King Arthur is a legendary British leader of the late 5th and early 6th centuries, who, according to medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the early 6th century. The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and the roles of historical figures who might have provided the basis for some of these legends are debated and disputed by modern historians.
- For the 2005 film, see King Arthur (film)
- Quotes of Arthur, as portrayed in various works of fiction, sorted alphabetically by source
- Ask ev'ry person if he's heard the story;
And tell it strong and clear if he has not:
That once there was a fleeting wisp of glory
- It seems some of the drops sparkle, Pelly. Some of them do sparkle!
- Ready my knights for battle. They will ride with their king once more. I have lived through others for far too long. Lancelot carried my honor, and Guenevere, my guilt. Mordred bears my sins. My knights have fought my causes. Now, my brother, I shall be... king.
- I must ride with my knights to defend what was, and the dream of what could be.
- One day, a King will come, and the Sword will rise... again.
- What happiness to reign a lonely king,
Vext — O ye stars that shudder over me,
O earth that soundest hollow under me,
Vext with waste dreams? for saving I be joined
To her that is the fairest under heaven,
I seem as nothing in the mighty world,
And cannot will my will, nor work my work
Wholly, nor make myself in mine own realm
Victor and lord. But were I joined with her,
Then might we live together as one life,
And reigning with one will in everything
Have power on this dark land to lighten it,
And power on this dead world to make it live.
- I found Him in the shining of the stars,
I marked Him in the flowering of His fields,
But in His ways with men I find Him not.
I waged His wars, and now I pass and die.
- O me! for why is all around us here
As if some lesser god had made the world,
But had not force to shape it as he would,
Till the High God behold it from beyond,
And enter it, and make it beautiful?
Or else as if the world were wholly fair,
But that these eyes of men are dense and dim,
And have not power to see it as it is:
Perchance, because we see not to the close; —
For I, being simple, thought to work His will,
And have but stricken with the sword in vain;
And all whereon I leaned in wife and friend
Is traitor to my peace, and all my realm
Reels back into the beast, and is no more.
My God, thou hast forgotten me in my death;
Nay — God my Christ — I pass but shall not die.
- The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
- If thou shouldst never see my face again,
Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice
Rise like a fountain for me night and day.
For what are men better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
Both for themselves and those who call them friend?
- O merciful God, I have such need of Your mercy now. Not for myself, but for my knights, for this is truly their hour of need. Deliver them from their trials ahead and I will pay You a thousand fold with any sacrifice You ask of me. And if in Your wisdom, You should determine that sacrifice must be my life for theirs; so that they can once again taste the freedom that is so long been denied to them, I will gladly make that covenant. My death will have a purpose. I ask no more than that.
- Knights! The gift of freedom is yours by right. But the home we seek resides not in some distant land. It's in us! And in our actions on this day! If this be our destiny, then so be it. But let history remember that as free men, we chose to make it so.
- In the midst of the lake Arthur was ware of an arm clothed in white samite, that held a fair sword in that hand.
- Bot of alle þat here bult, of Bretaygne kynges,
Ay watz Arthur þe hendest, as I haf herde telle.
- But of all that here built, of Britain kings,
It was Arthur the noblest, as I have heard tell.
- Line 25, Sir Gawayn and þe Grene Knyȝt
- But of all that here built, of Britain kings,
- The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. That is why I am your king.
- Don't ever let anybody teach you to think, Lance: it is the curse of the world.
- My name's Arthur, but everyone calls me Wart.
- Just because you can't understand something, it doesn't mean it's wrong!
- I'm in an awful pickle! I'm King!
Quotes about Arthur
- Sorted alphabetically by author or source
- At that time, the Saxons grew strong by virtue of their large number and increased in power in Britain. Hengist having died, however, his son Octha crossed from the northern part of Britain to the kingdom of Kent and from him are descended the kings of Kent. Then Arthur along with the kings of Britain fought against them in those days, but Arthur himself was the military commander [dux bellorum]. His first battle was at the mouth of the river which is called Glein. His second, third, fourth, and fifth battles were above another river which is called Dubglas and is in the region of Linnuis. The sixth battle was above the river which is called Bassas. The seventh battle was in the forest of Celidon, that is Cat Coit Celidon. The eighth battle was at the fortress of Guinnion, in which Arthur carried the image of holy Mary ever virgin on his shoulders; and the pagans were put to flight on that day. And through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and through the power of the blessed Virgin Mary his mother there was great slaughter among them. The ninth battle was waged in the City of the Legion. The tenth battle was waged on the banks of a river which is called Tribruit. The eleventh battle was fought on the mountain which is called Agnet. The twelfth battle was on Mount Badon in which there fell in one day 960 men from one charge by Arthur; and no one struck them down except Arthur himself, and in all the wars he emerged as victor.
- Anonymous author of Historia Brittonum (c. 828, traditionally credited to Nennius), this is the first historical reference to Arthur, as translated by Alan Lupack in The History of the Britons (Historia Brittonum) · The Camelot Project
- On a lonely sword leaned he,
Like Arthur on Excalibur
In the battle by the sea.
- King Arthur had a dream, too. Of a world where might served right, instead of subjugating it. His knights of the Round Table were the agents of that dream … and his sword, Excalibur, the Symbol of it. He died, the table was destroyed, his knights mostly slain — yet the dream survived. They became legend — and the sword, the means of keeping the legend alive and vital through the ages. … The sword Excalibur, represented Hope. It was light in the darkness of fear and ignorance and hate. Do we want — have we the right — to snuff it out?
- My father told me great tales of you. … Fairy tales. The kind you hear about people so brave, so selfless, that they can't be real. Arthur and his knights. A leader both Briton and Roman.
- For two hundred years knights have fought and died for a land not our own. But on that day at Badon Hill, all who fought put our lives in service of a greater cause: Freedom. And as for the knights who gave their lives, their deaths were cause for neither mourning nor sadness. For they live forever, their names and deeds handed down from father to son, mother to daughter, in the legends of King Arthur and his knights.
- I picked up and balanced them all... and found there the blade that suited me the way Excalibur suited Arthur.
- You can't expect to wield supreme power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!
- For many a petty king ere Arthur came
Ruled in this isle, and ever waging war
Each upon other, wasted all the land;
And still from time to time the heathen host
Swarmed overseas, and harried what was left.
- And so there grew great tracts of wilderness,
Wherein the beast was ever more and more,
But man was less and less, till Arthur came.
- Sir, there be many rumours on this head:
For there be those who hate him in their hearts,
Call him baseborn, and since his ways are sweet,
And theirs are bestial, hold him less than man:
And there be those who deem him more than man,
And dream he dropt from heaven
- And Arthur and his knighthood for a space
Were all one will, and through that strength the King
Drew in the petty princedoms under him,
Fought, and in twelve great battles overcame
The heathen hordes, and made a realm and reigned.
- Know ye not then the Riddling of the Bards?
Confusion, and illusion, and relation,
Elusion, and occasion, and evasion?
I mock thee not but as thou mockest me,
And all that see thee, for thou art not who
Thou seemest, but I know thee who thou art.
And now thou goest up to mock the King,
Who cannot brook the shadow of any lie.
- Now I see thee what thou art,
Thou art the highest and most human too,
Not Lancelot, nor another. Is there none
Will tell the King I love him though so late?
Now — ere he goes to the great Battle? none:
Myself must tell him in that purer life,
But now it were too daring. Ah my God,
What might I not have made of thy fair world,
Had I but loved thy highest creature here?
It was my duty to have loved the highest:
It surely was my profit had I known:
It would have been my pleasure had I seen.
We needs must love the highest when we see it.
- Whoso Pulleth Out the Sword of the Stone and Anvil, is Rightwise King Born of All England.
- Inscription on The Sword in the Stone (1938) by T.H. White