Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Y Gododdin

I actually enjoyed this piece, after I looked up a translation I could understand. It reminds me of a eulagy, each piece a seperate eulagy for a slain warrior. As we discussed in class they seem to have a "form" to use when writing eligies that discribes the ideal warrior for that time. So we may not get a clear picture of what these men were really like but we certainly get a picture of what a warrior of the time was supposed to aspire to.

I don't think we discussed in class the role the mead played in this whole thing. The poem eludes to the fact that the mead may have actually been the poison that lead to the deaths of many of the warriors.

"Because of wine-feast and mead-feast they charged, men famed in fighting, heedless of life."

"Men went to Catraeth, mead-nourished band"

"Pale mead their portion, it was poison"

"For a feast of mead they gave their lives,"

These are just a few of the lines taken from "Y Gododdin" that mention mead.
I am curious how others interpret the role/purpose of the drinking of the mead.

Was it the mead that gave them the courage to go fight so bravely? Or did the mead cause them to be really stupid in taking on so many soldiers? And why in the world would they drink and party for a whole year before getting down to business.

Was this a lord/thane thing, where they were being buttered up (so to speak) so they would owe allegiance. If they drank this stuff everyday for a year, I wounder how their health, strength and mental health were when they went into battle

1 comment:

Doug Simms said...

The poetry of Y Gododdin is often cryptic. One possible interpretation is that the mead is metaphorically "poison" because the warriors drank it and committed themselves to battle where they ended up getting killed. The mead led to their deaths as if it were poison.

Unfortunately we lack a lot of information concerning Britain at this time which would help us make sense of drinking mead for a year. In some cultures it is not unheard of for people to be selected for a special purpose (ritual, sacrifice, etc...) in advance, and during the gap of time between being chosen and the particular purpose for which they had been chosen they would be afforded special care (such as wining and dining)