Dahut (who is sometimes known as Ahes )
was the beautiful but treacherous and lascivious daughter of Gradlon, the king of the city of Ys, also called Ker-Ys. She is a ﬁgure in the folklore of Brittany, a Celtic corner of France that lies on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.
The legendary kingdom of Ys lay below sea level, as do many real cities in that region. The ocean was held back by a series of walls and powerful sluice gates. Dahut, who had taken many lovers, fell madly in love with a man who some versions of the story say was the ocean personiﬁed. Dahut, who would willingly do whatever her lover asked of her, stole the keys of the sluice gates from her father. Her lover then opened the gates, and the city was engulfed by the sea.
King Gradlon ﬂed on horseback, with his daughter riding behind. Dahut clung desperately to her father. But beside them rode Saint Guenole, the king’s confessor, who knew of Dahut’s sin. As the waters nearly overtook them, Guenole told Gradlon what had happened, and the horriﬁed king threw Dahut from his horse into the waves.
King Gradlon escaped to dry land, landing near the modern city of Quimper, France. To this day, a statue of King Gradlon on his horse, looking out to sea to where his city once stood, stands in the town. According to legend, Dahut still swims the seas, transformed into a siren, a woman whose beautiful voice lures sailors to their deaths.
The story of Dahut has inspired musicians and authors over the years. Le Chant du Dahut is a symphonic poem composed by Manuel Hernandez in 1986. Science ﬁction writers Poul and Karen Anderson wrote The King of Ys (1986–1988), a fantasy series based on the legend of Ys. The third volume of the series, Dahut, recounts the story of Dahut and the drowning of the city.