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main index      © Jeff Matthews     entry Oct 2006               

Everything is related to Naples
Number 14 in this series. Link to all items here.

King Arthur
Well, You Can Round my Tabl
e if this Don't Beat All!


Yes, another episode in the never-ending series, "All Famous People Are From Naples". We now know that the founder of the Knights Templar was Neapolitan, and a future installment will deal with Napoleon. Just look at the names: Napoleon/ Neapolitan! Coincidence?  Hah. For now, however, settle for King Arthur.

Ever since prominent German historian, philologist, and bockwurst maker Heinrich Zimmer opined in 1890 that the name "Arthur" amazingly derives from Latin "Arturius" (see Zimmer, Heinrich. 1890. "Review of Gaston Paris's Histoire littéraire de la France, Tome XXX", Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen) there has been speculation that King Arthur was a Roman.

The most recent reworking of that intriguing possibility is in the form of the book, From Scythia to Camelot: Radical Reassessment of the Legends of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table and the Holy Grail, by C. Scott Littleton and Linda A. Malcor (Garland Science, 2000). It presents a dauntingly footnoted argument that King Arthur was one Lucius Arturius Castus, who entered military service as a centurion in 158 AD. He served during the reign of Caesar Antoninus Pius and was assigned to Syria. In 166 AD, he was stationed near present-day Budapest, where he fought the Sarmatians of the central Asian steppes. In 175 AD he and others were sent to Britain to a fort at Bremetennacum, near Eboracum (present day York), where they formed the so-called "Sarmatian cavalry", led by Castus. They were among the defenders of Hadrian's Wall against the Pict invasions of 180-185 AD. And, interestingly, Castus established an outpost called Caerleon, known by the Welsh as—Camelot! Thus, the Arthurian and Holy Grail legends do not derive from Celtic folklore, but rather from the folklore of the ancient Sarmatians, brought to Britain by real Roman warriors and their chief, Lucius Arturius Castus, who then wound up being woven into the myths, themselves. Castus' family left dozens of inscriptions all over the city of Rome—and one at Pompeii—and they lived in Campania (the modern Italian province of which Naples is the capital). Thus, King Arthur was originally from right around here someplace.

With Chrétien de Troyes (who wrote Perceval), Sir Thomas Malory (who wrote Le Morte D'Arthur), and Wolfram von Eschenbach (who wrote I Wonder Why my Parents Named Me "Tungsten"), I, too, believe in the spiritual quest, in humility, in chastity (well, maybe not chastity); with Robert Heinlein, I, too, want "…Excalibur held by a moon-white arm out of a silent lake…", (Glory Road, R. Heinlein, 1963) so I really want this one to be true. The lake—a good candidate, and I can opine as well as Fritz Bockwurst up at the top—is nearby Lake Averno, more fabled than any Celtic puddle in Britain. It's near where they keep the water buffalo that produce all that good mozzarella. My guess is that they have a camel lot next door, as well.



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