Dylan ail Don

Dylan ail Don is a fascinating character from Welsh mythology, featured in the Mabinogion, specifically in the tale “Math fab Mathonwy.” His story is a blend of Celtic pagan and early Christian elements, reflecting the complex intermingling of religious and cultural beliefs in early Welsh literature.

His name, translating to “Dylan the Second Wave,” is deeply symbolic and ties him to the sea. In various interpretations of the legend, Dylan is seen either as a representation of darkness, in contrast to his twin brother Lleu Llaw Gyffes, who represents light, or more commonly as a Welsh sea-god. The tragic aspect of Dylan’s story is his death at the hands of his uncle Gofannon, which is mourned by the sea itself. This grief of the sea is poetically described as the sound of waves crashing on the shore, interpreted as a longing for revenge or expression of loss for Dylan.

Dylan ail Don Family

The character Arianrhod in the The Mabinogion is an intriguing figure, embodying both mythological and potentially historical elements. In the context of the Mabinogion, particularly in Math Son of Mathonwy, Arianrhod is a key character with divine lineage. She is the daughter of Dôn, a mother goddess figure in Welsh mythology, and sister to Gwydion and Gilfaethwy. Her uncle, Math ap Mathonwy, is the King of Gwynedd. Arianrhod’s story is marked by magical elements, most notably in the miraculous birth of her sons Dylan ail Don and Lleu Llaw Gyffes.

Dylan & Math fab Mathonwy

The narrative of Dylan is intricately woven into the larger story of “Math fab Mathonwy.” In this tale, Math, Dylan’s great uncle, needs to keep his feet in the lap of a virgin unless he is at war. After his original foot-holder, Goewin, is raped by Gilfaethwy, Math marries her to alleviate her shame and requires a new virgin. This leads to the introduction of Arianrhod, Dylan’s mother.

Arianrhod’s virginity is magically tested by Math, and she unexpectedly gives birth to twin sons during the test. Lleu Llaw Gyffes, one twin, is taken away by Gwydion, while the other, Dylan, is immediately rejected by Arianrhod. However, Dylan is acknowledged by Math and baptized, upon which he instantly shows his affinity for the sea, diving in and moving with the grace of a fish. This moment cements his connection to the sea and his eventual title as Dylan, the son of the Wave.

Dylan’s accidental death by his uncle Gofannon adds a layer of tragedy to his story and reflects the intricate and often tragic fates of figures in Welsh mythology. His character and story have endured in Welsh culture, with Dylan remaining a popular traditional name in Wales. The narrative of Dylan ail Don, with its rich symbolism and blend of mythological themes, is a key part of the Welsh mythological canon.

In the tale “Math fab Mathonwy” from the Mabinogion, the character Dylan ail Don’s story is interwoven with intricate mythological elements and dramatic events. The tale begins with a curious condition placed upon Math, Dylan’s great uncle, who must rest his feet in the lap of a virgin whenever he is not at war to survive. Math’s original foot-holder, Goewin, suffers a grave injustice at the hands of Gilfaethwy, resulting in severe punishment for Gilfaethwy and his accomplice Gwydion, who are transformed into a series of mated animal pairs.

In an attempt to right the wrongs done to Goewin, Math marries her. However, this act necessitates the finding of a new virgin foot-holder. Gwydion suggests his sister, Arianrhod, for this role. During a magical test by Math to confirm her virginity, Arianrhod unexpectedly gives birth to twin sons, thus revealing her non-virgin status.

The twins’ fates diverge sharply. One of them, Lleu Llaw Gyffes, is taken by Gwydion and hidden away until maturity. The other, a sturdy blonde boy, is immediately abandoned by Arianrhod but recognized and named by Math. This child is Dylan. His connection with the sea is established immediately during his baptism when he plunges into the sea and displays an innate ability to swim as well as any fish, leading to his moniker, “Dylan, the son of the Wave.”

The story of Dylan takes a tragic turn when he is accidentally killed by his uncle Gofannon. The manner of his death is described as “the third fatal blow,” suggesting a significant and ominous event within the narrative framework of the Mabinogion.

The tale of Dylan ail Don, blending themes of magic, transformation, and tragic destiny, is a vivid illustration of the rich and complex tapestry of Welsh mythology. It reflects the Celtic tradition’s profound connection with nature, the supernatural, and the intricacies of familial relationships and honour. Dylan’s story, from his miraculous birth to his untimely death, encapsulates the mystical essence of these ancient tales.