Yde et Olive
Yde et Olive is an Old French chanson de geste. It is a sequel to Huon de Bordeaux and follows the Chanson d'Esclarmonde, the story of Huon's wife, and Clarisse et Florent, the story of Yde's parents, in the cycle. It is perhaps the earliest Old French adaptation of the myth of Iphis. This myth is found in Ovid's Metamorphoses, but other ancient Indian sources and no sources at all have also been suggested for the chanson.Yde et Olive is a relatively unstudied chanson, with only one critically edited published text, Max Schweigel's from 1889, and one unpublished edition from a 1977 dissertation by Barbara Anne Brewka at Vanderbilt University.
The marriage of Clarisse and Florent and Clarisse' death while giving birth to Yde are briefly recounted in Yde et Olive, but the first major theme of the work is the grieving of Florent and his refusal to remarry. As Yde grows into a young woman much like her mother, her father falls in love with her and plans to marry her. Disgusted by the prospect, Yde, disguised as a man, flees the country and embarks on a series of chivalric adventures that eventually land her in Rome, where she begins to serve the king, Oton. Impressed by her valour, Oton decides to marry Yde to his one and only daughter, Olive, and make her his heir. Though she initially opposes the idea, Yde surrenders to wed Olive. The couple, at Yde's insistence, practice abstinence for the first week after their wedding. Yde then tells Olive the truth about her sex and convinces her to keep the secret, but their conversation is overheard and reported to the king, who vows to kill them both if the story is true. In order to discern its veracity Oton summons Yde to bath with him. The girl prays and an angel rescues her by appealing to the king not to test such a tried and true vassal. The angel then announces that Yde is now a man, that Oton will die eight days hence, and Yde and Olive will conceive a child, which occurs that very night.
The story of Yde and Olive was worked into dramatic form in the Miracle de la fille d'un roy (1454). It does not significantly deviate from the chanson except in its finale. In the early sixteenth century it was printed as part of Les prouesses et faictz merveilleux du noble huon de bordeaulx, which was translated into English and printed as The Boke of Duke Huon of Burdeux by John Bourchier, Lord Berners, for Francis Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon, early in the century, to be printed twice more, c. 1570 and in 1601.
- Durling, Nancy Vine (1989). "Rewriting Gender: Yde et Olive and Ovidian Myth." Romance Languages Association (RLA), Purdue University.
- Watt, Diane (1998). "Behaving Like a Man? Incest, Lesbian Desire, and Gender Play in Yde et Olive and its Adaptations." Comparative Literature, 50:4 (Autumn), pp. 265–285.
- Keith V. Sinclair denies Ovidian influence and suggests ancient Indian sources, as does Alexandre Haggerty Krappe for the related Tristan de Nanteuil. Barbara Brewka on the other hand finds "no specific model" at all. See Durling, note 2.
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