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THEN King Arthur let send for all the children born on May-day, begotten of lords and born of ladies; for Merlin told King Arthur that he that should destroy him should be born on May-day, wherefore he sent for them all, upon pain of death; and so there were found many lords' sons, and all were sent unto the king, and so was Mordred sent by King Lot's wife, and all were put in a ship to the sea, and some were four weeks old, and some less. And so by fortune the ship drave unto a castle, and was all to-riven, and destroyed the most part, save that Mordred was cast up, and a good man found him, and nourished him till he was fourteen year old, and then he brought him to the court, as it rehearseth afterward, toward the end of the Death of Arthur.
In the so-called "Heroic Age" a hero was just someone who did great things. Hercules was a hero because he performed the Twelve Labors, and not because he did them from the goodness of his heart, which in fact he didn't. He did them as penance for killing his own family (in a madness that was visited on him by an outside force [his father's wife who hated him, and who happened to be a goddess], but that wasn't seen as mitigating circumstance in those days, except by forward-thinking logicians like Theseus).
Arthur's bout of herodism at Merlin's suggestion is a traditional element of the legend, but it's not compatible with the accepted definition of the word hero in these our post-Kryptonian times. And it makes no sense for Merlin to have advised him to do it when Merlin will have known it wouldn't work. Modern authors have found various ways around it - e.g. Mary Stewart in The Hollow Hills, in which Lot ordered the massacre, Morgause contrived to get the order attributed to Arthur, and Merlin started a successful rumor that it had been the wizard's bad advice. Others modify the motivation behind the event, or some of the players' motivations. T.H. White leaves it in and makes it a sticking point between Arthur and Mordred during their final days.
Balin's story cycle, however, is one of always doing the wrong things for the right reasons. For all his prowess I think Balin's an idiot, and I'd have left him out of my version of the legend entirely but for wanting the May Day fiasco to be somebody's other than Arthur's fault. And because I think the last gag he'll be in is clever.
(Before you ask: The reason "May Day" comes in March in AKOTAS is because AKOTAS characters have been given birthdays that are birthdays or anniversaries significant to me, and the birthday I've given to Mordred is March 22. But I run this gag today instead of March 22 because it's a Sunday gag.)
|Webcomics I read mornings: Peanuts, General Protection Fault, Achewood, Newshounds, Scary Go Round, Tux & Bunny, College Roommates from Hell!!!, Sinfest, Todd and Penguin, Kevin & Kell, Real Life||Webcomics I read M-W-F mornings: El Goonish Shive, Theater Hopper, Nukees, Girl Genius, Pibgorn, Ctrl+Alt+Del||Webcomics I read Tu-Th-Sa mornings: Digger, Crap I Drew On My Lunch Break, AppleGeeks, Orneryboy, Striptease, Penny Arcade|
|Webcomics I read middays: Calvin & Hobbes, Least I Could Do, User Friendly, Questionable Content, Starslip Crisis, Biggest Webcomic Loser, Schlock Mercenary, Anywhere But Here, Narbonic|
|Webcomics I read evenings: LuAnn, Count Your Sheep, Goats, Pearls Before Swine, For Better Or For Worse, Help Desk, American Elf, Loserz, Dandy & Company, Irregular Comic, Bruno, Shortpacked, Boxjam's Doodle, Sluggy Freelance||Webcomics I read M-W-F evenings: Reasoned Cognition, Two Lumps, Alice!, Order of the Stick, Gossamer Commons||Webcomics I read Tu-Th-Sa evenings: Casey & Andy, Girls With Slingshots, The Green Avenger, Get Out of My Head, Megatokyo|
|Webcomics I read bedtimes: B.C., Something Positive, The Angriest Rice Cooker In The World, Medium Large, Dinosaur Comics, Wapsi Square, Little Dee, PvP|
|Webcomics I read Sundays: The Daily Grind Iron Man Challenge, Butternut Squash, Dr. Devious vs Lincoln High, Checkerboard Nightmare, Nemesis, Journey Into History, Tailsteak, Smithson, No Room for Magic, 13 Seconds, Mister Bloo, The Whovian Observer, Ctrl+Alt+Del, Perry Bible Fellowship||See also Talk About Comics, The Belfry Comics Index, The Webcomic List, Nth Degree, 100% Originality Theatre, Comixpedia, The Living Comic and Websnark.|
Arthuriana sources I use or recommend:
Arthuriana - the Journal of Arthurian Studies; the website of the quarterly journal of the North American Branch of the International Arthurian Society.
The Camelot Project at the University of Rochester.
Camelot In Four Colors: A Survey of the Arthurian Legend in Comics
Mystical-WWW - The Arthurian A2Z knowledge Bank which has encyclopedically-arranged entries on the characters of the Arthurian legends.
Le Morte Darthur: Sir Thomas Malory's Book of King Arthur and of his Noble Knights of the Round Table, Volume 1 and Volume 2.