To continue this series, I wanted to invite major characters from British mythology. As before, I am imagining what it would be like to invite a few fictional characters to a dinner and have conversation with them.
(This is the first page of the extant original copy of Beowulf, written in Old English.)
Today’s guests are Beowulf, King Arthur, and Aragorn, all kings from British epics: Beowulf by an unknown poet, Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory, and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. These books range from the Dark Ages, circa the mid 800s to the Middle Ages, circa 1485 to the contemporary world in the mid 1900s. These texts are all important to me, both as a reader and as a teacher, because I have used all of these books in different college classes, primarily in the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. While covering a very long historical range, they all deal with the difficulties faced by leaders especially when the fate of their kingdoms rests in their decisions and actions.
(King Arthur and his knights)
For this entry, we would dine again at a traditional British pub, and we would be seated around a fairly large, wooden, round table. This seems appropriate, given the attendees.
“Aragorn300ppx” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Aragorn300ppx.png#/media/File:Aragorn300ppx.png
I would like to ask these three kings what it was like to lead soldiers actively into combat. Unlike the leaders of contemporary armies, they faced death directly with their fellow fighters. I would also ask them what they see the main responsibilities of leaders to be. I would also like to ask them if they consider fate to be real, or are they in control of their own destinies? Given the variation in optimism and pessimism that ranges in their attitudes, their approaches to facing the difficulties of life and death would be fascinating to explore.
I would certainly be curious to see how these three warrior kings spoke with each other. I think a checking of the swords at the door might be a very good idea.