Myrddin – the Welsh Merlin – 28 Nov 2022
Everyone thinks they know Arthur’s enchanter; this lecture makes the case that we do not know the Welsh figure who lies behind him nearly so well. This is Myrddin, not a wizard but a wildman and forest-dwelling prophet. We look at some early Welsh poems (one spoken by Myrddin to his pet piglet) and some high medieval texts which let us glimpse the lost Celtic saga of Merlin.
Reading – none
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.