But as early as the 7th century we come upon traces of short lays (the so-called cantilenes) which were in the mouths of all and were sung in chorus.
It has been held that the chansons de geste were formed by joining together " bunches " of these earlier cantilenes, and this was the view taken by Leon Gautier in the first edition of Les Epopees frangaises (1865).
But he admits that " some of the old poems may have been borrowed from tradition, without any intermediary " (ibid.); and when it is considered that the traces of the " cantilenes " are slight, and that the degree in which they inspired the later poetry must be a matter of impression rather than of proof, it does not surprise us to find other scholars (notably Paul Meyer) attaching less importance to them, or even doubting their existence.2 When Leon Gautier shows how history passes into legend, and legend again into romance, we are reminded of the difference 1 Die exegetischen Scholien der Ilias, p. vii.
" Ce qui a fait naitre la theorie des chants ` lyrico-epiques ' ou des cantilenes, c'est le systeme de Wolf sur les poemes homeriques, et de Lachmann sur les Nibelungen.
On tire encore argument des romances espagnoles, qui, dit-on, sont des ` cantilenes ' non encore arrivees a l'epopee...
Et c'est le malheur de cette theorie: faute de preuves directes, elle cherche des analogies au dehors; en Espagne, elle trouve des ` cantilenes,' mais pas d'epopee; en Allemagne, une epopee, mais pas de cantilenes !
Remigius and Maxentius, now lost; on the annals of Arles and Angers, now lost; and on legends, either collected by Gregory himself from oral tradition, or cantilenes or epics written in the Latin and Germanic languages.