Medieval Arthurian Legend

Sir Thomas Malory: Le Morte d'Arthur

15th century, late-Medieval English.

Sir Perceval dreams that two ladies come to him; one is seated upon a lion and the other upon a snake.

It is late in King Arthur’s reign. Sir Perceval has embarked upon a quest to find the Sankgreal, the Holy Grail, which has magically appeared in King Arthur's kingdom alongside the equally auspicious appearance of Galahad, Sir Lancelot’s only son, by Elaine; conceived through deception all those years ago. All of King Arthur’s knights are engaged in this quest, each going their separate ways about the kingdom, visiting abbeys and the lonely cells of hermits, encountering religious seers, dreaming prophetic dreams and being tempted by demons trying to deceive them into disqualification from achieving the Holy Grail. The atmosphere in King Arthur's realm has become very High Church all of a sudden, perhaps reflecting the sources from which Malory is now drawing.

Sir Perceval finds himself in a wasteland. One day he sees a huge snake carrying away a lion cub, pursued by the cub’s father. Sir Perceval draws his sword - and therewith he drew hys swerd and sette hys shylde afore hym, and there he gaff the serpente suche a buffett that he had a dedely wounde. The snake is killed, the lion befriends Sir Perceval and they lie down together that evening to go to sleep.

As he sleeps, Sir Perceval dreams that two ladies come to him – a good one seated upon a lion and an evil one upon a snake.

Vinaver, Eugene, 1971, reprinted in paperback, 1977. Malory: Works. Oxford University Press. The Tale of the Sankgreal, briefly drawn out of French, pp 545–46.

See for yourself

Sir Thomas Malory – Wikipedia

Le Morte d'Arthur – Wikipedia

Holy Grail – Wikipedia

Sir Thomas Malory's 'Le Morte Darthur' – British Library, online exhibition

King Arthur – Wikipedia

Snakes and dragons

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styalised snake's head from Iron Age Celtic metalwork design
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