King Arthur Holy Days: French Vulgate

Speaker: Mark Patterson, Abilene Christian University
“Holidays and Holy Days: The Significance of the Pagan/Christian Calendar in the French Vulgate Account of King Arthur and His Round Table”

legend of King Arthur, 1400 years
continues to inspire

Christian v pagan
Interpret tales during 6th Century when Arthur existed.
Prevalence of skepticism means no one has done it

French Vulgate offers info we need.

Circle in stone, Kay’s knighting, Arthur and his father holding court.
Story of Merlin in old French Vulgate cycle.
Merlin mentions Christian holidays.
Inclusion of holidays indicates importance of date to Welsh/French/pagans.

Christians will not understand the Holy Days from pagan POV.

Symbolism of round table
Round table = middle of the year
Beltane, etc.
Shape of table = Celtic significance

52 seats
one kept empty
52 seats = number of weeks in the year
Arthur’s Round Table arrangement
Arthur has 13. Himself and 12 knights.
This is how many lunar months there are.
Round table = calendar.

“on that Whitsunday the king was of a mind to wear his crown.”
Parallels his son’s coronation on Whitsuntide.

Arthur often interpreted as Christ-figure.

Merlin story doesn’t say when born.
Arthur known to be born in late December.

Pre-date Christianity Samhain, Yule, Winter Solstice

Arthur is Christ-figure, so part of sun-son wordplay.

Uther = Holy Ghost

from CCTE 2016 Literature 5 Biblical Themes

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