Friday 10 June 2011
A new television series is the latest dramatisation of the Camelot myth. But why is the legend of King Arthur such a compelling one in culture? For a man who may or may not have wandered Britain some 1,500 years ago, King Arthur retains the enviable knack of making his regal presence felt.
Merlin, Excalibur, Guinevere, Lancelot, the Lady in the Lake - all the components of his story are instantly familiar both in his erstwhile homeland and in much of the world. Modern historians might query whether there is any real evidence for his existence, but none doubt his lasting hold over the popular imagination. His, after all, is a tale that takes in romance, heroism, chivalry, honour and, of course, the promise that its hero will one day return to rescue his people.
Camelot, a Channel 4 drama starring Eva Green and Joseph Fiennes, is only the latest in a series of big-budget takes on Arthurian legend. Recent years have witnessed the 2008 BBC series Merlin, 2007’s Colin Firth blockbuster The Last Legion and 2004’s King Arthur, starring Keira Knightley and Clive Owen. Nor is this a recent fad. No less a Hollywood icon than Indiana Jones was confronted by Arthur’s mythology in his third big-screen encounter, while John Boorman’s 1981 fantasy Excalibur and Robert Bresson’s 1972 film Lancelot also re-imagined the saga. Perhaps most memorable of all, however was 1975’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with its less than reverent take on the story…
Yet in their book, From Scythia to Camelot: A Radical Reassessment of the Legends of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, and the Holy Grail, C. Scott Littleton, Linda A. Malcor prove irrefutably that the very heart of this beloved cycle of legends, not to mention many of its telling details, derives from ancient Iranian peoples whose original home was the Eurasian steppes.
See online : From Scythia to Camelot