4. Math, son of Mathonwy
The final branch of the four is the most bewilderingly magical of all, featuring incest, punitive shapechanging, and the character with the longest afterlife of all the figures in this quartet of tales—the tragic and adulterous Blodeuwedd, the woman made from flowers. This tale unpicks the complex texture of the tale, explaining how our instinctive sympathy for poor, suffering Blodeuwedd might not have been shared by the original audience.
Reading: the revelant branch in Sioned Davies (trans.), The Mabinogion (2007)
Dr Mark Williams is Fellow and Tutor in English at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford. He is a specialist in the medieval languages and literatures of Wales and Ireland, and the author of Ireland’s Immortals: A History of the Gods of Irish Myth (Princeton, 2016), and The Celtic Myths that Shaped the Way We Think (Thames & Hudson, 2021). He is in training as a Jungian psychoanalyst
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