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Welsh Mythology

The Mabinogion: Pwyll Lord of Dyved

14th century, Middle Welsh, National Library of Wales

A boy is sent on a fast horse after her but she cannot be caught, regardless of the slow pace at which her horse appears to be walking.

Pwyll Lord of Dyved has recently earned himself the title Pwyll Lord of Annwvyn by exchanging places with the Lord of Annwvyn for a year and a day, each taking the other’s exact likeness and identity. Annwvyn is an Old Welsh word meaning 'not-world', a looking-glass world; the Otherworld. Now back at his court at Arberth, Pwyll sits upon a mound outside his hall one evening and sees a lady riding by. He sends a man after her on foot, but although her horse appears to be walking at a slow pace, the man cannot catch up with her, so Pwyll goes back to his meal in the hall. The same thing happens the next evening, despite his sending a boy this time on a fast horse after her: she cannot be caught, regardless of the slow pace at which her horse appears to be walking past the mound.

The next evening Pwyll himself prepares for an attempt to catch up with this lady, should she appear. As soon as she comes into sight he leaps upon his horse and spurs it into the fastest gallop that it is capable of. But although the lady walks her horse past the mound at the same, slow pace, he is unable to catch her. Realising that his pursuit is hopeless, he shouts out to her to stop.

'Why have you not spoken to me earlier?’ she replies, stopping. ‘You could have saved your horses a lot of trouble! My name is Rhiannon.'

Story fragment recounted from the First Branch of the Mabinogion, in: Gantz, Jeffrey, 1976. The Mabinogion. Translated from Middle Welsh with an introduction. Penguin Books Limited. Pwyll Lord of Dyved, pp 45–65.


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The Four Branches of the Mabinogi – Modern English translation by Will Parker


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