There are few heroic figures like King Arthur. Tales of his chivalric bravery - and that of his knights of the round table - remains as enduringly popular today as they were over 1,000 years ago when romances concerning these knights were first published.The traditional setting for Arthur and his court at Camelot is in either Cornwall or Wales. Legend tells of a kingly man who pulled swords out of stones, protected England and eventually sent his men to quest for the Holy Grail. But what if this interpretation is all wrong? A number of authors downthrough the ages have suggested that Arthur - this most English of heroes - was in fact from Scotland, a story if true that would stand history on its head.What we now refer to as Scotland didn't exist in the period during which Arthur is said to have lived.
In the 6th century Scotland was tribal. The people living in and around Edinburgh and southwards into what is now the North of England were known as the Votadini – or Gododdin. It is in a 6th century poem Y Gododin that the first ever mention of Arthur appears in print:
"… one Gwallawg who 'although he fed the ravens, was no Arthur'."
This remark acknowledges
the fighting spirit of Gwallawg, who offers plenty for the ravens to
pick upon in battlefields, but cannot compare with the fighting prowess
of the mighty Arthur. The referencesuggests that Arthur was a
well-known figure at the time.
The next appearance of
Arthur in literature appears in Adomnan's Life of St Columba. Written
in the 7th century it tells the story of St Columba – an Irish monk who
built the monastery on Iona. This book mentions a 6th century prince,
Arturius, the son of Aidan who died fighting the Miathi Picts.
The main source of the
"mythologising" about Arthur derives from the writings of Geoffrey of
Monmouth whose 1138 Historia Regum Britanniae firmly locates Arthur as
a British King and sets out his exploits with his knights and Merlin.
This book provided the main basis for all subsequent Arthurian legend
and places him in the South of England.
Yet this book is no barrier for authors like Stuart McHardy who writes in his book On the Trail of the HolyGrail:
The term fairy tale brings to mind a children’s story, but in truth these tales are parables of history. It is a spiritual teaching that calls out to us from the ancient past. It is a lesson that will not die, even though it has been suppressed, repressed, persecuted, attacked, and twisted for centuries.In olden times, it was common for all religious teachings to take the form of parable. We all know that the New Testament stories of the shepherd and his flock are not lessons in animal husbandry. They are parables for religious teachings.Fairy tales are the same. In order to decipher them and find their message, we need only grasp the concepts behindthe ‘Olde Ways’, and remember the persecution of these peoples and their history.
libraries of Alexandria were one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
was a truly metropolitan centre of culture and learning. In AD 351,
Bishop Theophilus of Rome led an attack on the great libraries,
destroying the accumulated knowledge of the ancient world. The reason
for this onslaught was based on The Council of Creeds of Nicaea, which
demanded that orthodox Christianity be the official religious doctrine
of the people. This bloody trend of persecution continued for almost
2,000 years, spreading across Europe and the Middle East, and
eventually crossing to the Americas in the form of the Salem Witch
One such story, rarely
taught in schools, tells the tale of Hypatia. She was a professor of
philosophy, a notedauthority on the works of Plato and a teacher of
algebraic mathematics. However, in the eyes of the Mother Church,
Hypatia was a witch.
After the destruction of
the Alexandrian libraries, the cleric mobs hunted down any scholars
whose works conflicted with the teachings of the Church, especially
women like Hypatia who, they claimed, had no place in the academic
world. She was captured and dragged from her carriage by a group of
monks, stripped naked and paraded through the streets to the churchyard
of Caesarium. They held her down and “scooped the flesh from her bones
with sharp tiles and oyster shells”. When she finally died from the
shock and torture, the monks scattered her remains in the streets as a
grisly warning to the people of Alexandria.
The fairy tales and
children’s songs that have survived over the centuries tell thestory
Nobody ever called themselves barbarians. It’s not that sort of word. It’s a word used about other people. It was used by the ancient Greeks to describe non-Greek people whose language they could not understand and who therefore seemed to babble unintelligibly: “ba ba ba”. The Romans adopted the Greek word and used it to label (and usually libel) the peoples who surrounded their own world.The Roman interpretation became the only one that counted, and the peoples whom they called Barbarians became for ever branded — be they Spaniards, Britons, Gauls, Germans, Scythians, Persians or Syrians. And, of course, “barbarian” has become a bywordfor the very opposite of everything that we consider civilised.The Romans kept the Barbarians at bay for as long as they could, but finally they were engulfed and the savage hordes overran the empire, destroying the cultural achievements of centuries.
The light of
reason and civilisation was almost snuffed out by the Barbarians, who
annihilated everything that the Romans had put in place, sacking Rome
itself and consigning Europe to the Dark Ages.
The Barbarians brought
only chaos and ignorance, until the renaissance rekindled the fires of
Roman learning and art.
It is a familiar story, and it’s codswallop.
The unique feature of Rome
was not its arts or its science or its philosophical culture, not its
attachment to law. The unique feature of Rome was that it had the
world’s first professionalarmy. Normal societies consisted of farmers,
hunters, craftsmen and traders. When they needed to fight they relied
not on training or on standardised weapons, but on psyching themselves
up to acts of individual heroism.
Seen through the eyes of
people who possessed trained soldiers to fight for them, they were
easily portrayed as simple savages. But that was far from the truth.
The fact that we still
think of the Celts, the Huns, the Vandals, the Goths and so on as
“barbarians” means that we have all fallen hook, line and sinker for
Roman propaganda. We actually owe far more to the so-called
“barbarians” than we do to the men in togas.
In the past 30 years,
however, the story has begun to change. Archeological discoveries have
shed new light on the ancient texts that have survived and this has led
Few really believe in vampires, monsters and witches, but these enduring characters of Halloween and the movies have a basis in real life that is often more interesting than the fantasy.Think of Halloween and your mind conjures images of ghosts, vampires, witches and monsters. Our modern versions of them have largely been crafted by popular literature and, more influentially, the movies. But like many fantastic characters of myth and lore, they have a basis in reality.Sometimes the true stories of these creatures that haunt our imaginations are just as weird and amazing as their fictional incarnations:
Today's vampire persona -
the elegant blood-sucking creature of the night - comes primarily from
Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula, published in 1897.
Stoker's story, in
turn, was based loosely on the real-life Vlad Dracula (1431-1476), a
prince who actually did live in Transylvania in the Carpathian
Mountains of Romania. The name Dracula is derived from a Romanian word
that means "devil" or dragon." Obviously, Vlad Dracula was not a
vampire, but Stoker undoubtedly used the historical figure as the basis
of his vampire story because of Vlad's bloodthirsty style of dealing
with those who opposed him. A Brief History About the Dracula states:
"Vlad's brutal manner of terrorizing his enemies and the seemingly
arbitrary manner in which he had people punished earned him the
nickname 'Tepes' or 'theImpaler,' the common name by which he is known
today. Stories of Vlad's cruelties were circulating through Europe. His
end came at the hand of an assassin at some point toward the end of
December 1476 or early January 1477."
The legend of the vampire
predates Bram Stoker and even Vlad the Impaler. Vampires Thru the Ages
traces them back to 1047 and a document referring to a Russian Prince
as "Upir Lichy" or Wicked Vampire. A century later, Walter Map's De
Nagis Curialium includes accounts of vampire-like beings in England.
Waves of vampire hysteria swept through Prussia and Hungary in the
1700s, fueled perhaps by disease, ignorance and maybe a psychotic
serial killer or two.
The tradition of the
vampire has been firmly established into our modern culture by
Hollywood, television and the highly popular novels of AnneRice.