Bulfinch’s Mythology, The Age of Chivalry
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Pages (PDF): 351
Publication Date: 1858
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The Age of Chivalry, or Legends of King Arthur is the second book in Bulfinch's Mythology, the first being The Age of Fable, or Stories of Gods and Heroes, and the third and last one being, Legends of Charlemagne, or Romance of the Middle Ages. Chapters include: The Mythical History of England; Arthur; Caradoc Briefbras; Or Caradoc With The Shrunken Arm; Sir Gawain; Launcelot Of The Lake; The Story Of Tristram Of Lyonesse; The Story Of Perceval; The Quest Of The Sangreal; Sir Agrivain’s Treason; Morte D’arthur; The Britons; The Lady Of The Fountain; Geraint, The Son Of Erbin; Pwyll, Prince Of Dyved; Branwen, The Daughter Of Llyr; Manawyddan; Kilwich And Olwen; Peredur, The Son Of Evrawc; Taliesin; King Richard And The Third Crusade; Robin Hood Of Sherwood Forest; Robin Hood And His Adventures; Chevy Chase; The Battle Of Otterbourne; and, Edward The Black Prince.
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ACCORDING to the earliest accounts, Albion, a giant, and son of Neptune, a contemporary of Hercules, ruled over the island, to which he gave his name. Presuming to oppose the progress of Hercules in his western march, he was slain by him.
Another story is that Histion, the son of Japhet, the son of Noah, had four sons,– Francus, Romanus, Alemannus, and Britto, from whom descended the French, Roman, German, and British people.
Rejecting these and other like stories, Milton gives more regard to the story of Brutus, the Trojan, which, he says, is supported by “descents of ancestry long continued laws and exploits not plainly seeming to be borrowed or devised, which on the common belief have wrought no small impression; defended by many, denied utterly by few.” The principal authority is Geoffrey of Monmouth, whose history, written in the twelfth century, purports to be a translation of a history of Britain, brought over from the opposite shore of France, which, under the name of Brittany, was chiefly peopled by natives of Britain, who from time to time emigrated thither, driven from their own country by the inroads of the Picts and Scots. According to this authority, Brutus was the son of Silvius, and he of Ascanius, the son of AEneas, whose flight from Troy and settlement in Italy will be found narrated in “The Age of Fable.”
Brutus, at the age of fifteen, attending his father to the chase, unfortunately killed him with an arrow. Banished therefor by his kindred, he sought refuge in that part of Greece where Helenus, with a band of Trojan exiles, had become established. But Helenus was now dead, and the descendants of the Trojans were oppressed by Pandrasus, the king of the country. Brutus, being kindly received among them, so throve in virtue and in arms as to win the regard of all the eminent of the land above all others of his age. In consequence of this the Trojans not only began to hope, but secretly to persuade him to lead them the way to liberty. To encourage them they had the promise of help from Assaracus, a noble Greek youth, whose mother was a Trojan. He had suffered wrong at the hands of the king, and for that reason the more willingly cast in his lot with the Trojan exiles.
Choosing a fit opportunity, Brutus with his countrymen withdrew to the woods and hills, as the safest place from which to expostulate, and sent this message to Pandrasus: “That the Trojans, holding it unworthy of their ancestors to serve in a foreign land, had retreated to the woods, choosing rather a savage life than a slavish one. If that displeased him, then, with his leave, they would depart to some other country.” Pandrasus, not expecting so bold a message from the sons of captives, went in pursuit of them, with such forces as he could gather, and met them on the banks of the Achelous, where Brutus got the advantage, and took the king captive. The result was, that the terms demanded by the Trojans were granted; the king gave his daughter Imogen in marriage to Brutus, and furnished shipping, money, and fit provision for them all to depart from the land.
The marriage being solemnized, and shipping from all parts got together, the Trojans, in a fleet of no less than three hundred and twenty sail, betook themselves to the sea. On the third day they arrived at a certain island, which they found destitute of inhabitants, though there were appearances of former habitation, and among the ruins a temple of Diana. Brutus, here performing sacrifice at the shrine of the goddess, invoked an oracle for his guidance, in these lines:–
“Goddess of shades, and huntress, who at will
Walk’st on the rolling sphere, and through the deep;
On thy third realm, the earth, look now and tell
What land, what seat of rest, thou bidd’st me seek;
What certain seat where I may worship thee
For aye, with temples vowed and virgin choirs.”
To whom, sleeping before the altar, Diana, in a vision thus answered:–
“Brutus! far to the west, in the ocean wide,
Beyond the realm of Gaul, a land there lies,
Seagirt it lies, where giants dwelt of old;
Now, void, it fits thy people: thither bend
Thy course; there shalt thou find a lasting seat;
There to thy sons another Troy shall rise,
And kings be born of thee, whose dreaded might
Shall save the world, and conquer nations bold.”
Brutus, guided now, as he thought, by Divine direction, sped his course towards the west, and, arriving at a place on the Tyrrhene sea, found there the descendants of certain Trojans who with Antenor came into Italy, of whom Corineus was the chief. These joined company, and the ships pursued their way till they arrived at the mouth of the river Loire, in France, where the expedition landed, with a view to a settlement, but were so rudely assaulted by the inhabitants that they put to sea again, and arrived at a part of the coast of Britain now called Devonshire, where Brutus felt convinced that he had found the promised end of his voyage, landed his colony, and took possession.
The island, not yet Britain, but Albion, was in a manner desert and inhospitable, occupied only by a remnant of the giant race whose excessive force and tyranny had destroyed the others. The Trojans encountered these and extirpated them, Corineus in particular signalizing himself by his exploits against them; from whom Cornwall takes its name, for that region fell to his lot, and there the hugest giants dwelt, lurking in rocks and caves, till Corineus rid the land of them.
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