Perceval is believed to be based on Peredur, a character in the Mabinogion. Peredur was brought up by his widowed mother in a remote forest house, without ever seeing a knight, or a sword, or even a horse. And eventually it is this, his innocence leads him to the Grail that has eluded so many of even the greatest knights of King Arthur.
Perceval is the guest of the wounded Fisher King at whose castle he he sees a bleeding lance and a silver graal, or serving dish. However, because Perceval had been told that it was not polite to ask too many questions, Perveval fails to ask the significance of this. Nor does Perceval ask the wounded king the question "What ails thee?", a question that would have resulted in the man being healed. This failure to question results in misery for all.
Chrétien de Troyes's unfinished Perceval or Conte del Graal of around 1190. And there is a medieval Welsh romance Peredur Son of Evrawc from the 13th century. Both tales appear to draw on the common Celtic root of the tale of Peredur or Perceval.
Chretien says graal, not grail. A graal is a serving dish or platter; it is not a cup. Chretien did not intend this to be the cup from which Jesus and his disciples drank at the Last Supper. However Robert de Boron used the story and changed graal to grail. Later writers would keep the graal spelling and keep also the concept of a cup. And since theat story, the Holy Grail has been a cup and Perceval is one of the three knights who sees the Holy Grail (other two being Galahad and Bors)
Perceval is one of three Grail knights (along with Galahad and Borsin) in Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. Perceval is the narrator in Tennyson's "The Holy Grail."
Full references to more about Sir Perceval at the Rochester site
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