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Thursday, 17 February 2011

'Historical' Web Treasure of the Month #1


Ambrosius Aurelianus, apparently
I post this with no little trepidation, as I'm afraid I'll be bombarded with hostile messages accusing me of taking part in the Great Academic Conspiracy (GAC), but while I'm on the subject of resources on the web, those of you who aren't New Age crackpots will find hilarious entertainment and annoyance in equal measure at this site, the website of a man called - like the anarcho-syndicalist in the Holy Grail, appropriately enough - Dennis, who has, via "meticulous" research, discovered that Jesus grew up in Somerset. I kid you not.  Ever since, I have imagined the Sermon on the Mount delivered in a West Country accent.

I'm ever on the look-out for mad stuff on the web related, however tangentally, to King Arfer, but I chanced upon this treasure because a web search (to confirm that St Ambrose's name was Aurelius Ambrosius, which, because it isn't mentioned in the PLRE entry, I had suddenly doubted) turned up this beauty, in which we learn that the subject of a prehistoric burial with an amber necklace by Stonehenge is none other than Geoffrey of Monmouth's Aurelius Ambrosius, whose name, apparently obviously, means The Golden Amber One (which I thought was a beer).  And Geoff tells us that Aurelius Ambrosius built Stonehenge.  And what Geoff says must be true because he tells us he read all this stuff in 'an ancient book'.

I did consider posting a comment setting out how Geoffrey's Aurelius Ambrosius is a corruption of the (surely) indubitably historical Ambrosius Aurelianus mentioned by Gildas as a fifth-century war-leader [incidentally I wonder whether Geoffrey's surely knowing corruption of that name into the same name as Saint Ambrose's isn't a wry gag on his part], that Aurelius and Ambrosius are perfectly commonplace late antique names (cp. St Ambrose), that Geoffrey's 'ancient book' - if it really existed - is unlikely to be older than the ninth century, and that he doesn't actually tell us that this bit about Stonehenge and 'Aurelius' was in that book, etc.  But a closer look at the original post and the rest of the site suggested that it would only fall on stony ground.  I've got burnt on that score before with the likes of Dennis.  I also read the posts by an acolyte called 'Frank' whose sheer vitriol against qualified people who actually know what they are talking about is highly instructive (check them out) in thinking about what I call 'the siege'.  Ho hum.  All par for the course in what Charlie Brooker has called 'the Unenlightenment'.

Why was I checking out Saint Ambrose, you might be wondering.  Because I'm off to Saint Andrews tomorrow to give the biennial Anderson Lecture, which is a great honour, and I've been doing some more thinking about Gildas and his 'Proud Tyrant'.  I'll post that up next week.

*By the way, if you are thinking of sending in a rambling denunciation about my involvement in the GAC against The Truth about The Ancestors, please don't, because I really can't be bothered...

1 comment:

  1. Thanks to both of you. David, the short answer to your question is that I believe that Gildas' superbus tyrannus is Magnus Maximus. I set out the argument in some detail as an appendix to my book _Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West_. It is essentially based on a structural analysis of Gildas 'historical' section and the way he tells his stories.

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