The Arondight at a Glance
What is Arondight, and why is it significant in Arthurian mythology?
Arondight is the sword of Sir Lancelot, one of King Arthur’s knights, known for its power to slice through steel and its association with honor, bravery, and chivalry.
What is the origin of Arondight, and who owned it in Arthurian legends?
The name Arondight does not appear in any official Arthurian text, but it is associated with Lancelot’s sword. In some stories, the Lady of the Lake gives Arondight to Lancelot, while in others, it is Guinevere who presents it to him.
How powerful is Arondight in Arthurian legends?
Arondight is considered a powerful and enchanted sword, able to stand against Arthur’s magical sword, Excalibur. Lancelot becomes the strongest and bravest knight at the Round Table after wielding Arondight.
What was the original name of Arondight in Arthurian legends?
In the Vulgate Cycle, a collection of Arthurian legends, Lancelot’s sword is more often called “Secace” or “Seure.” The sword Secace is associated with Lancelot’s fight against the Saxons at Saxon Rock in pre-cycle Lancelot legends.
Arondight was the sword of King Arthur’s most “trusted” knight, Sir Lancelot, in the Arthurian legends. Legend has it that Arondight could slice through steel like it was made of cotton and emitted a blinding light whenever it was in the company of its adversaries. The Lady of the Lake, who also handed King Arthur the legendary sword Excalibur, presented Arondight to Lancelot. Arondight, like Excalibur, is often linked with the ideals of honor, bravery, and chivalry because of its prominence in Arthurian mythology.
Significance of Arondight
Lancelot, a Knight of the Round Table in Arthurian mythology, is said to have wielded the fabled sword Arondight. The roots and meaning of the name “arondight” are unknown at this point in time.
Although he was the son of King Ban of Brittany, Lancelot as a character was essentially a Germanic fabrication. He was also given a French name at an early age, Lancelot du Lac.
According to French folklore, he was raised by the Lady of the Lake, who not only taught the young Lancelot the ways of the knight but also provided him with a formidable sword called Arondight.
Others say that the beautiful and adulterous Guinevere gave Lancelot Arondight in the hopes that the sword would shield him from harm in battle since Arondight possessed great powers. With Arondight, Lancelot became the strongest and bravest knight at the Round Table.
The other variations of this cold edged sword are Ar’ondight, Arondite, and Aroundight.
Arondight in the Arthurian Legend
The youthful Lancelot, at first known simply as the nameless White Knight (Chevalier Blanc), rides into Arthur’s realm of Logres with the Lady of the Lake in order to be knighted by the king.
In addition to the lance, the sword Arondight, the tent, and the mirror, the Lady (or later, Guinevere) gives Lancelot a few other charmed objects with special powers. In the 13th-century novel Lancelot-Grail, she and her maids remain at his side throughout.
The White Knight in the Lancelot-Grail eventually takes on the name of his grandfather, King Lancelot. In the later versions, when Lancelot first meets King Arthur, he is unaware of the king’s true identity and nearly manages to kill him with his Arondight against Arthur’s Excalibur.
This alone shows how powerful the Arondight is and proves that it was an enchanted sword that could stand against Arthur’s magical sword.
Both this battle and the one with King Pellinor pose the greatest threat to Arthur throughout the cycle. Because Arthur should only wield his sword Excalibur when there is a threat against the realm.
As a reward for freeing the king’s nephew Gawain from enemy captivity, Arthur makes Lancelot a member of the Round Table. Wielding his Arondight, Lancelot becomes the strongest and bravest knight of the Round Table.
Origin of Arondight
“Sir Bevis of Hampton,” a Middle English novel, is the earliest appearance of Arondight in the literature, and the novel is not even close to being Arthurian. In the novel, Arondight is actually held by not Lancelot but Sir Guy of Warwick:
A sword he took of mickle [great] might,
That was ycleped [named] Aroundight;
It was Launcelot’s du Lake,
Therwith he slew the fire-drake.Specimens of Early English Metrical Romances, p. 171.
The poet states that Lancelot was the rightful owner of Arondight, and Sir Guy of Warwick is the one who used the sword. The English hero and traveler Guy of Warwick had several adventures around the globe in the 10th century.
Among other notable swords, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow includes Lancelot of the Lake’s sword Arondight in “Tales of a Wayside Inn” (1863):
It is the sword of a good knight,
Though homespun was his mail,
What matter if it not be hight,
Joyeuse, Colada, Durindale,
Excalibar, or Aroundight?
There is actually no proper mention of Arondight in any official Arthurian texts. However, the name Arondight likely stuck around because it was referenced in a group with other popular swords like Joyeuse (the sword of Charlemagne), “Excalibar,” “Durindale” (Durendal, the sword of Roland), and “Colada” (The sword of El Cid).
The Original Name of the Sword
Lancelot’s sword is more often called “Secace” or “Seure” in the Vulgate Cycle (or Lancelot-Grail). According to the legends of the pre-cycle Lancelot, he fought the Saxons at Saxon Rock with the sword Secace.
Gastiga Folli (“chastiser of fools”) is the name of Lancelot’s sword in “L’Aspramont,” an Italian romance written in the 14th century. Altachiara and Chiarenza are the monikers given to Lancelot’s sword after they were used in later books by other heroes.
The youthful King Arthur in the 14th-century French romance “Le Chevalier au papegau” (“The Knight with the Papegau”) has a sword called “Chastiefol,” which means chastiser of fools as well.
Some later books have Lancelot’s sword called Joyeuse or Joyeaux to match his fortress “Joyous Gard”. This name might be derived from Charlemagne, who is also mentioned in the poem “The Song of Roland”.
It’s a novel or at least unusual theory that Arondight is really Lancelot’s sword. In the standard version of Arthurian legend, Arondight is never mentioned in relation to Lancelot.
Lancelot’s sword is always referred to as Seure or Secace in classic Arthurian literature. The obscure Middle English tale Sir Bevis of Hampton is the sole source of historical evidence linking Arondight to Lancelot.
Arondight in Popular Culture
Many movies and TV shows based on the Arthurian legend include Lancelot brandishing his sword. A few of them are:
- Sword of Lancelot, 1963 movie.
- Knights of the Round Table, 1953 movie.
- The Adventures of Sir Lancelot, 1956–1957 TV series.
- Excalibur, 1981 movie.
- George Ellis, Specimens of Early English Metrical Romances, Chiefly Written During the Early Part of the Fourteent, 1811 (Google Books), p. 171
- The Project Gutenberg eBook of Tales of a Wayside Inn, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
- Encyclopedia of Mythological Objects – Theresa Bane – Google Books