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Zac Barker in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, photo courtesy Warner Bros.
Zac Barker in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, photo courtesy Warner Bros.

Saved by the Boat

Still, when Vortigern sacrifices his wife to the Syren, it pays impressive dividends: He kills Uther and becomes king, promptly turning Britain into a place that looks like Mordor. He would’ve killed a young Arthur, too, but the 2-year-old kid is placed in a tiny boat and sails away. It drifts until a passel of women find it by the side of the river, discover its precious cargo and decide to raise young Arthur themselves.

Now, Arthur’s not the only child-hero to float away from danger as a baby or child. There are plenty, in fact. But the scene reminded me most forcefully of Moses.

Just like the British people under Vortigern, Moses’ own people, the Israelites, were being oppressed by an evil king. But the king—or pharaoh, rather—was threatened by all these Israelites, too, so he decided to kill every male newborn he could. Moses escaped this grisly fate by being placed in a papyrus basket and floated down the river. He was eventually found by a bevy of women himself, most importantly Pharaoh’s own daughter. And she raised the boy as her own.

Just as Moses would one day return to become the savior of his people, so Arthur—rightful king of Britain—was saved to make his own remarkable return.

But both were reluctant saviors.

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