To Challenge Arthur’s Court

The illustrious court of King Arthur! I had heard countless tales of their exploits and noble deeds. Indeed, their reputation is truly unrivaled. And so I arrived, alone on Christmas Eve, looking to play a simple game. Yet when I issued my challenge, I was met with nothing but silence. Now, I do not think my terms difficult, for this was a game founded strictly on equality, an eye for an eye (or a head for a head, if you will). I thought that a true nobleman would be eager to prove himself, but I was shocked to find myself incorrect. Why, Arthur himself had to step up in order to preserve a semblance of honor for his Round Table. Had it not been for a young knight by the name of Gawain, I would have had the honor of testing the noble king! What an interesting tale that could have been…

But I digress! No sense in dwelling on what could have been, for Gawain proved to be a man worthy of Arthur’s company, despite his initial hesitance to accept my offer. And good fortune would have it that not only was I able to test his courage, but also his honesty and character when he happened upon the castle of my alter ego in his pursuit of the Green Chapel. Once again, I challenged him to a game of exchanges. And as I experienced the thrill of the hunt, he endured the temptation of a most beautiful pursuer.

In the end, I must admit that I was somewhat disappointed when he did not fully comply with the terms of our arrangement. And yet, I cannot find it in myself to fault him for it. True, he did not return everything that he was awarded. But is it also not the duty of a knight to properly equip oneself for battle? As such, a nick on the neck was all I deemed necessary. Gawain indeed proved his own worth, although the same cannot be said for the rest of Arthur’s knights. Certainly, they all still have things to learn.

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5 thoughts on “To Challenge Arthur’s Court

  1. I’ve never been fond of scolding or criticizing, but I really must say that you boys take these games of honor on far too often. Nobility, honor, and strength are merits by which you will be judged in your time by God in Heaven. Why then, do you insist on putting yourselves at peril, all the while engaging in trifling and deceitful ruses? It is not the place of ordinary men and women, nor of lords and ladies, to judge. That is the work of our Heavenly Father. You are all noble men, it is true. But consider what makes you so. It is not a feat of strength. It is not gamesmanship or intimidation. No, it is your position of duty. It is your vow to uphold justice and chivalry. It is your suffering in service of that which is good and holy.

  2. I am quite flattered that you believe that I still proved myself worthy in spite of my deplorable behavior, Bertilak. Not a day will go by where I am not chagrined by my actions. You say that I stood out from the others in Arthur’s court, but please do not take offense when I disagree with that statement. The other knights, not myself, are the ones who should be considered paragons of knightly virtues and chivalrous manners. The only reason why I was the one to challenge you was that I felt my loss would be the most minor to a court such as Arthur’s.

    None the less, I must humbly thank you for your kind words and kinder treatment of me. I mean this not only in regard to the way that you spared my life, but also how you took me in over Christmas. Some may say that it was only part of the challenge, but that does not matter. All that I know was that you were an incredibly kind and gracious host, and your hospitality was more than appreciated.

    Moreover, I would beg that you reconsider your opinion on the rest of Arthur’s men. They are truly worthy and courteous knights, and the brief moment you saw of them did not convey their noble natures adequately.

    Kindest Regards,
    Sir Gawain

  3. Sire Bertilak, the lesson you taught Gawain by showing him clemency in a disgraced moment will surely follow him for the rest of his days. That most goodly man will never rise above his dishonorable failure. He will carry his sullied honor for the end of his days; even if he shall maintain an honorable man, and even if the court of Arthur forgive him for his fault, he himself, that most goodly of man, shall never feel the same as he once did.

    But Green Knight, I’m left confused by your intentions. Were you certain that, once arriving at Arthur’s court and putting forth your challenge, Sire Gawain would be the one to answer your call? Was it Gawain whom you were after; or, would any of Arthur’s knights, whoever might accept your challenge, suffice? It appears to me that you knew it would be Gawain; and so I ask you, how did you know? Could it not have easily been Ywain or Agravain? And were you certain that Arthur himself wouldn’t answer the challenge?

  4. Well good sir, regarding your comments on the silence of the Round Table when you challenged them: what do you expect? On Christmas day (Christmas eve?), a day that, by your religious customs, ought to be free of violence–a day of merry feast and celebration of the life of your prophet, you, a strange man of a size far greater than that of any mortal man who happens to be entirely green on top of everything, barges into the hall uninvited demanding a challenge quite impertinently. Furthermore, your challenge: to exchange blows of an axe to the neck; any many other than a fool would be skeptical of trickery–and as it turned out, they were right in being skeptical as Sir Gawain cleanly separated your head from your torso, only to find that cutting your head off had no effect on you. Come now, be reasonable! Of course, they were silent at first–also taken aback by your hubris, to barge in on the great, noble knights of the round table, demanding a challenge, and threatening the King himself, all whilst in front of his wife, Lady Guinevere, no less. It was my impression that Christians were supposed to be humble and refined; it should of been you who was taught a lesson, at least, more so than Sir Gawain, whom I would argue to be of far greater worth in virtue.

  5. What is honor? What is bravery? I am not very sure that Sir Gawain knows. Men of nobility and courage, i believe are called knights. Would you agree? If so is it fair to claim that Sir Gawain is one of them? Is it darkness or light in the afterlife? We do not know, but one man was to afraid to seek the answer. Who are you to be merciful Sir Bertilak? I ask how ever can you be when this noble knight has failed you so. What is a knight that shows mercy to a knight that does not keep his vow? The answer i do not know. I wonder could you tell me though…

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