Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
The Irish version of the Historia Britonum of Nennius (Author: unknown)

Historia 18

On the next day the army was assembled, that the boy might be killed. And the boy was brought before the king, and he said to the king, ‘Wherefore have they brought me to thee?’ said he. And the king said, ‘To slay thee,’ said he, ‘and to butcher thee, and to consecrate this fortress with thy blood.’ The boy said, ‘Who instructed thee in this?’ ‘My Druids,’ said the king. ‘Let them be called hither,’ said the boy. And the Druids came. The boy said to them, ‘Who told you that this fortress could not be built until it were first consecrated with my blood?’ And they answered not. ‘I know,’ said he; ‘the person who sent me to you to accuse you, is he who induced you to tell this lie; howbeit, O king,’ said he, ‘I will reveal the truth to thee; and I ask of thy Druids, first, what is concealed beneath this floor before us?’ The Druids said, ‘We know not,’ said they. ‘I know,’ said he; ‘there is a lake of water there; let it the floor be examined and dug.’ It was dug, and the lake was found there. ‘Ye prophets of the king,’ said the boy, ‘tell what is in the middle of the lake?’ ‘We know not,’ said they. ‘I know,’ said he, ‘there are two large chests of wood face to face, and let them be brought out of it.’ It was examined, and they were brought forth. ‘And O Druids,’ said the boy, ‘tell what is between those two


wooden chests?’ ‘We know not,’ said they. ‘I know,’ said he; ‘there is a sail-cloth there.’ And it was brought forth, and the sail was found rolled up between the two wooden chests. ‘Te11, O ye learned,’ said the boy, ‘what is in the middle of that cloth?’ And they answered not, for they understood not. ‘There are two maggots there,’ said he, ‘namely, a red maggot and a white maggot. Let the cloth be unfolded.’ The sail-cloth was unfolded, and there were two maggots asleep in it. And the boy said, ‘See now what the maggots wiIl do.’ They advanced towards each other, and commenced to rout, cut, and bite each other, and each maggot drove the other alternately to the middle of the sail and again to its verge. They did this three times. The red maggot was at first the feeble one, and was driven to the brink of the cloth; but the beautiful maggot was finally the feeble one, and fled into the lake, and the sail immediately vanished. The boy asked the Druids: ‘Tell ye,’ said he, ‘what doth this wonder reveal?’ ‘We know not,’ said they. ‘I will reveal it to the king,’ said the boy. ‘The lake is the kingdom of the whole world, and the sail is thy kingdom, O king. And the two maggots are the two powers, namely, thy power in conjunction with the Britons, and the power of the Saxons. The red maggot, which was first expelled the kingdom, represents thy power; and the white maggot, which occupied the whole sail except a little, represents the power of the Saxons, who have taken the island of Britain, except a small part, until ultimately driven out by the power of the Britons. But do thou, O king of Britain, go away from this fortress, for thou hast not power to erect it, and search the island of Britain and thou shalt find thine own fortress.’ The king said, ‘What is thy name, O boy,’ said he. The youth replied, ‘Ambrose,’ said he, ‘is my name.’ (He was Embros Gleutic, king of Britain.) ‘Tell


thy race,’ said the king. ‘My father, said he, was a Roman consul, and this shall be my fortress.’ Then Gortigern left the fortress to Ambrose, and also the government of all the west of Britain, and went with his Druids to the north of the island of Britain, that is, to the land which is called Gunnis, and built a fortress there, which city is named Caer Gortigern.