Batraz (Ossetian: Батырадз) was the leader and greatest warrior of the mythical super-human race, the Narts. The Narts were the central figures of Sarmatian folklore. The character of Batraz may be connected to King Arthur.
The mother of the Narts was Satana who was renowned for her wisdom. The principal enemies of the Narts were the Terks or Turks but they also fought the vaigs, man eating ogres, and would ultimately do battle with heaven itself. Nart heroes include Soslan, Atsamaz, Hamytz and Uryzmag. The Narts had a great hall called Nykhas where they would feast and drink.
The Sarmatians shared an almost spiritual connection with their weapons, and so the life of Batraz revolves around his magic sword. While a young man, Batraz pulls his sword from the roots of a tree. This could be connected to the fact that Sarmatians were buried with their swords embedded in the earth or stone at the heads of their graves. Also the sword of Batraz plays an important part of his death, when he is fatally wounded by his archenemy, Sainag-Alder. Legend has it that Batraz tells his friend to throw his sword into the ocean. The warrior is reluctant at first, not only because of the quality of the sword but because of the spiritual connection it had with Batraz. But in the end the warrior did throw the sword and it was caught by a water goddess.
Connection to King Arthur
Authors C. Scott Littleton and Linda Malcor propose that Batraz and the legendary King Arthur share some similarities. Batraz has a magical sword that is cast into the ocean (probably the Black Sea) as he dies; in Arthurian myth, as Arthur is dying from the wounds his archenemy Mordred has inflicted on him, he calls his knight Bedivere to throw his sword Excalibur into a lake, where it was caught by the Lady of the Lake.
It has been suggested by Littleton, Malcor, and others, that Arthur was based on Lucius Artorius Castus, a Roman general who led an elite cavalry unit in Britain. The cavalry was possibly made up of heavy Sarmatian horsemen. Artorius (a possible Latin origin of the name Arthur) may have contributed to the character. Although Artorius left Britain his retired Sarmatian knights stayed and possibly spread the stories of Batraz to the Celto-Roman population.
In popular culture
- In the anime Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora, Batraz is the name of one of the Absolute Angels.
- Littleton, C. S. and Malcor, L., From Scythia to Camelot, Garland Publishing Inc., 2000 (paperback edition).