Aggravain, Agrafrayn, Agravaine, Agravain the Arrogant, Agravain the Proud, Agravan, Agravano, Agreuein, Agrevain li Orgueillous, Egrefayn, Engrevain, Engrevains, Gefferen, Geffreyn, Griffayn
The second and probably the most unpleasant son of King Lot and Queen Margawse of Orkney (sometimes Anna), nicknamed aux dures mains ('of the hard hands'). Brother of Gawain, Gaheris and Gareth, and Mordred. He married Laurel, the niece of Lionors and Lynette. He is a nephew of King Arthur.
The romances seem agreed that, although a good knight of arms, he was not a likable character. Vulgate IV characterizes him as envious and evil-disposed, without love or pity; he was very handsome and a capable fighter, but his beauty was the best part of him. Maybe he was spoiled in his childhood because of his beauty. At the same time, he was a member of the Round Table, and got around quite a bit on adventures.
He were portrayed as egotistical, proud, and uncourtly with a misshapen body, Agravain resented any honorable and brave warrior. He had no knightly virtues such as mercy and compassion. He was ignoble towards women, and quarrelsome with his own brothers. His misdeeds include participation in the murder of Lamorat (part of a feud between the families of Pellinore and Lot); the slaying of Dinadan during the Grail Quest, with his brother Mordred; and the abduction of the King of North Wales' daughter, during which he was terribly wounded and had to be cured with the blood of Gawain and Lancelot.
First mentioned by Chrétien de Troyes, he has a minor role in Perceval. His character was expanded in the Vulgate Lancelot, and he becomes a major figure in Malory, as one of the instruments of Arthur's downfall.
He accompanied his brothers when they abandoned their father for service with Arthur. He fought against the Saxons, was knighted by Arthur, and served the king in Gaul and Saxony. He liberated the prisoners of the Hill of Wretches. In Jehan Froissart's Meliador, he courts and marries Florée, a princess from Scotland, while in Malory, he marries Laurel, the niece of his sisters-in-law.
His greatest offense was wrought near the end of Arthur's reign, when he conspired with Mordred to expose the affair between Lancelot and Guinevere. When Arthur was away from court, the two brothers roused a band of knights and captured the lovers in flagrante delicto in Guinevere's chambers. Agravain was slain by Lancelot, either at the ensuing battle outside Guinevere's room, when Lancelot rescued Guinevere from execution, or at the siege of Joyous Guarde.
In Malory, Mordred seems to emerge as the chief force, especially since - in Malory - Agravain is killed during Lancelot's escape from the Queen's chamber. In the Vulgate, where Lancelot's escape is not so bloody, Agravain, not Mordred, seems the chief villain until he is killed when Lancelot rescues the Queen from the stake. Agravain is motivated chiefly, however, by a desire to hurt Lancelot, while Mordred is motivated by a desire for the throne.
Chrétien shows Agravain the Arrogant holding his brother Gawain back from responding too hastily to Guigambresil's accusation of treachery. Here, despite his soubriquet, Agravain seems to appear to rather good advantage, even offering to fight on his brother's behalf.
Later in the same romance, Gawain lists Agravaine as the second oldest son of King Lot and his lawful wife. The contrast between Agravain's surname of "Arrogant" or "Proud" and the seemingly sympathetic nature of his cameo appearance in this romance suggest to me that Chrétien had found his usual characterization already established in Arthurian lore. Perhaps, also, he would have come back into the action had Chrétien finished the story.
A hill formerly known as the Hill of Wretches.
The Duke of Cambenic conquered this manor, which was in Bresquehan Forest, and gave it to Sir Agravain. Later, a damsel carrying a sword led Gawaine to the house. Here numerous knights fought him. They demanded a helmet of his blood for a ransom. Refusing to give it under constraint, Gawaine gave it gladly on learning it was needed to heal a wounded Knight. The wounded knight turned out to be his brother Agravain, although so thin and pale that Gawaine did not recognize him at first.
Some time previously, two damsels had come when Agravain was asleep, anointed his right leg and left arm with a strange ointment, and then ridden off well pleased with their revenge. Agravain's squire had witnessed this, and Agravain suspected the damsels were sweethearts of knights he had wounded. He could not be healed except by the blood of the two best knights in the world. Gawaine's blood, when rubbed on the wounded leg, healed it. Gawaine later found Lancelot at Duke Galeholt's Isle Perdue and sent back a helmet of Lancelot's blood, which healed Agravaine's arm.
One time Gawaine met the daughter of the man from whom the Duke of Cambernic had conquered this house. She and another damsel were in the company of Agravain and Mordred. One of the damsels was apparently Agravain's sweetheart; the other had a younger sister enamored of Gawaine.