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]

J. Colarusso states that the protoform for Batraz was */pat‛(e)raʒ/.[3]  The name is likely to be a derivative from Paternus, the other name by which Arthur was known, as indicated on the Tintagel slate.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.

Colarusso explains that the Nart epic took shape from ancient times up to the 14th C. However, since Paternus is a historically attested figure whereas Batraz is a mythical one, the transmission of the legend must have gone in the opposite direction, namely from west to east, probably as a result of the Crusades

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 ‘Artor’ with the epithet ‘gnou’. Whether this 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.

The Bayeux tapestry and the draco standards

The pedigree of Godwin, earl of Wessex and father of king Harold Godwinson, in the manuscript Llyfr Baglan indicates he was descended from Clement, duke of Cornwall and father of Pedrock. This is confirmed by H2414 which describes him as “iarll Kernyw”. It is, therefore, likely that the red and gold draco standard portrayed as still standing on the Bayeux tapestry is of Cornish and not Saxon origin. To the left can be seen a gold draco standard that has fallen. This may be that of Wessex.

Bayeux tapestry

Psalterium Aureum, St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek

Those standards were being held by foot soldiers and differ from those used by the Sarmatian cavalry. That the latter version was still in use as late as the 9th C is indicated by an image of a Carolingian draco standard in the Psalterium Aureum which dates from that period.