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There is no one definitive version of the Arthurian legend. The story and characters we have come from many sources, and in each one the story comes out slightly differently. Add to that all of the modern interpretations of the legend, and the whole thing becomes quite eclectic.

Arthur was born the son of Uther Pendragon and Igraine. He was taken away by Merlin while still a baby and raised by a foster family. When Uther died without a clear successor, Arthur proved his lineage by pulling the sword from the stone.

Other characters to know:

Mordred

Gawain

Percivale

The Lady of the Lake

Camelot

Arthur fell head-over-heels for Guinevere, and, for a while, it was a fairy tale marriage. Then Lancelot steps into the picture, creating one of the most famous love triangles in history. By the end, Arthur is dead, Guinevere has joined a convent and Lancelot has become a monk. In other words, no one's happy.

The sword in the stone is NOT Excalibur. Excalibur was given to Arthur by the Lady of the Lake.

Because it is generally a bad idea to have a bunch of knights sitting around with nothing to do, Arthur sends his out on a mission to find the Holy Grail (even though a prophecy had already foretold that Galahad would be the one to find it). The Holy Grail was the cup that was used by Jesus at the Last Supper and was brought to England by Joseph of Arimathea. True to the prophecy, it was Galahad, the only one who could sit in the Siege Perilous without dying, who finally found the Grail. His life's mission fulfilled, both he and the Grail ascended to heaven, leaving us with Monty Python instead.

The two most mystical characters of the Arthurian legend are Merlin and Morgan le Fay. Merlin acts as prophet, magician, and court advisor. Some stories have him end his days trapped in a crystal prison by the woman he loved. Morgan le Fay is perhaps the most shifting of the Arthurian characters. She is Arthur's half-sister and sometimes she is portrayed as his enemy, but not always. She is sometimes healer, sometimes shape-shifter, sometimes jealous lover. She is supposedly one of the women who took Arthur to Avalon.

Selected Bibliography: Currin, Nathan. King Arthur & The Knights of the Round Table | History, Legend and Everything in Between. Web. 17 Sept. 2010. <http://www.kingarthursknights.com/default.asp>. "King Arthur, Caerleon and Camelot." Caerleon Past Present And Future Roman Isca Camelot of King Arthur Ryder Cup 2010. Web. 18 Sept. 2010. <http://www.caerleon.net/history/arthur/page12.htm>. "YouTube - The Search for King Arthur." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. Web. 18 Sept. 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pa4v5gH3b18>.

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