CATH MAIGE TUIRED -The Second Battle of Mag Tuired Nov 24, 2006 19:32:23 GMT -5
Post by on Nov 24, 2006 19:32:23 GMT -5
CATH MAIGE TUIRED
THE SECOND BATTLE OF MAG TUIRED
THE SECOND BATTLE OF MAG TUIRED
Translated by Elizabeth A. Gray
THIS TALE BELOW IS THE BATTLE OF MAG TUIRED AND THE BIRTH OF BRES SON OF ELATHA AND HIS REIGN
1. The Tuatha De Danann were in the northern islands of the world, studying occult lore and sorcery, druidic arts and witchcraft and magical skill, until they surpassed the sages of the pagan arts.
2. They studied occult lore and secret knowledge and diabolic arts in four cities: Falias, Gorias, Murias, and Findias.
3. From Falias was brought the Stone of Fal which was located in Tara. It used to cry out beneath every king that would take Ireland.
4. From Gorias was brought the spear which Lug had. No battle was ever sustained against it, or against the man who held it in his hand.
5. From Findias was brought the sword of Nuadu. No one ever escaped from it once it was drawn from its deadly sheath, and no one could resist it.
6. From Murias was brought the Dagda's cauldron. No company ever went away from it unsatisfied.
7. There were four wizards in those four cities. Morfesa was in Falias; Esras was in Gorias; Uiscias was in Findias; Semias was in Murias. Those are the four poets from whom the Tuatha De learned occult lore and secret knowledge.
8. The Tuatha De then made an alliance with the Fomoire, and Balor the grandson of Net gave his daughter Ethne to Cian the son of Dian Cecht. And she bore the glorious child, Lug.
9. The Tuatha De came with a great fleet to Ireland to take it by force from the Fir Bolg. Upon reaching the territory of Corcu Belgatan (which is Conmaicne Mara today), they at once burned their boats so that they would not think of fleeing to them. The smoke and the mist which came from the ships filled the land and the air which was near them. For that reason it has been thought that they arrived in clouds of mist.
10. The battle of Mag Tuired was fought between them and the Fir Bolg. The Fir Bolg were defeated, and 100,000 of them were killed including the king, Eochaid mac Eire.
11. Nuadu's hand was cut off in that battle--Sreng mac Sengainn struck it from him. So with Credne the brazier helping him, Dian Cecht the physician put on him a silver hand that moved as well as any other hand.
12. Now the Tuatha De Danann lost many men in the battle, including Edleo mac Allai, and Ernmas, and Fiacha, and Tuirill Bicreo.
13. Then those of the Fir Bolg who escaped from the battle fled to the Fomoire, and they settled in Arran and in Islay and in Man and in Rathlin.
14. There was contention regarding the sovereignty of the men of Ireland between the Tuatha De and their wives, since Nuadu was not eligible for kingship after his hand had been cut off. They said that it would be appropriate for them to give the kingship to Bres the son of Elatha, to their own adopted son, and that giving him the kingship would knit the Fomorians' alliance with them, since his father Elatha mac Delbaith was king of the Fomoire.
15. Now the conception of Bres came about in this way.
16. One day one of their women, Eriu the daughter of Delbaeth, was looking at the sea and the land from the house of Maeth Sceni; and she saw the sea as perfectly calm as if it were a level board. After that, while she was there, she saw something: a vessel of silver appeared to her on the sea. Its size seemed great to her, but its shape did not appear clearly to her; and the current of the sea carried it to the land.
Then she saw that it was a man of fairest appearance. He had golden-yellow hair down to his shoulders, and a cloak with bands of gold thread around it. His shirt had embroidery of gold thread. On his breast was a brooch of gold with the lustre of a precious stone in it. Two shining silver spears and in them two smooth riveted shafts of bronze. Five circlets of gold around his neck. A gold-hilted sword with inlayings of silver and studs of gold.
17. The man said to her, "Shall I have an hour of lovemaking with you?"
"I certainly have not made a tryst with you," she said.
"Come without the trysting!" said he.
18. Then they stretched themselves out together. The woman wept when the man got up again.
"Why are you crying?" he asked.
"I have two things that I should lament," said the woman, "separating from you, however we have met. The young men of the Tuatha De Danann have been entreating me in vain-and you possess me as you do."
19. "Your anxiety about those two things will be removed," he said. He drew his gold ring from his middle finger and put it into her hand, and told her that she should not part with it, either by sale or by gift, except to someone whose finger it would fit.
20. "Another matter troubles me," said the woman, "that I do not know who has come to me."
21. "You will not remain ignorant of that," he said. "Elatha mac Delbaith, king of the Fomoire, has come to you. You will bear a son as a result of our meeting, and let no name be given to him but Eochu Bres (that is, Eochu the Beautiful), because every beautiful thing that is seen in Ireland--both plain and fortress, ale and candle, woman and man and horse--will be judged in relation to that boy, so that people will then say of it, 'It is a Bres.'"
22. Then the man went back again, and the woman returned to her home, and the famous conception was given to her.
23. Then she gave birth to the boy, and the name Eochu Bres was given to him as Elatha had said. A week after the woman's lying-in was completed, the boy had two weeks' growth; and he maintained that increase for seven years, until he had reached the growth of fourteen years.
24. As a result of that contention which took place among the Tuatha De, the sovereignty of Ireland was given to that youth; and he gave seven guarantors from the warriors of Ireland (his maternal kinsmen) for his restitution of the sovereignty if his own misdeeds should give cause. Then his mother gave him land, and he had a fortress built on the land, Dun mBrese. And it was the Dagda who built that fortress.
25. But after Bres had assumed the sovereignty, three Fomorian kings (Indech mac De Domnann, Elatha mac Delbaith, and Tethra) imposed their tribute upon Ireland-and there was not a smoke from a house in Ireland which was not under their tribute. In addition, the warriors of Ireland were reduced to serving him: Ogma beneath a bundle of firewood and the Dagda as a rampart-builder, and he constructed the earthwork around Bres's fort.
26. Now the Dagda was unhappy at the work, and in the house he used to meet an idle blind man named Cridenbel, whose mouth grew out of his chest. Cridenbel considered his own meal small and the Dagda's large, so he said, "Dagda, for the sake of your honor let the three best bits of your serving be given to me!" and the Dagda used to give them to him every night. But the satirist's bits were large: each bit was the size of a good pig. Furthermore those three bits were a third of the Dagda's serving. The Dagda's appearance was the worse for that.
27. Then one day the Dagda was in the trench and he saw the Mac Oc corning toward him.
"Greetings to you, Dagda!" said the Mac Oc.
"And to you," said the Dagda.
"What makes you look so bad?" he asked.
"I have good cause," he said. "Every night Cridenbel the satirist demands from me the three best bits of my serving."
28. "I have advice for you," said the Mac Oc. He puts his hand into his purse, and takes from it three coins of gold, and gives them to him.
29. "Put," he said, "these three gold coins into the three bits for Cridenbel in the evening. Then these will be the best on your dish, and the gold will stick in his belly so that he will die of it; and Bres's judgement afterwards will not be right. Men will say to the king, 'The Dagda has killed Cridenbel with a deadly herb which he gave him.' Then the king will order you to be killed, and you will say to him, 'What you say, king of the warriors of the Feni, is not a prince's truth. For he kept importuning me since I began my work, saying to me, "Give me the three best bits of your serving, Dagda. My housekeeping is bad tonight." Indeed, I would have died from that, had not the three gold coins which I found today helped me. I put them into my serving. Then I gave it to Cridenbel, because the gold was the best thing that was before me. So the gold is now in Cridenbel, and he died of it.'"
"It is clear," said the king. "Let the satirist's stomach be cut out to see whether the gold will be found in it. If it is not found, you will die. If it is found, however, you will live."
30. Then they cut out the satirist's stomach to find the three gold coins in his belly, and the Dagda was saved.
31. Then the Dagda went to his work the next morning, and the Mac Oc came to him and said, "Soon you will finish your work, but do not seek payment until the cattle of Ireland are brought to you. Choose from among them the dark, black-maned, trained, spirited heifer.
32. Then the Dagda brought his work to an end, and Bres asked him what he would take as wages for his labour. The Dagda answered, "I require that you gather the cattle of Ireland in one place." The king did that as he asked, and he chose the heifer from among them as the Mac Oc had told him. That seemed foolish to Bres. He had thought that he would have chosen something more.
33. Now Nuadu was being treated, and Dian Cecht put a silver hand on him which had the movement of any other hand. But his son Miach did not like that. He went to the hand and said "joint to joint of it, and sinew to sinew"; and he healed it in nine days and nights. The first three days he carried it against his side, and it became covered with skin. The second three days he carried it against his chest. The third three days he would cast white wisps of black bulrushes after they had been blackened in a fire.
34. Dian Cecht did not like that cure. He hurled a sword at the crown of his son's head and cut his skin to the flesh. The young man healed it by means of his skill. He struck him again and cut his flesh until he reached the bone. The young man healed it by the same means. He struck the third blow and reached the membrane of his brain. The young man healed this too by the same means. Then he struck the fourth blow and cut out the brain, so that Miach died; and Dian Cecht said that no physician could heal him of that blow.
35. After that, Miach was buried by Dian Cecht, and three hundred and sixty-five herbs grew through the grave, corresponding to the number of his joints and sinews. Then Airmed spread her cloak and uprooted those herbs according to their properties. Dian Cecht came to her and mixed the herbs, so that no one knows their proper healing qualities unless the Holy Spirit taught them afterwards. And Dian Cecht said, "Though Miach no longer lives, Airmed shall remain."
36. At that time, Bres held the sovereignty as it had been granted to him. There was great murmuring against him among his maternal kinsmen the Tuatha De, for their knives were not greased by him. However frequently they might come, their breaths did not smell of ale; and they did not see their poets nor their bards nor their satirists nor their harpers nor their pipers nor their horn-blowers nor their jugglers nor their fools entertaining them in the household. They did not go to contests of those pre-eminent in the arts, nor did they see their warriors proving their skill at arms before the king, except for one man, Ogma the son of Lain.
37. This was the duty which he had, to bring firewood to the fortress. He would bring a bundle every day from the islands of Clew Bay. The sea would carry off two-thirds of his bundle because he was weak for lack of food. He used to bring back only one third, and he supplied the host from day to day.
38. But neither service nor payment from the tribes continued; and the treasures of the tribe were not being given by the act of the whole tribe.
39. On one occasion the poet came to the house of Bres seeking hospitality (that is, Coirpre son of Etain, the poet of the Tuatha De). he entered a narrow, black, dark little house; and there was neither fire nor furniture nor bedding in it. Three small cakes were brought to him on a little dish--and they were dry. The next day he arose, and he was not thankful. As he went across the yard he said,
"Without food quickly on a dish,
Without cow's milk on which a calf grows,
Without a man's habitation after darkness remains,
Without paying a company of storytellers--let that be Bres's condition."
"Bres's prosperity no longer exists," he said, and that was true. There was only blight on him from that hour; and that is the first satire that was made in Ireland.
40. Now after that the Tuatha De went together to talk with their adopted son Bres mac Elathan, and they asked him for their sureties. he gave them restoration of the kingship, and they did not regard him as properly qualified to rule from that time on. He asked to remain for seven years. "You will have that," the same assembly agreed, "provided that the safeguarding of every payment that has been assigned to you--including house and land, gold and silver, cattle and food --is supported by the same securities, and that we have freedom of tribute and payment until then."
"You will have what you ask," Bres said.
41. This is why they were asked for the delay: that he might gather the warriors of the sid, the Fomoire, to take possession of the Tuatha by force provided he might gain an overwhelming advantage. He was unwilling to be driven from his kingship.
42. Then he went to his mother and asked her where his family was. "I am certain about that," she said, and went onto the hill from which she had seen the silver vessel in the sea. She then went onto the shore. His mother gave him the ring which had been left with her, and he put it around his middle finger, and it fitted him. She had not given it up for anyone, either by sale or gift. Until that day, there was none of them whom it would fit.
43. Then they went forward until they reached the land of the Fomoire. They came to a great plain with many assemblies upon it, and they reached the finest of these assemblies. Inside, people sought information from them. They answered that they were of the men of Ireland. Then they were asked whether they had dogs, for at that time it was the custom, when a group of men visited another assembly, to challenge them to a friendly contest. "We have dogs," said Bres. Then the dogs raced, and those of the Tuatha De were faster than those of the Fomoire. Then they were asked whether they had horses to race. They answered, "We have," and they were faster than the horses of the Fomoire.
44. Then they were asked whether they had anyone who was good at sword-play, and no one was found among them except Bres. But when he lifted the hand with the sword, his father recognized the ring on his finger and asked who the warrior was. His mother answered on his behalf and told the king that Bres was his son. She related to him the whole story as we have recounted it.
45. His father was sad about him, and asked, "What force brought you out of the land you ruled?"
Bres answered, "Nothing brought me except my own injustice and arrogance. I deprived them of their valuables and possessions and their own food. Neither tribute nor payment was ever taken from them until now."
46. "That is bad," said his father. "Better their prosperity than their kingship. Better their requests than their curses. Why then have you come?" asked his father.
47. "I have come to ask you for warriors," he said. "I intend to take that land by force."
48. "You ought not to gain it by injustice if you do not gain it by justice," he said.
49. "I have a question then: what advice do you have for me?" said Bres.
50. After that he sent him to the champion Balor, grandson of Net, the king of the Hebrides, and to Indech mac De Domnann, the king of the Fomoire; and these gathered all the forces from Lochlainn westwards to Ireland, to impose their tribute and their rule upon them by force, and they made a single bridge of ships from the Hebrides to Ireland.
51. No host ever came to Ireland which was more terrifying or dreadful than that host of the Fomoire. There was rivalry between the men from Scythia of Lochlainn and the men out of the Hebrides concerning that expedition.
52. As for the Tuatha De, however, that is discussed here.
53. After Bres, Nuadu was once more in the kingship over the Tuatha De; and at that time he held a great feast for the Tuatha De in Tara. Now there was a certain warrior whose name was Samildanach on his way to Tara. At that time there were doorkeepers at Tara named Gamal mac Figail and Camall mac Riagail. While the latter was on duty, he saw the strange company coming toward him. A handsome, well-built young warrior with a king's diadem was at the front of the band.
54. They told the doorkeeper to announce their arrival in Tara. The doorkeeper asked, "Who is there?"
55. "Lug Lormansclech is here, the son of Cian son of Dian Cecht and of Ethne daughter of Balor. He is the foster son of Tailtiu, the daughter of Magmor, the king of Spain, and of Eochaid Garb mac Duach."
56. The doorkeeper then asked of Samildanach, "What art do you practice? For no one without an art enters Tara."
57. "Question me," he said. "I am a builder."
The doorkeeper answered, "We do not need you. We have a builder already, Luchta mac Luachada."
58. He said, "Question me, doorkeeper: I am a smith."
The doorkeeper answered him, "We have a smith already, Colum Cualeinech of the three new techniques."
59. He said, "Question me: I am a champion."
The doorkeeper answered, "We do not need you. We have a champion already, Ogma mac Ethlend."
60. He said again, "Question me." "I am a harper," he said.
"We do not need you. We have a harper already, Abcan mac Bicelmois, whom the men of the three gods chose in the sid-mounds."
61. He said, "Question me: I am a warrior."
The doorkeeper answered, "We do not need you. We have a warrior already, Bresal Etarlam mac Echdach Baethlaim."
62. Then he said, "Question me, doorkeeper. I am a poet and a historian."
"We do not need you. We already have a poet and historian, En mac Ethamain."
63. He said, "Question me. I am a sorcerer."
"We do not need you. We have sorcerers already. Our druids and our people of power are numerous."
64. He said, "Question me. I am a physician."
"We do not need you. We have Dian Cecht as a physician."
65. "Question me," he said. "I am a cupbearer."
"We do not need you. We have cupbearers already: Delt and Drucht and Daithe, Tae and Talom and Trog, Gle and Glan and Glesse."
66. He said, "Question me: I am a good brazier."
"We do not need you. We have a brazier already, Credne Cerd."
67. He said, "Ask the king whether he has one man who possesses all these arts: if he has I will not be able to enter Tara."
68. Then the doorkeeper went into the royal hall and told everything to the king. "A warrior has come before the court," he said, "named Samildanach; and all the arts which help your people, he practices them all, so that he is the man of each and every art."
69. Then he said that they should bring him the fidchell-boards of Tara, and he won all the stakes, so that he made the cro of Lug. (But if fidchell was invented at the time of the Trojan war, it had not reached Ireland yet, for the battle of Mag Tuired and the destruction of Troy occurred at the same time.)
70. Then that was related to Nuadu. "Let him into the court," said Nuadu, "for a man like that has never before come into this fortress."
71. Then the doorkeeper let him past, and he went into the fortress, and he sat in the seat of the sage, because he was a sage in every art.
72. Then Ogma threw the flagstone, which required fourscore yoke of oxen to move it, through the side of the hall so that it lay outside against Tara. That was to challenge Lug, who tossed the stone back so that it lay in the centre of the royal hall; and he threw the piece which it had carried away back into the side of the royal hall so that it was whole again.
73. "Let a harp be played for us," said the hosts. Then the warrior played sleep music for the hosts and for the king on the first night, putting them to sleep from that hour to the same time the next day. He played sorrowful music so that they were crying and lamenting. He played joyful music so that they were merry and rejoicing.
74. Then Nuadu, when he had seen the warrior's many powers, considered whether he could release them from the bondage they suffered at the hands of the Fomoire. So they held a council concerning the warrior, and the decision which Nuadu reached was to exchange seats with the warrior. So Samildanach went to the king's seat, and the king arose before him until thirteen days had passed.
75. The next day he and the two brothers, Dagda and Ogma, conversed together on Grellach Dollaid; and his two kinsmen Goibniu and Dian Cecht were summoned to them.
76. They spent a full year in that secret conference, so that Grellach Dollaid is called the Amrun of the Men of the Goddess.
77. Then the druids of Ireland were summoned to them, together with their physicians and their charioteers and their smiths and their wealthy landowners and their lawyers. They conversed together secretly.
78. Then he asked the sorcerer, whose name was Mathgen, what power he wielded. He answered that he would shake the mountains of Ireland beneath the Fomoire so that their summits would fall to the ground. And it would seem to them that the twelve chief mountains of the land of Ireland would be fighting on behalf of the Tuatha De Danann: Slieve League, and Denda Ulad, and the Mourne Mountains, and Bri Erigi and Slieve Bloom and Slieve Snaght, Slemish and Blaisliab and Nephin Mountain and Sliab Maccu Belgodon and the Curlieu hills and Croagh Patrick.
79. Then he asked the cupbearer what power he wielded. He answered that he would bring the twelve chief lochs of Ireland into the presence of the Fomoire and they would not find water in them, however thirsty they were. These are the lochs: Lough Derg, Lough Luimnig, Lough Corrib, Lough Ree, Lough Mask, Strangford Lough, Belfast Lough, Lough Neagh, Lough Foyle, Lough Gara, Loughrea, Marloch. They would proceed to the twelve chief rivers of Ireland--the Bush, the Boyne, the Bann, the Blackwater, the Lee, the Shannon, the Moy, the Sligo, the Erne, the Finn, the Liffey, the Suir--and they would all be hidden from the Fomoire so they would not find a drop in them. But drink will be provided for the men of Ireland even if they remain in battle for seven years.