King Arthur Pendragon

So, maybe you're depressed about the election season. Maybe you wish there was a really different candidate, one who symbolizes all the things you deeply believe to be important. How about King Arthur?

Well, he's the provisional Arthur, anyway.
"I’ve been Arthur Uther Pendragon since ‘86. I’m generally known as King Arthur. There are three Arthurian ages and I’m the post-Thatcher Arthur. As far as I’m concerned, until another Arthur—bigger, badder and bolder—comes along, I’m it. So handle it."
In fairness, though, the bigger badder Arthur is going to have to compete with his stature as the leader of an outlaw motorcycle club.

"I used to be the president of an outlaw bike club and a lot of my mates thought I was off on one, but 20-odd years later, I’m still doing it. I decided that the Goddess would sustain me if it was true, so I don’t claim any state benefit and—well, hey—something’s working. I’ve been known to have a tipple, but guess what? I speak exactly the same bollocks whether I’m pissed or sober, because I actually believe in it.”

Arthur told me how spiritual places, like Stonehenge, help him access the memories from his past life.

“I remember fightin’ on the Saxon shores against the Saxon armies. I also have a memory of fighting on the western shores against Irish pirates. See, the motorcycle is the modern iron steed, so I’m not doing it a lot different now to what I was doing 1500 years ago.”
I have much the same feeling myself at times, although I've never thought I might actually be Arthur himself. Still, you get on that iron horse, and you take the road, and it takes you places.

By the way, he does have one significant claim to genuine authority. He bears Excalibur.
“Where did you find Excalibur?” I asked him.

“Ah well, therein lies another tale. It was built for the film.”

“The film Excalibur?”

“Yeah, the armourer who built it had it on show in the window. He said 'Look, if the real King Arthur walks in here, he can bloody have it. Otherwise, it’s not for sale.' So I just threw me passport on the desk and walked out with the sword."
Now, you have to admit that's impressive. They didn't agree to sell it to him: they gave it to him, because they agreed it was his by right.


Joseph W. said...

So in the meantime there came a damosel, that was an oncologist's daughter, his name was Bernard, and she hight Monica...

Naah, let's don't go back there.

I thought Excalibur was a fine reimagining and wore well with age. Actually, it was a blessing to me, when I appeared in front of a three-officer board to be commissioned. (Direct commission as a judge-advocate, so no officer training before it.)

An O-4 board member asks me - "What do you think is the most important quality for an officer?"

And what came to me then was a bit of movie dialogue that's still with me today -

"Which is the greatest quality of knighthood? Courage, passion, loyalty, humility? What say you, Merlin?"

"Ah...the greatest. Well, a blend, like the metals we mix to make a good sword..."

"No poetry, just a straight answer. Which is it?"

"All right. Truth. Yes. That's it. It must be truth! When a man lies, he murders some part of the world. You should know that!"

My answer wasn't in those words, let alone those wonderful cadences - but they informed my answer. Which beat looking dumb by a long shot.

bthun said...

If you're able to catch the NOVA program on PBS entitled Secrets of the Viking Sword, you might enjoy watching the analysis and recreation of a +ULFBERH+T sword.

l'd elaborate but I'm attempting to type on this iddy biddy android keyboard. T'ain't easy with old eyes and fat fingers...

bthun said...

I checked the WUGA PBS channel schedule and it's on now, @00:00.

Grim said...

No, let's do go back there. It may be the one thing that mattered. You've mocked the Bible when it points to territorial claims, and maybe those claims deserve it. Those claims are claims of ownership given by God, and of power that comes from being chosen.

Not so this. For a damosel, whatever her name -- it is always the right name, for us -- for her we live and die, not in ownership, but in service. You have said yourself that you learned something critical from the myth.

Here's the clip you cite.

But that little clip, for all the good it did you, is a small part of a great thing.

Grim said...


I've heard much of this program from my ARMA group. But here at the Hall we have no television, not even public television, to which we might appeal.

Joseph W. said...

Yes, but Monica, the daughter of Bernard, did not give birth to any knights, bastard or otherwise. And WJC would by no means live and die for her.

I quite agree with what you say about the film; in fact, that script was wonderful from beginning to end, and full of delicious lines well executed.

One thing it does well is to cast the legend in moral terms its audience can appreciate now. Arthur may be king because of who his parents were, and may inherit the land by right in the way of primogeniture -- but his purpose is to bring peace and security to the people. Excalibur is his tool "to unite all men, not to serve the vanity of a single man" - and when he forgets that and acts to the contrary, he loses it and must have it restored.

douglas said...

Grim, Secrets of the Viking Sword is available online.

Daniel said...

Grim said...


I see, you mean that Monica. Clinton, though, needed the lesson more than any one. His sin was that he treated her like she was a light matter. One of the crucial things that the Arthurian stories gets right is that encounters with women never are.

Douglas & Daniel:

Thank you, gentlemen.

Joseph W. said...

Well, yeah, since you were comparing King Arthur to Presidents...that side of his personality brings just one name to mind from modern times anyway.

'course now you've made me think of the "Excalibur broken" scene with WJC forced to confront his own vanity, with his "sword" broken, and having to convince the Lady of the Lake to restore it and hold it up with both hands...

I was right the first time. Let's really don't go there.

Grim said...

Well, if by "there" you mean the place where we make a mockery of our traditions, Monty-Python style, I certainly agree that we shouldn't. If you mean the place where we hold ourselves up to the old standards, and see if we might improve a bit by taking things like love and honor and truth more seriously than we do, I can't agree.