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The Roman King Arthur? (Hardback)

Lucius Artorius Castus

Ancient History > Rome & the Roman Provinces Military

By Tony Sullivan
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 240
Illustrations: 32 mono
ISBN: 9781399084024
Published: 8th June 2022



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The entertaining 2004 film, King Arthur, introduced many to the relatively recent theory that the legend of King Arthur is linked to a Roman officer of the second century, Lucius Artorius Castus. It is claimed a group of Sarmatian ‘knights’ posted to Britain around the same time lent some of their traditions and myths to the later legend. To support this theory it has been suggested Artorius was a legionary commander, governor and fought battles in the north of Britain. Additionally the Sarmatian auxiliaries brought their families with them, numbering up to 20,000, and remained for several centuries.

This book demonstrates that Artorius Castus was not a legionary commander or governor and there is no evidence he fought battles in Britain. It also shows that the Romans did not allow the Sarmatians settlement rights. A comparison between alleged Sarmatian myths and Arthurian tales shows there is no link between the two. The conclusion is that this theory is a modern myth.

Instead it shows the career of Lucius Artorius Castus was fascinating enough without tenuous links to twelfth century legends. As a Roman officer he served from Judea, Syria, and the Danube to Britain, across a tumultuous period of Roman history. Evidence for each option for his timeframe is presented to the reader. A Severan date is offered to rival the previous Antonine suggestion. The book finishes with an investigation into the end of Roman Britain, the early Germanic settlement and a possible historical Arthur.

Full review available at:

Russ Lockwood, Historical Miniatures Gaming Society

Students of King Arthur will want to read Sullivan’s conclusions and take note, while the rest of us will just enjoy a thought-provoking read.

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Beating Tsundoku

An interesting book which adds a lot to the Arthur theory debate, well researched and with lots of tables, pictures and maps to assist the reader.

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

A fun, fascinating, informative and thought-provoking read from cover to cover, "The Roman King Arthur?: Lucius Artorius Castus" by Tony Sullivan will have a particular appeal to readers with an interest in the Roman period, post-Roman Britain and the possibilities for an identified historical Arthur whose deeds would lay the groundwork for later legends and embellishments.

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Midwest Book Review

More evidence that King Arthur was based on fact, a Roman general, Lucius Artorius Castus. For me, it doesn't really matter who the legend is based on, only that the legend exists. I'm perfectly happy to believe he was based on a Roman war leader, and Tony Sullivan's fascinating book is really good.

Books Monthly

I'm always interesting in reading historical books about King Arthur and I appreciated this one as it's well written and well researched.
I think it's an interesting theory and this is an interesting read.

NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I don't want to give away the conclusions reached by Mr Sullivan. I do however think the amount of common sense evidence given for his beliefs merit more observation. The story of Arthur is so ingrained in the West that IMO it has to have some factual basis. That said this book will make you think again. Very well written with explanations and why the author expresses himself as he does. I read this book quickly as I have never seen the task of Arthur being given such a sequential and thorough going over. Excellent for historians or those interested in Arthur and the long ago past.

NetGalley, Patrick Carmen

About Tony Sullivan

Tony Sullivan lives in South East London with his wife and three children. His first book, King Arthur: Man or Myth? was published in 2020. Three further books followed in 2022: The Battles of King Arthur investigating the famous battle list from the Historia Brittonum; The Real Gladiator, looking at the historical reality behind the 2000 film; and The Roman King Arthur?: Lucius Artorius Castus, which dismantles the Artorius-Arthur theory and places this historical Roman officer in the reigns of Severus and Caracalla.

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