Three entries with the name Mabon.
The name shared by two of Arthur’s followers in the poem Pa gur. One is the son of Modron (the most common association for Mabon), described as the servant of Uther Pendragon; the other is the son of Mellt. This may be a duplication, the same character having Modron for a mother (derived from the Celtic goddess Matrona) and Mellt (possibly derived from a god called Meldos) for a father. These characters are perhaps all the same.
Mabon, the son of Modron, is undoubtedly the Celtic god Maponos (perhaps the equivalent of the Irish Mac ind oc), Modron originally being the Celtic goddess, Matrona, and Mellt perhaps a hypothetical god called Meldos. C. Matthews regards the story of Mabon as a mystery cycle. C. Ashe argues that Merlin may have acted as a prophet of the god Maponos – thus bringing a direct connection to the Arthurian tradition, and leading some to refer to Mabon himself as a sorverer, while J. Matthews feels that the history of Gawaine replays the story of the god. Mabon is also referred to as a sorcerer.
Culhwch says he was abducted when he was three nights old and taken to Caer Loyw (Gloucester), which here is used to symbolise the Otherworld. It was necessary for Culhwch to find and rescue him, as part of his quest. Arthur attacked his prison, while Kay and Bedivere rescued him. Subsequently he took part in the hunt for the magic boar, Twrch Trwyth, and succeeding in taking the razor that Culhwch required from between the beast’s ears. Similarly named characters are Mabonagrain in Chrétien’s Erec et Enide and Mabuz in Ulrich’s Lanzelet.
Pa gur yv y porthaur | Poem 31 of the Black Book of Carmarthen, probably c. 1100
Culhwch and Olwen | Late 11th century
First Continuation of Chrétien’s Perceval | Attributed to Wauchier of Denain, c. 1200
Breudwyt Rhonabwy | 13th century
The Celtic god of liberation, harmony, unity and music, was undoubtedly the original of the Arthurian characters having the same name, as well as several others. He was possibly one of the most universally worshipped of all the Celtic deities, the centre of the Druidic cosmology, the original Being, pre-existent, the Son of the Great Mother. In mythology he is represented as both a prisoner and a liberator. Many other heroic and divine figures, and not just one in the Arthurian legends, are related to Mabon.
As Maponos, this deity was worshipped in the north of Britain and Gaul, and is widely associated with therapeutic springs. In the most common Welsh tradition he is Mabon, son of Modron (‘son of the Mother’), held captive since he had been stolen from his mother aged just three days. He is equated in a Romano-Celtic inscription with Apollo Citharoedus – ‘the player of the lyre.’ This would indicate that Mabon was a youthful god of the Apollo type, connected to therapy, music and a ritual hunt. His Irish equivalent appears to have been Oenghus Mac In Og. Furthermore, his legends suggest that he was linked to the order of creation, for an increasingly complex cycle of animals lead the Arthurian warrior to rescue him.
Pretending to be minstrels, they entered the city of Snowdon and cast spells which made the populace go insane. They laid waste to the city of Snowdon, turning it into the Desolate City. Mabon turned Esmeree the Blonde into a snake, saying that she would remain that way until she agreed to marry him, or until a knight rescued her.
Le Bel Inconnu | Renaut de Bâgé, 1185–1190
Lybeaus Desconus | Thomas Chestre, late 14th century