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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Was Arthur Pagan or Christian?

It is unlikely less than two centuries after Christianity became the state religion that people would entirely abandon Paganism, the faiths of their forefathers, see Paganism in the Arthurian age. It is likely that Arthur straddled both Pagan and Christian beliefs. In V. Paterni he appears as two opposing characters, namely tyrant Arthur and Christian Paternus. Not surprisingly in a Christian document, Paternus is shown to be supreme as symbolised by him retaining the tunic despite the challenge from Pagan Arthur.

Arthur’s descent from Cunedda

Gwen, the supposed mother of Eigr, is said to have been the daughter of Cunedda Wledig, see Amlawdd and Gwen. Arthur is identified with Paternus on the Tintagel slate. The V. Paterni tells us that Paternus’s mother was a lady named Gwen (Guean) but does not give her ancestry. This is provided by a late addition to the ByS in the manuscript Pen. 128:

Gwenn v’ch Karedic ap Kvnedda wledic

The respective pedigrees are shown below:

Gen. JC 7, ByA 29(13, 14) ByS Pen. 128 Reconciled
0 Arthur Paternus Arthur/Paternus
-1 Eigr Gwen Eigr Gwendragon
-2 Gwen Ceredig Ceredig
-3 Cunedda Cunedda Cunedda

Arthur’s pedigree may be reconciled with that of Paternus as follows. Gwen was not the mother of Eigr and that name was part of her cognomen as shown in column entitled ‘Reconciled’ in the table above. The evidence for this assertion is provided by two Irish Arthurian Romances. In the RIA.23D 22 version of the Romance Eachtra an Mhadra Mhaoil (The Story of the Crop-Eared Dog)[1] we have:

Artur mhic Iobhair mhic Ambros mhic Constaintin

whereas in the RIA.23M 26 version it is:

Arthur mhac Ambróis mic ConstantÍn mic Uighir Finndrea guin

In the Romance Eachtra Mhacaoimh an Iolair (The Story of Eagle-boy)[2] the last name in the above pedigree takes the form Ughdaire Finndreagain. These pedigrees are consistent but need to be interpreted thus:

Gen. EaMM RIA.23D 22 EaMM RIA.23M 26 EMaI
0 Artur Arthur Artur
-1 Iobhair [Iobhair] Uighir Finndreaguin Iubhair Ughdaire Finndreagain
-2 Ambros Ambróis Ambrois
-3 Constaintin ConstantÍn Constaintin

So, Arthur’s father, Iobhair, was the son of Ambrois (Ambrosius) who in turn was the son of Constantin (Custennin Gorneu). Moreover, Arthur’s mother was Uighir Finndreaguin (Eigr Gwendragon), where Irish Finn and Welsh Gwen have the meaning white or fair or blessed. Finndreaguin was erroneoulsy taken to be Cinndreaguin, resulting in the matronymic Arthur m. Uighir Finndreaguin becoming the false patronymic Arthur m. Uther Pendragon. Another inaccuracy is the assertion that Eigr’s father was Amlawdd Wledig. As noted by Brynley F. Roberts[3] he is a fictitious character whose only role is that his daughters are the mothers of heroic figures.

[1] ITS vol.10 1907 2
[2] ITS vol.10 1907 118
[[3] AoW 94

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 Igraine, Paternus, made this for his grandfather Coel.
Artorgnou made this for his grandfather Coel.

So, Arthur’s name in his own lifetime was Artorgnou. The second element of the latter name means renowned. The two elements of his name can be seen to be in reverse order in the manuscripts listed in the table below where all the names are given in their original form:

Gen. ABT 18a fragment
HG 2 fragment
JC 12 fragment
3 Kathen Cathen Cathen
2 Gwlyddien Cloten [Gwlyddien]
1 [Eleothen] [Eleothen] Eleothen
0 Nowy (m.) Arthur Nougoy (m.) Arthur Nennue (m.) Arthur
-1 Pedyr Petr Peder

This reversal of the elements may have occurred when a text that indicated Artorgnou was the father of Eleothen came to be interpreted as Arthur was the father of Nowy who was the father of Eleothen. Eleothen is wrongly believed to be a corruption of Cloten and, in fact, the name refers to Llacheu who was indeed a son of Arthur. He may be Ilinot, a son of Guinevere, in Wolfram’s Parzival and Loholt in Perlesvaus and Ulrich’s Lanzelet.

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 Padern was Petrwn. So, Arthur and Paternus had fathers of the same name, Petranus, supporting the proposition that the two names refer to a single individual.