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We could do with druids in parliament.

AS Brian Hayes says (WM letters, October 24) St Augustine of Hippo (AD354-430), the great theologian, did indeed come from North Africa.

However, St Augustine of Canterbury (fl. c AD560-605) the apostle to the English, was a Benedictine monk from Rome whose languages would have been Latin, Greek and his own Italian dialect.

Aramaic, which originated in the Levant (Syria, Lebanon and northern Israel) became the official language of the Persian Empire, which reached from Afghanistan to Egypt, but was finally defeated by Alexander the Great in 332 BC.

The Phoenicians (also from the Levant) migrated to Carthage after this, but they too were finally defeated, by Rome in 146 BC.

Both Aramaic and Phoenician were languages of trade while their empires flourished, but it is highly unlikely that, more than 500 years later, in the time of Arthur, there was a substantial Aramaic-speaking and writing population in Britain. The Phoenicians traded in Cornish tin, but they may have obtained this via Cornish exporters rather than visiting Cornwall themselves. Britons too have always been traders.

As to the Druids, our lack of genuine knowledge about them has left plenty of room for imagination, as Iolo Morganwg and others were quick to see. However, it was said that if a druid stood between two armies, the fighting stopped at once. We could do with a few druids today, not least in the Houses of Parliament.

SR Jones Port Talbot

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 27, 2018
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