The “Barbre nacioun” in the Man of Law’s Tale is “Surrye,” a nation of Muslims which stands for a pagan world. For Custance, it symbolizes savagery and uncivilization. Though reluctant, as a woman she can only surrender to her father‟s will and governance. In fact, the Saracenic culture was by no means barbarous in the Middle Ages. In Middle English romances, the religious antagonism between the Saracens and the Christians is one of the most prevalent themes. The paradigm proclaimed by Sir Roland in The Song of Roland “The pagans are wrong and the Christians are right” (1015) persists throughout medieval English literature. However, in addition to the role as religious counterpart, in English romances alternative representations of the Saracens are not rare as might be supposed. In this article, I aim to examine how the Middle English romancer represents the alien culture in Bevis of Hampton embodied by the Saracen princess, Josian. I will contend that the romancer shows some traces of fair appraisal of the other culture and fair representations of the Saracens.
KEY WORDS: barbarian, the Saracen, the Saracenic culture, the Medieval English romance, Bevis of Hampton
喬塞的《律師的故事》中羅馬公主康斯坦絲屈從於父 皇的意旨，下嫁敘利亞，她稱此邦為「蠻夷國度」。此稱呼 隱含了歐洲中心主義與對他方的誤解。其實，中世紀時 期，敘利亞擁有高度伊斯蘭文明與文化。中古文學中對於 薩拉遜人的描繪多以敵對的態度，貶抑的字眼或妖魔化的 形象。中古英文傳奇《罕布頓的畢維斯》中卻記錄描繪了伊 斯蘭文化的進步與成就。故事中的薩拉遜公主喬思安體現 了此伊斯蘭文化。薩拉遜公主喬思安是一個有品德、有文 化、有行動力的傳奇女主角，有別於其他的傳奇女性角 色。此浪漫作者展現了對他方的理解與對他者的公正評 論。