Dear list members,
Here are my comments on the questions raised by David in relation to his
translation of this very interesting legal story. I reproduce David's
normalised text where appropriate.
Yes, David, I am sure you are correct in translating 'triur marcach' as
"[he was one of] a group of three riders". And I see this morning that
Dennis's example confirms this.
There is, of course, a legal reason why the story involves a group of
three, rather than just Ninne on his own. A person who asserts title by
inheritance makes a claim to land by leading horses on to it. But he must
do so in the company of a witness and a surety.
The point of the story is that Ninne has (unwittingly) made a flawless
'entry' onto the land, and so the defendant (who drives their horses off)
was obliged to follow the proper legal procedure.
Ninne is entitled to act as he does (for he follows the proper legal form),
even though he doesn't know it. His mistaken assumption that he has no
claim to the land does not make his entry illegal. (A parallel of sorts
occurs elsewhere in the Brehon laws. If you deliberate kill someone,
mistakenly thinking they are a free man when in fact they are an outlaw,
your killing of them is nevertheless legal.)
I wouldn't treat 'dán' as 'business'. I think that in this case it means
'that which is given; payment'. See DIL D 76.23. I would translate the
relevant passage as:
8. 'Ní mó dán dún-ni ci ad·cotam scor ar n-ech sund,
9. nab ar cuingid cota and.'
8. "The payment due to us in no greater even though we unyoke our horses
9. It is not [done] in regard to the claiming of a share in it."
This is presumably what the editors of AL had in mind as well. Note that I
am treating 'ar' here as the proposition, not as a possessive pronoun.
I would treat the 'fiach ecair étechta' as a 'penalty for improper
observance of [the law of] entry'. That is, the defendant broke the law of
entry when he drove the horses off. He should have relinquished the land
(or submitted the case to judgement if he intended to contest it). AL's
"fine for unlawful expulsion" might be no more than a looser way of saying
the same thing - but perhaps I am being too generous here.
I would translate this portion as:
16. + bert-side fiach n-ecair étechtai
17. forsinn-í cartas a n-echu asin tír
18. + comlóg ind-í cartas as,
16. "and the latter adjudged the penalty for improper observance of [the
law of] entry
17. to be paid by the one who drove their horses out of the land,
18. and [in addition] a payment equal to the value of that [= the horses]
which he drove from it."
Note that I am treating 'beirid' here in its sense 'judges'.
David, I'm sure you are right about the meaning of 'tellach' here. I would
translate the final sentence as:
19. + do·combaig selba doib a chummai-sin di thelluch.
19. "And he exacted [their] inheritance for them in that amount [they would
have obtained] from making legal entry."
Professor Neil McLeod
School of Law, Murdoch University
Murdoch, 6150, AUSTRALIA
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Ph (08) 9360 2981, Fax (08) 9310 6671