Dirgelwch y Mabinogi


Dirgelwch y Mabinogi

Rhaglen ddogfen sy'n olrhain hanes straeon enwocaf Cymru, Pedair Cainc y Mabinogi. To coincide with the Wales Year of Legends, another chance to see this 2003 documentary on the...


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Transcript


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-The Welsh have

-an unique collection of stories.

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-Stories which are rooted deep in

-our nation's imagination and memory.

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-Stories about places

-we are familiar with today.

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-But they deal with characters

-from a long time ago.

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-In these stories,

-the other world meets this world.

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-There is revenge, warfare

-and terrible violence...

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-..and events that seem almost

-beyond imagination today.

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-People are transformed

-into birds and animals.

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-These stories have been passed down

-orally through the ages...

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-..and recorded in manuscripts.

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-They are still told today.

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-They have inspired poets,

-playwrights and film makers.

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-This is the world of the

-Four Branches of the Mabinogi.

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-The First Branch of the Mabinogi

-concerns Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed.

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-It tells of Pwyll's

-extraordinary experiences...

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-..of a bridge between this world

-and the Underworld...

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-..of dishonour and making amends,

-of transformation...

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-..and the relationship

-between Pwyll and Rhiannon.

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-Pwyll is the Prince of Dyfed.

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-Locations mentioned in the tale

-have a strong element of mystery.

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-But where are these locations?

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-This is Narberth Castle

-in Pembrokeshire.

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-Could this have been the site

-of Pwyll's court?

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-The court is central to the events

-in the First and Third Branches.

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-Did the feasting, carousing

-and discoursing take place here?

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-The Throne of Narberth is mentioned

-in the First Branch.

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-Whoever sits on this Throne...

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-..will either see wonders,

-or receive an injury or a wound.

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-Was Pwyll sitting

-somewhere around here...

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-..when he saw Rhiannon galloping

-down the valley on her white horse?

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-His manservant failed

-to catch up with her...

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-..so Pwyll himself called on her

-to stop, which she did.

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-There's a strong element

-of enchantment in all the Branches.

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-Very strange things happen.

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-But people didn't say

-that such things were impossible...

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-..for the simple reason...

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-..that enchantment in ages past, and

-in the Middle Ages to some extent...

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-..was a way of influencing

-the course of events.

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-Today, most of us believe

-such things can't happen...

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-..and that magical powers are, to

-us, basically, a matter of science.

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-Science is the thing

-that can change the world.

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-Narberth Castle may indeed have been

-the location of Pwyll's court.

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-But what about this place, Caerau

-Gaer, two miles outside Narberth?

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-There are remains

-of an old fortress here.

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-Who knows? Perhaps this was

-where Pwyll stood...

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-..when he suddenly saw Rhiannon

-galloping across the landscape...

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-..on her white horse.

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-Glyn Cuch is one of the

-first locations we encounter...

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-..in the Four Branches.

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-Glyn Cuch lies south

-of Newcastle Emlyn...

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-..on the boundary between

-Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire.

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-It also serves as a boundary between

-this world and the Underworld.

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-HOUNDS BARK, A HUNTING HORN SOUNDS

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-Pwyll hunts deer here

-with his hounds...

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-..when he meets Arawn,

-King of the Underworld.

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-He insults Arawn, and so he must

-change places with him for a year.

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-The hunting theme is very important

-in the Mabinogi.

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-A white boar is hunted

-in the Third Branch.

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-Rhiannon herself is 'stalked'

-when Pwyll follows her.

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-The Four Branches of the Mabinogi,

-more than any other legends...

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-..are based on Celtic mythology.

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-There are strong echoes

-of Celtic mythology.

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-There's a very strong link

-between Rhiannon and horses.

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-Rhiannon is forced

-to act like a horse.

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-She is punished by being forced

-to carry people on her back.

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-She first appears

-on a magical white horse.

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-Her son is discovered in a stable

-where a foal has just been born.

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-He is also linked with horses.

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-Some say she is an echo of Epona,

-the Celtic horse goddess.

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-There's no doubt

-that there are strong links...

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-..between Rhiannon

-and that particular animal.

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-The Second Branch

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-Bendigeidfran, son of Llyr,

-is the crowned king of this island.

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-Matholwch, King of Ireland,

-comes to Wales...

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-..to ask for the hand in marriage

-of Branwen, Bendigeidfran's sister.

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-But her half-brother, Efnisien,

-is not happy.

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-And so begins a series

-of terrible and violent events.

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-Horses are mutilated

-and a young child is killed.

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-Once again, very familiar locations

-are mentioned.

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-Bendigeidfran

-has a court in Harlech.

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-It's one of his important courts.

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-The name Harlech means 'fair rock'.

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-A castle was later

-built on the site.

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-A lot of these places have

-extremely ancient associations.

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-They are involved with rule,

-they are castles.

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-Or they are ruins

-that people saw around them...

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-..and brought into their legends...

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-..because there were ancient

-memories associated with them.

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-Bendigeidfran walks through the sea.

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-Here, the story may be hinting

-at something very, very old...

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-..that the sea between Wales and

-Ireland was smaller at one time.

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-And of course, a proverb

-is formulated in this tale...

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-.."He who would be a leader,

-let him be a bridge."

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-Bendigeidfran is a giant.

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-When the Irish destroy a bridge...

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-..he stretches his body

-from bank to bank...

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-..and allows his soldiers

-to walk over him...

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-..saying, "He who would be a leader,

-let him be a bridge."

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-There are many ancient Celtic

-elements in this legend...

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-..as there are in the others.

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-One of them concerns a king's

-special position in Celtic society.

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-The Cauldron of Rebirth which brings

-the dead to life is another element.

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-This is the Cauldron of Rebirth.

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-If dead men are placed

-in the cauldron, they rise again...

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-..but they are dumb.

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-This cauldron is a boon to the Irish

-when they fight the Welsh.

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-A great many cauldrons from the

-Celtic period have survived.

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-One of the most prominent

-is the Gundestrup Cauldron...

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-..which was discovered

-in Scandinavia.

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-It's extremely interesting...

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-..because there are figures

-on the cauldron...

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-..and one scene depicts men

-being immersed in a cauldron.

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-It recalls the description of the

-cauldron in the Second Branch.

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-Some argue

-that the Gundestrup Cauldron...

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-..illustrates the story of Branwen.

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-In one of the strangest events

-in this tale...

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-..Bendigeidfran's head is cut off

-but it does not die.

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-That reflects a very ancient belief

-among Celts...

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-..that the soul resides

-in the head, not the heart.

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-The Celts cut off

-their enemies' heads and kept them.

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-They drew pictures of heads

-and carved heads from stone.

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-The human head

-had great significance...

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-..in the Celtic imagination.

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-This mythology lived on

-into the Middle Ages in Wales.

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-Bendigeidfran's head played

-an important part in the legend.

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-Bendigeidfran's head is cut off...

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-..but it continues

-to behave like a king.

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-Seven men bring it back to Wales

-after the great battle in Ireland.

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-They feast in Harlech

-for seven years...

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-..and then they travel to an island

-off the Pembrokeshire coast.

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-But their journey

-does not end there.

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-It's always been my ambition

-to come here...

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-..to the island of Gwales

-off Pembrokeshire.

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-Bendigeidfran's head

-was brought here...

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-..after the great battle in Ireland.

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-Seven men brought the head here

-and spent 80 years feasting.

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-Today, as you can see,

-only birds feast here.

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-While they were here...

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-..they forgot all the terrible

-things that had happened.

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-But one day, Heilyn, son of Gwyn,

-opens the door that faced Cornwall.

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-Memories come flooding back and they

-set out to bury the head in London.

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-The head is buried

-on the White Mount in London...

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-..looking out towards France.

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-Bendigeidfran defends Britain

-from external enemies...

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-..so he looks to the Continent...

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-..from where

-the English originally came.

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-King Arthur is blamed for moving

-Bendigeidfran's head...

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-..according to the Welsh Triads.

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-They say he was arrogant...

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-..and did not want to share the

-credit for defending the island...

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-..so he moved Bendigeidfran's head

-and took all the credit himself.

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-There are many islands

-off the Welsh coast.

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-Anglesey, where Branwen was buried.

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-Her heart broke, and she was buried

-on the banks of the River Alaw.

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-Puffin Island, Holy Island.

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-Many islands

-off the Pembrokeshire coast...

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-..are associated with enchantment.

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-Some say that, not far from here,

-an island swims beneath the surface.

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-Every once in a while, the island

-rises and we may touch it.

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-The Third Branch of the Mabinogi,

-Manawydan son of Llyr...

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-..follows on from the Second Branch.

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-Pwyll's son, Pryderi...

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-..gives his mother, Rhiannon,

-to Manawydan as a wife.

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-All goes well, until, one day, an

-enchanted mist descends over Dyfed.

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-The mist covers the land

-and everything disappears.

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-Houses disappear, animals disappear,

-the courtiers disappear.

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-Everywhere becomes deserted.

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-The Third Branch may be

-the least familiar to people today.

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-It begins with Manawydan...

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-..and other characters who survive

-from the Second Branch.

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-Manawydan is the hero

-of this Branch.

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-He defeats the wizard, Llwyd,

-who cast a spell on Dyfed.

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-He does so after realising...

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-..that one of the mice that plague

-Manawydan's land and crops...

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-..is Llwyd's wife.

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-He forces Llwyd's hand,

-and tricks him...

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-..into confessing

-that he cast the spell on Dyfed.

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-Manawydan forces him

-to lift the spell...

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-..and promise

-that he will not seek revenge.

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-The Fourth Branch

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-The Fourth Branch

-is a branch and a half.

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-Math son of Mathonwy

-is the Lord of Gwynedd.

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-When he isn't at war...

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-..he must rest his feet on the lap

-of a maiden called Goewin.

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-His nephew, Gilfaethwy,

-falls in love with Goewin.

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-Gilfaethwy's brother, Gwydion,

-organises a war...

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-..so that Math must leave Goewin.

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-Gwydion deceives Pryderi

-into giving him his pigs.

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-He travels through Wales with

-the pigs and gives them to Math.

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-When Pryderi

-realises the deception...

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-..war breaks out

-between south and north.

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-Math is the Lord of Gwynedd.

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-Gwydion and Gilfaethwy travel south

-to the court of Pryderi.

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-So there is communication between

-south and north in this Branch.

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-As they drive the pigs

-from the south to the north...

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-..the places where they stop...

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-..are given a name that includes

-the word 'moch', such as Mochdre...

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-..in memory of their passage.

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-In the Mabinogi,

-there is a strong association...

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-..between the stories

-and the actual geography of Wales.

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-You can follow the stories on a map.

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-The stories explain

-the origin of place-names...

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-..and this itself

-bolsters the stories' status.

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-It can be seen as independent

-evidence of the story's truth.

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-We call them onomastic stories.

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-Onomastic stories explain

-the origins of proper names.

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-The Mabinogi is full of them.

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-When Math returns from battle...

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-..he discovers that his nephews,

-Gilfaethwy and Gwydion...

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-..were responsible for the strife...

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-..the rape of the maiden, the death

-of soldiers including Pryderi.

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-They cannot make amends

-for this dishonour...

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-..except through punishment

-and humiliation.

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-Math's punishment is bestial.

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-In the Fourth Branch,

-in particular...

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-..strange transformations

-take place.

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-Gwydion and Gilfaethwy

-have raped Goewin.

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-So Math strikes them

-with his magic wand...

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-..and three times he changes them

-into different animals.

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-One is male, the other is female.

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-They copulate

-and give birth to offspring.

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-It's the ultimate humiliation.

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-In Christian thought, which derives

-from Judaic concepts...

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-..there are levels of existence...

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-..and man is above

-the level of animals.

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-So if you are turned into an animal,

-you are degraded, brought down.

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-First, they're turned into a stag

-and a hind.

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-Deer are very important

-in the Mabinogi.

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-They provide food and materials

-for communities.

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-So it's quite significant...

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-..that they're transformed

-into a stag and a hind first of all.

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-Then, they're turned

-into a boar and a sow...

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-..and finally

-into male and female wolves.

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-All these animals - deer,

-wild boar, wolves...

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-..are animals that people

-in the Middle Ages respected...

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-..because they were dangerous

-wild animals.

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-It was a terrible punishment.

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-But it was appropriate.

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-They were punished

-because they had raped a maiden.

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-The two brothers

-had to make amends for that...

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-..by having their own sexuality

-and sexual identities transformed...

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-..back and forth, year after year.

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-Math needs another maiden,

-because Goewin is now a wife.

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-He forgives Gilfaethwy and Gwydion.

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-Gwydion suggests his sister

-Arianrhod, as the new maiden.

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-Thus begins another series

-of marvellous events.

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-Arianrhod must prove

-her virginity...

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-..by stepping over

-Math's magic wand.

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-But a small child drops from her,

-and something else.

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-Gwydion picks up this other thing...

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-..hides it in a chest

-and looks after it.

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-Arianrhod places a number of curses

-on her child.

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-He may not have a name, weapons,

-or a wife of this world.

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-Through magic, Gwydion

-manages to overcome every curse.

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-For the final curse, he and Math

-combine their magical skills...

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-..to create a wife out of flowers

-for Lleu, Arianrhod's son.

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-This is Blodeuwedd.

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-This is one of the settings for the

-Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi.

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-It's a castle called Mur Castell,

-in Ardudwy.

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-After Math and Gwydion created

-Blodeuwedd as a wife for Lleu...

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-..the king gave them this castle

-as a home.

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-Mur Castell, or Tomen y Mur,

-as it's now called.

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-Lleu goes away, leaving Blodeuwedd

-here with the servants.

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-She is restless.

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-Then suddenly she hears a hunting

-horn and the sounds of a hunt.

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-Over this ridge behind me

-appears Gronw Pebyr from Lleyn.

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-She invites him into the castle,

-and they fall in love.

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-Ultimately, they conspire

-to kill Lleu.

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-Many people have tried to interpret

-the Branches.

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-There are novels,

-recent animations, plays.

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-'Blodeuwedd' by Saunders Lewis must

-be the most well-known of them all.

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-I would argue that he's changed

-quite a lot of the story...

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-..though he says in the introduction

-that he hasn't.

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-He changes the emphasis.

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-He was a Catholic...

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-..and a man with patriarchal

-attitudes towards life.

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-Oh, heir to my fate,

-listen to my secret.

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-I have for you now an heir.

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-Do you know for sure?

0:22:170:22:18

-Do you know for sure?

-

-As every wife knows.

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-As every wife knows.

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-Oh, my queen!

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-Let fate decree it shall be a son.

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-Let fate decree it shall be a son.

-

-It is a son.

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-Let fate decree it shall be a son.

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-I swear it.

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-To him, family and succession

-are important.

0:22:280:22:31

-He uses this - he adds this

-to the original tale.

0:22:310:22:36

-When Lleu returns,

-he finds Blodeuwedd full of joy.

0:22:370:22:40

-Of course, she's been sleeping

-with Gronw Pebyr!

0:22:410:22:44

-But she suggests

-that she has an heir for him.

0:22:440:22:49

-He's delighted, because his mother's

-curses sought to deny him an heir.

0:22:490:22:54

-But her 'heir' is Gronw Pebyr,

-not a baby at all.

0:22:540:22:59

-I can picture him now,

-placing his lips upon my lips.

0:22:590:23:04

-He shall be a hunter.

-His horn shall stir the deer.

0:23:040:23:09

-I shall teach him

-his father's accomplishments.

0:23:100:23:13

-How to throw a spear and a needle?

0:23:130:23:15

-How to throw a spear and a needle?

-

-And row a boat...

0:23:150:23:16

-And row a boat...

0:23:160:23:17

-..and make shoes for his mother...

0:23:180:23:20

-..so that she shall not walk

-barefooted through the dew.

0:23:200:23:24

-The name 'Lleu' in itself

-suggests something.

0:23:240:23:27

-'Lleu' means 'light' -

-he's a sun god.

0:23:280:23:31

-He still retains elements

-of his former divinity.

0:23:320:23:35

-He's not easy to kill.

0:23:380:23:40

-He must be placed in an extremely

-strange situation.

0:23:410:23:44

-He must stand on a river bank -

-between water and land...

0:23:460:23:50

-..that 'between' element.

0:23:510:23:52

-He must place one foot on a trough,

-or bath - cleanliness.

0:23:530:23:58

-And his other foot must rest on a

-billy goat's back - uncleanliness.

0:23:580:24:04

-He wears trousers but no shirt.

0:24:040:24:06

-He's not within a building

-but there's a roof above him.

0:24:060:24:11

-There's a series

-of 'in-between' situations.

0:24:110:24:15

-And when all's said and done,

-he doesn't get killed.

0:24:160:24:20

-He turns into an eagle.

0:24:200:24:22

-What happens there?

0:24:220:24:24

-He turns into another aspect

-of himself.

0:24:240:24:27

-The eagle was a creature

-sacred to the sun god.

0:24:270:24:32

-SCREAMS

0:24:330:24:35

-The eagle shelters

-in an old oak tree.

0:24:540:24:58

-Trees had special significance

-for the Celts.

0:24:590:25:02

-They had their own magical

-and sacred qualities.

0:25:030:25:06

-It's not by accident

-that the eagle shelters in an oak.

0:25:080:25:12

-He is in a sacred space

-until he is taken from there.

0:25:130:25:18

-SCREAMS

0:25:250:25:27

-Llech Gronw - 'Gronw's Stone'.

0:25:430:25:45

-Lleu and Gronw

-stand on the river bank.

0:25:460:25:49

-Lleu holds a spear,

-and Gronw stands here.

0:25:490:25:53

-And Gronw says, "Because I was

-deceived by Blodeuwedd's wiles...

0:25:530:25:58

-"..let me place this stone

-that we see beside the river...

0:26:000:26:04

-"..between me and the spear."

0:26:050:26:07

-Lleu agrees. He throws his spear,

-which goes through the stone...

0:26:070:26:12

-..and breaks Gronw's spine.

0:26:120:26:14

-He's killed instantly.

0:26:140:26:16

-There's lots of conjecture

-concerning locations and so on.

0:26:170:26:20

-But here, there's a stone with

-a hole through it, beside a river.

0:26:210:26:26

-What more could you expect?

0:26:260:26:29

-HE GRUNTS

0:26:300:26:31

-As film makers...

0:26:450:26:47

-..we sometimes have to change or

-adapt aspects of the original text.

0:26:470:26:52

-Perhaps those who told these stories

-did the same.

0:26:530:26:57

-I like to believe we're simply

-perpetuating that tradition.

0:26:570:27:01

-One prominent example

-is when Lleu, at the end...

0:27:010:27:05

-..gets his chance

-to take revenge on Gronw.

0:27:050:27:09

-In the original text, he throws

-the spear and that's that.

0:27:090:27:13

-But in our story,

-he lifts the spear to throw it...

0:27:130:27:18

-..and then he decides

-to be merciful to Gronw.

0:27:180:27:22

-He turns away, but Gronw

-throws a knife at him.

0:27:230:27:27

-Lleu has to defend himself,

-and that's how he kills Gronw.

0:27:270:27:32

-At the end...

0:27:490:27:51

-..Blodeuwedd is transformed

-into an owl by Gwydion.

0:27:510:27:55

-That's very interesting.

0:27:560:27:57

-The author says it's in an owl's

-nature to avoid daylight...

0:27:580:28:02

-..and that other birds

-instinctively attack owls.

0:28:030:28:07

-Gwydion!!

0:28:110:28:13

-The punishment is appropriate...

0:28:220:28:25

-..because Blodeuwedd is originally

-a creature of the sun...

0:28:250:28:28

-..created from flowers.

0:28:290:28:30

-She was created to be beautiful,

-but she's turned into an owl...

0:28:310:28:36

-..a bird of the night,

-which doesn't show its face...

0:28:360:28:40

-..and which has no beauty.

0:28:400:28:42

-Blodeuwedd loses everything she has.

0:28:430:28:45

-Again, the owl happens to have

-strong associations...

0:28:460:28:49

-..in the Celtic imagination.

0:28:490:28:52

-The Celts regarded the owl

-as a bird of the night...

0:28:530:28:58

-..associated with darkness

-and misfortune.

0:28:580:29:01

-There are a great many superstitions

-concerning owls...

0:29:010:29:05

-..harbingers of death, and so on.

0:29:050:29:08

-The final Branch finishes unhappily.

0:29:150:29:17

-There is no future.

-Lleu is all alone.

0:29:170:29:21

-He has no hope of getting a wife

-because of his mother's curse...

0:29:210:29:26

-..and no hope of an heir.

0:29:270:29:29

-It's not like the other Branches.

0:29:290:29:32

-It shows what can happen...

0:29:320:29:34

-..if people, especially the sexes,

-fail to respect each other.

0:29:340:29:39

-888

0:29:510:29:51

-888

-

-888

0:29:510:29:53

-Every year in Wales, people gather

-for a special pilgrimage.

0:29:550:29:59

-It's an attempt...

0:29:590:30:01

-..to keep the mediaeval oral

-storytelling tradition alive.

0:30:010:30:05

-But where did these legends

-originate? Who was their author?

0:30:050:30:10

-We don't know who wrote

-the Four Branches of the Mabinogi.

0:30:100:30:15

-It's problematic when you're dealing

-with an oral tradition.

0:30:150:30:19

-Stories are passed on and everyone

-makes little changes to them.

0:30:200:30:24

-Many people have tried to suggest

-authors for the Four Branches.

0:30:300:30:34

-If we could discover an author,

-it would seem to confer status.

0:30:350:30:40

-Some have suggested Sulien,

-Bishop of St David's.

0:30:400:30:43

-Sulien and his son

-were literary people.

0:30:440:30:47

-Sulien spent time in Ireland...

0:30:470:30:49

-..and of course, Ireland is involved

-in the Second Branch.

0:30:490:30:54

-His son, Rhygyfarch, wrote the

-Latin version of 'Buchedd Dewi'...

0:30:540:30:58

-..about the life of St David.

0:30:580:31:01

-We know he wrote.

0:31:010:31:03

-But that doesn't mean

-they wrote the Four Branches.

0:31:030:31:07

-When you start talking

-about copying...

0:31:070:31:10

-..you run into

-a very difficult problem.

0:31:100:31:14

-Say, for example,

-that a storyteller tells a story...

0:31:150:31:19

-..and someone tries

-to write down this story.

0:31:190:31:22

-He'd have to stop the storyteller

-in order to catch up.

0:31:220:31:27

-That would destroy the story.

0:31:270:31:30

-Did the author have to learn

-the story and then write it down?

0:31:320:31:37

-Or had a storyteller

-learned how to write?

0:31:380:31:41

-I would think there'd be differences

-between the story told orally...

0:31:420:31:47

-..and the written version.

0:31:480:31:50

-Writing is a very slow

-and laborious process.

0:31:510:31:54

-Ultimately, it would interfere

-with the words being spoken.

0:31:550:32:00

-I believe that it was only

-in the written form...

0:32:020:32:06

-..that all these episodes

-were brought together.

0:32:060:32:09

-I feel, with regard to models

-in other countries...

0:32:100:32:14

-..that it was the episodes

-that were important, orally.

0:32:140:32:18

-The story of Pwyll

-visiting the Underworld...

0:32:180:32:21

-..the story of Pwyll wooing

-and marrying Rhiannon.

0:32:210:32:24

-I feel the author was the first

-to bring them all together.

0:32:250:32:29

-The Branches have been recorded

-in manuscripts.

0:32:310:32:34

-Thus they have been handed down

-and interpreted throughout the ages.

0:32:350:32:39

-Now begins another important episode

-in our story.

0:32:400:32:43

-The manuscripts are a vital part

-of the Branches' history.

0:32:430:32:47

-The earliest volume containing

-all Four Branches of the Mabinogi...

0:32:480:32:52

-..is the White Book of Rhydderch...

0:32:530:32:55

-..which is kept in the

-National Library in Aberystwyth.

0:32:550:32:59

-It dates back

-to the mid 14th century.

0:32:590:33:03

-This manuscript was copied

-for a man called Rhydderch...

0:33:030:33:07

-..who lived in Llangeitho.

0:33:070:33:09

-It was probably copied...

0:33:090:33:11

-..at the Cistercian abbey

-of Strata Florida...

0:33:110:33:14

-..15 to 18 miles

-east of Aberystwyth.

0:33:140:33:17

-The second volume

-containing the complete version...

0:33:180:33:21

-..is the Red Book of Hergest...

0:33:210:33:23

-..which is owned

-by Jesus College, Oxford.

0:33:240:33:27

-It's kept at the Bodleian Library

-in Oxford.

0:33:270:33:30

-The White Book

-is a very important volume...

0:33:300:33:34

-..but it's not the earliest record

-of the Four Branches.

0:33:340:33:38

-A manuscript dating

-from the late 13th century...

0:33:380:33:42

-..contains two small fragments...

0:33:420:33:44

-..concerning the story of Branwen

-and the story of Manawydan.

0:33:440:33:48

-Just a page each remain of these.

0:33:490:33:52

-But they demonstrate a written

-tradition for the Mabinogi...

0:33:520:33:56

-..that is much earlier

-than the White Book.

0:33:560:33:59

-Today, we have Four Branches

-of the Mabinogi...

0:34:010:34:05

-..but was it three branches,

-originally?

0:34:050:34:07

-The boundary between the Second

-and Third Branches is indistinct.

0:34:080:34:12

-The author seems to have difficulty

-separating these two Branches...

0:34:120:34:16

-..and, of course, three

-was an important, magical number...

0:34:160:34:20

-..in the mediaeval period.

0:34:200:34:22

-The Three Branches

-of the Mabinogi, perhaps?

0:34:220:34:25

-Or there may be branches missing.

0:34:250:34:28

-In both the White Book

-and the Red Book...

0:34:280:34:32

-..the copyist doesn't say,

-"And so ends the Mabinogi."

0:34:320:34:36

-With other stories...

0:34:360:34:38

-..you get, "And so ends the tale

-of the Lady of the Fountain."

0:34:380:34:43

-But there is no, "And so end

-the Four Branches of the Mabinogi."

0:34:440:34:49

-So I sometimes wonder whether there

-are fifth, sixth, seventh branches.

0:34:490:34:54

-Festivals throughout Wales...

0:34:560:34:57

-..perpetuate one of the nation's

-most precious traditions...

0:34:570:35:01

-..storytelling.

0:35:010:35:03

-A short story to begin with.

0:35:030:35:06

-You have a choice - a story about

-a giant, or one about an old woman.

0:35:060:35:11

-This is the second Dyffryn Conwy

-Storytelling Festival.

0:35:120:35:16

-It's a chance for everyone...

0:35:160:35:18

-..to hear all kinds of stories.

0:35:180:35:20

-"Oi! I want beer! I want wine!

0:35:210:35:24

-"I want bread! I want meat!"

0:35:240:35:27

-The people of Pontypridd looked out

-of their windows and saw this giant.

0:35:270:35:33

-"No! Go away, you great, big,

-hairy, ugly giant!

0:35:330:35:37

-If the audience showed great

-interest in some particular part...

0:35:380:35:42

-..they would elaborate

-on that part of the story.

0:35:430:35:46

-And if the audience

-showed no interest...

0:35:470:35:50

-..the story would be condensed.

0:35:500:35:52

-I would think that's what happened.

0:35:520:35:55

-The storyteller would react to his

-audience as he told the story.

0:35:550:35:59

-He was angry, he was furious,

-he wanted to kill these people.

0:36:000:36:05

-We're a group

-of professional storytellers.

0:36:050:36:08

-There's a link between us

-and the storytellers of past ages.

0:36:080:36:13

-There was just one bird left -

-the owl.

0:36:130:36:17

-In this festival,

-we tell stories, of course.

0:36:170:36:20

-There are trips along the river

-and through woodlands.

0:36:210:36:24

-People can learn the art

-of storytelling.

0:36:250:36:29

-The other birds

-were so cross with the owl...

0:36:290:36:33

-..they said, "Owl,

-you are banished to the night!"

0:36:330:36:37

-When these tales

-were translated into English...

0:36:370:36:40

-..in the 19th century...

0:36:410:36:43

-..not just the Four Branches

-but other mediaeval legends too...

0:36:430:36:47

-..eleven of them in all,

-they needed a title.

0:36:470:36:51

-'-ion' is a plural suffix in Welsh.

0:36:510:36:55

-'Dyn' - 'Dynion'.

-'Marchog' - 'Marchogion'.

0:36:560:36:58

-So the title 'Mabinogion'

-was adopted as a label.

0:36:580:37:03

-In the manuscripts, it's practically

-always written as 'Mabinogi'.

0:37:030:37:07

-Only in one instance

-does 'Mabinogion' appear.

0:37:080:37:11

-That might have been a misprint.

0:37:120:37:14

-In the manuscript, another word

-appears just before 'Mabinogion'...

0:37:140:37:18

-..the word 'dyledogion'.

0:37:180:37:20

-The misprint may have arisen because

-of confusion between the two words.

0:37:200:37:25

-The '-ion' may have jumped down

-to 'Mabinogion'.

0:37:250:37:29

-But the term 'Mabinogion',

-though it may be incorrect...

0:37:290:37:33

-..has become very useful.

0:37:330:37:35

-It's used to cover the Four Branches

-and the other legends...

0:37:350:37:40

-..'Culhwch and Olwen,' 'The Dream

-of Macsen,' 'The Three Romances'.

0:37:400:37:44

-They all come under the title

-'Mabinogion'.

0:37:440:37:47

-Charlotte Guest was the first

-to popularise the term.

0:37:480:37:52

-She used it for her own translation

-of the 'Mabinogion'...

0:37:520:37:56

-..in the mid 19th century.

0:37:560:37:58

-She belonged to that period...

0:37:590:38:02

-..when people rediscovered Arthur

-and the Middle Ages.

0:38:020:38:06

-She was an Englishwoman...

0:38:070:38:08

-..who came to Wales when she married

-John Guest, the Dowlais ironmaster.

0:38:090:38:14

-From the 1830s onwards,

-she published her version...

0:38:140:38:18

-..of the Four Branches,

-and other translations.

0:38:180:38:21

-People have doubted how much of the

-work she actually did herself.

0:38:210:38:26

-Did she receive help from people

-like John Jones ('Tegid')?

0:38:260:38:31

-But, today,

-people appreciate what she did.

0:38:310:38:34

-Her texts are of a high standard.

0:38:340:38:37

-Scholarly notes accompany them.

0:38:370:38:39

-Her translations became popular

-and improved these texts' status...

0:38:390:38:44

-..and the Welsh texts

-consequently became popular.

0:38:440:38:47

-Wales rediscovered them

-through Charlotte Guest.

0:38:470:38:49

-Very few titles were used

-in the Middle Ages.

0:38:500:38:54

-The opening words of a story

-were normally used as a label.

0:38:540:38:59

-We call the First Branch

-'Pwyll Pendefig Dyfed'...

0:38:590:39:03

-..because they're the first words.

0:39:030:39:05

-But the Second Branch

-opens with the words...

0:39:050:39:09

-.."Bendigeidfran, son of Llyr, was

-the crowned king of this island."

0:39:090:39:14

-But in Lady Charlotte Guest's

-translation...

0:39:140:39:17

-..the Second Branch is entitled

-'Branwen, daughter of Llyr'.

0:39:170:39:21

-I wonder whether she sympathised

-with Branwen.

0:39:210:39:24

-Like Branwen, she had left

-her own country.

0:39:250:39:29

-There's an entry in her diary...

0:39:300:39:32

-..where she mentions a house

-the family owned in Sully.

0:39:320:39:37

-He diary records her

-looking out to sea in Sully...

0:39:390:39:43

-..and seeing someone

-putting furniture in a boat...

0:39:430:39:47

-..and setting sail for England.

0:39:480:39:50

-"And I sometimes wish

-I were going with him."

0:39:510:39:54

-There's a touch of

-homesickness there.

0:39:550:39:58

-A few years before Charlotte Guest

-started work on the Mabinogi...

0:40:000:40:04

-..an important archaeological

-discovery was made in Anglesey.

0:40:050:40:08

-A decision was made to excavate a

-place reputed to be Branwen's grave.

0:40:080:40:13

-And indeed, traces of cremated bones

-were discovered there.

0:40:140:40:18

-This news appeared in the press.

0:40:180:40:21

-It's evident from her work that

-Charlotte Guest knew about this.

0:40:220:40:26

-The name Branwen

-became quite well-known.

0:40:260:40:29

-It must be one more reason...

0:40:300:40:32

-..why Charlotte Guest chose the name

-Branwen for the Second Branch.

0:40:320:40:37

-888

0:40:450:40:45

-888

-

-888

0:40:450:40:46

-Despite their antiquity...

0:40:460:40:47

-..the Mabinogi have fired the

-imaginations of people of all ages.

0:40:470:40:52

-The are very popular

-among children and young people.

0:40:520:40:55

-Bendigeidfran told the boy...

0:40:560:40:58

-.."Go and talk to your uncle."

0:40:580:41:01

-And Gwern walked towards Efnisien,

-and Efnisien bent down.

0:41:020:41:06

-And everyone else thought...

0:41:060:41:08

-..that Efnisien was going to whisper

-into the boy's ear.

0:41:080:41:12

-But he bent down

-and grabbed the boy's feet...

0:41:130:41:17

-..lifted him, whirled him around,

-and threw him into the fire.

0:41:170:41:22

-It's one thing for a child

-to read a story himself.

0:41:230:41:27

-But a story

-told by a good storyteller...

0:41:270:41:31

-..can make it much more vivid

-for a child.

0:41:310:41:35

-It's an oral thing.

0:41:350:41:37

-The task with the Mabinogi...

0:41:370:41:39

-..is to preserve the glory

-of the oral recitation.

0:41:390:41:43

-Ships raising their sails and

-setting out over the sea to Ireland.

0:41:440:41:49

-Unfortunately, we know little about

-how these tales were performed.

0:41:510:41:55

-After all, everyone told stories.

0:41:580:42:00

-In the Second Branch, Matholwch

-accepts the Cauldron of Rebirth...

0:42:010:42:05

-..as compensation

-from Bendigeidfran.

0:42:060:42:08

-And Matholwch tells Bendigeidfran

-a story...

0:42:090:42:12

-..about how he himself received

-the Cauldron in the first place.

0:42:120:42:17

-He says, "Once upon a time,

-I was out hunting."

0:42:170:42:22

-That's a traditional formula

-for beginning a story.

0:42:220:42:25

-Telling tales was commonplace.

0:42:260:42:28

-Is it a true story?

0:42:290:42:31

-That's a great question.

-Is it a true story?

0:42:320:42:36

-There are three possibilities...

0:42:360:42:38

-..that it's totally false, totally

-true, or somewhere in between.

0:42:380:42:42

-Who thinks

-it's somewhere in between?

0:42:430:42:45

-Interesting.

0:42:460:42:48

-There are some terribly violent

-episodes in the Mabinogi.

0:42:480:42:52

-But they are not unsuitable

-for children.

0:42:520:42:55

-Some elements of violence

-arouse our curiosity.

0:42:550:42:58

-Why does Efnisien

-do these awful things?

0:42:580:43:01

-Go to your Uncle Efnisien.

0:43:020:43:04

-Despicable child

-of a shameful union.

0:43:050:43:08

-You shall be the first Irishman

-to burn.

0:43:090:43:12

-This will settle your father,

-once and for all!

0:43:130:43:17

-SHOUTS AND SCREAMS

0:43:170:43:19

-No! Not the fire!

0:43:250:43:27

-Efnisien!

0:43:280:43:29

-Efnisien is an interesting character

-with a very dark side to him.

0:43:310:43:36

-He's the story's catalyst -

-he mutilates Matholwch's horses.

0:43:360:43:40

-He kills his little nephew and

-we can't see much reason for this.

0:43:400:43:45

-But he turns out to be a hero

-in the end.

0:43:450:43:50

-He shatters the Cauldron

-which is so dangerous to the Welsh.

0:43:500:43:55

-For sake of the Isle of the Mighty!

0:44:000:44:03

-Efnisien, a half-brother, is half

-in the family and half outside it.

0:44:120:44:17

-He's on the boundary, not quite in

-or out, and so he's dangerous.

0:44:170:44:22

-In the Four Branches, people try

-to work out the right way to act...

0:44:230:44:29

-..while facing terrible calamities

-or wonderful enchantments.

0:44:290:44:33

-We can compare the stories

-in the Mabinogi...

0:44:340:44:37

-..with the soap operas

-we see on television today.

0:44:370:44:41

-The old Celts obviously needed

-a little spice in their lives...

0:44:410:44:46

-..during long, cold evenings.

0:44:460:44:48

-They wanted to hear stories

-about people behaving abominably.

0:44:490:44:54

-Love, hate, unfaithfulness,

-who was sleeping with who...

0:44:540:44:57

-..who takes revenge on who.

0:44:570:45:00

-That's what people enjoy,

-even today.

0:45:000:45:03

-# SONG IN GAELIC #

0:45:030:45:05

-The stories deal with things

-that are strange and wondrous.

0:45:210:45:26

-The strange and the wondrous still

-appeal very strongly to people.

0:45:280:45:33

-Though they are strange and

-wondrous, they involve real people.

0:45:350:45:39

-It's a combination

-that's never out of fashion.

0:45:410:45:45

-It has a cohesion

-that belongs to true art.

0:45:460:45:49

-# SONG IN GAELIC #

0:45:500:45:52

-Animation is an excellent medium

-for presenting the fantastic.

0:45:580:46:02

-It's possible to show Bendigeidfran

-as a huge man...

0:46:020:46:06

-..and when he gets angry,

-he grows even bigger...

0:46:070:46:11

-..he becomes a giant who can walk

-through the sea to Ireland.

0:46:110:46:17

-We can create Blodeuwedd.

0:46:200:46:21

-We can show the process

-by which Blodeuwedd is created...

0:46:220:46:26

-..which isn't possible

-in a stage play.

0:46:270:46:30

-The Four Branches receive

-a new lease of life and survival...

0:46:330:46:38

-..with this new animated film.

0:46:380:46:40

-People will watch it

-and react to it.

0:46:410:46:44

-The Four Branches will also survive

-so long as storytelling survives...

0:46:440:46:49

-..people tell these tales...

0:46:500:46:51

-..and as long as anyone reads them.

0:46:520:46:55

-I've been working

-on a new translation...

0:47:000:47:03

-..of the 11 tales of the Mabinogion,

-and I'm really enjoying it.

0:47:030:47:08

-I compare the way other people

-have translated them...

0:47:080:47:12

-..Charlotte Guest, for example.

0:47:120:47:14

-I'm trying to bring an oral feel

-to this new translation.

0:47:140:47:19

-These stories were originally

-written in order to be read aloud.

0:47:200:47:24

-They say that Tolkien

-was inspired by the Mabinogi...

0:47:300:47:34

-..when he wrote

-'The Lord of the Rings'.

0:47:340:47:37

-This material belongs to the nation

-and it will always inspire.

0:47:370:47:42

-These tales...

0:47:420:47:45

-..also appeal

-to an ancient memory, possibly...

0:47:460:47:49

-..that is within us Welsh people.

0:47:490:47:52

-Especially if you live in a place

-associated with these legends.

0:47:520:47:57

-Something very special

-develops in such places.

0:47:580:48:01

-You create a link between the

-present and a wondrous old world.

0:48:010:48:06

-Some of that wonder

-comes through from that past...

0:48:070:48:11

-..via memory and imagination...

0:48:110:48:12

-..into the lives of people today.

0:48:130:48:15

-The Four Branches of the Mabinogi...

0:48:180:48:20

-..are rooted in our landscape

-and in our history.

0:48:210:48:24

-They are an integral part

-of our nation's mythology.

0:48:240:48:28

-And what is a nation...

0:48:300:48:32

-..but the fruit of its people's

-history and mythology?

0:48:320:48:36

-This is what

-secures our existence...

0:48:380:48:41

-..as children of the Welsh nation.

0:48:410:48:43

-This is our heritage.

0:48:470:48:49

-This is the foundation

-for our future.

0:48:500:48:53

-S4C subtitles by

-TROSOL Cyf.

0:49:120:49:15
0:49:150:49:17

Rhaglen ddogfen sy'n olrhain hanes straeon enwocaf Cymru, Pedair Cainc y Mabinogi. To coincide with the Wales Year of Legends, another chance to see this 2003 documentary on the Mabinogion.