King Arthur Essay example

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King Arthur

If the name of King Arthur is mentioned, I suppose what comes to mind is not so much one person as a whole array of characters and themes, a montage so to speak. Of course we do think first of the King, the magnificent monarch of a glorified or idealized medieval realm. But we think also of his Queen, of the fair and wayward Guinevere, we think of his enchanter, Merlin, who presided over his birth, who set him on the throne, who established him there in the early and traveled days of his reign. There were the knights of the Round Table, vowed to the highest ideals of chivalry, and the greatest of them, Sir Lancelot, who, of course, has a tragic love affair with the Queen. There is another great love story, that of Tristan
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There were other great historical figures who became the heros of medieval legends, such as Alexander the Great and Charlemagne. We know that they existed and if somebody asks whether they did, we can say "yes" directly because we have reliable, historical records of them. But with Arthur, it is rather more difficult because the emphasis really is all on the legend, the romance.

If we say "yes," that would imply that this magnificent medieval monarch existed and reigned, at some time or other, in his glorified medieval court as described as by Malory, Tennyson and the romances. Of course, he didn't. There is no such person as King Arthur, in that sense; it's quite an impossible idea. So we cannot say "yes," directly, but to say "no" is also misleading because that implies that he is completely fictitious, that he was all made up in the middle ages when these stories were first told, and that there is no sort of background or original person behind the stories, at all. That, too, is misleading. This is a puzzle, a very difficult question.

The main reason is that writers of fiction in the middle ages, when they were dealing with something handed down to them from a distant past, didn't approach it as a modern historical novelist does. Historical novelists, nowadays, will aim at

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