Descents from Mythical Heroes and Gods

Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve, ancestors found at the top of many western family trees, especially aristocratic and royal ones. But why?

As we trace back to the earliest royal lines, odd things start happening. Normal, historically-attested humans give way to semi- or completely-mythical heroes, and they in turn were descended from gods.

What was going on? Why did so many genealogical lines depart from human history and blossom into the supernatural?

This is a part of the subject which all experienced genealogists know about, but few understand. Yet to me this is the most fascinating part of genealogy, and takes us to the heart of our love-affair with the subject.

I have written about this in my book Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors.  The book includes the story of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar’s obsession with their descent from the heroes of antiquity, and explains how such beliefs arose and why they have been so important to peoples throughout history.

The book also looks at the most ancient British pedigrees, in Gaelic Ireland and Scotland (where kings derived their ancestry from Heber and Heremon, the sons of Milesius, who was in turn said to be a descendant of Adam and Eve); amongst the Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans (who believed their kings were descended from the Norse gods Freya and Odin, who were later in turn thought to be descended from the kings of ancient Troy) and in Wales – the survivors of the Romano-Britons, who derived their kings from the wledigs, such as Coel Hen and Cunedda, and thence from Beli Mawr, the father of Cassivellaunus, and his enemy Bran the Blessed, and then derived them from Brutus of Troy, great grandson of Aeneas, who was in turn the son of Aphrodite.

My books Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors provides the first truly lucid explanation of these stories.