King Arthur and Original Sin | Letters | Chicago Reader

King Arthur and Original Sin 

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Dear Chi Reader,

Hank Sartin writes [in his July 9 review of King Arthur] that "the real Pelagius was a theologian better known for his heretical rejection of the doctrine of original sin than for any advanced political ideas."

While the Pelagius of the movie under review may not correspond with the Pelagius known by historians, the stance that public rejection of original sin was anything but an advanced political idea in the fifth century is a curious one. Does Sartin expect Pelagius to have been advocating anarcho-syndicalist unionism?

Elisha Sessions

London, England

Hank Sartin replies:

It's true that theology and politics were tightly intertwined in fifth-century Rome, but King Arthur treats Pelagius as if he were a democratic thinker in the mold of Rousseau or Jefferson. The historical Pelagius's doctrines can be interpreted, with some effort, as being about "free will," but social equality and universal suffrage were not among his concerns.

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