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Christian Manhood and Chivalry – C.S. Lewis

From Dane Ortland’s blog

If, says C. S. Lewis, we want to understand the old notion of what it means to be ‘chivalrous’ (or what we would say today it looks like for us men to man up),

we cannot do better than turn to the words addressed to the greatest of all the imaginary knights in Malory’s Morte Darthur. ‘Thou wert the meekest man,’ says Sir Ector to the dead Launcelot. ‘Thou wert the meekest man that ever ate in the hall among ladies; and thou wert the sternest knight to thy mortal foe that ever put spear in the rest.’

The important thing about this ideal is, of course, the double demand it makes on human nature. The knight is a man of blood and iron, a man familiar with the sight of smashed faces and the ragged stumps of lopped-off limbs; he is also a demure, almost a maidenlike, guest in hall, a gentle, modest, unobtrusive man. He is not a compromise or happy mean between ferocity and meekness; he is fierce to the nth and meek to the nth.

–C. S. Lewis, ‘The Necessity of Chivalry,’ in Present Concerns (Fount 1986), 13

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