Monday, July 20, 2020

Who Was King Arthur?

King, Arthur, Men, People, Kingdom I just finished watching the new series "Cursed".  It seems to be a prequel to the normal story with Arthur, Lancelot, Percival, Gawain, Nimue, Merlin, and Morgana but it was a bit different.  Looking at this interpretation, made me realize that in addition to the usual stories, some authors have brought it to the modern times, while others have created their own telling.

King Arthur made his appearance in literature as a ruler who with his knights of the round table protected Britain from being taken over.  He was trained by Merlin after pulling the sword out of the stone, became ruler, and died.  According to myths, he ruled somewhere around the 6th century and is responsible for battling against the Saxon invaders but did he actually exist or was he a fictional creature?

Most historians believe he didn't exist because there are no written records mentioning him specifically from that time. There is a primary source talking about the victory of the Britons over the Saxons but the leader is not actually mentioned.  King Arthur made his first appearance in the writings of a Welsh historian who provided a list of the 12 battles, he is said to have won.  The list is a compilation of battles taken from Welsh literature and these battles took place in different locations at different times which makes it hard to believe one man lived that long and appeared in so many places.

As time past, writers based King Arthur stories on this author's writings but one story appeared in the 12th century that told of his life, his sword, his wife, Lancelot, and Merlin.  The story is supposedly based on a found manuscript that could only be interpreted by the author and which no one else has seen.  Then a French author gave a spiritual element to the story by having King Arthur go on a quest for the holy grail. These stories form the beginning of Arthurian legends that popped up.

One of the more famous versions is Le Morte D'Arthur" by Thomas Malory who took many versions, compiled, refined, and rewrote them into one set in 1469 while incarcerated. This one is the one most people are familiar with in today's society because it is the one in the musical Camalot, the Disney movie "Sword in the Stone", multiple television series, and books by T. H. White ( I read all of the volumes) to one by Mark Twain and other books where King Arthur lives now.

In general people believe there was a King Arthur type figure but no one is certain who he was. Some believe that King Arthur is either Ambrosius Aurelianus or his war-chief Arthur but again, no one knows for sure.  Scholars have different theories on who King Arthur is.  One felt it is an allegory of the trials and tribulations of people spiritual journey in life, while others believe it represents a smaller religions sect that was quite popular until it was wiped out.

I don't think it matters if there was a real King Arthur because the story resonates in so many people that it feels almost real.  It touches our hearts and tickles our fancy.  I believe in King Arthur, you you?  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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