Thursday, January 7, 2021

Pwyll Prince of Dyved — summary

 The proposed readings will be in three parts: a summary, followed later by cultural/historical context, finally, criticism. This is not my field, if I have one, but I expect to learn from the exercise.


During a hunt Pwyll meets King Arawn from Annwvyn, or the Underworld, in an hostile encounter; but they make up, and agree to exchange placed, as well as physical features, and meet again in a year. At the end of the year Pwyll overthrows Arawn’s foe, with the result that two kingdoms are under his control. He then goes to meet Arawn; and they resume their original identity; but Pwyll receives the name Chief of Annwvyn. The people of both lands are pleased with the events of the previous year.

Back in his land, Pwyll goes to a mound, where he sees a woman on a horse past by. He has someone go find out who she is; but whether or foot or on horse, this and the following day, she rides further and further away from the pursuer though she goes at a moderate pace. On the third day, Pwyll goes, with the same result; but he calls out to her, and she stops. She tells him she has been searching for him. She is expected to marry someone, but will marry only him if he does not refuse. He accepts, but when he goes to her father’s castle a year later he is tricked by Gwawl, her former suitor, before the court into relinquishing her. Pwyll attempts to get out of his pledge, but she, Rhiannon, refuses. She gives him a small bag that never fills, and a year later, dressed in rags, he tricks Gwawl into it; and after being kicked about, he relinquishes Rhiannon.

After three years of marriage no child is born to Pwyll and Rhiannon, and the people are worried. They want Pwyll to take another woman, but he asks for time. Within a year an infant is born and named Gwri Wallt Euryn because of his golden hair. The women who are to watch the child fell asleep, and the infant disappears during the night. To protect themselves, the women smear blood on Rhiannon, and claim she ate her baby. For penance, she is to remain in the castle of Narberth for seven years, most of the time near a horse-block without gate.

Elsewhere, the mare of a lord, Teirnyon Twrvy Vliant, produces a colt every first of May; but the colt quickly disappears. So one night he stays up, and sees a giant arm and claw come through the window to snatch the colt. He cuts off the arm at the elbow, and goes out to pursue the monster; but remembering the colt left behind, returns. He finds a boy wrapped in satin. He and his wife believe he noble. Each year he grows bigger than a child of his age would, and he is often around horses. As the child grows older, Teirnyon sees the likeness of Pwyll in him; a reunion is held; and Teirnyon is rewarded. The tale ends with Pwyll death; the rule being held by his son, now called Prydrei; the increase of lands; and Pryderi’s progeny.

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