Unit 14 Vocabulary Featuring Morte d Arthur Beatific Adj. Blissful; rendering or making blessed King Arthurs arrival back in England is anything but beatific when his illegitimate son, Mordred, meets him in battle, killing his nephew, Sir Gawain, in the fight. SYNONYMS: rapturous, ecstatic,
transcendent, serene ANTONYMS: disconsolate, dejected, doleful Beatific Adj. King Arthurs beatific sleep is rudely interrupted by two foreshadowing dreams that are deeply troubling. One dream involves a pit of snakes, worms, and terrifying beasts while the other nightmare comes as a warning from the dead Sir Gawain.
Behemoth N. A creature of enormous size, power, or appearance For all we know, the arm reaching up out of the lake to grab Excalibur could have belonged to a behemoth like the Loch Ness monster. SYNONYMS: mammoth, whale, elephant, colossus ANTONYMS: dwarf, pygmy, midget
Behemoth adj. (as used here) When King Arthurs illegitimate son, Mordred, makes an attempt to take control of England, he creates a monstrous or behemothsized problem for King Arthur, ultimately ending in death for both of them.
Blandishment N. Anything designed to flatter or coax; sweet talk, apple-polishing King Arthur is not one to give in to blandishments from others and does not listen to Sir Lucan who tries to coax him out of fighting Mordred. SYNONYMS: allurement, enticement, cajolery ANTONYMS: threat, intimidation
Blandishment N. When King Arthur receives the warning from dead Sir Gawain not to fight Mordred the next day, he sends some of his best men to talk with Mordred, offering blandishments of land and goods as needed to cajole Mordred into a peace treaty agreement for a month.
Cacophonous Adj. Harsh-sounding, discordant The chaotic battle that ensues after a sword is drawn echoes with cacophonous sounds of knights rushing, riding, lunging, and striking until everyone is dead, except for Mordred, King Arthur, Sir Lucan, and Sir Bedivere. SYNONYMS: Raucous, dissonant ANTONYMS: Harmonious, melodious Cacophonous Adj.
After Sir Lucan and Sir Bedivere carry King Arthur into a chapel, Arthur sends Sir Lucan out to see what is causing the cacophonous noise on the battlefield where everyone lays dead. Sir Lucan returns with the disturbing report that the villagers are pillaging the dead bodies in search for valuables. Chicanery N. Deceptive practices or tactics, doubledealing While King Arthur is gone to France, Mordred
uses underhanded means or chicanery to take control of England in his fathers absence. SYNONYM: trickery ANTONYM: fair dealing Chicanery N. Sir Bedivere is known for his chicanery when he deceptively chooses to hide
Excalibur instead of obeying King Arthurs command to throw the sword into the lake. Consign V. To give over to anothers care, charge, or control; to entrust, deliver; to set apart for a special use When King Arthur hands over Excalibur to Sir Bedivere, he consigns its well-being to his knights care, expecting his orders to be obeyed. SYNONYMS: transfer, remit, convey
Consign V. In the end, King Arthur consigns to Sir Bedivere the duty of praying for his soul, should Sir Bedivere never see King Arthur alive
again. Coup N. (pronounced Coo) A highly successful stroke, masterstroke, act, plan, or stratagem; a sudden takeover of power or leadership Mordred plans his coup to take over England
while his father is gone to France to punish Lancelot for Lancelots wrongful relationship with Queen Guenevere. SYNONYM: tour de force ANTONYMS: blunder, faux pas, gaffe Coup N. The way the final battle begins is anything but a coup; instead, it is
actually a gaffe where a knight simply pulls out his sword to kill a snake that has bitten him on the foot. Since both Mordred and King Arthur have told their men to fight to the death at the sign of the first drawn sword, the deadly (pronounced Coo)
battle begins, all because of a faux pas. Euphemism N. A mild or inoffensive expression used in place of a harsh or unpleasant one; a substitute Common euphemisms for die include the expressions pass away and go to the other side; in Morte d Arthur, the queens who come for King Arthur are to take him to an island to be healed, possibly a euphemism for heaven or paradise.
Synonyms: substitution, pretense Antonyms: directness, conciseness Euphemism N. The text for Morte d Arthur states that Mordred dashed downto the earth, a kind of euphemism indicating that Mordred falls down stark dead.
Febrile Adj. Pertaining to or marked by fever; frenetic The longer Sir Bedivere waits to do King Arthurs bidding, the more febrile the king becomes, finally proclaiming that he is growing cold. SYNONYM: feverish ANTONYMS: leisurely, relaxed Febrile Adj.
Though Mordred is fatally wounded, in his final febrile moment, he plunges his sword with frenetic intensity through his fathers helmet, piercing the casing of King Arthurs brain.
Gainsay V. To deny, controvert; to dispute There are many who gainsay the belief that King Arthur is actually dead. They believe he was carried away by our Lord Jesu into another place[and] that he shall come again. SYNONYMS: contradict, oppose ANTONYMS: confirm, corroborate, support, admit Gainsay[er] N. There are other
gainsayers who believe King Arthur never even existed but is simply a legendary hero similar to our own superheroes today, such as Superman and Spiderman. (as used here) Imminent Adj.
About to happen, threatening The dead Sir Gawain warns King Arthur in a dream that should he choose to do battle against Mordred the next day, his own death is imminent. SYNONYMS: impending, looming ANTONYMS: distant, remote, faraway Imminent Adj.
When King Arthur is finally able to convince Sir Bedivere that his death is imminent, Bedivere carries him to the lake where the barge and queens meet them.
Innate Adj. Natural, inborn, inherent; built-in Sir Lucan has an innate loyalty to King Arthur, trying to stop him from fighting Mordred and even sacrificing his own life to help his wounded king. SYNONYMS: intrinsic, congenital ANTONYMS: learned, acquired, extrinsic, accidental Innate Adj.
Sir Bediveres loyalty to his king is not as innate as that of his brother, Lucans. Otherwise, he would have followed his kings orders the first time when told to throw Excalibur into the water. In the end, however, his own innate loyalty causes him to spend the rest of his life in prayer for King Arthurs soul. Loath Adj.
Unwilling, reluctant, disinclined Though King Arthur knows that his death has been predicted should he fight that day, he is loath to listen when Sir Lucan advises him against fighting Mordred. SYNONYMS: averse, indisposed ANTONYMS: willing, eager, inclined Loath Adj.
Sir Bedivere is loath to part with the beautiful sword, Excalibur, and is even willing to lie to his dying king to try to keep it from vanishing into the lake. Manifest Adj. Clear, evident to the eyes or mind It is manifest to Mordred that he has to lean into his mortal wound to
bestow the death blow to his father, King Arthur. SYNONYM: apparent ANTONYM: unrevealed Manifest V. To show plainly, exhibit, evince When Sir Lucan manifests signs of death and starts foaming at the mouth, Sir Bedivere grieves the loss of his brother. SYNONYMS: reveal, disclose
ANTONYMS: hide, conceal Manifest N. A list of cargo and/or passengers It is doubtful that anyone has ever seen a manifest, like the Titanics list here, revealing the names of the knights who fell in that final famous battle where
all were killed on both sides, except one. Minutiae Pl. N. Small or trivial details, trifling matters Even in his death, King Arthur is concerned with minutiae, sending Sir Lucan to check out the relatively unimportant sounds he hears coming from the battlefield, littered with dead bodies. SYNONYMS: trivia, trifles
ANTONYM: essentials Minutiae Pl. N. I am not suggesting that looting and pillaging dead bodies for valuables is actually minutiae, but the
fact that King Arthur is concerned with noises while he is dying seems a rather trivial matter at such a grave time. (Pun intended) Moratorium N. A suspension of activity; an official waiting period; an authorized period of delay King Arthur sends some of his knights to meet with Mordred to negotiate a moratorium or a
one-month delay of the battle. SYNONYMS: postponement, stoppage ANTONYMS: acceleration, escalation Moratorium N. The moratorium of the battle between father and son is null and void as soon as the knight pulls out his sword to kill a snake.
Nostrum N. An alleged cure-all; a remedy or scheme of questionable effectiveness Apparently, the island of Avalon is not quite the nostrum the queens had hoped it would be for the healing of King Arthur. SYNONYMS: panacea, elixir Nostrum N.
Queen Morgan Le Fay weeps over her brothers fatal wound, stating that he has already begun to grow cold, apparently realizing the nostrum available to King Arthur will probably fail to heal him.
Pariah N. One who is rejected by a social group or organization Some of Mordreds problems likely stem from the fact that he is a societal pariah as the illegitimate son of King Arthur. SYNONYMS: Outcast, untouchable, persona non grata Pariah N.
One who feels him or herself to be an outcast or a pariah of society is more likely to cause problems, just as the illegitimate Mordred endeavors when he usurps control of England, turning traitor.
Visionary Adj. Not practical, lacking in realism; having the nature of a fantasy or dream While some do not put much faith in a visionary wheel of fortune nightmare, it seems to be a foreshadowing of King Arthurs death. SYNONYMS: idealistic, impractical ANTONYMS: realistic, practical
Visionary N. One given to far-fetched ideas; a dreamer or seer characterized by vision or foresight The second part of King Arthurs dream is brought to him by a visionary, the dead Sir Gawain, who warns him not to fight the next day. SYNONYMS: dreamer, seer Wizened Adj. Part. Dry, shrunken, wrinkled (often as the
result of aging) One often thinks of Merlin the Magician as a wizened old wizard. SYNONYMS: withered, shriveled ANTONYMS: bloated, distended Wizened Adj. Part. The hermit who is formerly
known as the bishop of Canterbury may have been a wizened old man, though we are not told his age. We are told, however, that Sir Bedivere spends the rest of his life praying for King Arthurs soulthus he grows into a wiser, wizened old man.
And many men say that there is written upon the tomb this: HIC IACET ARTHURUS, REX QUONDAM, REXQUE FUTURUS. (Here Lies Arthur, who was once king and king will be again.) THE END
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