Told through its brief instances of majestic spectacles, often dramatized but in an atrociously humane manner, Fate Zero has scarred itself as a splendid show. One of those instances is ‘The Banquet of Three Kings’ where the discussion of how’s and why’s of a king takes place.
The episode delves deeply into the ideologies of Saber, Iskandar and Gilgamesh respectively through their past lives. At first, it starts on a note of casual conversation. But as it goes on, the philosophical notions, the pride of being a king and the distinguished morals kicks it into a heavy discussion, almost on the verge of having an argument.
Let me state the obvious first, the cornerstone of kingship lays in the relationship between a King and their subjects. This particular bond defines the word ‘kingship’ for the people whom the king ruled over. So,
‘What does it mean to be a King?’
Arthur, Iskandar and Gilgamesh have different views on this topic and all of them complete and interestingly complement each other.
King Arturia Pendragon, The King of Knights [Saber]:
“Once… I had a dream”
Saber is so much stuck in the past that she is unable to realize the new present in front of her eyes. She devoted her whole life for the people and for a perfectly united kingdom where everyone lived happily. She is the embodiment of ‘some ideas arrive in the form of a dream’.
Her ideal is similar to that of a naive child who is very stubborn and wants all the things to be like as she desired. Her philosophy towards life is something we all collectively strive for but in reality, can never truly reach that goal; daring to dream of the impossible despite being a mortal.
She knew that Britain was going to eventually fall under her reign. However, she wanted to believe that it would be a peaceful end because she followed the path of ‘being good will always lead to good things’. But that path betrayed her and this is where her wish of changing the past of her being a king comes into the picture. She wants someone else to be the king so that Britannia can be saved from the chaos it was subject to because of her rule.
Saber’s ideals are like a double-edged sword. Her attitude let her critique her actions and decisions and on the other hand, that same attitude leads her to despair and being doubtful at every step. She runs behind a dream, a dream out of her reach followed by a regretful life.
The whole concept of serving others can breed disappointment and in a way is ignoble when enacted by a king. But maybe that’s why on the surface, it appears to be noble because as humans we can’t be truly deprived of our feelings and emotions.
Iskandar, King of Conquerors [Rider]:
‘‘I shall grieve, and I shall weep, but I shall never regret’’
Iskandar is shown to be the most ambitious and charismatic of the lot and in a way, he certainly lives up to those definitions. From a personality and moral viewpoint, he has attained everything that needs to complete him as a character. And comes off as this badass, always smiling bombastic character who is full of raw energy and doesn’t have a single regret. But he still wants to rule the current world because he just wants to and that’s it, there’s no more complexity to it.
In his previous life, he wanted to see Oceanus at the brink of the world; but was unable to. Although he never regretted his decision of chasing something unknown and impossible. Iskandar believed that a king should be a vibrant and inspiring figure among his people. His way of life should be envied by all under his reign. A king should be so inspiring and mesmerizing that his people should align their interests to satisfy his kingly needs.
He lived as a partial hedonist and never truly regretted anything. He genuinely enjoyed being a king to his people. And continued to inspire his people and was able to live a good life even after losing his kingdom. One can not please everyone and if you try to achieve that impossible, the only consequence that awaits at the end of the day is suffering. So instead act as a leader and inspire people to align their ideals and desires to fulfil your own.
Gilgamesh, King of Heroes [Archer]:
“If you break the law, I will punish you, there is no room for discussion”
Bow down you mongrels, it’s the first and the only true king we are going to talk about now – Gilgamesh. He can do whatever he wants because he has all the power to do it. To make an unbiased decision, he doesn’t need to be recited what’s right and wrong. He doesn’t need to form a relationship with any of his subjects because he is superior to them. And he needs to collect all the treasures of the world because all of them belong to him only.
Gilgamesh, from the very beginning, had literally everything a man could have asked for in that time. It’s probably because of that he desired nothing but to rule in peace and to be respected by his subjects. He considers himself as the ‘absolute’ or ‘an origin to something truly riveting’ and thus puts himself first in every situation.
He desires nothing as everything inherently belongs to him from the moment it was created. For him, the Grail just a treasure that he needs to retrieve and that’s it, nothing more or less. He believes that ideals don’t mean anything without power, those kind of ideals are like a broken vessel, unfit for use.
In the entirety of that episode, he remained silent, most of the time. As to say that only mongrels need to justify themselves and not a king like him, and he would never stoop to their level. Well, an interesting approach, considering the fact that he was the very first king the world ever got to witness.
So, who was the true king then?
No one, they all had what it takes to be a King but were incomplete without one another. The trio was more like an aspect that was exaggerated and intertwined in their personality. As to mock their definitions of King because no one in the lot truly deserved the title.
Saber only regretted her time being as a king and was unable to understand the intentions of her subjects, Rider had the charisma but only sought pleasures that intrigued him and not his people and Gilgamesh, being the first king ever proclaimed himself as the ‘absolute’ and considered every creation under him.
They all had what it takes to be a wise and true king. But in the end, all they could do was complete each other ideals with their distinct views and compelling points. In all, the banquet of three kings ended on a very convoluted note, but in a correct way.