Plate Ix

A and B Altar from Saintes

A. The obverse shows a seated god and goddess. The god is squatting (cf. Plates III, 3, VIII, XXV), and holds a torque in his hand. The goddess has a cornucopia (cf. Plates XIV, XV), and a small female figure stands beside her.

B. On the reverse is a squatting god with a purse in his right hand; to the left is a god with a hammer (see Plates XIII, XIV, XXVI), and to the right is a goddess. Three bulls' heads are shown below (cf. Plates II, 4-5, 9, III, 5, XIX, 1, 6, XX, B, XXI). From an altar found at Saintes, Charente-Inférieure, France.

Digitized by Microsoft

Digitized by Microsoft

Digitized by Microsoft &

At this point we hear of Loeg's visit and return, and next follows a long passage that has nothing to do with the story, which then continues as if from another version in which Liban's visit had not occurred. Cuchulainn was still ill and sent Loeg to tell Emer, his wife, how women of the side had destroyed his strength; but when she reproached him for his weakness, he arose and went to the enclosure (the pillar-stone of the first part). There Liban appeared, singing of Labraid's prowess and of his need for Cuchulainn, and striving to lead the hero to the dwelling of the side or to Labraid's home on a lake where troops of women came and went. Cuchulainn refused to go at a woman's call, whereupon Liban proposed that Loeg should bring tidings of Labraid's land. The two visits of Loeg are thus the same, but differently described-. In the first Liban took Loeg by the shoulder, for he could not go in safety, unless under the protection of a woman. In a bronze boat they reached an island in a lake, and in a palace Loeg saw thrice fifty women who welcomed him. While he spoke with Fand, Labraid arrived, gloomy because of the approaching contest, but Liban cheered him by announcing that Loeg was there, and that Cuchulainn would come. Now Loeg returned to tell of all he had seen.

The other version describes how Loeg passed with Liban to the plain of Fidga, where dwelt Aed Abrat and his daughters. There Fand bade him at once bring Cuchulainn, for on that day the strife would begin; and Loeg returned, urging Cuchulainn to go and recounting what he had beheld. In one house were thrice fifty men; at the eastern gate were three purple trees with birds singing; in the forecourt was a silver tree with musical branches; from sixty other trees dropped food to nourish three hundred; and there was, too, a vat of unfailing ale. He described Fand's marvellous beauty and still urged Cuchulainn with accounts of the attractiveness of the land, without any lie or injustice, and of the glory of its warriors and its women. Cuchulainn at last went there and by his might in—7

quelled the enemies of the god. Fand and Liban now sang in praise of him, and he remained for a month with Fand, after which he bade her farewell. She appointed a tryst with him in Erin, but Emer heard of it and with fifty women came to attack Fand. Cuchulainn, however, bade Fand have no fear, and addressing Emer he told her how the goddess was more worthy of his love. Emer reproached him, and when she added, "If only I could find favour in thy sight," Cuchulainn's love for her returned: "Thou shalt find favour so long as I am in life." Then began a noble contest between Fand and Emer as to which of them should sacrifice herself for the other, and Fand sang a beautiful lament. At this moment Manannan became aware of Fand's predicament and arrived to rescue her, unseen by all save her and Loeg. Fand again sang, describing the coming of "the horseman of the crested sea-waves," and told of her former love for the god and the splendour of their espousals. Now, deserted by Cuchulainn, she would return to Manannan; but still her heart yearned for the hero, as she told Manannan when he asked her whether she would depart with him or no. Yet one thing weighed with her: Manannan had no consort worthy of him, while Cuchulainn already had Emer. So she departed; and when the hero knew it, he bounded thrice in air and gave three leaps southward, and abode for a long time fasting in the mountains. Emer went to Conchobar, who sent his Druids to bind Cuchulainn; and when the hero would have slain them, they chanted spells and fettered him, giving him a draught of oblivion so that he remembered Fand no more. Emer also shared in this potion and forgot her jealousy; "and Manannan shook his mantle between Cuchulainn and Fand, so that they should never meet again." 15 In this story Emer addresses Loeg as one who often searches the sid, while he speaks of the divine land as well-known to him and seems to see Manannan when he is invisible to the others, Manannan himself was an ardent lover, and what St. Patrick called "a complicated bit of romance," was told to him by Caoilte. Aillen, of the Tuatha De Danann, became enamoured of Manannan's wife, while his sister Aine, daughter of Eogabal, loved Manannan and was dearer to him than all mankind. Aine asked the cause of her brother's sadness, and he told her that he loved the goddess Uchtdelbh ("Shapely Bosom"). Aine accordingly bade him come with her where the divine pair were, and taking her seat by Manannan, she gave him passionate kisses. Meanwhile Uchtdelbh, seeing Aillen, loved him; and Manannan gave her to him, himself taking Aine.16 On another occasion Manannan desired Tuag, a maiden guarded by hosts of the King of Erin's daughters; and since no man might see her, Manannan sent a divine Druid, Fer Fidail, son of Eogabal, in the form of a woman to gain access to Tuag. He remained with her three nights and then, singing a sleep-strain over her, he carried her to the shore and left her slumbering while he looked for a boat wherein to carry her asleep to the Land of Ever-Living Women, or, in another version, to go to take counsel of Manannan. But a wave came and drowned her, the wave in one version being Manannan the sea-god himself — a primitive piece of personalization of nature. For his misdeed Fer Fidail was slain by Manannan, and probably the cause of offence was that he had loved Tuag,17 this explaining why she was drowned by the disappointed god.

A parallel myth, connected with other personages, tells how Clidna the Shapely went from the Hill of the Two Wheels, in the Pleasant Plain of the Land of Promise, with Iuchna Curly-Locks to go to Oengus Mac Ind Oc. But Iuchna practised guile upon her so that she slept in the boat of bronze through his music; and then he turned the boat's head, altering its course till it reached the place called Clidna. At that time occurred one of the three great seabursts which spread through all the world. It caught up the boat, and Clidna was drowned; whence this seaburst was called Clidna's Wave.18 The others were Tuag's and Rudraige's, or Ladru's and Baile's.

The story of Crimthann Nia Nair shows that one who sojourns in the divine land or tastes its food may not be able to return to earth with impunity, for he has become a member of the other-world state and is no longer fit for earth. This is found in other Irish tales and in stories of fairyland or the world of the dead elsewhere.19 Crimthann was son of Lugaid Red Stripes, of whom one of those occasional stories of incest, not uncommon in primitive society, is told, proving that it had at one time been common in Celtic custom, perhaps in the royal house. Lugaid's mother was Clothru, a sister of Medb and Ethne. Clothru and Ethne are both said to have been wives of Conchobar after Medb left him for Ailill; and their brothers, Bres, Nar, and Lothar, were called the Three Finns, or White Ones, of Emuin. Once Clothru bewailed her childless condition to them, and as a result of her entreaties she had a son Lugaid by all three.20 Clothru again bore a child to Lugaid, Crimthann Nia Nair, or "Nar's Man," the hero of this story and afterward supreme king, who fared on what is called "a splendid adventure" with a goddess or witch called Nar. He went to a land overseas, where he remained with her for a month and a half; and at his departure he obtained many love-tokens — a chariot and a golden draught-board, a sword richly ornamented, a spear whose wounds were always mortal, a sling which never missed its aim, two dogs worth a hundred female slaves, and a beautiful mantle. Soon after his return, however, he fell from his horse and died 21 — an incident perhaps to be explained in terms of the myths of Loegaire Liban and Oisin, who, in order to return to the divine land, were warned not to dismount from their horses.22 On the other hand, Cuchulainn was able to return to Ireland from Elysium without hurt, and so also was Aedh, son of the King of Lein-ster, who was enticed into the sid by Bodb Dearg's daughters. For three years the folk of the sid cared for him while his father mourned, not knowing whither the divine people had taken him — into the sky or down under the earth. He and fifty other youths escaped, however, and Aedh met St. Patrick, who restored him to his father and said that he would eventually die as God willed, i. e. the Tuatha De Danann would have no further power over him.23

Sometimes mortals, or gods later envisaged as mortals, abducted daughters of gods. Garman took Bodb's daughter Mesca from the sid; but she died of shame, and the plain where her grave was dug was named after her, Mag Mesca.24 Men of the sid, divine or semi-divine beings, but regarded as attendants on men, also had love-affairs with goddesses. Cliach, from sid Baine, was harper to the King of the three Rosses and made music at the sid of Femen to attract Con-chenn, Bodb's daughter. For a year Bodb's magic prevented the lover from approaching nearer, so that he "could do nothing to the girls" in the sid; but he harped until earth opened, and a dragon issued forth, when he died in terror. This dragon will arise at the end of the world and afflict Ireland in vengeance for St. John Baptist — perhaps an altered fragment of an old cosmogonic myth.25 Another story has some resemblance to this. Liath, a young Prince of the side, loved Midir's daughter Bri, who went with her attendants to meet him as he approached. But the slingers on Midir's sid kept him back, and their sling-stones were like "a swarm of bees on a day of beauty." Liath's servant was slain, and because Liath could not reach her, Bri turned back to the sid and died of a broken heart.26

Besides these, a large number of Irish and Welsh tales illustrate the amours of the gods, as may be seen elsewhere in this volume.

0 0

Post a comment