Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Math, the Son of Mathonwy, tale 4 — Part 1

Math, lord of Gwynedd, could not exist if not his feet rested on the lap of a virgin, unless he were needed in war. Thevirin now was Goewin. Math's nephew Gilvaethwy was morose because he had fallen in love with Goewin. Gilvaethwy's brother Gwydion noticed the change in him, and got him to tell him the cause of his sulkiness. Gwydion devised a plan. He told Math that Pryderi's people had a new animal, very tasty; and called swine or pig. They were given him by Arawn, king of Annwvn. It was agreed that the brothers and ten more would disguise themselves as bard, and entertain Pryderi; then ask for pigs as payment. This was carried out, but there was a prohibition against letting go the animals until they doubled their number. But the next day an exchange was made for what were actually illusiory beautiful gold harnessed horses and greyhounds conjured up by Gwydion.

They ride off with the pigs, and later the horses and greyhounds disappear. Pryderi and his men go off in pursuit. Knowing they were pursued, the men of the north caged the pigs; and went to tell Math, who set out after Pryderi. This gave Gilvaethwy the opportunity he wanted with the maiden, and the next morning he went to Math's camp. After a slaughter on both sides, and hostage taking, Pryderi requested Gwydion and he fight, since the latter was the cause of the violence. By magic and charm, Gwydion killed Pryderi.

When Math learned that Gilvaethwy violated Goewin, he recompensed her, and punished the brothers by transforming them into animals three years in a row. At the end of each year, he took their offspring. The first year they were deer, the second wild hogs, the third year wolves. In each case, Math struck the offspring with a wand, and the beast was changed into a boy, and was baptised. Math requesting a new virgin, Arianrod, his niece, was brought to him. When told to step over a wand, two babies appeared. Before the second one could be seen, Gwydion concealed it. Math named the first one Dylan. He died young, by a blow from an uncle.

One day Gwydion heard the baby he put in a chest crying. He had it nursed. After the child has grown a few years, Gwydion brings him to Arianrod, who learning the child is hers, is shamed; and refuses to name him. Gwydion, through trickery, has her name the boy. When a wren stood on the deck of a ship and the boy hit it with a shot, Arianrod calls the boy a lion, to describe the feat. For this he was named Llew Llaw Gyffes. The same after she refused to give him arms. Another time, illusory attack is created, and Arianrod has the boy armed to meet the enemy; but then the enemy vanished. She then proclaims he will never have a wife of this world. So a woman is created for him from natural sources; and she was named Blodeuwedd. Math gave Llew a territory to rule. 

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