Influence of the Trojan myth on national identity as shaped in the Frankish and British Trojan-origin myths and the Roma...


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Influence of the Trojan myth on national identity as shaped in the Frankish and British Trojan-origin myths and the Roman de Brut and the Roman de Troie
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vi, 182 leaves : ; 29 cm.
Kearns, Carol Bubon, 1941-
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Romance Languages and Literatures thesis, Ph.D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Romance Languages and Literatures -- UF   ( lcsh )
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Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2002.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 174-181).
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by Carol Bubon Kearns.
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The realization of such an undertaking could not have resulted

without the help of many people. First of all, I would like to thank Dr.

Christine Probes of the University of South Florida for being an

inspiration. (Despite my older age, I always wanted to be just like her!) In

addition to Dr. Probes, I am indebted to Drs. Mary Jane and David

Schenck and John Thompson for instilling in me a love for and the basic

elements of medieval French literature and culture while a student at the

University of South Florida. My deep appreciation goes to the Department

of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Florida for

accepting me into their doctoral program. (Despite a long and frequent

commute, the experience was wonderful!) Sincere thanks are due my

advisors, Dr. William Calin and Dr. George Diller, for their invaluable

guidance, analysis, and support. I am grateful to Dr. Raymond Cormier

for recommending pertinent books. A debt of gratitude goes to Dr.

Edward Klein for persistent encouragement and to Judy Johnson for her

many prayers. Lastly, I would especially like to thank my precious family

for their love and support.


ACKNOW LEDGM ENTS ........................................................................................ ii

A BST RA C T ......................................................................... ............................ v


1 INTRODUCTION .............................. .............................................. 1

2 TROJAN M YTH ............................... .......................... ............................... 8

Sacred Troy .................................................................................................... 8
Trojan Cycle................. ............................. .................. 17
Bronze Age Source .......................... ........................... ................................. 19
M yth vis-a-vis Legend ............................... ........... .............................. 22
Greek "Nation" versus Trojan "Nation" ................................................23
Warrior Ethic of the Hero ........................... .....................................31
Legacy of H ector.................................................................. ....................... 35
Conclusion .................................................................. ........... ................ 38

THE TROJAN-ORIGIN MYTH ............................................................41

Chronicle of Fredegar.........................................................47
Fredegar I....................................... ................................................. 47
Fredegar II .......................................................... .............................. 55
Liber Historiae Francorum................................... ......................... 59
A "Unique" Perspective............................ ............... ........................... 66
Historia Brittonum ................................................. .............................. 70
Geoffrey of Monmouth and Wace..............................................................80
Twelfth-Century Wales ........................... ..... .......................... 96
Conclusion .............................. ... ................. ............................... 98


AND THE ROMAN DE TROIE................................................ .......... 101

Shaping a System of Values....................................................................... 101
Defining Chivalry and Courtoisie ........................................................... 106
The Historia vis-a-vis the Brut.......................................................... 110
Rom an de Troie ......................................... .......... ........... ... 126
Conclusion .............................. .... ............... .............................. 168

5 CONCLUSION........................................................ .............................. 170

W ORKS CITED ............................................................. ............................. 174

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ............................. ..... .......... ........... ... 182


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Carol Bubon Kearns

May 2002

Dr. George T. Diller
Department: Romance Languages and Literatures

The Trojan myth composed in the Iliad by Homer constitutes the

tale of a splendid and celebrated city under siege, whose monarchy

derives its strength and prestige from a long distinguished ancestry,

whose aristocratic population conducts itself in a hospitable and humane

fashion, and whose heroes generate military prowess and strive to bring

honor to themselves and their noble lineage. The appealing attitudes and

activities of the Homeric Trojans inspired medieval authors to engage

them as an integral part of a "national" identity illustrated in origin myths

and reworkings of the Iliad itself. Not pertaining to or involving the

common people; these works were learned fictions written to enhance the

prestige of the ruling classes by providing an ancient and illustrious

ancestry that legitimized ascendancy and/or a code of conduct.

Chapter 1 defines the ancient and enduring Trojan myth. Chapter

2 introduces Trojan-origin myths of the Franks and the British and

undertakes to explain why they were written during a specific period.

Chapter 3 presents the "national" ideology of chivalry and courtoisie

embodied in the Roman de Brut and especially in Benoit de Sainte-Maure's

Roman de Troie.

Along with martial and royal characteristics, instances of

"national" identity featured in the Frankish and British Trojan-origin

myths came about during a comingling of cultures at the same time as an

age of relative peace, strong leadership, and a renewal of learning favored

the creation of each unique myth and "nation." The Roman de Troie

provided a "nation" of Anglo-Norman and Angevin elite with an identity

of chivalric/courtois values to correspond to their glorious ancestors.

Whether the "nations" were related by blood ties or by a common

heritage, or a combination of the two, they could identify with a once-

great race and its tradition.


Troy and the Trojans are special by virtue of literature. The Troy of

Homer is consecrated ground considering its affiliation "with the earliest

portion of the literary treasures bequeathed to us by the ancient world"

(Maclaren 222). Moreover, the fall of Troy is "le grand 6v6nement de

l'histoire universelle" (Baumgartner, Entre fiction et histoire 19), for

nearly all of the Late Latin chroniclers recorded it. The Aeneid and

subsequent medieval Trojan-origin myths and reworking of the Iliad

were the consequence of the imaginations of countless generations. The

tale of Troy, showing a city under siege, along with its heroes, its valor

facing a superior force, its humanity, and its splendor, influenced a

constant revival of glorious Troy in myth and literature.

The Iliad's Troy was shown to be splendid in addition to being

named "sacred" by Homer. It was a "broad city," with "wide streets." It

had "lofty gates" and "fine towers." During the reign of Priam, it was in

its stage of greatest vigor. It was a city with mighty walls, extensive

enough to hold its own large population as well as its many allies who

gathered there to do battle with the Greeks. From the literary description

of the city, some scholars have calculated that more than 50,000 people

could be accommodated (Blegen 13). It had an agora where the people of

the city met, which was located in the upper city near the magnificent

palace of Priam, which Blegen describes along with the other royal


This building itself was of huge size: in addition to the halls of
state, provided with porticoes built of well-fitted hewn stones, and
the king's private apartments, it contained 50 chambers, with walls
of smoothly worked blocks, where Priam's sons lived with their
wedded wives. There were, moreover, apparently beyond a court,
12 further rooms-built of well-dressed stone and roofed-for the
king's daughters and their husbands. Other palaces, too, stood
close at hand, among them the many-roomed abode of Hector, a
'comfortable place to live in' with its spacious halls. Near-by stood
the beautiful home in which Alexander, or Paris, lived with the
lovely Helen. He himself had built it, employing the very best
builders and craftsmen to be found in Troy. (13)

As for the public buildings located high in the "holy Pergamos,"

there were the temples of Apollo and Athena, chief protectors of Troy. A

council chamber may also have been located there, as "Hector speaks to

elders and councillors, who presumably had a covered meeting-place of

some kind" (Blegen 14).

Why did Homer compose an epic poem about this particular locale,

whose heroes and destruction will be forever recalled and recreated?

Possibly the ancient Greeks who emigrated to Ionia in Asia Minor brought

a tale of the Trojan War with them, keeping it alive as a means of

establishing a link with their homeland. Perhaps the legend of a

catastrophic war with the Greeks during the heroic age 400 to 500 years

earlier was embellished and perpetuated by the native population of the

Troad, a region of northwestern Asia Minor surrounding ancient Troy, in

order to identify with fallen heroes.

Local myths and legends had been preserved at the Bronze Age

strongholds throughout Greece and Asia Minor which furnished names

for the heroes of oral tradition. The ruling classes linked their families

with the genealogies of epic heroes, notably from the Trojan War, in

order to enhance their status and prestige. An aristocratic family, the

Aeneadae, from the vicinity of ancient Troy, traced their ancestry back to

Aeneas, thus possibly influencing his prominence in the Iliad (Graf 129).

It was the Trojan myth above all that supplied the ancestral link for

the Greek nation of Homer's era, the eighth century BC, with the heroic

Bronze Age. By the enhancement of one's lineage, a race has a rational

way of including a golden age in its background. A portrait of ancestors

establishes a continuity of the present with the past. When the gap

between the mythical past and the historical present is bridged, myth

becomes reality (Graf 129).

Myth in the form of epic tales answered questions about the past,

thus presuming a keen desire for historical knowledge. To the Greeks the

Trojan myth was unquestioned history that "told of a Panhellenic

expedition against non-Hellenic peoples, and it offered an explanation for

the passing of the heroic age" (Graf 78). Various cultures in subsequent

eras also found that reviving through myth the nobility and spirit of a

romanticized past offered a means of enlightenment. The essence of

myth is its adaptability to fit the needs and imaginations of any audience

in any generation.

Myths bind men together into a society, for they maintain and

strengthen a mutual value system. Because they represent an organizing

principle, myths act as a civilizing force. As mutually shared tales, they

enhance a common heritage, thus encouraging a melding of peoples and

nations. However, throughout history a Trojan heritage was generally

reserved for the aristocracy, who claimed to make up a "nation"

connected by blood ties.

The Trojan-origin myths enclosed in the Aeneid and chronicles and

narratives from the Middle Ages are learned fictions rather than grass-

roots traditions that evolved among the common people by means of

bards down through the ages. The myths heightened the prestige of the

nobility by providing an ancient and illustrious ancestry that justified

ascendancy. Trojan myths of origin established belief systems, or

ideologies, for the Romans, Franks, Britons, and Anglo-Normans by

providing a moral validation for their attitudes and activities.

Although certain martial and royal characteristics are inherent in

all of the origin myths, each myth is unique to the culture and the age.

The Iliad initiated the tradition of Trojans as heroic warriors, builders

and defenders of a glorious and sacred city, descendants of the gods, and

star-crossed exiles whose brilliant and humane culture was cruelly and

treacherously destroyed after 10 years of war. The Aeneid, with "its

point of departure, both in matter and form, [being] Homer" (Curtius 36),

added the feature of Trojans as imperialists and responsible guardians of

the state and the gods. The Frankish origin myths, no doubt influenced

by the Aeneid, which was included in the curriculum of every medieval

schoolboy, emphasized a fierce independence. The British origin myths

underscored a warlike spirit and strong kings, but stressed a further

concept of the Aeneid, Trojans as transmitters of culture and

imperialism, the translation studio et imperii topos.

Composed during a rebirth of learning in the twelfth century,

Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae and Wace's Roman de

Brut, a reworking of the Historia in the vernacular French, or romanz,

exercise the Trojan-origin myth in a story of the genealogy of the kings of

Britain dating back to Aeneas. The most celebrated is the chivalrous and

courtois King Arthur, who amasses extensive dominions and presides

over a magnificent court. Geoffrey's Historia supported racial and

dynastic aspirations in England for over 500 years, until the need for the

rise of a Germanic-origin myth in the sixteenth century (MacDougall 2,

12). The Trojan-origin myth, stressing achievements of kings, no longer

served the dominant groups (MacDougall 24).

Benoit de Sainte-Maure's Roman de Troie, the last of the trio of

romans antiques, stories shaped from la matiere antique written in

romanz, constitutes a version of the Trojan myth that describes the

ideology of the chivalric/courtois code for the elite of France and

England. This liberal adaptation of the Iliad provided a practical history

lesson in ethical values and refinement for a twelfth-century aristocratic

audience. The lessons, a study of military prowess, honor, affluence and

generosity, courtesy, eloquence, and courtly love, furnished examples of

expected behavior and beliefs to those who wished to mitigate violence

and to sanction courtly manners.

Aristocracy in twelfth-century France and England was like a

nation, in that it was a distinct class, essentially closed, and dependent

on the preservation of its patrimony and lineage. It was the "nation" of

Trojan descendants for whom the Troie was composed, this "nation" who

lived by its own ideology of chivalric and courtois manners.

A national identity reflects a common cultural heritage and shared

expectations. Because the Trojan myth encompasses an ideology that

many societies claimed to have inherited, it helped to form "nations"

related by blood ties and/or culture. The tale of Troy throughout

antiquity and the Middle Ages encouraged "nations" to identify with a

once-great race and its tradition-its honor, its warlike virtues, its pride

in divine or heroic ancestors, its ideology of king as symbol for political

unity, and its governing principle to safeguard and bequeath the

patrimony passed on from earlier generations.

The memory of Troy survived because of the Iliad. "It is not Troy

which sheds glory upon Homer, but Homer and the epic tradition upon

Troy" (Young 10). Predicated on myth, the Iliad and subsequent tales of

Troy were modified to correspond to the unique circumstances of every

audience. Because the influence of myth and of its related ideology lies


not in its objective truth but in its being perceived as true (MacDougall 3),

Rome, France, and Britain looked to Troy for wisdom and inspiration.

The resultant epics, origin myths, and romans revived the memory of

Troy that Homer first etched on man's mind.


Sacred Troy

The principal reason given for the sanctity of Troy in the Iliad is

the elaboration of the genealogy of its founders. In this great mythical

epic of the Greek nation, "the most famous story of the Western world"

(Tuchman 36), Homer relates how the "dearest progeny of all-powerful

Zeus" founded a colony in the Troad that preceded the legendary city of

Troy. It is Aeneas who chronicles the race of Troy:

First of all Zeus who gathers the clouds had a son, Dardanos
who founded Dardania, since there was yet no sacred Ilion
made a city in the plain to be a centre of peoples,
but they lived yet in the underhills of Ida with all her waters.

Dardania is established to lead human beings away from nature's

randomness to the stability of civilization. The polis as a civilizing force

is an enclosure nurturing life and sheltering a community of men, women

and children. It has a sacred essence because of its "spirit of enclosure

and the conferring of a human identity, the reasons Zeus initiates its

creation" (Scully, Homer and the Sacred City 25).

The city of Troy is also considered a model of civilization in the

twelfth-century Roman de Troie, not only because it is an enclosed space

8 All quotations from the Iliad are taken from Richard Lattimore's 1951
translation, entitled The Iliad of Homer.

which sustains life, but because it is a place of unconstrained power,

creation, and beauty. It "apparait come le lieu ofu s'epanouissent les

functions du savoir, de la prouesse et de la richesse ..." (Croizy-Naquet

18). Although it recalls "tous les elements stereotypes de la ville, murs,

portes, tours infranchissables, materiaux solides et precieux" (Croizy-

Naquet 368), the novel likens Troy to the courtois woman, who

represents "la ville comme lieu de raffinement et de f&condite" (Croizy-

Naquet 423).

The Iliad's Aeneas, whose destiny it is to survive the Trojan War,

"that the generation of Dardanos shall not die" (20.303), continues his

enumeration of those rulers of the Troad who traced their ancestry back

to Zeus:

Dardanos in turn had a son, the king, Erichthonios,
who became the richest of mortal men, and in his possession
were three thousand horses who pastured along the low
grasslands. (20.219-21)

To Erichthonios was born Tros, who became lord of the Trojans,

breakers of horses; and to Tros was born noble Ilos; who begat

Laomedon; who had in turn Priam, the father of "Hector the brilliant."

Aeneas, as son of Anchises, great-grandson of Tros, is a member of the

royal clan.

Legendary kings of the Troad were eponyms of the areas that they

ruled, thus Dardania, Troy, and Ilios, inhabitants being known as

Dardanians, Trojans, Ilians, or even Teucrians, as Teucer was an

indigenous king of the Troad.

The city of Troy itself bore two different names. In the Iliad Troy

and Ilios are used interchangeably. "Troy was perhaps originally the

more general name, applying to the whole countryside-the Troad-while

Ilios more specifically designated the actual city," (Blegen 16).

Troy, or Ilios, was founded by Ilos, and its walls described in the

Iliad were built during the reign of Laomedon, at the request of Zeus.

Poseidon relates that he and Apollo built the wall "with our hard work

for the hero Laomedon's city" (7.453). Later he claims that he alone "built

a wall for the Trojans about their city, wide and very splendid, so no one

could break into their city," while Apollo herded Laomedon's cattle "along

the spurs of Ida with all her folds and her forests" (21.446-49).

The historical Trojans of the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries

BC were likewise found to be great builders. Regarding the Middle

Bronze Age citadel of Troy, the archaeologist Carl Blegen relates that "the

imposing fortifications that now rise display increased knowledge of

military engineering together with technical advances in masonry" (111).

In the Iliad, the high, white towers of Poseidon's wall overlooked

the large and beautiful plain of Troy and the river Scamander, which

flowed down through the foothills of Mount Ida. Likewise, in modern

times, "the summit of Ida commands one of the noblest landscapes in the

Levant, and was worthy of the distinction it enjoyed as an earthly throne

of Jupiter," writes Charles Maclaren (19), a Scottish topographer who

visited the Troad in 1847. He offers a delightful image of the

fountainhead of the Scamander, located at the base of Mount Ida:

Instead of collecting its water like other rivers from obscure, feeble
and scattered sources, it bursts out at once into day in a
magnificent cascade, clear as crystal, issuing forth in mystery and
sublimity from a deep cavern in the hidden recesses of the
mountain, amidst thundering echoes, and encompassed scenery of
extraordinary beauty and grandeur. (24)

Maclaren paints a picture of the Troad that resembles a locus

amoenus. Homer as well imagines the Troad an earthly paradise,

especially before the advent of war. Ernst Robert Curtius, in European

Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, remarks that Homer's ideal

landscape was pleasant and friendly, often a dwelling place for the gods;

it includes "a cluster of trees, a grove with springs and lush meadows ...

[a] carpet of flowers," (185-86).

In one vision of the locus amoenus Homer describes the

appearance on the peaks of Ida of a perpetual spring beautiful with a

carpet of flowers as Zeus and Hera embrace in a golden wonderful cloud:

"... There / underneath them the divine earth broke into young, fresh /

grass, and into dewy clover, crocus and hyacinth / so thick and soft it

held the hard ground deep away from them" (14.347-49).

Additional glimpses of the Troad's landscape offer a less attractive

sight after the onset of hostilities. The Iliad describes the lush

grasslands and the flowing rivers along with the various species of trees

as the destructive elements of war are happening around them:

... the multitudinous tribes from the ships and
shelters poured to the plain of the Skamandros, and the earth
beneath their
feet and under the feet of their horses thundered horribly.

They took position in the blossoming meadow of Skamandros,

And the horses standing each beside his chariot,
champed their clover and the parsley that grows in wet places.

The elms burned, the willows and tamarisks,
the clover burned and the rushes and galingale, all those
plants that grew in abundance by the lovely stream of the river.
(2.464-68, 2.775-76, 21.350-52)

Springs located just beyond the wall of the city of Troy, however,

do not impart a locus amoenus. Instead, they symbolize "that liminal

space between human and natural order" ( Scully, Homer and the Sacred

City 13). They are consigned to the city but are of nature. Their

depiction by Homer as both terrible war and refreshing peace aptly

comes while Hector and Achilles meet in final combat:

They raced along by the watching point and the windy fig tree
always away from under the Trojan wall and along the wagon-way
And came to the two sweet-running well springs. There there are
springs of water that jet up, the springs of the whirling
One of these runs hot water and the steam on all sides
of it rises as if from a fire that was burning inside it.
But the other in the summer-time runs water that is like hail
or chill snow or ice that forms from water. Beside these
in this place, and close to them, are the washing-hollows
of stone, and magnificent, where the wives of the Trojans and their
daughters washed the clothes to shining, in the old days

when there was peace, before the coming of the sons of the
Achaians. (22.145-56)

"Mount Ida of the springs" afforded also a sacredness to the Troad,

as its summit, known as Gargaron, was holy ground, with an altar and a

priest. The Iliad relates how from this spot Father Zeus watched over

Greek and Trojan alike:

He came to Ida with all her springs, the mother of wild beasts,
to Gargaron, where was his holy ground and his smoking altar.
There the father of gods and of mortals halted his horses,
and slipped them from their harness, and drifted close mist about
and himself rejoicing in the pride of his strength sat down on the
looking out over the city of Troy and the ships of the Achaians.

By its gushing forth from the very foot of Zeus' throne, the river

Scamander, whose god the Olympians called Xanthus, was believed to

have an ancient sacredness. Homer stresses its sanctity by describing it

as the "whirling Xanthos, whose father was Zeus the immortal" (14.433-

34). It was worshipped with sacrifices, its priest being brilliant Hypsenor.

A man of no small importance, he "was honoured about the countryside

as a god is" (5.79).

As Ida and the Scamander were considered sacred, so indeed was

the city of Troy. One of Homer's favorite epithets for it was "sacred

Ilios." The foundation of its sanctity was not only the distinguished

genealogy of its rulers and its site on the plain commanded by Mount Ida,

source of the river Scamander, but also its divine walls built by Apollo

and Poseidon.

The sanctity of Troy was derived less from its location than from

its enclosure of civilized society within a divinely-built wall, from "its

union of temples and sacred agora" (Scully, Homer and the Sacred City

16), and from its divine protection. The agora in the Iliad was considered

sacred, for Homer calls it the "sacred circle" where "the elders / were in

session on benches of polished stone ..." (18.503-04). Although Homer

claims other cities as sacred, Zeus himself states that "for of all the cities

beneath the sun and the starry heaven / dwelt in by men who live upon

the earth, there has never been one / honoured nearer to my heart than

sacred Ilion" (4.44-46).

Hoping that the armed maiden Athena, Troy's foremost tutelary

deity, would come to the defense of the city's women and children

against the onslaught of Diomedes, Hector counsels the Trojan women to

take a sacrifice of the finest robe from the storerooms. The Iliad

recounts the unfortunate consequence:

When these had come to Athene's temple of the peak of the
citadel, Theano of the fair cheeks opened the door for them,
of Kisseus, and wife of Antenor, breaker of horses,
she whom the Trojans had established to be Athene's priestess.
With a wailing cry all lifted up their hands to Athene,
and Theano of the fair cheeks taking up the robe laid it
along the knees of Athene the lovely haired, and praying
she supplicated the daughter of powerful Zeus.

She spoke in prayer, but Pallas Athene turned her head from her.
(6.297-304, 311)

Pallas Athena rejected the plea of the Trojan women, a

circumstance brought on no doubt by her having been snubbed in favor

of Aphrodite in the Judgment of Paris. Athena, along with Zeus, refuses

to come to the aid of "sacred Ilion," and in fact helps to bring about its

fall, as Troy, embracing the inherent fault of a city "to sustain life and

remain a part of the ongoing cycle," fails to recognize and accept its own

mortality (Scully, "The Polis in Homer" 24). Arrogance, such as

dismissing the possible consequences of the abduction of Helen and of

her marriage to Paris, largely causes the destruction of Troy in the Roman

de Troie. "... La chute de Troie ... s'explique logiquement par la

transgression d'un ordre etabli, par un orgueuil demesure ..." (Croizy-

Naquet 389).

The Palladium was one more example of Trojan sanctity. A statue

of Pallas Athena, made of wood "about four and a half feet in height,"

the Palladium had a place of honor in the Pergamum ( Tripp 441). In

myth palladia were objects made by the gods and flung from heaven.

The Palladium, a gift from Zeus to Ilos, who in turn had a temple built for

it, became the symbol of Troy's continuance and the source of its


In two epics from the Trojan Cycle, the Little Iliad and the Sack of

Ilium, Odysseus and Diomedes steal the sacred statue in order that the

city might fall. In Ovid's Metamorphoses, it is Odysseus who seizes the

Palladium and boasts that "illa nocte mihi Troiae victoria part est: /

Pergama tune vici. cum vinci posse coegi" 2 13.348-49), [on that night I

gained the victory over Troy; at that moment did I conquer Pergama when

I made it possible to conquer her] (2: 253). Another Roman legend

reveals that the sacred image, presently secure in the temple of Vesta,

was rescued by Aeneas on fleeing Troy (Tripp 441). Colette Beaune states

that "[le palladium] signifiait le transfer des empires" (48).

The extraordinary sanctity attributed to the Palladium and to

Athena as defender of Troy was recognized by generations of ancients

who came after Homer. Herodotus writes in his History of the reaction of

Xerxes, king of Persia, when he and his army reached the Scamander in

480 BC on their way to attack Greece:

Xerxes had a strong desire to see Troy, the ancient city of Priam.
Accordingly he went up into the citadel, and when he had seen
what he wanted to see and heard the story of the place from the
people there, he sacrificed a thousand oxen to the Trojan Athene..
.. (460)

Alexander the Great, who "carried the Iliad about with him in a

jewelled casket" (Grant 51), also displayed his belief in the sanctity of

Troy, due in part to Athena. Arrian, author of an Anabasis of Alexander

in the second century AD, writes of Alexander's conviction:

He then went up to Troy, and sacrificed to the Trojan Athena,
dedicated his full armour in the temple, and took down in its place
some of the dedicated arms yet remaining from the Trojan war,
which it is said, the hypaspist henceforth used to carry before him
into battle. (51)

Ovid acknowledged the sanctity of the Palladium in the Fasti:

moenia Dardanides nuper nova fecerat Ilus
(Ilus adhuc Asiae dives habebat opes):
creditur armiferae signum caeleste Minervae
urbis in Iliacae desiluisse iuga.
cura videre fuit, vidi templumque locumque:
hoc superest illac, Pallada Roma tenet. (6.419-24)

[Ilus, descendant of Dardanus, had lately founded a new city (Ilus
was still rich and possessed the wealth of Asia); a celestial image of
armed Minerva is believed to have leaped down on the hills of the
Ilian city. (I was anxious to see it: I saw the temple and place; that
is all that is left there; the image of Pallas is in Rome.)] (350-51)

While fashioning Rome as the new daughter of Troy, Virgil's Aeneid

makes sanctity one of the prominent features of transference. This

transmission, or translation, did not come from the Palladium, however,

but rather it came primarily by means of the household gods carried out

of the burning city by Aeneas and Anchises. The total action of the

Aeneid "moves with the household gods of Priam, from Troy to New

Troy" (Frye 318).

By the reign of Augustus, Aeneas had become the prototype for the

Trojans, affirms Karl Galinsky in Aeneas. Sicily, and Rome (3). "His pietas

was that quality for which he was known best and which came to

overshadow all his other traits" (4). The legend of Aeneas reflected on

the overall Trojan legend, as the Romans saw the piety and sense of duty

shown by Aeneas toward family and the gods as trademarks of the

typical Trojan warrior, whose familial duty it had been to fight for the

defense of the sacred city of Troy. Because Aeneas is the exemplary

Trojan, he becomes the embodiment of all Trojans (Graf 54).

Trojan Cycle

The Trojan myth has been preserved and recreated by literature.

Because of the imaginative genius of Homer, the legacy of a primitive,

heroic period reached its culmination. The Iliad and the Odysse,

although the earliest literature of ancient Greece, are considered

masterpieces. They were viewed not only as chronicles of important

historical events and heroes, but also as a guide to morality. "The Greeks

regarded Homer as their teacher par excellence" (Graf 62). His works

comprised lessons in heroism and patriotism, hospitality and love of

family, wisdom and personal honor. People took the performance of

heroes such as Agamemnon, Diomedes, Odysseus, Achilles, and Hector

"as a guide to the proper demeanour in analogous situations" (Kirk 290).

The Iliad and the Odyssey were succeeded by other heroic poems,

which evolved into the Trojan, or Epic, Cycle. These post-Homeric

legends, composed from the eighth to the sixth century BC, were integral

parts of the Homeric tradition, as they filled in the gaps left by the Iliad

and the Odyssey and completed the cycle of events that made up the

heroic age.

The works of the cyclic poets have come down to us "in a summary

made by Proclus in the second century AD [and] preserved by the

Byzantine scholar Photius in the ninth century AD" (Scherer 219). These

works greatly enhanced the scope of the Trojan legend, thus providing

succeeding generations of artists a treasure trove of source material. The

lyric poets and great tragedians of ancient Greece also took up Trojan

themes and were included in the Homeric tradition.

The next six works, along with their poets, constitute the Trojan

Cycle: the Cypria, named for Cyprus, home of its supposed author,

Stasinus, provides an introduction to the Iliad, which combines the events

from the wedding of Peleus and Thetis to the Trojan War, including the

Judgment of Paris; the AethioDis and the Sack of Ilium ascribed to

Arctinus of Miletus, the Little Iliad, attributed to Lesches of Lesbos, and

the Nostoi, or 'Returns', take in the events that occur from the end of the

Iliad to the beginning of the Odyssey, including the death of Achilles, the

destruction of Troy, and the fortunes of the heroes on their return home

after the war; the Telegonia, a late cyclic epic, ascribed to Eugammon of

Cyrene in the sixth century BC, relates the death of Odysseus at the

hands of Telegonus, his son by Circe.

The notion of greatness throughout the ages of the legend of Troy

does not depend on any correlation to historical reality. "[It] lies rather

in the beauty and the variety it has called out of the creative imaginations

of artists, from Homer down to modern times" (Young 1). Barbara

Tuchman claims that "all of human experience is in the tale of Troy" (36).

Its scope being too vast to be exhausted in one version or form,

numerous artists have had the opportunity to illuminate its brilliance.

Margaret Scherer lists at least 80 known authors, from Homer to the

tenth century AD, who formulated literature about the Trojan War, and

submits an additional 114 well-known authors and musicians who

composed works about Troy from the twelfth century AD to the present

day. She offers an extensive selection of works of art that depict Trojan

themes, including tapestries, vases, enamels, ivories, manuscripts,

paintings, sculptures, which are extant today.

Bronze Age Source

Legends that contributed to the epics of Homer and the cyclic

poets were developed under conditions that did not encourage a unity of

tradition. It was during the Greek Dark Ages, the twelfth to the ninth

centuries BC, a time of small tribal units and warrior aristocracies, that

the tales of the heroes of the Trojan War first evolved. This chaotic era

comprised the aftermath of the disintegration of the great cities of the

Mycenaean Age which had been highly centralized and bureaucratic

societies governed by kings (Scully, Homer and the Sacred City 2). It was

during this period that bards refined the story of the fall of Troy.

The Dark Ages of Greece, not unlike the Dark Ages of western

Europe, was a bleak period of limited communication, decreased material

prosperity, and few illustrations of writing and the fine arts. Because

men nostalgically envisaged an ideal, heroic past, epic poems drawing

upon legendary subject matter, especially from the Mycenaean

civilization, were composed and sung.

The militarist palace culture of the Mycenaean Age, which poets

romantically interpreted, was at its height from 1450 to 1200 BC.

Agamemnon of the Iliad was likened to the historical king of Mycenae.

Homer showed him to be "the most powerful king in Greece, and he

wielded some sort of loose overlordship over the other independent

kings of mainland Greece, Crete, and some of the islands" (Michael Wood


Greek rulers of the ancient fortress cities, such as Tiryns, Pylos,

Corinth, Thebes, Athens, and Mycenae, shared a common language and a

common culture. They were the leaders of the expedition against Troy.

The Trojan War was one of the last great ventures of the Mycenaean

Greeks, known historically, as well as in literature, as Achaeans, Danaans,

or Argives, their eponyms being traditional rulers in the Peloponnesus.

Legends of events and warriors of the Late Bronze Age heroic

culture, in which the Mycenaean Age fit, were transmitted in an oral

tradition from bard to bard down through the generations. Oral tradition

causes tales to be changed in the telling; they are "told and retold,

reshaped and refitted to meet their audience's changing needs" (Erdoes

xi). Near the end of the oral tradition, with the revival of towns and

historical memory, in the eighth century BC, Homer, living in an Ionian

colony on the western edge of Asia Minor, shaped the Iliad and the

Odyssey. Although the exploits are mythical, the names of the great

warriors are traceable to the Mycenaean age (Grant 29).

G.S. Kirk calls Homer "a crucial if ambiguous figure in the

transmission of myths" (95). He explains a portion of the uncertainty

surrounding the poet that we know as Homer:

He stands at the very beginning of western literary history ..., and
as a person we know very little about him; but then neither did the
classical Greeks themselves. He lived across the Aegean,
somewhere in lonia,... probably during the middle and latter part
of the eighth century B.C.... Whether the composer of the Iliad
was also responsible for the Odyssey has been debated from
antiquity and is perhaps no longer very important. What matters is
that both poems, despite minor differences, are alike in
background, language and heroic values, and that they make
equally heavy use of traditional narrative derived from earlier
singers. (95-96).

The Iliad and the Odyssey are a mythical, imaginative depiction of the

Mycenaean age, while at the same time they are filled with figures that

are "historicizing if not actually historical" (Kirk 96-97). Whether the

important political characters like Agamemnon and Priam were in origin

actual people is uncertain, nevertheless they were historically based

(Kirk 96).

Myth vis-a-vis Legend

A traditional tale grounded in history is generally called a legend,

while one that has no historic basis is designated a myth. Therefore, the

Troy Tale may be determined as either myth or legend. Fritz Graf defines

myth as a traditional tale that "makes a valid statement ... about

everything on which human existence depends" (3) and has close ties to

the value system of a society (55). The Trojan myth, as exemplified by

the Iliad, afforded a moral beacon to the Greek people, thus serving as an

ideology and a civilizing force.

Although myths and legends, as transmitted tradition, are shaped

to fit the audience, the poet's freedom to alter them is limited. By the

time that Homer was composing his epics, the celebrated story of Troy

contained certain fixed events to which tradition had given the authority

of fact. Historical legends enabled Homer to select alleged facts from the

past that were usable in the present. "The legend, by acquiring poetic

and narrative form, hardly loses historical significance. On the contrary,

it takes on increased historical value" (Uitti 67). The Iliad grew into a

national epic that bound men together into a society by enhancing a

common heritage and mythology.

Similar to the Iliad, the legend of Troy narrated in the Roman de

Troie in the twelfth century was adapted to suit its audience and made to

adhere to certain fixed events inherited from earlier tales. Episodes of

courtly love and other courtois themes are inserted within an epic

leitmotif of war and of heroic warriors dying for the cause of national

loyalty. Emmanuele Baumgartner, drawing on the Troie's series of 23

battles, describes a characteristic scene of action:

[Benoit] met en place tout un rituel de la bataille, evoquant
inlassablement le d6ferlement radieux des corps d'armee au matin
des combats, le flamboiement splendid des armes et des
enseignes, les horreurs de la m&lee, du carnage anonyme,
l'acharnement des combats, la plaine jonchee, le soir, de morts et
d'agonisants et le temps des troves ofu fument interminablement
les bfichers. (Le Roman de Troie 12)

Besides his transmission of the savage grandeur of war, Benoit de

Sainte-Maure conveys the fervor of duty to one's people, or "nation." On

both sides in the Troie, "'nation' est... synonyme de naissance dans le

sens d'extraction, rang, famille, race" (Kelly 56). In his comparison of the

Iliad to the earliest French chansons de gestes, Louis Petit de Julleville

could have taken into account the Roman de Troie:

La douleur et la mort occupent une large place, la force physique y
est en gloire,... la religion pen&tre,... mais ce qui domine et
&chauffe toute cette poesie des ages simples, c'est l'esprit national.
... II faut un people ... qui meure volontiers pour sa defense ou
pour sa gloire. (50-51)

In the Iliad as well as in the Troie a spirit of nationalism pervades

both the Greek and the Trojan camps, but whereas Benoit underscores

the importance of bloodlines, Homer emphasizes that each side embraces

its own distinctive type of nation.

Greek "Nation" versus Trojan "Nation"

The legend of the Trojan War as played out in the Iliad was

considered by the Greeks to be a chronicle of their nation. The term

'nation', in this instance, denotes a group of people who share a history

that leads to common customs and a common spirit and a desire to live

together. In the Iliad the Achaeans belong to this kind of nation. They

distinguish themselves from the Trojans because they have a common

language and they form an organic coalition of states. "Because Greek is

their common language, the units of the Achaean army form ... a

kosmos, an 'ordering' of tribes and [clans]" (Mackie 19). An element of

their unity is evidenced by the following action: "But the Achaian men

went silently, breathing valour, / stubbornly minded each in his heart to

stand by the others" (3.8-9). The Achaeans give their lives for the nation.

The Trojan army, on the other hand, is a disparate group of allies

who come together to defend Priam's Troy. Homer's lines of verse, "the

Trojans came on with clamour and shouting, like wildfowl, / as when the

clamour of cranes goes high to the heavens" (3.2-3), show the Trojans'

lack of cohesion. Because they cry out in varied dialects, "the Trojans,

for want of a common language, do not exhibit kosmos" (Mackie 19).

The lack of harmony in the Trojan ranks is temporarily righted by a

scheme arranged by Zeus. While holding assembly on the heights of

Pergamon, the Trojans are visited by the messenger of the gods, Iris, who,

disguised as the sentry, Polites, addresses his brother:

Hektor, on you beyond all I urge this, to do as I tell you:
all about the great city of Priam are many companions,
but multitudinous is the speech of the scattered nations:
let each man who is their leader give orders to these men,
and let each set his citizens in order, and lead them. (2.802-06)

The Trojan allies are companions-in-arms, but they do not embody

a united community like the Greeks. Hector serves as their commander,

but he does not function as the overlord of equal warlords, as does

Agamemnon. Indeed, a lack of shared intent and resolve is manifest

among the diversified troops. The Trojans, in order to defend their city,

are forced at times to provide their allies with gifts. Hector cries out to

his companions: "I wear out my own people for presents / and food,

wherewith I make strong the spirit within each one of you" (17.225-26).

Each ally of Hector and the Trojans is a nation unto itself. National

identification is based on race, not on the Greek commonality and

collectivity of culture. The term 'nation' corresponds to a people and is

determined by blood ties, the genealogical link that accounts for innate

and common qualities. Because the strength of the Trojan nation "lies

with the genealogy of one house and one family, the stability can rest...

in the unbroken line of that family" (Scully, "The Polis in Homer" 9).

In the eighth century BC the primitive Hellenic nation was

beginning to develop, and communication within and without Greece was

increasing. "As [Greeks] came into contact with other cultures and

achieved greater inland mobility, they grew aware of themselves as an

independent group, as Hellenes" (Graf 78). Panhellenism, evidenced in

the inception of the Olympic Games in 776 BC, was evolving. Homer,

composing his tale of Troy during this period, was molding the story of

one nation based on a society with a common cultural heritage vis-A-vis

one based on an aristocratic household whose distinguished bloodlines

dated from ancient times.

Jacques Perret, although speaking of Rome at the dawn of its

Empire, helps to explain the timing of the fabrication of the Iliad and the

other foundation myths, namely the Aeneid:

On peut poser comme un axiome de valeur universelle qu'une
communaute, qu'un people ne possede une histoire de ses origins
que lorsqu'il a acquis une signification historique, de sorte qu'il y a
int6ret pour lui ou pour les autres a d&couvrir son origine. Seuls
les peuples important racontent I'histoire de leurs origins et cette
histoire ne se forme qu'apres le commencement de leur importance
et de leur puissance. (xii)

When the Iliad was being shaped, at "l'aurore d'une civilisation"

(Petit de Julleville 51), feelings of nationhood were emerging. Although

the national epic of Rome, the Aeneid, was "le produit longuement

elabore, d'une civilisation raffinee" (Petit de Julleville 50), nevertheless, it

was composed at the dawn of the Roman Empire when the new ruling

Julio-Claudian family was seeking legitimacy; likewise, the Historia

Regum Britanniae and the Roman de Brut were written at the onset of the

Anglo-Norman dynasty. The Trojan legend, expanded and altered by

successive generations, was considered a major source of each nation's

history from the time of ancient Greece as far as ancient Rome up to

medieval France and England.

Whether Homer was composing a foundation myth for a nation

predicated on an organized community or for one built around a dynasty

linked by blood ties or for a synthesis of the two, he illustrated the view

of life of a knightly ruling class for an audience comprised of the upper

classes. Throughout Greece aristocratic families perpetuated an

impeccable pedigree dating from Mycenaean times. Leaders in Homer's

lonia took the names of heroes from the Trojan War to enhance their

status and to validate their authority.

As Homer evokes an image of "a noisy mixture of nations, speaking

many tongues" defending against a united "collection of Greek forces"

(Mackie 10, 7), he is showing a conflict between East and West, which

persisted through the Middle Ages. Although he lived before the strife

between Greece and Persia, "Ionian ... Greek settlers on the coast of Asia

Minor-ancestors of Homer himself-had clashed, perhaps in the ninth

century, with Asian peoples ..." (Grant 33). Herodotus writes that in the

view of the Persians, "it was the capture of Troy that first made them

enemies of the Greeks" (42). Thus, he implies that the subsequent

conflict between East and West had its origins with the capture of Troy

centuries earlier.

Troy as both a historical and a legendary city held a commanding

position as a Bronze Age crossroads of trade routes between Europe and

Asia. Although archaeological remains bear out that the Trojan culture

looked westwards toward the Greeks rather than toward its Asian

neighbors, the Iliad shows the Trojan army to be a coalition of allies from

neighboring communities in Asia Minor. According to Michael Grant, the

East-West aspect of the siege of Troy is reflected in the Iliad in the

difference between the unified Greeks and "the oriental cosmopolitanism

of the Trojan ranks" (33):

So thronged beat upon beat the Danaans' close battalions
steadily into battle, with each of the lords commanding
his own men; and these went silently, you would not think
all these people with voices kept in their chest were marching;
silently, in fear of their commanders; and upon all
glittered as they marched the shining armour they carried.
But the Trojans, as sheep in a man of possessions' steading
stand in their myriads waiting to be drained of their white milk
and bleat interminably as they hear the voice of their lambs, so the
crying of the Trojans went up through the wide army.
Since there was no speech nor language common to all of them
but their talk was mixed, who were called there from many far
places. (4.427-38)

The contrast between the harmonious Greeks and the babel and

disorder of the Trojan forces results from a difference in the culture and

ideology of each nation. The national ideology of either the Trojan race

or the union of Greek states refers to a belief system that articulates the

way each society thinks of itself, the values and customs it holds dear,

and the traditional symbols of the collective imagination.

In the Iliad the ideology of the Greeks identifies with the web of

Homeric city-states, where order is preserved by the use of social blame.

Conversely, the Trojans live in a praise culture that focuses on the oikos,

'aristocratic household'. "Trojan praise ... is aligned in the narrative

with a type of community that defends the oikos as its center of stability

and organization, and relies on guest-friends connected with this

household for help in doing so" (Mackie 129).

Philotes, 'loyalty to one's friends', and aids, 'shame' or 'fear of

disgrace', are important virtues for the Achaeans, as two of the attributes

of a national ideology to advance cooperation and order. Ajax exhorts

his men with words that encourage a cohesive community:

Dear friends, be men; let shame be in your hearts, and discipline,
and have consideration for each other in the strong encounters,
since more come through alive when men consider each other,
and there is no glory when they give way, nor warcraft either.

Unlike the Achaeans, kleos, 'praise' or 'fame', and charis,

'gratitude', are the virtues that the Trojans and their allies seek. Hector,

while musing about immortality for himself on the field of battle, rallies

his forces, who reciprocate with noisy excitement:

'Trojans and Dardanians and companions in arms: hear me.
Now I had thought that, destroying the ships and all the Achaians
We might take our way back once more to windy Ilion,
But the darkness came too soon, and this beyond all else rescued
the Argives and their vessels along the beach where the sea breaks.

Tomorrow [Diomedes] will learn his own strength, if he can stand
up to
my spear's advance; but sooner than this, I think, in the foremost
he will go down under the stroke, and many companions about him
as the sun goes up into tomorrow. Oh, if I only
could be as this in all my days immortal and ageless
and be held in honour as Athene and Apollo are honoured
as surely as this oncoming day brings evil to the Argives.'
So Hektor spoke among them, and the Trojans shouted approval.
(8.496-501, 535-542).

The ideology of Panhellenic order and cohesiveness is called into

question by the disruption that Achilles introduces to it. He does not

adequately concern himself with philotes or aids, 'loyalty' or 'shame', in

his dealings with his fellow Achaeans. Ajax reproaches him because "for

the sake of one single girl" (9.637-38), Briseis, whom Agamemnon chose

to abduct from him, he "does not remember that friends' affection /

wherein we honoured him by the ships, far beyond all others.... Respect

your own house, we are under the same roof with you" (9.630-31, 640).

Achilles imagines himself a xenos, an 'outsider', whom the

Achaeans do not treat with kleos and charts, 'praise' and 'gratitude'. He

receives no reciprocation for all the heroic fighting that he has performed

for them. Addressing Odysseus, who has just appealed to him to return

to the war, Achilles laments the lack of honor and fair treatment shown

to him by Agamemnon:

... neither
do I think the son of Atreus, Agamemnon, will persuade me,
nor the rest of the Danaans, since there was no gratitude given
for fighting incessantly forever against your enemies.
Fate is the same for the man who holds back, the same if he fights
We are all held in a single honour, the brave with the weaklings.
A man dies still if he has done nothing, as one who has done much.
Nothing is won for me, now that my heart has gone through its
in forever setting my life on the hazard of battle.
For as to her unwinged young ones the mother bird brings back
morsels, wherever she can find them, but as for herself it is
such was I, as I lay through all the many nights unsleeping,
such as I wore through the bloody days of the fighting,
striving with warriors for the sake of these men's women.
But I say that I have stormed from my ships twelve cities
of men, and by land eleven more through the generous Troad.
From all these we took forth treasures, goodly and numerous,
and we would bring them back, and give them to Agamemnon,
Atreus' son; while he, waiting back beside the swift ships, would
take them, and distribute them little by little, and keep
All the other prizes of honour he gave the great men and the
are held fast by them, but from me alone of all the Achaians
he has taken and keeps the bride of my heart. ... (9.314-36)

Achilles defies convention by blaming and insulting the regal

commander-in-chief, Agamemnon. Nestor warns him not to match his

strength with the king, "since never equal with the rest is the portion of

honour / of the sceptred king to whom Zeus gives magnificence" (1.278-

79). Achilles' lack of responsiveness to aids, 'shame', is potentially

dangerous, for his perception of one's place in the social structure and of

the obligations that accompany that place could upset the hierarchical

order of the Achaean community.

The two cultures portrayed by Homer, including their ideologies,

were representations for future nations. Aspects of a dynastic praise

culture based on the stability of the aristocratic household appeared in

the ruling classes of medieval France and England, while qualities of a

unified blame culture based on commonality of territory and culture

surfaced by the fifteenth-century. Neither belief system is balanced, as

evidenced in the Iliad. With the loss of Hector, the Trojan society

exposes itself as an aristocratic household in decline, while the political

superiority of the Achaean community is complicated by the presence of

the dissident Achilles.

Warrior Ethic of the Hero

Despite singular distinctions, the Greeks and the Trojans share a

glorified ideal of the warrior ethic as an element of their national

identities. Gaining permanent honor by dying gloriously is fundamental

to the warrior-hero. He must demonstrate superior authority and

courage, as he is a member of the "governing class, the propertied class,

and also the class on which the burden falls of maintaining the

community" (Redfield 9). For his services he acquires a social status that

garners him privileges as compensation. The role and reward of the

godlike warrior is elucidated by Sarpedon, lord of the Lycians, an ally of

Troy, as he addresses his comrade in arms:

Glaukos, why is it you and I are honoured before others
with pride of place, the choice meats and filled wine cups
in Lykia, and all men look on us as if we were immortals,
and we are appointed a great piece of land by the banks of
good land, orchard and vineyard, and ploughland for the planting
of wheat?
Therefore it is our duty in the forefront of the Lykians
to take our stand, and bear our part of the blazing of battle,
so that a man of the close-armoured Lykians may say of us:
'Indeed, these are no ignoble men who are lords of Lykia,
these kings of ours, who feed upon the fat sheep appointed
and drink the exquisite sweet wine, since indeed there is strength
of valour in them, since they fight in the forefront of the Lykians.'

The warrior espouses his mortality, but at the same time fancies

himself a member of an enduring family tree. Glaucus, second in

command of the Lycians, clarifies this duality for his adversary,


... why ask of my generation?
As is the generation of leaves, so is that of humanity.
The wind scatters the leaves on the ground, but the live timber
burgeons with leaves again in the season of spring returning.
So one generation of men will grow while another dies.

But Hippolochos begot me, and I claim that he is my father;
he sent me to Troy, and urged upon me repeated injunctions,
to be always among the bravest, and hold my head above others,
not shaming the generation of my fathers.... (6.145-48, 206-09)

Although a concept of the warrior ethic proclaims that an

individual gains honor and glory by boldly embracing death during

combat, neither Hector nor Achilles willingly seeks death for his "nation."

However, each aims for the singular honor and glory of the hero. Michael

Grant claims that "one of the Iliad's outstanding contributions to human

civilization, for good or for evil, is its concept of the hero" (44-45). "The

hero is the ideal personal type whose being is centered upon nobility and

its realization ..." (Curtius 167). He makes honor his foremost code, and

glory his driving force. It was an honor of moral excellence, personal

respect and prestige. "It was a glory of military and athletic prowess,

hereditary arrogance and aristocratic class privilege" (Grant 45).

Achilles, reproached and woefully deprived of the honor due him

by Agamemnon and the Achaeans, nevertheless fits the profile of the epic

hero defined by Northrop Frye. "If superior in degree to other men but

not to his natural environment, the hero is a leader. He has authority,

passions, and powers of expression far greater than ours, but what he

does is subject both to social criticism and to the order of nature" (33-


Achilles possessed an excellence in speech and combat that were

attained in the royal household of Agamemnon under the tutelage of

Phoenix, who reminisces about their first days at court:

... Peleus the aged horseman sent me forth with you
on that day when he sent you from Phthia to Agamemnon
a mere child, who knew nothing yet of the joining of battle

nor of debate where men are made pre-eminent. Therefore
he sent me along with you to teach you of all these matters,
to make you a speaker of words and one who accomplished in
action. (9.438-43)

In combat with Hector, Achilles radiates military fervor, for not

only his bronze armor but also his passion for battle make him shine

"like the flare of blazing fire or the sun in its rising" (22.135). Homer

relates Hector's reaction to the brilliant Achilles as well as his own dark


And the shivers took hold of Hektor when he saw him, and he
could no longer
stand his ground there, but left the gates behind, and fled,
and Peleus' son went after him in the confidence of his quick feet.

But when for the fourth time they had come around to the well
then the Father balanced his golden scales, and in them
he set two fateful portions of death, which lays men prostrate,
one for Achilleus, and one for Hektor, breaker of horses,
and balanced it by the middle; and Hektor's death-day was heavier
and dragged downward toward death, and Phoibos Apollo forsook
him. (22.136-38, 208-13)

Besides his brilliant skills in warfare and rhetoric, Achilles

commands a heroic clarity of intellect which is the basis of his resistance

to do what is not honorable. When asked to return to the fighting, the

hero cannot choose to be reconciled to insult and discourtesy, he can

only come back under compulsion (Redfield 105). Achilles' refusal to

fight is an affirmation of the honor of the warrior ethic; "the

absoluteness of that affirmation makes Achilles the greatest of heroes"

(Redfield 105).

Achilles' larger-than-life image is contrasted with the more human

figure of Hector. Although he is a creature of terror to the Achaeans,

Hector is compassionate and gracious and a beloved member of the

Trojan community. Helen speaks warmly of her brother-in-law: "There

was no other in all the wide Troad who was kind to me, and my friend"

(24.774-75). His sister Cassandra presents him as "a great joy to his city,

and all his people" (24.704). Andromache, his wife, portrays him as the

defender, "who guarded / the city, and the grave wives, and the innocent

children" (24.729-30). Homer names him "Hektor shepherd of the

people" (22.277).

Legacy of Hector

In the "nation" of Troy inheritance secures the permanence of the

oikos, 'aristocratic household'. After 10 years of war, Hector is the sole

surviving qualified heir of Priam, as he is the only son left who is worthy

of commanding the Trojan forces and of defending the city. "As future

king, he embodies the continuity of the [nation]. As such he is his

father's hope for the maintenance of royal privileges within the family

[oikos]" (Redfield 113).

Hector is mindful of his duty to preserve the royal family of Troy

and thus the Trojan race, but, as a warrior, he is obligated to test his

limits. An obligation to the warrior ethic leads Hector to an acute

sensitivity toward nemesis, 'moral disapproval of others', and toward

aids, 'shame', hence he reproaches Paris for a lack of these somewhat

Achaean traits:

Strange man! There is no way that one, giving judgment in
could dishonour your work in battle, since you are a strong man.
But of your own accord you hang back, unwilling. And my heart
is grieved in its thought, when I hear shameful things spoken about
by the Trojans, who undergo hard fighting for your sake.
(6. 521-525)

Paris, fully acceptive of his fallible nature, responds to his brother:

"But beyond his strength no man can fight, although he be eager"

(13.787). Hector, on the other hand, fearing nemesis, 'disgrace', and

desiring glory and the flow of tradition, cannot afford to surrender to his

human inclination. He explains himself to Andromache, who has begged

him to quit the war and remain with her and their son on the rampart:

... yet I would feel deep shame
before the Trojans, and the Trojan women with trailing garments,
if like a coward I were to shrink aside from the fighting;
and the spirit will not let me, since I have learned to be valiant
and to fight always among the foremost ranks of the Trojans,
winning for my own self great glory, and for my father. (6.441-46)

Unlike Achilles, whose military prowess is spontaneous, Hector had

to master being valiant. Both heroes are identical, however, in that they

must confront the individual impulse to win kleos, 'praise', preferably

outside of their own community and beyond the immediate future. In

conversation with Andromache, Hector imagines the inevitable glory that

will befall him and his family:

'For I know this thing well in my heart, and my mind knows it:
there will come a day when sacred Ilion shall perish,

and some day seeing you shedding tears a man will say of you:
"This is the wife of Hektor, who was ever the bravest fighter

of the Trojans, breakers of horses, in the days when they fought
about Ilion."'

... Then taking up
his dear son he tossed him about in his arms, and kissed him, and
lifted his voice in prayer to Zeus and the other immortals: 'Zeus,
and you other immortals, grant that this boy, who is my son, may
be as I am, pre-eminent among the Trojans,
great in strength, as am I, and rule strongly over Ilion.'
(6. 447-49, 459-61, 473-79)

Hector acknowledges the mortality of Troy, but also appreciates

that he is Troy's only hope for survival. As the chief military and

spiritual leader of the Trojan defense, if he dies, the community dies with

him. Though he and his city cannot escape their destiny, he understands

that they will gain everlasting glory if they perish honorably. During his

encounter with Achilles, realizing death is near, Hector counsels himself:

"Let me at least not die without a struggle, inglorious, / but do some big

thing first, that men to come shall know of it" (22.304-05). Hector's

interest is in the kleos that compensates the hero for his fate (Mackie 99),

a glorious death about which songs will be sung for generations to come.

Lattimore calls Hector the "accidental triumph" (37). Although not

as impressive in beauty, courage, and strength as Achilles, he "is still the

hero who forever captures the affection and admiration of the modern

reader, far more strongly than his conqueror has ever done" (36-37).

Largely through the character of Hector, the Trojans have endeared

themselves to the psyche of modern man. During the Middle Ages,

Trojan heroes were first and foremost images of chivalric warriors.

Hector was proclaimed one of these heroes, leading authors to liken him

to prestigious leaders of the Crusades (Beaune 21, 48-49). He was

declared one of the Nine Worthies as a representative of the ancient

heroes, along with Alexander and Caesar (Huizinga 61).

Hector represents the courageous, yet vulnerable, hero, who,

appreciating his fate, tries desperately to die bravely and win renown, but

fails in the end. "It is a terrible moment when this mighty man quails

and runs before Achilles" (Grant 39). C.P. Cavafy, a Greek poet writing in

the twentieth century, poignantly captures the bond between Hector and

ourselves in this excerpt from his poem, "The Trojans":

Our efforts are like those of the Trojans.
We think that with resolution and daring
We will alter the downdrag of destiny.

But when the great crisis comes,
Our daring and our resolution vanish;
And we run all around the walls
Seeking to save ourselves in flight.

However, our fall is certain. Above
On the walls, the dirge has already begun. (14)


Whether or not Priam's Troy fell gloriously is both immaterial and

inconclusive. Famed archaeologists, Wilhelm D6rpfeld and Carl Blegen,

differ as to the cause of its destruction. Did its ruin come by way of

earthquake or siege or a combination of the two? The question remains

open, as the phase of archaeological Troy that was Priam's city has not

been definitively fixed.

The city that fell to the Greeks, according to D6rpfeld, was the

stratum labeled Troy VI, whereas Blegen maintains that it was Troy VIIa.

Blegen does concede, however, that with the appearance of Troy VI in the

Middle Bronze Age a distinct break with the past was made. The Trojans

of this era were known as great builders. Also, in the first stratum of

Troy VI horse bones were discovered for the first time.

Michael Wood asserts that Troy VI, because of a certain type of

Mycenaean pottery found there, had to fall around 1250. "Troy VIh,...

the last phase, the city of fine walls and towers, ... was therefore the city

known to the Mycenaeans at the peak of the power of the palaces in

mainland Greece in both the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries, and the

masses of Mycenaean imports prove it" (200). Troy VIIa, on the other

hand, was destroyed around 1180, a time after the golden age of the

mainland palaces. It was a city of shanties and tenements.

In reality, the Troy of the Iliad, "was the equivalent of a walled

palace,... a royal city on a little hill, sheltering a few hundred people

with a few thousand more living around it" (Michael Wood 5). The citadel

of a city that went back at least as far as 1500 BC (Michael Wood 248 ), it

was, however, the stronghold of a long-lasting dynasty of Trojan kings.

How then did this Late Bronze Age fortress city become what

Christopher Morley calls in the Prologue to his Trojan Horse "earth's

most famous town?" Because it was based on myth, the tale of Troy

could be recreated to accommodate any society of any era. As stated by

Morley, Troy "belongs to everybody, and to all times at once." It is a

place of perpetual spring, a dream world, where time is unimportant. Let

us imagine Troy as that classic locus amoenus:

You must build it in your own mind. Put it on a rocky hillside
above a channel of shallowing green water. Put over it your own
favorite sky; give it your most familiar birds and flowers, sounds
and savors. Just for a moment, concentrate on essentials: the wide
freshness of sunny air, the breath of pine and fern and cedar, the
clear blue spread of distant sea, the snake on the stone still warm
at dusk. How many million years did it take him to counterfeit that
lichen pattern, and what is time to him?
Or to us .... (1)

Or, let us picture Troy as the eternal mythic city that shapes itself

so as to live forever in the memory of mankind:

Imagine, please,... a stylized medieval stronghold, with
walls and towers and battlements. Conical turrets are washed in
sunset, against the darkening lavender of Mount Ida. Dear to any
city is a neighboring mountain, even if only a hill. It gives
somehow a sense of solid permanence; which we terribly need.
As we look carefully, it's odd: among medieval walls and
classic temples we see perpendicular modern skyscrapers, radio
towers, filling stations.... (Morley 2-3)

Although Homer's Troy, as a "sacred city," was reluctant to

embrace its vulnerability and as a result was left unprotected by the gods

and destroyed, mankind throughout the ages has succeeded in

resurrecting it to its former glory. Different generations gleaned from

the Troy Tale elements expressive of their age. Troy was rebuilt again

and again, its immortality the consequence of the power of myth and



In Western Europe during the twelfth century men's hearts and

minds were waking to a new appreciation of the world (Heer 101). There

was a revived vigor of intellectual and literary life. This renewal was

reflected in historical works. The writing of chronicles, usually historical

accounts of events arranged in sequence of time, without analysis or

interpretation, called for an open mind ready to reflect on a profusion of

knowledge. However, "in medieval histories, fact and fiction often

overlapped" (Blacker xi). In fact, sometimes myth was created to

authenticate historical narrative (Seaman 4). Wace's Roman de Brut,

issued circa 1155, and the work from which it was adapted, Geoffrey of

Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, published around 1138, were

based on myth and legend, although were perceived largely as history.

The Historia and the Brut were the result of the rebirth of interest

in classical antiquity and in the search for origins in twelfth-century

England. The medieval chronicler believed a great people should have a

glorious past, and the founders of a great nation should be heroic

(Kendrick 1). Brutus, the eponymous hero of the Britons, was granted

verisimilitude because he was linked with a major event in world history,

the fall of Troy.

The Brut and the Historia begin with an account of the birth and

upbringing of Brutus, great-grandson of Aeneas.2 After being banished

from his country, like Aeneas, he wanders from region to region and risks

bold adventures. Ultimately, he and his followers reach their destination,

the island of Britain, where he becomes the ruler of these recent

inhabitants, the Britons. The tale resumes with the heroic exploits of a

long line of British kings. Constantine I was the king who captured Rome

and made himself emperor; Vortigern invited in the Saxons; Arthur

subdued most of western Europe and had a court whose splendor was

superior to all others. After Arthur was mortally wounded, the country

was beset with dissension. (MacDougall 8-11). MacDougall closes with

the following statement:

There was a brief revival of the hope of the Britons under the rule
of the last British king, Cadwallader, but the pestilence and famine
forced them to leave the island altogether and take refuge in
Brittany. Britain was now destitute of its ancient inhabitants
except for a remnant in Wales. The Angles and Saxons had finally
triumphed. (11)

As regards scholastic activity in twelfth-century England and

France, R. W. Southern maintains that England was "a colony of the

French intellectual empire, important in its way and quite productive, but

still subordinate" (158). He adds that "the strongest creative impulse in

England in the early twelfth century was historical" (160). Important

chroniclers of the first half of the century were the Anglo-Norman

2 In the precursor to Geoffrey's Historia Regum Britanniae, the Historia
Brittonum, Brutus is the grandson of Aeneas.

William of Malmesbury, a renowned monk-historian, who authored a

history of England beginning with the arrival of the Saxons, entitled the

Gesta Regum Anglorum; the Anglo-Norman archdeacon Henry of

Huntingdon, who wrote the Historia Anglorun, a history of the English

from the earliest times to the present day; and the Welshman, or Breton,3

Geoffrey of Monmouth, an Augustinian canon living in Oxford, who in his

Historia filled out the gaps in British history unrecorded by the earlier


All three authors found it necessary that their people's history

should be known. Though involved with the new Anglo-Norman regime,

namely with Henry I and/or the usurper, King Stephen, and other

distinguished Anglo-Norman noblemen, each author was principally

interested in explaining the prodigious rise in influence and importance

of his own race, either the Anglo-Saxons or the Welsh, that is, the Britons,

and the various internal conflicts which had troubled their history (Heer

278). Wace, a Norman, published his work a year after Henry II began his

reign in 1154, almost 20 years after Geoffrey's Historia appeared.

The Norman Conquest was an important reason for the rise in

historical writing in twelfth-century England. The native English sought

not only to validate their property rights but also to preserve their

cultural past. Southern professes that the adopting of Old English

3 Geoffrey was from the vicinity of Monmouth in southeast Wales, but his
racial origin is uncertain. Neil Wright concludes that he was a
"normanised Celt" (x).

history and legends, as well as intermarriage and "the gradual

replacement of English by French as the vernacular of cultivated people

even of English descent,... all these things helped to produce a single

nation at the top ..." (138).

For this distinctive "single nation," which comprised the Anglo-

Norman aristocracy, the new era precipitated the desire to define its

recently blended heritage and to justify its supremacy to those its armies

had conquered (Blacker xii). The elite, both at court and at local

aristocratic centers of culture, patronized authors who proclaimed the

legitimacy of their rule, strengthened their authority, and heightened

their prestige. The Historia and the Brut presented a genealogy of kings,

although mythical, that served Anglo-Norman dynastic ideological

interests. Genealogy allowed the ruling dynasties to present the past

(and by implication the future) in terms of their own history (Dumville

XV, 82).

A new Anglo-Norman culture was developing that was interested in

its distinctive past, a history that would determine the budding nation's

identity and serve as a precedent for its political ambitions. Wace and

Geoffrey helped to heighten the prestige of the new regime as well as to

establish a political identity by furnishing it with its own unique national

origin myth. They associated the origins of the history of the British

nation with the glorious civilizations of Troy and Rome. The Historia and

the Brut helped draw the various peoples of the island together, because

now the Anglo-Normans as well as the native English and Britons could

take pride in the ancient British past.

An origin myth provides a superiority that justifies the mastery

over other nations. By reason of the Trojan-origin myth, ancestry became

the standard for proving legitimacy of social rank. To trace one's lineage

to a distant ancestor, preferably one that was powerful and

distinguished, became an integral part in establishing the legitimacy of

dynastic authority and right (Seaman 3). The Trojans represented the

prototypical heroes of an ancient and splendid civilization, their legacy

being upheld and propagated by the Romans through Virgil's Aeneid. An

essential element of the Roman legacy that transferred to the Franks,

Britons, and consequently to the Anglo-Normans was a predilection for


Henry I, king of England from 1100 until December, 1135, was

aware of France's Trojan-origin myth and perhaps became the stimulus

for Geoffrey to compose the Historia. However, Tatlock contends that

Geoffrey had no motivation other than racial patriotism (427). Both he

and Wace intended to entertain and inform the Anglo-Norman nobility

that was interested in the ancient history and legends of its adopted land.

The appeal was due to the rapid advance of literary culture among this

fashionable elite.

Tatlock suggests that because "patriotism attaches to the land as

well as the race," heroic stories that presented "a splendid picture of

events in the island for many many centuries back would also gratify its

actual rulers," (427). The present rulers of England, therefore, were

justified in not having a direct lineage to the ancient Britons. The

glorious past and power of the Britons could be transferred to the Anglo-

Normans because the two races had inhabited and ruled the same land.

Edmond Faral in La Legende arthurienne, nonetheless, gives an

account of a Norman Trojan-origin myth. It was the imaginative

undertaking of the clerk Dudon de Saint-Quenton in the early eleventh

century (289), and Guillaume de Jumieges, who embellished it and

dedicated it to William the Conqueror in the late eleventh century (292).

Although it is tainted with absurdities, Faral claims that the motive for its

composition was "l'exemple... [de] la 16gende de l'origine troyenne des

Francs." (293)

Henry I was indeed curious about the earliest history of his chief

rivals, the kings of France. Henry of Huntingdon states in his Historia

Anglorum that the king had spent the year of 1128 fighting in Normandy,

and that when he enquired the origin and early history of the Frankish

kingdom, someone who was not uneducated replied:

Regum potentissime, sicut plereque gentes Europe, ita Franci a
Troianis duxerunt originem. Antenor namque cum suis profugus
ab excidio Troie, in finibus Pannonie civitatem Siccambriam nominee
edificavit. Verum post mortem Antenoris, constituerunt sui duces
super se, Torgotum et Franctionem, a quo Franci sunt appellati.

4 The quote is taken from Diana Greenway's 1996 edition of Henry.
Archdeacon of Huntingdon: Historia Anglorum The History of the
English People.

[0 most powerful of kings, like most nations in Europe, the Franks
took their origin from the Trojans. For Antenor, with his followers,
fled from the fall of Troy to the boundaries of Pannonia and built a
city called Siccambria. But after Antenor's death, they set up as
dukes over them Torgot and Francio, from whom the Franks were
named.] (Greenway 478)

Henry of Huntingdon then gives a genealogy of the kings of France.

Chronicle of Fredegar

Let us now turn to a description and interpretation of the Frankish

origin myths found in the Chronicle of Fredegar and in the Liber

Historiae Francorum, together with an effort to justify their composition.

The Chronicle of Fredegar is the first known written work that embraces

the claim that the Franks were descended from the Trojans. Compiled in

the first half of the seventh century, the Chronicle may have had more

than one author, "almost certainly none of whom were named Fredegar"

(Collins 81). Convenience is best served, however, by retaining the

traditional name of Fredegar as the assumed author.


Fredegar's account, like most chronicles of Late Antiquity and the

early Middle Ages, was a compilation of detailed historical and biblical

information that provided a narrative outline of human history from

Adam up to the present age, with especial emphasis being placed on the

author's own times. In his prologue Fredegar makes a characteristic

medieval statement about the world growing old thus relinquishing the

finer points of wisdom, so he must pass on to posterity whatever he has


Around the year 613, the "first" Fredegar, a Burgundian, "decided

to attach some local annals to a short chronicle of his own. The annals

seem to have covered the period 584-604, though they may have gone

back further. His chronicle covers the period 604-613" (Wallace-Hadrill

73-74). A hand book of world chronology that comprised material by

Jerome, Hydatius, and Isidore, and data from the Liber Generationis, a

frequent preface to early Middle Ages' chronicles, may have been added

at this time.

Into an abridgement of the Liber Generationis, the Latin translation

of a world chronicle by a third century bishop of Rome, Hippolytus, two

words, Trociane and Frigiae, were added by Fredegar. They were

inserted into this work's list of descendants of Noah's son Japhet. "He

wishes it to be understood that the Trojans, and especially such of them

as the Frigii, or Franks as he later explains, as made their way west, could

trace their descent to a respectable son of Noah" (Wallace-Hadrill 79), for

it was widely held that after the Flood, Japhet was the originator of the

Gentiles, whose progeny occupied Europe.

Fredegar also included in his Chronicle a version of the Latin

translation and continuation of the Greek chronicle of Eusebius of

Caesarea composed by St. Jerome in the late fourth century AD (Collins

85). The combined work, commonly called the Eusebius-Jerome

Chronicle, became the customary encyclopedia of chronology in the West,

establishing the precedent to link sacred history with the reigns of kings

and their chronology, kings being the symbol of the whole nation.

Fredegar also attached a story regarding the Trojan origin of the

Franks to his extractions from the Eusebius-Jerome Chronicle. In his

Trojan-origin myth he created a distinguished background for the Franks

by identifying their early kings as Trojans and by showing them to be a

fierce, freedom-loving, warlike people superior to the Romans,

nonetheless, their blood relatives.

Like Aeneas and his fellow Trojans, the Franks migrated from Troy

after its destruction and endured a long, treacherous journey before

arriving in their new homeland. Edward James contends, that "it was

impossible to acquire any learning in the sixth century without

discovering, from Virgil, that Rome itself had been founded by refugee

Trojans" (236).

A Trojan-Gaulish legend existed by the fourth century AD. A

Roman historian of the time, Ammianus Marcellinus, confirms in his

chapter on the origin of the Gauls that after the sack of Troy some of

those fleeing from the Greeks occupied Gaul, which was uninhabited (The

Later Roman Empire 84). Wallace-Hadrill claims that "tales of Troy were

familiar to educated Gallo-Romans of the Later Empire" (80). Kurth

maintains that Fredegar's tale was essentially a learned fiction, not a

legend of the common people:

Cette legende aura le caractere de toutes les fictions du mime
genre. Elle sera de provenance erudite et nullement populaire, elle
se confinera dans le monde des livres, et elle ne se repandra jamais
dans les masses. En un mot, ce ne sera pas une creation vivante du
genie poetique de la nation, ce sera un fabricat du pedantisme des
lettres. (506)

Whether or not Fredegar was the originator of his Frankish-Trojan

tale cannot be determined. No doubt much of what he wrote was his own

invention, but much was legend and much was convoluted history. The

following is the Frankish Trojan-origin myth of Fredegar I in an

abbreviated form:

Priamo primo regi habuerunt; postea per historiarum libros
scriptum est qualiter habuerunt regi Friga. Postea partiti sunt in
duabus partibus. Una pars perrexit in Macdoniam: vocati sunt
Macedonis secundum populum a quem recepti sunt, et regionem
Macedoniae, qui oppremebatur a gentes vicinas ; invitati ab ipsis
fuerunt, ut eis praeberent auxilium. Per quos postea cum subiuncti
in plurima procreatione crevissent, ex ipso genere Macedonis
fortissimi pugnatores effect sunt: quod in postremum in diebus
Phyliphy regis et Alexandri fili sui fama confirmat, illorum
fortitudine qualis fuit.
Nam et illa alia pars, quae de Frigia progessa est, ab Olexo
per fraude decepti, tamen non captivati, nisi exinde eiecti, per
multis regionibus pervacantis cum uxores et liberos, electum a se
regi Francione nomen, per quem Franci vocantur. In postremum,
eo quod fortissimus ipse Francio in bellum fuisse fertur, et multo
tempore cum plurimis gentibus pugnam gerens, partem Asiae
vastans in Eurupam dirigens, inter Renum vel Danuvium et mare
Ibique mortuo Francione, cum iam per proelia tanta quae
gesserat parva ex ipsis manus remanserat, duces ex se
constituerunt. Attamen semper alterius dicione negantes, multo
post tempore cum ducibus transaegerunt usque ad tempore
Ponpegi consolis, qui et cum ipsis demicans seo et cum reliquas
gentium nations, quae in Germania habitabant, totasque dicione
subdidit Romanam. Sed continue Franci cum Saxonibus amicicias
inientes, adversus Pompegium revellantis, eiusdem rennuerunt
potestatem. Pompegius in Spaniam contra gentes demicans
plurimas, moretur. Post haec nulla gens usque in presented diem
Francos potuit superare, qui tamen eos suae dicione potuisset
subiugare. Ad ipsum instar et Macedonis, qui ex eadem
generation fuerunt, quamvis gravia bella fuissent adtrite, tamen
semper liberi ab externa domination vivere conati sunt. Tercia ex
eadem origine gentem Torcorum fuisse fama confirmat, ut, cum
Franci Asiam pervacantis pluribus proeliis transissent, ingredients
Eurupam, super litore Danuviae fluminis inter Ocianum et Traciam
una ex eis ibidem pars resedit. Electum a se utique regem nomen
Torquoto, per quod gens Turquorum nomen accept. Franci huius

aeteneris gressum cum uxores et liberes agebant, nec erat gens qui
eis in proelium potuisset resistere. Sed dum plurima egerunt
proelia, quando ad Renum consederunt, dum a Turquoto menuati
sunt, parva ex eis manus aderat. A captivitate Troge usque ad
primam olympiadem fiunt anni 406.
... Primus rex Latinorum tune in ipso tempore surrexit, eo
quod a Troia fugaciter exierant, et ex ipso genere et Frigas: fuerunt,
nisi per ipsa captivitate Troiae et inundatione Assiriorum et eorum
persecution, in duas parties egressi et ipsa civitate et region.
Unum exinde regnum Latinorum ereguntur et alium Frigorum....
Aeneas et Frigas fertur germani fuissent. (SSRM 45-47)

[The first king they had was Priam; it is written throughout
books of history how later they had Frigas as their king. Afterwards
they were divided into two groups. One reached Macedonia and
they were called Macedonians after the people by whom they were
received and after the region of Macedonia. They had been invited
by these people, who were being oppressed by the neighboring
tribes, so that they could offer them help. After they were united
with these people, they grew numerous in offspring. From this
tribe the bravest Macedonian warriors were created and their
reputation later confirmed this in the days of King Philip and his
son Alexander-such was their bravery.
That other group, however, which set out from Phrygia,
having been deceived through treachery by Ulysses, were none the
less not taken prisoner but driven out from there and, traveling
through many regions with their wives and children, they chose
from among themselves Francio for their king. And it was after
him that later they were named 'Franks' because this Francio is said
to have been very brave in battle. Waging war for a long period
with many tribes, devastating part of Asia, and turning toward
Europe, [the group] settled down between the Rhine, the Danube,
and the sea.
And there Francio died. Since only a small band of them
remained because of the wars they had waged, they set up duces
from their own number. And constantly spurning foreign
domination, they carried on for a long time with their duces until
the time of the consul Pompey, who, fighting both with them and
with the other nations of tribes who lived in Germany, brought
them all under Roman domination. But the Franks quickly entered
an alliance with the Saxons and, rebelling against Pompey, cast off
his authority. Pompey died fighting against many tribes in Spain.
From after these events up to the present day no tribe has been

SThe original writings of both Fredegars and the anonymous author of
the Liber Historiae Francorum are found in the Monumenta Germaniae
Historica, Scriptores Rerum Merovingicarum, 2, abbreviated SSRM.

able to conquer the Franks, but rather they were able to subjugate
them to their own authority. And in the example of the
Macedonians, who were of the same stock, although they had been
worn away in deadly wars, none the less they have always
undertaken to live free from external domination. Tradition
confirms that there was a third tribe from the same origin, the
Turks, and that when the Franks in their travels and many battles
crossed over and entered Europe, a group of them settled in that
same place, above the bank of the river Danube between the ocean
and Thrace. They elected from their midst a king named
Turquotus from whom they got their name, 'Turks'. The Franks
made this journey with their wives and children and there was no
tribe who was able to resist them in battle. But since they waged
many wars, and since their numbers were diminished by
Turquotus, when they settled near the Rhine a small band
remained. From the taking of Troy to the first Olympiad 406 years
... Then in that same time the first king of the Latins
[Aeneas] arose and, seeing that they had fled from Troy, he was
from the same family as Frigas. Through the same taking of Troy
and the inundation of Assyrians and their persecution they had
gone out in two groups from that city and region. From this they
established one kingdom of Latins and another of Phrygians....
Aeneas and Frigas are said to have been brothers.] (Gerberding 14-

A main element of the Trojan legend clearly evident in this version

is the prowess of the warriors. The Franks represent a warlike culture

that strives to be free and independent, but sufficiently powerful and

daring to conquer other peoples.

The reference to King Frigas and the country Phrygia probably

comes from passages in the Aeneid where the Trojans are sometimes

called Phrygians. The mention of Turks and Turquotus may designate

Teucri or Teucrians, one of the names for Trojans used by Virgil.

According to Faral, Fredegar confused the Alexander, "c'est-a-dire

Paris," mentioned in the Eusebius-Jerome Chronicle with Alexander of

Macedonia ( Leende 276). Faral states that the origin of the term

'Macedonians' "peut-etre est-ce d'une mauvaise lecture de s. J&rome, qui

note ... que les Phrygiens etaient anciennement nomm6s Maeones, nom

rare a la connaissance de notre auteur, et qu'il aura lu comme

Macedones" (277)?

The allusion to Turks and Macedonians may have originated from

the decision of the Emperor Probus (276-82) to exile Frankish prisoners

of war in the Black Sea area. He had also settled great numbers of Franks

on the banks of the Rhine (Gibbon 288). Gibbon relates how a band of

the rebellious Franks from the shores of the Black Sea confiscated ships

and made their way back to their home in the Rhineland:

They easily escaped through the Bosphorus and the Hellespont,
and, cruising along the Mediterranean, indulged their appetite for
revenge and plunder by frequent descents on the unsuspecting
shores of Asia, Greece, and Africa. The opulent city of Syracuse ...
was sacked by a handful of barbarians, who massacred the greatest
part of the trembling inhabitants. From the island of Sicily the
Franks proceeded to the Columns of Hercules, trusted themselves
to the ocean, coasted round Spain and Gaul, and, steering their
triumphant course through the British Channel, at length finished
their surprising voyage by landing in safety on the ... Frisian
shores. (I, 289)

The location "between the Rhine, the Danube, and the sea" likely

means the area that today includes the Netherlands and the area north of

the German lower Rhine, the traditional home of the Franks (Gerberding

11). Like Aeneas, the Franks in Fredegar's story did not reach the final

home of their people. They settled near the mouth of the Rhine and were

known as Salian Franks.

Ammianus Marcellinus mentions the Salian Franks in a statement

he makes about the Emperor Julian, who reigned from 360 to 363:

"Quibus paratis petit primos omnium Francos, eos uidelicet, quos

consuetudo Salios apellauit, ausos olim in Romano solo apud Toxandriam

locum habitacula sibi figere praelicenter" (17, 8.3).6 [His first objective

was the Franks, those specifically who are usually called Salii; they had

had the temerity in the past to settle themselves on Roman soil at

Toxandria" (17, 8.3)]. The Franks were moving southward during the

middle of the fourth century into Toxandria, a district roughly equivalent

to present-day Belgium, and about a century later, in 450, they began

invading Gaul.

Wallace-Hadrill writes that the actual Salian chieftains of the

Toxandrian period were Faramund, Clodio, Merovech, and Childeric I

(158), names later given to the first Merovingian kings. The early Trojan-

origin myths of the Franks recalled the Frankish petty kings who ruled

during the fifth century, but they did not designate the Merovingian

dynasty, which originated in the latter quarter of the fifth century.

The region "super litore Danuviae fluminis inter Ocianum et

Traciam" [above the bank of the river Danube between the ocean and

Thrace] may denote the Roman province, Dacia, a region roughly

equivalent to present-day Romania. Fredegar may also have meant

'Original quotations of Ammianus Marcellinus are from his Rerum
Gestarum Libri Oui Supersunt, the 1978 edition of Wolfgang Seyfarth.

Pannonia, approximately modern Hungary and Croatia, a Roman province

whose name the Franks knew well but whose location was ambiguous.

The statement "a captivitate Troje usque ad primam olympiadem

fiunt anni CCCCVI" [from the taking of Troy to the first Olympiad 406

years elapsed] was copied from the Eusebius-Jerome Chronicle

(Gerberding 17). The phrase "inundatione Assyriorum" [an onslaught of

Assyrians] rather than "Graecorum" [of Greeks] may have been written

because one of the chronological standards of the Eusebius-Jerome

Chronicle, the Regum Assyriorum, provided a significant chronology of

the reign of ancient rulers (Wallace-Hadrill 79).

In associating the Franks with the Romans Fredegar demonstrates

that, although their first kings are brothers, the Franks have their own

origins and development distinct from the Romans. By casting off

Roman domination, the myth demonstrates that the Franks pride

themselves not only on their prowess in battle but also on their great love

of liberty.

Fredegar II

Around 642, the "second" Fredegar, probably a Burgundian like his

predecessor, began writing his narrative. Wallace-Hadrill maintains that

"it would not be surprising if he were also a layman and a man of some

standing in the Burgundian court of the mid-seventh century" (75). He

attached a summary of the first six books of Gregory of Tours' sixth-

century Historia Francorum, stopping at the year 584, to the original

chronicle. "Thus he had what he probably called five chronicles: the

Liber, Jerome, Hydatius, Isidore and Gregory; and to them he proceeded

to add a sixth, namely the annals and chronicle of his Burgundian

predecessor, continued by himself from 614" (Wallace-Hadrill 76).

Fredegar II inserted his particular Trojan-origin story into his

epitome of Gregory of Tour's Historia. However, Gregory had not

suggested a Frankish-Trojan connection, possibly because he believed the

Franks were distinguished only on account of their Christianity, not for

their racial heritage. This Trojan legend was a reworked version of the

earlier tale of 613. The second author chronicled the early kings and

satisfied racial pride, but he did not make reference to the Romans. He

does imply, nevertheless, that the Franks and the Romans have a

common ancestry. Here is a shortened version of his interpretation of

the Frankish-Trojan legend:

De Francorum vero regibus beatus Hieronimus, qui jam olym
fuerant scripsit, quod prius Virgilii poetae narrat storia: Priamum
primum habuisse regi; cum Troja fraude Olexe caperetur, exinde
fuissent egressi; postea Frigam habuissent regem; befaria division
partem earum Macedonia fuisse adgressa; alii cum Friga vocati
Frigiis, Asiam pervacantes, litoris Danuvii fluminis et mare
Ocianum consedisse; dinuo byfaria devisione Eurupam media ex
ipsis pars cum Francionem eorum rege ingressa fuisse. Eurupam
pervacantis, cum uxoris et liberis Reni ripam occupant, nec procul
a Reno civitatem ad instar Trogiae nominis aedificare conati sunt.
Captum quidem, sed inperfectum opus remansit. Residua eorum
pars, que super litore Danuvii remanserat, elictum a se Torcoth
nomen regem, per quem ibique vocati sunt Turchi; et per
Francionem hi alii vocati sunt Franci, multis post temporibus cum
ducibus externas dominationis semper negantes....
Franci electum a se regi, sicut prius fuerat, crinitum,
inquirentes dilegenter, ex genere Priami, Frigi, et Francionis super
se creant nomen Theudemarem, filium Richemeris. (SSRM 93-95)

[Saint Jerome wrote about who the kings of the Franks
formerly were and before him the poet Virgil's history relates this:
that they had Priam as their first king; that when Troy was taken by
the trickery of Ulysses they set out from there; that later they had
Friga as their king. A two-part division occurred and one group
came to Macedonia; the others, called the Frigii, travelled through
Asia with Friga and settled on the shore of the river Danube and
the ocean. Again there was a two-part division and a group
comprising half of them with Francio their king entered Europe.
Travelling across Europe with their wives and children they
occupied the bank of the Rhine and not far from the Rhine they
undertook the building of the city in the image of and with the
name of Troy. It was indeed begun, but the task remained
uncompleted. The remaining group of them, who stayed on the
bank of the Danube, elected a king from among themselves named
Torcot, after whom they were called 'Turks' and after Francio the
other were called 'Franks'. For many years following, they with
their duces continually warded off foreign domination.
The Franks chose from among themselves a long-haired king,
just as there had been in earlier times. Carefully taking him from
the family of Priam, Friga, and Francio, they established over
themselves a man named Theudemar, son of Richemer....]

The second Fredegar could claim the authority of Jerome for the

names of the first Frankish kings, Priam, Friga, and Francio, because his

predecessor had introduced his Trojan-origin story as a passage in the

text of the Eusebius-Jerome Chronicle that he included in his own

Chronicle (Gerberding 16).

The chief influence on Fredegar II for writing his particular Trojan

legend came from Gregory of Tour's claim that the historians of the

Franks never recorded the names of their kings (11.9). The inability of

Gregory to discover a kingly tradition led Fredegar to make his purpose

for composing his legend the ability to name these kings (Gerberding 17).

Both Gregory and Fredegar needed to sanction Frankish

ascendancy. Gregory was presumably seeking a glorious past for the

Franks and the subsequent Merovingian dynasty in order to justify their

seizure of Roman Gaul. Fredegar satisfied the glorious heritage and the

legitimacy of Merovingian authority by means of his Trojan-origin myth.

The reference by both Fredegars to duces as rulers of the Franks

during a period of many years after the death of Francio affirms the

possibility that an uninterrupted line of kings was lacking. Because

Fredegar II claims that the duces governed until a new dynasty of long-

haired kings emerged as Frankish leaders, he is indicating that Priam,

Frigas, and Francio were long-haired kings. The vogue of long-haired

royalty was common among the Germanic peoples; however, the practice

remained the prerogative of the Merovingians long after it disappeared

from the other tribes.

Fredegar produced the names of Theudemar and Ricimer from a

statement in Gregory's Historia Francorum asserting that "Theudemer"

was the son of "Richemer" and a long-haired king of the Franks (11.9).

Ricimer, an actual Roman general of Visigothic and Suevic blood, was

known as the Kingmaker, inasmuch as he raised up and demoted

emperors in the last years of the Western Roman Empire. Gregory may

have confused him with the Roman Egidius, the master-general of Gaul at

the time of Ricimer. Egidius had been elected temporary king by the

Franks to replace Childeric, the father of Clovis, who was exiled to

Thuringia in central Germany. Gibbon explains the circumstances:

The Franks, who had punished with exile the youthful follies of
Childeric, elected the Roman general for their king;... and when
the nation at the end of four years repented of the injury which

they had offered to the Merovingian family, [Egidius] patiently
acquiesced in the restoration of the lawful prince. (2, 320-21)

Faral claims that Fredegar confused the name of Troy, "ad instar

Trogiae," with the modern German city of Xanten, located on the lower

Rhine, which is "au voisinage d'une ancienne Colonia Traiana, denommee

Troia minor pendant tout le moyen age" (Legende 279).

Liber Historiae Francorum

The Chronicle of Fredegar and the Historia Francorum by Gregory

of Tours are two of the three major works of history that profile the two

and a half centuries of Merovingian rule, from 481 to 751. The third

history of the Merovingians, the Liber Historiae Francorum, whose author

is unknown, was written in 727 near Paris. Gregory's and Fredegar's

works have enjoyed a better reputation among historians than the LHF,

but they have been less popular. "This little book was the most widely

read and the most frequently copied of all early medieval Frankish

historical works" (Gerberding 3).

The LHF-author brings us another version of the Frankish Trojan-

origin legend. Because his account is so unlike that of Fredegar,

Gerberding concludes that the Frankish Trojan-origin stories were

widespread and varied by the time the LHF-author wrote, and that

Fredegar was not the inventor of the Frankish-Trojan legend (18). Here is

an account of the first four books of the Liber Historiae Francorum:

Principium regum Francorum eorum que origine vel gentium
illarum ac gesta proferamus. Est autem in Asia opidum
Trojanorum, ubi est civitas quae Illium dicitur, ubi regnavit Aeneas.
Gens illa fortis et valida, viri bellatores atque rebelles nimis,

inquieta certamina objurgantes, per gyrum finitima debellantes.
Surrexerunt autem reges Grecorum adversus Aeneam cum multo
exercitu pugnaveruntque contra eum caede magna, corruitque illic
multum populus Trojanorum. Fugiit itaque Aeneas et reclusit se in
civitate Illium, pugnaveruntque adversus hanc civitatem annis
decim. Ipsa enim civitate subacta, fugiit Aeneas tyrannus in Italia
locare gentes ad pugnandum. Alii quoque ex principibus, Priamus
videlicet et Antenor, cum reliquo exercitu Trojanorum duodecim
milia intrantes in navibus, abscesserunt et venerunt usque ripas
Tanais fluminis. Ingressi Meotidas paludes, navigantes
pervenerunt intra terminos Pannoniarum just Meotidas paludes et
coeperunt aedificare civitatem ob memorial eorum
appellaveruntque earn Sicambriam; habitaveruntque illic annis
multis creveruntque in gentem magnam.

Eo itidem tempore, gens Alanorum prava ac pessima
rebellaverunt contra Valentinianum, imperatorem Romanorum ac
gentium. Tunc ille exercitum movit hostem magnam de Roma,
contra eos perrexit, pugnam iniit superavitque eos atque devicit.
Illi itaque caesi super Danubium fluvium, fugierunt et intraverunt
in Meotidas paludas. Dixit autem imperator: "Quicumque potuerit
introire in paludes istas et gentem istam pravam eiecerit, concedam
eis tribute donaria annis decim." Tune congregati Trojani fecerunt
insidias, sicut erant edocti ac cogniti, et ingressi in Meotidas
paludes cum alio populo Romanorum, ejeceruntque inde Alanos
percusseruntque eos in ore gladii. Tune appellavit eos
Valentinianus imperator Francos attica lingua, hoc est feros, a
duritia vel audacia cordis eorum.

Igitur post transactos decim annos, misit memoratus
imperator exactores una cum Primario duce de Romano senatu, ut
darent consueta tribute de populo Francorum. Illi quoque, sicut
erant crudeles et immanissimi, consilio inutile accept, dixerunt ad
invicem: "Imperator cum exercitu Romano non potuit eicere
Alanos de latibulis paludarum, gentem fortem ac rebellem: nos
enim, qui eos superavimus, quur solvimus tribute: Consurgamus
igitur contra Primarium hunc vel exactoribus istis percutiamusque
eos et auferamus cuncta quae secum habent et non demus
Romanis tribute et erimus nos jugiter liberi." Insidiis vero
praeparatis, interficerunt eos.

Audiens hec imperator, in furore et ira nimis succensus,
praecepit hostem commovere Romanorum et aliarum gentium cum
Arestarco principem militia, direxeruntque aciem contra Francos.
Fuit autem ibi strages magna de uterque populo. Videntes enim
Franci, quod tantum exercitum sustinere non possint, interfecti ac
cesi, fugierunt; ceciditcue ibi Priamus eorum fortissimus. Illi

quoque egressi a Sicambria, venerunt in extremis partibus Reni
fluminis in Germaniarum oppidis, illucque inhabitaverunt cum
eorum principibus Marchomire, filium Priamo, et Sunnone, filio
Antenor; habitaveruntque ibi annis multis. Sunnone autem
defunct, acciperunt consilium, ut regem sibi unum constituerent,
sicut ceterae gentes. Marchomiris quoque eis dedit hoc consilium,
et elegerunt Faramundo, ipsius filio, et elevaverunt eum regem
super se crinitum. Tunc habere et leges coeperunt, quae eorum
priores gentiles tractaverunt his nominibus: Wisowastus,
Wisogastus, Arogastus, Salegastus, in villabus quae ultra Renum
sunt, in Bothagm, Salechagm et Widechagm. (SSRM, 241-44)

[Let us set forth the beginnings of the kings of the Franci,
their own origin, and that of the peoples as well as their deeds. In
Asia there is a stronghold of the Trojans where a city called Ilium is
in which Aeneas ruled. This people was strong and mighty, men
exceedingly prone to warring again and again, provoking constant
combat, and conquering the neighboring lands all around them.
But the kings of the Greeks rose up with a great army against
Aeneas and they fought against him in a great slaughter and there
a great army of Trojans fell. Aeneas fled and shut himself up in
the city of Ilium and they fought against this city for ten years.
For, after the city was captured, king Aeneas fled to Italy to engage
peoples there for the fight. Others of the leading men, that is,
Priam and Antenor, with the remaining Trojan army, 12,000
soldiers, boarded ships, escaped, and came to the banks of the
river Don. And having entered the Sea of Azov, they arrived within
the borders of the Pannonians adjacent to the Sea of Azov and they
began to build a city to be a memorial to themselves and they
called it Sicambria. And there they lived for many years and grew
into a great people.

At the same time the depraved and evil people of the Alans
rebelled against Valentinian, emperor of Romans and peoples alike.
Then he raised a huge army and went out from Rome against them.
He engaged them in battle, overcame them, and defeated them.
Since they were defeated, they fled across the river Don and
entered the Sea of Azov. Then the emperor said, 'Whoever shall be
able to enter this marshland and to force out this evil people, for
them I shall cancel tribute payments for ten years.' Then, having
come together, the Trojans prepared ambushes and, as they had
been taught to do that and as they also knew the area, they entered
the Sea of Azov along with another army of Romans, drove the
Alans from there, and cut them down with the sword. Then the
Emperor Valentinian named them 'Franks' which means 'wild' in
the Attic language because of the hardness and bravery of their

Therefore after ten years had passed, the above-mentioned
emperor sent tax collectors together with Duke Primarius from the
Roman senate in order to collect the customary tax from the Franci.
They, however, because they were wild and uncivilized, having
taken counsel to their own detriment, said one to another, 'The
emperor with the Roman army was not able to eject the Alans, a
strong and defiant people, from their hiding places in the
marshlands. Why then should we, who conquered them, pay
tribute? Let us therefore rise up against this Primarius and these
collectors and let us destroy them and let us not pay taxes to the
Romans and we shall be perpetually free.' And indeed they
prepared ambushes and killed them.

When the emperor heard this he was consumed with fury
and great anger. He ordered an army of Romans and other peoples
with Aristarcus, the Princeps Militae, to be assembled and sent it
against the Franci. And there was a great slaughter of each army.
The Franci, who were being cut down and killed, saw that they
could not resist such a great army and took to flight. And there
Priam, the bravest of them fell. They therefore left Sicambria and
came to the farthest reaches of the river Rhine in the strongholds
of the Germanies. And here they settled with leaders Marchomir,
Priam's son, and Sunno, the son of Antenor, and they lived there
for many years. When Sunno died, they decided to establish one
king for themselves just as other peoples had. Marchomir gave
them this plan and they chose his son, Faramund, and raised him
over them as their long-haired king. Then they began to keep the
laws negotiated by the leaders of the people named Wisowastus,
Arogastus, and Salegastus in their dwelling places beyond the
Rhine, in Bothagm, Salechagm, and Widechagm.]
(Gerberding 173-74)

The author, not unlike the two Fredegars, values the characteristic

courage and independence of the Trojans as well as the significance of

their kings. The original Frankish king, or leader, and his descendants

intrigued all three writers, for they were the root of an honorable lineage.

Priam is the ultimate source of the kings of the Franks in the three

myths, although Priam, Friga, and Francio of the earlier myths are

balanced against Priam, Marchomir, and Faramund of the LHF.

The LHF-author, like the first Fredegar, illustrates the consequence

of the Romans in Frankish history. The Franks were closely associated

with the Roman world and way of life, and their warriors were both allies

and antagonists of the Roman military. Mythically the Romans are

kinsmen, but because they are also adversaries, they are beneficial in

exposing the fierceness and freedom-loving spirit of the Franks that the

authors are eager to relate.

The relevance of Sunno and Marcomer is suggested by Gregory of

Tours. Referring to the Historia of Sulpicius Alexander, he claims that

the Franks invaded the Roman province of Germania under the

leadership of Genobaud, Marcomer and Sunno (11.9). He further states

that Marcomer and Sunno were royal leaders, or regales, of the Franks,

being uncertain if regales means chieftains who exercised a kingly

function or indeed true kings (11.9).

One of Gregory's sources for an account of Marcomer and Sunno

may have been Claudian, a Roman poet of the late fourth century, who

wrote that the Ripuarian Franks of the Middle Rhine had recently revolted

under Marcomer and Sunno (Wallace-Hadrill 151). Ian Wood reports that

"Sulpius Alexander recorded conflict in 389 between Arbogast, a Frank

who held high military office in the empire, and two regales, or petty

kings, of the Franks, Sunno and Marcomer ..." (36).

In her remarks concerning the traditional code of laws of the Salian

Franks, the lex Salica, Colette Beaune generally agrees with the LHF-


Quatre grands du royaume, choisis entire les Francs, Wisogast,
Arogast, Salegast, Widogast, ont fixed par ecrit la teneur de cette loi
apres trois assemblies, tenues dans les villages de Ratheim,
Saleheim et Widoheim, situes outre-Rhin. Cela eut lieu 'sous le
regne du premier roi des Francs chretien [Clovis]' (264).

However, the LHF-author claims that the enactment of the Salic Law

coincides with the establishment of Faramund as the first Frankish king.

"Pour lui, Pharamond est le premier roi des Francs et la loi salique les

premieres lois de ce people" (Beaune 266). Because the LHF-author called

Faramund a "long-haired king," that is, "elevaverunt eum regem super se

crinitum," he is considered the first Merovingian, although his grandson,

King Merovech, endowed the dynasty with his name.

The LHF-author may have taken his account of the Franks'

residence in Pannonia after the fall of Troy from Gregory's Historia,

which claims that the Franks came originally from Pannonia (1,9). The

city of Sicambria that the Franks built in Pannonia may refer to a Roman

legion post located near modem Budapest, for Gerberding claims that

this location was actually known as Sicambria in the late medieval

Hungarian national chronicles (21).

Because of the construction of the city of Sicambria by the Franks,

Colette Beaune asserts that the Trojans are the ancestors of the

seigneurss d6fricheurs du XIIe siecle qui font surgir seigneuries nouvelles

et villages fortifies" (52). She terms the Franks les Sycambriens" and

concludes that their art was not only that of war, but also of "la cloture

des villes" (24).

The term 'Sicamber' appeared in the Historia Francorum as an

expression for 'Frank' at the time of the baptism of Clovis, as Gregory of

Tours states that St. Remy addressed the king of the Franks as 'Sicamber'

(II, 31). Kurth lists several lives of saints and histories from the sixth and

seventh centuries where "les Francs sont qualifies de Sicambres" (525).

He relates that "il suffit d'un coup d'oeil rapide sur ces divers textes pour

se convaincre que tous, sans exception, prennent ici le mot de Sicambre

comme un synonyme pur et simple de celui de Franc" (527).

The Sea of Azov was named the Palus Maeotis, the Maeotic Swamp,

by the Romans, and because the Franks indeed did inhabit the swamps

that were located on the lower Rhine, the author of the LHF may have had

an inkling of primitive Frankish history. As to the location of the Alans

near the river Don and the Sea of Azov, he managed to place them

correctly (Gerberding 22). Ammianus Marcellinus contends that the

Alans lived beyond the river Don, considered to be the boundary between

Europe and Asia, and that raiding and hunting expeditions took them as

far as the Sea of Azov (31,2).

Gerberding explains how the LHF-author may have obtained his

geographical information:

These early medieval descriptions followed Roman and Greek
cosmographical conceptions of the world and pictured it as a disc
of land surrounded by the ocean.... [Asia] is separated from
Europe and Africa by a line of water consisting of the river Don, the
Sea of Azov, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, and the Nile .... The
river Don (Flumen Tanais) and the Sea of Azov (Meotides Paludes)
feature much larger than their actual size warrants; in fact they
share the limelight with the Nile and the Mediterranean. (25-26).

A "Unique" Perspective

At the time that the Trojan-origin myths were being recorded in the

Liber Historiae Francorum and Chronicle of Fredegar, the Frankish state

was undergoing a period of comparative peace and unity after cycles of

great civil unrest. Richard Waswo believes that peace is necessary for the

development of culture, be it "of grain and grapes, of poems and

philosophies" (31).

When the "first" Fredegar was writing in 613, Clotaire II was the

sole king of the Franks after a century of several divisions and

reunifications. After his death, his son Dagobert I, who had been ruler of

the eastern Frankish kingdom of Austrasia, became king of the primary

dominions of the Frankish kingdom, namely Austrasia, the western

kingdom of Neustria, and Burgundy.

In the early eighth century when the Neustrian author of the Liber

Historiae Francorum was writing, Charles Martel, a Carolingian and

Austrasian, after 75 years of rois fainaants, became undisputed ruler of

the Franks. He displaced the traditional Neustrian noble class, the Franci,

though not the Merovingian king.

Fredegar and the LHF-author no doubt detected that times were

relatively peaceful. Wallace-Hadrill writes that whether or not Fredegar

was interested in unity, he was aware "that Clothar's sixteen years of sole

rule were, on the whole, a happy time" (216). Because the LHF-author

claims that the imprisoned Charles Martel escaped with the help of the

Lord (LHF-51), Gerberding asserts "that the author welcomed Martel's

advent as an intervention of God and Martel himself as the strong man

who could quell... the civil wars among the Franci" (171).

Aside from a cessation of hostilities, another feature of the period

in which the origin myths were produced was the integration of cultures

and factions. At the time that the two Fredegars were writing their

Chronicle, although the Merovingian dynasty had been in existence for

over 100 years, a distinct national consciousness was just beginning to

form. A uniqueness was impossible in the early years of the dynasty,

because "Roman traditions were too strong to allow national separatism

to dominate the ideas of the new leaders" (Koht 265). By the early

seventh century, "the new kingship, like the new age, is neither

specifically Germanic nor Roman" (Wallace-Hadrill 209). The Franks had

blended the various cultures into a distinctive French nation.

The Franks had now arrived at a particular stage of development

that the Greeks and Romans had achieved at the time that their national

origin myths were composed. The people of Greece were emerging from

a "dark age" and evolving into an enlightened and powerful culture, and

the Romans were ending 50 years of civil wars and embarking on a new

era of peace and empire. Because the period of volatility and fluidity had

temporarily ceased, the nation seized the opportunity to reflect on its

history. Jacques Perret claims that a people recount the history of their

origins only after the beginning of their importance and their strength

(xii). During its entire existence, the Merovingian kingdom had been the

greatest state in western Europe, and "the reigns of Clothar II (584-629)

and Dagobert I (623/29-39) can be seen as marking the apogee of

Merovingian power, both at home and abroad" (Ian Wood 140). Fredegar I

began writing his Chronicle with its Trojan-origin myth in 613, and

Fredegar II composed his myth around the year 642.

Perret also concludes that it is only the important people who

recount the history of their origins (xii). Gregory of Tours, the two

Fredegars, and the LHF-author wrote primarily for and about the ruling

classes. While these men were writing, the aristocracy happened to be

literate and to surround itself with men of talent. In The Literacy of the

Laity in the Middle Ages, Thompson claims that "notwithstanding their

coarseness and brutality the Merovingian kings were culturally above the

level of the early Carolingians.... Whereas ... very likely all of them

were able to write, Pepin the Short was unable to do so, and Charlemagne

did not learn to write until late in life" (5). However, the LHF-author

contends that Charles Martel was both well-educated and effective in

battle (LHF 49). Ian Wood gives us some idea of the education of the elite

at the time of Fredegar:

Most royal officials would have had to read and write, and these
skills seem to have been reasonably widespread among the political
classes, and among the abler servants: although Merovingian Latin
was not classically correct, there is nothing to suggest that
illiteracy was the norm in the upper levels of society in the seventh
century. The kings of the Merovingian period were unquestionably
literate, which is more than can be said for many later medieval
rulers. (155)

Although the Trojan-origin myth was not the basis of the Chronicle

of Fredegar and the Liber Historiae Francorum, the reason for its

inclusion is significant. It designates that unique stage of the Frankish

nation's development when the Trojan pedigree became meaningful. For

the Frankish ruling classes, known as the Franci, the origin myth meant a

glorious and ancient lineage, thus dignifying their realm. It implied

imperial destiny, thus lending legitimacy and power to the heirs. George

Huppert claims that "it established one's blood relationship with the

Romans. It justified one's title to the possession of parts of the Roman

Empire" (227).

The Frankish nation was dawning on a new age, at least

temporarily, and it needed a distinctive identification. This trademark of

national identity was encompassed in an exceptional Trojan-origin myth.

It characterizes the Franks as noble descendants of heroic figures, who

are exiled from glorious Troy and travel west from Asia to the far reaches

of the Rhine. The Franks are a courageous, warlike people whose

principal aim is to remain free from subjugation but likewise unimpeded

from vanquishing their neighbors. Their ancient kings and duces leave a

proud and notable legacy for future generations of kings.

The Trojan-origin myth featured the Franks and their leaders prior

to that period when they reached their Rhine homeland. It was the long-

haired kings of the Merovingian dynasty who led the Franks into Roman

Gaul. After years of war and conquest they founded a new Troy in


Clovis was the founder of the Frankish kingdom and the first

Merovingian ruler, as he became king of both the Salian and the Ripurian

Franks. Before his death in 511 most of present-day France and part of

Germany were under his control. Fredegar II inserted into his resume of

Gregory's Historia an exclusive supernatural origin myth of the

Merovingian family that is quite unlike the Frankish origin myth. He

claims that Merovech, the grandfather of Clovis, is presumably conceived

when his mother, the wife of Chlodio, goes swimming and encounters a

sea-monster, called a Quinotaur. This remarkable tale suggests that the

Merovingians sought to be distinctive from other Frankish dynasties (Ian

Wood 39 & Wallace-Hadrill 220).

The Trojan-origin myth of the Franks differed from that of the

Romans depicted in the Aeneid, in that the Franks lacked a single hero.

Aeneas alone had characterized the Roman qualities of duty and

obedience to country and the gods, whereas the Frankish kings and

warriors collectively portrayed a fierce independence that symbolized the

Frankish nation.

Historia Brittonum

In the early Middle Ages, the Britons of Wales also developed a

Trojan-origin myth. Their myth evolves from the Aeneid more intimately

than does that of the Franks. It was first recounted in the Historia

Brittonum in the early ninth century, but its impact did not reach its full

potential until Geoffrey of Monmouth included it in his Historia Regum

Britanniae 300 years later.

Tatlock claims that "Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum

Britanniae is one of the most influential books ever written, certainly one

of the most influential in the middle ages" (3). It is one of the the most

important literary products of the Anglo-Norman period. "A pseudo-

history of great imaginative power, it exercised a far-reaching influence

which quite overshadowed that of the more sober histories of Geoffrey's

contemporaries, William of Malmesbury and Henry of Huntingdon"

(Wright vii). Nonetheless, the Historia Brittonum is taken seriously by

modern historians and literary scholars. They look upon Geoffrey's

Historia as a "learned fiction," whereas many have come to regard the

Historia Brittonum as a meaningful source of early insular historical data

(Dumville VII, 21).

Geoffrey does not cite as a reference the Historia Brittonum as he

does Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum and Gildas' De Excidio

Britanniae et Conquestu. but he does borrow a substantial amount of

material from it, including the Trojan-origin myth. Possibly Geoffrey

thought that the Historia Brittonum was Gildas' work (Dumville VII, 19).

The Trojan-origin myth of the Britons, first related in the Historia

Brittonum, was written down about 829/30. The work itself is of

complex origin but was composed partly by a cleric named Nennius from

southeastern Wales, who, for the sake of convenience, will be represented

as the author. Like Fredegar, Nennius attached deeds of dynastic rulers

to the universal chronologies of Eusebius, Jerome, and Isidore (Waswo

51). He wished to defend and preserve British traditions and culture

during a period of emerging national awareness.

The following is an outline of the Historia by chapters:

1-6. A summary of the six ages of the world.
7-9. A description of the island of Britain.
10-11. An origin story, tracing the Britons to an eponymous
founder Bruto (or Britto)....
12. The arrival of the Picts.
13-15. Origin stories of the Scots (Irish).
16. A computation of the arrival date of the Saxons in
17-18. Origin story and genealogy connecting the Britons
with Brito, a descendant of Japheth, son of Noah.
19-30. The career of Rome in Britain and the final departure
of the Romans after an intermittent rule of 348 years.
31-49. The career, downfall, and death of the wicked British
ruler, Guorthigirn....
50-55. The life and deeds of St. Patrick, apostle to the Irish.
56. The battles of Arthur.
57-61. Saxon genealogies.
62-65. The war between the Britons and the Saxons to ca.
66. Another computation of the dates of main figures in
British history.
66-67. Cities and marvels of Britain; a set of annals
containing various events of British history, and a set
of Welsh genealogies. (Hanning 92)

David Dumville, who believes the Historia Brittonum was compiled

by only one person, asserts that the author attempted to write a

connected history of the Britons and "to provide a smooth account of a

period of history by combining all the available, and often wildly

contradictory, witnesses into a slick, coherent, and 'official' whole" (VII,

5). Both Faral and Dumville conclude that Nennius did not lack literary

skill, but undertook to harmonize and interpret insufficient material.

Believing that there is a learned element to the work, Faral writes:

L'Historia Brittonum n'est pas une composition de caractere
populaire. Sans doute 1'apparence est-elle autre. Le decousu de la
compilation telle que la presentent les textes recent et amplifies,
ce fatras de traditions incoherentes et pueriles, ce style amorphe,
indigent, incorrect, font penser au travail d'intelligences
6C1mentaires, obscurcies par l'ignorance et la superstition.
Pourtant, quand on consider l'ceuvre dans sa forme premiere, on y
decouvre un effort de combinaison, des proc6ds d'information,
des connaissances, des intentions, qui denoncent en I'auteur un
clerc de quelque experience.... On voit... qu'on est en presence
d'un travail d'un clerc, --non pas d'un clerc inerte et passif, mais
d'un clerc qui s'efforce de comprendre et de concilier entire elles les
donnees divergentes des auteurs qui l'avaient precede. (Lgeende

The ambiguous tradition that Nennius wished to understand and

interpret was the origin myth of the Britons. He includes two origin

myths, but it is his secular Trojan-origin myth that Geoffrey of

Monmouth masterfully adapted for use and shaped into a more elaborate


The myth developed by the two British authors has a closer

correlation with the Aeneid than did the origin myth of the Franks. Like

the Aeneid, the origin myth of the Britons is chiefly a foundation myth, in

which the Trojans were culture-bringers by means of conquest and

settlement, while the Frankish origin myth was strictly a pedigree myth

that affirms an illustrious ancestry and foreordained sovereignty (Waswo


The writers of the Frankish origin myths were cognizant that

historically the Franks encountered an established culture when they

invaded their final homeland, Roman Gaul, in the fifth century AD,

whereas Nennius and Geoffrey were writing about Britons who, on

reaching their final destination, seize a savage land during an era not

long after the Trojan War.

Nennius may have derived his impetus for a British Trojan-origin

myth from an awareness of the early Frankish myths. Faral claims that

jealousy of Frankish power played a part in the creation of the Briton's


L'instauration de l'empire franc etait un fait accompli et la l1gende
de l'origine troyenne du people franc brillait, come un objet
d'envie, aux yeux des nations, quand l'interpolateur de l'Historia
Britonum... s'est avise de doter le people breton d'une
ascendance semblable a celle des Francs: il a fait de Brutus, issu
d'tEne, son premier prince et son eponyme. (Lgende 174)

The following is Nennius' secular Trojan-origin myth of the Britons

found in the Historia Brittonum:

Aeneas igitur post troianum bellum cum Ascanio filio suo
venit ad Italiam et, superato Turno, accept Labinam filiam Latini
regis Italiae in coniugium, filii Fauni, filii Pici filii Saturni. Et post
mortem Latini Aeneas regnum obtinuit Romanorum. (Ascanius
autem Albam condidit, et postea uxorem duxit.) Et peperit Labinia
Aeneae filium nominee Silvium.
Ascanius autem duxit uxorem quae concipiens gravida facta
est. Et nuntiatum est Aeneae quod nurus sua gravida erat et
praegnans. Et misit ad Ascanium filium suum ut metteret magum
suum ad considerandam uxorem suam ut exploraret quid haberet
it utero, masculum vel feminam. Et venit magus et consideravit
uxorem. Et dixit Ascanio, Aeneae filio, quod masculum haberet in
utero mulier et filius mortis erit quia occidet patrem suum et
matrem et erit exosus omnibus hominibus. (Propter hanc
vaticinationem occisus est magus ab Ascanio.) Sic event. In
nativitate illius mulier mortua est. Et nutritus est filius,
vocatumque est nomen eius Bruto. Post multum vero intervallum
iuxta vaticinationem magi, dum ipse luderet cum pueris, ictu
sagittae occidit patrem suum non de industrial sed casu. Et per hoc
expulsus est ab Italia. Et armilis fuit.
Et pervenit ad insulas maris Terreni, et expulsus est inde
causa occisionis Turni quem Aeneas occidit. Et pervenit usque ad

Gallos, et ibi condidit civitatem Torronorum quae vocatur Turnis.
Et postea ad istam pervenit insulam quae a nominee suo nomen
acceptit, id est Brittannia; et implevit ear cum suo genere et
habitavit in ea. Ab illo autem tempore habitat est Bryttania usque
in hodiernum diem. (Dumville 65-67)7

[Aeneas, after the Trojan war, came with his son Ascanius to
Italy, and, having vanquished Turnus, took to wife Lavinia, the
daughter of Latinus, son of Faunus, son of Picus, son of Saturn; and
after the death of Latinus, he obtained the kingdom of the Romans.
(Ascanius, too, built Alba, and afterwards married a wife.) And
Lavinia bore to Aeneas a son, named Silvius.
Ascanius, likewise, married a wife who conceived and became
pregnant. And it was told Aeneas that his daughter-in-law was
pregnant. And he sent to Ascanius his son that he should send his
magician to examine his wife to search what she held in her womb,
whether male or female. And the magician came and examined the
wife. And he said to Ascanius, the son of Aeneas, that the woman
held in her womb a male and he will be a son of death, because he
will slay his father and his mother, and he will be hated of all men.
(It was on account of this prediction that the magician was slain by
Ascanius.) So it happened. The woman died at his birth. And the
son was nurtured and was called by the name Brutus. Indeed after
a long interval, in accordance with the prediction of the magician,
while he was playing with others, he slew his father with the shot
of an arrow, not of design but by accident. And, for this cause, he
was driven from Italy.
And he came to the islands of the Tyrrhene Sea and was
driven out by the Greeks on account of the death of Turnus, whom
Aeneas had slain. And he arrived among the Gauls, and there
founded the city of the Turoni, which is called Turnia (Tours). And
afterwards he arrived in this island, which took a name from his
name, to wit, Britain; and he filled it with his own stock, and he
dwelt there. Besides, from that day Britain has been inhabited even
to this day.] (Wade-Evans 38-39)

Brutus was forced to flee his community and become an exile,

similar to Aeneas and the earliest ancestors of the Franks. Brutus, like

his counterparts, also encountered adventure in other lands before

7 The excerpt from the Historia Brittonum is taken from the 'Vatican'
Recension, Volume 3, edited in 1985 by David Dumville.

arriving in his new homeland. Nennius fails to mention if it is necessary

for Brutus to subjugate this new land, but this first king of Britain does

colonize it with his fellow Trojans and brings enduring civilization.

The British origin myth was created after the Britons were forced

westward into Wales by the hostile Saxons, whereas the Franks had

fashioned their myth while still a dominant people with militaristic

designs. Richard Waswo, in The Founding Legend of Western Civilization

From Virgil to Vietnam, claims that the origin myth of the Welsh, or

Britons, had a more scholarly and cultural kind of legitimation, rather

than a political one, because its emphasis was lineal succession, "to the

exclusion of any direct claims or threats of ferocity or independence as

made in the Frankish chronicles" (51). Both nations, however, used the

premise of legitimation due to an ancient and prestigious genealogy. In

the ninth century lineal succession was the type of political tool used as a

means of propaganda by Welsh dynasties to sanction their particular

claim to sovereignty.

Although Britons were considered a defeated people by the Saxons,

perhaps the new dynasty established in North Wales in the early ninth

century did not deem itself as such. It was a budding nation beginning to

sense its prominence and power. A period of renewed scholarship and

relative peace led to a scrutiny of its historic importance. Its claim to

legitimacy was its hereditary descent, thus there was incentive to

discover illustrious Trojan origins.

The early ninth century was a time of national revival among the

Britons, especially in North Wales, or Gwynedd (Hanning 94-95). The

king, an outsider, Merfyn Frych, founded a new dynasty in 825, and was

succeeded by his son, Rhodri Mawr, who united the greater part of Wales

into a single nation. North Wales was also beginning to emerge as a

center of British learning. Nora Chadwick claims that Gwynedd had an

enlightened court which had learned by exchange with both Ireland and

the Continent the value of learning and letters, and the importance of the

written word (16-17). Wade-Evans writes that "it would in fact seem as

though the advent of Merfyn ... inaugurated a new forceful period in the

history of Wales.... In Ireland his court was known as a rendevous of

learned men..." (16).

North Wales was in touch with the native North British oral

traditions (Chadwick 7), including the tales of Arthur from the post-

Roman era. These heroic tales were preserved by professional bards

down through the centuries, and were finally written down beginning in

the eighth century. "Native heroic poetry... of a people in its defeat...

served as a constant reminder of their splendid past, and a constant hope

of a still greater future" (Chadwick 12). There arose in the ninth century

the prospect that the Saxons might at last be driven from the island of

Britain (Hanning 95). Nennius contributed to this anticipation with a

fanciful account of his nation's heroic past.

Nennius possibly created a Trojan-origin myth because the British,

as a conquered and dispersed people, could identify with the Trojans of

the Aeneid. Because Troy, in the guise of Rome, rose again to lost

splendor thanks to the exploits of Aeneas and his descendants, Nennius

conceivably hoped to inspire the Britons to renewed glory by illustrating

for them that the two peoples were of a similar distinguished ancestry.

Aeneas and thus the Romans set the precedent of imperial greatness for

future generations.

In the preface of some manuscripts of the Historia Brittonum

Nennius professes to be the disciple of Elvodugus, the man credited with

having changed the date of Easter among the Britons in 768,

consequently conforming the Celtic Church with the Church of Rome.

Because Elvodugus is believed to be the Elfoddw who, in the Annales

Cambriae of the tenth century, is referred to as the archbishop of

Gwynedd, Nora Chadwick posits that Nennius could be associated with

the same area (44). Dumville claims that Nennius was working in

Gwynedd, perhaps at the court of the king, Merfyn Frych (VII, 21).

Scholarly activity helped to fortify the position of the new rulers in

Gwynedd and to enhance their prestige, especially the documenting of

genealogies and origin stories. Royal genealogies constituted a legal title

to rule, and "membership of the relevant royal dynasty seems to have

been the appropriate requirement for succession to the throne" (Dumville

XV. 84). Merfyn, through his father, claimed to be of the lineage of

Magnus Maximus, the last British ruler of Rome, who died in 388.

Maximus represented the preeminent lineage to the Welsh, and Rome

meant a link with Troy. On the side of his mother, Merfyn was from the

line of the founder of the First Dynasty of Gwynedd, the legendary

Cunedda Wledig.

Apart from the Trojan-origin myth, Nennius related the foundation

story of Cunneda Wledig, who with eight of his sons, left Manaw, a

kingdom along the banks of the Firth of Forth, for Gwynedd in the post-

Roman era. These "Men of the North" expelled the Irish settlers, and

Cunneda became the head of a new dynasty. His sons and descendants

brought unity to the Welsh nation and gave their names to other

kingdoms throughout the land. Cunneda's example established the

precedent for an outside dynasty coming to power in Gwynedd,

particularly that of Merfyn, who was the founder of the Second Dynasty

of Gwynedd.

Nennius was writing in a learned culture at a time of relative unity

and stability, not unlike the situation in which Fredegar was writing his

Chronicle. He was compiling a history and a Trojan-origin myth for a

"nation" of the elite that was beginning to study its origins, similar to the

performance of the authors of the Frankish myths when their "nation"

realized that it was a singular people. The scholars and nobles of the

Britons and Franks wanted to be the ancestral equals of the Romans, but

at the same time they wanted to be independent of them, to have their

own distinct culture and their separate glorious origin myth.

Robert Hanning asserts that "in the late eighth-and early ninth-

century, [there] was an increased self-awareness and self-confidence on

the part of the learned segment of European society" (101). Because the

origin myth, as a pedigree myth, conveyed the fact that the Welsh were

Romans as well as Britons, the vital educated class envisioned their

nation's potential for political and cultural influence.

Robert Leckie, writing in regard to the Anglo-Saxons of the early

Middle Ages, states that the preserving of pedigrees, or genealogies,

showed a desire on the part of individual enclaves to establish political

identity. Their political survival depended on a degree of distinctiveness

(11). In like manner the North Wales kingdom of Merfyn and Rhodri also

developed its own distinguishing genealogy in order to maintain its

survival and sovereignty.

Geoffrey of Monmouth and Wace

In the ninth century Nennius drafted for the British "nation" a

prestigious pedigree in the form of a unique origin myth. However, this

particular Trojan-origin myth did not have much political impact until

Geoffrey of Monmouth's enhancement of it in the twelfth century.

Geoffrey's intended audience was the educated and ambitious Anglo-

Norman aristocracy. They, not the Britons, were the beneficiaries of its

political implications. Inasmuch as the Anglo-Normans were a people

advancing toward nationhood, Geoffrey's accomplishment can be

weighed by their acceptance of his chronicle as a great national myth

(MacDougall 8).

The success of Geoffrey's Historia can also be measured by the

number of extant manuscripts. "Nearly two hundred medieval

manuscripts are known to have survived, about fifty dating from the

twelfth century" (Gransden 201). Jean Blacker adds that "there were

many verse and prose translations into Welsh, Middle English, and Old

French, Wace's Brut being one of the most popular of these in the twelfth

century" (17). "The Brut is extant in twenty complete manuscripts and

eight manuscripts containing twelve fragments" (Blacker 177).

Wace was a Norman born on the island of Jersey about 1110,

educated at Caen and then in the lie de France. He returned to Caen

where he wrote poems in Old French, romanz. "The enormous success of

the Historia Regum Britanniae must have made Wace realise he could

redirect his talents as a 'translator' from Latin into French" (Weiss xii).

Wace was ambitious and thus wrote on timely subjects in order to gratify

the new Angevin monarchy, Henry II and his queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine,

and other members of the powerful aristocracy from whom he

anticipated compensation. Margaret Houck describes Wace's audience

and his design for writing :

He wrote to please those who could pay him for his writing; that is,
for persons of wealth and standing. His readers-not clerics, but
rather nobles with a taste for storytelling, rich amateurs of
literature, men of affairs-obviously preferred poems in the
vernacular to poems in Latin; the popularly spoken language,
probably because it was more familiar, was more agreeable to their
ears. (162)

Whereas Geoffrey tried to make propaganda sound like history,

Wace believed that he was transmitting knowledge. In the first lines of

the Roman de Brut, Wace emphasizes his concerned for imparting the

truth. Resembling the writers of the Frankish Trojan-origin myth, Wace

seeks to recount the hereditary sequence of early kings:

Ki vult oir e vult saveir
De rei en rei e d'eir en eir
Ki cil furent e dunt il vindrent
Ki Engleterre primes tindrent,
Quels reis i ad en ordre eii,
E qui anceis e ki puis fu,
Maistre Wace I'ad translate
Ki en conte la verite. (1-8)8

The Brut presented a history of the Britons to a far wider audience

than did the Historia. It became more accessible to a public which might

otherwise have never learned of it, for the majority of the Anglo-Norman

nobility in 1155 could comprehend only French (Blacker 142). Jean

Blacker further suggests that the vernacular also acted as a vehicle of

cultural affirmation for Anglo-Normans (143). A history of the island

composed in their own language helped to fuse the new masters with the

land and its people.

Wace, unlike Geoffrey, did not see the Trojans as a privileged

group, but rather as one of a series of peoples, like the Romans, Saxons,

Danes, and Normans, who had occupied Britain over the centuries.

Although he recognizes that the Britons are the descendants of Aeneas

and thus of the Trojans, Wace is not interested in defining the political

import of this ancestry.

The differing viewpoints of Geoffrey and Wace as to the integrity of

the royal lineage is illustrated in a scene where the Greek king gives a

8 Our excerpts are from the 1999 edition of Wace's Roman de Brut A
History of the British by Judith Weiss, who consulted Ivor Arnold's 1938
edition of the Brut along with other authors' editions.

farewell speech to Brutus and his band of Trojans. The exiles have just

defeated a Greek force and are preparing to set sail. Geoffrey's account

of the address of the king, who has promised his daughter in marriage to

Brutus, testifies to the author's admiration for Trojan honor and prestige:

... Solatium habere videor, quia filiam meam tante probitatis
adolescent daturus sum, quem ex genere priami & anchise
creatum, & nobilitas quae in ipso pululat, & fama nobis cognita
declarat. Quis etenim alter exules troiae in servitutem tot &
tantorum principum positos eorundem vinculis eriperet? (I. xi)'

[I take some comfort in the knowledge that I am about to give my
daughter to a young man of such great prowess. The nobility
which flourishes in him, and his fame, which is well-known to us,
show him to be of the true race of Priam and Anchises. Who other
but he could have freed from their chains the exiles of Troy, when
they were enslaved by so many mighty princes?] (Thorpe 63)

Wace's adaptation of the speech is harsh, conceding little to Trojan


Ma file avrez, n'en pus faire el,
Mais a mun enimi mortel,
A cruel home e a felun
La durrai, u jo voille u nun;
Mais alques me confortera
Ke gentilz horn e pruz l'avra. (577-582)

Despite the fact that Wace acknowledges Brutus' courage and noble

ancestry, he shows that goodness does not accompany nobility.

Nevertheless, he sees the advantage of the king's daughter marrying a

bold man of rank.

Wace's Brut, composed in lucid, simple Old French, consisted of

15,000 lines in eight-syllable couplets. The content did not differ

9 Quotes from the Historia Regem Britanniae are taken from Acton
Griscom's 1929 The Historia Regem Britanniae of Geoffrey of Monmouth.

substantially from that in Geoffrey's Historia. Margaret Houck states that

"most of the alterations made by Wace have their source in his style as a

narrative poet" (167). He frequently includes additional description and

dialogue, and gives a more vivid portrayal of character. He adds drama

to the events. Judith Weiss contends that Wace sometimes takes it upon

himself to explain more than seems warranted, but this may have as

much to do with the audience's needs as his own pedantry (xxiv). He

clarifies passages for an audience less familiar with the ancient classics

than were Geoffrey's readers.

An estimate of the different writing styles of Geoffrey and Wace

can be determined from the Trojan-origin myth in each man's work.

Geoffrey's myth is an embellishment of the secular origin myth in the

Historia Brittonum:

Eneas post troianum bellum excidium urbis cum ascanio filio suo
diffugiens, italiam navigio adivit. Ibi cum a latino rege honorifice
receptus esset invidit turnus rex rutilorum & cum illo congressus
est. Dimicantibus ergo illis praevaluit eneas peremptoque turn
regnum italie & laviniam filiam latini adeptus est. Denique
supreme die ipsius superveniente, ascanius regia potestate
sublimatus, condidit albam super tyberim, genuitque filium cuius
nomen erat silvius. Hic furtive veneri indulgens, nupsit cuidam
nepti lavinie, eamque fecit praegnantem. Cumque id ascanio
patricompertum esset, precepit magis suis explorare quem sexum
puella concepisset. Certitudine ergo rei comperta dixerunt magi
ipsam gravidam esse, puero qui patrem & matrem interficeret.
Pluribus quoque terris in exilium peragratis ad summum tandem
culmen honors perveniret. Nec fefellit eos vaticinium suum. Nam
ut dies parts accessit, edidit mulier puerum & in nativitate eius
mortua est. Traditur autem puer ille obstetrici & vocatur brutus.
Postremo cum ter quini anni emensi essent, comitabatur iuvenis
patrem in venando, ipsumque inopino ictu sagitta interfecit. Nam
dum famuli cervos in occursum eorum ducerent brutus telum in
ipsos dirigere affectans, genitorem sub pectore percussit. Quo
mortuo expulsus est ab italia indignantibus parentibus ipsum

tantum facinus fecisse. Exulatus ergo adivit parties grecie & invent
progeniem heleni filii priami quae sub potestate pandrasi regis
grecorum in servitutem tenebatur. (I. iii)

[After the Trojan war, Aeneas fled from the ruined city with
his son Ascanius and came by boat to Italy. He was honourably
received there by King Latinus, but Turnus, King of the Rutuli,
became jealous of him and attacked him. In the battle between
them Aeneas was victorious. Turnus was killed and Aeneas seized
both the kingdom of Italy and the person of Lavinia, who was the
daughter of Latinus.
When Aeneas' last day came, Ascanius was elected King. He
founded the town of Alba on the bank of the Tiber and became the
father of a son called Silvius. This Silvius was involved in a secret
love-affair with a certain niece of Lavinia's; he married her and
made her pregnant. When this came to the knowledge of his father
Ascanius, the latter ordered his soothsayers to discover the sex of
the child which the girl had conceived. As soon as they had made
sure of the truth of the matter, the soothsayers said that she would
give birth to a boy, who would cause the death of both his father
and his mother; and that after he had wandered in exile through
many lands this boy would eventually rise to the highest honour.
The soothsayers were not wrong in their forecast. When the
day came for her to have her child, the mother bore a son and died
in childbirth. The boy was handed over to the midwife and was
given the name Brutus. At last, when fifteen years had passed, the
young man killed his father by an unlucky shot with an arrow,
when they were out hunting together. Their beaters drove some
stags into their path and Brutus, who was under the impression
that he was aiming his weapon at these stags, hit his own father
below the breast. As the result of this death Brutus was expelled
from Italy by his relations, who were angry with him for having
committed such a crime. He went in exile to certain parts of
Greece; and there he discovered the descendants of Helenus,
Priam's son, who were held captive in the power of Pandarasus,
King of the Greeks.] (Thorpe 54-55)

The style is terse and concise. Geoffrey borrowed the theme from

Nennius but reworked it to accommodate an educated twelfth-century

audience. Much of the early narrative reflects the Aeneid, but the story of

Brutus is unique to the Britons. The Aeneid does relate, however, that

Helenus did arrive in Greece. Virgil lets Aeneas describe the


Hic incredibilis rerum fama occupat auris
Priamiden Helenum Graias regnare per urbes
coniugio Aecidae Pyrrhi sceptrisque potitum
et patrio Andromachen iterum cessisse marito. (3.294-97)1

[An unbelievable story reached our ears:
That Helenus, the son of Priam, now
Ruled over cities of the Greeks, as heir
To Pyrrhus' wife and power; Andromache
Had found again a husband of her nation.] (Fitzgerald 76)

Pandarasus, however, appears to be an invention of Geoffrey.

Wace translated and adapted Geoffrey's version for a generation

that he considered not well acquainted with the Aeneid. The following is

Wace's lengthy paraphrase of Geoffrey's account:

Si cum li livres le devise,
Quant Greu ourent Troie conquise
E eissillie tut le pals
Pur la venjance de Paris
Ki de Grece out ravi Eleine,
Dux Eneas a quelque peinne
De la grant ocise eschapa.
Un fiz aveit k'il en mena
Ki aveit nun Ascanius;
N'aveit de fiz ne fille plus.
Ke de parenz, ke de maisnees,
Ke d'aveir out vint nes chargiees.
Par mer folead lungement;
Maint grant peril, maint grant turment
E maint travail li estut traire.
Empres lung tens vint en Itaire:
Itaire esteit dune apelee
La terre u Rome fu fundee.
N'ert de Rome encor nule chose,
Ne fu il puis de bien grant pose.

1o The passage is taken from Johannes Gotte's 1960 edition of Aeneis by
P. Vergilius Maro.

Eneas out mult travaillied,
Mult out sigle, mult out nagied,
Mainte grant mer out trespassee
E mainte there avironee.
En Itare est venue a rive
En une terre plenteive,
Bien pruef d'illuec u Rome siet,
La u li Teivres en mer chiet.
Latins, uns reis, k'iloec maneit,
Ki tut cel regne en pais teneit,
Riches huem e mananz asez,
Mais velz esteit e trespassez,
Ad Eneam mult enore.
De sa terre li ad dune
Grant parties sur la marine;
E estre le gre la reine
Li pramist sa fille a duner
E de sun regne enheriter.
N'aveit fors li enfant ne eir,
[Apres lui deveit tut aveir].
La fille ert mult bele meschine,
Si ert apelee Lavine,
Mais prendre la Turnus
Ki de Toscane ert sire e dux.
Cil Turnus, ki ert sis veisins,
Riches huem mult, sout ke Latins
Sa fille a Eneam dunout;
Dolenz en fu, envie en out,
Kar il l'aveit lunges amee
E ele lui ert graantee.
A Eneam grant guerre en fist,
Cors contre cors bataille en prist;
Chevaliers ert hardiz e forz,
Mais il en fu vencuz e morz.
Dune out Eneas la meschine,
Reis fu e ele fu reine.
Ne trova puis ki li netist
Ne de rien li contr'esteiist. (9-66)

Wace briefly remarks on the circumstances of the Trojan War, then

embellishes Geoffrey's narrative on Aeneas, his escape from Troy, his

wanderings until his arrival in Italy, and his winning of Lavinia and of the

kingdom of her father, Latinus. After noting the reigns of Aeneas and his

son Ascanius, Wace proceeds with an account of Silvius, Ascanius' son:

II out amee une meschine
Celeement, niece Lavine;
Od li parla, cele concut.
Kant Aschanius 1'apercut,
Venir fist ses sortisseors
E ses sages devineors;
Par els, co dist, vuleit saveir
Kel enfant deit la dame aveir.
Cil unt sorti de devine
E co unt en lur sor trove
Ke un fiz ke la dame avra
Sun pere e sa mere ocirra
E en eissil chaciez sera,
Mais puis a grant honur vendra.
Issi fu veir come il distrent
E si avint cum il pramistrent,
Kar al terme ke il nasqui
Murut la mere, e il vesqui:
Morte fu de 1'enfantement
E li fiz fu nez sauvement,
Si li fu mis cist nun Brutus.
Quinze anz aveit e nient plus,
Kant od sun pere en bois ala,
Ki a male ure l'i mena.
A mal ear ensemble alerent,
Une herde de cerfs troverent.
Le peres al fiz les aceinst
E li fiz a un fust s'estreinst;
A un cerf traist k'il avisa,
Mais la saiete trespassa;
Sun pere feri si l'ocist,
Mais de sun gr6 nient nel fist.
Tuit si parent s'en coruscerent
E del regne Brutun chacerent.
Cil passa mer, en Grece ala;
De cels de Troie iluec trova
Tute la lignee Eleni
Un des fiz al rei Priami,
E d'altres lignages asez
Ke l'on aveit enchaitivez. (115-154)

Brutus' birth brings tragedy to his father, Silvius, and to his

mother, the niece of Lavinia. Wace's account of the misfortune of Brutus

and the cause of his exile is remarkably similar to Geoffrey's report,

which in turn closely parallels Nennius' singular story, although Nennius

did not proclaim Silvius the father of Brutus in all versions of his origin


Before arriving at their final destination in Britain, Brutus and his

fellow Trojans face many challenges. In Greece Brutus gains a reputation

for military prowess, and before long wins the freedom of his fellow

Trojans being held captive there. With Brutus as their leader the Trojans

then set sail with a huge fleet across the Mediterranean Sea, through the

Pillars of Hercules, along the coast of France, where they cast anchor at

the mouth of the Loire. They battle native French assailants, appropriate

much booty, and finally sail to the "promised land" of Britain.

Geoffrey outlines the condition of Britain before and after the

Trojans arrive:

Erat tunc nomen insulae albion quake a nemine exceptis paucis
hominibus gigantibus inhabitabatur. Amoeno tamen situ locorum &
copia piscosorum fluminum nemoribusque preelecta; adfectum
habitandi bruto sociisque inferebat. Peragratis ergo quibusque
provinciis, repertos gigantes ad cavernas montium fugant. Patriam
donante duce sortiuntur. Agros incipiunt colere, domos edificare,
ita ut in brevi tempore terram ab ovo. Denique brutus de nominee
suo insulam brittanniam appellate, sociosque suos brittones.
Volebat enim ex derivatione nominis memorial habere perpetuam.
Unde postmodum loquela gentis quae prius troiana sive curvum
grecum nuncupabatur, dicta fuit brittannia.... Diviso tandem
regno, adfectavit brutus civitatem aedificare. Adfectum itaque
suum exsequens circumivit totius patrie situm, ut congruum locum

inveniret. Perveniens ergo ad thamensem fluvium deambulavit
litora, locumque nactus est proposito suo perspicuum. Condidit
civitatem itaque ibidem, eamque troiam novam vocavit....
Postquam igitur praedictus dux praedictam urbem condidit,
dedicavit eam civibus iure victories, deditque legem qua pacific
tractarentur. Regnabat tune in iudea heli sacerdos, & archa
testament capta erat a philisteis. Regnabant etiam in troia filii
hectoris, expulsis posters antenoris. Regnabat it italia silvius
eneas eneae filius avunculus bruti latinorum tertius. (I. xvii-xviii)

[At this time the island of Britain was called Albion. It was
uninhabited except for a few giants. It was, however, most
attractive, because of the delightful situation of its various regions,
its forests and the great number of its rivers, which teemed with
fish; and it filled Brutus and his comrades with a great desire to
live there. When they had explored the different districts, they
drove the giants whom they had discovered into caves in the
mountains. With the approval of their leader they divided the land
among themselves. They began to cultivate the fields and to build
houses, so that in a short time you would have thought that the
land had always been inhabited.
Brutus then called the island Britain from his own name, and
his companions he called Britons. His intention was that his
memory should be perpetuated by the derivation of the name. A
little later the language of the people, which had up to then been
known as Trojan or Crooked Greek, was called British, for the same
Once he had divided up his kingdom, Brutus decided to build
a capital. In pursuit of this plan, he visited every part of the land in
search of a suitable spot. He came at length to the River Thames,
walked up and down its banks and so chose a site suited to his
purpose. There then he built his city and called it Troia Nova....
When the above-named leader Brutus had built the city about
which I have told you, he presented it to the citizens by right of
inheritance, and gave them a code of laws by which they might live
peacefully together. At that time the priest Eli was ruling in Judea
and the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines. The
sons of Hector reigned in Troy, for the descendants of Antenor had
been driven out. In Italy reigned Aeneas Silvius, son of Aeneas and
uncle of Brutus, the third of the Latin Kings.] (Thorpe 72-74)

Wace likewise shows the culture-bringing character of the Trojans:

Quant la terre fud neiee
Des gaianz e de lur lignee,
Le Troien s'aseiirerent,
Maisuns firent, terres arerent,

Viles e burcs edifierent,
Blez semerent, blez guaainerent.
La terre aveit nun Albion,
Mais Brutus li chanja sun nun,
De Bruto, sun nun, nun li mist,
Bretainne apeler la fist;
Les Troiens, ses compainuns
Apela, de Bruto, Bretuns

Bien tost fu la gent si creie
E si par la terre espandue,
Vis vus fust que lunch tens eust
Que Bretainne poplee fust.
Brutus esguarda les montainnes,
Vit les valees, vit les plainnes,
Vit les mores, vit les boscages,
Vit les eues, vit les rivages,
Vit les champs, vit les praeries,
Vit les porz, vit les pescheries,
Vit sun people multepleier,
Vit les terres bien guainier;
Pensa sei que cite fereit
E que Troie renovelereit.
Quant il out quis leu covenable
E aaisiez e delitable,
Sa cite fist desur Tamise;
Mult fud bien faite e bien asise.
Pur ses anceisors remember
La fist Troie Nove apeller;

A cel terme que jeo vus di
Ert de Judee prestre Heli,
E Philistin en lor contree
Ourent I'arche e la lei portee.
Quant Brutus out sa cite fete
E de la gent grant masse atraite,
Citedeins i mist e burgeis
Si lur duna preceps e leis
Ke pais e concorde tenissent
Ne pur rien ne se mesfeissent. (1169-80, 1205-24, 1247-56)

The founding hero, Brutus, and his compatriots, after removing the

natives, cultivate the land, instill the British language, build cities,

including a new Troy, and establish a code of laws.

The giants represent uncivilized beings that the culture-bringers

must destroy before settling the land. The fact that the island will be

devoid of inhabitants other than the Trojans implies that all Britons,

being from the same bloodline, were able to trace their lineage back to

Rome and Troy.

The Trojan-origin myth in the Brut and the Historia is both a

pedigree myth and a foundation myth. As a pedigree myth it confers

status and distinction on a people by virtue of their genealogy, granting

them the authority to dominate. This genealogy may be fictitious or, as

Tatlock suggests, it may be a pedigree of patriotism. As a foundation

myth, the Trojan-origin myth likewise bestows dominion. Brutus and his

fellow Trojans bring civilization to a primitive land and rule it as a

resurrected Troy.

Colette Beaune reveals that in their origin myths the French began

to grant civilizing impetus to Trojan ancestors later than did Geoffrey

and Wace to the Britons. With the passage of time the Franks began to be

perceived as transmitters of culture. Beaune, paraphrasing a twelfth-

century romance, Parthonopeus de Blois, shows the civilizing role of the

Franks. The Merovingian prince speaks of his ancestors:

Troie fut moult de grand noblesse, de grand honneur, de grande
richesse, plantee de chevaliers.... France avait lors nom Galles,
n'y avait chateaux ne tours, ne nobles cites, ne beaux bourgs. Ainsi
demeurait toute la gent 6parsement.... Le pays de France etait
gastine, de bois plaine. N'y avait roi ne duc ne comte. Marcomir
leur fit former riches chateaux et fortes cites et leur enseigna a
vivre ensemble. (51)

The Frankish myths in time evolved so as to incorporate all the

peoples of France, namely the Gauls, into the Trojan-origin myth. Like

the part played by Brutus and the Britons, the civilizing role of the Trojan

founders in France was expressed by the construction of towns and

cities, the appropriation of a language, and the mandating of laws to

maintain peace and harmony. Beaune stipulates the principal cultural

contributions of France's Trojan forefathers:

Apris 1300, les m6rites de la civilisation gauloise que l'on
redecouvre lentement sont systematiquement portes au credit des
Troyens, don't le r61e civilisateur se trouve grand. Ce r6le
s'exprime surtout dans trois domaines, la foundation et la
fortification des villes, la sup6riorite de legislation et enfin la
langue. (52)

In the Historia and the Brut, the concepts of imminent imperialism

and culture-building precede the landing in Britain of Brutus and the

other Trojan escapees. In a message delivered to the band of exiles

during a brief stop on a Mediterranean island, the goddess Diana reveals

that their future home is a worthy site for reviving Troy and a new

prestigious line of kings. The following excerpt is Geoffrey's account of

Diana's words:

Brute sub occasu solis, trans gallica regna,
Insula in Oceano est, habitat gigantibus ohm.
Nunc desert quidem, gentibus apta tuis.
Illa tibi fietque tuis locus aptus in aevum.
Hec erit & natis altera troia tuis.
Hic de prole tua reges nascentur, & ipsis
Totius terre subditus orbis erit. (I. xi)

[Brutus, beyond the setting of the sun, past the realms of Gaul,
there lies an island in the sea, once occupied by giants. Now it is
empty and ready for your folk. Down the years this will prove an
abode suited to you and to your people; and for your descendants

it will be a second Troy. A race of kings will be bor there from
your stock and the round circle of the whole earth will be subject
to them.] (Thorpe 65)

Wace's paraphrase closely conforms to the original:

Ultre France, luinz dedenz mer
Vers Occident, purras trover
Une ille bone e abitable
E a maneir mult delitable.
Bone est la terre a cultiver,
Gaiant i soelent abiter.
Albion ad non, cele avras,
Une Troie nove i feras.
De tei vendra real ligniede
Ki par le mund iert esalciede. (681-90)

Wace's expression, "reial ligniede ki par le mund iert esalciade," as

well as Geoffrey's statement, "ipsis totius terrae subditus orbis erit," may

be suggesting the coming greatness of the present audience, the powerful

Anglo-Norman nobles, but the language surely intimates the future glory

of Arthur and his mastery over most of western Europe. The

introduction of the exploits of Arthur set a precedent for the scheme of a

dominant Britain. By showing the British to be a once-great people with

extensive territories Wace and Geoffrey could not only raise the status of

this distinguished race in the eyes of their new Norman overlords but

also suggest a model to the Norman kings in their imperialistic ambitions

(MacDougall 7).

Wace translated the Historia at the beginning of the Angevin

monarchy, his incentive no doubt to support Henry's political purposes.

Even by the time of his coronation Henry held vast territories in France

and ruled over one of the most extensive realms in western Europe. "It is

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