Mythical Animals And Other Beings

HE Celts worshipped animals or their anthropomorphic representations—the horse, swine, stag, bull, serpent, bear, and various birds. There was a horse-goddess Epona, a horse-god Rudiobus, a mule-god Mullo, a swine-god Moccus, and bear-goddesses called Artio and Andarta, dedications to or images of these occurring in France and Britain.1 Personal names meaning "son of the bear" or "of the dog," etc., suggest myths of animal descent lost to us, though they find a partial illustration in stories like that of Oisin, son of a woman transformed to a fawn. We have seen that gods and magicians assume animal forms or force these upon others; and other stories point to the belief that domesticated animals came from the gods' land.

From these we turn to tales in which certain animals have a mythic aspect, perhaps connected with a cult of them. A divine bull or swine might readily be regarded as enormously large or strong, or possessed of magic power, or otherwise distinguished; and these are the aspects under which such animals appear in the.stories now to be considered.

In the Irish tale of Mac Datho's Boar (Seel Mucci Maic Datho) Mac Datho, King of Leinster, had a dog famed throughout the land. It could run round Leinster in a day and was coveted both by Ailill and Medb of Connaught and by Conchobar of Ulster; but Mac Datho promised it to both and invited the monarchs and their retinues to a feast, hoping that he would escape in the quarrel which would certainly arise between them. The chief dish was a boar reared by Mac

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