Page:Celtic Fairy Tales.djvu/289

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253
Notes and References

XIII. THE WOOING OF OLWEN.

Source.—The Mabinogi of Kilhwch and Olwen from the translation of Lady Guest, abridged.

Parallels.—Prof. Rhys, Hibbert Lectures, p. 486, considers that our tale is paralleled by Cuchulain's "Wooing of Emer," a translation of which by Prof. K. Meyer appeared in the Archæological Review, vol. i. I fail to see much analogy. On the other hand in his Arthurian Legend, p. 41, he rightly compares the tasks set by Yspythadon to those set to Jason. They are indeed of the familiar type of the Bride Wager (on which see Grimm-Hunt, i. 399). The incident of the three animals, old, older, and oldest, has a remarkable resemblance to the Tettira Jataka (ed. Fausböll, No. 37, transl. Rhys Davids, i. p. 310 seq.) in which the partridge, monkey, and elephant dispute as to their relative age, and the partridge turns out to have voided the seed of the Banyan-tree under which they were sheltered, whereas the elephant only knew it when a mere bush, and the monkey had nibbled the topmost shoots. This apologue got to England at the end of the twelfth century as the sixty-ninth fable, "Wolf, Fox, and Dove," of a rhymed prose collection of "Fox Fables" (Mishle Shu῾alim), of an Oxford Jew, Berachyah Nakdan, known in the Records as "Benedict le Puncteur" (see my Fables of Æsop, i. p. 170). Similar incidents occur in "Jack and his Snuff-box" in my English Fairy Tales, and in Dr. Hyde's "Well of D'Yerree-in-Dowan." The skilled companions of Kulhwych are common in European folk-tales (Cf. Cosquin, i. 123–5), and especially among the Celts (see Mr. Nutt's note in MacInnes' Tales, 445–8), among whom they occur very early, but not so early as Lynceus and the other skilled comrades of the Argonauts.

Remarks.—The hunting of the boar Trwyth can be traced back in Welsh tradition at least as early as the ninth century. For it is referred to in the following passage of Nennius' Historia Britonum ed. Stevenson, p: 60, "Est aliud miraculum in regione quæ dicitur Buelt [Builth, co. Brecon] Est ibi cumulus lapidum et unus lapis super-positus super congestum cum vestigia canis in eo. Quando venatus est porcum Troynt [var. lec. Troit] impressit Cabal, qui erat canis Arthuri militis, vestigium in lapide et Arthur postea congregavit congestum lapidum sub lapide in quo erat vestigium canis sui et vocatur Carn Cabal." Curiously enough there is still a mountain called Carn Cabal in the district of Builth, south of Rhayader Gwy in Breconshire. Still more curiously a friend of Lady Guest's found on this a cairn with a stone