The Legacy and Legend of King Arthur and Heroes of Epic Poems: A Comparative Analysis
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Formerly and Future
In many ways, the legacy and legend of King Arthur is in alignment with that of the myriad heroes that came before him in ancient times. These heroes include the likes of Achilles, Gilgamesh, and Beowulf. However, principally due to the fact that King Arthur and his exploits are decidedly more modern than those of the aforementioned heroes, there are certain points of variance between his characterization and deeds and those of the figures that existed in ancient times. Therefore, it is accurate to say that Arthur retained many of the qualities endemic to heroes that preceded him, although he demonstrated these qualities in circumstances that were significantly different than that of the heroes of epic poems.
One of the key principles of being heroic is to personify a selflessness and a love for one's people. This proclivity came from a number of epic poems, including the Illiad, which details the adventures of Achilles. It was only after Achilles found out about the murder of his best friend, Patroclus, that he was moved to return to battle to avenge his friends death against Hector (Homer). Similarly, Arthur conducts most of his battles and challenges for the sake of his kingdom and his loyal subjects. In Sir Thomas Malory's The Death of Arthur, the only reason why Arthur engages Modred in hand-to-hand combat, knowing that doing so will surely lead to his death, is because he is overwhelmed at the sight of so many of his dead subjects (Malory). This