English Arthurian Literature

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

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The Celtic Background

Whether Arthur was historical or fictive has been debated since the Middle Ages. The Arthurian legends originated among the Britons, the Celtic ancestors of the Welsh, Cornish and Bretons of Brittany, but little early written evidence survives. Perhaps the first reference appears in an elegy about fallen heroes, Y [The] Gododdin. Written in Welsh, it originated in former Briton territory in southern Scotland or in northern Britain in what is now Cumbria and has been dated anywhere from the 7th to the 11th centuries. One hero is said to have been great, “but no Arthur”. If Gododdin was written c. 600, and if the allusion is not a later interpolation, the elegy would have been written close to the time a historical Arthur would have lived. Moreover, three late 5th-,

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Citation: Kennedy, Edward Donald. "English Arthurian Literature". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 15 October 2014 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=19367, accessed 13 April 2024.]

19367 English Arthurian Literature 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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