The Three Knights and the Lady,

for which see above, pp. 288, 289, and, to make room for it, the tales of the King and his Seneschal and the Siege of Rome have been very clumsily joined together.

Wright says that the Latin Historia Septem Sapientum Romœ “appears to have been translated direct from the Hebrew (Mishlé Sandabar), and it served as the groundwork of all other mediæval versions.” It is surprising how he could make such an assertion, since he has given, in the same essay in which it occurs, an analysis of the Hebrew text of the Sindibād, from which the Historia differs as much as it does from all the other Eastern texts. It is true that four of the tales of the Historia—namely, the Dog and the Snake, the King and his Seneschal (first part of the Siege of Rome in this version), the Wild Boar, and the Burgess and his Magpie—are variants of tales belonging to the original Book of Sindibād, but they are also found in much earlier texts of the Wise Masters; and if it be conceded that the story of the Three Knights and the Lady is adapted from the Hebrew tale of the Hunchbacks (which is not at all probable—see p. 289; and observe that the Historia dates about the end of the 15th century), it is surely very slight ground on which to base the theory of the Hebrew version being the source of this Latin prose text. As to the Historia forming the groundwork of “all other mediæval versions,” the comparative table in p. 351 shows that precisely the contrary is the fact—that it was based upon mediæval versions. The cause of this mistake, in which Wright is far from being singular, can now be explained:

In the 13th century a French metrical version, entitled Dolo-pathos , was composed by a trouvère named Herbers, from a Latin work by a Cistercian monk, Johannes de Alta Silva. It was supposed by Des Longchamps and other investigators that the work of this monk was the Historia Septem Sapientum Romœ, and therefore that the variations occurring in Dolopathos were to be ascribed to Herbers. But Montaiglon, the editor of Dolo-pathos , among others, did not accept this view; he assumed two Latin sources: the Historia, by an unknown author, and the lost work of the monk of Alta Silva (Haute Seille). And Mus-saffia has rendered this last view certain; the work of Johannes de Alta Silva having been discovered by him, in 1864, in the Imperial Library at Vienna, and found to be quite different from the Historia, but to correspond exactly with the Dolopathos. Johannes dedicates his Opusculum de rege vel Septem Sapientibus to Bishop Bertrand of Metz. Now Haute Seille at its founda­tion, in 1140, was assigned to the see of Toul, and in 1184 was transferred from Toul to Metz. Bertrand occupied the see of Metz from 1179 to his death, in 1212; and as Johannes would naturally dedicate his work to his own bishop, it would fall between 1184 and 1212; and probably wishing to commend himself to the new bishop, who was a lover of study, when the cloister passed to Metz, he wrote his work.*