The Legend





Ancient Britain



Parsifal is a mythical figure who is associated with Arthurian legend.
Parsifal, or Sir Percivale, first appears as a prince embarked on a sacred quest for the Holy Grail in the collection of Welsh tales based on earlier tradition, known as the Mabinogion where he's called Peredur.
The first work devoted entirely to the Parsifal legend is Perceval le Gallois by the French poet Chrétien de Troyes; in this unfinished 12th-century poem, Parsifal locates the Grail and heals its dying custodian.
In Parzival, an epic by the 13th-century German poet Wolfram von Eschenbach, the story is given more precise form; it is on this that the German composer Richard Wagner based his opera Parsifal. By the 15th century, the Morte d' Arthur by the English writer Sir Thomas Malory depicts Parsifal as a knight of King Arthur's Round Table, who, with Sir Galahad and Sir Bors, finds the Grail.

The Holy Grail appears in the medieval romance of Parsifal (or Parzival, or Percival). As a youth, Parsifal sets forth to achieve knighthood at King Arthur's court. On the way he reaches the castle of the Fisher King, a renowned angler. The Fisher King, Parzival's uncle (although unknown to him), is custodian of the Holy Grail and of the spear that wounded Christ on the cross. Because of his sinful ways, the Fisher King has been struck dumb on coming into the presence of the sacred chalice. When Parsifal enters the castle he witnesses a procession in which the bleeding spear and the Holy Grail pass before the speechless king. Astonished, Parsifal fails to ask any questions concerning the strange pantomime, not knowing that if he, a pure and guileless soul, had spoken, his uncle would have been healed. After many wanderings, Parsifal returns to the Grail Castle, welds together a broken sword or (in another version) restores the power of speech to his uncle, and succeeds him as king.

Next: Legendary Quests


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