Echoes of an Older God?

Some Notes on Arthur as a Pagan Deity

By Eddie Murray

Loch Arthur looking north

Loch Arthur looking north

This talk grew out of  a discussion with Stuart McHardy. When Stuart first mooted the idea of his organising a conference on the historical Scottish Arthur, I suggested that at least some mention should be made of the ‘other’ Arthur, and he agreed.

‘And whence came Arthur?’ asked the writer L. Sprague de Camp:

‘The name is that, not of a mortal man, but of a god. The pre-Christians worshipped a god called Artur by the Irish and Artaius by the Gauls. The name has been variously connected with words for “to plough” (Latin , arare), which makes him a god of agriculture; for “bear” (Greek, arktos) which makes him a bear god; for “black,” which makes him a raven god, and so on. In any case Arthur is, like many other heroes, merely a pagan god transformed into a fictional mortal, with the deeds of some real men attributed to him.’

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