Uther (Uthyr, Uthr)
Uther is first mentioned in old Welsh
poems, but the most traditional view of Uther comes from his depiction in
Geoffrey of Monmouth's 'History of the Kings of Britain.' Uther Pendragon is in nearly
all Arthurian tales the father of Arthur. Some have even stated that he
and Ambrosius Aurelianus are the same person and that Uther is just a name
used for 'The Last Roman' by Welsh storytellers.
In most Arthurian tales Uther is a morally ambiguous character who despite being a strong King, often has human flaws that lead him to his downfall. In the traditional tales Uther gets the wizard Merlin to help him trick the Lady Igrayne into sleeping him even though she id the wife of his ally Gorlois, the Duke Of Cornwall. Gorlois is actually killed on the same night that Uther couples with Igrayne. Arthur is a result of this union but has been born out of wedlock.
Uther Pendragon has become a major character in Arthurian literature in the 20th Century. However, rarely does he last long in most novels as they tend to concentrate on Arthur or Merlin. In TH White's 'The Once Future King' Uther is a Norman King who conquers England.
Many of the most recent Arthurian novels use the death of Uther as a starting point to their narratives about King Arthur. In Marion Zimmer Bradley's 'The Mists Of Avalon' Uther fulfills the traditional role of fathering Arthur after an affair with Igrayne and then after losing his way dies in battle.
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Revised: January 04, 2009 .