Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 July 2022
The central chapters of this book focus on the development and growth of insular origin legends over time by studying a key subset of themes that came to take on particular significance within this corpus. Tracing the expansion and increasing centrality of these themes over time allows us to witness the influence that individual texts within the corpus of material containing early insular origin legends had on the development of these legends themselves. Chapter Two focuses on exile, first tracing the influence of the biblical myth of Exodus and the classical legend of the Aeneid on early medieval authors before examining contemporary evidence for exile in early medieval legal and historical texts. The chapter argues that as the corpus of insular works containing origin narratives grew and developed over time, the concept of exile took on central importance. Arising from Gildas’s foundational description of Britain as an island on the outermost fringes of the known world, the centrality of exile to insular origin stories grew after the ninth-century Historia Brittonum introduced the influential legend that Britain’s founding ancestor was Brutus, an exile from Troy. From there, the concept of exile gained increasing thematic importance within insular origin narratives.