Vortiger's Demise; The Battle of Salisbury; and The Death of Pendragon

VORTIGER'S DEMISE; THE BATTLE OF SALISBURY; AND THE DEATH OF PENDRAGON: FOOTNOTES

1 mystily, obscurely.

3 mynde of, concern with.

4 drive, drove.

6 fenisshe, wish.

7 wele, wish.

14 deffende, forbid.

20 arivage, landing place.

21 dissese, discomfort.

31 agein, between.

34 seth, since.

41 estates, social classes.

43 garnysshed, prepared.

44 entré, entry.

45 somowned, named.

46 ordenaunce, plan.

50 oste, host.

70 sarazins, heathens.

71 sye, saw.

75 bataile, army.

79 well, gallant.

84 hoill, wholely.

90 sacred, consecrated.

91 quynsynne, fifteenth day.

93 surnonn, surname.

96 sewde, showed.

99 Ne shall thow, Will you not.

110 charge, carry.

111 wight, weight.

113 Suffer, Wait.

115 aquyte, fulfill.

120 liggynge, lying.

121 worthen, go.

123 dressed [hem], arranged them.

127 discure, disclose.

130 knowinge, wisdom.

131 enmy by nature, i.e., fiend; yove, gave.

133 lorn, lost.

134 her volunté, their desire.

139 suffraites, hardships.

140 Jues, Jews.

142 seide, this same; lower of, reward for.

144 diserte, desolation.

148 disese, suffering.

154 departed, divided; voyde, empty.

158 hight, was called.

161 convenable, alike.

164 behote, promise.

170 ordenaunce, control.

176 owen, ought.

VORTIGER'S DEMISE; THE BATTLE OF SALISBURY; AND THE DEATH OF PENDRAGON: NOTES

Vortiger's Demise; The Battle of Salisbury; and The Death of Pendragon

[Fols. 13v (line 34)_20r (line 14)]

This section of the PM depicts several important events that are also found in Geoffrey of Monmouth (Thorpe, pp. 186_204) — the burning of Vortiger's tower, the battle against the Saxon invaders, the death of Pendragon (called Aurelius by Geoffrey), and Merlin's marvelous feat of moving and erecting the stones of Stonehenge. However, the two works differ considerably in their treatment of these events.

Summary Based on EETS 10, pp. 41_54.

1 the Boke of Prophesyes. Incorporated into Geoffrey of Monmouth's The History of the Kings of Britain is a section devoted exclusively to the prophecies of Merlin (Thorpe, pp. 170_85). It was originally written as a separate work, and the reference here is undoubtedly to a work of this kind.

3 the sarazins. Throughout the PM the Saxon invaders of Britain are frequently referred to as the sarazins, occasionally as the Danes, and sometimes simply as the "heathen people."

19 yef ye will do my counseile. This is the first time in the work that Merlin serves as a military strategist. Later on he fills this role frequently, for King Arthur and for others.

44 Tamyse. The Thames River does not pass very close to the area in which this battle is supposed to occur, the Salisbury Plain. But the geography of Arthurian literature often bears only a faint resemblance to actual fact.

55-56 go betwene hem and the aryvage. Merlin's strategy is to cut off the Danes' escape route by positioning half the British army between the Danes and
their ships.

58 a dragon all reade fleynge up in the ayre. The red dragon that Merlin says will appear in the sky is apparently a peculiar astrological or meteorological phenomenon (a comet, perhaps?). It is not clear whether Merlin causes it to happen or if he simply knows that it will happen. In any case, it provides a connection between the red dragon of Vortiger's tower and the golden dragon image that Uther (and later Arthur) will employ as their battle standard.

89 Logres. In general in the PM, Logres refers to a city, and very likely to London. More commonly in Arthurian literature, however, Logres refers to the geographical area roughly equivalent to modern-day England. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, this name derives from Locrinus, the eldest son of Brutus, who was the legendary founder of Britain. Brutus gave Locrinus that portion of the island; he gave Kamber, his second son, the area of Wales (Kambria); and he gave Albanactus, his youngest son, Scotland (Albany).

104 Sende after the grete stones. Merlin's bringing the stones of Stonehenge from Ireland is described at much greater length by Geoffrey of Monmouth and Wace, and in those earlier works the stones are brought for a different purpose. Indeed in Geoffrey, Aurelius is still alive at the time that Merlin performs this feat. In the PM, in contrast to the earlier accounts, there is no mention of the fact that the stones were believed to have medicinal properties.

119-120 they sholde be dressed upright. Merlin is credited not only with the feat of moving the stones of Stonehenge but also with devising and implementing their final architectural design. The fact that Merlin believes they will seme feyrer (look more attractive) if they are standing upright brings to mind the important Neolithic stone circle at Arbor Low in Derbyshire, where the stones in the stone circle lie flat on the ground.

143 this knyght whiche hadde taken oure Lorde down. The "knight" is Joseph of Arimathea, and he is being introduced here as the first of the Grail knights, a line of knights entrusted with the keeping of the Holy Grail. The episode briefly described here is a section from the larger narrative that recounts the history of the Holy Grail.

148 make a table. The author is intent on establishing a parallel between this table and the one used by Jesus and his Disciples at the Last Supper. The building of this second table by Joseph of Arimathea anticipates the creation of yet a third table, the famous Arthurian Round Table. These three tables replicate each other, and, taken together, they reflect the concept of the Holy Trinity.

173 Cardoll, in Walys. The city of Cardoll in Wales, though one of the most famous cities in Arthurian literature, cannot be finally identified. It might be logically associated with Cardiff, but it is more likely that it corresponds to the ancient Roman fortress of Caerleon, a "city" that Geoffrey of Monmouth describes in The History of the Kings of Britain at great length (Thorpe, pp. 226-27).

175 I shall go before and make the table. There is great variation in medieval accounts concerning the origin of the Round Table. The Round Table is completely absent from Geoffrey of Monmouth, making its first appearance in Wace's Roman de Brut (lines 9,994_10,005), where it was established by Arthur, not Uther. In Layamon's Brut, following an unruly upheaval at court, the Round Table was fashioned by a Cornish carpenter at Arthur's request. Here, Merlin creates the Round Table for Uterpendragon, and the table is explicitly linked to the story of the Grail. In later versions of the story, including Malory's, the table was passed from Uther to King Leodegan, Guenevere's father, and then passed back again to Arthur as a part of Guenevere's dowry.
 
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Vortiger's Demise; The Battle of Salisbury; and The Death of Pendragon

by: John Conlee (Editor)
from: Prose Merlin  1998





























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