King Arthur Essay

4442 words - 18 pages

King ArthurA legend is a nonhistorical or unverifiable story handed down by tradition. Over time, a legend becomes commonly accepted as true. While legends usually elevate the main characters to heroic proportion, the best of them have a basis in fact. Often times, a legend changes over time in order to keep it fresh to new generations. Legends are told to teach and to inspire. They are told to entertain and pass down tradition. Perhaps no legend has reached a wider audience than that of King Arthur and his Round Table. A close examination of this subject helps to explain why this collection of stories about the exploits of a Dark Ages era king has become so well known and popular over the centuries. What other legend draws such passionate defenses of its historical accuracy? Was Arthur real or a myth? Then there are the stories themselves. These tales have grown to include a wide array of fantastic and fanciful adventures, not only of King Arthur, but also of his worthy allies and villainous adversaries. Finally, there are so many moral lessons to be learned from Arthur and the galaxy of characters around him. It is a timeless collection filled with a life's worth of teachings on the chivalrous behavior of gentlemen and warriors.Modern day historians continue to debate the existence of King Arthur. They generally fall into three different categories. The first group believes King Arthur was undeniably real. Group two believes King Arthur is completely fictitious. The final group believes that King Arthur as known in the legend is not real but rather was based on one or two real people. This last group that attributes the Arthurian legend to documented historical figures is the largest. Historians are still trying to find evidence and clues. What better way to become famous than to prove that Arthur was real?Was Arthur real or fake? That question cannot be answered for sure, but King Arthur is most likely a mixture of the two. According to the Byzantine historian Jordanes in The Origin and Deeds of the Goths and supported by twentieth century British historian Geoffrey Ashe, Arthur was probably based on Riothamus. His name means "Great King", and he was a warrior from the fifth century known as King of the Britons. There is a surviving document dated the year 470 A.D. from a Roman bishop named Sidonius Apollinaris. This letter was addressed to Riothamus, and it requested help in defense of Britons in Armorica, a part of ancient Gaul that includes areas in modern day France and Britain.More King Arthur-like figures started appearing in literature in the sixth-century by the writings of a monk named Gildas. Among his works was On the Ruin of Britain. Although the man in his published documents was named Ambrosius Aurelianus, this is probably Arthur because much of the stories are the same. This man seems to have been descended from Roman nobility. He rose to prominence during a Saxon invasion when many of the other leaders were killed. Ambrosius...

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