The name Arthur may be (and according to K. H. Jackson certainly is) a form of Artorius,
a Roman gens name, but, according to J. D. Bruce, it is possibly of Celtic origin, coming
from artos viros (bear man) - see
An outline of the hero's life is given by Geoffrey of Monmouth (twelfth century) in his
Historia Regum Brittaniae - History of theKings of Britain. Just how much of this life
was Geoffrey's invention and how much was culled from traditional material is uncertain.
He tells us that King Arthur was the son of Uther and defeated the barbarians in a
dozen battles. Subsequently, he conquered a wide empire and eventually went to
war with the Romans. He returned home on learning that his nephew Mordred had
raised the standard of rebellion and taken Guinevere, the queen. After landing, his
final battle took place.
The saga built up over the centuries and Celtic traditions of Arthur reached the
Continent via Brittany. Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur would become what many
considered the standard 'history' of Arthur. In this, we are told of Arthur's conception
when Uther approached Igraine who was made, by Merlin's sorcery, to resemble
her husband. The child was given to Ector to be raised in secret. After Uther's death
there was no king ruling all England. Merlin had placed a sword in a stone, saying
that whoever drew it out would be king.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013