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Arthurian legend

Arthurian legend






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    Arthurian legend Arthurian legend Presentation Transcript

    • The Arthurian Legend The Man, the Myth, the Archetype
    • Legend • a traditional historical tale or collection of related tales popularly regarded as true, but usually contain a mixture of fact and fiction • not to be confused with a myth (A traditional, typically ancient story dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes that serves as a fundamental type in the worldview of a people, as by explaining aspects of the natural world or delineating the psychology, customs, or ideals of society)
    • Literary Focus: Archetypes • An archetype is a pattern that appears in literature across cultures and is repeated through the ages. • An archetype can be a character, a plot, an image, or a setting. – Ex. The Quest Circle of Character Archetypes
    • Why is Arthur Important? 1. Provided a hero to a conquered people. Think of all the invasions we’ve discussed 2. Tales form a common bond between Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman. Warrior King Arthur – Anglo-Saxon Chivalric Tradition – Anglo-Norman 3. Second most referenced character in Western Literature. King Arthur, c. 1385
    • Did He Exist? Historical Arthur • Celtic/Anglo-Saxon Arthur • Welsh chieftain • warrior in the histories of 500-1100 • may have really existed – not a king Fictional Arthur • Anglo-Norman Arthur • could just be a combination of great leaders • Normans add chivalry, romance, quest, lov e, etc. • Norman romances focus more on knights.
    • True History • • • Most scholars believe that a King named Arthur did defeat the Saxons in the 5th or 6th century. This is outlined in one of the oldest accounts of English History Geoffrey of Monmouth's fanciful and imaginative 12th-century Historia Regum Britanniae There are ruins of a castle in Cornwall that many believe to belong to Arthur Not much else is known; accounts of Arthur seem to be mysteriously missing from all Anglo-Saxon chronicles and other such history books.
    • Arthurian Literary Tradition • Nennius – – – – – 9th century Welsh monk wrote Historia Brittonum 1st reference to an Arthur His Arthur is the “greatest of all the Celts” – an important hero to the declining Celtic community.
    • Arthurian Literary Tradition • Geoffrey of Monmouth Merlin Reads his Prophecies to Vortigern – 12th century – wrote Historia Regumn Britanniae – one of the most important books of the Middle Ages – add Merlin to the Arthurian legend – tales mostly focused on Arthur with little mention of his other knights. – inspired the next generation of authors
    • Arthurian Literary Tradition • Chrétien de Troyes – 12th century – French – introduces character of Lancelot and the Arthur / Guinevere / Lancelot love triangle – romance / single hero adventures – example of Anglo-Norman cultural influence with the increased influence of the chivalric tradition Sir Launcelot
    • Arthurian Literary Tradition • Sir Thomas Malory – 15th century – English – compiled the various tales into one work: Le Mort d’Arthur • The Death of Arthur How Sir Bedivere Cast the Sword Excalibur into the Water – expands the characters of Lancelot and Guinevere and makes the affair chaste and pure – still read today and highly influential
    • Arthurian Literary Tradition • Alfred, Lord Tennyson – 19th century – English – composed many works on the Arthurian tradition: “The Lady of Shalott,” “The Death of Arthur,” “Idylls of the King” – Father of the Arthurian Renaissance in Victorian England. Lady of Shallot Looking at Lancelot
    • Arthurian Literary Tradition • T. H. White – 20th century – English – wrote The Sword in the Stone (1938) and The Once and Future King (1958) – based heavily on Malory’s work – The Once and Future King deals with darker themes as Arthur grows older Cover, The Once and Future King
    • Key Themes/Archetypes • Love Triangle – Arthur / Guinevere / Lancelot • Traitor/Judas Figure – Mordred – Lancelot • Fall of the central community / end of order • Messianic Return – Once and Future King • Grail – Cup that Jesus drank out of at the Last Supper – Joseph of Arimithea brought grail to England – “quest” which requires much of the individual – Grail represents unanswered philosophical/ cosmological questions – only artifact not recovered which explains its continued popularity
    • Key Objects • Excalibur – Arthur’s magical sword; given to him by the Lady of the Lake • The Holy Grail – the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper; used by Joseph of Arimathea to catch Christ’s blood • The Round Table – the table given as part of Guinevere’s dowry; the idea that everyone is equal Arthur and the Round Table
    • Key Characters • Uther Pendragon – Arthur’s biological father • Igraine – Arthur’s biological mother • Sir Ector – Arthur’s adoptive father • Merlin – Arthur’s counselor, prophet & wizard • Morgan le Fay – Arthur’s half-sister; magical; adversary • Sir Kay – son of Sir Ector; Arthur’s stepbrother • Mordred – Arthur’s nephew; kidnaps Guinevere and rebels; killed by Lancelot
    • Humble Beginnings • • • Arthur is the son of King Uther Pendragon, but is orphaned at a young age, unaware of his royal heritage Upon King Uther’s death, Merlin places the sword Excalibur (a magical sword given to Merlin by the Lady of the Lake) in a stone containing a spell that only the rightful king could remove it from the stone In need of a sword for his adoptive brother, Arthur pulls Excalibur from the stone, proving himself the rightful king of England King Arthur –Life and Legend
    • The Round Table • • • When Arthur assumes power, England is torn apart by war, is fractioned into citystates, and is on the brink of invasion by the Saxons To unite the country and defeat the Saxons, Arthur creates the Knights of the Round table. This is a revolutionary idea for the time in which each city state is represented by a knight. No one knight, including King Arthur himself, has more power than another. Arthur creates a democratic society. Because of this alliance, Arthur and his knights defeat the powerful Saxons in a series of 12 battles. It is said that the key to Arthur’s success is the sword Excalibur which he always takes into battle. Excalibur is said to make its bearer invincible.
    • Morgan de Fey and Mordred Arthur unknowingly had a half sister, Morgan de Fey. She believed that she was rightful ruler. In an attempts to usurp the throne, she slept with him and conceived a son. Morgan was said to be a witch and a powerful woman. Her son, Mordred, threatened Arthur’s marriage and his throne.
    • A Country Religiously Divided • • • • Arthur was a member of the Old Celtic religion (as evident by keeping a Royal wizard, Merlin) However, a new religion, Christianity, was beginning. Guinevere, Arthur’s wife, was a member of this religion. Arthur and Guinevere were having trouble conceiving. Guinevere believed this was because God was punishing Arthur for believing in pagan gods and encouraging his people to do so as well. To try to remedy the problem of an heir and heal the country, which had once again grown restless, Arthur established the Crusades.
    • Crusades and the Holy Grail • • Because the Celtic religion is based upon tangible items and nature, Arthur would need artifacts to convince his country to convert to Christianity. With the help of Merlin, Arthur decided to send his knights on a quest for religious artifacts, more commonly know as the Crusades. – – – – – – The body of Joseph of Arimathea The Spear of Destiny The Holy Grail King Solomon’s Temple Byzantine Crown of Thorns Holy Rood
    • The Holy Grail and The Templars • • The Holy Grail is the only artifact not recovered which explains its continued popularity Once the Holy Land was discovered, Arthur encouraged the English to visit it and created the Knights Templar** who were warriors sent to protect the road to the Holy Land. These warriors begin much of the problems that still exist in the Middle East today. *** Please note: This is one version of the story. Many scholars argue that this is not historically accurate.
    • Trouble At Home • • • • During the search for the Holy Grail Arthur’s life begins to fall apart. Some versions of the story have Arthur gone 1020 years on his quest. During this time, Merlin is seduced by a young woman who steals his powers and imprisons him. Arthur is left without an advisor. In Arthur’s absence Mordred has been raised to hate Arthur and upon his return, Arthur unknowingly knights his own son and invites him to the round table. Guinevere has begun to realize her true love for Lancelot, not Arthur, during both their absences.
    • Key Characters • Guinevere – – – – – Arthur’s queen has affair with Lancelot childless abducted by Mordred • Lancelot – – Arthur’s chief knight – usually French – the “perfect” knight but has affair with Guinevere Lancelot and Guinevere by Herbert James Draper (1863-1920)
    • Guinevere • • • After the battles with the Saxons, England finally experiences peace. During this time, Arthur decides to marry the lovely young Guinevere. She does not see him before they are married. Arthur sends his most trusted knight Lancelot to fetch her. He marries her and they are happy for some time. Guinevere, upon seeing Lancelot, believes he is her husband to be and falls in love with him.
    • Guinevere • • • After the battles with the Saxons, England finally experiences peace. During this time, Arthur decides to marry the lovely young Guinevere. She does not see him before they are married. Arthur sends his most trusted knight Lancelot to fetch her. He marries her and they are happy for some time. Guinevere, upon seeing Lancelot, believes he is her husband to be and falls in love with him.
    • The Most Famous Affair in Literary History • • • • Mordred sees the possibility to overthrow his father in Lancelot. Mordred discovers Guinevere and Lancelot’s affair (the two people that Arthur loves most) and convinces the rest of the Round Table to capture Lancelot in the act. Lancelot escapes but Guinevere is captured and is to be burned at the stake for her treachery against the king. She is rescued at the last minute by Lancelot and the two escape and are never heard from again. Arthur does not follow them due to the problems of his kingdom. They are once again on the brink of war and Mordred has turned much of the Round Table against him.
    • Key Places • Camelot – King Arthur’s kingdom • Isle of Avalon – island to which Arthur is sent to recover from the last battle Gustave Doré’s illustration of Lord Alfred Tennyson’s “Idylls of the King”, 1868.
    • The Fall of Camelot • • Metaphorically, the country already had fallen with the betrayal of Arthur’s only love and his best friend There are many versions of the story. All of which end with Arthur’s death in battle. Some of the versions include the following battles: – – – – – – – – • Saxons Romans Goths French Irish Lancelot Morgan de fey Mordred All of the stories end with Arthur’s glorious death in battle, all that any legendary king or hero can ask for
    • Romance Motifs Motif - an idea, object, place, or statement that appears frequently throughout a piece of writing, which helps contribute to the work’s overall theme • • • • • • • Faithful Follower Wise old man Dreams Number three Magic Testing of Follower Betrayal
    • “The Day of Destiny,” an excerpt from Le Morte d’ Arthur, describes the end of King Arthur’s reign and the dissolution of the order which he, along with his Knights of the Round Table, has established. This end grows out of the corruption within the royal court itself. Arthur’s illegitimate son Morderd knows the secret love between Arthur’s wife, Queen Guinevere, and his best friend, Sir Lancelot. One night Mordred leads a band of knights to Guinevere’s chamber, when they find the Queen with Lancelot. Although he is reluctant, Arthur feels obligated to obey the law of the land and to burn his wife at the stake. However, at the last minute Lancelot rescues her, killing two knights who were guarding her. Lancelot subsequently flees to a castle in France and Arthur forgives Guinevere. Sir Gawain, though, the brother of the dead knights, demands vengeance on Lancelot. His hatred forces Arthur to lead his men on an attack against Lancelot’s French fortress. In the ensuing battles Lancelot seriously wounds Gawain but refuses to kill him. Meanwhile, Mordred senses his chance. With Arthur away in France, he leads a rebellion in England, claiming the throne and trying to seize Guinevere as his queen. She flees to the Tower of London. Arthur, returning to defend his crown, battles Mordred for the first time at Dover, where Gawain is fatally wounded. Before his death, Gawain writes a letter to Lancelot ending their feud and asking Lancelot to return to England to help Arthur. After a second, inconclusive battle with Mordred’s forces, Arthur regroups his men and moves westward
    • Spin Offs There are several mysterious stories that parallel the legend of King Arthur. King Arthur’s Camelot is one that is surrounded by countless stories of chivalry, fairies, magic and monsters. Some of the most famous of these stories are the following: – – – – Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Tristan and Isolde The White Stag The Lady of the Lake
    • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight th 12 grade
    • Main Characters…  Sir Gawain:  Arthur’s nephew and one of the most loyal, brave knights  Follows the chivalrous code (humility, piety, integrity, l oyalty, honesty)  Courtly lover  One flaw: loves his life so much that he will lie to protect it (obviously breaking the code)
    • Main Characters…  The Green Knight:  Yes…he is a green man.  Huge guy with big muscles/carries a huge axe  Says he comes in friendship but proposes that someone step forward to play the “beheading game.”  Expects the knights to be courageous and step forward to play.
    • Gold spurs? Immediately upon reading/hearing these lines about the Green Knight who has burst into Arthur’s Christmas festivities, the audience would know that he was a guy not to be messed with: He was got up in green from head to heel: a tunic worn tight, tucked to his ribs; and a rich cloak cast over it, covered inside with a fine fur lining, fitted and sewn with ermine trim that stood out in contrast from his hair where his hood lay folded flat; and handsome hose of the same green hue which clung to his calves, with clustered spurs of bright gold; (ll. 151-55)
    • What’s so hardcore – so OD – about gold spurs?
    • Why the Green Knight?  In medieval England, the “Green Man” was a pagan representation of nature. The “Green Man” was not Satanic, but did symbolize the nature worship that characterized pre-Christian tribal paganism.  The “Green Man” is not evil, but is also not Christian a battle between any of Arthur’s knights and any creature reminiscent of Britain’s pagan past is, by extension, a battle between “good” and “evil” – or between the Christian piety of Arthur’s knights and their tribal, nonChristian predecessors.
    • Gawain’s Shield In the poem, Gawain’s shield is very clearly described as a golden pentangle on a field of red. The pentangle, the poem goes on to tell us, represents Gawain’s Five Fifths. The pentangle is also called the “endless knot.”
    • In medieval symbology, red signifies humility as the blood of Christ Gold signifies perfection. from: http://faculty.uca.edu/~jona/second/ggknotes.htm#id008
    • 1 Gawain was said to possess five qualities – one for each of the pentangle’s points – wherein he far excelled all other knights. The first of these “Five Fifths” was his faultlessness in his five senses. from: http://faculty.uca.edu/~jona/second/ggknotes.htm#id008
    • 2 Gawain was said to possess five qualities wherein he far excelled all other knights, cont. The next (second) of these “Five Fifths” was his faultlessness in his five fingers. from: http://faculty.uca.edu/~jona/second/ggknotes.htm#id008
    • Gawain was said to possess five qualities wherein he far excelled all other knights, cont. 3 The next (third) of these “Five Fifths” was the strength Gawain drew from his devotion to the “five wounds of Christ.” from: http://faculty.uca.edu/~jona/second/ggknotes.htm#id008
    • The Jerusalem Cross 1. The wounds in the hands. 2. The wounds in the feet. 3. The wound in the side of Christ
    • Gawain was said to possess five qualities wherein he far excelled all other knights, cont. 4 The next (fourth) of these “Five Fifths” was the strength Gawain drew from his devotion to the “five joys of Mary.” from: http://faculty.uca.edu/~jona/second/ggknotes.htm#id008
    • The five joys of Mary are also known as The Five Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. They are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. the Annunciation the Nativity the Resurrection the Ascension the Assumption
    • 5 Gawain was said to possess five qualities wherein he far excelled all other knights, cont. The last of these “Five Fifths” was Gawain’s well-known practice of the “five social graces.” from: http://faculty.uca.edu/~jona/second/ggknotes.htm#id008
    • The five social graces which Gawain exemplifies above all others are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. free-giving (generosity) brotherly love chastity pure manners (courtesie) piety from: http://faculty.uca.edu/~jona/second/ggknotes.htm#id008
    • Gawain faced 5 challenges 1. to voluntarily confront the Green Knight 2. to strike his blow properly 3. to keep his vow to meet the Green Knight in a year and a day. 4. to survive journey to the green chapel 5. to resist the lady’s temptations from: http://faculty.uca.edu/~jona/second/ggknotes.htm#id008
    • More on Gawain’ s fifth challen ge The FIFTH TEST is the temptations and the three gifts; it tests especially the fifth point of the pentangle, the social virtues. Gawain falls: his acceptance of the girdle is not a fault; his hiding of it is a potential fault; his actual withholding of it from Bertilak is his fall. Had he given it back to the lady, he would have erased his potential fault. The real fault, from Gawain's point of view, is that the reality of his own mortality induces him to break the endless knot. Thus two effects of original sin are reasserted: cowardice (bodily mortality) and covetousness (willful cupidity). His nature as a man is asserting itself against his nature as a knight. from: http://faculty.uca.edu/~jona/second/ggknotes.htm#id008
    • The Garter  Honi soit qui mal y pense  “Shame be upon him who thinks evil of this.”
    • Other Characters…  Lord and Lady of the castle where Gawain stays for Christmas (The lady tries to seduce Gawain every day he is there.)  Queen Guinevere: Arthur’s wife and queen
    • Major theme…  Chivalry:  The world of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is governed by well-defined codes of behavior. The code of chivalry, in particular, shapes the values and actions of Sir Gawain and other characters in the poem. The ideals of chivalry come from the Christian concept of morality.
    • Major Theme…  Arthur's court depends heavily on the code of chivalry, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight gently criticizes the fact that chivalry values appearance and symbols over truth. Arthur is introduced to us as the “most courteous of all,” indicating that people are ranked in this court according to their mastery of a certain code of behavior and good manners. When the Green Knight challenges the court, he mocks them for being so afraid of mere words, suggesting that words and appearances hold too much power over the company. The members of the court never reveal their true feelings, instead choosing to seem beautiful, courteous, and fair-spoken.
    • Major Theme…  The lesson Gawain learns as a result of the Green Knight's challenge is that, at a basic level, he is just a physical being who is concerned above all else with his own life. Chivalry provides a valuable set of ideals toward which to strive, but a person must above all remain conscious of his or her own mortality and weakness. Gawain's faults throughout this story teach him that though he may be the most chivalrous knight in the land, he is nevertheless human and capable of error.
    • Setting up the story…  During a New Year's Eve feast at King Arthur's court, a strange figure, referred to only as the Green Knight, pays the court an unexpected visit. He challenges the group's leader or any other brave representative to a game. The Green Knight says that he will allow whomever accepts the challenge to strike him with his own axe, on the condition that the challenger find him in exactly one year to receive a blow in return.
    • Setting up the story…  Stunned, Arthur hesitates to respond, but when the Green Knight mocks Arthur's silence, the king steps forward to take the challenge. As soon as Arthur grips the Green Knight's axe, Sir Gawain leaps up and asks to take the challenge himself. He takes hold of the axe and, in one deadly blow, cuts off the knight's head. To the amazement of the court, the now-headless Green Knight picks up his severed head. Before riding away, the head reiterates the terms of the pact, reminding the young Gawain to seek him in a year and a day at the Green Chapel. After the Green Knight leaves, the company goes back to its festival, but Gawain is uneasy……..and away we go from there!
    • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight As the poem opens, King Arthur and his knights are celebrating Christmas at Camelot. Suddenly, an enormous green stranger armed with a huge ax rides into the hall where the knights are dining.
    • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight He challenges any knight to hit him immediately and says that he will return the hit after a year and a day. Gawain, the best of the knights, accepts the terms and beheads the challenger.
    • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight The Green Knight calmly picks up his own head, repeats the challenge, and gallops off with his head in his hand. Later, on his quest, Gawain comes upon a mysterious castle, where for three days he is tempted by the absent Lord’s wife.
    • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight On the last day, he accepts more than just her kisses and takes a magical green sash that she claims will protect him from harm. Gawain leaves with the green sash wrapped around his armor, intent on finding the Green Chapel and the dreaded Green Knight…
    • Chastity? Piety? Respect for the King? Q: Gawain knows that he is facing certain death – and SOON – when he finally confronts the Green Knight and accepts his half of the bargain. Why would he still adhere to courtesie and resist the Lady’s temptation?