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The Fourth Branch of The Mabinogion: Culhwch and Olwen

Culhwch's mother died giving birth to him. His step-mother said that he couldn't marry any one but Olwen from the court of Arthur. Culhwch rode to Arthur's court. Arthur and his nobles were impressed with him. Arthur offered the stranger an important seat at the evening's meal table, but Culwch told him he had come for a favour.

Arthur offered him anything except the hand of his queen and his sword. So Culhwch asked for the hand of Olwen. Arthur didn't know of this woman but he sent his men off to find her while Culwch remained as a guest.

A year later the men returned with nothing. So Culwch went with them to see for himself whether this was the truth.

After travelling for many days they came across a plain and found a castle with a giant shepherd outside. He warned them out of the castle, for none had come out of it alive. He sent them to his wife to find out information about their quest.

A woman met them. She told them that Olwen came there to bathe every seven days. While they were there Olwen walked in.

Culwch told her of his love for her and she returned it. But he had to under go tests set by her father Yspaddaden.

He agreed and they went to the castle. There they met Olwen's father who agreed to give them an answer the following day.

As they were leaving he threw a dart at their backs. One of the warriors caught it and returned it to him and it hit him in the knee.

The following day they returned. He said that he had to ask the four grandparents of Olwen. Again as they were leaving he threw darts at their backs. Another warrior caught it and sent it back to him, hitting him in the chest.

They returned the following day and again he threw a dart at their backs. This time Culwch caught it and threw it at him hitting him in the eye.

They sat to eat and Yspaddaden agreed to allow Olwen to marry him but only if he did him a favour. Culwch had to fetch the comb, razor and scissors that were found between a monstrous boar's ears. And the only way he could find this boar was by finding a hunter who hadn't been seen since he was three days old. He wanted these to cut his hair and beard, which hadn't been cut in years.

Culwch and Arthur's warriors left to find these implements.

First they found an kinsman of the hunter and he led them to an enchanted bird who led them to an enchanted stag who led them to an enchanted owl who led them to an eagle who led them to a salmon who led them to Mabon, the hunter, who was locked in a stone prison.

Arthur and his warriors besieged this place until Mabon was free. Mabon managed to ride the boar and snatch the implements from between his ears.

Culwch took these to Yspaddaden and shaved his beard to the bone.

And so Culwch took Olwen as his wife.

Category: The Four Branches of Mabinogion | Added by: obiflo (22 October 10)
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