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The stories and legends surrounding the character of King Arthur are among the best known of all stories about kings and knights.

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Introduction

The stories and legends surrounding the character of King Arthur are among the best known of all stories about kings and knights. He is the greatest of British literary heroes, although little is known about the real person. Folklore and literature provide examples of a recurrent myth about a leader or hero who has not really died, but is asleep somewhere or in some estate of suspended life who will return to save his people (Geocities 3). There is little real historical information left about him other than, texts, chronicles, verses, myths, and fragments of epic poems, inscriptions, symbols and graven images. Although these writings can be interesting literature, they lack the factual evidence and they are obscure in details. It is not even possible to say that a real King Arthur even existed, for the records of his existence go back to the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries AD, when the Welsh and English kingdoms which were to replace Roman government were only beginning (Green 1). Most of the stories involving King Arthur are primarily fiction; however, there remains the possibility that a character called Arthur may have actually existed. It would have been during the time when the islands of Britain were being threatened with invasion by the Saxons, following the collapse of the Roman Empire and the withdrawal of Roman Legions from Britain. ...read more.

Middle

According to legend, Merlin, the wizard, arranged for the birth of Arthur by bringing together King Uther Pendragon and Igrayne, Duchess of Cornwall. Igrayne was the wife of one of his barons, and Merlin's magic transforms Uther into the likeness of her husband, and Arthur is born of this union. This Arthur is associated with the magic and supernatural, while others are more closely related to myths. Raised in secrecy away from his father's court, Arthur succeeded to Uther's throne at the age of fifteen. He did this by proving his royalty and chastity by drawing the famous magic sword, Excalibur, from a stone (Ashe 77). First and foremost of his followers were the Knights of the Round Table. King Arthur was worthy of such admiration, both as a king and as a warrior. With his wife Guinevere, Arthur established his court in Camelot with the Knights of the Round Table as his companions and Merlin, as his advisor. Arthur dispensed aid and honor from his court and his empire was filled with chivalry and courtly love. Sir Lancelot was a model of fidelity, braver, frailty in love and repentance. However, he had to flee Camelot when King Arthur learned of his affair with Queen Guinevere. This event brought about that dissolution of the knightly fellowship, and eventually the destruction of the kingdom (Ashe 78). ...read more.

Conclusion

With the Holy Grail, the symbol of true knightly goodness, the picture of Arthur as all that is good and right was weakened. As the legend writers tied a knight's goodness to piety, they tied Arthur's fate inextricably to a bad end, the king who was the symbol of prosperity of the nation and the land was sick because he sinned against God (Koch 245). In conclusion, the truth about King Arthur may never be known. There is no solid proof that he even existed. King Arthur is often made to be the protagonist while he has other followers. Even though most of the stories regarding King Arthur are fictitious, readers can often get an idea of what the stories are trying to communicate. There are many stories that depict King Arthur as a real person, and those that depict him as a mythical character with special powers. However, it can be said that the stories that are created about King Arthur are, for the most part, enjoyable and enticing. Many English poets and writers, such as Edmund Spenser, John Milton, Walter Scott, Alfred Tennyson, and William Morris used Malory's book about King Arthur as a source for their own writing and Richard Wagner based some of his operas on Arthurian tales. King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table are not forgotten even today. As of today, there are many films that can be traced to have an Arthurian theme. ...read more.

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