Legendary King Arthur: The Post-Galfridian Characters

The tales of King Arthur are filled with a rich tapestry of heroes and villains, each contributing to the depth and complexity of the Arthurian legend. These characters embody various virtues and flaws, creating a dynamic and often morally complex narrative. Here’s a look at some of the key heroes and villains:


  1. King Arthur: The central hero, Arthur is depicted as the ideal king, embodying bravery, leadership, and chivalry. His reign is often portrayed as a golden age of peace and justice.
  2. Sir Lancelot: One of the most skilled knights of the Round Table, Lancelot is renowned for his courage, prowess in battle, and loyalty to Arthur. However, his affair with Queen Guinevere leads to personal and kingdom-wide tragedy.
  3. Sir Gawain: Known for his strength, courtesy, and compassion, Gawain is one of Arthur’s most loyal knights. He is a key figure in several stories, including the famous “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.”
  4. Sir Galahad: The son of Lancelot, Galahad is often depicted as the purest and most virtuous knight, destined to achieve the Holy Grail quest due to his spiritual purity.
  5. Merlin: A wizard and Arthur’s advisor, Merlin is instrumental in establishing his kingship. He is a figure of wisdom but also of mystery, often using his magical powers to guide and protect Arthur and his knights.


  1. Morgan le Fay: Arthur’s half-sister, a powerful enchantress often portrayed as one of his chief adversaries. She is complex, sometimes aiding Arthur, but more often working against him, driven by jealousy and vengeance.
  2. Mordred: Arthur’s nephew and, in many versions, his illegitimate son. He betrays Arthur and leads to the downfall of Camelot, embodying treachery and ambition.
  3. Modredus (or Modred): Sometimes differentiated from Mordred, he is depicted as a traitor who challenges Arthur’s authority and contributes to the disintegration of his kingdom.
  4. The Green Knight: In “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” he is a mysterious and supernatural figure who tests the knights’ bravery and integrity. While not a traditional villain, his challenge reveals the moral complexities and challenges faced by Arthur’s knights.
  5. Various Saxons and Other Invaders: Many tales involve battles against Saxons or other invading forces, portraying them as antagonists to Arthur’s rule. These conflicts are often used to highlight the bravery and unity of Arthur and his knights.

Ambiguous Characters:

  • Guinevere: While not a villain, Queen Guinevere’s affair with Lancelot creates internal strife within Camelot, leading to its downfall. Her character often embodies both loyalty and betrayal, love and tragedy.

The Arthurian legends are notable for their moral ambiguity; characters often exhibit both virtuous and flawed aspects, reflecting the complexity of human nature. This nuanced portrayal is part of what has made these tales enduring and compelling across the ages.