Ed Org › The Wife of Lleu
From the welsh ballad about a Prince under a curse 'never to marry a mortal wife', so the magician, King Math, creates one for him from flowers and birds. As all great tales, it all ends tragically.
There once was a king in Wales called Math, who was also a gifted magician. He had two nephews called Gwydion and Gilfaethwy and a niece called Arianrhod whom Gwydion and Gilaethwy recommended as Math’s foot-maiden. Math asked the girl if she were a virgin, to which she answered ‘of course’. Math however was suspicious and placed his staff on the ground and told Arianrhod to step over it, whereupon a baby boy tumbled out from beneath her skirts.
Gwydion took the child and brought him up as his own, but only his mother could give him a name. Therefore, he brought the child to Arainrhod and introduced him to his mother. She flew into a rage and cursed the boy for bringing her so much shame by swearing that he would have no name as she would never give him one.
Gwydion and the boy left, but Gwydion hatched a plan and disguised them both so that Arainrhod would not know them. He tricked his sister down from her castle to meet them, whereupon a wren flew down and perched close by. The boy picked up his catapult and killed it with a pebble. In delight, Arainrhod exclaimed; ‘Surely, the fair boy has a deft hand’, to which Gwydion replied; ‘At last, you have named the boy! Lleu Llaw Gyfes, the fair, deft-handed one’. Arainrhod cursed the child again by swearing that he would never bear arms unless she were to give them to him, and that she never would.
Time passed, and Lleu grew up to be a fine young man. Gwydion decided that it was time for him to take up arms, so he disguised them both as wandering minstrels as set off once more to Arainrhod’s castle where they were welcomed in to entertain her and her ladies. The next morning however, Gwydion used his magic arts to create such a commotion that it was as if the castle was being attacked. The women panicked as there were no men left to protect them, but Gwydion assured them that the boy would be able to save them if he were given a sword. Arainrhod dressed the boy in armour and gave him her sword whereupon Gwydion revealed that he had tricked her again. She turned on her brother ‘I still have the power to thwart you!I swear that he shall never find a mortal wife!’
This curse was beyond the skills of Gwydion, so he took Lleu to King Math for advice. He told them that they would make Lleu a wife from ‘flowers - broom, oak meadowsweet and poppies, and birds, and she will be the most beautiful of all’ and so they made Blodeuedd (which means ‘flower face’) and Lleu took her for his bride. The couple lived happily for a while in a castle given to them by Math. However, one day Lleu went to visit the king leaving his wife on her own. A party of huntsmen rode near and asked for shelter for the night. When Blodeuedd’s eyes saw the huntsman Gronw she fell hopelessly in love with him, and he with her. After three days of lovemaking she knew that Lleu would have to die, but as he was under an enchantment that protected him, she would have to discover his secret to accomplish this.
When Lleu returned, Blodeuedd rushed to him exclaiming that she was so frightened that he might die and leave her. Lleu laughed her off and explained that it was highly unlightly as he could only be killed by a spear made over a year of Sunday mornings, and he could not be killed in a house, or in the open, and that he would have to be standing with one foot in a bath and one foot on a male goat under a thatched roof by a river. Blodeuedd rushed off and told her lover who set about making the spear.
A year later, when Gronw had finished the spear, Blodeuedd again approached her husband in terror that he could die, whereupon he agreed to show her just how unlightly this was by acting it out for her. So he had built a thatched roof by a river, found a bath and a male goat, and stood with one foot upon each. At Blodeudd’s signal, Gronw, who had been hiding nearby, stood up and threw his spear. Lleu cried out in pain and was transformed into a wounded eagle and flew off.
Gwydion heard what had befallen and set out to find Lleu which he did just in time. He transformed him back into human form again and nursed him better. Lleu then set about his revenge upon his unfaithful wife, and finding her at last, he transformed her into a bird that would be hated by all other birds, and which dared not appear in daylight, a bird called ‘flower-face’, Blodeuedd the owl.
Lleu then hunted for Gronw and sent word ahead that he was to stand beside the river on the spot that he himself had been tricked, and that Lleu would then aim a spear at him. However, Gronw claimed that as he had been beguiled by Blodeuedd, he should be allowed to have a stone placed between them to which Lleu agreed. The spear thrown by Lleu pierced the stone and struck Gronw and thus killed him, fulfilling his revenge.
Paper Size : 1000mm x 620mm
Image Size : 875mm x 490mm
Signed Limited Edition
Out of Stock