Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/326

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

312 The European Sky-God.

Gronw Pebyr (' the Strong '), got from Llew Llaw Gyffes his life-secret. He could be killed only by a spear that had been a year in the making ; and nothing must have been done to it except during the sacrifice on Sundays. He could not be killed within a house or without, on horseback or on foot, but only when he stood with one foot on the edge of a thatched cauldron beside a river and with the other foot on the back of a buck. Blodeuwedd revealed the secret to Gronw, who slew him thus. Llew Llaw Gyffes in the form of an eagle flew up and dis- appeared. His uncle Gwydion made search for him by following a sow, which set off with great speed and made for the brook now called Nant y Llew. Here she halted under an oak-tree and began to eat putrid flesh that dropped from the boughs. Looking up, Gwydion saw perched there an eagle, from whom fragments of flesh kept dropping. He charmed the eagle with song to descend to his knee, and, striking him with his magic w^and, restored him once more to the form of Llew Llaw Gyffes. Gwydion next pursued after Blodeuwedd and changed her into an owl ; while Llew killed Gronw, even as Gronw had killed him, and so recovered his princedom.

In this important myth we notice, to begin with, that the hero's name, as Professor Rhys^ has shown, was origin- ally not Llew, but Lleii, the Welsh equivalent of Lug, the Irish sun-god.^ Again, Llew or Lieu reigns as a king over the cantrev of Dinodig, having his palace at Mur-y- Castell.- Further, after death he comes to life again, and for the second time takes possession of his kingdom under the same name.^ These indications point to the conclusion that the British, like the Gaelic,^ king personated the sun- god, who was believed to be re-incarnate in the royal line.

iRhys Hibbert Lectures p. 237 n. i, pp. 398-409, Arthurian Legend y>. 97, Celtic Folklore ii. 542 f. 2 Lady Charlotte Guest Mabinogion ed. 1904 p. 72. ^ lb. p. 80. * Folk-lore xvii. 159.