Session 126: Ystafell 6
Myrddin, Lailoken, wild man/god

Sponsored by: Canolfan Astudiaethau Arthuraidd Prifysgol Bangor
Bangor University Centre for Arthurian Studies

Chair: Brigid Ehrmantraut

Perspectives on the legends of Lailoken

Brian Frykenberg

The figure of ‘Lailoken’ or ‘Laloecen’ appears under various guises in two short tales (‘Lailoken and Kentigern’ and ‘Lailoken and Meldred’) inserted within the fifteenth-century manuscript BL Cotton-Titus A 19 between a copy of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Vita Merlini and a fragmentary early life of St. Kentigern written before 1164, as well as in Jocelin of Furness’s copious life of the saint written ca. 1185. Just as Kentigern’s fragmentary life, the two Lailoken tales look to be  results of the early twelfth-century ecclesiastical reorganisation of Glasgow as an episcopal see by David, Prince of Cumbria and later King of Scotland. However, the stories that these tales and Jocelin’s anecdotes relate vary markedly from one another in both their selection and their presentation of local legends, international motifs, and moralistic, theological or political themes. Taking into account the development of ‘Lailoken B’, Jocelin’s anecdotes, and their contemporary comparanda and later echoes, I will focus upon ‘Lailoken and Kentigern’, and propose a likely compositional context and motivation for that tale.

Wild man – king god

Gilles Boucherit
KEBK Roazhon

Jarman in 'The Merlin Legend and the Welsh Tradition of Prophecy' writes that 'There was [...] no direct link between the tales preserved in Celtic sources and those found in eastern or Asiatic countries”. These were all literate societies, and a parallel situation exists between the Akkadian state and Roman empire.

During the Sumerian period (2600-2400), the king marrying the goddess Inanna, appearing as a heroic 'lady of the battle' helped him to achieve supreme office. Naram-Sin (2254-2218), the supreme ruler after conquering Sumer was divinized as the 'god of Akkad' while still alive: consequently Enkidu, Gilgamesh's friend in the Sumerian period, is treated as a wild man in the following third dynasty of Ur (2150-2020).

In Rome, the temporal and spiritual powers had merged. Constantine became the head of the Church. As a state religion, christian government was unequivocal everywhere. In Ireland, archaic kingship was tribal and sacral.

Ireland’s tripartite social structure would not merge temporal power with spiritual authority. The king represented his people in war, treaties and with the Otherworld. Symbolically he would wed to a goddess representing the territory. Politically, the high-kingship of Ireland was the creation of the Uí Neill dynasty, not tribe. Adomnan (624-704) states categorically that Niall's great-grandson Diarmait mac Cerbaill was 'ordained by God, ruler of all Ireland'.

Consequently, Lailoken (Arfderydd, 573) and Suibne (Mag Rath, 637) were treated as wild men in romance.

Easter dates now and then: from 2019 back to Bangor in the sixth century

Harald Gropp

Easter Sunday was in 2019 celebrated on the wrong Sunday, apart from by those who as an action of protest celebrated on 'true Easter Sunday' (March 24). The official dates were April 21 for the Western world and April 28 for the Orthodox. Considering possible reforms (e.g. the Aleppo document of 1997) this talk will lead us back through the centuries, discussing particular events in the Easter date debates.

While the sixteenth-century Gregorian calendar reform led to double Easter dates until at least 1700 in Western Europe (and longer in worldwide Christianity), a particular focus will be on the Celtic countries and regions which were more or less influenced by Celtic culture. Not only because of the special event of this year’s ICCS in Bangor, we shall try to get back as far as the sixth century AD in Bangor or in the two Bangors.

While mathematical and astronomical features are a necessary basis for the discussion, the talk will not be particularly technical: I focus on religious and cultural aspects.