May 2018 – King Arthur is there evidence he existed contd

By | August 6, 2018

The session covered:

The continuation of our search for references to King Arthur in the early Welsh source material.

In the Welsh battle poem “Y Gododdin”( attributed to the poet Aneirin and composed sometime in the early 600s) it is said of one Gododdin warrior that ” He glutted black ravens on the walls of the fort/ Although he was not Arthur”.

In the “Elegy of Gereint” (author unknown) that describes the Battle of Llongborth, we have “At Llongborth I saw Arthur, an emperor commanding the battle”.

We have no way of knowing if these one line references to Arthur were there in the original C7th versions of the poems, or if they were added in later copies, when Arthur had become a well-known figure in folklore.

In the “Spoils of Annwyn”, the poet Taliesin (late C6th) gives us a tale of Arthur and his companions conducting a raid on Annwyn, the Realm of the Dead in the Otherworld, to steal the Cauldron of Plenty (cf Cuchulainn who does much the same thing).  This is Arthur in the context of Celtic warrior hero mythology, rather than telling us anything about Arthur as a possible historical figure.