Function XXII.10

I found a dragon today:

Than was thar a dragon grim,
Ful of filth and of venim,
With wide throte and teth grete,
And wynges bitere with to bete.
As a lyoun he hadde fet,
And his tail was long and gret.
The smoke com of his nose awai
Ase fer out of a chimenai.
The knyght and squiers he had torent,
Man and hors to dethe chent.
The dragon the Erl assaile gan,
And he defended him as a man,
And stoutliche leid on with his swerd,
And stronge strokes on him gerd;
Ac alle his dentes ne greved him nowt:
His hide was hard so iren wrout.
Therl flei fram tre to tre –
Fein he wolde fram him be –
And the dragon him gan asail.

(Sir Degaré, 347-365)

Did you see it? The earl followed Vladimir Propp’s functions in Morphology of the Folktale: when pursued (“the pursuer tries to gnaw through a tree in which the hero is taking refuge”), the hero “jumps into another tree”. “The earl fled from tree to tree…” It brought a smile to my face.

And I had to giggle when later Degaré goes out in search of his father: no one knows who the father is, and Degaré only has a broken sword by which to recognise him. Degaré exclaims, “Whoever had it, he was a man!” I’m glad Degaré knows his basic biology.

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