Spoils of Annwfn, The


Spoils of Annwfn, The
(Preiddeu Annwfn)
(ca. 900)
   The Spoils of Annwfn is a brief but puzzling poem in Welsh, preserved in the 13th-century book of TALIESIN. Though structurally similar to other poems in that manuscript, it was certainly not written by the sixth-century bard Taliesin. Most likely the poem was composed between the eighth and 12th centuries, probably around the year 900. The Spoils of Annwfn is interesting chiefly as an early text dealing with the legend of King ARTHUR. In the poem Arthur (not yet called king) leads his men in a raid on Annwfn, the mythic dwelling place of the Celtic deities. Annwfn is depicted here as both an underworld city and an island in the sea to which Arthur and his host must travel in his ship Prydwen (“Fairface”). Arthur’s goal is to obtain a magic cauldron in the possession of the lord of Annwfn. The cauldron is guarded by nine maidens, and it has the property of measuring the courage of warriors: A coward could not cook with it. The expedition proves to be dangerous and costly for Arthur—only seven men return alive, including the poem’s narrator, who uses that fact as a kind of refrain after each section of the poem, repeating “apart from seven, none came back.”With each refrain, the narrator also calls Annwfn by another name: “Faerie,” for example, or “Fortress of Revelry.” These various epithets have led to some confusion in the poem, since some readers have taken them to refer to different destinations, and suggested that the poem is about several different journeys, from each of which only seven warriors returned. This seems less likely than the poet’s using various epithets for the underworld. But the difference in interpretation does illustrate the difficulty of understanding or translating this poem. Other difficulties arise from the many allusions to traditional Celtic legend that are incomprehensible to modern readers.
   Scholars have recognized similarities between this poem and another Welsh text, the tale of Branwen in the second branch of the MABINOGION. Though that text does not involve Arthur and describes a voyage to Ireland rather than the underworld, it does concern a magic cauldron that can raise the dead. It is possible that these magic Celtic vessels are early versions of what was to become the legend of the HOLY GRAIL in later texts.
   Bibliography
   ■ Breeze, Andrew. Medieval Welsh Literature. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1997.
   ■ Loomis, Roger Sherman. The Development of Arthurian Romance. New York: Norton, 1963.
   ■ Williams, Gwyn. An Introduction to Welsh Poetry. 1954. Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1970.

Encyclopedia of medieval literature. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Preiddeu Annwfn — (English: The Spoils of Annwfn ) is a short, enigmatic poem found in the Welsh Book of Taliesin. Scholars suggest it took its present form around AD 900 based on linguistic evidence, [Lacy, Norris J. (1991). The Spoils of Annwfn (Preiddeu Annwfn) …   Wikipedia

  • Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain — Manuscripts Peniarth MSS 51 (names only), 60, 77, 138, 179, 295; Cardiff MSS 17, 19, 26, 43; Llanstephan 65, 94, 145; National Library of Wales MS 5269B; Panton MS 13; BL Addl. 14,973; Mostyn MS 159; Edward Jones, Bardic Museum. London, 1808. pp …   Wikipedia

  • Preiddeu Annwfn — [ preiðei annuvn] („Die Beute aus Annwfn“, „Die Beraubung von Annwfn“) ist der Titel eines 60 Zeilen langen Gedichtes, das im Llyfr Taliesin („ Das Buch Taliesins“) aus dem 14. Jahrhundert enthalten ist. Es dürfte nach linguistischen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Король Артур — Статуя короля Артура из Кенотафа Великих Королей Древности в Инсбруке, скульптор Петер Вишер по эскизу Альбрехта Дюрера. Статуя одета в немецкий доспех начала XV Века, являющийся анахронизмом У этого термина существуют и другие значения, см.… …   Википедия

  • Medieval Welsh literature — History of Literature Bronze Age literature Sumerian Egyptian Akkadian Classical literatures …   Wikipedia

  • Arthur, King —    King Arthur was the legendary king of Britain who became the central figure in a literary tradition that spanned centuries and included hundreds of texts in the later Middle Ages and beyond, even into the 21st century. Over the course of the… …   Encyclopedia of medieval literature

  • Taliesin — (fl. 550)    Welsh bard, the popular rendering of whose name is fair forehead, whose name is associated with the Book of Taliesin, a book of poems written down in the 10th century but which most scholars believe to date in large part from the 6th …   British and Irish poets

  • Annwn — or Annwfn (Middle Welsh Annwvn , sometimes inaccurately written Annwyn, Annwyfn or Annwfyn ) was the Otherworld in Welsh mythology. Ruled by Arawn, or much later by Gwynn ap Nudd, it was essentially a world of delights and eternal youth where… …   Wikipedia

  • Culhwch and Olwen — Culhwch ac Olwen Culhwch and Olwen Author(s) anonymous Language Middle Welsh Date c. 1100 …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.