Lucius fights to reclaim Gaul from his treacherous tribune Frollo at the time of King Arthur's rise to power. After Arthur conquers Gaul, word of his great deeds reaches Rome, and Lucius demands that Arthur pay him tribute and recognize him as his sovereign. When Arthur refuses, Lucius invades the land of Arthur's allies on the continent, and Arthur and his knights hurry across the English Channel to do battle with him. Arthur defeats Lucius and adds Italy to his lands.
The figure is clearly legendary, though whether Geoffrey heard of him from folk tradition or completely created him for propagandist purposes is unknown, as is the case with much material in the Historia. Many of the figures associated with him, such as the Eastern and African kings who side with him, appear to be based on figures from Geoffrey's own era.
Geoffrey Ashe theorizes that he was originally Glycerius, whose name was known to have been misspelled as "Lucerius" in texts prior to the writing of the Historia Regum Britanniae, and was further misspelled by Geoffrey of Monmouth as "Lucius Tiberius/Hiberius". It should be noted that the Emperor Tiberius II Constantine attempted to re-establish Roman hegemony in the West in the late 6th century.
The mythical Lucius appears in later, particularly English literature such as Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, and the Alliterative Morte Arthure, now as a Roman Emperor. An Emperor defeated by King Arthur appears in French Arthurian literature as well, notably in the Vulgate Cycle.
- Ashe, Geoffrey (1985). The Discovery of King Arthur, p. 94. London: Guild Publishing.
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