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The Táin

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The Tain Bo Cuailnge, centre-piece of the eighth-century Ulster cycle of heroic tales, is Ireland's greatest epic. It tells the story of a great cattle-raid, the invasion of Ulster by the armies of Medb and Ailill, queen and king of Connacht, and their allies, seeking to carry off the greatBrown Bull of Cuailnge. The hero of the tale is Cuchulainn, the Hound of Ulster, who resists the invaders single-handed while Ulster's warriors lie sick.Thomas Kinsella presents a complete and living version of the story. His translation is based on the partial texts in two medieval manuscripts, with elements from other versions, and adds a group of related stories which prepare for the action of the Tain.Illustrated with brush drawings by Louis le Brocquy, this edition provides a combination of medieval epic and modern art.… (més)
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Anglès (21)  Suec (1)  Totes les llengües (22)
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Ages ago I read a simpler version of this epic tale, I suppose tidied up for younger people. I had a passion for folklore as a child and my mother was always finding treasures. So. The folk of Ulster have a great Brown bull and the folk of Connacht, a great White bull. The Connacht greedily want both and so steal the Ulster Brown bull. Now the complication is that the Ulstermen suffer a thing called 'the Pangs' for a week or two once a year. During this time they undergo the severe pains of childbirth and are entirely unable to function. For some reason the young Cúchulainn, nephew of Conchobar, King of the Ulsterfolk, does not get the pangs and so comes to the rescue fighting off the Connacht until the Ulster warriors recover. He kills everyone he meets and in the end even has to kill his best friend, Ferdia. Badly wounded he has to step out but just then the Ulster warriors are recovered and show up. As with many ancient works, lineages are paramount and there are pages and pages of descriptions of the warriors--titles, status, prowess as warriors, where from, who related to, what wearing, what weapons and all the rest. Tedious, but restful too. Also, as with much ancient story-telling there is the 'how-this-place-got-its-name' theme as well. Hyperbole is de rigeur also. I kind of assume that when a king turns up with three thousand men, actually it is a local chieftain with thirty men. But whatever. The point of such tales, I think, while to provide entertainment was more importantly to remind the people of their history and heritage, and also, to some degree their values (or lack thereof) and to provide a kind of physical map of the area--very ancient indeed. Plot, character development etcetera was entirely irrelevant. There are moments of humor (Medb is happy to sleep with anyone if that would help them fight for her, they constantly offer their daughter to any reluctant warrior as well, even after she has died) and moments of true pathos (Ferdia's death). Kinsella includes the conclusory remarks of the scribe of the version in The Book of Leinster:
First: "A blessing on everyone who will memorise the Táin faithfully in this form and not put any other form on it."
Then: "I who have copied down this story, or more accurately fantasy, do not credit the details of the story, or fantasy. Some things in it are devilish lies, and some poetical figments: some seem possible and others not; some are for the enjoyment of idiots." Rating must be ***** but truly no rating is necessary. ( )
1 vota sibylline | Mar 30, 2022 |
The Cattle Raid of Cooley, Irish Táin bó Cuailnge, Old Irish epiclike tale that is the longest of the Ulster cycle of hero tales and deals with the conflict between Ulster and Connaught over possession of the brown bull of Cooley. The tale was composed in prose with verse passages in the 7th and 8th centuries. It is partially preserved in The Book of the Dun Cow (c. 1100) and is also found in The Book of Leinster (c. 1160) and The Yellow Book of Lecan (late 14th century). Although it contains passages of lively narrative and witty dialogue, it is not a coherent work of art, and its text has been marred by revisions and interpolations. It has particular value for the literary historian in that the reworkings provide a record of the degeneration of Irish style; for example, the bare prose of the earlier passages is later replaced by bombast and alliteration, and ruthless humour becomes sentimentality.

Medb (Maeve), the warrior queen of Connaught, disputes with her husband, Ailill, over their respective wealth. Because possession of the white-horned bull guarantees Ailill’s superiority, Medb resolves to secure the even-more-famous brown bull of Cooley from the Ulstermen. Although Medb is warned of impending doom by a prophetess, the Connaught army proceeds to Ulster. The Ulster warriors are temporarily disabled by a curse, but Cú Chulainn, the youthful Ulster champion, is exempt from the curse and single-handedly holds off the Connaughtmen. The climax of the fighting is a three-day combat between Cú Chulainn and Fer Díad, his friend and foster brother, who is in exile and fighting with the Connaught forces. Cú Chulainn is victorious, and, nearly dead from wounds and exhaustion, he is joined by the Ulster army, which routs the enemy. The brown bull, however, has been captured by Connaught and defeats Ailill’s white-horned bull, after which peace is made. ( )
  Marcos_Augusto | Jan 23, 2022 |
The Tain is epic. In fact it is Epic - at least as Epic as more famous Epics, such as the Iliad. In fact, the number of correspondences between the Cattle Raid of Cooley and the story of Achilles' rage is remarkable. (It must be - I just remarked it.) Wanna know what they are (at least some of them, anyway)? Oi - you at the back! stop saying, "No."

here we go:
Illiad: Achilles only vulnerable on one heel.
Tain: CuChulain's foster brother only vulnerable to a gae bolga shoved where the sun doesn't shine. (The gae bolga is a mysterious design of spear - the blade had backward pointing barbs - other aspects of the design are obscure and variously interpreted.)
Illiad: Lots of riding round in chariots, killing people.
Tain: Lots of riding round in chariots, killing people.
Illiad: Lots of stomping around on foot, killing people.
Tain: Lots of stomping around on foot, killing people.
Illiad: Single combat.
Tain: Single combat. Generally in a ford that gets its name from the event.
Illiad: Riding round in a chariot, dragging the corpse of your enemy behind you.
Tain: Riding round in a chariot, dragging the corpse of your enemy behind you.
Illiad: Supernatural intervention.
Tain: Supernatural intervention.
Illiad: Heaps of famous heroes.
Tain: Heaps of famous heroes, especially near the end.
Illiad: Big fight over a beautiful woman.
Tain: Big fight over a prize bull. Okay - not such a close correspondence.
Illiad: Javelins.
Tain: Spears.
Illiad: Achilles chooses a short life but ever-lasting fame. (But maybe this isn't mentioned in the Illiad - I can't remember.)
Tain: CuChulain chooses a short life rather than everlasting ridicule. (But not during the Cattle Raid.)
Illiad: Achilles' rage.
Tain: CuChulain's "warp-spasm".
Illiad: Verse.
Tain: Mainly prose - some cryptic verse.

So, by now you should be convinced that the pagan Celts in Ireland were just as crazy and violent as any ancient Achaen group you care to name and appreciated the stories of their ancestors' crazy violence as much, too.

Three fifties of Bards couldn't praise this Epic enough, so I won't even try - just read it and find out how many boys can play hurling on the back of Ulster's prize bull, how CuChulain (the Hound of Culann) got his name and weapons and the name of every ford, hill and rock that figured in CuChulain's almost single handed defense of Ulster from an army of 30,000!
( )
3 vota Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
Ibland märker man sannerligen av att det förlutna var en väldigt märklig plats. De legender som sammanfogats till det iriska eposet Táin bó cúailnge liknar inte det man är van vid från andra åldriga berättelser: det märks att inte någon Homeros eller Lönnroth tagit sig an råmaterialet och utarbetat en sammanhållen saga, även om översättaren Thomas Kinsella i The Táin försökt städa undan inkonsekvenser när material tycks infogats på fel plats samt en del longörer.

Materialet är satt i en god heroisk ålder, med hjältar som åker runt i stridsvagn och utmanar varandra på envig i bästa episka stil. Huvudhandlingen handlar om försöken av övriga Irlands män, enade under kung Ailill och drottning Medb, att stjäla en fantastisk ko från Ulster, vilket bör låta sig göras ganska lätt då ulstermännen ligger utslagna av en förbannelse. Kvar finns endast den unge hjälten Cúchulainn, dotterson till kung Conchobor av Ulster och undantagen förbannelsen. Tjuren ifråga skall Medb ha för att vinna ett gräl med Ailill om vem av dem som är rikast, och hon framstår som den som driver på med tjuvknep för att få undan den svårrubbade Cúchulainn, gärna med dottern Finnabair som lockbete (och ibland också sina egna vänliga lår). Det blir överfall, strider vid vadställen, svek, fosterbröder som tubbas till strid och oväntat svårt för tjuvarna att klara sitt uppdrag.

Det som verkligen får en att ana avståndet är dock inte striderna, det underliga ärebegreppet, underlig stridskonst eller hur svagt handlingen hänger samman, utan att det hela närmast framstår som något en etymolog diktat upp för att hålla intresset uppe för sitt fält: snart sagt varje strid eller händelse gör att någon flod, vik eller kulle, något berg, vadställe eller fält, får ett namn. Detta förstärks av att när historien närmar sig slutet och Cúchulainn kan lösas av: när förbannelsen släpper greppet om ulstermännen, så blir det förvisso en stor strid, men en som snart är avklarad och skildras betydelse mindre inlevelsefullt än några av de tidigare envigen. Underligt, men läsvärt. ( )
  andejons | Apr 9, 2020 |
Queen Medb and King Ailill squabble about who is the most amazing and there's a war about a cow. Just when I think the genealogies and place naming is all a bit much, something loopy happens and it's enjoyable again. The hero of the story is Cuchulainn. He's a baby faced berserker hybrid of Rostam and Heracles, who likes to do battle party tricks. The descriptions of his strength and battle prowess are exaggerated to comical levels of wonder. I love the search for a fake beard, the preoccupation with rich clothing and the point where Cuchulainn has killed so many men the bard gives up using different names and starts grouping the dead by name: 'seven named Conall, seven named Aengus, seven named Uargus . . . '

While there's much to enjoy, I have mixed feelings about the story. I weary of the repetition - the same battle sequence over and over, with Cuchulainn killing someone at a place then named after the dead man. It's silly to say an epic tale is repetitive, because that's what traditional oral tales are like, but it's not engaging me in this particular story. I'm not sure why, but I do know there is more to this story than I'm willing to consider. My copy is translated by Thomas Kinsella and has some of Louis le Brocquy's illustrations. I can see other reviews here praise Ciaran Carson's translation for its liveliness, so another time I'd like to read it and see. I'm glad I read this version so I could experience Le Brocquy's illustrations, but perhaps the translation or my current mood are doing this tale an injustice.
  Pencils | Jun 10, 2016 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Tain Authorautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Brocquy, Louis leIl·lustradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Carson, CiaranTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Cataldi, MelitaEditorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Dunn, JosephTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Guyonvarc'h, Christian-J.Traductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Haley, GeneTopographical researchautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Hutton, Mary A.Traductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Kinsella, ThomasTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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In memory of the storyteller John Campbell of Mullaghbawm, Co. Armagh, born 1933, died 2006.
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One night when the royal bed had been prepared for Ailill and Medb in Crúachan Fort in Connacht, they engaged in pillow talk
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If the salmon were swimming in the rivers or river-mouths I'd give you one and share another. If a flock of wild birds were to alight on the plain I'd give you one and share another; with a handful of cress or sea-herb and a handful of marshwort; and a drink out of the sand; and myself in your place in the ford of battle, watching while you slept.
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(Clica-hi per mostrar-ho. Compte: pot anticipar-te quin és el desenllaç de l'obra.)
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Wikipedia en anglès (4)

The Tain Bo Cuailnge, centre-piece of the eighth-century Ulster cycle of heroic tales, is Ireland's greatest epic. It tells the story of a great cattle-raid, the invasion of Ulster by the armies of Medb and Ailill, queen and king of Connacht, and their allies, seeking to carry off the greatBrown Bull of Cuailnge. The hero of the tale is Cuchulainn, the Hound of Ulster, who resists the invaders single-handed while Ulster's warriors lie sick.Thomas Kinsella presents a complete and living version of the story. His translation is based on the partial texts in two medieval manuscripts, with elements from other versions, and adds a group of related stories which prepare for the action of the Tain.Illustrated with brush drawings by Louis le Brocquy, this edition provides a combination of medieval epic and modern art.

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