The Mistakes of Troylus

sleeping beloved

“Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” ~ James 1:15

“He prayed [to Venus] until the sun went down and it was dark inside the temple… Finally night fell, and his heart and body burned at the thought of the beautiful Zellandine…A moment later he saw a messenger walking straight towards him over the water of the moat…Troylus, burning with desire to be with his beloved, agreed to do whatever he [the messenger] said” ~ Troylus searching for Zellandine[1]

After arriving in Zeeland (and after some strange hiccups inspired by Brunhild’s story), Troylus is finally on his way to Zellandine.  

The First Mistake

He goes to the temple of the three goddesses and prays to Venus – his first mistake.  Yes, it’s the 1st century BC; but the author has made it clear that Troylus knows of and acknowledges the Sovereign God…yet he goes to the temple of the goddess of “love” looking for answers.  He has opened the door to lust, and as James 1:15 points out, sin and death will follow.

In a dream, Venus instructs him in vulgar innuendoes on what to do.  The reader has no doubt of what she’s telling Troylus…and no doubt that it is wrong.  To his credit, Troylus has no idea what Venus means, but promises to somehow obey if it will cure Zellandine. 

He then journeys to the tower where Zellandine lies sleeping.  It is surrounded by a moat, and there is no way to access the tower.  Troylus has reached a dead end.

The Second Mistake

While waiting outside, he dwells on what Venus said – and begins to burn for Zellandine.  His second mistake.  Now, desire and passion for a lover are not wrong…but when it consumes you to the point of reckless and heedless action, it has crossed from desire to lust.   As we’ll see, Troylus’ burning is no desire of a lover.  This is lust in its rawest form.[2]

Lust has been conceived, and so Troylus jumps into the moat and swims to the castle.  He is met with another dilemma: he cannot scale the tower.  But “help” comes swiftly in the form of a flying messenger.  We find out later that this messenger is Zephir, a regular character in Perceforest who “looks out” for Britain.[3] 

He is also demon.  I kid you not.

The Third Mistake

When a demon shows up to help, you should probably call it a night.  But, like Troylus, chances are you won’t recognize a demon as an agent of evil; he’ll probably look like a messenger of hope.   Aching with lust, Troylus agrees to the messenger’s demands – his third mistake. 

Because of his choices, the odds are against Troylus.  Lust has conceived, and although he has not technically sinned yet, he has certainly put his feet on that path.  But God always provides a way out. The question is, will Troylus take it?




[1] Bryant, Perceforest, p. 389-390

[2] In the last post, I used the word eros in relation to lust.  Eros is not found in the New Testimant, however, and the word epithymia is often used instead.  Like Aphrodite/Venus, Eros (or Cupid) was cleaned up by the Romans and has lost his more lurid traits. Also, I’m thinking Paul wanted NO confusion between the deity and the feeling.

[3] Perceforest Reader, vi

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