Math fab Mathonwy: Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi
Math is lord of Gwynedd. His newphews Gwydion and Gilfaethwy invent a war with Pryderi in order to
They are successful, with Gwydion tricking Pryderi out of his swine, and then killing Pryderi in a duel. Math learns of the deception, and turns Gwydion and Gilfaethwy into animals, forcing them to copulate with each other. Math then needs a new footholder, and Gwydion suggests his sister Aranrhod. Math tests her virginity, and she spontaneously gives birth to Dylan and a premature baby. Gwydion has the premature baby raised far away, while Aranrhod vows to keep the child without a name, without arms, and without a wife. Gwydion is able to trick her into giving him a name--Llew--and arms. He and Math create a bride for Llew out of flowers; she, however, falls in love with a local lord, and they conspire to kill Llew. He is only wounded, however, and turns into an eagle. Gwydion finds him, and turns him back into a human. They gain revenge by turning the wife into an owl, and kill the lord. Llew then reigns as lord of Gwynedd.
- a.) steal Pryder's swine, a magic animal from Annwfn
- b.) allow Gilfaethwy to rape Goewin, footholder of Math.
Myth of Origins?
John Carey has shown how this branch has the elements of a type of myth of origins, specifically the origins of sex and death.
There is also an origin story regarding food--namely, pigs. In this story, pigs make their first appearance as a gift from Arawn, lord of the Otherworld, to Pwyll, who then passed them on to his son Pryderi. The origin of pigs coming from the Otherworld or even Underworld is also found in Irish myth, namely "Cath Magh Mucrama".
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Mary Jones © 2007