Pwyll, Lord of Dyfed

Pwyll Pen Annwn, renowned as the lord of Dyfed and husband to Rhiannon, stands as a central figure in Welsh mythology and literature. His tale, chronicled in Pwyll Pendefig Dyfed, the first branch of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi, resonates through the annals of Welsh storytelling.

The story begins with Pwyll’s encounter with Arawn, lord of the otherworldly kingdom of Annwn, where he agrees to exchange places with Arawn for a year and a day. During this time, Pwyll defeats Arawn’s rival, Hafgan, in single combat, securing Arawn’s dominion over Annwn. Despite the exchange, Pwyll maintains chastity with Arawn’s wife, cementing their friendship and earning him the title Pwyll Pen Annwfn, meaning ‘Pwyll, head of Annwn’.

Later, Pwyll’s life intertwines with that of Rhiannon, whom he encounters while hunting in Gorsedd Arberth. Despite initial difficulties, Pwyll marries Rhiannon after a series of trials, including a deception to win her back from her previous fiancé, Gwawl ap Clud.

The story further unfolds with the birth of their son, Pryderi, who was temporarily lost but later found by Teyrnon, lord of Gwent Is Coed. Pryderi’s rapid growth and eventual reunion with Pwyll and Rhiannon complete the familial saga.

Pwyll’s narrative, with its themes of love, friendship, and destiny, reverberates through Welsh literature and beyond. Its influence extends to English and Irish tales, evident in the shared motifs of ritualized competitions, elaborate tricks, and supernatural interventions.