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[Chief Authorities:-G. Paris, Littérature française au moyenâge, 2nd ed., 1890; John Rhys, Studies in the Arthurian Legend, 1891; C. F. Keary, in the Dictionary of National Biography, art. " Arthur"; Birch-Hirschfeld, Die Sage vom Gral; G M. Harper, The Legend of the Holy Grail, in Pub. of the Mod. Language Assoc. of America, N.S.I.i., 1893; H. Littledale, Essays on Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King, 1893; M. W. Maccallum, Tennyson's Idylls of the King and Arthurian Story from the XVIth Century, 1894.]


The mythological Arthur and the historical Arthur.-It has become certain, thanks chiefly to the researches of Professor Rhys, that behind the Arthurian story, in which there still linger undeniable evidences, can be traced the outlines of a very considerable Celtic heathen mythology. Vaguely, it is true, but still visible in this heathen mythology appear the chief persons of the Arthurian legend: Arthur (Arator), god of ploughing; his wife Gwenhwyvar, goddess of the twilight; Medrawd, god of the shades, who carries off Gwenhwyvar and is warred on by Arthur. With Arthur was associated a younger sun-god, Gawain, whose strength was thrice increased at noon (Malory, Morte Darthur, iv. 18) while Merlin, Myrd

din, Mordunjos, 'of the sea-fort,' perhaps points to an older divinity of light who disappears in the western waves.


of Arthur's exploits is bringing off the cauldron of Hades, which according to Celtic legend had wonderful properties of feeding any company however large, though it would not cook for a coward, and of restoring to life dead bodies thrown into it. Similarly Brân's head and the poisoned spear that killed him had magical properties, the former giving food to all who wished to partake. The obscurity and confusion into which this ancient mythology fell are due to two causes,—the advent of Christianity and the triumphant invasion of the English. The one deposed the old divinities, degrading them to the rank of something less than divine, yet more than human; the other set the Welsh poets aglow in patriotic praise of their war-leaders. One of these war-leaders in the years of struggle against the English invaders (450–510) was called Arthur. Fiction has so completely taken possession of the figure of Arthur that it is almost impossible to discern what historic truth still exists in the mass of fabulous details that have clustered around the British king. Either in South Britain or in North Britain or as Comes Britanniæ, holding "a roving commission to defend the province wherever his presence might be called for,”—for scholars are not agreed as to the scene of his exploits-Arthur, born towards the end of the fifth century, seems to have been for years a great military leader, opposing the heathen invaders, defeating them in twelve successive battles, and falling himself at Camlan in Cornwall, in battle against his rebellious kinsman Modred. Even in these details we seem to see traces of the mythological Arthur with whom the war-leader was soon confounded. And only by the supposition of this association of the exploits of the old Celtic god and the new Celtic hero can we explain the exceeding fame and renown of the later Arthur.

The legendary Arthur.-Leaving out Welsh sources, there is no written record of Arthur till several centuries after his death. When his name for the first time occurs, he appears,

as we said above, only as the successful leader of his nation in twelve great battles. This is in the Historia Britonum ascribed to Nennius, who lived in the last years of the eighth century. Meanwhile, however, Celtic Britain had seized on his figure as the subject of song and story, and found in magnifying his great deeds of yore a compensation for the ignominy of their position before the English conquerors. No sooner had the Normans conquered England than they found a source of deep interest in the number and excellence of the British bards and in the fascinating novelty of their abundant native traditions. What was needed in order that these legends and traditions might become available for the cultivated world was their expression in a language more generally known than Welsh. The undying honour of giving such expression belongs to Geoffrey, a monk of Monmouth (near Gloucester), who died, bishop of St. Asaph, in 1154.

Arthur in literature.-In three Latin works, especially in the Historia Regum Britanniæ, Geoffrey incorporated the legends and traditions he found at hand, and, though professing to make a translation of an old Gallic book, drew from his own imagination a systematic and detailed account of pretended kings of the Britons. Reaching the period of the struggles that followed the landing of the English, Geoffrey gave the reins to his fancy, wove about the meagre mention of Nennius's war-leader Arthur, a tale of a most marvellous and fascinating kind. Arthur, son of Uther Pendragon, becomes through his great military powers a world-king. Driving out the English from Britain, he conquers Scotland, Ireland, Norway, France, establishes a court that is the centre of chivalry, and is on the way to the capture of Rome when his nephew Modred, left as regent of England, rebels, seizes and marries Guanhumara (Guinevere), Arthur's wife. Arthur returning defeats and slays Modred, is himself mortally wounded, and is transported to the paradise of the heroic dead, Avalon, there to await the time of his triumphant return to this world.

Geoffrey's book is an epoch-making work. Seized upon by

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