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SIR GALAHAD

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Sir Galahad by George Frederick WattsIn Arthurian legends, Sir Galahad is the son of Sir Lancelot.

 

Sir Galahad is a knight of King Arthur's Round Table and one of the three achievers of the Holy Grail in Arthurian legends.

 

He is the illegitimate son of Sir Lancelot and Elaine of Carbonek, and is renowned for his gallantry and purity. He is perhaps the knightly embodiment of pure Christian virtue in the Arthurian legends.

 

Sir Galahad first appears in the Lancelot-Grail cycle, and his story is taken up in later works such as the Post-Vulgate Cycle and Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur.

 

Galahad's conception comes about when Elaine, daughter of the Grail King Pelles, uses magic to trick Sir Lancelot into thinking she is Guinevere.

 

They sleep together, but on discovering what has transpired, Sir Lancelot abandons Elaine and returns to Arthur's court.

 

Galahad is placed in the care of his great aunt, the abbess at a nunnery, and is raised there. According to the Quest del Saint Graal (part of the interconnected set of romances known as the Vulgate Cycle) "Galahad" had been Lancelot's original name, but it had been changed when he was a child.

 

Merlin prophesies that Galahad would surpass his father in valor and be successful in his search for the Holy Grail.

 

It is also interesting to note that Galahad's maternal grandfather Pelles is generally considered to be a descendent of Joseph of Arimathea's brother-in-law Bron (whose bloodline was entrusted with the Grail by St Joseph).

Upon reaching adulthood, Galahad is reunited with his father Sir Lancelot, who knights him. He is then brought to King Arthur's court at Camelot during Pentecost.

 

Without realizing the danger he is putting himself in, Galahad walks over to the Round Table amidst the revelry and takes his seat at the Siege Perilous. This place had been kept vacant for the sole man who would accomplish the quest of the Holy Grail; for anyone else sitting there, it would prove to be immediately fatal.

Sir Galahad survives the event, witnessed by King Arthur and his knights.

 

King Arthur then asks the young knight to perform a test which involves pulling a sword from a stone. This he accomplishes with ease, and King Arthur swiftly proclaims Sir Galahad to be the greatest knight in the world. He is promptly invited to join the Order of the Round Table, and after an ethereal vision of the Holy Grail, and so the quest to find the Holy Grail commences.

In Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, Galahad's incredible prowess and fortune in the quest for the Holy Grail are traced back to his piety. According to the Arthurian legend, only pure knights may achieve the Grail. While in a general sense, this "purity" refers to chastity, Galahad appears to have lived a holy life, and so as a result, lives and thinks on a level entirely apart from the other knights of the Arthurian legend.

 

This virtue is reflected in Lord Alfred Tennyson's poem Sir Galahad and its first four lines which state:

 

"My good blade carves the casques of men,

My tough lance thrusteth sure,

My strength is as the strength of ten,

Because my heart is pure."

 

Despite, and perhaps because of his sinless nature, Galahad as a character seems superhuman. He defeats rival knights apparently without effort, speaks little to his fellow knights, and leads his companions to the Holy Grail with a relentless determination. So of the three who undertake the quest for the Grail, with Sir Bors and Sir Perceval, Galahad is the one who actually achieves it. When he does, he is taken up into heaven or assumed into heaven like the biblical patriarch Enoch or the prophet Elijah, leaving his companions behind in awe and wonder.


When the three rejoined forces they came to Carbonek and achieved the Grail. Galahad mended the broken sword, and therefore, He was allowed to see the Grail. After beholding the Holy Grail, Galahad requested of Joseph of Arimathea that he die, which request was granted unto him. Galahad was always known as the "Perfect Knight". He was "perfect" in courage, gentleness, courtesy, and chivalry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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