Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Sarmatian Dragon Rearing His Terrible Head Again?


Readers of my blog (or books) will know that I proposed an etymology for the name Eliwlad, a grandson of Uther.  A good article on this subject may be found here:


While this idea seemed great at the time, I had neglected to check on one very important thing, viz. whether such a name-form was supported by the corpus of early and medieval Welsh names.  As it turns out, such is not the case.

Eliwlad as 'Prince of [the region] Eli' or, more literally, Eli-prince, does not yield any corollaries in Welsh personal names.  Simply put, I could not find even one additional example of a place-name as an initial component, followed by a descriptor such as gwlad.  This means the proposed etymology is fatally flawed.  We would have to assume that the name was a false name, a sort of manufactured name, or that someone had accidentally joined a phrase reading "Eli (g)wlad" together.  

Technically, there is nothing wrong with Eli Gwlad as a combined personal name and epithet, of course.  We could say that Eli the Prince were the son of Madog son of Uther.  BUT...gwlad is not found in this context in the early Welsh sources.  We find instead the very well-attested gwledig.  Gwlad in isolation inevitably means 'land' or 'kingdom.'

All once again seemed lost.  Eliwlad remained unparsable.

But then two facts became known to me which I had not possessed before.  First, I discovered in early Irish sources variant spellings for Ailithir, "pilgrim, foreigner" (literally, aile + tir, 'other land'), an epithet for St. Madog son of Sawyl Penisel (or Penuchel).   One of these spellings was Elithir.  This last example satisfied the requirement of Eliwlad, the first element of which could not directly be derived from the Welsh cognate of Irish aile/eile, i.e. 'all' (although see below under  SCHOLARLY SUPPORT FOR ELIWLAD = AILITHIR/ELITHIR).  Welsh has alltud, 'other people/country', allfro, 'other land', and the late occurring allwlad, 'other country', for "foreigner."   In Welsh, ail/eil is "second."

Here are some of the books providing the spelling Elithir:





Etc. - including the actual texts alluded to in these sources, some of which are available online.

In other words, I could make an argument again for Eliwlad being 'other land', an exact equivalent of the Irish Ailithir epithet given to Madog son of Sawyl.

This alone, however, was not sufficient for me to justify suggesting that Eliwlad was not the son of Madog, but his sobriquet, and that Uther was, as a result, Sawyl.  Yes, he latter made for an attractive Pendragon, as his kingdom was that of the ancient Setantii.  This region included Ribchester and, indeed, Samlesbury near the Roman fort at Ribchester is named for Sawyl.  The Sarmatians with their draco standard settled as veterans in the area of Ribchester, and so a 'Terrible Chief-dragon' made sense in this location.  My old idea that Pendragon translated the late Roman rank of Magister Draconum then seemed to have some currency.  But all of this was useless unless I could find some other reason for believing Uther might be Sawyl.

The Welsh material is silent regarding Madog son of Sawyl.  We only find him in the Irish sources.  Obviously, no help from that direction.  

So how could I further pursue the notion that Uther = Sawyl?


By utilizing Marged Haycock's translation of the MARWNAT VTHYR PEN, the 'Death-Song of Uther Pen[dragon].'  This is what she has in her notes to Line 7 of this elegy:

 7 eil kawyl yn ardu G emends kawyl > Sawyl, the personal name (from Samuelis

via *Safwyl). Sawyl Ben Uchel is named with Pasgen and Rhun as one of the
Three Arrogant Men, Triad 23, as a combative tyrant in Vita Cadoci (VSB 58);
and in CO 344-5. Samuil Pennissel in genealogies, EWGT 12 (later Benuchel),
Irish sources, and in Geoffrey of Monmouth. Other Sawyls include a son of
Llywarch, and the saint commemorated in Llansawel: see further TYP3 496,
WCD 581 and CO 104. Ardu ‘darkness, gloom; dark, dreadful (GPC), sometimes
collocated with afyrdwl ‘sad; sadness’ (see G, GPC).

Initially, I refused to get too excited about Uther calling himself a 'second Samuel' (the first, presumably, being the Biblical prophet of that name).  I mean, this was, after all, an emendation.  However, I asked Welsh language expert Dr. Simon Rodway of The University of Wales about the authority who made this emendation - one that was accepted by Haycock herself.  Our discussion on this matter ran as follows:
"Geirfa Barddoniaeth Gynnar Gymraeg, by John Lloyd-Jones

Cited several times by Marged Haycock in her edition of the Uther poem, and  she adopts many of his emendations.

A trustworthy, well-respected source, in your opinion?  Or is his work somewhat outdated or even obsolete?"

"It’s a very good piece of work, which I often use. It’s much more comprehensive than GPC [Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru, 'Dictionary of the Welsh Language']."

Such an unqualified, professional academic opinion of Lloyd-Jones changed everything!

I realized that what I had was this:

1) Eliwlad, a name I could analyze only as 'other land', one equivalent to Irish Ailithir/Elithir and

2) Uther calling himself Sawyl

Granted, as far as 2) is concerned, Sawyl in the Uther poem may denote a metaphorical meaning only.  He was "like the Biblical Samuel" in this or that respect.  The line prior to that in which Sawyl occurs reads (most likely) "May God, the chief luminary, transform me." The transformation hinted at here may have provided Geoffrey of Monmouth or his source with the idea to have Merlin transform Uther into Gorlois - Gorlois being from the gorlassar, 'very blue', Uther uses to describe himself in Line 3 of the MARWNAT VTHYR PEN.  In truth, he seems to instead be transformed into a 'second Samuel.'

If Uther = Sawyl, then all the battle sites I identified in the North for Arthur in THE ARTHUR OF HISTORY could be retained.  My later attempt in THE BEAR KING to identify Arthur with Ceredig son of Cunedda/Cerdic of Wessex would have to be abandoned.

A NOTE ON SAWYL'S EPITHET

Sawyl is variously called Penuchel or Penisel.  Most authorities seem to opt for Penisel, as it appears in a slightly earlier context, but Penuchel cannot be ruled out as the original sobriquet.  The waters are muddied by the presence in southern Wales of another Sawyl who was wrongly given the same epithet.  

Patrick Ford, in dealing with the Penuchel title given to an Arthur in a corrupt TRIAD, has preferred to render this "Overlord."  Others prefer 'high head' or 'arrogant' or the like (with Penisel being 'low head' or 'humble').  A literal translation of Penuchel would be "High Chief".  Uchel, 'high', has the same meaning as that which originally belonged to Uthr (cf. Irish uachtar).  Professor John Koch says this latter name once would have meant 'high, lofty.'  Thus at some point in their development, uchel and uthr would have been, essentially, interchangeable. 

MADOG ELITHIR/ELIWLAD AND THE IRISH CONNECTION

To quote P.C. Bartram in his "A Classical Welsh Dictionary", "He [Sawyl] is evidently the same as Samuel Chendisil the father of Matóc Ailithir and Sanctan by Deichter daughter of Muredach Muinderg, king of Ulster (MIS §1 in EWGT p.32)."

Deichter is an interesting name.  A much earlier Deichter was the mother of the famous Irish hero Cuchulainn, who was first called Sétanta. Scholars are still debating whether Sétanta should be related to the name of the Setantii tribe in Britain.  We have seen that Sawyl ruled what was once the Setantii tribal region.

If this Deichter were also Arthur's real mother, then we could once again account for why subsequent Arthurs all belonged to Irish-founded dynasties in Britain.

SCHOLARLY SUPPORT FOR ELIWLAD = AILITHIR/ELITHIR

"Your proposal to understand Eliwlad as a W 'translation' of Ir Ailithir looks quite attactive. Eli- might well stand for Ir ail(e), and tir is correctly translated as 'gwlad'. The respective range of meaning of both words is, of course, not identical.

If  'pilgrim' really is the "primary meaning" of ailithir, then this word is beyond any doubt a bahuvrîhi compound, designing somebody 'who is characterized by another [foreign] land', obviously in the sense that (s)he has visited a [remarkably] foreign land, is acquainted with it, etc.

We have to remind an alternative, however, viz. that the 'other land' referred to might be the 'Otherworld' , so that the bearer of the epithet may have been named so for assumed / desired magical qualities. Note that Rachel Bromwich, in her invaluable Trioedd Ynys Prydein (3rd ed., p. 428) has a Madawc m. Run y Kynnedvau. By the way, I trust that you have made already ample use of that magnificent book and the references found therein.

The whole story of the red Welsh Dragon (and its mischievous counterpart), including the epithed 'Uther Pendragon', may well be based on post-Roman misunderstandings of reminiscences of the Roman, originally perhaps Sarmatian, standard. But one should not overstress the Sarmatian-Alanian theory in discussing Arthurian matters. In case you read German, you may have seen what I wrote about in 'Die keltischen Wurzeln der Arthussage' (Winter: Heidelberg 2000)."

Professor Stefan Zimmer

"Irish aili- does not have a diphthong ai in the first syllable but a fronted low simple vowel [ae] (approximately as in Engl. back) followed by a palatalized -l´-. I find it quite plausible that this would have been borrowed immediately as W eli-."

Professor Doctor Peter Schrijver

“I think that -wlad cannot be anything else but gwlad 'country', and your idea that Eliwlad is a reinterpretation of Ailithir seems plausible to me.  If Eliwlad developed directly from the British, we would expect *Eilwlad."

Professor Ranko Matasovic

“It looks perfectly possible to me that Eliwlad represents British *Aljowlatos 'other land'.  Eliwlad/t is a plausible rendering of Eilwlad. One certainly finds occasional <e> for <ei> in MW, and metathesis is always possible. If it’s not from *aljo-, I have no idea.”

Professor Richard Coates































Saturday, November 11, 2017

THE ACTUAL LOCATION OF DEGSA'S STONE?

Dawston Burn, with White Stones to the North

White Stones

White Stones, Satellite Aerial Shot

The Battle of Daegsastan was fought at Dawston Burn in Liddesdale.*  However, although 'Degsa's Stone' would seem to denote an important monument, no one has been able to find it.  If it was an ancient standing stone, then it is no longer extant.

I do have an idea, which I would like to offer here.

The spelling of the personal name supposedly present in Daegsastan resembles the Old English word daeg, 'day.'  When I discussed Daegsastan with noted place-name expert Alan James, he told me:

"For a modern reflex of that name, you need to be looking for something like *Dei(gh)stane, pronounced ‘Deestan’ or ‘Daystan’, or else *Dewstane – with Dawston being a phonologically reasonable variant of that."

In going to the maps for the Dawston Burn, I noticed an unusual feature called the White Stones, described thusly:

WHITE STONES White Stones
White Stones James Elliot
Archibald Stavert 039 [Situation] On the East bank of Dawston Burn
This name is applied to some loose stones, on the face of a steep brae, on the farm of Saughtree.


These stones, combined with a personal name D(a)egsa, made me think of Myrddin's sister, Gwenddydd.  Her name means, transparently, 'White Day.'**  As Myrddin's principal sphere of activity (indeed, his origin point and place of death) belong properly to the Liddesdale region, I could not but help pose the following question:

Could the White Stones of Dawston Burn be the Stone of D(a)egsa?  And could both names preserve an earlier geological feature named for Gwenddydd?***

The Norse god Dagr was "the personified day (R. Simek DICTIONARY OF NORTHERN MYTHOLOGY)." It's not impossible that the early Saxons may have had a similar deity and that he was substituted for Gwenddydd.  There are some -daeg names in the early portion of the Bernician royal pedigree (Swaefdaeg, Waegdaeg, Baeldaeg).

* NOTE 1: The battle itself was probably fought at one of these sites, as described in the entry for Dawston Rigg at CANMORE:

NY59NE 12 c.57 98.
On the face of the slope (of Dawston Rigg) looking south and over the railway, there exist three large British camps close together. One, which lies on the shoulder of the hill, has been converted into a sheepfold, and the other two (NY59NE 2) situated close to the railway, are side by side.
A D Murray 1896
The southern slope of Dawston and Hudshouse Rig was perambulated without any trace of the earthwork allegedly converted into a sheepfold.
Visited by OS (JLD) 7 October 1960

** NOTE 2: Gwen in Welsh has the secondary meaning of "holy, blessed."

*** NOTE 3:

See

for an account of some ancient stone crosses found at/near the Dawston Burn.  The problem with considering such a cross as a candidate for Degsa's Stone is that these particular examples appear to be boundary markers for property owned by Jedburgh Abbey - an abbey which was not founded until the 12th century.  The Battle of Daegsastan was fought in the early 7th century.

It would be more reasonable to postulate that a standing stone or stones originally dedicated to Gwendydd stood atop Abbey Knowe, and that this was replaced by Christian crosses.  Geoffrey of Monmouth has Ganieda (= Gwenddydd) construct for Myrddin a stone circle (the astronomical observatory!).  The description fits a very large structure such as Stonehenge, which Merlin is associated with, and in THE MYSTERIES OF AVALON I made a case for the Long Meg and Her Daughters circle in Cumbria.  But there is a small stone circle on Ninestone Rig less than half a dozen kilometers from Dawston Burn (https://canmore.org.uk/site/67994/ninestone-rig) and there might well have been a similar monument atop Abbey Knowe.

There are standing stones at nearby Hermitage (Buck Stone and Graystone Hill).







Friday, November 10, 2017

TEYRNON TWRF LLIANT

Poseidon

From the beginning of my new book THE BEAR KING:

There is, however, some evidence in the Taliesin poetry suggesting that while Uther does seem to originate from the mil uathmar/fer uathmar of the Irish "Conception of Mongan" tale, another parallel tradition existed which actually identified him with that story's Manannan son of Lir.

Several scholars (including Rachel Bromwich) call attention to the fact that the Cawrnur in the 'Marwnat Vthyr Pen' or "Death-Song of Uther Pen[dragon]" is also mentioned in the Taliesin poem entitled 'Cadair Teyrnon', "The Chair of the Divine Lord." In this latter poem, it would appear Teyrnon (whose name matches that of the MABINOGION hero Teyrnon Twrf Lliant, 'Divine Lord of the Roaring Sea') is involved in a horse raid on Carwnur and his sons.  As it happens, Arthur is also prominently mentioned in the 'Cadair Teyrnon'.  This has led some (like Thomas Green in his ARTHURIANA: EARLY ARTHURIAN TRADITION AND THE ORIGINS OF THE LEGEND) to wrongly assume that the Teyrnon in question is actually Arthur.

I would make the case instead for Teyrnon in the 'Cadair Teyrnon' being Manawydan (= in this context, Manannan the father of Mongan, who transformed into Fiachra in order to lie with Fiachra's queen). The twrf lliant sobriquet of Teyrnon, meaning ‘roaring sea’ or the like, is equivalent to epithets used for Poseidon/Neptune (cf. Greek Alídoupos, ‘sea-resounding’).  This Classical god is constantly linked to the roaring waters of the ocean.  In Classical sources, Neptune is referred to as dominus ("lord"; e.g. Seneca) and even as tyrannus (Ovid).  Welsh teyrn, the root of Teyrnon, is cognate with Latin tyrannus.

Poseidon (as Hippios; cf. Neptune Equestris)) was also the god of horses, which is why he would be paired with Rhiannon or Epona Regina. In fact, I would go so far as to also equate Pwyll with Manawydan, as the former is merely the Welsh word meaning, according to the Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru, “deliberation, consideration, care, caution; discretion, prudence, wisdom, patience, understanding, intelligence, perception, judgement, mind, wit(s), reason, (common) sense, sanity.” These characteristics perfectly describe the personality of Manawydan as he appears in the MABINOGION.  So as Pryderi (the word for care, anxiety, etc.) is merely a nickname for Gwri/Gwair/Gwarae, a borrowing of Irish guaire, ‘hair of an animal or bristles’, so is Pwyll a byname for Manawydan.

[Gwri Gwallt Eurin or ‘Golden Hair’ is exchanged for a colt at birth.  In other words, like his mother and father he could assume horse form. According to Whitley Stokes in ON THE METRICAL GLOSSARIES OF THE MEDIEVAL IRISH, guaire could mean ‘folt fionn’, ‘fair/yellow hair.’]

Llantarnam, from an earlier Nant Teyrnon, near Caerleon, preserves the god's name.  As was often the case, what was once a pagan sanctuary became a Christian church and then a monastery.  A St. Deuma is associated with the place.  This name is from Irish Diuma, according to O Corrain and Maguire's IRISH NAMES a pet-form of Diarmait.  This is interesting in so far as there was a famous 6th century Irish king named Diarmait, often said to be the last pagan ruler of the country.  A story has come down to us about his dealings with another king, Aedh GUAIRE.

What we have in Uther, then, is a conflation of two characters from the "Conception of Mongan": the mil uathmar (a character created as an eponym for Degsastan as Egesan stan) and Manannan mac Lir.

Neither were the father of Arthur.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Two "Versions" of Uther Pendragon (mil uathmar and Manannan mac Lir)

In a recent post (http://mistshadows.blogspot.com/2017/10/degsastan-and-origin-of-mil-uathmarfer.html), I offered my final identification for Uther Pendragon.  It was an old idea, but I'm now convinced it is correct.

However... the conclusion reached in that post is in need of some clarification.  For there is some evidence in the Taliesin poetry that while Uther does seem to originate from the mil uathmar/fer uathmar of the Irish "Conception of Mongan" tale, another parallel tradition existed which actually identified him with that story's Manannan son of Lir.

Several scholars (including Bromwich) call attention to the fact that the Cawrnur in the 'Marwnat Vthyr Pen' or "Death-Song of Uther Pen[dragon]" is also mentioned in the Taliesin poem entitled 'Cadair Teyrnon', "The Chair of the Divine Lord." In this latter poem, it would appear Teyrnon (whose name matches that of Teyrnon Twrf Lliant, 'Divine Lord of the Tumultuous/Turbulent Sea', a sobriquet for Manawydan son of Llyr in the MABINOGION tale "Pwyll Prince of Dyfed") is involved in a horse raid on Carwnur and his sons.  In this poem, Arthur is mentioned.  This has led some (like Thomas Green in his ARTHURIANA: EARLY ARTHURIAN TRADITION AND THE ORIGINS OF THE LEGEND) to wrongly assume that the Teyrnon in question is actually Arthur.

I would make the case instead for Teyrnon in the 'Cadair Teyrnon' being Manawydan (=  in this context, Manannan the father of Mongan, who transformed into Fiachra  in order to lie with Fiachra's queen).

What we have in Uther, then, is a conflation of two characters from the "Conception of Mongan": the mil uathmar (a character created as an eponym for Degsastan as Egesan stan) and Manannan mac Lir.

Neither were the father of Arthur.