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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

I'm back to finishing another sonnet on Arthurian Legend.  This next poem has taken me to reading about King Arthur himself.  The purpose of the shape of the round table was that everyone was equal and that no one, not even the King, could sit at its head.  Arthur presided over the table.   On the marker to Arthur's grave

Hīc iacet Arthūrus, rex quondam, rexque futūrus — "Here lies Arthur, formerly king, and king to be." is said to be inscribed. 

I wonder is chivalry dead or is it just an old fashioned idea?  The code of chivalry which the knights adopted according to Giovanni Boccaccio in "De Casibus Virorum Illlustrium" is as follows:

The Knights of the Round Table Code of Chivalry
  • To never lay down arms
  • To seek after wonders
  • When called upon, to defend the rights of the weak with all one's strength
  • To injure no one
  • Not to attack one another
  • To fight for the safety of one's country
  • To give one's life for one's country
  • To seek nothing before honour
  • Never to break faith for any reason
  • To practice religion most diligently
  • To grant hospitality to anyone, each according to his ability
  • Whether in honour or disgrace, to make a report with the greatest fidelity to truth to those who keep the annals 


  1. Most of these are still in vogue. No 1 - by Every Army in the world. No 2 - by New Age Persons, UFO believers etc. The only one of these I'd like to see brought back is the last one which I'm afraid is the most neglected nowadays. And the third one I suppose.

  2. Oh, best of luck Orla, I used to be a real Arthurian literature freak (learnt Medieval French to read Chretien de Troyes and all the Middle English that followed too) but it's been a long while now. Are you intending to post what you write?

  3. I like the last one too Michael. I won't post my poems on here Titus, but if you come to a Boyne Writers meeting sometime or an open mic you might hear them. Where are you from? I have three written on the legends so far.

  4. Or I would email you a poem, if you put them on here they're published aren't they? :) that's amazing that you learned medieval french, I don't think I could go that far in my research. I'm a bit perplexed by the Holy Grail now. I was initially interested in the pagan side of the whole thing. I don't think you would have to be called new age to seek after wonders Michael.

  5. But the age of chivalry is gone; that of sophisters, economists and calculators has succeeded. Edmund Burke on the death of Marie Antoinette.

  6. Hmmm Orla. I suppose I'm thinking of those who concoct "wonders" as against those who recognise the wonders that are around us every day.