View Full Version : Albion or Britannia
August 6th, 2011, 11:41 PM
Not quite sure where to put this thread, but I'm asking for help so I suppose it goes here.
I'm a bit confused as to when the names 'Albion' and 'Britannia' were used. I am (very slowly and not very skillfully) trying to write a Roman TL, so what would they call all of the British Isles, collectively (as in, including Hibernia), when conquered? I know Caledonia is Scotland, Hibernia is Ireland, but what is England?
Any help is appreciated.
August 7th, 2011, 12:18 AM
This would probably go in Non-Political Chat for some actual responses. Now I am no expert (unlike a few people, I assume, on the board) but I would bet Albion would be the right name.
August 7th, 2011, 01:04 AM
I don't think a single name for Hibernia and Britannia would be something the Romans would do, honestly. "Albion" is a reference to the white cliffs, specifically Dover; it wouldn't apply to Ireland and only in the loosest possible sense to Scotland. I might go with Borealides, Northern Isles, if you must have a single name for both places - but I would expect them to stick with Britannia and Hibernia, and possibly continuing to distinguish Caledonia.
August 7th, 2011, 07:33 AM
The earliest mention of Britain is in the Periplus, a description of the coasts of western Europe by an unknown Greek from what is now Marseilles written before 500 B.C. It uses the name Albion.
Pytheas of Massalia wrote of his own voyage to the west in the 300s B.C. Both Albion and Britain are used in that book (Britain is variously given as as Bretani, Pretani and versions with a double 't'). Albion means the island of Britain; Bretani and its variants seem to encompass all the islands in the west. Ierni is his word for Ireland.
Britannia was the word used in Roman times. An allegorical figure of Britannia shows up on some Roman coins (essentially as political propaganda to denote Britain's subservience to Rome).
Alba came into use for Scotland at some time in the dark ages. I've seen it described as originally applying to the kingdom of the Southern Picts; the northern Pictish kingdom being Fortriu or something like that. I'm not sure how conclusive the evidence is for this.
The 'alb-' prefix is a very old Indo-European root. It shows up as in place names all over Europe (there are two Albanias, for a start, the one in the Balkans and another in the Caucasus), so it wouldn't be all that surprising if it had more than one meaning in Britain.
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