Creativity, the trickster, and the cunning harper king: A study of the minstrel disguise entrance trick in “King Horn” and “Sir Orfeo”

Creativity, the trickster, and the cunning harper king: A study of the minstrel disguise entrance trick in “King Horn” and “Sir Orfeo”

Schultz, Jerrianne D.

Doctor of Philosophy, Department of English, the Graduate School, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale December (2007)


This study focuses on Stith Thompson’s minstrel disguise motif K2357. “Disguise as musician to enter enemy’s camp,” or the minstrel disguise entrance trick, and its use in King Horn and Sir Orfeo. Heroes in this motif use unexpected cunning trickery, posing as minstrels to enter an enemy stronghold peacefully, overcoming a formidable problem. This study compiles a comprehensive catalogue of twenty-three twelfth through fourteenth century Northern European minstrel disguise entrance trick episodes, undertaking a comparative analysis defining the motif’s basic features and typical patterns. Along with providing the necessary contextual framework for a study of Horn and Orfeo’s disguise episodes, this analysis suggests amending the motif’s currently indexed title, increasing the number of episodes catalogued from three to twenty-three, and adding a previously uncatalogued motif, “noble fosterling excels in music.” Additionally, this study examines the motif’s archetypal associations, revealing two main informing traditions in Hermes the mythological trickster and David the Biblical cunning harper king, resulting in three classifying categories for these episodes: Chronicle Tales, Tales of Enchantment and the Trickster, and Noble Fosterling Tales.

Click here to read this article from Southern Illinois University 

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