CHAPTER V
ARTHUR AND THE ROUND TABLE

IT does not fall within the scope of this essay to give any full account of the matière de Bretagne as one of the three great divisions of French romance. But something must be said of the origin of that matière, and of its relation to the quasi- historical presentment of Arthur left by Geoffrey. This presentment, passing through the Bruts, had an authority to which the romance writers constantly defer. It fixed the central conception of the adven turous British court and its tragic ending. But it was by no means the only channel for the infiltration of Celtic motives into French literature. There are indications that Arthurian names and even Arthurian stories may have spread over the Continent before Geoffrey wrote. Too much stress must not be laid on the names. Men were called Tristanus and Yvanus near Lake Constance in the eighth and ninth centuries, and Artusius, Walwanus and Merlinus in late eleventh-century or early twelfth-century Italy. Merlinus, no doubt, may well have had some other derivation. The forms Artusius and Walwanus look as if they had passed through the French. The names do not by themselves testify to more than the presence on the Continent of Bretons or other Celts who bore them. More significant is a sculpture on the archivolt

-133-

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Arthur of Britain
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Chapter I - The Early Tradition 1
  • Chapter II - Geoffrey of Monmouth 20
  • Chapter III - The Sources of Geoffrey 53
  • Chapter IV - The Acceptance of Arthur 100
  • Chapter V - Arthur and the Round Table 133
  • Chapter VI - The Historicity of Arthur 168
  • Chapter VII - Arthur and Mythology 205
  • Records 233
  • Bibliographical Note 283
  • Subject Index 295
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