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Jun 29, Rebecca McNutt rated it it was amazing Shelves: This book is one that every reader in the world should have. With its stunning illustrations, imaginative tales and classic style, it's really an amazing addition to literature. Going to put this aside for awhile. The title is very deceiving. This is more or less a history book.. It is interesting but not what I expected. Will come back to it at another time.

by Thomas Rolleston

Wow, this book is really old! Both when it was published early s and the particular copy I have. The introduction, history and religion chapters are outdated- there is a bit of a Noble Savage framing of the Celts and he takes seriously the fabricated "Barddas" of Iolo Morganwg that was claimed to be ancient Welsh Bardic wisdom. However the re-tellings of the myths seem like they are good. There are even a few myths that I haven't seen before, like the story of Tuan Mac Carell.

The edition I Wow, this book is really old! The edition I have also has nice Art Noveau illustrations. Actually this is the most extensive collection of Celtic myth and legend I have seen in one book- that is the best reason to buy, borrow and read this book.

Then you have to realise that this is simply an overview of Celtic history and their later mythology. Then, however, we come to our largest, most tedious section — the myths themselves. Probably around sixty percent of the entire book revolves around Irish tales. Of course, the Grail Quest was influenced by the spread of Christianity, even if some of the original mysticism survives in the tale, but the tale we know is also unfortunately another de Troyes creation it is said that the original tale, however, was possibly one involving a quest for a stone.

And another surprise in there, for me, was that Arthur himself may be based upon a deity called Artaius? There were no Scottish tales to be had Scots and Irish Gaelic were once the same language, therefore the tales are pretty much the same and none from elsewhere within the British Isles. This last part, for me, was perhaps my biggest disappointment after the pages upon pages of commentary on the Irish tales. The Irish tales are interesting, and perhaps contain the strongest hints of the mythology during the pre-Christian days of the Isles even with the changes made in them during the transition and post-Christian period — Saint Patrick even makes an appearance , but I was perhaps looking for something more that I could link into on a personal level, like the tales of Bran the Blessed, mythology that still survives in the ravens at the Tower of London.

I want to be able to feel the history as I walk through the lands once walked by the ancients. Ireland is interesting in being still captured by that mythology, most particularly as perceived from outsiders, yet it is not my land. But, however, the biggest trouble was how all these tales were written.


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They were dry, brief, perhaps direct translations, interspersed with various comments on how the tales relate to various things. We do not simply have a list of the tales here although I guess there are other sources for the tales themselves in full ; we have more a commentary on the tales and their meaning. It should be no surprise, then, that it took me six months to finish this book! I guess that, on a reference level, there is plenty of interesting information contained within, whether for serious study or just out of curiosity like with myself.

Yet there are more modern books on the subject that could perhaps cover everything much better. Considering that I was gifted this book, more than ten years ago now, and had planned to keep it just for reference using the index rather than giving it a thorough read, a part of me thinks that maybe I should have done just that. The overall subject of the book was very interesting and educational, however it seemed to have what I call "thought vomit" throughout the entire book. There was a lot of information to be had and needed to be introduced to the reader but a better, more concise way I think could have been found.

I had taken an Irish literature class in college so I knew most of what the author was talking about, but if someone, not having the background of information that I had, to pick up this book and start r The overall subject of the book was very interesting and educational, however it seemed to have what I call "thought vomit" throughout the entire book.

I had taken an Irish literature class in college so I knew most of what the author was talking about, but if someone, not having the background of information that I had, to pick up this book and start reading it they would immediately get lost or put it back down because the flow of the information was as if someone said--"I have a lot of knowledge about this subject and I have to convey all of it in a short amount of period of time, then proceeded to 'vomit' their thoughts onto the pages.

Spent ages on this thing! I read it on my phone, so it wasn't the best reading experience for such a big book. I am very interested in mythology and folklore, so I thought this would be an interesting read. It's full of stories from lots of characters in celtic mythology, and it was pretty cool and enlightening. I'd only recommend it for specially interested people though, as it's not a casual read. This book was OK for , but is now horribly out of date. It is of use only for those wanting to understand how Celtic studies has progressed over the last century.

Aug 05, G. Lawrence rated it really liked it. A good read and beautifully illustrated, although it should more accurately be titled "Irish myths and legends, with a bit of Welsh at the end". This didn't ruin the book for me, but it wasn't quite what I had expected. Recommended for all who love fairies, myths and legends! Jun 08, Sarah Gutierrez Myers rated it liked it Shelves: Would have been better if the compiler's commentary and opinions about the "meaning" of the old stories had been placed in footnotes or left out altogether. I don't want to be reading a delightfully horrifying old story filled with curses and revenge and suddenly have the story interrupted to read, "And this is clearly symbolic of Basta che riporti qualche stralcio di questo breve racconto: La sua bellezza richiarava le pareti come una candela e uno dopo l'altro i Fianna si avvicinarono al suo giaciglio, ma ella li respinse tutti.

Aug 27, GypsyBookworm rated it really liked it.

Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race

This book, like most collections had some dry spots but others part were sheer magic. A lot of tales are covered in this book so it is a great overview and the stories are broken up and are not overly long. I really liked the version of Etain and Midir. The illustrations are also charming. I didn't finish, but I skimmed around.

Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race Index

A decent overview of the different myths, but I found myself just wanting to go read more complete versions. My review from Amazon written April I have a copy of the printing that I bought for a tenner in Camden market, because why buy things new when you can get them a hundred years old. I'm a writer and the novels I write are generally inspired by Celtic mythology, so I'm always looking for new versions of legends I've heard hundreds of times or a new take on a certain element. My main resource has until now been Daragh Smyth's "Guide to Irish mythology", but that's more of a dictionary th My review from Amazon written April My main resource has until now been Daragh Smyth's "Guide to Irish mythology", but that's more of a dictionary than anything else, organised alphabetically with an entry for each character or place.

By contrast, Rolleston's book takes us through the stories 'in order', as it were. They're broken up by headings that make it clear what the main point of that section is, much like in a Bible where there are subheadings within chapters. There's also a helpful index at the back, and if it's a particular character you're looking for, you'll be able to find the page numbers for every story they're in.

It starts with a pretty lengthy introduction, and towards the beginning there is a lot about the general society and religious arrangements of the Celtic races, which is good for giving some sort of context to the stories. As well as quoting various other interpretations, Rolleston gives his own view on what he believes to be the explanation for things, allowing a reader to make up their own mind - though his arguments are convincing enough that they often won't be inclined to disagree.

The stories come from all of the Celtic races, from the Tuatha de Danaan in Ireland to the warrior women of Skatha, now believed to be the island of Skye, to the flower woman Blodeuwedd from Wales, to beliefs of the Gauls There are also Arthurian legends, although I'll confess I haven't quite got that far in the book yet! It isn't one you would read from beginning to end, but rather one you would dip into and look for things you find interesting.

Something else I liked was which characters were given careful attention. In many books, such as Daragh Smyth's excellent Guide to Irish Mythology, there will be huge amounts on people like the Dagda, on Cuchullain However, the female warriors I discovered in the pages of Rolleston's book I'd never come across before, because they have only fleeting mentions in other people's legends. For example, I liked the way he talked about Aifa, a woman warrior, as a character in her own right, rather than focusing only on her relationship with Cuchullain as her defining feature.

Mar 21, Kathy rated it did not like it Shelves: I'm usually a fast reader, but this book was so boring it took me three months to finish. I literally did everything to avoid reading this. I can count all the things I would have rather done than read this dribble. The title of this book is misleading because there are no fairy tales or mythology. Just skip the two chapters and start from Chapter 3.


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  • This book is a Dover reprint. Celtic Myths and Legends was first printed in I expected for this book to be condescending and full of narrow-m I'm usually a fast reader, but this book was so boring it took me three months to finish. I expected for this book to be condescending and full of narrow-minded remarks. In that sense this book did not disappoint. This book should really be called: Why I think the Irish and Welsh are Inferior: A study by some racist jerk. Rolleston claims that the Celts contributed so much to society yet he belittles their culture and their stories.

    How's that for respect? Other than the fact that Rolleston believes that Celtic is too broad of term because there were several Celtic tribes across Europe. Or the fact that he includes the Mabinogion Welsh epic.

    I do not see a single positive thing about this book. If the reader can get through even one chapter without falling asleep than one might actually learn something. In addition, the illustrations included are gorgeous probably to keep the reader from destroying the book. Other things I learned: CuChulain is a manchild, literally. In order for CuChulain to fight with men he had to smear blackberry juice on his chin to trick them into thinking he has a beard. Grown men would not fight a boy. He killed his liege's dog and didn't even apologise for it. Indeed, many Gaelic myths were first recorded by Christian monks, albeit without most of their original religious meanings.

    The oldest body of myths stemming from the Heroic Age is found only from the early medieval period of Ireland. The leader of the gods for the Irish pantheon appears to have been the Dagda. Celtic gods were also considered to be a clan due to their lack of specialization and unknown origins. The particular character of the Dagda was as a figure of burlesque lampoonery in Irish mythology , and some authors even conclude that he was trusted to be benevolent enough to tolerate jokes at his own expense.

    Irish tales depict the Dagda as a figure of power, armed with a club. In Dorset there is a famous outline of an ithyphallic giant known as the Cerne Abbas Giant with a club cut into the chalky soil. While this was probably produced in relatively modern times English Civil War era , it was long thought to be a representation of the Dagda.

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    This has been called into question by recent studies which show that there may have been a representation of what looks like a large drapery hanging from the horizontal arm of the figure, leading to suspicion that this figure actually represents Hercules Heracles , with the skin of the Nemean lion over his arm and carrying the club he used to kill it. In Gaul , it is speculated that the Dagda is associated with Sucellus , the striker, equipped with a hammer and cup. The god appearing most frequently in the tales is Lugh. He is evidently a residual of the earlier, more widespread god Lugus , whose diffusion in Celtic religion is apparent from the number of place names in which his name appears, occurring across the Celtic world.

    Lug is described in the Celtic myths as the last to be added to the list of deities. In Ireland a festival called the Lughnasadh Irish: Notable is Epona , the horse goddess, celebrated with horse races at the summer festival. Less is known about the pre-Christian mythologies of Britain than those of Ireland. Other characters, in all likelihood, derive from mythological sources, and various episodes, such as the appearance of Arawn , a king of the Otherworld seeking the aid of a mortal in his own feuds, and the tale of the hero who cannot be killed except under seemingly contradictory circumstances, can be traced throughout Indo-European myth and legend.

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    While further mythological names and references appear elsewhere in Welsh narrative and tradition, especially in the tale of Culhwch and Olwen , where we find, for example, Mabon ap Modron "Divine Son of the Divine Mother" , and in the collected Welsh Triads , not enough is known of the British mythological background to reconstruct either a narrative of creation or a coherent pantheon of British deities. Indeed, though there is much in common with Irish myth, there may have been no unified British mythological tradition per se. Whatever its ultimate origins, the surviving material has been put to good use in the service of literary masterpieces that address the cultural concerns of Wales in the early and later Middle Ages.

    The Celts also worshiped a number of deities of which little more is known than their names. Classical writers preserve a few fragments of legends or myths that may possibly be Celtic. According to the Syrian rhetorician Lucian , Ogmios was supposed to lead a band of men chained by their ears to his tongue as a symbol of the strength of his eloquence. The first-century Roman poet Lucan mentions the gods Taranis , Teutates and Esus , but there is little Celtic evidence that these were important deities.

    The Gundestrup cauldron has been also interpreted mythically. Along with dedications giving us god names, there are also deity representations to which no name has yet been attached. Among these are images of a three-headed or three-faced god, a squatting god, a god with a snake, a god with a wheel, and a horseman with a kneeling giant. The distribution of some of the images has been mapped and shows a pattern of central concentration of an image along with a wide scatter indicating these images were most likely attached to specific tribes and were distributed from some central point of tribal concentration outward along lines of trade.

    The image of the three-headed god has a central concentration among the Belgae, between the Oise, Marne and Moselle rivers. The horseman with kneeling giant is centered on either side of the Rhine. These examples seem to indicate regional preferences of a common image stock. In this he names the five principal gods worshiped in Gaul according to the practice of his time , he gives the names of the closest equivalent Roman gods and describes their roles. Mercury was the most venerated of all the deities and numerous representations of him were to be discovered.

    Mercury was seen as the originator of all the arts and is often taken to refer to Lugus for this reason , the supporter of adventurers and of traders, and the mightiest power concerning trade and profit.