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College f o r W o m e n
of Western Reserve Univerrity, C l e v e l a n d , 0.
FLORENCE HARKNESS BIBLICAL LIBRARY.
THE MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT
BRITAIN AND IRELAND
RELIGIONS : ANCIENT AND hfODERN.
F o o I i c a p 8uo. Price 13. n r t p r voii~tne. ANIMISM. By E ~ w h CLODD, a~ Author of The Stopy ofC~-eaiioios. PANTHEISM. By JAMES ALLANSON PICTON, Author of The Relfkioil o f the Uniuc~sc. T H E RELIGIONS O F ANCIENT CHINA. By Professor GILCS.LL.D.. ProiessoroiCi~iliesr in t l ~ e University of Cambridxe.
ISLAM I N INDIA. By T. W. AnNorm. Aasistat~t Librarian at file Illdia Office, Author of The Prtnihittf ofIisInt,z. ISLAM. By SVEDA M ! e R ALI. M.A., C.I.E., late of H.hf.'s High Court ofJ~riicature m Bengai, Author of The Spirit uffrla~i2 and The Ethiu o f liinsi. MAGIC AND FETISHISM. By Dr. A. C . HADDON, F.R.S., Lecturer on Ethnology a t Cam. bridze University. THE OF ANCIENT EGYPT. By Professor W. M. FLINDERS PliTnr~,F.R.S. T H E RELIGION O F BAUYLONl.4 AND ASSPRIA. By T W E ~ P I IG. IL PINCIIES, U~ late of tile Briti~ilMuseum. BUDDHISM. 2 vois. By Professor RHYS DAY~DS, I.L.D., late Secretary ol The Royal Asiatic Socictv. HINDUISM. By Dr. L. D. BAXKBTT. of the Departmefit of Oriental Printed Baoka and MSS., British Museum. SCANDINAVIAN RELIGION. By WILLIAM A. CI~AIGIE, Joint Editor of the Orford En*~iiid Dictionarv. ~. CELTIC BY Profesrar ARII'YL, Professor of Welsh a t University College, Aberystwyth. T H E MYTHOLOGY O F ANCIENT BRITAIN AND IRELAND. By CAARLES SQUIRE, Author of The Mylhoio~yo f ofhe Brifirh
JUDAISM. By ISXAEL AsnAanhrs, Lecturer in Talmudic Literature in Cambridge University, Autllor of Jewish L i f e ;in fhe il(iddie .4ps. PRIMITIVE OR NICENE CIIRISTIANITY, By JOHN S U T ~ I F . R L A BLACK. ~'U LL.D., Joint Editor of the Exduriodedirc U i J l i c a .
THE MYTHOLOGY OF
ANCIENT BRITAIN AND IRELAND
'THE MYTHOLOGY OF T H E BRITISH ISLANDS'
ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE ? 3C O LTD
16 JAMES STREET HAYMARKET
Cosrraum. Printers to Hir hiajesty .Kdinbuinix: T.and A.
$. its limits compel the writer to dogmatise. and he believes that the reader may safely accept i t as in lino with the latest reC. But ho has based his work upon the studies of the leading Celtic scholars.FOREWORD THIS little book does not profess in any way to supplement the volume upon Celtic Religion already contributed to this series. search. at most. and to refrain from putting forward any suggestions of his own. to touch but very briefly upon disputed points. I t merely aims a t calling the attention of the general reader to the mythology of our own country. Naturally. or. to ignore many fascinating side-issues. . that as yet reflects little-known store of Celtic tradition ~vhich the religious conceptions of our earliest articulate ancestors.
. ~CAL .. . . 11. . PAOE 1 9 . THE HEROIC CYCLE OF ANCIENT ULSTER. 79 . . 61 68 77 SELECTED BOOKS B E A R I N G ON CELTIC MYTIIOLOQY.CONTENTS CBIP. . . 1 1 1 . . SAGIAS. 14 31 42 VI. THE ARTHUR~AN LEGEND. 54 . THE CELTS AND THEIRMYTHOLOOY. VII. THE GODSoa THE CONTINENTAL CELTS. . vilr. . . . OR OSSIANIC. THE MYTHICAL HISTORY O r IRELAND. THE FENIAN. . . . . C H R ~ N ~ L O G SYLLABUS. THE GODS O F TlIE I N S U L A R CELTS. . . I. v. TIIE MYTUICAL IIISTORY OI? BRITAIN. IV.
and of Frig. Sseter(n)esdseg is adapted from the Latin. those Saxon deities who have bequeathed to us the names of four of the days of our wee1r. Preceding the Saxons in Britain by many centuries were the Celts-the 'Ancient Britons '-who themselves possessed a rich mythoTiwesdseg.THE MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRI'I'AIN AND IltELAND CHAPTER I THE CELTS AND THEIR MYTHOLOGY ' THE Mythology of Ancient Britain and Ireland.' This title will possibly at first sight suggest to tho reader who has been brought lip to consider himself essentially an Anglo-Saxon only a few diin memories of Tiw. Thurresdaeg).l Yet the traces of the English gods are comparatively few in Britain. at any rate. A I ' . Wddnesdsg. they can be better studied in the Teutonic countries to which they were native than in this remote outpost of their influence. of Thunor (Thor). of Wdden. and. Thnnresdzeg (later. snd Frigedseg. Sabmi dies. and are not found at all in Ireland.
Mr. Nicholson. the tradition of which.. Shropshire. and in certain of the wilder legends of our early saints.' called after a legendary 'good king Lud' who was once the Celtic god Lltidd. and part of Sussex. 1904. Worcestershire. Staffordshire. in popular folk and fairy tales. some of whom are but British divinities in disguise. London. by Edward Willisms Byron Nicholson. I n such familiar names as ' Ludgate. Wiltshire. 'that Lanoashire. 2 . Herefordshire. Somerset. Monmouth1 Keltic Researches: Slz~dieain the History acd Distribution o f the Ancient Goidelic Lay~glcage and Peoples. Cambridgeshire. in the stories of Arthur and his knights.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN logy.l 'There is good ground to believe. Warwickshire.' he says. West Yorltshire. though obscured. are as Keltic as Perthshire and North Munster . %LA. that Cheshire. Rutland. in the preface to his Keltic Researche5. we have fragments of the Celtic lnythology handed down tenaciously by Englishmen who had quite as much of the Celt as of the Saxon in their blood. 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 snhject. Leicestershire. has never been quite lost.
it would be hard to put a finger definitely upon any point where the two different cultures have met and blended. Northamptonshire. or Connaught. We know more about its conquerors. Invernessshire. Dorset. and Bedfordshire are more so-and equal to North Wales and Leinster . But even the Celts themselves mere not the first inhabitants of our islands.THE CEIJTS AND THEIR MYTHOLOGY shire. Devon. there were two main streams of Aryan emigra3 . Huntingdonshire. and so is all we think we know of it. and. We meet with their relics in the 'long barrows. while Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire exceed even this degree and are on a level with South Wales and Ulster. Their earliest arrivals found men already in possession. and as much so as Argyll. Gloucestershirc.' and deduce frorn them a short. long-skulled race of slight physique and in a relatively low stage of civilisation. though it must have greatly influenced Aryan-Celtic custom and myth. is more Keltic than any other English county. Its origin is uncertain. According to the most generally accepted theory. Celt and Tenton must be very equally woven into the fabric of the British nation.' If these statements are well founded. dark. of course. Cornwall.
Of these the Goidels were the earlier. 1006. or Brittdnes. steadily encroaching upon and ousting their forerunuers. seem to have appeared about the third cenlury B. but who seern to have been eventually assimilated to. long-skulled non-Aryan race. 1904. their first settlers having arrived a t some period between 1000 and 500 B. the Brythons. there was probably a direrence between Lhe Brythous and the Goidels.Jones. an extensive invasion of Southern Britain. Celtic Britain. and Rh9s and Brvnrnor. to whom they were. still later. and Brythonic. or Gaelic. as well as in language. or absorbed in. who made. ..c. both belonging to the same linguistic branch of the Indo-European stock-the Celtic-but speaking variant dialects of thaL tongue-Goidelic. at any rate linguistically.c.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN tion from the Continent into a non-Aryan Britain.. With the Brythons must be considered the Belge. and it is thought also that the Goidels must have become in course of time modified by admixture with the dark. distinguishing between the inhabitants of the coast regions Rh9s. while the Brythons.' I n physique. or British. 'I%e Il'elrh People. the latter containing some admixture of the broad-headed stock of Central Europe. much akin. The Romans appear to have recognised more than one type in Britain.
with the exception of the extreme West. while the Goidels had most of Ireland. have marlred. who seemed to them more akin to the Germans. Agvieola. North and South Wales. held by others that the Goidels of Scotland did not reach that oountry (from Ireland) before tile Christian ere*. ~ primitive dark West Highlands of S c ~ t l a n dthe Tacitus. Nor do we know when or how the Goidels crossed from Britain to Ireland. To these may he added certain people of West Britain. chap. however. V t is. if this theory be talren as correct. Cornwall. and who probably belonged either wholly or largely to the aboriginal stock. and the ruddy-haired.' We have no records of the clash and counterclash of savage warfare which must. xi. first. ' 5 . the Isle of Man. as well as. and afterwards the displacenient of the Goidels by the later branches of the Celts. Cumberland. whose dark complexions and curly hair caused Tacitus to regard thern as immigrants from Spain. All Lhat we can state with approximate certainty is that at the Lime of the Ro~nan domination the Brythons were in possession of all Britain south of the Tweed. the conquest of the aborigines by the Goidels. the . in the opinion of some authorities. large-limbed natives of the North. who resembled the Gauls. and Devon.THE CELTS AND THEIR MYTHOLOGY nearest to France.
and legends of these Goidels and Brythons. which make up our mythology. Scottish. (2) Irish. (3) Socalled histories -notably that of Geoffrey of &ionmouth. traditions.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN race being still found in certain portions of Ireland and of West Britain. legends preserved from the pagan age. and their more unmixed descendants. large numbers of which have been found both on the Continent and in our own islands. It is the beliefs. though they date only from mediaeval times. copied from older documents. (4) Early hagiology. the modern Gaels and Cymry. contain. ( 5 ) The groundwork of British bsrdic tradition upon 6 . 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. We can gather t h c ~ nfrom six different sources: (1) Dedications to Celtic divinities upon altars and votive tablets. Nor is the stock of them by any means so scanty as the remoteness and obscurity of the age in which they were still vital will probably have led the reader to expect. and Welsh manuscripts which. written in the twelfth centurywhich consist largoly of mythical matter disguised as a record of the ancicnt British kings. and in Scotland north of the Grampian Hills.
although but lately reduced to writing. lives of saints and works attributed to them. they ante . The most famous of them are. upon folk tales which. and the Yellow Book of Lecan. of Lecan. godly or ~ o r l d l y was deemed most worthy of perpetuation. of Leinster. of Ballymote.THE CELTS AND THEIR MYTHOLOGY which the Welsh. and in Welsh. (6) And lastly. in Irish. and. and the Red Book of Hergest-together with the White Book of Rhydderch. as well as the poems of the bards and the legends of tribal heroes who had bee11 the gods of an earlier age. and Norman minstrels. the romance-writers of all the more civilised European countries founded the Arthurian cycle. Taken as a whole. than any of the other sources. ously copied whatever lore. A few lines nlust here be spared to show the reader the nature of the mediaeval manuscripts just mentioned. They thus contain very varied matter :-portions of the Bible . genealogies and learned treatises. Breton. into which the scribe of a great family or of a monastery labori. They consist of larger or smaUer vellum or parchment volumes. the Boolrs of tho Dun Cow. the so-called 'Four Ancient Books of Wales'-the Black Book of Carmarthen. following them. or even older. the Book of Aneurin. are probably as old. the Book of Taliesin.
or even as dignitaries of the Christian Church. be proved to ante-date the seventh century-while the mythical tales and poems must. in however distorted a form. and. and thus their accretions can be stripped from them till they appear in their true guise. The Irish manuscripts have suffered less sophistication than the Welsh. the oldest being the Book of the Dun Cow. I n them the gods still appear as divine and the heroes as the pagalis they were. I n itself it is often poetic and lofty. .iVIYTHOLOGY O F ANCIENT BRITAIN from the beginning of the twelfth century to the end of the sixteenth. in its disguise of Arthurian romance. less adulterated. They preserve for us. I n this way scholarship is gradually unveiling a mythology whose appeal is not merely to our patriotism. But much of their substance is far older-can. the compiler of which died in the yeas 1106. Irish myLhs can be brought to throw light upon the Welsh. much of the legendary lore of the Celts. indeed. have long been traditional. But the more primitive. it has influenced niodern art and literainspirature only less potently than that ~nighty tion-the mythology of Ancient Greece. even at this earlier age. while their Welsh congeners pose as kings or knights.
He mentions five chief divinities of the Gauls. First of all. to afford us some clue amid their bewildering variety. apparentIy in the order of their reputed power. but also of statues and bas-reliefs of. And. we rnust briefly glance at the mythology of the Celts of Continental Europe. especially by Julius Caesar in his Commentaries on the Gallic War. they worship Mercury. he says. that Gallia from which Goidels and Brythons alike came. Frorn the point of view of literature the subject is barren. for whatever mythical and heroic legends the Gauls once had have perished.C H A P T E R I1 THE GODS O F THE CONTINENTAL CELTS 1 BUTbefore approaching the myths of the Celts of Great Britain and Ireland. a certain amount of information is given us by classic miters. But there have been brought to light a very large number not only of dedicatory inscriptions to. as inventor of the arts and patron of travellers and . the ancient gods of Gaul.
Minerva BelisBma. Jupiter Sccellos. I n practice. who rules the sky. the director of battles? This does not. Lhe divine healer. Modern discoveries quite bear out Caesar's statement as to the importance to the Gaulish mind of the god whom he called Mercury.OF ANCIENT BRITAIN merchants. Numerous place-names attest it in modern France. mean that Caesar considered the gods of the Gauls to be exactly those of the Romans. silver. too. and Mars C&miilos. the teacher of useful trades. Jupiter. and he is followed by Minerva. by Jupiter. of ir~assive of the Luxembourg. we find the narnes of Celtic divinities preceded by those of the Roman gods they were considered to resemble :-as hlercurius Artaios. 17. I0 . was dug up in the gardens one. but that imaginary beings represented as carrying out much the same functions as the Roman Mercury. Minerva. and by Mars. hence it is that in the inscriptions discovered in Gaul. iv. of course. Apollo Orannos. and Mars were worshipped by them. the Romans readily assimilated the deities of conquered peoples to their olvn. Apollo. and indeed in our own islands. made in bronze by a Greelr artist for the great temple of the 1 ' De Bello Callieo. Next comes Apollo. while another.MYTHOLOGY. Costly statues stood in his honour.
must have been paid to a Gaulish Apollo. and to have taken ten years to finish. and Granheini. pp. if somewhat ~icarious fame. ' Apollo. Accidentally confounded with Theodoric the Goth. from whorri Aix-la-Chapelle (anciently called Aquae Granni). took their names.2 But the gods of the Continental Celts are being Ixxvii. The regard in which he was held is proved by two of his names or titles:Rigis&mos (' Most Royal. in TTiurtemburg.') and AlbiCrix ('Icing of the World'). Grannos. lord of healing waters. Graux and Eaux Grauimes. Much honour. in all probability. Hibbert Lectures for 1886. however. II ' . for we are told by Dion Cassius that the Roman Emperor Caracalla involred him as the equal of the better-known Another Gaulish Aesculapius and Serapis. too. 30-32.' Toutidrix ('Lord of the People') has won. is said to have stood a hundred and twenty feet high. his mythical achievements are.THE GODS O F THE CONTINENTAL CELTS Arverni upon the summit of the Puy de DBme. in the Vosges. a far ivider. responsible for the wilder legends connected with that historical hero under his title of Dietrich von Bern. 15. a Rh$s. Yet it would seem to have been rather for the war-god that some at least of the warlike Gauls reserved their chief worship.
the Tuatha D4 Danann. Ogma combines in Gaelic mythology the characters of the god of eloquence and poetry and the professional champion of his circle. I n the oldest Irish and Welsh manuscripts we rneet with personages whose names and attributes divinities whom we know to identify them ~ i t h have been worshipped in the Celtic world abroad. the only Gaulish deities who need be noticed here are some whose names reappear in the written myths of our own Islands.MYTFIOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRI'I'AIN treated in this series far more competently than is in the power of the present writer. who. to whom the writer here takes the opportunity of gratefully aoknowledging his indebtedness for value.ble help towards the making of this book. For his purpose and his readers'. though he was represented as armed with the club and lion-skin of Heracles. Anwyl.' whose varied experience made his words worth listening to. was yet considered the exponent of persuasive speech. he taught that true power resides in wise words as much as in doughty deeds. 11yProfessor E. while it second-century Greelc writer called Lucian describes a Gaulish Ogmios. as the 'old man eloquent. Altogether (as a native assured Lucian). a lesson Celtic Religion. he was shown as wrinkled and bald. I2 . He mas depicted as drawing men after him by golden cords attached from his tongue to their ears and.
while Mipdnos. of whom ~uerltionis made in a dedicatory tablet found a t Volnay. 'Mars-Jupiter. 13. and 63of this book. the Irish Minerva or Vesta who passed down into saintship as Saint Bridget. CZmillus seems to have been a. ' Rh$s. we find in the Welsh stories as Mabon son of of Arthur. whom the Latin writer Ausonius mentions as a sun-god served by Druids.pp. 10) suggests. Lug of the Long Hand. Hibbert Leetuves. a co~npanion I t is by a curious irony that we must now loolr for the stories of Celtic gods to two islands once considered so remote and uncivilised as hardly to belong to the Celtic world at all. moreimportant god than his Roman equation with Mars (p. Professor Rhfs calla him a. identified by the Romans with Apollo. Laon. and Leyden. an apocryphal British Iring who reappears in romance as Balin of the Morte Davthur. we may connect Brigit. all anciently called LGgGdunum (' LZigus's town ').20-21. 11.THE GODS OF THE CONTINENTAL CELTS not yet quite forgotten by the Celt. With the Gaulish goddess Brigindu. whose name still clings to the cities of Lyons. we may olairn to see that important figure of the Goidelic legends. near Beaune.' Cf.' I n the Continental Liigus.20. in Belinus. '3 . father of the famous Finn. The war-godz Cttnidlos is possibly found in Ireland as Cumhal (Coul). pp. we probably have the Gaulish BElgnos. Modron (Matrdna).
in all probability. to mention all. I n the old Gaelic literature they are called the Tuatha DQ Danann (Too8ha due donunn). in so srnall a space as we can afford. We also find mention of another ancient female deity of some14 .' Danu-or Donu. and this we and attributes find in certain gods whose nan~es are very largely common to both the Goidels and the Brythons.' and in the Welsh documents. of the swmming deities of ancient Britain and Ireland. most of them. the 'Tribe of the Goddess Danu. the 'Children of D8n' and the ' Children of Ll3r. as the name is ~ometimes spelt-seems to have been considered by the Goidels as the ancestress of the gods. The best we can do is to look for a fixed point. or indeed any but a few. extremely local in their nature. who collectively took their title from her.C H A P T E R I11 THE GODS OF THE INSULAR CELTS IT would be impossible.
Bile and Beli seem to represent on Gaelic and British soil respectively the Dis Pater from whom Caesars tells us the Gauls believed themselves to be descended. and though Bile is nowhere connected with Danu in the scattered myths which have come down to us.e a commentator on a ninth-century Irish glossary? Turning to the British mythology.' who was likewise described as the mother of the Irish Pantheon-'Well she used to cherish the gods. ' . the two Coir Anmanc. who otherwise appears as a mythical king of the Brythons.THE GODS OF THE INSULAR CELTS what similar name. Anu or Ana. vi. Govannon son of D6n.' Translated by Dr. 18. we find that some of the principal figures in what seems to be its oldest stratum are called sons or daughters of D8n : Gwydion son of D8n. the ancestor of the Milesians. Whitley Stakes in irisehe Tezle. which makes it reasonably probable that Beli. 'The Choice of Names. worshipped in Munster as a goddess of prosperity and abundance.' wr0t. 1 5 . His Gaelic counterpart is perhaps Bile. Cormao's Ulmaary. De Bello Gallico. Arianrod daughter of Dan. was considered to be D6n's consort. the first Celtic settlers in Ireland. the analogy is suggestive. Translated by O'Donovan and edited by Stokes. But Arianrod is also termed the daughter of Beli.
Bile and Danu. called in Welsh Caer Lyr. LBr seems to descend from a different line. through Geoffrey of Monmouth. he has become Shalrespeare's ' King Lear.he 'Three Chief Holy Families of the Isle of Britain. appears in Gaelic n~ythsas Lar (gem. On the other hand. Lir). His wife is called Iwerydd (Ireland). however. He gave its name to Leicester. though he is prominent in what are perhaps equally ancient legends concerning Finn and the Fenians.' Both Lkr and Llgr are. ' Llgr of the Half-Tongue. and he himself is termed Llpr Llediaith.' which is supposed to mean that his language oould be but iinperfectly understood. there are details concerning the British Llfr which suggest that hc may haye been borrowed by the Bryttions from the Goidels. both names probably meaning ' the Sea. standing for the divine Father and Mother alilre of gods and men.' Though ranked among the Tuatha DB Danann. while. Llgr. and plays little part in the stories of the earlier history of the Irish gods. i.e.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN shadowy pairs. the head of the other family. better known to mythology by their sons than from their own I6 .' and is found in hagiology as the head of the first of t. Beli and D8n. originally Llfr-cestre.
a player upon the crhth. He is a king in Hades with whom the sons of D8n fight'to obtain the treasures of the Underworld. has passed down into ecclesiastical who brought Chrislegend as 'the Blessed Br&n. but Br%n is one of the most clearly outlined figures in the Brythonic mythology. a harper. p. it is of the Irish god this time that we have the fullest account.n. vol. to be himself a bard. Turning to the brothers of Bron and Bran. He is represented as of gigantic size-no house or ship which was ever made could contain him in it-and.' poem xluiii. He was the patron of minstrelsy and bardism. paradoxically enough. B 17 . according to a mediaeval poem1 put into the mouth of the sixth-century Welsh poet Taliesin. Manannbn rnac Lir has always 'Book o f Taliesin. Of the Irish Bron we know nothing.' tianity from Rome to Britain. We find the Gaelic Bron rnac Lir and ManannAn rnac Lir paralleling the British Bran ab LlPr and Manawyddan ab LlPr. i. 297. and. except that he gave his name to a place called Mag Bron ('Bran's Plain ').. i n Skene's Four Ancient Books of Pi'aZes. when he laid himself down across a river.THE GODS OF THE INSULAR CELTS exploits. and seven score other musicians all at once. an army could march over him as though upon a bridge. and claimed.
euhemerising legend asserts that he was its first king. His British analogue. while on the other he is the enemy of those gods who seem most beneficent to man. which is thirty yards long. and it is these limbs. and agriculturist. whether riding upon his horse ' Splendid Mane. craftsman. On the one hand he appears as a kind of culture-hero-hunter. arranged like the spokes of a wheel. is still pointed out at Peel Castle. can be seen less clearly through the mists of myth.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN been one of the most vivid of the figures of the Tuatha DQDanann. The especial patron of sailors. 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 sea. He was connected especically with the Isle of Man. and girt with his sword 'Retaliator' which never failed to slay. I8 . he mas invoked by them as 'The Lord of Headlands. Clad in his invulnerable mail.' which needed neither sail nor oar nor rudder. or voyaging in his boat ' Wave-Sweeper. with jewelled helmet which flashed like the sun. A curious tradition credits him with three legs. Manawyddan. which appear on the arms of the Island.' while the merchants claimed that he was the founder of their guild. he presents as striking a picture as can be found in any mythology.
and in it he is said to have incarcerated no less a person than the famous Arthur. of the Fortress of Oeth and Annoeth. Arianrod's Castle (Caer Arianrod). 35). CELTS One of his achievernents was the building. Nevertheless. I n Irish myth we find and in British. in Irish literature there is a lame story to account for it (see p. the Castle of Gmydion (Caev Gwydion). But the attributes of both Nuada and NRdd 19 . both epithets having the same meaning of the 'Silver Hand. Niidd. we can hardly go wrong in considering the children of DAn as having come to be regarded as deities of the sky. or Llitdd Nuada Argetlhn~. Whether or not we may take the children of L19r to have been gods of the sea. the Northern Crown. which is described as a gruesome prison made of human bones. in the peninsula of Gower. there are striking parallels extending to what would seein to have been some of the greatest of their gods. they do not present such close analogies to the Irish Tuatha Dd Danann as do the Children of Llyr. Constellations bore their names. Llaw Ereint. Taken as a whole.' What it signified we do not know. and the Milky Way. but if there was a kindred British version it has been lost.Cassiopeia's Chair was called DAn's Court (LLys Ddn).THE GODS OF THE INSULAK.
DIIARTI. Paul's.. with varied inscriptions to him as DEVO NODENTI. Bathurst. MASI~IO. However this nlay be. wiLa published in 1879. Hiibner. TI. who changed the name of his favourite city from Trinovantum (Geoffrey's 'New Troy ') to Caer Ludd.M. or Nadd. standing in a four-horse chariot. &S well as a small plaque of bronze. which afterwards becam0 London.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN (Llfidd) show them as the kind of deity whom the Romans would have equated with their Jupiter. D. ~ which would be the Roman. 20 . with head surrounded by solar rays. while Llfidd. or Rornano-British. follorviug Dr. more probabl~. NODOGTI. or. entitled Rontav Antiquilies at Lydne?~ P a d .-. and DEO NUDENTE M. we know that he was worshipped at Lydney in Gloncestershire. Nuada rules over the Tuatha DB Danann. way of describing the god as the A monograph on the subject. ClozmestererslLire. Professor Rhfs. Vr. appears as a mythical British king. by the Re. a legend which 7ve may perhaps connect with the tradition that a temple of the Britons formerly occupied the site of St. and attended by two winged genii and two Tritons? The '*I' of the inscription may have rexd in full MAGNO. which shows us a youthful figure. He is said to have been buried at Ludgate. for the ruins of his sanctuary have been discovered there. probably representing him.
Goibnenn). the Welsh fairies. son of Nitdd. Also called in Welsh.' HJn moans 'The J Ancient. for it means ' g ~ r e . M. Gaidoe. Studies in the Avll~twinn Legend. though not necessarily as his consort. attests her importance. Gwyn. upon his mother's side. G~vannon.' a war-goddess to whom an inscription has been found at Bnth. Tadg (Teayue). ' ~ The children of both the Gaelic and the British god play notcworthy purts in Celtic legend.THE GODS OF THE INSULAR CELTS warrior he appears as in Irish legend. whose name suggests comparison with the British NgrnBtdna.~ (yen. M6rrigu (the ' Great Queen '). Another of the sons of D8n whom we also find in the ranks of the Tuatha DQ Danann is the in Irish Goibniu god of Smith-craft. The wife of Llitdd. we must rank a goddess of war whose name. originally a deity of the Underworld. With him. has passed down into living follr-lore as king of the Tylwytl~ Teg. but her name also implies fighting. a Rhfs. was the grandfather. p. The Gaelic deity appears in 1 Ths t w o ssc identified by tho Branch schols*r. however. of the famous Finn mac Caul.son of Nnnda. and Nemon (' Venomous'). 'Govynion Hhn. but the equation is not everywhere npheld. in Welsh myth is called Gwyar. and who may have been the same as Macha ('Battle'). 169.' 21 . Badb ('Carrion Crow').
His name and attributes have caused more than one leading mythologist to conjechure whether he nlay not have been identical with a still greater figure. a remarkable series of parallels between the two characters. greater than any of the other sons of D611 would seem to have been Gwydion. 22 . But. especially. and magic. Of his British analogue we know less. engaging in a wonderful feat of agriculture at the bidding of Arthur. the Teutonic Woden. or Odin. who appears in British myth as a ' Culture-Hero. and both gained through painful experiences the lore which they placed ' Pp. as they are figured respectively in Celtic and Teutonic myth? Both were alike preeminent in war-craft and in the arts of storytelling.' the teacher of arts and giver of gifts to his fellows. in company with liis brother Amaethon. the god of Husbandry. the fairy architect to whom popular fancy has attributed the round towers and the early churches of Ireland. Professor Rhfs. in his Hibbert Leetares (1886) on Celtic Heathendom. and in folk-tales as the Gobhan Saer. 282-304. poetry. has drawn. hut he is found.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN mythical literature as the forger of the weapons of his divine companions and the brewer of an ale of immortality.
23 . and another which he could only get by pledging one of his eyes to its owner Sokk-mimi. But the equation. on whom his unnatural mother had 'laid a destiny' that he should never have a wife of the people of this earth. the Giant of the Abyss. Each was born of a mysterious. and sought for him sorrowfully to bring him back to the world. one which Woden obtained by guile from Gundfled. Woden made a man and a woman out of trees. This is represented on the Celtic side by the poetical inspiration which Gwydion acquired through his sufferings while in the power of the gods of Hades. and each lost his son 1 in a curiously similar fashion. is much discounted by the fact that the only traces we find of ' But see note 2 on following page.THE GODS OF THE INSULAR CELTS at the service of mankind. fascinating though it is. littleknown father and mother. daughter of the giant Suptung. while Gwydion 'enchanted a woman from blossoms' as a bride for Lleu. and in Teutonic story by two draughts of wisdom. posed as a maiden and was furiously indignant at the birth of her children . each had a love whose who name was associated with a symb-eel. Still more striking are the strange myths which tell how each of them could cyeate human out of vegetable life.
like so many of the divine figures of the Celts. The form Arianrod. ' Lleu is sometimes treated as the son of Gwydion and Arianrod. The fact. ' 24 . CTwydion2 and Arnaethon.' as a Welsh bard calls him. mayhave been evolved by popular etymology under the influenoe of arias (silver). I t is anothcr of the family of DBn-Arianrod. than so great a deity as the Teutonic god he at first sight seems to resemble.MYTH0I.' to which she sometime gave her name. This would seem to suggest that. the goddess of the constellation 'Corona Borealis.OGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN Gwydion in Britain are a few stories connected with certain place-names in the Welsh counties of Carnarvonshire and Merionethshirc. depicted as the helper of his uncles. god of Literature and Eloquence. elaborated by Profeasor Rhps mainly on the analogy of similar Celtic myths. ar Llew. and the Gaelic Ogma. a t once champion of the Tuatha DQ Danann. and inventor of the ogam alphabet. His nearest Celtic equivalents me may find in the Gaulish Ogmios." who appears in connection with Gwydion as the mother of Lleu. which was popularly interpreted as ' Silver Wheel. figured as a Heracles who won his way by persuasion rather than by force. his fame was merely a local one. inearlier Welsh Armrot. thongh thcre is no direct statement to this effect in Welsh liternture. andthe point has heel. and that he is more likely to have been simply the 'lord of Mona and Arvon.
and in their helping the Inore beneficent gods against thcir enenlies. that Lleu is found in genealogies as ' LouhB (LouHen).THE GODS OF THE INSULAR CELTS in their battles against the powers of the Underworld.' with which we nlay compare that of Lhfccrln ('Of the Long Hand ') borne by the Goidelic deity Lugh. But any such details are wanting with regard to Lleu as those which make the Irish god so clear-cut and picturesque a figure. ' Of the (?)Firm Hand. or Lug. however. the word Lleu or Llew cannot be the exact equivalent of Liigus. while the restricted character of the place-names and legends connected with Lleu as a mythic figure mark him as belonging to much the same circle of local tradition as Gwydion. Llew's epithet is Llaw Gyfes. Such was the radiance of Lug's face that Ilowever. Nor do we know enough about Lleu to be able to make any large comparison between him and the Irish Lug. ii. Far another side of the question see chap. There are. considerable diEculties in the way. eon of Guitgb'(the 'Gwydyen' of the Bookof Aneurin and tlie Book of Tnliesin). equating Lleu (Llew) also with the Gaulish Liigus. in their rapid growth after birth.. of The Welslb People (Rh$s &ndBrynrnor-Jones). 25 . seems to show thatthe idea was not absolutely unfamiliar to the Tl'elsh. This tempts us to regard the two mythical figures as identical. They are alike in thc meaning of their epithets. Phonologically. ii.
nor is it necessary in order to account 1 The Rig-Vedn.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN i t seemed like the sun. for instance. Nuada and Nhdd (or Llildd). and attributes between Bile and Beli. and (2) Lug and Lleu has suggested to several competent scholars that the Brythons received them from the other branch of the Celts.' 26 . and a hound of most wonderful qualities. There is. either by inheritance from the Goidels in Britain or by direct borrowing from the Goidels of Ireland. Bron and Bran. Danu and Dan.(2) Nemon and NAmAtdna. His rod-sling was seen in heaven as the rainbow. He was the acknowledged master of all arts. SRrya is Agni it1 night. tells os that 'Agni (Pire) is Silrla (the Sun) in the molning. and none could gaze steadily a t it. Manannitn and Manawyddan.' First accepted as the sun-god of the Goidels. title. Govannon and Goibniu. and the Milky Way was called 'Lug's chain. however. evidence to show that a certain amount of confusion between the two great sources of light and heat is a not unnatural phenomenon of the myth-making mind. both of war and of peace. Among his possessions were a magic spear which slew of itself. But such a case has not yet been made out convincingly. it is now more usual to regard him as a personification of fire.' This similarity in name. LBr and Lip.
THE GODS OF THE INSULAR CELTS for similar names and myths among kindred races of the same stock. these names are. as we have already done in the case of the British Gwydion and the Gaelic Ogma. mould be. one of the Dagda's sons. deities whose attributes are alike appear under different names in the myths of the two branches of the Celts. The Irish Dagda. may be compared with Ddn's brother. Naturally. whose music caused all who heard to follow it. the wise and just Math. whose name (from an would seem to have meant the earlier Dagod&vos). Whatever may be the explanation of their likeness. called the 'Undry. Angus. The church of this 27 . and who played the seasons into being with his mystic harp. who is represented as a great magician who teaches his lore to his nephew Gwydion. after all. D~uynn~on means 'the Blessed Dwyn. as a divinity of the tender passion. Some of these it may be interesting to compare briefly. or Dwynwen: the British Venus. too. and whose kisses became birds which sang of love.' whose cauldron. a counterpart of Dwyn.' fed all the races of the earth. Speeialised gods could have been but few in type. but a few taken out of two long lists of divine characters.' goddesa-saint is Llanddsyn in Anglesey. 'good god. while their names might vary with every tribe.
and with him are grouped his wife.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN who was. jointly with Manawyddan son of L1j. appears in Welsh romance only as a wonderful marksman-may be here considered in connection with Pwyll. however. or 'Great Queen') and his son Prydkri.' Brigit. Pwyll. the hero of a legendary cycle apparently local to Dyved (the Roman province of Demetia. appears as an Underworld deity. hymned as the 'saint of love. the owner of a 'cauldron of Inspiration and Science. roughly. who may perhaps represent the same god as the Arawn who is connected with him in ~nythicromance. south-west Wales). even by the later Welsh bards. the Dagda's daughter. patroness of poetry. may find her analogue in the Welsh Kerridwen. a deity of the Underworld-though his name would bring him rather into line with the British Medyr.' Diancecht (Dianket) the Goidelic god of Healing seeins to have no certain equivalent in Brythonic myth. who is eventually his conqueror and slayer. who succeeds his father as king of Annwu or Annwvn (the British Other World). He is represented as the antagonist of Gwydion.r. but Mider. and. But even the briefest account of the Celtic 28 . friendly with the children of Llyr and opposed to the sons of Dbn. who. Rhiannon (in older Celtic Rigantdna.
some of whom may have owed their names to history. Prominent. who. too. a mythical personage douhtlcss to be distinguished from his namesake the supposed sixth-century bard to whom are attributed the poems in the Black Book of Carmarthen. the son of Llqr. and ICai. half king. patron and perhaps originator of bardism-and Gwalchmai and Medrawt.THE GODS OF THE INSULAR CELTS gods would be incomplete without some mention of a second group of figures of British legend. who sometimes appears as a powerful prince in North Britain. seem in older story to have been considered his sons. are Urien. There is Arthur himself. the King of Cameliard. and sonietinles as a deity with similar attributes to those of Brin. or the mortal chieftain with whom tradi29 1 . A greater figure in some respects even than Arthur must have been Myrddin. with his queen Gwenhwyvar-whose father.' was the giant Ogyrvan. who may have been (as seems likely from a passage in the ilfabinogion story of ' Rulhwch and Olwen') s personification of fire. with which local myths became incorporated. half god. Tennyson's ' Leodogran. though they are usually called his nephews. These are the characters of early Welsh tradition who appear afterwards as the kings and knights and ladies of mediaeval Arthurian romance.
and lord of Fairyland. seem to be inhabitants of an obscure borderland where vanishing myth and doubtful history have mingled. fleeing from the Saxon conquerors. the fairies (Korrigm). by a loose thread with Arthur's story are the figures of what is thought to have been the independant mythic cycle of March (King Mark). while Myrddin (in Breton. Marzin).MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN tion has associated Caer Gai in Merionethshire and Cai Hir in Glamorganshire. . found new homes upon the other side of the English Channel. and the water-spirits (Morgan) of Breton popular belief. can only be the folklore representative of a once great deity. Little Britain has joined with Great Britain in cherishing thc farne of Arthur. to merge into the nameless hosts of the dwarfs (Korred). All thesc. or Trystan. described as the master of all knowledge. while the other characters have lost their indiviof the Brythonic ~nythology dualities. of this cycle has passed down into The n~emory living folk-lore among the descendants of those Rrythons who. and his nephew Drystan. These two stand out clearly. and many others. too. his queen Essyllt (Isenlt). (Sir Tristrem). Connected. owner of all wealth.
She perished. treeless and grassless. 288. but it is more likely that she represented a tribal goddess or divine ancestress of the pre-Celtic people in Ireland. The race that succeeded Cessair. who sought to nullify the p q a n traditions against which thcy fought by turning them into a pseudohistory. but watered by three lakes and nine rivers. soon set to work to remedy this.CHAPTEH. Partholon. Cdt<elicBvitain. with all her race. Ireland was first inhabited by a lady named Cessair and her followers. p. 31 .' Whoever she may have been. Third edition. for Ireland consisted then of only one plain. her influence was not lasting. shortly after the flood. I V THE MYTHICAL HISI'OlLY OF IRELANII I ACCORDING to the early rnonlcish annalists. who ' Rh$s. however. They describe her as a grand-daughter of Noah. We say ' field ' with intention . leaving a free field to her successors.
an epidemic sprang up which annihilat.ed them. The newcomers themselves also increased and multiplied. on the three hundredth anniversary of their coming. many of them being footless and handless. which means 'under wave. Partholon and his people had to fight them for a foothold in Ireland. and the Fo'on~oraehappear as the antithesis of the beneficent gods of light and life. Their name Fonzor. Ireland had been inhabited by a race of demons or giants.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN landed with twenty-four males and twenty-four females upon the first of May (the Celtic feast of 'Beltaine'). so that in three centuries their original forty-eight members had become five thousand. or 'the Deep. and did so successfully. enlarged the island to four plains with seven new lakes. They gathered together upon the original first-created plain to die. Before these early colonists. described as monstrous in size and hideous in shape. . But.'% seem to show them as a personification of the sea waves.'l and their descent from a goddess named Domnu. and the place of their funeral is still marked by the mound of Tallaght. To the Celtic mind the sea represented darkness and death. while others had the heads of animals. near Dublin.
reduced to a handful of thirty.' Fir Cfailidim. and took it. the ' Men of Domnu. one of the Fomor Kings. with many of his followers. They are generally considered as having represented to the Gaelic mind the pre-Celtic inhabitants of Ireland. and here we seem to find ourselves upon historical ground. These were three tribes called Fir Domnaq~n. and added twelve new plains and four more lakes to Ireland. who are called ' Gods of Domnu. and the fact that their principal tribe was called the 'Men of Domnu' suggests that the Fomorach. But Xlorc. I n desperation they attacked the stronghold of the giants upon Tory Island.' may have been the divinities of their C 33 . after being scourged by a similar epidemic to that which had destroyed their forerunners. the ' Men of Bolg.' emigrants. A new race now came into possession. however uncertain. who ordered them to deliver up as tribute two-thirds of the children born to them in every year. But. The People of Nemed followed the Race of Partholon. terribly avenged this defeat. the ' Men of Gailioin ' and Fir Bolg. took ship and fled the country.THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF IRELAND The next immigrants were less fortunate. and thc Nemedians. according to the annalists. they found themselves at the mercy of the Fomorach. off the caast of Donegal. the other king. slaying Conann. from Greece.
' They had not been long 1 Bee The Coronation Slonc. and who. Skene. which was brought from Scone by Edward I. F. where it was preserved as a kind of fetish by the early kings of Ireland. with the gigantic and demoniac powers. the next people to arrive. whose supply of food never failed. They are variously fabled to have come from the sky. the Dagda's cauldron. they themselves and the Fomorach alike struggle against. At any rate. Wherever they came from. but it is more probable that it still stands upon the hill of Tara. and are conquered by. we never find them in conflict. as we have seen. On the contrary. like the other races.. or else from the north or the south of the world.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN worship. parallel the earlier divinities of the Celts in Britain. A monograph by W. whose blow needed no second. Lug's living lance. This stone is said by some to be identical ~vith our own ' Coronation Stone ' at Westminster.' ~vhichwould cry out with a human voice to acclaim a rightful king. in whom all serious stndents now rocognise the gods of the Celts in Ireland. they landed in Ireland upon the same mystic First of May. bringing with them their four chief treasures -Nuada's sword. 34 . which required no hand to wield it in battle. and the mysterious 'Stone of Destiny. These are the Tuatha DQ Danann.
however. and a marriage was made between Bress and Brigit the daughter of the Dagda. although it had been replaced by an artifical one of silver. in Mayo. Handing over the province of Connaught to the conquered race. had lost his right hand in the battle of lfoytura. while Clan.THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF IRELAND in occupation of the country before their presence was discovered by the race in possession. then called Drumcain. a battle. 35 . they took possession of the rest of Ireland. They therefore sent to Elathan. Their own iring. This mas agreed to. known as that of Moytura-in Irish Mag Tuireadh. been obliged to renounce the sovereignty. 'Plain of the Pillars'-was fought near Coug. for the Fomorach were by no means ready to accept their occupation of the soil. still left them with a powerful enemy to face. Their conquest. King o f the Fomorach. n son of Diancecht the god of Medicine. After some parleying and offers to partition the island. and. and become their ruler. wedded Ethniu. according to the Celtic law which forbade a blemished person to sit upon the throne. Nuada. inviting his son Bress to ally himself with them. But the Tuatha Dit Danann thought to find a means of conciliating those hostile powers. in which the Tuatha Dd Dana~ln gained the victory. he had. fixing their capital at the historic Tara.
He put excessive taxes upon his new subjects.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN the daughter of a powerful prince of the Fornorach named Balor. i t mas decided to make war upon the Tnatha DQ Danann. so that the proud gods were forced to manual labour to obtain food the and warmth. whose lost hand had meanwhile been replaced by the spells and medicame~lts of a son and daughter of Diancecht. a t a council of the Fomorach. spending none of his wealth in free feasts and public entertainments. From the marriage of Diancecht's son and Balor's daughter was born a child called Lug. But Bress soon shelved himself in his true Folnorian colours. who swiftly grew proficient in every branch of skill 36 . But at last he put a personal aeront upon Cairbrd son of Ogma. Bress returned to his undersea home. Thus Bress himself became blemished. came forward again to take the Ringship. and. and drive them out of Ireland. the principal bard of the Tuatha D6 Danann. who retorted with a satire so scathing that boils brolie out upon its victim's face. and Nuada. and seized for himself the control of all the necessities of life. But now a mighty help was coming to the gods. Worse than this even-to Gaelic mind-he hoarded all he got. and was obliged to abdicate.
The story of their quest is told in the romnnce of 'The Fate of the Children of Tuireann. and a party of them went to it secretly and filled i t with stones.' He threw in his lot with his father's people. and organised the Tuatha DB Danann for a great struggle. and published in vol. the Tuatha DB Danann were also ready for battle. the principal magic treasures of the world. the site. he obtained. the memorials of which still form the finest collection Translated by Engene O'Curry.THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF IRELAND and knowledge. But this well mas discovered by the spies of the Fomorach. Incidentally. of Allantis. while Diancecht. 37 . the god of Smithcraft. by the time the Fornorach had completed their seven years of preparation. no doubt. too. the god of Medicine.'Master of all Arts. After a few desultory duels. had made a magic well whose water healed the mounded and brought the slain to life. Goibniu. iv.' one of the famous ' Three Sorrowful Stories of Erin. of some prehistoric battle. as a blood-fine for the murder of his father a t the hands of three grandsons of Ogma. had forged them magic weapons." Thus. near Sligo. so that he became known as the Ioldknach (ILcZfina). the great fight began on the plain of Carrowmore.
Og~nakilled Iudech. with the one exception of Carnac. the son of the goddess Domnu. etc. and the rule of the Giants broken for ever. according to the universal Celtic tradition. who were themselves issuant.' I t is called Moytura the Northern-t. the Fomor whose eye shot death. tho King of the Tuatha DC. With a carefully prepared magic sling-stone he blinded the terrible Balor and. Danann was itself on the wane. at the fall of their principal champion. But Lug turned the fortunes of the fray. the Fomorach lost heart. I n the Other World dwelt Bile and Ith.o distinguish it from the other l'wireccclh further to the south. indeed. to have come to Ireland only to prepare the way for men. Till now they had not noticed Ireland-perhaps on account of its slow and gradual growth-but Fergusson. Bress himself was captured. They would seem.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN of rude stone monuments in the world. while Balor. slew Nuadn. Danann. Rzcde Stone Monuments. deities of the dead. pp. and the Tuatha D6 Danann drove them back headlong to the sea. 180. But the power of the Tuatha DC. From their watch-tower they could loolr over the earth and see its various regions. 38 . from the same progenitor and country as the gods. Great chiefs fell on either side.
indeed. on a clear winter's night. and Mac Grbine. but spared his followers. descried it. This they did. do so. Mac Cecht. He could not. who returned to their own country. he came. was not slow in answering their appeal. Unable to come to a decision.the son of Bilk. He started for Ireland with his eight sons and their followers. they met in succession three eponymous goddesses of the country. who \$ere in council at a spot near Londonderry still called Grianan Aileach to choose a now Iring. he started on a tour of inspection and landed at the mouth of the Kenmare River. his whole attitude seemed so suspicious that the gods decided to kill him. and Mac Grbine. Mil&. with his followers. the Tuatha Dd Danann called upon the stranger to arbitrate. and.THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF IRELAND at last Ith. calling for vengeance. and arrived there upon that same mysterious First of May on which both Partholon and the Tuatha DQDanann themselves had first come to Ireland. Their names were Banba. or would not. Three sons of Ogma were the candidates-Mac Cuill. Fotla. Full of curiosity. Marching through the conntry towards Tara. and Eriu. upon the Tuatha DB Danann. Journeying northwards. Mac Cecht. wives of Mac Cuill. Each in turn demanded 39 .
Danann. They anchored at 'nine green waves" distance from the shore. he propitiated both the Earth and the Sen. But Amergin had powerful spells of his own. and in 40 . ManannBn. The legend probably crystallizes what are said to have been the three first names of Ireland. son of the Sea. prepared druidical spells to prevent their approaching nearer. as Eriu asked last. ranged upon the beach. and which are said to be the oldest Irish literary records. and the Tuatha Di. divinities more ancient and more powerf~il than any anthropomorphic gods.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN of Amergin. By incantations which have come down to us. Soon they came to the capital and called the Tuatha DQDanann to a parley. their proper course was to retire to their ships and attempt a fresh landing. the island should be called after her. in the ovent of their success. it is her name (in the genitive case of ' Erinn') which has survived. After some discussion it was decided that. as the Milesians were to blame for not having made due declaration of war before invading the country. but. Amergin promised it to them all. the druid of the Milesians-as these first legendary Irish Celts are called-chat. waved his magic mantle and shook an off-shore wind straight into their teeth.
A treaty of peace was. the 'fairy woman.' the dethroned goddess of the Goidelic mythology. made with them. Others found safe seclusion in underground dwellings marked by barrows or hilloclrs. sometimes shortened to 'The Sidhe' (Slice). they took a new name. that of Aes Siclhe. I n two successive battles they defeated the Tuatha Di: Danann. they were to receive worship and sacrifice. they sought for new to a Western Paradisehomes. The 'banshee' of popular story is none other than the beanstdhe. however. the gods yielded to the hardly less divine ancestors of the Gaels. Some withdre~v that Elysium of the Celts called Avallon by the Briton. and by many poetic names by the Gael. whose three kings fell at the hands of the three surviving sons of Mild. as they are called. . by which. in return for their surrender of tho soil. that the Irish peasantry of to-day call the fairies. Driven from upper earth.' and it is by this Litle.THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF IRELAND the end a remnant of the Milesians came safely to shore in the estuary of the Boyne. Thus began religion in Ireland. From these sidl~e. 'Race of the Fairy Mounds. Disheartened.
the Place.' ' 42 . which wes called the 'drinlr of Beli." and it was not until safely occupied by mankind that she took her present designat. who first established settled government. In later days. at Heaven's command. arose from out the azure main. son of Aedd the Great.' her nanie was Clas Myrddin.' and its waves ' Beli's cattle.ion. and it is from such hagmentary sources that we glean the mythical history of our island. for the work has not been done for us in the way that it was done by the mediaeval monkish annalists for Ireland. that is. of Nerlin. With these relics me must nialre what we can. from Prydain.CHAPTER V THE hIYTHICAL HISTORY OF BRITAIN I 'WHENBritain first. and in pseudo-hagiologies and hardly less apocryphal Beli seems to have been sometimes associated in Welsh legend with t h e seil. or Enclosure. We find our data scattered through old bardic poems and romances. she became known as 'the Honey Isle of Beli. All this is told us by a Welsh Triad.
and Professor Anwyll has endeavoured with much learning to trace out and disentangle the original legends. In the second 'Branch' we find PrydBri. The greatest bulk of ancient British myth is found in the Mabinogion-more correctly. The first of the Four Branches deals with the leading incidents in tho life of Psvyll: how he became a king in Annwn.THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF BRITAIN histories. by a clever trick. and his recovery and restoration upon the night of the First of May. grown See a rerieg of artiolesin tho Zeilschrift fib? Oeltische Philologie. But in the form in which the Welsh writer has fixed them. and find in them roughly the same story as that of Ireland-the subjugation of the land by friendly gods for the subsequent use of men. and his theft by inysterious powers. he won his bride Rhinnnon. the birth of their son PrydBri. the Other World of the Welsh. vve can piece them together. 43 . Yet. without perhaps using more freedom with our materials than an early writer would have done. the Four Branches of the Mabinogi. how. These tales evidently consist of fragments of varying myths pieced together to inalre a cycle. they show a gradoal supersession of other deities by the gods who more especially represent human culture. the punishment incurred by Rhiannon on the false charge of having eaten hiin.
watching that no foreign foe came to Britain. But at last they reached the end of their journey. Branwen of the Fair Bosom. Bran himself is wounded in the foot with a poisoned spear. news comes that she is being badly treated by her husband. And here it reposed until Arthur disinterred it. cheered all the while by the singing of the Three Birds of Rhiannon. and by the agreeable couversation of Brkn's severed head.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN up and married to a wife called lcicva. But. as the guest of Brin.the White Mount in London. There is parley. whose music was so sweet that it would recall the dead to life. They were eighty-seven years upon the way. treachery. after the slaughter of all the Irish. only seven the of Brh's host remain-Prydkri. arrives with a fleet to request the hand of Br5n's sister. King of Ireland. son of Llfr. at Harlech. Mana~vydrlan. out of which. and battle. and buried the head with its face turned towards France. to 'hold the island 44 1 . scorning. submission. bard Taliesin. later on. and Br2n goes with an army to avenge her. and Branwen sails to Ireland. and four others of less known mythic fame.' by which Tower Hill is believed to have been meant. in his pride of heart. I t is granted. and in his agony orders the others to cut off his head and carry it to . Matholmch.
ofessor Rhfa is inclined to see in him a deity of UarLness. The first tells of the birth of the twin sons of Gwydion's sister. With the fourth 'Branch' the Children of UAn come into a prominence which they keep to the end. Hibbe~tLcctu~es. but no doubt ever youthful. as soon as he mas P~. and ruled over by Math.p.THE MYTHICAL IIISTORY OF BRITAIN otherwise than by valour. 32 of the present book. and their kingdom taken from them by the Children of D8n. and it is the 'spiriting away' by magic of Rhiannon and Prydbri and their recovery by the which forms the subject of craft of Mana~vyddan Ihe tale.' a rash act of which the Saxon conquest was the result. Rhiannon. They are shown as dwelling together a t Caer Dathyl. There are two chief incidents of the story. Arianrod-Dylan. During their absence in Ireland their kinsmen had all been slain by Caswalla~vn. UGn's brother. a son of Beli. mother of his friend PrydBri. The third Mabinogi recounts the further advenmarried the apparently tures of Manawyddan. See in this conneotion p. apparently a marine deity. an unidentified spot in the niountains of Csrnarvonshire. opposed to the god of Light. and of PrydBri himself and his wife Kicva. 387.l who. ~vho old. The four fngitives were compelled to live a homeless nomadic life. 45 .
These 'Four Branches of the Mabinogi' thus give a consecutive. however. the war which followed the theft. arms. and his eventual recovery of him. and her refusal of name. their fraudulent acquisitiorl by Gwydion . the craft by which Gxvydion obtained for him those three essentials of a man's life. and the blossoms of the meadow-sweet. and the death of PrydBri through the superior strength and magic of the great son of Dan. or a wife to her unwished-for son. other isolated legends from which we can add to the information they afford. and the vengeance taken by Lleu upon the man and by Gwydion upon the woman. 46 . to PrydBri. disappeared into the sea. the infidelity of the damsel whom Mkth and Gwydion had created for Lleu 'by charms and illusion' out of 'the blossoms of the oak. King of Aimwn.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN born. There are. and Lleu. The second relates the coming of pigs to Britain as a gift from Arawn. who 7vas fostered and brought up by Gwydion. the wanderings of Gwydion in search of his protBgk. history of some of the most important of the Brythonic gods. the rage of Arianrod when she found her intrigue made public. if incon~plete.' and his enchantment into an eagle by the cunning of her lover. and the blossoms of the broom. where he swam as well as any fish.
and how.THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF BRITAIN We learn more of the details of Gwydion's struggles with his enemies.the 'Battle of the Trees. how Gwydion overcame the magic power of Br$n by guessing his name. and any one who aspires to a similar gift may try to gain it.' His brother Amaethon and his nephew Lleu were with him. three boons were won for man-the dog. We learn from various traditions how the sons of D8n ' c h ~ n g e dthe forms of the elementary trees and sedges ' into warriors . by sleeping out either upon the top of Cader Idris or under the Black Stone of the Arddu upon t. he was caught by Pwyll and PrydBri. for from that night of terrors he will return either inspired or mad. and we find him victorious in the strange conflict called Gad Godtlez~. and they fought against Br&n and Arawn. i t is said. I t was the sufferings he endured there which rnade him a poet. Trespassing upon Hades.he side of Snowdon. But Gwydion escaped from his enemies.' But now a fresh protagonist comes upon the scene-the famous Arthur. the deer. I n his first attempts he seerns to have been unfortunate. and imprisoned in a mysterious island called Caer Sidi. and some bird whose name is translated as 'lapwing. by the defeat of the powers of the Underworld. whose history and 47 .
as Professor Rhgs has suggested. as while his contemporEmperor (umher~~wclyr). however high in rank. p. aries. But his legendary fame is hardly to be explained except upon the supposition that the fabled exploits of a god or gods perhaps of somewhat similar name havc become confounded with his own. to Mercmius Artaios. adopted a Latin designation. like Inany others of his period. in the valley of the IsBre. 7.' to his having filled. a position equivalent to their Comes Britc~nniae. but also by the fact that he is described in a twelfth century Welsh MS.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN even existence have been involved in so much doubt. after the withdrawal of the Romans. is now held to have been originally ArtCrizcs. which would make him a Romanised Briton who. are only princes (gwledig). 48 . His political pro~ninence. and as ArtGqaius in Juvenal. may be due.implied not only by the traditions which malie hixu a supreme war-leader of the Britons. of which several varying explanations have been attempted. An inscription has been found at Beaucroissant. as seerns to have also happened in the case of Dietrich von Bern (Theodoric the Goth) and the Gaulish Toutibrix. while the name 1 Sts&biea in the Arthzwiax Legend. a recognised Latin name found on inscriptions. The word Arthur.
He ' was for three nights in the Castle of Oeth and AnnoethX-the gruesome structure of human bones built by Manawyddan son of Ll$r in Gower-'and three nights in the prison of ( ? ) W e n Pendragon. 71. Bran.e. but they would doubtless be of the kind usually attributed to those divine benefactors known as 'Culture Heroes.' and it is to be noted that. meaning 'to plough. Probably we shall never know exactly what diverse local rnyths have been woven into the stoiy of Arthur. but he was neither so lucky nor so Fi-ofessor Anwyl suggests that this name may have been originally Uthr Bendragon. he went pigstealing.' which would suggest a deity or deities of agriculture. as an animal worshipped at some remote period in the history of the Celts. in the earliest accounts we have of him. too. Like Gwydion. D 49 . ar. Seep. he suffered imprisonment at the hands of his enemies. i. Like Gwydion. Gwydion son of D6n. signifying a bear.' a Triad tells us.THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF BRITAIN Artio appears elsewhere within the limits of ancient Gaul as that of a goddess These names may have been derived from either of two Celtic roots. or art. his character and attributes are extremely like those of another culture hero.' and three nights in the dark prison under the stone.
a quest in the course of which he acquired the 'Treasures of Britain. When he had designs upon the swine of March son of Meirchion (the 'King Mark' of the romances) which Trystan was herding. and Arawn one of his Three Chief Counselling Knights. In the story of the hunting of the mild boar Twrch Trwyth. according to Triads. i. he seems to have had the other. like Brkn himself when he went to Ireland. though. and perhaps older.' his ship.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN crafty as his predecessor. But in the end he succeeded wholly. Gwyn son of NBdd. at starting. Skene. 50 . was one of his Three Chief War Knights.' he is served not only by Amaethon and Govannon. An old Welsh poem tells us of his ' Spoiling of Annwn ' (Preiddeu Annwn) and his capture of the magic cauldro~lof its Ring. This tale. Bot. says another Triad. even one pig. sons of Dbn. he brought back with him from his expedition only seven of the men who. but also by the same Manawyddan who had been his gaoler and another whilom king in Hades. p.. having accomplished this. he could not get. 256. vol. like its similar in Gaelic myth.' poem xxx. gods at his feet LlBdd. had been ' thrice enough to fill Prydmen. the 'Fate of the Children 'Book of Taliesin.
Wherever she went she dropped the germs of wealth for Britain-three grains of wheat and three bees. a grain of barley. But she left evils behind her as ~vell. as well as a kitten which grew up to be 'the Palug Cat.THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF BRITAIN of Tuireann. the Triads also take notice. he assenibled his hosts to capture a sow called Henmen." the greatest romantic fairy tale the world has ever k n o ~ v n .' famous as one of the 'Three Plagues of the Isle of Mona.' is a long one. We learn how Arthur and Medra~vt raided each olher's courts during the owner's absence. Alfred Nutt. a wolf cub and an eaglet which caused trouble afterwards. which led him through the length of Wales. in his notes to his edition (1902) of Lndy Guest's Mabinogion. and that the battle of Camlan was one of the 'Three Frivolous 1 Mr. and a grain of rye. ' saving the finest tales of the "Arabian Nights.' Of what rnay have been historical elements in his story. a little pig. which a good judge has acclaimed to be. 51 . Besides the boar Trwyth. ' ~The pursuit of wondrous pigs seems to have been an important feature of Arthur's career. 2 This oreature is also mentioned in an Artliuris*~~ poem in the twelfth century Black Book of Carmarthen. and the reader is for the full referred to Lady Guest's i k b i n o g i o ? ~ story.
accompanied by nine bards bearing with them those wondrons talismans. Apparently we have a similar legend to the story of the conquest of Ireland from the Tuatha DQ Dauann by the Milesians. to an island beyond the sunset. but by justice and peace.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN Battles of Britain. Britain was now ready for her Britons. the Thirteen Treasures. though Arthur himself is. the 'Land of Summer'-a name for the Brythonic Other World-dwelt the ancestors of the Cymry. though there is here no hint of fighting. on the contrary. passing to Avilion (Avallon). and the time mas ripe for their corning to our island. in spite of the triadic convention. So he vanishes. He instructed his people in the art of agriculture. or Merlin. and that the usual 'Three' alone escaped from it.' because during it the two antagonists thrice shared their forces. and laid the foundations of literature 52 . rulcd over by a divine hero called Ha Gadarn ('the Mighty'). In Gwlkd yr H&v. stated in a Triad that H a obtained his dominion over Britain not by war and bloodshed. it being. divided them into federated tribes as a first step towards civil government. added as a fourth. and the end of the divine age is also marked by the similar departure of his associate Myrddin.
maxims. while the third was the mythical legislator Uyvmval Moelrnud. he ~vasthe first to draw on British soil a furrow with a plough. 'who reduced to a.' . system the laws. and privileges appertaining to a country and nation. after the waters had subsided. customs.' the second being the Prydain who gave her his name. and. He put a stop to disastrous floods by dragging out of the lake where it concealed itself the dragon-Iilre monster which caused them.THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF BRITAIN and history by the institution of bardism. Therefore he is called the first of the 'Three National Pillars of the Isle of Britain.
whom the early annalists place at about the beginning oi the Christian era. Danann. of these deals with the palmy days of the then Kingdom of Ulster during the reign of Conchobar (Concchc~r)&Iac Nessa. We may discern in their genealogies and the stories of their births the clue to their real nature. are depicted for us by the storytellers. Ireland has evolved two heroic cycles. The completest. foundation of fact in their legends. there is probably little. precise as this statement sounds and vividly as the ' Champions of the Red J3ranch: as Xing Conchobar's braves were called.CHAPTER VI THE HEROIC CYCLE OF ANCIENT ULSTER 1~ addition to the myths of the Tuatha DP. and in some ways the most interesting. if any. and are twice described in the oldest manuscripts as 54 . and the not less apocryphal stories of her early ' Milesian ' kings. But. Their chief figures draw descent from the Tuatha DQ Danann.
or romances. both of which date from the beginning of tho twelfth century. Cuchulainn. The heat of his body melted snow and boiled water. He was first called Setanta. indeed. The antagonists whom he conquers are often suspiciously like mythological personifications of the dark shades of night. the Book of the Dun Cow and the Book of Leinster. His attributes and adventures are of the type usually recorded of what are called 'solar heroes.HEROIC CYCLE OF ANCIENT ULSTER ' terrestrial gods.' One may compare then1 with the divinely descended heroes of the Greeks. fortissimt~s heros Scott o n ~ mis . the real centre of the whole cycle. assigned to the end of the fourteenth. or Cuchullin. which make up the Ulster cycle are found mainly in three manuscripts. The sagas. but it was while he was still quite a child that he changed his 55 . and the Yellow Book of Lecan. The longest slid u~osL important of lhem is linown as the Thin Bd Chuc~ilg?~e (the 'Cattle Raid of Cooley ') the chief figure of which is the famous Cuchulainn. the son of Conchobar's sister Dechtire bjr Lug of the Tuatha DQDanann.' When in his full strength no one could loolr him in the face without blinking. I t was geis ('taboo ') to him to behold tho sea. I t is very doubtful whether he ever had actual existence.
Other stories of his youth tell how he assumed arrns at the age of seven. Leinster and Connaught-made upon Ulster at the bidding of Medb (Maive). the Amazon-Queen of the 1:tstnamed province. he gained the right to be called Head-Champion of Ulster. the Thin Bd Chuailgne. For the mythic raid was undertaken at a time when all Conchobar's warriors 56 . This is the story of a war which the other four kingdoms of Ireland-Meath.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN name to C& Ct~ulainu('Hound of Culann') as the result of an exploit in which he lrilled the watch-dog of the chief srnith of Ulster. to obtain possession of s magic bull called The Brown of Cualgne. Munster. how he tra~elledto Alba (Scotland) to learn the highest skill in arms from ScBthach. But them isolated sagas are only external to the real core of the cycle. in the how he carried off his bride Emer (Avuir) teeth of a host. and how. and slew three champions who had set all the warriors of Ulster at defiance. by success in a series of terrible tests. and afterwards acted as its substitute until another could be procured and trained. the WarriorWitch who gave her name to the Isle of Skye. Its interest lies in no promiscuous battles in which the deeds of an individual warrior are dmarfed by those of his compeers.
who. Anthropologists tend to see in this mysterious infirmity a distorted lnemory of the primitive custom of the couvade. Lug. while the storytellers attribute it to a curse once laid upon Ulster by the goddess Macha.er. the heroic Cuchulainn. comes to heal his son's wounds.stood np to defend it single-handed. is moved to offer so unrivalled a hero her love. and the story of the Thin consists mainly of a long series of duels in which exponents of every savage art of war or witchcraft are sent against him. had rashly pledged his word to 57 . Cuchulainn's divine father. Ferdiad. But when the land seemed most at its enemy's mercy. queen of battle. A short-lived pathos illumines the story in the tale of his combat with his old friend and sworn companion. fighting a fresh champion every day.-each to be defeated in his turn. and mythologists the helplessness of the gods of vegetation and agriculture during the wint. For three months he held the marches against all comers. and the fierce Mbrrigu. drugged with love and wine. who for some unexplained reason was not subject to he same incapacity as his fello~v-tribesmen. Over this tremendous struggle hover the figures of the Tuatha Di! Danann.HEROIC CYCLE OF ANCIENT ULSTER vere lying under a strange magic meakness mhich incapacitated them from fighting.
for the men of Ulster. he bursts into passionate lament. the death-lslom L When he sees him at his feet. Cuchulainn gives o tho foe who is still his friend. After a three days' duel. and no stone was left unturned to compass his downfall. until at last the mass of legends which make up a complete story of the hero's career are closed with the tragedy of his doath upon the plain of iVIuirthenm8. the deserted wife of Manann&nson of L&r.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN talre up the standing challenge. or his visit to the Celtic Other World. and his lovc adventure with Fand.' But the victory ended his perilous labours. the memory of this day will be like a cloud hanging over me for ever. at last shaking off' their wealiness. came down and dispersed their enemies. Other stories of the cycle tell of such episodes as Cuchulainn's unwitting slaying of his only son in single combat. 'It was all a game and a sport until Ferdiad came. I t was planned by Medb with the sons and relations of the chicfs whom Cuchulainn had lrilled in battle. during which the courtesies exchanged between the two combatants are not excelled in any tale of lnediaeval chivalry. an old Aryan motif which we find also in Teutonic and Persian myth. Three witches who had been to Alba and Babylon to learn all the sorcery 58 .
But the other heroes are not altogether forgotten. even after he has drawn his last breath. he is tricked into breaking his tc~booby eating the flesh of a dog-his name-sake. so that he may die standing. falling from his grasp. 1898. no less than sixteen are personal to Cuchulainn. Most of these tales have beer1 already translated. he is attaclred by overwhelming numbers. threatening to lanlpoon his family if he refuses. of Miss Eleanor Hull's Oucl~ullinSaga. talren together.HEROIC CYCLE O F ANCIENT ULSTER of the world deceive him with magic shows. though signs and portents announce his doom. but perhaps also his totem. and.' A list of ills trrles. But. of tile Ulster Cyelc will be found ss Appendix I. extant and lost. and. stripped of material and supernatural aid. says the story. his sword. chops off the hand of the enemy who has come to take his head. he binds himself with his belt to a pillar-stone. and thus. TITounded to the death. they form a narrative which is almost epic in its completeness and interest. London. Out of the seventy-six stories of the Ulster cycle which have come down to us. and draw him out alone into the open. satirists demand his favonrite weapons. though their lists are compamtively short. there is no 'shadow of changing' in the hero's indomitable heart. ' 59 .
Patrick.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN Probably its growth was gradual. The ' Tragical Death of Conchobar. too. We are told with startling inconsistency how Cuchnlainn. and mas cheered by the certainty of salvation.he true faith. 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. But such interpolations do not affect the real matter of the cycle. Some of the redactors. conjured from the dead by St. entitled 'The Phantom Chariot.' in the Book of the Dun Cow relates how that king died of wrath and sorrow at learning of the Passion of Christ. have evidently had a hand in recasting the pagan myths of Ulster for the purposes of Christian edification. going to his last fight. heard the angels hymning in Heaven. confessed t. and spread over a considerable time. Another story from the same source.' shows us Cuchulainn. . testifying to the truth of Christianity before an Irish king.
it has the distinction. OR OSSIANIC. while the Ulster stories deal with chariot-driving chiefs ruling over settled communities from fortified dbns. under a faint disguise. i t is common to the two Goidelic countries. not of any one tribal community. Moreover.CHAPTER V I I THE BENIAN. for. SAGAS THEsecond of the two Gaelic heroic cyclcs presents certain striking contrasts to the first. of being still a living tradition. being as native to Scotland as to Ireland. but of the folk. the Fenian sagas mirror. unique among early literatures. The especial possession. they would rise from the dead. 61 . I t depicts a quite different stage of human culture. the lives of nomad hunters in primeval woods. So firmly rooted are the memories of Finn and his heroes in the minds of the Gaelic peasantry that there is :t proverb to the effect that if the Fenians found that they had not been spoken of for a day.
A few of them are found in the earliest Irish manuscripts. was almost certainly that writer's own composition. as some are to Finn himself. but the bulk of the poems and all the prose tales are. by unknown authors.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN I t may be well here to remove a few possible misconceptions concerning these sagas and their heroes. With regard. i t must not be taken that the Fenian hero Ossian was their author. indeed. though doubtless founded upon genuine Gaelic material. like the sagas of the Ulster cycle. The cycle as a whole deals with the history and advenlures of a band of warriors who are described as having formed a standing force. and they have also been handed down as folk-tales by oral tradition. Some of the poetical pieces are. rightly or ~vrongly attributed to Ossian. an idea perhaps suggested by the prosepoem of James MacPherson. The word 'Fenian ' in popular parlance is applied to certain political agitators of recent notoriety. But those 'Fenians' merely assumed their title from the tradition that the original Fianna (PBma) were a band of patriots sworn to the defence of Ireland. in the pay of 62 . too. but there has been n continuous stream of literary treatment of them. to the second title of ' Ossianic ' which the romances and poems which make up the cjrcle bear. which.
to 284 A. tend to reverse this view.' or 'fair. however. n White son of Sky' who. to protect Ireland. The name Fionn or Finn. 178. roving band of ~ i c k e d soldiers. This possible starting-point would shorn us a. quartered on the towns in G Rhps. king of the Welsh fairies? But there may have been a historical nucleus of the Fenian cycle into which myths of gods and heroes became incorporated.' appears elsewhere as that of a mythical ancestor of the Gaels.according to Professor Rhjs.THE FENIAN OR OSSIANIC SAGAS the High Kings of Tara. Modern Celtic students.D. meaning 'white. was a British god of the Other World. pp. His father's name Cumhal (Cot~l). tions are conteatcd. is identical with CEtmtilos and the German Himmel (Heaven). The same writer is inclined to equate Fionn mac Cumhail with Gwyn ab Xtidd.. and dated their existence as a body from 300 B. and. both from internal trouble a11d foreign invasion. The early annalists were quite certain of their historical reality. Hibhert Lectures. while even so late and sound a scholar as Eugene O'Cury gave his opinion that Film himself was as undoubtedly historical a character as Julius Caesar. afterwards. But these identifica- 63 . 179. followii~g the chase in summer.C. me have seen.
Dissensions leading to internecine strife break out among themselves. and disperses the clan of Baoisgne (Badin). ' I ask only for my lawful inheritance. his tribe. in which 64 . But Cumhal's posthumous son is brought up in secret. but always ready to march. defeats and lcills Curnhal. and their pride affronts the king.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN minter. to quell any disturbance or to meet any foreign foe. Goll goes into exile but returns. son of the Cormac who had restored Finn to his heritage.' says the yonth. and tells his name. But. The disastrous battle of Gavra is fought. is trained to manly feats. taking advantage of these. In the romances. the rest of the clan of Morna go over to the High King of Ireland-CairbrB. the smouldering enmity breaks out. and. and. But at last their exactions rouse the people against them. is called upon by the High Icing to claim a boon. and. this seed of decay is sown before the birth of Finn. king and people make common cause and destroy them. at the bidding of the High King of Ireland. The king insists upon Go11 admitting Finn's rights. For a time all goes smoothly. in the end. His father Comhal banishes Go11 (GauL).head of the powerful clan of Morna. as the reward of a deed of prowess. after the death of Goll. and so he becomes leader of the Fenians.
THE FENIAN OR OSSIANIC SAGAS CairbrB himself falls. sometimes with invaders from abroad. and his grandson Osgxir (Oscur) . with the proud Go11 and his braggart brother Conan. witches and wizards. while the Fenians are practically annihilnted. They consist of wonderfnl adventures. but oftener upon ' perilous seas' and 'in faery lands forlorn ' with wild beasts. E 65 . his cousin Caoilte (Kyltu). and help this god or that against his fellows. Their actors are the principal himfigures of the Fenian chivalry-Fionn (Fi?zn) self. Even Bodb Derg (Red Bove) a son of the Dagda. the palaces under the fairy hills. i. and his nephew Diarmait (Dennat). of Anecdota Ozonienaia. leads all his vassals against Ireland. giants. the High King of the World. the lover of women. But attached to this possibly historical nucleus is a Inass of tales which may well have once been independent of it. i n vol. his son Oisin (Ossiun). in which Dair4 Donn. 1882. and the Tuatha 116 Danann themselves. swiftestfooted of men. leaders of the clan of Morna. 1 Translated by Professor K m ~ o Neyer. The Fenians have the freedom of the sidhe. The culmination of these exploits is related in the tale called Cath Finntraigliel (the Battle of Ventry). gives his daughter to Finn and sends his son to enlist with the Fenians.
But he is especially connected with what might be called the 'post-Feni. Patriclr tells 66 1 . Patriclr. Niamh (Neeave). They hinge upon tho legend Lhat Ossian escaped the fate of the rest of his liin by being taken to Tir no. while time changed the face of the world outside.tn ballads. and rises up. and Niarnh mounts him upon a magic horse.' in which the heroic deeds of Finn and his men are told in the form of dialogues between Ossiail and St. The ballad 'Dialogues' recite the arguinents held between the saint and the hero.n Og. Ossian falls to earth. who answers him with passionate laments for the days that are dead. s prolninent part in the stories which are so rnuch associated with his name.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN and is defeated by the joint efforts of the Fenians and the Tuntha DQDanann. warning him not to put foot upon earthly soil.' -the Celtic Paradise of old and the Celtic Fairyland of to-day-by the fairy. or goddess. I n the end he longs to see his own country again. But his snddle-girth brealrs. a blind old man. Here he enjoyed three hundred years of divine youth. daughter of bIanannan rnac Lir. of course. Ossian talres. Saint Patrick presses the new creed and cnlture upon his unwilling guest. the 'Land of Youth. stripped of the gilts of the gods.
' he answers.' .' replies Ossian to the saint's praises of the heaven of the elect. 'I will tell you a little story about Finn. and the Christian ideal of service and sacrifice. It is the clash of two aspects of life.THE FENIAN OR OSSIANIC SAGAS of God and the Angels. Nor is he more ready to listen to Patrick's exhortations to repent and weep over his p a p n pash. Ossian retorts with tales of Finn and the Fenians. and relates some heroic exploit of chase or war. but because Finn and the Fenians are no longer alive. ' bul not for God. the heathenideal ofjoy and strength. ' I will weep my fill.
68 . as the stories of the of Arthur. wherever their dominant race held sway. and esl~ecially were called. This distinction has been left for the legendary tales of the Britons.CHAPTER VIII THE ARTHURTAN LEGEND BUTthe Gaelic myths. Perhaps the finer qualities of Celtic romance made especial appeal to that new fashion of ' chivalry' which was growing up under the fosterage of poetry and romance by noble ladies. source of poetic inspiration on the Continent. that they readily adopted thom. have yet caused no echo of themselves in the literatures of the outside world. British gods and heroes. and spread them from camp to camp and from court to court. The Norman minstrels found the stories which they heard from their Welsh confriires so much to their liking. came to be the leading. At any rate the Matihe de Bvetagne. The whole vast Arthurian literature has its origin in British Celtic mythology. vital as they are.
I n Gwalchmai and Medrawt. while the figures most closely connected with his story bear striking resemblance to the characters which surround Gmydion in tho fourth 'branch' of the Mabinogi. the gods of light and darkness. the consort of the Heaven-god Llhdd. Stvdies ila the Avlhurinl~Legeml.' a result probably due to the same type of myth having been current in diferent localities and associated in diffesent districts with diffcren t names. i. as we have tried to show in a previous chapter. chap. Lleu (Llew) and Dylan. seems to be represented in Arthur's story by Gwyar.' 69 . the good and evil brothers born of their union. in Welsh songs and tales older than the carliest outburst of Arthurian rorn:~~ce in Europe. we shall probably be right in recognising sin~ilar characters to Arianrod's sons. 'Arthur. several of the attributes and adventures of Gwydion son of Den. Arthur himself has. who is said to have been the wife of a little-known ancl perhaps superseded and halfforgotten Sky-god called Nmyvre (' Space '). I-Iistorieal and hlythical.THE ARTHURIAN LEGEND We find the names of its chief characters. Arianrod. and from cornparison with later romance we may fairly assume that Gmyar was also Arthur's sister. and can trace the nucleus of their stories. This body of myth has passed clown See Rhg's.
of PrydBri. who watches over. Medrawt has scarcely changed at all. Gwalchaved (the 'Hawii of Summer'). Gwalchmai (the 'Hawk of May') has a brother. his protkgd. is paralleled by the majestic Merlin. Lleu's counterpart.' ' 70 .ruler of the children of D8n.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN cycle. either in name or character. in becoming Sir Mordred. The transformations of Bran seem less open to doubt. in attempting to discover in the Arthurian cycle the other personages of the Ifnbinogian stories. and of Amaethon with characters in the mediaeval romances. Professor Rhps. of Rhiannon. whore name is the origitlsl of 'Galahud. almost intact into the mediaeval Arthu~ian The wife of King Lot (Lladd) is sister to Arthur. and even dares to rebuke. Arthur. in his Studies in flie A ~ t l ~ u ~ i u n Legend (1591).' appears as Sir Gawainc. cannot at present be oonsidcred as otherwise than hazardous. has devoted great ingenuity and learning to this task. Gwalchmai. of Brawn. but his identifications of Pwyll. of Glvyn.ure of M&tb. We are upon uncertain ground. whatever may happen to them in the future. however. I n Welsl~legend. certain descriptions of who111 in l\iIalory's Darfhur are hardly comprehensible except as a misunderstood fragment of a mythology in \vhich he appeared as a 'solar hero'. while the stately fig.
I t is of Sir Lancelot.&water-fairy (whence his title of Du Lccc).' but thenceforward he supersedes in popularity all the others of the See Miss J. and Gwenhwyvar as Guinevere have obviously been directly taken over from Welsh story. Myrddin as Merlin . as Balm.THE ARTHURIAN LEGEND The name of King Brandegore may probably be resolved into Bran of Gower. 1Cai n s Sir Iiay . who brought the Grail to Britain. H e is not heard of till the latter part of the twelfth century. 1901. But here we are confronted with a notahle exception. L. that no trace can be found in earlier legend. he is perhaps Ring Ban of Benmyk. when he appears as a knight who was stolen in infancy. \?'eston's The Legend o f Sir Lancelot Dl& Lne. March as Xing Mnrlr . and of Sir Brandiles into Brkn of Gwales (Gresholm Island). London. But there can be little qnestion as to other personages who surround Arthur both in the earlier and later legends. who seems to be the GalloBritish BB~B~IOS. and brought up by. ' 7I . while Uther Pendragon himself may have been originally Bran's 'Wonderfnl Head' (Utlw Betlela) which lived for eighty-seven years after it had been severed from its body. Gmxlchnved as Sir Galahad . and Bron. he is brought into contact with Balin. King Arthur's peerless knight and the lover of Queen Guinevere.
AlfredNutt's Studies 0 1 6 tBc Legelid o f the Holy Qrail. Probably we shall nevey solve this mystery. What has given the cycle its enduring interest. the older traditions. it is Sir Lancelot who appears as her deliverer. whose name has become 'Sir Melia~mlunce.abductor of Queen Guinevere. but the mystical quest of the Holy Grail.the Cornish equivalent of the Welsh Gwyn ab NBdd. 72 . and composer down to the present day. and Arthur himself who recaptured her.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN Table R o u ~ ~ d .I 1 1 his r61e of the lover of the Queen.l 1 The chief sothorities for tho study of the Grail legend in its relation to Celtic myth are Profesnor l?. According to early story it was Mel~vas.s's Strcdies is $he A r t h w i a ? Legencl ~ and Mr. But in the iMorte Durthwr. as it is not the core and centre of the Arthurian legend. as testified by its attritction for author. I t matters less. though Melwas. And here we can clearly trace the direct evolution of the Arthurian legend frorn the myths of the Ce1ts. artist. is not the somewhat commonplace love of Lancelot and the Queen. another traditional rival of Arthur's. hold his own against the new-comer. and shatters. Nor can Sir Mordred. Some literary or social fashion of which all record is lost may have dictated Lancelot's prominence.'is still the . who stole Gwenhmyvar.hf. or Medrawt. he pushes his way into.
THE ARTHURIAN LEGEND Both in Gaelic and British mythology. would restorc the dead to life. the husband of his sister Branwen. in the early Welsh poem called ' The Spoiling of Annmn. we are told. the three Muses had been born. I t mas one of the four chief o treasures brought by the Tuatha DQ Danann L Ireland . A magic cauldron given by Br&nson of L1j. virtues. in her cauldroll of Inspiration and Science. the father of Gwenhwyvar. 50) is represented as having captured Gon~the Other JVorld King.' (seep. Bnt certain other such vessels of Brythonic myth were endowed with diff'erent.r to Matholmch. Cochulainn captured it fiom the god Alider. the goddess lierridmen brewed a drink of prophecy . Its especial property in thesc myths was that of miraculous food-providing-all the men in the world. while from the cauldron of the giant Ogyrvan. 73 . and less material. prominence is given to a cauldron which has woildrous talis~nariicvirtues. could be fed from it-and ill this quality we find it on British ground as thc hasltet of Gwyddneu Garanhir. I n what is perhaps the latest of all these varying legends. ~vhenhe stormed his stronghold in the Isle of Man. and i t rcappears in the Fenian stories. the qualities of the provious cauldrons have bee11 brought together to form the trophy which Arthur.
as may be ascertained from comparison mith similar myths. Evidently.' lle conlinues. led lives of revelry. and the Castle of (?)Riches (Caer Gohd). This stronghold. This cauldron of pagan myth has altered 74 . ' I t will not coolr the food of a coward or one forsworn. but its inhabitants. the Underworld (Uffern). quaffing the bsight vine. I t was kept in a square fortress surrounded by tho sea. it stood for tho Other World. the (?)Kingly Castle (Cccer Rigov). like such vessels as the Dagda's cauldron or the basket of Gwyddneu Garanhir. and gently warmed by the breath of nine maidens. is rep re^ sented as spinning round mith such velocity that it was almost impossible to enter it.MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN ' Is it not the cauldron of the Chief of Annwil ? ' 'What is its fashion ? ' asks the bard Taliesin. it would provide generously for the brave and truthful. the Four-cornered Castle (Cuer Pedq-yvnn). which allows us to assume that. the Castle of (?)Revelry (Cuer Vedwyd). as conceived by the Celts. and was in pitch-darl<ness save for a twilight made by the lamp burning before its Gate. such as the Revolving Castle (Cuer Sidi). and called by various names. the Glass Castle (Ccber Wydyr). ancl he goes on to describe i t as rimmed mith pearls. who were exempt from old age and disease. ruled over by Pmyll and PrydBri.
THE ARTHURIAN LEGEND
strangely littlc in passing down through the centuries to become the Holy Grail which had with Christ's been filled by Joseph of A~imathen Blood. I t is still kept in a ~riysteriouscastle by a rnysterious king. I n Malory's Morte Dccrthzcr this Iring is callcd Pclles, a name strangely like that of the Welsh P~vyll,bnd though in other versions of the Grail story, taken perhaps from variant British myths, the keeper of the mystic vessel bears a diKerent name, he always seems to be one of the rulers of the Other World, whether he be called Bron (Bran), or Peleur (?PrydBri), or Goon (?G~vyn),or tho Rich Fisher, in whom Professor Rhjls recognises Gwyddneu Garanhir.l I t still retains in essence tho qualities of 'the cauldron of the Chief of Annmn.' The savage coolring-pot which would refuse to serve a coward with food, has been only refined, not or peyiurer altered, in becoming the heavenly vessel which conld not be seen by sinners, while the older idea is still retained in the account of how, when it appeared, it filled the hall with sweet savours, while every knig.ht saw before him on the table the food he loved bost. Like its pagan prototype, it cured wounds and sickness, and no one could grom old while in its presence. Though, too, the
ArflnwianLegend, pp. 315-317.
MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN place in which it was kept is but vaguely pictured by Sir Thomas Malory, the thirteenth century Norman-French romance called the Seiwt Greal 1 preserves 1 1 1 1 the characteristics vhich most strike us in Taliesin's poem. I t is surrounded by a great water; it revolves more swiftly than the wind; and its garrison shoot so stoutly that no armour can repel their shafts, which explains Arthur, ' excepl why, of the men that acco~npanied seven, none returned from Caer Sidi.' 'The Iringdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force'; this is the spiritualised meaning of the Celtic myth, and in this has lain the lasting inspiration of the story which attracted Milton so strongly that it was almost by chance that we did not have from him a K i n g A r t k t ~ r instead of Pr~rc~dise Lost. In our own times it has enchanted the imagination of Tcnnyson, while Swinburne, Morris, and Matthew Arnold have also borne witness to the poetic value of a tradition which is as national to Britain as the Veda to India, or her epic poems to Greece.
Edited and tri~nsli~tcd by the Rev. Robert Williams, M.A. London. 1876.
H I S T O R I C A L . - A ~ ~in ~V~ Britain ~ of the earliest Celts (Goidels) about 1000-500 B.c.-Brythons and Belgie, conling over during the 2nd and 3rd centuries B.c., largely supplant the Goidels-Belgic settlers still crossing over f ~ o m Gaol in the time of Julius Caesar, who inade his first invasion 55 B.c.-Britain declared a Roman province under Claudius A.D. 43-l~bandoned under Honorius A.D. 410-Dvuidisn8 forbidden to Roman citizens under Tiberins (reigned A.D. 14.37) and its coujplete suppression ordered by Claudius (reigned A.D. 41-54)-The chief stronghold of the Druids in Britain destroyed under Suetonius Panlinus, A.D. 61Chvistianity, introduced under the Roman rule, makes gr;~dual headway-Gildas, writing in the sixth centmy, describes paganism as extinct in civilised Britain-Era of St. l'atrick in Ireland, fifth century-St. Coluinba. carries the gospel to the Northern Picts, sixth century. T R A D I T ~ O N A L . - ~ dates ~ C ~ assigned ~ ~ ~ O ~by I Sthe Irish compilers of pseudo-annals for all the mythical eras m d eventsPossibly authentic may be the placing of the heroic age of Ulster in the first century A.D. and the epoch of the Fenians in the secolid and third-British gods enrolled as early kings by Geoffrey of Monmouth or made the founders of powerful or saintly ft~milies by Welsh genealogists-The historio Arthur may have lived in the fifth-sixth centuries. L ~ ~ ~ n a n u . - T hsixth e century A.D.is the tradibional period of the bards Myrddin, Aneurin, Taliesin, and Lly~varchHen, poems ascribed to whom are found in the Welsh mediaeval
MYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN
MSS., while Irish legend asserts that the Thin Bd Cl~tiailg?~~
was first reduced to writing in the seventh-Gradual ~ c c o m u lation of Irish and Welsh n~ythicelssgas, inclitding the Four eigl~th-eleventh-The Irish Book of Branches of tho M~~hinogi, the Dan Cow and Book of Leinster and the Welsh Blaok Book of Cannnrthen, compiled doring the twelfth ; the Welsll Booksof Aneurin and of Taliesindoring the thirteenth; and the Irish Book of Bnllyniote and the Yellow Bookaf Lecan nncl the Welsh Red Book of Hergest dming the fourteenth-About 1136 Geotlrey of Moninouth finished his Histo~iaBvitollrt~qi~, and during this centurv and the one followine British mvthical
D n ~ . t l ~ tfrain ~ v Wrench sources-The working-up of Giielic traditional n~aterial ended probably in the middle of the eighleenth century-Jamcs NncPherson prodnccd his p~enrloOssianic 'epics,' 1760-63-In 1838-49 Lady Charlotte Guest published her Mabinogion, and from this date the renaissance of Celtic st~tdyand inspirstion may be said to have con^mcnced.
Paris. in Monsieur IT. he may turn to Lady Gregory's Cu~hzdainof M. 4. 1802. nure superficial survey. which give in attractive pawphrase all of the uiost important legends dealing with the and Red Branch of Ulster and with the Tuatha DQ Di~nann the Fenians. Should he he content with a. yketchev of the different cycles. and the Artlinrinn Isgend. I n these sixpenny baol. London. and 14 of the Pop~la~. with a ce. d3Arhais de J u h a i n v i l l ~ 'L'i?paph ~ CaZtup~e en filanda. and in Miss 79 . 1802 (vol. of the 'Caurs de LittBrature Celtiqae') . and retellings of their principal stories.oductians to the Gltelic Tuathe De Danann. Ciichnlainn nnd Ossianio cycles. 1898 . he niight obtain it from the present writer's Tlta Mytbologlj of the B1. London.rtaio amount of explanatory comment.iti. v. published by Mr. not orliy schalsrly intl. the TVelsh hlnlinagion. popular manner. 6. whicl~aimed at giving. 1. Nutt. in a. 11. For the stories themselves.SELECTED BOOIiS B E A R I N G ON CELTIC MYTHOLOGY To give i n Lhe space tlmt can be spared :my ndcqnnte list of books dealing with the wide subject of Celtic Mythology would he inlpossible. but also bibliogrqhical nppendiccv pointing out with s~tfficient fi~lness tho ellief works to consnlt. 1905. More exaat trandations of the Ulster romances will he fonnd in Miss E.uivthe?nne. and Gods a ? ~ d 3 i g l b t i n g Meit. Studies i n bfythology Bornn?ace aml Follclore. 1904. 8.lets he will find. Hull's !Che Cuehullin Saga i n Irish Literatu~e.London. The readlor inte~ostedin the matte^ can hardly do better thnv cansnlt Nos.h Islands. 3. London.
andiv.~snrtions o f the Cfpmrodovion Society.unpbell's Tb Fiam.the Zeitseh~ift fur Cdtische Pl~ilologie. London. G. 1854-61 . with their sequel.tra by T. The Fenian sagas are best studied in the six volumes of the Tvansactioss of the Ossianic Society.aud the ilumbets of the Rewe CeLtique. 1898. Paris.HYTHOLOGY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN W. sun o f Febal. 2 vola. while Monsieur J. 1904. R. Rhys's Leetuves on the O~iginand Growth o f Religion as Illust~. J. H. coxsr~aca. ii. such as the volulues of the Ivish T a t s Socioty. 1889. 1892 . London. forlns vols. S.a.. Best n . and in the Rev. translated by Nr. L. London. af ' W:~ifsand Strays of Celtic Tradition'). of tho ' Cours').' Critical studies on the subject in lrlndy form nre as yet few. research will be found in special publications.itud tile (I'l. 1884 (701. O'Grady's Sillia Gudelica. rri~tcrs to ~ ill Lhe Ediuliul-gll university P ~ ~ J J . i 31zjesty s pr. London.t Lectures fov 1886). of the 'Co~rcsdeLittdrature Celtiqne. The results of Inore recent. 1805-97. iv. C. in Mr. I. London. Alfrecl Nott's The Vu?/i~y~ o f &am. Farada. iii. Lady Charlotte Guest's Mabinogioia can now be obtained in severd ~chcap editions. We may menti011 De Jnbainville's L C Cycle iWythologipue Irlw~rlais et la Mythologie Celtiysc. end A. Dliblin. 1891 . Paris. ~ -. Dublin.. and Mr. Les Mabinogion. 1891 ("01. The Irish Mytholoyic d Cycle and Celtic Mythology. Loth's translation. Oxford. Studies i n tho Artl~z~vian Legend. 3rd edit. . 1903 .~y'sThe Cattle Raid o f Cualnge.. Professor J. and current.atedby (>eltic IImthe~dorn(The Hi6he1.
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