Lear (lēr) [key], legendary English king, supposed descendant, through Locrine and Brut, of Aeneas of Troy. The story of Lear and his three daughters probably originated in early Celtic mythology. Geoffrey of Monmouth claimed to have translated the story from old English records, and succeeding historians and authors, including Holinshed and Spenser, perpetuated the legend. It is best known as the subject of one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies, King Lear.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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