Round Table

related topics
{son, year, death}
{god, call, give}
{church, century, christian}
{language, word, form}
{day, year, event}
{math, number, function}
{game, team, player}
{rate, high, increase}

The Round Table is King Arthur's famed table in the Arthurian legend, around which he and his Knights congregate. As its name suggests, it has no head, implying that everyone who sits there has equal status. The table was first described in 1155 by Wace, who relied on previous depictions of Arthur's fabulous retinue. The symbolism of the Round Table developed over time; by the close of the 12th century it had come to represent the chivalric order associated with Arthur's court, the Knights of the Round Table.

Contents

History

The Round Table first appears in Wace's Roman de Brut, a Norman language adaptation of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae finished in 1155. Wace says Arthur created the Round Table to prevent quarrels among his barons, none of whom would accept a lower place than the others.[1] Layamon added to the story when he adapted Wace's work into the Middle English Brut in the early 13th century, saying that the quarrel between Arthur's vassals led to violence at a Yuletide feast. In response a Cornish carpenter built an enormous but easily transportable Round Table to prevent further dispute.[1] Wace claims he was not the source of the Round Table; both he and Layamon credit it instead to the Bretons. Some scholars have doubted this claim, while others believe it may be true.[1] There is some similarity between the chroniclers' description of the Round Table and a custom recorded in Celtic stories, in which warriors sit in a circle around the king or lead warrior, in some cases feuding over the order of precedence as in Layamon.[1]

Though the Round Table itself is not mentioned until Wace the concept of Arthur having a marvellous court made up of many prominent warriors is much older. Geoffrey of Monmouth says that after establishing peace throughout Britain Arthur "increased his personal entourage by inviting very distinguished men from far-distant kingdoms to join it."[2] The code of chivalry so important in later romance figures in as well, as Geoffrey says Arthur established "such a code of courtliness in his household that he inspired peoples living far away to imitate him."[2] Long before Geoffrey, Arthur's court was well known to Welsh storytellers; in the romance Culhwch and Olwen, written around 1100, the protagonist Culhwch invokes the names of 225 individuals affiliated with Arthur.[3] In fact, the fame of Arthur's entourage became so prominent in Welsh tradition that in the later additions to the Welsh Triads, the formula "Arthur's Court" in the titles of the triads began to supersede the older "Island of Britain" formula.[4] Though the code of chivalry crucial to later continental romances dealing with the Round Table is mostly absent from the earlier Welsh material, some passages of Culhwch and Olwen seem to prefigure it, for instance when Arthur explains the ethos of his court, saying "[w]e are nobles as long as we are sought out: the greater the bounty we may give, the greater our nobility, fame and honour."[5]

Full article ▸

related documents
Laomedon
Anticlea
Efnysien
Emperor Kimmei
Hesione
Andhaka
Tāne
Manawydan
Erechtheus
Matholwch
Aeson
Elros
Anacharsis
Paikea
Súaltam
Gildor Inglorion
The Belgariad
Jeroboam
Lucius Tarquinius Priscus
Diarmuid Ua Duibhne
Anaxagoras (mythology)
Anchises
Celebrimbor
Telegonus
Terah
Daughters of Zelophehad
Jocasta
Prospero
Gorgophone
Celebrían