AKA: Saint Aneirin Gwodryd "of Flowering Verse"
AKA: Aneirin Awenyd "the Inspired"
Aneirin > Honorius?
fl. 600 CE, Scotland?
Aneirin was a contemporary of Taliesin and Myrddin; Nennius mentions him under the name "Neirin".
I have seen reference to Aneirin as a son of Caw, the genetically prolific chieftan of Prydyn, but I have yet to find a genealogy to back up this tradition. Other areas, I have seen him named a son of King Dunaut Bwr of the Northern Pennines.
Possibly a poet in Urien's court, he was present at the battle of Cattraith, ca. 600 CE/AD in Catterick, Yorkshire, on which he wrote his epic poem "Y Gododdin", about the defeat of the Britons against the Saxons. He is critical in some places of the rash behavior of the soldiers; in other places, he mentions knights familiar to us from Arthur's court: Peredur, Owain, and Taliesin are all named in the poem. In fact, there is a reference to Arthur as a mighty warrior of the recent past.
In some traditions, he later became a monk at Llancarfan, southern Wales, where he was supposedly educated. This would likely have lead to his being named a saint.
He is attributed several poems, including the contents of Llyfr Aneirin ("Y Gododdin", and the gwarchanau), as well as two very late poems, "Englynion y Misoedd" and "Ymddiddan y saint a Chybi". He's also a participant in the dialogue with Taliesin in "Anrec Urien".
But was Aneirin a woman?
At least one triad in the Red Book of Hergest thinks so: in the triad Three Savage Men of the Island of Britain, who performed the Three Unfortunate Assassinations, we read of one assassin: "Heiden son of Efengad who slew Aneirin of Flowing Verse daughter of Teyrnbeirdd--the man who used to give a hundred kine every Saturday in a bath-tub to Talhaearn. And he struck her with a woodhatchet on the head." Rachel Bromwich demonstraited in TYP that this bizzar reading ultimately comes from an elision of a phrase, which when reinterpreted, shows that Aneirin isn't a "princess" but refers to his status as a bard.
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Mary Jones © 2009