Background to The Arthurian Legend
Celts arrived on the British Isles from Northern Europe.
Their religious leaders were Druids: priests, prophets,
poets, magicians, scientists, and doctors. They were both
expert in human knowledge and they could also deal with
the gods and goddesses. Interestingly enough, Druids
were They worshipped the sun and the four holidays were
the two solstices, summer and winter, when the sun is
closest to the earth and the two equinoxes, when it is the
farthest, vernal and autumnal. The Celts were into
sacrifice, to help them get enough food and to ward off
Britain was later conquered by the Romans, who brought
Christianity, but the Celts lived pretty comfortably with
the old gods and goddesses and the Christian God for
Arthurian Background continued
The enemies of the Britons were the Picts, from the north, the
Gauls, (from what is now know as France) the The Saxons
and, The Goths, and the Visigoths.
The first chronicler of Arthur is Geoffrey of Monmouth, who
lived in the 12th Century.
His History of the Kings of England is a largely fictional
work, that traces Arthur and the current Britain back to the
Trojan War. Geoffrey of Monmouth's work was regarded as
fiction until Geoffrey Ashe wrote a historical detective story
that showed that Arthur was almost certainly Riothamus
(name means (High king in Celt Rigo (King) + amos(most)).
Arthur is his Roman name (remember the Romans had
conquered and were benevolent invaders); it is Artorius
(which means bear). Many people had both British and
Roman names such as St. Patrick, who was also called Maun.
Riothamus actually did fight the Gauls and was known for
peace-making and his court. He also, like Arthur, was away
in battle when his throne was seized and he died, discredited
and alone in what is now France, near Avallon, an actual
French town still.
Prior to Arthur’s Birth
1. One of the princes of Troy, Aeneas, fled to an island, killed off
giants and named the island Britain after the leader, Brutus.
Brutus's descendant is Constantine, father of Aurelius
Ambrosius and Uther Pendragon (name means hear of the
dragon). Uther is the father of Arthur.
2. Aurelius and Uther are told by Merlin to go to Ireland and
bring back the Giants' Ring. Uther does so and Aurelius dies
while he is there.
3. Uther has a dream that he sees a huge star with a beam in the
shape of a dragon. Two rays of light from his mouth, one
pointing toward Gaul and the other into seven smaller rays.
It comes 3 times. Merlin tells him that he is the dragon
because his brother is dead and that his son will live near
Gaul and rule over all and that the 7 rays will be Morgawse's
sons, who will rule after him. (Gawain, Gareth, Mordred,
Group work: Get into groups of 7.
Each group will fill out an overhead
and present it to the class.
Rank’s Hero: Arthur
Rank’s hero: Mordred
Arthur’s Campbell’s hero’s Departure
Arthur’s Campbell’s hero’s Initiation
Arthur’s Campbell’s hero’s Return
How Merlin represents tricksters
Bierlin’s Meanings in Arthur
For Class 9 (Oct. 21)
Rosenberg: pp. 296-321