How Culhwch Won Olwen and tales of Arthur – 23 Jan 2023
This week we are sticking once more with the Arthurian world, and introducing one of the best medieval Welsh tales: the story of Culhwch and Olwen. This fantastical and varied story features giants, horror, love, and adventure, and is the earliest Arthurian story to survive in any language. Arthur is a Celtic figure in origin, and here we get a glimpse of a stranger, less comfortable Arthur than the one we know.
Reading: How Culhwch Won Olwen, in The Mabinogion, trans. Sioned Davies
don’t worry if you miss it – we will send you a recording valid for two weeks the next day
Dr Mark Williams is Fellow and Tutor in English at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford. He is a specialist in the medieval languages and literatures of Wales and Ireland, and the author of Ireland’s Immortals: A History of the Gods of Irish Myth (Princeton, 2016), and The Celtic Myths that Shaped the Way We Think (Thames & Hudson, 2021). He is in training as a Jungian psychoanalyst
W. B. Yeats, ‘Rosa Alchemica’ in Mythologies (many editions)
George Russell, ‘The Legends of Ancient Eire’ https://www.teozofija.info/Russell_Legends.html
Celtic Myth by Dr. Mark Williams
These lectures introduce a range of famous figures and fascinating stories from the medieval Irish and Welsh past, including many characters who number among the gods and goddesses of the Celts. The aim is to explain their cultural context and status as literature, showing who produced these stories in the form in which we have them, and why. Each lecture also draws attention to the ways any given story has been reimagined in modernity, being forged anew for our own times. In each case I have suggested one paperback to read beforehand.