Ancient Round Table
The Royal Round Table once belonged to the Ancient Kings of Camelot. They held counsel at the Round Table because its shape afforded no one man more importance than any other, which aligned with their belief in equality in all things.
The tradition was revived by Arthur Pendragon shortly before he retook Camelot from Morgause and Morgana's immortal army. After discovering the Table abandoned in the Castle of the Ancient Kings, Arthur invited his allies to join him at it and outlined his plan to rescue his father from Camelot's dungeons.
Those who joined Arthur at the Round Table and know of its existence include the sorcerer Merlin; future Queen Guinevere; Gaius, the Court Physician; and Gwaine, Elyan, Percival, Leon, and Lancelot, who became known as the Knights of the Round Table (The Coming of Arthur).
Each of the nine seats are marked by an inscription in Old English, which are the following (counterclockwise order): bargu (Arthur), drylic (Merlin), aeoeling (Sir Leon), scamu (Gwaine), mægen (Elyan), ræsbora (Lancelot), ellenweorc (Percival), , sósfæstnes (Gaius) and éadlufu (Guinevere).
Although not supported by any dialogue from canon, the meaning of the inscriptions suggests that magic was held in great esteem at the time of the Ancient Kings, for Merlin's seat, placed at the right side of King Arthur's, literally means "magic".
King Arthur's Round Table
It is assumed that Arthur's successor, Guinevere, continued the tradition of the Round Table after his death (The Diamond of the Day).
Behind the Scenes
- Although Art Designer for the Round Table of the Ancient Kings Paul Cripps provided seats specific to the characters with inscriptions which meaning related to either their role in relation to Arthur or their characteristics (as seen from a Round Table text picture posted at his now defunct Posterous site), for unknown reason the places are messed up in the scene, with only Arthur, Gwen, Merlin and Leon sitting at their planned spots.
- This error becomes quite evident when translating the meaning of the inscriptions (see below), and we could therefore consider this a production error, either from the director or the actors, although not a blatant one.
- Meaning and seats at the Round Table of the Ancient Kings as originally planned by Paul Cripps, plus a translation provided by a fan between brackets, counterclockwise order:
- King Arthur - bargu, main [possibly a mispelling of "brego" which means a royal leader, typically; chief; prince; leader]
- Merlin - drylic (drýlic), magic
- Leon - aeoling (æðeling), chief prince
- Lancelot - scamu, modesty [shame, or dishonour; literally meaning in the sense of Godly shame, or as the Old English Translator puts it, "disgrace in a good sense; modest, but in an over-the-top way]; such a spot made it so that Lancelot sat opposite Guinevere and in her direct eyeline
- the seat is seen taken by Gwaine in the final cut of the episode
- Percival - mægen, bodily strength
- the seat is seen taken by Elyan in the final cut of the episode
- Gaius - ræsbora, leader in thought [possibly connected to the word "rædbora"(?) which means advisor, or counselor]
- the seat is seen taken by Lancelot in the final cut of the episode
- Gwaine - ellenweorc, heroic deed [literally means "strength/courage/zeal (ellen) work/action/task/achievement (weorc), a nod to how Gwaine is referred to by Grettir (The Eye of the Phoenix)]
- the seat is seen taken by Percival in the final cut of the episode
- Elyan - sfóæstnes (sóþfæstnes), fidelity
- the seat is seen taken by Gaius in the final cut of the episode; this would've have made Elyan sit at her sister's side
- Guinevere - éadlufu, love [literally means "happy (éad) love (lufu)"]
- Unlike the table seen in The Coming of Arthur, the new Round Table is located in the throne room and is much bigger in size than its original counterpart.
- This is likely due to the fact that there are more members of the second Round Table than the original.
- Curiously enough, besides Gaius and Guinevere, it appears that only knights had a seat at the Round Table of Camelot. Although this is likely a nod to the Round Table from the legends, this choice leaves out any councilor that might have been part of the Council of Camelot up to that point.