Lofty Depths and Tragic Brilliance: The Interweaving of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Mythology and Literature in the Arthurian Legends
Master of Arts (MA)
Primary Subject Area
Literature, English; Literature, Medieval
Anglo-Saxon, Arthurian, Celtic, Germanic, King Arthur, mythology
Rogers, Melissa, "Lofty Depths and Tragic Brilliance: The Interweaving of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Mythology and Literature in the Arthurian Legends" (2010). Masters Theses. 142.
The Arthurian story has endured in the English speaking world from the Middle Ages to the modern day, with ever increasing fame. He is not just a legendary king; he is the legendary king. His literary power owes its existence to the wonderful and extraordinary themes and mystical, yet entirely English world that appear consistently in his stories. Arthur and his knights are set apart from other literary heroes because of their unique construct, a blending of two cultures into one legend. The Celts invested in Arthur a strong mythological tradition. They bestowed on the legends an Otherworldly magic, a fantastic and alluring landscape, and a sense of timelessness. The Anglo-Saxons infused the stories with an entirely separate tradition: the Germanic/Norse mythology. They brought to the British Isles a new set of motifs: a belief in a darker, more transient world and a disparity between the Other of nature and the familiarity of hearth and home. These beliefs are so opposing to the Celts that it seems impossible they could converge into a single, identifiable legend. However, in Arthur, they do more than exist side by side. The Arthurian legends intertwine these two different threads and create a legendary identity that has lasted for centuries.