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Giraldus Cambrensis (c. 1146—1223)


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[W elydyr, bronze, fused metal, brass].

Character in a much-celebrated folktale recorded by Giraldus Cambrensis in his Itinerarium Cambriae [Journey through Wales] (1188). The story is narrated by a priest, Elidurus, purporting to remember his childhood when he was known by his Welsh name, Elidyr. When playing the truant at age 12, he hid under a river bank where he met two little men who promised to lead him to a country of delights and sports. He was indeed most pleased with what he found: a country of perfectly formed little men and women with long blond hair to their shoulders, who ate neither fish nor fowl and dieted exclusively on milk with saffron. They took no oaths and detested lies. Neither did they practise any religion, simply loving the truth on their own. But they execrated mortal ambition, infidelity, and inconsistency. After a while Elidyr returned home, where his mother encouraged him to return to the delightful country to bring her back gold or jewels. He did her bidding, stealing a wonderful golden ball, but on his return home he dropped it accidentally; it was retrieved by people of the wonderful land who spat upon him for his theft. Elidyr was angry with his mother's greed, but he could never again find the entrance to the fairyland no matter how hard he tried. In reciting the story to Dewi II, the Bishop of St David's, Elidyr said that he remembered the language of fairyland being similar to Greek; this prompted Giraldus to editorialize that the ancient Britons had fled from Troy. In the end Elidyr still shed tears at his loss of the wondrous land. Folk motif: F370.

Subjects: Religion.

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