VVHen Arthur first in Court began, and was approved King, By force of Arms great Victories won, and Conquest home did bring: Then into Brittain straight he came, where fifty stout and able Knights, then repaired unto him, which were of the Round Table.

And many Justs and Turnaments, before him there were prest, Wherein these Knights did then excell, and far surmount the rest.

But one Sir Lancelot du Lake, who was approved well, He in his fights and deeds of arms, all others did excell.


When he had rested him a while, to play, and game, and sport, He thought he would approve himself, in some advent'rous sort: He armed rode in Forrest wide, and met a Damsel fair, Who told him of Adventures great, whereto he gave good ear;

Why should I not? (quoth Lancelot tho) for that cause came I hither,

Thou seem'st, quoth she, a Knight right good, and I will bring thee thither, Where as the mightest Knight doth dwell that now is of great fame, Wherefore tell me what Knight thou art, and then what is thy name.

My name is Lancelot du Lake, quoth she it likes me then, Here dwells a Knight that never was o're-matcht of any man: Who hath in Prison threescore Knights, and some that he hath bound, Knights of King Arthurs Court they be, and of the Table round,

She brought him to a River then, and also to a Tree, Whereas a Copper Bason hung, his Fellows Shields to see.


He struck so hard the Bason broke, when Tarquin heard the sound, He drove a Horse before him straight, whereon a Knight was bound.

Sir Knight (then said Sir Lancelot) bring me that Horse-load hither, And lay him down and let him rest, we'l try our force together:

For as I understand, thou hast as far as thou art able, Done great despight and and shame unto the Knights of the round Table.

If thou art of the Table round, quoth Tarquin speedily, Both thee and all thy Fellowship, I utterly defie.

That's overmuch, quoth Lancelot tho, defend thee by and by;


They put their spurs unto their Steeds, and each at other flye.

They couch their Spears and Horses run, as though they had been thunder And each struck then upon the Shield, wherewith they brake asunder: Their Horses backs brake under them, The Knights they were aston'd; To void their horses they made haste, to fight upon the ground:

They took them to their Shields full fast, their Swords they drew out then With Mighty stroaks most eagerly, each one at other run:


They wounded were, and bled full sore, for breath they both did stand, And leaning on their Swords a while, quoth Tarquin hold thy Hand, And tell to me what I shall ask, say on, quoth Lancelot tho,

Thou art quoth Tarquin, the best Knight that ever I did know.

And like a Knight that I did hate, so that thou be not he, I will deliver all the rest, and eke accord with thee.

What is the Knight thou hatest so, I pray thee shew to me?

His name is Sir Lancelot du Lake, he slew my Brother dear, Him I suspect of all the rest I would I had him here.

Thy wish thou hast, but now unknown, I am Lancelot du Lake, Now of King Arthurs Table round, King Hands Son of Benwake: And I defie thee do thy worst,

ha ha, quoth Tarquin tho, One of us two shall end our lives, before that we do go.

If thou be Lancelot du Lake, then welcome shalt thou be, Wherefore see thou thy self defend, for now I do thee defie.


They hurled then together fast, like two wild Boars so rashing, And with their Swords & Shields they ran, at one another slashing. The ground besprikled was with blood.


Tarquin began to faint, For he had backt and bore his shield so low he did repent: Which soon espy'd Lancelot tho, he leapt upon him then, He pull'd him down upon his Knee, and rushed off his helm: And then he struck his Neck in two, and when he had done so, From prison threescore Knights and four, Lancelot delivered tho.

-- The Noble Acts newly found, Of Arthur of the Table Round, Thomas Deloney

The Round Table

illustration: Matthew Lopz

The Round Table

The Round Table represents the need for compainionship and organisation, it's never just King Arthur, it's Arthur and the knights of the round table, that is the nature of the tale, it's universal form.

While Arthur may exist, without the knights, and the knights would still exist as individuals without Arthur, Arthur would not be king and the knights would not be knights.

The universal form of King Arthur and the universal form of the knights are components of each other, like the legs and seat of a stool.

Should the soul of Arthur stray back into our world he would exist in his reduced form of Arthur instead of his elevated form of King Arthur (and the knights of the round table), a form that is not the form of an individual but of a brotherhood.

King Arthur is a whole greater than the sum of his parts.

>Sword in The Stone