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An Author’s Journey: Worlds of Medieval Literature (4) King Arthur, Pt 4: Supernatural Wonder

The Attainment: "The Vision of the Holy Grail to Sir Galahad, Sir Bors, and Sir Perceval" ;  No. 6 of Holy Grail tapestries woven by Morris & Co. 1891-94 for Stanmore Hall; Wool and silk on cotton warp; Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

The Attainment: “The Vision of the Holy Grail to Sir Galahad, Sir Bors, and Sir Perceval” ; No. 6 of Holy Grail tapestries woven by Morris & Co. 1891-94 for Stanmore Hall; Wool and silk on cotton warp; Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

An Author’s Journey: Worlds of Medieval Literature (4) King Arthur, Pt 4: Supernatural Wonder

Good Morning, Everyone!

Colin Morgan (Merlin) and Bradley James (Arthur) in "Merlin" (BBC tv series, 2008-2012)

Colin Morgan (Merlin) and Bradley James (Arthur), and Knights of Round Table  in “Merlin” (BBC tv series, 2008-2012)

King Arthur still looms large in the popular imagination, his name usually evoking equally legendary and supernatural images.  Most familiar, perhaps, are the images of the ‘Wart’ pulling from a stone the enchanted sword Excalibur in Disney’s animated classic, The Sword in the Stone (itself an adaptation of T.H. White’s The Once and Future King); then there’s Colin Morgan’s wonderful portrayal of a teenaged Merlin for five seasons on the eponymous BBC tv series, magically protecting Camelot while the future (also-teenaged) ruler trains by his side, and featuring a reimagined Guinevere, Lancelot, Perceval, and Knights of the Round Table who all desultorily join Arthur before his final battle.

"Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (1975)

“Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975)

Most famously, there’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail‘s 1975 take on the legend that skillfully critiqued medieval religion and popular culture as Graham Chapman’s Arthur, John Cleese’s Lancelot, Michael Palin’s Sir Galahad, & Terry Jones’s Sir Bedevere et al rode broomsticks-cum-horses through a parody-filled medieval landscape. (“It’s just a flesh wound!”/ “How could a 5-ounce bird possibly carry a 1-pound coconut?” / “Please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let’s not bicker and argue over who killed who.”)

Rochefoucauld Grail (3-vol. compendium of English & French Arthur legends, 14th c).

Rochefoucauld Grail (3-vol. compendium of English & French Arthur legends, 14th c).

For all of the cinematic examples above, the wellsprings for these renderings of Arthur’s legend actually lie deep in the medieval literary tradition, the canon flowing from the imaginations and quills of a select number of 12th-15th Century writers.  I last discussed the “martial” and historical aspects of Arthur, and today want to touch on the theme of “supernatural wonder” that one associates with Arthurian lore. This theme is a unique blend of pagan and Christian elements, as Corinne Saunders elaborates in the introductory paragraphs of her essay, “Religion and Magic”:

"The Sleep of King Arthur in Avalon" (Edward Coley Burne-Jones, oil on canvas, 1898)

“The Sleep of King Arthur in Avalon” (Edward Coley Burne-Jones, oil on canvas, 1898)

Archibald & Putter's "The Cambridge Companion to the Arthurian Legend" (2003)

Archibald & Putter’s “The Cambridge Companion to the Arthurian Legend” (2003)

[Excerpt from Corinne Saunders, “Religion and Magic”]: The themes of religion and magic, interwoven in the supernatural, are crucial to the Arthurian legend. Many of its most resonant motifs, both secular and sacred, are linked to the supernatural (quest and adventure, magic and enchantment, prophecy and destiny, miracle and marvel, the search for the Holy Grail), as are some of its most powerful figures (Merlin, Morgan le Fey, the Fisher King).  The leitmotif [recurrent theme] of the supernatural echoes through Arthurian romance from its origins in the twelfth century to its modern manifestations.

Carbonek, Castle of the Fisher King & the Holy Grail (Alan Lee)

Carbonek, Castle of the Fisher King & the Holy Grail (Alan Lee)

Writers such as Chrétien de Troyes, the Gawain-poet, Malory, Tennyson, T.H. White, and Marion Zimmer Bradley engage in vastly different ways with the supernatural, but it remains a constant, fundamental to their narratives.  While in some contemporary works the supernatural is reduced or floats free of Christianity, the intimate connection between magic, religion and romance, established over something approaching a millennium, is not readily lost.  Magic and the supernatural more generally provide romance with its quality of the marvelous, but may also be treated with profundity and realism.  Medieval Arthurian legend, the focus of this essay, reflects a Christian world view in which the supernatural is assumed to play a part, and in which religion does not negate the possibility of magic.  Some of the central tensions in Arthurian romance, however, arise from the clash between different sorts of supernatural, in particular between the secular (with its origins in the pagan) and the sacred, and the ways that chivalric ideals engage with these.

"The Quest for the Holy Grail" (oil painting, Arthur Hughes, d. 1915)

“The Quest for the Holy Grail” (oil painting, Arthur Hughes, d. 1915)

Morgan Le Fey (Frederick Sandys, 1864)

Morgan Le Fey (Frederick Sandys, 1864)

[continued excerpt from Corinne Saunders, “Religion and Magic”]: The thought-world of the later Middle Ages included a complex mix of ideas of magic and the supernatural, which stretched back through classical and Judaeo-Christian as well as Germanic and Celtic belief and ritual.  Classical thought was infused with a strong sense of the supernatural: this was a world of gods and daemons, spirits who could act for good or ill. Classical literature told of celebrated practitioners of magic such as Medea and Circe, and of the flesh-devouring, child-killing strix or witch. There was also a strong tradition of what would come to be termed natural magic: Pliny’s Natural History ferociously condemns magic as dependent on the powers of demons, but also repeatedly refers to the extraordinary attributes of plants, stones and animal substances.  The oppositions between secular and spiritual, natural and demonic, licit and illicit magic established within the classical world remains crucial.

Carlisle's World: Illustrated Folio of Parzifal (13th c.)

Wolfram von Eschenbach’s “Parzifal” (c. 1200) “…imagined the Grail as a stone, its power instilled by a Eucharistic wafer brought by a dove every Good Friday, [regenerates] the phoenix, prevents illness, age and death, and provides food and drink of all kinds.”

Arthurian Knights: "Bedivere Casting Excalibur into Water" (Aubrey Beardsley, 1894)

Arthurian Knights: “Bedivere Casting Excalibur into Water” (Aubrey Beardsley, 1894)

[continued excerpt from Corinne Saunders, “Religion and Magic”]: In the early Christian world magic was associated with the pagan. Augustine states categorically in The City of God that magic is demonic, whereas miracles occur through faith.  Yet, like Pliny, Augustine readily accepts as part of God’s universe the marvelous in nature, such as the properties of plants and stones.  Theologians of the early Middle Ages followed Augustine, identifying pagan superstition as demonic and heretical, although its endurance is clearly indicated by the many references to practices such as the rise of amulets, love-magic, medical magic and divination in secular and canon laws, penitentials and sermons, as well as the existence of collections of charms and remedies … . [END Excerpt:  Corinne Saunders, “Religion and Magic,” in Elizabeth Archibald and Ad Putter, eds., The Cambridge Companion to the Arthurian Legend, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009; at 201-202.]

The Grail Found: "Galahad & the Dying Amfortas" (Edwin Austin Abbey, 1895)

The Grail Found: “Galahad & the Dying Amfortas” (Edwin Austin Abbey, 1895)

Le Morte d'Arthur — The Battle of Cad Camlan, Arthur vs. Mordred (art by Arthur Rackham)

Le Morte d’Arthur — The Battle of Cad Camlan, Arthur vs. Mordred (art by Arthur Rackham)

Whenever adopting any of the Arthurian supernatural wonders, some of today’s fantasists would do well to study such influences as classical times (Greco-Roman Antiquity), Judeo-Christian beliefs, and pagan (Celtic & Welsh) practices.  You can still write a story in the Arthurian vein without knowing about these origins, of course, but I think that a reader is better entertained when an adventure is wrought with some of these elements in mind.  Respectively, Arthur’s  ‘defense of Britain’ is a concept that needs some grounding in Roman frontier-life or knowledge of late-antique modes of kingship for verisimilitude; we may enjoy an idealized Camelot of the High Middle Ages, but the myth of Arthur is compelling because of the conflation of its (possible) 6th Century roots in provincial British vs. Saxons conflicts and a hyper-idealized late-medieval English/French court life.

Arthurian Knights: "Parsifal vor der Gralsburg" (Hans Werner Schmidt, 1928)

Arthurian Knights: “Parsifal vor der Gralsburg” (Hans Werner Schmidt, 1928)

"Lancelot & Guinevere" (illus. by N.C. Wyeth, from Malory's "The Boy's King Arthur," 1917)

“Lancelot & Guinevere” (illus. by N.C. Wyeth, from Malory’s “The Boy’s King Arthur,” 1917)

Then, there’s the infusion of Judeo-Christian religious ideals into the Arthurian stories.  To me, this inheritance is on of the least tended to in modern fantasy because of the emotional charge that electrifies any expression of Hebrew, Christian, or Muslim faith within the fantasy genre; and, “literally,” God help any author tries to seriously engage any or all of these religions in a fantasy story! Religiosity, however, can’t be ignored in the Arthurian tradition.  Indeed, can we really imagine any Arthurian tale without a chivalric ideal informed by the Christological allusions to sacrifice, obeisance, etc? Without the knight kneeling in vassalage to a feudal lord-cum-spiritual guide? Both of these relationships mirror aspects of the monotheistic belief that lies at the heart of a Biblical tradition that transformed Western Europe and the British Isles in the Middle Ages. Without such a religious presence, there’d be no Joseph of Arimethea or Holy Grail, no piously questing Knights of the Round Table, nor even Guinevere retiring to a convent, to name just a few examples.

Celtic Origins of the Arthurian Legend: "Garden of the Hesperides," in Rolleston et al's "The High Deeds of Finn & Other Bardic Romances of Ancient Ireland" (illus. by Stephen Reid)

Celtic Origins of the Arthurian Legend: “Garden of the Hesperides,” in Rolleston et al’s “The High Deeds of Finn & Other Bardic Romances of Ancient Ireland” (illus. by Stephen Reid)

Romance Tropes in "The Mabinogion" (Alan Lee)

Romance Tropes in “The Mabinogion” (Alan Lee)

Lastly, without the Celtic and Welsh traditions that predated the advent of Christianity in Britain, whence warlocks such as Merlin, or witches/fairies like Morgan le Fey? One could probably study many of the Arthurian works in isolation — e.g., finding all of the Christian and 15th century references in Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur — but, to me, the admixture of explicitly rendered Christian themes and fabled phenomena such as Stonehenge and the druids, the Gaste Forest (Wasteland), white stags and wild hunts, the Lady of the Lake, the Questing Beast, Nimue, and the Otherworld of Annen Verden is where Arthur’s tales truly come to life.  Appreciate the Classical & Judeo-Christian elements, but never forget the Welsh and Celtic ‘pagan’ traditions that infuse all of the writers’ works!

Inspiration of Medieval Language & Literature: "The Beguiling of Merlin" (Edward Burne-Jones, 1872-1877)

Inspiration of Medieval Language & Literature: “The Beguiling of Merlin” (Edward Burne-Jones, 1872-1877)

Cei and Bedwyr with the Salmon of Llyn Llyw come to Caer Loyw to rescue Mabon

Cei and Bedwyr with the Salmon of Llyn Llyw come to Caer Loyw to rescue Mabon

If you take into account folk tales such as the Mabinogion or Culhwch and Olwen, you start drawing from some of the same traditions that the 12th century Geoffrey of Monmouth did when he wrote the Vita Merlini (“Life of Merlin”) and related the young wizard’s prophecy about why a castle couldn’t be built on an outcropping of apparently solid rock (Merlin said that two dragons fought in a pool below, a red beast, emblematic of the Britons, and a white one, which represented the Saxons).

Drawing upon such a diversity of historical, religious, and mythological traditions is the fun part of writing fantasy, and also one of the reasons why the Arthurian legend has endured for almost a thousand years.

Thanks for visiting!

A.J.

 

An Author’s Journey: Loss of Leonard Nimoy & “King Arthur: Contexts of Language, Love, & the “Heroic” in High Middle Ages: Part 2 of 2

Leonard Nimoy as King Arthur (in 1973 "Camelot," musical based on T.H. White's "Once and Future King")

Leonard Nimoy as King Arthur (in 1973 “Camelot,” musical based on T.H. White’s “Once and Future King”)

Leonard Nimoy (Arthur) and Barbara Williams (Guinevere) in "Camelot" (1973)

Leonard Nimoy (Arthur) and Barbara Williams (Guinevere) in “Camelot” (1973)

Good Evening, Everyone!

I’m still saddened by the loss of Leonard Nimoy, who died on Friday, Feb. 27th at 83 years’ old.  I wish heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

For those who are criticizing William Shatner’s absence at the funeral, I’d ask only that you respect all of the family & friends who are bereaved by the death of Mr. Nimoy, and focus on the loss to Trekkies everywhere of a truly remarkable man.

Nimoy & Shatner (January 2015)

Nimoy & Shatner (January 2015)

Personally, I think that critics of Shatner’s grieving (really, people?) should mind their own business. Would you want anyone telling you how to mourn a friend?  Indeed, it’s one thing to appreciate the contribution Shatner and Nimoy made as Kirk & Spock in the imaginary worlds of Starfleet & the Federation in the context of 20th Century Science Fiction, but I find it quite an (appallingly) other thing to condemn Shatner for meeting a charity obligation and not making the funeral of a friend. I know that being a celebrity de facto makes one every’s action open to critique, but let’s leave this matter well enough alone.

Leonard Nimoy, "Mr. Spock" on "Star Trek"

Leonard Nimoy, “Mr. Spock” on “Star Trek”

Here are some links to obituaries, appreciations, and highlights of the Shatner controversy (cited because it allows me to highlight Shatner’s “defense”):

Star Trek's Original Cast

Star Trek’s Original Cast

Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015) Obituaries & Testimonials:
Deadline.com http://deadline.com/2015/02/president-obama
Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/27/
LA Times (Obituary): http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/
LA Times (Appreciation): http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/
NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/27/
TIME.com (Appreciation): http://time.com/3726567/

William Shatner & Leonard Nimoy, as "Captain Kirk & Mr. Spock" (Star Trek)

William Shatner & Leonard Nimoy, as “Captain Kirk & Mr. Spock” (Star Trek)

 Shatner & Nimoy:
ABC: http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/leonard-nimoy-william-shatner
CBS: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/william-shatner-why-i-didnt-attend-leonard-nimoys-funeral/
CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/01/entertainment/feat-william-shatner-nimoy-funeral/
DailyMail.com http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2973592/
LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/gossip/
LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/gossip/

I’ll do a future blog on the importance of “Star Trek” and its actors Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, Deforest Kelly et al, but right now I prefer to read the tributes to Nimoy and see memories such as this video clip that really shows some fun interplay between Mr. Nimoy and his “Captain Kirk,” William Shatner:

"William Shatner Stole Leonard Nimoy's Bike!"

“William Shatner Stole Leonard Nimoy’s Bike!”

 

“William Shatner Stole Leonard Nimoy’s Bike” http://youtu.be/9nxcw7ln9AU

 

 

CARLISLE Codex Lacrimae_Kickstarter Title Page_Staff Pick (12.9.14)As for matters Medieval & Epic Fantastic, I’m very occupied with prepping my Kickstarter presentation next week (Friday, March 13th) at the Denver Center for Performing Art’s Off Center production of “Kick-Off Cabaret,” where I’ll be promoting my currently running KICKSTARTER project to line-edit and publish my novel, The Codex Lacrimae. http://kck.st/1KRP10j

Promotional Poster: "Support my project: The Codex Lacrimae" (March 13th only; Denver Center for the Performing Arts, OffCenter Productions)

Promotional Poster: “Support my project: The Codex Lacrimae” (March 13th only; Denver Center for the Performing Arts, OffCenter Productions)

If you’re in Denver and want to see me speaking live at the Denver Center for Performing Arts’ Off-Center “Kick-Off Cabaret,” please call 303-893-4100 to get a $15 ticket, or visit the following weblink: http://www.denvercenter.org/shows/specific-series/Get?Id=378bd977-cdec-68a4-921b-ff0e004d5814

For those of you waiting for the rest of the King Arthur lecture that I delivered to a 9th grade Honors English class as a favor for a friend, here it is below!

Enjoy, and thanks for visiting!

“Live long and prosper,”

A.J.

Carlisle_King Arthur Lecture_4 of 8

Carlisle_King Arthur Lecture_4 of 8

Carlisle_King Arthur Lecture_5 of 8

Carlisle_King Arthur Lecture_5 of 8

 

Carlisle_King Arthur Lecture_6 of 8

Carlisle_King Arthur Lecture_6 of 8

Carlisle_King Arthur Lecture_7 of 8

Carlisle_King Arthur Lecture_7 of 8

Carlisle_King Arthur Lecture_8 of 8

Carlisle_King Arthur Lecture_8 of 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Author’s Journey: Worlds of Medieval Literature (4) King Arthur, Pt 3: Medieval Warrior Culture

Arthurian Knights: "Parsifal vor der Gralsburg" (Hans Werner Schmidt, 1928)

Arthurian Knights: “Parsifal vor der Gralsburg” (Hans Werner Schmidt, 1928)

An Author’s Journey: Worlds of Medieval Literature (4) King Arthur, Pt 3: Medieval Warrior Culture

Enduring Popularity- Arthur & Knights of Round Table (%22Merlin%22 t.v. series, BBC)

Enduring Popularity- Arthur & Knights of Round Table (%22Merlin%22 t.v. series, BBC)

Good Morning, Everybody!

Last time I reviewed some popular expressions of the Arthurian legend, and I could probably continue on that topic for a couple more blogs, but the point’s made:  when we look at the wide array of fantasy offerings in the entertainment industry, the Arthurian legend is one of the most influential mythologies for media as diverse as literature, film, theater, gaming, and television.

Enduring Popularity- Arthur & Knights of Round Table (%22Merlin%22 t.v. series, BBC)

Enduring Popularity- Arthur & Knights of Round Table (%22Merlin%22 t.v. series, BBC)

No surprise there, because King Arthur’s legacy has lasted for over 1,200 years because of the vivacity of themes that inspire creators who draw from the following still-relevant medieval themes.

Gaius Cornelius Tacitus, %22The Germania%22 (c. 98)

Gaius Cornelius Tacitus (56-120 A.D.)

First among such themes is the legend’s evocation of a medieval warrior culture.  Whether depicted as a schoolboy-aged Wart, or mature king ruling from Camelot, Arthur’s role as a medieval military leader remains consistent throughout all stories. Besides emphasizing his personal athletic and martial prowess, Arthurian tales essentially depict the king as a variation on the war-chieftan of an early-medieval comitatus, or “war-band,” whose existence the Roman historian Tacitus first noted in his Germania of the 1st Century A.D.

6th Century Britain (c. 540 A.D.)

6th Century Britain (c. 540 A.D.)

Indeed, most of the “historical” attempts to fix Arthur in Late Antiquity or the Early Middle Ages — primarily via the mystery-shrouded figure of “Aurelius Ambrosius” in the account of Gildas the Wise (c. 500-570), and the “Battle of Mons Badon” that appear in the Annales Cambriae or the Historia Brittonum attributed to Nennius (c. 800) — frame the man along the lines that as a Welsh war-chieftain who defends Britain against West Saxon invaders near the Middle Thames River. Even recent archaeological work that perhaps situates an Arthur closer to Hadrian’s Wall (which evidence shows reconstructed in places c. 500) still leave inconclusive any positive identification.

Arthurian Knights: "Sir Galahad at the Ruined Chapel" (Dante Gabriel Rosseti, watercolor, ca. 1828)

Arthurian Knights: “Sir Galahad at the Ruined Chapel” (Dante Gabriel Rosseti, watercolor, ca. 1828)

"Arthur Slays Flollo the Roman Governor" (G.H. Thomas 1862)

“Arthur Slays Flollo the Roman Governor” (G.H. Thomas 1862)

For all that, however, any historical Arthur that existed c. 500-700 would have had the attributes of a comitatus war-leader, cultural & social attributes that include the following traits:
(1) mutual loyalty during near-constant warfare: a chieftain followed by a band of followers who fight loyally in exchange for
(2) provision of material needs besides earning food, shelter, horses, weapons and plunder, the companions/followers of the chieftain share a membership in the chieftain’s community

Tacitus, "The Agricola and The Germania" (Penguin Books)

Tacitus, “The Agricola and The Germania” (Penguin Books)

In The Germania (98 A.D.), Tacitus described the comitatus thusly:

[from Section 7]: ” … They chose their kings for their noble birth, their commanders for their valour. The power even of the kings is not absolute or arbitrary. The commanders rely on example rather than authority of their rank — on the admiration they win by showing conspicuous energy and courage and by pressing forward in front of their own troops …”

and

Arthurian Knights: Sir Galahad (G.F. Watts,  d. 1904)

Arthurian Knights: Sir Galahad (G.F. Watts, d. 1904)

[from Section 14]: ” …On the field of battle it is a disgrace to a chief to be surpassed in courage by his followers, and to the followers not to equal the courage of their chief. And to leave a battle alive after the chief has fallen means lifelong infamy and shame. To defend and protect him, and to let him get the credit for their own acts of heroism, are the most solemn obligations of their allegiance. The chiefs fight for victory, the followers for their chief…” [End excerpt: Tacitus, Germania, Harold Mattingly, The Agricola and The Germania, NY: Penguin Books, 1970; pp. 107, 113.]

The Idea of Arthur Reflected Each Age's Own Cultural Milieu ("King Arthur and Attendants, acc. nos. 32.130.3a & 47.101.4, from "Nine Heroes Tapestries", c. 1400; Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The Idea of Arthur Reflected Each Age’s Own Cultural Milieu (“King Arthur and Attendants, acc. nos. 32.130.3a & 47.101.4, from “Nine Heroes Tapestries”, c. 1400; Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Whatever variations we see in the Arthurian legend that developed in the 12th-14th centuries onwards, the comitatus aspect is ever-present, and one could argue that authors such as , Wolfram von Eschenbach, and Sir Thomas Malory especially preferred to focus on the loyal companions and Knights of the Round Table as the lens through which to view King Arthur himself (i.e., in the stories of Galahad, Lancelot, Gawain, Yvain, Perceval, Tristan et al).

Arthurian Knights: "Tristan and Iseult" (John William Waterhouse, 1916)

Arthurian Knights: “Tristan and Iseult” (John William Waterhouse, 1916)

Arthurian Knights: "Lancelot du Laic" (N.C. Wyeth, 1917)

Arthurian Knights: “Lancelot du Laic” (N.C. Wyeth, 1917)

Add to this the variety of martial descriptions in the Arthurian canon (e.g., constant battles, challenges, quests, castles, travel, descriptions of wounds & recoveries, etc), and it becomes very apparent that the influence of (and description of) a medieval warrior culture is ever on the minds of the writers who created and promoted the Arthurian legend.

Arthurian Knights: "Yvain vs. Gawain" ("Yvain, le Chevalier au Lion," c. 1170s, Garrett MS, no.125, Princeton)

Arthurian Knights: “Yvain vs. Gawain” (“Yvain, le Chevalier au Lion,” c. 1170s, Garrett MS, no.125, Princeton)

Arthurian Knights: "Bors' Dilemma ' [Save the Lady over Brother Lionel] (Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris)

Arthurian Knights: “Bors’ Dilemma ‘ [Save the Lady over Brother Lionel] (Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris)

Arthurian Knights: "Bedivere Casting Excalibur into Water" (Aubrey Beardsley, 1894)

Arthurian Knights: “Bedivere Casting Excalibur into Water” (Aubrey Beardsley, 1894)

For medievalists and arm-chair historians, the fun part becomes not so much finding all the instances of expressions of “military glory,” but rather what each writer’s narrative reveals about the time, culture, and literary milieu in which he wrote.  From fragmentary early medieval chronicles by Gildas and Bede (both of whom direct us to a mist-shrouded “Ambrosius Aurelianus”), to the fully realized high-medieval narratives of Chrétien de Troyes (Eric et Enide, Lancelot, Yvain), Wolfram von Eschenbach (Parzifal), and Sir Thomas Malory (Le Morte D’Arthur), Arthur and the knights in his retinue were approached in very different storylines and thematic concerns.

What binds all of the tales together, though, is the common assumption that all the characters were actively taking part in a medieval warrior culture that can be traced back to antiquity and Roman times.

Thanks for visiting!
A.J.

Next time: Arthur and the Enduring Medieval Theme of “Supernatural Wonder”

 

 

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