The fourteenth-century Middle English verse romance, Amis and Amiloun, is a well known exemplum of ideal friendship. The two characters exhibit all the traits of mutual loyalty that one expects in sworn brothers, and much description is offered in the text relating how much they resemble each other. What is often overlooked is how different they really are. They are not so much two individuals cut from the same pattern, as are Roland and Olivier, as they are complements of each other. Amiloun is the rugged, vigorous, knight who quests and earns his spurs. Amis is a refined, chivalrous knight unsuited for life outside the court's comfort and safety. In many ways the virility of the one contrasts with the effete qualities of the other. This disparity is shown to be so sharp that it becomes easy to identify them on opposite extremities of the gender scale, the "masculine" one contrasting with – or complementing – the "feminine" other.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Ami et Amile: Chanson de Geste. Ed. and introd. Peter F. Dembowski. Classiques Française du Moyen Age, 97. Paris: Librairie Honoré Champion, 1987.
Amis and Amiloun. Ed. MacEdward Leach. Early English Text Society, Original Series, 203. London: Oxford University Press, 1937.
Amys e Amillyoun. Ed. H. Fukui. Anglo-Norman Text Society, 7. London, 1990.
Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Clerk's Tale in The Riverside Chaucer. Ed. F. N Robinson, 3rd edition. Ed., Larry D. Benson. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1987.
Chestre, Thomas. Sir Launfal in Medieval English Literature. Ed. Thomas J Garbáty. Lexington, Massachusetts: D. C. Heath and Co., 1984.
Chrétien de Troyes. Lancelot in Arthurian Romances. Ed. and transl. W. W. Comfort. London: Dent and Sons, 1959, pp. 270–359.
Marie de France, Lanval in Lais de Marie de France. Ed. Karl Warnke; modern French trans., Laurence Harf-Lancner. Lettres Gothique. Paris: Librairie Générale Française, 1990, pp. 134–167.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in Medieval English Literature. Ed. Thomas J Garbáty. Lexington, Massachusetts: D. C. Heath and Co., 1984.
Dannenbaum, Susan. “Insular Tradition in the Story of Amis and Amiloun.” Neophilologus 67 (1983): 611–622.
Ford, J. C. From Poésie to Poetry: Remaniement and Mediaeval Techniques of Frenchto-English Translation of Verse Romance (Unpublished doctoral thesis). Glasgow, 2000.
Gilbert, Jane. Comparing Like with Like: Identity, Identicalness and Difference in Selected Medieval French and English Narratives (Unpublished doctoral thesis). Cambridge, 1993.
Leach, MacEdward, Ed. and introd. Amis and Amiloun. Early English Text Society, Original Series, 203. London: Oxford University Press, 1937.
Le Saux, Françoise. “From Ami to Amys: Translation and Adaptation in the Middle English Amys and Amylion,” in Françoise Le Saux, Ed., The Formation of Culture in Medieval Britain: Celtic, Latin and Norman Influences on English Music, Literature, History and Art. Lampeter: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1995, pp. 111–127.
Ribard, Jacques. “Ami et Amile: une oeuvre-cerrefour,” in Actes du XIe Congrès international de la Société Rencesvals (Barcelona, 22–27 August, 1988). Memorias de la Real Academia de Buenas Letras de Barcelona, 22–21. 2 vols. Barcelona: Real Academia de Buenas Latras, 1990. vol. 2, pp. 155–169.
About this article
Cite this article
Ford, J.C. Contrasting the Identical: Differentiation of the "Indistinguishable" Characters of Amis and Amiloun . Neophilologus 86, 311–323 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1014428421031
- Comparative Literature
- Historical Linguistic
- Mutual Loyalty
- English Verse