Do you think King Arthur was really a hero in the legend? and why?

"The Sword in the Stone" from Le Morte d' Arthur

retold by: Keith Baines

* I have to get opinions from people and also need them to say why they do think that.

Its for my English class so if you can please help me out and answer this question its due tomorrow.

I will certainly appreciate your help.

Thank you.

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  • Jallan
    Lv 7
    10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Yes King Arthur was really a hero of legend. But, by definition, legends are not historical, or are not fully historical.

    Whether Arthur was a hero of history, and what that history was, is debated by scholars. But because there is almost no history surviving from 5th/6th century Britain, the results are that scholars disagree, vehemently, on whether Arthur actually existed at that time and whether one can even know whether or not Arthur existed at that time from the evidence.

    See http://www.arthuriana.co.uk/historicity/arthur.pdf for a discussion of what modern scholars have said about the matter of whether Arthur may have really existed.

    No text, early or late, describes Arthur as a Silurian. The is just some modern, unsupported fantasizing. No “historical” document says that Arthur was NOT a king. That again is just modern, unsupported fantasizing. In fact, there is NO unquestioned historical document that mentions Arthur.

    The mentions in the “Annales Cambriae” appear to be British traditions stuck into what was originally an Irish Annal. Whether these British traditions represent history or not is unprovable.

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  • Arthur was historical. He actually was a war hero as well.

    Le Morte d' Arthur is a latter reflection of the historic Arthur who actually die at the battle of Camlan.

    Here are the historical facts that Le Morte d' Arthur was based upon.

    [The Latin to English translations are mine].

    The historical Arthur was a Christian Breton (Welsh, Sillurian) and died in 538 AD. He was never actually a King according to historical documents.

    Here are the full details.

    Arthur's existence is documented by two entries in ancient Latin Easter Annals (Harley 3859, folio 190a and 190b) which say:

    518 AD: "Bellum badonis in quo arthur portavit crucem domini nostri jesu christi tribus et tribus noctibus in humeros suos et brittones victores fuerunt."

    518 AD: "The Battle of Badon in which Arthur bore the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ on his shoulder for three days and three nights and the Bretons were the victors."

    Note that bearing the Cross on his shoulder is likely a reference to a leather shoulder guard.

    539 AD: "Gueith camlann in qua Arthur et medraut corruerunt."

    539 AD: "A Strife(?) at Camlan, in which Arthur and Medraut (Mordred?) died."

    In Harley 3859, folio 187a there is a quote from a different source that details Arthur’s 12 battles ending with Badon (as mentioned in the Easter Annals )

    The text (which is from a Latin source with some information in welsh) describes Arthur’s military ranking:

    "Tunc Arthur pugnabat contra illos in illis diebus con regibus brittonum sed ipsi dux erat bellorum."

    "Then Arthur fought against them the [Saxons], in those days, together with the kings (regibus) of the Bretons. But he was himself Duke of Battles (dux erat bellorum)."

    Note that Arthur was not one of the Breton Kings.

    Then the manuscript lists his 12 battles (note that 4 battles were at Dubglas in Linnuis)

    Glein. Dubglas in Linnuis (x4). Bassas. Caledonian Forest (Scotland?). Fort Gunnion. Caer Leon (Wales). Tribruit. Mount Agned. Badon.

    A late 6th century poem called Y Gododdin describes a war hero and states "But he was no Arthur."

    Also at the end of the 6th century, right around 600, several royal famility named sons Arthur, whereas before Badon, the name Arthur is unknown.

    That is about all the documentary evidence of an historical Arthur.

    There is a highly suspicious exhumation of Arthur at Glastonbury in 1191, adds interesting information. One is that a wife Guinevere (Welsh for White Shadow) is mentioned.

    The Mythology of Arthur explodes in the works of Geoffrey of Monmouth (c.1100–1155), and Gerald of Wales (c.1146–1223), more than 600 years after Arthur's death. This includes Merlin, Uthor, Tintagal, etc.

    In fact Geoffrey evidently placed Arthur's birth at Tintagel and made him illegitimate because Geoffrey's patron was Earl Robert of Gloucester. who was the illegitimate son of Henry I. In addition, Robert of Gloucester's half brother, Earl Reginald had built Tintegel Castle in the 12th century. So placing Arthur's birth at Tintagel, and making him a bastard, was evidently an attempt to please Robert of Gloucester.

    As mentioned above, Geoffrey and Gerald are also the first to mention Merlin (Gerald describes two different Merlins). though the descriptions are very unlike the Merlin of later legend.

    Afterward, French Writers added even more fanciful detail: such as Camelot, Excaliber, Lancelot, the other knights, the round table, the Holy Grail, etc.

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