For a full-text version, see Larry D. Benson’s online edition from the Middle English Texts Series: The Alliterative Morte Arthure Summary: Several Roman. The The Alliterative Morte Arthure Community Note includes chapter-by-chapter summary and analysis, character list, theme list, historical context, author. Malory in his second main section, The Noble Tale betwixt King Arthur and Lucius the Emperor of Rome, closely follows not a French romance, as he does in the.
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You who like to listen and who love to hear Of lords of the old days and of their dread deeds, How they were firm in their faith and followed God Almighty, Hear me aryhure and hold your silence, And I shall tell you a tale lofty and true Of the royal ranks of the Round Table, The flower of knighthood and all noble lords, Prudent in their deeds and practiced men-in-arms, Able in their actions, ever fearful of dishonor, Proper men and polished and versed in courtly ways; How they gained by battle glories alloterative, Laid low Lucius the wicked, Lord of Rome, And conquered that kingdom by prowess in arms– Hark now closely and hear out this tale.
The sound of his savage blows nearly stunned the King, Yet he quickly came to the encounter again And struck with his sword, slitting open the loins So that the guts and the gore gushed out together, Making the grass greasy on the ground he trod. Sliced away ornaments fastened on shields; So many battle-fated are fallen on the field That each brook on the forest floor flows with red blood.
So this assay saw the destruction of the giants, Outjousted by gentle knights in the doings of the day. The thef at the ded-throwes so throly him thringes That three ribbes in his side he thrustes in sonder! You are too artthure by half, I have to tell you.
Into Tuskane he turnes when thus wel timed, Takes townes full tite with towres full high; Walles he welt down, wounded knightes, Towres he turnes, and tourmentes the pople, Wrought widowes full wlonk wrotherayle singen, Oft werye and weep and wringen their handes; And all he wastes with war there he away rides; Their welthes and their wonninges wandreth he wrought!
It contains numerous episodes which are not in Geoffrey’s work such as the Round Table and suggests the poet using other works such as Wace ‘s Roman de Brut or Layamon ‘s Brutthe first texts to mention the Round Table. Religious men arrayed in their rich capes, Pontiffs and prelates in precious robes, All the dukes and dignitaries dressed in mourning, Countesses kneeling and clasping their hands, Ladies languishing and looking forlorn, And girls too, all garbed in garments of black, Surrounded the sepulcher with their tears streaming down; So sorrowful a sight was never seen in their time.
Let no wicked weed in this world take root and thrive– I warn you, by your worth, work as I bid. Also the Morte Arthure is less clearly part of the romance genre than Sir Gawain and other Arthurian poems and more like a chronicle of the times.
The fairest on earth that ever were framed Stretched as far as a furlong, a thousand all told. Teach yourself to read Chaucer is a series of online lessons from the Harvard Chaucer page, with sound files.
And here is the kinreden that I am of come, Of Judas and Josue, these gentle knightes; I am apparent his eier, and eldes of other; Of Alexandere and Afrike and all tho out-landes I am in possession and plenerly sesed. An Anthology of Medieval Texts in Translationed.
Bear my blessing, men, in burying these lords Who were slaughtered by sword in struggle today. I was so hautain of herte whiles I at home lenged I held none my hip-height under heven rich; For-thy was I sent hider with seven score knightes To assay of this war by sente of my fader; And I am for surquidrie shamely surprised And by aunter of armes outrayed for ever! Note that these are both verse translations: Very soon the vanguard let free their horses In that virtuous vale among the vines.
Then Arthur with a dagger arthire strikes, And stabs the hulk straight up to the hilt; The wretch in his death-throes wrings him so hard, Three ribs in his side he squeezes to splinters.
Arthur is a more political and also flawed ruler, the story is not just based in a small realm but is always placed within a wider European situation and this Arthur is more clearly Christian than other versions.
Note that all of this is quite simplified: Compared to many of the other depictions of Arthur’s story, the Alliterative Morte Arthure is a relatively realistic version of events. Turn hither your ears and hear this history! I have concentrated on the vowels because they seem to cause the most trouble.
Now grete glorious God through grace of Himselven And the precious prayer of his pris Moder Sheld us fro shamesdeede and sinful workes And give us grace to guie and govern us here In this wretched world, through virtuous living That we may kaire til his court, the kingdom of heven When our soules shall part and sunder fro the body Ever to beld and to bide in bliss with Himselven; And wisse me to warp out some word at this time That nother void be ne vain but worship til Himselven Plesand and profitable to the pople that them heres.
Ye that lust has to lithe or loves for to here Of elders of olde time and of their awke deedes, How they were lele in their law and loved God Almighty Herkenes me hendely and holdes you stille, And I shall tell you a tale that trew is and noble Of the real renkes of the Round Table That chef were of chivalry and cheftains noble Both wary in their workes and wise men of armes, Doughty in their doings and dredde ay shame, Kind men and courtais and couth of court thewes, How they won with war worshippes many, Slogh Lucius the lithere that lord was of Rome, And conquered that kingrik through craftes of armes; Herkenes now hiderward and heres this story!
The stress placed on chivalric duty in the contemporary Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is in the Morte Arthure of a more practical nature and has more to do with personal loyalty. They had the bells rung and chanted the Requiem, And sang masses and matins in mournful tones. Thus they springen and sprede and spares but little, Spoiles dispiteously and spilles their vines, Spendes unsparely that spared was long, Speedes them to Spolett with speres ynow!
Reading the Alliterative Morte Arthure
Words spelled with -oo today are always long, even if we now pronounce them with short vowels. Toward Viterbo this valiant aveeres the reines; Avisely in that vale he vitailes his bernes, With Vernage and other wine and venison baken And on the Viscounte landes he vises to lenge.
If Guinevere has fared well, fair fortune be with her. The only manuscript source for the Morte Arthure is the Lincoln Thornton Manuscript written sometime in the midth century by Robert Thorntonwho copied an older text, now lost, which presumably derived from south-west Lincolnshire.
Then he romed and rored and rudely he strikes Full egerly at Arthur and on the erthe hittes; A sword-lenghe within the swarth he swappes at ones That ner swoones the king for swough of his dintes! It seems clear, from the alliteration, that you must pronounce the s- and the w- in sword. But yet the king sweperly full swithe he beswenkes, Swappes in with the sword that it the swang bristed; Both the guttes and the gore gushes out at ones.