Rewriting Gender: Yde et Olive and Ovidian Myth
Nancy Vine Durling
University of California, Berkeley
Recent criticism has focussed attention on the theme of transvestism in 13th- and 14th-century French narratives. In two such texts, Yde et Olive (=Yde) and Tristan de Nanteuil (=TN), a female character not only assumes male dress, she also undergoes a miraculous change of gender. An aspect of these tales of sexual metamorphosis which calls out for discussion is their relation to the Ovidian myth of Iphis. In this essay, I will limit my analysis to Yde, which seems to be the earliest Old French reworking of this Ovidian myth.
One of several continuations of Huon de Bordeaux (=HB), Yde follows in the cycle Esclarmonde, the story of Huon's wife, and Clarisse et Florent (=CF), the courtship story of Yde's parents. Apart from Barbara Brewka's unpublished l977 Vanderbilt dissertation, these three works have been edited only once, in 1889, by Max Schweigel. CF, which is importantly related to Aucassin et Nicolette, has been closely analyzed; Yde, by contrast, has received scant critical attention. Nevertheless, this work raises a number of intriguing questions. The poet's use of Ovidian myth is particularly noteworthy. What motivated the poet's choice of this particular myth about gender disguise and gender change? How does the poet integrate this story into the lineage framework provided by the prior continuations? Finally, how does the use of the myth contribute to Yde's function as a narrative continuation?
Since Yde is a relatively unstudied work, I will preface my discussion of these questions with a short synopsis of the story. The marriage of Clarisse and Florent, the pregnancy of Clarisse, the birth of Yde and the resultant death of Clarisse are rapidly sketched. Florent's grief is recounted in detail; he steadfastly refuses to remarry. Over the years Yde grows increasingly to resemble her mother, and Florent falls in love with her and decides to marry her. Yde is horrified by her father's plan; she disguise's herself as a man and flees the country. A series of adventures ensues in which Yde proves herself a valiant knight. She journeys to Rome and enters the service of King Oton. The king has only one child, a very beautiful daughter named Olive, and he soon decides that Yde will marry her and inherit his kingdom. Yde protests, but finally accepts the plan. After the wedding, Yde persuades Olive to accept a period of abstinence. After a week has passed Yde reveals to Olive her true identity and the reason for her disguise; Olive is horrified but promises to keep Yde's true identity a secret. An eavesdropper, however, reports their conversation to the king, who swears he will kill both Yde and Olive if the information he has received is correct. He orders Yde to disrobe and bathe with him. Yde prays and an angel appears to chastise the king, noting the exemplary (male) qualities possesed by Yde and her faithfulness as a vassal. The angel announces that Yde is, from this day forth, a true man. The king is then told that he will die in eight days and that Yde and Olive will have a child; the child is conceived that very night.
In the myth of Iphis, we recall, the context of the sexual transformation is considerably different. In Ovid's text, the daughter's gender is concealed from the moment of her birth. However, as in Yde, the gender disguise is motivated by the behavior of the father, Ligdus, who has decreed that should his wife, Thelathusa, bear a daughter, the infant must be put to death. In a vision, Isis orders Thelathusa to protect her child, and when a girl is born the mother succeeds in concealing her true gender. Thirteen years pass, and Iphis becomes betrothed to her friend Ianthe. The two young girls deeply love each other, and the confused Iphis laments the cruel fate that makes her love like a man without the hope of satisfaction. A wedding day is finally named; in terror, Thelathusa takes the girl to Isis's temple on the day before the wedding, pleading with the goddess to save them both. Isis transforms Iphis into a young man, and the marriage at last can take place.
In both texts, Yde and Ovid, it is the father who motivates the initial disguising of the daughter's gender. Ovid's myth shows a strong father figure who, although he pronounces his decision with regret, nevertheless expects to exercise the power of life and death over his daughter. This powerful paternal figure is balanced by the highly sympathetic, protective figure of the mother, who ultimately saves her daughter's life. The 13th-century poet, by contrast, creates a wholly different, perhaps more dramatic context by omitting the mother and leaving the innocent child prey to the father's unnatural desire. This is a radical transformation of the Iphis model, which requires us to examine its motivation.
Incest was, of course, a popular theme in both Latin and early French vernacular literature. A number of 12th-, 13th-, and 14th-century texts present elaborate stories of incest or the threat of it. Of these, Apollonius of Tyre, La Belle Helaine, and La Manekine portray fathers who threaten their daughters; these works were immensely popular and very influential. Jean-Luc Leclanche has recently suggested that the Ovidian myth of Byblis, a story about the threat of brother-sister incest, was also the suject of a popular 12th-century romance. The myth of Byblis, of course, immediately precedes that of Iphis in Book 9 of the Metamorphoses, and it is tempting to think that the popularity of this incest story might have suggested to the Yde poet his conflation of mythic topoi: incest and gender change.
Another text--or set of texts--in which incest plays a dominant role is the early 13th-century prose Lancelot. Here, incest is shown as a threat to genealogical continuity and, consequently, to narrative continuation. In this connection Alexandre Leupin has observed, "L'inceste . . . est . . . la forme culminante d'une subversion qui s'attaque à la transmission verticale du nom de l'ancêtre, produisant une confusion irréversible dans les termes du lignage . . . ."  In La Mort le roi Artu, the final narrative of the Vulgate Cycle, this confusion is personified by Modred, Arthur's son by his half-sister Morgan, who causes the termination of the Arthurian kingdom and, ultimately, the end of the Vulgate Cycle itself. Since Yde is also part of a larger, cyclical work, and since, as Howard Bloch has observed, epic cycles, more than any other genre, are reliant upon lineage as a model for narrative, it seems curious that the Yde poet should introduce the theme of incest in his work.
It is, indeed, the disruptive potentiality of incest which the poet foregrounds, stating in ll. 6379-83:
Dix pour coi a li rois tele pensée
Dont tante dame iert encor esplourée
& tante terre & destruite et gastée
Tante jouente en iert deshyretée
Tante pucelle orphenine clamée.
(God, why does the king have such a thought?
Because of it such a great number of women
will yet be lamented
and such a great number of lands destroyed
such a great number of youths disinherited,
such a great number of maidens proclaimed orphan.)
This passage highlights a number of important issues. First, the repetition of the adjective tante stresses--somewhat surprisingly--that vast numbers of people and countries may be affected--not by Florent's decision--but by this type of decision; the focus is on the far-reaching public consequences of incest. Second, the use of the future passive is noteworthy, since it emphasizes the potential for future disaster. Third, incest is situated within a political context: incest causes countries to be destroyed and lands to be laid waste. Finally, the focus on lineage draws our attention to a particular social dimension of the problem: youths (presumably of incestuous unions) will be disinherited and young women will be deemed orphans; genealogical confusion is the result of incest. The passage recalls a similar one in the Mort, in which the narrator comments on the on-going battle between Arthur and Modred, noting:
Einsi commença la bataille es pleins de Salebieres, dont li roiaumes de Logres fu tornez a destrucion, et ausi furent meint autre, car puis n'i ot autant de preudomes comme il i avoit eü devant; si en remestrent aprés leur mort les terres gastes et essilliees, et soufreteuses de bons seigneurs, car il furent trestout ocis a grant douleur et a grant haschiee. (181. 51-8; emphasis added)
(Thus began the battle on the plains of Salisbury, because of which the kingdom of Logres was destroyed, and also many others, because since that time there have not been as many noble men as there were before. Thus after their deaths the lands remained devastated and destroyed and lacking good lords, because they had all been killed in great pain and agony.)
Here too, wide-spread destruction of countries and of land, and damage to lineage are stressed.
The Yde poet further underscores the public significance of Florent's decision by invoking both divine and human law. Florent's councillors warn him that his decision is dangerous:
. . . quest ce que tu dis leres
Doit dont ta fille estre a toi marïée
A ceste loi que Dix nous a donnée
Dedens infer sera tame dampnée.
(ll. 6361-64; emphasis added)
( . . . what are you saying, wicked one?
Must then your daughter be married to you?
According to the law which God has given us,
your soul will be damned to hell.)
They later remind him that God has forbidden Christians to marry within their parage, or kinship group:
Gardons la loi que il nous commanda
Cis iert honnis qui le trespassera
Le mariage quant il le commanda
Tous crestïens Jesucris commanda
Ca son parage ne se mariast pas
Tu ne le pues auoir dusques en qart,
V autrement bougrenie sera.
(Let us keep the law that he has commanded us
The one who breaks it will be covered with shame.
When he ordained marriage,
Jesus ordered every Christian
not to marry his own kin.
You cannot have it [i.e., marriage] before the fourth degree;
Otherwise it will be heresy.)
The last two lines situate divine law within a contemporary legal context. God's commandment had been interpreted by man to prohibit marriage within the fourth degree of kinship. Transgression of this law is heresy or, more specifically, sexual perversion.
The public dimension of Florent's threat is also stressed by the manner in which his decision is revealed. The decision is first announced publicly, to one hundred of his knights; he then convokes his vassals, for an even more public announcement:
Li rois Florens de riens ne sarresta
Ains fait mander sa gent plus ne targa
Briés & escris a pris ses seela
Les haus barons v Florens se fia
Mande partout & la gaite i ala.
En son vergier son conseil assambla.
(King Florent delayed not at all;
rather he had his men sent out without further delay.
He took letters and written documents and sealed them up.
The great lords on whom Florent relied
he sent out everywhere and [also] the watchman went out.
He assembled his council in the orchard.)
Only after his decision has been thoroughly publicized does he tell Yde. Here again, the context is public; Yde is brought to her father by his councillors who, following his announcement to her, kneel and plead with him to change his mind:
Tout si baron sen sont agenoulliet
& dïent rois aiés de vous pitiet
Tu vex ta fille & ton cors vergongnier.
(All the barons knelt [because of it]
and said, "King, have pity on yourself.
You want to shame your daughter and your [own] body.)
The private, personal threat to Yde is therefore situated as part of a larger public threat, encompassing politics, governance, fertility, and legitimacy. Yde's disguise and ultimate change of gender allow a restitution of non-transgressive sexuality, culminating in natural, patrilineal succession and assuring the stability not only of Huon's line, but also the continuation of the cycle itself. The poet's choice of the Iphis myth in this context is highly innovative. Whereas the transvestism theme alone would have merely been an appropriate response for a sexually threatened female character, the theme of gender change allows a resolution of the public dimension of the incest threat through a public demonstration of approved sexuality.
While many features of the Ovidian myth of Iphis are adhered to in Yde, the story has been radically remotivated. I would like to turn now to an examination of those aspects of the Iphis myth which have been altered in Yde in response to the incest theme. These are: the role of the mother; the gender disguise; the threat of homosexuality; and the gender change. I will compare the relevant passages and then draw some conclusions about the poet's alteration of the myth.
The first and most important departure from the Iphis myth in Yde is the death of the mother. The initial presentation of the mothers in the two texts is similar: in both, the pregnancies are related, as well as the prayers of the parents; however, the situation quickly changes in Yde when Clarisse dies in childbirth. Clarisse's death is unexpected since her importance as Huon's child has been demonstrated in CF. It is interesting too, that not only is Clarisse quickly dispatched in Yde but her many prayers to the Virgin ("Sainte Marie a souent reclamée . . . ," l. 6244 [She often called upon Holy Mary]) go unanswered. A general undercutting of female presence is suggested.
In the myth of Iphis, by contrast, the mother's role, like the role of the female deity, Isis, is crucial. Although Ligdus's initial pronouncement concerning Thelathusa's pregnancy motivates events, it is Thelathusa's prayers which lead to the resolution of the drama. She effects a layering of female personae (Iphis --> Thelathusa --> Isis) which work together to achieve the restoration of "natural" order and ultimately confirm paternal authority. Thelathusa causes Iphis to be transformed by Isis, who reestablishes the correct, natural order of both speech and sexual relations; i.e., the "girl" who is Iphis, "dies" and is reborn as a man. The initial pronouncement of the father is thus ultimately validated, but because of the activity of the female characters.
In Yde, it is the absence of the mother and the daughter's eventual similarity to her which creates the context of the drama. Florent tells Yde:
Mix ressamblés vostre mere au vis fier
Que riens qui fust onques desous le ciel
Pour son samblant ai jou vo cors plus cier
Si vous prendrai a per & a moullier.
(ll. 6492-95; emphasis added)
(You resemble your mother with the proud face more
than anything that ever existed under the sun.
It is because of your resemblance to her that I hold
your body more dear,
and thus will take you as companion and wife.)
Florent's attempt at sexual substitution leads to a chain of substitutions: Clarisse is replaced by Yde; Yde is replaced by the disguised Yde; the disguised Yde is replaced by the male Yde. In addition, Yde also replaces her mother in a functional, narrative sense. First of all, her story replaces that of her mother's, recounted in the previous continuation. Second, her adventures (which lead to marriage) begin with the adoption of male dress, just as her mother's did (leading to her marriage). Finally, Yde herself performs a number of functions reserved for the mother in the Iphis myth; e.g., she chooses her disguise (unlike her own mother), and she articulates the prayer which results in her change of sex. The early death of Clarisse seems motivated by the poet's desire to create an equally important substitute for her.
Another aspect of Yde's transformation which merits our attention is the preparation of a bath by Florent just prior to Yde's disguise and flight. The bath recalls an earlier passage, in which the newborn Yde is brought to church, lifted to the font, and given her name; at this moment the king is told of the death of his wife. The bath, too, is associated with (re)birth, and change of identity. More important, however, is the association of the bath with gender change; it is after the preparation of the bath by Florent that Yde adopts male disguise and after the preparation of another bath, by Oton, that her miraculous change of gender occurs. The story contains, then, references to three different bath or font episodes, all of which are intimately linked to Yde's evolving identity. None of them appears in the myth of Iphis.
The bath or font which changes the bather's gender is, as both Alexandre Krappe and Keith Sinclair have noted, a venerable topos in folklore. Both authors discuss the absence of the topos in the Iphis story, and Krappe concludes that the Iphis myth could not have been a source for TN, where the topos does appear; Sinclair expands this conclusion to include Yde. It should be remembered, however, that the topos of gender-changing waters was not foreign to the Metamorphoses; indeed, the myth of Hermaphroditus is a locus classicus of the theme. An example of the close association of the Hermaphroditus and Iphis myths is found in Alexander Neckam's early 13th-century De laudibus sapientiae divinae:
Esse ferunt fontem naturae prodigiosum,
Munus quam semet impetiisse queror.
Alterat intrantem sexus mutatio, fortis
In sexum fragilem degenerare solet.
Curia magnatum virtutum dejicit artem,
In qua nunc virgo, nunc puer Iphis erat.
(They say that there is a fountain prodigious in nature which I lament to have obtained its gift.
A change of sex alters one entering; the strong sex
degenerates into the weak.
A court of nobles drives out the art of the virtues;
there Iphis was now a maid, now a boy.)
As Simone Viarre has noted, Ovid is the only classical author who tells the story of Iphis; there seems therefore to be no question that Neckam is referring to the text of Ovid. The passage supports the idea that the gender change in the Iphis myth would naturally have suggested to a 13th- or 14th-century author other Ovidian myths of gender change, and that a conflation of topoi would have occured very naturally.
In Yde, the bath marks the moment in which Yde chooses her new identity. It is important that her transformation is depicted as a choice on her part; this is, again, a significant departure from the Iphis myth. Iphis herself exercises no power of choice at all in the narrative; her disguise is chosen by her mother. Yde, then, in her choice of male disguise, fulfills functions assigned to the mother in Iphis. Yde's choice, we learn, is a powerful one; so powerful that her physical characteristics seem magically to have changed into those of a real man. The strength of her disguise is reflected in Oton's initial impression of her. Instead of the bele meschine described in ll. 6320-21 and ll. 6465-83, she is now perceived as a young man who is grant, membru, and formé (l. 6807). The nature of Yde's transformation is reflected in a change of name; she now becomes Ydé, her own concept or idée of masculinity. It is, therefore, through her cleverness--her ideas--that Yde escapes.
For Iphis, on the other hand, gender disguise is a source of great anguish. Her long speech (one third of the text) condemns her imposture and her (potential) homosexuality:
nec vaccam vaccae, nec equas amor urit equarum:
urit oves aries, sequitur sua femina cervum.
sic et aves coeunt, interque animalia cuncta
femina femineo conrepta cupidine nulla est.
vellem nulla forem! . . .
(ll. 731-35; emphasis added)
(Cows do not love cows, nor mares, mares;
but the ram desires the ewe, and his own doe
follows the stag.
So also birds mate, and in the whole animal world
there is no female smitten with love for female.
I would I were no female! . . .
[Translation by F. J. Miller, slightly altered].)
Throughout this speech, the accent is on Iphis's personal relation to and perception of the natural world. The "unnaturalness" of homosexual desire is reflected rhetorically in the repetition of terms: vaccam vaccae, equas equarum, femina femineo; natural love, by contrast, is the love of difference: oves aries. Her desire and her commitment to "correct" sexual love authorize her eventual metamorphosis.
The situation in Yde is quite different. Olive, like Ianthe, unsuspectingly loves another woman; Yde's own emotions, however, unlike Iphis's, remain curiously unengaged. Although she reacts to Oton's proposal with horror ("Yde lentent li sans li est müés / Ne set comment se porra demener / Na membre nul qua li puist abiter," ll. 7064-66 [Yde hears him and her blood runs cold / She does not know how she will be able to act / She has no member with which to possess her]), her emotions are ruled by her fear of her own father:
La fille au roi a mon cors enamé
Or ne sai jou comment puisse escaper
Se jou lor di femme sui [par ver]té
Tantost maront ochis & decopé
V a mon pere diront la verité.
(The daughter of the king has become enamored of my body.
Now I don't know how I can escape.
If I tell them I am in truth a woman
they shall soon have killed and murdered me
or they will tell my father the truth.)
Yde is never presented as a desiring subject; rather, she is consistently portrayed as the object of a desire that is dangerous. It is her father's desire, and finally, Olive's, which motivate her transformation. Yde's own feelings are not described; rather the narrative focusses on her prowess and on her faithfulness as Oton's vassal.
The manner in which Yde's deception is made known to Oton is, in this context, of special note. Just as Florent's decision is announced publicly and leads to a private decision by Yde, here the story moves from a private decision to a public revelation. Yde has successfully hidden her gender from Oton [c.f. Thelathusa, who successfully hides Iphis's gender from Ligdus], but at last decides to tell Olive the truth about her disguise. An eavesdropper in turn retells the story to Oton, who vows to kill both Olive and Yde if the information he has heard is correct. He proposes to discover the truth by an act of uncovering, ordering Yde to appear before him, strip off her clothes, and bathe with him. This act is to be accomplished at court, before his collected vassals. The scene thus forms a parallel to the earlier court scene, when Florent announces his marriage plans to his assembled vassals.
In Yde, the context for the gender change is therefore totally public. Yde herself prays for divine aid and an angel appears and reveals the truth to the assembled household; the angel's speech is followed by the miraculous transformation of Yde and the engendering of a (male) heir, who assures the continuity of Huon's lineage. The story thus moves beyond the conclusion presented in Iphis, which ends with the mother's prayers in the chapel and a private metamorphosis (Ligdus and Ianthe are not present, and it is only after the transformation that the wedding can take place).
Unlike the Iphis myth, Yde is motivated by the goal of lineage continuity. This goal is suggested by the introduction of the incest theme, which allows the poet to problematize such issues as legitimacy, genealogical succession, and the role of women. We have seen that the themes of gender disguise and gender change allow a resolution of these problems. But how are we to interpret the modifications of the Iphis myth which occur as a response to the incest theme? In all of the aspects we have examined, there is a consistent undercutting of female presence: whether it be the death of the mother, the non-intervention of the Virgin, the conscious choice of male disguise, the violent reaction to female homosexuality, or the "reward" of gender change, in each instance the 13th-century narrative affirms male power by undercutting female presence. What does this undercutting contribute to the meaning of the narrative?
An answer, I believe, lies in the status of epic continuations as "gendered" narratives; i.e., narratives that relate not merely genealogical continuation, but rather the continuity of male succession and the transfer of power and property over time. The focus on genealogy in these texts conveys a deep concern for origins and a profound commitment not merely to generational continuity as a model for narrative, but to patrilineal continuity. As Howard Bloch has observed: "L'univers de la chronique littéraire et des premières chansons de geste est tellement masculin que nous sommes tentés même d'y voir la forme narrative de la primogéniture." While the disguise and "regendering" of Yde fulfills the immediate narrative need for an escape from transgressive sexuality, it also allows a "regendering" of the narrative--a reorientation of the cycle along the axis of male power and patrilineal continuity. In the next installments of the cycle, Oton dies, Yde is reconciled with Florent, Croissant ultimately rules Rome, and Esclarmonde (Yde's grandmother who, thanks to Auberon, will never grow old), becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son, thus establishing a true patrilineal succession for Huon's line. All of these events are prepared by Yde, and by the reinterpretation of sexuality and of succession which are adumbrated there. In Yde, textual and sexual difference requires the rewriting of gender and the remotivation of myth.
See, for example, Michèle Perret, "Travesties et Transsexuelles: Yde, Silence, Grisandole, Blanchandine," Romance Notes 25:3 (1985), 328-40; Kate Mason Cooper, "Elle and L: Sexualized Textuality in Le Roman de Silence," Romance Notes 25:3 (1985), 341-60; R. Howard Bloch, "Silence and Holes: The Roman de Silence and the Art of the Trouvère," YFS 70 (1986), 81-99), and Ch. 1, pp. 44-46, of his The Scandal of the Fabliaux (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1986), in which he examines the relation of clothing to grammar in Silence. Although the motif achieves special popularity in 13th- and 14th-century vernacular narratives, it should be kept in mind that transvestism had long been a recurrent motif in hagiographic texts. For a survey, see John Anson, "The Female Transvestite in Early Monasticism: The Origin and Development of a Motif," Viator 5 (1974): 1-32.
Keith V. Sinclair discounts a possible relation between Iphis and either Yde or TN (Tristan de Nanteuil: Thematic Infrastructure and Literary Creation [Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1983]), citing ancient Indian sources. Similarly, Alexandre Haggerty Krappe ("Tristan de Nanteuil," Romania 61 (1935), pp. 55-71), while seemingly unaware of Yde, also claims ancient Indian sources for TN, and states that "Il n'y a . . . pas le moindre indice pour montrer que l'auteur de Tristan de Nanteuil ait connu l'épisode ovidien," (pp. 69-70); Sinclair concurs with Krappe's conclusion (p. 102). Given the importance of the Metamorphoses in the 13th and 14th centuries, this opinion is untenable. Both scholars have overlooked the possibility that other myths from the Metamorphoses may have influenced the two French poets.
In contrast to Krappe and Sinclair, Barbara Anne Brewka, in her “Esclarmonde, Clarisse et Florent, Yde et Olive I, Croissant, Yde et Olive II, Huon et les Geants, sequels to Huon de Bordeaux, As Contained in Turin ms. L. II. 14: An Edition” (Diss. Vanderbilt Univ., 1977), claims to "have found no specific model for Yde's sex transformation" (p. 57).
Esclarmonde, Clarisse et Florent, Yde et Olive, Drei Fortsetzungen der chanson von Huon de Bordeaux (Marburg: N.G. Elwert, 1889).
See especially, Omer Jodogne, "Aucassin, et Nicolette, Clarisse et Florent," in Mélanges de langue et de littérature du Moyen Age et de la Renaissance offerts à Jean Frappier, vol. I, pp. 453-81 (Genève: Droz, 1970).
I have followed the organization of Brewka's edition, according to which the birth of Croissant concludes Yde. In her edition (lines 7246-8420 of Schweigel’s edition), the following stories relate the tale of Croissant and the further adventures of Yde (Yde et Olive II). Schweigel, however, edits the three stories as one, although he states that the latter portion of the text (lines 7645-8420 of his edition) is the work of a second author (Schweigel, p. 32). Schweigel notes in this context the error of Léon Gautier, who claims that Croissant did not survive in verse form (Les Epopées françaises: étude sur les origines et l'histoire de la littérature nationale. 3 vols. [Paris: Victor Palmé, 1865-68]; here, vol. 2, p. 557). (Gautier's claim, nevertheless, cast a long shadow. For a discussion, see Marguerite Rossi, Huon de Bordeaux et l'Evolution du Genre épique au XIIIe siècle (Paris: Honoré Champion, 1975), p. 623.) In any case, it seems clear that the Croissant story is distinct from Yde; Brewka's organization therefore seems the best approach.
Metamorphoses, IX, ll. 666-797, ed. and trs. by Frank Justus Miller (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (Loeb Classical Library, 2nd edition), 1984).
Brewka cites La Manekine and Apollonius of Tyre as possible sources for the Yde poet (pp. 55-57).
"Biblis: Métamorphose médiévale d'un conte ovidien," in Mélanges de langue et de littérature médiévales offerts à Alice Planche, Maurice Accarie and Ambroise Queffelec, eds. (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1984), II, 287-97.
Le Graal et la littérature (Lausanne: Editions l'Age d'Homme, 1982), p. 87.
Etymologies and Genealogies: A Literary Anthropology of the French Middle Ages (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1983), p. 93.
Quotations are from Schweigel's published edition of the text. Translations are my own.
Jean Frappier, ed., La Mort le roi Artu. 3e édition (Geneva and Paris: Librairie Droz (TLF) and M. J. Minard, 1964).
 The Lateran Council of 1215 approved an alteration of prior law which prohibited marriage within the seventh degree. For details of this decision, see James A. Brundage, Law, Sex, and Christian Society in Medieval Europe (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1987), pp. 355-56; pp. 434-35.
Although Godefroy does not specifically cite the term bougrenie, he lists the variants bougrie, bouguerie, bouguerrie, bogrerie, and boguerrie, and glosses them as "hérésie des bougres, débauche contre nature." He glosses the term bougerronnerie as "péché de sodomie." (Dictionnaire de l'ancienne langue française et de tous ses dialectes du IXe au XVe siècle, Vol. 1. [Paris: F. Vieweg, 1880]). Greimas glosses bougeron and bogre as "hérétique, sodomite" and bogrie, bogerie as "1. Hérésie des bougres" and 2. "Débauche contre nature." (Dictionnaire de l'ancien français jusqu'au milieu du XIVe siècle, 2e Edition [Paris: Librairie Larousse, 1968]).
In lines 3539-3753 of CF (Schweigel's edition), Clarisse is abducted by the traitor Brohars; he tells her that the abbot has asked for her to be brought to him secretly, disguised in men's clothing and with her face darkened; when she arrives, he will have three kings assembled, among whom she may choose a husband. Brohars, however, decides to keep Clarisse for himself. This is the first of Clarisse's many adventures.
 Vne fille ot au moustier fu portée
Yde ot a non quant en fons fu leuée
Au roi Florent ont la fille moustrée
Quant il le voit grant joie en a menée
De la roïne a tantost demandée
On voit bien lueure ne puet estre celée
Pour chou li ont la verité contée
Quant li rois la oïe & escoutée
Il ciet pasmés tel dolour a menée.
(It was a girl [who] had been brought to the church;
When lifted to the font she was given the name Yde.
They showed the girl to king Florent;
when he saw her he was very joyful
and immediately asked about the queen.
They see [only too] well that the situation cannot be hidden;
for this reason they told him the truth.
When the king listened to it and heard,
he fell in a faint, such pain did he feel.)
It is interesting in this context to compare lines 3220-23 of the Ovide moralisé, in which the unborn Iphis is described as an allegory of the sinful soul which may be transformed by baptismal waters:
C'est l'ame, qui par baptistire
Est en sains fons regeneree
Et dou cors de l'Yglise nee
Et est entree en son aveu.
(Ovide moralisé: poème du commencement du quatorzième siècle publié d'après tous les manuscrits connus, ed. C. de Boer, Martina G. de Boer, and Jeannette Th. M. van't Sant, 5 vols. [Amsterdam, Koninklije Akademie van Wetenschappen, 1915-1938; rpt. 1966], III, p. 299.)
[This is the soul, which through baptism
is regenerated in the holy font
and born of the body of the Church
and has entered into its vow.]
It seems possible that Yde may have influenced the anonymous Ovide moralisé poet's interpretation of the Iphis myth.
See Krappe, p. 69 and Sinclair, p. 105 (see above, n. 2). Sinclair does, however, note that "until all Western and Eastern redactions have been surveyed, we must be cautious about how we judge the intercultural transferences."
De naturis rerum Libri duo. With the poem of the same author De laudibus divinae sapientiae. Thomas Wright, ed. (London: Longman, Green, Roberts, and Green, 1963), p. 399. (Chapter 3 of the De laudibus deals exclusively with the element of water; a number of miraculous fountains are discussed.) It is also worth noting that Byblis, in the story which immediately precedes Iphis, is metamorphosed into a fountain.
La Survie d'Ovide dans la littérature scientifique des XIIe et XIIIe siècles (Poitiers: Centre d'Etudes Supérieures de Civilisation Médiévale, 1966), p. 118.
See Perret, who notes of this description: "C'est bien l'attente créée par les signes extérieurs qui permet que la réalité ne soit pas discernée et qui fausse la perception. Un dire fausse le regard, et la féminité non dite ne peut être vue" (p. 333).
For a discussion of the different forms of Yde's name, see Brewka, pp. 142-48. Perret remarks in this context that "Trois changements de genre successifs transforment . . . le nom historique de Yde en un signe motivé (Ydée, Idée, représentation des choses dans la pensée)," (pp. 334-35).
Cf. ll. 3130-31 of the Iphis story in the Ovide moralisé: "Tout n'eüst elle point de vit / Ne de membre a ce convenable" [Although she had no penis at all / nor member appropriate for this]. The specificity of this reference is entirely foreign to Ovid's text.
It is worth noting that the Ovide moralisé poet confirms the possible truth of the Iphis story, by referring to an old, and apparently well-known tale:
Or vueil espondre par estoire
Ceste fable, qui puet estre voire
Selonc historial sentence.
Estre pot, ains fu sans doutance
C'une feme ancienement
D'abit et de cultivement
Sambloit home, et cil le cuidoient
Qui en tel habit la veoient,
Et sa mere le fesoit croire. . . .
(Now I wish to respond with a story;
[with] this tale which could be historically true.
It could have been, or rather it happened without a doubt,
that in former times a woman
seemed from her clothes and her behavior
to be a man. And those people believed it
who saw her dressed in such clothes,
and her mother led people to believe it [it was so].)
In this story, however, it is the illicit desire of the transvestite female ("Le mal desirrer qu'ele avoit," l. 3145 [The evil (with a pun on mal=male) desire that she had]) which is underscored. No miraculous change of gender occurs to save her and to ensure the legitimacy of her marriage:
Cele espousa qu'el ne devoit
Par loy de mariage avoir,
Et pour lui rendre son devoir
Par membre apostis la deçut.
Quant la meschine l'aperçut,
Ne fu la chose plus celee,
Ains fu en apert revelee,
Si en tenoit chascuns son conte,
Et la fole en fu mise à honte,
Qui bien ot honte desservie.
De tele oeuvre n'ait nulz envie,
Quar trop est et dampnable et vis.
(This woman married her whom she should not have
by lawful marriage.
And in order to give her her [conjugal] due,
deceived her with an artificial member.
When the girl perceived it,
the thing was no longer hidden.
Thus it was openly revealed
and everyone talked about it.
And the madwoman was brought to shame over it,
she who truly deserved the shame.
Let no one desire such a deed
because it is too damnable and vicious.)
I follow here the definition of gendered narratives formulated by Alice A. Jardine in Gynesis: Configurations of Woman and Modernity (Ithaca and London: Cornell Univ. Press, 1985), p. 24, and developed by Rachel Jacoff in her "Transgression and Transcendence: Figures of Female Desire in Dante's Commedia," Romanic Review 79:1 (1988), pp. 129-42; here, p. 129.
"Etymologies et généalogies: théories de la langue, lignes de parenté et genre littéraire au XIIIe siècle," Annales E.S.C. 5 (1981), pp. 946-62; here, p. 954.
These developments are related in ll. 7246-8420 of Schweigel's edition.