1 II



S..D. ByW. of The Mythology of the British JUDAISM THE RELIGION OF ANCIENT ROME. M. By JAMES AU. By EDWARD CLODD. THE ANCIENT RELIGION OF JAPAN.G. THE PSYCHOLOGICAL ORIGIN AND NATURE OF LIGION. of the Department of Oriental Printed Books and MSS. ANWYL. By ISRAEL ABRAHAMS.R. Lecturer on Ethnology at bridge University. By Dr. By Professor Dictionary. EARLY BUDDHISM..G. Cambridge. DAVIDS.I. By Professor J. RE- . L. The Kehgion of the Author of The Story of Creation. BARNETT. SLACK. By S. M.ANSON PICTON. M. B. Professor of Welsh at University College. THE RELIGION OF BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA. Author By Professor GILES. THE RELIGION OF ANCIENT MEXICO AND PERU. THE RELIGION OF ANCIENT EGYPT.R. By SCANDINAVIAN RELIGION. MAGIC AND FETISHISM.. F.RELIGIONS: ANCIENT ANIMISM. of PANTHEISM. F. Professor of Chinese in the University THE RELIGION OF ANCIENT GREECE. By WILLIAM A. LL. late of H. Author of Jewish Life in the Middle Agts. ASTON.A. By STANLEY A. Professor at M'Gill University. C. to Study of Greek Religion. By Professor W. LL. By JANE HARRISON. Author of Ethics of Islam. By LEWIS SPENCE. SHINTO. COOK. Author of Prolegomena Lecturer at Newnham College. By CHARLES SQUIRE. FLINDERS PETRIE.M.E.M. Aberystwyth. Cam- By THEOPHILUS G. late Secretary of The Royal HINDUISM.S. of Judicature in Bengal. late of the British Museum. H. By Professor RHYS Asiatic Society. C... A. CRAIGIE. Universe. By CYRIL BAILEY. of Cambridge. Joint Editor of the Oxford English CELTIC RELIGION. M.A. AND MODERN.D. Dr. D. THE RELIGIONS OF ANCIENT CHINA. EARLY CHRISTIANITY. C. LEUBA.. Lecturer in Talmudic Literature in Cambridge University.'s High Court The Spirit of Islam and The ISLAM. By AMEER ALI SYED. THE MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN AND IRELAND. PINCHES. Author Islands. THE RELIGION OF ANCIENT PALESTINE. HADDON.A. British Museum.



S. at most. or. 2061357 . that as yet little-known store of Celtic tradition which reflects the religious conceptions of our earliest articulate ancestors. its limits compel the writer to dogmatise. search. It merely aims at calling the attention of the general reader to the mythology of our own country. Naturally. to touch but very briefly upon disputed points. But he has based his work upon the studies of the leading Celtic scholars. and to refrain from putting forward any suggestions of his own. and he believes that the reader may safely accept it as in line with the latest reC.FOREWORD THIS book does not profess in any way to supplement the volume upon Celtic Religion little already contributed to this series. to ignore many fascinating side-issues.




and Frigedabg. of Thunor Frig. I A . Saeter(n)esdaeg is adapted from the Latin. Saturni dies. and of of Tiw.THE MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BEITAIN AND IRELAND CHAPTER ' I THE CELTS AND THEIR MYTHOLOGY THE Mythology title of Ancient Britain and Ireland.' This will possibly at first sight suggest to the reader who has been brought up to consider himself essentially an Anglo-Saxon only a few dim memories (Thor). those Saxon deities who have to us the names of four of the days of bequeathed 1 our week. and. Wddnesdteg. of Wdden. Yet the traces of the English gods are comparatively few in Britain. Thunresdseg (later. Thurresdseg). and are not found at all in Ireland. they can be better studied in the Teutonic countries to which remote outpost of Saxons in Britain their influence. at any rate. the Preceding by many centuries were the Celts the Ancient this ' they were native than in Britons 1 ' who themselves possessed a rich mytho- Tiwesdffig.

Staffordshire. Leicestershire. Rutland. Nicholson. Somerset. 1 Monmouth- Keltic Researches: Studies in the History and Distribution of the Ancient Ooidelic Language and Peoples. in the stories of his knights.' he says. that Cheshire. and part of Sussex. In such familiar names as Ludgate. 2 .' called after a legendary good king Lud' who was once the Celtic god Lludd. Warwickshire. the tradition of which. Wiltshire. M . Cambridgeshire. London. some of whom are but British divinities in disguise. though obscured. in the preface to his Keltic Researches. ' West Yorkshire. To what extent the formerly prevalent belief as to the practical extinction of the Celtic inhabitants of our islands at the hands of the Saxons has been reconsidered of late years may be judged from the dictum of one of the most recent students of the subject. Worcestershire. 1904. by Edward Williams Byron Nicholson. we have fragments of the Celtic mythology handed down tenaciously by Englishmen who had quite as much of the Celt as of the Saxon in their blood. A. Shropshire. has ' never been quite ' lost. that Lancashire. and in certain of the wilder legends of our early saints. in Arthur and popular folk and fairy tales. 1 'There is good ground to believe. Herefordshire.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN logy. are as Keltic as Perthshire and North Munster . Mr.

and. or Connaught. we think we know of it. ' We meet with their relics in the long barrows/ and deduce from them a short. Their earliest arrivals found men already in possession. and Bedfordshire are more so and equal to North Wales and Leinster. We know more about its conquerors. Dorset. and as much so as Argyll. According to the most generally accepted theory. North- amptonshire. Gloucestershire. woven the British But even the first Celts themselves were not the inhabitants of our islands. Celt and Teuton must be very the fabric of equally nation. Devon.THE CELTS AND THEIR MYTHOLOGY shire. there were two main streams of Aryan emigra3 . it would be hard to put a finger definitely upon any point where the two different cultures have met and blended. Invernessshire. and so is all civilisation. though it must have greatly influenced Aryan-Celtic custom and myth. long-skulled race of slight physique and in a relatively low stage of Its origin is uncertain. of course. while Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire exceed even this degree and are on a level with South Wales and Ulster. Cornwall. is more Keltic than any other English county. Huntingdonshire.' into If these statements are well founded. dark.

at or absorbed in. both belonging to the same linguistic branch of the tion Indo-European stock the Celtic but speaking variant dialects of that tongue Goidelic.. Of these the Goidels were the at earlier. still later.C. much In physique. Rha and Brynmor-Jones. but who seem to. admixture with the dark.C. steadily encroaching upon and ousting made. 1906. an extensive invasion of Southern to Britain. and Brythonic. 1904.Aryan Britain.. to any rate linguistically. as well as in language. With the Brythons must be considered the Belgae. . or British. the latter containing some admixture of the broad-headed stock of Central Europe. seem to have appeared about the third century B.Aryan The Romans appear to have recognised more than one type between the 1 in Britain. inhabitants of the and distinguishing coast regions Rhs. Celtic Britain.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN from the Continent into a non. there was probably a difference between the Brythons and the Goidels. while the Brythons. long-skulled non. or Gaelic. 1 they were. the Brythons. have been eventually assimilated whom akin. The Welsh People. and thought also that the Goidels must have become in course of time modified by it is race. who their forerunners. their first settlers having arrived some period between 1000 and 500 B. or Brittdnes.

of To these West Britain. the North. xi. with the exception of the extreme West. may be added certain people whose dark complexions and regard curly hair caused Tacitus to them as immigrants from Spain. while the Goidels had most of Ireland. North and South Wales. be taken as correct. the Isle of Man. and who probably belonged either wholly or largely to the aboriginal stock. the West Highlands 1 of Scotland. however. and Devon. as well as. 2 the primitive dark 2 It Tacitus. who seemed them more akin the Germans. 5 . in the opinion of some authorities. the Goidels crossed from Britain to Ireland. Cornwall. held by others that the Goidels of Scotland did not reach that country (from Ireland) before the Christian era. Cumberland. is. if this first. theory the con- quest of the aborigines by the Goidels. Nor do we state with know when or how . and afterwards the displacement of the Goidels by the later branches of the Celts.THE CELTS AND THEIR MYTHOLOGY nearest to France. who resembled large-limbed to the Gauls. 1 have no records of the clash and counter- We clash of savage warfare which must. have marked. All that we can approximate certainty is that at the time of the Roman domination the Brythons were in possession of all Britain south of the Tweed. Agricola. and natives of to the ruddy-haired. chap.

legends preserved from the pagan age. though they date only from mediaeval times. large numbers of which have been found both on the Continent and in our and Welsh manuscripts which. (4) Early hagiology. them by any means Nor is the stock of so scanty as the remoteness and obscurity of the age in which they were still vital will probably have led the reader to expect. in which the myths of gods of the pagan Goidels and Brythons have been taken over by the ecclesiasts and fathered upon the patron saints of the Celtic Church. called histories own Monmouth. We can gather them from six different sources: (1) Dedications to Celtic divinities upon altars and votive tablets. (5) The groundwork of British bardic tradition upon 6 . It is the beliefs. (2) Irish. copied from older documents. Scottish. (3) Soislands. and their more unmixed descendants. traditions. written notably that of Geoffrey of in the twelfth century dis- which consist largely of mythical matter guised as a record of the ancient British kings. and legends of these Goidels and Brythons. which make up our mythology. found in certain portions of Ireland and in Scotland north of the Grampian Hills. the modern Gaels and Cymry. contain.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN race being still and of West Britain.

was deemed most worthy of perpetuation. upon folk tales which. of Lecan. Breton. are probably as old. Taken as a whole. (6) And lastly.writers of all the more civilised European countries founded the Arthurian cycle. A few lines must here be spared to show the reader the nature of the mediaeval manuscripts just mentioned. although but lately reduced to writing. in Irish. the Book of Aneurin. The most famous of them are. they date 7 . They consist of larger or smaller vellum or parchment volumes. ' Wales' the Black Book of Carmarthen.THE CELTS AND THEIR MYTHOLOGY which the Welsh. and Norman minstrels. into which the scribe of a great family or of a monastery labori- lore. of Ballyand in the Yellow Book of Lecan and mote. the Books Dun Cow. and the Red Book of Hergest together with the White Book of Rhydderch. following them. They thus contain very varied matter portions of the Bible ously copied whatever : . godly or worldly. Four Books of Ancient Welsh. lives of saints and works attributed . of Leinster. the so-called of the . the Book of Taliesin. genealogies and learned treatises as well as the poems of the bards and the legends of tribal heroes who had been the gods of an earlier age. and. the romance. or even older. than any of the other sources. to them .

and thus their accretions can be stripped from them till they appear in adulterated. But the more primitive. be proved to ante-date the while the mythical tales and at this earlier age. But much of their substance is far older can. and the heroes as the pagans while their Welsh congeners pose as kings or knights. the compiler of which died in . and. In this way scholarship is gradually unveiling a mythology whose appeal is not merely to our patriotism. has influenced modern art and ture only less potently than that mighty inspiration the mythology of Ancient Greece. Irish their true guise. in its disguise of Arthurian litera- romance. in how- seventh century ever distorted a form. been traditional. less myths can be brought to throw light upon the Welsh. indeed. 8 . In itself it is often poetic and it lofty.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN from the beginning of the twelfth century to the end of the sixteenth the oldest being the Book of the Dun Cow. the year 1106. much of the legendary lore The Irish manuscripts have suffered less sophisstill tication than the Welsh. of the Celts. or even as dignitaries of the Christian Church. have long even poems must. They preserve for us. In them the gods appear as divine they were .

we must briefly glance mythology of the Celts of Continental Europe. to afford us at the some clue amid their bewildering variety. apparently in the order of their reputed power.CHAPTER II THE GODS OF THE CONTINENTAL CELTS BUT before approaching the myths of the Celts of Great Britain and Ireland. But there have been brought to light a very large number not only of dedicatory inscriptions to. he says. a amount of information is given us by writers. for whatever mythical and heroic legends the Gauls once had have perished. especially certain classic by Julius Caesar in his Com- mentaries on the Gallic War. all. they worship Mercury. From the point of view of literature the subject is barren. that Gallia from which Goidels and Brythons alike came. And. but also of statues and bas-reliefs of. the ancient gods of Gaul. as inventor of the arts and patron of travellers and First of 9 . He mentions five chief divinities of the Gauls.

attest it in modern honour. by Jupiter. who rules the sky. the director of not. Costly statues one. of massive silver. but that imaginary beings represented as carrying out much the same functions as the Roman the Mars were worshipped by them. and In practice. battles. Minerva. too. in bronze stood in his was dug up in the gardens of the Luxembourg. and Mars Camulos.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN comes Apollo. the divine followed healer. Mercury. by Minerva. readily Romans assimilated . of course. divinities : Modern discoveries quite bear out Caesar's statement as to the importance to the Gaulish mind of the god whom he called Mercury. 17. the deities of conquered peoples to their own in our hence it is that hi the inscriptions discovered in Gaul. iv. Artaios. Numerous place-names France. and indeed of Celtic own islands. Jupiter Sticellos. 1 This does mean that Caesar considered the gods of the Gauls to be exactly those of the Romans. the teacher of useful trades. while another. Next is and he and by Mars. we find the names preceded by those of the Roman gods as Mercurius were considered to resemble they Minerva Belisama. Jupiter. IO . Apollo. made 1 by a Greek artist for the great temple of the De Bella Gallico. Apollo Grannos. merchants.

Grannos. 30-32. But the gods of the Continental 1 2 Celts are being Ixxvii. a far wider. is have stood a hundred and twenty feet high. Accidentally confounded with Theodoric the Goth. lord Aix-la-Chapelle (anciently called Aquae Granni). if somewhat vicarious fame. responsible for the wilder legends connected with that historical hero under his of Dietrich title von Bern. in the Vosges. 'Apollo/ Toutiorix ('Lord of the People') has won. and Granheim. II .THE GODS OF THE CONTINENTAL CELTS Arverni upon the summit of the Puy de Dome. 9 Rhfo Hibbert Lectures for 1886. whom temburg. Yet said to it would seem to have been rather for the war-god that some is at least of the warlike Gauls reserved their chief worship. too. for we are told by Dion Cassius 1 that the Roman Emperor Caracalla invoked him as the equal of the better-known Another Gaulish Aesculapius and Serapis. must have been paid of healing to a Gaulish Apollo. The regard in which he was : held proved by two of his names or titles Rlgisamos (' Most Royal.') and Albiorix (' King of the World'). Graux and Eaux Graunnes. his mythical achievements are. however. Much from honour. in all probability. in Wiir- waters. pp. 15. took their names. and to have taken ten years to finish.

to whom the writer here takes the opportunity of gratefully acknowledging his indebtedness for valuable help towards the making of this book. who. he taught that true power resides in wise words as much as in doughty deeds. Anwyl. a lesson 1 Celtic Religion. Ogma combines in Gaelic mythology the char- god of eloquence and poetry and the professional champion of his circle. he was shown as wrinkled and bald. Altogether (as a native assured Lucian). 12 .MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN treated in this series is 1 far more competently than power of the present writer. while a second-century Greek writer called Lucian describes a Gaulish Ogmios. the Tuatha De Danann.' whose varied experience made his men after him by golden cords attached words worth listening to. by Professor E. acters of the though he was represented as armed with the club and lion-skin of Heracles. was yet considered the exponent of persuasive speech. For his and his readers'. He was depicted as drawing from his tongue to their ears and. the only Gaulish deities purpose who need be noticed here are some whose names in the reappear in the written myths of our own Islands. as the 'old man eloquent. In the oldest Irish and Welsh manuscripts we meet with personages whose names and attributes identify them with divinities whom we know to have been worshipped in the Celtic world abroad.

THE GODS OF THE CONTINENTAL CELTS not yet quite forgotten by the Celt. an apocryis . and 63 of this book.pp. we may claim to see that important figure of the Goidelic With the legends. possibly found in Ireland as Cumhal (Coul). near Beaune. the Irish made Minerva or Vesta who passed down into saintThe war-god 2 Camulos ship as Saint Bridget. It is by a curious irony that we must now look for the stories of Celtic gods to two islands once considered so remote and uncivilised as hardly to 1 belong to the Celtic world at all. 11. phal British king who reappears in romance as Balin of the Morte Darthur. we may connect Brigit. all anciently called Lugtidunum ('Lugus's town'). pp. father of the famous Finn in Belinus. Hibbert Lectures. whom the Latin writer Ausonius mentions as a sun-god served by Druids. In the whose name still Continental Lugus. 20-21. Laon.Jupiter. while MapSnos. and Leyden. identified by the Romans with Apollo. Professor Rh$'s calls him a 'Mars. his 2 Camulus seems to have been a more important god than Roman equation with Mars (p. 10) suggests. Lug of the Long Hand. a companion of Arthur. we probably have the Gaulish Belenos. 13 . we find in the Welsh stories as Mabon son of Modron (Matrona). of whom mention is in a dedicatory tablet found at Volnay. 13-20. Rhs.' Cf. Gaulish goddess Brigindu. clings to the cities of 1 Lyons.

' and in the Welsh documents. In the old Gaelic literature they are called the Tuatha D6 Danann (Tootiha doe donstnn). who collec- We also find mention of another ancient female deity of sorne- . most of them. the ' ' Children of Don ' and the Children of Llr. can do is to look for a fixed point. of the the Brythons.' Danu spelt or Donu.CHAPTER III THE GODS OF THE INSULAR CELTS IT would be impossible. to mention all. or indeed any but a swarming deities of ancient Britain and Ireland. and this we find in certain gods whose names and attributes are very largely common to both the Goidels and few. The best we extremely local in their nature. in all probability. as the name is sometimes seems to have been considered by the Goidels as the ancestress of the gods. tively took their title from her. the 'Tribe of the Goddess Danu. in so small a space as we can afford.

2 Turning to the British mythology. 18. 15 . vi. the two Coir Anmann. who was likewise described as the mother of the Irish Pantheon ' Well she used to cherish the gods. Anu or Ana. by Stokes. is is and though Bil6 the to us.THE GODS OF THE INSULAR CELTS what similar name.' Translated by Dr. * JJe Bdlo Oallico. Govannon son Don. His Gaelic counterpart the ancestor of the settlers in Ireland. in we find that what seems some of the principal figures to be its oldest stratum are called sons or daughters of Don Gwydion : son of Don . worshipped in Munster as a goddess of prosperity and abun1 dance. Translated by O'Donovan and edited Whitley Stokes in 2 friscJie Texle. the first Celtic Milesians.' wrote a commentator on a ninth-century Irish glossary. of Beli. Beli. perhaps Bile". Bile scattered myths is the analogy to and Beli seem represent on Gaelic and British soil respectively the Dis Pater from whom Caesar 3 tells us the Gauls believed 1 themselves ' to be descended. was considered to be Don's consort. Cormac'd (Jloasary. The Choice of Names. Arianrod daughter of But Arianrod is also termed the daughter of which makes who of the it reasonably probable that otherwise appears as a mythical king Brythons. Don. nowhere connected with Danu in which have come down suggestive.

e. Father and Mother alike and men. appears in as Ler (gen. Lir). through Geoffrey of ' Welsh Caer Lyr. and plays little part in the stories of the earlier history of the Irish gods. Bile" standing for the divine and Danu. however. the head of the other Gaelic myths family. Beli and Don.' which is supposed to mean that his language could be but imperfectly understood.' and is found the head of the first of the Families of the Isle of Both Ler and Ltyr to are. he has become Shakespeare's hagiology as 'Three Chief Holy in Britain. He gave its name to Leicester.' Though ranked among the Tuatha De Danann. concerning the British Ltyr which suggest that he may have been borrowed by the Brythons from the Goidels. pairs. though he is prominent in what are perhaps equally ancient legends concerning Finn and the On the other hand. i. Ltyr of the Half-Tongue. and he himself is termed Llyr Llediaith.' King Lear. there are details Fenians. better known mythology by their sons than 16 from their own . both names pro' bably meaning the Sea. ' His wife is called Iwerydd (Ireland). Ler seems to descend from a different line. Monmouth. originally Ltyr-cestre.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN shadowy of gods Ltyr. called in while.

but Bran is one of the most clearly outlined figures in the Brythonic mythology. a player upon the crwth. He is represented as of gigantic size no house or ship which ab Llyr and Manawyddan ab Llyr. He as though upon a was the patron of minstrelsy and bardism. 297. in 'Book of Taliesin. has passed down into ecclesiastical legend as the Blessed Bran. an bridge. i. Turning is to the brothers of Bron and Bran. bkene's Four Ancient Books of Wales. Hades with whom the sons of Don fight to obtain the treasures of the Underworld. according to a mediaeval 1 poem put into the mouth of the sixth-century Welsh poet Taliesin.THE GODS OF THE INSULAR CELTS exploits. and claimed. except that he gave his name to a place called Mag Bron (' Bron's Plain ').' vol. paradoxically enough. 1 Manannan mac poem xlviii. was ever made could contain him in it and. B 17 . p..' who brought Chris' tianity from Rome to Britain. We find the Gaelic Bron inac Lir and Manannan mac Lir paralleling the British Bran Of the Irish Bron we know nothing. down could march over him army laid when he himself across a river. to be himself a bard. and seven score He is a king in other musicians all at once. a harper. and. it of the Irish god this time that we have the Lir has always fullest account.

' which needed neither sail nor oar nor rudder. curious tradition credits him with is A three legs. On the one hand he appears through the mists of as a kind of culture-hero hunter.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN been one of the most vivid of the figures of the Tuatha De Danann. those gods who seem most benencent 18 to man. he presea. and girt with his sword ' Retaliator ' which never ' failed to slay : whether riding upon his horse Splendid Mane. craftsman. he was its first king. with jewelled helmet which flashed like the sun. which appear on the arms of the Island. or ' sents as striking a picture as can be found in any mythology. robed in his cloak of invisibility woven from the fleeces of the flocks of Paradise. and his grave.' which went swift as the spring wind over land or voyaging in his boat Wave-Sweeper. it is these limbs. arranged like the spokes of a wheel.' while the merchants claimed that he was the founder of their guild. which thirty yards long. and agriculon while the other he is the enemy of turist. The especial patron of sailors. Clad in his invulnerable mail. . His British analogue. Manawyddan. is still pointed out at Peel Castle. he was invoked by them as 'The Lord of Headlands. and can be seen less clearly myth. cally with the Isle of asserts that He was connected especiMan euhemerising legend .

both epithets having the same meaning of the 'Silver Hand. of the Fortress of Oeth and Annoeth. they do not present such close analogies to the Irish Tuatha De Danann as do the Children of Llyr. story to account for it (see p.' What it signified we do not know in Irish literature there is a lame . bore their names Cassiopeia's Chair was called Don's Court (Llys D6n}. Nevertheless. But the attributes of both 19 Nuada and Nudd . which is described as a gruesome prison made have of human bones . or Lludd Llaw Ereint. there are striking parallels extending to what would seem to have been some of the In Irish myth we find greatest of their gods. we can hardly go wrong in considering the children of Don as having come to be regarded as Constellations deities of the sky. the Castle of Gwydion (Caer Gwydion).THE GODS OF THE INSULAR CELTS One of his achievements was the building. Taken as a whole. Nudd. and less in it he is said to incarcerated no a person than the children of famous Arthur. and in British. and the Milky Way. the Northern Crown. but if there was a kindred British version it has been lost. in the peninsula of Gower. Arianrod's Castle (Caer Arianrod). Whether or not we may take the Ltyr to have been gods of the sea. 35). Nuada Argetlarn.

Romano-British. more prowhich would be the Roman. and DEO NUDENTE plaque of M. with varied inscriptions to him as DEVO NODENTI. by the Rev. MAXIMO. appears as a mythical British king. as well as a small bronze. for the ruins of his sanctuary have been discovered there. which shows us a youthful figure.. XODONTI. while Lludd. However this may be.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN (Lludd) show them as the kind of deity whom the Romans would have equated with their Nuada rules over the Tuatha De Jupiter. H. and attended by two winged genii and two Tritons. we know that he was worshipped at Lydney in Gloucestershire. a legend which we may perhaps connect with the tradition that a temple of the Britons formerly occupied the site of St. Bat hurst. or MARTI. 1 The 'M' full of the inscription may have read in 2 bably. following Dr. Danann. 2O .BI. or Nudd. MAGNO. Hiibner. Professor Rhys. way of describing the god as the 1 A monograph on the subject. Oloucesterg/iire. standing in a four-horse chariot. Paul's. entitled Roman Antiquities at Lydney Park. D. with head surrounded by solar rays. who changed the name of his favourite city from Trinovantum (Geoffrey's 'New Troy') to Caer Ludd. which afterwards be- came London. was published 3 in 1879. He is said to have been buried at Ludgate. or. probably representing him. W.

With him. 'Govynion H6n.' Htm means 'The Ancient. originally a deity of the Underworld. and who may have been the same as Macha Crow '). the Welsh fairies. 169. 3 Also called in Welsh. The wife of Lludd. The Gaelic deity appears in The two are identified by the French scholar.warrior he appears as in Irish legend.' 2 The children of both the Gaelic and the British god play noteworthy parts in Celtic legend. M<5rrigu (the 'Great Queen'). has passed down into living folk-lore as king of the Tylwyth Teg. but her for it name also implies fighting. Tadg (Teague). 1 Goibnenn). son of Nudd. and Nemon (' Carrion (' Battle '). means 'gore. 2 Rhys. was the grandfather. suggests comparison with the British NSinetSna.' 21 . attests her importance. in Welsh myth is called Gwyar. p. though not necessarily as his consort. Govannon. however. Badb whose name ('Venomous'). Studies in the Arthurian Legend. of the famous Finn mac Coul. we must rank a goddess of war whose name. but the equation is not everywhere upheld. Gwyn. Another of the sons of Don whom we also find in the ranks of the Tuatha Dd Danann is the 3 god of Smith-craft. son of Nuada. Gaidoz. M. 1 a war-goddess to whom an inscription has been found at Bath. in Irish Goibniu (gen. upon his mother's side.

and magic. poetry. His name and attributes have caused more than one leading mythologist to conjecture whether he may not have been identical with a still greater figure. 22 . 1 Both were alike pre- eminent in war-craft and in the arts of storytelling. 282-304. the Teutonic Woden. or Odin. the god of Husbandry. has drawn.' the teacher of arts and giver of gifts to his fellows. in his Hibbert Lectures (1886) on Celtic Heathendom. engaging in a wonderful feat of agriculture at the bidding of Arthur. in company with brother Arnaethon. Of his British analogue ale of Gobhan we know his less. the fairy architect to whom popular fancy has attributed the round towers and the early churches of Ireland. and in folk-tales as the Saer. who ' appears in British myth as a Culture-Hero. but he is found. greater than any of the other sons of to Don would seem have been Gwydion. and both gained through painful experiences the lore which they placed 1 Pp. a remarkable series of parallels between the two characters. especially. But. as they are figured respectively in Celtic and Teutonic myth.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN mythical literature as the forger of the weapons of his divine companions and the brewer of an immortality. Professor Rh^s.

the Giant of the of a mysterious. on the Celtic side This is represented the by poetical inspiration which Gwydion acquired through his sufferings while in the power of the gods of Hades. Still tell more how each striking are the strange myths which of them could create human out of vegetable life. in a curiously similar fashion. each had a love little- Each was born Abyss.THE GODS OF THE INSULAR CELTS at the service of mankind. Woden woman out of trees. who posed as a maiden and was furiously indignant at the birth of her children and each lost his son l . whose name was associated with a symbolic wheel. and another which he could only get by pledging one of his eyes to its Woden owner Sokk-mimi. the people of this earth. 23 . and in Teutonic story by two draughts of wisdom. fascinating though it is. obtained by guile from Gundof the daughter giant Suptung. and sought for him sorrowfully to bring him back to the world. his unnatural mother had 'laid a destiny' that he should never have a wife of But the equation. while made a man and a a woman on whom Gwydion 'enchanted from blossoms' as a bride for Lieu. known father and mother . one which fled. is much discounted by the fact 1 that But the only traces we find of see note 2 on following page.

' appears in connection with Gwydion as 1 the mother of Lieu. Gwydion and Amaethon. than so great a deity as the Teutonic god he at first sight seems to resemble. depicted as the 2 helper of his uncles. and that he is ' his fame was more likely to have been simply the lord of Mona and Arvon. figured as a Heracles who won his way by persuasion rather than by force.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN Gwydion of in Britain are a few stories connected with certain place-names in the Welsh counties This Carnarvonshire and Merionethshire. 24 . The fact. in earlier Welsh Aranrot. of the Tuatha the goddess of the constellation Corona Borealis. that. which ' was who popularly interpreted as 'Silver Wheel. His nearest Celtic equivalents we may Ogmios. may have been evolved by popular etymology under the influence of arian (silver). 1 The form Arianrod. god of Literature and Eloquence. It is another of the family of Don Arianrod. at once champion find in the Gaulish D6 Danann. and inventor of the ogam alphabet. and the Gaelic Ogma.' as a Welsh bard calls him. 3 Lieu is sometimes treated as the son of Gwydion and Arianrod. would seem to suggest like so many of the divine figures of the Celts. and the point has been elaborated by Professor Rhys mainly on the analogy of similar Celtic myths.' to which she sometime gave her name. or Llew. though there ia no direct statement to this effect in Welsh literature. merely a local one.

For another side of the question see chap. i. culties Lieu (Llew) also with the Gaulish diffi- There in are. Of the ' (?) Firm Hand. considerable Lieu or Llew cannot place-names and as a Phonologically. son of OJuitge (the Gwydyen of the Book of Aneurin and the Book of Taliesin).THE GODS OF THE INSULAR CELTS in their battles against the powers of the Underworld. But any such details are the wanting with regard to Lieu as those which make Irish god so clear-cut and picturesque a figura Such was the radiance ' of Lug's face that ' however. and in their helping the more beneficent gods against their enemies. Nor do we know enough about Lieu to be able to make any large comparison between him and the Irish Lug. of The Welsh People (Rh$'s and Brynmor-Jones). that Lieu is found in genealogies as Louhe (Lou Hen). or Lug. much They are alike in the meaning of their epithets. Llew's epithet is Llaw Qyffes.e. ' ' 25 . legends connected with Lieu as mythic figure mark him the belonging to same circle of local tradition as Gwydion. the word be the exact equivalent of Ltigus. in their rapid growth after birth. This tempts us to regard the two mythical figures as identical. however. ii. seems to show that the idea was not absolutely unfamiliar to the Welsh. equating Liigus.' with which we may compare that of Ld/mfada (' Of the Long Hand ') borne by the Goidelic deity Lugh. while the restricted character of the the way.

Among of itself. and attributes between Bile and Beli. This similarity in name. him as a personification however. it is now more of fire. Danu and D6n. Manannan and Manawyddan. title. (?) Nemon and NgmStfina. steadily at He the sun. nor is it Ireland. Ler and Ltyr. Bron and Bran. either by inheritance from the Goidels in Britain or by direct borrowing from the Goidels of such a case has not yet been vincingly. tells us that Agni (Fire) SQrya (the San) in the morning. for instance. and the Milky Way was called 'Lug's chain. both of his possessions war and of peace. and none could gaze was the acknowledged master of all arts. evidence to show that a certain amount of confusion between the two There great sources of light and heat is a not unnatural 1 phenomenon of the myth-making mind.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN it seemed like it. Govannon and Goibniu. were a magic spear which slew and a hound of most wonderful qualities. Nuada and Nudd (or Lludd). But made out con- necessary in order to account ' 1 The Rig-Veda. Surya is Agni at night. and (?) Lug and Lieu has suggested to several competent scholars that the Brythons received them from the other branch of the Celts.' First accepted as the sun-god of the Goidels. His rod-sling was seen in heaven as the rainbow. usual to regard is.' if 26 .

in the myths alike appear under different of the two branches of the Specialised gods could have been but few in type. as a divinity of the tender passion.THE GODS OF THE INSULAR CELTS names and myths among kindred same stock. or Dwynwen. fed all the races Ogma. a counter1 part of Dwyn. deities whose attributes are names Celts. too. and whose kisses teaches his lore to his became birds which sang of love. lists of divine characters. may be compared with D6n's brother. the British Venus. caused all who heard to follow it. The Irish Dagda. the seasons into being with his mystic harp. 'good god.' in The church of thia goddess-saint Llanddwyn Anglesey 27 . whose music Angus. 1 Dwynwen means is ' the Blessed Dwyn. the wise and just Math. one of the Dagda's sons. as we have already done in the case of the British Gwydion and the Gaelic earlier whose name (from an would seem to have meant the Dagodevos). Whatever may be the explanation of their likeness. while their names might vary with it every ing to tribe. but a few taken out of two long Naturally. whose called the 'Undry. Some of these may be interest- compare briefly.' cauldron. who is represented as a great magician who nephew Gwydion. after all.' of and who played the earth. would be. these names for similar races of the are.

but Mider. Rhiannon (in older Celtic RlgantSna. the Dagda's daughter. the hero of a legendary cycle apparently local to Dyved (the Roman province of Dernetia. or 'Great Queen') and his son Pryderi. and with him are grouped his wife. patroness of poetry. Pwyll. with Manawyddan son of Ltyr. He is jointly represented as the antagonist of Gwydion. friendly with the children of Llyr and opposed to the sons of Don. may find her analogue in the Welsh Kerridwen.' Diancecht (Dianket) the Goidelic god of Healing seems to have no certain equivalent in Brythonic myth. hymned as Brigit. a deity of the Underworld though his name would bring him rather into line with the British Medyr. of who succeeds his father as king (the British Other World). who is or Annwn Annwvn eventually his conqueror and slayer.' of Inspiration and Science. appears in Welsh romance only as a wonderful marksman may be here considered in connection with Pwyll. But even the briefest account of the Celtic 28 .MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN who was. the owner of a 'cauldron saint of love. appears as an Underworld deity. however. even by the the ' later Welsh bards. who. sent the who may perhaps repre- same god as the Arawn who is connected with him in mythic romance. and. south-west Wales). roughly.

too. the son of Ltyr. or the mortal chieftain with whom tradi- 29 . Tennyson's Leodogran. A greater figure in some respects even than Arthur must have been Myrddin.THE GODS OF THE INSULAR CELTS gods would be incomplete without some mention of a second group of figures of British legend. some of whom may which are have local owed their names incor- to history. a mythical personage doubtless to be distinguished from his namesake the supposed sixth-century bard to whom are attributed the poems in the Black Book of Carmarthen. These tradition the early Welsh who appear afterwards as the kings and knights and ladies of mediaeval ArthurThere is Arthur himself. the King of ' Cameliard.' was the giant Ogyrvan. with myths became characters of porated. ian romance. half king. half god. who. and sometimes as a deity with similar attributes to those of Bran. and Kai. patron and perhaps originator of bardism and Gwalchmai and Medrawt. who sometimes appears as a powerful prince in North Britain. with his queen GAvenhwyvar whose father. Prominent. ' who may have been (as seems likely from a passage in the Mabinogion story of Kulhwch and Olwen ') a personification of fire. are Urien. though they are usually called his nephews. seem in older story to have been considered his sons.

tion has associated Caer Gai in Merionethshire

and Cai Hir

in Glamorganshire. Connected, too, with Arthur's a loose thread story are the by figures of what is thought to have been the

independant mythic cycle of March (King Mark),

queen Essyllt

or Trystan, (Sir

and his nephew Drystan, Tristrem). All these, and many



be inhabitants of an obscure

borderland where vanishing

myth and doubtful down

history have mingled. The memory of this cycle has passed
living folk-lore


the descendants of those

Brythons who, fleeing from the Saxon conquerors, found new homes upon the other side of the
English Channel. Little Britain has joined with Great Britain in cherishing the fame of Arthur,
while Myrddin (in Breton, Marzin), described as the master of all knowledge, owner of all wealth,

and lord of Fairyland, can only be the
lore representative of


a once great deity. These two stand out clearly while the other characters of the Brythonic mythology have lost their indivi;

dualities, to

dwarfs (Korred), the

merge into the nameless hosts of the fairies (Korrigan), and the
(Morgan) of Breton popular

to to the early




nullify the pagan traditions against sought which they fought by turning them into a pseudohistory, Ireland was first inhabited by a lady


Cessair and her followers, shortly after the They describe her as a grand-daughter of
it is

Noah but


likely that she represented

a tribal goddess





1 pre-Celtic people in Ireland.

Whoever she may

have been, her influence was not lasting. She perished, with all her race, leaving a free field to
her successors.

We say




with intention


for Ireland con-

then of only one plain, treeless and grassbut watered by three lakes and nine rivers.
race that succeeded Cessair, however, soon










Celtic Britain,

Third edition,


landed with twenty-four males and twenty-four females upon the first of May (the Celtic feast of

enlarged the island to four plains

with seven new lakes.
selves also increased

The newcomers themand multiplied, so that in

three centuries their original forty-eight members had become five thousand. But, on the three

hundredth anniversary of their coming, an epidemic sprang up which annihilated them. They
gathered together upon the original first-created plain to die, and the place of their funeral is still

marked by the mound

of Tallaght, near Dublin. Before these early colonists, Ireland had been inhabited by a race of demons or giants, described

monstrous in


and hideous

in shape,


them being footless and handless, while others had the heads of animals. Their name Fomor, which means 'under wave/ 1 and their descent

from a goddess named Domnu, or 'the Deep,' 2

show them as a personification of the sea waves. To the Celtic mind the sea represented darkness and death, and the Fomorach appear as the antithesis of the beneficent gods of light and Partholon and his people had to fight them life. for a foothold in Ireland, and did so successfully.

Khf B,

Hibbert Lectures, p. 594.


Ibid., p.


one of the Fomor Kings.thirds of the children born to up them as in every year. and the fact that their of Domnu principal tribe was called the 'Men Gods suggests that the Fomorach. from Greece. The Nemed followed the Race of Partholon. and here we seem to find ourselves upon historical ground.' may have been the C 33 divinities of their . and took it. and added twelve new plains and four more lakes to Ireland. slaying Conann.' Fir Gailidin.THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF IRELAND The next immigrants were People of less fortunate. the Men of Gailioin and Fir Bolg. In desperation they attacked the stronghold of the giants upon Tory Island. A new race now came into possession. who ordered them to deliver tribute two. took ship and fled the country. These were three tribes called Fir Domnann. however uncertain. off the coast of Donegal. after being scourged by a similar to that which had destroyed their foreepidemic runners. the Men of Domnu. the Men of ' ' ' ' according to the annalists. with many of his followers. They are generally considered as having represented to the Gaelic mind the pre-Celtic Bolg. reduced to a handful of thirty. inhabitants of Ireland. and the Nemedians. But More.' emigrants. the other king. terribly avenged this defeat. they found themselves at the mercy of the Fomorach. But. who are called ' of Domnu.

' which would cry out with a human stone ' is voice to acclaim a rightful king. At any rate. F. as we have of to parallel the Britain. They had not been long A monograph by W. whose supply of food never failed. On selves and the Fomorach alike struggle against.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN worship. the next people to arrive. Skene. whose blow needed no second. they landed in Ireland upon the same mystic First of May. bringing with them their four chief treasures Nuada's sword. demoniac powers. 34 . flict. divinities Celts in Ireland. These are the Tuatha D6 Danann. they them- now recognise the gods of the seen. and who. we never find them in con- like the other races. Lug's living lance. which required no hand to wield it in battle. i. in whom all serious students with the gigantic and the contrary. from the north or the south Wherever they came from. See The Coronation Stone. This said by some to be identical with our own ' Coronation Stone at Westminster. was preserved as a kind of fetish by the 1 early kings of Ireland. earlier the Celts in They are variously fabled else have come from the sky.. which was it is brought from Scone by Edward probable that it still but more where 1 it stands upon the hill of Tara. or of the world. the Dagda's cauldron. and are conquered by. and the mysterious 'Stone of Destiny.

inviting his son Bress to ally himself with them. and. although it had been replaced by an artifical one of silver. offers to partition the island. of known as that of Handing over the province conquered race. find a means of conciliating those hostile powers. he had. Moytura in Irish Mag Tuireadh. After some parleying and a battle. and become their ruler. powerful enemy to by no means ready the still left them with a face. capital of the rest of Their conquest. a son of Diancecht the god of Medicine. Tara. in which the Tuatha D6 Danann gained the victory. King of the Fomorach. fixing their possession at the historic then called Drumcain.THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF IRELAND in occupation of the country before their presence was discovered by the race in possession. 'Plain of the Pillars' was fought near Cong. wedded Ethniu. a marriage was made between Bress and Brigit the daughter of the Dagda. had lost his right hand in the battle of Moytura. 35 . for the Fomorach were to accept their occupation of But the Tuatha De Danann thought to soil. They therefore sent to Elathan. while Cian. Connaught to the they took Ireland. in Mayo. however. This was agreed to and . been obliged to renounce the sovereignty. according to the Celtic law which forbade a blemished person to sit upon the throne. Nuada. Their own king.

take the Kingship. and drive them out of Ireland. who swiftly grew proficient in every branch of skill 36 . the principal bard of Cairbre upon the Tuatha De Danann. free feasts and public enter- But at last he put a personal affront son of Ogma. at a council of the Fomorach. came forward again to satire so scathing that boils victim's face. But Bress soon showed himself in his true Fomorian colours. He put excessive taxes upon his new subjects. and. whose lost hand had meanwhile been replaced by the spells and medicaments of a son and daughter of Diancecht. But now a mighty help was coming to the gods. was decided to make war upon the Tuatha De" Danann. and seized for himself the conthe necessities of life. who retorted with a broke out upon its Thus Bress himself became blemished.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN the daughter of a powerful prince of the Fomorach named Balor. and Nuada. and was obliged to abdicate. trol of all Gaelic mind he hoarded all he got. spending none of his wealth in tainments. so that the proud forced to manual labour to obtain food were gods to the Worse than this even and warmth. Bress returned to his underit sea home. From the marriage of Diancecht's son and Balor's daughter was born a child called Lug.

'Master of all Arts. as a blood-fine for the murder of his father at the hands of three grandsons of Ogma. of some prehistoric battle. he obtained. no doubt. But this well was discovered by the spies of the Fomorach. the god of Smithcraft. while Diancecht. the principal magic treasures of the world. The story of their quest is told in the romance of The Fate of the Children of Tuireann.' He threw in his lot with his father's people. the great fight began on the plain of Carrowmore. and published in Atlantis.' one of the famous Three ' ' Sorrowful Stories of Erin. had forged them magic weapons. had made a magic well whose water healed the wounded and brought the slain to life. of Translated by Eugene O'Curry. and organised the Tuatha De Danann for a great struggle. the site. Goibniu. too. the memorials of which 1 still form the finest collection vol. 37 . Incidentally. the god of Medicine. After a few desultory duels.' J Thus.THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF IRELAND and knowledge. the Tuatha De Danann were also ready for battle. by the time the Fomorach had completed their seven years of preparation. so that he became known as the loldanach (Ilddna). and a party of them went to it secretly and filled it with stones. near Sligo. iv.

from the same pro- genitor and country as the gods. With Fomorach lost heart. the fortunes of the fray. deities From their watch-tower they could its look over the earth and see various regions. In the Other World dwelt Bile of the dead. Ogma killed Indech. and the Tuatha De Danann Bress drove them back headlong to the sea.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN of rude stone monuments in the world. slew Nuada. to the south. 180. itself But the power of the Tuatha De Danann wag on the wane. the son ol the goddess Domnu. to have come to Ireland only to prepare the way for men. 1 Northern to distinguish it Moytura the from the other Mag Great chiefs fell Tuireadh further on either side. while Balor. himself was captured. They would seem. the Fomor whose eye shot death. etc. indeed. who were themselves issuant. according to the universal Celtic tradition. the King of the Tuatha Be Danann. 38 . and the rule of the Giants broken for ever. at the fall of their principal champion. pp. with the It is called one exception of Carnac. and Ith. Till now they had not noticed Ireland perhaps on account of its slow and gradual growth but 1 FergusBon. But Lug turned the a carefully prepared magic sling-stone he blinded the terrible Balor and. Rude Stone Monuments.

was not slow in answering their appeal. but spared his followers. he started on a tour of inspection and landed at the mouth of the Kenmare Journeying northwards. do so and. and Mac Greine. returned to their own country. Full of curiosity. still Three sons of dull. kill him. and arrived there upon that same mysterious First of May on which both Partholon and the Tuatha selves De Danann them- had first come to Ireland. Unable to Tuatha De Danann called upon the stranger to arbitrate. Ogma were the candidates Mac Mac Cecht. Mac Their names were Cecht. who This they did. the Mac Greine. they met in succession three eponymous goddesses of the country. upon the Tuatha De Danann. and Eriu. were in council at a spot near Londonderry called Grianan Aileach to choose a new king. his whole attitude seemed so suspicious that the gods decided to . the son of Bile. indeed. with his followers. descried it. Fotla. or would not. wives of Mac Cuill. calling for vengeance. Banba. He could not. Mile. on a clear winter's night. He started for Ireland with his eight sons and their followers. he came. Each 39 in turn demanded . Marching through the country towards Tara. who River. and come to a decision.THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF IRELAND at last Ith.

Amergin promised it is it to them all. ranged upon druidical nearer. and which are said to be the oldest Irish literary records. The legend to probably crystallizes the three first names of Ireland. but. divinities more ancient and more powerful than any anthropomorphic gods. spells to the beach. and in their teeth. son of the Sea. and the Tuatha ' ' De Danann. what are said have been Soon they came to the capital and called the Tuatha D6 Danann to a parley. his own. After some discussion it was decided that. the druid of the Milesians Irish Celts are called that. in the legendary event of their success. waved his magic mantle and shook an off-shore wind straight into But Amergin had powerful spells of By incantations which have come down to us. prepared prevent their approaching Manannan. he propitiated both the Earth and the Sea. the island should be called after her. They anchored at nine green waves' distance from the shore. as Eriu asked last.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN first as these of Amergin. 40 . as the Milesians were to blame for not having made due declaration of war before invading the country. their proper course was to retire to their ships and attempt a fresh landing. her name (in the genitive case of ' Erinn ') which has survived.

Disheartened. the 'fairy is none other than the bean- woman. made with them. which. many poetic names by the hillocks.' the dethroned goddess of the Goidelic mythology. Thus began religion in Ireland. as they are called. Race of the Fairy Mounds/ and it is by this title. they took a new name. Others found safe seclusion in under- ground dwellings marked by barrows or ' From these sidhe. homes.THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF IRELAND the end a remnant of the Milesians carne safely to shore in the estuary of the Boyne. however. and by Gael. by soil. in return for their surrender of the to they were receive worship and sacrifice. that of Aes Sidhe. The 'banshee' of popular story sidhe. treaty of peace A was. they sought for new Some withdrew to a Western Paradise Elysium of the Celts called Avallon by the Briton. . In two successive battles they defeated the Tuatha De Danann. whose three kings fell at the hands of the three surviving sons of Mile. that Driven from upper earth. sometimes shortened to 'The Sidhe' (Shee). that the Irish peasantry of to-day call the fairies. the gods yielded to the hardly less divine ancestors of the Gaels.

and from such fragmentary sources that we glean the mythical history of our island. she became known as ' and it was not until mankind that she took her safely occupied by present designation. arose from out the azure main.' and its waves ' Beli's cattle. and in pseudo-hagiologies and hardly less apocryphal ' 1 Beli seems to have heen sometimes associated in Welsh legend with the sea. that is.' ! the Great. With these relics we must make what for the we can . son of Aedd the Honey Isle of Beli. the Place.' her name was Clas Myrddin. of Merlin. it is All this told us established settled governby a Welsh Triad. In later days. at Heaven's command. work has not been done for us in the it was done that way by the mediaeval monkish annalists for Ireland. which was called the drink of Beli.' 42 . who first is ment.CHAPTER V THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF BRITAIN ' WHEN Britain first. from Prydain. or Enclosure. We find our data scattered through old bardic poems and romances.

The greatest bulk of ancient British myth is found in the Mabinogion more correctly. the Other World of the Welsh. he won his bride Rhiannon. dom Yet. ment incurred by Rhiannon on the false charge of having eaten him. In the second Branch ' ' we find Pryderi. But in the form in which the Welsh writer has fixed them. the}r show a gradual supersession of other deities by the gods who more The first especially represent human culture. and his recovery and restoration upon the night of the First of May. of the Four Branches deals with the leading incidents in the life of Pwyll: how he became a king in Annwn. the birth of their son Pryde*ri. and Professor Anwyl 1 has endeavoured with much learning to trace out and together to disentangle the original legends. and find in them roughly the same story as that of Ireland gods for the the subjugation of the land by friendly subsequent use of men. These tales evidently consist of fragments of varying myths pieced make a cycle. we can piece them together. 43 . how. by a clever trick. and his theft by mysterious powers the punish. the Four Branches of the Mabinogi. without perhaps using more freewith our materials than an early writer would have done.THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF BRITAIN histories. grown 1 See a series of articles in the Zeitschrift fur Celti$che Philologie.

' scorning. And watching that no foreign foe came to Britain. after the slaughter of all the Irish. submission. whose music was so sweet that it would recall the dead to life. cheered all the while by the singing of the Three Birds of Rhiannon. and four others of less known mythic fame. treachery. at Harlech. King of Ireland. tho bard Taliesin. arrives with a fleet to request Branwen of the Fair and Branwen sails to granted. They were eighty-seven years upon the way. Bran himself is wounded in the foot with a poisoned spear. son of Llr. out of which. and of Bran's host remain battle. being badly treated by her husband. here it reposed until Arthur disinterred it. and in his agony orders the others to cut off his head and carry it to the ' White Mount is in believed to London/ by which Tower Hill have been meant. as the guest of Bran. that she is news comes later Ireland. Manawyddan. It is goes with an army to avenge her. in his pride of heart. and by the agreeable conversation of Bran's severed head. But. only seven Pryderi. Matholwch. Bosom. to hold the island 44 . and Bran the hand of Bran's sister. But at last they reached the end of their journey. and buried the head with its face turned towards France. on.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN up and married to a wife called Kicva. There is parley.

as soon as he was 1 Professor Rh^s is inclined to see in him a deity of Dark- ness. They are shown as dwelling together at Caer Dathyl. and is it the 'spiriting away' by magic of Rhiannon and Pryderi and their recovery by the craft of Manawyddan which forms the subject of the tale. and of Pryderi himself and tures of During their absence in Ireland kinsmen had all been slain by Caswallawn. 387. their them by the Children of Don. . mother old. The four fugitives were compelled to live a homeless nomadic life. opposed to the god of Light. Rhiannon. ' ' With the fourth Branch the Children of Don come into a prominence which they keep to the end. and their kingdom taken from his wife Kicva. an unidentified spot in the mountains of Carnarvonshire. 32 of the present book. Arianrod Dylan. There are two chief incidents of The first tells of the birth of the twin the stor}r sons of Gwydion's sister. Hibbert Lectures. who.' a rash act of which the Saxon conquest was the result. appar1 ently a marine deity. of his friend Pryderi. The third Mabinogi recounts the further adven- Manawyddan. Dfin's brother. who married the apparently but no doubt ever youthful. and ruled over by Math.THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF BRITAIN otherwise than by valour. a son of Beli. p. See in this connection p. 45 .

. King of Annwn. and her refusal of name. and the vengeance taken by Lieu upon the man and by Gwydion upon the woman. tained for life . him those three essentials of a man's the infidelity of the damsel whom Math and Gwydion had created for Lieu 'by charms and illusion out of the blossoms of the oak. and the ' ' blossoms of the broom. give a consecutive. and Lieu. the rage of Arianrod when she found her intrigue made public. arms. to Pryderi their fraudulent acquisition . and the blossoms of the meadow-sweet. the wanderings of Gwydion in search of his protege. if incomplete. There are. 46 . The second relates the coming of pigs to Britain as a gift from Arawn. where he swam as well as any fish.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN born. These 'Four Branches of the Mabinogi' thus .' and his enchantment into an eagle by the cunning of her lover. who was fostered and brought up by Gwydion. and his eventual recovery of him. disappeared into the sea. however. or a wife to her unwished-for son the craft by which Gwydion ob. history of some of the most important of the Brythonic gods. other isolated legends from which we can add to the information they afford. by Gwydion the war which followed the theft and the death of Pryderi through the superior strength and magic of the great son of Don.

and some bird whose name scene is translated as ' lapwing. In his he seems to have been unfortunate. the deer. the 'Battle of the Trees. Snowdon. and they fought against Bran and Arawn. whose comes upon the history and 47 . it is said. he was caught by Pwyll and Pryderi. by the defeat of the sons of ' how Don ' elementary trees . We learn from various traditions changed the forms of the and sedges into warriors how Gwydion overcame the magic power of Br&n by guessing his name. and how.' His brother Amaethon and his nephew Lieu were with him. and we find him victorious in the strange conflict called Gad Goddeu. three boons were won for man the dog. first upon Hades.' But now a fresh protagonist the famous Arthur. for terrors But Gwydion escaped from his enemies. by sleep- ing out either upon the top of Cader Idris or under the Black Stone of the Arddu upon the side of he will from that night of return either inspired or mad. It was the sufferings he endured there which made him a poet. the powers of the Underworld. and any one who aspires to a similar gift may try to gain it.THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF BRITAIN We learn more of the details of Gwydion's attempts Trespassing struggles with his enemies. and imprisoned in a mysterious island called Caer Sidi.

which would make him a Romanised Briton who. of which several vary- ing explanations have been attempted. while their is Comes Britanniae. is now held to have been originally Artorius. tion has An inscrip- been found at Beaucroissant. only princes high (gwledig). to his having filled. to Mercurius Artaios. after the withdrawal of the Romans. while the name 1 Studies in the Arthurian Legend. implied not only by the traditions which make him a supreme war-leader of the Britons. political His adopted a Latin designation. a recognised Latin name found on inscriptions. like many others of his period. as his contemporhi are however rank. but also by the fact that he is described hi a twelfth century Welsh MS. p. 48 . as seems to have also hap- pened in the case of Dietrich von Bern (Theodoric the Goth) and the Gaulish ToutiSrix. prominence.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN even existence have been involved in so doubt. may be due. a position equivalent to Emperor (amherawdyr). and as Arturius in Juvenal. in the valley of the Isere. as Professor Rhys has 1 suggested. aries. But his legendary fame hardly to be explained except upon the supposition that the fabled exploits of a god or gods perhaps of somewhat similar name have become confounded with his own. much The word Arthur. 7.

' a Triad tells us. Probably we shall never know exactly what diverse local myths have been woven into the story of Arthur. his character like those of another culture hero. Like Gwydion. He was for three nights in the Castle of Oeth and Annoeth' the grue' some structure of human bones built by Manaand three nights wyddan son of Ltyr in Gower 1 in the prison of (?) Wen Pendragon. he went pigstealing.' and it is to be noted that. he suffered imprisonment at the hands of his enemies. i. we have and attributes are extremely Gwydion son of Don. 71. in the earliest accounts of him.THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF BRITAIN Artio appears elsewhere within the limits of ancient Gaul as that of a goddess These names have been derived from either ot two Celtic may to plough/ which would suga or of agriculture. too. ar. suggests that this name may have been See p. D 49 . deities gest deity a as an animal worshipped at bear. Bran. ' meaning some remote period in the history of the Celts. but he was neither so lucky nor so 1 Professor Anwyl originally Uthr Bendragon. Like Gwydion. or art. and three ' nights in the dark prison under the stone. signifying roots. but they would doubtless be of the kind usually attributed to those divine benefactors known as 'Culture Heroes.e.

i. another Triad. When he had designs upon the swine of March son of Meirchion (the ' King Mark ' of the romances) which Trystan says was herding. he seems to have had the other.' poem xxx. a quest in the course of which he Amaethon and Govannon. An old Welsh poem tells us of ' l Spoiling of Annwn (Preiddeu Annum) and his capture of the magic cauldron of its King. according to Triads.' he is served 1 'Book of Taliesin. Skene. p. even one ceeded wholly. and perhaps older. gods at his feet. 256. pedition only seven of the men who." his But. vol. 50 . having accomplished this. sons of Don. he could not get. similar in Gaelic myth. Gwyn son of Nudd. like its Hades. and Arawn one of Three Chief Counselling Knights. but also by the same Manawyddan who had been his gaoler and another whilom king in This tale. at starting.crafty as his predecessor. though. ' thrice enough to fill Prydwen.. the Fate of the Children ' acquired the not only by ' Treasures of Britain. In the story of the hunting of the wild boar Twrch Trwyth. Lludd. like Bran himself when he went to Ireland. was one of his Three Chief his War Knights. his ' But in the end he sucpig. he brought back with him from his ex- had been ship.

a wolf cub and an eaglet which caused ' trouble afterwards. in his notes to his edition (l'J02) of Lady in Guest's Mabinogion. 2 Thia creature is also mentioned in an Arthurian poem the twelfth century Black Book of Carmarthen. We learn how Arthur and Medrawt raided each other's courts during the owner's absence. " which a good judge has acclaimed saving the finest tales of the Arabian Nights. Alfred Nutt. a little pig. the Triads also take notice. and the reader is Guest's Mabinogion for the full to be. he assembled his hosts to capture a sow called Henwen.' 2 Of what may have been historical elements in his story. 51 . and a grain of rye." the greatest romantic fairy tale the world has 1 ever known.' The pursuit seems to have been an of wondrous pigs important feature of Arthur's career. Besides the boar Trwyth.' referred to story. a grain of barley. ' is Lady a long one. Wherever she went she dropped the germs of three grains of wheat and three bees.THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF BRITAIN of Tuireann. which led him through the length of Wales.' famous as one of the ' Three Plagues of the Isle of Mona. and that the battle of Camlan was one of the Three Frivolous ' 1 Mr. But she left evils behind her as wealth for Britain well. as well as a kitten which grew up to be the Palug Cat.

accom- panied by nine bards bearing with them those wondrous talismans. and the time was ripe for their coming to our island. and laid the foundations of literature 52 . passing to Avilion (Avallon). to an island beyond the sunset. and that the usual Three alone escaped from it. in spite of the tion. In Gwlad yr Hav.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN because during it the two antagonists thrice shared their forces. the 'Land of Summer' a name for the Brythonic Other World dwelt the Britain was ancestors of the Cymry. but by justice and peace. is and the end of the divine age also marked by the similar departure of his associate Myrddin. stated in a Triad that there is it being. Apparently we have a similar legend to the story of the conquest of Ireland from the Tuatha D Danann by the Milesians. the contrary. though here no hint of fighting.' ' ' Arthur himself is. on Hu obtained dominion over Britain not by war and bloodHe instructed shed. divided them into federated tribes as a first step towards civil government. or Merlin. added as a fourth. the Thirteen Treasures. triadic conven- So he vanishes. now ready for her Britons. his his people in the art of agriculture. ruled over by a divine hero called Hu Gadarn ('the Mighty'). though Battles of Britain.

' the second being the Prydain who gave her his name. who reduced to a system the laws. He put a stop to disastrous floods by dragging out of the lake where it concealed itself the dragon-like monster which caused them.' S3 . and. he was the first to draw on British soil Therefore he is a furrow with a plough. while the third was the mythical legislator Dyvnwal Moelmud. customs. after the waters had subsided.THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF BRITAIN and history by the institution of bardism. and ' privileges appertaining to a country and nation. called the first of the Three National Pillars of ' the Isle of Britain. maxims.

But. and in some cycles. of these deals with the palmy days of the then Kingdom of Ulster during two heroic the reign of Conchobar (Conahar) Mac Nessa. whom the early annalists place at about the beginning of the Christian era. there is probably little. We may any. if of fact in their legends. the most ways interesting. Their chief figures draw descent from the Tuatha D Danann. Ireland has evolved The completest. precise as this statement sounds and vividly as the Champions of the Red Branch/ as King Conchobar's braves were called. foundation discern in their genealogies and the stories of their births the clue to their real nature. and are twice described in the oldest manuscripts as 54 . and the not her early ' Milesian ' apocryphal stories of kings. are depicted for us by the story' tellers.CHAPTER VI THE HEROIC CYCLE OF ANCIENT ULSTER IN addition to the myths less of the Tuatha De Danann.

or romances.' what are full called When in his strength no one could look him in the face without blinking. sea. or Cuchullin. The sagas. He was first called Setanta. both of The longest and most important of them is known as the Tdin Bo Chuailgne (the 'Cattle Raid of the chief figure of which is the famous Cuchulainn. fortissimus heros Scotthe real centre of the whole cycle. His attributes and adventures are of the type usually recorded 'solar heroes. and the Yellow Book of Lecan. Cuchulainn. assigned to the end of the fourteenth. It very doubtful whether he ever had actual of existence. of Leinster. the son of Conchobar's Cooley ') sister Dechtire by is Lug of the Tuatha De Danann. the Book of the Dun Cow and the Book which date from the beginof the twelfth ning century. is indeed. but it was while he was still quite a child that he changed his 55 .' One may compare them with which make up the the divinely descended heroes of the Greeks. It was geis (' taboo ') to him to behold the are often The antagonists whom he conquers suspiciously like mythological personifications of the dark shades of night. torum. Ulster cycle are found mainly in three manuscripts.HEROIC CYCLE OF ANCIENT ULSTER ' terrestrial gods. The heat of his body melted snow and boiled water.

Munster. to obtain possession of a magic bull called The Brown of Cualgne. the Amazon-Queen of the last- named lies in province. how he carried off his bride Emer (Avair) in the teeth of a host and how. by success in a series of terrible tests. the Warrior- Witch who gave her name to the Isle of Skye. and after- wards acted as its substitute until another could be procured and trained. taken at a time when all Conchobar's warriors 56 .MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN name to Cu Chulainn (' Hound of Culann ') as the result of an exploit in which he killed the watch-dog of the chief smith of Ulster. But these isolated sagas kingdoms of Ireland Meath. are only external to the real core of the cycle. This is the story of a war which the other four Head-Champion of Ulster. he gained the right to be called . Leinster and Connaught made upon Ulster at the bidding of Medb (Maive). and slew three champions had set all the warriors of Ulster at defiance . Other stories of his youth tell how he assumed arms who how he at the age of seven. the Tdin Bo Chuailgne. travelled to highest skill in Alba (Scotland) to learn the arms from Scathach. battles in Its interest which the deeds of an individual warrior are dwarfed by those of no promiscuous For the mythic raid was underhis compeers.

For three months he held the marches against fresh all comers. while the storytellers attribute it to a of the primitive custom of the mythologists the helplessness of upon Ulster by the goddess Macha. and the battle.HEROIC CYCLE OF ANCIENT ULSTER were lying under a strange magic weakness which incapacitated them from fighting. Ferdiad. fighting a champion every day. the heroic Cuchulainn. moved Mdrrigu. feated in his turn. stood up to defend it single-handed. had rashly pledged his word to 57 . is love. each to be de- tremendous struggle hover the figures of the Tuatha De" Danann. and the story of the Tdin consists mainly of a long series of duels in which exponents of every savage art of war or witchcraft are sent against him. and the gods of vegetation and agriculture during the winter. Anthropologists tend to see in this mysterious infirmity a distorted memory couvade. who. But when the land seemed most at its enemy's mercy. Cuchulainn's divine father. drugged with love and wine. who for some unexplained reason was not subject to the same curse once laid incapacity as his fellow-tribesmen. comes to heal his Over this son's wounds. queen of to offer so unrivalled a hero her fierce short-lived pathos illumines the story in the tale of his combat with his old friend and A sworn companion. Lug.

the deserted wife of Manannan son of Ler until at last the mass of legends . an old Aryan motif which we find also visit in Teutonic and Persian myth.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN take up the standing challenge.' But the victory ended his perilous labours for the of Ulster. which make up a complete story of the hero's career are closed with the tragedy of his death upon the plain of Muirthemne. Cuchulainn gives the death-blow to the foe who is still his friend. all Ferdiad came the game and a memory of this . during which the courtesies exchanged between the two combatants are not excelled in tale of any mediaeval chivalry. and no stone was left unturned to compass his downfall. or his to the Celtic Other World. day will be like a cloud hanging over me for ever. sport until was . and his love adventure with Fand. was planned by Medb with the sons and of the chiefs whom Cuchulainn had killed in battle. men Other stories of the cycle tell of such episodes as Cuchulainn's unwitting slaying of his only son in single combat. came down and dispersed their enemies. After a three days' duel. When he sees him at his 'It feet. he bursts into a passionate lament. Three witches who had It relations been to Alba and Babylon to learn 58 all the sorcery . at last shaking off their weakness.

But. though their Most of these tales lists are comparatively short. his sword. Out of the seventy-six stories of the Ulster cycle which have come down to us. 1 A list of the tales. lampoon his family if he and superaid. Wounded to the death. 139s. London. taken together. but perhaps also his totem. and is draw him out alone open . by overwhelming numbers. lost. threatening to refuses . says the story. falling from his grasp. though signs and portents announce his doom. so that he may die standing. he binds himself with his belt to a pillar-stone.of the world deceive him with magic into the shows. 59 . no less than sixteen are personal to Cuchulainn. there is no shadow of changand thus. of the Ulster Cycle will be found as Appendix of Miss Eleanor Hull's Cuchullin Saga. satirists demand his favourite weapons. they form a narrative which is almost epic in its 1 completeness and interest. stripped of material natural he is attacked ' ing' in the hero's indomitable heart. chops off the hand of the enemy who has come to take his head. But the other heroes are not altogether forgotten. he tricked into breaking his taboo by eating the flesh of a dog his name-sake. extant and I. his last even after he has drawn breath. and. and. have been already translated.

' in the Book of the Dun Cow relates fessed the ' that king died of wrath and sorrow at learning of the Passion of Christ. conjured from the dead by St. have evidently had a hand in recasting the pagan myths of Ulster the purposes of Christian edification. Another story from the same source. Patrick. 60 . too. which presents us with a picture of the Celts of Ireland at an age perhaps contemporary with Caesar's invasion of her sister isle of Britain. and spread over a considerable time.' ' how shows us Cuchulainn. We are told with startling inconsistency how Cuchulainn. heard the angels hymning in Heaven. and was cheered by the The Tragical Death of certainty of salvation. Conchobar. testifying to the truth of Christianity before an Irish king. contrue faith. Some for of the redactors. going to his last fight. entitled The Phantom Chariot.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN Probably its growth was gradual. But such interpolations do not affect the real matter of the cycle.

The especial possession. So firmly rooted are a proverb to the Fenians found that they had not been spoken of for a day. the Fenian sagas mirror.driving chiefs ruling over settled communities from fortified duns. the lives of nomad hunters in primeval woods. being as native to Moreover. SAGAS THE second of the two Gaelic heroic cycles presents certain striking contrasts to the first. but of the folk. for. while the Ulster stories deal with chariot. OR OSSIANIC. it Scotland as to Ireland. It depicts a quite different stage of human culture. they would rise the effect that if from the dead. of a living tradition. under a faint disguise. distinction.CHAPTER VII THE FENIAN. not of any one tribal to the community. has the being still the memories of Finn and his heroes in the minds of the Gaelic peasantry that there is unique among early literatures. it is common two Goidelic countries. 61 .

is The word Fenian ' ' in popular parlance ' applied to certain political agitators of recent notoriety.tales by oral tradition. less Some of the poetical pieces are. but the bulk of the poems and all the prose tales are. was almost certainly that writer's own composition. With ' regard. The cycle as a whole deals with the history and adventures of a band of warriors who are described as having formed a standing force. and they have also been handed down as folk. an idea perhaps suggested by the prosepoem of James MacPherson. indeed.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN It may be well here to remove a few possible ' misconceptions concerning these sagas and their heroes. like the sagas of the Ulster cycle. A few of them are found in the earliest Irish manuscripts. but there has been a continuous stream of literary treatment of them. it must not be taken that the Fenian hero Ossian was their author. rightly or wrongly attributed to Ossian. in the pay of 62 . by unknown authors. to the second title of ' Ossianic which the romances and poems which make up the cycle bear. too. as some are to Finn himself. though doubt- founded upon genuine Gaelic material. which. But those Fenians merely assumed their title from the tradition that the original Fianna (Fena) were a band of patriots sworn to the defence of Ireland.

afterwards.' appears mythical ancestor of the Gaels. to 284 A. ' The same ' writer witli inclined to equate Fionn mac Cumhail Gwyn ab Nudd. to protect Ireland. tend to reverse or Finn. we have seen.THE FENIAN OR OSSIANIC SAGAS the High Kings of Tara. and. following chase in summer. But these identifica- tions arc contested. The early annalists were quite certain of their historical reality. according to Professor Rh^s. is identical with Carnulos and the German Himmel is (Heaven).D. a Sky who. and dated their existence as a body from 300 B. 178. This possible starting-point would show us a the roving band of picked soldiers. pp. 63 . Modern this view. however. White son of been a historical nucleus of the Fenian cycle into which myths of gods and heroes became incorporated.C.. while even so late and sound a scholar as Eugene O'Curry gave his opinion that Finn himself was as undoubtedly historical a character as Julius Caesar. 179. British god 1 But there may have king of the Welsh fairies. Hibbert Lectures. Celtic students. quartered 1 on the towns in Rhys. meaning as that of a elsewhere 'fair. was a of the Other World. both from internal trouble and foreign invasion. His father's name The name Fionn 'white/ or Cumhal (Coul).

head of the powerful clan of Morna. defeats and kills Cumhal. Dissensions leading to inter- necine strife break out among themselves. at the bidding of the High King of Ireland. and tells his name. and their pride all affronts the king. For a time goes smoothly. and disperses the clan of Baoisgne But Cumhal's posthumous (Baskin). but always ready to march. and. and so he becomes leader of the Fenians. to quell any disturbance or to meet any foreign foe. king and people common cause and destroy them. this seed of decay is sown His father Cumhal before the birth of Finn. son is feats. is called upon by the High King to claim a boon. his tribe. the smouldering enmity breaks out. son of restored Finn to his heritage. the rest of the clan of Morna go over to the High King of Ireland Cairbre. Goll goes into exile but returns.' says the youth. the The disastrous battle of Gavra is fought. banishes Goll (Gaul). and.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN winter. is trained to manly and. But at last their exactions rouse the people against them. as the reward of a deed of prowess. taking advantage of these. in which Cormac who had 64 . The king insists upon Goll admitting Finn's rights. 'I ask only for my lawful inheritance. in the end. make In the romances. But. brought up in secret. after the death of Goll.

Their actors are the principal Fionn (Finn) himfigures of the Fenian chivalry son Oisin (Ossian). but oftener ' upon perilous seas ' and ' in faery lands forlorn ' the Tuatha with wild beasts. self. swiftestfooted of men. leaders of the clan of Morna. his . while the Fenians are practi- cally annihilated. The Fenians have the freedom of the sidhe. Even Bodb Derg (Red Bove) a son of the Dagda. in which the World. and De Danann themselves. and his grandson Osgur (Oscar) his cousin Caoilte (Kylta). giants. sometimes with invaders from abroad. E 65 . and his nephew Diarmait (Dermat). the palaces under the fairy hills. the High King of his vassals against Ireland. and help this god or that against his fellows. gives his daughter to Finn and sends his son to enlist with the Fenians. The culmination of these exploits tale called Cath Finntraighe Ventry). 1882. of Anecdota Oxoniensia. witches and wizards. i. They consist of wonderful adventures. leads 1 is 1 related in the (the Battle of Daire" all Bonn.THE FENIAN OR OSSIANIC SAGAS Cairbre himself falls. with the proud Goll and his braggart brother Conan. the lover of women . is But attached to this possibly historical nucleus a mass of tales which may well have once been independent of it. Translated by Professor Kuuo Meyer. in vol.

But he is especially connected with what in might be called the 'post -Fenian which the heroic deeds of Finn and told in the St. Saint Patrick presses the of the gods. But his saddle-girth breaks. warning him not to put foot upon earthly soil. the Land of Youth. Here (Neeave). ballads. stripped of the gifts 'Dialogues' recite the arguments held between the saint and the hero. new creed and culture upon his who answers him with passionate Patrick tells 66 . Patrick.' the Celtic Paradise of old and the Celtic Fairy' fairy. for the days that are dead.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN and is defeated by the joint efforts of the Fenians and the Tuatha stories D6 Danann. Ossian takes. Ossian falls to earth. and rises up. Niamh of Manannan mac Lir. The ballad laments unwilling guest. a prominent part in the which are so much associated with his name.' his men are form of dialogues between Ossian and They hinge upon the legend that Ossian escaped the fate of the rest of his kin by being taken to Tir nan Og. of course. a blind old man. In the end he longs to see his own country again. daughter he enjoyed three hundred years of divine youth. land of to-day by the while time changed the face of the world outside. or goddess. and Niamh mounts him upon a magic horse.

It is the clash of two of God and aspects of life.' replies Ossian to the saint's praises of the heaven of the elect.' he answers. Nor ' is he more ready to listen to Patrick's exhortations to repent and weep over his pagan I will weep my fill. Ossian retorts with tales of Finn and the Fenians. but because Finn and the Fenians are no longer alive.THE FENIAN OR OSSIANIG SAGAS the Angels. ' for God. ' I will tell you a little story about Finn. and relates some heroic exploit of chase or war. but not past. the heathen ideal of joy and strength. and the Christian ideal of service and sacrifice.' .

as the stories of the British gods which was and heroes. The minstrels found the stories which they heard from their Welsh confreres so much to their liking that they readily adopted them. be the leading source of The whole its vast Arthurian literature has Celtic mythology. and spread them from camp to camp and from court to court. were called. qualities of Celtic romance made especial appeal to that new fashion of ' ' chivalry growing up under the fosterage of poetry and romance by noble ladies. wherever their Perhaps the finer dominant race held sway. and especially of Arthur. left for This distinction has been Norman the legendary tales of the Britons. have yet caused no echo of themselves in the literatures of the outside world. vital as they are. origin in British 68 . At any rate the Mati&re de Bretagne. came to poetic inspiration on the Continent.CHAPTER VIII THE ARTHURIAN LEGEND Bur the Gaelic myths.

in can trace the nucleus of their and Welsh songs and tales older than the earliest outburst of Arthurian romance in Europe. a who said to have been the wife of half- little -known and perhaps superseded and called forgotten Sky-god Nwyvre (' Space '). the consort of the Heaven-god Lludd. Arianrod. the good and their evil brothers we shall probably be right in cognising similar characters to Arianrod's sons.THE ARTHURIAN LEGEND We find the names of its chief characters. stories.' 69 . also Arthur's sister. Historical and Mythical. Studies in the Arthurian Legend. See Rhs. seems by Gwyar. i. 1 This body of myth has passed ' down Arthur. In Gwalchmai born of re- and Medrawt. a result probably due to the same type of myth having been current in different localities and associated in different districts is with different names. the gods of light and darkness. Lieu (Llew) and Dylan. several the attributes and adventures of Gwydion son of Don. as we have of tried to show in a previous chapter. chap. while the figures most closely connected with his story bear striking resemblance to the characters which surround in the fourth ' ' Gwydion 1 branch of the Mabinogi. and from comparison with later romance we may fairly assume that to be represented in Arthur's story Gwyar was union. Arthur himself has.

. stately figure of We are upon uncertain ground. has devoted great ingenuity and learning to this task. cannot at present be considered as otherwise than hazardous. Arthur. Professor Rh^s.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN almost intact into the mediaeval Arthurian cycle. who watches over. and even dares to rebuke. ruler of the children of Don. in his Studies in the Arthurian Legend (1891). either in name or becoming Sir Mordred. The wife of King Lot (Lludd) is sister 1 to Arthur Lleu's counterpart. Gwalchmai. in changed at all. is paralleled by the majestic Merlin. Medrawt has scarcely character. of Pryderi. The transformations of Bran seem less open to doubt. and of Amaethon with characters in the mediaeval romances. whose name u the original of Galahad. certain descriptions of whom in Malory's Morte Darthur are hardly comprehensible except as a misunderstood fragment of a mythology in which he appeared as a 'solar hero'. Gwalchavecl (the 'Hawk of Summer'). Gwalchmai (the Hawk of May ') has a brother. however. 1 In Welsh legend. while the Math. of Arawn. his protege.' ' ' 70 . of Rhiannon. of Gwyn. to discover in the in attempting Arthurian cycle the other personages of the Mabinogian stories. whatever may happen to them in the future. appears as Sir Gawaine. but his identifications of Pwyll.

But here we are confronted with a notable . . Myrddin as Merlin March as King Mark Gwalchaved as Sir Galahad Kai as Sir Kay and Gwenhwyvar as Guinevere have obviously been directly taken over from Welsh story. London. British BelSnos. a water. King Arthur's of and the lover Queen Guinevere. 1901. and Bron.THE ARTHURIAN LEGEND The name into of resolved into Bran of Gower. He exception. and brought up by. King Brandegore may probably be and of Sir Brandiles . who brought the Grail to Britain contact with Balin. Western's The Legend of Sir Lancdot Du Lac. peerless knight that no trace can be found in earlier legend. . is not heard of till century. stolen in infancy. little sonages who surround Arthur both question as to other perin the earlier . Bran of Gwales (Gresholm Island) he is perhaps King Ban of Benwyk. but thenceforward when he appears the latter part of the twelfth as a knight who was he supersedes in popularity 1 all the others of the See Miss J. . he is who seems to brought into be the Gallo- Uther Pendragon himself may have been originally Bran's 'Wonderful Head' (Uthr Ben) which lived for eighty-seven years after it had been severed from its body. while But there can be and later legends. L.fairy 1 (whence his title of Du Lac). It is of Sir Lancelot. 71 . as Balan.

the Cornish equivalent of the Welsh Gwyn ab Nudd. he pushes his way into.^s's Stvdies in the. though Melwas. and shatters. hold his own against the new-comer. as testified by its attraction to for author. Legend 72 . ' Nor can Sir Mordred. it is Sir Lancelot who appears deliverer. as it is not the core dictated Lancelot's prominence. and centre of the Arthurian legend. the older traditions. or rival of Arthur's.' is still the abductor of Guinevere. her Some Probably we shall never solve this mystery. who stole Gwenhwyvar. Alfred Nntt's Studies on of the HolyQrail.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN Table Round. is and composer down the not the somewhat commonplace present day. artist. According to early story it was Melwas. the Arthurian Legend and Mr. 1 i The its relation chief authorities for the study of the Grail legend in to Celtic myth are Professor Rh. And here we can clearly trace the direct evolution of the Arthurian legend from the myths of the Celts. and Arthur himself who recaptured her. literary or social fashion of which all record is lost may have It matters less. In his role of the lover of the Queen. whose name has become Queen as Sir Meliagraunce. but the mystical quest of the Holy Grail. love of Lancelot and the Queen. traditional another Medrawt. What has given the cycle its enduring interest. But in the Morte Darthwr.

Isle when he stormed of Man . But certain other such vessels of Brythonic myth were endowed with different. could be fed from it and in this quality we find it on British ground as the basket of Gwyddneu Garanhir. 50) is represented as having captured from the Other World King. these varying legends. the husband of his sister Branwen. prominence is given to a cauldron which has wondrous talismanic virtues. and less material. It was one of the four chief Both in Gaelic treasures brought Ireland . Its especial property in these myths was that of miraculous food-providing all the men in the world. the goddess Kerridwen brewed a drink of prophecy. would restore the dead to life . the qualities of the previous cauldrons have been brought together to form the trophy is In what perhaps the latest of all which Arthur. A magic cauldron given by Bran son of Ltyr to Matholwch. we are told.THE ARTHURIAN LEGEND and British mythology. stronghold in the reappears in the Fenian his stories. while from the cauldron of the giant Ogyrvan. by the Tuatha De* Danann to Cuchulainn captured it from the god and it Mider. 73 . in her cauldron of Inspiration and Science. the father of Gwenhwyvar. virtues. the three Muses had been born. in the early Welsh poem caUed ' The Spoiling of Annwn/ (see p.

the Castle of (?)Revelry (Caer Vedwyd). the Four-cornered Castle (Caer Pedryvan). It was kept in a square fortress surrounded by the sea. and called by various names. This cauldron of pagan 74 myth has altered . ruled over by Pwyll and Pryderi. but its inhabitants. the (?)Kingly Castle (Caer Rigw). like such vessels as the Dagda's cauldron or the basket of Gwyddneu Garanhir. It will not cook the food of a coward or one forsworn.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN ' Is it not the cauldron of the Chief of Annwn ? ' ' What is its fashion ' ? asks the bard Taliesin. is repre sented as spinning round with such velocity that it was almost impossible to enter it. and he goes on to describe it as rimined with pearls. it would provide generously for the brave and truthful. and gently warmed by the breath of nine maidens. it stood for the Other World. quaffing the old age and disease. the Underworld (Uffem). as may be ascertained from comparison with similar myths. This stronghold. the Glass Castle (Goer Wydyr). Evi- dently. who were exempt from lives of revelry. which allows us to assume ' that. led bright wine.' he continues. and was in pitch-darkness save for a twilight made by the lamp burning before its gate. such as the Revolving Castle (Goer Sidi). as conceived by the Celts. and the Castle of (?) Riches (Caer Golud).

that of the Welsh Pwyll. not altered. the keeper of the mystic vessel bears a different name. retains in essence the qualities of 'the cauldron of the Chief of Annwn. 315-317t 75 . when it appeared. in whom 1 recognises Gwyddneu Garanhir. whether Goon (?Gwyn). the Arthurian Legend. and no one could grow old while in 1 its presence. Professor Rhys It still he be called Bron (Bran). pp. in becoming the heavenly vessel which is still could not be seen by sinners.' cooking-pot which would refuse The savage coward to serve a or perjurer with food. or Peleur (? Pryderi).strangely little in passing down through the centuries to become the Holy Grail which had been filled by Joseph of Arimathea with Christ's kept in a mysterious castle by a mysterious king. he always seems to be one of the rulers of the Other World. Like its pagan prototype. and though in other versions of the Grail story. a name strangely like It is still Blood. In Malory's Morte Darthur this king is called Pelles. Though. it filled the hall with sweet savours. has been only refined. or or the Rich Fisher. while every knight saw before him on the table the food he loved best. taken perhaps from variant British myths. it cured wounds and sickness. too. while the older idea retained in the account of how.

place in which it was kept is but vaguely pictured by Sir Thomas Malory, the thirteenth century

Norman-French romance

called the Seint Great


the characteristics which most strike

us in Taliesin's poem.
great water;

surrounded by a revolves more swiftly than the

wind; and its garrison shoot so stoutly that no armour can repel their shafts, which explains
why, of the

men that accompanied Arthur,



none returned from Caer

The kingdom

of heaven suffereth


and the violent take

by force';

this is the

meaning of the Celtic myth, and in lain has the lasting inspiration of the story this which attracted Milton so strongly that it was
almost by chance that we did not have from him a King Arthur instead of Paradise Lost. In our own times
it has enchanted the imagination of while and Matthew Swinburne, Morris, Tennyson, Arnold have also borne witness to the poetic

value of

a tradition






Britain as the
to Greece.


to India, or her epic


Edited and translated by the Rev. Robert William*, M. A. London, 1876.








(Goidels) about 1000-500 B.C.

Brythons and Belgae, coming

over during the 2nd and 3rd centuries B.C., largely supplant the Goidels Belgic settlers still crossing over from Gaul in the time of Julius Caesar, who made his first invasion



Britain declared a


province under Claudius



Abandoned under Honorius

forbidden to



A.D. 410 Druidism under Tiberius (reigned A.D.

14-37) and its complete suppression ordered by Claudius The chief stronghold of the Druids (reigned A.D. 41-54) in Britain destroyed under Suetonius Paulinus, A.D. 61
Christianity, introduced under the Roman rule, makes gradual headway Gildas, writing in the sixth century, describes paganism as extinct in civilised Britain Era of St. Patrick
in Ireland, fifth century St. Columba carries the gospel to the Northern Picts, sixth century. TRADITIONAL. Fictitious dates assigned by the Irish com-

mythical eras and events Possibly authentic may be the placing of the heroic age of Ulster in the first century A.D. and the epoch of the Fenians British gods enrolled as early kings in the second and third
pilers of pseudo-annals for all the

by Geoffrey





the founders of powerful

The historic or saintly families by Welsh genealogists may have lived in the fifth-sixth centuries.


LITERARY. The sixth century A.D. is the traditional period of the bards Myrddin, Aneurin, Taliesin, and Llywarch Hen, poems ascribed to whom are found in the Welsh mediaeval


MSS., while Irish legend asserts that the Tain Bo Chuaitgnc was first reduced to writing in the seventh Gradual accumulation of Irish and Welsh mythical sagas, including the Four Branches of the Mabinogi, eighth-eleventh The Irish Book of the Dun Cow and Book of Leinster and the Welsh Black Book of Carmarthen, compiled during the twelfth the Welsh Books of A neurin and of Taliesin during the thirteenth and the Irish Book of Ballymote and the Yellow Book of Lecan and the Welsh Red Book of Hergest during the fourteenth About 1136 Geoffrey of Monmouth finished his Historia Britonum, and during this century and the one following British mythical ;md heroic legend was moulded into the Continental Arthurian romances About 1470 Sir Thomas Malory composed his Morte Darthur from French sources The working-up of Gaelic traditional material ended probably in the middle of the eighteenth century James MacPherson produced his pseudoOssiamc epics,' 1760-63 In 1838-49 Lady Charlotte Guest published her Mabinogion, and from this date the renaissance of Celtic study and inspiration may be said to have com; ;



of the Cours . For the stories themselves. which give with the paraphrase all of the most important legends dealing Red Branch of Ulster and with the Tuatha De Danann and the Fenians. and Gods and in attractive Fighting Men. Hull's The Cuchullin Saga in in Monsieur H. the Welsh Mabinogion. at giving. Should he be content with a more superficial survey. Nutt. 79 . In these sixpenny booklets he will not only scholarly introductions to the Gaelic Tuatha De Danann. sketches of the different and retellings of their principal stories. with a certain amount of explanatory comment. Cuchulainn and Ossianic cycles. Paris. a popular manner. which aimed find. 6. d'Arbois Irith Literature. he might obtain it from the present writers The Mythology of the British Islands. and the Arthurian legend. London. London. can hardly do better than consult Nos. London. 1904. 1902. but also bibliographical appendices pointing out with sufficient fulness the chief works to consult. and 14 of the Popular Studies in Mythology Romance and Folklore. 3. London. will More exact translations of the Ulster romances be found in Miss E. he may turn to Lady Gregory's Cuchulain of Muirthemne. 1. ' . 1898 de Jubainville's L'Jipopee Celtique en Irlande. 8.SELECTED BOOKS BEARING ON CELTIC MYTHOLOGY To give in the space that can be spared any adequate list of books dealing with the wide subject of Celtic Mythology The reader interested in the matter would be impossible. published by Mr. 11. in cycles. v. 4. 1905. 1892 de Litte'ralure Celtique ') and in Miss (vol.

O'Grady's Silva Gadelica. Printed by T. The Fenian sagas Mr. while Monsieur J. of the Cours de Littera' ' We ' ture Celtique. Campbell's The Fians. 1884 (vol. Rhys's Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion as Illustrated by Celtic Heathendom (The Hibbert Lectures for 1886). iii. R. . with their sequel. and current. L. 1891 and Mr. and iv. Alfred Nutt's The Irlandais . Voyage of Bran. Les Mabinogion. ii. translated by Mr. son of Febal.' Critical studies on the subject in handy form are as yet few. Loth's translation. of the Cours '). 1891 (voL iv. G. research will be found in special publications. London. London. of Waifs and Strays of Celtic Tradition '). 1854-61 . may mention De Jubainville's Le Cyde Mythologique et la Mythologie Celti(fue. London. Oxford. are best studied in the six volumes of the Transactions of the Otsianic Society. J.. Lady Charlotte Guest's Mabinogion can now be obtained in several cheap editions. 1895-97. 1889. Paris. forms vols. I. 1892 and in the Rev. Best as The Irish Mythological Cycle and Celtic Mythology. the Zeitschrift fur Celtische Philologie. . in H. 3rd edit. 1898.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN W. S. and the Transactions of the Cymmrodorion Society. Dublin. Studies in the Arthurian Legend. 1904. London. and the numbers of the Revue Celtique. 1903 Professor J. 2 vols. Faraday's The Cattle Raid of Cualnge. London.. Paris. CONSTABLE. and A. Printers to His Majesty at the Edinburgh Uuiversity Press . The results of more recent. such as the volumes of the Irish Texts Society. Dublin.


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