The Celtic Literature Collective

Sidonius Apollinaris
To his friend Riothamus
c. A. D. 472


Sidonius Riothamo suo salutem.

1. Servatur nostri consuetudo sermonis: namque miscemus cum salutatione querimoniam, non omnino huic rei studentes, ut stilus noster sit officiosus in titulis, asper in paginis, sed quod ea semper eveniunt, de quibus loci mei aut ordinis hominem constat inconciliari, si loquatur, peccare, si taceat. sed et ipsi sarcinam vestri pudoris inspicimus, cuius haec semper verecundia fuit, ut pro culpis erubesceretis alienis.

2. gerulus epistularum humilis obscurus despicabilisque etiam usque ad damnum innocentis ignaviae mancipia sua Britannis clam sollicitantibus abducta deplorat. incertum mihi est an sit certa causatio; sed si inter coram positos aequanimiter obiecta discingitis, arbitror hunc laboriosum posse probare quod obicit, si tamen inter argutos armatos tumultuosos, virtute numero contubernio contumaces, poterit ex aequo et bono solus inermis, abiectus rusticus, peregrinus pauper audiri. vale.


[1] I WILL write once more in my usual strain, mingling compliment with grievance. Not that I at all desire to follow up the first words of greeting with disagreeable subjects, but things seem to be always happening which a man of my order and in my position can neither mention without unpleasantness, nor pass over without neglect of duty. Yet I do my best to remember the burdensome and delicate sense of honour which makes you so ready to blush for others' faults.

[2] The bearer of this is an obscure and humble person, so harmless, insignificant, and helpless that he seems to invite his own discomfiture; his grievance is that the Bretons are secretly enticing his slaves away. Whether his indictment is a true one, I cannot say; but if you can only confront the parties and decide the matter on its merits, I think the unfortunate man may be able to make good his charge, if indeed a stranger from the country unarmed, abject and impecunious to boot, has ever a chance of a fair or kindly hearing against adversaries with all the advantages he lacks, arms, astuteness, turbulences, and the aggressive spirit of men backed by numerous friends. Farewell.

According to the historian
Jordanes, Riothamus was said to be a "king of the Brittons." The name--actually "Rigothamus"--means "most-high king." He came to Gaul with 12,000 troops at the request of the Emperor. Now, is this man Arthur? He fits in the time period, though a little early.

Sidonius Apollinaris, Letters. Tr. O.M. Dalton (1915) pp. 63-86 ; Book III. Found at: Early Christian Writings.

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