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# The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated

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Re: The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated [#permalink]
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Antartide, the text you're citing is exactly where the author takes a position. The position is that we're not going to get a definitive answer about Arthur's existence. It would be hard to disagree with both sides, unless there were two sides both insisting that they could prove their point. On the contrary, the anti-Arthur crowd is simply citing a lack of evidence, rather than saying that they know Arthur didn't exist. This puts the author loosely in this group (in opposition to those who find the documents mentioned in p1 convincing), but we don't need to worry about categorizing. The correct answer just requires us to acknowledge that the author expressed an opinion.
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Re: The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated [#permalink]
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Gnpth wrote:
Part of New Project-->Reading Comprehension!!- Review/ Practice

The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated by scholars. One school of thought, citing entries in the History of the Britons and Welsh Annals, sees Arthur as a genuine historical figure, a Romano-British leader who fought against the invading Anglo-Saxons sometime in the late 5th to early 6th century. The other text that seems to support the case for Arthur's historical existence is the 10th-century Annales Cambriae. The latest research shows that the Annales Cambriae was based on a chronicle begun in the late 8th century in Wales. Additionally, the complex textual history of the Annales Cambriae precludes any certainty that the Arthurian annals were added to it even that early. They were more likely added at some point in the 10th century and may never have existed in any earlier set of annals.

This lack of convincing early evidence is the reason many recent historians exclude Arthur from their accounts of post-Roman Britain. In the view of historian Thomas Charles-Edwards there may well have been an historical Arthur, but that a historian can as yet say nothing of value about him. These modern admissions of ignorance are a relatively recent trend; earlier generations of historians were less skeptical. Historian John Morris made the putative reign of Arthur the organizing principle of his history of post-Roman Britain and Ireland. Even so, he found little to say about a historical Arthur. Partly in reaction to such theories, another school of thought emerged which argued that Arthur had no historical existence at all. Morris's Age of Arthur prompted archaeologist Nowell Myres to observe that no figure on the borderline of history and mythology has wasted more of the historian's time. Arthur is not mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle or named in any surviving manuscript written between 400 and 820. He is absent from Bede's early-8th-century Ecclesiastical History of the English People, another major early source for post-Roman history.

Some scholars argue that Arthur was originally a fictional hero of folklore — or even a half-forgotten Celtic deity — who became credited with real deeds in the distant past. They cite parallels with figures such as the Kentish totemic horse-gods Hengest and Horsa, who later became historicized. Bede ascribed to these legendary figures a historical role in the 5th-century Anglo-Saxon conquest of eastern Britain.

Historical documents for the post-Roman period are scarce. Of the many post-Roman archeological sites and places, only a handful have been identified as "Arthurian", and these date from the 12th century or later. Archaeology can confidently reveal names only through inscriptions found in reliably dated sites. In the absence of new compelling information about post-Roman England, a definitive answer to the question of Arthur's historical existence is unlikely.

1. According to the passage, Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People contains information that

A. provides context that would argue against an historical Arthur
B. undermines the notion of a historical Arthur by furnishing evidence that refutes that King Arthur ever existed
C. suggests that Bede’s work did not fully account for events between 400 and 820
D. indirectly supports the existence of an historical Arthur
E. diverges from most narratives popular during the 12th century

2. The primary purpose of the passage is to

A. evaluate a historical debate and then take a position
B. discuss two positions on an issue, while disagreeing with both
C. discount evidence arguing against the existence of a historical person
D. suggest that the verification of many historical figures is beyond our ability
E. draw a link between mythical and historical figures

3. The contention that Arthur was a mythological figure who had been historicized by being included in accounts of real events is most consistent with which of the following?

A. The complex textual history of the Annales Cambriae
B. Thomas Charles-Edwards explanation of the existence of Arthur
C. The fact that Arthur figures nowhere in any of Bede’s works covering the post-Roman period
D. The lack of historical documents from the post-Roman period
E. Bede’s inclusion of totemic horse gods in the history of the Anglo-Saxon conquest of Britain

4. According to the author of the passage, John Morris, while expressing little to no skepticism towards the historical Arthur, lends little support to the case of a historical Arthur because he

A. assumes that Arthur was most likely a mythological figure
B. only focuses on events from the early part of Arthur’s life
C. provides a dearth of information pertaining to the life of Arthur
D. has glaring historical inconsistencies in much of his writing
E. unquestioningly accepts that Arthur played a small role in the history of Britain

OFFICIAL EXPLANATION

Q3
While a case can be made for (A)—it’s a bit of a stretch. The Annales Cambriae did have a complex history, which made it likely that Arthur was a fictional person who, over time, became treated as an actual person. But the passage really only says that the complex textual history makes it difficult to determine if Arthur was a real person. (E) is a much more direct answer, because it provides examples of written works in which legendary figures were treated as actual living persons.

(A) See above.
(B) Charles-Edwards says that Arthur may have been a historical figure. This doesn’t relate to whether Arthur was a mythical figure who was treated as an actual figure.
(C) is incorrect. Though Arthur is absent from Bede’s text that doesn’t relate to why he would be accorded human like status in other writings.
(D) is incorrect. Though the passage says that “historical documents…are scarce”, this doesn’t necessarily parallel the fact that Arthur had been historicized.

It can be inferred that the author dismisses the Annales Cambriae as a reliable source on the historical Arthur on the grounds that

A. much of the work has been disputed as a valid historical narrative

B. the references to Arthur are inconsistent with those from the History of Britons and Welsh Annals

C. the work itself, because of the original author’s bias, may not accurately reflect historical events

D. Arthur’s purported existence may have come several centuries before the relevant text was written

E. whether Arthur existed goes beyond the purview of historians

(A) is tempting, but the passage never mentions that the Annals Cambriae are of questionable validity. The passage only says that the work had a complex history.
(B) is wrong because the passage never compares the two annals.
(C) is not supported by the passage. (C) is tricky because it sounds like a reasonable thing someone would say in response to an ancient text.
(D) is not directly stated in the passage but is implied by, “they were more likely added…annals.”
(E) is too general for such a specific question. Anyhow, the author of the passage probably would not agree with (E).

Nowell Myres would most likely view the idea of an Arthurian reign as key to the understanding of the history of sub-Roman Briton as

A. invalid, because it presupposes the existence of a person who most likely never existed

B. suspect, since it overlooks other factors important to an understanding of sub-Roman Briton

C. plausible, to some degree, as there was some major historical figure who helped shaped the history of early Briton

D. unsubstantiated by events described in the Annales Cambriae

E. vital in determining the authenticity of the historical Arthur

Myres is vehement in his skepticism towards a historical Arthur (“no figure on the borderline…”). Therefore, he would scoff at the idea of an Arthurian reign. Only, (A) directly says that Myres doubted the existence of Arthur.

(D) is wrong. Though Myres would agree the Annals of Cambriae do not substantiate the existence of Arthur (after all, no source, according to him, does). Yet, (D) doesn’t logically answer the question.
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Re: The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated [#permalink]
Hi Gnpth,

As per explanation provided by hazelnut, the OA of question 3 is E, but the OA provided by you for the same question is D. Would you please check?

Moreover, can you please add the additional two questions that were posted by hazelnut to timer? Can you please provide Official Explanations of these questions?
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Re: The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated [#permalink]
more questions:
The author most likely mentions Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People in order to

A support the notion that Arthur never actually existed
B show how some authors incorporated figures from folklore

suggest that there is some plausibility to the Thomas Charles-Edwards’ position

account for an oversight on Bede’s part when he wrote the work

indicate that historical documents are rarely entirely accurate

OA is A
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Re: The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated [#permalink]
Nowell Myres would most likely view the idea of an Arthurian reign as key to the understanding of the history of sub-Roman Briton as

A invalid, because it presupposes the existence of a person who most likely never existed
B suspect, since it overlooks other factors important to an understanding of sub-Roman Briton
C plausible, to some degree, as there was some major historical figure who helped shaped the history of early Briton
D unsubstantiated by events described in the Annales Cambriae
E vital in determining the authenticity of the historical Arthur

OA is A
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Re: The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated [#permalink]
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Official Explanation for Q1

Bede’s work gives us some historical context into the lives of other figures who were included in historical works but were ultimately legends.

(B) is too strong. (C) is nowhere implied in the passage. (D) is wrong because Bede’s work does not at all support the existence of an historical Arthur.
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Re: The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated [#permalink]

Extra question

It can be inferred that the author dismisses the Annales Cambriae as a reliable source on the historical Arthur on the grounds that

A. much of the work has been disputed as a valid historical narrative
B. the references to Arthur are inconsistent with those from the History of Britons and Welsh Annals
C. the work itself, because of the original author’s bias, may not accurately reflect historical events
D. Arthur’s purported existence may have come several centuries before the relevant text was written
E. whether Arthur existed goes beyond the purview of historians
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Re: The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated [#permalink]

Official Explanation for extra question

(A) is tempting, but the passage never mentions that the Annals Cambriae are of questionable validity. The passage only says that the work had a complex history.

(B) is wrong because the passage never compares the two annals.

(C) is not supported by the passage. (C) is tricky because it sounds like a reasonable thing someone would say in response to an ancient text.

(D) is not directly stated in the passage but is implied by, “they were more likely added…annals.”

(E) is too general for such a specific question. Anyhow, the author of the passage probably would not agree with (E).
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Re: The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated [#permalink]

Official Explanation for Q2

The last line of the passage, “In the absence of…unlikely” the author takes a position. He/she has spent the entire passage analyzing the scholarly/historical debate to the question of Arthur’s existence.

(B) is wrong because the author of the passage does not disagree with both sides. Indeed, he takes a side, i.e., definitively answering whether Arthur existed is unlikely.

(C) is wrong because the author accepts the evidence arguing against a historical. In other words, the author weighs the evidence arguing that Arthur most likely never existed, and believes the evidence supports this idea.

(D) is wrong because it is too general. The passage only focuses on Arthur.

(E) is also too general. The passage may draw a link between Arthur and some other mythical figures but revealing that link is not the purpose of the passage.
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Re: The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated [#permalink]

Official Explanation for Q3

While a case can be made for (A)—it’s a bit of a stretch. The Annales Cambriae did have a complex history, which made it likely that Arthur was a fictional person who, over time, became treated as an actual person. But the passage really only says that the complex textual history makes it difficult to determine if Arthur was a real person. (E) is a much more direct answer, because it provides examples of written works in which legendary figures were treated as actual living persons.

(A) See above.

(B) Charles-Edwards says that Arthur may have been a historical figure. This doesn’t relate to whether Arthur was a mythical figure who was treated as an actual figure.

(C) is incorrect. Though Arthur is absent from Bede’s text that doesn’t relate to why he would be accorded human like status in other writings.

(D) is incorrect. Though the passage says that “historical documents…are scarce”, this doesn’t necessarily parallel the fact that Arthur had been historicized.

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Re: The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated [#permalink]
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Passage summary:
1) The historical basis of the KA is debatable. Some believe that
he existed sometime in 5-6th century. Others - 10th century. The later date is supported
by Annales Cambriae.
2) This questionable nature of his existance is the reasona why recent historians don't
accept his being in post-Roman Britain. JM tried to account the existance but found little
to say. As a result, some even disbeliefe his existance at all (NM). The evidence to bolster
this is Bede's EHEP.
3) Hence, he might as well was a mythological creature who was later historicized. This is
back by a similar account in Bede's EHEP.
4) The author provides his or her opinion on the issue: wihtout more materials, the KA's
existance is unlikely to be determined.
Overall - everything seems to point that the KA did not exist, at least not as early as some historians would expect.

1. According to the passage, Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People contains information that Relevant text: He is absent from Bede's early-8th-century Ecclesiastical History of the English People, another major early source for post-Roman history.
A. provides context that would argue against an historical Arthur the most suitable choice
B. undermines the notion of a historical Arthur by furnishing evidence that refutes that King Arthur ever existed he is absent from the accounts
C. suggests that Bede’s work did not fully account for events between 400 and 820 not given
D. indirectly supports the existence of an historical Arthur contrary to the idea in the passage
E. diverges from most narratives popular during the 12th century 8th vs 12th century writings

2. The primary purpose of the passage is to
A. evaluate a historical debate and then take a position discusses two potential periods when the KA could possibly have lived and sides with the skeptics
B. discuss two positions on an issue, while disagreeing with both
C. discount evidence arguing against the existence of a historical person
D. suggest that the verification of many historical figures is beyond our ability
E. draw a link between mythical and historical figures if anything, just a small detail in the 3rd para

3. The contention that Arthur was a mythological figure who had been historicized by being included in accounts of real events is most consistent with which of the following? Relevant text: Some scholars argue that Arthur was originally a fictional hero of folklore — or even a half-forgotten Celtic deity — who became credited with real deeds in the distant past. They cite parallels with figures such as the Kentish totemic horse-gods Hengest and Horsa, who later became historicized. Bede ascribed to these legendary figures a historical role in the 5th-century Anglo-Saxon conquest of eastern Britain.
A. The complex textual history of the Annales Cambriae provides evidence that he existed sometime in the 10th c.
B. Thomas Charles-Edwards explanation of the existence of Arthur CE claims that there's no info about the KA, and he has no say about the KA in the context of mythology
C. The fact that Arthur figures nowhere in any of Bede’s works covering the post-Roman period
D. The lack of historical documents from the post-Roman period
E. Bede’s inclusion of totemic horse gods in the history of the Anglo-Saxon conquest of Britain fits the example given by the source

4. According to the author of the passage, John Morris, while expressing little to no skepticism towards the historical Arthur, lends little support to the case of a historical Arthur because he Relevant text: Historian John Morris made the putative reign of Arthur the organizing principle of his history of post-Roman Britain and Ireland. Even so, he found little to say about a historical Arthur.
A. assumes that Arthur was most likely a mythological figure this is not mentioned until 3rd para
B. only focuses on events from the early part of Arthur’s life not given
C. provides a dearth of information pertaining to the life of Arthur correct - gotta remember this word "dearth"
D. has glaring historical inconsistencies in much of his writing not given
E. unquestioningly accepts that Arthur played a small role in the history of Britain not given
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Re: The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated [#permalink]
DmitryFarber wrote:
Antartide, the text you're citing is exactly where the author takes a position. The position is that we're not going to get a definitive answer about Arthur's existence. It would be hard to disagree with both sides unless there were two sides both insisting that they could prove their point. On the contrary, the anti-Arthur crowd is simply citing a lack of evidence, rather than saying that they know Arthur didn't exist. This puts the author loosely in this group (in opposition to those who find the documents mentioned in p1 convincing), but we don't need to worry about categorizing. The correct answer just requires us to acknowledge that the author expressed an opinion.

Can we consider not having a definite answer as a position ?? Can you please tell more why B is wrong? Even though the author has been neutral and has not taken any side, but concludes that there is no definite answer. is this considered as a position?
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Re: The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated [#permalink]
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Hi,
According to me

P1: 2 different views about the basis of King Arthur legend
P2:current Vs earlier generations of historians view on KA legend and derived view acc to which KA never existed
P3:Scholars' view of KA as a fictional hero
P4:Evaluation of evidence and conclusion that evidence is not enough to conclude about KA existence.
Main point: Presenting different views on KA legend and evaluation that current evidence is not enough

Q1: refer to P3
In P3 KA is seen as a Fictional hero and a context is provided
A. provides context that would argue against an historical Arthur - Correct
B. undermines the notion of a historical Arthur by furnishing evidence that refutes that King Arthur ever existed - no evidence is presented
C. suggests that Bede’s work did not fully account for events between 400 and 820 not mentioned
D. indirectly supports the existence of an historical Arthur - opposite
E. diverges from most narratives popular during the 12th century - such comparison is not made

Q2
2. The primary purpose of the passage is to

A. evaluate a historical debate and then take a position -as my mp states + in last paragraph there is an evaluation and a position is taken-
B. discuss two positions on an issue, while disagreeing with both- there are more than two positions
C. discount evidence arguing against the existence of a historical person - evidence is not discounted, it's not enough evidence
D. suggest that the verification of many historical figures is beyond our ability - out of scope, nowhere mentioned in the passage
E. draw a link between mythical and historical figures - the passage is about understanding whether KA is real or not, not to draw a link between the two cases

3. The contention that Arthur was a mythological figure who had been historicized by being included in accounts of real events is most consistent with which of the following?

A. The complex textual history of the Annales Cambriae -AC only view KA as an historical figure
B. Thomas Charles-Edwards explanation of the existence of Arthur - same as A
C. The fact that Arthur figures nowhere in any of Bede’s works covering the post-Roman period - opposit, this undermines the belief that KA was before Mithologicl figure and then treated as an historical one
D. The lack of historical documents from the post-Roman period - no reference on the mythological figure
E. Bede’s inclusion of totemic horse gods in the history of the Anglo-Saxon conquest of Britain this option suggests that something that was mythological now is treated as an historical figure, correct

4. According to the author of the passage, John Morris, while expressing little to no skepticism towards the historical Arthur, lends little support to the case of a historical Arthur because he

refer to this part of the passage: "Even so, he found little to say about a historical Arthur"

A. assumes that Arthur was most likely a mythological figure - incorrect and opposite
B. only focuses on events from the early part of Arthur’s life - not mentiones
C. provides a dearth of information pertaining to the life of Arthur - as the passage says
D. has glaring historical inconsistencies in much of his writing - no inconsistency mentioned
E. unquestioningly accepts that Arthur played a small role in the history of Britain - inconsistent, didn't mention that KA played a small role
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Re: The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated [#permalink]
In Q1, I selected option B as it undermines Arthur being a historical figure by providing evidence in these lines.:
They cite parallels with figures such as the Kentish totemic horse-gods Hengest and Horsa, who later became historicized. Bede ascribed to these legendary figures a historical role in the 5th-century Anglo-Saxon conquest of eastern Britain.
He had included mythological figures in his writings before also. So shouldn't this be true for Arthur also?

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Re: The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated [#permalink]
abhishektyga wrote:
In Q1, I selected option B as it undermines Arthur being a historical figure by providing evidence in these lines.:
They cite parallels with figures such as the Kentish totemic horse-gods Hengest and Horsa, who later became historicized. Bede ascribed to these legendary figures a historical role in the 5th-century Anglo-Saxon conquest of eastern Britain.
He had included mythological figures in his writings before also. So shouldn't this be true for Arthur also?

https://gmatclub.com/forum/the-historic ... l#p2126040
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Re: The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated [#permalink]
How is this a 600-700 level passage only god knows. None of the questions have correct attempt rate of more than 55%. One of the questions even has an accuracy of 15%.

Should definitely be marked as a 700 level passage
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Re: The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated [#permalink]
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kdk21 wrote:
How is this a 600-700 level passage only god knows. None of the questions have correct attempt rate of more than 55%. One of the questions even has an accuracy of 15%.

Should definitely be marked as a 700 level passage

Hello kdk21

I have updated the difficulty-level tag.

Thank you!
Re: The historical basis for the King Arthur legend has long been debated [#permalink]
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