Fisher King  

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"A common theme among mythological kings are the king's wounds, sacrifice and (sometimes) death for the betterment of the people. The Fisher King is an example of theme of the "wounded king.""--Sholem Stein

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

In Arthurian legend, the Fisher King, also known as the Wounded King or Maimed King (Roi blessé, in Old French Roi Méhaigié, Welsh: Brenin Clwyfedig), is the last in a long bloodline charged with keeping the Holy Grail. Versions of the original story vary widely, but he is always wounded in the legs or groin and incapable of standing. All he is able to do is fish in a small boat on the river near his castle, Corbenic, and wait for some noble who might be able to heal him by asking a certain question. In later versions, knights travel from many lands to try to heal the Fisher King, but only the chosen can accomplish the feat. This is achieved by Percival alone in the earlier stories; he is joined by Galahad and Bors in the later ones.

Many later works have two wounded "Grail Kings" who live in the same castle, a father and son (or grandfather and grandson). The more seriously wounded father stays in the castle, sustained by the Grail alone, while the more active son can meet with guests and go fishing. For the purposes of clarity in the remainder of this article, where both appear, the father will be called the Wounded King, the son named the Fisher King.

The Fisher King legends imply that he becomes unable to father or support a next generation to carry on after his death (a "thigh" wound has been interpreted by many scholars in Arthurian literature as a genital wound). There are slight hints in the early versions that his kingdom and lands suffer as he does, and modern scholars have suggested his impotence affecting the fertility of the land and reducing it to a barren wasteland.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Fisher King" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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