How did the Holy Grail transform from the object of a purifying spiritual quest to a Faustian symbol of the corruptions of power? We consider the evolution of the Grail myth from the later medieval romances through Le Morte D’Arthur, the works of Tennyson, Wagner, and T.S. Eliot, and the portrayals of the Grail by Monty Python, Dan Brown, and Jay-z, and finally we consider the modern quests to uncover the hidden truth of the Grail — whether as a pagan fertility symbol, a Christian spiritual allegory, or a code identifying the secret bloodline of Jesus Christ.
Image: Mural of Galahad’s attainment of the Grail, Edward Austin Abbey, Boston Public Library, early 1890s.
Suggested further reading: Richard Barber, “The Holy Grail: Imagination and Belief”; Arthur Edward Waite, “The Holy Grail.”
Also see Myth of the Month 19: The Holy Grail – pt. 1
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Myth of the Month 19: The Holy Grail – pt. 2 – Listen on Patreon
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