Légendes Arthuriennes et autres

Légendes Arthuriennes et autres

Bedivere

Sir Bedivere is best known to readers of the English Arthurian tradition as the knight charged with returning Excalibur to its lake of origin, as King Arthur lies mortally wounded from his final battle. Thrice Bedivere tries to follow his lord’s orders to throw the sword into the lake, but the first two times he is unable to part with Excalibur and keeps it as the last remaining symbol of Arthur’s glorious reign. He only musters the will to discard Excalibur on his third attempt, and is then rewarded with a marvelous sight: the Lady of the Lake’s hand rising from the water to catch the sword and draw it into the water, signaling the end of Arthur’s reign. Readers may associate Bedivere’s importance solely with this scene, but he in fact plays a larger role within the Arthurian tradition. Bedivere holds the curious distinction of bookending Arthur’s story: at the beginning of the tradition, he is named one of Arthur’s earliest and most loyal followers and, at the end of the story, he outlives his king. Bedivere’s presence at both the beginning and end of the narrative results from a melding of two separate traditions in the Arthurian canon—the chronicle tradition (which purports to be historical and focuses on Arthur’s military exploits) and the later romance tradition (which introduces more magical elements and valorizes courtly love). In the chronicle tradition, Bedivere is consistently named as one of the first knights dubbed by Arthur. He plays a prominent role in two episodes—Arthur’s fight against the giant of Mont Saint-Michel and the Roman campaign, where Bedivere dies gloriously in battle, fighting in his king’s mission to free Britain from Roman vassalage. Here, Bedivere is held up as an ideal knight—his courage, loyalty, and prowess are proven in his warrior’s death. In the romance tradition, on the other hand, Bedivere does not die in an early battle but survives to return Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake. Here, he serves as both the sole witness to Arthur’s passage to Avalon and as a messenger, bearing news of the king’s death to the surviving Round Table knights.

 

How Sir Bedivere Cast the Sword Excalibur into the Water



30/07/2018
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