J. Gwyn Griffiths
|J. Gwyn Griffiths|
Griffiths with his wife Kate on their wedding day in 1939
|Born||John Gwyn Griffiths
7 December 1911
|Died||15 June 2004
|Literary movement||Cadwgan Circle|
 Early history
Born in 1911 in Porth in the Rhondda Valley, Griffiths was educated at Porth Grammar school before reading Latin at Cardiff gaining a first class degree in 1932. He then graduated with a first class degree in Greek in 1933, and obtained a first class teacher's diploma in 1934. He obtained an M.A. degree at Liverpool University on the influence of Ancient Egypt on Greek religion in the Mycenean period. Between 1936 and 1937 he was an archaeological assistant with the Egyptian Exploration Society at Sesebi, Lower Nubia. Having studied at Queen's College, Oxford from 1936 to 1939 he obtained a D.Phil degree from Oxford University on the quarrel of Horus and Seth in 1949.
It was at Oxford that he met Käte Bosse-Griffiths a German-born refugee of German and Jewish ancestry, who shared academic and literary interests with Griffiths and was a scholar in Egyptology; later she became Keeper of Archaeology at Swansea Museum. They married on September 13, 1939 and set up home in 14 St. Stephen's Avenue, Pentre, Rhondda. Griffiths took up teaching at his old school in Porth in 1939.
Griffiths' writing was influenced by the European avant-garde movement, especially that of Dadaist Kurt Schwitters. Griffiths, along with his wife, set up a writing and intellectual circle in the Rhondda for likeminded thinkers. The group, named the Cadwgan Circle (Cylch Cadwgan), had a membership consisting of the finest writers of the Welsh language the Rhondda had ever produced, including Rhydwen Williams, Euros Bowen, Pennar Davies and J. Kitchener Davies.
 Academic and political career
Griffiths was a conscientious objector during the Second World War. He took up a teaching post (Latin) at Bala Grammar School in 1934, and in 1946 he was appointed lecturer in Classics at University College of Wales, Swansea. From 1957 to 1958 he was a Lady Wallis Budge Research Lecturer at University College Oxford, and in 1959 he was promoted to a senior lecturship at Swansea became reader in Classics in 1965. In 1973 he was obtained a personal Chair in Classics and Egyptology at Swansea.
In 1946 he and his wife moved to the Uplands, Swansea, and in 1957 to Sketty in Swansea. In 1946 he began editing the Welsh Magazine, Y Fflam (The Flame) with Euros Bowen, mainly as a response to W.J. Gruffydd's Y Llenor, a Professor of Welsh at Cardiff, whom the Cadwgan Circle saw as the antiquated voice of Welsh language politics. During this period Griffiths became more and more associated with the national party for Wales, Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru and from 1948 until 1952, edited the party's newspaper Y Ddraig Goch. Griffiths also stood as a member for Plaid Cymru in 1959 and 1964, on both occasions for the district of the Gower, in Swansea but was not elected to Parliament. Griffiths would also be an important figure in the promotion of Welsh language in education and law, and on several occasions was arrested for minor violations, as a form of non-violent protest.
He lectured at a wide array of universities, including Cairo (1965-66 as visiting professor), Tübingen, Bonn and All Souls College Oxford (as visiting fellow). Griffiths wrote several major works on Egyptian religion, as well as work on Latin and Greek texts. However, he is better known in Wales for his poetry, of which he published four collections of texts, all in the Welsh language. He also wrote literary criticism, most notably I Ganol y Frwydr (Into the Thick of Battle) in 1970.
He retired in 1979, but continued writing on classical and egyptological themes. Among his output are two of his most important academic texts, his editions of Plutarch's De Iside et Osiride (1970) and Apuleius of Madaura The Isis Book (1975), from the last book of the Golden Ass. He edited the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology between 1970 and 1978.
His later substantial books include The Origins of Osiris and his Cult (1980), Atlantis and Egypt (1991), The Divine Verdict (1991), and Triads and Trinity (1996) as well as contributing to The Cambridge History of Judaism (1999). He obtained D.Litt (Oxford) and D.D. (Wales) degrees for his contributions to the study of the ancient world.
 Works of note
- Yr Efengyl Dywyll (1944)
- Cerddi Cadwgan (1953) a collection of works from members of the Cadwgan Circle
- Ffroenau'r Draig (1961)
- Cerddi Cairo (1969)
- Cerddi'r Holl Eneidiau (1981)
 Academic work
- The Conflict of Horus and Seth (1960)
- Plutarch's De Iside et Osiride (1970)
- Apuleius of Madaura The Isis Book (1975)
- The Origins of Osiris and his Cult (1980)
- The Divine Verdict: A Study of the Divine Judgement in the Ancient Religions (1990)
- Triads and Trinity (1996)
- Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, contributor (2001)
 Literary criticism
- I Ganol y Frwydr (1970)
- The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. John Davies, Nigel Jenkins, Menna Baines and Peredur Lynch (2008) pg336 ISBN 978-0-7083-1953-6
- J. Gwyn Griffiths, Hog dy Fwyell, Y Lolfa, 2007, p. 9-15.
- The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. John Davies, Nigel Jenkins, Menna Baines and Peredur Lynch (2008) pg337 ISBN 978-0-7083-1953-6
- Professor J. Gwyn Griffiths Classicist and Egyptologist, The Independent 18 June 2004
- Works by or about J. Gwyn Griffiths in libraries (WorldCat catalog)