THE STORY OF PRINCE GATHELUS
Once upon a time there lived in Greece a king who had
a son called Gathelus. Prince Gathelus was very hand
some and brave, but he was wild, and gay, and wicked, and
he caused his father much sorrow and trouble. Over and
over again the King punished and imprisoned his son for
his evil deeds. But in spite of all his father could do,
Gathelus grew no better but rather worse. At last the
King had no more patience with him, and banished him
from the land.
When Gathelus knew that he was banished, he took
a ship, and gathering as many of his friends as would come
with him, he sailed away to a far country called Egypt.
When they arrived in Egypt, Pharaoh, the ruler of
the land, received them very kindly, for he was at that
time fighting great battles, and he hoped that these gay
young knights would help him against his enemies.
This, Gathelus and his friends did, and when Pharaoh
had, with their aid, defeated his enemies, he rewarded
them richly and gave them a city in which they could
live together. Gathelus alone was not content with the
rewards, for he had seen Pharaoh’s beautiful daughter
Scota, and he longed to marry her. And as Pharaoh
could refuse nothing to the gallant Prince who had freed
him from his enemies, he gave his consent, and Scota and
Gathelus were married.
For many years Gathelus lived in Egypt, growing rich
and great, and ruling over his people, who became more
and more numerous as the years went by. And Gathelus
loved his wife so much that he commanded that in honour
of her name Scota, all his people should be called Scots.
But when Pharaoh began to be unkind to the Children
of Israel, and terrible plagues fell upon the land, Gathelus
wished to live there no longer. So he gathered a great
fleet of ships, and with his wife and children, and all his
soldiers and servants, and a great company of people, he
went on board and sailed far away across the sea in search
of another country.
After many storms and adventures Gathelus and his
company arrived at last on the shores of Spain. They
had been tossed and buffeted about by winds and waves
for many days. They had eaten all the food which they
had brought with them, and they were nearly starving.
So they were very glad to be safe on land once more.
But the people of Spain were not glad to see these
strangers, and they made ready to fight them. Gathelus
too made ready to fight, and a fierce battle followed in
which the Spaniards were beaten.
But Gathelus and his Scots wished to live at peace
with the people of the land, and although neither could
speak the language of the other, the Scots found means
to make the Spaniards understand that they did not wish
to fight against them or to hurt them in any way. So
the two nations became friends, and the Spaniards gave a
part of their country to the Scots, where for many years
they lived in peace.
As the years went on, the Scots grew to be still richer
and greater than they had been in Egypt, and Gathelus,
THE STORY OF PRINCE GATHELUS 8
who had been so wild and wicked when he was young,
became a wise and good King. But when the Spaniards
saw that the Scots had become a powerful nation, they
were once more afraid of them, and they resolved to drive
them out of the country.
Then both the Scots and the Spaniards gathered their
mighty men, and there was a great and terrible battle,
with awful slaughter on both sides. But in the end the
Scots won the victory. Then once more peace was made,
and the two nations agreed again to live side by side as
But when Gathelus saw how the Scots still went on
growing richer and greater day by day, he feared that the
Spaniards would again become angry and want to fight.
So he began to think how this might be avoided. At last,
hearing of a Green Island which lay in the sea not far
distant, he resolved to send some of his people there.
Gathering a great number of ships, he filled them with
soldiers, and making his two sons, who were called
Hiberus and Himecus, captains, he sent them away to
seek for the Green Island.
For some days the ships sailed upon the sea seeking
the Green Island in vain. But at last they came to it
and landed there. The Scots soon found out that there
were very few people on the Green Island, and those who
were there were gentle and kindly, and had no wish to
Hiberus and Himecus therefore, instead of fighting,
tried to make friends with the people. This they easily
did, for the inhabitants of the Green Island, seeing that
the Scots meant them no harm, welcomed them gladly.
So the Scots settled in the Green Island and taught the
people many useful things. They showed them how to
sow and plough and reap, how to build houses, how to
spin, and in many ways how to live more comfortably.
Then presently, in honour of Hiberus, who was their
Prince, they changed the name of the island to Hibernia.
The island is still sometimes called by that name, although
we generally call it Ireland.
For many years the Scots lived in Hibernia. Gathelus
died, and Hiberus died, and after them ruled many kings.
At last, when many hundreds of years had passed, a prince
called Rothsay sailed over to the islands which lay opposite
Hibernia, and took possession of them. The island upon
which he first landed he called Rothesay, and to this day
there is a town on the island of Bute called by that name.
The Scots, finding that these islands were fertile, and
good for breeding cattle, sailed over from Hibernia in
greater and greater numbers, bringing their wives and
children with them. At last they filled all the little
islands, and some of them landed in the north of the big
island, which was then called Albion.
After many, many years, the north part of Albion
came to be called the land of Scots, or Scotland, just
as the south part was called the land of Angles, or
Some people think that this story of Prince Gathelus
is a fairy tale. But this at least is true, that in far-off
days when people spoke of Scotia, they meant Ireland,
and when they spoke of Scots, they meant the people who
lived in Ireland, and Scotland took its name from the
people who came from Ireland and settled in Scotland.
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