This article sets out to explore some of the differences between Chwedlau Saith Doethion Rhufain, the Welsh version of Seven Sages of Rome, and its parent, the Old French Sept Sages de Rome, and suggest some reasons for these. The most obvious difference is that the Welsh redaction is far shorter than the French, being about a third of its length. Another is that some of the tales appear in a different position within the frame story, with one even changing sides in the argument, a most unusual feature. We also find that one tale which is present in all other versions of the Sept Sages is completely omitted from the Welsh, being replaced by a new story of the writer’s own invention. Therefore, should we dismiss the Welsh version as a pale imitation of the French Sept Sages, an inferior, flawed product of an imperfect memory? Or is it a deliberately crafted work, refashioned to appeal to the native Welsh literary audience and having its own individual agenda? On closer examination it is possible to discern a definite programme on the part of the redactor, named in one manuscript (Oxford, Jesus MS 20) as Llewelyn Offeiriad, Llewelyn the Priest. He brings a fresh approach to the traditional rendering of the Sept Sages tradition; tempering the out and out misogyny usually associated with the tales by the use of traditional Welsh literature, thereby adding an extra dimension to the narrative.
"Chwedleu Seith Doethon Rufein, the Middle Welsh Les Sept Sages de Rome: An Inadequate Rendering or a New Perspective on This Internationally Popular Tale?,"
Narrative Culture: Vol. 7:
2, Article 7.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/narrative/vol7/iss2/7