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King Arthur Essay Examples

King Arthur

There has been a lot of material written about the legendary King
Arthur and although he has been a popular figure inliterature for over 800
years, not a lot is known about the real Arthur. It is believed that Arthur
was a 5the-century British King named Riothamus (meaning “high king”) who
ruled from 454 – 470 A.D. and led an army into Gaul where he was defeated
by the Goths of Burgundy. Two men by the names of Jordanes (6the century)
and William (11the century) contributed to the legend of Arthur. Their
input was perhaps the real basis of future adaptations of the story. Arthur
appeared in literature as a national hero in a book written in Latin by
Geoffrey of Monmouth called Historia Regum Britanniae (meaning History of
the Kings of Britain). he book supposedly covered history from 1200 B.C. to
689 A.D. Geoffrey includes many sources of information with his work but
most scholars believe it to be a fictional bibliography added only to give
his book some credibility. Therefore his work is considered to be
literature not factual history. Geoffrey is the one responsible for the
portrayal of Arthur as a splendid King who conquered the British Isles and
much of Europe Introduced by Geoffrey are Guenevere, Merlin, information
about Arthur’s strange birth and death and the concept of chivalry. Due to
the tremendous popularity of Geoffrey’s book, authors like Robert Wace and
Chretien de Troyes continued on with the development of King Arthur and his
life, adding yet more detail and depth to the story. Robert Wace
concentrated on the Arthurian aspect of the story while Chretien
concentrated on the romantic aspect of Arthur’s life. Some of the new
elements added include d the Round Table, courtly love and the love affair
between Lancelot and Guenevere. In 1205 A.D. Layamon wrote the first
English version of the King Arthur stories with a distinctly British
perspective. Another nationalistic version of the story was Morte Arthure.
This version was centered around fighting and action diminishing many of
the character’s parts, like Lancelot for instance. Perhaps the most widely
accepted story of Arthur was written in 1485 by Sir Thomas Malory. Malory
combines aspects of Wace, Chretien, Geoffrey and Layamon, expands on
Arthur’s court by adding short stories about some of Arthur’s most
important knights and writes of the collapse of the Round Table.

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