Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book V Chapter X
And they joust, and at first Gawaine is all rah rah rah yeah yeah but then he starts losing badly.
“You should surrender, or at least call for a timeout,” says Priamus. “You’re bleeding all over your clothes; that’s going to stain.”
“I don’t care!” spits Gawaine. “I’m not done jousting!”
“Well, have it your way.”
“But, after I defeat you, I’m probably going to need a doctor. Do you folks have leeches in this part of the world?”
“We have barbers. I could give you directions to a barber, but first I need you to promise me something.”
“I’ve been looking to convert to Christianity, but I need someone to sponsor me…”
“Done,” says Gawaine. “Wait, how is a Tuscan knight not Christian already?”
“I was born here,” Primaus explains, “but my father was a Libyan general, who fought Rome for many years before, you know, losing. War ended, and my family moved up here before I was born.”
“Huh,” says Gawaine. “So you’re Muslim?”
“In theory, yes,” says Priamus. “But bear in mind Malory knows literally nothing about Islam, so let me instead stress that I’m descended from Alexander the Great, Hector, and the Maccabees. That sounds exotic, yet plausible, right?”
“You’re definitely not British, or French, or Benwick,” Gawaine agrees.
“I’m supposed to be fighting Arthur and his army, along with everybody else in Italy,” says Priamus. “But I’m pretty much done with that, it’s a nonstarter. So, this whole conversion to Christianity thing; what’s the first move? I guess for starters, can you tell me about yourself? I want to be able to explain to people about the knight who converted me.”
“Oh, um, I’m some guy,” says Gawaine. He’s terrible at coming up with cover stories. “I’m not one of Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table.”
“I suppose not. If you were, you’d be helping complete the siege of Florence, right? Sir Florence’s siege of that one city?”
“Yeah… I, um, I worked for Arthur, for, like, thirty years. I was his personal armor-wearer and horse-washer, and then just recently he promoted me to yeoman and gave me a bunch of money and sent me on my way, so now I’m a wandering British knight-errant in Tuscany.”
“That’s hella implausible, but whatever,” says Priamus. “I hear Arthur’s a pretty good boss.”
“Whew!” says Gawaine. “You don’t hate Arthur? Okay, I’m coming clean — I’m his nephew Gawaine, and in fact I am a knight of the Round Table. I lied to you just now to suss out your intentions.”
“Sure, okay. You’re a peculiar man, Gawaine,” says Priamus. “Well, regardless, if you’re a knight in Arthur’s service, and I’ve signed up with you as my sponsor in Christianity, I guess that means I’m defecting over to Arthur’s side.”
I have to assume all this conversation is taking place while Priamus is walking Gawaine over to a barber to get his bleeding stopped. Malory doesn’t specify. And after Priamus suggests they end the joust and Gawaine refuses, it’s unclear what happens there. I guess they just get distracted with all this exposition, and don’t get around to completing the duel. Gawaine probably marks it as a win in his scorebook, though.
Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book V Chapter X — No Comments
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