Pryderi

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Pryderi fab Pwyll is a prominent figure in Welsh mythology, the son of Pwyll and Rhiannon, and king of Dyfed following his father's death. He is the only character to appear in all Four Branches of the Mabinogi, although the size of his role varies from tale to tale. He is often equated with the divine son figure of Mabon ap Modron,[1] while Jeffrey Gantz compares him to Peredur fab Efrawg, who is himself associated with the continental figure of Sir Percival de Galles.[2]

Ifor Williams speculated that he was once the focal character of the Mabinogi as a whole, although some subsequent scholars disagree with this theory.[2]

Pryderi is described by Jeffrey Gantz as "bold and enterprising, but brash to the point of foolishness." He goes on to say that "his downfall, while pathetic, is not entirely undeserved."[3]

Contents

Role in Welsh mythology

Birth and early life

Pryderi was born in Arberth to Pwyll, Lord of Dyfed, and Rhiannon, daughter of Hyfaidd Hen. On the night of his birth, he disappeared while in the care of six of Rhiannon's ladies-in-waiting. To avoid the king's wrath, they smeared dog's blood onto a sleeping Rhiannon, claiming that she had committed infanticide and cannibalism through eating her child.

Teyrnon, Lord of Gwent Is Coed, had a mare who gave birth each year but whose foals had all disappeared. Teyrnon watched his stables and saw a mysterious clawed beast coming to take the foal; Teyrnon cut off the beast's arm and found the child outside the stable. He and his wife claimed the boy as their own and named him Gwri Wallt Euryn (English: Gwri of the Golden hair), for "all the hair was as yellow as gold."[4]

The child grew to adulthood at a superhuman pace and, as he matured, his likeness to Pwyll grew more obvious and, eventually, Teyrnon realised Gwri's true identity. The boy was eventually reconciled with Pwyll and Rhiannon and was renamed Pryderi. From then on, he was fostered by Pendaran Dyfed and was "brought up carefully, as was proper, until he was the most handsome lad, and the fairest, and the most accomplished at every worthy feat in the kindom."[4]

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