Thursday, June 30, 2005


UI's Celtic Mythology - Briciu

Briciu was one of the troublemakers of Irish myth. An Ulster lord, he arranged a great feast to which he invited all the Ulster heroes, and ordered that the hero's portion be given to the greatest among them. At which point the three great warriors, Cuchulainn, Conall and Laoghaire, sprang up at once and began fighting each other for the honour. In order to settle the argument it was agreed that a monster should be summoned to test the courage of the three heroes. Briciu did this by challenging each other to cut off the demon's head, on the understanding that the following day that man should then lay his own head on the block.
Cuchulainn stepped up first and beheaded the monster, whereupon the creature rose, took up its head and departed. The next day Cuchulainn offered his own head and the monster pronounced him the bravest man in Ireland.


This seemed to me to be a very condensed version of the tale and sure enough, after browsing through another book on Celtic mythology that I own, "An Introduction to Celtic Mythology" by David Bellingham, it goes into far more detail, way more than I could rewrite but I will rewrite the last piece of the tale for you:

Cuchulainn not only knocked his head off with one blow but he also smashed it to bits on the floor. Even so the ogre arose, picked up the pieces and left. The following evening the ogre returned, knowing that Cuchulainn was a hero who kept his word.

'Where is the hero Cuchulainn?' asked the ogre.

'I shall not hide from the likes of you,' answered Cuchulainn.

'You sound worried,' said the ogre, 'but at least you have kept your word.'

Cuchulainn laid his head on the block and the ogre raised his axe; everybody gasped and turned away. As he brought the axe down, the ogre turned the blade so that only the haft caught Cuchulainn on the neck.

'Now rise up, Cuchulainn!' cried the ogre, 'for of all the heroes in Ulster and indeed in the whole of Ireland, you are the greatest in terms of valour and honour. You are champion of champions and the prize of Briciu is for you alone. Your wife Emer is the first lady of Ulster. And if any of you dispute this fact, your days will be numbered.'

With these word the ogre left the room, but as he left he was transformed into Cu Roi, son of Daire, and thus ensured that his judgement of the three heroes was to be final.


So there you have it. This one took me quite some time to reproduce but hopefully you found it enjoyable.


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