The Four Branches of the Mabinogi: Celtic Myth and Medieval Reality

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Bardic Press, 2005 - Folklore - 694 pages
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"Written in the late twelfth century Wales, the four branches of the Mabinogi tells the story of the births, deaths and marriages among the warrior aristocracy, on the horizon of historical memory in the last generations of the pre-Roman foretime. The quarrels, affairs and fateful interactions of these flamboyant ancestral beings were recollected not merely as history and narrative entertainment, but also as a prophetic commentary on the medieval present, holding up a mirror to the troubled and violent world of their twelfth century descendants. In this study medievalist Will Parker offers a new translation of this work along with an extensive review of the roots of this tradition in pre-Christian myth and tribal history. But of equal importance is the dynastic machinations of the native Welsh princes, whose fascinating Celtic-speaking culture represents an overlooked aspect of our island's story. By exploring the cultural context of Welsh dynastic politics and native bardic learning, we are able to decode the distinctive view of life, death and human nature, articulated in elegant prose by our anonymous twelfth-century author, whose vision owes as much to the sacred histories of his pagan ancestors as to the Latinate Christianity of his own age."--Back cover.

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