Cúchulainn: A Tale of War, Love and Tragedy

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  3. Cuchulain - Myth Encyclopedia - mythology, god, legend, war, world, life, king, warrior, strength

Maeve lines up a formidable army against Ulster and invokes magic against the Ulstermen. He was picking Maeve's men off one by one. For days they battle it out and by night they assist and nurse each other. This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving. Programmes Programme 1: Growing Up Granda is persuaded by his grandchildren to tell them one of his Irish stories.

Explore the BBC. Contact Us. Watch Now Programme 2: The Name Setanta is invited with his friends to a great feast but he starts to daydream and is left behind.

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He was twenty-seven years old. Cuchulain the Warrior Cuchulain had several magical weapons: his sword, his visor, and his barbed spear, Gae Bulga, which inflicted wounds from which nobody ever recovered.

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His physical appearance—namely, that of a handsome man—changed completely. Cuchulain's hair stood on end, one of his eyes bulged out while the other disappeared in his head, his legs and feet turned to face backward, his muscles swelled, and a column of blood spurted up from his head. His body became so hot that it could melt snow. When swept away in a war frenzy, Cuchulain could not distinguish between friends and enemies.

On one occasion, he was so full of the lust for batde that he needed to be stopped. A group of Ulster women marched out naked carrying vats of cold water to bring him to his senses. When Cuchulain stopped his chariot in embarrassment, he was grabbed by warriors who threw him into three vats of cold water to calm him down. The first vat burst apart, the second boiled over, but the third merely got hot.


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Cuchulain is often seen as a cultural hero, but exactly whose culture he represents has been a subject for debate. He has been adopted by Irish nationalists as an important symbol supporting Ireland's independence from England. Cuchulain has also been used as a symbol by those supporting Ireland's union with England, since many of these supporters are based in the region of Ulster—home to the Cuchulain legend. The Celts, like the Norse, valued their warriors and respected those with great skill in battle.

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Cuchulain, like the Norse hero Beowulf , is nearly unbeatable. The Celts also valued beautiful speech and charm, and Irish culture in modern times is still associated with lyricism, poetry, song, and a special persuasiveness. Cuchulain was a fearsome warrior, but also a charming, handsome, smooth-talking man: the cultural ideal. Much like Achilles from ancient Greek myth, Cuchulain symbolizes both legendary strength and rage that can, at times, hardly be controlled. He is a symbol of the perfect warrior and ideal protector of his people, defending Ulster even when he could no longer stand on his own.

One of the main themes of the legend of Cuchulain is that great fame and glory are often paid for with an early death. This theme is also seen in the tale of Achilles, though Cuchulain's destiny is unknown to him.

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Cuchulain is one of the most popular figures in Irish legend, and has remained an important part of Irish literature. Modern Irish author William Butler Yeats wrote several works about Cuchulain and his adventures, including plays and poetry. In addition, the highest honor awarded to adult Scouts in the Irish equivalent of the Boy Scouts is named after Cuchulain. Cuchulain has been used as a symbol for several different groups of people, some with opposing viewpoints such as the Irish nationalists and the Unionists.

Should a terrorist organization be free to use a culture hero like Cuchulain as a symbol for their cause? Why or why not? Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. November 11, Retrieved November 11, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.

Cuchulain, one of the greatest heroes of Irish mythology and legend, was a warrior in the service of Conchobhar, king of Ulster. Best known for his single-handed defense of Ulster, Cuchulain is said to have lived in the first century b. Early Life.

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  7. He was the son of Dechtire, sister of King Conchobhar. She and some of her handmaidens were kidnapped on her wedding night by Lug, the sun god, who appeared to her as a fly. Dechtire swallowed the fly and later gave birth to a son whose original name was Setanta.

    Cuchulain - Myth Encyclopedia - mythology, god, legend, war, world, life, king, warrior, strength

    At the age of 7, he fought off boy warriors to gain entrance to his uncle's court. When he was 12, Setanta accidentally killed the watchdog of the smith Cullan and offered to guard Cullan's property until another dog could be trained.

    It was at that time that he changed his name to Cuchulain, which means "hound of Cullan. Trials and Achievements. Cuchulain fell in love with Emer and asked her to marry him. Emer insisted that Cuchulain must first prove his valor by undergoing a series of trials and sent him to the war goddess Scatha to be trained in warfare. On his journey to Scatha, Cuchulain had to pass through the plain of Ill Luck, where sharp grasses cut travelers' feet, and through the Perilous Glen, where dangerous animals roamed.

    To repay Scatha for his training, Cuchulain fought her enemy Aife, the strongest woman in the world. After defeating Aife, he made peace with her, and she bore him a son, Cornila. While returning home to claim his bride, Cuchulain rescued a princess and visited the underworld. Back home, Cuchulain achieved his greatest victory. Unfortunately, during one of the battles, he was forced to fight his good friend Ferdiad, whom he killed. Knowing then that his own death was imminent, he fought bravely.