Veracity of Arthur
- An expectation that Arthurian stories should have some historical veracity
seems to me a vain hope. Arthur as we know him is fictional: there's
nothing for him to be veracious to.
The classic image of Arthur, the one held e.g. by most Victorian depictions
of him, was based on Malory. Malory wrote in the 15th century, had no
concept of Arthurian times being culturally different from his own, and
depicted idealized 15th-century knights. That remained the model for most
Arthurian depictions down to a couple decades ago, though in practice the
image of the high classic Arthurian court is more 14th-century. T.H.
White's _Once and Future King_ is straightforwardly set in an alternate
universe high late Middle Ages.
As the tiny historical core of Arthur - there are bare records of the
existence of a British war-leader of that name - is post-Roman, 5th
century, there's been a fad in the last couple decades for Arthurian novels
set in post-Roman times. But since these authors have to make up most of
it too, Arthur is still fictional. To set Arthur in the 5th century is not
veracity, it's an artistic choice. Arthur is not located in a particular
time except by preference of the author; nor is he necessarily set in a
particular place, as possible Camelots and other Arthurian sites
proliferate all over Britain, some in direct conflict with one another
(e.g. birthplaces, Camelots, Badon Hills, etc.), and Geoffrey of Monmouth -
the first fiction-writer to deal with Arthur at length - had him conducting
a major military campaign on the European continent.
As the legendary Arthur is said to be sleeping and will return, it's
possible to write Arthurian stories set in the present or future, and this
has been done too: many of the best humorous Arthurian novels use this
premise, as do serious ones.
- David Bratman
- Thanks everyone!John----- Original Message -----From: Darrell A. MartinSent: Friday, March 25, 2011 10:45 PMSubject: Re: [mythsoc] Shelob
On 3/25/2011 9:25 AM, Troels Forchhammer wrote:
> On 25 March 2011 14:51, <aveeris523@... <mailto:aveeris523@...>>
> In a message dated 3/25/11 6:09:24 AM, john@...
> <mailto:john@...> writes:
> Did any of the Free Peoples know about Shelob before Sam and
> Frodo encountered her? Gandalf, perhaps, or Faramir since he
> spent much time in Ithilien?
> That's an interesting question John; the orcs certainly did! I'll
> check _LOTR: A Reader's Companion_, Hammond & Scull.
> My impression is that people had certainly known /about/ Shelob (hence
> the name of the pass, the Pass of the Spider) but the specifics had been
> forgotten, leaving it to simply 'have a bad name'. Unless I misremember,
> there is somewhere a hint that Gandalf might have told Frodo more about
> the pass and its name.
Faramir told Frodo that when the name Cirith Ungol was brought up to the
old loremasters, they were frightened by it and refused to discuss it.
In the same conversation he mentioned that the young men of Gondor no
longer ventured east of the Ithilien road.
Clearly, among the old and learned the meaning of Cirith Ungol was still
known, at the time of the War of the Ring. But the details were not
discussed, and none of Faramir's generation had any experience of the pass.
I think it is a bit of a stretch to think Frodo would have automatically
translated "Cirith Ungol" to "mountain pass where one or more giant
spiders currently live". Yes, he *could* have thought that, or suspected
it (and perhaps he did). Regardless, however, Gollum was right when he
said that if Master wanted to enter Mordor, he had to go some way, and
that no way was safe; and Frodo was right when he rejected the idea of
going back to the Black Gate and surrendering on the spot. Damn the
spiders, full speed ahead.