A uo penn bit pont: aspects of leadership in Celtic and Indo-European

Stefan Zimmer 1
  • 1 Sprachwissenschaftliches Institut, Universität Bonn, D-53012 Bonn

The second branch of the Mabinogi, the story of Branwen Uerch Lyr, is well-known among students and connoisseurs of Celtic literatures. Not the least attractive feature of it is that it still hides so many unsolved riddles. It is attempted here to bring one of these nearer to an acceptable solution by looking at it from a wider perspective. The alleged saying in the title of this contribution has never been found attested elsewhere in Celtic literature, except by citation, of course. If it was a fixed expression, or even a proverb when the story became fixed as we have it, it must have had a long history already. The following investigation is an attempt to detect this background by means of historical linguistics and a comparison of IE literary formulas, adducing also archaeological findings.

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Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie (ZcP) was founded in 1897 by Kuno Meyer and Ludwig Christian Stern. It is thus the oldest significant journal of Celtic studies still in existence. In the early period, its focus was on Celtic (mainly Irish) philology and ‘linguistic monuments’ to Continental Celtic (mainly Gaulish) languages. Later, these areas were extended to include new Celtic languages and typological questions.