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Legend says that where Attila's horse passed grass did not grow again. For example, a variant of this quote can be found on Biographay.com's entry on the man.

What was the first use of this phrase or any of their variations?

Sometimes it's even atributed to Attila himself.

I want to know what historian/writer/chronicler recorded it for the first time.

closed as off-topic by Mark C. Wallace, SMS von der Tann, NSNoob, CGCampbell, Tom Au Jun 17 '16 at 0:12

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  • "Requests for trivia or basic historical facts are off-topic if they can be easily answered by looking up the relevant topic on Wikipedia. We're trying to complement common historical references, not duplicate them." – Mark C. Wallace, SMS von der Tann, NSNoob, CGCampbell, Tom Au
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    vote to close as trivial – Mark C. Wallace Jun 14 '16 at 19:50
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    We've had "origin/legitimacy of quote" questions before. With a link showing this is actually A Thing (which it took me no time at all to dig up and add), I'd vote to keep it open. – T.E.D. Jun 15 '16 at 13:56
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    Link doesn't work for me - never resolves (is the spelling correct?). I've provided the source for the quote, (The second google result when I copied the question to google; the first five all referenced the same event IIRC, the second was just the clearest). If the real question is, "did Attila say this?" then the question needs a rewrite. – Mark C. Wallace Jun 15 '16 at 16:10
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    There's no "relevant topic on Wikipedia" about this phrase. A search for "origin attila grass horse" on Google (without the quotes), brings this page as first result and not much else. – Brasidas Jun 17 '16 at 14:44
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    Also, I think it's a valid question. You can literally read this saying on every Attila bio out there (not sure in english but in spanish, you bet), and no one ever mentions the source. If this was really a thing Attila said it must have been recorded by someone somewhere, or Attila's words have been passed from fathers to sons since V century (not likely). – Brasidas Jun 17 '16 at 14:49
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I would call in to question the origin of this phrase. At first glance it seems highly romanticized - something that has been attributed to Attila (perhaps centuries) after his death by judicious use of poetic license.

One of the main primary sources for Attila is Priscus - who seems to actually have spent a great deal of time with Attila and is regarded as a rather reliable source. His most famous work - The History of Byzantium - has only survived in parts. This translation from Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum deals with part of his time spent with Attila, but there is no mention of these words in the text that I can find.

Other sources, such as Jordanes, who wrote Getica, also makes no mention of this quote.

A quick Google search hasn't turned up any answers as to who first attributed to Attila, but it doesn't appear to be coined by any of his contemporaries, or near contemporaries. It certainly sounds like something a civilized barbarian and the Scourge of God would say, but it's something I highly doubt he actually said. Makes a great story though.

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    In this particular form, It seems obviously a metaphor for what his armies did to settled farming communities. A fellow pastoralist would not consider it sensible, since his own pastoral people require grass for their own survival. For them, this would be like having the reverse-Midas touch; a horrible curse. So most likely whoever popularized this version of it would have been someone raised in a farming community of the kind his armies targeted. It wouldn't take much to transform it (back?) into a form that would be a metaphor a pastoralist might use though. – T.E.D. Jun 15 '16 at 13:50
  • I agree (I think. It's early here and I am still waking up). My first thought seeing it is that it's a romantic way of saying he destroyed what he fought - salted the earth, left death and destruction etc. – Thomo Jun 15 '16 at 19:44

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