Branwen ferch Lyr
Branwen ferch Lyr: The Second Branch of the Mabinogi
I was going to do something similar for this branch as I did for the first - but after a full read of the legend I found it a bit boring. Sorry :) It's absolutely riddled with lore and legend, it's just a little less spectacular than the first one and certainly not as amazing as the next. Indeed I rather wanted to just talk about the third Branch of the Mabinogi but context is important.
If you're interested you can of course read the entire branch here:
I'm beginning to concurrently read quite a few non-fiction books since starting this #1000faces project. Some I've already dawdled in, some I bought just for this. One I just recently dived into is called Tolkien and Wales and delves into the lore that Tolkien used for his masterpieces revolving around Middle Earth. The book begins by saying that everyone focuses on Finnish legend and Norse - but that in reality, he borrows the most from Welsh myth. Indeed, as I've been reading the Mabinogi in it's entirety I'd have to wholeheartedly agree.
This second branch deals with Bran the Blessed - Bendigeidfran, his two half brothers from his mother's side (Nisien and Efnisien) and his sister, Branwen and the King of Ireland, Matholwch.
To make a long myth short - Bran gives his sister in good faith to Matholwch, which pisses off the surly brother Efnisien, who insults Matholwch. Matholwch goes back to Ireland, gets taunted by his men for being insulted by the Welsh and in turn punishes Branwen for three years. She in turn gets word to her brother (in probably the coolest way, ever -- which Tolkien snatched right up) and Bran went over to Ireland to set things aright.
More happens of course, and if you want to know the whole tale, do read it above in the link. Particularly the eighty year feast. I should also add that zombies make an appearance. I wonder if it's the first - but my guess is no. Zombies have been a popular phenomenon forever, we just love us some zombies. ;)
I actually love how these tales weave folklore and soap opera together like it's nothing.
I love our ancient human stories -- most of them were written down in the 10th-13th centuries. But they're much, much older than that. Told for hundreds of years around the fires, to teach, everyone agrees, but also, I think, for entertainment. For fun. They are certainly honed to perfection through the ages. So thoroughly embedded in our collective memories that we base our whole system of fiction on the tropes invented in these old tales.
More people should care and study them, it might make us reflect upon things with more measure and care. But that's just me. :)