Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Roundtable is a Mythological Symbol, y'know

Round Table in Arthurian legend, the table of Arthur, Britain's legendary king, which was first mentioned in Wace of Jersey's Roman de Brut (1155). This told of King Arthur's having a round table made so that none of his barons, when seated at it, could claim precedence over the others. The literary importance of the Round Table, especially in romances of the 13th century and afterward, lies in the fact that it served to provide the knights of Arthur's court with a name and a collective personality. The fellowship of the Round Table, in fact, became comparable to, and in many respects the prototype of, the many great orders of chivalry that were founded in Europe during the later Middle Ages. By the late 15th century, when Sir Thomas Malory wrote his Le Morte Darthur, the notion of chivalry was inseparable from that of a great military brotherhood established in the household of some great prince.

[Source: Round Table.Encyclopedia Britannica, Standard Edition. Chicago: 2008.]

A roundtable, then, is a living, breathing, debating, mandala, originally bent to the purposes of medieval European militaristic patriarchy, now being transformed into a living, breathing, debating Vessel of self-governance.

Navajo sand painting, c. 1940. In the Denver Art Museum, Colorado. 115 x 111 cm.

Courtesy of the Denver Art Museum, Colorado

[Source: sand painting: Navajo sand painting. Encyclopedia Britannica, Standard Edition. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica. 2008.]

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