The Mabinogi

Translation of Branch 1: Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed


Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed


Pwyll Pendeuic Dyfed was lord of the seven cantrefs of Dyfed. Once upon a time he was at Arberth, a chief court of his, and he was seized by the thought and the desire to go hunting. The part of his country in which he wished to hunt was Glyn Cuch. He set out that evening from Arberth, coming as far Pen Llwyn Diarwya, and there he spent the night.

The next morning, in the young of the day, he arose and came to Glyn Cuch to let loose his dogs beneath the wood. He sounded his horn and he began to muster the hunt, chasing after the dogs and becoming separated from his companions.

As he listened out for the cry of the pack he heard the cry of another pack, with a different bark, coming to meet his own. He could see a clearing in the wood, like a smooth field, and as his pack was reaching the edge of the clearing, he could see a stag at the head of the other pack. And in the middle of the clearing, there was the pack catching it up and bringing it to ground.

Then he caught sight of the colour of the pack, barely noticing the stag itself. Of all the hunting dogs he had seen in this world, he had never seen dogs the same colour as those. The colouring they had was a dazzling bright white and with red ears. As bright was the dazzling whiteness as the brightness of the red.

At that he came up to the dogs and drove off the pack which had killed the stag, and [let] his own dogs feed on the stag instead.

While he was busy feeding his dogs like this, he could see a horseman coming after the pack on a huge, dapple-grey horse; with a hunting-horn around his neck and a garment of brownish grey material around him as a hunting smock. The horsemen approached him thereupon, speaking to him thus:

'Chieftain,' he said 'I know who you are, but greet you I will not.'

'Aye,' said Pwyll 'perhaps you are so important you don't have to?'

'God knows' he replied 'its not the dignity of my rank that's restraining me'

'What is it then, Chieftain?'

'Between me and God, its your rudeness and discourtesy.'

'Chieftain, what discourtesy have I committed in your eyes?'

'I've never seen a greater discourtesy by a man than driving off a pack which has killed a stag, and [then] feeding your own dogs on it. That' said he 'was the discourtesy, and though I won't be revenging myself on you, between me and God, I will be claiming dishonour from you to the value of a hundred stags.'

'Chieftain, if I've committed an offence, I will redeem your friendship.'

'In what form will you redeem it?'

'As appropriate to your rank - I don't know who you are...'

'A crowned king am I in the land I am from.'

'Lord,' said Pwyll 'good day to you. Which land is it that you are from?'

'From Annwvyn. Arawn king of Annwfn am I.'

'Lord, how might I obtain your friendship?'

'This is how you might obtain it: there is a man whose kingdom borders on my kingdom, who is constantly at war with me. He is Hafgan king of Annwfn. The removal of this oppression from me - which you can do easily - will win you my friendship.'

'For my part I would do that gladly. Tell me by what means I can do that.'

'I'll tell you. You can do it like this: I will make a strong bond of friendship with you. I'll do that by giving you my place in Annwfn, and I'll give you the most beautiful woman you have ever seen to sleep with every night, and my form and appearance will be upon you so that neither the chamber-boy nor the steward nor anybody else that has ever served me will know that you are not I. And,' he continued 'it will be that way until the end of a year from tomorrow, and we'll meet again at this very place.'

'Aye,' he responded 'although I'm going to be there until the end of the year, what advice do I have about finding this man that you speak of?'

'A year from tonight,' said [Arawn] 'there is a meeting between him and myself at the ford. You will be there in my guise, and a single blow you must give him: he will not survive it. And even if he asks you to give him another, you mustn't. For despite any more [blows] I [ever] gave him, he was always able to fight back just as well the next day.'

'Aye,' said Pwyll 'but what am I to do with my country?'

'I can bring it about that there will not be a man or a woman in your country who will not know that I am not you: I will go in your place.'

'Very well,' said Pwyll 'I will be on my way.'

'Unimpeded will be your path, and nothing will get in your way until you reach my country: I will guide you to it.'

He guided him on his way until he could see the court and the out-houses. 'There' he said 'the court and the country under your rule. Go to the court: there won't be anyone there who doesn't recognise you; and as you watch the service therein, you will learn the manners of the court.'

He approached the court, and in the court he could see sleeping quarters, halls, chambers with the most beautiful decoration on the buildings anyone had ever seen. He went into the hall to pull off his boots. Retainers and servant-boys came up to pull off his boots, and everyone greeted him as they approached. Two knights removed his hunting-garb from around him, and clothed him in a garment of gold brocaded silk. The hall was prepared. [Then] lo and behold - he saw the household and hostings coming inside - the most exalted and refined host anyone had ever seen. And behind them the queen - the most beautiful woman anyone had ever seen - a garment of shining gold brocaded silk was around her. At that they went to wash, and made for the tables and sat down in the following way: the queen on one side of him and the earl (as he supposed) on the other. And he began a conversation with the queen. From talking to her he could see that she was the most unassuming woman her had ever [met], and the most genteel in her manner and conversation. They passed the time with food and drink, singing and carousing. Of all the courts he had ever seen on this earth, here was the best with food and drink and gold vessels and royal jewels.

Time came for them to go to bed - and to bed they went, himself and the queen. The moment they got into to the bed, he turned his face to the side, with his back towards her. From then until the next day, he didn't say a single word to her. The next day there was tenderness and affectionate conversation between them. [But] whatever fondness there might have been between them during the day, there was not a single night that wasn't like the first.

He passed the year in hunting, singing, dancing, friendship and conversation with his companions until the night that the engagement was [to be]. The date of that night came as clearly to the memory of the farthest man in the land as it did to he himself. He went to the appointment, along with the nobles of the country. As soon as he came to the ford, a horseman rode up and spoke thus:

'Good men,' said he 'listen well. Between [these] two kings is this appointment, and that between their two persons [only]. Each one is a claimant against the other, over issues of land and territory. May all [the rest] of you stand back, and let [the fight] be between them [alone].'

At that the two kings closed in on one another to the middle of the ford for their encounter. At the first onslaught the king who was in the place of Arawn struck Hafgan in the middle of the boss of his shield, so it split in two halves and all his armour was broken and Hafgan was a spear-and-arms length over the back of his horse and onto the ground, with a mortal wound upon him.

'Chieftain,' said Hafgan 'what right have you to my death? I was not bringing any claim against you, I do not know why you are killing me either; but by God', he said 'since you have begun my death, finish it [now]!'

'Chieftain,' he replied 'it may be that I would regret doing what I did to you. Find someone [else] to kill you; [but] I will not kill you.'

'My faithful peers,' said Hafgan 'carry me away from here. The conclusion of my death is truly upon me. I am in no condition to uphold you any more.'

'Peers of mine' said the man who was in the place of Arawn 'take a reckoning, and find out those [out there] who owe me allegiance.'

'Lord, everybody owes you [allegiance], as there is [now] no other king in the whole of Annwfn but yourself.'

'Aye' said he '[for those] who come in peace, the reception will be just. Whoever does not come compliantly, let them be impelled by force of arms.' Then he took homage from the men, and began to take possession of the land, and by noon the next day both the two kingdoms were in his power. At that he made for his meeting place and came to Glyn Cuch. When he got there Arawn was awaiting him. Each greeted the other.

'Well,' said Arawn 'God repay you for your friendship. I have heard all about it.'

'Aye' he replied 'when you come yourself to your country you will see what I have done for you.'

'Whatever you have done for me, may God repay you.'

Arawn then gave Pwyll Pendeuic Dyuet [back] his own form and his appearance, while he for his part took back his own form and appearance. Arawn went towards his court in Annwfn and rejoiced on seeing his host and his household, having not seen them for [such] a long time. They, however, knew nothing of his absence and were no more surprised at his arrival than before. He passed that day with cheerfulness and merriment, sitting talking to his wife and his noblemen. When it became more timely to sleep than to carouse, [off] they went to bed.

He made for the bed, and his wife came with him. The first thing he did was talk with his wife and join in sensual pleasure and love-making with her. She had not been used to that for a year, and that is what she thought. 'O God,' she wondered 'what is the different mind that is in him tonight, [so different] from that which has been in him for the last year?' She lay in thought for a long time. After that, he woke up and tried speaking to her once, twice, and a third time. No answer could he get from her.

'Why won't you speak to me?'

'I tell you,' she replied 'for a year I have not spoken even so much anywhere like this.'

'Why,' said he 'we've been talking all the time.'

'Shame on me,' she replied '[but] for the last year, from whenever we were enfolded in bed clothes there has been no affection, no conversation, nor you even turning your face towards me: let alone anything other than which might have happened between us.'

Then he began thinking. 'Lord God,' he said to himself 'a uniquely strong and unwavering friend is the one with whom I have made [this] friendship.'

He then spoke to his wife: 'Lady,' he said 'You mustn't blame me. Between me and God, I haven't slept with you for a year since last night, nor have I laid down [here].' And he told her the whole story.

'By my confession to God,' said she 'a strong hold you have on your friend, for warding off bodily temptation, and keeping faith with you.'

'That was what I was thinking while I was silent with you.'

'No wonder,' she replied.

As for Pwyll Pendevic, he came to his country and his lands and began asking the noblemen of his realm how his lordship had been for the last year, compared to what it had been before.

'Lord,' said they 'never was your knowledge so good, never was there a more likable fellow than yourself, never were you so free in spending your goods and never was your ruling better than during this year.'

'Between myself and God,' he replied 'it would be better for you to thank the man who [really] was with you [last year]. Here is the story, even as it was.' And Pwyll told it all to them.

'Aye, Lord,' said they ' thank God for giving you that friendship. And the lordship we had that year, I'm sure you won't take that away from us .'

'I will not take it away, between me and God'

And thenceforth a strong friendship began between them, each giving the other horses, greyhounds, hawks and any other kind of treasure he thought might me pleasing to the mind of his fellow. And because of his sorjourn that year in Annwfn, and his kingship [which had been] so prosperous there, and the forging of two kingdoms into one through his resilience and his fighting-power: the name 'Pwyll Pendevic Dyfed' fell out of use and he became known as 'Pwyll Pen Annwvyn' from then on.


Once upon a time he [i.e. Pwyll] was in Arbeth, a chief court of his, with a feast laid out and great hosts of men all around him. After the first course, Pwyll got up to go for a walk and made for the top of a mound which was above the court and was called Gorsedd Arbeth.

'Lord', said one of the court 'it is a peculiarity of the mound that whatever high-born man might sit upon it, he will not go away without one of two things: either wounds or blows, or his witnessing a marvel.'

'I have no fear of wounds or blows in the midst of this host. A marvel, however, I would be glad to see. I will go,' he continued ' and sit on this mound'. And he went to sit on the mound.

As they were seated, they could see a woman on a large stately pale-white horse, a garment of shining gold brocaded silk about her, making her way along the track which went past the mound. The horse had an even, leisurely pace; and she was drawing level with the mound it seemed to all those who were watching her.

'Men' said Pwyll ' is there any of you who recognizes that lady on horseback over there?'

'There is not, my Lord,' they replied.

'One [of you] go up to her to find out who she is' he said.

One [man] got up, but when he came onto the road to meet her, she had [already] gone past. He went after her as fast as he was able to on foot, but the greater was his speed, the further away from him she became. When he could see that following her was to no avail, he returned to Pwyll and said to him [the following words]:

'Lord, it is no use anyone in the world [trying] to follow her on foot.'

'Aye,' said Pwyll 'go back to the court, and take the fastest horse that you know, and go after her.'

He took the horse and off he went. He got to smooth open country, and he began to set his spurs to the horse; but the more he struck the horse, the further away she became. Yet she still had the same pace with which she had begun. His horse flagged, and when he noticed his horse's slackening pace, he returned to Pwyll.

'Lord,' said he 'it is no use following that Lady over there. I haven't known any horse in the land faster than this one, but [even on this] following her was to no avail.'

'Aye' said Pwyll 'there is some kind of a magical meaning to this. Let us go [back] to the court.'

[So] they went [back] to the court, and passed the rest of that day. The next day they arose and that [too] passed until it was the hour to eat. After the first meal [Pwyll spoke thus]:

'We will go - the company that we were yesterday - to the top of the mound. And you,' he said to one his retainers 'take with you the fastest horse you know in the field.' And that the retainer did. They [then] made for the mound with the horse.

And, as they were sitting, they could see the woman on the same horse, with the same apparel about her, coming up the same road.

'Look!' said Pwyll 'here comes the lady on horseback. Be ready, boy, to find out who she is.'

'Lord, that I'll do gladly.'

Thereupon, the lady on horseback drew level. The boy then mounted his horse, but before he had [even] settled in the saddle, she had already gone past, and there was a distance between them. Her pace was no different from the day before. He [too] put his pace at an amble, supposing as he did that however slowly his horse went, he might be able to overtake her. But it was no use. He loosed his at the reins, but got no nearer than if he had been on foot; and the more he beat his horse, the further away she became. [Yet] her pace was no greater than before. Since he saw it was useless [trying] to follow her, he returned, coming back to Pwyll.

'Lord,' said he 'there is no more this horse can do than what you have seen.'

'[So] I saw' replied [Pwyll] ' its pointless anyone pursuing her. But between me and God,' he continued 'she has a message for someone on this plain, if obstinacy would [only] allow her to say it. Let us go back to the court.'

They came [back] to the court and spent the evening in song and carousel as they pleased.

The next morning, they passed the day until it was the hour to eat. When they had finished the meal Pwyll announced 'Where is that group of us that went up on the mound yesterday and the day before?'

'Here [we are], my Lord' said they.

'Let us go [then],' said he 'to sit upon the mound. And you' he said to his stable-boy 'saddle my horse well and bring him to the path, and bring my spurs with you.' And that the boy did.

They came to sit on the mound. They had hardly been there any time before they caught sight of the lady on horseback, coming along the same path, with the same apparel, at the same pace.

'Ah, boy, I can see the lady on horseback coming!' said Pwyll 'Bring me my horse.'

Pwyll mounted his horse, and no sooner than he had done so, she had passed him by. He turned after her, and let his lively horse prance at its own pace. He guessed that he would catch her up on the second or third bound. [But] no nearer did he get to her than [any of the times] before. He spurred on the horse as fast as it could go. But he saw it was useless following her [in this way].

Then Pwyll spoke: 'Maiden,' he said 'for the sake of the man you love the best, wait for me!'

'Gladly I'll wait' said she 'but it might have been better for the horse if you had asked me a good while before.'

The maiden stopped and waited and drew aside the part of her headdress that was there to cover her face. She looked him in the eye, initiating conversation with him.

'Lady,' he asked 'where are you from? And where are you going?'

'Going about my business' said she 'and glad I am to see you.'

'And you are also welcome to me,' said he.

And he realized at that moment the faces of every woman and girl he had ever seen were dull in comparison to her face.

'Lady,' he asked 'can you tell me something of your business?'

'Between myself and God I'll tell you,' said she 'my chief business was to try and see you.'

'Well,' said Pwyll 'this is the best business you could have come on as far as I'm concerned. And will you tell me who you are?'

'I will tell you, my Lord,' she replied 'I am Rhiannon, daughter of Hyfaidd the Old, and I am being given to a man against my will. For my part, I do not wish for the love of any man, because of the love I have for you. I still do not want this [other] man, unless you refuse me. And it is to find out your answer to this that I have come.'

'Between myself and God, this is my answer to you' he replied 'If I was given the choice out of all of the women and girls of this world, it is you that I would choose.'

'Aye' said she 'if that is your wish, before I am given to another man, make an appointment with me.'

'The sooner the better, as far as I'm concerned,' said Pwyll 'in whatever place you wish; make the appointment.'

'I will make it, Lord, one year from now, at the court of Hyfaidd the Old' she replied 'I will order the preparation of a feast ready for your arrival

'Gladly' said he 'I will be at that appointment.'

'Lord,' she said 'farewell, and remember to keep your promise. I will be on my way.'

They parted and he went back to his household and his host. Whatever questions they might have had about the maiden, he would change the subject.

After that they passed the year until the [appointed] time, and [then] Pwyll equipped himself as one of a hundred riders. He went over to the court of Hyfaidd Hen. He came to the court and there was joy at his arrival. He was met by a throng and a jubilation, and great preparations were made for his arrival: all the resources of the court were expended according to his direction. The hall was prepared, and they went to the tables. This is how they sat: Hyfaidd Hen on one side of Pwyll with Rhiannon on the other, and then everyone according to his rank. And they began to eat, drink and converse.

As they started [their] after-dinner drinking, they saw coming inside an auburn-haired youth: tall and of princely demeanour, with a garment of brocaded silk about his person. And when he came to the upper part of the hall he greeted Pwyll and his companions.

'God's welcome to you, my friend' said Pwyll 'come and sit down.'

'I will not [sit down],' said the youth 'I am a petitioner, and I will deliver my request.'

'Please do so,' said Pwyll.

'Lord, it is for you I have a request, and to ask you for it I have come.'

'Whatever boon you put to me, as far as I am able to get it, it will be yours.'

'Och!' said Rhiannon 'why do you give such an answer?'

'That is how he has given it, Lady, in the presence of nobles,' said the other.

'Friend,' said Pwyll 'what is your boon?'

'You are [about] to sleep with the woman whom I love the most tonight. And it is to ask for her, [along] with the provisions and victuals which are here that I have come.'

Pwyll fell silent, for there was not an answer he could give.

'Be dumb as long as you like,' said Rhiannon 'there was never a man so slow with his wits as you were [just] then.'

'Lady,' he said 'I didn't know who he was.'

'This is the man to whom they wanted to give me against my will,' said she 'Gwawl son of Clud, a man rich in hosts and lands. And since you have said the words that you said, you have to give me to him to prevent dishonour.'

'Lady,' said he 'I don't know what kind of answer that is. I could never on my life [do] what you say.'

'Give me to him,' said Rhiannon 'and I will make it so that he can never have me.'

'How will that be?' asked Pwyll.

'I will put a small bag in your hand: keep that with you safely. He is asking for the feast and the provisions and the victuals. But those are not under your sovereignty. I myself gave the feast to the household and the hosts, and that will be your answer regarding that.'

'As for myself,' she continued 'I will arrange a tryst with him, one year from tonight, to sleep with me [then]. At the end of the year you will be in the orchard up there, with this bag and a hundred horsemen. When he is in the midst of his merriment and carousal, you come inside wearing shabby clothes and with the bag in your hand.

'I will bring it about' said she 'that whatever food and drink from these seven cantrefsis put inside it, it will be no more full than before. And after so much has been thrown in, he will ask if your bag will ever be full. You will say it will not unless a noble lord over many lands should arise and press his feet down on the food in the bag and say "Enough has been placed herein." And I will make him go and step on the food in the bag. And when he goes in, turn the bag over until he goes head over [heels] into the bag. Then tie a knot on the strings of the bag. And let there be a good hunting-horn about your neck. When he is tied up in the bag, give a blast on the horn - it can be a signal from you to your men - when they hear the sound of the horn, they can descend on the court.'

'Lord,' said Gwawl 'It is high time I got an answer to my request.'

'Whatever you requested,' said Pwyll 'that is under my sovereignty, you can take.'

'Friend,' said Rhiannon 'about the food and the provisions here; these I have given to the men of Dyfed and the household and hosts that are here. I cannot all them to be give away to anyone [else]. One year from now, however, a feast will be provided in this court for you, my friend, to [celebrate] sleeping with me.'

Gwawl went [back] over to his land. Pwyll, for his part, came [back] to Dyfed. Each passed the rest of the year until it was time for the feast at the Court of Hyfaidd Hen. Gwawl son of Clud came along to the feast had been prepared for him, and made for the court, and there was joy at his arrival. As for Pwyll, the Head of Annwfn, he came to the orchard in a group of a hundred horsemen, just as Rhiannon had commanded him to do, the bag with him. Pwyll had clothed himself in dull rags and put big rag-boots on his feet. When he became aware that the after-dinner drinking had begun he proceeded into the hall, and after he had crossed to the upper part of the hall, greeted Gwawl and his company of men and women.

'God give well to you!' said Gwawl 'and may the welcome of God be upon you.'

'Lord,' he replied 'may God repay you. I am before you with a request.'

'Your request is welcome,' said he 'and if it is a modest boon which you have to ask of me, then I will gladly grant it.'

'[It is] modest, my lord,' he replied 'I ask nothing but relief from starvation. This is the boon I ask: the filling of the little bag you can see with food.'

'That is a humble boon,' said the other 'and one which you will get, gladly. Bring him food!' he commanded.

A large number of courtiers got up and began to fill the bag. Yet however much they threw in, it was no more full than before.

'Friend,' said Gwawl 'will your bag ever be full?'

'Between me and God, it will not,' he replied 'however much is put therein - unless a man noble with land, territory and domains gets up and treads with both feet and says "enough has been placed herein".'

'O hero,' said Rhiannon 'get up right away!'

'I'll get up gladly,' he replied.

He got up and put his two feet into the bag. Pwyll turned the bag so that Gwawl was head [over heels] in the bag and quickly closing the bag he tied up the strings in a knot and gave a blast on his horn. At that, his household fell on the court and seized everyone from the host that had come with Gwawl, and took each one prisoner. Pwyll threw off his rags, his old boots and the shabby garment in which he had been clad.

As each one of his host came inside, each one of them would strike a blow to the bag, and ask: 'What is in the bag?', 'A badger,' the others would reply.

They played a game like this: each one striking a blow with his foot and his staff. In such a way they made sport of the bag.

As each one came, he would ask 'What game are you playing there?'

'Badger-in-the-Bag.' would be the reply.

And that was the first time Badger in the Bag was ever played.

'Lord,' said the man from the bag 'if you would hear me - this is not a fitting death for me - to be slaughtered in a bag.'

'Lord,' said Hyfaidd [to Pwyll] 'He speaks the truth. It is legitimate that you should hear him - that is not a fitting way for [this man] to die.'

'Aye,' said Pwyll 'I will follow your council about this.'

'Here is your counsel:' suggested Rhiannon 'You are now in at a juncture where it is proper to give satisfaction to both petitioners and minstrels. Leave him there to give to all on your behalf,' she continued 'and take guarantees against his making a claim or pursuing revenge. That will be punishment enough for him.'

'He will take that gladly,' said the man in the bag.

'And gladly I will accept it as well,' replied Pwyll 'by the counsel of Hyfaidd and Rhiannon.'

'That is our counsel' they replied.

'[In that case] I will accept it,' said Pwyll 'Take [some] guarantors for yourself.'

'We will stand on his behalf,' said Hyfaidd 'until his men are free to represent him.'

Thereupon he was released from the bag and his top men set free.

'Now[you must] take guarantors from Gwawl' said Hyfaidd 'we acknowledge those who should be taken from him.' Hyfaidd then ennumerated the [name and rank] of the guarantors.

'Formulate the conditions yourself,' said Gwawl 'on your own terms.'

'The way Rhiannon formulated [the conditions]' said Pwyll 'is good enough for me.'

The guarantors went on those terms.

'Aye, Lord,' said Gwawl 'I am injured and have received great wounds, and I need a bath. With your leave, I will be on my way. I will leave some noblemen in my stead who will answer to all who petition you.'

'Gladly,' replied Pwyll 'you do that.'

And Gwawl went back to his country.

The hall was then set out for Pwyll, his host, and the host of the court. They came to sit at the tables: and as they had been seated the previous year, so they sat down that evening. They ate and drank, and when the time was right they went off to sleep. Pwyll and Rhiannon went to the chamber, and passed the night in pleasure and satisfaction.

The following morning, in the young of the day, Rhiannon said to Pwyll:

'Lord, get up and begin the indulgence of the minstrels, and don't refuse anyone today what they might desire [of you].'

'I'll do that gladly' said Pwyll, 'both today and every other day while this feast still lasts.'

Then Pwyll got up and ordered silence for the asking of any petitions the minstrels might have, and granted the satisfaction of each according of them to his will and his fancy. And that was done. The feast was consumed and nothing denied while it endured.

When the feast was drawing to a close, Pwyll said to Hyfaidd 'Lord, with your blessing, I will be setting off back to Dyfed tomorrow.'

'Aye' said Hyfaidd, 'may God smooth your way. Arrange a time after which Rhiannon might follow.'

'Between God and myself,' said Pwyll 'it is together that we will travel from here.

'And it is your wish, Lord, [to do it] this way?'

'In [just] this way, between God and myself.' replied Pwyll.

So they set off for Dyfed, and made for the court of Arbeth, and a feast was laid out for them there. A throng of noblemen and noble women from [throughout] the land and the nation came to them. Neither man nor woman of them left Rhiannon without bestowing upon them [some kind of] special gift: either a broach, a ring, or a stone of great value.

They ruled the country prosperously for [the rest of] that year and the next.


In the third year the men of the land began to feel a heaviness of spirit, seeing a man [i.e. Pwyll] whom they loved so much as their lord and foster-brother being without an heir. [So] they summoned him to them. The place where they convened was the Precelli [mountains] in Dyfed.

'Lord,' said they 'we know that you may not be of an age of some men in this land, and it is our fear that there may never be an heir [born] to you from that woman who you are with. Take another wife instead, from whom an heir might be born. You will not last for ever,' they continued 'and wish as you may to remain being like this, we will not allow you.'

'Aye,' said Pwyll 'it is not long since we have been together, and there are still many chances which may yet befall. Give me respite until the end of the year. We will arrange an appointment to come re-convene a year from this time, and I will place myself before your judgement.' [So] they made the appointment.

Before the end of that time arrived, a boy was born to him - and it was in Arbeth that he was born. On the night of his birth, [some] women were brought in to keep watch over the boy and his mother. Now the women dropped off to sleep, along with the mother, and the son of Rhiannon. Six was the number of the women who had been brought to that chamber. They kept watch for part of the night but before the midnight hour every one of them had fallen asleep - only to wake up again towards the cock-crow. As soon as they awoke, they started searching the place where they had left the boy: but nothing was to be found there.

'Och,' said one of the women 'the boy is lost for sure.'

'Aye,' said another 'we would be lucky to get away with merely being burned or put to death over that boy.'

'Is there any way in the world out of this?' asked another of the women.

'There is' said the next 'I can think of a good way out.'

'What is that?' asked the others.

'There is a female stag-hound [around] here,' she explained 'with puppies. Let's kill one of the puppies, and smear some of its blood on the face of Rhiannon, and each of her hands and leave its bones in front of her, and accuse her of killing the baby herself. Against the word of the six of us, her word alone will not stand."

And that was the plan that was agreed.

Towards day, Rhiannon awoke.

'Women,' she asked 'where is the boy?'

'O Lady,' they replied 'Don't you ask us about the boy. We're nothing but bruises and wounds from struggling with you: it is certain to us that we have never seen such violence in a woman as there was in you (last night), and struggling with you was no use. It was you that destroyed the baby yourself! Don't ask for him from us.'

'Oh wretched creatures,' exclaimed Rhiannon 'for the sake of Lord God who knows all things, don't put this falsehood onto me. God who knows all things knows that this is accusation of me is not true. And if you are afraid, by my confession to God, I will protect you.'

'God knows,' they replied 'we won't take harm on ourselves for anyone in the world.'

'Oh wretched creatures,' said Rhiannon 'you'll come to no harm if you [just] tell the truth.' But despite all she said - fair or wretched - there was but one answer she would get from the women.

At that Pwyll Pen Annwfn woke up, with the household and the hostings: and it was not possible to conceal that event. The news spread out round the country, and every one of the noblemen of the land heard [all about] it. The noblemen of the land then converged - petitioning him to cast aside his wife for such a terrible atrocity as the one which she had committed.

Pwyll gave the following reply:

'There was never any justification for those who asked me to put aside my wife - other than the fact that she was without a child. I know her to have been with child, and I will not cast her aside. If she has committed a crime, let her take penance in return.'

For her part, Rhiannon summoned her sages and wise men and, once she had decided that it was fairer to take penance than embroil herself in a quarrel with the women, she [went about] taking her penance.

The penance that was put on her was as follows: she was to stay at the court of Arbeth for the duration of seven years. There was a mounting-block by the gate. She had to sit beside it every day telling anyone coming by the whole story (of those she supposed did not know it) and offering whichever guest and stranger would allow themselves to carried, to be carried on her back to the court. But only rarely did anyone allow the carrying. In this way she passed the next part of the year.

At that time there was a lord, Teyrnon Twryf Liant, ruling over Gwent-Ys-Coed, and the best man in the world was he. At his house [he had] a mare: and throughout his realm there was neither horse nor mare in his realm as beautiful as she. And she would give birth every night at the Calends of May - yet no-one ever knew what became of her foals.

One night Teyrnon was talking with his wife:

'Wife,' he said 'it is careless of us, letting our mare foal every year without our [ever] getting a single one of them.'

'What can we do about that?' she asked.

'Tonight is the Calends of May,' said he 'The vengeance of God be upon me if I do not find out what misfortune is taking these colts!'

He had the mare brought into the house, and he equipped himself with weapons and began his watch for the night.

As night was falling, the mare gave birth to a large, perfectly-formed foal: standing up on the spot. Teyrnon got up to admire the sturdiness of the foal. As he was doing this, he could hear a mighty commotion - and, following this commotion there was an enormous claw [reaching] through the window, seizing the colt by its mane. Teyrnon drew a sword and severed the arm from the elbow down - so that the bulk of the arm, together with the colt, [fell off] inside next to him.

At that he heard a commotion and a scream (at the same time). He went out of the door in the direction of the commotion. He could not identify [the source of] the commotion as the night was so dark. But he kept up its trail and its pursuit.

He remembered that he had left the door open, [so] he returned. And by the door - lo and behold! - a small child in swaddling clothes, wrapped in a sheet of brocaded silk. He picked up the boy, and [noticed] he was strong for his age.

He fastened the door, and made for the chamber where his wife was [sleeping].

'Lady,' he said 'are you asleep?'

'No I'm not, my Lord,' she said 'I was sleeping, and when you came in I woke up.'

'Here is a child for you,' he said 'if you want him. That which you have never had.'

'Lord,' she exclaimed 'what is the story behind this?'

'Well,' said Teyrnon 'it was like this...' And he related the entire account.

'Aye,' said she 'what kind of clothing is the child wearing?'

'Brocaded silk,' he replied.

'He is the son of gentle-folk...' said she.

'Lord,' she continued 'it would be a pleasure and a comfort to me: if it is what you want. I could get the other women on my side, and say that I had been pregnant.'

'I'll go along with you on that, gladly' he replied.

And so it was done. They had the boy baptized, with the baptism that they used to practice in those days. The name he was given was Gwri Golden-Hair - for the hair that was on his head was as yellow as gold.

The child was brought up in the court until he was one year old. And before [the end of] his [first] year he was walking steadily, and was stronger than a three-year old boy of the greatest growth and size. And [after] he had been raised for another year, he was as sturdy as a six-year old boy. Before the end of the fourth year, he was striking deals with the stable lads to be allowed to lead [the horses] down to water.

'Lord,' said Teyrnon's wife to him [one day] 'where is that foal which you saved on the night we got the boy?'

'I put it in the care of the stable boys,' he replied 'and asked them to look after it.'

'Would it not be good, my Lord,' said she 'for you to have it broken in, and given to the boy? For the night we got the boy, the foal was born and saved.'

'I will not go against that,' replied Teyrnon 'and I will let you do the giving of it to him.'

'Lord,' said she 'God re-pay you. I will give it to him.'

The horse was given to the boy, and she came to the grooms and the stable boys and commanded them to be careful of the horse, and [to be kept informed of] the news about it: for it was to be broken in preparation for the time when the boy would go out on horseback.

Meanwhile, they heard stories about Rhiannon and her penance. Now Teyrnon Twryf Lliant, because of what he had found out, [began] to listen out for news and continually make inquiries about it - so that he heard more and more complaints from the numerous multitude who had been to the court about how wretched was the fate of Rhiannon and her penance.

This made Teyrnon think and he looked closely at the boy, realising that he had never seen a father and son who had looked more similar in appearance as the boy did to Pwyll Penn Annwfn. He was familiar with Pwyll's appearance as he had been a vassal of his before. After that, anxieties entered into [his mind]: [because] of how wrong it was for him to keep the boy when he knew him to be another man's son. When he got the first chance to talk privately with his wife he asked her if it was right that they should keep the boy - that being the cause of such punishment on a noble woman as fine as Rhiannon, as well as the boy being the son of Pwyll Penn Annwfn.

For her part, Teyrnon's wife agreed about sending the boy [back] to Pwyll:

'And three things, lord,' she said 'we will get in return for doing that: thanks and gratitude for freeing Rhiannon from the penance which she endures, thanks from Pwyll for raising the boy, and the third thing is that if the boy becomes a noble man, he will be our foster-son, and will always do the best he can for us.'

And that was the course of action they followed.

They left it no later than the following day [before] Teyrnon equipped himself as one of three riders - and the boy as the fourth on the horse Teyrnon had given him. And they set out to Arbeth, and it wasn't long until they had arrived there (they came to Arbeth).

As they came towards the court, they could see Rhiannon sitting beside the mounting block. When they came up to her she said:

'O Chieftain, go no further than that! I will carry every one of you to the court. And that is my penance for killing him who was my own son, and for his destruction.'

'Good woman,' replied Teyrnon 'I don't believe a single one of these will be going on your back.'

'Let him go who wants to,' said the boy 'but I myself will not go'.

'God knows, friend,' said Teyrnon 'we will not go either.'

They made for the court, and there was very great joy at their arrival. [Then] they started on the feast that was in the court. Pwyll himself came [back] from his circuit of Dyfed. They went into the hall and washed. Pwyll welcomed Teyrnon and they went to sit down. This is how they sat: Teyrnon between Pwyll and Rhiannon; the boy between the two companions of Teyrnon above Pwyll.

After the end of the meal, as the drinking began they made conversation. In his conversation, Teyrnon related the whole story about the mare and the boy, and how the boy had been in the charge of himself and his wife, and how they had raised him.

'Behold your son there, lady!' exclaimed Teyrnon 'whoever put [this] falsehood upon you has done you wrong. When I heard of the misery you were in, I thought it wretched and it saddened me. But I believe,' continued Teyrnon 'that there is no-one in the whole of this hosting that would not believe that the boy is [indeed] the son of Pwyll.'

'There is no-one,' said everyone 'who is not sure of that fact.'

'Between myself and God,' said Rhiannon 'if that were true I would be delivered of my care.'

'Lady,' said Pendaran Dyfed 'well did you name that boy "Pryderi" - it suits him best: Pryderi son of Pwyll Pen Annwfyn."

'Let us check,' said Rhiannon 'that his own name doesn't best become him.'

'What is his name?' asked Pendaran Dyfed.

'"Gwri Golden Hair" was what we called him.'

'"Pryderi" will be his name' said Pendaran Dyfed.

'That is most fitting' said Pwyll 'the boy taking his name from the first word uttered by his mother on hearing the good news about him.'

And so it was decided.

'Teyrnon, God repay you for raising the boy up until this time. It would be right for him, if he grows up a noble man, that he should repay you.'

'Lord,' Teyrnon replied '[don't forget] the woman who reared him: there is no one in the world that will miss him more than she. It would be right for him to remember me and that woman for what we did for him.'

'Between myself and God,' said Pwyll 'as long as I am alive I will maintain you and your people as well as I would my own. If he lives [to adulthood], it is even more appropriate that he should continue maintaining you than I. And if it is your counsel, and that of these nobles, seeing as you have raised him up until now, we will give the boy to Pendaran Dyfed to foster from now on. And [both of] you be as friends and foster-fathers to him.'

'That is good counsel,' all agreed.

[So] the boy was then given to Pendaran Dyfed, and the noblemen of the country allied themselves with him. Teyrnon Twryf Lliant and his companions set off back to his country with friendship and contentment. [Moreover] he did not leave without being offered the most beautiful treasures, the best horses and the most highly-prized dogs. But he did not want anything.

After that they remained in their own lands, and Pryderi son of Pwyll Pen Annwfn was brought up with care, in the right way: so that he became the most faultless, the most handsome and the most accomplished in all noble sports of any in the realm.

In that way, they passed one year after the next until the life of Pwyll Penn Annwfn came to an end and he was dead. And Pryderi ruled the seven cantrefs of Dyfed with prosperity, and in friendship with his countrymen and those around him.

After that, he conquered the three cantrefs of Ystrad Twyi and the four cantrefs of Ceredigion and those seven cantrefs are called Seisyllwch. Pryderi son of Pwyll Penn Annwfn was on that conquest, it came into his mind to take himself a wife. The woman he desired was Cigfa, daughter of Gwynn Gohoyw, son of Gloyw Wallt, son of Casnar Wledic: of the noble ones of this Island.

And thus ends here this Branch of the Mabinogion.

This translation is Copyright © Will Parker | Linc allanol: Agorir mewn ffenestr newydd

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