Sunday, 5 July 2015

WTF did you say THIRTY knights?

This is my favourite part of Malory so far. This is what happens when a normal guy hangs out with a chivalric super hero. The best part is that the whole book is about chivalric super heroes running around beating the shit out of insane numbers of dudes, and then from nowhere, this guy turns up who seems to to be as shocked by the nature of the fiction he is in as we would be.

My translation is almost certainly inaccurate.


And then Sir Trystram and Sir Dynadan departed from them into a forest; and there met them a damsel that came for the love of Sir Lancelot to seek after some noble knights of King Arthur's court for to rescue Sir Lancelot - for he was ordained for, by the treason of Queen Morgan le Fay, to have slain him, and for that cause she ordained thirty knights to lie in wait for Sir Lancelot. And this damsel knew this treason.

And for this cause they came to seek noble knights to help Sir Lancelot, for that night, or the day after, Sir Lancelot should come where these thirty knights were. And so this damsel met with Sir Bors and Sir Bleoberys and Sir Ector and with Sir Dryaunte, and there she told them all four of the treason of Morgan le Fay. And then she promised her that they would be nigh her when Sir Lancelot should meet with the thirty knights - "and if so be they set upon him, we will do rescue as we can." So the damsel departed, and by adventure she met with Sir Trystram and with Sir Dynadan; and there the damsel told them of all the treason that was ordained for Sir Lancelot.

"Now, fair damsel," said Sir Trystram, "bring me to that same place where they should meet with Sir Lancelot."

Then said Sir Dynadan, "What will you do? It is not for us to fight with thirty knights! And know you well I will not thereoff; as to match one knight, two or three, is enough, if they be men - but for to match fifteen knights, that I will never undertake."

"Fy, for shame!" said Sir Trystram, "do but you're part!"

"No," said Sir Dynadan, "I will not thereoff, but if you will lend me your shield - for you bear a shield of Cornwall, and, for the cowardice that is named to the knights of Cornwall, by your shields being ever forborne."

"No" said Sir Trystram, "I will not depart, for her sake that gave it me - but one thing," said Sir Trystram, "I promise you, Sir Dynadan: but if you will not promise me to abide with me right here, I shall slay you. For I desire no more of you but to answer one knight - and if your heart will not serve you, stand by and look on."*

“Sir.” said Sir Dynadan, "I will promise you to look on and to do what I may to save myself - but I would I had not met with you."

So than anon these thirty knights came fast by these four knights; and they were aware of them, and either of the other. And so these thirty knights let them pass for this cause, that they would not wrath them if case be they had ado with Sir Lancelot; and the four knights let them pass to their intent, that they would see and behold what they would do with Sir Lancelot.

And so the thirty knights passed on and came by Sir Trystram and by Sir Dynadan; and then Sir Trystram cried on high,

"Lo! here is a knight against you for the love of Sir Lancelot!"

And there he slew two with a spear and ten with his sword; and then came in Sir Dynadan and he did passing well. And so of the thirty knights there rode but ten away, and they fled.


Than Sir Trystram and Sir Dynadan rode forth their way till they came to shepherds and to herdsmen; and there they asked them if they knew any lodging there near-hand.

"Sir," said the herdsmen, "hereby is good harbour in a castle; but there is such a custom that there shall no knight harbour there but if he joust with two knights - and as you be soon shall you be matched."

There is shrewd harbour," said Sir Dynadan. "Lodge where you will for I will not lodge there."

"Fy, for shame!" said Sir Trystrams, "are you not a knight of the Table Round? - wherefore you may not with your worship refuse your lodging."

"Not so," said the herdsmen, "for if you be beaten and have the worse, you shall not be lodged there; and if you beat them, you shall be well harboured."

"A," said Sir Dynadan, "I understand they are two good knights."

Than Sir Dynadan would not lodge there in no manner but as Sir Trystrams required him of his knighthood. And so they rode thither; and to make short tale, Sir Trystram and Sir Dynadan smote them down both, and so they entered into the castle and had good cheer as they could think or devise. And when they were unarmed and thought to be merry and in good rest, there came in at the gates Sir Palomedys and Sir Gaherys, requiring to have the custom of the castle.

"What array is this?" said Sir Dynadan, "I would fain have my rest."

"That may not be," said Sir Trystram. "Now must we needs defend the custom of this castle, insomuch as we have the better of the lord of this castle - and therefor," said Sir Trystram, "needs must you make you ready."

"In the devils name," said Sir Dynadan, "came I into you're company!"

And so they made them ready; and Sir Gaherys encountered with Sir Trystram, and Sir Gaherys had a fall; and Sir Palomydes encountered with Sir Dynadan, and Sir Dynadan had a fall: that was It fall-for-fall. So then must they fight on foot - and that would not Sir Dynadan, for he was sore bruised of that fall that Sir Palomydes gave him.

Than Sir Trystrams unlaced Sir Dynadans helm and prayed him to help him.

"I will not," said Sir Dynadan, "for I am sore wounded of the thirty knights that we had ado withall. But you fare," said Sir Dynadan, "as a man that were out of his mind, that would cast himself away; and I may curse the time that ever I saw you, for in all the world are not two such knights that are so mad as this Sir Lancelot and you Sir Trystram - for once I fell into the fellowship of Sir Lancelot, as I have done now with you, and he set me so a-work that a quarter of a year I kept my bed! Jesus defend me," said Sir Dynadan, "from such two knights, and specially from your fellowship!"

* I think this exchange means.

Dynadan - Ok, everyone knows Cornish knights are pussies.Let me use your cornish shield and the bad guys will think I am not important and leave me alone.

Trystram - My bae gave my this shield and I won't give it up. If you run from this spot I will kill you. You can watch if you like, just don't run away.


  1. Man, I'd forgotten Sir Dynadan. These posts are bringing up many happy memories of my own read-through of Mallory, many years ago...

    (I think your translation is about right, by the way. 'Forborne' means 'spared' and/or 'tolerated' in this context.)

  2. ("we will do rescue as we can.") I love the unverbed "rescue", and the verbing of wrath ("would not wrath them").

    Hahahaa... Trystram is a dick.
    T: "Dynadan, if you don't come and fight thirty knights with me I will kill you"
    D: "Ugh. Fine. I hate you and wish I'd never met you."

    Dynadan hates him so much, and rightly so. Lawful Stupid Paladin that no-one wants to be friends with.

    So good.


    1. "In the devils name," said Sir Dynadan, "came I into you're company!"

      Love it.