Lucius Tiberius

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Lucius Tiberius (sometimes Lucius Hiberius, or just simply Lucius) is a Roman Procurator from Arthurian legend appearing first in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, though there are passages in Geoffrey's work that give him the title "Emperor". He is apparently acting for an Emperor Leo, though in most Post-Geoffrey versions Lucius is Emperor and Leo is omitted. The legendary Lucius appears in later, particularly English literature such as the Alliterative Morte Arthure and Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur. Roman Emperors defeated by King Arthur appear in the Old French Arthurian literature as well, notably in the Vulgate Cycle.

After Arthur conquers Gaul from the Tribune Frollo, word of his great deeds reaches Rome, and Lucius demands that Arthur pay him tribute and recognize him as his sovereign, as had been done by Britain since the time of Julius Caesar. Arthur refuses on the basis that the (mythical) British kings Belinus and Brennius and the British-born Constantine the Great had held Rome in their power before. In retaliation, Lucius gathers heathen armies from Spain and Africa and invades the land of Arthur's allies on the continent. Rome is supposed to be the seat of Christianity, but it is more foreign and corrupt than the courts of Arthur and his allies. Arthur and the other kings allied with him hurry across the English Channel to do battle with him. Arthur defeats Lucius and, according to Le Morte Darthur, becomes Western Roman Emperor.

Departing from Geoffrey's history in which Mordred is left in charge, Malory's Arthur leaves his court in the hands of Sir Constantine of Cornwall and an advisor. Arthur sails to Normandy to meet his cousin Hoel, but he finds a giant terrorizing the people from the holy island of Mont St. Michel. Arthur battles him alone, an act of public relations intended to inspire his knights. Arthur then fights Lucius and his armies defeat the Romans. He is crowned Emperor, a proxy government is arranged for the Roman Empire and Arthur returns to London where his queen welcomes him royally.

The figure of Lucius is clearly mythical, though whether Geoffrey took the character from 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.[1] 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".[2] Another theory, proposed by Roger Sherman Loomis, suggests that Lucius is a reflex of the god Lugh, under the name "Llwch Hibernus", which could morph into "Lucius Hiber(i)us".[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-09-22. Retrieved 2014-09-22.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Ashe, Geoffrey (1985). The Discovery of King Arthur, p. 94. London: Guild Publishing.
  3. ^ "Lancelot and Guinevere, by August Hunt". www.facesofarthur.org.uk. Retrieved 16 April 2018.