A Trojan Legacy
Dark Age Britain fills our minds with images of chariots racing, ancient battles, Roman legions and Celtic warriors, Saxon raiders and later the Vikings. Then there is Arthur and the vivid world surrounding him. But what happened before Arthur took the stage? How did Britain come to be? Here are some myths surrounding those earliest times.
Brutus of Troy was a descendant of Aeneas who alone of that city’s princes escaped the carnage alive. Aeneas’s people settled in Rome and founded that city (again myth and Romulus and Remus are not mentioned here.) Brutus ruled there for a time but was exiled and ended up in Greece, where he found more of his people enslaved by the Greeks. He freed them and decided to look for a new land to dwell in as nobody wanted him back in Rome. The Goddess Diana told of ‘The Most Beautiful Land’ west of the Pillars of Hercules (aka Straits of Gibralter.) That land was called Albion and Brutus was destined to be its first king.
Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote a book way back in 1136 called Historia Regum Britanniae and presented it as a history of Britain. This told of Brutus’s arrival in Albion (and his renaming the country Britain.) Brutus landed in Totnes Devon and from there ruled The Island Of The Mighty eventually moving his capital to a settlement on the Tamesis (Thames) that became Caer Lud (London.)
G of M went on to provide expansive literature on succeeding rulers up until the time of Arthur, and briefly beyond. There is a rich tapestry here, and the stories make fascinating reading: Gogmagog the invincible Giant, (pictured above) Vennolandua the fiercely vengeful warrior queen, Bladud the Blemished Prince who learns to fly, King Leir and his daughters and Old King Cole (long before Shakespeare found them.) The tales also tell of Corineus the giant killer who founded Cornwall, the villainous King Vortigern who opened the floodgates allowing the Saxon brigands Hengist and Horsa break through. It tells of Merlin’s prophecy of the red and white dragons, and the events leading up and through the reign of King Arthur.
Geoffrey of Monmouth’s account is seen as highly inaccurate but acts as an insight to what life would have been like in that distant time. Brutus (despite being Trojan and therefore of Ionian descent) represents the coming of the Celts from across the ocean, proud new conquerors driving the forgotten people who constructed Avebury and Stonehenge into shadows and echoes of the past.
As for the many characters and wonderful accounts, G of M got his source from somewhere, and he was much closer to that distant time than we are. Much can be surmised about The Island of the Mighty and its first rulers. We will never know.
To delve deeper into this fascinating and much-ignored prehistory I recommend another book. Geoffrey Ashe wrote Mythology of The British Isles back in 1990. Nothing I’ve come across compares for a comprehensive study of the period and legends hinted at by Geoffrey of Monmouth. (I know–– too many Geoffreys!)
Mythology Of The British Isles covers this subject with depth and detail sharing many facts ignored by other books. Here is an excellent study for fans of Celtic Mythology, and I heartily recommend it. Please note this is British Mythology and there is little reference to Ireland, which has its own wonderfully rich branch of Celtic Mythology. There are many similarities, and some of the characters collide, but they are very different in content and detail. For more on this fascainating subject take a look at this Wikipedea Link
‘And Now for something completely different…’
Next Up: The Weekly Fantasy Series
Episode Eight: A New Task
The skiff cut clean through sparkling clear water as the sun’s glare dazzled his eyes and did nothing for that aching head. Far behind, the fronds of palms waved farewell as Corin glanced back at the hazy coastline of Permio and the distant towers of Cappel Cormac, now fading from view.
He’d had an interesting time vacating the city. Fortunately, the Sultan’s boys had got entangled with the last of Krugan’s louts, resulting in a major punch up nobody wanted to miss out on. Except for Corin who was ready for a quiet night in, should chance allow? It didn’t.
Corin had found a squalid corner to hang out for a moment, ease his frayed nerves and share a bottle with the tavern wench, who’d followed him out the privy window. Her name was Lora and they got on rather well considering the situation. There wasn’t much room but necessity helped them find a way. Needs must when urges surge.
That following dawn found Corin a bit dazed, scanning the docks for hasty passage back north. Luckily he had just enough coin to cadge a ride on some creaking tub bound for Raleen. Serendipity’s a wonderful thing.
As he staggered on board a swarm of scarlet cloaked guards raged into the docks. Word was out that the creep who started the fracas in ‘the Duck’ was still at large. An arrow thudded into the ship’s shabby strakes scarce inches from Corin’s fist. A second pierced the wobbly mast, but the third fell short into slimy water.
“Tossers!’ Called Corin cheerfully saluting his new friends at the quay. For their part, the soldiers were happy to wait. They suspected this one would be back before long, as his kind were usually banished from up north. And when he was …
A week later the skiff raised the sandy walls of Port Sarfe, and later that day, Corin an Fol found his weary bones back in Vioyamis Villa, with Silon’s brown gaze surveying him without much interest.
“Don’t get comfortable, I’ve a task for you,” the merchant said rubbing his diamond. Corin smiled; nice to be back. “How’s Nalissa?” Worth a mention. “It involves a friend of yours; a man called Hagan.” But fell on flat ground.
“He’s no friend of mine,” responded Corin, feeling that sinking feeling wash over him again. “Last I knew he wanted to kill me…”
Silon’s smile was lizard lean. “I only need one of you after this contract.” Corin grinned, “That’s good to know. So where’s he to?” “Morwella,” Silon said. “You sail north with the tide.”
And that was the start of a very difficult week.
These stories and much more are also available inside the J.W. Webb V.I.P Lounge. A fun weekly newsletter and free to join –– click this link and you’ll receive a complimentary copy of Gray Wolf the first Corin adventure as a welcome on board. To view the books on Amazon.com click here Legends Of Ansu
This blog is dedicated to the memory of Roger Garland the Tolkien Illustrator who created the wonderful sketches above for the Ansu series. A marvellous man I was privileged to know. Nothing is ever forgotten…