The Info List - Albion

--- Advertisement ---

ALBION ( 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: _ Alba _ in Scottish Gaelic , _Albain_ (genitive _Alban_) in Irish , _Nalbin_ in Manx and _Alban_ in Welsh , Cornish and Breton . These names were later Latinised as _Albania_ and Anglicised as _Albany_, which were once alternative names for Scotland.

_New Albion_ and _Albionoria_ (" Albion of the North") were briefly suggested as names of Canada during the period of the Canadian Confederation . Arthur Phillip , first leader of the colonization of Australia, originally named Sydney Cove "New Albion", but for uncertain reasons the colony acquired the name " Sydney ".


* 1 Etymology * 2 Attestation

* 3 The giants of Albion

* 3.1 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 (_Iouernía_, " Hibernia "). c. 1300.

The 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 survived in 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 _, _ Albania _ and _ 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".


Main article: Britain (place name)

Judging from Avienus 's _Ora Maritima_ to which it is considered to have served as a source, the _ Massaliote Periplus _ (originally written in the 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 Albiones". Likewise, Pytheas (ca. 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.

The name _Albion_ was used by Isidore of Charax ( 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 , 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".

In his 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"). His nephew, Edgar the Peaceful , styled himself _Totius Albionis imperator augustus_ "Augustus Emperor of all Albion" in 970.


_ 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, 1450-1475

A legend exists in various forms that giants were either the original inhabitants, or the founders of the land named Albion.


According to the 12th century _ Historia Regum Britanniae _ ("The History of The Kings of Britain") by Geoffrey of Monmouth , the exiled Brutus of 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 cliff by Corineus .


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 derives from 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 Danaus and his fifty daughters who founded Argos .


Because Geoffrey of Monmouth's work was regarded as fact until the late 17th century, the story appears in most early histories of Britain. Wace , Layamon , 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) * Terminology of the British Isles * Perfidious Albion * 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) occurs in 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 978-0-8020-8293-0 . * ^ Rosalind Miles (2001) _Who Cooked the Last Supper: The Women's History of the World_ Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0-609-80695-5 * ^ http://www.manly.nsw.gov.au/council/about-manly/manly-heritage--history/ * ^ http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/discover_collections/history_nation/terra_australis/letters/phillip/index.html * ^ Freeman, Philip, Koch, John T., in: Koch, John T. (ed.), Celtic Culture, ABC-CLIO, 2006, p. 38-39. * ^ Delamarre, Xavier, Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise, Errance, 2003 (2nd ed.), p. 37-38. * ^ Ekwall, Eilert "Early names of Britain", in: Antiquity, Vol. 4, #14, 1930, p. 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) " Albion rose"". 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 . * ^ Aristotle or 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 Library Project. DjVu * ^ 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 Archive . * ^ 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 Perseus Project * ^ 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. 48–49.



* 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. 199–214

* 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 0859914496 * 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., ISBN 0549482547


* Bernau, Anke (2007), McMullan, Gordon; Matthews, David, eds.