Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Carausius: "The Expected One"

Whilst reading "The Reign And Coinage Of Carausius" by Percy H. Webb, F.R.N.S. and "Carausius, A Consideration Of The Historical, Archaeological And Numismatic Aspects Of His Reign" by Hugh P. G. Williams, I learnt about a type of coin that was issued in his reign.

The type in question has the reverse legend of "EXPECTATE VENI" with the personification of Britannia, standing to the left, shaking Carausius, standing to the right, by the hand.
An example of the "EXPECTATE VENI" type of Antoninianii issued by Carausius, this one found in the county of Hertfordshire, U.K. in 2005.
"EXPECTATE VENI" roughly translates as "The expected one came".
This seems to allude to a British legendary tradition of an "expected saviour or king" who would return to the island in the future.

Carausius, in the grand Roman tradition, made use of coins to carry propagandistic messages.

Yet this seems to refer to an established legendary tradition.

The legend of "King Arthur", of which the work by Geoffrey of Monmouth is what we associate the legend today as, has the Arthur as the "once and future king".

Knowing that this legend is a combination of Bardic tales and the then contemporary Chilvalric ideals of the 13th century, I wonder if this idea of a "once and future king" predates the supposed 6th century era for an "Arturius" and instead goes to the time of the Roman invasion and occupation of the island in the 1st century B.C.
Maybe a legend created in the aftermath of the defeat of the Iceni, Catuvellauni and Brigantes in the 1st century A.D. ?

What possible connection or right would Carausius have to connect himself with such a supposed "British nationalistic" legend?

Well Carausius was not an ethnic Italian, but an ethnic Menapian.

The Menapii were part of the Belgic tribe that had established itself in southern Britain before the Romans invaded, including before Julius Caesar invaded in 55 B.C.

And so, as a Celt and belonging to a tribe that had an ancient link to Britain, Carausius had a right to make such an association of himself with a supposed legend of a "once and future king".

The conclusion is that not only by looking at the coinage of Carausius do we learn about his mind set and the use of propaganda but also see the possible origins that went in toeh making of the legend of king Arthur by the 13th century.

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