Mabinogion or Four Branches of Mabinogi ( Pedair Cainc there Mabinogi in Welsh) are four texts medieval ( chwedl or cyfarwyddyd , words which means tales), written in means-Welsh (language in force of the 12th century at the 16th century), which refers to the Celtic Mythologie of the Antiquité. Traditionally other tales are added there concerned with the Légende arthurienne. The word Mabinogion is the plural of Mabinogi . Various explanations on the direction of the word were advanced, but it probably comes from the god Mabon (Maponos in Gaulle) which appears in the tale Kulhwch and Olwen , and who belongs to the same collection. The four accounts are entitled: Pwyll, prince de Dyved , Mabinogi de Branwen , Manawydan wire of Llyr and Maths wire of Mathonwy .
The Mabinogion were elaborate starting from two manuscripts, the White paper of Rhydderch whose drafting is spread out 1380 with 1410, and the Red book of Hergest which is gone back roughly to 1350. Let us recall that in the Celtic world, poetry was the speciality of the bards. The developed topics are found in the Irish tradition, which attests of their antiquity. One can quote, as example, the reports/ratios of the Druide (or magician) and of the king, the obligations of Sovereignty, the Other World (the Sidh of the Tuatha Dé Danann, in Ireland), the war, the practice of the artisanal functions. It is the illustration of the trifonctionnelle ideology of the Indo-Europeans, such as it was exposed by Georges Dumézil. Just like for the Irish mythological texts, a Christian varnish is superimposed sometimes on the accounts.
In the wave of Celtomanie of the 19th century, a first publication expurgée in English was made by Lady Guest between 1838 and 1849, of which certain parts were translated into French by Theodore Hersart of Villemarqué, but it is Joseph Loth which will establish the first integral French edition.
The late drafting indicates an oral long tradition, these myths were transmitted generations in generations, through the centuries, of this fact it is not possible to specify the origin of it (see the article devoted to with the Druide S).
Pwyll, prince de DyvedPwyll made to a pact with Arawn the king of the Annwvyn, the Other World of the Celtes, to become the Master of the kingdom of Dyved. This accession with the sovereign function results in a name change, it becomes the “chief of Annwvyn”. Its reign is characterized by equity, justice and generosity. To legitimate its new capacity, it must be a queen, it meets Rhiannon, whose name (resulting from Rigantona) means “Large Queen”; it is a misadventure of the female Celtic divinity (see Brigit, Brigantia). It eliminates its Gwawl rival and all the other applicants. Follows a series of banquets and gifts. Rhiannon, is wrongfully shown of child murder, whereas his/her son Pryderi was removed, and must make penitence - the insertion of this episode aims at christianizing the account.
This tale has as subjects the origin, the base and the legitimacy of the royalty. The contract signed with a king of the Other World indicates the divine origin clearly. The marriage of Pwyll with the Rhiannon goddess is in conformity with Celtic mythology since sovereignty is a female concept. The justice and the generosity of the king are two fundamental and essential qualities of the function.
Mabinogi de BranwenBranwen , girl of Llyr and sister of Blessed Bran the, was required in marriage by Matholwch, the king of Ireland. This union is a kind of contract which must ensure peace between the two nations. Evnissyen which was not consulted, tries to ruin this agreement: it cuts the lips, the ears and the tail of the Irish horses. To repair offense, Bran offers new mountings and a magic cauldron. Branwen is taken along to Ireland where it is accommodated with ostentation. From this union is born a son, Gwern, but the king wearied himself of his wife, it makes him give up its title of queen, and makes it work with the kitchens. During three years of this treatment, it raises a starling secretly, then sends it to his/her brother, with a message with the leg. Immediately, he undertakes a military forwarding.
The second tale of the Mabinogion treats difficult relations between the Celtic nations. The war is the central theme, and one sees a glorification of the heroic warrior. The war, the raids are besides recurring concepts in Celtic civilization. Bran is a giant, of which the name means “corbel”, animal emblematic of the divinities associated with death.
Manawydan wire of LlyrManawydan , wire of Llyr, married Rhiannon, after the death of its first husband, Pwyll. At the time of a walk to which joined Pryderi, the son of Rhiannon and Kigva its wife. A sudden storm bursts followed by a magic fog which leaves the devastated and deserted country. After having exhausted the provisions of the house, they decide to go in England in order to exert a trade and to provide for their needs. They settle in Henford as saddlers, they succeed so that the other craftsmen of the city, jealous, drive out them. They become manufacturers of shields, then shoe-makers, with as much of success and exile. Of return in Dyved, they are made to hunters then farmers.
According to the diagram dumézilien, this account describes the third class of the company, that of the producing craftsmen/and the farmers/stockbreeders. The two other classes are that of the Druide S and bards and that of the warriors. The role of the craftsmen (to the full extent) is to produce for the whole of the company. Manawydan is the Welsh equivalent of the Irishman Manannan Mac Lir.
Maths wire of MathonwyMath is the king of Gwynedd, famous for its magic. Its name is related with that of the bear, which is the animal emblematic of the royalty. It can live only the feet in the bosom of a virgin, except for the periods of war. The young girl who fills this office names Goewin, it is promised in marriage to Gilvaethwy. The druid Gwyddyon, nephew of Maths, declares the war with Pryderi to force his uncle to intervene, and allows Gilvaethwy to take the released young girl. Using of his magic, king Bern transforms them into animals. It is Arianrhod which must replace Goewin, and Maths must check its virginity with its magic wand. In parallel, Gwyddyon must make the education of Lleu, misadventure of the Almighty Lug.
The last tale of the Mabinogion is more especially devoted to the functions of the sacerdotal class. The role of Goewin, as a female principle, is to legitimate the royalty of Maths, which deal only of prosperity and the war. Gwyddyon is the prototype of the druid, omnipotent and omniscient, which must initiate, his nephew which, by its trifonctionnelle quality (see the article Lug) can aspire to the royalty.
The tales arthuriensIn the collection of Lady Charlotte Guest appear five Welsh traditional tales:
- Breuddwyd Macsen Wledig ( the Dream of Macsen ), which has as a subject the Roman Emperor Magnus Maximus
- Lludd has Llefelys ( Lludd and Llevelys )
- Culhwch ac Olwen ( Kulhwch and Olwen )
- Breuddwyd Rhonabwy ( the dream of Rhonabwy )
- Hanes Taliesin ( the tale of Taliesin ), is a late part, which does not make part of the White Papers and Black, and which is isolated the most recent translations.
The tales Culhwch ac Olwen and Breuddwyd Rhonabwy raised the interest of the researchers because they contain elements of the Légende arthurienne.
LovesongsThree other tales are called Y Tair Rhamant (“Three lovesongs”) and are Welsh versions of tales appearing in works of Chrétien of Troyes.
- Peredur ab Evrawc ( Peredur wire of Evrawc )
- Gereint ac Enid ( Gereint and Enid )
- Owain, neu Iarlles there Ffynnon ( Owain, or rams it with the fountain )
- Mabinogions by Joseph Loth (Fontemoing Editions) available free to the Numeric library Gallica
- the Four branches of Mabinogi and other Welsh tales of the Middle Ages translates of Welsh, introduced and annotated by Pierre-Yves Lambert, Éditions Gallimard, collection “the paddle of the people”, Paris, 1993.
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