We talked about the deaths of David and Arthur today and the radically different worlds and politics they leave behind. When Arthur dies, he takes the world of chivalry to the grave with him. By book’s end Gawain and Lancelot and Guinevere and Mordred are all dead, and the rest of the knights have become monks and crusaders. (Never mind that the warlord Arturus lived a good hundred years before Muhammad.) David, on the other hand, establishes an order rather than destroying one, making sure with his 1 Kings chapter 1 hit list that anyone who threatens Solomon’s early reign is dead and quickly.
We also talked about 1 Kings 2, perhaps the most bone-chilling chapter in the Bible. After Solomon exiles Adonijah’s priest Abiathar and has ordered hits on his older brother, his cousin Joab (the Bible’s Boba Fett, remember?), and Shimei of the house of Saul, the text states in stark and almost nauseating simplicity, “And the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon” (verse 46, KJV). If that’s not the model for the end of the first Godfather movie, I can’t imagine what could be.
Next time I teach this, I’m going to think harder about how much I can do in a class period. I think that the unit was successful only because I have readers in both classes. If the David/Arthur unit depended on my classroom demeanor, it was a flop. But from their comments, I could tell that both classes’ principal players had read and read carefully, and for that I owe them a debt of gratitude. Next time I need to think more carefully about how much text I assign per class period.