son of Mathonwy
Math son of Mathonwy was lord of Gwynedd, and Pryderi was lord of the twenty-one
cantrefs in the South. Those were the seven cantrefs
of Dyfed, seven of Morganog, four of Ceredigion and three
of Ystrad Tywi.
At that time, Math son of
Mathonwy could not live except when he had his feet enfolded
in the lap of a maiden, unless the commotion of war prevented
him. The maiden that was with him was Goewin daughter
of Pebin of Dol Pebin in Arfon. She was the most beautiful
woman known [around] there in her day.
Caer Dathyl was his constant
abode. He could not do the circuit of the land, but Gilfaethwy
son of Don and Gwydion son of Don - his nephews, sons
of his sister, and the household with them - would go
on the circuit on his behalf.
The maiden was with Math all
of the time, but Gilfaethwy set his heart on the maiden,
and loved her so much that there was nothing he could
do because of her. And lo! his colour, his face and his
demeanour wasting away from his love, until he could
hardly be recognised.
One day Gwydion looked hard
at his brother.
'Lad,' said he 'what has happened
'Why?' said the other 'what
is it that you can see on me?'
'I can see on you that you
have lost your spirit and your colour,' he replied '[so]
what has happened to you?'
'Lord brother,' he said 'it
would not be fruitful for me to tell anyone what has
happened to me.'
'What is it, friend?'
'You know,' he said 'the ability
of Math son of Mathonwy: whatever whisper, however small,
that there might be between people, once the wind has
met it, he will know it.'
'Aye,' said Gwydion 'Speak
no further. I know your mind: you are in love with Goewin.'
When he knew his brother recognised
his mind, he gave the heaviest sigh in the world.
'Be quiet, friend, with your
sighing. No-one wins from doing that. Since it cannot
be done without it, I will arrange a mustering of Gwynedd,
Powys and Deheuparth, so that the maiden might be had.
So be happy - I will arrange it for you.'
At that they went to Math
son of Mathonwy.
'Lord,' said Gwydion 'I have
heard that a [certain] type of creature has come into
the South, which has never come to this Island before.'
'What is their name?' asked
'What kind of animals are
'Small animals, their meat
is better than the meat of oxen. They are small and they
are changing names. "Pigs" is what they are called nowadays.'
'To whom do they belong?'
'Pryderi son of Pwyll, sent
to him from Annwfn by Arawn king of Annwfn.'
(And still [to this day] that
[name] is preserved [in the expression]: 'half sow, half
'Aye,' he replied 'by what
means will you get them?'
'I will go in a group of twelve,
in the guise of bards, Lord, to ask for the pigs.'
'And what if he refuses you?'
'Not bad is my plan, Lord,'
said he 'I will not come [back] without the pigs.'
'Go to it [then], gladly,'
He went, with Gilfaethwy and
ten men with them, to Ceredigion - to the place that
is nowadays called Rhuddlan Teifi. There was a court
of Pryderi's there, and they went in, in the guise of
bards. There was joy at ther arrival. Gwydion was
placed next to Pryderi that night.
'Aye,' said Pryderi 'it would
be good for us to get a tale from some of those young
'It is our custom, Lord' said
Gwydion 'that the first night one comes to a great man,
[there should be] a recital from the chief bard. I will
gladly recite a tale.'
Gwydion himself was the best
cyfarwyd in the world. And that night he delighted
the court with entertaining recitals and story-telling,
until he was feted by the whole court, and it was with
pleasure that Pryderi conversed with him. And at the
end of that [he spoke]:
'Lord,' he asked 'is there
anyone would present my petition to you better than me
'There would be none better
[than you],' answered the other 'your's is a right good
'Here is my petition, Lord:
to ask you for the animals which were sent to you from
'Aye,' he replied 'that would
be the easiest thing in the world if it were not for
an agreement between me and my country over them: that
is, they are not to leave me until they have bred twice
their number in the land.'
'Lord,' said the other 'I
can free you from those words. This is how I'll do it:
don't give me the pigs tonight, but don't refuse them
to me either. Tomorrow I will show you [something you
can] exchange them for.'
That night he and his companions
went to their lodging to take counsel.
'Men,' said he 'we will not
get the pigs by asking for them.'
'Aye,' said they 'what ploy
[can there be there] for their acquistion?'
'I will arrange their acquistion,'
And then he performed his
arts and began to reveal his magic. He conjured up
twelve steeds, twelve grey-hounds (each of them black,
with a white breast) with twelve collars and twelve leashes
on them. Anyone seeing any of [them] would not know they
were not of gold; and twelve saddles on the horses: and
wherever there would normally be iron on them, it was
all gold, and the bridles were of the same workmanship
He came to Pryderi with the
horses and the dogs.
'Good day to you, Lord,' said
'God give well to you,' he
replied 'and welcome.'
'Lord,' he said 'here is a
way out for you from the word[s] you said last night
about the pigs - that you might not give or sell them.
But you would be able to exchange them for [that which]
might be better. I will give you these twelve horses
- equipped as they are with their saddles and their
bridles - and twelve grey-hounds with their collars and
leashes, just as you see, with the twelve golden shields
you can see over there.' (Those he had made by magic
out of a toadstool).
'Aye,' said he 'we will take
And what was decided in that
counsel was to give the pigs to Gwydion, and to take
[in return] the horses, the dogs and the shields that
[The others] for their part
took their leave, and began herding off the pigs.
'O brave ones,' said Gwydion
'we need to move more swiftly.. The magic will not last
from one day to the next.'
That night they made it
as far as the uplands of Ceredigion - and the place [where
they stopped] is still called 'Mochdref' because
of that. The next day they went on their way [and] they
came through Elenid. That night they were between Keri
and Arwystli, in a township that is also called 'Mochtref'
for that reason. And thense they went onwards, and that
night they came to a commote in Powys which is likewise
called 'Mochnant' after that incident, and they
were there for the night. And from there they went on
as far as the cantref of Rhos, and there they were that
night in a town still known as 'Mochtref'.
'Men,' said Gwydion 'we will
make for the fastness of Gwynedd with these animals.
There is an angry mustering behind us.'
They made for the highest
township of Arllechwedd, and there they made a sty for
the pigs, and for that reason the name 'Creuwyryon'
was given to that township. And then, when they had finished
the pig-sty, they went over to Math son of Mathonwy,
over in Caer Dathyl. When they got there the land was
'What news is there in here?'
'Pryderi is mustering the
twenty-one cantrefs after you,' they repied 'the only
strange thing is how long its taken you!'
'Where are the animals you
went after?' asked Math.
'They are in a sty which has
been made for them in the cantref below.'
At that, lo! they heard the
sound of trumpets and a mustering throughout the land.
At that they too armed themselves and went forth until
they reached Pennard in Arfon.
That night, Gwydyon son of
Don and Gilfaethwy his brother returned to Caer Dathyl.
And in the bed of Math, Goewin daughter of Pebin
was put to sleep with Gilfaethwy, and the maidens were
forced out rudely, and she was slept with against her
will that night.
When they saw the day dawning,
they made for the place where Math son of Mathonwy was
with his war-band. When they arrived, those men were
on their way to a council about on which flank they
should wait for Pryderi and the men of the South. And
they joined in that counsel. What they decided in their
counsel was to remain the fastness of Gwynedd in
Arfon. And between two fortresses they waited: Maynawr
Bennard and Maynawr Coet Alun.
Pryderi advanced towards them
there, and there the battle was. There was great slaughter
on both sides, and the men of the South had to retreat.
The place to which they retreated up to was a place that
is still called 'Nant Call', and they were harried as
far as there. Then there was an immeasurable conflict.
They then retreated to a place called Dol Penmaen. Then
they rallied and sought to make a truce - and Pryderi
gave hostages [in return] for peace. This is who he gave:
Gwrgi Gwasta and twenty-three sons of noblemen.
After that, they went in peace
as far as Traeth Mawr; and as they came up to Uelen Rhyd
together, the foot soldiers could not be stopped from
firing at each other. Messengers were sent from Pryderi
to ask for the two war-bands to be called off, and to
ask for it to be left between himself and Gwydion son
of Don: since he had caused it [in the first place].
The message came to Math son of Mathonwy.
'Aye,' said Math 'between
myself and God, if it is good with Gwydion, I will allow
it gladly. I will not compel anyone to come to combat
without doing all we can.'
'God knows,' said the messenger
'Pryderi thinks its fair [that] the man who did this
wrong to him should pit his body against him, and leave
the two hosts in peace.
'I swear by my confession
to God,' [said Gwydion] 'I will not send the men of Gwynedd
to war on my behalf. I myself will go to combat with
Pryderi. I will pit my body against his gladly.'That
[reply] was sent to Pryderi.
'Aye,' said Pryderi 'I too
will not ask my rights of anyone but myself.'
Those two men were put opposite
one another, they were armed, and [then] they
went into combat. Through strength and valour and aggression
and magic and enchantment Gwydion prevailed, and Pryderi
was killed. He was buried at Maen Tyuynawc, above Uelen
Rhyd, and there his grave is [still].
The men of the South went
back to their country with grievous lamentation - and
nor was that surprising: they had lost their lord and
many of their best men, and their horses and their weapons,
for the most part.
The men of Gwynedd returned
again in triumphant joy.
'Lord,' said Gwydion to Math
'would it not be right for us to release their nobleman
to the men of the South, the one that they gave as a
hostage to secure the peace? We don't need to keep him
'Set him free,' said Math.
That man, and the hostages
that were with him, were allowed [to follow] on after
the men of the South
For his part, Math made for
Caer Dathyl. Gilfaethwy son of Don and the household
that was with him toured the circuit of Gwynedd as was
their wont - but without coming to court. Math made for
his chamber, and ordered the preparation of a place for
him to recline, so he could place his feet in the fold
of a virgin's lap.
'Lord,' said Goewin 'you must
seek a virgin to go under your feet now. I am woman.'
'What is the explanation of
'An attack, Lord, was committed
upon my person - quite openly - and I myself did
not stay silent. There is no-one in this court who wouldn't
have known about it. It was your nephews who came, Lord,
sons of your sister: Gwydion son of Don and Gilfaethwy
son of Don. They committed an assault on me and an insult
upon you. They slept with me - and they did that in your
chamber and in your bed.'
'Aye,' said he 'This is what
I can [do]. I will first get justice for you, and
after that I will get justice for myself,' he continued
' as for you, I will take you as my wife, and I will
give the power of my country into your hands.'
And meanwhile [Gwydion and
Gilfaethwy] did not come into the vicinity of the court,
but rather carried on the circuit until a ban on food
and drink went out against them. At first they did not
come near him - then eventually they did.
'Lord,' said they 'a good
day to you.'
'Aye,' he replied 'is it to
render me justice you have come?'
'Lord, we are at your will.'
'If it had been my will, I
would not have lost the men and arms that I lost. You
are not able to compensate my shame, let alone the death
of Pryderi. But since you have both come to my will,
I will begin a punishment for you.'
Then he took his magic wand
and struck Gilfaethwy, turning him into a sizable hind.
He seized the [Gwydion] quickly - and though he would
have liked to escape, he was not able. He was struck
with the same magic wand, turning him into a stag.
'Since you have been in league
together, I will make you fare together and be mated.
You will have the same nature as the beasts whose
shapes you are in; and during this time, they will have
offspring - so you will have them too. A year from today,
come to me here.'
After a year to the day, lo!
he could hear an uproar below the wall of the chamber,
with the dogs of the court barking on top of that uproar.
'[Go and] see what's outside.'
'Lord,' someone said ' I have
looked. There is a stag and a hind and a fawn with them.'
At that, he arose and came
outside. When he came, what he could see was the three
creatures. The three creatures were a stag, a hind and
sturdy fawn. He raised up his wand.
'The one that was a hind for
the last year, let him be a wild boar this year. And
the one of you that was a stag, let him be a wild sow.'
And with that, he struck them
both with the wand.
'The boy, however, I will
take, and have him raised and baptized.'
He was given the name 'Hydwn'.
'As for you [two], begone.
One of you be a wild boar, the other a wild sow. And
the nature that is in wild swine, that is what you will
be [like]. A year from today, be here outside the wall,
and your offspring with you.'
At the end of the year, lo!
they heard barking below the wall of the chamber, and
the court stirred-up in response. At that, he arose and
went outside. When he came outside, he could see three
creatures. The kind of creatures he could see were a
wild boar, a wild sow and a fine little piglet with
them. And it was big for its age.
'Aye,' he said 'I will take
this one myself, and have him baptized.'
He struck it with his wand:
turning it into a handsome, red-haired boy. He was given
the name 'Hychdwn'.
'And you, the one who was
a wild boar for the last year, let him be a she-wolf
this year, and the one that was a sow last year, let
him be a wolf this year.'
Thereupon, they were struck
with the wand, turning them into a wolf and she-wolf.
'And the nature of the animals
in whose shape you are, let that be yours. Be here a
year from today, at the bottom of this wall.'
The same day one year later,
lo! he could hear an uproar and barking below the wall
of the chamber. He went outside, and when he came he
could see a wolf, a she-wolf and a sturdy wolf-cub with
'I will take this one,' he
said ' and have him baptized; and there's already a name
for him: that is "Bleidwn". The three boys are yours, and they are:
Three sons of Gilfaethwy the
Three warriors true
Bleidwn, Hydwn and Hychdwn
At that, he struck both of
them with the magic wand, returning the back to their
'Men,' he said 'for the injury
you inflicted on me, you have had enough punishment.
You have incurred great shame - each of you having borne
children from the other. Prepare a bath, and wash their
heads, and have them arrayed.' And that was done
After they had been arrayed,
they came to him.
'Men,' he said 'you have got
peace, and you will get friendship. Give me counsel on
what maiden I should take.'
'Lord,' said Gwydion 'there
is a simple answer to that. Aranrhod, daughter
of Don, your niece - daughter of your sister.'
She was brought to him. The
maiden came inside.
'Maiden,' he said 'are you
[still] a maiden?'
'I know no reason why I should
Then he took the magic wand
and bent it.
'Step over this,' he said
'and if you are a maiden, I will know it.'
Then she stepped over the
magic wand, and in that step she dropped a large boy
with curly yellow hair. What the boy did was give a loud
cry. After the boy's cry, she made for the door, and
in the process a little something [dropped] from
her. Before anyone could get second look of it, Gwydion
picked it up and wrapped a sheet of brocaded silk around
it, and hid it away. [The place] where he hid it was
in a small chest at the foot of his bed.
'Aye,' said [Math son of]
Mathonwy about the curly yellow haired boy 'I will have
this one baptized. The name I will give [him] is Dylan.'
The boy was baptized, and
as soon, as he was baptized he made for the sea. And
there, as soon as he came to the sea, he took the nature
of the sea. He could swim as well as the best fish in
the sea, and for that reason he was called 'Dylan Prince
of the Wave'. No wave ever broke beneath him. The blow
by which his death was came to him was cast by Govannon,
his uncle. And that was one of the Three Ill-Fated Blows.
As Gwydion was waking up in
his bed one day, he heard a cry in the chest at his feet.
Although it wasn't loud, it loud enough for him to hear
it. He quickly got up and opened the chest. As he opened
it, he could see a little boy thrusting his arms out
of the folds of the sheet, pushing it away. He took
the boy between his hands, and made for the township
with him, where he knew there was a woman with [milk
in her] breasts. He made a deal a woman to nurture the
boy. The boy was reared for that year. And [he grew so
fast that] after the period of a year, they would have
been impressed by his size even if he had been two years
[By] the next year old he
was a large boy, and able to go to the court by himself.
Gwydion, for his part, acknowledged him when he came
to court. And the boy got to know him, and loved him
more than any other person. The boy was then raised in
the court until he was four years old. And it would have
been impressive if a boy of eight years old had been
as large as him.
One day, he followed Gwydion
outside for a walk. What he did was make for Caer Aranrhod,
together with the boy. After his arrival at the court,
Aranrhod got up to meet him and make him welcome.
'God give well to you,' said
'Who is that boy following
'This boy is a boy of yours.'
'Alas, man! What has come
over you, shaming me [like this], and continuing my shame,
and keeping it with you for as long as this?'
'If your shame is nothing
more than my having reared a boy this fine, then a small
thing is your shame.'
'What is the name of your
boy?' said she.
'God knows,' said he 'there
is no name upon him yet.'
'Aye,' said she 'I will swear
an oath upon him: he will not get a name until he gets
it from me.'
'I swear to God by my confession,'
said he 'you are a wretched woman! The boy will get a
name, even if it is evil to you. And you,' he continued
'because of him grief [is] upon you: you are not called
a maiden, and will never be called a maiden again!'
At that, he walked off in
a fury, and made for Caer Dathyl - and was there for
The next day he arose, and
taking his boy with him went on a walk beside the
ocean, between there and Aber Menei. And wherever he
saw dulse and sea-girdle, he conjured up a ship. And
out of sea-weed and dulse, he conjured dovan leather
- and plenty of it - and dappled them, so that no-one
had ever seen leather more beautiful than that. And at
that, he arrayed a sail on the ship, and came, he and
the boy in the boat, to the threshold of the gate of
When he realised he had been
seen from caer, he took away their own appearance, and
placed a different appearance upon them - so that they
would not be recognised
'What people are in the boat?
'Shoe-makers,' said they.
'Go and see what kind of leather
they have, and what kind of work they do,' said she.
Then they came up to him,
and when they came, he was [busy] dappling the dovan
- in gold. The messengers went back and related that
'Aye,' said she 'take the
measure of my foot, and ask the shoe-makers to make me
For his part, [Gwydion] cut
out the shoes - not to measure, but too big instead.
The shoes came to her. And, sure enough, the shoes were
'These are too big,' said
she 'he will get payment for them, but let him also make
some that are smaller.'
What he did was make some
others that were very much smaller than her foot, and
sent them to her.
'Tell him that not one of
these [pairs of] shoes fits me.'
That was told to him.
'Aye,' he replied 'I won't
fashion the shoes for her until I can see her foot.'
That was said to her.
'Aye,' said she 'I will go
out to him.'
Then she came out to the boat.
When she came, he was cutting-out, and the boy was stitching.
'Aye, Lady,' he said 'good
day to you.'
'God give well to you,' said
she 'it seems strange to me that you are not able to
adjust the shoes to my measure.'
'I couldn't,' he said '[but]
now I can.'
At that, suddenly, there was
a wren alighting on the deck of the boat. The boy
took aim and hit it between the sinew and the bone of
its leg. She laughed.
'God knows,' said she 'the
fair one strikes it with a skilful hand!'
'Aye,' he replied 'and the
wrath of God upon you! He has obtained a name, and the
name is good enough "Lleu Skillful Hand" he will be from now on.'
Then the work faded back into
dulse and sea-weed, and he pursued that trade no longer
than that. [But] from [doing] that, he was called one
of the 'Three Golden shoemakers.
'God knows,' said she 'you
will not thrive from being so evil to me!'
'I have not been evil to you,
even now,' he replied.
Then he released his boy into
his former appearance, and took his own appearance
'Aye,' said she 'I will swear
an oath on this boy - that he never take arms until I
arm him myself.'
'Between me and God!' said
he 'this [all] springs from your wretchedness - but he
will [his] arms get [nonetheless]!'
Then they came back over to
Lleu Skillful-Hand was reared
until he could ride every horse, and was complete in
form, growth and weight.
Then Gwydion noticed that
he was getting despondent from the lack of horses and
arms, and he called him in.
'Lad,' said he 'we will go,
you and I, on an errand tomorrow. So do be more cheerful
than you are.'
'That I will do,' said the
The following morning in the
young of the day, they walked along the beach up as far
as Brynn Aryen; and at the top of Cefyn Cludno, they
kitted-out [some] horses and went along to Caer Aranrhod.
Then they changed their semblance: and made for the gate
in the guise of two young lads, except Gwydion appearance
was more serious than that of the youth.
'Gate-keeper,' said he 'go
inside and say there are [some] bards from Morganog here.'
The gate-keeper went.
'God's welcome to them. Let
them in,' said she.
There was great joy at their
arrival. The hall was prepared and they went to eat.
After the meal was finished, Gwydion made conversation
with her about legends and lore. Gwydion himself was
a good cyfarwydd. After it was time to depart from
carousing, a chamber was prepared for them, and they
went to bed.
At cock-crow, Gwydion arose.
Then he invoked his enchantment and his powers. At
the first light of day, there was a multitude of trumpet
blasts and shouting resounding throughout the countryside.
When day-break came they heard a knocking on the chamber
door, and (at that) Aranrhod asking them to open it.
The youth got up and opened it. She came inside, a maiden
'Good men,' said she 'we are
in an evil position.'
'Aye,' he replied 'we can
hear trumpets and shouting. What do you suppose from
'God knows,' said she 'we
can't even see the colour of the ocean for all the boats
crammed-up together [out there]. And the bulk [of them]
are heading for land as fast as they can. What should
'Lady,' said Gwydion 'there's
nothing for it but to close up the caer around us, and
defend it as best we can.'
'Aye,' said she 'God repay
you. Protect us. You will find weapons a-plenty here.'
At that, she went to get the
weapons. And then she was back, two maidens with her
[carrying] arms for two men.
'Lady,' said he 'arm up this
young man. And I, with the maidens, will arm myself.
I can hear the sound of the men coming.'
'I will do that gladly.'
And she armed him gladly,
and to the full.
'Is it finished?' he asked
'the arming of that young man?'
'Its finished,' she replied.
'Then I've finished too,'
said he 'take off the weapons now, we have no need for
'Och!' she said 'how is that?
Look at the fleet around the house!'
'Woman, there isn't a single
boat out there.'
'Och!' said she 'what sort
of mustering was it out there?'
'That mustering,' he replied
'[was] to break your destiny upon your boy, and for him
to get [his own] weapons. And he got his weapons indeed
- no thanks to you.'
'Between me and God, you are
an evil man!' she exclaimed 'Many a boy could have lost
his life in the mustering you caused in this cantref
today. I will swear a destiny upon him,' she continued
'that he will never get a wife, from any race that in
the world today!'
'Aye,' said he 'you have always
been a wretched woman, and no-one should support you.
But he will get a wife just the same.'
They went to Math son of Mathonwy,
and made the most serious complaint in the world against
Aranrhod, and [Gwydion] told him about all he had had
to do to obtain for arms him.
'Aye,' said Math 'we must
endeavour, you and I, to conjure a wife for him out of
flowers, using our magic and enchantment.'
[Lleu], for his part, was
a fully grown man, and the most handsome youth anyone
had ever seen.
Then they took the flowers
of the oak, the flowers of the broom, and the flowers
of the meadowsweet - and from those they called forth
the fairest and most beautiful woman anyone had ever
seen. She was baptised with the baptism they practiced
[back] then, and [the name of] "Blodeuwedd" was put upon her.
After [that] they slept together
over the feast.
'It is not easy,' remarked
Gwydion 'for a man to support himself without lands.'
'Aye,' said Math 'I will give
him the best cantref for a youth to get.'
'Lord,' he asked 'which cantref
'Cantref Dinoding,' he replied.
(Nowadays that is called Eifonydd and Ardudwy).
The place in the cantref where
he set up his court was a place called Mur Castell, and
that is in the Ardudwy area. He settled then and ruled
his lands. And everyone was satisfied with him and his
Then, once upon a time,
he made his way over to Caer Dathyl to visit Math son
of Mathonwy. The day he went to Caer Dathyl, she [i.e.
Blodeuwedd] was doing the rounds inside the court. She
heard the blast of a horn, and in the wake of the horn-blast
there was an exhausted stag passing by, with dogs and
huntsmen coming after it. And after the dogs and huntsmen,
a crowd of men on foot came [by].
'Send a lad,' said she 'to
find out what that retinue is.'
[Off] went the lad, and asked
who they were.
'This is Gronw Pebyr - the
man who is lord of Penllyn,' said they. And that
the lad reported back to her.
For his part, [Gronw] went
after the stag. At the River Cynfael, he caught up with
the stag and killed it. He was busy flaying the stag
and baiting his hounds until the night closed in on him.
And as the sun went down, and the night drew near, he
came past the gate of the court.
'God knows,' said she 'we
will incur dishonour from the chieftain if we let him
[pass through] to another land without inviting him in.'
'God knows, Lady,' said they
'it would be best to invite him in.'
Then messengers went to meet
him and invite him in. He took the invitation gladly
then, and came to the court. She came to welcome him
and greet him warmly.
'Lady, God repay your kindness.'
They got changed and went
to sit down. Blodeuwedd looked upon him, and in the instance
she looked, there was not an emotion within her that
wasn't filled with love for him. And he also gazed at
her, and the same thought came to him as had come to
her. He was not able to hide that he was in love her,
and he told her so. And she took great pleasure at that.
And because of the passion and love each felt for the
other, that was [all] they talked about that night. Nor
did they wait any longer than that night before they
embraced one another. That night they slept together.
The next day, he got ready
'God knows,' said she 'you
will not go away from me tonight.'
That night too they were together.
And that night they discussed how they might stay together
'There is nothing you can
do except this:' he said 'to find out from him by what
means his death might come - under the pretence of caring
The next day, he got ready
'God knows,' said she 'I am
not counselling you to go from me today.'
'God knows, since you are
not counselling me [to], I'm not going,' he said 'I am
saying, however, that there is a danger that the chieftain
whose court this is might come home.'
'Aye,' said she 'tomorrow
I will allow you leave.'
The next day, he got ready
to go, and she did not hinder him.
'Aye,' he said 'remember what
I said to you, and talk earnestly with him, and do that
under the guise of affectionate nagging. And find
out from him by what means death might be brought about.'
That night he came home. They
passed the day in conversation, song and carousal. That
night they went to sleep together. He spoke some words
to her, [once] and a second time. But no [reply] did
he get then.
'What's happened to you?'
he asked 'are you well?
'I've been thinking,' she
said 'something you wouldn't think about me, its
just' she continued 'that I've been worried about your
death, if you go before me.'
'Aye,' said he 'God repay
your care. But unless God kills me, however, it is not
easy to kill me.'
'Will you, for God's sake
and mine, tell me by what means you might be killed?
Since my memory is a better safeguard than yours.'
'I'll tell you gladly,' he
said 'It is not easy,' he continued 'to kill me by a
blow . It would be necessary to spend a year making the
spear to strike me with - and without making any of it
[at any other time] except when one was at mass on Sundays.'
'And is that certain?' she
'It's certain, God knows,'
he replied 'I cannot be killed inside a house, nor outside,'
he continued 'I cannot be killed on horseback or on foot.'
'Aye,' said she '[so] in what
way can you be killed?'
'I'll tell you,' he replied.
'By making a bath for me by the side of a river, making
a curved, slatted roof over the tub, and thatching that
well and without [leaving] any gaps. And bringing a buck,'
he continued 'and putting it next to the tub, and me
putting one of my feet on the buck's back, and the other
one on the side of the tub. Whoever would strike me [while
I am] like that would bring about my death.'
'Aye,' said she 'I thank God
for that. That can be easily avoided.'
No sooner than she had obtained
that information, she sent for Gronw Pebyr. Gronw
laboured at making that spear, and on the same day at
the end of the year it was ready. And on that day he
let her know.
'Lord,' said she 'I am thinking
about how what you were talking about with me earlier
might be possible. Would you show me how you would stand
on the edge of the tub and on the buck if I prepare the
'I'll show you' he replied.
She sent for Gronw, and asked
him to abide in the shadow of the hill which is now called "Brynn Kyfegyr": that was on the bank of the River Kynfael. She arranged for all the goats
in cantref to be obtained and herded together, and brought
them over to the river opposite Bryn Kyfegyr.
The next day she spoke to
'Lord,' said she 'I have arranged
what you said, I have prepared the slats and the bath
and they are ready.'
'Aye,' said he 'We'll go and
look at it, gladly.'
They went the next day to
look at the bath.
'Will you go in the bath,
Lord?' she asked.
'I'll go in, gladly,' he said.
He went in the bath, and began
to wash himself.
'Lord,' said she 'here are
the animals which you said had [the name of]"bucks".'
'Aye,' said he 'arrange for
one of them to be seized, and have it brought over here.'
It was brought over.
Then he got up from the bath,
put on his trousers and put one foot on the edge of the
tub, and the other on the back of the buck.
Gronw rose up from the hill
that was called Bryn Kyfergyr, went up on one knee, and
cast the poison spear and struck him on the side, with
the shaft protruding out of him and the head stuck inside.
Then [Lleu] took flight in the form of an eagle, and
gave a terrible scream, and after that they lost sight
As soon as he had gone off,
they made for the court, and that night they slept together.
The next day Gronw arose and subdued Ardudwy. After he
subdued the land, he ruled it - so that Ardudwy and Penllyn
were [both under] his [control].
Then news came to Math son
of Mathonwy. Math was depressed and troubled by that,
and Gwydion even more so than him.
'Lord,' said Gwydion 'I will
never rest until I get news about my nephew.'
'Aye,' said Math 'may God
be your strength.'
Then he set out, and began
his wandering. He wandered Gwynedd and the far reaches
of Powys. After he had explored every place, he came
to Arfon, and came to the house of the son of a villein
in Maenawr Bennard.
He alighted in the house,
and spent the night there. The man of the house and his
family came in, and last of all came the swineherd. The
man of the house spoke to the swineherd.
'Lad', said he 'has your sow
come in tonight?'
'She has come,' he replied
'now she comes to the pig.'
'What kind of journey does
that sow have?' asked Gwydion.
'When the sty is opened every
day she goes out. It is not possible to get a hold of
her, and it is not known where she goes any more than
if she went into the earth.'
'Will you do [this] for me?'
asked Gwydion. 'Do not open the sty until I am next to
the sty with you.'
'I'll do [that] gladly,' he
And they went to sleep that
When the swine-herd saw the
light of day, he woke Gwydion, and Gwydion got up and
got dressed and came with him to stand next to the sty.
The swine-herd opened the sty. As soon as it was open,
there she was, launching herself out of the sty. And
she roamed far, with Gwydion following her. She went
up-stream, making for a valley (which is now called Nant
Lleu), and then slowed down and [started] grazing.
Gwydion, for his part, came
under the tree, and looked for what the sow was grazing
on. He could see the sow was grazing on rotting flesh
and maggots. He looked up into the top of the tree. When
he looked up, he could see an eagle in the top of the
tree. When the eagle shook himself, worms and rotting
flesh fell from him, and those the sow was devouring.
It occurred to him that the eagle was Lleu, and he
sung an englyn:
'An oak grows between two
Dark-black branches sky and glen
If I do not tell a lie
From the flowers of Lleu this
The eagle let himself down
until he was in the middle of the tree. [Then] Gwydion
sang another englyn:
'An oak grows upon a high
Rain neither wets it, nor
drips upon it
Nine-score strikes has
In its top, Lleu Skillful-Hand
And then he let himself down
until he was on the lowest branch of the tree. Then [Gwydion]
sang an englyn:
Grows an oak upon a steep
The sanctuary of fair lord
Unless I speak falsely:
Lleu will come down into
And he fell onto Gwydion's
knee; and then Gwydion struck him with a magic wand,
until he was [back] in his own form. However, no-one
had ever seen a man in a sorrier state. He was nothing
but skin and bones.
Then he made for Caer Dathyl,
and there the best doctors that could be found in Gwynedd
were brought before him. Before the end of the year,
he was [back] in good health.
'Lord,' he said to Math son
of Mathonwy 'it is high time I got justice from the man
who inflicted [such] trouble upon me.'
'God knows,' said Math 'he
will not be able to defend himself, justice to you lies
'Aye,' said the other 'the
sooner I can get justice the better'
Then they mustered Gwynedd
and made for Ardudwy. Gwydion went in front, and made
for Mur Castell. Blodeuwedd, [when] she heard that they
were on their way, took her maidens with her and made
for the mountain, across the River Cynfael, making for
a court that was up the mountain. And so frightened were
they, that they could not walk without facing backwards.
Then, before they knew it, they fell into a lake and
all drowned except [Blodeuwedd] herself. And then Gwydion
overtook her, and spoke:
'I will not kill you. What
I am going to do is [even] worse,' he said 'that is,
I will release you in the shape of a bird. Because of
the shame that you have wrought upon Lleu Llaw Gyffes,
you will not dare to show your face ever again in the
light of day ever again, and that [will be] because of
enmity between you and all[other] birds. It will be in
their nature to harass you and despise you wherever they
find you. And you will not loose your name - that will
always be "Bloddeuwedd".'
"Blodeuwedd" means "owl" in
the language of today. And it is because of that there
is hostility between birds and owls, and the owl is still
known as Blodeuwedd.
For his part, Gronw Pebyr
made for Penllyn, and from there he sent envoys. The
messengers conveyed a request to Lleu Skilful-Hand [offering
him] whatever he wanted [in terms] of blood-payment:
either land or territory or gold or silver.
'I will not take [it], by
the confession I give to God!' said he 'Here is the least
I'll accept from him: going to the place where I was,
when he cast the spear, with me in the place where he
was. And let me cast a spear at him. That is the least
I will accept from him.'
That was told to Gronw Pebyr.
'Aye', he said 'I will have
to do that. O loyal noblemen, my war-band, my foster-brothers:
is there anyone one of you that would take this blow
'God knows, there is not'
Because of their refusal to
endure the taking of a single blow on behalf of their
lord, they are called one of the Three Disloyal Warbands,
from that day to this.
'Aye,' he said '[then] I will
Both of them came to the bank
of the River Cynfael. Then Gronw Pebyr stood, where Lleu
Skillful Hand had been when he had cast [the spear] at
him, and Lleu in the place where he himself had been.
Then Gronw Pebyr came before
'Lord,' said he 'since it
was through the wiles of a woman that I did what I did
to you, I am asking you, for God's sake, that you let
me put that stone which I see by the bank of the river
between me and blow.'
'God knows,' said Lleu 'I
will not refuse you that.'
'Aye,' said he 'God repay
Then Gronw took the stone
and put it between himself and the blow.
Lleu cast the spear at him.
It went pierced though the stone, pierced through him
and broke his back.
And then Gronw Pebyr died,
and there on the bank of the River Cynfael in Ardudwy
the stone is [still], with a hole through it. And for
that reason, it is called 'The Stone of Gronw'.
Lleu Skillful Hand, for his
part, conquered the land a second time. And, according
to the tradition, he was lord of Gwynedd thereafter.
Thus ends this branch of the
This translation is Copyright © Will Parker | www.mabinogi.net