The story of King Arthur is a legend passed down in the oral and written tradition of England. King Arthur is said to have been born sometime in the 5th or 6th century and lived a life of great adventure. His father King Uther Pendragen and his Mother Queen Elizabeth ruled a castle called Camelot, which is said to represent a city 200 miles north of London, and all of the surrounding area for approximately 50 miles. Arthur’s mother died in childbirth according to legend and Arthur was raised by his father who never remarried. Stories regarding Arthur take many forms and vary in detail from region to region. However, the vast majority share several common themes which suggest a certain character to the legendary king.
All agree that he assembled a group of the best knights in the kingdom and most claim that they sat at a round table. This was quite significant in that no man was at the proverbial head of the table. Rather all were equal and all had the opportunity to have their say. Arthur was seen as a fair ruler who valued the ideas and opinions of those that surrounded him. Many of the legends also agree that Arthur wielded a particularly powerful weapon.
This sword was called Excalibur and as an example of how these legends differ we will examine two stories for its original. In one story Excalibur is said to have been forged in rock and no man, no matter how strong, was able to remove it. However, a young Arthur is able to pull the sword from the stone, signifying his potential for greatness. In another legend Arthur is given the sword by the mythical Lady in the Lake. The lady judges him worthy and knows that he will need a powerful weapon to achieve his destiny and gives it to him to aid his journey.
Arthur is a powerful figure in British literature, even to this day. The story remains in the popular culture over 1400 years later. In fact the story of King Arthur has been retold on the big screen multiple times in the last few decades.