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Pryderi is the son of Pwyll and Rhiannon in Welsh mythology, and a king of Dyfed. He is the only character to appear in all Four Branches of the Mabinogi, although he is not a major character in all of them.

In Welsh mythology

Ifor Williams speculated that he was once the focal character of the Mabinogi as a whole, although some subsequent scholars disagree with this theory.[1]

In the First Branch of the Mabinogi, Pryderi disappeared on the night of his birth while in the care of six of Rhiannon's ladies-in-waiting. To avoid the blame, they smeared blood from a puppy on Rhiannon, who was asleep, and claimed that she had eaten the boy.

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 adopted the boy, naming him Gwri Wallt Euryn (Gwri of the golden hair). The child grew to adulthood in only seven years and was given the foal which had led Teyrnon to the stable. Teyrnon realized who the child was and returned him to Pwyll and Rhiannon, who named him Pryderi (trouble).

Pryderi was part of the vast host that accompanied Brân in the invasion of Ireland in the Second Branch, and was one of only seven men to return to Wales.

In the Third Branch, Pryderi married Cigfa and became King of Dyfed after his father died. He then invited Manawydan to live with him in Dyfed, arranging for Manawydan to marry his widowed mother Rhiannon. Soon after, Pryderi, Cigfa, Manawydan and Rhiannon ascended a magical hill. When they descended, Dyfed had turned into a barren wasteland with no inhabitants. Pryderi and Manawydan travelled to England to make a living from various trades, but were forced to leave one town after another to avoid conflicts with other tradesmen who resented their superior skills. Returning to Dyfed, Manaywdan and Pryderi went hunting and saw a white boar which they followed. It led them to a magic castle. Pryderi entered, touched a golden bowl and became enchanted. Rhiannon followed him, but became enchanted too. Manawydan and Cigfa were unable to help them because the magic castle vanished.

Later, the crops that Manawydan grew were eaten by an army of mice. Manawydan was only able to capture one unusually slow and fat mouse. He proposed to hang the mouse for theft, but a series of people came to him offering to buy the mouse. Finally Llwyd ap Cil Coed arrived and revealed that the mouse is his pregnant wife. The host of mice were Llwyd's followers, who had been magically transformed to destroy his crops. Llwyd had been responsible for enchanting Pryderi's kingdom, in order to obtain revenge for the humiliation of his friend Gwawl by Rhiannon and Pryderi's father. Manawydan's threat to hang his wife forces Llywd to lift the enchantment. Pryderi and Rhinnon are returned and Dyfyd's people and crops are restored to life.

In the Fourth Branch, Pryderi had his pigs stolen by trickery by Gwydion, thus starting a war between Pryderi and Gwydion's master Math ap Mathonwy. To avoid unnecessary bloodshed, it was agreed that the outcome of the battle should be decided by single combat between Gwydion and Pryderi. The two contenders met at a place called Y Velen Rhyd in Ardudwy, where Gwydion killed Pryderi.

See also

References

  1. ^ The Mabinogion. Translated with an introduction by Jeffrey Gantz. 1976. Penguin Books, London.
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