Concept

Sir Orfeo

Summary
Sir Orfeo is an anonymous Middle English Breton lai dating from the late 13th or early 14th century. It retells the story of Orpheus as a king who rescues his wife from the fairy king. The folk song Orfeo (Roud 136, Child 19) is based on this poem. History and manuscripts Sir Orfeo was probably written in the late 13th or early 14th century in the Westminster-Middlesex area. It is preserved in three manuscripts: the oldest, Advocates 19.2.1, known as the Auchinleck MS. is dated about 1330; Harley 3810 is from about the beginning of the fifteenth century; and Ashmole 61 was compiled over the course of several years, the portion of the MS. containing Sir Orfeo dating around 1488. The beginning of the poem describes itself as a Breton lai and says it is derived from a no longer extant text, the Lai d'Orphey. The story contains a mixture of the Greek myth of Orpheus with Celtic mythology and folklore concerning fairies, introduced into English via the Old French Breton lais of
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