George William Cox (1827-1902) produced a number of historical books on Greece, Persia, and England, as well as Popular Romances of the Middle Ages (1871), which went through several English and American editions. He was more original, however, in his equally popular work in comparative mythology. As a follower of Max Müller (1823-1900), he was a strong proponent of the solar or nature myth theory as the origin of much folklore and legend. The Mythology of the Aryan Nations (1870) had related this theory to the Arthurian legend, and An Introduction to the Science of Comparative Mythology and Folklore (1881) elaborated it with specific references to Malory’s version.
While Cox, like most comparative mythologists, is not much concerned with Malory as an author, his remarks are included here for two reasons: they illustrate the early application of comparative mythology to Arthurian studies (although Welsh scholars had long been discussing Arthur’s mythological origins), and they reveal a willingness to deal frankly with the sexual relationships between Malory’s characters, in fact to insist upon them, with a candour not typical of the times.
The extracts below are from Introduction to Comparative Mythology, second edition (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, & Co., 1883), (a) pp. 313-23, (b) pp. 330-7, and Appendix IV, pp. 367-8 n. 1.
…The likeness [among stories from various cultures] may be the result of direct borrowing or importation, or it may be caused by independent growth as of plants from seeds which once came from a single tree; but whatever be the cause, the likeness is still there, and according to these points of likeness, these stories may be