Suppose that you were to match up King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table with the members of Ekphrasis. Who would be King Arthur? Lancelot? Gawain? Below is a list of the primary knights and some of their characteristics as seen throughout various permutations of the Arthurian legends. I challenge you to put your list, matching the members of our group with the knights, in the comments. I have my list already made, and will post it when I think everybody else is done. Remember, just the knights: Not the ladies or the other characters in the stories. Let me know if you want to add knights from other versions of the story. Let’s go!
King Arthur: The founder and leader of the Order, but not as active as many of his knights. He is more like the still center of the circle than one of the adventuresome knights himself. He is an idealist, dreaming big dreams that either come true for only a brief “once and shining moment,” or that come crashing down around him before they ever come true. He is both noble and tragic. In Charles Williams’ version, it is his sins of pride that take down the kingdom.
Lancelot: King Arthur’s best knight (according to many stories): the most noble, pure, devout, spiritual, holy, honest, and honorable knight. It is only in later stories that his adultery with Guinevere creeps in, and some more recent retellings (for instance, the King Arthur and First Knight filmes) have brought him back to the days before his betrayal of the king. In Charles Williams’ version,
Gawain: King Arthur’s best knight (according to many stories) and nephew: The greatest warrior and gentleman of them all. His loyalty is first to his king and next to his large family of brothers. He is a kind of Renaissance man (to use an anachronistic term) who is good at war, peace, love, and all the gentle arts of the court. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight tells the story of his more human foibles and his deep heroism.
Taliessin: The poet and captain of horse in Charles Williams’ version: he is a kind of combination of Druid mage and Christian mystic.
Bors: The married man, the knight who embodies domestic love and happiness. He is one of the three Achievers of the Grail.
Galahad: The pure virgin, the High Prince, the emblem of Christ in the stories. He is one of the three Achievers of the Grail.
Perceval: The Innocent Fool, the naive boy who wants to be a knight, who commits both crimes and acts of heroism in ignorance. He is one of the three Achievers of the Grail.
Gareth: One of Gawain’s brothers, King Arthur’s nephew, a chivalrous and peace-loving young man with a true heart and a sweet nature. In some versions of the story, he is put through ignominious trials (such as serving in the kitchen) to prove his true worth. He has trouble with ladies, but eventually ends up with a beautiful and true love.
Gaheris: Another of Gawain’s brothers and nephew of King Arthur. In some stories, he serves as Gawain’s squire and proves a good companion to his somewhat choleric brother. In Malory, he beheads his own mother when he catches her in adultery with Lamorack.
Bedivere: Arthur’s first, oldest, and most trustworthy friend. He is the last knight to stay true to Arthur in the end, and is the one to throw the sword Excalibur into the lake at the very last.
Kay: In some stories, Arthur’s older brother. Sometimes an excellent knight, sometimes a joker, sometimes a buffoon.
Lamorak: Caught in adultery with Morgause and murdered by her sons (except the peaceful Gareth).
Palomides: The “Saracen” knight: An Arab Moslem who travels to Camelot, converts to Christianity, and joins the Round Table. He is also in love with Isolde in Charles Williams’ version.
Tristan: The famous second fated love (after Lancelot and Guinevere), the lover of Isolde (wife of King Mark) after they drink of a love point she was meant to take with Mark on their wedding day. A true and noble knight, but overshadowed by tragedy.
Dinadan: The comic relief character, the well-balanced clown who speaks truth.
There’s my list! What do you think? Who is whom?