Here, I will list the objections that have been raised against my theory and offer answers to them. This page should grow with time as more objections are noted.
This is a "chicken or egg" sort of arguement. We have no idea why Gildas calls Cuneglasus "Urse". It might have been after his "capital" or his "capital" could be named for him. The second suggestion is most likely given that fortresses were often named for their owners. However the text provides no answer as to which is meant. It is not relevent in any case as we have no clue where the name of "Arthur" came from. I suggest it came from Cuneglasus being called "Arth" or "Arth-Gwyr", meaning bear man, during his lifetime, for whatever reason. "Arthur" only becoming a proper name after his time when people were named in his honor.
In isolation this might make some sense.Gildas certainly didnt mean anything he said to the tyrants to be in their favor. However, if you look at the other five tyrants you will see that he makes reference to animals in all their cases: two lion cubs, a leopard, a bear, and a dragon. While it is easy to see "bear" as a derogatory characterization it is much more difficult in the other cases. For example, he calls Maglocunus the "Island Dragon", hardly an insult. We know a bit more about Maelgwyn than the others so we can see he is likely refering to the island of Anglesey which formed the center of Maelgwyn's kingdom. Of course "Dragon" would have military overtones to the Welsh. In the passage about Cuneglasus we not only have Gildas calling him "bear" but a mention of a "Stronghold of the Bear". This clearly indicates that Cuneglasus was associated with the term "bear" in the "real world", not just by Gildas. The case of Constantine is even more difficult. Gildas calls him "the tyrant whelp of the filthy Lioness of Dumnonia". Is he talking about his mother? Not likely, it is obviosly a poetic allusion to Dumnonia. In what way were lions connected to Cornwall? And when it comes to it,in what way is "lion cub" an insult? And why is Aurelius Canninus also called a "lion cub"? Was he connected in some way with Constantine? Or did Gildas run out of ideas for insults? What I am trying to get across is that these animal allusions are not being pulled out of the air. They reflect some reality outside the pages of the "De Excidio". What that reality is we have no way of knowing but Gildas' audience would have known. He could be doing something as simple as making reference to the devices on these men's standards! A good case could probably be made for the dragon being the standard of Maelgwyn. The dragon is the symbol of Wales today. In any event, close examination casts serious doubt on "Urse" being a simple insult.
This seems to come from two misunderstandings. One is that the translation used by Winterbottom for "Urse","you bear",is to be understood as "You are a bear", as in "you clown" meaning "you are a clown". This is a poor translation of the vocative, as it implies only direct address. It does not "rename" the subject. The "you' in the Winterbottom translation should be ignored as it gives the wrong sense to the passage. The other error is the assumption that proper names can not be inflected. This is of course wrong. The names of three of the tyrants are actually given in the vocative in the original Latin: Aureli Cannine, Cuneglase, and Maglocunne.
King Arthur And Cuneglasus