Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1654

Name: Blaeu, Joan, 1596-1673  
Title: Scotiae  
Pagination: 14-15
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Translation of text:

he will err no less criminally than Caesar is said to have done in the word Britannus. What therefore shall we do for Llwyd, to please a man both troublesome and captious? Shall we say Prudamia rather than Britannia? This not even Llwyd, a harsh critic of others, will demand; for he will allow us to derive Prudania from Prudam. But if one should dare to say Britannia or Brettania, what will he do but continue the prosecution for violation of sacrosanct antiquity, contamination of old and pure speech, and breaking of that strong and masculine sound into feminine softness? Will it therefore not be right for us to change something of the squalor of ancient roughness, or, if not to change, at least to polish the badly turned words? and to move slowly from that uncultivated enormity, so that at least the word sounds human? and as we see our forebears did in the cases of Morini, Morematusa (4) and Armorici, if we cannot confer Latin citizenship on these words, we shall yet surely imitate Latin dress and gait in them? But by Llwyd, as I see, it is not allowed. He calls us back to that august antiquity of the Prudani, and forbids any deviation from Bards and Elders. But this superstition never gripped the oldest of the Greeks and Latins. Nor, after the stiffness of the ancient tongue began to relax, was there anyone who preferred retaining 'famul' and 'volup' to accepting what succeeded in their place, and there was the greatest freedom in transferring from Greek to Latin or from Latin to Greek. Who ever made it a fault in Latins, that they turned Polydeuces into Pollux, Heracles into Hercules, Asclepios into Aesculapius? or in Greeks, that for Catulus they said Catlus, for Remus Romus? What of transference of barbarian languages to their own? Did the Greeks hesitate to change the Punic al in the final syllable of words to as? If one said 'Annibas' for 'Annibal', surely he did not trample all the majesty of history, corrupt the truth, or brand any stain on the Punic language? See how much the zeal for humanity and culture of the ancient Saxons and Danes, who later migrated to Britain, differ from this enormity and affectation of squalor of Llwyd. Those uncivilised people, ignorant of all erudition, although they had come to barbarous men and stutterers, not only did not allow themselves to be affected by their solecisms, but as soon as they tasted the sweetness of the Greek and Latin tongues, they wiped away much of the roughness which they had brought in: some quite harsh words they so smoothed that they can be tolerated without any offence to the ears, such as Oxonia and Rossa for Oxonfordia and Rauschestria and many others, with no opposition even from Llwyd. But even he allows himself not a little in this area: he who in the case of the name of Britain alone demands such harsh severity, in so many others assumes such great licence for himself. Now, he strives so stubbornly against the old custom of all nations on behalf of a new, obscure and uncertain word: doubtless lest that royal name of Llwyd, derived from the stock of the Welsh and preserved like a Palladium down to this day, should fall into oblivion. To prevent this, Llwyd has set up for himself a struggle against the consensus of the multitude, the antiquity of time, and even truth itself. There is also with regard to the word Britannia the rule, that in foreign writers that is the name of the whole island. The British and the English, who have committed British affairs to writing, now agree with the foreigners, now class under the name of Britannia only that part of the island which was the Roman province; and so with varied meaning, as the results of war altered the boundary; for at some times they made Hadrian's Wall the limit of the empire, at others that of Severus; the others, who were outside the wall, they called now barbarians, now foreigners. Bede at the beginning of Book 1 writes thus: ‘And so the Picts, making for Britain, began to settle in the northern parts of the island. For the British had occupied the southern areas.’ Again in ch.34: ‘Aidan, king of the Scots who live in Britain.’ And in Book 4 ch.4, when he is writing of the return of Colman from England to Scotland, he says: ‘Meanwhile Colman, who was from Scotland, leaving Britain.’ And elsewhere: ‘Next they began for several days to come from the region of the Scots into Britain.’ Likewise: ‘Oswald was killed near the wall, with which the Romans had girded the whole of Britain from sea to sea, to ward off the attacks of the Barbarians.’ He has the same manner of speaking in Book 2 ch.9. Claudian does not seem to have been unaware of this peculiar manner of speaking of the Britons, when he writes that a Roman legion, ‘which puts a bit on the wild Scot’, had been spread out before the Britons, that is opposite the Scots, to drive off their fury from the Britons, so at the end of Britain and the boundary of Scotland. This manner of speaking is very frequently used by William of Malmesbury and Geoffrey of Monmouth, not unknown among the writers of British affairs, in whom anyone will easily notice that only what is contained within Severus’ Wall is named with the word Britannia. Although that is so clear in them that it cannot escape anyone, yet it gave rise to great errors in writers of the following period, who set down in writing that Alfred and Athelstane and some other kings of the Saxons had at some time gained control of the whole island, although they never crossed Severus’ Wall. For when they read that these kings had held power over the whole of Britain, they thought that the whole island had been possessed by them. Not dissimilar by the way is the rule in the use of the words Britannus and Britto. For all the ancient Greek and Latin writers called the whole island Britannia, and all its inhabitants without distinction [G2 p.15] Britanni. The first of the Romans that I know to name them Brittones is Martial in that verse:
As the old breeches of a poor Britton.
Common usage calls the inhabitants of the French peninsula Brittones: although Gregory of Tours always calls it Britannia and its inhabitants Britanni. The Romans regularly call their provincials Britanni, although the provincials themselves rejoice that they are called Britones. But of each name there is one root and origin, Britannia. And just as each name derives from the one fount, so the same sense is given by each. That is very clearly shown by the poem of the poet Ausonius: (5)
That Silvius is good, who attacks our poems:
The good Britto was more worthy of our couplets.
This Silvius is good. Which Silvius? That Britannus,
Either this Britto is not Silvius, or he is bad [this Silvius is not Britto?]
Silvius is said to be a good Britto, and Britannus. [Good S.?]
Who could believe that a good citizen has degenerated?
No-one is a good Britto: if Silvius begins to be
Simple, the simple ceases to be good.
This Silvius is good: but the same Silvius is a Britto,
It is a simpler matter to say, bad Britto.
Silvius, although to be a good Britto, not a good man
Is your desire, Britto and man cannot be linked. [??]

Those who claim that the British are colonists of the Gauls, report that Hercules fathered a son Britannus by a Gallic girl Celto, and from him the British nation was propagated. Pliny places this nation close to the Morini, Atrebates and Gessoriaci. Confirmation of this from the Greeks may be found in the grammarians Suidas and the writer of the Etymologicum magnum. C. Julius Caesar and C. Cornelius Tacitus seem to me to have been of the same opinion, and other Latin writers, not unlearned if less celebrated. Likewise rites, speech, institutions, and customs of some nations living on the Gallic Sea confirm that; of them the British seem to me to have been drawn out by migrations, and the Morini to have been slowly destroyed. Morinus seems to me to attest its origin from More (that means ‘sea’ in the old language of the Gauls). Venta of the Belgae and Icenus named from Icius make it likely that they took also the native word with the place of their name into a foreign land: and meeting the British immediately at the point of arrival and recognising their kin, wished to set their home in a friendly place. For Morinus to the old Gauls means ‘of the sea’, and Moremarusa (6) means ‘dead sea’: although these last two names have been almost snatched from us by Goropius, wishing too eagerly to improve his Advatici. Nor can the Aremorici or Armorici deny that they are of our race. For we have great and related hostages in our power. Ar or Are is an old preposition in the Gallic language, which indicates ‘to’ or ‘over’, so that you might say the name is ‘to the sea’ or ‘above the sea’, that is maritime. And Moremarusa derives from More, that is ‘sea’, with the last syllable lengthened after the fashion of the Greek participle. Aremorica or Armorica (anyone who does not realise this as soon as it is heard, is completely ignorant of the old Gallic tongue) itself also means ‘maritime’, as Strabo understands, who for it in Greek always gives us Apoceanitas. Caesar says of the Armorici in Book 5 that ‘great forces of the Gauls, from those states which are called Armoric, had gathered to attack him’, in Book 7 ‘from all the states which border the Ocean and which in their manner are called Armoric’, and in Book 8 ‘and the other states placed in the extremities of Gaul, next to the Ocean, which are called Armoric’. Whenever Caesar mentions these states, he is always accustomed to add ‘which are called’, and to add it in such a way that you understand that it is not a proper name, but either an epithet or additional name of the place. But in no other reputable writer is that found to have been the name of a state, although the word wanders very widely on that coast, viz. from Spain to the Rhine; and among so many writers I can find only Pliny who does not seem to have understood the true force of the word. For he thinks that the whole of Aquitaine was once so called. But this for the present: we shall have to discuss further the Gallic tongue.

The most ancient name of the island is believed to have been Albion, or as Aristotle, or rather Theophrastus, in the book entitled ‘On the World’, recounts, Albium. But this name is more excavated from books than used in common speech, except particularly among the Scots, who still call themselves Albinich and their region Albin. Many think that the name was given because white (‘albae’) cliffs are the first things seen by those approaching from France. But it seems especially absurd to me to seek the origin of a British name from the Latin language, there being at that time such rare commerce between wild races. There are those who think the name was given from Albion the son of Neptune, whom they invent as having once been king of Britain: relying on an extremely audacious lie and absolutely no evidence from antiquity. Yet on this very weak basis of a similar name, they were not ashamed to erect a kingdom. For I see no other occurrence of this invention in the histories. Mention is made of Albion and Bergion by the Greeks Diodorus Siculus and Strabo, and the Latins Cato, Hyginus and Mela: from them it can be concluded that Albion and Bergion, sons of Neptune, Ligurians from the land of the Albici, made journeys into Italy full of brigandage. When they attempted to take spoil from Hercules as he returned from Spain after defeating Geryon, they engaged him in such fierce battle

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