There are many legends, and famous real, or fictitious people with ‘Paul’ in their name, and I happen to be one of them. My favorite ‘Paul’ among them all is, in fact, Pwyll (Powel) from Celtic mythology, so here is his legend, as narrated in http://cy.wikisource.org/wiki/Pwyll_Pendeuic_Dyuet (no, I can’t speak Welsh, or even read it properly, but the letters themselves seem to be fascinating – hey, I’m a linguist after all… and I know how to use Google… to find this: http://www.mabinogi.net/pwyll.htm – and there is also this another link http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/authors/jacobs/moreceltic/powelprince.html – and hey, I can read that, too!).
* * *
Pwyll, in Celtic mythology, legendary mortal, king of Dyfed, a beautiful land containing a magic caldron of plenty. In Arthurian legend, Pwyll’s caldron became the Holy Grail, and Pwyll appeared as Pelles, the keeper of the Grail. And Dyfed is an actual Welsh land, by the way, you can find more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_Dyfed
* * *
Legend 1: The Otherworld /Annwn/
Whilst hunting in Glyn Cuch, Pwyll, prince of Dyfed becomes separated from his companions and stumbles across a pack of hounds feeding on a slain stag. Pwyll drives the hounds away and sets his own hounds to feast, earning the anger of Arawn, lord of the otherworldly kingdom of Annwn. In recompense, Pwyll agrees to trade places with Arawn for a year and a day, taking on the lord’s appearance and takes his place at Arawn’s court.
Now that was the part I liked a lot:
‘Chieftain, if I’ve committed an offence, I will redeem your friendship.’
‘In what form will you redeem it?’
‘As appropriate to your rank – I don’t know who you are…’
‘A crowned king am I in the land I am from.’
‘Lord,’ said Pwyll ‘good day to you. Which land is it that you are from?’
‘From Annwvyn. Arawn king of Annwfn am I.’
‘Lord, how might I obtain your friendship?’
‘This is how you might obtain it: there is a man whose kingdom borders on my kingdom, who is constantly at war with me. He is Hafgan king of Annwfn. The removal of this oppression from me – which you can do easily – will win you my friendship.’
At the end of the year, Pwyll engages in single combat against Hafgan, Arawn’s rival, and mortally wounds him with one blow and earns Arawn overlordship of all of Annwn.
That was also elegantly executed, I can’t help but cite again:
‘Good men,’ said he ‘listen well. Between [these] two kings is this appointment, and that between their two persons [only]. Each one is a claimant against the other, over issues of land and territory. May all [the rest] of you stand back, and let [the fight] be between them [alone].’
At that the two kings closed in on one another to the middle of the ford for their encounter. At the first onslaught the king who was in the place of Arawn struck Hafgan in the middle of the boss of his shield, so it split in two halves and all his armour was broken and Hafgan was a spear-and-arms length over the back of his horse and onto the ground, with a mortal wound upon him.
‘Chieftain,’ said Hafgan ‘what right have you to my death? I was not bringing any claim against you, I do not know why you are killing me either; but by God’, he said ‘since you have begun my death, finish it [now]!’
‘Chieftain,’ he replied ‘it may be that I would regret doing what I did to you. Find someone [else] to kill you; [but] I will not kill you.’
‘My faithful peers,’ said Hafgan ‘carry me away from here. The conclusion of my death is truly upon me. I am in no condition to uphold you any more.’
‘Peers of mine’ said the man who was in the place of Arawn ‘take a reckoning, and find out those [out there] who owe me allegiance.’
After Hafgan’s death, Pwyll and Arawn meet once again, revert to their old appearance and return to their respective courts. They become lasting friends because Pwyll slept chastely with Arawn’s wife for the duration of the year. As a result of Pwyll’s successful ruling of Annwn, he earns the title Pwyll Pen Annwfn; “Pwyll, head of Annwn.”