Gwyn ap Nudd

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Gwyn ap Nudd (Welsh pronunciation: [ˈɡwɨn ap ˈnɨːð], sometimes found with the antiquated spelling Gwynn ap Nudd) is a Welsh mythological figure, the king of the Tylwyth Teg or "fair folk" and ruler of the Welsh Otherworld, Annwn. Described as a great warrior with a "blackened face", Gwyn is intimately associated with the otherworld in medieval Welsh literature, and is associated with the international tradition of the Wild Hunt.

Contents

Family

Gwyn is the son of Nudd (otherwise known as Lludd) and is consequently grandson to Beli Mawr. His siblings include Edern, a warrior who appears in a number of Arthurian texts, and Owain ap Nudd, who is mentioned briefly in Geraint and Enid. Gwyn's relationship with his sister (and lover) Creiddylad is described in Culhwch and Olwen. Through his father, Gwyn's uncles and aunts include Arianrhod, Llefelys, Penarddun, Afallach and Caswallawn. As a result, he is related both to the House of Llŷr| (through his paternal aunt Penarddun) and to the House of Dôn, through his grandfather Beli.

Legends

The Abduction of Creiddylad

Gwyn plays a prominent role in the early Arthurian tale Culhwch and Olwen in which he abducts his sister Creiddylad from her betrothed, Gwythyr ap Greidawl. In retalliation, Gwythyr raised a great host against Gwyn, leading to a vicious battle between the two. Gwyn was victorious and, following the conflict, captured a number of Gwythyr's noblemen including Nwython and his son Cyledr. Gwyn would later murder Nwython, and force Cyledr to eat his father's heart. As a result of his torture at Gwyn's hands, Cyledr went mad,[1] earning the epithet Wyllt.

After the intervention of Arthur, Gwyn and Gwythr agreed to fight for Creiddylad every May Day until Judgement Day. The warrior who was victorious on this final day would at last take the maiden. This fight probably represented the contest between summer and winter and is a variant of the Holly King myth.[2] According to Culhwch and Olwen, Gwyn was "placed over the brood of devils in Annwn, lest they should destroy the present race".[3]

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