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This work quickly became influential throughout western Europe and affected the Arthurian legend in all areas with the result that, in general, scholars look to sources written before Geoffrey's for the 'original' Arthur (that is, in the 'pre-Galfridian' sources).One well known dissenter from this is Geoffrey Ashe (1981; 1985; 1995) who argues that Riotamus, a fifth-century 'king' of the Britons who campaigned on the continent, is the actual historical prototype of Arthur and Geoffrey of Monmouth drew on this tradition when writing his magnum opus.Thus these names cannot be used as evidence for a historical Arthur and as long as we continue to see Arthur as genuinely historical they are likely to remain a lasting crux (at present there is only one viable explanation of these names, that proposed by Oliver Padel (1994: 24) -- see below on this. 600, such a reconstruction is entirely unwarranted and there is no reason to think that the text was composed in this period (Isaac, 1998).It is worth noting that none of these 'Arthurs' can be seen as the 'original' Arthur, pace Barber, 1972 that Gordur 'fed black ravens on the rampart of a fort, although he was no Arthur' (B.38. Thomas Charles-Edwards (1991: 14), building on his theory of textual transmission (set forth in Charles-Edwards, 1978), concluded that, as the reference only occurs in the B version and not the A version of . Given the above, it seems clear that, despite Koch's assertions, '[t]he date of composition [of , how does this reference affect the question of Arthur's historicity, given that Arthur only appears as a comparison to a warrior of (supposedly) the late sixth century?The results of this discussion, including all posted comments, can be found in the Arthurnet archives.Any inquiry into the 'historical' Arthur must proceed from the sources.

Many books, articles and web-pages simply make the assumption that there has to be a historical figure behind the Arthurian legends. As anyone at all familiar with medieval literature in general will know, the historicisation of non-historical/mythical personages -- often through association with some important event of the past -- is not in any way an unusual occurrence.

Whilst we might not be able to accept Koch's assertions on dating, we can say that Arthur is essentially a 'highly unusual comparison', not a warrior who is being honoured; he is not envisaged as being present at the battle and he is a military 'superhero', someone to whose heights of valour not even a man who killed 300 in one rush could compare. 829/30, the ascription to one 'Nennius' now being regarded as false (Dumville, 1974; 1975-6, though see Field, 1996).

He is therefore in a different league to the rest of the figures who appear in reference tells us is that Arthur was seen, by the ninth or tenth century, as 'the impossible comparison' (Padel, 1994: 14), a 'superhero' to whom not even the greatest living warrior could compare; it does not tell us whether this reflects a mythical 'superhero' named Arthur or a historical Arthur mythicised and Arthur is, in the text, in no way associated with the defence of post-Roman Britain or any specific period of history. There is considerable debate over the nature of the text (see, for example, Dumville, 1986; Charles-Edwards, 1991; Dumville, 1994; Koch, 1997; Howlett, 1998) but it now seems clear that the writer of the as a work of architectonic genius making use of the sophisticated 'Biblical style' in its construction (Howlett, pers. For the Celtic-Latin tradition of Biblical style see Howlett, 1995). do not encourage us to be confident about the possibility of recovering usable information about the period whose history he was narrating.

Some examples of this that will probably particularly interest readers of this article are Hengest and Horsa, who were Kentish totemic horse-gods historicised by the eighth century with an important role in the fifth-century Anglo-Saxon conquest of eastern Britain (see Turville-Petre, 1953-7; Ward, 1969; Brooks, 1989; Yorke, 1993); Merlin (Welsh Myrddin), who was an eponymous founder-figure derived from the place-name Caer-fyrddin and historicised with the deeds of one Lailoken (see Jarman, 1991); and the Norse demigod Sigurd/Siegfried who was historicised by being associated with a famous historical battle between the Huns and the Burgundians dated A. 437, in the judgements can be made as to whether a figure is, in origin, historical, mythical or fictional -- each individual case must (and can only) be decided by a close examination of all the relevant material.

When we have figures such as Arthur being portrayed as historical we are therefore, on a very basic level, looking at either a historical figure or a legendary figure who became historicised, with neither explanation enjoying priority on grounds -- it must be recognised that one can only say that there has to have been a historical Arthur once all the material has been evaluated and this has been shown to be the case; there is no possible justification for simply assuming this.

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Arthur is in the remarkable position of appearing 'only not to appear' (Padel, 1994: 14).