Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Esther Reference in "The Poisoned Apple"

I was reading various Arthurian legends in Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur recently, and came across something that is quite plausibly an allusion to something from megillat Esther. In this story, Queen Guinevere throws a party and Sir Pinel attempts to poison Sir Gawain by poisoning several apples. Another knight eats a poisoned apple and dies, and the queen is suspected. She will be burnt if no knight rises to her defense and fights on her behalf. Meanwhile, she had sent away Sir Lancelot, and was under the impression that he was out of the country. She then appeals to Sir Bors, his relative, to save her life:
Alas, fair knight, said the queen, I put me wholly in your grace, and all that is done amiss I will amend as ye will counsel me. And therewith she kneeled down upon both her knees, and besought Sir Bors to have mercy upon her: Outher I shall have a shameful death, and thereto I never offended {=I am innocent}.

Right so came King Arthur, and found the queen kneeling afore Sir Bors; then Sir Bors pulled her up, and said: Madam, ye do me great dishonour. Ah, gentle knight, said the king, have mercy upon my queen, courteous knight, for I am now in certain she is untruly defamed.


avakesh said...

The King Athur cycle is more pagan than Christian and unless this allusion was inserted by later editors, this is probably just an coincidence.

joshwaxman said...

There are actually a lot of Christian (Jesus) references in King Arthur legends, as the "once and future king."

And a lot of parallels to midrashim as well. See my paper on the subject here.

joshwaxman said...

Also, see Ben Sandler's paper on the subject. (He was in the same Arthurian legends class with me in college.)

Soccer Dad said...

And I thought that Cinderella had the strong Esther reference.

b said...

It's not similar at all! there are to many diffrent details.There could be plenty of other sources for arthur.


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