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OLD-IRISH-L  June 1998

OLD-IRISH-L June 1998

Subject:

Re: W. Branwen

From:

Candon Clannach <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Tue, 30 Jun 1998 08:48:32 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (103 lines)

Christian Chiarcos wrote:

> All these signs indicate a very old age of this idea, but in fact >there is hardly a connection between "white" and "raven/crow", simply >because crows are usually black and are associated with the night.

You miss the point. "White" in the Celtic languages (gwyn in Welsh)
does _not only_ means 'white' it also can mean 'blessed' and 'lucky.'


> Black has always been connected with women !

Really? What about Bron_wen_, Ceridwen, Olwen, Henwen and possibly
Gaulish Arduenna (and that's just in names)? And then of course there is
the Black defender (male) of the fountain in "Owein," not to mention
Donn in Irish mythology and others. It's obvious that all colors were
connected with all sexes at one time or another.

> But on the other hand there are important signs that underline the
> originality of Bronwen instead of Branwen:

I never said that Bronwen was not originally seperate from Branwen .
What I said was that Bra+n may have had an epithet, Branwyn, which means
'blessed raven.' This epithet sounds very similar to Bronwen, and
because of this the two names merged, and may be the reason that Bronwen
was connected with Bra+n in the first place (although it is possible
that she was created from Bra+n's epithet, Branwyn).

> Although her myth seems very damaged by Christianity, it can be
> reconstructed with the help of other I.E. sources, the "heart" of the > story is:

We have to be careful about blaming Christianity for "garbled" stories.
It may be that the redactor of the _Mabinogi_ is the first to connect
Bronwen and Bra+n, and his reasons may have had nothing to do with
religion, and it was he (or she) that garbled the story by taking
several folk-tales (or myths) and weaving them together, which is in
fact what he did.

Also, the other "Variants" of the "story" (Indo-European or otherwise)
may have little bearing on Bronwen's; there is no way to tell what has
been garbled and what is a legimate variation on a theme, e.g. The Norse
have Yggdrasil, an ash tree that is always green, but it's roots are
being eaten by dragons; in "Peredur" we have a tree that is always green
and flowering on one side, and continually burning on the other. These
trees are similar. They are both always green (alive), yet continually
being destroyed (by dragons in one case, by fire in another. And isn't
there a connection between dragons and fire in Northern European
mythology? ;-) Is the tree in "Peredur" a garbled folk version of the
Norse Yggdrasil, or is it a legitimate glimpse at the Celtic variant of
the "tree of life?"

> possibly the attribute *-wyn that
> you suggest is rather an adoption from the goddess than otherwise.

Maybe, but wouldn't you agree that gwyn/gwen 'blessed' is a good epithet
for any divine personage, male or female? For example I believe that
Bra+n was also called Branwyn 'blessed raven,' and that this name may
have been confused with Bronwen 'blessed hill, blessed breast.' Notice
that the gwyn/gwen part of the name is applied to both male and female,
but the similarity between bran 'raven' and bron 'breast, hill' is what
caused the confusion.

> What do you think ?

I think that I've really enjoyed this 'conversation,' even if it only
obliquely relates to the Old Irish-L. Our one saving grace is our
occasional refrences to Gaulish names, Celtic etymology and Irish
mythology. ;-)

I hope we haven't been too much of a nuisance, Dennis?

> Bronwen is from Brit. *bronn- and *vindo-, the original word order is
> *vindo-bronn-a "white hill (or: with a white breast ?)",

I'm not sure we can say that the 'original' word order of Celtic placed
the adjectives first. Here are a couple of interesting cases, e.g.
Cunobelinos (Mod Welsh Cynfelyn), Lugubelinos (Mod Welsh Llywelyn),
Lugumarcos (Mod Welsh Llywarch).

Does Cunobelinos mean the 'Hound of [the God] Belen,' or 'Bright Hound?'

Does Lugubelinos mean 'light/shining [God] Belen,' or 'Bright Light,' or
even the 'Bright [God] Lugos?'

Does Lugumarcos mean 'Shining Stallion,' or the '[God] Lug's Stallion?'

But you are certainly correct in that the word order in early Celtic was
often different from that found in the Modern Celtic languages, e.g.
Bitoriges 'World-kings' could be written Bydriau 'World-kings' in Welsh,
but also as Rhiau'r byd 'Kings of the world'. But if you meant the
'World's kings,' only the latter is acceptable.


--
Candon Clannach, [log in to unmask]

Bum hynt.
Bum eryr.
Bum corwc ymyr.
        -Taliesin "Kat Godeu"

And my favorite:

Bum davwed yn llat (I have been a bubble in beer) ;-)

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