Arthur and Batraz

From Scythia to Camelot draws attention to the similarity between the disposal into water of Arthur’s sword, Excalibur, by Bedivere for the mortally wounded hero in Le Morte Darthur and that of the Ossetian Batraz, as discovered by Joël Grisward.[1]
C. Scott Littleton postulated that the legend was transmitted to the west on the basis of a comment in the Roman History by Dio Cassius that 5,500 Iazyges, a Sarmatian people, were sent to Britain.[2]

However, it is likely that the transmission went the opposite way, from west to east, as a result of the Crusades. The name Batraz is likely to be a derivative from Paternus, the other name by which Arthur was known, as indicated on the Tintagel slate. J. Colarusso states that the protoform for Batraz was */pat‛(e)raʒ/.[3] He explains that the Nart epic took shape from ancient times up to the 14th C.

Bedivere or Bedwyr itself is another derivative, and a doublet of Arthur. He had a son called Amren just as Arthur had a son named Amr.

It would thus indicate that the link between the names Paternus and Arthur survived into the 11th C. The Tintagel slate tells us Arthur’s name was originally Artorgnou, before the loss of the epithet ‘gnou’. Whether the form Artor indicates that Arthur was named after Lucius Artorius Castus, as claimed by Linda A. Malcor, is a seperate question.

[1] Grisward, J. H., 1969.
[2] Cary, E., 1955, 37.
[3] May, W., 2016, Colarusso, J., Salbiev, T. (eds.), LXV.
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The Tintagel slate

The slate was found on the island at Tintagel in 1998. I believe it reads

The Tintagel slate (Glasgow University)

  1.   MAV E[IGIR]
  2.   †
  3.   PATERN[VS]
  4.   COLI AVI FICIT
  5.   ARTORGNOV
  6.   COLI [AVI]
  7.   FICIT

where the bracketed letters are now missing and some of the words run together. A cross occupies the space between lines one and three.

The letters in the first line are in larger characters. They are not easy to identify and their interpretation has changed since the slate’s discovery. The M and A are ligatured with the start of the letter M being only just visible. The text below the cross occupies five lines and the script is smaller. The lefthand diagonal descender of the letter V in the third line is just about visible. Also, what has thus far been interpreted as a G on the fifth line is in reality an R and G ligatured as illustrated below.

Letter r

Letter g

Letters r and g ligatured

The inscription is clearly Arthurian as indicated by the following interpretation. The text in lines one to four form a sentence which is repeated in lines five to seven, but with the matronymic missing and the name Paternus replaced by Artorgnou. This suggests that they are alternative names for the same individual. The slate thus reads:

The son of Eigr, Paternus, made this for Col.
The renowned Artor made this for Col.

Charles Thomas wrote:
“Line (ii), which is complete, shows a name in latinized second-declension genitive – Coliauus, as Coliaui – followed by a verb, for which the preceding name ought to form the subject. This is not a Roman name. It comprises an element Col-, concievably the same as Coll-, meaning uncertain, found in Celtic name-formation; for example, an Irish ogam inscription with 117 COLLOS (Co Cork). This has been extended with a known British hypocoristic or ‘pet-name’ ending, -iau, in a written Latin context presented as -iauus (the first ‘u’ is a /w/sound).”[1] So Coliauus can be identified with Coll.”

We thus have an inscription with an interesting mix of Brythonic and Latin text. HG 2 states the father of Arthur was Petr. ByS 21 says the father of Padarn was Pedrwn. So, Arthur and Paternus had fathers of the same name, Petranus, supporting the proposition that the two names refer to a single individual.

[1] Barrowman, R. C., Batey, C. E., Morris, C. D., 2007, 199.