Replacing King Arthur

I’ve been reading The Fall of Arthur, an unfinished epic poem by J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ll write a full review of it in due course, once I’ve found the answer to a key question.

Does King Arthur matter anymore? And, if so, why does he matter?

Part of the answer must be that, for a very long time, King Arthur served as a model for what a monarch–or any kind of leader–ought to be: just and temperate; strong and fearless; a protector of the weak; a mirror of all virtue. It’s very easy to fit George Washington into that tradition.

My question for the time being is: who are the models for the leaders that we have today? Certainly not King Arthur. Who or what has replaced King Arthur as the very image of a nation’s leader? After whom, or what, do our country’s current leaders pattern themselves?

A cageful of hungry rats? The inmates of the sex offenders’ wing at the state prison? Lenin? Mao Tse-tung? Dracula? Willie Sutton? Nero? The Music Man? Tapeworms?

If God ever sends angels to Washington, D.C., to find ten just men, you know what’s going to happen next.


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