“If I speak human or angelic languages but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

“You mean you’re not in love?” said Lyonnel.  “Well, sir, I can’t say I hate anyone, but there’s no lady or maiden I love more than any other.” ~ Lyonnel and Troylus[1]

Troylus is loveless – and in Perceforest this is a dangerous thing.  For a man can only be a truly great knight if he is inspired by love.  This is the only emotion that can cause a knight to fight boldly, honorably, and with great prowess.  If a man has no love, his deeds will fade away. 

Lyonnel lectures Troylus on the need to find a sweetheart.  Although Troylus is thoroughly annoyed by this, he vows to only drink water until he finds one.  However, he remains unconvinced of love’s power.

When six knights challenge them as they head to a tournament, Troylus agrees to fight them.  He successfully unhorses the five strongest knights, and is confident he can take the sixth…until the lad calls upon the love of his sweetheart to aid him.  Ignoring Lyonnel’s warnings, Troylus charges – but it is the young man who unhorses the noble Troylus.   

Just as Troylus’ deeds are worthless because he has no love, our deeds are worthless if they are not rooted in the agape of God.  You can be the most eloquent, the most powerful, the smartest, and the humblest…but if it doesn’t stem from love, it is meaningless.

The Need for Love

Agape – the Greek word Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 13 – is the most wonderful love in all the world.  It is the unconditional and lavish love which God showers us with.  It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, what you are doing, or what you will do.  Agape does not give up on you, and there is always more than enough to cover your sins. 

Troylus’ experience symbolizes what can happen when we act on our own power rather than the power of God’s agape.  Yes, we can fool ourselves into believing we are doing well without love, just as Troylus did; but eventually it becomes painfully obvious that our lives are hollow and meaningless.

The lad who unhorsed Troylus is shocked and saddened when he hears Troylus is not in love – he counts his own victory worthless because of it.  He is an easy going lad, and since he is headed to the tournament as well, the three of them go together.  When they arrive, the lad invites Lyonnel and Troylus to stay with him, his sweetheart, and his sister.

So why is the tale of Troylus’ loveless state so important?  Well, because the lad is Zelandin of Zeeland, and his sister is none other than our Sleeping Beloved, Zellandine.



[1] Bryant, Perceforest, p. 239-241

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Ah, yes, Agape love. It does not fail us. Thus we never need give up.
Thank you!