| Quote #4
And another habit influenced him too,
The king has started a tradition of refusing to eat on a feast day until he has heard or witnessed a "wonder." In this, he’s fulfilling a duty as a host, for it’s up to him to make sure everyone under his roof has a good time during the celebration. He needs to provide entertainment, and his custom ensures that he will.
| Quote #5
And in so many yesterdays the year wears away,
This passage makes strange use of the word "custom," which we usually associate with traditions humans have instituted as part of culture. By contrast, here, custom is "requir[ing]"
nature to repeat its cycle of seasons, almost as though this cycle is something humans have instituted. In any case, this strange use mixes nature and culture in an interesting way.
| Quote #6
The noblest pressed forward with many attendants,
This passage marks the beginning of the deer-butchering scene. Medieval hunting was an extremely complex ritual about which whole instruction manuals were written. There was a proper way of doing everything, from uncoupling the hounds to skinning the deer. Part of being a good nobleman was knowing how to perform the ritual precisely.