Study Guide

The Mabinogion

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The Mabinogion Characters

Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)

Pwyll

Pwyll (PEW-uhl), prince of Dyved. To redeem himself after an attempt to steal a deer, he agrees to change places and appearances with the chieftain who has caught him in the act and to slay the chieftain’s enemy after a year’s time. His contract fulfilled, he returns home, where he sees the beautiful lady Rhiannon ride by, subdues her suitor, and marries her.

Rhiannon

Rhiannon (REE-ah-non), Pwyll’s wife.

Pryderi

Pryderi (prih-DEH-ree), the son of Pwyll and Rhiannon.

Kicva

Kicva (KIHK-vah), Pryderi’s wife.

Bendigeid Vran

Bendigeid Vran (behn-DIH-geed vran), the son of Llyr and king of the Island of the Mighty. While making war on the Irish because of their treatment of Matholwch and Branwen, he is killed by a poisoned arrow.

Branwen

Branwen, Bendigeid Vran’s sister, who is given in marriage to Matholwch. She dies of sorrow when her brother is killed in battle.

Matholwch

Matholwch (mah-THOH-lewkh), king of Ireland, Branwen’s husband.

Manawydan

Manawydan (mah-now-IH-dan), Bendigeid Vran’s brother. With Pryderi,...

(The entire section is 483 words.)

The Mabinogion Bibliography (Great Characters in Literature)

Ford, Patrick K. The “Mabinogi” and Other Medieval Welsh Tales. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972. Traces history of various translations of the Welsh myths. Includes a map of Wales, a glossary, and a guide to Welsh pronunciations. Designed to inform students and general readers alike.

Graves, Robert. The White Goddess. 3d ed. Winchester, Mass.: Faber & Faber, 1959. This amended and enlarged edition celebrates the poetic myth in great detail. Hails Rhiannon as “white goddess.”

Jones, Gwyn. Kings, Beasts, and Heroes. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1972. Portions of text present an excellent condensed overview of The Mabinogion. Focuses on Culhwch and Olwen, as well as Arthur. More than twenty-two illustrations.

Laynard, John. A Celtic Quest: Sexuality and Soul in Individuation. Edited by Anne S. Bosch. New York: Spring Publications, 1975. Explains The Mabinogion and related stories in psychological and behavioral terms. Uses allegory to show the characters’ relationship to areas of the psyche. Places emphasis on the dichotomy between the nurturing mother figure and the devouring, animalistic mother.

The Mabinogion. Translated by Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones. London: J. M. Dent, 1949. Excellent adaptation of the Welsh myths. Discusses the four branches of the Mabiniogi and its seven related stories in thorough detail. Advocates the literary merit of the mythological legends.