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RE: [Lambengolmor] Welsh _Annwn_, Sindarin _Annûn_

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  • Pavel Iosad
    Hello, Carl wrote the following excellent essay: (Is it to appear in _Words and Devices_, as I hope?) ... As a matter of fact, I believe the Western asociation
    Message 1 of 4 , May 30, 2002
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      Hello,

      Carl wrote the following excellent essay:

      (Is it to appear in _Words and Devices_, as I hope?)

      >A relationship has long been suggested between the name _Annwn_ of the Welsh
      >underworld and the Sindarin word _Annûn_ 'Sunset, West', isolated from the
      >name _Henneth Annûn_ 'Window of the Sunset' (LR:659) and cognate with Q.
      >_Andúne_ 'West' (as in Galadriel's Lament) ‹ see for instance _An
      >Introduction to Elvish_ p. 72 s.v. _Annûn_. Certainly the phonetic shapes of
      >the two names are strikingly similar; and an association of W. _Annwn_ with
      >a land to the west is firm in the mythology.

      As a matter of fact, I believe the Western asociation is of quite a lot of significance still

      [...]
      >The first thing to note here is the spelling _annwfn_ (the form that
      >acutally occurs in "Pwyll"): In Welsh, as in Sindarin, final _-fn_ became
      >_-n_ in the later language. The second thing to note is that W. _Annwfn_
      >'hell' is derived by Jones (and at least at this time by Tolkien) from a
      >primitive form meaning 'bottomless', cognate with Greek _abyssos_, (our
      >_abyss_). The derivation is from a pair of confused primitive forms meaning
      >'bottom' and 'deep', prefixed with a negative element (syllabic *_n-_ >
      >Greek _a-_): 'bottomless'.

      However, may it be noted that the realm of _Annwfn_ as portrayed in _Pwyll Pendefig Dyfed_ is of no association to 'hell' at all. Conversely, Tolkien expressed deep appreciation of the portrayal of the Otherworld in PPD, vide MC:172-3. All of the Otherworld in the first four branches of _Y Mabinogi_ (as well as the rest of this magnum opus) has nothing to do with 'hell', and is in fact largely a leftover from the pre-Christian Celtic archetypes (vide especially _Manawyddan Fab Llyr_). Therefore I think that the association of _Annwfn_ and hell as you outlined is more of a philological device (i.e. word-play) rather than an actual mythological association.

      [...]

      >The deep parallels in form, meaning, and mythological significance between
      >W. _Annw(f)n_ 'hell' and S. _Udûn_ 'hell' are far more striking than the
      >surface similarity between W. _Annwn_ and S. _Annûn_ 'Sunset, West', but are
      >discoverable only by philological exploration. Just the sort of exploration
      >that Tolkien himself would have loved, I think!

      Indeed! However, I would still insist that it is of hardly any mythological significance, though certainly most interesting as a quirky derivation.

      [...]

      I don't have info on _Arawn_, but I would suggest a third association - _Rhiannon_ vs. _Rían_ (and earlier _Rhían), V:383 s.v. RIG-). _Rhían_ is said to stem for RIG-, carrying the idea of "crown". The few sources that I have uniformly identify _Rhiannon_ as stemming from the word for 'mistress' (e.g. Guyonvarc'h Ch.-J., Leroux F., La Civilisation Celtique). I hope there's something on it in Morris-Jones! It is also intersting to note that Rhiannon is the mother of the archetypal hero Pryderi (which in the text iteslf is identified as _worry_, though I don't know if this is a folk etymology or not - I need Morris-Jones, I need Morris-Jones <stomp stomp>), while Rían is mother to Tuor the mighty, whose name points to a warrior hero unequivocally ('vigour-strength', according to V:394 s.v. TUG-). Though of the heroes of the First Age Húrin would be closest to Pryderi (cf. Húrin's behaviour in _The Wanderings of Húrin_ in X:251-310 and _Manawyddan Fab Llyr_ in the part when Manawyddan and Pryderi take up differernt crafts), the archetype of a hero is still present in Tuor. I do not think this connection improbable as well.

      Thanks Carl for the enlightening essay!

      Pavel
      --
      Pavel Iosad pavel_iosad@...

      'I am a philologist, and thus a misunderstood man'
      --JRR Tolkien, _The Notion Club Papers_
    • Carl F. Hostetter
      ... True enough. But 1) later associations often are quite altered from the primitive/formative semantics indicated by etymology; and 2) Tolkien did not reject
      Message 2 of 4 , May 30, 2002
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        In message 5, "Pavel Iosad" <pavel_iosad@...> wrote:

        > may it be noted that the realm of _Annwfn_ as portrayed in _Pwyll
        > Pendefig Dyfed_ is of no association to 'hell' at all.

        True enough. But 1) later associations often are quite altered from the
        primitive/formative semantics indicated by etymology; and 2) Tolkien did not
        reject Jones's derivation. What the Welsh made of the word/name they
        inherited as _Annw(f)n_ has no necessary bearing on what the word's
        antecedents originally meant.

        > Therefore I think that the association of
        > _Annwfn_ and hell as you outlined is more of a philological device (i.e.
        > word-play) rather than an actual mythological association.

        I'm not so sure. Remember the conceit (expressed perhaps most fully in _The
        Drowning of Anadûne_ in _Sauron Defeated_) that while Men in northwestern
        Europe had the truest form of the mythology, it was still much changed, even
        corrupted. Welsh _Annw(f)n_, by this conceit, may be a dim, much-blurred
        memory of the Eldarin "underworld".

        > _Rhiannon_ vs. _Rían_ (and earlier _Rhían), V:383 s.v. RIG-). _Rhían_ is said
        > to stem for RIG-, carrying the idea of "crown". The few sources that I have
        > uniformly identify _Rhiannon_ as stemming from the word for 'mistress' (e.g.
        > Guyonvarc'h Ch.-J., Leroux F., La Civilisation Celtique). I hope there's
        > something on it in Morris-Jones!

        I'll check when I get a chance.

        > - I need Morris-Jones, I need Morris-Jones <stomp stomp>),

        A search at Bibliofind.com turns up numerous copies from various
        booksellers, including one for just $20 from:

        http://dogbert.abebooks.com/abe/BookDetails?bi=131974122

        > Thanks Carl for the enlightening essay!

        And thanks for your reply!


        |======================================================================|
        | Carl F. Hostetter Aelfwine@... http://www.elvish.org |
        | |
        | ho bios brachys, he de techne makre. |
        | Ars longa, vita brevis. |
        | The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne. |
        | "I wish life was not so short," he thought. "Languages take |
        | such a time, and so do all the things one wants to know about." |
        |======================================================================|
      • Hans Georg Lundahl <hglundahl@yahoo.se>
        ... Técanye: Depends on what Hell means, linguistically speaking: are we talking about a place of Punishment and eternal damnation? Like Hebrew Gehenna or the
        Message 3 of 4 , Jan 31, 2003
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          In message 5, "Pavel Iosad" <pavel_iosad@m...> wrote:

          > may it be noted that the realm of _Annwfn_ as portrayed in _Pwyll
          > Pendefig Dyfed_ is of no association to 'hell' at all.

          Tence sinanna Aelfwine:

          > True enough. But 1) later associations often are quite altered from
          > the primitive/formative semantics indicated by etymology; and 2) Tolkien
          > did not reject Jones's derivation. What the Welsh made of the word/name they
          > inherited as _Annw(f)n_ has no necessary bearing on what the word's
          > antecedents originally meant.

          ----

          Técanye:

          Depends on what Hell means, linguistically speaking: are we talking
          about a place of Punishment and eternal damnation? Like Hebrew
          Gehenna or the Pagan Greek/Latin concept of Tartarus? Then, clearly,
          Annwfn of Mabinogion is not portrayed as Hell in that sense.

          Or are we talking about the place of departed souls in the
          Netherworld, to whom Heaven is not open, as yet, or wasn't until a
          moment ago, as when we say of Christ:

          descendit ad inferos...
          He descended to Hell...

          where the Greek would certainly not be Tartarus, but Hades, and the
          Hebrew would be Sheol? In that sense Annwfn meant Hell even to Pagan
          Celts, though their guess of its characteristics might not be the best
          one. At least if the scholars on Celtic mythology are correct in
          identifying Elflands of all sorts with Netherworlds, Lands of the
          Dead, whether the text states so or not. If they were wrong, it was
          on their wrong guess that Jones and Tolkien based theirs.

          Hans Georg Lundahl
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