Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Excalibur

Debatably the most famous of all swords, Excalibur was the sword held by Arthur during his reign as High King of Britain.  Not to be mistaken for Clarent, The Sword in the Stone (See previous post C is for Clarent a.k.a. The Sword in the Stone).  Some legends regarding the role of the swords overlap causing confusion, and occasionally Clarent is completely replaced with Excalibur. Excalibur is described as having “two chimeras on the golden hilt; when the sword was unsheathed what was seen from the mouths of the two chimeras was like two flames of fire, so dreadful that it was not easy for anyone to look.” —From The Mabinogion as translated by Jeffrey Gantz.

When first drawn in battle to test Arthur’s sovereignty the blade gleamed bright, blinding his enemies with the light of thirty torches.  When wounded while wearing the scabbard of Excalibur, his wounds would not bleed and he would not falter or fall to such wounds as to make a man bleed.  It was this property of the scabbard that prompted Morgan le Fay to steal the scabbard and throw it into a lake, never to be found again.

Chief among its special qualities however was its supposed indestructibility. No blade could shatter it and never did it need sharpening. Some of the legends claim Excalibur could cut through the steel of another blade as easily as through wood.

When Arthur lies on his death bed, after suffering mortal wound inflicted by his illegitimate son Mordred with his previous sword Clarent, the Sword in the Stone, he asked Griflet son of Don, one the first Knights of the Round Table, to return Excalibur to The Lady of The Lake.  Twice does Griflet fail to throw the sword into the water, as he does not believe such a great sword should just be thrown away.  On the third attempt however he finally complies with the last wishes of Arthur and throws Excalibur into the lake.  The sword is caught by the hand of the Lady and is taken down into the depths of the lake.


  1. There are so many great stories and myths about Excalibur and it's famous wielder that in fact, I hope we never know the truth and can instead dream about the possibilities.

    Found you through the A to Z challenge - good luck and I hope I can keep up too!

  2. I had completely forgotten about the properties of the scabbard. Come to think of it I think many magic weapons could benefit from a magical scabbard. With one or the other you would be a great force but with both you would be unstoppable. Thus keeping the two relics apart is the goal of the hero's enemies.