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Ys

The meaning of «ys»

Ys (pronounced /ˈiːs/ EESS), also spelled Is or Kêr-Is in Breton, and Ville d'Ys in French, is a mythical city on the coast of Brittany but later swallowed by the ocean. Most versions of the legend place the city in the Baie de Douarnenez.[1]

In the original Breton, the city receives the name of Kêr Ys, which translates as "low city".[1] Kêr is the Breton word for "city", and is related to the Welsh caer, while Ys/Is is related to Welsh isel, Scottish Gaelic ìosal and Irish íseal ("low").[citation needed]

Different versions of the legend share several basic common elements. King Gradlon (Gralon in Breton) ruled in Ys, a city built on land reclaimed from the sea,[1] sometimes described as rich in commerce and the arts, with Gradlon's palace being made of marble, cedar and gold.[2] In some versions, Gradlon built the city upon the request of his daughter Dahut,[3] who loved the sea. To protect Ys from inundation, a dike was built with a gate that was opened for ships during low tide. The one key that opened the gate was held by the king.[2]

Most versions of the legend present Gradlon as a pious man, and his daughter, Princess Dahut, as wayward.[2] Dahut (sometimes called Ahez) is often presented as frivolous[1] and an unrepentant sinner,[2] or, sometimes, as a sorceress.[4] However, in another version, that of an ancient ballad, Gradlon himself is blamed by his people for extravagances of every kind.

In most variations, Dahut acquires the key to the dikes from Gradlon, and its misuse leads to catastrophe.[2] Commonly, Dahut steals the keys (made either of silver[2] or gold[1]) from her father while he sleeps, either to allow her lover inside for a banquet[2] or after being persuaded to do so by her flattering lover.[1] Dahut then opened the gates of the dikes either in a wine-induced folly[2] or by mistake, believing she was opening the city gates.[2]

The sea inundated the city, killing everyone but the king. A Saint (either St. Gwénnolé or St. Corentin) woke the sleeping king and urged him to flee. The king mounted his horse and took his daughter with him. As the water was about to overtake him, a voice called out: "Throw the demon thou carriest into the sea, if thou dost not desire to perish." Dahut fell from the horse's back, and Gradlon was saved.[2] In Le Baz's version, it is Gradlon himself who throws her off on St. Gwénnolé's orders.[5]

In some versions, after falling into the sea, Dahut becomes a morgen or mermaid[2][1] who continues haunting the sea,[5] and can be seen combing her golden hair and singing sad songs.[1] Some 19th-century folklorists also collected old beliefs that said, during the low tides, the ruins of Ys could be seen, or the sound of its carillon could be heard.[1][5][4]

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ysa* ysb* ysc* ysd* yse* ysf* ysg* ysh* ysi* ysj* ysk* ysl* ysm* ysn* yso* ysp* ysq* ysr* yss* yst* ysu* ysv* ysw* ysx* ysy* ysz*
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