The Lady of the Lake may be the literary form of a Celtic water deity. According to legend, she is the one who gives Arthur's sword, Excalibur, to him and the one who receives it back when it is thrown by Sir Bedivere, after Arthur receives his mortal wound. She is called Viviane or Eviene or Niviene or Nina or Nimue and so may be several different women, all referred to by the title, Lady of the Lake.
In some romances, she is said to have been responsible
for raising Lancelot, in others for being the enchanter of
Merlin (some texts say that she also killed him), and in
another, that she was Merlin's scribe, who recorded his
Lancelot is the greatest of Arthur's knights. Son of King Ban of Benwick, he is known as Lancelot of the Lake or Lancelot du Lac because he was raised by the Lady of the Lake.
Among his many adventures are the rescue of the abducted Queen Guinevere from Meleagant, an unsuccessful quest for the Holy Grail and the rescue of the queen after she is condemned to be burned to death for adultery. Lancelot is loved by Elaine of Astolat, who dies because her love is unrequited. Elaine, the daugher of King Pelles, tricks Lancelot into sleeping with her and from that union Galahad is born. His love for Guinevere ultimately brings about the downfall of Arthur's realm.