“The inhabitants of the promontory called Belerion were more civilised…”
Diodorus Siculus and Cornish Historians
This proposed paper takes as its start point Diodorus Siculus’ Book V Chapter 22 and intends to discuss the passage and its use by several subsequent historians.
The paper will discuss the translation and interpretation of the passage. It will look especially at areas of ambiguity and sections that have aroused scholarly debate, for example the location of Ictis. This paper will be interested in the use of the passage by historians of Cornwall especially those who were initially from the county and their debate on these subjects, specifically it will include discussion of William Copeland Borlase.
This section of the text, which is part of Diodorus’ quite extensive discussion of the island of Britain, primarily discusses the tin trade. The passage is often cited in discussions of the general history of Britain and Cornwall as evidence for an established and flourishing civilisation and trade relations with the classical world. It is the general hypothesis of this paper that Cornish writers have particularly used this piece to further their ideas of nationalism with little regard to the problems of interpretation.This paper is part of my research in progress; it represents one thread of a general examination of Cornwall’s relationship to the Classical World.
My research specifically looks at primary evidence and how the19th century nationalist movement in Cornwall appropriated, ignored or invented evidence as part of its self-justifications. The end of this paper will briefly look at how Diodorus fits into this research and what further work might be done.