Inside the compilation of mythical stories of King Arthur and His Knights of theRound Table, retold by Roger Green, and Heroes, Gods, and Monsters of the GreekMyths, two major characters in each story that could be expressed in similar andcontrasting ways are Arthur, the king and head of the knights of the RoundTable, and Zeus, the supreme leader of all gods and mortals. Similarresemblances that can be found in both is their shadowy lineage, their majormortal flaws, and their nature to journey on epic quests. Even though they werevery similar in some aspects, the two were also very different in other means. Arthur is much more kind to his people and cares about them, while Zeus does notview his subjects as worthy of him and treats them unjustly.
An additionaldifference is Arthur is more mild and not taking harsh action all the time,though Zeus is known for being severe. There are many similarities as well asdifferences that are attributed to these two mythical characters. Arthur andZeus can be noted for their mysterious childhood and ways they were treated atinfancy. Both had prophesies of prosperity that led them into adulthood.
WhenArthur was born, Uther Pendragon, the leader of the Britons, killed a man andmarried his wife, Igrayne. Uther and Igrayne had one child, but not much longerafter it was born, Merlin the enchanter took him away. Soon after, the boy wasplaced in the arms of Sir Ector, a noble knight. Later, the youth pulled thesword out of a stone that proclaimed that he was the king of all Britain.
Thisyoung man would later on grow up to be King Arthur. Not unlike Arthur, Zeus alsohad a unnatural background. Before Zeus was born, there was a prophecy thatstated that Cronos, the king of all gods, would be overthrown by one of hissons. When Zeus was born, he was concealed from his father. As time went by,Zeus waged a war against Cronos and defeated him.
Though Zeus and Arthur camefrom entirely different locations and times, their childhood’s were related onaccount of both of them being hazy. Even though some might not consider eitherof the two “mortal”, Arthur and Zeus had very notable human-like flaws. Theyboth seemed to rush to judgements hastily, and were very passionate towardswomen. When Arthur hears about King Pellinore and how he is shamelessly killingknights, Arthur runs off to fight. Obviously, Arthur does not give himself timeto think, and would have died if it was not for Merlin.
Another example would bewhen Arthur runs off to the Castle of Tarn Wathelyne and pays no heed to SirGawain’s warnings. King Arthur ends up being tricked by Morgana Le Fay andwould perish save a horrid woman who forced Sir Gawain to marry her for KingArthur’s life. Many times King Arthur would have been killed if it weren’tfor his friends such as Merlin and Sir Gawain. Zeus showed the samecharacteristic even though it played no part in death for himself. The mightygod jumped to his feet and killed when he found out that Ascelpsius was curingmortals headed to the underworld. Later, Zeus regretted his act of terror andbrought Ascelpsius back to life.
Passionate feelings for other women, and desirefor romance were huge faults in Arthur and Zeus. Arthur’s feelings forGuinevere led to the downfall of the Logres. At first, when Arthur saw Guinevere,he immediately fell in love with her. Through carelessness and desire forromance, Arthur neglected Merlin’s advice of not marrying the queen.
WhenGuinevere and Lancelot had an affair, a war started, and the realm wasdestroyed. In Zeus’ case, the gods are not affected by romantic affairs, butthe mortals they make love with are affected. Zeus approached many differentgods or mortals, even though he is already married to Hera. Hera occasionallyfollowed Zeus, and punished the ones with whom he had affairs.
The mythicalfigures Arthur and Zeus both have major moral flaws: rashness and crave forpassion. King Arthur and Zeus are best known for their epic quests andaccomplishments. The two figures seem to be born for the reason to journey onadventures. At age sixteen, Arthur ruled as the king of all Britons. Heimmediately set forth to drive all of the Saxons out of the island of Britain.
This could be considered his first major quest. During his life span, Arthurwould set out on many quests to retrieve, and to kill. He journeyed to KingPellinore’s land to fight, and he fought his final battle against Sir Mordred. He died while fulfilling his last quest; killing Mordred. Zeus started hisadventures immediately after he was born and hidden from his father, Cronos. Zeus led a battle, and defeated Cronos and his army of Titans.
Afterwards, Zeuswas not as concerned about adventuring out to enforce laws, but he desiredpassion. Though Zeus only journeyed on crusades very few times, he and Arthurare known for the ways they both mythically adventured on quests. The two greatfigures, Arthur and Zeus, have many similarities; yet the pair is very differenton their attitudes of ruling their subjects. The King of the Logres had a verylaid back ruling style. He enforces laws, but is very lenient and he lets thepeople live freely. After Arthur was crowned king, he set the rules of nobilityand honor.
His main concern was his own generosity and his leadership. Arthurknew that he was not the strongest or the best of the knights, but he was one ofthe purest. He knew that he could not lead his knights with an iron fist or elsethey would rebel against him. On the other hand, Zeus, was a very harsh,all-mighty dictator.
He was the strongest and controlled all mortals and theirdestiny. Zeus has only one way of thinking, his way. When Prometheus asks himabout man’s suffering without fire, he casually explains that man is happy nowwithout fire and the dismisses Prometheus with a warning. Zeus’ desire is tohave all of the mortals’ and immortals’ lives in his grasp. He does not likethe idea of not being in control.
While Arthur is trying to set up a harmoniousliving space, Zeus is being very harsh and unforgiving towards his people. Ironically, it turns out that Arthur fails in his mission to set up a peacefullocation after corruption strikes, while the subjects of Zeus turn out to becontent at the moment. Arthur, the mythical figure who arose from the Dark Ages,and Zeus, the Greek King that ruled over the people, can be compared togethervery easily or can be contrasted easily too. Both Arthur and Zeus had mysteriousorigins, moral flaws, and their everlasting pursuit of quests. They also haddistinctive and opposite styles of ruling their people. The attributes match upvery closely for these two great mythical figures, yet they both had differentoutcomes in their lives.