Brief Encounters: Arthur’s Epic Journey in Antoine Fuqua’s King Arthur (2005)

  • Leslie Coote
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


The journey is one of the most frequent tropes encountered in medieval epic, of either the “historical” or the “romance” kind. Classical Roman writers of epic exercised a powerful influence on the medieval imaginary, and none more so than Virgil. Virgil’s Aeneid, along with Dares Phrygius’s narrative on the fall of Troy, entered into the foundation myths of several medieval kingdoms, presenting Aeneas, through Brutus, as an ancestor of Arthur, himself an ancestor of the kings of England. In the Aeneid, the Trojan hero Aeneas undertakes a journey that leads him from the fall of Troy to the founding of what will become a new world power—Rome—while he himself develops from a man of ambiguous moral worth (a “traitor” or “other within”) to become the founding “father” of a new world.1 A series of “brief encounters” include not only his fated romance with Dido of Carthage (an encounter which tests his ability to put the greater good before personal happiness), but also his katabatic journey to the underworld and back.2 In this encounter, Aeneas confronts his own past in order to face the future and to discover his own identity and his role within it.


Military Leader Arthurian Epic Epic Hero Medieval Romance Roman Soldier 
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© Gail Ashton and Daniel T. Kline 2012

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  • Leslie Coote

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