Fact, Semi-legend or Myth?
Artaius. Artegal. Arthgallo. Arthur. Artor. Artorius.
High King of Britain. Emperor of Britain.
Dux bellorum - Leader in war
'The Flower of Kings' - Bishop of Winchester
The Sleeping Lord
Historical Fact, Semi-legend or Myth?
Having surfed the net you have probably realised when it comes to King Arthur many sites at first glance appear to be contradicting each other. Let us assure you that in many instances this is not the case, the problem is that over the centuries the legends connected with the stories of 'Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table' have been manipulated. This has caused many variations of story lines to change and in some instances complete change of names.
Here at Mystical-WWW we have put together a complete crash course in all the names and legends along with the key people that were to alter and adapt through their writings the famous King. No site should claim to be complete regarding 'did Arthur exist?', as scholars and historians are still discovering many facts and so it must be stated that this section of the site is not complete and will always be under review.
You are advised to read all 6 parts along with the summary of Arthur in this section before surfing the 'Arthurian A2Z', this will give you a good basic understanding of why so many legends and names/characters change. We hope you enjoy this Special Feature Edition of Mystical Wolrd Wide Web, please feel free to email us if you spot any bad links or would like to add your own information. To the devotees of Mystical-WWW that sent us odd facts we hope you now enjoy along with the other readers the hard work planning and programing that has taken place over the months. Read on and enter the mystical world of Arthurian Legend, sort the facts from the fiction.
Arthur as historical fact first emerges in around the fifth-century, and over the ensuing centuries appears in some form in practically all languages in Europe, but mainly in mythology or legend. It appears that pre-Christian belief is what lies at the root of Arthurian legend. Arthur appears as the defender of what was left of Roman Christian civilisation in Britain after the revolt against the Romans, and the consequent struggle of the people of Britain with the Saxons.
The whole Arthurian cycle begins at 'Stonehenge' (See Arthurian Places) according to Professor Gwyn A. Williams. Stonehenge was built as least two thousand years before Arthur appears to have existed. In the fourth-century BC, a Greek, probably describing the Island of Britain, referred to Stonehenge as 'a temple to Apollo - the Sun God'. Tradition says that the 'Mother of Apollo' was born here and for that reason the inhabitants venerated Apollo more than any other God. Professor Gwyn A. Williams states 'Apollo passed from Roman into Celtic Britain and thence into the Welsh Arthurian romances' (See Apollo). Apollo's messenger was 'Abaris' who was said to ride on a golden arrow. After being initiated by 'Pythagoras', Abaris was seen as a holy man and was reputed to be a Druid in Britain, where it is likely that he was associated with Stonehenge, it being a place known to be connected with Apollo.
As the symbolism of Stonehenge, of the 'Stone Beliefs', and of the 'Earth Mother', began to be interwoven with the Cycle, early Arthurian legends can be seen to have been packed with Gods, or their descendants. Both the Celtic and pre-Christian rituals and belief in the Gods can be seen to be the immediate forerunners to the later Christian belief. The fourth-century is the fundamental transition period, when change in religious practice can be seen to have torn at the very roots of the Arthurian cycle, and transported Arthur of historical fact to a semi-legend.
One such Arthurian legend connection can be seen in ancient Egyptian mythology, when the qualities and duties of 'Osiris, God of the not-dead' reflect an Arthur that has become familiar to us (See Osiris). The ancient Egyptians believed that it was necessary for Osiris to periodically return to the 'Underworld', to 'Amenti', also thought to be the 'Astral Plane', perhaps 'Annwn' as referred to by the Welsh bard 'Taliesin' (See Taliesin). The books of Osiris were said to detail such information, like Arthur's understanding of the arcane who was believed able to return from sacred quests, and ultimately from 'Avalon'. Osiris's journey to Amenti was thought necessary in order for him to control all who dwelt in the Underworld, to learn the secrets, schemes, plans and coded words so that all could travel safely through this plane to divinity, to a 'golden realm' where it was believed a soul/person could live forever. Could this be a place similar to Avalon?
Osiris/Arthur is slain by his brother 'Set', perhaps equating with 'Mordred', and then taken across the Nile by 'Isis' and 'Nephthys', his sisters. A sacred barque takes Osiris and his sisters to 'Aalu in the West', in the same way as Arthur to Avalon, or perhaps to the 'Island of the Blessed' as referred to in the early Celtic Church, said to be to the West. Aalu is described, in similar terms to Avalon, as 'a place of plenteous fruits and grain' (See Avalon). It is here in Aalu that Osiris is to wait until his resurrection, like Arthur in Avalon who awaits the call of Britain for him to return with his sword. Both are further connected with bull cults, the Apis bull being associated with Osiris. In Taliesin's poem, 'The Spoils of Annwn' (See Taliesin) Arthur is associated with the sacred ox.
The 'God Horus' too in ancient Egyptian mythology, was seen to be Osiris is a new resurrected form who led many warriors just as Arthur led many Knights. It is known that Horus was committed to seeking out and 'ending the lives of evil monsters'. If we look at Arthur's historical commitment to defending the Britons we see a connection. If we consider Arthur's pursuance of the Holy Grail as described in legend (yet of arcane significance), we see a man as defender of Christianity, a man who succeeds against supposed insurmountable odds, an Arthur of legend that can be seen to resemble both ancient Egyptian deities.
Whilst it will be seen that many of the Arthurian stories were, it seems, no more than legend, perhaps being based on composite ancient mythologies, what we do begin to see is the beginning of the revelation. Revealed is an ancient Britain, steeped in mysticism known both to the ordinary and ecclesiastical alike across the Island. What we see later is the emergence of a man known as Arthur who is documented and revered, not just on the mainland, but across to the West and to the East, perhaps a 'once and future king'.
READ CHAPTER ONE