Any medieval Latinists out there? I’ve had this… thing lately with Gwyn ap Nudd, and I found this in the wilds of the Internet today:

“ad regem Eumenidium et reginam eius: Gwynn ap Nwdd qui es ultra in silvis pro amore concubine tue permitte nos venire domum”

(found here: http://www.maryjones.us/ctexts/gwyn2.html and here: http://www.thetemplebooklet.co.uk/gwyn_ap_nuddbyAngelikaRudiger.htm)

The Mary Jones site gives the translation as: “to the king of Spirits, and to his queen– Gwyn ap Nudd,
you who are yonder in the forest, for love of your mate, permit us to enter your dwelling.”

The Temple site gives it as “To the King of the Eumenides and his queen:Gwyn ap Nudd, you who are yonder in the forests,allow us to come home.”

Neither of these sound right to me (and the Temple version leaves out a big chunk – no love for the “amore concubine”?) but I have no medieval Latin and maybe I’m just not reading it right. The source is supposedly a 14th-century text but the footnote in both cases refers to a modern anthology, so I’m not sure where it’s from.

I’m wondering about those Eumenidium. “Spirits” can’ be right, unless there is some medieval convention using that term that I don’t know about, and “Eumenides” in the way Aeschylus used the term doesn’t quite fit with anything I know about Gwyn’s mythology. Though, again, there’s all sorts of things I don’t know about here. It seems to me that it’s not at all a stretch from “Eumenidium” to “fair folk,” and that fits better.

I’m also wondering about the concubine. “Mate” seems like a euphemism – is there any reason to water down the meaning? It seems like the translator who bothers to mention her is thinking she’s the same figure as the queen, but it seems unlikely to me that the “reginam” and the “concubine” are the same person. You wouldn’t address the Queen of the Fairies that way. On the other hand, though Gwyn is often depicted as a fierce and frightening figure, his role as a lover is also usually mentioned as well (“Round-hoofed is my horse, from the torment of battle, Fairy am I called, Gwyn the son of Nudd, the lover of Creurdylad…”) So for him to be off in the woods with a concubine seems right in character.

When I saw it first today, I translated it in my head as: “To the king of the Fair Ones and she who is Queen: Gwyn ap Nudd who is beyond the forest with the beloved concubine, allow us to come home.” I don’t think this is quite right either – my Latin was never great and I’m not sure what to do with “pro amore concubine” and the Latin of 14th-century Wales is nothing I have ever studied.  Whose house? Are we asking to enter Gwyn’s house, or asking to return to our own homes? (And “domum” is giving me Monty Python flashbacks. “People called Romans they go the house?”)

So – medieval Latin, anyone? Please?

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