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The Fisher King

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King Pellinore, King Pelles, or The Fisher King? He goes by several names, each one invoking thoughts of mysterious ancient lore. In fact, folk legend would not be the same without this intriguing, multi-faceted character. The origins of The Grail King, his cursed injury, his different portrayals, his castle, and the fact that he was the keeper of the Holy Grail, are all points to consider about the Fisher King, and the important role he played in Arthurian history.

The origin of King Pellinore is a greatly debated topic. Everyone seems to have their own theories and ideas when it comes to his family and the other names he went by. One point that remains constant through all sources is that the king had a very large family. He was born of incest between Joseph of Arimathea, a relative of Jesus's, and Joseph's sister (Joe 2). He had 11 brothers and 12 sons (Joe 3). The most famous of his children, however, would most likely be Elaine, one of his two daughters. These fourteen children were all begat by two women: Anna, his half-sister, and the wife of Ares (Joe 5; 8). Other famous, though more distant relatives include Launcelot, his son-in-law; Galahad, his grandson; and Morgan Le Fay, his half-niece by marriage (Joe 7).

The Grail King also went by several other names. These may vary from story-teller to story-teller, and from different versions of Arthurian legends. Some of these may have included The Maimed King, (due to his infamous injury), Parlan, Pellam, Alain De Gros, (who could also have been one of his sons), Bron, Aforntas, and several others (Joe 3; 2; 5; Currin 1; "The Holy Grail" 3). Perhaps the most well-known of his names is The Fisher King. He was so-called because after he was injured he could no longer ride horses, and he took to fishing as a hobby (Staines 382; Currin 1). Another theory as to why he was called this was because a previous guardian of the Grail once miraculously fed many people with fish from the Grail (Kerven 42).

King Pelles has one trademark that especially sets him apart from other Arthurian characters and kings: his cursed injury. Some say he was stabbed in his buttocks, others claim it was in his side or both thighs (Staines 382; Butler 1; "The Holy Grail" 1). The wound was cursed. His land would never again be fertile until his wound was healed, and that would never happen until a person of "great spiritual worth" (Smith 38) asked him two questions: the first was about the bloody spear in his side, and the second was about who was fed from the grail. He could not remove the spear from his side until those questions were asked, and that only was his sick father could eat was if he was fed from the Grail (Staines 416). Another theory states that only a man who receives the grail can heal him (Smith 42).

There are also several theories as to how and from whom he received the wound. It could have been an Irish knight during a war against King Pelles's brother-in-law, the king of Ireland, however it could also have come from a man named Sir Balin. ("The Holy Grail" 3; Butler 1) he was either stabbed with a poisoned spear, Ishmael's staff, a javelin, a lance, the spear that wounded Jesus, or even pieces of the sword that killed his brother, Goon Desert (Currin 1; Staines 382; 416)

Through different versions of the legends, he

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