David Stifter wrote:
>First of all, gáe means "spear" in OIr. Its figurative use for "penis"
(only a single attestion in DIL) can surely not be called frequent or
prominent compared to its hundreds or
even thousands of occurences in its primary meaning.
>Second, since the word gáe does not even appear in the text, there can be
really no talk of any fertility-substratum on its basis.
Yes, but the it does further support the notion that genitalia are
figuratively represented as weapons throughout the Ulster cycle. An obvious
example would be Cuchulain's courtship of Emer ("Cuchulain caught sight of
the girl's breasts over her dress. 'I see a sweet country,' he said, 'I
could rest my weapon there"); a not-so-obvious instance is Medb's offer of
her own "friendly thighs" to Ferdia after Fergus fails to combat Cuchulain
because he loses his sword. After all, potency, kingship, and
battle-prowess were intertwined in many pagan cultures.
If you can get it, Chares Bowen's article "Great-Bladdered Medb: Mythology
and Invention in the Táin Bo Cúalgne" addresses this issue at length
(Eire-Ireland, Vol. 4 No.10, 1975).
Florida International University