Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Culhwch and Olwen & welsh mythology

The tale of Beren and Lúthien also shares an element with folktales
such as the Welsh Culhwch and Olwen...

Culhwch and Olwen
is a Welsh tale about a hero connected with Arthur and his warriors that survives in only two manuscripts:
a complete version in the Red Book of Hergest, ca. 1400,
and a fragmented version in the White Book of Rhydderch, ca. 1325.

It is the longest of the surviving Welsh prose tales.

Lady Charlotte Guest included this tale among those she collected under the title
The Mabinogion

The Red Book of Hergest (Welsh: Llyfr Coch Hergest)

is one of the most important medieval Welsh language manuscripts.

The manuscript includes both prose and poetry and was written between about 1382 and 1410.

The first part of the manuscript contains prose, including the Mabinogion, for which this is one of the manuscript sources (the other principal source being the White book of Rhydderch),

other tales, historical texts (including a Welsh translation of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae), and various other texts including a series of Triads. The rest of the manuscript contains poetry, especially from the period of court poetry known as Poetry of the Princes (Welsh:Gogynfeirdd or Beirdd y Tywysogion).

The manuscript also contains a collection of herbal remedies associated with Rhiwallon Feddyg, founder of a medical dynasty that lasted over 500 years - 'The Physicians of Myddfai' from the village of Myddfai just outside Llandovery.

J. R. R. Tolkien borrowed the title for the Red Book of Westmarch, the imagined legendary source of Tolkien’s tales.


The White Book of Rhydderch (Welsh: Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch) is one of the most notable and celebrated manuscripts in Welsh.
Written in the middle of the fourteenth century (ca. 1350) it is the earliest collection of Welsh prose texts, though it also contains some examples of early Welsh poetry.


he Mabinogion (pronounced /mabɪ'nɔɡjɔn/) is the title given to a collection of eleven prose stories collated from medieval Welsh manuscripts.

The tales draw on pre-Christian Celtic mythology, international folktale motifs, and early medieval historical traditions.

While some details may hark back to older Iron Age traditions, each of these tales is the product of a highly developed Welsh narrative tradition, both oral and written.

Lady Charlotte Guest in the mid 19th century was the first to publish English translations of the collection, popularising the name "Mabinogion" at the same time.

The stories of the Mabinogion appear in either or both of two Medieval Welsh manuscripts, the White Book of Rhydderch (Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch) written ca. 1350,

and the Red Book of Hergest (Llyfr Coch Hergest) written about 1382–1410, although texts or fragments of some of the tales have been preserved in earlier 13th century and later manuscripts. Scholars agree that the tales are older than the existing manuscripts, but disagree over just how much older.

It is clear that the different texts included in the Mabinogion originated at different times.

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