CARATACUS

Attested:  Cassius Dio 60, 19-22 Καρατακον;   Tacitus Annals 12,33 Carataci;   CARA on coins.
The name may have survived in Welsh texts as Caratauc and Caradoc.

WhereCaratacus was a son of Cunobelinus, based at Camulodunum.  He was a brother, and possible rival, of Togodumnus.  He led the resistance to Roman conquest, until he was finally defeated somewhere near the Welsh border.  He then escaped to the court of Queen Cartimandua, who handed him over to the Romans, who took him to Rome, but did not then kill him there.

Name origin:  The first element of Caratacus is often likened to Welsh caraf ‘to love’ and Latin carus ‘dear’, from PIE *ka- ‘to like, to desire’.  There seems to be no equally confident consensus explanation for the second element, but a variant of -tagus ‘ruler, commander’ seen in Prasutagus would make Caratacus mean ‘dear leader’.  The English words care (noun), from PIE *gar- ‘to call, to weep’, plus take (with no certain cognates outside the Germanic languages) offer an alternative translation of ‘cares-taker’ (not caretaker!).

Notes:  None of the usual Celticist writers seem to have offered a complete translation of Caratacus.  Can that really be true?

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Last Edited: 20 June 2017