Parzival and Slovenia

Slovenian landscape is associated with Parzival in many ways. It is not just the fact that Slovenia, as Parzival as an individual, is itself geographically and culturally uniting east and west, the northern formative and southern life-giving forces, but it is also specifically mentioned in the content and an essential part Eschenbach’s epic Parzival.

To mention just a few details: it is certainly very interesting that in the epic Parzival’s grandfather king Gandin comes from Slovenian village of the same name – Gandin (today Hajdina) which lies on the site, “where the river Grajena flows into the gold-carrying river Drava” as Eschenbach says. Gandin’s son and Parzival’s father Gahmuret is wearing the coat of arms of “the upside down turned white anchor with a gold rope below on a green background,” which is the historical coat of arms of Borl Castle, located near the mouth of the Drava and Grajena on the edge of Haloze in Slovenia. The entire story is, according to the Eschenbach’s words, happening in the 9th century, when these actual sites were indeed very much alive as part of Karantania, the first Slovenian historically documented state.

The vast majority of cities and provinces in the epic are bearing unfamiliar names and they are difficult to locate while in the most dramatic, the central part of the epic (in the ninth book) when it comes to Parzival’s internal upheaval, Trevricent, Parzival’s uncle, talks about his knightly journey from Celje to Rogatec “where he fought with the brave knights of Slovenian descent,” until he came to Hajdina and Parzival’s family who originated there.

It is not only that these hints are quite unknown to us, it is also interesting how even after 800 years since this epic has been created the story still resonates in our region and  announces Parzival’s cosmopolitan impulse of the future. Today, at time of cultural crisis, it is even more important to find the resources that go beyond the deepest possible spiritual crisis. Parzival and its destiny associated with Slovenia is certainly one of the most important.

*Text on Parzival contributed by Davorin Peršič, univ. dipl. fil.