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Celtic King Arthur

Updated on November 15, 2018
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To earn thy joy thou must sign the noble log preserving for all time thy valor.
To earn thy joy thou must sign the noble log preserving for all time thy valor. | Source

What Better Way To Start A King Arthur Article?

Once upon a time in a land far far away. In a time not too far from now; there was an article that needed to be written. Now for one particular reporter writing this article she always had to top herself. How would she do it this time? Would hers be on pirates? Troy? The Greek Gods and Goddesses? The Roman Empire? Egyptians? No, she’d done those before. What about King Arthur? Yes, the glorious age of King Arthur and thus my article begins.

Arthur Pulls Excalibur From The Stone

A Very Good Place To Start

1. Latin Chronicle: Historia Britonum by Nennius (a Welsh 9th century monk) and Gildas Sapiens (Gilda the Wise)

2. The Age of Arthur: A History of the British Isles form 450-650 by John Morris

3. Historia Reguma Britanniae by Geoffrey of Monmouth

4. The Gododdin by Anerin

5. The Chair of the Sovereign by Taliesin

Was King Arthur One Man Or Many?

Actually,” one school of thought believes that Arthur had no historical existence, that he originally was a half-forgotten Celtic deity that devolved into a personage, citing parallels with the following: a supposed change of the sea-god Lir into King Lear; with the Kentish totemic horse-gods Hengest and Horsa, who were historicized by the time of Bede's account and given an important role in the 5th century Anglo-Saxon conquest of eastern Britain; with the founder-figure of Caer-fyrddin, Merlin (Welsh Myrddin); or with the Norse demigod Sigurd or Siegfried, who was historicized in Nibelungenlied by associating him with a famous historical 5th century battle between Huns and the Burgundians.” Anyhow, getting down to business in my research of King Arthur some of my findings were mostly of Celtic background and “he is the central character in the cycle of legends known as the Matter of Britain. He was said to be born in the 5th century.” Though some of my finding did lead to Sub-Roman Britain; especially in my research of the Arthur Stone. “The Arthur stone was discovered in 1998 in securely dated sixth century contexts among the ruins at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom, a secular, high status settlement of Sub-Roman Britain. Apparently originally a practice dedication stone for some building or other public structure, it was broken in two and re-used as part of a drain when the original structure was destroyed.” Also there has been new evidence that King Arthur was a Roman warlord; “ it has been suggested, many times over the years, that King Arthur may have been a descendant of one Lucius Artorius Castus: a theme most recently taken up by P.J.F. Turner. Castus was an historical 2nd century Dalmatian general stationed in Britain who commanded the Roman auxiliary troops, known as Sarmations, on an expedition to crush an uprising in Armorica. It is highly unlikely that the two had any connection with each other.” King Arthur wasn’t just one man or one story, neither was Merlin and some of the other figures in the Arthurian legend for that matter, but Arthur was made up of several stories and men. One man in particular who was just mentioned, Lucius Artorius Castus. “Although undated, the likely time period of the sarcophagus (before 200), combined with the inscription's mention of Artorius being a dux, suggests that he was the unnamed commander of a 185 expedition to Armorica mentioned by Herodian.

The Arthur Stone


Camelot Tapestry


Was Arthur A Roman?

As a member of the gens Artoria he was likely a native of Campania, a region of Southern Italy. According to the inscription, Artorius was a centurion of the Legio III Gallica, then moved to VI Ferrata, then to V Macedonica, where he was promoted to primus pilus. He was then made praepositus of the classis Misenensis (the Bay of Naples fleet), followed by a position as praefectus of the VI Victrix. The VI Victrix was based in Britain from c. 122. When VI Victrix mutinied, Artorius seems to have remained loyal, since Pertinax soon after promoted him to dux and sent him to Armorica with several cohorts of cavalry, where he was successful in suppressing an uprising.

Artorius then retired from the army and became procurator centenaris (governor) of Liburnia, a part of Dalmatia.” As you can see Artorius may have had a different geneology the King Arthur that we’ve all come know, love, remember, and retell about over the years since we can recall; but how Artorius was connected with King Arthur wasn’t really considered until 1924 by a man named Kemp Malone. “Although Artorius was not contemporaneous with the Saxon invasions of Britain in the 5th century, it is possible that he was remembered in local tales and legends that grew in the retelling.” Of course, now Artorius is even more identified with King Arthur because of the movie, by the same name, which was released in 2004 as a Jerry Bruckheimer production and starring Keria Knightly. This Moved Artorius up about 300 years to be a contemporary of the Saxons and due to technology that even Artorius didn’t even have, 1,000 years ago or more, he’s now a character in a PC game called Barbarian Invasion, which was released a year after King Arthur was released. How does this relate to the title of my paper as well as it having anything to do with Celtic Background? Well, “Artorius is a Roman gens name, though it might also be Celtic in origin, coming from artos viros, meaning ‘bear man.’ Historically, ‘Arthur’ was perhaps a dux bellorum, chieftain or general of the Sub-Roman period (5th/6th century AD), though he is not mentioned by any contemporary historian.” But if you were to compare this with the first Latin Chronicle, Historia Britonum, to even mention the name “Arthur” you’ll find it to be “believed to have been compiled about 800 AD by a Welshman named Nennius. This work was written in Latin, but many scholars feel that Nennius based his details about the Twelve Battles of Arthur upon native Welsh sources.” “One argument says that he (Arthur) is to be identified with the Celtic king Riothamus, but legend would seem to suggest that the Arthur of legend is, rather, a composite figure, combining the attributes and achievements of more than one person,” as I mentioned before and “these particular deities are known to have been worshipped by the continental Celts, however, and not documented among the Britons.” Also another way King Arthur is connected to Celtic background is by the word “King.” “His title of 'King' is disputed: in the earliest mentions and in Welsh texts, he is never given the title 'King'. An early text refers to him as Dux Bellorum ('Duke of Battles'), [2] and medieval Welsh texts often call him ameraudur (‘emperor’ in the pre-Medieval sense of the Latin imperator, i.e. ‘commander’.)”

King Arthur's Britain (Part 1)

King Arthur's Britain (Part 2)

King Arthur's Britain (Part 3)

The Age of Arthur: A History of the British Isles

Now if King Arthur, or Lucius Artorius Castus, was a Roman Warlord then you’d find him in the Roman literature and the history books of that era or even now, right? WRONG!!! In fact the only place you’ll find any information on Lucius Artorius Castus, besides the internet and the movie King Arthur, is The Age of Arthur: A History of the British Isles from 350-650 written in 1973. Fortunately for us Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote the persona of Arthur in the Historia Reguma Britanniae in the 1130s, which is widely read by the English and the Europeans. Arthur also first appears in Welsh literature , in fact the poem, The Gododdin, was written in 594 AD by poet Anerin (535-600 AD) writes about one of his protagonists: “ "Like a wild boar's fury, was Bleidig ab Eli's, yet he was no Arthur, and he fed black ravens, on Cattraeth's walls". Along the same time frame, actually a little earlier, we have The Chair of the Sovereign referring to “Arthur the Blessed,” The Treasures of Annwn mentions “the valour of Arthur” along with “we went with Arthur in his splendid labours,” and the poem Journey to Deganwy has a passage that says, “as at the battle of Badon, with Arthur, chief holder of feasts, his tall blades red from the battle all men remember.”

John Morris


Monks And Scholar Texts

1. The Treasures of Annwn by Taliesin

2. Journey to Deganwy by Taliesin

3. Life of Saint Illtud by unknown author (Monk)

4. Life of Saint Gildas by Caradoc of Llancarfan

5. Life of SaintCadoc by Lifris of Llancarfan

6. Roger S. Loomis (scholar)

7. Chretien de Troyes (French medieval wirter)

8. Marie de France (French medieval writer)

Only Part Of Who Arthur Was

Another way we can tell that King Arthur wasn’t JUST Lucius Artorius Castus is by the monks of the time period. In the 5th-12th century several monks wrote about King Arthur, in the monastery of Llacarfan. In fact a monk wrote, in the Life of Saint Illtud, that Arthur was the cousin of a churchman. “The internal evidence apparently written around 1140.” According to the Life of Saint Gildas (died ca. AD 570), written in the 11th century, by the monk, Caradoc of Llancarfan, "Arthur killed Gildas' brother Hueil, a pirate on the Isle of Man.” Lifris of Lancarfan also writes about Arthur, in his Life of Saint Cadoc, “that Arthur was put to task by the man of the book to which Arthur paid little due, Cadoc. Cadoc gave protection for a man who killed three of Arthur's soldiers, and Arthur took a herd of cattle as wergeld for his men. Cadoc delivered them as demanded, and when Arthur had possession of the animals, they were made to transform into bundles of ferns.” Of course this was written around 1100: yet again nothing saying that it was Lucius Artorius Castus, who was only part of who Arthur was.

King Arthur Trail


Adding To A Legend

From what I’ve researched King Arthur is exactly the way we’ve always known him to be. The romantic Arthurian legend. He started out Celtic then traveled all over the world and to that original tale someone added more to it. “While many scholars believe that Geoffrey of Monmouth is the source for medieval interest in Arthur, at least one scholar, Roger S. Loomis, has argued that many of the tales surrounding Arthur were independently adapted from Breton oral traditions, spread through the royal and noble courts of Europe by professional storytellers known as jongleurs. The French medieval writer Chretien de Troyes recounted tales from the Matter of Britain during the mid-12th century as did Marie de France in her narrative lays. In any case, the later stories told by these two writers and by many others appear to be independent of what Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote.” Now with that said I would like to add something that someone said once about Arthur; “he was the once and future King.” To me no matter what Arthur is and always will be the once and future King for all time.

Merlin Says Goodbye And Watches Over Arthur

© 2018 Cheeky Chav

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