The Legend of King Alaric

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The Legend of King Alaric

Rich in history and mysterious charm, we tell you the legend of King Alaric.

The legend of King Alaric, king of the Visigoths, animates the folk tales of Cosenza for at least 1600 years. It is said that he was buried right at the confluence of the rivers that run through the city, the Crati and the Busento. In 410 AD, he was returning from the siege of Rome with an enormous booty: from the city Caput Mundi he stole treasures of all kinds, from Moses’ Menorah to the gold of Emperor Titus. According to the literary tradition of the Goths, these riches would be buried with their king and his horses in an inaccessible place: the bed of the Busento river in Cosenza, where the barbarian died suddenly while heading to Africa.

The Strategic Plan

The ambitious idea was to invade with a substantial fleet first Sicily and then the northern coasts of Africa. On the journey south, he encountered the tribes of the Bruttians who had erected their capital in a city they called Consentia (modern-day Cosenza). The decision of the locals was not to resist the passage and to open the gates. The mistake was enormous, so much so that the barbarians, seeing that the people of Consentia were hospitable, burst into the city, killing men and women with the sword. Then they plundered house by house leaving rubble.

An Immortal Secret

Alaric, however, did not reckon with malaria which, like his violent warriors, burst into the city that he had just razed to the ground. It did not even spare the cruel leader who left his work of overthrowing the Empire unfinished. Legend has it that, to dig the tomb, the river was temporarily diverted and that all the slaves involved in the work were killed to prevent them from revealing the exact location of the booty. A mystery that continues to fascinate and will probably remain so forever.

Source of Inspiration

The legend of Alaric inspired the work of August Graf von Platen “Das Grab im Busento” with a romantic representation of the death and burial of the King. The poem was then translated into Italian by Giosuè Carducci with the title “La tomba del Busento”. In the 18th century, Monsignor Capecelatro financed a research campaign at the confluence of the rivers to find the immense treasure. Even the Nazis with Himmler went in search of the booty descending into Calabria without finding anything. Recently, however, with the reclamation of the river, research started with drones, ground-penetrating radar, remote sensing, and geophysical surveys. The goal was to identify the correct archaeological site. In 2016, however, the government said no to excavations due to lack of evidence. 

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