Each deals with the last years and death of King Arthur, and yet in tone, style, characterization, and especially in plot the two poems are sharply contrasting works. They reveal two quite different aspects of the medieval Arthurian legend, and they exemplify the best of two distinct romance traditions. The Alliterative Morte Arthure ranks just after the works of the Gawain-poet among the finest products of that late medieval literary movement that we call the "Alliterative Revival. The King Arthur of this poem is neither the "somewhat childish" romance king who appears in Sir Gawain nor the helpless cuckold he so often seems in French romance. He is a warrior king, shifting his troops about, sending out skirmishers, and ever ready to do battle himself. This is primarily a poem of battles, and there are no better accounts of late medieval warfare than we find in this poem.
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An Alliterative Poem of the Fourteenth Century. Be: Larry D. Benson, ed. Bj: Erik Bjorkman, ed. Morte Arthure. Alt- und mittelenglische Texte, 9. Heidelberg and New York: Carl Winters, Br: Edmund Brock, ed. Morte Arthure or The Death of Arthur. EETS o. F: the present editor GV: E. Gordon and Eugene Vinaver.
H: Mary Hamel, ed. Morte Arthure: A Critical Edition. Garland Medieval Texts, 9. K: Valerie Krishna, ed. The Alliterative Morte Arthure. On the prominence of reflexive formulas in the poem himselven, him likes, etc. The MS reading. Most editors emend to Grece Greece but Grace Grasse makes more geographical sense. Grasse is a small city in southern France, north of Cannes, which was an episcopal see from to K retains Grace.
Ackerman suggests Vienna, though K thinks, rather, that it must refer to a town north of Valence or a district in Poitier. MS: Eruge. Many vestiges of its former splendour may yet be seen; immense palaces. You will find on all sides, both within and without the circuit of the walls, subterraneous buildings, aqueducts, underground passages; and what I think worthy of notice, stoves contrived with wonderful art, to transmit the heat insensibly through narrow tubes passing up the side walls" p.
The territories bordering Wales. Compare Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, lines The attempt at a reconquest of Britain by the Romans in the sixth century also derives from Geoffrey" K, p. MS: thare. MS: corounde. See note to line The elaborate feast that follows might actually have been served at a royal household of the late fourteenth century. Austin, EETS o. MS: togers. H reads toges; Br and K follow MS. MS: whame. The poet regularly identifies wines by their place of origin.
See English Medieval Lapidaries, eds. Turry perhaps is Turin, Italy. Since giants occupied Britain before the arrival of Brutus, this tower is, presumably, a "prehistoric" edifice. This is, of course, not historical. Then he overthrew the Emperor Maxentius and became Emperor. According to legend, his mother, Helen, discovered the True Cross. Arthur claims kinship with Constantine because of his supposed British mother. Constantine actually did proclaim himself Caesar while in York, but he was never king of Britain and not of British descent.
Robert W. He was, like Lot, an enemy of Arthur who later became an ally. Veronica wiped the face of Christ on His way to the Crucifixion. Miraculously, the image of His face was preserved on the handkerchief, which still survives. The cult of Veronica was especially strong in the fourteenth century. Pope John XXII granted an indulgence of ten thousand days for a prayer to the Veronica, and its legend had an important part in the popular romances about Titus and Vespasian.
It probably means "of two generations". King Hoel of Brittany. MS; besekys. Perhaps Sir Valiant line Iwain son of Urien and Morgan le Fay. H reads lone and translates the line "I praise God for this contribution" H, p. Not rankes men but renkes paths from OF renc. From the Greek for "appearance" or "manifestation," it is the feast on January 6, commemorating the coming of the Magi to see the child Jesus and symbolizing the "manifestation" of the newborn savior to the whole world OED.
The old Roman road leading from the southern coast by way of London to Cardigan in Wales. MS: nyghttes. MS: sex sum of six. In either case the number given [in the MS] is inconsistent with that of line 81, where the Senator arrives with a company of sixteen" K, p. A town in Yorkshire, identified with the Roman cataractonium.
One of the "cinque ports," Sandwich is the site of the Church of St. Peter where curfew, now ceremonial, was rung. One of the principal passes through the French Alps into Italy. MS: waye. H emends to Arcage, the OF spelling of Arcadia. Ambyganye, she suggests, could be Albania. This is an odd location in the context, but the suggested emendations are not persuasive. Bayonne Beune is in southwestern France. In The Travels of Sir John Mandeville a famous fourteenth century book of fictitious travels, presented as a true account , Prester John is said to be the Emperor of India, allied by marriage to the great Khan of China.
The legend was probably based on reports of Christian communities which actually did exist in the East. Pamphile is a region of Asia Minor. MS: werdez. Bj, K, H read wer[l]de?. MS: Twys. MS: Hukes. K emends to Hekes. H accepts. I have followed K. I have not included the line. Be notes MS at, but prints it. I have retained the MS reading as do Br and K. H deletes the word, explaining that the scribe miscopied the following to which he then corrected by writing to but failed to cross out the at.
Rapped, H suggests, means "barked," not dashed to earth, which is inconsistent with the flying posture. MS: brynge. H suggests breen, meaning "frighten, terrify.
Br follows MS. The seven liberal arts grammar, rhetoric, logic, which were the trivium, and arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music, which were the quadrivium ; these were the basis of Medieval education. K and H disagree, but I have followed Be. MS: taschesesede. Br: tachesesede. A member of the Knights Templar, a military order founded c.
The order was suppressed in The country around Cotentin, a peninsula on the coast of Normandy. See also line
Stanzaic Morte Arthur and Alliterative Morte Arthure: Introduction
External links 4 History The author of the poem is unknown. The only manuscript source for the Morte Arthure is the Lincoln Thornton Manuscript written sometime in the midth century by Robert Thornton , who copied an older text, now lost, which presumably derived from south-west Lincolnshire. Some parts do not have a clear source and may have originated with the poet. The stress placed on chivalric duty in the contemporary Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is in the Morte Arthure of a more practical nature and has more to do with personal loyalty. Also the Morte Arthure is less clearly part of the romance genre than Sir Gawain and other Arthurian poems and more like a chronicle of the times.
The Alliterative Morte Arthure Background
History[ edit ] The author of the poem is unknown. The only manuscript source for the Morte Arthure is the Lincoln Thornton Manuscript written sometime in the midth century by Robert Thornton , who copied an older text, now lost, which presumably derived from south-west Lincolnshire. Some parts do not have a clear source and may have originated with the poet. The stress placed on chivalric duty in the contemporary Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is in the Morte Arthure of a more practical nature and has more to do with personal loyalty.
The Alliterative Morte Arthure: A Critical Edition
An Alliterative Poem of the Fourteenth Century. Be: Larry D. Benson, ed. Bj: Erik Bjorkman, ed. Morte Arthure. Alt- und mittelenglische Texte, 9.
Alliterative Morte Arthure, Part I