“Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed” is one of the fascinating tales from “The Mabinogion,” the collection of Welsh medieval legends. The story follows the adventures of Pwyll, a noble prince and the ruler of the kingdom of Dyfed. Here’s an abridged version of the tale:
Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed, was known for his wisdom and fair judgment. One day while out hunting in the woods of Glyn Cuch, he and his companions encountered a pack of strange, otherworldly hounds. The hounds were chasing a white stag, but no matter how fast they ran, they could not catch it.
Intrigued by the supernatural scene, Pwyll instructed his companions to release his hounds to join the chase. However, his own hounds were no swifter than the others, and the stag remained just out of reach. Frustrated and determined to capture the elusive beast, Pwyll called out to the mysterious pack, addressing their leader by name: “O Hounds, if you belong to anyone, let me know to whom you belong!”
As soon as he uttered those words, the hounds stopped in their tracks, and a man dressed in splendid hunting attire appeared before Pwyll. The man introduced himself as Arawn, the Lord of the Otherworldly realm known as Annwn. He explained that the white stag was one of his precious possessions, and he had been chasing it to maintain the balance in his kingdom.
Pwyll recognized the significance of meeting a being from the Otherworld and showed his respect. Impressed by Pwyll’s nobility and understanding, Arawn proposed a unique exchange: they would swap appearances for a year and a day. Pwyll would take on Arawn’s appearance and rule Annwn, while Arawn, in turn, would take on Pwyll’s appearance and rule Dyfed.
Pwyll agreed to the exchange, and the transformation took place. He traveled to Annwn, where he ruled justly and wisely, earning the admiration and loyalty of Arawn’s subjects. During his time in Annwn, Pwyll also encountered and defeated Arawn’s enemy, Hafgan, in a fierce battle, securing peace and prosperity for the Otherworld.
After the agreed-upon time had passed, Pwyll returned to Glyn Cuch, where Arawn awaited him. The two rulers, now friends, celebrated their successful exchange and the bond they had formed. Arawn offered Pwyll any reward he desired for his great service, but Pwyll, grateful for the experience, asked for nothing in return.
With their friendship and alliance strengthened, Pwyll and Arawn returned to their respective realms. Pwyll resumed his reign in Dyfed, and both rulers maintained their friendship, ensuring peace and harmony between the mortal realm and the Otherworld.
The tale of “Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed” highlights themes of bravery, friendship, and the connection between the mortal world and the Otherworld. It demonstrates the importance of showing respect and understanding toward other realms and beings, even those beyond our understanding.