Charles Williams and Friendship sub specie Arthuriana
The famous phrase sub specie aeternitatis means “viewed in relation to the eternal; from a universal perspective” (OED). Charles Williams, however, viewed his vocation, friendships, and writing sub specie Arthuriana: from the perspective or through the lens of his own Arthurian adaptations. This article asks two questions. First: Did Williams collaborate with others on his Arthurian works? Second: Does his vast Arthurian symbolic system postulate a theory or a theology of friendship? The answer is “Yes” to both, as his friendships deeply influenced his Arthurian writings, and vice versa. Furthermore, it is impossible to understand Williams’s Arthurian mythos or his ideas on friendship without some knowledge of the occult systems in which he was trained. Specifically, the occult doctrines of correspondence and of the secret tradition inform Williams’s theology of friendship-as-initiation, which was highly collaborative, occultic, and Arthurian, patterned on the Knights of the Round Table and on the model of hermetic orders.