For many centuries the true identity of King Arthur has been obscured by two separate entities. The first were the medieval romances which added so much fancy to his biography, such as many-towered Camelot & the Holy Grail. The second was modern Arthurian scholarship, a gaggle of blinkered academics who have come to the rather strange conclusion that Arthur did not, in fact, exist! However, after a long litological dig (literary archaeology) I have indeed found out the identity of Arthur – he was a Gothic general in the Byzantine legions who ranged all over Europe in the early sixth century AD. Wherever he went he left a trail, but as the name Peter differs according to which language it is uttered in (French = Pierre, Danish = Pedyr), so too was Arthur’s name different in varying regions. Add to this the oral corruptions & scribal mistakes that abounded through the barely literate Dark Ages, then as we shall see Arthur’s name & identity kaliedoscoped into manifold splinters. This was caused by what by what I have identified as The Chisper Effect, (after the children’s parlour game of Chinese Whispers) where words are corrupted & altered as they pass from ear to mouth. As an example of the Effect in action, let us examine the following sequence of names;
ELIFFER – ELIFERT – ALATHORT – ALATHAR – ELEUTHER – ELEUTHERIUS – ELIODORUS
At first glance they seem seven different men. However, three of the names were cited by different sources as being the father of a certain Peredur – ELIFFER, ELIFERT & ELEUTHER. The first two names were even placed side-by-side in a medieval chronicle known as the Annales Cambrae, showing the original compiler of the text was working from different sources – a chisper that was taking place right before his eyes, as in;
573 – The battle of Arfderydd – between the sons of ELIFFER and Gwenddolau son of Ceidio; in which battle Gwenddolau fell; Merlin went mad.
580 - Gwrgi and Peredur – sons of ELIFERT – died.
That ELIFERT is also ELIFFER is made evident by medieval Welsh Triads which read; … Gwgon Gwron son of Peredur son of ELIFFER of the Great Retinue (Three Prostrate Chieftains) The spelling Eliffer can also be seen in a genealogy of northern Brythonic kings known as the Descent of the Men of the North (Boneddy y Gwr y Gogledd) , which reads;
Gvrgi a Pheredur meibon ELIFFER Gosgorduavr m Arthwys m Mar m Keneu m Coel
This gives us more information on Eliffer, who was once a king of the Hen Ogledd, that is the old north between the Humber-Mersey line & the Firths of Forth & Clyde. He also seems to have been a famous war-leader, for the epithet ‘Gosgorduavr,’ means ‘of the great retinue/warband.’ In another genealogy (Harleian 6), a chisper of the syllable ‘f’ to ‘th’ can be seen, as in; Gurci ha Peretur mepion ELEUTHER cascord maur map letlum map Ceneú map Coylhen. This ‘th’ chisper is important, for it gives us the central component of King Arthur’s name. Returning to the list of names given above, we see that between ELIFERT & ELEUTHER are placed the names ALATHORT & ALATHAR. Again, these are different 6th century versions of the same person, & it must be noted that the chisper effect of placing a ‘t’ to the end of the name is identical to that which occurred with ELIFFER & ELIFERT. In this instance, where Jordanes gives us ALATHORT John of Antioch calls him ALATHAR. He was the Magister Utriusquae Militae of Thrace, i.e. the master of both cavalry & infantry (utriusquae means both). Both Jordanes & John of Antioch tell us how he fought alongside Hypatius for the emperor Anastasius against the gothic rebel-leader Vitalian (513 AD), with Jordanes adding he was a Goth.
The next Arthurian avatar in the chain is ELEUTHERIUS whose name appears in a letter by Severus of Antioch, sent to Misael the Chamberlain, sent during the episcopacy at some pointbetween 513 & 518, which states proclaims a; ‘Glorious sacellar the lord Eleutherius.’ The sacellarship was a role in the Byzantine government akin to that of Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, a rank which came with the command of military units based in Constantinople. The role also corresponds to that of the ‘Grand Curator,’ found in another letter by Severus (515 AD), adressed to Hypatius, which proclaims ‘the illustrious HELIODORUS, your curator.’ . The name change may have been delibarate, with Severus writing to men who spoke different languages (Hypatius/Misael the Chamberlian), or unintentential, through the Syraic translator of the letters – Athanasius II of Antioch – & the transliterations of later scribes. A link to the avatars comes in the letter to Hypatius, which connects HELIODORUS to of the city of Augusta, (Augusta Traiana), the second largest city in Thrace, which corresponds with ALATHAR’s title of MVM for Thrace. Another link between these two avatars is found in The ‘Book of Pontiffs,’ a ninth century collection of biographies of the popes, stating that during the papacy of Hormisdas (514-523), two bishops named Ennodius & Peregrinus were flung out of Constantinople by Anastasius; ‘In fury the emperor threw them out by a postern gate & set them on a dangerous ship, along with soldiers & the magistriani & preafectiani ELIODORUS & Demetrius.’ The soldiers on board this ‘dangerous ship’ were led by a Magister, which connects (H)ELIODORUS to the MVM for Thrace. The sailing took place at some point between the 28th July 516 (when a letter was received in Constantinople by Anastasis via an imperial embassy from Rome) & the 11th July 517, (when Anastasius broke off negotiations with Rome following the failed embassy of Ennodius & Peregrinus). Surely, then, these men are all one & the same, supported by their arrival in, & disappearance from, Byzantine politics, over a space of only four years (513-516).
Returning to our chisper-chain of seven names once more, we can see it weaves between Byzanine & British avatars with regularity, suggesting that they should be the same person. The dates certainly fit, for as the father of Pheredur (D.580), the activity of ELIFFER/ELIFERT/ELEUTHER can easily be dated to the early decades of the sixth century. As we have seen, another solid connection between the two men’s ‘biographies’ comes with their military leadership. The forces that ALATHAR/ELIODORUS was said to have commanded – both cavalry & infantry – could well have been perceived as ELIFFER’s ‘Great Warband’ by Brythonic historians. This Brytho-Byzantine connection is reinforced through Peredur, who in the oldest version of the Welsh tale, Peredur son of Efrawg, found in a manuscript known as Peniarth 7, spends 14 years with the empress of Constantinople. It is while Peredur sojurned in the Byzantine capital that Procopius names a certain Pharos the Herulian fighting alongside Belisarius during the great reconquista of territories lost by the Roman empire to the Visogoths & Vandals in the 5th century. Again, let us observe the Chisper Effect in action to ascertain how Pheredur (the oldest spelling of Peredur) was derived from Pharos the Herulian. Beginning with the latter, he would have appeared as Pharos Eril, the epithet being found on inscriptions in Scandinavia.
Pharos-Eril/Irul ————— Parc-ival
I have looked at this deeper in another post (see….) In shortParcival is the name used for Peredur by the 12th Century German writer Wolfram von Eschanbach, who stated the original source as being written in Arabic, then translated into Provencal French, from which he then wrote down the name Parcival. This translation & retranslation opens up multiple possibilities of chispering, & by simple reading aloud the two names shows how similar they indeed are. This in turn gives us a direct link between ELIFFER & ALATHAR, for as the latter was described as a Goth, so too can be described ELIFFER’s son, Peredur, i.e. Pharos the Herulian, whose tribe was described by Pliny & Tacitus (1CE) as being Gothic.
We are now in a position to paint a portrait of a rather interesting dark-age figure, whose name appears in several forms, of which we shall us choose Alathar as the principal. His biography tells us;
1 – He was a king in the North of Britain
2 – He took a high-ranking position in the Byzantine Empire
3 – He was a Goth with connections to Thrace
4 – He was considered a great man among his peers (illustrious & glorious)
5 – He was a military leader of major forces
6 – His son was Pheredur/Pharos the Herulian
It is now time to turn to the main avatar himself, ARTHUR, derived from ALATHAR through a common chisper; the rhotacism that changes l’s to r’s found, for example, Old Romanian, Old Portuguese, & the Norman poets. Through traces of his existence we can connect his byzantine avatars with his British. Seminal to this are a great number of pottery sherds found in Tintagel, Cornwall, which legend tells us was the birthplace of Arthur himself, asserted as being, ‘Only a comparatively brief importation from the Medittaranean lasting from c AD 475- cAD 550 at the most,’ *** (2). The consistency of Tintagelware is made up from broken sherds of amphorae which once used to store olive oil or wine. Byzantine in origin, they suggest they were once part of the supplies that sailed from Constantinople with a military force.A quater of all the remains were found at Tintagel, suggesting this was the main entry point for the forces involved, & it interesting that at the majority of the other sites where Tintagelware is found, we can taste a trace of Arthur. Of these, South Cadbury Hillfort was even thought to be Camelot itself.
The two oldest sources for Arthur paint a picture of a less-than-noble warrior who fought 12 battles against the Saxon invaders of Britain in the early sixth century. Each recension of the Historia Brittonum, written over the period 550-650, gives us a slightly differing version of Arthur’s passage; so to simplify matters I have synthesized them into a single account, being;
Then it was, that the magnanimous Arthur, with all the kings and military force of Britain, fought against the Saxons in those days, but Arthur himself was the dux bellorum. And though there were many more noble than himself, yet he was twelve times chosen their commander, and was as often conqueror.
His first battle was at the mouth of the river which is called Glein. His second, third, fourth, and fifth battles were above another river which is called Dubglas and is in the region of Linnuis. The sixth battle was above the river which is called Bassas. The seventh battle was in the forest of Celidon, which the Britons call Cat Coit Celidon.. The eighth battle was near the fortress of Guinnion, in which Arthur carried the image of holy Mary ever virgin on his shoulders; and the pagans were put to flight on that day. And through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and through the power of the blessed Virgin Mary his mother there was great slaughter among them. The ninth was at hthe City of Legion, which is called Cair Lion. The tenth battle was waged on the banks of a river which is called Tribruit. The eleventh battle was fought on the mountain which is called Agnet. The twelfth was a most severe contest, when Arthur penetrated to the hill of Badon in which there fell in one day 960 men from one charge by Arthur; no one but the Lord affording him assistance. In all these engagements the Britons were successful. For no strength can avail against the will of the Almighty.
And while they were being defeated in all the battles, they were seeking assistance from Germany and their numbers were being augmented many times over without interruption. And they brought over kings from Germany that they might reign over them in Britain, right down to the time in which Ida reigned, who was son of Eobba. He was the first king in Bernicia, i.e., in Berneich.
ARTHUR here is not a king, but a Dux Bellorum, an evidently Roman military title meaning ‘Duke of Battles.’ This connects with his Byzantine roots, & that, ‘there were many more noble than himself,’ links to his Gothic roots. Nennius ends the twelve battles with the onset of the reign Ida, said by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to have begun in 547, which fits in with Arthur death at Camlann in 538, given by the other of our oldest Arthurian sources, the Welsh chronicle called the Annales Cambrae:
517 – The Battle of Badon, in which Arthur carried the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ for three days and three nights on his shoulders and the Britons were the victors.
538 – The battle of Camlann, in which Arthur and Medraut fell: and there was plague in Britain and Ireland.
These dates fit perfectly with our Arthurian avatars. Indeed, As ELIODORUS, we saw him leaving Constantinople in 516 with a ship full of soldiers probably on their way to fight the Battle of Badon the following year. We can also match ARTHUR’S first battle – fought at the mouth of the River Glein – to an entry in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle;
501 A.D. This year Porta and his two sons, Beda and Mela, came into Britain, with two ships, at a place called Portsmouth. They soon landed, and slew on the spot a young Briton of very high rank.
Portsmouth lies on edge of the Solent, which is something of a giant estuary fed by several rivers. Looking over the waters there to this day still stands virtually intact the citadel of Portchester (Portus Adurni), the greatest example of a Roman Sea-fortress in the world, defending Britain’s best harbour at Portsmouth. But which of the rivers which feed the Solent is the Glein? The very name appears in the the Ravenna Cosmography written 700 AD, which sites the place-name Clauinio/Clauimo, while similar geographical Roman text, the Antonine Itinerary, dated to c.200 AD, sites the Roman settlement of Clausentum 20 miles west of Chichester & 10 miles from Winchester, suggesting Bitterne, on the mouth of todays River Itchen, was the site of Clausentium. Thus the River Glein would be toady’s River Itchen. That Arthur fought at Portsmouth is confirmed by a the beautiful old Welsh elegy, Geraint Son of Erbin, which briefly mentions Arthur fighting in a cavalry battle at a place called Llongborth, which means ‘ship–harbour’ in Welsh – a perfect match to Portsmouth. In addition, the same poem tells us Geraint died in the battle, which connects sweetly with the ASC ‘s description of the death of a, ‘Young Briton of very high rank.’ The relevant stanzas read;
In Llongborth I saw Arthur,
And brave men who hewed down with steel,
Imperator, and conductor of the toll.
In Llongborth Geraint was slain,
A brave man from the region of Dyvnaint,
And before he was overpowered, he committed slaughter.
At Llongborth, we see Arthur fighting side by side with Prince Geraint of Dyvnaint – i.e. Devon, which formed a part of the old celtic country Dumnonia, which roughly corresponds to the modern day West Country of England. Geraint would have been ‘more noble’ than Arthur, but as Nennius he was given command of the armies, gaining the title of Dux Bellorum, or ‘War-Chief.’ That he won the victory comes from his title as Imperator (amerauder in the original Brythonic), which does not in this case mean emperor, but rather the honorifical title assumed by Roman military commanders, proclaimed as such by their victorious troops on the very field of battle. It seems that it was this first great victory that propelled ARTHUR to assume command of the Brythonic resistance.
It is now time to look at the other Arthurian Avatars which were created through the Chisper Effect.
ARTHURUS – ARTHWYS – ALTHIAS – ELAPHIAS
ARTHURUS/ARTHURIUS is the name used in several Saints Lives for Arthur, placing hinm mainly in South West Britain. ARTHWYS is a name used by the ‘Descent’ genealogy for an early king of Northern Britain. It must be noticed that one lineage shows him to be the father Elifer, i.e. himself. ALTHIAS was a Byzantine general who fought in Africa c.535, who Procopius tells us won a personal duel against a Vandal leader & ‘won a great name in consequence of this deed throughout all Libya.’ This exlpains why Arthur was famous in Carthage, as given in Alain de Lille’s 12th century, “Whither has not the flying fame spread and familiarized the name of Arthur the Briton, even as far as the empire of Christendom extends? Who, I say, does not speak of Arthur the Briton, since he is almost better known to the peoples of Asia than to the Britanni, as our palmers returning from the East inform us? The Eastern peoples speak of him, as do the Western, though separated by the width of the whole earth… Rome, queen of cities, sings his deeds, nor are Arthur’s wars unknown to her former rival Carthage; Antioch, Armenia, Palestine celebrate his acts.”.‘ This passage suggest Arthur was active in both NW Europe & the Byzantine Empire, confirming the Arthurian avatars. Indeed, it is in the Latin dialect spoiken in Provencal France that an ELAPHIAS appears as a Gothic nobleman. Through him we can link ourselves to the ELIFFER-ELIODORUS chain, from which we return to ALATHAR once more, as in;
ELIODORUS – ELIDYR – ALADWR – ALATHAR
ELIDYR appears alongside ELIFFER & ARTHWYS in the ‘Descent’ genealogies as a king of the north. Indeed, his son, Lywarch Hen, tells us; ‘I used to have brothers. It was better when they were the young whelps of great Arthur, the mighty fortress.’ Another ancient Welsh poem called Kadeir Teyrnon (the Chair of the Soverign) mentions The tribe of ALADWR in association with ARTHUR & also places his activities in the North along Hadrian’s wall.
With Alathar as the central cross, we can create a chisper-chain in the form of a figure of 8. Each name shows only a slight phonetic change from those on either side, & each can be connected to King Arthur in varying degress of certainty. Other Arthurian avatars do not quite fit into the chisper-chain, but instead are possible offshoots. According to the Chronicle of John Malalas, a cetain ERYTHIUS held the title of Patricius in 527, & was also the member of the senate, with a title of vir illustris. The title of Patricius was found in connection with Arthur on a seal at Westminster last seen in the 16th century. A certain king HELIADES was said by the romances to have fought at the Battle of Camlann, while a King HELIAS led an army againts King Mark of Cornwall. There was an ELIUD, said to be the father of St Serf, who appears to have been the Byzantine proconsul of Jerusalem. There was an ALD, a Goth who was fighting for the Byzantines in Armenia. Finally there was also a HIARTUR, of whom Saxo Grammaticus tells us fought against a certain Rolf in Denmark, in order to place Hother on the throne. This is a perfect example of teh chisper effect, for remmebering the names of Hiartur, Rolf, & Hother, let us look at the following passage from Geoffrey of Monmouth;
Fitting forth his fleets accordingly, he made first of all for Norway, being minded to set the crown thereof upon the head of Lot, his sister’s son. For Lot was grandson of Sichelm, King of Norway, who at that time had died leaving the kingdom unto him. But the Norwegians disinclined to receive him, and had raised one Riculf to the kingly power, deeming that, so they garrisoned their cities, he would be able to withstand Arthur himself. Accordingly, when Arthur, as I had begun to tell, landed upon the coast of Norway, King Riculf met him with the whole people of the kingdom and did battle; but after much blood had been shed upon both sides, the Britons at last prevailed, and making an onset, slew Riculf with a number of his men. When they had won this victory they overran and set fire to the cities, scattering the country folk, nor did they cease to give full loose to their cruelty until they had submitted the whole of Norway as well as Denmark unto the dominion of Arthur.
Hother = Loth
Rolf = Riculf
Hiartur = Arthur