Sunday, 1 May 2011
I didn’t until recently realise that the ‘roi pêcheur’ of the old Grail romances was as often called the ‘riche pêcheur’. Why should this be? If the latter is rich because he fishes (because, say, the fish he catches is of superlative worth), does that mean that the former is a king for the same reason? The legend has so often been interpreted in the light of Christian fish-imagery and Eucharistic ritual (and as often in terms of pagan myth, the Celtic ‘salmon of wisdom’ and so on), but this distinction perhaps seems unimportant. But Christ turns his disciples into fishers of men; the salmon and its wealth is us, and the fisher king a rebus of the autochthonic ruler. To put it another way: the fisher king is old and crippled; what he fishes-up is himself, young and hale.