But amongst them is one of the most important documents from the ancient world that could have come into our possession. It is set down in chapters 17 and 18 of Historia Brittonum (for the Latin text of these chapters, with translation, see Appendix 5 of this book), and it records the descent of a considerable number of early European nations. It is laid out as a conventional genealogy in what follows.Genealogies. They’re popular with the Bible crowd, since the Bible is kind of obsessed with them. The thing about genealogies is that they seem like the sort of thing that would be extremely accurate. I mean, I know who my father is and he knows who his father was (well, after a fashion, as my grandfather didn’t actually beget my father, but the point stands on the general principle of the whole thing) and so on. But, really, if we go back a few generations it’s hard to tell with a lot of families. Moreover, there’s a certain incentive to lie. If your great great great great grandfather was a liar and scoundrel, do you really want people to remember that? Moreover, if someone who is far removed from the original family writes the genealogy can we really know that it’s an accurate account? For that matter, if the writer is working with legend instead of myth, can we even believe that he’s interested in an accurate account? These are questions to keep in mind as we move forward.
It is instructive to compare Nennius' Table of European Nations (as I like to call it) with Appendix 3 of this book, the genealogy of the nations of Japheth as recorded in Genesis. Nennius' source and Genesis are in remarkable agreement with one another, yet Nennius adds details that are not included in Genesis, for the natural and obvious reason that the Genesis account is necessarily brief. Gomer (1), for example, is merely cited by Nennius as being the ancestor of the Gauls, Nennius omitting entirely the names of Gomer's three immediate descendants, Ashchenaz, Riphath and Togarmah that are included in Genesis. (Would he have omitted these if he were merely copying straight from Genesis itself?) He cites Magog (2) as the ancestor of both the Scythians and the Goths, and Madai (3) as the founder of the Medes. So far so good. But it is from this point that the document from which Nennius was working, shows one or two tell-tale signs of the (albeit remarkably little) distortion that it has suffered in transmission, whether oral or written.Yuh huh. Let’s take a look at Cooper’s version of Nennius’s genealogy (in which he uses an inappropriate version of Nennius’s genealogy that omits Longobardus from the sons of Alarus and then points out the problem, which seems kind of silly, especially since Cooper doesn’t bother to say where he got his version of chapters 17 and 18 of Historia Brittonum, but, hey, it’s Appendix 5, so it must be right). I have problems with this entire idea. Nennius claimed “[t]he first man that dwelt in Europe was Alanus, with his three sons, Hisicion, Armenon, and Neugio. Hisicion had four sons, Francus, Romanus, Alamanus, and Bruttus…[f]From Hisicion arose four nations__the Franks, the Latins, the Germans, and Britons.”*** I’m going to have to call bullshit on this. For one thing, the word “german” was a word given by the Romans to the people of what we’d now think of as Northern Germany, which may or may not have come from their Celtic neighbors to the south. It doesn’t come from some guy’s name. Similarly, the term “Britons” was bestowed upon the inhabitants of the southern part of the island of Britain by external sources, probably the Gauls at first, but then solidified by the Romans. It was most definitely not a bastardization of the name “Brutus,” which is also not the case for reasons I’ve already covered several times. Moreover, you can’t well go with the legend that Rome was founded by descendants of Aeneas, then switch horses mid stream and associate the Roman people with some dude named Romanus. I mean, seriously. Everyone knows that Romulus and Remus were thrown in to the river to drown because the king feared that they’d take back a throne he’d worked really, really hard to steal but they were rescued by a she-wolf and raised by her. Then they started a city and Romulus killed Remus over the issue of naming rights, mostly because I’m given to understand that Romulus refused to fork over $63m in order to make sure that “The City of Rome Presented by Romulus Wolfson and Associates” was emblazoned on the Jumbotron in the forum. Then, of course, Romulus went on to found a vast star empire that held Remus’s descendants in subjugation until the Remans built a giant warship that was finally destroyed for reasons I don’t fully understand by the USS Enterprise. Then I think they went back in time to destroy the god Vulcan, probably because their father was Mars and Vulcan owed Mars money. But, honestly, it all gets a little confusing, especially since Leonard Nimoy shows up, like, everywhere in the Romulan and Vulcan legends, but everyone else is pretty much interchangeable. Historians aren’t sure, but modern scholarship indicates that there was no single James Tiberius Kirk, but instead he was an amalgamation of two different historical figures. However, what we do know is that to be a “Roman,” historically speaking, has meant “someone from the city of Rome.” Rome was founded by one of the Latin tribes of central Italy, not some guy named Romanus. That’s just silly. Cooper demonstrates the extent of his credulity and ability to make shit up when he tries to further prove the veracity of Nennius’s genealogy of Europeans.
For example, and as we shall note in Appendix 3, Tubal (4) was the father of a people known to the Assyrians as the Tabali, whose land, Tabal, (present-day Georgia in what used to be the USSR, whose modern capital Tblisi perpetuates the name of Tubal), lay adjacent to that of the biblical Togarmah, (Assyr. Tegarama).This is, um, this is wrong. The area known as Tabal was in the area Xenophon passed through on his way up country and was one of the successor kingdoms following the Hittite Empire. It’s in Anatolia, closer to the Mediterranean than the Black Sea, far removed from modern day Georgia. Moreover, “Tbilisi” has nothing to do with Tubal, Tabal, or Tabali. It’s a reference to the nearby hot springs, which makes a certain amount of sense, especially if you know that Tbilisi was only founded about 1500 years ago. But, hey, it shares, like, three whole letters with “Tabal,” so that’s good enough for Bill Cooper. Cooper then adds:
From Nennius, however, comes the added detail that from Tubal came the Iberian, the Spanish and the Italian races. And this receives at least partial support from Josephus, who wrote some seven hundred years before Nennius, that Tubal was the father of the Thobelites, known. as Iberians in his own day. (5) And as Josephus makes no mention of either the Spanish or Italian races, nor yet the: [sic, I suppose] descent of the Goths from Magog, Nennius was clearly not copying from him.I find this interesting. Nennius skipped directly from Gomer to the Gauls, which to Cooper proves that he wasn’t just copying the Bible. To me if it proves anything it proves that Nennius wasn’t interested in the descendants of Gomer since, y’know, he was talking about the Britons. Then Nennius pops in a reference to Tubal as the father of the Iberians, which Josephus doesn’t mention, and that proves that Nennius wasn’t making this stuff up. Okay, let’s think about this for a moment. Cooper puts Tubal as the father of the Iberians, Spanish, and Italians. He also puts Tubal’s city in the Republic of Georgia. First off, the Spanish and the Iberians would have been the same people. Kinda. The confusion here is once again the fault of the Romans. They referred to the people we’d think of as Spanish and Portuguese today as the Iberians, since it was a generic term for people who lived on the Iberian Peninsula (ergo, there was no Iberian tribe in Spain, and certainly no Iberian race). They also referred to a group of people on the exact opposite end of the Empire as Iberians for reasons that are completely opaque to me (I'm given to understand they called their country Kartli and the people who live there are known as the Karteli to this day, so chances are they were called something similar back when the Romans were giving them completely different names). Either way, for that to have made any sense, Tubal would have had to have three sons who managed to live in a range from modern day Spain to the area between the Black and Caspian Seas. That’s a little nuts. Interestingly enough, Nennius doesn’t seem to reference any people from the Iberian Peninsula. He also doesn’t seem to acknowledge the existence of any people group who could be called “Celts.” Ever more interestingly, he doesn’t seem to Gaels or the Picts, which is a bit surprising, since the classical divisions of the British Isles held that the Britons held the southern half of the main island, the Picts Scotland, and the Gaels Ireland and a bit of Scotland. Now, in Bill Cooper’s world I should take Nennius’s lack of reference to any of these tribes as proof that he is, in fact, accurate in his history. I don’t think I’ll be doing that. But let’s get back to the Italians and Iberians. This attempt by Cooper to explain Tubal completely undermines his entire thesis. He claims that the Romans and Lombards came from Alanus. He also claims that the “Italians” came from Tubal. Nennius, similarly, claims the Latins and Longobardi, of which the latter is synonymous with Lombards and the former is, for all intents and purposes, synonymous with Romans. They lived in Italy. But Tubal was the father of the Italians, so how in the world did that happen? Of course this is further complicated by the fact that the Lombards didn’t get to Italy until around 550 CE. Before that they were from up around Germany. They also weren’t known as Longobards yet. They were then kicked out by the Franks, who were also supposedly descendants of Hisicion, but who were, as so many managed to be, named by the Romans, predated the Lombards by a couple centuries, and, in turn, probably showed up some time after the Romans, but we really don’t know. This is also why we can’t trust genealogies, at least when they’re used in the way Cooper is using them. They look nice and neat when they’re reduced to a collection of names and lines. That neatness, however, is deceptive. Those little lines conveniently hide the fact that there were centuries between the foundation of those particular tribes. They also conveniently hide the fact that most tribes received names from the Romans and those are the names by which we know them. Those same tribes didn’t call themselves by their Roman names. For that matter, some of those tribes didn’t even exist. They were just convenient divisions for the Roman Empire to use. Furthermore, Nennius was using Biblical genealogies to fill out his own. So of course his genealogies matched up with the ones in the Bible. The idea, furthermore, that random bits of added information make the sources somehow more reliable is, at best, laughable. ---------------------- *It should be no surprise, but the various qualities of the whisk(e)y used have an impact on the amount necessary to get the desired taste. My first experiments were with Dewar’s Special Reserve, which is a rather strong whisky. I’m currently using Jameson’s, which is smoother and more mellow. Speaking of which, Seneca, my favorite Irish rock band to hang out with (this to differentiate them from The Saw Doctors, who are my favorite Irish rock band), were back in Chicagoland on Friday. It was for their second-to-last show on their six month US tour. Bren, the guitarist, was on crutches. Lucky, the drummer, was in a wrist brace. This is the sign of a good tour. Also, during the show Yvonne broke a string. On her bass. Which I’m told pretty much never happens. She’s done it twice on the tour. Also, I’m going to see Pearl Jam tomorrow. This is, on the general principle of the whole thing, awesome. However, the guys from Seneca told me they’d be hanging out on Monday and having a few celebratory drinks. So I think I’m the only person who’ll go to the Pearl Jam show tomorrow thinking, “Damn, I could be hanging out with a crazy Irish rock band very few people have ever heard of.” **Microsoft really wants me to call it a tour de force. Microsoft don’t know what’s going on… ***http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/nennius-full.html. Do an in-text search for “17.”