Being the first part of the tale of Culhwch and Olwen; in which is explained the circumstances of Culhwch's birth and the curse placed upon him by his stepmother; being that he must marry Olwen, daughter of Yspaddaden Pencawr and no other. To achive this aim Culhwch must go and ask the assistance of his cousin, none other than Arthur.
Cilydd the son of Prince Celyddon desired a wife, and the wife that he chose was Goleuddydd, the daughter of Prince Anlawdd. And after their union, the people prayed that they might have an heir. And they had a son through the prayers of the people. From the time of her pregnancy Goleuddydd became wild, and wandered about, without habitation; but when her delivery was at hand, her reason came back to her. Then she went to a mountain where there was a swineherd, keeping a herd of swine. And through fear of the swine the queen was delivered. And the swineherd took the boy, and brought him to the palace; and he was christened, and they called him Culhwch, because he had been found in a swine's burrow. Nevertheless the boy was of gentle lineage, and a cousin of Arthur; and they put him out to nurse.
After this the boy's mother, Goleuddydd, the daughter of Prince Anlawdd, fell sick. Then she called her husband unto her, and said to him, "Of this sickness I shall die, and you will take another wife. Now wives are the gift of the Lord, but it would be wrong for you to harm your son. Therefore I charge you that you do not take a wife until you see a briar with two blossoms upon my grave." And this he promised her. Then she asked him to dress her grave every year, that nothing might grow thereon. So the queen died. Now the king sent an attendant every morning to see if anything were growing upon the grave. And at the end of the seventh year the master neglected that which he had promised to the queen.
One day the king went to hunt, and he rode to the place of burial to see the grave, and to know if it were time that he should take a wife; and the king saw the briar. And when he saw it, the king took counsel where he should find a wife. Said one of his counsellors, "I know a wife that will suit you well, and she is the wife of King Doged." And they resolved to go to seek her; and they killed the king, and brought away his wife and one daughter that she had along with her. And they conquered the king's lands.
On a certain day, as the lady walked abroad, she came to the house of an old crone that lived in the town, and that had no tooth in her head. And the queen said to her, "Old woman, tell me that which I shall ask of you, for the love of Heaven. Where are the children of the man who has carried me away by violence?"
Said the crone, "He has no children."
Said the queen, "Woe is me, that I should have come to one who is childless!"
Then said the hag, "you need not lament on account of that, for there is a prediction that he shall have an heir by you, and by none other. Moreover, be not sorrowful, for he has one son."
The lady returned home with joy; and she asked her consort, "Why have you concealed your children from me?"
The king said, "I will do so no longer."
And he sent messengers for his son, and he was brought to the court.
His stepmother said to him, "It were well for you to have a wife, and I have a daughter who is sought of every man of renown in the world."
"I am not yet of an age to marry," answered the youth.
Then she said to him, "I declare to you, that it is your destiny not to be suited with a wife until you obtain Olwen, the daughter of Yspaddaden Pencawr."
And the youth blushed, and the love of the maiden diffused itself through his whole body, although he had never seen her. And his father inquired of him, "What has come over you my son, and what ails you?"
"My stepmother has declared to me that I shall never have a wife until I obtain Olwen, the daughter of Yspaddaden Pencawr."
"That will be easy for you," answered his father. "Arthur is your cousin. Go, therefore, to Arthur, to cut your hair, and ask this of him as a favour."
And the youth rode away on a horse with head dappled grey, of four winters old, firm of limb, with shell-formed hoofs, having a bridle of linked gold on his head, and upon him a saddle of costly gold. And in the youth's hand were two spears of silver, sharp, well-tempered, headed with steel, three ells in length, of an edge to wound the wind, and cause blood to flow, and swifter than the fall of the dewdrop from the blade of reed-grass upon the earth when the dew of June is at the heaviest. A gold-hilted sword was upon his thigh, the blade of which was of gold, bearing a cross of inlaid gold of the hue of the lightning of heaven: his war-horn was of ivory. Before him were two brindled white-breasted greyhounds, having strong collars of rubies about their necks, reaching from the shoulder to the ear. And the one that was on the left side bounded across to the right side, and the one on the right to the left, and like two sea-swallows sported around him. And his courser cast up four sods with his four hoofs, like four swallows in the air, about his head, now above, now below. About him was a four-cornered cloth of purple, and an apple of gold was at each corner, and every one of the apples was of the value of an hundred cattle. And there was precious gold of the value of three hundred cattle upon his shoes, and upon his stirrups, from his knee to the tip of his toe. And the blade of grass bent not beneath him, so light was his courser's tread as he journeyed towards the gate of Arthur's Palace.
Spoke the youth, "Is there a porter?"
"There is; and if you do not hold your peace, small will be your welcome. I am Arthur's porter every first day of January. And during every other part of the year but this, the office is filled by Huandaw, and Gogigwc, and Llaescenym, and Pennpingyon, who goes upon his head to save his feet, neither towards the sky nor towards the earth, but like a rolling stone upon the floor of the court."
"Open the portal."
"I will not open it."
"The knife is in the meat, and the drink is in the horn, and there is revelry in Arthur's hall, and none may enter therein but the son of a king of a privileged country, or a craftsman bringing his craft. But there will be refreshment for your dogs, and for your horses; and for you there will be collops cooked and peppered, and luscious wine and mirthful songs, and food for fifty men shall be brought to you in the guest chamber, where the stranger and the sons of other countries eat, who come not unto the precincts of the Palace of Arthur. You will fare no worse there than you would with Arthur in the court. A lady shall smooth your couch, and shall lull you with songs; and early to-morrow morning, when the gate is open for the multitude that came here to-day, for you shall it be opened first, and you may sit in the place that you shall choose in Arthur's hall, from the upper end to the lower."
Said the youth, "That I will not do. If you open the gate, it is well. If you do not open it, I will bring disgrace upon your lord, and evil report upon you. And I will set up three shouts at this very gate, than which none were ever more deadly, from the top of Pengwaed in Cornwall to the bottom of Dinsol, in the North, and to Esgair Oerfel, in Ireland. And all the women in this Palace that are pregnant shall lose their offspring; and such as are not pregnant, their hearts shall be turned by illness, so that they shall never bear children from this day forward."
"Whatever clamour you may make," said Glewlwyd Gafaelfawr, "you shall not enter against the laws of Arthur's Palace, until I first go and speak with Arthur."
Then Glewlwyd went into the Hall. And Arthur said to him, "Have you news from the gate?"
"Half of my life is past, and half of yours. I was before in Caer Se and Asse, in Sach and Salach, in Lotor and Fotor; and I have been before in India the Great and India the Lesser; and I was in the battle of Dau Ynyr, when the twelve hostages were brought from Llychlyn. And I have also been in Europe, and in Africa, and in the islands of Corsica, and in Caer Brythwch, and Brythach, and Ferthach; and I was present when formerly you did slay the family of Clis ap Merin, and when you did slay Mil Du ap Ducum, and when you did conquer Greece in the east. And I have been in Caer Oeth and Annoeth, and in Caer Nefenhyr; nine supreme sovereigns, handsome men, saw we there, but never did I behold a man of equal dignity with him who is now at the door of the portal."
Then said Arthur, "If by walking you did enter in here, then return by running. And every one that beholds the light, and every one that opens and shuts the eye, let them show him respect, and serve him, some with gold-mounted drinking-horns, others with collops cooked and peppered, until food and drink can be prepared for him. It is unbecoming to keep such a man as you say he is, in the wind and the rain."
Said Cai, "By the hand of my friend, if you would follow my counsel, you would not break through the laws of the Court because of him."
"Not so, blessed Cai. It is an honour to us to be resorted to, and the greater our courtesy the greater will be our renown, and our fame, and our glory."
And Glewlwyd came to the gate, and opened the gate before him; and although all dismounted upon the horse-block at the gate, yet did he not dismount, but rode in upon his charger.
Then said Culhwch, "Greetings to you, sovereign ruler of this island; and be this greeting no less unto the lowest than unto the highest, and be it equally unto your guests, and your warriors, and your chieftains; let all partake of it as completely as yourself. And complete be your favour, and your fame, and your glory, throughout all this Island."
"Greeting unto you also," said Arthur; "sit between two of my warriors, and you shall have minstrels before you, and you shall enjoy the privileges of a king born to a throne, as long as you remain here. And when I dispense my presents to the visitors and strangers in this Court, they shall be in your hand at my commencing."
Said the youth, "I came not here to consume meat and drink; but if I obtain the favour that I seek, I will requite it to you, and extol you; and if I do not have it, I will bear forth your dispraise to the four quarters of the world, as far as your renown has extended."
Then said Arthur, "Since you will not remain here, chieftain, you shall receive whatever favour your tongue may name, as far as the wind dries, and the rain moistens, and the sun revolves, and the sea encircles, and the earth extends; save only my ship; and my mantle; and Caledfwlch, my sword; and Rhongomyant, my lance; and Wynebgwrthucher, my shield; and Carnwenhau, my dagger; and Gwenhwyfar, my wife. By the truth of heaven, you shall have it cheerfully, name what you will."
"I would that you bless my hair."
"That shall be granted you."
And Arthur took a golden comb, and scissors, the loops of which were of silver, and he combed his hair. And Arthur inquired of him who he was. "For my heart warms unto you, and I know that you are of my blood. Tell me, therefore, who you are."
"I will tell you, " said the youth, "I am Culhwch, the son of Cilydd, the son of Prince Celyddon, by Goleuddydd, my mother, the daughter of Prince Anlawdd."
"That is true," said Arthur; "you are my cousin. Whatever favour you may ask, you shall receive, be it what it may that your tongue shall name."
"Pledge the truth of heaven and the faith of your kingdom thereof."
"I pledge it you, gladly."
"I crave of you then, that you obtain for me Olwen, the daughter of Yspaddaden Pencawr; and this favour I likewise seek at the hands of your warriors."
To the second part of Culhwch and Olwen