Oberon, King of the Faeries

First mentioned as a King of the Fairies in a 15th century French romance, Oberon also appeared in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream paired with the Fairy Queen Titania.  In contrast other sources say his queen was Mab, and while Shakespeare described Oberon as human sized, in the French story he was the size of a toddler.  This may reflect the shape-shifting powers of the fairies or the use of glamour to alter perceptions, or perhaps merely indicate the same name being used for two different Fairy Kings between cultures.

In Huon of Bordeaux, the first place Oberon appears as a Fairy King, he is described as small and deformed, yet extremely handsome, wearing a jeweled gown that glows. This Oberon carries a bow that never misses and a magical horn that cures all illnesses and acts as a cornucopia. A 16th century literary source described Oberon as tiny and said he could not bear sunlight and fled the light of day. The name Oberon is also strikingly similar to names used for familiar spirits during the Renaissance, including ‘Auberon’ and ‘Oberycom’; in this guise he was invoked as a spirit of luck and to gain power for the person calling him. This could mean that Oberon was a general term for a powerful male fairy that was later applied as a name for Fairy Kings. In that case, if we also view Diana/Titania as a similar generic name applied to a Fairy Queen there is a logic in pairing the two together.

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