Was Galahad really so boring?

Explorations in Arthurian History

As is the case with a number of the more famous characters in the Arthurian pantheon, Galahad is a later creation and so does not appear in historical investigation.

Some scholars identify him with Gwalhafed, a Welsh character mentioned in the Welsh tale Culhwch and Olwen.

Explorations in Arthurian Legends

Galahad was the supreme example of the pious knight: pure in mind, body, spirit, and intention. As such, he was a stark contrast to his famous father, Lancelot, begat him from a union with Elaine, with whom he was not married. From earthly sin would come perfection, it would seem.

One story even has Galahad drawing his own sword out of a stone. This took place when he sat in the Siege Perilous, a seat at the Round Table that was destined for the greatest knight in the world. Separate traditions say the Siege Perilous was destined for the Grail Knight. Many stories say Galahad was both.

He first appears in the Queste del Saint Graal, in which he performs various feats of bravery and daring and completes the double test of sword and seat mentioned above.

He it was who was ordained to fulfill the Grail Quest. He it is who sees the Holy Grail in its full glory. He dies of ecstasy after being shown the full mystery and majesty of the Grail. On the way, he does many wonderful things, including healing the wounded Grail King.

Galahad was the Grail writers' idea of perfection: an equal mix of strength at arms and strength in spirit. He is amazingly physically attractive as well and is sought by many ladies; but he remains virginal all his life, in waiting for the Grail.

He is everything the writers hoped Lancelot would be.

See also

Literature of the Legends: The Vulgate Cycle

Frequently Asked Questions:

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Who was the Lady of the Lake?

Was Galahad really so boring?

Did Perceval see the Holy Grail or didn't he?

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Was Morgause to blame for all of Arthur's troubles?

Was the Sword really in the Stone?

Did the Round Table really seat 1,600 men?

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