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The First Branch of The Mabinogion: Pwyll, Lord of Dyfedd

Pwyll was ruler of seven parts of Dyfed, in southwest Wales. One day he decided to go out hunting. So he, his dogs and some men went out in the forest of Glyn Cuch. His dogs picked up the trail of a stag and he chased after them, leaving his fellow hunters behind.

His pack of dogs was joined by another pack, which was chasing the stag and then brought it down. The dogs of this strange pack had coats of snow white and glowing red ears. He chased off these dogs so that his dogs could eat their fill of the stag.

The owner of the strange pack came and insulted Pwyll, for his lack of honour in allowing his dogs to feed of others' kill.

Pwyll did not think much of him but he offered to do something to win back his favour. It was then that he learnt the owner of the dogs was Arawn, king of Annwn, the Celtic Underworld.

Arawn said that another king in Annwn was trying to take over his territory. Pwyll would go to Arawn's home and pretend to be him for one year. At the end of the year the encroaching king, King Hafgan, would meet Pwyll, disguised as Arawn, and Pwyll would have to deal him a deathblow. He was not to hit Hafgan again, as this would restore him to health. The following day they would meet in the woods again. During this year Arawn would rule in Pwyll's place.

That night Pwyll feasted in Arawn's court. Arawn's wife was the fairest lady he had every seen and they were very friendly. When time came for bed, however, Pwyll turned his back on her for this was not his own wife.

This went on for the entire year.

When the time came he went and met Hafgan. The first blow Pwyll struck was fatal to Hafgan and despite all his pleadings Pwyll would not strike him again. So Hafgan had to return home to die.

All the knights present swore allegiance to Arawn, the sole king of Annwn. By noon the next day the whole of Annwn was under his rule.

The time had come for Pwyll to return to the meeting place. He went there and found Arawn waiting for him.

They returned to their original appearance and went home.

After a night of feasting Arawn and his wife went to bed. He continued to be close to her and was surprised at her quiet. Upon being questioned his wife said that he had been quiet for a year she was surprised at his sudden change. So he told her what had actually happened over the past year. Pwyll was truly an honourable friend.

When Pwyll questioned his subjects about his reign over the past year and to found that he had made a wonderful friend.

Sometime later Pwyll was at a feast when he went outside and sat on a mound called Gorsedd Arberth. He and his men saw a lady on a pearl white horse riding past and no matter what no one could catch up to her. This happened again the following night. Then on the third night Pwyll took his own horse and chased after her. He couldn't catch up to her and so he called out to her to stop and wait for him.

She did and this started a conversation. Her name was Rhiannon, daughter of Hefeydd. She had been pledged to a man she did not love and she wanted to marry Pwyll. They decided to meet at her father's house a year from then.

Pwyll went, with a hundred men, and attended the feast. During the feast a man, Gwawl, walked in and Pwyll granted him what he desired, not knowing that it was Rhiannon he wanted.

Pwyll and Rhiannon planned that he would attend a feast at her father's house in a year's time. Pwyll would come dressed as a beggar but a hundred of his men would hide in the orchards outside. He would take a bag, that had a spell on it, and ask for it to be filled. The spell was such that the bag could never be filled unless a man of worth stood on the food inside. The bag would then close up over Gwawl's head and Pwyll could blow his hunting horn and his men could attack.

A year later things happened as they planned and Rhiannon and Pwyll were married.

Several years later a son was born to them, on the eve of May but he as stolen, that same night, when his watchers fell asleep. They fooled Rhiannon into thinking that she had beaten her son to death, by smearing her with the blood of a dead puppy and placing its bones in her lap. She didn't believe them but she accepted her punishment.

Her punishment was that she had to sit outside by the mounting block, for seven years, and offer to carry in any man who would let her. Few men allowed her for the remainder of that year.

On the eve of May, in another place, a man sat watching as his mare foaled. She always foaled on May-eve but her colts were never found and he wanted to see what happened to it.

As her colt began to stand a giant claw came through the window and grabbed the colt. Teyrnon, the man, cut it off at the elbow, trying to stop it. He ran outside to see what it was but remembering that he had left his door open he rushed back to see what had happened to the colt. He was there along with a baby boy in swaddling clothes.

He and his wife raised this boy, named Grwi. By the end of the year the boy was like one of three years of age. After two years he was like one of six years of age and already badgering the stable boys to let him take the horses to water. They still had the colt that he had found with and they broke it and gave it to the boy.

During this time they heard of Rhiannon and her punishment. They wondered, for the boy had appeared on the eve of May and he bore a resemblance of Pwyll. They knew that he was Pywll and Rhiannon's son.

The next day Tyrnon, two knights and Gwri rode towards Arbeth, the home of Pwyll.

They found Rhiannon but refused her offer to be carried, instead they walked with her.

When she heard that the boy was her son she cried out that she could be delivered of her care, meaning her punishment. And so Gwri was named Pryderi, which means care in their Celtic language.

Teyrnon refused any reward and he and his two knights returned home content with the praise that they had received.

Pryderi grew up into a fine king and married the daughter of the high king of Ireland.

Category: The Four Branches of Mabinogion | Added by: obiflo (22 October 10)
Views: 2979 | Comments: 1 | Rating: 0.0/0
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