Plate Xi

Gauls and Romans in Combat Bas-relief from a sarcophagus found near Rome.

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those of a god invisibly leading armies to battle and embodied in chiefs who bore his name. Yet the epithet might be that of actual warriors, just as the German Emperor calls himself the "war-lord."

Lludd, as King, rebuilt London orCaer Ludd, and was buried at Ludgate Hill, which thus preserves his name and points to an earlier cult of Lludd at this place.38 He is also said to have been enclosed in a narrow prison — an unexplained reference to some tale now lost. In the story of Lludd and Llevelys 39 his country of Britain was subjected to three plagues — the Cora-nians who heard every whisper, like Math Hen; a shriek on May-Eve caused by a foreign dragon attacking the dragon of the land and producing wide-spread desolation; and the mysterious disappearance of a year's supply of food. Llevelys bade Lludd bruise certain insects in water and throw the mixture over his assembled people and the Coranians; the latter alone would be poisoned by it. The dragons were to be made drunk with mead and then buried. The third plague was caused by a magician who lulled every one to sleep and then carried off the provisions; but Lludd was to keep awake by plunging into cold water and then to capture the giant, who would become his vassal. This last plague recalls "the hand of glory," the hand of a new-born infant or a criminal, which, anointed with grease and ignited, rendered a robber invisible and caused every one to sleep in whatever house the thief entered. Treasure was also discovered by its means, and as Dousterswivel in Scott's Antiquary said, "he who seeksh for treasuresh shall never find none at all," to which the Antiquary replied, "I dare take my corporal oath of that conclusion." Whether this episode of the story is based on such a folk-belief is not clear. As a whole nation suffers from the plagues, and as two of them affect fertility and plenty, the origin of the tale may be found in the mythical contest of divine powers with hostile potencies of blight, as at Mag-Tured.40 In a Triad the plague of the Coranians is called that of March Malaen from beyond the sea;41 and March suggests the Fomorian More, who taxed the Nemedians in two-thirds of their children, corn, and milk on November-Eve.42 The Welsh plagues, however, occur at Beltane, i. e. at the beginning of summer, rather than winter, as might be expected. Lludd is praised for generosity in giving meat and drink — the attribute of a kindly god. The Cora-nians are connected with Welsh cor ("dwarf") and are still known as mischievous fairies.

In connexion with such dwarfs it is interesting to note that a dwarf fairy-folk is described by Giraldus Cambrensis (11471223). Two of them took the priest Elidurus, when a boy, through subterranean passages to a delightful region, whose people lived on milk and saffron, swore no oaths, and contemned human ambition and inconstancy. Elidurus frequently visited them, but being persuaded by his mother to steal their gold, he was pursued and the gold was taken from him, after which he never again found the way to fairy-land.43 Save for their size, these fairies recall the Tuatha De Danann, dwelling in the sid.

Gwyn, son of Nudd, is connected both with Annwfn and also in later belief with fairy-land.44 He was a great magician and a mighty warrior — "the hope of armies" — while his horse was also "the torment of battle";45 without him and a certain steed named Du, the monster boar, the Twrch Trwyth, could not be caught by Kulhwch. Gwyn abducted Creidylad (Cordelia), daughter of Lludd, who was affianced to Gwythur; but in the fight which followed Gwyn was victor and forced one of his foes to eat his dead father's heart so that he became mad. Arthur interfered, however, and ordered that Creidylad should remain with her father, while Gwyn and Gwythur must fight for her every day until doom, when she would be given to the victor.46 This story is illustrated by folk-survivals. On Mayday in the Isle of Man a girl representing the May Queen was attended by a captain and several others; and there was also a Queen of Winter with her company. The two bands met in mock battle, and if the May Queen was captured, her men had to ransom her.47 Ritual combats between representatives of summer and winter occur among the folk everywhere and in origin symbolized the defeat of winter, as well as actually aided the gods of light and growth. The story of Creidylad is perhaps the debris of an old myth explaining the reason of such a contest when its real purpose was forgotten.

Another group of divine personages is found in the Hanes Taliesin, which was written in the sixteenth or seventeenth century, although references to incidents in it occur in far earlier poems in the Book of Taliesin and presuppose its existence in some form when they were composed. It contains mythical elements which introduce old divinities, a culture hero or god, Taliesin, and the conceptions of inspiration, rebirth, and shape-shifting, the last being expressed in the folk-tale formula of the Transformation Combat, as it already is in one of the poems.48 Taliesin is unknown to the Mabinogion, save as a bearer of Bran's head, and this suggests his local character, while the saga was probably developed in a district to the south of the estuary of the Dyii.49 Before story or poem was written, three facts concerning his mythic history must have been remembered — his inspiration, his shape-shifting powers, and his being the rebirth of Gwion. Whether or not there was an actual poet called Taliesin living in the sixth or, as his latest translator and commentator, Mr. J. G. Evans, thinks, in the thirteenth century, it is certain that his poems contain many mythical references which must once have been told of a mythical being doubtless bearing the same name as himself.

Tegid the Bald lived in Lake Tegid (Bala) with his wife Cerridwen, their beautiful daughter Creirwy, and their sons Morvran and Avagddu, the latter the. most ill-favoured of men, although Morvran ("Sea-Crow") is elsewhere said to have been also of repellent aspect. Cerridwen wished to compensate Avagddu by giving him knowledge, so that he might have entry among men of standing; and with the aid of the books of Ffergll (Vergil) she prepared a cauldron of inspiration and science to boil for a year. While she went to gather herbs of virtue, she set the blind Mordu to kindle the fire and Gwion to stir the pot; but three drops from it fell on his finger, which he put in his mouth, and he found himself master of knowledge, which taught him to flee from Cerridwen's rage. Here follows the incident of the Transformation Combat, with the goddess as a hen finally swallowing Gwion as a grain.50 She later gave birth to him, and wrapping him up in a hide, placed him in the sea. At Gwydno's weir the value of a hundred pounds was found every first of May, and Elphin was to obtain whatever was discovered on the next occasion, which proved to be the child. When the package was opened, Gwydno exclaimed, "Here is a fine or radiant brow" or "fine profit" (tal iessin), whence Elphin named the child Taliesin, and the infant sang and showed how deep was his knowledge. He was nurtured by Elphin and became one of the greatest of bards. Now Elphin had boasted at court that he had a more virtuous wife and a better bard than any there, whence he was imprisoned until his claim was verified. Rhun was sent to seduce his wife, but Taliesin put a servant in her place, and she fell victim to Rhun, who cut off her finger with her mistress's ring. When Elphin was confronted with it, he showed an ingenuity equal to that of Sherlock Holmes in proving that the finger was not his wife's — the ring was too tight, the finger-nail was uncut, and on her finger some flour had remained from her baking. Now his wife never baked; she cut her finger-nails weekly; and the ring was loose even on her thumb. Taliesin next came forward and by his spells made the other bards utter nonsense. He sang of his origin — "the region of the summer stars" — his existence in long past ages, from that of Lucifer's fall to the days of the Patriarchs, and his life at the Nativity and Crucifixion of Christ, and referred to his birth from Cerridwen. Then the castle shook; Elphin was summoned; and as Taliesin sang his chains fell from him.51

The latter part of the story is purely romantic, but in poems ascribed to Taliesin and in a Triad his greatness as the "chief of bards" appears —

"With me is the splendid chair, The inspiration of fluent and urgent song."

He has been with the gods and ranks himself as one of them, telling how he was created and enchanted by them before he became immortal;52 he has a chair not only on earth but in the gods' land.53 Taliesin was the ideal bard, a god of inspiration like Ogma, and, besides his reincarnation, his birth from Cerridwen shows his divine nature. Yet, like other semi-divine personages connected with inspiration or culture, he obtains his powers by accident or by force. One myth, that of the cauldron, shows the former and is parallel to the story of Fionn and the salmon;54 but in another, darkly referred to in a poem, he with Arthur and many companions goes overseas to Caer Sidi for the spoils of Annwfn, including the cauldron of Pen Annwfn.55 Here, whether successfully or not, the gifts of culture and inspiration are sought by force or craft. Are two separate myths combined in the Hanes Taliesin, one making Taliesin son of a goddess with an abode in the divine land; the other viewing him as a culture hero, stealing the gifts of the gods' land, and therefore obnoxious to Cerridwen? And if so, do these myths "reflect the encroachment of the cult of a god on that of a goddess, his worshippers regarding him as her son, her worshippers reflecting their hostility to the new god in a myth of her enmity to him"?56

Taliesin was supreme in shape-shifting and rebirth. Of no other Brythonic god or hero is the latter asserted, and several poems obscurely enumerate various forms which he assumed and recount his adventures in them. When, however, the poet, speaking in his name, asserts that he has been a sword, tear, word, book, coracle, etc., it is obvious that this is mere bardic nonsense and not pantheism, as some have suggested. The claims of Taliesin and of the Irish Amairgen resemble those of the Eskimo angakok, who has the entree of the other-world and can transform himself at will;67 and the gift of transformation and rebirth is then associated with inspiration in the Hanes Taliesin. Here the equation with Fionn and Oisin, already noted by J. G. Campbell and accepted by Rhys, is worth observing. Fionn and Gwion obtain inspiration accidentally. Fionn is reborn, not as Oisin, but as Mongan, and Gwion as Taliesin. Oisin and Taliesin are both bards, and Oisin's name is perhaps equivalent to -essin or -eisin in Taliesin. Taliesin's shape-shifting has no parallel with Fionn or Oisin, but Oisin's mother and, in one tradition, Fionn's also became a fawn. Thus inspiration, rebirth, and shape-shifting are attached to different personages in different ways, showing that mythical elements common to the Celtic race have been employed.

Tegid is a god of the world under waters, but is not otherwise known to existing myth; though he and Cerridwen, possessor of a cauldron, are perhaps parallel to the giant pair out of a lake with their cauldron in Branwen, Cerridwen being a local goddess of inspiration, as her cauldron of knowledge shows. The Celtic mythical cauldron, bestowing knowledge, plenty (like Dagda's), and life (like Bran's),58 is recognizable as a property of the gods' land; but it was dangerous, and a bard sings of his chair being defended from Cerridwen's cauldron.59 Cerridwen was regarded as a daughter of Ogyrven, from whose cauldron came three muses, and who was perhaps an eponymous deity of the elements of language, poetry, and the letters of the alphabet, called ogyrvens, as well as a god of bards. Cerridwen is styled "the ogyrven of various seeds, those of poetic harmony, the exalted spirit of the minstrel"; but ogyrven also means "a spiritual form," "a personified idea," and may here be equivalent to "goddess." 60 Thus Cerridwen was a deity of inspiration, like Brigit, though, like other Celtic goddesses, her primary function may have been with fertility, of which the cauldron, supplying plenty and giving life, is a symbol. She is also called a "goddess of grain." 61

Tegid's water-world is the land under waves of Irish myth —

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