Ancient Greek : Ἀλβιών) is the oldest known name of
the island of
Great Britain . Today, it is still sometimes used
poetically to refer to the island. The name for
Scotland in the Celtic
languages is related to Albion:
Scottish Gaelic , Albain
(genitive Alban) in Irish , Nalbin in Manx and Alban in Welsh ,
Cornish and Breton . These names were later Latinised as
Anglicised as Albany, which were once alternative names for Scotland.
Albion and Albionoria ("
Albion of the North") were briefly
suggested as names of Canada during the period of the Canadian
Arthur Phillip , first leader of the colonization of
Australia, originally named
Sydney Cove "New Albion", but for
uncertain reasons the colony acquired the name "
* 1 Etymology
* 2 Attestation
* 3 The giants of
Geoffrey of Monmouth
* 3.2 Anglo-Norman Albina story
* 3.2.1 Manuscripts and forms
* 3.3 Diocletian\'s daughters
* 3.4 Later treatment of the myth
* 4 See also
* 5 Notes
* 6 References
* 7 Bibliography
* 7.1 Albina story
* 7.2 Studies
The Codex Vatopedinus 's Ptolemy\'s map of the
British Isles ,
labelled "Ἀλουΐων" (Alouíōn, "Albion") and Ἰουερνία
Hibernia "). c. 1300
Common Brittonic name for the island, Hellenised as Albíōn
(Ἀλβίων) and Latinised as Albiōn (genitive Albionis), derives
from the Proto-Celtic nasal stem *Albi̯iū (oblique *Albiion-) and
Old Irish as Albu (genitive Albann). The name originally
referred to Britain as a whole, but was later restricted to Caledonia
(giving the modern
Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland,
Alba ). The root
*albiio- is also found in Gaulish and Galatian albio- ("world") and
Welsh elfydd (elbid, "earth, world, land, country, district"). It may
be related to other European and Mediterranean toponyms such as Alpes
Liban . It has two possible etymologies: either *albho-,
a Proto-Indo-European root meaning "white" (perhaps in reference to
the white southern shores of the island, though Celtic linguist Xavier
Delamarre argued that it originally meant "the world above, the
visible world", in opposition to "the world below", i.e., the
underworld), or *alb-, Proto-Indo-European for "hill".
Britain (place name)
Britain (place name)
Avienus 's Ora Maritima to which it is considered to
have served as a source, the
Massaliote Periplus (originally written
6th century BC , translated by
Avienus at the end of the 4th
century ), does not use the name Britannia; instead it speaks of
nēsos Iernōn kai Albiōnōn "the islands of the Iernians and the
320 BC ), as directly or indirectly
quoted in the surviving excerpts of his works in later writers, speaks
of Albiōn and Iernē (Britain and Ireland). Pytheas's grasp of the
νῆσος Πρεττανική (nēsos Prettanikē, "Prettanic
island") is somewhat blurry, and appears to include anything he
considers a western island, including
Thule . In William
Blake\'s mythology , the character
Albion represents primeval man.
Albion was used by
Isidore of Charax (
1st century BC
1st century BC –1st
century AD) and subsequently by many classical writers. By the 1st
century AD, the name refers unequivocally to Great Britain. But this
"enigmatic name for Britain, revived much later by Romantic poets like
William Blake, did not remain popular among Greek writers. It was soon
replaced by Πρεττανία (Prettanía) and Βρεττανία
(Brettanía "Britain"), Βρεττανός (Brettanós "Briton"), and
Βρεττανικός (Brettanikós, meaning the adjective British).
From these words the Romans derived the Latin forms Britannia,
Britannus, and Britannicus respectively".
The Pseudo-Aristotelian text
On the Universe (393b) has:
Ἐν τούτῳ γε μὴν νῆσοι μέγισται
τυγχάνουσιν οὖσαι δύο, Βρεττανικαὶ
λεγόμεναι, Ἀλβίων καὶ Ἰέρνη
"There are two very large islands in it, called the British Isles,
Albion and Ierne" (Britain and Ireland).
Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder , in his Natural History (4.16.102) likewise has:
"It was itself named Albion, while all the islands about which we
shall soon briefly speak were called the Britanniae".
2nd century Geography ,
Ptolemy uses the name Ἀλουΐων
(Alouiōn, "Albion") instead of the Roman name
Britannia , possibly
following the commentaries of
Marinus of Tyre . He calls both Albion
and Ierne νῆσοι Βρεττανικαὶ (nēsoi Brettanikai,
British Isles ").
In 930, the English king
Æthelstan used the title Rex et primicerius
totius Albionis regni ("King and chief of the whole realm of Albion").
Edgar the Peaceful , styled himself Totius Albionis
imperator augustus "Augustus Emperor of all Albion" in 970.
THE GIANTS OF ALBION
Albina and other daughters of Diodicias (front). Two giants of
Albion are in the background, encountered by a ship carrying Brutus
and his men. French Prose Brut, British Library Royal 19 C IX,
A legend exists in various forms that giants were either the original
inhabitants, or the founders of the land named Albion.
GEOFFREY OF MONMOUTH
According to the 12th-century
Historia Regum Britanniae ("The History
of The Kings of Britain") by
Geoffrey of Monmouth , the exiled Brutus
Troy was told by the goddess Diana ;
Brutus! there lies beyond the Gallic bounds
An island which the western sea surrounds,
By giants once possessed, now few remain
To bar thy entrance, or obstruct thy reign.
To reach that happy shore thy sails employ
There fate decrees to raise a second Troy
And found an empire in thy royal line,
Which time shall ne'er destroy, nor bounds confine. — Geoffrey
of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain/Books 1, 11
After many adventures, Brutus and his fellow Trojans escape from Gaul
and "set sail with a fair wind towards the promised island".
"The island was then called Albion, and inhabited by none but a few
giants. Notwithstanding this, the pleasant situation of the places,
the plenty of rivers abounding with fish, and the engaging prospect of
its woods, made Brutus and his company very desirous to fix their
habitation in it." After dividing up the island between themselves "at
last Brutus called the island after his own name Britain, and his
companions Britons; for by these means he desired to perpetuate the
memory of his name". Geoffrey goes on to recount how the last of the
giants are defeated, the largest one called Goëmagot is flung over a
ANGLO-NORMAN ALBINA STORY
Later, in the 14th century, a more elaborate tale was developed,
claiming that Albina and her sisters founded
Albion and procreated
there a race of giants. The "Albina story" survives in several forms,
including the octosyllabic Anglo-Norman poem "Des grantz geanz" dating
to 1300—1334 (Georgine Elizabeth Brereton ed. 1937; Also Jubinal
ed., "Des graunz Jaianz ki primes conquistrent Bretaingne" (1842) ) A
prose English translation is given in
Richard Barber 's anthology
(1999). According to the poem, in the 3970th year of the creation of
the world , a king of Greece married his thirty daughters into
royalty, but the haughty brides colluded to eliminate their husbands
so they would be subservient to no one. The youngest would not be
party to the crime and divulged the plot, so the other princesses were
confined to an unsteerable rudderless ship and set adrift, and after
three days reached an uninhabited land later to be known as "England".
The eldest daughter Albina (Albine) was the first to set shore and lay
claim to the land, naming it after herself. At first, the women
gathered acorns and fruits, but once they learned to hunt and obtain
meat, it aroused their lecherous desires. As no other humans inhabited
the land, they mated with evil spirits called "'incubi ", and
subsequently with the sons they begot, engendering a race of giants.
These giants are evidenced by huge bones which are unearthed. Brutus
arrived 260 years after Albina, 1136 before the birth of Christ, but
by then there were only 24 giants left, due to inner strife. As with
Geoffrey of Monmouth's version, Brutus's band subsequently overtake
the land, defeating Gogmagog in the process.
Manuscripts And Forms
The octosyllabic poem appears as a prologue to 16 out of 26
manuscripts of the Short Version of the Anglo-Norman prose Brut, which
Wace . Octosyllabic is not the only form the Anglo-Norman
Des Grantz Geanz, there are five forms, the others being: the
alexandrine , prose, short verse, and short prose versions. The
Latin adaptation of the Albina story, De Origine Gigantum, appeared
soon later, in the 1330s It has been edited by Carey their offspring
became a race of giants. The chronicle asserts that during the voyage
Albyne entrusted the fate of the sisters to "Appolyn," which was the
god of their faith. The Syrian king who was her father sounds much
like a Roman emperor, though
Diocletian (3rd century) would be
anachronistic, and Holinshed (Historie of England 1587, Book 1,
Chapter 3), explains this as a bungling of the legend of
his fifty daughters who founded
LATER TREATMENT OF THE MYTH
Because Geoffrey of Monmouth's work was regarded as fact until the
late 17th century, the story appears in most early histories of
Raphael Holinshed ,
William Camden and John
Milton repeat the legend and it appears in
Edmund Spenser 's The
Faerie Queene .
William Blake 's poems Milton and Jerusalem feature
Albion as an
archetypal giant representing humanity.
Britain (place name)
Britain (place name)
* Terminology of the
Nordalbingia , based on the Latin name for the Elbe River: Alba
* ^ Brereton 1937 , p. xxxii had allowed for earlier dating range,
giving 1200 (more likely 1250) to 1333/4: "not earlier than the
beginning — probably not before the middle — of the thirteenth
century and not later than 1333–4"
* ^ The same text (same MS source) as Jubinal (Cotton Cleopatra IX)
Francisque Michel ed., Gesta Regum Britanniae (1862), under
the Latin title De Primis Inhabitatoribus Angliæ and incipit.
* ^ Brereton 1937 , p. 2, "Del mound, treis mil e nef cent/E
sessante e diz ans" ll.14-15; but "treis" is lacking in Michel 1862 so
that it reads "1970 years"
* ^ In the Anglo-Norman prose Brut, the poem prefaced to the Short
Version was incorporated to the text proper (prologue) of the Long
Version, from the long version. This long version was then rendered
into Middle English.Lamont 2007 , p. 74
* ^ How Canada Got Its Name - Origin of the Name Canada
* ^ Rayburn, Alan (2001). Naming Canada: Stories about Canadian
Place Names. University of Toronto Press. p. 16. ISBN
* ^ Rosalind Miles (2001) Who Cooked the Last Supper: The Women's
History of the World Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0-609-80695-5
* ^ Freeman, Philip, Koch, John T., in: Koch, John T. (ed.), Celtic
Culture, ABC-CLIO, 2006, pp. 38–39.
* ^ Delamarre, Xavier, Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise, Errance,
2003 (2nd ed.), pp. 37–38.
* ^ Ekwall, Eilert "Early names of Britain", in: Antiquity, Vol. 4,
#14, 1930, pp. 149–156.
Avienus ' Ora Maritima, verses 111-112, i.e. eamque late gens
Hiernorum colit; propinqua rursus insula Albionum patet.
* ^ G. F. Unger, Rhein. Mus. xxxviii., 1883, pp. 1561–96.
* ^ "A Large Book of Designs, copy A, object 1 (Bentley 85.1,
Butlin 262.1) "
William Blake Archive . Retrieved
September 25, 2013.
Scymnus ; Messenius Dicaearchus;
Scylax of Caryanda (1840).
Fragments des poemes géographiques de
Scymnus de Chio et du faux
Dicéarque, restitués principalement d\'après un manuscrit de la
Bibliothèque royale: précédés d\'observations littéraires et
critiques sur ces fragments; sur Scylax, Marcien d\'Héraclée,
Isidore de Charax, le stadiasme de la Méditerranée; pour servir de
suite et de supplément à toutos les éditions des petits géographes
grecs. Gide. p. 299.
* ^ Snyder, Christopher A. (2003). The Britons. Blackwell
Publishing . p. 12. ISBN 0-631-22260-X .
Pseudo-Aristotle ; E. S. Forster (translator); D.
J. Furley (translator). "On the Cosmos, 393b12". On Sophistical
Refutations. On Coming-to-be and Passing Away. On the Cosmos. William
Heinemann LTD, Harvard University Press. pp. 360–361. at the Open
* ^ Pliny the Elder's Naturalis Historia Book IV. Chapter XLI Latin
text and English translation at the
Perseus Project . See also
Pliny\'s Natural history. In thirty-seven books at the Internet
* ^ Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, lemma
Britanni II.A at the
Perseus Project .
* ^ PTOLEMY\'S GEOGRAPHIA, BOOK II – DIDACTIC ANALYSIS, COMTEXT4
* ^ Claudius
Ptolemy (1843). "index of book II". In Nobbe, Carolus
Fridericus Augustus. Claudii Ptolemaei Geographia (PDF). vol.1.
Leipzig: sumptibus et typis Caroli Tauchnitii. p. 59.
* ^ Βρεττανική. Liddell, Henry George ; Scott, Robert ; A
Greek–English Lexicon at the
* ^ England: Anglo-Saxon Royal Styles: 871–1066, Anglo-Saxon
Royal Styles (9th–11th centuries), archontology.org
* ^ Walter de Gray Birch, Index of the Styles and Titles of
Sovereigns of England, 1885 (online copy)
* ^ History of the Kings of Britain/Book 1, 15
* ^ History of the Kings of Britain/Book 1, 16
* ^ Bernau 2007
* ^ A B Dean, Ruth (1999), Anglo-Norman Literature: A Guide to
Texts and Manuscripts, pp. 26–30 , cited by Fisher, Matthew (2004).
Once Called Albion: The Composition and Transmission of History
Writing in England, 1280-1350 (Thesis). Oxford University. p. 25. .
Fisher: ""five distinct versions of Des Grantz Geanz : the
octosyllabic, alexandrine, prose, short verse, and short prose
versions survive in 34 manuscripts, ranging in date from the first
third of the fourteenth to the second half of the fifteenth century
* ^ Brereton 1937
* ^ Jubinal 1842 , pp. 354–371
* ^ Michel 1862 , pp. 199–254
* ^ A B C Barber 2004
* ^ Wogan-Browne, Jocelyn (2011), Leyser, Conrad; Smith, Lesley,
eds., "Mother or Stepmother to History? Joan de Mohun and Her
Chronicle", Motherhood, Religion, and Society in Medieval Europe,
400-1400, Ashgate Publishing, p. 306, ISBN 1409431452
* ^ Carley & Crick 1995 , p. 41
* ^ Carley & Crick 1995
* ^ Evans 1998
* ^ Brie & 1906–1908
* ^ Bernau 2007 , p. 106
* ^ A B Baswell, Christopher (2009), Brown, Peter, ed., "English
Literature and the Classical Past", A Companion To Medieval English
Literature and Culture C.1350 - C.1500, John Wiley & Sons, pp.
242–243, ISBN 1405195525
* ^ Harper, Carrie Anne (1964), The Sources of The British
Chronicle History in Spenser's Faerie Queene, Haskell House, pp.
* Jubinal, Achille , ed. (1842), "Des graunz Jaianz ki primes
conquistrent Bretaingne (Bibl. Cotton Cleopatra D IX)", Nouveau
recueil de contes, dits, fabliaux et autres pièces inédites des
XIIIe, XIVe et XVe siècles, pour faite suite aux collections de
Legrand d\'Aussy, Barbazan et Méon, Pannier, pp. 354–371
* Michel, Francisque, ed. (1862), "Appendix I: De Primis
Inhabitatoribus Angliæ", Gesta Regum Britanniæ: a metrical history
of the Britions of the XIIIth century, Printed by G. Gounouilhou, pp.
* Barber, Richard, ed. (2004) , "1. The Giants of the Island of
Albion", Myths & Legends of the British Isles, Boydell Press
* Brie, Friedrich W. D., ed. (1906–1908), The Brut or the
Chronicles of England ... from Ms. Raw. B171, Bodleian Library, &c.,
EETS o.s., 131 (part 1), London
* Carley, James P.; Crick, Julia (1995), Carley; Riddy, Felicity,
eds., "Constructing Albion\'s Past: An Annotated Edition of De origine
gigantum", Arthurian Literature XIII, D. S. Brewer, pp. 41–115, ISBN
* Evans, Ruth (1998), Carley; Riddy, Felicity, eds., "Gigantic
Origins: An Annotated Translation of De origine gigantum", Arthurian
Literature XVI, D. S. Brewer, pp. 197–217, ISBN 085991531X
* Lamont, Margaret Elizabeth (2007), "Albina, her sisters, and the
giants of Albion", The "Kynde Bloode of Engeland": Remaking
Englishness in the
Middle English Prose "Brut", ProQuest, pp. 73ff.,
* Bernau, Anke (2007), McMullan, Gordon; Matthews, David, eds.,
"Myths of origin and the struggle over nationhood", Reading the
Medieval in Early Modern England, Cambridge University Press, pp.
106–118, ISBN 0521868432
* Brereton, Georgine Elizabeth, ed. (1937), Des grantz geanz: an