From Academic Kids

In Welsh mythology, Gwydion was a son of the goddess Don.


Etymology of the name

The reconstructed lexis of the Proto-Celtic language as collated by the University of Wales ( ) suggests that the name is likely to be ultimately derived from the Proto-Celtic *Weidī-kondos. This Proto-Celtic word connotes the semantics of ‘knowing sense.’ This apparent semantic connotation has led Dr. John Koch at the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh & Celtic Studies to propose that the original nature of this deity may well have been a personification of “cunning awareness”. This theory would account for the deity’s associations with trickery and self-enlightened exploits.

Probable diachronic changes in the form of the name

Following the known laws of Celtic diachronic linguistics as elucidated by Marian B. Hughes at the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh & Celtic Studies, the Proto-Celtic name *Weidī-kondos would have been inherited into Brythonic in the form of *Vedicondos. This in turn would render Old Welsh *Gwydichonn, becoming Welsh Gwydion.

Mythological Exploits

Gwydion helped Gilfaethwy rape Goewin, Math ap Mathonwy's foot-holder. He accomplished this by stealing Pryderi of Dyfed's pigs, thus sending Math away to fight a war. Gwydion and Gilfaethwy were supposed to be with him, but they sneaked back. Gwydion forced Goewin to stay with Gilfaethwy and he raped her. She told Math, and he turned them into animals. Gwydion was, for one year each, a stag, sow and wolf. Gilfaethwy was, for one year each, a hind, boar and she-wolf. Each year, they had a child together and Math turned the three children into people.

During Cad Goddeu (the Battle of the Trees), Gwydion turned trees into warriors, thus winning the war begun by his brother, Amaethon.

Gwydion raised his nephew, who was born a blob. The blob was placed in a chest by Gwydion. Arianrhod, the blob's mother, created three geases: only she could give him a name; only she could give him weapons; he would have no human wife. Arianrhod denied him the three aspects of masculinity. Gwydion raised him anyway, even without a name. Later Arianrhod saw him killing a wren with a single stone. She said that he was a bright lion with a sure hand and he took the name Llew Llaw Gyffes ("bright lion with a sure hand"). Gwydion then tricked her into arming him. Llew created his own woman out of flowers, Blodeuwedd. After Llew Llaw Gyffes was killed by Blodeuwedd, Gwydion resurrected Llew and turned her into an owl.

Gwydion in modern fiction

In Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain, a series of fantasy novels inspired by Welsh myths, there is a character named Gwydion, who is based somewhat on the Gwydion of myth, but is markedly different in terms of moral character.

In Phillip Mann's sequence of 4 novels with the general title A Land Fit for Heroes, (publisher Victor Gollancz) Gwydion features as a celtic hero who in many and devious ways seeks to undermine and overthrow Roman authority in Britain. Note: these are not fantasy novels per se, but quite realistic works based on the twin premises that the Romans never withdrew from Britain but went on to conquor the world, and that Christianity never became a major religious force.

In Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon, Gwydion was the birth-name of both King Arthur and sv:Gwydion


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