1. Fisher King
      The Grail King, The Rich Fisher, Rich Fisherman, The Maimed King, Pellam, Roi Pescheor

      He was the guardian, or any one of the line of guardians, of the Holy Grail. [More]

    2. Fisher King's Candlesticks

      Following the lance bearer and preceding the Grail maiden came two handsome young men, each carrying at least ten candles in a branched candlestick of gold inlaid with black enamel.

      Candles were costly, and the radiance cast by twenty of them at once must have seemed extremely brilliant nocturnal illumination before the advent of electric, gas-, or limelight.

    3. Fisher King's Carving-Dish
      Fair Maiden of Astolat, Lily Maid of Astolat, Maid of Astolat

      In Chrétien's seminal version, a second maiden follows the Grail maiden. This second maiden, whom P.A. Karr call 'Etheria', carries a silver carving-dish (Owen's translation) or platter (Cline's). Chrétien gives no further details concerning this carving-dish. Its purpose seems obscure if, as Chrétien later explains, the Fisher King's father receives as his entire meal a single Mass wafer from the Grail.

      The platter may serve as a paten, either to cover the Grail or, perhaps, to convey the wafer from Grail to recipient. Or, the Grail being seen as the cup, might the platter echo the dish of the paschal lamb at the Last Supper?

    4. Fisher King's Father

      According to Chrétien de Troyes, the Fisher King's father, also a king, was brother to Percivale's mother and to her other brother the hermit. (In this version, it all seems to be pretty much a family affair.) In addition, the Fisher King's kingly father is the person served from the Grail, which is processionally borne to him in the little room where he has lived for twelve years at the time of his nephew's first visit.

      The only food served him is Mass wafers, apparently one per meal. This is all he lives upon. The diet was far from unknown among saints beloved in the Middle Ages.

    5. Fisher King's Niece

      This lovely blonde damsel sent her uncle the Fisher King a gift, the sword forged by Trebuchet, with the message that she would be well pleased if he passed it along to a worthy recipient. He passed it along to Percivale.

      I stronly suspect, but cannot absolutely prove, that she is the same cousin whom Percivale meets next morning on his way away from the Fisher King's dwelling. She sits mourning her lover, who lies in her lap newly slain by the Haughty Knight of the Heath, and whose body she refuses to leave until she has buried it. Recognizing Trebuchet's sword, she tells its present bearer much about it and about the Rich Fisher.

      This cousin was reared as a young child with Percivale in his mother's nursery. Now she asks his name: he has not known it [at least consciously] before this moment, but in answering her question he instinctively calls himself Percivale - commentators understand this as a crucial point in his development. His cousin then chides him for failing to ask the questions that would have healed their uncle and spared people a lot of grief.

    6. Fisher King's Oarsman

      Our only identifiable glimpse of this man comes when Percivale sees him rowing the boat from which his master is fishing with hook and line. The boat's maximum capacity is given as about four men, but the oarsman is the Fisher King's sole companion. He leaves all the talking to his master.

      While I think it likely that the same attendant rows the Rich Fisher every time he goes out fishing, we cannot be absolutely sure of this.

    7. Fisher King's Table

      Like other tables of the age, it was in pieces, reassembled before each meal. The top was a single broad length of ivory. The trestles were chony, proof against rot or fire. When set up, the table was spread with a cloth spread whiter than any the Pope himself ever ate off.

      Since the Fisher King (who is not, in Chrétien's version, the one served by the Grail) and his guest Percivale dined on peppered venison, good wine, fruits, spices, and electuaries set before them on this table. I venture to guess that chrétien describes it and the formality of assembling it merely as an example of the Fisher King's wealth and courtliness, rather than as a thing imbued with mystical properties of its own.