Repeatedly, stories that recount entertaining history or past, both as a historical event or as a mythical one, have developed and passed down from one generation to another. To many communities, the challenge comes in when there is a need to differentiate which story belongs to either of the categories without losing touch with their heritage. Hypothetically, however, myths have been known to refer to the narrations that help explain certain scenarios in life. Mostly, these stories are used to explain how things came to be as they are, even if most elements of the story seem untrue. Historical narrations have practical factors that give chronological accounts leading to the realization of how a particular conclusion was achieved. This paper discusses two popular historical figures, Achilles, and King Arthur. It shows why they ignite myths and products of human creativity, conjured to restore national pride and create interesting literature subjects1.
Parallels can be drawn between the lives of the two figures. We can strongly say that both are national heroes who lead their countries to victorious battle. Both possess superhuman or divine qualities that make them invincible, and lastly both lack sufficient evidence proving their actual existence in the realm of reality. I will analyze how Achilles and King Arthur substantiate mythological proof, in that order.
Primarily, to comprehend the reason for the deduction of the above characters, there is need to understand what exactly makes a mythical narrative. According to Powell, a myth like any other story has a plot, a structure, characters, conflict, and an ending. It is hardly an ordinary story though; the reason being that the narrative is traditional and it has been handed down from the time. In the Poem, Homer has created the character of Achilles as a powerful man more than an ordinary mortal due to his mother, who is a goddess. Likewise, there are three-plot analysis, the fight between him and Agamemnon, Patroklos, another character leading a battle with the Myrmidons, and the death of Patroklos and Hector. The setting in Homers poem is that of a battle that, therefore, provides the last of the three components of a myth confirming that this story is mythical.
Secondly, the main difference between a historical event and a mythical one is that history is unchangeable, but a myth is. This is because of the variations in what the myths are about if the stories are handed down through generations. This is because; the narrator chooses to focus on a different aspect of the story from that of another. Grant’s point of view supports this by implying that there are considerable numbers of people that believe each myth could mean differently to another. This can be explained by the different versions of Greek mythology that have been in existent over time as compared to what is regarded as historic.
Thirdly, most mythical narrations are associated with supernatural abilities and beings such as gods, goddesses and immortality among others. “Rage Goddess; sing the rage of Peleus son Achilles, murderous, doomed that cost the Achaeans countless losses…” The poet Homer portrays the existence of a goddess in the story, which in the real world is impossible. Regardless, the scenario creates a setting that portrays an act of warfare, which supports my earlier argument about how myths are all about the creation of the mind and not facts.
Therefore, my prior evaluation as to whether Achilles and his story are of the mythical nature or historical aspects still stands. From the above discussion, the story has satisfied three of the most distinctive aspects of myths that are not commonly found in historical narrations. In addition, despite the supernatural depictions, the story of Achilles explains numerous things about the modern world even if not in its actual context.
Achilles and King Arthur
King Arthur’s story is the greatest component of British literature. Having passed down many centuries, the story has become synonymous with the British bravery and unselfish exploits. King Arthur supposedly existed in the fifth century. After Romans had vacated Britain after their lengthy occupation nearby neighbors, the Anglo-Saxons took advantage to occupy the fragile nation living on very fertile land. However, contemporary historical evidence for the man who led Britain to war, by Gildas, recognizes a different person from King Arthur. Lacking historical basis from the onset proved the stepping stone for the legend to thrive.
In the eighth century, Nennius reincarnates King Arthur as a Christian army general, who heroically led Britons against the Anglo-Saxon tribes. Mythology is further fuelled when Nennius offers a list of 12 battles that our powerful knight engaged in as seen. The nature of the wars, so widespread both in place and in time, with some only able to be accounted for by contemporary poets, show the beginnings of legendary innovation in the story.
As he strategically reenters British life, King Arthur arose as well in the tenth century during the Norman invasion. This time propelled by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the work ‘The History of Kings of Britain’. Geoffrey engages the reader by even offering the life history of our protagonist. Fantasy is channeled by the introduction of Guinevere and Merlin, the legendary sword Excalibur and even King Arthur’s final resting place. The same time saw the story took on a new twist The moment in France through the marriage of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine, the French poets added chivalry onto political and military fable. The moment led to the invention of the Knights of the Round Table by the chief historical author who added an important twist to the story is Chretien de Troyes. In his poem ‘Perceval, or The Story of the Grail’ Chretien invents the mysterious Holy Grail.
The narrative of King Arthur was taken very seriously by Britain subjects and rulers alike. In the 16th Century, British rulers tried to depict their worth according to the historical benchmark. The subject of King Arthur became a mainstay in the art landscape at the time, appearing in several royal commissions with kings depicting themselves in the subject matter. Arthurian themes resurfaced once more in the Victorian era. Stories of Arthurian exploits became popular. Today the story of King Arthur follows much the same route as that of its predecessors. Tailored to the spirit of age, there are various movie productions Zucker’s First Knight (1995), Fuqua’s King Arthur (2004), etc. borrowing heavily from historical literature while also adding new twists of their own.
The story of King Arthur affirms the mentioned qualities of mythology. It is no ordinary story; there is a variety of versions on this subject. The legend has been changed so much as it is being handed down in history, with each author adding their twist or attaching new significance to the story. What has remained all through is the symbolic significance of King Arthur as a source of national pride. In addition to that, King Arthur is associated with supernatural abilities. His mystical sword Excalibur, sometimes referred to as the Sword in Stone, is associated with supernatural abilities and is used as a symbol of British sovereignty. That some people believe Arthur’s death is the stuff of mystery further fuels speculation, his burial place, and truth of his death subject of controversy.
What can be verified historically is that Anglo-Saxons invaded the weak Britain after Roman evacuation in the fifth century. A number of leaders arose to stand up to the invaders, two names stand out, the Roman Ambrosius Aurelianus and King Arthur.Anglo-Saxons settled in a big part of Britain. The name England is derived from the country in which they settled. The common misconception that myths are real life events ought to be rectified to prevent overwriting of actual historical facts that similarly, made the world what it is today5. For example, the line should be drawn between the relationship of King Arthur and the Anglo-Saxon Wars, as Achilles needs to be separated from Greek exploits. Myths play important roles in their respect as does history, hence we can only offer circumstantial preference depending on what we want to use the information for. Overall, myths remain educative methods of literature, and all its aspects should be well understood and grasped in all contexts of life.
Chambers, E. (1996). Arthur of Britain. Speculum Historiale.
Grant, M. (1995). Myth of the Greeks and Romans (1962), New York: Meridian Books
Homer, I. (2003). ed., tr. Peter Jones, London: Penguin, 2003)
Powell, B. (2004). Classical Myth (4th ed). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson/Prentice Hall
Powell, Barry B. (2009). Classical Myth (6th ed), New York: Pearson/Longman
Pryor, Francis. (2004). Britain AD: HarperCollins
Raaflaub, K. (2011). ‘Historicity of Homer’ in MargalitFinkelberg (ed.) The Homer Encyclopedia V.2, New York: Wiley
Thorpe, L. (1973). The History of the Kings of Britain: Penguin Books
 Raaflaub, K. (2011). ‘Historicity of Homer’ in MargalitFinkelberg (ed.) The Homer Encyclopedia V.2, New York: Wiley
 Thorpe, L. (1973). The History of the Kings of Britain: Penguin Books
 Chambers, E. (1996). Arthur of Britain. Speculum Historiale.
 Pryor, Francis. (2004). Britain AD: HarperCollins
 Grant, M. (1995). Myth of the Greeks and Romans, New York: Meridian Books
 Homer, I. (2003). ed., tr. Peter Jones, London: Penguin, 2003)
 Powell, B. (2004). Classical Myth (4th ed). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson/Prentice Hall
 Powell, Barry B. (2009). Classical Myth (6th ed), New York: Pearson/Longman