Here beginneth the Mabinogi…
In these two episodes we begin our look at the renowned collection of medieval Welsh tales, the Mabinogion.
The first branch is splita cross two episodes. In Epsiode 11 we join Pwyll prince of Dyfed on an unusual job swap, featuring a magical horse, some colourful hounds, acts of both uncivility and propriety, and some very dodgy pronunciation
And then in Episde 12 we pick up with Pwyll again, along with new squeeze Rhiannon. Together they contend with legal technicalities, murder most foul, a dark game of horsey, claws encounters and Pwyll’s general ineptitude.
And I’ll fail to use the pun clawstrophobia. Much to my chagrin.
“Ac yuelly y teruyna y geinc hon yma o’r Mabynogyon”– And so ends this branch of the Mabinogion
The stories in brief, without the detail or discussion – not a transcript.
If you’ve already listened and just want a refresh, only want the bare bones of the story, or really don’t care about spoilers then please do click below to read on…
Featured Folklorist: Lady Charlotte Guest
Illustrations of the story
There are some beautifully illustrated versions of the Mabinogion knocking around. See particularly Alan Lee’s illustrations in this edition: Mabinogion, Alan Lee but these are generally not public domain images. So if you want them you’ll have to buy the books.
Unlike many other Legends and particularly fairy tales the Mabinogion stories were not touched by the greats of fairy tale literature illustrators at the turn of the twentieth century (The Golden Age of Book illustration as it is sometimes called). The almost impossibly prolific Arthur Rackham, whose work forms much of the illustrations of online fairy stories and folklore websites today didn’t touch the Mabinogion and neither did many of his contemporaries.
And so images of stories from the Mabinogion are relatively scarce online, with most illustrations coming from various republications of Charlotte Guest’s translation that use the same drawings by S. Williams (I don’t have more detail!). So I went for a little bit of a hunt for some more obscure public domain images. ones. I didn’t turn up a lot for this story but below are a few I uncovered, illustrated variously by John D. Batten in More Celtic Fairy Tales and by T.H Robinson in Y llyfr cyntaf Pryderi fab Pwyll.
All presented in no particular order:
This song really has only the tiniest relation to the story in the Mabinogion, to the point where basically it doesn’t, but it’s a certified banger (I am accepting no questions or challenges in relation to this statement) and it keeps going through my head whenever I think about this episode.
So here it is.
- Lady Charlotte Guest’s translation of the Mabinogion
- Sioned Davies’ Translation of the Mabinogion – (you’ll have to buy this one)
If you’re wondering why there are two different english versions of the translation here I’ll refer you to this article: Why Don’t you Like Lady Charlotte Guest’s Mabinogion?
- Mabinogion project: a detailed article on the history of the Mabinogion, wider than just this first story
- Y llyfr cyntaf Pryderi fab Pwyl, John Young Evans – the source of many of the pictures of this branch on these pages.
Musical credits for Episodes 11 & 12: Branch 1 of the Mabinogion
Intro and outro theme from the incredibly talented Alice Nicholls Music
Other music, used under various Creative Commons licenses:
10 Mewn Bws
Alawon fy Ngwlad
The ants built a city on his chest
Ladies take me with you
His last share of the stars
Ben Von Wildenhaus