Why Is King Arthur Important

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Swords have always been a staple of fantasy stories and magic swords are central to so many mythologies. Swords signify power, but they are elegant, refined, inherently noble. Some swords can channel magic, like a wand, and others are magic themselves and can only be wielded by their proper owner. This is true of perhaps the most famous sword in any storytelling tradition- Excalibur, King Arthur’s sword, that which he pulled from the stone to become king of England. And yet, Excalibur is not mentioned in some of the oldest surviving stories of King Arthur. The first Arthurian legends were not culture defining when they were first told, and since Arthur was not important, none of his possessions were important either. As the the legends grew…show more content…
However, in the Latin chronicles, which are the oldest written records of Arthurian legend, no variants of Excalibur appear at all. Arthur is not even a king; he is referred to as “Arthur the soldier” in the Historia Brittonum, which was compiled around 800 (4). King Arthur is not culturally important to the Romans who were writing these stories initially, they are writing about him as a historical aberration or an idle curiosity. Later stories were told by people to whom Arthur was a symbol of a golden age to which their people might someday return, not as a lowly soldier who may not have existed who chased the Romans out of England centuries ago. This Arthur is unknown, unimportant, and so whatever items he may or may not have had with him also do not matter. Named weapons, especially named swords, are almost always associated with the most important the most important person in the story; the hero gets the magic sword, never the best friend, or the second in command, or a common soldier. In the Latin Chronicles, before Arthur’s legends have grown, he is not noteworthy, and neither is his
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