An exchange of identity in literature and legend
'It all depends on what you are prepared to accept as an exchange of identity,' said Miranda.
'If you allow yourself to include all instances of someone assuming the identity of another person,' she continued, 'then there are numerous examples to choose from. Other lines contain many such examples. Disguise and the concealment of Identity. There is a wealth of it to choose from. The story of The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle for example, where the ugly hag turns into a beautiful woman. And the occasion when King Arthur assumes the likeness of the Duke of Tintagel in order to sleep with the duke's wife and conceive the future King Arthur.'
'Or in Irish mythology,' said Quintin. 'When the enemies of Diarmuid all fall from a tree looking like Diarmuid himself.'
'And in Ancient Greek legend,' said Miranda. 'When Athene takes on the appearance of Telemachus, or the appearance later of a shepherd when she meets with Odysseus on a beach.'
'Or in Norse mythology, when Odin pretends to be King Gylfi.'
'Breton lais,' replied Miranda. 'When the emperor's daughter Emaré pretends to be Egaré, the daughter of an earl. And in medieval romance, where the hero Ipomadon pretends to be his arch rival Lyoline whom he has just defeated in battle.'
'But these aren't proper exchanges of identity,' she objected. 'A proper exchange would be more like, for example, one that occurs in the medieval story of Amis and Amiloun, where, even though they are not related, the pair are sufficiently alike for each to be able to pretend to be the other, which they do.'
'Well, the best example of that sort of thing occurs in Welsh mythology,' said Quintin. 'In the Welsh myths from the Mabinogion. Pwyll, the Lord of Dyved exchanges places with a king of the Otherworld. They both agree to take on the appearance of each other, and to live as each other for a year. And Euripides wrote a play for the Festival of Dionysus in Ancient Athens about Helen of Troy. She was actually living in Egypt during the Trojan War, in this play, whilst a surrogate Helen was in Troy.'
'Sir Gawain has to assume the identity of a knight who has been killed,' said Miranda, 'and ride his horse and carry his arms so that he can complete the man's mission, in the First Continuation to Chrétien de Troyes' Conte du Graal, the story of the graal.'
'Odin and Gestumblindi exchange clothes and Odin goes off to answer some riddles on the man's behalf, in an Icelandic legendary saga,' replied Quintin.
'Sir Gawain exchanges places with Gologras and walks off the field of battle as the loser, when he has actually won.'
'Sir Lancelot rides off wearing Sir Kay's arms, leaving Sir Kay to ride home disguised as Sir Lancelot.'
'Sir Gawain cuts off the head of the Knight of the Green Chapel, but has to suffer a similar blow himself a year later.'
'Two cousins of Lancelot are changed into greyhounds and their greyhounds into a likeness of themselves, so that the two boys can escape from captivity and return to the land beneath the lake, in the very early-thirteenth century pre-cyclic Lancelot,' said Quintin.
'So there are quite a few proper examples,' said Miranda.