Posted by: ken98 | May 24, 2011

The End-Times are Upon Us (or rather the Halfway-Times) and King Arthur was Russian

Day 620 – Ken here (T)(5-24-2011)
(DEF II, v.3, ch.38,Note V.3 pp.500-510)(pages read: 1560)

BIG, BIG day today – EXACTLY THE MIDPOINT of the Decline and Fall – the end of volume 3 (of 6) – and the end of the Roman Empire in the West (at least Gibbon’s telling of the end). From now on, its East, East, East, and non-Romans in the West.

Really tired today, so don’t expect a great deal of insightful commenting – and for some reason I’ve just discovered that I’ve started pluralizing Gibbon’s name – referring to him as Gibbons – I’ve probably been doing that for months now and have just noticed it

Today (not the most interesting of days) we look at fantastic Britain – as in mythical, fantasy-like ancient English history. Well, we can’t even say English (since that’s Angle-ish, and refers to the conquering Saxons and Angles) – this is all more about the end of the Celts in Britain. Gibbon waxes eloquent on the subject of King Arthur, on the perfidy of the Saxons (something you’d expect of a member of the Norman aristocracy – disparaging the nations you conquered 700 years earlier), on Saxon slavery and brutishness, on the wild, artistic, changeable, and mercurial characters of the conquered Celts, and finally a brief summation of the state of the world as the Roman Empire in the West makes its final bows and exits the stage.

The Story
 
Gibbon on King Arthur
 
  • Legend of Arthur – compared to other “cusp” personalities – people who lived in the century of Saxon invasion, Roman military and cultural fading, and Celtic civil war in the former Roman province of Britain
  • He notes: Vortimer, son of Vortigern – a Celt who three times defeated the Saxons in Kent
  • and Ambrosius Aurelian – the loser at the Battle of Badon Hill – one of the pivotal battles in temporarily stopping Saxon invasion of the island – altho very controversial
  • Gibbon notes the history of the history of Arthur and ends by doubting his existence
  •  

    The Saxons Absolutely RUIN Britain
     
  • Gibbon hates the Saxons – they hate the valor of their enemies, break treaties, ransack churches
  • Saxons disdain the laws/customs of the Roman population
  • Their place names and language completely supplant Celtic and Late Latin
  •  

    Saxon Slavery Revealed
     
  • Per Gibbon: Saxons enslave entire populations
  • Those Celts who don’t flee become property of Saxons as slaves
  • Within a couple of generations, much of the subservient Briton Celts are manumitted to become freedmen
  •  

    Descriptions of the Britons – the Conquered Celts
     
  • Desc of Celts – Catholics deride them as heretics due to “incorrect” non-Catholic wearing of the tonsure, and using the “incorrect” dating of Easter
  • The bards – or singers of epics – are powerful men in their society – Gibbon notes even down to Queen Elizabeth’s time there were contests for the best singing
  • Supposedly given to war and feuds
  •  

    The Island of Britain Becomes Mythical to the Rest of the Civilized World
     
  • Britain gradually becomes a mythical place to the Eastern Romans
  • The Island is supposedly divided between the living and the dead by a wall – dividing it into East and West Britain, and the dead are rowed by the living West Britons across the ocean to the land of the dead
  •  
     

    END of Gibbon’s HISTORY OF THE EMPIRE IN THE WEST
     
  • Gibbon goes on to summarize the state of the world in the last couple of decades of the 400’s – the End of the Empire in the West
  • Gibbons follows up tomorrow with a summary of his reasons for the fall of the empire in the West, a kind of post-log before he returns to the East and Eastern Rome
  •  

    Quoteable Gibbon – the Imaginary Roman Empire
     

    Gibbon predictably, takes every opportunity to disparage the Eastern Roman Empire still stubbornly existing and fabulously wealthy and large in the Eastern Mediterranean. I don’t know how he manages, over the space of 200+ years to squeeze so much disdain and enmity into the adjective “Greek” just by italicizing it – the vaunted Gibbon rapier-like wit in action, yet again.

    The majesty of Rome was faintly represented by the princes of Constantinople, the feeble and imaginary successors of Augustus. Yet they continued to reign over the East, from the Danube to the Nile and Tigris; the Gothic and Vandal kingdoms of Italy and Africa were subverted by the arms of Justinian; and the history of the Greek emperors may still afford a long series of instructive lessons and interesting revolutions.

    (DEF ii, ch.38, p.507)

     

    An Illustration by Aubrey Beardsley - How Sir Bediver cast the Sword Excalibur Into the Water - A beautiful Art Nouveau view of the last scenes in Mallorys Morte d Arthur

    An Illustration by Aubrey Beardsley - How Sir Bediver cast the Sword Excalibur Into the Water - A beautiful Art Nouveau view of the last scenes in Mallorys Morte d Arthur


     
     
     

    Last Word…
    The (Ongoing) Controversy of the Identity of King Arthur – Gibbon Adds His 2 Pence
    Also, the Sarmatian Theory of King Arthur, placing him firmly in Russia (well, the Ukraine, and well… culturally there at least)
     

    Gibbon, in true Enlightenment fashion, loves to doubt anything previously considered certain, esp. if the certain persons were Medieval and the certainty was a much told story of the Middle Ages – such are the Romances of King Arthur. Gibbon reviews the historical and literary genesis of Arthur as it was known in the late 18th century – from Jeffrey Monmouth, through Thomas Mallory, and thence through other countries of Europe (ex. Greece, etc). Gibbon’s ends by stating the current opinion of “enlightened” men – that of nonexistence.

    At length the light of science and reason was rekindled; the talisman was broken; the visionary fabric melted into air; and by a natural, though unjust, reverse of the public opinion, the severity of the present age is inclined to question the existence of Arthur.

    (DEF ii ch.38, p.501)

    The existence/non-existence, identity/non-identity of King Arthur is alive and well in the 21st century, despite Gibbon’s predictions – (from WIki) there are
    various and many vociferous proponents of a historical Arthur.

    Even if it is all a story and a lie – its a very beautiful story and lie – and its spawned a great deal of great and not-so great literature and art – as well as memorable commercial references – so in the end I’m not sure it matters all that much what the truth is – at least to me – but then as a friend of mine always says “there’s nothing as boring as someone else’s fetishes” and I’m not a dyed-in-the-wool, inveterate Arthurian, so dismissing it all is pretty easy for me to say.

     

    First Edition cover of the T H Whites Once and Future King - an incredibly entertaining re-telling of Mallory's Morte d Arthur - and one of my MOST FAVORITE books of all time - and not in the least historical - well, at least not intentionally as T H White says

    First Edition cover of the T H Whites Once and Future King - an incredibly entertaining re-telling of Mallory's Morte d Arthur - and one of my MOST FAVORITE books of all time - and not in the least historical - well, at least not intentionally as T H White says repeatedly


     
    Film Poster of the 1967 film Camelot - an adaptation of T H Whites amazing novel - and AGAIN one of my favorite things - to quote yet another movie I like - actually I'd have to say my most favorite movie is The Lion in Winter - but that's another story for another time

    Film Poster of the 1967 film Camelot - an adaptation of T H Whites amazing novel - and AGAIN one of my favorite things - to quote yet another movie I like - actually I'd have to say my most favorite movie is The Lion in Winter - but that's another story for another time


     
    Poster of King Arthur - the movie from 2004 - I've never actually seen this one - but supposedly uses one of the Arthur theories (the Sarmatian theory) spelled out in Wiki - that the Arthur legend hails from the steppes of the Ukraine, when Marcus Aurelius relocated some conquered Sarmatians from Russia to Great Britain in 175 A.D. and they were still there in the late 400's and started the whole Arthur mystique with Sarmatian legends of their own - who knows -  stranger things have happened...

    Poster of King Arthur - the movie from 2004 - I've never actually seen this one - but supposedly uses one of the Arthur theories (the Sarmatian theory) spelled out in Wiki - that the Arthur legend hails from the steppes of the Ukraine, when Marcus Aurelius relocated some conquered Sarmatians from Russia to Great Britain in 175 A.D. and they were still there in the late 400's and started the whole Arthur mystique with Sarmatian legends of their own - who knows - stranger things have happened...


     

     

    Label from King Arthur Flour - just on the border of New Hampshire in Norwich Vermont - coming from a family of Vermonters from way back I couldn't resist including this

    Label from King Arthur Flour - just on the border of New Hampshire in Norwich Vermont - coming from a family of Vermonters from way back I couldn't resist including this

    FYI Links:
    The Once and Future King
    Camelot (loosely based film version of the above)
    King Arthur – film 2004
    King Arthur Flour – Vermont Company

    Advertisements

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

    WordPress.com Logo

    You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

    Connecting to %s

    Categories

    %d bloggers like this: