He has been known as "Attila The Hun" for centuries; however, who originally described Attila as "Attila The Hun"? Does this description date back to Roman times or was it invented during a later historical period? If so, which period?

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    Considering Modern English is only about 500 years old, the literal phrase "Attila the Hun" has to be younger than that. For other languages, such as Latin, you will have to specify what the precise equivalent is that you are interested in. – Pieter Geerkens Nov 17 '17 at 7:15
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    The specific formulation is a peculiarity of English chronicling. The same equation was applied to barbarian leaders in general, such as "Ermanaric the Ostrogoth", "Alaric the Goth", "Sigebert the Frank", and "Gundicarius the Burgundian". Only "Attila the Hun" survives in the current popular consciousness, though. – Semaphore Nov 17 '17 at 7:54
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    @Semaphore It occurs to me that 'Asterix le Gauloise' is an example of the same formulation, but not in English ;-) And on the other hand, 'Attila the Hun' could be argued not to be a name at all. His name was Attila, and he was a Hun, in an age before surnames. Since both Attila and Hun are words attested in the contemporary records (albeit separately), he was always Attila the Hun, just as I an Fred2 the European, whether or not anybody calls me that. – fred2 Nov 17 '17 at 17:31

The precise wording Attila the Hun in English has been in use for at least a couple of centuries but its use in academic writing (at least) was somewhat inconsistent until fairly recently.

The earliest use of Attila the Hun I've found is in William Julius Mikel's introduction to his 1776 translation of The Lusiad by Luis de Camoes. In the same sentence, he also uses Alaric the Goth. The peom itself, though, only uses Attila.

Edward Gibbon used it in volume 12 of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in the 1789 (new edition, but it probably also appears in an earlier edition). However, whereas Attila King of the Huns appears 15 times, Attila the Hun is used only once (out of a total of 39 references to Attila).

Attila the Hun also appears in a 1915 translation of Jordanes, but not in J. B. Bury's The Invasion of Europe by the Barbarians from 1928, nor in E.A. Thompson's History of Attila and the Huns from 1948.

Recent publications use Attila the Hun consistently, often in the title; see, for example, historical works by John Man (2010), Philip Matyszak (2009) and Christopher Kelly (2008).

There are, of course, numerous references to Attila the Hun by non-historians and in popular culture, one of the best known being Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun by Wess Roberts, originally published in 1985. The calypso musician Raymond Quevedo went by the name Atilla the Hun (no, this not a typo - he used one 't' and double 'll') from at least the 1930s, maybe as early as 1911.

Concerning the popular (but basically nonsensical) expression to the right of Attila the Hun, this site says:

The phrase is often associated with Arizona Republican Senator Barry Goldwater (1909-1998), but it is not clear when he first used it. The “Ivan the Terrible” version is cited in print from 1961, the “Genghis Khan” version from 1965, and the “Attila the Hun” version from 1969.

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