \ I RODU< 'I [ON '!■>



you will find me one." The keeper of the bath,
greedy of gain, conceived the unfortunate idea of


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