Who was King Arthur?

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Who was King Arthur?

Postby Cleopatra Aelia on Mon Jan 10, 2005 6:10 pm

Salvete Amici,

I was just reading the discussion about "Aeneas in Scotland?" where two folks already brought up the issue about King Arthur. So I thought this might be a good new topic to discuss. Also because just recently the movie "King Arthur" was at the theaters and it will be released soon on DVD (at least in Germania it's not out yet).

In this film Arthur was a half-Roman/half Briton leading an (auxilary) troop of Sarmatian kavalry men. I wonder what you here at this forum think about this idea of his descendance.
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Postby L CLAVDIVS INVICTUS on Mon Jan 10, 2005 8:55 pm

Salve Cleopatre et salvete sodales!!!

Well, in my opinion, it's just non sense. Wherever, looks like that they mixed up Ambrosius character, Uther Character and Arturus himself in just one character....


Pax et laetitia
Valete!!!!
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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Mon Jan 10, 2005 8:56 pm

Salve Cleopatra,

Well, I personally consider that idea to be quite likely that he was a Romanised Briton. It would seem likely to me that between 410 (when the Romans left Britannia) and ca. 450 (when the Saxons, Jutes and Anglons landed), there were still some pockets of British Romans left who, for some reason, wouldn't give up the land. Presumably these types had adapted to the local culture, much like the culture in Gallia was Gallo-Roman and not entirely Roman. I suppose that in these few decades, the Romans would still have been a leading stratum in British society, as they had education, technological expertise and a tradition of leadership.

Optime vale,
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King Arthur

Postby Valerius Claudius Iohanes on Tue Mar 08, 2005 5:04 am

The Clive Owen "King Arthur" movie was pretty good, ut aestimo. It was a fantasy, but a historically-influenced fantasy. The other end of the spectrum would be the older movie "Excalibur", which was a mythically-influenced fantasy, and oh-so-good in ITS own way. I think this recent "King Arthur" lacked suspension of disbelief-value in its big finale, but it was a satisfying way to re-tell the tale. Kind of like Michael Crichton's re-telling of Beowulf in "The Thirteenth Warrior".

The notion of Arthur defending civilization necessarily involves a romantic view of the Romano-Brithonic Briton, I think. That a major unit of Sarmations (traditionally the inventors of heavy lance-toting cavalry) were stationed in Britain is, in itself, attested by some recent archeological finds. Add in some Hollywood storymaking (or even some Apollonius of Rhodes) and you've got an epic.

That they borrowed Aurelius Ambrosius as a model is excusable, too, since their focus was on the Roman-to-Briton heritage. The Gallo-Romans were a signifcant part of continental politics in that age, and it makes sense they would have been so in Britain, too. The thing about Arthur is that he is a mystery, just barely mentioned outside of fable, and maybe never existed. His reality for us is legendary; and the tease is that he MIGHT ALSO have been a solidly historical, yet all-but-forgotten, figure.
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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Thu Mar 10, 2005 7:35 pm

Salvete,

I still think it's odd though that one of Britain's national legends was a man who fought against the forebears of most modern-day Britons. But similar things have taken place in Belgium. We all love to quote Caesar who wrote that the Belgae are the bravest of all Gaul tribes, but in reality these Belgae and the Belgo-Romani who occupied the territories after they were defeated (so Caesar was braver still 8)) were driven out by the Franks.

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King Arthur

Postby Valerius Claudius Iohanes on Thu Mar 10, 2005 10:26 pm

Salve, Draco -

Maxime! Arthur's name enshrined by the grandsons of his deadly enemies! Is history not strange?! By the time the Aenglish took Arthur to heart, most of them had probably forgotten their own origins - in fact, doesn't Arthur become a subject of song and art after the Normans took over Aengel-land? Vita vecors est.

A question, not of 'Who was Arthur?', but perhaps of "Who are the Britons?" So also the Belgae, the Gauls, even the Latins -as the Franks were later called by the Byzantines.

Vale.
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Postby Marcus Pomponius Lupus on Sat Mar 12, 2005 10:43 pm

Salvete,

I thought some of you might be interested to read the oldest text we have that mentions Arthur, it's from Nennius, Historia Brittonum:

Tunc Arthur pugnabat contra illos in illis diebus cum regnibus Brittonum, sed ipse dux erat bellorum. (...) Duodecim fuit bellum in monte Badonis, in quo corruerunt in uno die nongenti sexaginta viri de uno impetu Arthur (...) Et in omnibus bellis victor extitit."

Then, in those days, Arthur fought against them (the Saxons), together with the kings of the Britons, but he himself was the leader of the soldiers. (...) The twelfth battle took place on mons Badonicus, where 960 men died on the same day, under one attack by Arthur (...) And he left every battle as the victor.

The most common theory has been that Arthur was a cavalry commander (in the Roman way), which would explain

1) his dominance against the Saxons (who didn't use cavalry)
2) the enormous terrain in which he was active (from Scotland to the South of England)
3) the speed in his actions (the battles follow each other very quickly, all over the place)

After that last battle, on mons Badonicus (somewhere between 493 and 516), the expansion of the Saxons was halted for about 20 years. According to the Annales Cambriae, Arthur was then killed in 537 (the author uses 516 as the date of Arthur's last victory) by a British rival: Medrawt, who became Mordret in the French Arthur stories and the now more familiar Mordred.

It's interesting to note as well, that the entire Arthur saga has been originated at the court of Normandy. They liked this symbol of resistance from the Britons against the Saxons (English) and claimed he was the forefather of Duke William of Normandy, who would win the battle of Hastings in 1066.

Valete bene,
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Postby L CLAVDIVS INVICTUS on Mon Sep 19, 2005 8:26 pm

Salve Lupe!
I seem to agree with your post,everything else was written down by the Norman French romantics..
And that he was a Romanised Breton..

I cant stand to watch Arthur/Artorios movies that have them set during the Mideavel period,even though I usually like medieval movies..I havent seen the new Arthur movie yet,Is it set in the Middle Ages?

Hmm William Duke of Normandy related to Arthur...Guess that means Im related to Arthur also..lol since Im related to Will.DofN through my mothers side...
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