Sunday, February 14, 2021

Manawyddan the Son of Llyr — tale 3 Summary and Criticism

In London Manawyddan regrets that his cousin Caswallawn now rules the Welsh region Bendigeid, his brother, had. Pryderi, who is with him, agrees he should marry Rhiannon. This occurs when they return to Wales. Pryderi is married to Kieva. After Pryderi visits Caswallawn and returns there is a violent storm and mist; and when the mist clears there is nothing around, neither man nor domesticated animal nor building, save for the empty houses of the Court. After consuming the available provision, they hunted; but in the second year they became bored. The took up first, saddle making, then shield making, then shoe making; but in each profession their work was so excellent that the local craftsmen were unable to sell their product, and schemed to murder the two and their wives. Each time they moved on to another town, and took up the next profession.

Afterward they returned to their home, and one day the two men out hunting came upon a  castle, in which their dogs ran in chasing a boar. Pryderi went in to look for the dogs and did not come back out. Later in the day Manawyddan retuned to his palace without Pryderi, which greatly upset Rhiannon. She went to the castle, and like Prydri touched a bowl at a fountain and became frozen there. Then, the castle vanished. Manawyddan takes up shoe-making until there is a plot to kill him; and he returns to Narberth, where he planted three fields of wheat. One day he was going to harvest the wheat of one filed, but the night before someone went off with the wheat. This happened with the second field, too. The next night he waited in the field, and saw a hoard of mice eat the wheat. He caught one, and in daylight he was going to execute it for theft. A scholar came up to him, and found the deed below him. He would pay a small amount to let the mouse go. This was refused. Then came a priest who offer more; but this was rejected. Finally, a bishop came, and offered more and more, finally saying that the mouse was his wife. The bishop had placed a charm on the area, including the castle, because of Pryderi’s inflicting pain on Gwawl, who once had wanted to marry Rhiannon. Manawyddan kept refusing until he had the promise that Pryderi and Rhiannon would be freed, and there would be no further revenge on them. The two and the rest of the people reappeared, and the bishop turned the mouse back into a woman.


This follows the first tale of Pwyll and Rhiannon. There is a certain likeness too in the mood, that is, charming. Manawyddan, however, appears introduced into the third tale by someone who wanted to unite the tales. Manawyddan is from the Ordovices of northern Wales, Pryderi from the Silures, a tribe of the south. Narberth is in the south, which is not Manawyddan’s residence in tale 2.

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