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  • Archimedes › Who was
  • Ares › Who was
  • The Historical King Arthur › Who was

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Archimedes  › Who was

Definition and Origins

Author: Cristian Violatti

One of the first details we read about Archimedes (287-212 BCE) in almost every account of his life is the famous scene where he runs wet and naked through the streets of Syracuse shouting “Eureka!, Eureka!” (“I have found it!”). This nudist episode, however, fails to capture the respect that the life of the greatest Greek mathematician and mechanical engineer of antiquity deserves. Archimedes was a pioneer in mathematics and engineering, many centuries ahead of his contemporaries.He was the son of an astronomer named Phidias , lived in the Greek city of Syracuse, studied in Alexandria under the successors of Euclid , and was on intimate terms with King Hieron II, the ruler of Syracuse.
Like all important figures in antiquity who were supremely talented, his story became filled throughout the centuries with many myths and other non-historical accounts to sustain his specialness. It is, therefore, a challenge to clearly distinguish between actual historical facts and legends that were added to decorate his story.


Archimedes' success in applying his mathematical knowledge to weapons of war played a major role during the war between Rome and Syracuse during the Second Punic War . The development of this conflict can be traced back to around 290 BCE, when the Romans became the new rulers of central Italy and began to conquer the Greek cities on the Italian coast. In 270 BCE Hieron II (308-215 BCE) became king of Syracuse, located on the island of Sicily , and the city enjoyed a last period of prosperity. In Sicily, Romans and Carthaginians were brought face to face and in 264 BCE, the First Punic War started. The Carthaginians were the masters of the sea, so the Romans relied on help from the Greek cities in the south in order to build their own ships and so were able to fight the Carthaginians at sea. In 241 BCE Rome defeated Carthage and took over Sicily.During his reign, Hieron II remained on peaceful terms with the Romans and when Rome took over Sicily after the First PunicWar, Syracuse remained independent.
In 218 BCE the Second Punic War started; this was the second major war between Carthage and Rome. In 215 BCE, Hieron II died and his successor Hieronymus made a very poor decision by switching sides and supporting Carthage: He felt the Romans would lose the war. The Romans were not happy about this decision, and they made it clear by besieging the city of Syracuse from 214 to 212 BCE. In the end, the Romans entered the city, slaughtered and enslaved its citizens, and sacked it.


During the time of Archimedes, the centre of Greek culture was Alexandria, the greatest centre of scholarship at this time.Here Archimedes received the finest training available in several disciplines, including mathematics. Archimedes' devotion to mathematics has been compared with that of Newton's: Both often neglected food, drink, and even the basic care of their bodies in order to continue studying mathematics. Plutarch wrote on Archimedes some three centuries later:
It is not possible to find in all geometry more difficult and intricate questions, or more simple and lucid explanations. Some ascribe this to his natural genius; while others think that incredible effort and toil produced these, to all appearances, easy and unlabored results.
(Durant, p. 629)
Archimedes' works on mathematics can be categorized into three groups:
1. Works that prove theorems related to solids and areas bounded by curves and surfaces.
2. Works that analyse problems in statics and hydrostatics from a geometrical viewpoint.
3. Miscellaneous works, including some that emphasize counting, such as The Sand Reckoner .
In his work On the Measurement of the Circle , Archimedes arrives at the logical conclusion that the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, the mathematical constant we today call “pi” (π), is greater than 3 1/7 but less than 3 10/71, a very good approximation.


The famous incident where Archimedes runs naked started with a crown made for Hieron II: The king suspected that the artisan might have kept for himself some of the gold provided for the task and replaced it with a mixture of gold and materials of lower quality. The king wanted to know whether the artisan replaced the gold, but he wanted to find out without damaging the crown, so he requested that many experts test the crown without damaging it. We are told that Archimedes was among those experts and after several weeks thinking about the matter, he found the answer while stepping into a tub at the public baths. He noticed two things; first, that the water overflowed in accordance to the depth of his immersion, and second, that his body appeared to weigh less the deeper it was submerged. Upon this revelation, if we are to believe the legend, Archimedes rushed off down the streets of Syracuse, presumably naked and wet, shouting in excitement that he had found the answer to the king's question. He formulated the “Principle of Archimedes”, also known as the law of buoyancy, which states that any object fully or partially immersed in a fluid will experience an upward force equal to the weight of the displaced fluid. This principle offered Archimedes a test for the material make-up of the crown. Back home he discovered that a given weight of silver , when immersed, displaced more water than an equal weight of gold. The reason for this is that silver has more volume per weight in comparison to gold. He then proceeded to submerge the crown and compared the water displaced by it with a quantity of gold equal to the crown in weight. Archimedes concluded that the crown was not made entirely of gold, confirming the king's suspicions, and so he was able to tell exactly how much gold was missing.
In a lost treatise which we know only through summaries, Archimedes formulated the Law of the Lever and Balance. He did it so accurately that no advancement was made until the 16th century CE. He also discovered the benefits of the pulley for lifting large weights. He was so amazed by the mechanical advantages provided by both the lever and the pulley that he famously stated, “give me a place to stand, and I will move the Earth”. King Hieron challenged Archimedes to put his claim to the test, so Archimedes arranged a cleverly designed series of cogs and pulleys in such a manner that he alone, sitting on one end of the mechanism, managed to draw a fully loaded vessel out of the water and place it onto the land, a task that a hundred men could barely accomplish.
Despite all of the physical laws he discovered, Archimedes never actually referred to them as laws, nor did he describe them in reference to observation and measurement; he instead treated them as pure mathematical theorems, within the logic of a system similar to the one Euclid developed for geometry. Greek science during Archimedes' day had a tendency to undervalue observations and favour logical arguments: Greeks believed that the highest knowledge was based on deductive reasoning. This, however, did not prevent Archimedes from experimenting; in fact, he stands out from his contemporaries because he successfully applied his theoretical knowledge into practice. But the way he presents his discoveries is always from a mathematical perspective, and he never attempted to offer a systematic description from an engineering viewpoint.Moreover, when he refers to mechanical experiments he is actually using them to help the understanding of mathematics: This shows a key difference in approach between ancient science , where experimentation was used to help theoretical understanding, and modern science, where theory is used to pursue practical results.


After the death of Hieron II, war began between Syracuse and the Romans. The city was attacked by both land and sea.Seventy-five years of age were no obstacle for Archimedes in playing a central role defending the city. Applying his skills as an engineer, he developed and arranged catapults that hurled heavy stones to a great distance, pierced holes in the city walls for bowmen to shoot their arrows, and set up cranes that were able to release a large weight of stones on the Roman ships when they came within reach. These inventions were so effective that Marcus Claudius Marcellus , the Roman commander, abandoned the idea of attacking Syracuse and decided that a siege was the only way of breaking the city. In 212 BCE, the starving city surrendered and the Romans captured Syracuse.
Marcellus was so impressed by the genius of Archimedes that he ordered that the talented Greek should be captured alive.Nonetheless, when the Roman soldiers located Archimedes, he was on the beach drawing geometrical figures in the sand and working on one of his many theorems. He ignored the soldiers' orders and requested some extra time to finish his work. The furious soldiers, probably feeling a little insulted, immediately killed one of the greatest minds of all history.
Archimedes died, but his ideas could not be killed, and Archimedes' works, after many adventures and translations during the Middle Ages, have survived in an accessible form. During the Renaissance, the work of Archimedes gained a wide interest in the developing scientific movement. Galileo was very interested in Archimedes due to the application of mathematics to physics and many of his clever experiments. The western world would have to wait until Leonardo Da Vinci to see a greater mechanical genius.

Ares  › Who was

Definition and Origins

Author: Mark Cartwright

Ares was the Greek god of war and perhaps the most unpopular of all the Olympian gods because of his quick temper, aggressiveness, and unquenchable thirst for conflict. He famously seduced Aphrodite , unsuccessfully fought with Hercules , and enraged Poseidon by killing his son Halirrhothios. One of the more human Olympian gods, he was a popular subject in Greek art and even more so in Roman times when he took on a much more serious aspect as Mars , the Roman god of war.


Son of Zeus and Hera , Ares' sisters were Hebe and Eileithyia. Despite being a god, the Greeks considered him from Thrace, perhaps in an attempt to associate him with what they thought of as foreign and war-loving peoples, wholly different from themselves. Ares had various children with different partners, several of whom were unfortunate enough to come up against Hercules when he performed his celebrated twelve labours. Ares' daughter Hippolyta, the Amazon queen, lost her girdle to Hercules; his son Eurytion lost his cattle; and Diomedes had his horses stolen by the Greek hero. The courageous but warlike Amazons were also thought to be descendants of Ares.
Ares was noted for his beauty and courage, qualities which no doubt helped him win the affections of Aphrodite (even though she was married to Hephaistos ) with whom he had a daughter, Harmonia, and the god of love and desire Eros . Hephaistos managed to entrap the lovers in an ingenious bed, and the tale is told in some detail in Book 8 of Homer 's Odyssey . Once caught, the punishment for Ares' indiscretion was temporary banishment from Mount Olympus.
Described by Hesiod in his Theogony as 'shield-piercing Ares' and 'city-sacking Ares,' the god represented the more brutal and bloody side of battle , which was in contrast to Athena who represented the more strategic elements of warfare. In stories from Greek mythology , Ares was usually to be found in the company of his other children with Aphrodite, Phobos (Fear) and Deimos (Terror), with his sister Eris (Strife), and with his charioteer Ennyo.


The most popular myth involving Ares was his fight with Hercules. Ares' son Kyknos was infamous for waylaying pilgrims on their way to the oracle at Delphi , and so earned the displeasure of Apollo , who sent Hercules to deal with him. Hercules killed Kyknos, and a furious Ares engaged the hero in a fight. However, Hercules was protected from harm by Athena and even managed to wound Ares. Another myth and ignominious episode for Ares was his capture by the twin Giants Ephialtes and Otus when they stormed Mount Olympus. They imprisoned the god in a bronze jar (or cauldron) for one year and he was only freed through the intervention of Hermes .

Scene from the Shield of Hercules


In Homer's version of the Trojan War in the Iliad , Ares supports the Trojans, sometimes even leading them in battle along with Hector. The Iliad shows Ares in a less than positive light, and he is described as 'hateful Ares,' 'the man-killer,' 'the war-glutton,' and the 'curse of men.' Homer's picture of Ares, like the above mythological tales, often demonstrates his weakness in comparison to the other gods. Ares is roundly beaten by Athena who, supporting the Achaeans, knocks him out with a large rock. He also comes off worse against the Achaean hero Diomedes who even manages to injure the god with his spear, albeit with the help of Athena. Homer describes the scream of the wounded Ares as like the shouts of 10,000 men. Fleeing back to Olympus, Zeus ignores the complaints of Ares but instructs Paieon to heal his wound.


Ares again upset the harmony of Olympus when he was accused of killing Poseidon's son Halirrhothios near a stream below the Athenian acropolis . A special court was convened - the Areopagos - on a hill near the stream, to hear the case. Ares was acquitted as it was disclosed Halirrhothios had raped Ares' daughter Alcippe. Thereafter in Athens, the Areopagus became the place of trial for cases involving murder and impiety.

Ares Alkamenes

Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering the city's strong militaristic culture, Ares was greatly esteemed in Sparta . Ares was not commonly worshipped but there were cult sites with temples dedicated to the god on Crete (he is mentioned in Linear B tablets from Knossos ) and at Argos , Athens, Erythrae, Geronthrae, Megalopolis, Tegea , Therapne, and Troezon. He also had a cult in Thrace and was popular among the Colchians on the Black Sea.


In ancient Greek Archaic and Classical art, Ares is most often depicted wearing full armour and helmet and carrying a shield and spear. In this respect, he may appear indistinguishable from any other armed warrior. Sometimes he is shown riding his chariot pulled by fire-breathing horses. The myth of Ares' battle with Hercules was a popular subject for Attic vases in the 6th century BCE.
In later times, the Roman god Mars was given many of the attributes of Ares, although, as was typical of the Roman view of the gods, with less human qualities. In Roman mythology , Mars was also the father of Romulus and Remus (through the rape of the Vestal Virgin Rhea Silvia), the legendary founders of Rome , and, therefore, the city achieved a sacred status.Like Athena for Athens, Mars was also the patron god of the Roman capital and the month martius (March) was named after him.

The Historical King Arthur  › Who was

Ancient Civilizations

Author: Joshua J. Mark

The legends surrounding King Arthur and his knights have charmed and intrigued people for centuries and their popularity continues in the present day. As with any famous figure, however, the question arises as to whether the legend is based on any fact. There have been many suggestions over the years as to the best candidate for the 'historical Arthur,' but the most reasonable response is that he was based on a British leader of the 5th or 6th century CE.
Early sources either name Arthur as the hero of the Battle of Badon Hill or describe a warrior with some similar attributes. The historian Nennius (9th century CE) is the first writer to introduce Arthur as a great historical leader of the Britons and later writers support this view. In the present day, Arthurian scholars like John Morris, Norris J. Lacy, and Geoffrey Ashe continue to support the claim that Arthur was historical, citing his name as one of the proofs: Arthur is the Welsh version of the Romanname Artorius, Roman names were typically given to children in the regions of Britain and Wales during the Roman occupation, the Arthurian stories originate with Welsh writers, and the name becomes more popular in the late 6th century CE which suggests an earlier hero who inspired this practice.

King Arthur

Other scholars claim that Arthur was fictional from the beginning; citing a lack of any mention of him in the earliest sources from any region. If a king as great as Arthur really lived, the argument goes, why is he not mentioned in any historical records of his supposed time? This question was asked from a fairly early point in the development of the legends which begin with the work History of the Kings of Britain by Geoffrey of Monmouth (c. 1100 - c. 1155 CE) published in 1136 CE. Although Arthur was referenced in works before Geoffrey, no one had written a comprehensive account of his reign and accomplishments prior to History of the Kings of Britain which claimed Arthur was a great king who not only ruled Britain but conquered most of Europeand defeated Rome . Geoffrey's book was a bestseller, but there were many who doubted its historical value. The English monk Ranulf Higden (c. 1280-1364 CE) expresses this thought in a section of his Polychronicon (c. 1327 CE):
Many men wonder about this Arthur, whom Geoffrey extols so much singly, how the things that are said of him could be true, for, as Geoffrey repeats, he conquered thirty realms. If he subdued the king of France to him, and did slay Lucius the Procurator of Rome, Italy , then it is astonishing that the chronicles of Rome, of France, and of the Saxons should not have spoken of so noble a prince in their stories, which mentioned little things about men of low degree. (Brengle, 11)
Higden's point is still valid today. It is generally accepted that Geoffrey made up most of his 'history' and claimed authority for it from a book, also a product of his imagination, given to him by a friend. Geoffrey claims that he is only translating this ancient book into Latin when, actually, he was creating the stories in order to give Britain an illustrious past. There is no question that the legend of Arthur begins with Geoffrey, but there was almost certainly an actual Arthur who inspired the legend.


The historical Arthur would have lived during the chaotic period following Rome's withdrawal from Britain. Julius Caesar had first led troops to Britain in 55 and 54 BCE, but the Roman legions arrived in force in 43 CE under the reign of Claudius .Britain would be occupied until 410 CE when the last troops were withdrawn to the continent to defend the weakened Western Roman Empire , but Rome had been pulling its garrisons out of Britain for decades prior to this time.
For over 300 years, the people of Britain had been used to Roman protection from the Picts and Scots and their periodic incursions, and, in the 4th century CE, the Saxon confederacy broke apart on the continent and Saxon immigrants and raiders began appearing on the southeast coast of Britain. The people appealed to Rome for help and the emperors sent what troops they could until 410 CE when the Goths invaded Rome and all available troops were recalled to the continent. The Britons were told they should learn to mount their own defense, and Rome had no more to do with them.
The first history to touch on the subject is by the Romano-British monk Gildas (c. 500-570 CE). In his On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain , he attempts to explain why the land is suffering and attributes the problem to selfish kings who care more for themselves than their subjects. Gildas' work is more of a subjective lecture on sin and repentance than an objective treatment of history but, still, includes important information about Roman Britain and the era following Rome's withdrawal.


Gildas records the so-called Groans of the Britons , the messages sent to Rome for help and Rome's refusal. He characterizes the Saxons as savage dogs who fell upon the land and destroyed everything in their path until they were defeated by the Britons at the Battle of Badon Hill which he dates to c. 460 CE.
He is the first to mention the Battle of Badon Hill and the Briton victory over the Saxons but never mentions Arthur. He instead cites Ambrosius Aurelianus as the leader who rallies the Britons following the Saxon Invasion and leads them to victory in battle. Ambrosius is described as the last of the Romans, of noble birth, whose parents seem to have been killed by the Saxons.
His designation as 'last of the Romans' or 'alone of the Romans' is a term which has been applied to many who embodied the highest values and greatest virtues of ancient Roman civilization at different times in history. Ambrosius Aurelianus is presented in the first part of Gildas' work, which provides the history of Britain, as the embodiment of these virtues. Gildas chooses to exalt him as a true Christian hero in order to highlight the difference between a good leader who cares for his people and the five kings of his own time whom he criticizes and condemns in the second part of his work. Since Gildas is primarily concerned with the juxtaposition of sin and virtue (which he explores in the third section of his work criticizing the lax clergy), it is possible he embellished upon Aurelianus' character to make his point. This characterization, some claim, would later give rise to the legends surrounding Arthur.
The English monk Bede (672-735 CE) follows Gildas' lead in his The Ecclesiastical History of the English People , published in 731 CE. Bede never mentions Arthur either and, using Gildas as a source, also claims the leader of the Britons was Ambrosius Aurelianus. In his work, Ambrosius is more clearly defined as a Christian leader whose parents were murdered by the Saxons in their invasion. Ambrosius wins The Battle of Badon Hill with God's help and then goes on to further victories. Bede's characterization of Ambrosius has also been claimed as a source for the figure of Arthur.

King Arthur

The Welsh monk Nennius (9th century CE) in his History of Britain is the first to mention Arthur by name. Scholars disagree on whether one man wrote the work or many, and the date of composition at c. 828 CE is disputed, but Nennius' book is accepted as mostly historical. According to Nennius, after the Romans left Britain, the Picts and Scots began invading at will. A king named Vortigern , failing to receive any aid from Rome, invited Saxon assistance. According to scholar Ward Rutherford, he may have done so under a time-honored Celtic policy of clientship known as celsine (135).
Celsine was routinely practiced by the Celts and consisted of a weaker individual or group placing themselves under the protection of a stronger authority in times of need. In Celtic practice, once the crisis had passed, the arrangement was dissolved. In this case, as Rutherford points out, Vortigern may have thought he could use the policy of celsine to control the Saxons without considering that a non-Celtic people might not honor the pact. This is precisely what happened, according to Nennius, and once the Picts and Scots were defeated the Saxons turned on the Britons. There was now no one the people of Britain could call upon for help, and they needed to take care of the problem themselves; it is at this point that Arthur enters the story.
Nennius describes Arthur as a dux bellorum ( war chief) who, if the Britons followed the same policy as the Goths, would have been a formidable warrior chosen to lead the different tribes against a common enemy. This practice among the Goths prevented a single chieftain of a specific tribe from claiming superiority over others as the various chiefs would have agreed in choosing the war chief.
Arthur, then, would not have been a king but a temporary leader chosen in time of conflict based on his particular skills.Nennius claims that Arthur won twelve battles against the Saxons and places Badon Hill as the final conflict in which the Saxons are completely defeated. His account of Badon Hill matches the earlier sources but he expands upon these and also, as he states in the preface, is working from a number of different sources which Bede and Gildas never used. Nennius' work, he says, is a compilation of information from many different sources which he "heaped together" in trying to relate a comprehensive history of Britain. In doing so, he includes events which are accepted as historical but also introduces legendary aspects of Arthur which are clearly exaggerations or myths.
He claims Arthur possessed superhuman abilities and, on his own, killed 960 Saxons in the charge at Badon Hill and "there was great slaughter of them by the virtue of our Lord, Jesus Christ , and by the virtue of Saint Mary the Virgin, His Mother" (Brengle, 5). Nennius also relates the magical qualities of a cairn in the region of Buelt on which a stone rests with the pawprint of Arthur's dog Cabal; if one carries the stone away, it will return to its original spot the next day. The same kind of story is related regarding the tomb of Arthur's son Anir: whenever one measures it, the tomb is of a different length.

King Arthur

These mystical aspects of the figure of Arthur make clear that he was already a legendary figure by the 9th century. The Welsh Annals of about the same time also mention Arthur and claim he carried the cross of Christ on his shield throughout the three days of the battle of Badon Hill and emerged victorious through his deep devotion to God. The Welsh Annals date the battle to 516 CE and also mention the Battle of Camlann of 537 CE in which Arthur and Mordred are killed.
Another Welsh work citing Arthur is the elegiac poem Y Gododdin (pronounced Ay-Guh-doe-in) commemorating those who died fighting the Angles at the Battle of Catraeth c. 600 CE. Arthur does not appear in the poem but is alluded to in comparison with another warrior being praised. The poet writes of the courage and bravery of Gwawruddur but says he "was no Arthur". If the poem could be conclusively dated to shortly after the battle then it would be the first literary reference to the figure of Arthur; unfortunately, the only extant manuscript dates from the 13th century CE and many of the details in the piece are thought to be additions by later scribes.


The historian William of Malmesbury (c. 1095 - c. 1143 CE) in his Deeds of the British Kings (c. 1125 CE), continues the tradition of Arthur-as-history as he expands on Nennius' account. Malmesbury was a reputable historian, still highly regarded, who relied on the accounts of Bede and Nennius (and, by extension, Gildas) as well as, perhaps, other records which are now lost. He describes Vortigern as the weak and easily manipulated king of the Britons who brought the Saxons to Britain but, at the same time, makes the point that the death of even so weak a king shatters the Briton's morale and leaves them defenseless. His successor, Ambrosius "alone of the Romans", rallies the people "with the distinguished service of the warlike Arthur" and defeats the Saxons. Malmesbury writes:
This is the Arthur about whom the trifles of the Britons rave even now, one certainly not to be dreamed of in false myths, but proclaimed in truthful histories - indeed, who for a long time held up his tottering fatherland, and kindled the broken spirits of his countrymen to war. At last, at the siege of Mount Badon, trusting in the image of our Lord's Mother which he had sewn on his armor, rising alone against nine hundred of the enemy, he dashed them to the ground with incredible slaughter. (Brengle, 8)
Another well-respected historian, Henry of Huntingdon (c. 1088-1157 CE) develops the story further in his History of the English (c. 1129 CE). Huntingdon follows Nennius' narrative of the twelve battles culminating in the great victory at Badon Hill but claims how, afterwards, the Saxons regrouped and were reinforced by recruits sent by other regions on the continent.Huntingdon describes Arthur as a "mighty warrior" who is "constantly victorious" but adds the elements of doubt and difficulty to his account of the Battle of Badon Hill. He relates how the Britons did not present a united front, lost 440 men in a single day, and only Arthur received help from God in the conflict. Huntingdon presents a realistic battle in which the Britons are not magically victorious on the first day and Arthur has to struggle to defeat his enemy.
It may have been Huntingdon's pessimism or Malmesbury's call to proclaim Arthur in "truthful histories" or simply an ambition to write the definitive account of the hero but, whatever the motivation, these sources were all drawn together to create the first complete work on the story of King Arthur: Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain .

Geoffrey of Monmouth

From its first appearance in 1136 CE up through the present day, History of the Kings of Britain has informed the Arthurian legend. Arthurian literature , in fact, is defined by the Latin form of Geoffrey's name (Galfridius): anything written before Geoffrey's work is known as Pre-Galfridian and everything after as Galfridian or Post-Galfridian. Regarded as the Father of the Arthurian Legend, Geoffrey did more than simply compile older stories or, as he said, translate them from an ancient book; he created the figure of King Arthur which would then be developed by later writers into the legendary king.
Geoffrey combines historical and mythical aspects in his account. He claims Ambrosius is Arthur's uncle, brother to Uther Pendragon, and the rightful heir to the throne who has been denied his heritage by Vortigern. Once Vortigern is dead, Ambrosius becomes king and battles the Saxons until he dies, and Uther takes the throne. His story follows more or less the same course as Ambrosius, and he is succeeded by his son Arthur. This part of Geoffrey's story is consistent with the earlier histories - there was a Saxon invasion which was halted by a great British king - but he then goes on to record Arthur's brilliant and expansive reign; it is at this point that Arthur becomes elevated from history to legend.


There have been many possibilities suggested as the 'real' Arthur: Roman military leader Lucius Artorius Castus (c. 3rd century CE); the Briton king Riothamus (c. 470 CE); the Welsh hero Caradoc Vreichvras (c. 6th century CE); the Saxon king Cerdic (519-534 CE); the son of Ambrosius Aurelianus or Ambrosius himself (c. 5th century CE); the Scottish prince and war chief Artur mac Aedan of Dal Riata (c. 6th century CE). Even though all of these may have some qualities of the legendary Arthur, none of them have all, and some, like Castus, have almost none.

King Arthur

It is difficult to justify Castus as Arthur since he lived long before Arthur's time, in a different region, and has Arthur's name but none of his qualities. One cannot maintain that Cerdic, king of the Saxons, was Arthur when they are presented as two different people, even as enemies. Ambrosius Aurelianus is cited as Arthur's king, not Arthur himself (though it is possible Arthur was his son). Caradoc Vreichvras is named as a noble knight and Welsh king who served under Uther Pendragon and Arthur; he has none of Arthur's qualities himself. Riothamus, probably the best candidate, fought a completely different enemy (the Goths) in a completely different region ( Gaul ). In the case of Artur mac Aedan, the Scottish prince never became king and has no association with the region where the Arthurian tales are set.
Considering the early sources for the legend and its later development it is entirely possible that the Arthur of history was none of these on the list nor any others who have been suggested; most likely King Arthur was based on a war chief named Arthur of the 5th or 6th century CE who became a champion of the people in a dark time. In seeking out the historical Arthur, it does not make sense to look too far from the original sources which first mention him. There does not have to be any great mystery surrounding the king's 'real' identity: the true King Arthur was most likely a British king named Arthur.
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with permission from the Website Ancient History Encyclopedia
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