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Lecture II.


THE ZEUS OF THE INSULAR CELTS.


PART I.




In the foregoing lecture I tried to reconstruct, mainly out of the ruins of the Gaulish pantheon, the fallen edifice of Celtic paganism; and in so doing, I endeavoured to confine myself as much as I conveniently could to what may be called the theology of the early Celts; but it is impossible to do justice to our subject without pursuing it, as I now briefly propose to do, into its later stages, represented by such myths as the Celtic nations of modern times happen to retain embedded in their literature or woven into their folk-lore. I make, however, no attempt to draw any line of demarcation between theology and mythology; for who is there to tell me where precisely theology and religion end, and where myth and fiction begin? Professor Max Müller, when speaking of the storm-gods of the Hindus, uses the words, " 'They can pound us, we cannot pound them;' this feeling, too, contained a germ of religious thought."[1] His later utterances[2] on this point are still more explicit, as when he says that 'the living germ of all religion' is to be found in the 'sensation of the Infinite,' which Infinite we can know 'as the Indefinite only, or as the partially defined.' For 'could we define it nil,' he goes on to say, 'it would cease to be the Infinite, it would cease to be the Unknown, it would cease to be the Inconceivable or the Divine.' Anything, then, which surpasses man's comprehension and man's power would seem to be fraught with religious germs. Thus while there remains anything unknown, there is room for the religious germ to develop, a fact which men of little faith never thoroughly realize; but it must be admitted that every addition to our knowledge and means of understanding the universe, tends, however insignificant it may be, to narrow the domain of what passes for religion. 'We have lived,' says Dr. Tylor, in a work[3] which forms an account of the genesis of religion, 'to see the time when men shrink from addressing even to Supreme Deity the old customary rain-prayers; for the rainfall is passing from the region of the supernatural, to join the tides and seasons in the realm of physical science.' Conversely, if we look back in the direction of the early history of man, we have to acknowledge that the province of prayer was considerably larger and wider formerly than it is now; that is to say, many things which seem to us to have nothing in particular to do with religion, wore an essentially religious aspect in the eyes of our pagan ancestors, and rightly so, if we consider the extent of their ignorance of the nature of the world around them. But it would be at variance with all that is known to us about nations in a low state of civilization, to ascribe to the Aryans before their separation, or during what is sometimes called their pro-ethnic period, any approach to a habit of striving after the infinite or even of consciously contemplating it; nor would anybody probably be prepared to maintain such an opinion.

It is, however, not to be denied that they have not unfrequently been credited with a theology far too advanced for them, and this error was a very natural one: the discovery that certain languages spoken by nations dwelling in different lands between the Ganges and the Loire formed one family of speech, to which the name Aryan is given, was followed by the identification of a considerable vocabulary which they possessed in common, and among the most interesting words in that common vocabulary were the prototypes of the following: Sanskrit Dyaus, 'Heaven or Sky,' and Dyaushpitar, 'Sky or Heaven as Father;' Greek Ζεύς, Ζεὺς πατήρ, vocative Ζεῦ πάτερ; Latin Diespiter or Jupiter, gen. Jovis; Norse Týr; O. H. German Ziu; A.-Saxon Tiu, whence the modern English Tuesday. It was inferred from these words and kindred ones that the pro-ethnic Aryans were familiar with the idea of a Father Heaven or Sky, which was probably right; but there was a strong temptation to look at that early Father Sky more or less through the colouring medium of the most elevated representations of him in later times, namely, as the Zeus and Jove of the best aspects of Greek and Latin religion. It would be tedious to enumerate one by one the mythologists and other writers who gave way to that temptation. Suffice it to mention the most insignificant of the latter: in a little book[4] published by me some ten years ago, words to the following effect were used: The pro-ethnic Aryan's ideas of religion and morals can only be guessed, and how many gods he had, it is impossible to say. It is, however, certain that he worshipped one above all others, if others he had, and that he spoke of him in terms expressive at once of the light of day and of the wide expanse of the sky, which looked down upon him wherever he roamed. This may have been merely his way of saying that his great Heaven-father was the god of light, and that he was present everywhere.

So I was led to think then; but I should now say that those words, which are perhaps more faulty in what they imply than what they directly express, are pitched in far too high a key. For if the Aryans in question had attained to the idea of so transcendent a god as this would suggest, there would be a difficulty in understanding how, as the Dyaus of Sanskrit literature, he should have become comparatively a lay figure, that as Tiu he should have been superseded by Woden and Thor among the Teutons, and that among the Gauls his pre-eminence should at any time have been threatened by a Mercury. This would look somewhat like a reversion of the great law of evolution, a serious argument against any theory of religion or mythology. So we cannot do better than go back to find whether our too hastily formed notions of the Father Sky of the pro-ethnic Aryans will not admit of revision.

The task has been rendered comparatively easy by the labours of the student of anthropology: that science of man is not quite new, but the cunabula of the Aryan were thought too sacred to be handled by the anthropologist and student of comparative folk-lore; so he was, as it were, warned off the ground with the polite request that he should be content to amuse himself with observing the queer ways and learning the strange stories of contemporary savages. This was of course of no avail, for he soon returned to lay ruthless hands on our most cherished theories of mythology, and to tell us, that, whether we liked it or not, our Aryan ancestors were savages who did not greatly differ from other savages of other times and other lands. We are forced to listen and to admit that his method of working is in principle both simple and sound. Thus when he finds a civilized people in possession of a savage myth or a savage rite, he tries to find, for the purposes of comparison, the like myth or the like rite cherished by savages, among whom the meaning of the same is well known or easy to ascertain. This has been successfully done[5] with the Greek myth of Cronus, which is not only instructive as an instance of the true method, but important to us as bearing on one of the subjects of this lecture. The chief features of the myth, as drawn by Mr. Andrew Lang from Greek literature,[6] were the following: Gaea or Earth gave birth to Uranus or Heaven, and later she became her son's wife: they had many children, some of whom were gods of the elements, such as Oceanus, the deep, Hyperion, the sun, and Cronus of Crooked Counsel, who ever hated his mighty sire. Now Heaven used to hide his children from the light in the hollows of Earth, which both she and they resented. The children conspired against their father, and their mother assisted them by producing iron, with which she bade them avenge their wrongs. But fear fell on them all except Cronus, who determined to deliver his mother from Heaven's embraces; so when the latter was amorously approaching his wife from a distance, their son Cronus, armed with a sickle of iron or steel, mutilated him. Thus the wedded pair, Heaven and Earth, were practically divorced, but Oceanus clung to his father ever after the shameful treatment which the latter had undergone.

The Chinese[7] likewise possess the myth; and it is known to various peoples of the Pacific, including the Maori, whose version is in the highest degree interesting on account of its close resemblance, even in details, to the Greek one; but I must be content to pass over them in silence, giving you the story alone as reproduced by Mr. Lang:[8] 'In the beginning, the Heaven, Rangi, and the Earth, Papa, were the father and mother of all things. In these days the Heaven lay upon the Earth, and all was darkness. They had never been separated. Heaven and Earth had children, who grew up and lived in this thick night, and they were unhappy because they could not see. Between the bodies of their parents they were imprisoned, and there was no light. The names of the children, were Tumatuenga, Tane-Mahuta, Tutenganahau and some others. So they all consulted as to what should be done with their parents, Rangi and Papa. 'Shall we slay them, or shall we separate them?' 'Go to,' said Tumatuenga, 'let us slay them.' 'No,' cried Tane-Mahuta, 'let us rather separate them. Let one go upwards, and become a stranger to us; let the other remain below, and be a parent to us.' Only Tawhiri-Matea (the wind) had pity on his own father and mother. Then the fruit-gods, and the war-god, and the sea-god (for all the children of Papa and Rangi were gods) tried to rend their parents asunder. Last rose the forest-god, cruel Tutenganahau. He severed the sinews which united Heaven and Earth, Rangi and Papa. Then he pushed hard with his head and feet. Then wailed Heaven and exclaimed Earth, 'Wherefore this murder? Why this great sin? Why destroy us? Why separate us?' But Tane pushed and pushed: Rangi was driven far away into the air. They became visible, who had hitherto been concealed between the hollows of their parents' breasts. Only the storm-god differed from his brethren: he arose and followed his father, Rangi, and abode with him in the open spaces of the sky.'

There is no reason to suppose that the Maori borrowed their myth from the Greeks, or the Greeks from the Maori: the similarity is to be traced either to a common origin, or, as most writers of the present day seem inclined to suppose, to the independent workings of the human mind under similar circumstances. The Greek myth, which distressed thoughtful and pious minds like that of Socrates, was a survival, like the other scandalous tales about the gods, from the time when the ancestors of the Greeks were savages like the Maori; and its origin is to be sought in the animism so characteristic of the savage mind, that is to say, its tendency to endow the sun, the moon, the sky, or any feature of the physical world admitting of being readily individualized, with a soul and a body, with parts and passions, like their own.[9] In the instance in question, the Aryan ancestors of Greeks and Hindus are found to have been at one with those of the Chinese and the Polynesians of later times, in making of the sky and the earth a wedded couple of savages like themselves; and to the savage idea this would be no mere metaphor or simile, for the childish simplicity of his mind is such as to be realized by us only with great difficulty. But the effort to do so in the instance which more especially concerns us just now, will serve to correct the views we had formed of the Father Sky of the early Aryans by taking up the study of the myth at the wrong end.

Among the Aryan nations, however, the Greeks were not singular in possessing the myth here in question: it was known in a modified form to the Hindus, and it is to be found in the Norse Edda; while in the light of these kindred literatures it is possible to detect traces of it in Celtic. In Sanskrit, the god known by the name of Dyaus, a word identical with one of the names of the Sky or the Heavens, is usually referred to in company with Pṛithivî, or Earth, which were once joined, and subsequently separated from one another.[10] The Norse version is, however, more explicit; and instead of a partial mutilation, as of Uranus by Cronus, it represents the vast frame of the world-giant Hymi completely cut up by the sons of Bor, that is to say, the Anses or Norse gods with Woden at their head: from Hymi's flesh they made the earth, from his bones the mountains, from his skull the heavens, from his blood the sea, from his brows the earth for the sons of men to dwell on, and from his brain the threatening clouds.[11] The previous stage was the subject of a very natural vagueness, and we are told nothing very detailed about it; but Hymi existed, and the existence may also be supposed of that whereon he rested, a cosmic consort corresponding, roughly speaking, to Gaea or Pṛithivî. Further we are informed who Hymi was,[12] at least relatively to the Anses: he was the grandfather of Tiu, called in Norse Týr. This means, as Tiu or Týr is the equivalent of Zeus, that Hymi is to be rendered by Uranus, the grandfather of Zeus, which is in fact borne out by the etymological meaning of these names respectively. The name Hymi, which in Norse makes Hýmir in the nominative case, is akin, for instance, to the Norse verb hýma, 'to sneak in the dark,' húma, 'to become dusk,' all from húm, 'twilight or dusk;' while the Greek Οὐρανός, 'Uranus,' and its Sanskrit equivalent Varuṇa, come from a root var, meaning 'to cover.' This chimes in with the grievance of which the children of Uranus complained, that he used to hide them from the light in the hollows of the earth. The English word sky conveyed a similar meaning, since it is traced back to the Scandinavian origin from which is derived the Old Norse ský, 'a cloud.'

The second part of the Cronus myth relates how Cronus, afraid of his own offspring, used to destroy them by swallowing them at their birth, and how the youngest of them, Zeus, escaped and grew up, how he banished his father Cronus and became the chief of the gods. Now his Greek name Ζεύς has its exact etymological counterpart, as already mentioned, in that of the Roman Jove, of the Teutonic Tiu and of the Hindu Dyaus. But this group of words contains a good many forms; and, as it is expedient not to confound them, they may be arranged as follows under their respective stems:[13]

1. Diu, diau, diâu:—Sanskrit dyaus, mas. and fem. 'heaven, sky, day, the god Dyaus' (as in Dyaush-pitar), nom. dyáus (i.e. diáus), voc. dyãus (i.e. diãus), instr. divā, dat. dyave and dive, gen. dyos and divas, dual dyāvā and dyavī, pi. nom. dyāvas, acc. dyūn, instr. dyubhis; Greek nom. Ζεύς, voc. Ζεῦ, gen. Διός (for Διϝός); Latin Jou- or Jû(-piter), gen. Diŏvis, Jŏvis; A.-Saxon Tiu, gen. Tiwes in Tiwesdæg, 'Tuesday;' O. H. Ger. Ziu, gen. Ziwes; O. Norse Týr, gen. Týs, as in Týsdagr, 'Tuesday,' acc. and dat. ; Welsh duw,[14] 'a god, God,' dieu (as in tri-dieu, 'three days') and dieuoeᵭ, 'days.'

2. Dĭvo:— Skr. diva, neut. 'heaven, day,' as in naktan-divam, 'by night and by day;' Greek ἔν-δῖος (for -διϝος), 'at noon, in the open air;' Latin bi-duum, 'the space of two days,' tri-duum, 'the space of three days;' Welsh dyw, adverbial, as in he-ᵭyw, 'to-day,' dyw Llun (now Dywllun and even Dwyllun), 'on Monday,' and dyw Iau (now in N. Wales Difia' and Dufia'), 'on Thursday.'

3. Dĭves:—Skr. divasa, mas. and neut. 'heaven, day,' from a stem divas; Greek διει for διϝες in εὐδιεινός, 'calm, sheltered,' εὐδιέστερος, εὐδιέστατος, used as comp. and sup. of εὔδιος; Lat. Dies-piter (for Dives-piter), 'Jupiter.'

4. Dĭvio, dĭvia:—Skr. divya, 'heavenly, divine;' Greek δῖος (for διϝιος), of the same meaning; Lat. dîo (for divio) in sub dîo, 'under the open sky.'

5. Dēvo, dēva:—Skr. deva, 'godlike, divine,' mas. 'a god;' Lat. dîvus, 'godlike,' contracted into deus, 'a god,' like oleum for olîvum; Lithuanian dȅva-s, 'God;' Gaulish dêvo-s, in such names as Dêvo-gnâta, with which compare such Greek names as Διογένης; Irish día, 'a god, God,' gen. déi (for dêvi); Welsh doiu, duiu (now dwyf or dwy), as in Gwas Duiu, a man's name meaning 'God's servant,' dwywol, dwyfol, 'divine,' and meu-dwy, 'a hermit,' literally 'Servus Dei.'

6. Dēvia:—Skr. devī, 'a goddess;' Lith. dȅve, 'a goddess;' Welsh doiu or duiu (now dwyf and mostly dwy), as in Dubr-Duin, Dyfrdwyf or Dyfrdwy, 'the river Dee,'

literally 'the Water of the Goddess;' Irish , 'a goddess,' gen. dée, déi, dé, déa, dae,[15] acc. .

7. More distantly related but still of the same origin are such words as the Latin dies, 'a day;' Welsh dyᵭ, the same; Irish in-diu, 'to-day.'

Now the question must sooner or later present itself, what did the words Zeus, Dyaus, and their congeners, originally mean? Two answers at least are given, of which the one is, that they meant the heavens or the sky. The other view is that the truer meaning of the word Dyaus, for instance, would be 'the bright or the shining one,' since it is derived from the root div or dyu, 'to shine, to lighten;' and that it was this activity of shining and illuminating the world which was embodied in the name. This is corroborated in the main by the recent researches of M. Gaidoz, who finds that the wheel-symbol is to be understood as an image of the sun,[16] and that the warrior-like Jupiter—that is the Gaulish god whom I should treat as a Roman Mars and Jupiter in one—was originally the god of the sun, who by extension became that of the heavens, and otherwise acquired attributes which made the ancient Romans regard him as their good Father in Heaven.[17] But his name, which has been interpreted to mean the shining or bright one, has not invariably ceased to be an appellative. Thus in Old Norse, where it was Týr, it was by no means confined to him: it remained more or less of an appellative, as may be inferred from compounds such as Sig-týr,[18] 'the god of victory,' which probably meant, at least in the first instance, Týr himself. It occurs also in the case of Woden, when he is called Farma-týr[19] and Hanga-týr,[20] or the God of the Gallows, and Gauta-týr,[21] or the God of the Gauts; and in that of Thor when he is termed Reiᵭi-týr,[22] or the Car-god; nor is tívar, 'gods,' to be left out of the reckoning. The Welsh duw means any god, except when used in the monotheistic Christian sense, and there is every reason to believe that it and its earlier forms, unlike Týr, Zeus or Dyaus, never acquired the force of a proper name, even to the same extent as the Norse equivalent; and this is just as if Greek Christians had consecrated the word Ζεύς to Christian uses instead of θεός. In their language, however, that could not be, since the former had become the name of a special pagan deity, and ceased ages before the Christian era to be an appellative or generic name; but in the Celtic languages, where this was not the case, Christianity was free to appropriate such a word as duw for its own uses.


Nuada of the Silver Hand.

From the remarks already made, it will have been seen that we must cast about us for other means, than the mere name, to discover the insular Celt's god who should be identified with Zeus. Now in Irish and Welsh literature, the great figures of Celtic mythology usually assume the character of kings of Britain and of the sister-island respectively, and most of the myths of the modern Celts are to be found manipulated so as to form the opening chapters of what has been usually regarded as the early history of the British Isles. This is especially the case with Ireland, and there we meet with the divinity we are in quest of, bearing the Irish name of Nuada, genitive Nuadat, and acting as the king of a mythical colony that took possession of Erinn in very early times: it is commonly known as Tuatha Dé Danann (p. 89), forming a group made up of the gods and goddesses believed in by the ancient Goidel. The oldest account of their origin tells us that they came from Heaven;[23] but as the Celtic mind was in the habit of regarding darkness and death as preceding light and life,[24] the invaders from Heaven are said to have found the island already peopled by a race called the Fir Bolg or Bag Men, together with their hideous and horrid allies. These were in due time attacked and defeated by the new-comers; but in one of the conflicts, Nuada, king of the latter, had his right arm cut off, which was all the more serious, as it constituted a blemish incompatible with the Goidelic idea of a king. So he had to retire from the kingship; but a clever man at his court made him a silver hand, which another perfected so that it was finally endowed with motion in every joint, with the result that Nuada, after a retirement of seven years, was allowed to resume the office of king, and was from that time forth known as Nuada Argetlám, that is to say, Nuada of the Silver Hand.

With this may be compared the following story of Tiu the Týr of Old Norse literature: Loki was the father of mischief and of a brood of monsters, of which Fenri's Wolf was one. This latter had escaped killing at the hands of the Anses because they were loth to pollute them with his blood; but he was found to grow so fast, and the things foreboded of him were of such a terrible nature, that they became alarmed and proceeded to tie the Wolf; but he shook off the bonds with ease. They then had a magic rope made, which the Wolf, suspecting treachery, would not let them fasten him with, till one of their number became bail by placing his hand in the beast's mouth whilst he was being bound. Týr was the brave one who came forward to do so, and the bonds proving effective, the Wolf bit off the god's hand on the spot; nor do we read of his being provided with an artificial hand, as was the case with the Irish Nuada, or of his being healed, as the corresponding Greek story which describes the conflict between Zeus and his monster antagonist Typho would suggest.[25] For Zeus, after plying Typho with his thunderbolt without the desired result, engaged him at close quarters with a sickle, which Typho wrested from the god and used against him: it was then that Zeus lost the use not only of one hand but of both, for his foe cut out the tendons of his hands and feet and carried him away on his shoulders, a helpless mass, to be thrown into a cave, while the muscles were hidden away in the charge of a dragon. Hermes, however, came, and with his usual cleverness stole them and restored them to their proper places in the god's frame, who then recovered his strength and at last overcame Typho. The stories, you will see, differ considerably, but they are sufficiently similar to make it in the highest degree probable that the Irish Nuada is to be equated with Tiu and Zeus: in other words, Nuada may safely be regarded as a Celtic Zeus or Jupiter.

Add to this that in case a god has several names, their existence tends to lead him to be regarded as so many distinct divinities, and this tendency can beyond doubt be proved in the history of Nuada: for besides the Nuada to whom my remarks were thus far intended to apply, Irish legendary history had other Nuadas to show, such as Nuada Derg, or the Red; but what proves his virtual identity with the Celtic Mars-Jupiter, is the fact, that the sun hero Eogan Mór (p. 91) is called Mog Nuadat,[26] 'Nuada's Slave.' Then there was also a Nuada Finnfáil and a Nuada Necht. Now Nuada of the Silver Hand is said to have landed in Erinn A.M. 3303, while Nuada Finnfáil is made to begin his reign A.M. 4199, and Nuada Necht is connected with Leinster in A.M. 5089. So disposed, they would seem to have been placed at a safe distance from one another; but the artificial nature of the arrangement betrays itself in various ways: thus it can hardly be an accident that the king who superseded Nuada of the Silver Hand, when he lost his natural hand, should have borne the same unusual name Bres, as the one who succeeded Nuada Finnfáil some 900 years later.[27] But let us try to force the vocables Finnfáil and Necht to disclose their history. The latter looks as if it had a derivative in the well-known name Nechta or Nechtan, borne, among others, by a remarkable king of the Picts of Scotland at the beginning of the 8th century, and by the mythic owner of a fairy precinct, now called Trinity Well, into which one could not gaze with impunity, and from which the river Boyne first burst forth, in pursuit of a lady who had insulted it.[28] In point of phonological equivalence, the syllable necht exactly renders in Irish the nept of Neptune's name. One cannot say, however, whether they should be regarded as of the same meaning and origin; nor does this matter for our purpose, since Irish itself has kindred words to show.[29] Whether you associate Necht with Neptune or with the other words, it may be presumed to connect Nuada Necht with the world of waters. As to the other name, Nuada Finnfáil, it would seem literally to have meant Nuada of Finnfál, that is, Nuada of the White Fál. But what did fál mean? One attested signification of the word was that of a wall or enclosure; and according to this interpretation Nuada Finnfáil might be interpreted to mean Nuada of the White Wall, which might be regarded as referring to the sky or the heavens in somewhat the same way as names like Camulos, Nwyvre and others to be discussed in the course of this lecture. Now fál, 'a wall,' is in Welsh gwawl[30] of the same import; but Welsh has also a gwawl meaning radiance or light; and I am inclined to think that the Irish fál in the compound Finnfál had that signification, in which case Nuada Finnfáil should be rendered Nuada of the White Light. This would fit still better as one of the names of a god of the origin which I have ventured to ascribe to Nuada of the Silver Hand, that is to say, to a divinity of the sun and of light. The epithet appears as an independent name in the case of a place called Ath Finnfáil, or Finnfál's Ford, the site of which is not exactly known; but Prof. O'Curry guessed it[31] to have been somewhere not far from Beg Éire, or Little Erinn, an islet in the bay of Wexford, now known as Beggery Island, but anciently called, according to the same authority, Inis Fáil, or the Island of Fál. More usually the designation Inis Fál refers to Ireland itself, which was also sometimes termed Mag Fáil,'[32] 'Fál's Plain or Field.' In these instances I take Fál and Finnfál to be names of the god; nor is it other than natural that the country should be called the island or the plain of its chief god, especially if it be correct to regard him as originally the god of the sun and of light. At the same time his owning or inhabiting an islet on the east coast, such as the one near Wexford, becomes intelligible: from certain points on the mainland, the sun might be fancied to commence his daily journeys from a sea-girt isle; and the complement of that fancy would be to call that spot after him the Isle of Fál. It is needless to say more at present on this subject, as the discussion of the myths associated with the name of Merlin will afford us an opportunity of looking at it from another point of view.


NODENS, NUĐ AND LLUĐ.

The god's Irish name Nuada assumes on Brythonic ground the form of Nodens, genitive Nodentis, to be found in Latin inscriptions, of which more anon. One of the forms in which this survives in Welsh literature is 'Nûᵭ,' but the mythic personage of that name is not known as the subject of any story like that of Nuada, and the more complete counterpart of Nuada is to be recognized in a mythical Welsh king, called Llûᵭ Llawereint, or Llûᵭ of the Silver Hand, where we detect the story in question compressed into the epithet Llawereint, or Silver-handed. It is important to observe that the elements of the compound are differently arranged in the two languages: in Irish, an approach is made, as it were, to Argenteâ Manu, but in Welsh rather to Manu Argenteâ. Now the name Llûᵭ Llawereint, put back to its early form, would be Lôdens Lâm'argentjos, in which one could not help recognizing a modification of Nôdens Lâmargentjos, subjected to the influence of the analogy of personal names with alliterative epithets. Thus, for the Irish Nuada and the inscriptional Nodens, Welsh has, thanks to alliteration, the two names Nûᵭ and Llûᵭ. This latter is well known in English in the name of 'King Lud,' and from the same 'Lluᵭ,' or rather its antecedent Lôdens, come Lothus and the Loth or Lot of the Arthurian romances.

A few words must now be said of the worship of Nodens in Roman times. The remains of his temple have been found at Lydney, on the western bank of the Severn, in the territory of the ancient Silures.[33] One inscription there calls him Devo Nodenti, in the dative case, while another reads D. M. Nodonti, and a third Deo Nudente M. Moreover, the mosaic floor of his temple is said to show, besides a variety of figures, an inscription which would seem to have commenced with D. M.; but it is unfortunate that nowhere has the word represented by the M been found written in full: the consequence is, that it has been differently treated, some making it into maximo or magno, and others into Marti. The former is not duly supported by the analogy of other Roman inscriptions, while the latter, which is the one suggested by Dr. Hübner,[34] the editor of the Prussian Academy's volume of Latin inscriptions occurring in this country, is probably the correct one.

But though it is right to regard the Silurian god as a Mars, most of the remains of antiquity connected with his temple make him a sort of Neptune. The following are worthy of notice: the mosaic floor displayed not only the inscription alluded to, but also representations of sea-serpents or the κήτεα. accompanying Glaucus in Greek mythology, and fishes supposed to stand for the salmon of the Severn; moreover, an ugly band of red, within the lines of the inscription, surrounded the mouth of a funnel leading into the ground beneath; this hole is supposed to have been used for libations to the god.[35] Further, a small plaque of bronze found on the spot gives us probably a representation of the god himself. The principal figure thereon is a youthful deity crowned with rays like Phoebus: he stands in a chariot drawn by four horses, like the Roman Neptune. On either side the winds are typified by a winged genius floating along, and the rest of the space is left to two Tritons; while a detached piece probably of the same bronze represents another Triton, also a fisherman who has just succeeded in hooking a salmon.[36] Moreover, the site on a hilly ground near the tidal bed of the Severn makes likewise for the divinity's connection with the world of waters. The temple to whose remains I have alluded was undoubtedly constructed under Roman auspices, but it is equally probable that the god was worshipped and consulted on the spot long before the Romans first crossed the Severn.

The oldest form of the god's name known to epigraphy is, as we have seen, Nodens, for which we have in Welsh the two forms Nûᵭ: and Lluᵭ; but Welsh literature, it must be admitted, recognizes no connection between them. Nevertheless, the original identity of the names warrants us in combining the attributes of the personages called Nûᵭ and Lluᵭ: respectively, in the attempt to reproduce the character of the god in something like its original completeness. Now nothing hardly is known of Nûᵭ: except that a Welsh Triad styles him one of the Three Generous Heroes of the Isle of Britain,[37] and that, according to another Triad,[38] he had a herd of cattle consisting of no less than 21,000 milch-cows, as to which it cannot be considered certain, whether or not they should be interpreted to mean the monsters of the deep; but Nûᵭ's generosity is doubtless to be added to the attributes of the god as represented at Lydney. Nor is it improbable that the name Nodens referred originally to that quality, though it would seem as if it were to be interpreted 'the rich or wealthy' god;[39] but I should prefer supposing it to have had the causative meaning of one who enabled others to enjoy riches and wealth, especially in the matter of cattle—one, in fact, who was supposed to be the giver of wealth, whence his traditional character for generosity. But all this must be considered highly conjectural until a related Celtic word is identified.

The other name representing that of Nodens in Welsh, as already stated, is 'Llûᵭ,' with which, or an earlier form of it, such as Lodens, should be connected the Loth or Lot of the romances, which make the person so called king of Lodonesia or the Lothians, of the Orkneys and of Lochlann. In all these he is more or less associated with the sea; and even the Welsh tale, bearing his name in its form of Llûᵭ, gives him a fleet. But on the whole the Welsh have been in the habit of regarding him rather as a great and thriving king of their ancestors, as one who delivered his subjects from three or more dire scourges to which they were subject, and as the hero whom Geoffrey makes the builder of the walls of London. The association of Llûᵭ, or 'King Lud' as he has come to be called in English, with London, is apparently founded on a certain amount of fact: one of the Welsh names for London is Caer Lûᵭ or Lud's Fort, and if this is open to the suspicion of having been suggested first by Geoffrey, that can hardly be supposed possible in the case of the English name of Ludgate Hill. The probability is, that as a temple on a hill near the Severn associated him with that river in the west, so a still more ambitious temple on a hill connected him with the Thames in the east; and as an aggressive creed can hardly signalize its conquests more effectually than by appropriating the fanes of the retreating faith, no site could be guessed with more probability to have been sacred to the Celtic Zeus than the eminence on which the dome of St. Paul's now rears its magnificent form.

The Irish Nuada was the same sort of god as his Welsh namesake: he was king of the Tuatha Dé Danann and their leader in war. When the Boyne is called the forearm of Nuada's wife, that queen would seem to be a personification of the land of Erinn; but it is not clear whether Nuada, as her consort, is to be regarded as god of the incumbent air or of the surrounding sea, or else as the god of light, from whom the country derived its name of the Island or Plain of Fál. As compared with Llûᵭ, distinguished at most as a king and hero on land and a warrior at sea, Nuada was split into no less then three personages, one of whom was Nuada of the Silver Hand, the martial king, and another Nuada Finnfáil, god of light and of the heavens, while we have a third in Nuada Necht, whose connection with the world of waters has already been hinted at. Thus it appears that the mythology of the Celts was assuming a departmental form as far as regarded their chief divinity, out of whose wide character they specialized a warlike Posidon or Neptune, with a tendency to make that element predominate. This specializing presumably began before the Celts divided themselves into Gallo-Brythons and Goidels or settled in the British Isles; for it is not improbable that some of them accustomed themselves to a seafaring life long before the time when they began to cross in sufficient numbers to conquer these islands from their ancient inhabitants, and very long before the Parisii sent a colony down the Seine to seek a home on the other side of the Humber. But Nodens, the Celtic Zeus, was not simply a Neptune or a Posidon, in his connection with the sea: he was also a Mars, as the inscriptions at Lydney testify. That the Celts of Britain should have been inclined to transform their Zeus into a marine Mars at so early a date is a remarkable fact: it lends fresh significance to the words of Pomponius Mela[40] when he speaks of the two giants eponymous of Britain and Ireland, who fought with the vagrant Hercules, as two sons of Neptune, while it forms a curious prelude to the history of that composite British people whose merchantmen and men-of-war now cover all the seas.

This leads me, however, in a direction contrary to the one I wish to take; for I am less interested at this point in the way in which the Celtic Zeus was split into several characters, than in the formation of an estimate of his character and attributes before the time of his transformation. As a god of the Celts in the earliest period of their existence, he was probably king of their gods, giver of wealth and increase, leader in war, and lord equally of both land and sea, if they then knew the sea. To compare Nodens or the Celtic Zeus with the Greek Zeus, one has to submit the latter to somewhat the same process of collecting his early attributes; that is to say, Nodens is not strictly to be compared with the classic Zeus, but with the pre-classic Zeus who was Zeus, Posidon and Pluto all in one; who also discharged the functions of several of his classically so-called sons, such, for example, as Ares. Greek literature usually presents Greek theology in a highly departmental state; but traces are not lacking of a previous stage. We have a well-known instance in Pluto, who was always a Zeus, that is to say a chthonian or catachthonian Zeus, with his realm in the deep earth as far below its surface as the sky is above it. This is borne out by the Orphic myth of the union with Persephone of Zeus in the form of a snake, but still as father Zeus; and by the Pontic cult which did not distinguish between Ζεὺς ὕπατος and Ζεὺς χθόνιος;[41] not to mention how near the idea of Pluto, or Πλούτων as a god associated with wealth, comes to that of Ζεὺς πλούσιος.[42] Similarly with regard to the sea, Zeus is sometimes spoken of interfering with it,[43] and Posidon occasionally bears the designation of Ζεὺς Ἐνάλιος; but the original identity of Posidon with Zeus is even more strikingly shown in the case of Ζεὺς οὔριος or the giver of the fair winds desired by the mariner. His temple was not unfrequently built on a headland looking over the sea; somewhat like that of Nodens as regards the estuary of the Severn. A celebrated image of the headland Zeus, the controller of wind and weather, was brought from Macedon to the Capitol in Ρome, where it was known as Jupiter Imperator.[44] Here should also be mentioned Ζεὺς ἀποβατήριος, or the Zeus who protected the voyager's landings. It is thus clear that the provinces of Zeus and Posidon cannot be wholly separated, and they betray traces of a stage when a well-defined department of activity had not as yet been entrusted to the latter god.[45] Much the same remark applies in the case of some of the sons of Zeus, whose functions originally belonged to an undifferentiated Zeus. For instance, Ares looks like a personality developed out of the warlike aspect of Zeus's character, since his attributes coincide mostly with those of Ζεὺς ἀρεῖος. This was, however, only one of Zeus's epithets which had regard to him as a god of war: as leader he was Ζεὺς ἀγήτωρ; as possessed of great strength he was Σθένιος; as a helper in the conflict he was Ἐτήσιος; and as giver of triumph Τροαῖος, not to mention the fact that the Zeus of the Carians was equipped with a battle-axe and clad in the complete armour of a hoplite,[46] which calls to mind the Zeus of the Gauls, their Mars-Jupiter, as one might venture to term him (p. 48). It is needless to say that the Roman Mars was in no sense a mere counterpart of the Greek Ares, but rather a sort of duplicate of Jupiter, owing his existence alongside of the greater god to the composite character of the ancient Roman community. Mars shared with Jupiter the title of father, and such epithets as Loucetius or bright, while the chief honours of a successful campaign belonged to Jupiter alone: the spolia opima were his, and Mars came only second. But to step again on Greek ground, the pre-classic Zeus, with whom one should compare the Nodens of the earliest Celtic period, may be described in almost the same terms which were used of the latter: he was sovereign of gods and men, the giver of wealth and prosperity, the supreme arbiter of the fortunes of war, and lord both of land and sea. By what steps the Zeus of the Celts came to be especially associated with the sea by some of their number, will appear more clearly in a later portion of this lecture.


Cormac, Conaire, Conchobar.

Though Nuada under his various names has detained us long, he is by no means the only representative in Irish literature of the Mars-Jupiter of the Celts. As one of the most remarkable personages of this origin, may be mentioned Cormac mac Airt, grandson of Conn the Hundred-fighter: he is regarded as having reigned at Tara in the third century, and his story may contain some slight admixture of history. His reign is represented as one of remarkable prosperity,[47] and he himself as exceeding 'all his predecessors in magnificence, munificence, wisdom and learning, as also in military achievements.'[48] So great was his reputation for legal knowledge, that a well-known book of Irish law has been attributed to him.[49] One version of his history as king of Erinn represents him driven from his throne by an enemy called Fergus the Black-toothed, but enabled afterwards, like Nuada, to recover the sovereignty.[50] Another, however, found in an older manuscript,[51] but not necessarily an older account, describes his court at Tara invaded by a champion called Aengus of the Poisoned Spear, whose brother had lost his daughter to a son of Cormac's called Cellach. Aengus slew Cellach between his father and the wall, and in so doing put out one of the king's eyes. This Aengus was a Plutonic prince associated with a historical people called the Déisi, which probably means that he was a god specially worshipped by them. Be that as it may, his deed of violence is represented as the beginning of a revolt against Cormac. In the war which followed, Aengus fell at the head of the Déisi, who were then driven out of their land by Cormac's son Cairbre and his sons. On the other hand, Cormac himself had to quit the office of king on losing his eye, so that he lived some time in the neighbourhood of Tara and helped his son and successor with his counsel until he was, according to one account, killed by demons.[52] In any case he is not described in these stories as restored again to his throne; but the blemish incompatible with kingship is brought into relief in his person as in that of Nuada.

A description of Cormac's person on the occasion of his entering a great assembly in state, tells us that the equal of his form had never been seen, except that of Conaire the Great, of Conchobar son of Nessa, or of Aengus son of the Dagda.[53] It is remarkable that the ancient writer should mention these three, as they are adumbrations of the same god as Cormac. Thus I may here say, without anticipating the remarks to be presently made on the Aengus to whom I have alluded, that he was the constant aider and protector of the sun-hero Diarmait,[54] while Conaire was the subject of one of the most famous epic stories in Irish literature. The plot[55] centres in Conaire's tragic death, which is brought about by the fairies of Erinn, through the instrumentality of outlaws coming from the sea and following the lead of a sort of cyclops called Ingcél, said to have been a big, rough, horrid, monster with only one eye, which was, however, wider than an ox-hide, blacker than the back of a beetle, and provided with no less than three pupils.[56] The death of Conaire at his hands is one of the Celtic renderings of the story which in its Greek form describes the treatment of Zeus by Typho.

In another cycle of stories, which may be called Ultonian, the Celtic Zeus finds his representative in Conchobar mac Nessa, or Conor son of Nessa, king of Ulster, who cannot be dismissed quite so briefly as the others. As in Cormac's case, a highly coloured picture is drawn of his reign, which the Euhemerists synchronize with the time of Christ, boldly fixing the Ultonian king's death on the day of the Crucifixion.[57] His death was occasioned by a ball, with which he had been wounded in the skull years before, and which the surgeons of the court had never ventured to extract: it had been made, according to a savage practice, of the brains of a fallen foe called Mesgegra, by mixing it with lime. There was a prophecy that Mesgegra would avenge himself on the Ultonians, and a champion of Conchobar's enemies, called Cét, having surreptitiously got possession of the ball thus made of Mesgegra's brain, found an opportunity of hurling it at the Ultonian king's head, with the result already mentioned. Both Cét and Mesgegra belonged to the mythological party of darkness and death, and here we have them helping to produce an Ultonian parallel to Cormac losing one of his eyes, and Nuada one of his hands, especially as the ball was in Conchobar's head for years before it caused his death, and partly disabled him all that time, as he had to abstain from all violent exercise or excitement. But the early history of Conchobar is still more interesting, as it contains one of the Goidelic versions of the story which in its Greek form relates how Cronus was driven from power by his son Zeus. Conchobar' s mother's name was Nessa, after whom he was called Conchobar mac Nessa. She was a warlike virago with a strange history; but who the father was is not quite certain: according to some accounts, he was a great Ulster druid or magician called Cathbad; but according to others, he was a monarch called Fachtna Fáthach or the Poetic, who died when Conchobar was a child. The king of Ulster at the time, Fergus mac Róig, fell passionately in love with Nessa, and made proposals of marriage to her; but she would only listen to him on the condition that he should hand over to her boy Conchobar the sovereignty of Ulster for the space of one year. Fergus consented, and Nessa made things so pleasant for the Ulster nobles during the year, that at its close they declined to restore Fergus to the kingship.

He thereupon made war on Conchobar, but as he proved unsuccessful he had to submit. He remained some years in Ulster, in the course of which Conchobar married a daughter of the king who reigned over Erinn at Tara. She bore the name of Medb, and she had a will of her own; for, becoming soon tired of Conchobar, she left him, and we read of her afterwards as the wife of a prince called Ailill. They are styled respectively king and queen, of Connaught. As to Fergus, he undertook to reconcile Conchobar to the return of certain exiles known as the Sons of Usnech, whose misfortunes form the subject of a well-known Irish tale; but Conchobar behaving treacherously towards them, Fergus and all his followers went into exile; and here it may be mentioned in passing that Fergus had, some time before departing from Ulster, acted as foster-father and tutor to the son of a sister of Conchobar's: this was Cúchulainn, who, as the greatest of the solar heroes of the Ultonian cycle, will have to be referred to repeatedly as we go on. Fergus and his adherents, while in exile, were hospitably received by Ailill and Medb.

This completes the part of the story which is here in point, and it requires one or two remarks. In the first place, Ailill has various descents ascribed him, or else Medb must have married two Ailills in succession, which is the view sometimes adopted; but that is of no great consequence. The name Ailill seems to be the Irish equivalent of the Welsh ellyll, 'an elf or demon,' and Medb's Ailill belongs to a race which is always found ranged against the Tuatha Dé Danann.[58] Medb herself, married first to Conchobar and then to Ailill, is to be classed with what I may, in default of a better term, designate goddesses of the dawn and dusk, who are found at one time consorting with bright beings and at another with dark ones. They also commonly associate themselves with water; thus Medb, after the death of her husband Ailill at the hands of an Ulster hero called Conall Cernach, one of the solar heroes of the Ultonian cycle of stories, dwelt in an island in Loch Ree, on the east side of which there was a spring where she bathed herself every morning: there she was at last killed by the avenging hand of one of Conchobar's sons.[59] To this may be added that Conchobar, when he lost Medb, married a sister of hers named Eithne, who is fabled to have given her name to a river in Westmeath, called after her Eithne, Anglicized into Inny.[60] But there were two other sisters of Medb, severally mentioned as Conchobar's wives, namely, Clothru of Inis Clothrann, or Clothru's Isle, in Loch Ree,[61] and Mugain, who is perhaps most commonly spoken of as Conchobar's queen.[62] In Fergus, usually called Fergus mac Róig after his mother,[63] we have a kind of good-natured Cronus of gigantic proportions, endowed with the strength of 700 ordinary men,[64] wielding a sword of fairy make, which extended itself to the dimensions of a rainbow whenever he chose to use it.[65] Nevertheless, he could not prevail over Conchobar, so he thought it best to leave the kingdom. Fergus' relationship to Conchobar differed from that of Cronus to Zeus, in that he was not Conchobar's father but his uncle.[66]

Given Conchobar king of the Ultonians, his runaway wife queen of Connaught, and the exile Fergus enjoying more than hospitality at her court, we have the relative positions of some of the principal forces marshalled in the greatest epic story of the Irish, that which their literary men most endeavoured to elaborate. It purports to describe the events of an expedition by Ailill and Medb, with their numerous allies, to the kingdom of Ulster. Their chief object is said to have been the possession of a marvellous bull, called the Black of Cúailnge, from the district in which he grazed. Cúailnge is in modern Irish Cuailghe, Anglicized Cooley, the name of a mountainous part of the county of Louth:[67] ancient Ulster extended to the Boyne, and sometimes even further southwards.[68] The story serves as the centre around which other stories cluster, and the whole is known as the Táin or 'Driving' of the Kine of Cooley.[69] Ailill and Medb made use of Fergus on the Táin as the captain of the vanguard of their army, he being acquainted with the district they wished to reach; and they arrived there during the couvade[70] of the Ultonians, when none of their heroes could stir, excepting Cúchulainn, who accordingly had to face the invaders single-handed. The principal part of the Táin describes the astounding feats of valour performed by him, and it forms the Irish counterpart to the Greek story of Heracles defending the gods of Olympus by despatching their foes for them with his invincible arrows.

Conchobar, though he showed himself capable on occasions of being, like Zeus, unscrupulous and cruel, is described as an exemplary king of the heroic period. His palace was considered a model of magnificence and comfort—a view, however, to be accepted in a strictly relative sense, as may be inferred from the fact that the sleeping arrangements for the king and his adult sister Dechtere disclose the most awkward feature of modern over-crowding.[71] The king's own life at home shaped itself into a routine which divided the day-time into three parts;[72] and his administration of his kingdom is treated as a pattern of what kingly rule should be. He is even represented as a reformer of the administration of justice, in that he had put an end to the exclusive right of the poet-seers to give judgment. The chief seer of Ulster had died, so goes the story,[73] and the succession to his office was contested by his son and an older man of the same profession: the two argued their claims at great length with much eloquence, and even settled the case to their own satisfaction; but the king and his nobles understood naught of their abstruse and obscure language; so that when it was over, the former determined, with a pardonable weakness for what he could understand, that the seers and poets should no longer arrogate to themselves the right to administer justice. Conchobar's time was one of great prosperity for his people, and he is himself styled Cathbuadach, or victorious in war,[74] though he is more than once found overcome by his enemies, like Zeus by Typho. Thus on one occasion a battle took place between the Ultonians and a prince called Eogan mac Durthacht,[75] who more than once in Conchobar's history appears as the representative of darkness and treachery: the Ultonians were beaten, Conchobar was left on the field, and night supervened. The king's life was only saved by the coming of Cúchulainn, who found him exhausted and almost wholly covered over with earth. He dug him out, procured food for him and took him home to the court.[76] On another occasion the Ultonians were pursuing Ailill and Medb with their forces, when Ailill's charioteer, called Ferloga, concealed himself in the heather, whence he sprang on Conchobar's chariot and seized hold of the king's neck from behind; nor did he loosen his grasp until the latter had promised to ransom himself. When Ferloga specified his demand, it proved to be merely that Conchobar should take him to his capital and bid the umarried women and maidens of Ulster sing around him every evening a rhyme, the burden of which was 'Ferloga, my sweetheart.'[77] The mythological meaning of this insult to the heroes of Ulster is not quite evident; but after a time Ferloga was sent home to the west with a present consisting of Conchobar's two steeds richly caparisoned in gold.[78]

Lastly, whatever elements of a historical nature have been absorbed by the Conchobar legend, his well-defined position as a king of Ulster becomes at once obscured when one begins to look a little more closely into the so-called early history of Ireland. Thus it speaks of another Conchobar, known as Conchobar Abrad-ruad, 'Conchobar of the Red Eyebrows,' who alone has been admitted to a place in the Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland, compiled by the Four Masters in the earlier part of the 17th century. In that work he is represented as reigning over Erinn six years before the Incarnation, and dying at the hands of a son of Lugaid,[79] a contemporary of Cúchulainn, son of Conchobar mac Nessa's sister, Dechtere: so that the time of this Conchobar, king of Erinn, coincides, roughly speaking, with that of the king of Ulster of the same name, and I have very little doubt that the two were originally one, a view corroborated by the fact that Conchobar is by no means a common name in the remoter portions of Irish pedigrees, which are here quite in point, as they make both Conchobars grandsons of one and the same Ross the Red.[80] Conchobar was doubtless not a man; his sister Dechtere, the mother of Cúchulainn, is called a goddess;[81] and the scribe of an old story in the Book of the Dun is obliged, in spite of his Euhemerism, to remark in passing that Conchobar was a día talmaide,[82] or terrestrial god, of the Ultonians of his time. He is, in short, to be regarded as holding, in the Ultonian cycle, a place analogous to that of Nuada and Llûᵭ in the cycles to which they belong.


The Mac Óc and Merlin.

In respect of his partially acknowledged divinity, Conchobar differs from Cormac mac Airt, who is treated throughout as a mere man. The next to be mentioned is Aengus,[83] who, on the other hand, is never treated as a historical character: he is described as son of the god called Dagda the Great, and the goddess Boann,[84] from whom the river Boyne takes its name. The younger god, fully described, was 'Aengus son of the (two) Young Ones.'[85] What this exactly meant is not clear; for though his parents as immortals might perhaps be regarded as ever young, no reference is made, so far as I know, to the youthfulness of either: on the contrary, the Dagda is represented both as old and old-fashioned, fond of porridge, and generally a good subject for comic treatment.[86] Aengus is also called In Mac Óc, 'the Young Son,' possibly 'the Young Fellow,' which is in harmony with the stories extant about his youthful beauty and personal attractions; as, for example, when he once on a time appeared to king Cormac and gave him prophetic answers to his questions about the future: on that occasion he carried a musical instrument, and he is usually described much devoted to music of an irresistible nature. The Mac Óc's foster-father was Mider, king of the Fairies, whose wife was Etáin, another dawn-goddess; but a fragmentary story[87] represents a rival of hers succeeding by her wiles and magic arts in severing her from Mider. When her husband lost her, she was found in great misery by the Mac Óc, who had her clad in purple and placed in a glass grianan or sun-bower, where she fed on fragrance and the bloom of odoriferous flowers. One of the most curious things in this very curious story is the statement, that, when the Mac Óc travelled, he carried the glass grianan about with him, and slept in it at night in order to attend on Etáin while awaiting the return of her former health and vigour. Once more Etáin's rival succeeded in separating her from her protector and in reducing her to a condition of great wretchedness, prior to her entering on a new state of existence. The role of protecting a dawn-goddess is ascribed to the Mac Óc in another story,[88] where she appears under the name of Grainne, daughter of Cormac mac Airt, and the Mac Óc is called Aengus. Grainne declines to wed Finn, the counterpart of the Welsh god Gwyn, king of the fairies and the dead; but she elopes with Diarmait, a solar hero who was Aengus' foster-son; and when Diarmait and Grainne found themselves hard pressed by Finn and his men in pursuit, Aengus repeatedly aided them by throwing his magic mantle around Grainne and carrying her away unobserved by Finn. Here the mantle answers the purpose of the more cumbrous glass grianan.

The latter, however, is of prime importance from a mythological point of view, as it seems to be a sort of picture of the expanse of the heavens lit up by the light of the sun; and in the Mac Óc, going about with this glass structure, we have a representation of the Aryan Zeus in his original character of god of the sun and daylight. Now if the Mac Óc be regarded as a Goidelic Zeus, the Dagda should be a Cronus, and that is corroborated by the peculiar relations in which the two Irish gods are placed with regard to one another. For as Cronus is disinherited by his youngest son Zeus, so is the Dagda by his Young Son the Mac Óc, excepting that it is brought about in Irish mythology, not by war, but by craft. The story is recorded that the Dagda, as king of the Tuatha Dé Danann, allotted them their respective habitations, but that in so doing he happened to forget the Mac Óc, who presently called on his father to claim his inheritance. The Dagda replied that he had none left, at which his son naturally grumbled, and asked to be allowed to stay at the Dagda's palace till night. The Dagda assented; but at the end of the allotted time he told his son to go. The son replied that he had been granted day and night, which was the sum of all existence. So he stayed on in the palace of his father, who had to move out[89] to seek a home elsewhere. This scene doubtless belonged originally to Irish mythology before any Celts had settled in Ireland, but the story came to be localized in due time in that country, thus associating the name of the Mac Óc with one of the abodes of the happy departed.

How this was brought about may be gathered from the following facts. The Tuatha Dé Danann were regarded, nobody knows how early, as one of the races inhabiting Erinn, so that upon the arrival of the Sons of Mile, or the mythic race from which most of the human dwellers in the island are regarded as derived, a great battle took place between them at Tailltinn, situated between Kells and Navan in the present county of Meath.[90] The gods, defeated, withdrew from the ken of the invaders, forming themselves into an invisible world of their own. They retreated into the hills and mounds of Erinn; so tradition associates them especially with the burial mounds and cemeteries of the country. A very remarkable group of these dot the banks of the Boyne: take, for example, the burial remains of Newgrange, in Meath; of Knowth, near Slane, in the same county, and only separated by the river from the ancient cemetery of Ros na Rígh; of Dowth, near Drogheda; and of Drogheda itself—all of which appear to have been plundered by the Norsemen in the ninth century.[91] Add to these the Brugh of the Boyne, the home of the Dagda, which he lost to his crafty son the Mac Óc, known thenceforth as the Aengus of the Brugh.[92] Euhemeristic tradition came to represent the Dagda and his sons as buried there, and pointed to the Síd, or Fairy Mound, of the Brugh, as covering their resting-place.

The older account, however, which relates how the Mac Óc got possession of it, says nothing about it as a cemetery; in fact it describes it as an admirable place, more accurately speaking as an admirable land, a term which, betrays the usual identification[93] of the fairy mound with the nether world to which it formed the entrance. Admirable, it says, is that land; there are three trees there always bearing fruit; there is one pig there always alive, and another pig always ready cooked; and there is a vessel there full of excellent ale.[94] Nobody who is familiar with the literature of ancient Erinn requires to be told that this description is an expression of the old Irish idea of the Land of the Blessed. So the myth placing the Dagda at the head of the departed, simply happy on fruit and pork and ale, is the counterpart, and a very ancient one, of the Greek story of Cronus, vanquished and driven from power, wandering to the Isles of the Blessed, there to reign over them and share the functions of Rhadamanthus. The Irish idea of the Dagda as a Goidelic Cronus, ruling over an Elysium with which a sepulchral mound was associated, nay even confounded, contributed possibly to the formation of the story that all the Tuatha Dé Danann, beaten in battle, withdrew into the hills and mounds of Erinn; but be that as it may, this latter belief in its turn put an end to the singularity of the Dagda's position by making that of the other gods much like his. Further, the transference to his new sphere in Erinn of the incident of his replacement by his son, had the mythologically strange effect of making into a king of the dead in nether dusk the Mac Óc, who should have been the youthful Zeus of the Goidelic world, rejoicing in the translucent expanse of the heavens as his crystal bower.

A somewhat similar localizing of mythic personages is observable in connection with the ancient stone strongholds of the west. One of the most remarkable stands in the island of Arann, off the coast of Galway: it is not known when or by whom its cyclopean walls were built, but it is called Dun Aengus, after an Aengus son of Umór,[95] a father otherwise obscure. Now we read of a lady called Maistiu, daughter to this Aengus, acting as embroideress to the other Aengus;[96] and it is by no means improbable that the Dagda's Son of the one set of stories was Umór's Son of the other, whence it would follow that Aengus's daughter who embroidered for him might be regarded as corresponding to Zeus's daughter Athene, who excelled in the same kind of work. The story of Aengus, son of Umór, associates him with a mythic people called the Fir Bolg, and brings him and the Clann Umóir[97] from Scotland; they obtained land in Meath from the king of Erinn, but finding his yoke too heavy, they escaped to the west, when Aengus and his household settled in Arann. The meaning of this myth will readily be seen by comparing it with its Welsh counterpart, to which we are now coming. But before dismissing the Mac Óc, it may be worth while mentioning that he, like Zeus, figures in love adventures, and Irish literature contains many allusions to him, some of which remain unexplained, such as one which speaks of the four kisses of Aengus of the Brugh of the Boyne, that were converted by him into 'birds which haunted the youths of Erinn.'[98] The counterpart of Aengus in Welsh is to be found, I think, in Myrᵭin, better known in English as Merlin, and in Ambrosius called in Welsh Emrys or Emrys Wledig, that is to say Prince Emrys or Ambrose the Gwledig. In Nennius' Historia Brittonum we find him brought as a child before old king Vortigern in the neighbourhood of Snowdon, where he was trying to build a great fortress for himself and his household. Emrys then gave his name as Ambrosius, and, though a mere child, he confounded Vortigern's magicians and frightened the old king to leave him the fortress, together with all the western portion of the island.[99] The former was thenceforth called Dinas Emrys, the Town of Ambrosius, a name still borne by a hill-spur near Beᵭgelert in Carnarvonshire. Now this Ambrosius is otherwise identified with the king Emrys, who was brother to Uthr, or Uther as he is called in English:[100] the former is called in Latin Aurelius Ambrosius, in whom we seem to have a historical man, while the latter is to be identified with the god of the Wonderful Head mentioned in the last lecture (pp. 94—97). But the Emrys whom Nennius brings before Vortigern is the Myrᵭin or Merlin of other versions[101] of the story. So a distinction of persons has been sometimes made, according to which there was a prophet Merlin and a prince Emrys: even this was not found sufficient, for some have subdivided Merlin into three, to wit, Merlin Ambrosius, Merlin Caledonius, and Merlin Sylvaticus. In order to approach the original conception our course is clear: we must give all the attributes of Emrys and the Merlins to one Merlin Emrys; but this is only theoretically clear, as the process is disturbed by the historical element introduced in the person of Aurelius Ambrosius, who may possibly be regarded as in a sense responsible for some of the chief difficulties in our way, looked at from a mythological point of view. We should, however, not be far wrong in treating Merlin Emrys as an adumbration of a personage who was at once a king a id warrior, a great magician and prophet, in a word a Zeus of Brythonic paganism.

But if Merlin Emrys be a Brythonic Zeus, then Vortigern ought to be a Brythonic Cronus; and this is, to say the least of it, in harmony with the evidence of Vortigern's name, which means a supreme lord or over-king, corresponding to the position of Cronus before he was driven from power. The Mac Óc is represented as the Dagda's son, which cannot be paralleled by any of the accounts of Merlin Emrys' birth; but this may be one of the results of the disturbing influence of the historical element. On a third point we are more fortunate: the Dagda and Cronus, supplanted by their respective sons, go to preside over the departed; and the parallel extends to Vortigern. For, when leaving his kingdom to Merlin Emrys, he proceeded to the north, a part of the island supposed at one time to have been the abode of the dead, a notion attested by so late an author as the Greek writer Procopius in the 6th century. Further, the district in the north to which Vortigern is made to go is called Gwynnwesi,[102] a derivative used probably as the plural of Gwynwas, which would mean the White or Blissful Abode. The compound, analysed into Gwas Gwyn,[103] of the same meaning, occurs in another story, which represents a solar hero, called Caswallawn son of Beli, going in pursuit of his mistress, Fflûr daughter of Mygnach the Dwarf, who was carried away by the Romans, according to one account to Rome, and according to another to Gwasgwyn. He recovered her after a great battle with the Romans, who, to avenge their defeat, afterwards invaded Britain under Julius Caesar:[104] another reference to the same mythic expedition of Caswallawn's makes him and his host settle permanently in Gwasgwyn.[105] Now Caswallawn belongs to Welsh mythology, but his name happens to be the same as that of the historical man Cassivellaunus of Caesar's narrative, and Gwasgwyn, in the stories mentioned, originally meant Gwas Gwyn, the White Mansion, the mythical abode of the happy dead; but it was misinterpreted to refer to Gascony, which came to be known in Welsh as Gwasgwyn.[106] It is to this mythic land of the White Mansion or Blissful Abode, whither the sun-god's bride had been hurried away by a rival, that the boy Merlin Emrys drove the aged and uxorious monarch once correctly styled Vortigern or supreme king.

It may here be remarked that Vortigern resembled Cronus more closely in point of character than did the Dagda, whose name appears to stand for an earlier Dagodêvos, meaning the 'good god,'[107] in reference probably to the goodnatured disposition usually ascribed him in his last sphere of activity; but no description of the corresponding portion of Vortigern's career has reached us, while we know that previous to his expulsion from his realm his reputation for cruelty and treachery was such that he was hated of his subjects. The crowning crime of his reign was his alliance with the enemies of his country and his marrying Rhonwen,[108] 'White-mane,' daughter of one of their two leaders, known by the similarly equine names, Hengist and Horsa. This has to some extent to be regarded as history, for the confounding of Aurelius Ambrosius, who was probably engaged in opposing German invasions, with a mythic Ambrosius in the person of Merlin Ermys, would bring in, as its natural complement, the explanation that the king, fabled to have been driven from power, deserved it because of his alliance with the invader; but it fails to account for the original truculence of Vortigern's character, which, looking at the Greek story of Cronus, I take to be part and parcel of the ancient myth.

It would be impossible, within the compass of these remarks, to touch, however slightly, on the many questions which the mention of Merlin must suggest to your minds; but before we have done with him, let us see in what form the crystal bower of the Mac Óc appears in his story. First, then, and foremost may be mentioned the legend which represents him going with his suite of nine bards into the sea in a Glass House, after which nothing more was ever heard of either him or them.[109] But another story appears to have placed the Glass House in Bardsey,[110] which probably derives its name from Merlin as the bard and prophet par excellence; and we read that Merlin took with him into the Glass House the thirteen treasures[111] of Britain, including among them such rarities as Arthur's tartan that rendered its wearer invisible, Gwyᵭno's inexhaustible basket, and other articles of equally fabulous virtues.

Further, a Welsh poet[112] of the 15th century tells us that the reason why Merlin entered the Glass House was in order to please his leman. This tallies with the account, in the romances, of Merlin's final disappearance; the person whom Merlin loved is called the Lady of the Lake, to whom he is represented as disclosing the secrets of his magic art; but she would not rest satisfied until she had the means of detaining him for evermore. Merlin must teach her how she might imprison a man by enchantment alone in 'a tour with-outen walles, or with-oute eny closure.' He, understanding what it meant, declined for a while to consent; but her winning ways proved irresistible, for he showed her at length how to make 'a place feire and couenable,' so contrived by art and by cunning that it might never be undone, and that he and she 'should be there in joy and in solace.' So one day when they were going hand in hand through the forest of Brécilien, they found a 'bussh that was feire and high of white hawthorne full of floures,' and beneath that bush they sat them down in the shade. He fell asleep with his head on the lady's lap; but as soon as she found him fast asleep, she arose and gave effect to the feat of magic she had learned: she 'made a cerne with hir wymple all a-boute the bussh and all a-boute Merlin, and be-gan hir enchauntementz soche as Merlin hadde hir taught, and made the cerne ix tymes, and ix tymes hir enchauntementes.' When he woke he looked around 'and hym semed he was in the feirest tour of the worlde, and the moste stronge.' He could not issue thence, but the Lady of the Lake promised to spend the greater part

of every day with him, as she could go in and out at will. Such is a summary of the story,[113] to which should be added that when Merlin had been missed at Arthur's court and several knights had gone in search of him, one of them, as he was passing through the forest of Brécilien, heard a groaning close by him; so he looked up and down, 'and nothinge he saugh, but as it hadde ben a smoke of myste in the eyre that myght not passe oute.' Merlin then, speaking out of the smoke of mist to the knight, explained to him how he came to be thus imprisoned, adding that no one should any more address him, save his mistress alone, since the knight would never be able to find the spot again.[114] Another story places the scene in another forest. Lastly, Merlin's prison is represented as a sepulchre of marvellous beauty, in which his leman has by magic arts entombed him alive,[115] a view partially reflected by old Welsh poetry in that it makes Merlin 'the man who speaks from the grave,' where he is consulted with deference and respect by Gwenᵭyᵭ, who is, moreover, not associated with his interment: they address one another as brother and sister,[116] which recalls the romance that represents the Lady of the Lake always a virgin, as regarded the enchanter, who doted on her charms. According to another legend, of Breton origin,[117] his mistress chose to enclose him in a tree, but nobody knows where, though it is sometimes surmised to have been on a little island, off the Bec du Raz, called Sein, which is fabled to have been also the scene of his birth. Tennyson describes Merlin's prison as

     'an oak, so hollow huge and old
It look'd a tower of ruin'd masonwork.'

This deviates greatly from the original myth, but it retains one important feature: it makes Merlin immortal. He may pine away like Tithonus, but he is a god,[118] who cannot die; his living spirit abides with his dead body, an idea which Ariosto expresses with ghastly vividness in the words—

'Col corpo niorto il vivo spirto alberga.'[119]

Similarly, the fact of the Lady of the Lake being represented coming every day to solace Merlin in his loneliness, is in thorough harmony with the mythological notion that made the dawn-goddess sometimes ally herself with the sun-god and sometimes with one of his dusky rivals. The same remark applies with even more force to the descriptions of Merlin's abode as a house of glass, as a bush of white thorns laden with bloom, as a sort of smoke of mist in the air, or as 'a clos . . . . nother of Iren, ne stiell, ne tymbir, ne of ston, but . . . . of the aire with-oute eny othir thinge be enchauntemente so stronge, that it may neuer be vn-don while the worlde endureth.'[120] These pictures vie with one another in transparent truthfulness to the original scene in nature, with the sun as the centre of a vast expanse of light, which moves with him as he hastens towards the west. Even when at length one saw in Merlin but a magician, and in his pellucid prison but a work of magic, the answer to the question, what had become of him and it, continued to be one which the storehouse of nature-myths had supplied. Where could Merlin have gone but whither the sun goes to rest at night, into the dark sea, into an isle surrounded by the waves of the west, or into the dusk of an impenetrable forest? So it came about that legend sends Merlin to sea in his house of glass never more to be heard of, or dimly moors him in the haze of Bardsey, or else it leaves him bound by the spells of his own magic in a lonely spot in the sombre forest[121] of Brécilien, where Breton story gives him a material prison in a tomb, at the end of the Val des Fées, hard by the babbling fountain of Baranton, so beloved of the muse of romance. For me, however, the other stories which leave Merlin in an isle off the Welsh or the Armoric coast have more interest just now, as they help more than anything else to explain, how the Zeus of the Celts could become so intimately associated with the sea as we found him to be under the names Llûᵭ, Nûᵭ, Nodens.

Merlin Emrys and Maxen.

This is all corroborated by the name of Merlin, which is in Welsh Myrᵭyn, and by its association with Carmarthen, in Welsh 'Caer Vyrᵭin,' 'Myrᵭin's Caer or Fortress.' On the other hand, it is a matter of no doubt that here Myrᵭin is the regular and correct form of the ancient Brythonic name of the place, namely, Moridûnon, which meant a sea-fort, and correctly described the spot, in that it is reached by the tides in the Towy. Thus we have Myrᵭin as the name of the enchanter and as that of the town, which is to be explained by an accident of Welsh, my conjecture being that the two names were distinguished, in an earlier stage of the language, by a difference of termination. We have only to take Moridûnon as given by Ptolemy,[122] and to suppose a derivative of a common form made from it, and we have Moridûnjos,[123] which might mean 'him of Moridûnon or the sea-fort.' Taken in reference to Carmarthen, it would explain the legend which makes the prophet a native, under peculiar circumstances, of that town; but taken in connection with his mythic home and prison, it suits his abode in Bardsey or the Armoric isle of Sein, where he was also believed to have been born; and as pedantry has had a hand in naming him, we may render Merlinus Ambrosius into English as 'the Divine or Immortal One of the Stronghold of the Sea.' Carmarthen enters into another legend which represents that town built by a princess called Elen Lüyᵭawg, or Elen Mistress of a Host: that is but another way of describing the Lady of the Lake constructing a house of glass or some still more pellucid material to be Merlin's prison. It is also remarkable that Elen is represented as causing to be built the highest fortress in Arvon, wherein we seem to have a reference to Dinas Emrys, the spot from which Merlin Emrys expelled Vortigern.

The Elen I have referred to is a personage of no merely incidental interest, and her story is essential to the theory of the identity of Aengus the Mac Óc with our Merlin Emrys. The name Elen still belongs to mythology in Wales: thus in Arvon, for instance, Arianrhod (p. 90) is said to have had three sisters who lived with her in her castle in the sea. They were named Gwen or Gwennan, Maelan and Elen;[124] all appear, like Arianrhod, to have belonged to the class of goddesses associated with the dawn. So also with an Elen said by Geoffrey to have been ravished on Mont St. Michel by the Spanish giant to whom a passing reference has already been made (p. 91). That incident is to be interpreted to mean the dawn passing into the gloaming, and finally losing itself in the darkness of night, a view corroborated by the fact that she is treated as sister of a solar knight of Arthur's court, called Howel:[125] this last name means able to see or easy to be seen, that is to say, conspicuous, a fitting designation, whichever meaning you take, for a sun hero. But to return to Elen Lüyᵭawg: she is the heroine of an old Welsh saga known as the Dream of Maxen the Gwledig. The following is an abstract of it:[126]—Maxen was emperor of Rome and the handsomest of men, as well as the wisest, with whom none of his predecessors might compare. One day he and his courtiers went forth to hunt, and in the course of the day he sat himself down to rest, while his chamberlains protected him from the scorching rays of the sun with their shields. Beneath that shelter he slept, and he dreamt that he was travelling over hill and dale, across rich lands and fine countries until at length he reached a sea-coast. Then he crossed the sea in a magnificent ship and landed in a great city in an island, which he traversed from the one shore till he was in sight of the other: there we find him in a district remarkable for its precipitous mountains and lofty cliffs, from which he could descry an isle in front of him, surrounded by the sea. He stayed not his course until he reached the mouth of a river, where he found a castle with open gates. He walked in, and there beheld a fair hall built of stones precious and brilliant, and roofed with shingles of gold. To pass by a great deal more gold and silver and other precious things, Maxen found in the hall four persons, namely, two youths playing at chess: they were the sons of the lord of the castle, who was a venerable, gray-haired man, sitting in an ivory chair adorned with the images of two eagles of ruddy gold. He had bracelets of gold on his arms and many a ring glittered on his fingers: a massive gold torque adorned his neck, while a frontlet of the same precious metal served to restrain his locks. Hard by sat his daughter in a chair of ruddy gold, and her beauty was so transcendent, that it would be no more easy to look at her face than to gaze at the sun when his rays arc most irresistible. She was clad in white silk, fastened on her breast with brooches of ruddy gold, and over it she wore a surcoat of golden satin, while her head was adorned with a golden frontlet set with rubies and gems, alternating with pearls and imperial stones. The narrator closes his description of the damsel by giving her a girdle of gold and by declaring her altogether the fairest of the race. She rose to meet Maxen, who embraced her and sat with her in her chair. At this point the dream was suddenly broken off by the restlessness of the horses and the hounds, and the creaking of the shields rubbing against each other, which woke the emperor a bewildered man. Reluctantly and sadly he moved, at the advice of his men, towards home; for he could think of nothing but the fair maiden in gold. In fact there was no joint in his body or even as much as the hollow of one of his nails which had not become charged with her love. When his courtiers sat at table to eat or drink, he would not join them, and when they went to hear song and entertainment, he would not go, or, in a word, do anything for a whole week but sleep as often as the maiden slept, whom he beheld in his dreams. When he was awake she was not present to him, nor had he any idea where in the world she was. This went on till at last one of his nobles contrived to let him know, that his conduct in neglecting his men and his duties was the cause of growing discontent. Thereupon he summoned before him the wise men of Rome and told them the state of mind in which he was. Their advice was that messengers should be sent on a three years' quest to the three parts of the world, as they calculated that the expectation of good news would help to sustain him. But at the end of the first year the messengers returned unsuccessful, which made Maxen sad; so other messengers were sent forth to search another third of the world. They returned at the end of their year, like the others, unsuccessful. Maxen, now in despair, took the advice of one of his courtiers and resorted to the forest where he had first dreamt of the maiden. When the glade was reached, he was able to give his messengers a start in the right direction. They went on and on, identifying the country they traversed with the emperor's description of his march day by day, until at last they reached the rugged district of Snowdon, and beheld Mona lying in front of them flat in the sea. They proceeded a little further and entered a castle where Carnarvon now stands, and there beheld the hall roofed with gold: they walked in and found Kynan and Adeon playing at chess, while their father Eudav, son of Karadawg, sat in his chair of ivory, with his daughter Elen seated near him. They saluted her as empress of Rome, and proceeded to explain the meaning of an act she deemed so strange. She listened courteously, but declined to go with them, thinking it more appropriate that the emperor should come in person to fetch her. In due time he reached Britain, which he conquered from Beli the Great and his sons; then he proceeded to visit Elen and her father, and it was during his stay here, after the marriage, that Elen had Carmarthen built and the stronghold in Eryri. The story adds Caerleon to them, but distinguishes the unnamed Snowdon city as the favourite abode of her and her husband. The next thing she undertook was to employ the hosts at her command in the construction of roads between the three towns, which she had caused to be built in part payment of her maiden-fee. But Maxen remained here so many years that the Romans made an emperor in his stead. So at length he and Elen, and her two brothers and their hosts, set out for Rome, which they had to besiege and take by storm. Maxen was now reinstated in power, and he allowed his brothers-in-law and their hosts to settle wherever they chose; so Adeon and his men came back to Britain, while Kynan and his reduced Brittany and settled there.

Such is a summary of this curious story, which sounds far too native to have originally had a Roman emperor for its hero. Whose place, then, has Maxen usurped in it, you may ask. I have no hesitation in suggesting that it was that of Emrys, and I think I can assign at least one of the reasons why Maxen the Gwledig took the place of Emrys the Gwledig. The heroine is called Elen Lüyᵭawg, that is, Elen mistress and owner of a host, or the Elen who made expeditions with a host; but I take her host to have been of a mythical nature, and the Triads[127] treat it as one of the Three Silver Hosts led out of Britain, leaving it a prey to its foes: in fact, Elen's host is virtually to be equated with St. Ursula's host of 11,000 virgins, whom the Euhemerists wish to treat as brides intended for Maximus and his men. These virgins may be compared with the smaller suite of the heroine of an Irish romance to be mentioned shortly; but for those who tried to translate myth into history, they were hosts of armed men; so it became necessary to face the question, who the tyrant was who led those troops abroad, and the choice very naturally fell on Maximus, the Maxen of the Welsh Dream with which you are now acquainted. For history speaks[128] of his revolt in Britain, of his landing on the continent with the troops he could muster here, of his success in acquiring possession of Gaul and Spain, of the flight and death of the Emperor Gratian in the year 383. This, I take it, together with national vanity, was the cause that led to the substitution of Maxen for Emrys, and it supplies the key to a puzzle in the Nennian Genealogies,[129] which make Maxen descend from Constantine the Great: this was because Emrys is commonly represented as the son of Constantine.

The narrator of the Dream of Maxon remarks, in connection with the mention of Elen ordering the roads to be made from one town to another, that they were therefore called the roads of Elen Lüyᵭawg: this is still the case, as it is not unusual to find a mountain track in Wales termed Fforᵭ Elen, 'Elen's Road,' or Sarn Elen,[130] 'Elen's Causeway;' and there is a certain poetic propriety in associating the primitive paths and roads of the country with this vagrant goddess of dawn and dusk. Similarly, Nennius' account of the British auxiliaries of Maximus has a mythic tone about it, which is worth noticing. 'The seventh emperor,' he says, 'who reigned in Britain was Maximianus,[131] the man who went with all the soldiers of the Brythons from Britain, and killed Gratian king of the Romans; and he held the government of the whole of Europe, and would not allow the soldiers who had gone with him to return to Britain to their wives, their children and their possessions; but he gave them numerous tracts of country from the lake on the top of Mons Jovis as far as the city which is called Cantguic and as far as Cruc Ochidient, that is to say, the Western Mound. These are the Armoric Brythons, and they have never returned hither to this day.' The Cumulus Occidentalis alluded to sounds mythic enough to figure in the same sort of stories as the forest of Brécilien or the isle of Sein; not to mention that the choice of Brittany as the seat of the discharged auxiliaries may have been from the first dictated, at least in part, by mythology. For the Welsh for Brittany is Llydaw,[132] a name which may have originally meant an abode of the dead, a light in which almost any land situated on the other shore would seem to have appeared to the Celts of antiquity.

Be that as it may, I have tried to reinstate Emrys or Myrᵭin Emrys in the place usurped by Maxen. From this it would follow, among other things, that he was the conqueror of this country from the chthonian divinity Beli the Great, which derives unexpected confirmation from a hitherto unexplained Triad, i. 1, which states that Britain's first name, before it was inhabited, was Clas Myrᵭin, or Merlin's Close. In this Triad, which must be the echo of an ancient notion, the pellucid walls confining Merlin become, by a touch of the pencil of the mythic muse, co-extensive with the utmost limits of our island home. Here may be compared Erinn when called the Island of Fál, which suggests the possibility that the double meaning of 'wall' and 'light' attaching to its Welsh equivalent gwawl (pp. 123-4) has helped to give the Merlin myth the form in which we know it. But let me now bring your attention back to the dreams about the dawn-goddess Elen, and the conjecture that the real dreamer was not Maxen but Merlin Emrys; for I am persuaded that you will not fail to recognize a more primitive version of the same story in the following Irish tale, called the Vision of Aengus:[133]

One night Aengus the Mac Óc dreamt that he saw at his bedside a maiden the most beautiful in Erinn: he made a move to take hold of her, but she vanished he knew not whither. He remained in his bed till the morning, but he was in an evil plight on account of the maiden leaving him without vouchsafing him a word, and he tasted no food that day. The next night the same lovely form appeared again at his bedside, and this time she played on the sweetest of musical instruments. The effect on him was much the same as before, and he fasted that day also. This went on for a whole year, and he became the victim of love; but he told nobody what ailed him. The physicians of Erinn were called in, and one of them at length guessed by his face what he was suffering from: he bade his mother Boann be sent for to hear her son's confession. She came and he told her his story. She then sent for the Dagda his father, to whom she explained that their son was the victim of a wasting sickness arising from unrequited love, which was considered a fatal disease in ancient Erinn. The Dagda was in bad humour and declared he could do nothing, which was promptly contradicted; for he was told that as he was the king of the Síde, that is of the gods and fairies of Erinn, he might send word to Bodb the Red, king of the fairies of Munster, to use his great knowledge of the fairy settlements of Erinn to discover the maiden that haunted the Mac Óc's dreams. Aengus had now been ill two years, and Bodb required a year for the search, but he proved successful before the year was out; so he came with the news to the Dagda and took the Mac Óc to see if he could recognize the lady. The Mac Óc did so the moment he descried her, among her thrice fifty maiden companions. These, we are told, were joined two and two together by silver chains, and their mistress towered head and shoulders above the rest. Her name was Caerabar, or more shortly Caer, daughter of Etal Anbual, of the fairy settlement of Uaman in the land of Connaught. She wore a silver collar round her neck and a chain of burnished gold. Aengus was grieved that he had not the power to take her away; so he returned home, and the Dagda was advised to seek the aid of Ailill and Medb, the king and queen of the western kingdom. But Caer's father declining to answer the summons that he should appear before them, an attack was made on his residence, when he himself was taken and brought before Ailill and Medb. He then explained to them that he had no power over his daughter, who with her companions changed their forms every other year into those of birds. In fact, he added that on the first day of the ensuing winter they would appear as 150 swans on Loch bel draccon occruit cliach, or the Lake of (the) mouths of (the) Dragons, near Cliach's Crowd. Peace was accordingly made with Etal, and Aengus betook him to the shore of the lake on the day mentioned. Recognizing Caer in the form of a swan, he called to her and said, 'Come to speak to me, Caer.' 'Who calls me?' was the reply. 'Aengus calls thee,' he said. 'I will come,' said she, 'provided I obtain that thou wilt on thy honour make for the lake after me.' 'I will,' said he. She accordingly came to him, whereupon he placed his two hands on her; then they flew off in the form of a pair of swans and they went thrice round the lake. They afterwards took their flight to the Brugh of the Boyne, where they made such enchanting music that it plunged everybody in a deep sleep, which lasted three days and three nights. Caer remained at the Brugh of the Boyne as the Mac Óc's consort.

Here must be added one or two extracts from the Irish manuscript, of the 14th century, called the Speckled Book: the first runs, in the words of O'Curry's translation, as follows:[134] "It is in the reign of Flann Cinaidh [Ginach, or 'the voracious'] that the Rowing-wheel, and the Broom out of Fanaid, and the Fiery Bolt, shall come. Cliach was the harper of Smirdubh Mac Smáil, king of the three Rosses of Sliabh Bán [in Connacht]. Cliach set out on one occasion to seek the hand in marriage of one of the daughters of Bodhbh Derg, of the [fairy] palace of Femhen [in Tipperary]. He continued a whole year playing his harp, on the outside of the palace, without being able to approach nearer to Bodhbh, so great was his [necromantic] power; nor did he make any impression on the daughter. However, he continued to play on until the ground burst under his feet, and the lake which is on the top of the mountain sprang up in the spot: that is Loch Bél Séad." One of the previous names of the lake was Loch Crotta Cliach, or the Lake of Cliach's Harps, as O'Curry renders it; but the instrument was a crowd, not a harp, and its bulging shape may have helped to give a part of a hill a highly descriptive name. The passage goes on as follows to explain the name Loch Bél Séad:—"Coerabar boeth, the daughter of Etal Anbuail of the fairy mansions of Connacht, was a beautiful and powerfully gifted maiden. She had three times fifty ladies in her train. They were all transformed every year[135] into three times fifty beautiful birds, and restored to their natural shape the next year. These birds were chained in couples by chains of silver. One bird among them was the most beautiful of the world's birds, having a necklace of red gold on her neck, with three times fifty chains depending from it, each chain terminating in a ball of gold. During their transformation into birds, they always remained on Loch Crotta Cliach [that is, the Lake of Cliach's Harps], wherefore the people who saw them were in the habit of saying: 'Many is the Séad [that is, a gem, a jewel, or other precious article] at the mouth of Loch Crotta this day.' And hence it is called Loch Bél Séad [or the Lake of the Jewel Mouth]. It was called also Loch Bél Dragain [or the Dragon-Mouth Lake]; because Ternôg's nurse caught a fiery dragon in the shape of a salmon, and St. Fursa induced her to throw it into Loch Bél Séad. And it is that dragon that will come in the festival of St. John, near the end of the world, in the reign of Flann Cinaidh. And it is of it and out of it shall grow the Fiery Bolt which will kill three-fourths of the people of the world, men and women, boys and girls, and cattle, as far as the Mediterranean Sea eastwards. And it is on that account it is called the Dragon-Mouth Lake."

How closely the story of Aengus and Caer, which in some respects recalls that of Leda and the Swan, corresponds to the Welsh Dream, I leave you to judge; further, the Irish prophecy reminds one to a certain extent of the event termed in Norse literature, the Doom of the Powers; but the reference to the Dragon should be examined in the light of the conjecture that the Welsh Elen's northern stronghold occupied the site of Dinas Emrys, where Llûᵭ in a previous age had imprisoned the dragons that disturbed the peace of his dominions. Welsh story lays it to Vortigern's charge as one of his great crimes that he disturbed them, whereby he brought calamity on his unfortunate country, which was destined to be free from oppression and safe against the sword of the foreigner so long as the dragons continued securely encisted in the subterranean lake in the fastness of Snowdon. Lastly, Caer's 150 companions with their silver chains supply an explanation of the name Elen Lüyᵭawg, that is Elen of the Host: her maiden attendants were her host, and it becomes also clear why her expedition in company with her husband is spoken of as the departure of one of the three Silver Hosts of the Isle of Britain; for the silver was not of the common terrestrial kind, but the ancient metal of a Celtic myth. However, this is no answer to the further question which suggests itself, namely, what interpretation one is to put on the presence of the attendant maidens, whether of Caer or Elen. Some, having regard to the number of St. Ursula's companions, would say that they mean the starry host of heaven, which goes away, so to say, with the dawn and appears again with the dusk. But another hypothesis is possible, and I venture to sketch it, chiefly as a means of connecting certain facts which are not altogether irrelevant. It is to the effect that the 11,000 companions of Ursula might be regarded as an exaggeration of a far smaller number, and that those making up the latter might be reckoned the priestesses in attendance on the dawn-goddess, herself the consort of the god represented in the Merlin story as imprisoned. The attendant damsels might then be compared with the virgin priestesses of the isle of Sein, described by Mela as capable of taking any animal form they chose. In the case of Caer and her train the form preferred seems to have been that of swans, while in other cases they are mostly described more vaguely as birds, as when the goddess Dechtere is mentioned escaping, together with her fifty maiden companions, from her brother's court in that form; but the coupling-chains[136] of silver or gold are seldom wanting. The corresponding Welsh superstition prefers the goose to the swan, and makes an approach to Mela's description of the maiden priestesses of Sein, in that it treats those who assume the anserine form as witches.[137] This dates from remote antiquity, as it readily explains why the flesh of the goose was tapu to the Brythous of Caesar's time: leporem et gallinam et anserem gustare fas non putant. Nor is it irrelevant to add, that the goose was sacred in ancient Rome to Jupiter's consort Juno.

Lecture II.


THE ZEUS OF THE INSULAR CELTS.


PART II.




Camulos, Cumall and Nwyvre.

Let me now touch on a question which ought perhaps to have been dealt with at an earlier stage: how could the Aryan Jupiter have acquired the comprehensive character which has just been ascribed, in the early stages of their history, to Nodens, together with the other Celtic gods to be identified with him, and to Zeus? It has not, so far as I know, been minutely studied from this point of view; but M. Gaidoz has devoted to the Roman Jupiter some general remarks, which are highly relevant and deserving of being given at greater length than was done in the passing reference already made to them (p. 55). According to him,[138] the god of light and the sun became the god of the heavens by extension, and he points out certain traces of an ancient notion which ascribed the phenomenon of thunder to the sun: more correctly speaking, the lightning may have been represented as a spark from the fiery body of the sun; but the god that occasioned the lightning might also be said to cause both the thunder and the rain that usually followed: in fact, there are even now nations, such as the Samoans,[139] that directly attribute rain to the sun. In other words, the sun is the king of the heavens, as poets have so often told us; and even when one does not feel the immediate effect of his power, one supposes his presence behind the clouds that conceal him. The confusion between the sun-god and the sky-god is frequent in mythology, as it would seem to be in nature itself. Once one believes in the existence over our heads of a god in the sky, that is to say, of a man with more than human power, it is easy at one time to fancy there several gods, relations of one another, rivals or enemies, and at another to attribute all atmospheric phenomena to one and the same god, one's good father in the heavens—all that depends on the subjective disposition of man; so the variety of his opinions, and, therefore, of his conceptions, must be understood in relation to epochs and surroundings in which his beliefs have not been reduced to the immutable regularity of dogmas. Such are the views entertained by M. Gaidoz; but how the sun should have been thought a great hunter and warrior, needs no remark; and how a god of this origin should become likewise that of the sea and the nether world, is a form of the question which did not come in M. Gaidoz's way to discuss. It admits, however, of being readily answered in the same spirit as the other forms of it; for the sun is seen to sink to the world beneath the horizon every evening, and to rise thence in the morning, so that he might be said to pass half his time in the lower world. For the inhabitants of a maritime land this could not fail to present itself in a still more vivid light: he would be seen to rise from the ocean in the morning to career over the waves and to deal slaughter among his enemies, the shades of night and the clouds that would hide his face from man; while at the end of the day the converse phenomenon would present itself in the splendours of his setting in the billows of the west.

All these remarks must be taken for what they are worth, as an attempt to show how it is conceivable that a divinity originally a god of light and the sun should come by degrees to have the character of a Roman Jupiter or of a Celtic Nodens. The theory of the extension whereby a divinity originally a sun-god became also that of the heavens, has, as already explained, its etymological complement in the interpretation of his name Zeus or Jove as the Bright or Shining One, together with the fact that the word remained also an appellative applicable to the sky or the open air. Now, though the Celtic god is not known to us under any form of this name of double import, we seem to detect him under names of other origin, but agreeing with that of Zeus or Jove in connoting sky or atmosphere; one should rather say that sky or atmosphere is otherwise their only signification. To one or two of them I would now call your attention: the most important is the Camulus of the inscriptions alluded to in the first lecture. In Camulus—in early Celtic probably Camulos—we seem to have, as was then suggested, the Celtic equivalent of the German himmel and its congeners; the Irish form was Cumall, the name of the father of Finn, who fills a great place in Irish legend and is usually called Finn mac Cumaill, or Finn son of Cumall: the latter was the king-warrior of Erinn.[140] Now the name of one of the Welsh equivalents of Finn mac Cumaill is Gwyn mab Nûᵭ, or Gwyn son of Nûᵭ; and in both finn and gwyn we have the ordinary words for white or fair, and both personages so called were celebrated as great hunters, while Gwyn is usually known to the Welsh as the king of the Fairies and the other world generally. The designations Finn mac Cumaill and Gwyn mab Nûᵭ would seem to oppose Cumall and Nûᵭ to, or equate them with, one another.

Further, the story of Kulhwch and Olwen mentions Gwyn son of Nûᵭ with two other Gwyns, called respectively the son of Esni and the son of Nwyvre;[141] but the composition of the lists of names in that piece is such as to allow of our supposing Gwyn son of Nûᵭ, and Gwyn son of Nwyvre, to have been really only one: Esni is a name otherwise unknown to me; but Nwyvre is the Welsh for the atmosphere, or the space in which the clouds float above the earth; and in the designation Gwyn son of Nwyvre, we seem to have the exact rendering of Finn son of Cumall. The story also associates with Gwyn son of Nwyvre, a certain Fflam mab Nwyvre,[142] whose name would mean Flame son of Atmosphere: he is probably to be identified with the personage otherwise called in the same story Fjlewdur Fflam Wledic,[143] or Prince Ffleudur Fflam, and also Ffleudor mab Naf, or Ffleudor son of Nav;[144] while the Triads (i. 15 = ij. 26 = iij. 114) seem to speak of the same personage as Ffleudur Fflam son of Godo; but Godo is not known to have any other meaning than that of a cover, shelter or roof; and in this kind of word, used as a proper name, we seem to have a synonym of Nwyvre or Sky in the sense of Οὐρανός and Varuṇa. Nwyvre is also mentioned in another Triad (i. 40 = ij. 5), which alludes to an expedition to Gaul under the leadership of Gwenwynwyn and Gwanar, sons of Lliaw son of Nwyvre and of Arianrhod their mother. With the reference to Ffleudor son of Nav, may be mentioned an allusion in the same story to a Gwenwynwyn son of Naw,[145] to be corrected doubtless into Nav; for there is a third passage in point which describes Gwenwynwyn as Arthur's rhyswr or huntsman, and calls him the son of Nav Gyssevin,[146] which means 'first or original lord.' Thus it is not improbable that in spite of the Lliaw or Lliaws of the Triads, Nwyvre was the same personage who is here called Nav Gyssevin.

It is, however, a matter of some doubt whether the names Nav Gyssevin and Nwyvre or Godo referred to the Celtic Zeus in the first instance, and not rather to a forgotten Uranus or Hymi, whose name also meant the sky, considered as a cover, a darkening cover (p. 115). The same doubt would likewise attach to the ancient name Camulos and the Irish Cumall. On the other hand, it is not to be believed that a cosmic giant subjected to the treatment of Uranus or Hymi could figure as the Celtic Zeus; so we should, in the case suggested, be left to suppose that the precarious personality of the former had been early forgotten, and that his names had come to be treated as mere synonyms of those of the god whom one may, for brevity's sake, call the Celtic Zeus or Mars-Jupiter. Hence the confusion that was likely to follow, as, for example, when Welsh Nûᵭ and Irish Nuada are found to occur in the pedigree of Gwyn and Finn respectively. It is worthy of a passing remark that we have a glimpse of somewhat similar confusion in the East, where Dyaus and Varuṇa look, from our western point of view, just as if they had exchanged places. Thus it is Dyaus, the namesake, so to say, of Zeus, that his son Indra severs from Pṛithivî or Earth, and it is he that is usually consigned to insignificance and oblivion; while it is Varuṇa, the namesake of Uranus, that assumes the rôle of a supreme god, the upholder of the universe, and the preserver of order both physical and moral. It is right, however, to say that another view is possible, namely, that the Aryans of the pro-ethnic period used the prototypes of the names Zeus and Uranus loosely, without settling which was to be Zeus and which Uranus, and that their descendants decided their respective application independently of one another, and in such a way that he who was called Zeus by one branch of the family was called Uranus by another. But on the whole it seems safer to regard the usage as fixed for all in the earlier stage, and to treat the difference to which reference has just been made as of later growth, the result, in fact, of the synonymity of the two sets of names.

Sites Sacred to the Celtic Zeus.

By way of recapitulating the burden of these last remarks, one may on the whole say that the supreme god of the ancient Aryans was originally designated, not the Sky or Heaven, but the Bright Being, a name known in Greek as Ζεύς, genitive Διός, and its congeners, which, while recalling the idea of sky, heaven or atmosphere, referred to him, in the first instance, as the great light and sun of the world of the early Aryans (p. 116). This harmonizes with the fact that Zeus was represented as haunting the elevated points of the countries inhabited by the Hellenic race, whether one regard the highest ground in Greek cities, which was usually crowned with his temple, or the loftiest mountains in their lands, the summits of which were also sacred to him. It might, however, be urged that it was but natural for the high esteem in which the god was held to find its expression in the placing of his image or fane on a site physically high, and especially in the case of him whom the worshipper thought supreme. It might be added in the same direction that this haunting the heights was not peculiar to him or any special kind of divinity, seeing that the Welsh god of the dead, Gwyn ab Nûᵭ, displayed the same predilection for high ground, and that in Gaul a god of a very different nature, the Gaulish Mercury, had his temples crowning the Puy de Dôme, the Donon and other elevations in that country. Still it may be doubted whether this way of looking at the matter could lead us to the true and original reason for associating Zeus with the mountain-tops and the pure ether in which he was supposed to dwell in his celestial city on the summit of Olympus in Thessaly, that land which was the home of the Greeks before they spread further southwards. The choice of the god's seat of superiority, overlooking the landscape below, would certainly seem to have been dictated, at least in part, by his solar origin and connection with the sky. There on the mountain-top he was supposed to rule the weather: there the clouds gathered themselves together before making their descent on the plains below; thence the Hashes of the god's lightning burst forth at one time, and thither the mists might be seen at another lazily creeping. Such were the phenomena which the ancient Greeks associated with Zeus, and a richly mythical poem in the Welsh language refers to the Celtic Zeus as the blazer of the mountain-top.[147]

Further, the views of the Greeks and the Celts as to the method of procuring rain from the god, when the earth suffered from excessive drought, will be seen from the following instances to have coincided to a remarkable extent: I allude to the Lycæan mountain in Arcadia, the top of which was sacred to Zeus and stood so high that the greater part of the Peloponnese was to be seen from it.[148] Now there was a story current to the effect that it was on that Peloponnesian height that the god had spent his childhood, and that once in times in the distant past an Arcadian king had there sacrificed his child on his altar. Within the sacred enclosure the god's presence was always believed to shine so that nothing there could cast a shadow, and on the same mountain there bubbled a sacred spring to which the priest went in times of great drought to procure rain. This he effected by touching the water in the holy well with a branch of oak; a vapour would then be seen to arise from it and go on forming till the country round had been blessed with the wished-for showers.[149] The means adopted to get the god to grant rain were borrowed from the arsenal of ancient magic, which relied to a great extent on a sort of association of ideas, solemn mimicry of the action wished for being regarded as forcing the god whom the worshipper intended to influence, to put forth the activity desired.

With the sacred Arcadian well I would now compare a Breton one to which recourse is had with the same object: I allude to the Fountain of Baranton in the forest of Brécilien, so famous in the romances. Thither the people of the country resorted in the early Middle Ages; when they wanted rain, they would take up the tankard always at hand and throw some of the water from the spring on a slab near it. Rain would then fall in abundance, and one romancer[150] makes this the means of bringing on a terrific storm of thunder and lightning. Now the water, on the brink of which fairies loved to disport themselves, issued near the perron or tomb in which Merlin had been incarcerated, and the whole was overshadowed by a mighty tree.[151] This is all the more to the point, since the enchanter as the youth Merlin Ambrosius expelling the old duke Vortigern from his own, is one of the Brythonic equivalents, as already suggested, of the Mac Óc driving his father the Dagda from his house and home, and young Zeus banishing his father Cronus (pp. 147, 151). So we should probably be right in assuming the spring, the tomb, the slab and the tree, to have all belonged to the Celtic Zeus, and that it was he who was originally supposed to give the rain, and to cause the storm of thunder and lightning. An incident of the same kind is related in connection with the story of Owein ab Urien: he was told that, in order to make the Black Knight he desired to encounter come forth to fight with him, he should go to a spot where a large tree overshadowed a well, hard by which lay a marble slab with a silver tankard fastened to it. Owein finds the place, takes up the silver tankard, and dashes water from it with such effect on the slab that it brings on a fearful hail-storm, which strips the tree of all its foliage, and causes wide-spread devastation in the domains of the Black Knight,[152] who in consequence thereof rides forth to avenge himself on the intruder.

Lastly may be mentioned the case of the Snowdonian tarn Dulyn or Black Lake, of which we have an account, published in the year 1805, to the following effect:[153] 'There lies in Snowdon Mountain a lake called Dulyn, in a dismal dingle surrounded by high and dangerous rocks: the lake is exceedingly black, and its fish are loathsome, having large heads and small bodies. No wild swan or duck or any kind of bird has ever been seen to light on it, as is their wont on every other Snowdonian lake. In this same lake there is a row of stepping-stones extending into it; and if any one steps on the stones and throws water so as to wet the furthest stone of the series, which is called the Red Altar, it is but a chance that you do not get rain before night, even when it is hot weather.' This helps us to understand the others; for the fact of the furthest stone being called the Red Altar, even supposing it to have been naturally red, which is not suggested, leaves us the word allawr, 'altar,' which cannot be explained except on the supposition, that the slab in the other stories was originally an altar on which to sacrifice to the god. What the sacrifices consisted of, we cannot tell; but it is not improbable that the victims were now and then human, especially in times of great distress or national calamity: in the Celtic instances, the water was thrown on the god's altar instead of being touched with the sacred twig of oak as in Arcadia, when rain was the object of the ceremony.

One at least of these sacred spots retains to this day some of its ancient prestige, namely, the Fountain of Baranton: it is true that it is no longer regarded with the awe which made one of the romancers speak of it as la périlleuse fontaine;[154] for owing to its mineral nature, and the bubbling of its water when a bit of iron or copper is thrown into it, little children amuse themselves, we are told by M. de Villemarqué, by dropping pins into it, whilst addressing it in the most familiar manner, Ris done, fontaine de Berendon. But it still retains its pluvial importance; for in seasons of drought the inhabitants of the surrounding parishes, we are told, go to it in procession, headed by their five great banners and their priests ringing bells and chanting psalms. On arriving, the rector of the canton dips the foot of the cross in the water, and it is sure to rain within a week's time.[155] This ingenious compromise between Christ and Merlin has probably no exact parallel in this country: we have no bannered processions to the temenos of an effete Jupiter: we have rain-prayers instead.

There is an Irish tale which is worth citing here, as it gives a somewhat detailed account of a spot sacred to a god, to be identified probably with the subject of this lecture. It relates to an adventure which happened to Diarmait or Dermot, a well-known hero of Goidelic romance, of whom much is said in Irish legend and romance. Diarmait and Finn mac Cumaill once on a time set out in search of certain of the hitter's men who had been carried away by a wizard chief, and they sailed together towards the west till they came near a steep cliff which seemed to reach to the clouds. Leaving Finn and his party below, Diarmait undertook to climb the cliff and search the island, and after incredible perils and exertions he found himself on the top. "He now looked inland"—to give the story in the words of Dr. Joyce[156]—"and saw a beautiful country spread out before him:—a lovely, flowery plain straight in front, bordered with pleasant hills, and shaded with groves of many kinds of trees. It was enough to banish all care and sadness from one's heart to view this country, and to listen to the warbling of the birds, the humming of the bees among the flowers, the rustling of the wind through the trees, and the pleasant voices of the streams and waterfalls. Making no delay, Diarmait set out to walk across the plain. He had not been long walking when he saw, right before him, a great tree laden with fruit, overtopping all the other trees of the plain. It was surrounded at a little distance by a circle of pillar-stones; and one stone, taller than the others, stood in the centre near the tree. Beside this pillar-stone was a spring well, with a large, round pool as clear as crystal; and the water bubbled up in the centre, and flowed away towards the middle of the plain in a slender stream. Diarmait was glad when he saw the well; for he was hot and thirsty after climbing up the cliff. He stooped down to take a drink; but before his lips touched the water, he heard the heavy tread of a body of warriors, and the loud clank of arms, as if a whole host were coming straight down on him. He sprang to his feet and looked round; but the noise ceased in an instant, and he could see nothing. After a little while he stooped again to drink; and again, before he had wetted his lips, he heard the very same sounds, nearer and louder than before. A second time he leaped to his feet; and still he saw no one. He knew not what to think of this; and as he stood wondering and perplexed, he happened to cast his eyes on the tall pillar- stone that stood on the brink of the well; and he saw on its top a large, beautiful drinking-horn, chased with gold and enamelled with precious stones. 'Now surely,' said Diarmait, 'I have been doing wrong; it is, no doubt, one of the virtues of this well, that it will not let any one drink of its waters except from the drinking-horn.' So he took down the horn, dipped it into the well, and drank without hindrance, till he had slaked his thirst. Scarcely had he taken the horn from his lips, when he saw a tall gruagach[157] coming towards him from the east, clad in a complete suit of mail, and fully armed with shield and helmet, sword and spear. A beautiful scarlet mantle hung over his armour, fastened at his throat by a golden brooch; and a broad circlet of sparkling gold was bended in front across his forehead, to confine his yellow hair, and keep it from being blown about by the wind. As he came nearer, he increased his pace, moving with great strides; and Diarmait now observed that he looked very wrathful. He offered no greeting, and showed not the least courtesy; but addressed Diarmait in a rough, angry voice—'Surely, Diarmait O'Duibne, Erinn of the green plains should be wide enough for you; and it contains abundance of clear, sweet water in its crystal springs and green-bordered streams, from which you might have drunk your fill. But you have come into my island without my leave, and you have taken my drinking-horn, and have drunk from my well; and this spot you shall never leave till you have given me satisfaction for the insult.' " Then began a duel which lasted all day; but when the evening came, the gruagach suddenly sprang outside the range of Diarmait's sword, and with a great bound leaped into the well: down he went, leaving his antagonist wondering at his disappearance and smarting from his wounds. Diarmait then walked towards the end of a great forest that stretched from the mountain to the plain, and, espying a herd of speckled deer, he killed one of them; then he lit a fire and cooked a part of the deer's flesh, which, together with some draughts of clear water from the drinking-horn, formed his supper. He slept soundly, and his breakfast was of the same description as his previous meal. When he had done, he went to the well and found the gruagach there awaiting him: he was more wroth than the first day, as he now complained that Diarmait had hunted on his land and killed some of his speckled deer; so they fought as before and with the same result, that the gruagach disappeared at dusk into the well. This scene repeated itself each day till the evening of the fourth, when Diarmait, finding his antagonist drawing towards the well, threw his arms round him, and both sank into the well. At length they reached the bottom in Tír fa Tonn, or the Land beneath the Billow, and the gruagach, disengaging himself, left Diarmait alone in a strange land, where, however, he fell in with the gruagach's brother, who complained that he had been disinherited by the gruagach, or the Knight of the Fountain as he called him. So Diarmait allied himself with the former, and they made war on the Knight of the Fountain, who was ultimately routed and slain by the hero of the tale.

A story of which Diarmait was a principal figure required him of course to be victorious in his contests, and this applied with special force to one in which the romancer could make his hero right a wrong. On the other hand, the Knight of the Fountain taking possession of his brother's kingdom is to be regarded as a version of the disinheritance of the Dagda by his son the Mac Óc; and the story comes pretty near a Welsh one, the hero of which is called Pwyll, who is made, as related in the Mabinogion,[158] to rid Arawn Head of Hades of a troublesome neighbour. This last would seem practically analogous to the Knight of the Fountain in the Irish story, and he bore the name Havgan or Summer-white, which may be viewed as a corroboration of the conjecture here offered. In the tree and the sacred spring one cannot help recognizing an early specimen of the holy wells still so numerous in Ireland; and as to the richly adorned horn, which in the story of Diarmait takes the place of the silver tankard in that of Owein, we have a reference to the custom of providing wells, probably only holy ones, with vessels mentioned in Cormac's Glossary. From an article there devoted to the word ána,[159] we learn that it was the name for small vessels at the wells under 'the strict laws,' that they were most usually of silver and intended for the weary to drink from, and that they served the kings of the country as a test of the respect in which the law of the land was held. This allusion to the weary drinking and the kings testing their subjects dates probably from a time when the original signification of the vessels had been forgotten: it was doubtless of a religious nature.

The circle of pillar-stones in the sacred island invaded by Diarmait may, in the light of other allusions, be inferred to have represented the gods honoured there. Thus, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth,[160] Merlin, on being asked to assist with his advice in the matter of building Stonehenge, said that the best thing to do would be to bring to this country the pillar-stones called the Choir of the Giants, that stood on a spot in Ireland described in the Latin text as Killaraus Mons, and to set them up here in the order in which they stood there. With the enchanter's marvellous aid, that was done, and Stonehenge came soon into being. This story proves, among other interesting things, that formerly a circle of stones like that of Stonehenge or like a portion of it, was well known to exist in Ireland; and its site can hardly have been other than the Hill of Usnech, which plays a great rôle in Irish legend. It stood in the parish of Killare,[161] in the barony of Rathconrath, in the county of Westmeath. Giraldus Cambrensis, speaking of the five provinces into which Ireland used to be divided, when Meath was reckoned one of them, uses the following words with regard to the Hill of Usnech: 'Et eam [Hiberniam] vacuam invenientes, in quinque portiones æquales inter se diviserunt: quarum capita in lapide quodam conveniunt apud Mediam juxta castrum de Kilair, qui lapis et umbilicus Hiberniæ dicitur, quasi in medio et meditullio terræ positus.'[162] The stone is described as a very largo one,[163] and it is believed to have been cursed by St. Patrick on account of the pagan worship there; or, more correctly speaking, the stones of Usnech—for there were more than one—became so accursed owing to that saint's malediction, that they never failed to prove the ruin of any structure into which they happened to be built: in fact, a bad stone in a building was proverbially said to be one of the stones of Usnech cursed by St. Patrick.[164] This I mention by the way: what I wish to call your attention to, is, the reason Merlin is represented giving, for fetching those stones from so far, namely, that they were endowed with various virtue's, especially for healing: the giants of old had, he said, ordained that bodily ailments might be healed by bathing the patient in the water in which the stones had first been bathed, or by the application of herbs dipped in the same holy bath. This would seem to point in particular to those of the Stonehenge stones which geologists have hitherto failed to recognize as belonging to the rocks of the district; and the idea of washing them, and the virtues thereby imparted by them to the water, presumably implies that the stones were regarded as divine or as the seats of divine power: compare the story[165] of St. David splitting the capstone of the Maen Ketti cromlech in Gower, in order, as we are told, to

prove to the people that it was not divine. It is not improbable that many of the stone circles one meets with in this country were similarly sacred, and used at times for some such a purpose as that specified in the case of the alleged prototype of Stonehenge.

We cannot leave this point without alluding to the question, whose temple Stonehenge was, or whose it chiefly was. After giving it all the attention I can, I have come to the conclusion that we cannot do better than follow the story of Geoffrey, which makes Stonehenge the work of Merlin Emrys, commanded by another Emrys, which I interpret to mean that the temple belonged to the Celtic Zeus, whose later legendary self we have in Merlin. It would be in vain to look for any direct argument for or against such an hypothesis: one can only say that it suits the facts of the case, and helps to understand others of a somewhat similar nature. What sort of a temple could have been more appropriate for the primary god of light and of the luminous heavens than a spacious, open-air enclosure of a circular form like Stonehenge? Nor do I see any objection to the old idea that Stonehenge was the original of the famous temple of Apollo in the island of the Hyperboreans, the stories about which were based in the first instance most likely on the journal of Pytheas' travels.[166] In spite of the fabulous element introduced, one cannot help seeing that the northern island, which was as large as Sicily and situated opposite the mouth of a mighty river, must have been Britain. The inhabitants, we are told, were much devoted to the worship of Apollo, whence it was inferred that his mother Latona was a native of the island: it contained a magnificent temple for her son, and a circular shrine whose walls were adorned with votive offerings. Further, the kings of the city containing the temple and the overseers of the latter were the Boreads, who took up the government in succession, according to their tribes. The citizens gave themselves up to music, harping and chanting in honour of the Sun-god, who was every nineteenth year wont himself to appear about the time of the vernal equinox, and to go on harping and dancing in the sky until the rising of the Pleiades. To interpret this in connection with Stonehenge, we are not obliged to lay any stress on the guess which recognized in the Boreadae the Celtic bards; and we have only to substitute for Apollo a native divinity of light. No one would fit better than the Celtic Zeus; nor is it likely to have been an accident that his temple should be without a roof: it had probably been thought appropriate that it should receive unrestrained the rays of the god's presence, and stand, as a Roman might literally say, sub Jove.

After all, it is a matter of no great importance whether Stonehenge was or was not the Hyperborean temple about which the Greek writers of antiquity romanced; for there were in the British Islands other stone circles which would suit the story nearly as well. I need not mention instances still in existence; but I wish to call your attention for a moment to a temple elsewhere, which is only known to us from the pages of antiquity. Allusion has been made to the Breton isle of Sein (p. 158) as one of the scenes of Merlin's birth and of his imprisonment at the last; but the mythological reputation of the spot is of no modern date, for Pomponius Mela, who calls the island Sena, speaks of it as follows: 'Sena, in the Britannic Sea, opposite the coast of the Osismi, is famous for its oracle of a Gaulish god, whose priestesses, living in the holiness of perpetual virginity, are said to be nine in number. They call them Gallizenae, and they believe them to be endowed with extraordinary gifts, to rouse the sea and the wind by their incantations, to turn themselves into whatsoever animal form they may choose, to cure diseases which among others are incurable, to know what is to come and to foretell it. They are, however, devoted to the service of voyagers only who have set out on no other errand than to consult them.'[167] Mela says nothing about the divinity's temple; but all the islands on the coast of Brittany had their religious associations, and one of these spots, more to the south than Sein, was spoken of by Posidonius, a Greek who travelled in the first century B.C. Strabo and others who made use of his narrative speak of it as possessed by the women of the Namnites,[168] whose name probably survives in that of Nantes on the Loire. These Namnite women are represented as priestesses of a god whom ancient authors identified with Bacchus, on account solely, as it would seem, of the noisy and orgiastic nature of the cult to which they devoted themselves: the rest of the account is very curious, and states that the women used to pay visits to the men on the mainland, but that no man durst place his foot on the island. The god worshipped there had a temple which was roofed, but it was the custom of the priestesses to unroof it once a year; it must, however, be roofed again before sunset. So each of the women came to the work bringing on her shoulders a burden of the requisite materials, and in case any one allowed her burden to fall to the ground, she was instantly torn to pieces by her companions, who carried her mangled remains round the temple with jubilant exultation until the flame of their fury burnt itself out. It so happened, we are further told, that each succeeding year saw the horrid scene repeated.

Several things in these ancient accounts of the Armoric isles are deserving of special notice: take, for example, the one last mentioned: there we have a covered temple or sanctuary of some kind, which it was thought necessary to unroof once a year. This clearly implies that originally it had no roof but the sky, as in the case of Stonehenge and other stone circles. Further, in the case of the nine priestesses of the isle of Sein, we find that they were believed to possess the power of disturbing the sea and raising storms, a notion which postulates as its complement a belief, that the god to whose cult they devoted themselves had the control of the elements, especially the wind and the wave; and this exactly fits the Celtic Zeus, with his tendency in Brythonic mythology to become a sea-god. The same remark might be made as to the nine's gift of prophecy: in a word, the Gaulish oracle in the isle of Sein, spoken of by Mela, need not be supposed other than that of the great prophet Merlin, who prophesied from his prison to the knight from Arthur's court (p. 157).

It is worthy of note that this kind of paganism died hard in the islands on the Armoric coast: in fact, it lasted, in spite of Church and State, down to the time of the Norsemen's ravages. For the Eddic poems called the Helgi Lays, which Dr. Vigfusson has shown to refer, among other localities, to the island of Guernsey,[169] allude to such sibyls as Mela mentions. In the flyting in one of these lays, one of the characters taunts another in words which have been rendered as follows:[170]

'Thou wert a sibyl in Guernsey,
Deceitful hag, setting lies together.'

They are also called 'Bearsark brides in Hlessey,' who injured the rover's boat, and were represented by him as 'hardly women.'[171] But other passages in the Helgi Lays describe them very differently as 'mysterious half-human half-supernatural Walcyries, riding through the air in groups of nine, acting as guardian-angels to sailors, who come to heal wounded wickings, and who have the knowledge of dreams, the power of stilling as well as of raising tempests.'[172] Such notions as these are distributed by the modern Celt between mermaids,[173] who have most of the characteristics of the Helgi sibyls, and witches, who, as pictured by Welsh superstition, strongly remind one of the nine priestesses of Sein in the pages of Mela. The witch can not only raise storms and cause disease, but also reverse both processes; and she is also remarkable on account of her capacity to take other forms than her own, the favourite one being that of the hare. The faculty of turning oneself into a hare at will is regarded as hereditary in certain families in Wales;[174] but it is confined, as the theory here suggested would lead one to expect, to the women of those families, none of their male relatives being ever supposed capable of any such a change of their nature. The witch-hare differs in several respects from an ordinary hare: among other things, it cannot be successfully hunted except with a jet black greyhound without a white hair in his coat. The blackness of the hound is suggestive, and still more so is the leporine form selected by the witch, for the hare stands foremost among the animals whose flesh was, according to Caesar,[175] tabooed by the Celts of this country in his day. Perhaps one would not be wrong in regarding it as an animal sacred to the Celtic Zeus or to his associate; and it would be in harmony with the account given by Dio Cassius[176] of Boudicca, queen of the Eceni, who, while exhorting her subjects to rise against the rule of Rome, let loose a hare, and thanked the goddess Andraste as soon as she saw the course taken by the frightened beast to be one of good omen: the address put into her mouth further represents her praying to Andraste[177] for victory, salvation and liberty. Nothing is otherwise known of this goddess; so that we are at liberty provisionally to regard her name as one of those borne by the associate of the Celtic Zeus as god of war and victory. After this digression, I wish to return to the question of stone circles, and to call your attention to a Goidelic instance which shows a certain advance in point of art. In this, the rude stones give way to images, more or less richly adorned, of the gods they were supposed to represent. In the Tripartite Life of St. Patrick, one reads as follows: "Thereafter went Patrick over the water to Mag Slecht, a place wherein was the chief idol of Ireland, to wit, Cenn Cruaich, covered with gold and silver, and twelve other idols about it, covered with brass. When Patrick saw the idol from the water whose name is Guth-ard (i.e. elevated its voice) and when he drew nigh unto the idol, he raised his hand to put Jesus' crozier upon it and did not reach [it], but it bowed westwards to turn on its right side, for its face was from the south, to wit, to Tara. And the trace of the crozier abides on its left side still, and yet the crozier moved not from Patrick's hand. And the earth swallowed the twelve other images as far as their heads, and they are thus in sign of the miracle, and he cursed the demon, and banished him to hell."[178] This legend is contained in a version of St. Patrick's Life attributed to St. Eleranus,[179] who is said to have lived in the seventh century; but whatever the date of the life, it would seem that, by the writer's time, the pagan sanctuary had been so long falling into decay, that of the lesser idols only their heads were to be then seen above ground, and that the idol of Cenn Cruaich, which meant the Head or Chief of the Mound, was slowly hastening to its fall, whence the story of its having had an invisible blow dealt it by St. Patrick. This is also, possibly, the explanation of another name sometimes given to the chief idol, namely, that of Cromm Cruaich, 'the Crooked or Bent One of the Mound,' in reference merely to the attitude of the image in the later days of its decadence.

In some verses of difficult interpretation in the Book of Leinster,[180] a manuscript of the beginning of the twelfth century, Cromm Cruaich has applied to him the adjective crín, which usually means withered and ready to fall, as in the case of a tree which the sap has left. The verses I allude to were written to explain the meaning of the name of the place called Mag Slecht, but they tell us further that the ancient Irish used to sacrifice there the first-born of their children and of their flocks,[181] in order to secure power and peace in all their tribes, and to obtain milk and corn for the support of their families. The place, Mag Slecht, was, we are told, so called from the kneeling and other more violent acts of adoration through which the people went before the god: it is ascertained[182] to have been near the village of Ballymagauran, in the barony of Tullyhaw, in the county of Cavan; and St. Patrick is said to have built there a church called Domhnach Mór,[183] the name of which is worth a passing remark. The adjective mór, 'great,' was added to distinguish it from other churches called Domhnach: this word is no other than the Latin[184] dominicum, 'a church or edifice sacred to the Lord,' borrowed, and it can hardly be regarded as an accident that the edifice to supersede the sanctuary of the chief of the Goidelic pantheon should have been called after the Lord and Head of the Christian religion. It would, however, be hazardous to conclude as much regarding all the localities in Ireland now marked by churches bearing this name of Domhnach.[185]

Be that as it may, there is on record a place-name which bears evidence to the worship of the heathen god in the centre of ancient Britain. For if we turn the Irish Cenn Cruaich, 'Chief of the Mound,' into its etymological equivalents, in modern Welsh we have Pen Crûg,[186] which was written formerly Penn Cruc, while at a much earlier date, when the language still retained its case-endings, it must have had the form Pennos Crûci, or else that of a compound Pennocrûci.[187] This last, as the basis of an adjective relating to the god so-called, would yield the forms Pennocrûcjo-s, Pennocrûcja, Pennocrucjo-n; and the last mentioned, the neuter, actually occurs, namely, Latinized into Pennocrucium, which would accordingly seem to have meant a place associated with the god who was called Chief of the Mound, that is to say, a spot devoted to his worship. The station called Pennocrucium in the Itinerary of Antoninus[188] has been variously identified with Stretton and Penkridge, in Staffordshire; and the name Penkridge, written Pencrik, in an eighth century charter of Æthilheard of Wessex,[189] is beyond all doubt a continuation of that in the Itinerary. That, however, does not quite decide the question of site, as there may have been not a few localities entitled to the same interesting appellation.


The God's Mounds, Fetishes and Symbols.

What, it may now be asked, can have been the meaning of calling the god by a name signifying the Chief of the Mound? The answer must depend a good deal on what was meant by the word which I have thus far rendered 'mound.' Now the Irish word cruach might mean a heap of anything, and it is attested in the more restricted sense of a rick of hay or the like; the Welsh crûg admits of much the same use, but it is especially employed in the case of artificial mounds or tumuli; and so it appears in a great many names of places, such as that of Crûg Hywel, Anglicized Crickhowel, the name of a village near Abergavenny, and the Wyddgrug, which seems to have meant the Burial Mound: the town so called is in Flintshire, and it is found formerly named Mons Altus,[190] modern English Mold. Let us now look at some of the synonymous terms: one of these is tommen, usual in North Wales, and well known as applied to a tumulus at Bala, which served till lately as the rallying-point of the great open-air services of the Calvinistic Methodists; but a more promising word is gorseᵭ, which while etymologically meaning any high station or position, and used in the Welsh literature of the Middle Ages in the sense of a mound or tumulus, came to be the word for a throne or a judgment-seat: it may also mean a court or tribunal, and Pen yr Orseᵭ, 'the Gorseᵭ Top or Hill,' is not an uncommon name of conspicuous positions in certain parts of the Principality. Some of the ancient gorseᵭs continued long in story to be the seats of supernatural power: take, for example, that known as the gorseᵭ of Arberth, in South Wales, of which it is said in the Mabinogi of Pwyll Prince of Dyved,[191] that no one ever ascended it without receiving wounds and bodily harm, or witnessing some kind of miracle, which the tale hears out by relating how Pwyll repeatedly went up on the gorseᵭ, and how very strange adventures befel him, all of which began from the gorseᵭ.

Similarly, wonderful things are related as happening in Irish story to kings of Tara who chanced to ascend the gorseᵭ[192] of that city in the early morning: in one instance, it is related[193] that Conn the Hundred-fighter, having done so, happened to tread on a stone, which thereupon screamed all over the land. This was followed by a thick fog, out of which rode a fairy prince, who led Conn away to his residence to be informed of the future history of Ireland, and to be told the length of his reign and the names of his successors for many centuries afterwards. This stone, of which something must now be said, was the so-called Lia Fáil, or Stone of Fál, and Irish legend speaks of it as one of the four precious things brought to Ireland by the Tuatha Dé Danaan: it was one of its properties that, wherever it was taken, a Goidel of Milesian descent, like Conn, would be sovereign there, and at Tara it gave a scream[194] under every king whom it recognized in the sovereignty. From the possession of the warlike descendants of Conn, it is supposed by some[195] to have been traced to Scone, the capital of the kingdom of Alban, where Edward I. found it in such esteem that he thought it worth his while to have it brought to the English capital;[196] and the stone from Scone is believed, as you know, to be now in the Coronation chair at Westminster Abbey. But its removal to England was not the end of the beliefs attached to it; in fact, Irish and Scotch historians saw them verified anew when the throne of England came to be occupied by the Stuarts, who were supposed to be descended from Goidelic ancestors of Milesian race. In the name of the Lia Fáil, sometimes called the Stone of Destiny, the word Fál is probably to be treated as in the case of Inis Fáil 'the Island of Fál,' where I take the word to have meant light, and to have referred to the god in his early identification with the sun. In other words, the Lia Fáil was a fetish connected with his worship; and however one looks at it, one cannot regard it as singular in the religious world of the Aryans. Witness the stone swallowed by Cronus under the impression that it was his child Zeus, and set up afterwards by the latter at Delphi. "It was not a large stone," says Andrew Lang,[197] interpreting Pausanias, who saw it, "and the Delphians used to anoint it with oil and wrap it up in wool on feast-days. All Greek temples," he goes on to say, " had their fetish-stones, and each stone had its legend."

But not only was the Irish fetish called the Stone of Fál, but it was first heard of in Erinn at Temair Fáil,[198] 'the Temair of Fál,' that is to say, the ancient capital, the site of which is known as Tara Hill, in the present county of Meath. There were in Ireland several other places called Temair, genitive Temrach (Anglicized Tara), and the name may be guessed to have had some such signification as that of a height or an acropolis; but the Tara par excellence may be assumed to have been one of the oldest and most important centres of the warlike Celts who conquered the country, and it would not be surprising if it had occurred to them to call it after their chief divinity, who was both god of war and of light, and one of whose names, recalling him in the latter character, was, as it is here contended, the Fál in question. Temair Fáil, or Fál's Tara, would thus have meant Fál's Hill or Height; and one may compare the case of a warlike people of this country, who called their capital Camulodunon or the Acropolis of Camulos, with the name of which that of Fál's Tara may perhaps, mythologically speaking, be equated.

These scattered facts, which I have tried to connect with one another, not only suggest that Nuada Finnfáil, or the Goidelic Nodens, was the same divinity as Fál, and the latter as Cenn Cruaich; but they further go to prove a connection between his cult and the high places, which, whether artificial or natural, agree, so far as concerns the object in view, with the selection in Greece and Rome of elevated positions for the temple of Zeus and Jupiter. It would agree even more closely with the custom, still practised by the Parliament of the Isle of Man, of promulgating the laws made by it from an artificial mound called the Tynwald, which was done at Midsummer under the Old Style, but now on the 5th of July, a date of no institutional significance. It is in this light, perhaps, that one should chiefly regard the cruach or 'gorseᵭ' sacred to the Celtic god and his assessors: in other words, the Irish probably assembled on Mag Slecht, for example, not only to worship Cenn Cruaich, but also to hold their courts under the sanction of the chief of the nation's gods, much as the English House of Lords pays homage to Christianity by opening its proceedings with a public prayer. But one need not leave Celtic ground to look for an instance more pagan and far more in point: I allude to the gorseᵭ or court under the authority of which the Eisteᵭvod is held as a sort of session, as its name indicates, for letters and music. The gorseᵭ is held in the open air, a circle of stones being formed, with a stone bigger than the others in the middle; the proceedings are opened with prayer by the presiding druid as he is called; afterwards he goes on to admit to degrees the candidates recommended by persons technically competent to do so. When all the business is over, the company goes in a procession to the building fixed for holding the Eisteᵭvod, which it is necessary to have announced at a gorseᵭ held a year at least previously. As regards the gorseᵭ itself, the rule is "that it be held in a conspicuous place within sight and hearing of the country and the lord in authority, and that it be face to face with the sun and the eye of light, as there is no power to hold a gorseᵭ under cover or at night, but only where and as long as the sun is visible in the heavens."[199] In the absence of documentary evidence bearing on the history of the gorseᵭ, we have to judge of it as we find it, and it is remarkable that everything connected with it seems to suggest that it is but a continuation of a court of which the Celtic Zeus was originally regarded as the spiritual president: witness the circle of stones, the importance attached to the sun and the eye of light, and also the nature of the prayer pronounced by the officiating druid. There are several versions[200] of it, and, though not one of them is probably early in the form in which we have it, the fact of their containing nothing distinctively Christian is all the more remarkable, and it favours the belief in the antiquity of their origin.

I may explain that in the remarks to which the name Cenn Cruaich has here given rise, the Celtic Zeus or Mars-Jupiter has been regarded as standing before us in his character of a god of light and the sun, but that at a very early stage in his history, his attributes expanded themselves to such an extent that he ceased to be in any very strict sense of the term a sun-god: other sun-gods of a far simpler and narrower nature grew up, and one of them appears in the story of Conn and the Stone of Fál. For at the same time that the name Fál seems to have referred to the more ancient god of light, the fairy prince (p. 205) who disclosed the future history of his country to Conn is stated to have been called Lug,[201] who as a sun-god occupies a distinguished place in Irish legend. When the connection of the other god with light had been forgotten, the name of Lug as a sun-god was still familiar, and the story shaped itself accordingly.

The observations made in reference to the term Fál as a name of the god would be incomplete without some allusion to the mythical creation known as Roth Fáil, or Fál's Wheel, and Roth Rámach, or the Wheel with Paddles.[202] It is said to have been made by Simon Magus, assisted by Mog Ruith, a celebrated Irish druid from the island of Valencia, who, having learned all the druidism or magic that could be learned in these islands, went with his daughter to take lessons from Simon Magus, in whose contest with St. Peter he is represented taking a part. The Wheel was to enable Simon to sail in the air; but it met with an accident, and Mog Ruith's daughter brought certain fragments of it to Ireland, one of which she fixed as the rock or pillar-stone of Cnámchoill, a place near Tipperary, the name of which has been Anglicized into Cleghile. The stone was believed to produce blindness if looked at, and death if touched.[203] But there were other versions which made the coming of the Wheel a great calamity, not only to Ireland, but to a great portion of the west of Europe: it became a recognized element in so-called prophecies of calamities to overcome Erinn. Thus in one called the Ecstasy of St. Moling, the Wheel is represented as destined to come followed by a dreadful scourge which was to destroy three-fourths of the people as far as the Tyrrhene Sea (p. 173), in the reign of a king Flann Ginach of Durlas.[204] Another extravagant prophecy, vainly attributed to St. Columba, made the Wheel into an enormous ship containing a fabulous number of warriors, and sailing over sea and land with equal ease; but it was fated to be

wrecked on the pillar-stone of Clegliile, and the warriors would all be cut off in the reign of Flann Ciothach.[205] For a reason not assigned, Cleghile appears to have been fixed upon as the terminus for the course of the Wheel, which is called in such legends the Roth Rámach; but the allusion to Cleghile enables one to recognize a reference to the same thing in Cormac's Glossary, namely, under the word Foi, which is explained to have meant the place called Cnámchoill, 'Cleghile.' So far as it can be translated without context as it stands, the passage represents the druid Mog Ruith saying that somebody or something would perish because the Roth Fáil would come as far as the king of Durlas west of Foi, i.e. west of Cnámchoill.[206] I am not aware that the Wheel is called Roth Fáil anywhere else; the passage in the Glossary, however, proves the identity of the Roth Fail with the Roth Rámach.

But what, you will ask, does all this mean, and especially the introduction of Simon Magus? The appearance of Simon on Celtic ground is not very difficult to explain. He was known to the early Church as a notorious opponent of the apostles, and his name became identified with all that was pagan and anti-christian: thus the ancient druidic tonsure usual among the clergy of the British Church till the latter half of the eighth century, and among those of the Irish Church not quite so late, was probably a druidic tonsure continued: at any rate, it was described by those who had adopted the Roman tonsure as that of Simon Magus.[207] As to Ireland in particular, all the fiercest opposition there to Christianity is described as headed by the druids, who competed with Patrick and other saints in working miracles. So it would be natural enough for Christian writers to liken the chief druids of Ireland to Simon, especially seeing that when they used the Latin tongue the native word drui, 'druid,' had to be rendered by magus, 'a magician.' Vice versa, Simon Magus became in Irish Simon Drui, or Simon the Druid:[208] nay, he was at last claimed as an Irish ancestor,[209] and as such he appears as Simeon Brec, or Simeon the Freckled, son of Starn or Stariath, of the family of Nemid, and as ancestor of the Fir Bolg, who, owing to Simon's eastern origin, are made to come from the East on one of the motiveless wanderings so common in the legendary history of Ireland.[210]

Now the prophecies about the Wheel appear to have consisted partly of an ancient Irish belief in a mythic wheel and a mythic ship,[211] and partly of Christian tales about Simon Magus, such as the one about his flying in the air, or ascending like Elijah in a fiery chariot, in order to show his superiority over Peter and Paul;[212] but his brief aerial success contrasts most markedly with the ease with which Irish druids, and Mog Ruith in particular, are described soaring in the air by means of a simple pair of wings,[213] put on or off at pleasure like an ordinary article of dress. So here no room is left for the clumsy expedient of a wheel, and we have to look for that in another direction—the one, in fact, indicated by the name Roth Fáil, which may be rendered the Wheel of Light, and regarded as probably referring in the first instance to the disk of the sun: I said, 'in the first instance,' as one has only to glance at M. Gaidoz's account of the symbolism of the wheel to see how capable it was of modification, as, for example, when it took the form of a winged disk or even of a cross.[214] The importance attached to the place called Cnámchoill, 'Cleghile,' which translated would mean the Forest of (the) Bones or Bone-wood, is not to be understood without ampler data than we have; but it looks as though the spot had been another Mag Slecht adorned with another and ruder figure of Cenn Cruaich, covered with gold and credited with glory exposed to no vulgar gaze but fenced around by the solitude of a sacred forest, like one which figures in the history of ancient Prussia.[215]

Lastly, we have another proof of the existence in ancient Ireland of a wheel myth in the name Mog Ruith of the druid involved in the stories occupying our attention at present. It meant Servus Rotae, or the Slave of the Wheel, and most probably of no other wheel than the one here in question, the Roth Fáil or Wheel of Light. Personal names formed in this analytic fashion, so familiar to Semitic scholars in such instances as Abdiel, 'Servant of El,' Abdallah, 'Servant of Allah,' and the like, are not unusual in Irish; and they not unfrequently involve a god's name, as in the case of Mog Nuadat, 'Servus Nodentis,' and Mog Néit or Slave of Nét, this last being a name of the Goidelic god of war, as we are told in Cormac's Glossary.[216] The habit of forming proper names of men in this way is probably of pre-Celtic origin in Ireland; but it was continued in Christian times with the aid of the words mael, 'bald, tonsured,' and gille, 'boy, servant-boy,' as in Maelpadraic, rendered into Latin as Calvus Patricii,[217] or the Tonsured Slave of Patrick, still current as Mulpatrick; Maelmuiri, 'Marianas,' or the Tonsured Slave of Mary; and Gillecrist, 'Christ's Servant,' curtailed into Gilchrist; Gillecomded, 'Servus Domini,' or the Servant of the Lord, and many more. Should these guesses prove well founded, it would follow that the Roth Fáil had a well-defined place in Irish theology long before any such a name as that of Mog Ruith could have come into existence; and it is also to be observed that the attempt to replace its name, Roth Fáil, by a later designation meaning the Rowing or Paddle Wheel, corroborates, so far as it goes, the opinion here advanced as to the relative antiquity of the belief in the Wheel.


The God of Druidism.

Reference has been made in this lecture several times to a tree overshadowing the sacred well of the god, and to the slab hard by. Others might be added; and I would call your attention to the well-known type of Irish holy-well overshadowed by a tree whose branches are loaded with such votive offerings as bits of cloth; not to mention that at the spot where the pious visitor there makes his cross are to be found other gifts, containing among them, as I have seen more than once, coins of the present clay. The placing of offerings, however humble, among the branches of the tree had probably the same meaning as the hanging up in the like manner by the ancient Gauls and Germans of the heads of the animals sacrificed to the gods. The subject has been treated in his thorough way by Jacob Grimm in his well-known work on Teutonic Mythology, where he has brought together many allusions to the trees marking the holy places of his race in old times.[218] Especially deserving of mention is the evergreen tree with wide-spreading branches said to have stood in close proximity to the temple of the gods in the ancient town of Upsala,[219] and the mythic tree called Glass, described as standing with leaves of gold before the hall of Sig-týr, or the Norse Zeus of Victory.[220] On the whole, the oak would seem to have been the tree far the most closely associated with the supreme god of the Aryans. Thus in ancient Greece the mighty growth of the oak was regarded as symbolic of him.[221] Not only was it a twig of oak that was used in the Greek ceremony of rain-making, but several celebrated oaks sacred to Zeus are alluded to in Greek and Roman literature: suffice it to recall the Trojan oak famed in the Iliad, and the words of Virgil in the Georgics, iij. 332, &c.:

'Sicubi magna Jovis antiquo robore quercus
Ingentes tendat ranios.'

There were also at Dodona, one of the most ancient Greek seats of the Zeus worship, sacred oaks, the murmuring of the wind among whose branches and leaves was watched and treated as oracular;[222] and sometimes the oak was something more than a tree merely sacred to the god or marking out the place of his abode: it was itself regarded as the seat of his divinity, as in the case of Ζεὺς φηγός or φηγοναῖος also at Dodona,[223] of which Silius Italicus says, iij. 691:

'Arbor numen habet coliturque tepentibus aris.'

In the Celtic instances alluded to, no predilection for the oak seems to suggest itself; but if we go back to the ancient Gauls, their preference for it is placed beyond all doubt. Witness Pliny's well-known account of the druids in his Natural History, xvi. 95; the whole passage is so much to the point that I cannot help quoting it at full length: "Nor is the admiration of Gaulish lands in this matter to be passed over in silence: the druids, for so they call their magicians, have nothing which they hold more sacred than the mistletoe and the tree on which it grows, provided only it be an oak [robur]. But apart from that, they select groves of oak, and they perform no sacred rite without leaves from that tree, so that the druids may be regarded as even deriving from it their name interpreted as Greek. For they believe whatever grows on these trees to be actually sent from heaven, and to form a mark in each instance of a tree selected by the god himself. That is, however, very rarely to be met with, and when it is found it is sought with much religious ceremony. They do this especially at the time of the sixth moon, the luminary which marks the beginning of their months and their years, and after the tree has passed the thirtieth year of its age, because of its having even then plenty of vigour, though not half the size to which it may grow. Addressing it in their language as the universal healer, and taking care to have sacrifices and banquets prepared with the correct ceremony beneath the tree, they bring to the spot two white bulls, whose horns have never been bound before. The priest, clad in a white robe, climbs the tree, and with a golden sickle cuts the mistletoe: it is caught in a white cloth. Then at length they sacrifice the victims, with a prayer that god may make his own gift benefit those to whom he has given it. They believe that drinking of a potion prepared from it gives fecundity to barren animals, and that it is a remedy against all poison."

Add to this important passage the statement of Maximus Tyrius to the effect that the Celts worshipped Zeus, and that the Celtic ἄγαλμα or image of the god was a lofty oak,[224] and that the name of the Galatian place of assembly in Asia Minor, as given by Strabo,[225] was Δρυνέμετον or the sacred Oak-grove. The words of Maximus Tyrius might, according to Jacob Grimm, have been applied to the Teutons also and all nations originally related to them;[226] he establishes his opinion as regards the former, and briefly alludes to some of the latter, and among them to the Lithuanian branch as represented by the ancient inhabitants of Prussia. Their place of greatest holiness was a spot called Romove, in a meadow where a high and mighty oak afforded shelter against rain and the heat of the summer sun. Here, in niches cut in the sacred tree, were placed images of their three principal gods, and of these the chief was placed in the middle between the two others. His name was Perkunos, and he was reckoned the god of thunder, of rain, and other atmospheric phenomena. He was also the giver of health and the helper of those who suffered from disease. The water of the lakes held sacred to him was considered to possess remedial virtues, and so were the ashes of the perpetual fire kept up before the sacred oak. The priest who happened to let that fire go out atoned for his negligence with his life, and the sacrifices made to Perkunos and his two assessors not unfreqiiently consisted of human victims.[227] Now Perkunos was, under slightly modified forms of the name, worshipped by all the Litu-Slavic nations, and it would be interesting to ascertain his exact mythological position, but that is not a very easy matter. Grimm saw in the name Perkunos a form related to the Norse Fjörgynn, genitive Fjörgvins, of the same origin as the Gothic fairguni, 'mountain,' Anglo-Saxon firgen of the same meaning; and he has suggested the possibility that Fjörgynn was an ancient name for Thor, whom it would suit well enough as a thunderer to be designated a god of the mountains or dweller on the heights; or else that the Goths may have preferred it, in the form of Fairguneis, to Thor's more usual designation. But, on the other hand, the Teutonic god corresponding to Zeus had even more right to be called the god of the mountain-tops. May not the right solution be that Perkunos and its congeners represent the Gothic name of Thor, borrowed and given by the Litu-Slaves to a god of their own, who was the counterpart of Zeus rather than of Thor, though resembling the latter in his having the attribute of thunder? That borrowing by somebody took place in the matter of the name is proved by the related word Porguini, cited by Grimm as the name of the Mordvinian thunder-god.[228] There have also been futile attempts to connect the name of Perkunos with that of the Hindu god of rain and thunder, Parjanya, who would seem to have been a form or aspect of Dyaus, whose son he was sometimes called.[229]

Whatever the origin of the name of the god Perkunos may prove to have been, the priesthood devoted to the holy place of which he was the chief divinity is described as forming one of the most despotic hierarchies the world has ever seen; and its head is represented enjoying absolute power and seclusion more impenetrable than could probably be secured by the most influential druid among the Celts. For to read of the priests connected with the holy forest of Romove in ancient Prussia unavoidably leads one to this comparison, and reminds one in a striking manner of what is told us in the classics about the druids of Gaul, and in a later literature about those of Ireland. Seeing the importance of sacred trees in the ancient cult of the chief god of the Aryans of Europe, and the preference evinced for the oak as the tree fittest to be his emblem or even the residence of his divinity, I am inclined to regard the old etymology of the word druid as being, roughly speaking, the comet one. Pliny, alluding to the druids' predilection for groves of oak, adds the words: ut inde appellati quoque interpretatione Graeca possint Druidae videri.[230] The necessity he seems to have been under of interpreting the term by reference to the Greek word δρῦς, 'an oak,' was probably what made him express himself so hesitatingly. Had he possessed knowledge enough of the Gaulish language, he would have seen that it supplied an explanation which rendered it needless to have recourse to Greek, namely, in the native word dru, which we have in Drunemeton, or the sacred Oak-grove, given by Strabo as the name of the place of assembly of the Galatians. In fact, one has, if I am not mistaken, been sceptic with regard to this etymology, not so much on phonological grounds as from failing exactly to see how the oak could have given its name to such a famous organization as the druidic one must be admitted to have been. But the parallels just indicated as showing the importance of the sacred tree in the worship of Zeus and the gods representing him among nations other than the Greek one, help to throw some light on this point. According to the etymology here alluded to, the druids would be the priests of the god associated or identified with the oak; that is, as we are told, the god who seemed to those who were familiar with the pagan theology of the Greeks, to stand in the same position in Gaulish theology that Zeus did in the former.

This harmonizes thoroughly with all that is known about the druids. On the one hand, Zeus was the source of all divination:[231] the rustling of the wind in the leaves of the sacred oaks at Dodona, the voices of the doves, and the bubbling of the spring near the sacred oak, were all held to be oracular; and even in the case of the celebrated oracle of the Pythian Apollo at Delphi, the latter was no more than the προφήτης or mouthpiece, so to say, of Zeus. On the other hand, one may sum up the imressions of ancient authors as to the druids by describing them as magicians who were medicine-men, priests, and teachers of the young. This applies more especially to Gaul, but their characteristics appear to have been much the same in Ireland—in both they were above all things magicians; for we have Pliny's express statement that the name which the Gauls gave their magicians was that of druids; and Irish literature teaches us the like lesson[232] as to the kindred Irish term, as already instanced in the case of Simon Magus, called in Irish Simon Drui. But let us examine the druids a little more closely on Irish ground. Now Cúchulainn, whose name has already been mentioned (p. 138), was educated at the school of which Cathbad a druid was the master; but what the latter' s teaching mostly consisted of we know not; incidentally we find that he told his pupils of lucky and unlucky days. One morning, for instance, he informed an elder pupil that the day then beginning would be a lucky one for anybody who should take arms on it for the first time, which Cúchulainn overhearing, at once carried out, to the surprise of his teacher and the king, both of whom he outwitted in the matter.[233] To be able to make the declaration ascribed to the druid would seem to imply that he began the day with augury or some other kind of divination. Years later, when Cúchulainn was asked as to his education, he is represented enumerating among the advantages he had enjoyed, that of having been taught by Cathbad the druid, which had, he said, made him a master of inquiry in the arts of the god of druidism or magic, and rendered him skilled in all that was excellent in visions. With regard to this latter statement, suffice it to say that the druids were always ready to interpret a dream, which was probably done according to canons they had elaborated for their use. What interests one most is, the remarkable allusion contained in the term dé druidechta, 'of the god of druidism,' which doubtless meant the divinity with whom the druids as magicians had to do, and with whose aid they practised their magical arts. We are unfortunately not told the name of the god; but it is natural to suppose that it was the chief of the Goidelic pantheon, and this is practically settled by the kind of miracles which the druids are usually represented as able to perform with most success, in their competition with the early saints engaged in the task of Christianizing Ireland. These miracles may be described as mostly atmospheric, consisting of such feats as bringing on a heavy snow, palpable darkness, or a great storm, such as the one by means of which a druid tried to effect the shipwreck of St. Columba on Loch Ness in Scotland.[234] The reason, I may observe in passing, why the druids are such familiar figures in Irish literature, at any rate as compared with the literatures of Wales and Brittany, is that the Goidel's faith in druidism was never suddenly undermined; for in the saints he only saw more powerful druids than those he had previously known, and Christ took the position in his eyes of the druid κατ' ὲξοχήν.[235] Irish druidism absorbed a certain amount of Christianity; and it would be a problem of considerable difficulty to fix on the point where it ceased to be druidism, and from which onwards it could be said to be Christianity in any restricted sense of that term.

Though druidism is far harder to discover in the oldest literature of the Welsh, it is possible there to recognize the Welsh counterpart of the Goidelic god of Druidism, namely, in Mâth ab Mathonwy, also called Mâth Hên, or M. the Ancient. Besides the meagre references[236] to him in Welsh poetry, one of the Mabinogion takes its name from him.[237] There he is described as king of Gwyneᵭ or Venedotia, with his head-quarters at a place called Caer Dathal, supposed to have been the fortified hill-top now known as Pen y Gaer, or the Hill of the Fortress, on the eastern side of the Conwy, a short distance from the ferry and railway-station of Tal y Cavn, as you go from Llandudno to Bettws y Coed, in Carnarvonshire. Among other characteristics, Mâth shared with Welsh fairies and demons the peculiarity of hearing, without fail and without regard to the distance, every sound of speech that reached the air;[238] and as the Greek Zeus was the source of divination, so Math is named the first and foremost of the three great magicians of Welsh mythology,[239] in which respect he is to be compared with Merlin and the Mac Óc. Moreover, he taught his magic arts to Gwydion ab Dôn, the Culture Hero, with whose assistance he was able, for example, to create a woman out of flowers;[240] and, roughly speaking, his relations with Gwydion resembled those of Zeus with Heracles and Prometheus, except that Mâth was never guilty of the unscrupulous and cruel conduct not infrequently ascribed to Zeus. But, in fact, no negative praise of the kind could render justice to Mâth's good qualities, among which the Mabinogi enables one to recognize a calm and complete freedom from the feelings of jealousy and revenge, and a supreme regard—lacking in Merlin and the Mac Óc—for justice and right, leading him to punish the wrong-doer and indemnify the injured with a certainty of power and purpose no one durst oppose.[241] For various reasons it is not pretended that Mâth could compare with the Zeus of the Odyssey at his best; but he may be distinctly pronounced the highest ideal, as regards the sense of justice and equity, that can be associated with the heathen element in Welsh literature.

Since Celts and Teutons have been repeatedly compared with one another in these lectures, the subject of druidism may be supposed to offer an inviting occasion to do so once more; but the result proves in some measure not so much a similarity as a contrast, and that a contrast which may be said to maintain itself to a certain extent to this very day. The Celts had their druids to attend to religious matters and even a good deal more, while the Teutons had no such a highly developed order of men. It is true the Teutons had their priests and even their priestesses; but religious functions were, it may be supposed, not so exclusively discharged by them as by the druids among their neighbours. The Teutonic chiefs and kings could on occasion act also as priests. Take, for example, the Norsemen as late as the time of King Hacon in the tenth century: they had priests to charge of the temples, but any family or individual might have a high place for the gods, and at the great festivals he who made the feast and was chief had to hallow the toast and all the meat of the sacrifice,[242] a state of partial independence of a priestly order probably not to be found where the druid was in power among the Celts. The same comparative independence of the hierarchy of the Roman Church was no inconsiderable factor in bringing about the Protestant secession in Germany; while in England the King was always very sensitive in respect of any papal interference, and made himself in the person of the second Tudor formally the Head of the Church within the realm; so our Queen is at this moment declared supreme over all British courts, not only civil but ecclesiastical; and, acting through her Ministers, she appoints to the highest offices in the Church. That is the one side of the picture, with the Queen head of one of the two Churches recognized by the State; while the other side displays the Celt in a State of chronic revolt from both the State Churches, and in the attitude either of an adherent of the Church of Rome, as in Ireland, or of a dissenter, as in Cornwall, Wales and the Gaelic districts of Scotland.

Such a difference of temper is often regretted, but nobody can deny its existence; and whatever explanation details the history of many centuries has to offer, the contrast may be said to be as great now as it was in the time of Julius Caesar. But evident as is its persistence, its origin is by no means easy to define. On the one hand, it may be said that the Celts, who delivered religious matters over to their druids, that is, to their magicians and medicine-men acting as priests, showed themselves proner to superstition and lent themselves more readily to spiritual thraldom; but, on the other hand, some of the modern students of institutions would probably tell us that a community where the chiefs discharged both civil and religious functions was on a lower level of civilization and culture than one in which they belonged respectively to different persons. This might be said doubtless to apply to the Celts and the Teutons of Caesar's time, since the former were more advanced in culture than the latter, owing, if to nothing else, to their standing in closer connection with the centres of Mediterranean civilization. In ancient Rome, the differentiation alluded to was greatly advanced by the abolition of the office of king and the transference of his civil functions to the consuls, his religious duties being left to one who continued to be called king, that is to say, the Rex Sacrorum. The Teutonic nations might, perhaps, have in their own way and their own time effected a complete differentiation of state and religion; but the fact that they have not gone further than they have in that direction, would seem to be somehow connected with the state of political development they had reached when their institutions came under the influence of Christianity; and their comparative independence of a priesthood having been then, as it were, stereotyped, may be taken as the historical antecedent of the wholesome intolerance they have on many subsequent occasions evinced in the matter of priestly rule.

This manner of reasoning would, however, presuppose Celts and Teutons to be of the same race, which would be doubtless true of their common origin in so far as they are both Aryan; but both families may be supposed to have largely absorbed other elements and thereby become more or less mixed. Such is doubtless the case with South Germany, where the bulk of the population still adhere to the Church of Rome, and such it is in most Celtic lands; nor is it irrelevant to note that druidism would seem to have been most powerful in those districts where a pre-Celtic population may naturally be conjectured to have survived in the greatest numbers, namely, in the west of Gaul, in the west of Britain, and in Ireland. That could not, however, afford an adequate foundation for the sweeping generalizations often made with regard to the Celts of the present day, that, as compared with nations of the Teutonic stock, they are naturally and essentially superstitious and fanatic, only fit to be ridden by priest or preacher, even where the parson has just been thrown off. Such a belief may prove as unfounded as another lately shattered, namely, that our Celts were incapable of advance in their political ideas; for it has come to this, that they are now hated of Jute and Saxon for entertaining views which Jute and Saxon, rightly or wrongly, hold to be too advanced. In matters of religion and dogma, a Celt can undoubtedly go, for better or for worse, as far as a Teuton: witness the case of the ancient Brythonic heresiarch, Morien,[243] better known as Pelagius, and that of the Gallic Celt Voltaire, one of the founders of freedom of thought and of the forerunners of the Revolution in France; or, to come to our own day, take that of Renan, than whom no one can be said to write with wider sympathies and more fascination of frankness as regards matters of religion and theology, whatever you may think of the correctness of his views, or be found to dwell with more fondness on his Celtic origin and Breton boyhood.

These are after all, you might say, but individual cases, which is not to be denied. But I could, if time allowed, produce a larger though humbler witness from my native county of Cardigan: I allude to a small community which has been in existence there for the last century and a quarter or more. There in an agricultural tract between the rivers Aeron and Teivi, the ordinary beliefs of Trinitarian Christians have passed into those known as Unitarian. Now it is believed by the inhabitants of the country round this Black Spot, as they call it, that Unitarian theology can have no attraction for the religious mind: still that theology has deeply and firmly taken root there. The Black Spot is a quiet rural district without a town or even a village of any large size. The small farmers and farm-labourers of Llandyssul, thoughtful and intelligent men as they are, cannot in any sense be reckoned Renans or Voltaires; and the question inevitably thrusts itself upon us, why should a creed believed to have no charm for the mass of men, and views verging, if I am not mistaken, on extreme scepticism, exercise a decided sway over their minds? Let those answer who believe the Celt essentially a superstitious fanatic. Of the merits or demerits of Unitarianism I say of course nothing, lest the Calvinism of my early training should prove to have made me incapable of forming an impartial estimate; and I need scarcely add, that I am quite willing to leave the conflict of the creeds to be decided by the inexorable logic of natural selection, feeling confident, as I do, that the fittest of them and best calculated to meet the wants of man will survive.

It is right, however, to say that we are not compelled to account for the fact, that druidism seems to have been most flourishing in the western parts of the Celtic world of Caesar's time, wholly by postulating a mixture of race to which it may have been more congenial than to the thoroughbred Aryan Celt: the explanation may partly be, that in the more progressive parts of southern Gaul, the neighbourhood of the Rhone and the Roman province, the palmy days of druidism were even then over. In Ireland, for instance, druidism and the kingship went hand in hand; nor is it improbable that it was the same in Gaul, so that when the one fell, the other suffered to some extent likewise. It would thus seem probable that druidism had here and there begun to lose a good deal of its power and influence during the revolutions, which had resulted in the abolition of the ancient kingship in most of the more important Gaulish communities mentioned by Caesar. This would be the political side of the question; but it had also a more purely religious aspect, and there was a cause at work the action of which cannot have tended to the greater glory of druidism: I allude to the change which must have come over Gaulish paganism some time or other, and the outward effect of which was to make the Gaulish Mercury or culture-god practically the head and chief of the Gaulish pantheon. Here, again, it is worth the while to compare Celts and Teutons together: in the next lecture it will be attempted to show that the Teutonic counterpart of the Gaulish Mercury and culture-god was Woden; and it is interesting to find that in this matter both families of nations, as represented by the Gauls and the Norsemen respectively, proceeded on the same lines, in that they made the culture hero paramount over the old gods. Even in the far east, the same thing is to be noticed in the case of Indra becoming the head of the Hindu pantheon, and, as it is put in the Rig Veda, sending the other gods away like (shrivelled-up) old men.[244] It is gratifying to come upon such traces of progress in the theology of our early ancestors, whether Celts or Teutons; and still more so to think that in the practice of their heathen religion it meant the establishment, probably, of a milder worship, making in some small degree for humanity and greater regard for human life. The older cult of the divinity that was par excellence the god of druidism, with its direst horrors, would probably have left in the hands of the druids despotic power, which the spread of the worship of the Culture hero or Man-god may be supposed to have indirectly tended to lessen. That is, however, but an inference, and the data only amount to negative evidence to the effect, that the sacrifice of human victims to the Gaulish Mercury is unknown, while the contrary is the case as regards the older divinities, Teutates, Esus and Taranis. This would seem likewise to apply to the Scandinavian Woden, as contrasted with the more old-fashioned god Thor:[245] the former, we are told in one of the Eddic poems, owned all the gentlefolk that fall in fight, but Thor the thrall-kind, which would seem to refer to an ancient custom of sacrificing thralls on Thor's altar.[246] This last is described in a well-known passage which speaks of a place called Thorsness; and, in its allusion to the blood, it reminds one of the Snowdonian stone called the Red Altar. "There," says the writer, "is still to be seen the doom-ring wherein men were doomed to sacrifice. Inside the ring stands Thor's stone, whereon those men, who were kept for the sacrifice, had their backs broken, and the blood is still to be seen on the stone."[247] As to Woden, those who fell in battle were regarded as belonging to him, but it may be doubted that men were sacrificed by the Old Norsemen to him in the literal and ceremonial sense in which they were to Thor.

Were one inclined to draw a parallel in the spirit of Casaubon or Bishops Lowth and Horsley, one might point to the rise of the figure of the Man-god in Celtic and Teutonic heathendom, as helping to introduce a cult less given to the shedding of human blood than that which went before; and with it one might compare the worship of a very different kind of Man-god who abolished for Christians all the blood sacrifices in which the Jewish religion, like most other ancient cults, took no small delight in spite of the reforming voice of an Isaiah. It is better, however, to abide on the safer ground of confronting one Aryan religion with another; and in this instance one may contrast the direction which progress took in the theology of our ancestors with that which it followed in Greece and Italy, where Zeus or Jove, etherealized and expanded like his namesake the heavens, was able to hold his own, though it must be confessed that he came near having a formidable rival, not in any one of the older divinities, but in Heracles, a god whom Greek theology regarded as by birth a mortal. In this matter at least, Celts, Teutons and Hindus take a respectable position in the comparison with Greeks and Romans, when, unlike the latter, some of them proceeded to raise to the highest seat in their pantheon the representative of the intellectual aspect of man's nature, and the exponent, however narrow and inadequate, of the striving of human reason to conquer all things and surmount all difficulties by dint of genius and persistent effort.

NotesEdit

  1. Hibbert Lectures, i. 211.
  2. Biographical Essays, pp. 162-3, &c.
  3. Primitive Culture, ii. 261.
  4. Lectures on Welsh Philology, p. 10.
  5. Andrew Lang, Custom and Myth, pp. 23, 44, 45, &c.
  6. Hesiod, Theogonia, 166—192; Apollodorus' Bibliotheca in Westermann's Mythograpi, i. 1, 1.
  7. Lang, p. 50; Pauthier, Livres sacrés de l'Orient (Paris, 1852), p. 19.
  8. Lang, pp. 45-6, who gives as his authorities Taylor's New Zealand, pp. 118—121, where the story is given with more detail, and Bastian, Die heilihe Sage der Polynesier, pp. 36—39, adding that a crowd of similar myths, in one of which a serpent severs Heaven and Earth, are printed in Turner's Samoa: see more especially pp. 198, 292, 300.
  9. Tylor's Prim. Cult. i. 284—292, et passim.
  10. Muir's Sanskrit Texts, v. 23.
  11. Corpus Poet. Bor. i. 64.
  12. Corpus Poet. Bor. i. 220—225. The giant's name is sometimes treated as Ymi, but its identity with Hymi can scarcely be doubted: see ii. 469, where Hymis hauss and Ymis hauss are given; also the editors' remarks, p. 468, i. 219, and Hymiss meyjar, p. 106.
  13. These numbered articles are chiefly meant for reference, so the general reader may pass them by and resume his perusal at p. 118.
  14. The Old Welsh diu, in Cormac's Glossary and in the Juvencus Codex (see Stokes in Kuhn's Beitræge, iv. 407), only differs probably in spelling from duw, which is written duu and duv in the Black Book, while the word for day, cited in No. 2, occurs as dyv in Dyv Merchir, 'on Wednesday,' and Dyv Ieu, 'on Thursday' (Skene, ii. 16). The diphthong uw in duw is probably to be compared with that in uwd, 'porridge,' Breton iôt, Irish íth, all of the same origin as the Latin jûs, 'broth,' Skr. yu, yauti, 'draws, harnesses, connects or mixes,' Lith. jauti, 'aquam fervidam supra infundere,' Lett. jaút, 'to stir dough or soup.'
  15. Of these, and déi are also unfortunately forms of the genitive of the masculine dia, 'god.'
  16. Études, p. 8.
  17. Ib. p. 93.
  18. Corpus Poet. Bor. i. 50, 79.
  19. Corpus Poet Bor. i. 253, ii. 462.
  20. Ib. ii. 75, 462.
  21. Ib. i. 262.
  22. Ib. ii. 17, 464.
  23. Bk. of the Dun, 16b.
  24. Compare Caesar's words, vi. 18.
  25. See Apollodorus, i. 6, 3.
  26. O'Curry's Magh Leana, pp. 2—5, also p. xxii.
  27. The Four Masters, A.M. 3304, 4238.
  28. Bk. of Leinster, 191a; MS. (formerly Lord Ashburnham's) D. iv. 2, in the library of the Royal Ir. Academy, fol. 81d; Book of Rights, p. 9, ed.'s note.
  29. For instance, the verb nigim, 'lavo,' negar, 'lavitur,' and other forms (see Stokes' Goidelica, p. 133) of the same origin as the Greek νίζω, 'lavo,' and the A.-Saxon nicor, 'a water-monster,' Mod. Eng. Nick, Ger. Nix, 'the water-spirit.'
  30. Gwawl is the name of a solar hero in the Welsh Mabinogi which is called after Manawyᵭan, son of Llyr: see R. B. Mabinogion, pp. 12—16, 57.
  31. In a note to his text of an ancient poem containing an allusion in point, MS. Mat. pp. 480-1, where he has had printed Ath Finn Fáil, 'the fair (or white) Ford of Fál.' In inis find fáil (Bk. of Leinster, 8a) means 'in the fair Island of Fál,' but were one to read Findfáil, it would be 'in the Island of Finnfál.'
  32. Bk. of the Dun, p. 131, where Fáil is once written fail and once fáil, but to assonate both times with máir, 'magni.' The passages will be found in Windisch's Irische Texte, pp. 132-3, and in O'Curry, iij. 191.
  33. The whole has been described in a volume entitled, Roman Antiquities at Lydney Park, Gloucestershire, being a posthumous work of the Rev. William Hiley Bathurst, M.A., with Notes by C. W. King, M.A. (London, 1879), pp. vii, 127, cr. octavo, with numerous plates.
  34. Nos. 137—141: see also a paper by the same scholar on the Sanctuary of Nodens in the Jahrbuch des Vereins für Alterthumsforschung im Rheinlande, lxvii. pp. 29—46.
  35. I visited Lydney a few years ago, but I could not see the mosaic floor; and unfortunately the inscriptions I was anxious to examine happened to be locked up in a glass-case.
  36. King, pp. 22-3, 39, 40, and passim; also plates viii, xiii.
  37. i. 8 = ii. 32 = iii. 30.
  38. iii. 85.
  39. Nodens looks like a participle belonging to a strong or primitive verb, but no verb that would satisfy the conditions happens to be known to me in Celtic; the Teutonic languages, however, supply one, as will be at once recognized in the German ge-niessen, ge-noss, ge-nossen, 'to eat, drink, enjoy, or have the use of,' Gothic niutan, naut, nutum, of much the same meaning, as was the case also with the Anglo-Saxon neótan and the Norse njóta; and among the related nouns may be mentioned the Norse naut, 'a head of cattle, a horned beast,' English neat, of the same meaning; also German nütze, 'use;' while outside the area of the Teutonic languages we have a Lithuanian naudà, meaning use, profit, proceeds, harvest, possessions or property generally.
  40. Parthey's ed. pp. 50-1.
  41. Preller in Pauly's Real-Encycl. s. v. Jupiter (Vol. iv. 588).
  42. Preller's Gr. Mythol. (third ed.) i. 117.
  43. Ib. i. 123, note 5.
  44. Ib. i. 126.
  45. Pauly, iv. 588.
  46. Preller's Gr. Myth. i. 111-12.
  47. The Bk of Ballymote, quoted by O'Curry in his Manners, &c., ij. 18.
  48. O'Curry, ibid.
  49. The Book of Acaill, forming Vol. iij. of the Senchus Mor; see also O'Curry, ij. 27.
  50. O'Curry, ij. 139-40.
  51. The Bk. of the Dun, 53b, 54a.
  52. Bk. of the Dun, 50b.
  53. O'Curry, from the Bk. of Ballymote, ij. 18.
  54. See passim, The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Grainne, now available in an excellent edition published by the Soc. for the Preserv. of the Ir. Language (Dublin, 1881).
  55. The oldest version is given in the Bk. of the Dun, 83a—99a, but it is incomplete.
  56. Bk. of the Dun, 84b.
  57. This part of the story and what immediately follows will be found summarized in O'Curry's MS. Mat. p. 275, &c. See also the original, printed (from the Bk. of Leinster, 123b—124b) with a literal translation, pp. 636—643.
  58. It is right, however, to say that an Ailill Find, 'Ailill the White or Fair,' belongs to the opposite race, as his wife Flidais is carried away by Fergus, at the end of a series of tragic events forming the subject of a well-known story introductory to the epic tale of the Táin, of which more anon. See the Bk. of Leinster, 247a—248a; also O'Curry's Manners, &c., iii. 338-9.
  59. O'Curry's Manners, &c., ij. 290-1; but see also the Bk. of Leinster, 124b, 125a, where the story differs considerably from the version given by O'Curry from another source.
  60. O'Curry, ib. p. 290.
  61. Bk. of Leinster, 125a.
  62. Windisch's Ir. Texte, pp. 255, 258, 259, et passim.
  63. O'Curry's MS. Mat. p. 483.
  64. Bk. of Leinster, 106b. This Fergus is, mythologically speaking, to be identified probably with the Black-toothed Fergus of the story of Cormac: see p. 134.
  65. Ib. 102b.
  66. Fergus was son of Ross the Red, who was the father of Fachtna Fathach, said to be the father of Conchobar: see Bk. of Leinster, 97b, 102b; also O'Curry, p. 483.
  67. Bk. of Rights, p. 21, O'Donovan's note.
  68. O'Curry's MS. Mat. p. 269.
  69. It is called in Irish Táin Bó Cúailnge, or simply in Táin, literally 'the Driving' away of the cattle in question. The fragment of the tale in the Bk. of the Dun occupies fol. 55a—82b, and in the Bk. of Leinster it takes up much more space, namely, fol. 53b—104b, but neither is that complete. For references to other manuscripts of it, analyses and abstracts, see M. d'Arbois de Jubainville's Essai d'un Catalogue de la Littérature épique de l'Irlande (Paris, 1883), pp. 214—216.
  70. For an account of this strange custom, see Tylor's Researches into the Early History of Mankind, pp. 289—297.
  71. Bk. of the Dun, 128b; Windisch's Irische Texte, p. 139.
  72. Bk. of the Dun, 59a.
  73. It will be found in O'Curry's MS. Mat. pp. 45-6, 383, and in his Manners, &c., iij. 316.
  74. Bk. of the Dun, 128b; also 124a, where the Irish word occurs abbreviated in the MS. to each, first explained by Zimrner in his Keltische Studien (Berlin, 1881), i. 38-9.
  75. Durthacht, for which Dairthechta also occurs (see Windisch, s. v.), is probably of the same origin as the reduplicate doruthethaig, 'deperdidit,' Gram. Celt. p. 448 (incorrectly rendered celebravit at p. 351), and Stokes' Goidelica, pp. 4, 14; so that Mac Durthacht would seem to have had much the same meaning as the name of another character of the same class: I mean Mac Cuill, 'Son of Perdition or Destruction.'
  76. Bk. of the Dun, 59b, 60a.
  77. Bk. of Leinster, 114a; Windisch's Irische Texte, p. 106; and O'Curry's Manners, iij. 372.
  78. This looks as if Ferloga, though called Ailill's charioteer, should be a sun-god; and the name Fer-loga meaning the 'Man of Lug or lug,' a word to be discussed later, would seem to point in the same direction.
  79. Four Masters, A. M. 5192.
  80. The Four Masters had not the courage to make Conchobar mac Nessa a historical character, but they call the other Conchobar the son of Finn File, 'Finn the Poet or Seer' (A. M. 5192), in whom we seem to have the same son of Ross the Red that is called Fachtna the Poetic, as the reputed father of Conchobar mac Nessa.
  81. Bk. of Leinster, 123b, where Cúchulainn is called mc dea dechtiri, 'of (the) son of (the) goddess Dechtire.'
  82. Bk. of the Dun, 101b; Fled Bricrenn, in Windisch's Ir. Texte, p. 259.
  83. Here, as elsewhere, there is some difficulty as to which form of the name to choose: the modern Irish spelling is Aonghus, while Aengus is older; but older still is Oengus, while Oingus, or Oinguss, would be the oldest to be found in manuscripts.
  84. Boann, also Boand, genitive Boinne or Boinde, was the name of the lady pursued by the Boyne: see p. 123.
  85. In Irish Oengus mac ind Óc, or merely Mac ind Óc, a name which probably belonged to a lost pedigree of the god, differing from the one ordinarily given.
  86. See the British Museum MS. Harl. 5280, fol. 66b; also Dr. Sullivan's introductory volume to O'Curry's Manners, &c., pp. dcxxxix, dcxl.
  87. Bk. of the Dun, p. 129; Windisch, pp. 130—132.
  88. The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Grainne, already alluded to: see note, p. 135.
  89. See the Bk. of Leinster, pp. 246b, 247a. According to a story summarized from the Bk. of Fermoy by Dr. Todd in the R. Irish Academy's Irish MSS. Series, i. 46, the dispossessed owner was not the Dagda but Elcmar, foster-father to the Mac Óc, who expelled him with the aid of the magic arts of Manannán mac Lir. See also M. d'A. de Jubainville's Cycle Mythol. pp. 276—282.
  90. Four Masters, A. M. 3500, & ed.'s note, p. 22.
  91. Ib. A.D. 861, & ed.'s notes.
  92. Ib. A. M. 3450, & note; Petrie's Round Towers of Ireland, in the Transactions of the R. Irish Academy, xx. 100-1; also O'Curry, iij. 122, 362. It may here be explained, that the word brugh, in older spelling brug or brud, is usually translated a 'palace.' The one in question was on the Boyne, at Broad-Boyne Bridge, near Slane, in the county of Meath.
  93. It was here helped by confounding brug, as applied to the Mac Óc's 'house' (Bk. of the Dun, bib), with some form of bruig, for an earlier mruig (see Windisch, s. v.) of the same origin as the English Marches, Ger. mark, Welsh bro, 'a land or district,' Gaulish Allobroges (p. 5).
  94. Bk. of Leinster, 246a.
  95. O'Curry's Manners, &c., ij. 122, iij. 5, 74, 122; and there appears to have been a tale, now unknown, about the Destruction of Dún Oengusa (in modern Irish Dún Aonghuis), the Fortress of Aengus: see M. d'A. de Jubainville's Essai d'un Catalogue, p. 244.
  96. Bk. of Lecan, fol. 233a, b, quoted by O'Curry, iij. 122.
  97. Some more references to Aengus and the other sons of Umór will be found in O'Donovan's note to the Four Masters, A.D. 1599 (p. 2104), and O'Curry's Battle of Magh Leana, p. 157.
  98. O'Curry, p. 478.
  99. San-Marte, Gildas et Nennius, pp. 53—55.
  100. Geoffrey's Historia Regum Britanniae, ed. San-Marte, pp. 78-9, &c.
  101. Such as Geoffrey's, pp. 90—101.
  102. San-Marte, in his Gildas et Nennius, p. 55, adopts the reading Guunnesi, but there are diverse others all consistent with an original Guennuessi, which may also have had the shortened form Gunnuessi.
  103. Compare the use of gwas in speaking of an abode or mansion in Heaven in the Bk. of Taliessin, Skene, ij. 110; see also p. 11 above. Probably the Gwysmeuryc of the Welsh version of Geoffrey, ij. 194b, derives its gwys from a very different origin, as the Latin version has Westimaria, p. 57, and Westmarialanda, p. 66.
  104. The Triads, i. 53, 77, ii. 58, iii. 102: see also San-Marte's Geoffrey, p. 253, note.
  105. Ib. i. 40, ii. 5.
  106. Gwasgwyn also meant in Welsh a kind of horse for which Gascony was formerly famous.
  107. For Dagda the decompounded Dagan also occurs: see the Bk. of Leinster, 245b.
  108. The form Rowen, or Rowenna, was obtained by a very easy misreading of Rōuenn, or Ronuenn, Geoffrey, pp. 84, 86.
  109. Triads, iij. 10.
  110. The Brython for 1860, pp. 372-3; the Greal (London, 1805), p. 188.
  111. Enumerated in the Brython, loc. cit.; also in Guest's Mab. ij. 354.
  112. Ieuan Dyfi, quoted by Morris in his Celtic Remains, s. v. Enỻi, p. 170, where the author gravely disposes of the great enchanter as follows: 'This house of glass, it seems, was the museum where they kept their curiosities to be seen by everybody, but not handled; and it is probable Myrddin, who is said to live in it, was the keeper of their museum at that time.'
  113. See the Early English Text Society's edition of Merlin (1865—1869), pp. 680-1; and Southey's Introd. to his ed. of Kyng Arthur, &c. (London, 1817), pp. xlv—xlviij, quoted in Guest's Mab. i. 216—218.
  114. E. Eng. T. Society's Merlin, pp. 692-3; Southey's Introd. p. xlviij.
  115. Southey's notes to his Kyng Arthur, ij. 463—468; Guest, i. 219.
  116. Red Book of Hergest, see Skene, ij. 234, and i. 462—478 et seq.
  117. Southey's Introd. p. xlviij, where he refers to Anne Plumptre as his authority. He meant, I find, her Narrative of a Three Years' Residence in France, &c. (London, 1810), iij. 187.
  118. Is it possible that we owe Merlin's name or surname of Ambrusius to some pedant who had Merlin's divinity in view?
  119. Orlando Furioso, canto iij. 11; Guest, i. 219.
  120. Merlin, p. 693.
  121. The Brython for 1861, p. 341, mentions an Anglesey legend, recorded by Lewis Morris, which represented Merlin living in a wild spot in a forest, with his sister keeping house for him. He was a great magician, but whoever wished to consult him must offer him drink, as he never remained any time in the same place without drink. What the interpretation of this curious statement may be, I know not for certain; but compare the libation funnel in the floor of the temple of Nodens.
  122. Geographia, ed. C. Müller (Paris, 1883), lib. ij. cap. 3, 12 (i. p. 101). As the name of another town south or east of the Severn sea, it reads in the Antonine Itinerary Moriduno and Mariduno, and Parthey prints Muriduno: see his ed. pp. 231, 234.
  123. As a parallel to Muridûnjos shortened into 'Myrᵭin,' I may mention the Gaulish τοουτιους (p. 46), which we have in Welsh in the epithet of Morgant Tud in the romance of Gereint and Enid (R. B. Mab. pp. 261, 286-7). Morgant was the great physician of Arthur's court; can tud have originally meant a public leech or the medicine man of the state?
  124. See my Fairy Tales in the Cymmrodor, vi. 162-3. In Arvon the mythic name Elen becomes, according to rule, Elan; while the ordinary name Ellen, much used in Wales, is pronounced in Arvon Elin, whenever E'linor, of which it is a shortened form, is not preferred.
  125. Howel is the colloquial pronunciation of what would, in book-Welsh, be Hywel: compare the note on Owein, p. 63.
  126. R. B. Mab. pp. 82—92; Guest, iij. 276—290; but I have also made use of a copy by Mr. J. Gwenogvryn Evans of the fragment in the Hengwrt MS. numbered 54.
  127. i. 40 = ij. 5.
  128. See Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (London, 1881), iij. 358—362. Gibbon is seldom detected napping, but I cannot help finding somewhat too much of the myth in his statement about Maximus (p. 360), that 'the youth of the island crowded to his standard, and he invaded Gaul with a fleet and army which were long afterwards remembered as the emigration of a considerable part of the British nation.'
  129. The British Museum MS. Harl. 3859, fol. 193b: see also the Annales Cambriæ, Preface, p. x.
  130. Our charlatans pretend, of course, that it is Helen and not Elen. At Carnarvon the Helen mania is so acute, that a place not far off, called Coed Alun ever since the 14th century (R. B. Mab. p. 63), runs the risk of having its name permanently transmogrified into Coed Helen.
  131. See Nennius and Gildas, § 27 (p. 44), where our Maxen is called Maximianus, while Maximus is the name given his predecessor. There is considerable confusion as to these names, and the shortened form Maxen points, though somewhat irregularly, to a Maxentius as its starting-point; but in the Nennian Genealogy I have just referred to, I read the MS. abbreviation as Maxim, which points unmistakably to a Maximus. But neither Maxen nor Maxim, be it noticed, is to be treated as a genuine Welsh form: both come from pedants and are faulty in point of phonology.
  132. One of the tarns on Snowdon, several of which have very uncanny associations, is called Llyn Llydaw, or the Lake of Llydaw. What can the meaning of the name have been?
  133. Published in the Rev. Celtique, iii. 342—350, from the Egerton MS. 1782 at the British Museum, by Dr. Ed. Müller. See also M. d'A. de Jubainville's Cycle Myth. pp. 282-9.
  134. The italics and the parentheses are O'Curry's, whose rendering, though not quite accurate or without one 'bull,' will do for my purpose: see his MS. Materials, pp. 426-7, 632-3, and the original in the Lebar Brecc or Speckled Book, fol. 242b: the reference is to the lithographed facsimile published by the R. Irish Academy, Dublin, 1876. See also the Bk. of Leinster, 169a.
  135. The original means 'every second year.'
  136. See Windisch, pp. 136-7, 143-4, 207.
  137. I take the following from the MS. of a Welsh essay on the folk-lore of Carnarvonshire, written by Mr. E. Lloyd Jones, of Dinorwig, for a competition at the Eisteᵭvod held at Carnarvon in August, 1880, and printed since in the American newspaper called the Drych: 'It was an evil omen,' he says, 'to see geese on a lake at night; those likewise must be witches, and especially in case the time was the first Thursday night of the lunar month.' My wife has also a distinct recollection of the same belief prevailing in Arvon when she was a child, and of the importance attached to the first Thursday night (of the moon). This is all the more deserving of mention, perhaps, as Thursday is in Welsh 'Dyᵭ Iau,' that is to say Jeudi, or Jove's Day.
  138. Études, pp. 88—90, 93.
  139. Turner's Samoa, p. 331.
  140. See Fotha Catha Cnucha in the Rev. Celt. ij. 89; Bk. of the Dun, 42a.
  141. R. B. Mab. p. 106: Lady Charlotte Guest's edition omits these two Gwyns both in the text and the translation: see ij. 205, 259.
  142. R. B. Mab. p. 107; Guest, ij. 261.
  143. R. B. Mab. p. 106 ; Guest, ij. 259.
  144. R. B. Mab. p. 110; Guest, ij. 265. The MS. reads fflendor.
  145. R. B. Mab. p. 107; Guest, ij. 259: the MS. has naỼ, while the other, R. B. Mab. p. 110, is naf.
  146. R. B. Mab. p. 108; Guest, ij. 262.
  147. Bk. of Taliessin, xlviij.: see Skene, ij. 203.
  148. Teubner's Pausanias (ed. Schubart), ij. 153 (Arcadica, viij. 38, 7).
  149. Teubner's Pausanias, ij. 152 (Arcadica, viij. 38, 4); Preller's Gr. Myth.3 i. 100-2.
  150. Huon de Mery (ed. Tarbé, Rheims, 1851), pp. 126-7, quoted in Guest's Mab. i. 220.
  151. Guest's Mab. note, i. 219—224.
  152. R. B. Mab. pp. 167-9, 171-2; Guest, i. 47-9, 53-4.
  153. The Brython for 1859, p. 88; Guest's Mab. note, i. 226; The Greal for 1805, p. 285, whero an authority is quoted from the year 1721.
  154. Guest's Mab. note, i. 220.
  155. Ib. i. 225, where Lady Ch. Guest quotes from Villemarqué's charming account of his Visite an Tombeau de Merlin, in the Revue de Paris, Vol. xli. pp. 47—58.
  156. Old Celtic Romances, translated from the Gaelic (London, 1879), pp. 246—259, 266.
  157. The word gruagach is usually supposed to mean a long-haired creature, and it is commonly applied to a giant or any kind of uncanny fellow, for instance, in the stories in Campbell's Popular Tales of the West Highlands; but it is also employed of a female: see Campbell, i. 23-4.
  158. R. B. Mab. pp. 1—7; Guest, i. 37—16.
  159. The Stokes-O'Donovan edition, p. 7.
  160. Sans-Marte's ed. pp. 108-9, 361.
  161. Four Masters, A.C. 507, editor's note.
  162. Topographia Hiberniæ, Dist. iij. c. 4. Giraldus himself recognized no connection between the stone and the Giants' Choir: in fact, he speaks in another passage, Dist. ij. c. 18, of the latter and the story about Merlin removing it to this country, and states that it was in Kildarensi planitie, non procul a castro Nasensi, where one might see it in his day. To me, however, the two stories appear to have been originally one, the error having arisen from the place-names Killare and Kildare.
  163. See Cambrensis Eversus (Dublin, 1848), editor's note, i. 416.
  164. Acta Sanctorum, March 17, Vol. ij. p. 561.
  165. Iolo MSS. pp. 83, 473.
  166. The version here chiefly referred to is that to he found in the Bibliotheca of Diodorus Siculus, ij. cap. 47, where Hecatæus of Abdera is quoted as one of the writer's authorities. See also Elton's Origins of English History, pp. 88-9, 426.
  167. De Chorographia, ed. Parthey, iij. cap. 6. The best MSS. read Gallizenas vocant, which one is tempted to emendate into Galli Senas vocant; but it is open to doubt.
  168. The readings of this name vary: Meineke in his edition of Strabo, iv. 4, 6, reads τὰς τῶν Σαμνιτῶν γυναῖκας; while Dionysius Periegetes, Orbis Descriptio (Müλler's Geog. Gr. Minores, ij. 140), line 571, has ἀγαυῶν Ἀμνιτάων; but it is highly probable that the people meant were those whom Caesar, iij. 9, calls Namnites.
  169. See Vigfusson and Powell's Sigfred-Arminius, &c. (Oxford, 1886), pp. 28—36.
  170. Ib. p. 32.
  171. Corpus Poet. Bor. i. 121.
  172. Sigfred-Arminius, &c. p. 33.
  173. For some Welsh ideas about mermaids, see my Fairy Tales in the Cymmrodor, v. 86—92, 119.
  174. My nurse belonged to one of these families, and was supposed to possess its hereditary characteristics; but in my boyhood few people of my acquaintance in Cardiganshire believed in this superstition: it was only a sort of joke. There is, however, a valley in the neighbourhood of Snowdon, whither I have been warned not to go to question the inhabitants on the subject of witch-hares. For certain other superstitions about the hare, see Elton, pp. 297-8, and Pennant's Tours in Wales (Carnarvon, 1883), iij. 164.
  175. Bell. Gall. v. 12.
  176. Historia Romana (Tauchnitz ed.), lxij. Nero, 6, 6.
  177. On the difficulties of identifying this name with the modern Welsh Andras, pronounced Andros in Arvon and Anglesey, see the Rev. D. Silvan Evans's Dictionary of the Welsh Language, s. v. Andras and Anras.
  178. The translation is by Dr. Whitley Stokes in the Rev. Celt. i. 260; another version will be found in O'Curry's MS. Materials, pp. 538-9; and a variety of references are given by M. d'A. de Jubainville in his Cycle, pp. 106-8.
  179. For references to Colgan and others with regard to the ancient authors of lives of St. Patrick, see T. Duffus Hardy's Descriptive Catalogue (Rolls edition, 1862), I. i. pp. 64-5.
  180. Fol. 213b of the facsimile.
  181. O'Conor's Bibliotheca Manuscripta Stowensis (Buckingham, 1818), i. 40-1, and his Rerum Hibernicarum Scriptores (Buckingham, 1814), Vol. I. (proleg. i.) pp. xxii, xxiii; also the Four Masters, A.M. 3656, note by O'Donovan; and M. d'Arbois de Jubainville, loc. cit.
  182. Four Masters, ibid.
  183. Four Masters, ibid.
  184. Domhnach has also become the regular word for Sunday, that is Dies Dominicus, 'the Lord's Day,' French Dimanche.
  185. No less than twenty such figure in the index to The Martyrology of Donegal (Dublin, 1864).
  186. This would in its turn admit of two translations, according as one took pen to mean the top or end (in the physical sense) of the mound, or else the top, in the metaphorical sense of head or chief; and so far as I know, Pen Crûg or Pencrug as a modern Welsh place-name means nothing more than the Top of the Mound, the Mound's End, or the like.
  187. This compound is like Vassoccaleti (see note, p. 12), except that the qualifying element is a genitive and not an adjective; but this way of compounding words would seem to have fallen early out of fashion both in Welsh and in Irish, where we should otherwise have had Cenn Chruaich, and not Cenn Cruaich. Neta(-Ttrenalugos) has been mentioned at p. 12, but considerable irregularity prevails with regard to its later equivalent, nom. nia, gen. niad, as, for instance, in the case of the name Cairbre Nia-fer, Cairbro Champion of Men; for the nominative nia is found used for the crude form, which should be niad: thus in two passages cited in O'Curry's MS. Mat. pp. 507, 513, Nia-fer has to be construed as a genitive, while the Bk. of Leinster, 161 b, has Nia-fer as a dative.
  188. Parthey and Tinder's edition, pp. 224, 368.
  189. Kemble's Codex Diplomaticus, No. lxxvi.
  190. The feature so called is said by Pennant to be partly natural and partly artificial: see his Tours in Wales (Carnarvon, 1883), i. 35-6.
  191. R. B. Mab. p. 8; Guest, iij. 46.
  192. The Irish term used in the story of Echaid Airem (Bk. of the Dun, p. 130b) is sosta, the plural of sossad, 'a station or scat;' but in the story of Conn about to be mentioned in the text, it is rí-ráith, 'a royal ráth or fortification;' for sometimes the ráths, as may still be seen in Ireland, consisted of earth heaped up over rooms previously formed, a kind of work which an outsider still fancies he can trace at Dover, and more fortresses than one on the Rhine.
  193. See O'Curry in his MS Mat. p. 618, quoting MS. Harl. 5280 (p. 119) in the British Museum.
  194. Irish Nennius (Dublin, 1848), pp. 200-1.
  195. O'Curry was not one of them: see his MS. Mat. p. 480.
  196. Keating's History of Ireland (Dublin, 1880), p. 7; Skene's Chron. of the Picts and Scots, pp. 196-7, 266, 280, 333, 335; O'Curry'a MS. Mat. pp. 618—621.
  197. Custom and Myth, p. 52; Pausanias, x. 24.
  198. O'Curry. MS. Mat. p. 479; Book of Rights (ed. O'Donovan), p. 56; Book of Fenagh (ed. Hennessy), pp. 322-3.
  199. The original is printed in the Iolo MSS. p. 50, from the manuscripts of Llewelyn Siôn, who died in the year 1616.
  200. Four of these versions are to be found in the Iolo MS. pp. 79, 80, 469-70, and the one breathing the purest pantheism is there ascribed to the ancient poet Talhaearn; it runs thus:

    'Oh God! grant strength;
    And from strength, discretion;
    And from discretion, knowledge;
    And from knowledge, the right;
    And from the right, the love of it;
    And from that love, love for all things;
    And in love for all things, the love of God.'

  201. O'Curry's MS. Mat. p. 618, where the ancient text calls him Lug mac Edlend mic [sic] Tighernmais. Edlend was his mother's name.
  202. O'Curry in his MS. Mat. pp. 385, 401-3, 423, speaks of it as a 'Rowing Wheel;' and at p. 428 he calls it also an 'Oar Wheel,' which is likewise correct enough, since rámach means 'provided with ráma,' which signified both oars and shovels or spades (the Cymmrodor, vij. 65; Senchus Mór, iij. 204, 210); and the reference implied in the adjective must have been to the paddles or float-boards of an undershot water-wheel.
  203. O'Curry, MS. Mat. pp. 402-3; Irish Nennius, pp. 264-5 (also editor's note with references to Duald Mac Firbia'a MS. in the Lib. of the Royal Irish Academy, and to the Bk. of Lecan, fol. 133); Stokes-O'Donovan ed. of Cormac, p. 74.
  204. O'Curry, MS Mat. pp. 402-3.
  205. O'Curry, loc. cit.
  206. See the Stokes-O'Donovan ed. of Cormac, p. 74, and Stokes' Old Irish Glossaries, p. 20, where the passage, which is partly Latin and partly Irish, reads: 'Item Mog Ruith peribit quod Roth Fáil perveniet dicens cori Durluis find iar Foi . i. iar Cnámchaill.' Here dicens refers to the sentence beginning with peribit, which is used in Irish fashion for periturum esse, and the whole is introduced as an instance of the occurrence of the name Foi. I translate accordingly: 'Also Mog Ruith saying, that it (he or she) will perish because Roth Fáil will come to the king of fair Durlas [Thurles] west of Foi, that is, west of Cnámchoill.' The place called Thurles is not west of Cleghile, though the king of Thurles may at any given time have been; Durlas was, however, not an uncommon place-name, so it is not certain that the one now called Thurles was intended.
  207. Haddan and Stubbs, Councils, &c. i. 112, 113; Reeves, Adamnan's Vita Columbæ, note, p. 350; Stokes's Goidelica (London, 1872), pp. 86, 91; Rhys, Celtic Britain2 p. 74.
  208. Bk. of the Dun, p. 79a, where mention is made of a garment which had found its way to Ireland, though originally made by Simón Drúi for Dair [Darius?], king of the Romans; see Rhys, Celt Brit.2, p. 71, for reference to the name in the T. C. D. MS. (of O'Mulcoury's Glossary), H. 2, 16, col. 116; and Ir. Nennius, p. 266, for a reference to it in the R. Ir. Ac. MS. (of Duald Mac Firbis), p. 535, and the Bk. of Lecan, fol. 133.
  209. O'Curry, Manners, &c ij. 213.
  210. Bk. of the Dun, p. 16b; Keating's Hist. of Ireland, pp. 90-7.
  211. Melusine, ij. 134, 159; Gaidoz, Études, pp. 99, 100.
  212. Arnobius, ij. 12 (in Migne's Patrologia, v. 827-9); St. Ambrose, Hexaem. iv. 8 (Migne, xiv. 205); Maximus Taurinensis, Homil. lxxii. ci. (Migne, lvii. 405-6, 488-90); and for more authorities, see Herzog's Real-Encyklopädie, s.v. Simon, Vol. xiv. 252.
  213. O'Curry's Manners, &c. ii. 214, 215.
  214. Études, pp. 49, 68, & passim.
  215. Voigt's Geschichte Preussens (Berlin, 1S27). i. 599—614.
  216. Stokes-O'Don. s.v. Neit, p. 122.
  217. Nigra, Reliquie Celtiche, p. 19; Rhys, Celt. Britain, pp. 73, 262.
  218. Deutsche Myth4, i. 53—71.
  219. Voigt (quoting Schol. to Adam of Bremen, 233), i. 580.
  220. Corpus Poet. Bor. i. 79.
  221. Preller in Pauly's Real-Encykl. s.v. Jupiter, p. 590.
  222. Ib. p. 604.
  223. Overbeck's Kunstmyth, i. 4.
  224. Dissert, viij. (Reiske's ed. i. 142).
  225. Meineke's (Teubner) edition, xii. 5, 1 (Vol. ii. p. 796).
  226. Deutsche Myth4. i. 55 et seq.
  227. Voigt, i. 582.
  228. Ib. i. 143: see also iij. 64.
  229. For a comprehensive account of Parjanya, see an article by Bühler in Benfey's Orient und Occident, i. 214-29.
  230. Hist. Nat. xvi. 95; Diefenbach, p. 314.
  231. Preller in Pauly's Real-Encykl. s.v. Jupiter, iv. 601.
  232. Celtic Britain2, pp. 71-2.
  233. Book of the Dun, 61a, 61b; Book of Leinster, 64b—65b.
  234. Reeves' Adamnan's Vita S. Columbae, ij. 34 (pp. 148-50).
  235. See Reeves' note on Magi, ibid. pp. 73-4.
  236. Skene's Four Anc. Bks. of Wales, ij. 142 (i. 281), 147 (i. 269), 303 (i. 286), where Matheu should be Math Hen.
  237. R. B. Mab. p. 60; Guest, iij. 219.
  238. R. B. Mab. pp. 58—81; Guest, iij. 217-51.
  239. Triads, i. 32 = ij. 20 = iij. 90.
  240. R. B. Mab. p. 73; Guest, iij. 239.
  241. Ib. passim, but see more especially pp. 65, 67; Guest, iij. 227, 230.
  242. Vigfusson and Powell in the Corpus, i. 404, 407.
  243. The Welsh account of Morien as a heretic will be found in the Iolo MSS. pp. 42-3, 420-1. The oldest attested form of the name Morien is Morgen, which must have meant Sea-born or Offspring of the Sea, whence he was called Pelagius; but Morgen is not to be confused with the modern name Morgan, the old form of which was Morcant, though the error has the sanction of the translators of the Book of Common Prayer, who have made the 'Pelagians' of Article IX. into Morganiaid, or 'Morgans.'
  244. Max Müller's Hib. Lectures, p. 280.
  245. It is right, however, to note that with the ancient Germans human sacrifices to their Mercury were, according to Tacitus, not unusual; see his Germania, ix.
  246. Corpus Poet. Bor. i. 120. Criminals also of the worst kind were sacrificed to Thor: see the same work, i. 410.
  247. See the Eyrbyggia Saga, cited by Vigfusson and Powell in the Corpus, i. 409, where they call attention, by way of comparison, to the Blood-stones in the Fiji Islands.