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In Welsh mythology, Amaethon or Amathaon ( Welsh ?‘great ploughman’), was a son of Dôn and a presumed agricultural deity.



The principal reference to Amaethon appears in the medieval Welsh prose tale Culhwch and Olwen, where he was the only man who could till a certain field, one of the impossible tasks Culhwch had been set before he could win Olwen's hand.

In the obscure early Welsh poem Cad Goddeu, a possible reference is made to Amaethon/Amathaon, but the passage is obscure. One possible interpretation, if the reading is accepted, is that he steals a dog, lapwing and roebuck from Arawn, king of Annwn (the underworld), leading to a battle between Arawn and the Children of Dôn. Gwydion used his magic staff to turn trees into warriors who helped the children of Dôn win.[1]

In one of the triads invented by Iolo Morgannwg, he teaches magic to his brother Gwydion (this is not accepted as a genuine medieval triad by modern scholars).


This theonym may be derived from Proto-Celtic *Ambaxtonos meaning "great ploughman, farmer, labourer", an augmentative form of ambactos (ultimately from *ambhi-ag-to-[2]). However it could also derive from the Welsh word amaeth ("agriculture").


  1. ^ Cad Goddau: The Battle of the Trees. translation by Lady Charlotte Guest, Welsh original. Jones' Celtic Encyclopedia.
  2. ^ Proto-Celtic—English, English—Proto-Celtic lexicon from the University of Wales. Cf. also the Indo-European and Celtic data collected at the University of Leiden.

  • Ellis, Peter Berresford, Dictionary of Celtic Mythology(Oxford Paperback Reference), Oxford University Press, (1994): ISBN 0-19-508961-8
  • MacKillop, James. Dictionary of Celtic Mythology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-280120-1.
  • Wood, Juliette, The Celts: Life, Myth, and Art, Thorsons Publishers (2002): ISBN 0-00-764059-5

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