Rewriting the Holy Grail: The Grail-Hero (From Arthurian Romance to Pop Culture)

Ana Rita Martins

Abstract


Usually identified as the dish, plate or cup used by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper, the Holy Grail is, since the late twelfth century, a key part of the Arthurian Cycle. Although some authors (such as R.S. Loomis and J. Weston) have claimed its origin to rest in pagan traditions, the Holy Grail has become deeply intertwined with Christian myth, particularly with the legend of the Holy Chalice. In the earliest Arthurian romances the Grail-Hero(es) had to prove himself (themselves) physically and mentally worthy of finding the Holy Grail. However, in later retellings he (they) must also be pure and spiritually perfect. In modern adaptations, though, such
requirements are seemingly ignored so college professors, like Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Lost Crusade (1989), may find the Holy Grail. This paper aims at analyzing the role of the Grail-Heroes in Arthurian romance, identifying their main characteristics, how they evolved as well as to reflect upon and compare their features in contemporary
reinterpretations of the medieval sources.

Keywords: Holy Grail, Grail-Winner, Medieval Arthurian Romance, Medievalism.


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