Plate Xxiii


The bear-goddess (see p. 124) feeds a bear. The inscription states that "Licinia Sabinilla (dedicated this) to the goddess Artio," and the box pedestal has a slit through which to drop offerings of coins. Found at Berne ("Bear-City"), which still preserves a trace of the ancient Celtic cult in its famous den of bears. Cf. Plate II, 10.

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while in the Romances it was made by Merlin. Layamon also declares that three ladies prophesied at Arthur's birth regarding his future greatness — the three Matres or Fees of Celtic belief, found also in other mythologies. Yet before Geoffrey's time Arthur was known in Brittany, whither Britons had fled from the Saxons; and there the Normans learned of the saga, which they carried to Italy before 1100 a. d., so that Alanus ab Insulis (ob. c. 1200) says that in his time resentment would have been aroused in Brittany by the denial of Arthur's expected return.

Among the Welsh romantic tales about Arthur the chief is that of Kulhwch and Oliven,8 where he and his warriors, some of whom have magic powers, aid Kulhwch in different quests. The story, which antedates Geoffrey, and proves that an Arthurian legend existed before his time, is based on the folk-tale formula of a woman's hatred to her step-son. She bade Kulhwch seek as his wife Olwen, daughter of Yspaddaden Penkawr, whose eyelids, like Balor's, must be raised by his servitors, though he is not said to possess an evil eye. The quest was difficult, and when Kulhwch found Yspaddaden's castle, he learned that many suitors for Olwen had been slain, for Yspaddaden would die when she married — a variant of the theme of the separable soul.9 Yspaddaden set Kulhwch many tasks, some of them connected with each other, and in many of these his cousin Arthur assisted him. Among them is the capture of the Twrch Trwyth (Nennius's Por cus Troit), on account of the scissors, comb, and razors between its ears, which Yspaddaden desired. This boar was a knight transformed by God for his sins, and to capture it the aid of Mabon, son of Modron, must be obtained. First, however, his prison must be found, for he had been stolen on the third night after his birth, and none knew where he was. With the help of various animals his place of bondage was discovered, and he was released by Arthur, whose aid, with that of others, Yspaddaden had said that Kulhwch would never obtain. Arthur now collected an army for the chase of the boar, and this pursuit recalls many stories of Fionn. A great combat with it took place, and after Arthur had fought it for nine days and nights without being able to kill it, he sent to it and its pigs Gwrhyr Gwalstawt in the form of a bird to invite one of them to speak with him. The invitation was refused, however, and accordingly Arthur, with his dog Cavall and a host of heroes, hunted the boar from place to place. Many were slain, but at last the boar was seized, and the razor and scissors were taken. Nevertheless, before the comb could be obtained, the boar fled to Kernyu (Cornwall), where it was captured; although all that had happened previously was merely a game compared with the taking of the comb. The boar was now chased into the sea, and Arthur went north to obtain the blood of the sorceress Gorddu on the confines of hell, another of the things required by Yspaddaden. Arthur slew Gorddu, and Kaw of Prydein (Pictland) collected her blood, which, with the other marvellous objects, was taken to Yspaddaden, who was now slain.

In this story Kulhwch comes to Arthur's court, which is attended by many warriors and supernatural personages, some of whose names (e. g. Conchobar, Curoi) recur in the Romances or are taken from other parts of Brythonic as well as Irish traditions. The gate was shut while feasting went on, save to a king's son or to the master of an art — an incident recalling the approach of Lug, "master of many arts," to the abode of the Tuatha De Danann before the battle of Mag-Tured 10 — all others being entertained outside with food, music, and a bedfellow. Among the personages of this tale who recur in the Romances are Kei, Bedwyr (Bedivere), Gwalchmei (Gawain), and Gwenhwyfar; characters from the Mabinogion or other tales are Manawyddan, Morvran, Teyr-non, Taliesin, and Creidylad, daughter of Lludd. Mabon, son of Modron, is the Maponos of British and Gaulish inscriptions, where he is equated with Apollo; and his mother's name

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