Beli Mawr

Beli Mawr

Beli Mawr (Beli the Great) was an ancestor deity in Welsh mythology. He is the father of Caswallawn, Arianrhod, Lludd and Llefelys. Several royal lines in medieval Wales traced their ancestry to him.

He is often considered to have derived from the Celtic god Belenus. A number of conflicting linguistic theories have been proposed for the origin of the name. One suggestion is that it may be derived from "Bolgios", a name attested as the leader of a Gaulish attack on Macedon in the 3rd century BC. It is probably related to the element "bel-" in the Irish "Beltane" (modern Gaelic "bealtuinn" "May-day"), which means "bright-fire". The Gaulish god-names "Belenos" (*Bright one) and "Belisama" are also probably related. Numerous other possible cognates could be given.

However, it should be noted that in Medieval Welsh tradition, Beli Mawr is often given the patronymic "fab Manogan/Mynogan" ("son of Manogan"). This appears to derive from a textual garbling of the name of a real historical figure, Adminius, son of Cunobelinus; after being transmitted through the Roman authors Suetonius and Orosius, this name became "Bellinus filius Minocanni" in the medieval Latin text from Wales "Historia Brittonum". [Rachel Bromwich (ed.), "Trioedd Ynys Prydein" (Cardiff, 1961; revised ed. 1991), pp. 281-2.] Thus, although Beli became a separate personage in medieval pseudohistory from Cunobelinus (Welsh "Cynfelyn", Shakespeare's Cymbeline), he was generally presented as a king reigning in the period immediately before the Roman invasion; his "son" Caswallawn is the historical Cassivellaunus.

Beli also appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth's "Historia Regum Britanniæ" as Heli.


External links

* [ Beli Mawr and the Belgae]

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