The Religion of the Ancient Celts

Page: 63

The Cúchulainn saga is more coherent than the Fionn saga, because it possesses one central incident. The "canon" of the saga was closed at an early date, while that of Fionn has practically never been closed, mainly because it has been more a saga of the folk than that of Cúchulainn. In some respects the two may have been rivals, for if the Cúchulainn saga was introduced by conquerors from Britain or Gaul, it would not be looked on with favour by the folk. Or if it is the saga of Ulster as opposed to that of Leinster, rivalry would again ensue. The Fionn saga lives more in the hearts of the people, though it sometimes borrows from the other. This borrowing, however, is less than some critics, e.g. Zimmer, maintain. Many of the likenesses are the result of the fact that wherever a hero exists a common stock of incidents becomes his. Hence there is much similarity in all sagas wherever found.

Footnote 453:(return)

IT i. 134; Nutt-Meyer, ii. 38 f.; Windisch, Táin, 342; L. Duvau, "La Legende de la Conception de Cúchulainn," RC ix. 1 f.

Footnote 454:(return)

Windisch, Táin, 118 f. For a similar reason Finnchad was called Cú Cerca, "the hound of Cerc" (IT iii. 377).

Footnote 455:(return)

For the boyish exploits, see Windisch, Táin, 106 f.

Footnote 456:(return)

RC vii. 225; Windisch, Táin, 20. Macha is a granddaughter of Ler, but elsewhere she is called Mider's daughter (RC xvi. 46).

Footnote 457:(return)

Rh[^y]s, CFL ii. 654; Westermarck, Hist. of Human Marriage, ch. 2.

Footnote 458:(return)

Miss Hull, Folk-Lore, xii. 60, citing instances from Jevons, Hist. of Religion, 65.

Footnote 459:(return)

Windisch, IT ii. 239.

Footnote 460:(return)

Windisch, 184, 312, 330; cf. IT iii. 355; Miss Hull, 164 f.; Rh[^y]s, HL 468.

Footnote 461:(return)

LL 119a; RC iii. 175.

Footnote 462:(return)

Windisch, 342.

Footnote 463:(return)

RC iii. 175 f.

Footnote 464:(return)

Ibid. 185.

Footnote 465:(return)

Crowe, Jour. Kilkenny Arch. Soc. 1870-1871, 371 f.

Footnote 466:(return)

LL 79a; O'Curry, MS. Mat, 640.

Footnote 467:(return)

LL 125a. See my Childhood of fiction, ch. 14.

Footnote 468:(return)

Miss Hull, lxxvi.

Footnote 469:(return)

"Da Derga's Hostel," RC xxii. 283; Rh[^y]s, HL 438.

Footnote 470:(return)

LL 68a; Rh[^y]s, 437; Ingcel the one-eyed has also many pupils (RC xxii. 58).

Footnote 471:(return)

Miss Hull, lxiii.

Footnote 472:(return)

RC viii. 49.

Footnote 473:(return)

LL 77b; Miss Hull, lxii.

Footnote 474:(return)

Other Celtic heroes undergo this distortion, which resembles the Scandinavian warrior rage followed by languor, as in the case of Cúchulainn.

Footnote 475:(return)

Miss Hull, p. lxvi.

Footnote 476:(return)

Irish saints, standing neck deep in freezing water, made it hot.

Footnote 477:(return)

IT i. 268; D'Arbois, v. 103; Miss Hull, lxvi.

Footnote 478:(return)

HL 448.

Footnote 479:(return)

See Meyer, RC xi. 435; Windisch, IT i. 589, 740. Though richis means "charcoal," it is also glossed "flame," hence it could only be glowing charcoal, without any idea of darkness.

Footnote 480:(return)

HL 458.

Footnote 481:(return)

IT i. 107.

Footnote 482:(return)

Arch. Rev. i. 1 f.; IT i. 213; see p. 381, infra.

Footnote 483:(return)

See p. 164, infra.

Footnote 484:(return)

Diod. Siculus, iv. 56.

Footnote 485:(return)

IT iii. 393.

Footnote 486:(return)

Les Celtes, 58 f. Formerly M. D'Arbois identified Smertullos with Lug, ii. 217; Holder, i. 46, 262. For the incident of the beard, see Windisch, Táin, 308.

Footnote 487:(return)

IT iii. 395.

Footnote 488:(return)

IT i. 420.

Footnote 489:(return)

RC xxvii. 319 f.

Footnote 490:(return)

RC xviii. 256.

Footnote 491:(return)

Les Celtes, 63; RC xix. 246.

Footnote 492:(return)

D'Arbois, RC xx. 89.

Footnote 493:(return)

D'Arbois, RC xxvii. 321; Les Celtes, 65.

Footnote 494:(return)

Les Celtes, 49; Cæsar, vi. 14.

Footnote 495:(return)

In contradiction to this, M. D'Arbois elsewhere thinks that Druids from Britain may have taught the Cúchulainn legend in Gaul (RC xxvii. 319).

Footnote 496:(return)

See versions in Book of the Dean of Lismore; CM xiii.; Campbell, The Fians, 6 f.

Footnote 497:(return)

CM xiii. 327, 514. The same story is told of Fionn, ibid. 512. See also ballad versions in Campbell, LF 3 f.

Footnote 498:(return)

See p. 212, infra.

Footnote 499:(return)

A Galatian king was called Brogitaros, probably a form of Brogitaruos, "bull of the province," a title borne by Conchobar, tarb in chóicid (IT i. 72). This with the epithets applied to heroes in the Triads, "bull-phantom," "prince bull of combat" (Loth, ii. 232, 243), may be an appellative denoting great strength.

Footnote 500:(return)

IT ii. 241 f.; D'Arbois, Les Druides, 168.

Footnote 501:(return)

Miss Hull, 58.

Footnote 502:(return)

See p. 212, infra.

Footnote 503:(return)

See p. 208, infra.

Footnote 504:(return)

Fitzgerald, RC vi. 254.

Footnote 505:(return)

See p. 243, infra.




The most prominent characters in the Fionn saga, after the death of Fionn's father Cumal, are Fionn, his son Oisin, his grandson Oscar, his nephew Diarmaid with his ball-seire, or "beauty-spot," which no woman could resist; Fergus famed for wisdom and eloquence; Caoilte mac Ronan, the swift; Conan, the comic character of the saga; Goll mac Morna, the slayer of Cumal, but later the devoted friend of Fionn, besides a host of less important personages. Their doings, like those of the heroes of saga and epos everywhere, are mainly hunting, fighting, and love-making. They embody much of the Celtic character—vivacity, valour, kindness, tenderness, as well as boastfulness and fiery temper. Though dating from pagan times, the saga throws little light upon pagan beliefs, but reveals much concerning the manners of the period. Here, as always in early Celtdom, woman is more than a mere chattel, and occupies a comparatively high place. The various parts of the saga, like those of the Finnish