WHO WAS GEOFFREY OF MONMOUTH'S BRUTUS?

In his "Historia Regnum Britanniae" Geoffrey of Monmouth gives a list of early British kings who were suppose to have reigned in Britain during the pre-Roman, Roman, and sub-Roman periods of British History, to the time of the Anglo-Saxon Conquest of the country. The first name on the list is Brutus, whose name has numerous variations in early literature, e.g., Britto, Prydain, Prytos, Brath, Barat[os], etc., which forms are interchangeable, whom Geoffrey of Monmouth says was the first King of Britain. He identifies Brutus with an Etruscan prince of Trojan ancestry who bore that name descended from ancient Minoan royalty, who, an exile from Greece originally from Alba Longa in Italy [the mother-city of Rome], according to legend, came to Britain as the leader of a colony of the Albanese, or Trojans, that is, their descendants, usually identified with the Britanni, that is, the Brittones, the Brythones, or the Brigantes, who settled in Britain, circa 1100BC. The identification of Brut[us] with Brut "The Trojan" was popularized by Geoffrey of Monmouth and came to be generally accepted by most medieval writers, however, what if Geoffrey of Monmouth was wrong in his identification; and, what if Brutus ought to be identified with another who bore that name? Brutus has been identified by different historians with different persons in legend, early literature, and history. Thus, the question has arisen among scholars, who was Brutus? He has been identified with variously:

(a) one of the three who bore the name Brutus in the genealogy of the royal house of Alba Longa [the mother-city of Rome], namely: (1) Brutus, the son of Silvius, the 2nd King of Alba Longa, whom Geoffrey of Monmouth identified him with, who lived around 1100BC; (2) Brutus, the son of Acrota [Agrippa], the 10th King of Alba Longa, who lived around 900BC, who was the ancestor of the Roman gens [clan] "Brutii"; and (3) Brutus, the son of Numitor, the 14th King of Alba Longa, who lived around 800BC;

(b) the name of several Roman consuls is Brutus referred to in the writings of classical authors, however, none have been considered as serious candidates for identification with Britainís first king;

(c) one of the most far-fetched identifications is with Brutus, the illegitimate son of Julius Caesar, who allegedly came to Britain sometime after slaying his biological-father and was accepted by the Britons as their king, 44BC;

(d) a popular hypothesis during the renaissance recorded in Tysilio's "History" identifies Brutus with Britto, son of Hisito [Hisychio] [the brother of Magnon, supposed ancestor of Gallic kings, and Iverno [supposed ancestor of Irish kings], the son[s] of Samothes, the first King of the Celts (2000BC), called the descendant of Dis-Pater, the Gallic father-god and royal-ancestor, which identifies his settlement in Britain with the Celtic Conquest of the British Isles;

(e) one account of Brutus' identity suggested by a renaissance writer is with the son of the Greek epic-hero Hercules and Galatea Keltine, Queen of Gaul, only child and daughter of the Gallic King Narbos Celtae [last male-line descendant of Samothes, the first King of the Celts], namely, Bretannos, which is a tempting identification since the semi-historical Hercules lived circa 1225/1125BC, which fits chronologically very nicely into the time-frame of Britainís "origin-story";

(f) one of Herculesí many illegitimate sons, Peirithoos [the Greek "P" equates to the Latin "B"], the renowned classic hero, mentioned in both Homerís "Illiad" and "Odyssey"; called Pirithous by Roman writers; who served under Ulysses during the Trojan War, and joined him during his twenty-year adventure or "odyssey" back home; though chose to remain in Britain with some followers deserting Ulysses rather than returning to Greece; which is another story connecting Britainís ancient dynasty to the "Herakleidai" [or "Heraklids"], so-called as Herculesí descendants;

(g) the 76th and last pharaoh of Egypt's 14th-Dynasty, Karedje [son of (75) Swadjenre, brother of (74) Sebekhotpe IX [Sisobek], son[s] of (73) Khuhim, etc.], who was expelled from Egypt by the Hyksos [the 15th-16th dynasties], and, fled to Greece along with his entourage and the remnant of the Egyptian army. He became the Sea-King Proteus [the Greek spelling of his Egyptian name], who legend says sailed the seas beyond the "Pillars of Hercules". Too, mythology gives him a son, Telegonus, who succeeds his father as King of Britain, circa 1650BC. This identification would make the Ancient Britons "celticized" Egyptian colonists; and, would mean that the British Monarchy evolved from the Egyptian Pharaohic Monarchy in exile;

(h) the famous Phoenician seafarer-prince, Barat [the Irish "Brath"], established a Phoenician colony in Britain, and was its first king; circa 1400BC. It is well known from the archaeological record that the Phoenicians established colonies in the British Isles, and there is some support for the theory that Barat is to be identified with Brut[us];

(i) there are other candidates in Classical Mythology to be considered as possible identifications with Brut[us], who include: (1) Praetus, King of Argos; (2) Prytanes, King of Athens; (3) Prytanes, King of Corinth; (4) Prytanis, King of Sparta; and (5) Protus, a Greek prince, who founded Marseilles in Southern France as a Greek colony, who may have also founded a Greek colony in Britain and settled there and became its king?;

(j) in ancient Irish annals we find three more candidates as possible identifications with Brutus, who were: (1) Brude, either an Ulidian or Caledonian or Pictish king; (2) Britan "Maol", a Fir-Bolg [Belgae] [or Nemedian] prince; and (3) Brath, who appears as an ancestor of the Milesians of Ireland in their genealogy, identified by Irish historians with the Gaels, who were Irelandís national dynasty, and, if so, its collateral branch was Britainís national dynasty;

(k) Prydain [Prydein] "son of" ["ap"] Aedd Mawr, who belonged to a pre-Geoffrey tradition preserved by Welsh bards. This old British legend was almost silenced by the popularity of the Brutus story in "Historia Regnum Britanniae", by Geoffrey of Monmouth. The tract known as "Enweu Ynys Brydein" says that Britain was conquered by "Prydein vab Aed[d] Mawr", thus, identifying Prydain/Prydein with Brutus. However, "Prydein ap Aedd Mawr" is properly identified with the first-century BC British king who bore that name, whose epithet has been translated variously as "Gold-, Green-, or Blue-Shield", who re-conquered and re-unified Britain following a period of civil wars. He is mentioned in several "Triads". In an Irish myth his father, Aedd Mawr, is called "King of Ireland". In an attempt to combine the Welsh legend with Geoffrey of Monmouth's "HRB", one medieval writer made Aedd Mawr the son, or son-in-law, of Anthun [Antonius], who was misidentified with the son of Seiriol [Seisyllt] ap Gwrwst, a sixth century AD local British king.

It is possible that anyone of the above could be identified with the British Brutus, however, his identification by Geoffrey of Monmouth with Brut "The Trojan" has come to be the generally accepted view.

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David Hughes, 2005, RdavidH218@AOL.com

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