Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Rules and Order Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line). We used James Winny's 2004 translation.
There knights fought in tournament again and again,
Jousting most gallantly, these valiant men,
Then rode to the court for dancing and song.
For there the festival lasted the whole fifteen days
With all the feasting and merry-making that could be devised.
(41 - 45)
The Christmas season traditionally lasted fifteen days, beginning on December 24th and ending with Epiphany, the feast of the three kings, on Jan 6th. Arthur’s court celebrates by jousting, dancing, singing, and playing games.
[. . . . . . . . . . . . .]"Where is," he demanded,
"The governor of this crowd? Glad should I be
To clap eyes on the man, and exchange with him
a few words."
[. . .]
. . . . . . . . . "Sir, welcome indeed to this place;
I am master of this house, my name is Arthur.
Be pleased to dismount and spend some time here, I beg,
And what you have come for, we shall learn later."
(224 - 227, 252 - 255)
Rules of courtly behavior dictate that a guest in someone’s hall must always seek out the highest-ranked person in the place to solicit their hospitality; accordingly, the highest-ranked person must offer it generously, as Arthur does here.
"I would offer you counsel before your royal court.
For it seems to me unfitting, if the truth be admitted,
When so arrogant a request is put forward in hall,
Even if you are desirous, to undertake it yourself
While so many brave men sit about you in their places
Who, I think, are unrivalled in temper of mind,
And without equal as warriors on the field of battle."
(347 - 353)
Here Gawain perfectly fulfills the role of a loyal, well-meaning vassal by offering counsel, or advice, to his liege lord. He also criticizes the rest of the knights in the hall for failing in their duty to their king. His point is that the king should not have to defend his own honor, for the rules of chivalry dictate that his knights should do it for him.