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Cuchulainn

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Cuchulain was a popular hero in ancient Celtic mythology. The stories about him were almost forgotten until a bard named Sechan Torpeist[?] revived them in the 7th century. His father was either Lugh or Sualtam. Cuchulainn was mortal, though often venerated by the Irish. In The Book of the Dun Crow[?], Cuchulainn's stories were described. He may have been a solar deity originally. His magical spear was called Gae Bulg.

Cuchulainn was born with the name Setanta, a son of Dechtere and either Lugh, Sualtam or a mayfly; he changed it after accidentally killing the smith, Culann's watchdog. Cuchulainn took the dog's place and guardd the pass into Ulster; he became known as the Hound of Culann.

Table of contents

Cuchulainn's Father

Three possibilities:

  1. Dechtere swallowed a mayfly; this made her pregnant with Cuchulainn
  2. His father was Sualtam
  3. His father was Lugh; she was impregnated by Lugh's soul, vomited Cuchulainn into life; thereby keeping her virginity.

Scathach and Fergus

The warrior goddess Scathach taught him the art of war on the Isle of Shadow[?]. He became the leader of the Red Branch. Fergus was another one of his tutors.

Lovers

He had many lovers including Aife, Emer, and 'the faery woman' Fand. With Aife, he had his only son, Connla.

Fand

Fand was married to Manannan. Manannan left her and she was attacked by three Fomorians who wanted to control the Irish Sea. Cuchulainn agreed to help defend her as long as she married him. She agreed reluctantly, but then fell in love with him when she met him, as did he and her.

Manannan knew their relationship was doomed because Cuchulainn was mortal and Fand was a fairy; Cuchulainn's presence would destroy the fairies. Manannan then erased both Fand's and Cuchulainn's memory of each other.

Emer

Emer made him perform many difficult tasks in order to sleep with her; she reasoned that she was so beautiful that it was worth it. Apparently, Cuchulainn agreed.

Aife and Connla

Cuchulainn's received his spear, Gae Bulg, from Aife of Alba. Using this spear, he accidentally killed his son by her, Connla.

In Battle

Cuchulainn was almost undefeatable in battle due to his spear (which sang for the blood of its enemies) and his warrior frenzy. This frenzy causes him to turn about in his skin, his eyes to draw back into his head, and his hair to stand on end, capped with drops of blood. In this fearsome state he attacks indiscriminately. The Warp Spasm[?] of Slaine[?] is based on this description.

Demise

In Dublin, a statue of Cuchulainn shows his demise. He stopped the armies of Queen Maeve of Connacht, his enemy, during he War for the Brown Bull[?], all by himself while his men were asleep; he tied himself to a tree in order to remain standing. Maeve convinced Cuchulainn's best friend, Ferdiad, to fight against his friend on behalf of Maeve. Ferdiad was killed in the battle with Gae Bulg. Alternatively, Cuchulainn died some time after the War for the Brown Bull after throwing his spear, Gae Bulg, at a satirist; he died without his spear.

In both versions of the tale (and as is usual in Celtic myth), Cuchulainn's fate was sealed by his breaking of the geasa upon him. In Cuchulainn's case, his geasa included both a obligation to accept any meal offered to him, and a ban against eating dog meat. His enemies contrived to force him to break one of these geasa by the simple approach of offering him a meal of dog meat. In this way he was spiritually weakened for the fight ahead of him, and thus met his death.

Alternative: Cú Chulainn, Cuchulain, Setanta, Hound of Culann



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