Feirefiz

   (Parzival) rides forth, and has not ridden very far when he sees coming at him a knight in the most gorgeous armor, woven of all kinds of metallic mysteries by gnomes in the Oriental mountains.  And again, we know who it is: Parzival’s half-brother, Feirefiz, son of Gahmuret by Belkane of Zazamanc. 

   “These two men,” says Wolfram, “were born of battle noise.  When a lion is born, the lion is born dead, and it is awakened to life by the found of its father’s roar.  These men were awakened to life by battle roar.”  And so they go at each other ferociously.  The antagonist is from the Orient, and he has an army of fifteen different nations (none speaking the language of any other) hiding in the woods, but he’s ridden forth on solo adventure.  And each is very angry because he’s never fought with another knight who was so powerful. 

  The two clash and neither is unseated.  They wheel, and the battle continues.  Presently, both are afoot.  Chips fly from their shields as the blows fly. 

   “I mourn for this, wrote Wolfram.  “One could say that ‘they’ were fighting, if one wished to speak of two.  They were, however, one.  ‘My brother and I’ is one body.”  When Parzival’s sword breaks in two, the other tosses his own sword away.  “I see, brave man,” he says in French, “you would now have to fight with no blade, and no fame would I gain from that.”  Feirefiz continutes, “I’ve never met a man of such courage.  If you’ll tell me your name, my voyage will not have been in vain.”

And Parzival replies: “Am I to tell you my name out of fear?”

So Feirefiz says, “I’ll tell you mine: my name is Feirefiz of Angeven.”  Then he takes his helmet off, and there’s the mottled face.  The heathen is piebald, black and white.  They realize, to their mutual astonishment, that they’re brothers.  And it is actually through the heathen’s act of compassion, when the sword of the Christian failed, that the two discover their identity.

   “Now, thes two,” says Wolfram – and this is a very important theme and line in his work – “were fighting there, but they are one.  They are one, the sons of Gahmuret, each doing the other and himself much harm through courage and through loyalty.”  These are the two worlds of Islam and Christendom, the two daughter worlds of the Hebrew world.  Gahmuret and these two are all one.  Wolfram discusses at great length the one that is three, and the one that is two, and how the two fight.  But the action comes from the fighting; they must not quit.  Each in his honor is in combat with the other.  RG 77

… a curious thing happens: Feirefiz can’t see the Grail.  All he sees are the eyes and the beauty of the girl carrying it, with whom he is absolutely infatuated.  And the court gradually begins to realize that Feirefiz can’t see the Grail.  There it is right in front of him, the Grail Stone, an abundant, magical thing; people take from it any food they want, any wine they want.  It is related, in Wolfram’s thinking, to the Ka’aba, the black stone of Islam.  The legend of the Ka’aba is that when it was carried down from heaven by angels, it was white.  It’s a piece of a heavenly mansion, and the kissing of it by sinful lips has turned it.  The Grail Stone was brought down by what Wolfram calls the netural angels, those who in the battle between good and evil, at the time of Satan’s fall, took neither side – the Middle Way, again. RG 79

Feirefiz does indeed marry the beautiful girl who carries the Grail.  Her name, as we know, is Repanse de Schoye, and they go to India, where his first wife has meanwhile died, and their little son is born, Prester John, whose legends are legion.   RG 81

The queen (had) a son, whose complexion was piebald, black and white.  He was given the name Feirefiz, “son (fils) of varied hue,” and when he grew to young manhood, he became the Muslim protector of a young Hindu window and her son.  The widow’s name was Secondille, a transformation of the Sanskrit Sanyogita, which was the name of an actual Indian princess, protected by an actual Muslim warrior-prince, Qutb-ud-din Aibak, who in the year 1206-1210 (the years of Wolfram’s writing of his romance) because the sultan of Delhi and builder of its first mosque, with its famous polished-iron pillar, the Qutb-Minar.  This appears in Wolfram’s story as Secondille’s magical pillar, which reflected on its shining surface events and people far away.  Moreover, the name of her Muslim protector, Aibak, means “Moon (ai) Prince (beg or bei),” and is a reference to his beauty.  But the moon is mottled, as was the complexion of Wolfram’s Feirefiz; and so, again we have a playful substitution of the poet’s fictional character for a known historical figure.  RG 86