The Mabinogion is a collection of stories based on the oral tradition of the Welsh bards. Its name comes from a misunderstanding made by the Mabinogion's first English translator, Lady Charlotte Guest: she found in one story the Welsh word mabynogyon and assumed it was the plural form of the Welsh mabinogi. The word mabinogi itself is something of a puzzle, although it is clearly related to the Welsh mab or "son, boy". Professor Eric P. Hamp suggests that mabinogi derives from the name of the Celtic deity Maponos, and refers to the materials pertaining to the god Maponos.
The Mabinogion proper consists of four stories, also called in its manuscripts, "The Four Branches of the Mabinogi." These stories are:
- Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed
- Branwen, daughter of Llyr
- Manawydan, son of Llyr
- Math, son of Mathonwy
These tales were written down in manuscripts of the fourteenth century
-- The White Book of Rhydderich
and The Red Book of Hergest
-- and earlier fragments of these tales have been presevered in thirteenth century
Since Mabinogion's first translation by Lady Guest, seven other tales have been associated with the Four Branches. There are four stories that retell material from Welsh tradition and legend:
- The Dream of Macsen Wledig
- Llud and Llefelys
- Culhwch and Olwen
- The Dream of Rhonabwy
The tales Culhwch and Olwen
and The Dream of Rhonabwy
have interested scholars because they preserve older traditions of King Arthur
. The tale The Dream of Macsen Wledig
is a romanticized story about the Roman Emperor Magnus Maximus
And three tales are versions in Welsh of Arthurian Romances that also appear in the work of Chretien de Troyes. While nineteenth century critics believed that these works were based on Chretien's own poems, more recent criticism has leaned towards believing that these two collections are based independently from a common ancestor.
- The Lady of the Fountain
- Peredur, son of Efrawg
- Gereint, son of Erbin
- Ford, Patrick K. The Mabinogi and Other Medieval Welsh Tales. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977. ISBN 0520034147
- Gantz, Jeffrey. Trans. The Mabinogion. London and New York: Penguin Books, 1976. ISBN 0140443223.
- Guest, Lady Charlotte. The Mabinogion. Dover Publications, 1997. ISBN: 0486295419
- Jones, Gwyn and Thomas Jones. The Mabinogion. Everyman's Library 1949; revised in 1989, 1991. ISBN 0460872974
Welsh Text and Editions
- Branwen Uerch Lyr. Ed. Derick S. Thomson. Medieval and Modern Welsh Series Vol. II. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1976. ISBN 1855000598
- Culhwch and Olwen: An Edition and Study of the Oldest Arthurian Tale. Bromwich, Rachel, and D. Simon Evans. Eds. and trans. Aberystwyth: University of Wales, 1988; Second edition, 1992.
- Cyfranc Lludd a Llefelys. Ed. Brynley F. Roberts. Medieval and Modern Welsh Series Vol. VII. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1975.
- Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch. Ed. J. Gwenogvryn Evans. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1973.
- Pedeir Keinc y Mabinogi. Ed. Ifor Williams. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1951. ISBN 0708314074
- Pwyll Pendeuic Dyuet. Ed. R. L. Thomson. Medieval and Modern Welsh Series Vol. I. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1986. ISBN 1855000512
- Ford, Patrick K. "Prolegomena to a Reading of the Mabinogi: 'Pwyll' and 'Manawydan.'" Studia Celtica XVI/XVII (1981-82): 110-25.
- Ford, Patrick K. "Branwen: A Study of the Celtic Affinities." Studia Celtica XXII/XXIII (1987/1988): 29-35.
- Hamp, Eric P. "Mabinogi." Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion (1974-1975): 243-249.
- Sullivan, C. W. III. Ed. The Mabinogi, A Books of Essays. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1996. ISBN 0815314825