THE SON OF MATHONWY
The Four Branches
of the Mabinogi 4. Math the son of Mathonwy
Translated by Charlotte Guest 
the son of Mathonwy was lord over Gwynedd, and
Pryderi the son of Pwyll was lord over the one-and-twenty
Cantrevs of the South; and these were the seven
Cantrevs of Dyved, and the seven Cantrevs of Morganwc,
the four Cantrevs of Ceredigiawn, and the three
of Ystrad Tywi.
At that time, Math the son of Mathonwy could not
exist unless his feet were in the lap of a maiden,
except only when he was prevented by the tumult
of war. Now the maiden who was with him was Goewin,
the daughter of Pebin of Dol Pebin, in Arvon,
and she was the fairest maiden of her time who
was known there.
And Math dwelt always at Caer Dathyl, in Arvon,
and was not able to go the circuit of the land,
but Gilvaethwy the son of Don, and Eneyd the son
of Don, his nephews, the sons of his sisters,
with his household, went the circuit of the land
in his stead.
Now the maiden was with Math continually, and
Gilvaethwy the son of Don set his affections upon
her, and loved her so that he knew not what he
should do because of her, and therefrom behold
his hue, and his aspect, and his spirits changed
for love of her, so that it was not easy to know
One day his brother Gwydion gazed steadfastly
upon him. "Youth," said he, "what
aileth thee?" "Why," replied he,
"what seest thou in me?" "I see,"
said he, "that thou hast lost thy aspect
and thy hue; what, therefore, aileth thee?"
"My lord brother," he answered, "that
which aileth me, it will not profit me that I
should own to any." "What may it be,
my soul?" said he. "Thou knowest,"
he said, "that Math the son of Mathonwy has
this property, that if men whisper together, in
a tone how low soever, if the wind meet it, it
becomes known unto him." "Yes,"
said Gwydion, "hold now thy peace, I know
thy intent, thou lovest Goewin."
When he found that his brother knew his intent,
he gave the heaviest sigh in the world. "Be
silent, my soul, and sigh not," he said.
"It is not thereby that thou wilt succeed.
I will cause," said he, "if it cannot
be otherwise, the rising of Gwynedd, and Powys,
and Deheubarth, to seek the maiden. Be thou of
glad cheer therefore, and I will compass it."
So they went unto Math the son of Mathonwy. "Lord,"
said Gwydion, "I have heard that there have
come to the South some beasts, such as were never
known in this island before." "What
are they called?" he asked. "Pigs, lord."
"And what kind of animals are they?"
"They are small animals, and their flesh
is better than the flesh of oxen." "They
are small, then?" "And they change their
names. Swine are they now called." "Who
owneth them?" "Pryderi the son of Pwyll;
they were sent him from Annwvyn, by Arawn the
king of Annwvyn, and still they keep that name,
half hog, half pig." "Verily,"
asked he, "and by what means may they be
obtained from him?" "I will go, lord,
as one of twelve, in the guise of bards, to seek
the swine." "But it may be that he will
refuse you," said he. "My journey will
not be evil, lord," said he; "I will
not come back without the swine." "Gladly,"
said he, "go thou forward."
So he and Gilvaethwy went, and ten other men with
them. And they came into Ceredigiawn, to the place
that is now called Rhuddlan Teivi, where the palace
of Pryderi was. In the guise of bards they came
in, and they were received joyfully, and Gwydion
was placed beside Pryderi that night.
a truth," said Pryderi, "gladly would
I have a tale from some of your men yonder."
"Lord," said Gwydion, "we have
a custom that the first night that we come to
the Court of a great man, the chief of song recites.
Gladly will I relate a tale." Now Gwydion
was the best teller of tales in the world, and
he diverted all the Court that night with pleasant
discourse and with tales, so that he charmed every
one in the Court, and it pleased Pryderi to talk
And after this, "Lord," said he unto
Pryderi, "were it more pleasing to thee,
that another should discharge my errand unto thee,
than that I should tell thee myself what it is?"
"No," he answered, "ample speech
hast thou." "Behold then, lord,"
said he, "my errand. It is to crave from
thee the animals that were sent thee from Annwvyn."
"Verily," he replied, "that were
the easiest thing in the world to grant, were
there not a covenant between me and my land concerning
them. And the covenant is that they shall not
go from me, until they have produced double their
number in the land." "Lord," said
he, "I can set thee free from those words,
and this is the way I can do so; give me not the
swine to-night, neither refuse them unto me, and
to- morrow I will show thee an exchange for them."
And that night he and his fellows went unto their
lodging, and they took counsel. "Ah, my men,"
said he, "we shall not have the swine for
the asking." "Well," said they,
"how may they be obtained?" "I
will cause them to be obtained," said Gwydion.
Then he betook himself to his arts, and began
to work a charm. And he caused twelve chargers
to appear, and twelve black greyhounds, each of
them white-breasted, and having upon them twelve
collars and twelve leashes, such as no one that
saw them could know to be other than gold. And
upon the horses twelve saddles, and every part
which should have been of iron was entirely of
gold, and the bridles were of the same workmanship.
And with the horses and the dogs he came to Pryderi.
day unto thee, lord," said he. "Heaven
prosper thee," said the other, "and
greetings be unto thee." "Lord,"
said he, "behold here is a release for thee
from the word which thou spakest last evening
concerning the swine; that thou wouldst neither
give nor sell them. Thou mayest exchange them
for that which is better. And I will give these
twelve horses, all caparisoned as they are, with
their saddles and their bridles, and these twelve
greyhounds, with their collars and their leashes
as thou seest, and the twelve gilded shields that
thou beholdest yonder." Now these he had
formed of fungus. "Well," said he, "we
will take counsel." And they consulted together,
and determined to give the swine to Gwydion, and
to take his horses and his dogs and his shields.
Then Gwydion and his men took their leave, and
began to journey forth with the pigs. "Ah,
my comrades," said Gwydion, "it is needful
that we journey with speed. The illusion will
not last but from the one hour to the same to-morrow."
And that night they journeyed as far as the upper
part of Ceredigiawn, to the place which, from
that cause, is called Mochdrev still. And the
next day they took their course through Melenydd,
and came that night to the town which is likewise
for that reason called Mochdrev between Keri and
Arwystli. And thence they journeyed forward; and
that night they came as far as that Commot in
Powys, which also upon account thereof is called
Mochnant, and there tarried they that night. And
they journeyed thence to the Cantrev of Rhos,
and the place where they were that night is still
men," said Gwydion, "we must push forward
to the fastnesses of Gwynedd with these animals,
for there is a gathering of hosts in pursuit of
us." So they journeyed on to the highest
town of Arllechwedd, and there they made a sty
for the swine, and therefore was the name of Creuwyryon
given to that town. And after they had made the
sty for the swine, they proceeded to Math the
son of Mathonwy, at Caer Dathyl. And when they
came there, the country was rising. "What
news is there here?" asked Gwydion. "Pryderi
is assembling one-and-twenty Cantrevs to pursue
after you," answered they. "It is marvellous
that you should have journeyed so slowly."
"Where are the animals whereof you went in
quest?" said Math. "They have had a
sty made for them in the other Cantrev below,"
Thereupon, lo, they heard the trumpets and the
host in the land, and they arrayed themselves
and set forward and came to Penardd in Arvon.
And at night Gwydion the son of Don, and Gilvaethwy
his brother, returned to Caer Dathyl; and Gilvaethwy
took Math the son of Mathonwy's couch. And while
he turned out the other damsels from the room
discourteously, he made Goewin unwillingly remain.
And when they saw the day on the morrow, they
went back unto the place where Math the son of
Mathonwy was with his host; and when they came
there, the warriors were taking counsel in what
district they should await the coming of Pryderi,
and the men of the South. So they went in to the
council. And it was resolved to wait in the strongholds
of Gwynedd, in Arvon. So within the two Maenors
they took their stand, Maenor Penardd and Maenor
Coed Alun. And there Pryderi attacked them, and
there the combat took place. And great was the
slaughter on both sides; but the men of the South
were forced to flee. And they fled unto the place
which is still called Nantcall. And thither did
they follow them, and they made a vast slaughter
of them there, so that they fled again as far
as the place called Dol Pen Maen, and there they
halted and sought to make peace.
And that he might have peace, Pryderi gave hostages,
Gwrgi Gwastra gave he and three-and-twenty others,
sons of nobles. And after this they journeyed
in peace even unto Traeth Mawr; but as they went
on together towards Melenryd, the men on foot
could not be restrained from shooting. Pryderi
dispatched unto Math an embassy to pray him to
forbid his people, and to leave it between him
and Gwydion the son of Don, for that he had caused
all this. And the messengers came to Math. "Of
a truth," said Math, "I call Heaven
to witness, if it be pleasing unto Gwydion the
son of Don, I will so leave it gladly. Never will
I compel any to go to fight, but that we ourselves
should do our utmost."
said the messengers, "Pryderi saith that
it were more fair that the man who did him this
wrong should oppose his own body to his, and let
his people remain unscathed." "I declare
to Heaven, I will not ask the men of Gwynedd to
fight because of me. If I am allowed to fight
Pryderi myself, gladly will I oppose my body to
his." And this answer they took back to Pryderi.
"Truly," said Pryderi, "I shall
require no one to demand my rights but myself."
Then these two came forth and armed themselves,
and they fought. And by force of strength, and
fierceness, and by the magic and charms of Gwydion,
Pryderi was slain. And at Maen Tyriawc, above
Melenryd, was he buried, and there is his grave.
And the men of the South set forth in sorrow towards
their own land; nor is it a marvel that they should
grieve, seeing that they had lost their lord,
and many of their best warriors, and for the most
part their horses and their arms.
The men of Gwynedd went back joyful and in triumph.
"Lord," said Gwydion unto Math, "would
it not be right for us to release the hostages
of the men of the South, which they pledged unto
us for peace? for we ought not to put them in
prison." "Let them then be set free,"
saith Math. So that youth, and the other hostages
that were with him, were set free to follow the
men of the South.
Math himself went forward to Caer Dathyl. Gilvaethwy
the son of Don, and they of the household that
were with him, went to make the circuit of Gwynedd
as they were wont, without coming to the Court.
Math went into his chamber, and caused a place
to be prepared for him whereon to recline, so
that he might put his feet in the maiden's lap.
"Lord," said Goewin, "seek now
another to hold thy feet, for I am now a wife."
"What meaneth this?" said he. "An
attack, lord, was made unawares upon me; but I
held not my peace, and there was no one in the
Court who knew not of it. Now the attack was made
by thy nephews, lord, the sons of thy sister,
Gwydion the son of Don, and Gilvaethwy the son
of Don; unto me they did wrong, and unto thee
dishonour." "Verily," he exclaimed,
"I will do to the utmost of my power concerning
this matter. But first I will cause thee to have
compensation, and then will I have amends made
unto myself. As for thee, I will take thee to
be my wife, and the possession of my dominions
will I give unto thy hands."
And Gwydion and Gilvaethwy came not near the Court,
but stayed in the confines of the land until it
was forbidden to give them meat and drink. At
first they came not near unto Math, but at the
last they came. "Lord," said they, "good
day to thee." "Well," said he,
"is it to make me compensation that ye are
come?" "Lord," they said, "we
are at thy will." "By my will I would
not have lost my warriors, and so many arms as
I have done. You cannot compensate me my shame,
setting aside the death of Pryderi. But since
ye come hither to be at my will, I shall begin
your punishment forthwith."
Then he took his magic wand, and struck Gilvaethwy,
so that he became a deer, and he seized upon the
other hastily lest he should escape from him.
And he struck him with the same magic wand, and
he became a deer also. "Since now ye are
in bonds, I will that ye go forth together and
be companions, and possess the nature of the animals
whose form ye bear. And this day twelvemonth come
hither unto me."
At the end of a year from that day, lo there was
a loud noise under the chamber wall, and the barking
of the dogs of the palace together with the noise.
"Look," said he, "what is without."
"Lord," said one, "I have looked;
there are there two deer, and a fawn with them."
Then he arose and went out. And when he came he
beheld the three animals. And he lifted up his
wand. "As ye were deer last year, be ye wild
hogs each and either of you, for the year that
is to come." And thereupon he struck them
with the magic wand. "The young one will
I take and cause to be baptized." Now the
name that he gave him was Hydwn. "Go ye and
be wild swine, each and either of you, and be
ye of the nature of wild swine. And this day twelvemonth
be ye here under the wall."
At the end of the year the barking of dogs was
heard under the wall of the chamber. And the Court
assembled, and thereupon he arose and went forth,
and when he came forth he beheld three beasts.
Now these were the beasts that he saw; two wild
hogs of the woods, and a well- grown young one
with them. And he was very large for his age.
"Truly," said Math, "this one will
I take and cause to be baptized." And he
struck him with his magic wand, and he become
a fine fair auburn-haired youth, and the name
that he gave him was Hychdwn. "Now as for
you, as ye were wild hogs last year, be ye wolves
each and either of you for the year that is to
come." Thereupon he struck them with his
magic wand, and they became wolves. "And
be ye of like nature with the animals whose semblance
ye bear, and return here this day twelvemonth
beneath this wall."
And at the same day at the end of the year, he
heard a clamour and a barking of dogs under the
wall of the chamber. And he rose and went forth.
And when he came, behold, he saw two wolves, and
a strong cub with them. "This one will I
take," said Math, "and I will cause
him to be baptized; there is a name prepared for
him, and that is Bleiddwn. Now these three, such
are they:-The three sons of Gilvaethwy the false,
The three faithful combatants, Bleiddwn, Hydwn,
and Hychdwn the Tall."Then he struck the
two with his magic wand, and they resumed their
own nature. "Oh men," said he, "for
the wrong that ye did unto me sufficient has been
your punishment and your dishonour. Prepare now
precious ointment for these men, and wash their
heads, and equip them." And this was done.
And after they were equipped, they came unto him.
"Oh men," said he, "you have obtained
peace, and you shall likewise have friendship.
Give your counsel unto me, what maiden I shall
seek." "Lord," said Gwydion the
son of Don, "it is easy to give thee counsel;
seek Arianrod, the daughter of Don, thy niece,
thy sister's daughter."
And they brought her unto him, and the maiden
came in. "Ha, damsel," said he, "art
thou the maiden?" "I know not, lord,
other than that I am." Then he took up his
magic wand, and bent it. "Step over this,"
said he, "and I shall know if thou art the
maiden." Then stepped she over the magic
wand, and there appeared forthwith a fine chubby
yellow-haired boy. And at the crying out of the
boy, she went towards the door. And thereupon
some small form was seen; but before any one could
get a second glimpse of it, Gwydion had taken
it, and had flung a scarf of velvet around it
and hidden it. Now the place where he hid it was
the bottom of a chest at the foot of his bed.
said Math the son of Mathonwy, concerning the
fine yellow- haired boy, "I will cause this
one to be baptized, and Dylan is the name I will
So they had the boy baptized, and as they baptized
him he plunged into the sea. And immediately when
he was in the sea, he took its nature, and swam
as well as the best fish that was therein. And
for that reason was he called Dylan, the son of
the Wave. Beneath him no wave ever broke. And
the blow whereby he came to his death, was struck
by his uncle Govannon. The third fatal blow was
As Gwydion lay one morning on his bed awake, he
heard a cry in the chest at his feet; and though
it was not loud, it was such that he could hear
it. Then he arose in haste, and opened the chest:
and when he opened it, he beheld an infant boy
stretching out his arms from the folds of the
scarf, and casting it aside. And he took up the
boy in his arms, and carried him to a place where
he knew there was a woman that could nurse him.
And he agreed with the woman that she should take
charge of the boy. And that year he was nursed.
And at the end of the year he seemed by his size
as though he were two years old. And the second
year he was a big child, and able to go to the
Court by himself. And when he came to the Court,
Gwydion noticed him, and the boy became familiar
with him, and loved him better than any one else.
Then was the boy reared at the Court until he
was four years old, when he was as big as though
he had been eight.
And one day Gwydion walked forth, and the boy
followed him, and he went to the Castle of Arianrod,
having the boy with him; and when he came into
the Court, Arianrod arose to meet him, and greeted
him and bade him welcome. "Heaven prosper
thee," said he. "Who is the boy that
followeth thee?" she asked. "This youth,
he is thy son," he answered. "Alas,"
said she, "what has come unto thee that thou
shouldst shame me thus? wherefore dost thou seek
my dishonour, and retain it so long as this?"
"Unless thou suffer dishonour greater than
that of my bringing up such a boy as this, small
will be thy disgrace." "What is the
name of the boy?" said she. "Verily,"
he replied, "he has not yet a name."
"Well," she said, "I lay this destiny
upon him, that he shall never have a name until
he receives one from me." "Heaven bears
me witness," answered he, "that thou
art a wicked woman. But the boy shall have a name
how displeasing soever it may be unto thee. As
for thee, that which afflicts thee is that thou
art no longer called a damsel." And thereupon
he went forth in wrath, and returned to Caer Dathyl
and there he tarried that night.
And the next day he arose and took the boy with
him, and went to walk on the seashore between
that place and Aber Menei. And there he saw some
sedges and seaweed, and he turned them into a
boat. And out of dry sticks and sedges he made
some Cordovan leather, and a great deal thereof,
and he coloured it in such a manner that no one
ever saw leather more beautiful than it. Then
he made a sail to the boat, and he and the boy
went in it to the port of the castle of Arianrod.
And he began forming shoes and stitching them,
until he was observed from the castle. And when
he knew that they of the castle were observing
him, he disguised his aspect, and put another
semblance upon himself, and upon the boy, so that
they might not be known. "What men are those
in yonder boat?" said Arianrod. "They
are cordwainers," answered they. "Go
and see what kind of leather they have, and what
kind of work they can do."
So they came unto them. And when they came he
was colouring some Cordovan leather, and gilding
it. And the messengers came and told her this.
"Well," said she, "take the measure
of my foot, and desire the cordwainer to make
shoes for me." So he made the shoes for her,
yet not according to the measure, but larger.
The shoes then were brought unto her, and behold
they were too large. "These are too large,"
said she, "but he shall receive their value.
Let him also make some that are smaller than they."
Then he made her others that were much smaller
than her foot, and sent them unto her. "Tell
him that these will not go on my feet," said
she. And they told him this. "Verily,"
said he, "I will not make her any shoes,
unless I see her foot." And this was told
unto her. "Truly," she answered, "I
will go unto him."
So she went down to the boat, and when she came
there, he was shaping shoes and the boy stitching
them. "Ah, lady," said he, "good
day to thee." "Heaven prosper thee,"
said she. "I marvel that thou canst not manage
to make shoes according to a measure." "I
could not," he replied, "but now I shall
Thereupon behold a wren stood upon the deck of
the boat, and the boy shot at it, and hit it in
the leg between the sinew and the bone. Then she
smiled. "Verily," said she, "with
a steady hand did the lion aim at it." "Heaven
reward thee not, but now has he got a name. And
a good enough name it is. Llew Llaw Gyffes be
he called henceforth."
Then the work disappeared in seaweed and sedges,
and he went on with it no further. And for that
reason was he called the third Gold- shoemaker.
"Of a truth," said she, "thou wilt
not thrive the better for doing evil unto me."
"I have done thee no evil yet," said
he. Then he restored the boy to his own form.
"Well," said she, "I will lay a
destiny upon this boy, that he shall never have
arms and armour until I invest him with them."
"By Heaven," said he, "let thy
malice be what it may, he shall have arms."
Then they went towards Dinas Dinllev, and there
he brought up Llew Llaw Gyffes, until he could
manage any horse, and he was perfect in features,
and strength, and stature. And then Gwydion saw
that he languished through the want of horses
and arms. And he called him unto him. "Ah,
youth," said he, "we will go to-morrow
on an errand together. Be therefore more cheerful
than thou art." "That I will,"
said the youth.
Next morning, at the dawn of day, they arose.
And they took way along the sea coast, up towards
Bryn Aryen. And at the top of Cevn Clydno they
equipped themselves with horses, and went towards
the Castle of Arianrod. And they changed their
form, and pricked towards the gate in the semblance
of two youths, but the aspect of Gwydion was more
staid than that of the other. "Porter,"
said he, "go thou in and say that there are
here bards from Glamorgan." And the porter
went in. "The welcome of Heaven be unto them,
let them in," said Arianrod.
With great joy were they greeted. And the hall
was arranged, and they went to meat. When meat
was ended, Arianrod discoursed with Gwydion of
tales and stories. Now Gwydion was an excellent
teller of tales. And when it was time to leave
off feasting, a chamber was prepared for them,
and they went to rest.
In the early twilight Gwydion arose, and he called
unto him his magic and his power. And by the time
that the day dawned, there resounded through the
land uproar, and trumpets and shouts. When it
was now day, they heard a knocking at the door
of the chamber, and therewith Arianrod asking
that it might be opened. Up rose the youth and
opened unto her, and she entered and a maiden
with her. "Ah, good men," she said,
"in evil plight are we." "Yes,
truly," said Gwydion, "we have heard
trumpets and shouts; what thinkest thou that they
may mean?" "Verily," said she,
"we cannot see the colour of the ocean by
reason of all the ships, side by side. And they
are making for the land with all the speed they
can. And what can we do?" said she. "Lady,"
said Gwydion, "there is none other counsel
than to close the castle upon us, and to defend
it as best we may." "Truly," said
she, "may Heaven reward you. And do you defend
it. And here may you have plenty of arms."
And thereupon went she forth for the arms, and
behold she returned, and two maidens, and suits
of armour for two men, with her. "Lady,"
said he, "do you accoutre this stripling,
and I will arm myself with the help of thy maidens.
Lo, I hear the tumult of the men approaching."
"I will do so, gladly." So she armed
him fully, and that right cheerfully. "Hast
thou finished arming the youth?" said he.
"I have finished," she answered. "I
likewise have finished," said Gwydion. "Let
us now take off our arms, we have no need of them."
"Wherefore?" said she. "Here is
the army around the house." "Oh, lady,
there is here no army." "Oh," cried
she, "whence then was this tumult?"
"The tumult was but to break thy prophecy
and to obtain arms for thy son. And now has he
got arms without any thanks unto thee." "By
Heaven," said Arianrod, "thou art a
wicked man. Many a youth might have lost his life
through the uproar thou hast caused in this Cantrev
to-day. Now will I lay a destiny upon this youth,"
she said, "that he shall never have a wife
of the race that now inhabits this earth."
"Verily," said he, "thou wast ever
a malicious woman, and no one ought to support
thee. A wife shall he have notwithstanding."
They went thereupon unto Math the son of Mathonwy,
and complained unto him most bitterly of Arianrod.
Gwydion showed him also how he had procured arms
for the youth. "Well," said Math, "we
will seek, I and thou, by charms and illusion,
to form a wife for him out of flowers. He has
now come to man's stature, and he is the comeliest
youth that was ever beheld." So they took
the blossoms of the oak, and the blossoms of the
broom, and the blossoms of the meadow-sweet, and
produced from them a maiden, the fairest and most
graceful that man ever saw. And they baptized
her, and gave her the name of Blodeuwedd.
After she had become his bride, and they had feasted,
said Gwydion, "It is not easy for a man to
maintain himself without possessions." "Of
a truth," said Math, "I will give the
young man the best Cantrev to hold." "Lord,"
said he, "what Cantrev is that?" "The
Cantrev of Dinodig," he answered. Now it
is called at this day Eivionydd and Ardudwy. And
the place in the Cantrev where he dwelt, was a
palace of his in a spot called Mur y Castell,
on the confines of Ardudwy. There dwelt he and
reigned, and both he and his sway were beloved
One day he went forth to Caer Dathyl, to visit
Math the son of Mathonwy. And on the day that
he set out for Caer Dathyl, Blodeuwedd walked
in the Court. And she heard the sound of a horn.
And after the sound of the horn, behold a tired
stag went by, with dogs and huntsmen following
it. And after the dogs and the huntsmen there
came a crowd of men on foot. "Send a youth,"
said she, "to ask who yonder host may be."
So a youth went, and inquired who they were. "Gronw
Pebyr is this, the lord of Penllyn," said
they. And thus the youth told her.
Gronw Pebyr pursued the stag, and by the river
Cynvael he overtook the stag and killed it. And
what with flaying the stag and baiting his dogs,
he was there until the night began to close in
upon him. And as the day departed and the night
drew near, he came to the gate of the Court. "Verily,"
said Blodeuwedd, "the Chieftain will speak
ill of us if we let him at this hour depart to
another land without inviting him in." "Yes,
truly, lady," said they, "it will be
most fitting to invite him."
Then went messengers to meet him and bid him in.
And he accepted her bidding gladly, and came to
the Court, and Blodeuwedd went to meet him, and
greeted him, and bade him welcome. "Lady,"
said he, "Heaven repay thee thy kindness."
When they had disaccoutred themselves, they went
to sit down. And Blodeuwedd looked upon him, and
from the moment that she looked on him she became
filled with his love. And he gazed on her, and
the same thought came unto him as unto her, so
that he could not conceal from her that he loved
her, but he declared unto her that he did so.
Thereupon she was very joyful. And all their discourse
that night was concerning the affection and love
which they felt one for the other, and which in
no longer space than one evening had arisen. And
that evening passed they in each other's company.
The next day he sought to depart. But she said,
"I pray thee go not from me to-day."
And that night he tarried also. And that night
they consulted by what means they might always
be together. "There is none other counsel,"
said he, "but that thou strive to learn from
Llew Llaw Gyffes in what manner he will meet his
death. And this must thou do under the semblance
of solicitude concerning him."
The next day Gronw sought to depart. "Verily,"
said she, "I will counsel thee not to go
from me to-day." "At thy instance will
I not go," said he, "albeit, I must
say, there is danger that the chief who owns the
palace may return home." "To-morrow,"
answered she, "will I indeed permit thee
to go forth."
The next day he sought to go, and she hindered
him not. "Be mindful," said Gronw, "of
what I have said unto thee, and converse with
him fully, and that under the guise of the dalliance
of love, and find out by what means he may come
to his death."
That night Llew Llaw Gyffes returned to his home.
And the day they spent in discourse, and minstrelsy,
and feasting. And at night they went to rest,
and he spoke to Blodeuwedd once, and he spoke
to her a second time. But, for all this, he could
not get from her one word. "What aileth thee?"
said he, "art thou well?" "I was
thinking," said she, "of that which
thou didst never think of concerning me; for I
was sorrowful as to thy death, lest thou shouldst
go sooner than I." "Heaven reward thy
care for me," said he, "but until Heaven
take me I shall not easily be slain" "For
the sake of Heaven, and for mine, show me how
thou mightest be slain. My memory in guarding
is better than thine." "I will tell
thee gladly," said he. "Not easily can
I be slain, except by a wound. And the spear wherewith
I am struck must be a year in the forming. And
nothing must be done towards it except during
the sacrifice on Sundays." "Is this
certain?" asked she. "It is in truth,"
he answered. "And I cannot be slain within
a house, nor without. I cannot be slain on horseback
nor on foot." "Verily," said she,
"in what manner then canst thou be slain?"
"I will tell thee," said he. "By
making a bath for me by the side of a river, and
by putting a roof over the cauldron, and thatching
it well and tightly, and bringing a buck, and
putting it beside the cauldron. Then if I place
one foot on the buck's back, and the other on
the edge of the cauldron, whosoever strikes me
thus will cause my death." "Well,"
said she, "I thank Heaven that it will be
easy to avoid this."
No sooner had she held this discourse than she
sent to Gronw Pebyr. Gronw toiled at making the
spear, and that day twelvemonth it was ready.
And that very day he caused her to be informed
said Blodeuwedd unto Llew, "I have been thinking
how it is possible that what thou didst tell me
formerly can be true; wilt thou show me in what
manner thou couldst stand at once upon the edge
of a cauldron and upon a buck, if I prepare the
bath for thee?" "I will show thee,"
Then she sent unto Gronw, and bade him be in ambush
on the hill which is now called Bryn Kyvergyr,
on the bank of the river Cynvael. She caused also
to be collected all the goats that were in the
Cantrev, and had them brought to the other side
of the river, opposite Bryn Kyvergyr.
And the next day she spoke thus. "Lord,"
said she, "I have caused the roof and the
bath to be prepared, and lo! they are ready."
"Well," said Llew, "we will go
gladly to look at them."
The day after they came and looked at the bath.
"Wilt thou go into the bath, lord?"
said she. "Willingly will I go in,"
he answered. So into the bath he went, and he
anointed himself. "Lord," said she,
"behold the animals which thou didst speak
of as being called bucks." "Well,"
said he, "cause one of them to be caught
and brought here." And the buck was brought.
Then Llew rose out of the bath, and put on his
trowsers, and he placed one foot on the edge of
the bath and the other on the buck's back.
Thereupon Gronw rose up from the bill which is
called Bryn Kyvergyr, and he rested on one knee,
and flung the poisoned dart and struck him on
the side, so that the shaft started out, but the
head of the dart remained in. Then he flew up
in the form of an eagle and gave a fearful scream.
And thenceforth was he no more seen.
As soon as he departed Gronw and Blodeuwedd went
together unto the palace that night. And the next
day Gronw arose and took possession of Ardudwy.
And after he had overcome the land, he ruled over
it, so that Ardudwy and Penllyn were both under
Then these tidings reached Math the son of Mathonwy.
And heaviness and grief came upon Math, and much
more upon Gwydion than upon him. "Lord,"
said Gwydion, "I shall never rest until I
have tidings of my nephew." "Verily,"
said Math, "may Heaven be thy strength."
Then Gwydion set forth and began to go forward.
And he went through Gwynedd and Powys to the confines.
And when he had done so, he went into Arvon, and
came to the house of a vassal, in Maenawr Penardd.
And he alighted at the house, and stayed there
that night. The man of the house and his house-hold
came in, and last of all came there the swineherd.
Said the man of the house to the swineherd, "Well,
youth, hath thy sow come in to-night?" "She
hath," said he, "and is this instant
returned to the pigs." "Where doth this
sow go to?" said Gwydion. "Every day,
when the sty is opened, she goeth forth and none
can catch sight of her, neither is it known whither
she goeth more than if she sank into the earth."
"Wilt thou grant unto me," said Gwydion,
"not to open the sty until I am beside the
sty with thee?" "This will I do, right
gladly," he answered.
That night they went to rest; and as soon as the
swineherd saw the light of day, he awoke Gwydion.
And Gwydion arose and dressed himself, and went
with the swineherd, and stood beside the sty.
Then the swineherd opened the sty. And as soon
as he opened it, behold she leaped forth, and
set off with great speed. And Gwydion followed
her, and she went against the course of a river,
and made for a brook, which is now called Nant
y Llew. And there she halted and began feeding.
And Gwydion came under the tree, and looked what
it might be that the sow was feeding on. And he
saw that she was eating putrid flesh and vermin.
Then looked he up to the top of the tree, and
as he looked he beheld on the top of the tree
an eagle, and when the eagle shook itself, there
fell vermin and putrid flesh from off it, and
these the sow devoured. And it seemed to him that
the eagle was Llew. And he sang an Englyn:-"Oak
that grows between the two banks; Darkened is
the sky and hill! Shall I not tell him by his
wounds, That this is Llew?"Upon this the
eagle came down until he reached the centre of
the tree. And Gwydion sang another Englyn:-"Oak
that grows in upland ground, Is it not wetted
by the rain? Has it not been drenched By nine
score tempests? It bears in its branches Llew
Llaw Gyffes!"Then the eagle came down until
he was on the lowest branch of the tree, and thereupon
this Englyn did Gwydion sing:-"Oak that grows
beneath the steep; Stately and majestic is its
aspect! Shall I not speak it? That Llew will come
to my lap?"And the eagle came down upon Gwydion's
knee. And Gwydion struck him with his magic wand,
so that he returned to his own form. No one ever
saw a more piteous sight, for he was nothing but
skin and bone.
Then he went unto Caer Dathyl, and there were
brought unto him good physicians that were in
Gwynedd, and before the end of the year he was
said he unto Math the son of Mathonwy, "it
is full time now that I have retribution of him
by whom I have suffered all this woe." "Truly,"
said Math, "he will never be able to maintain
himself in the possession of that which is thy
right." "Well," said Llew, "the
sooner I have my right, the better shall I be
Then they called together the whole of Gwynedd,
and set forth to Ardudwy. And Gwydion went on
before and proceeded to Mur y Castell. And when
Blodeuwedd heard that he was coming, she took
her maidens with her, and fled to the mountain.
And they passed through the river Cynvael, and
went towards a court that there was upon the mountain,
and through fear they could not proceed except
with their faces looking backwards, so that unawares
they fell into the lake. And they were all drowned
except Blodeuwedd herself, and her Gwydion overtook.
And he said unto her, "I will not slay thee,
but I will do unto thee worse than that. For I
will turn thee into a bird; and because of the
shame thou hast done unto Llew Llaw Gyffes, thou
shalt never show thy face in the light of day
henceforth; and that through fear of all the other
birds. For it shall be their nature to attack
thee, and to chase thee from wheresoever they
may find thee. And thou shalt not lose thy name,
but shalt be always called Blodeuwedd." Now
Blodeuwedd is an owl in the language of this present
time, and for this reason is the owl hateful unto
all birds. And even now the owl is called Blodeuwedd.
Then Gronw Pebyr withdrew unto Penllyn, and he
dispatched thence an embassy. And the messengers
he sent asked Llew Llaw Gyffes if he would take
land, or domain, or gold, or silver, for the injury
he had received. "I will not, by my confession
to Heaven," said he. "Behold this is
the least that I will accept from him; that he
come to the spot where I was when he wounded me
with the dart, and that I stand where he did,
and that with a dart I take my aim at him. And
this is the very least that I will accept."
And this was told unto Gronw Pebyr. "Verily,"
said he, "is it needful for me to do thus?
My faithful warriors, and my household, and my
foster-brothers, is there not one among you who
will stand the blow in my stead?" "There
is not, verily," answered they. And because
of their refusal to suffer one stroke for their
lord, they are called the third disloyal tribe
even unto this day. "Well," said he,
"I will meet it."
Then they two went forth to the banks of the river
Cynvael, and Gronw stood in the place where Llew
Llaw Gyffes was when he struck him, and Llew in
the place where Gronw was. Then said Gronw Pebyr
unto Llew, "Since it was through the wiles
of a woman that I did unto thee as I have done,
I adjure thee by Heaven to let me place between
me and the blow, the slab thou seest yonder on
the river's bank." "Verily," said
Llew, "I will not refuse thee this."
"Ah," said he, "may Heaven reward
thee." So Gronw took the slab and placed
it between him and the blow.
Then Llew flung the dart at him, and it pierced
the slab and went through Gronw likewise, so that
it pierced through his back. And thus was Gronw
Pebyr slain. And there is still the slab on the
bank of the river Cynvael, in Ardudwy, having
the hole through it. And therefore is it even
now called Llech Gronw.
A second time did Llew Llaw Gyffes take possession
of the land, and prosperously did he govern it.
And, as the story relates, he was lord after this
over Gwynedd. And thus ends this portion of the
The Four Branches of the Mabinogi 4. Math the
son of Mathonwy
Translated by Charlotte Guest