Morgan Le Fay

views updated May 29 2018

Morgan Le Fay

Morgan Le Fay appears in various identitiessome helpful, some troublesomein the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. In all her roles, she has the power to heal and the ability to change shapes at will.

According to some sources, Morgan Le Fay is Arthur's sister (or half sister). She opposes him and schemes to destroy his court by revealing the affair between his queen, Guinevere, and Sir Lancelot. Other stories identify Morgan Le Fay as the enchantress known as Nimuë or the Lady of the Lake. In this role, she tricks

* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.

Arthur's magician Merlin to fall in love with her. After learning Merlin's secrets, she imprisons him behind invisible walls.

benevolent desiring good for others

Morgan Le Fay has another side in some stories. As the leader of the nine women who guard the island of Avalon, she lives in a castle beneath a lake surrounding the magical island. She appears as a benevolent figure when she gives Arthur the magical sword Excalibur and takes him to Avalon when he is near death.

See also Arthur, King; Arthurian Legends; Avalon; Excalibur; Lady of the Lake; Merlin.

Morgan le Fay

views updated May 21 2018

Morgan le Fay

Sister of King Arthur and wife of King Urien of Gore. Arthur gave into her keeping the scabbard of his sword Excalibur, but she gave it to Sir Accolon whom she loved and had a forged scabbard made. Arthur, however, recovered the real sheath, but was again deceived by her.

Morgan le Fay seems to have derived from the Celtic deities Morrigan, Macha, and Modron (a divine mother). She figured as a queen of the Land of Faerie and as such appears in French and Italian romance. She first appeared in the Arthurian legends in Geiffrey of Manmouth's twelfth-century volume, Vita Merlini. It was she who, on one occasion, threw Excalibur into a lake. She usually presented her favorites with a ring and retained them by her side as did Venus in Tannhäuser. Her myth is a parallel of that of Eos and Tithonus and is possibly derived from a sun and dawn myth.


Lacy, J. Lacy, ed. The Arturian Encyclopedia. New York: Garland Publishing, 1986.

Morgan le Fay

views updated May 14 2018

Morgan le Fay (in Arthurian legend) an enchantress, sister of King Arthur.

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Morgan le Fay

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