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Re: Tochmarc Ferbe (was: maelgai)


Kathy McCormack <[log in to unmask]>


Scholars and students of Old Irish <[log in to unmask]>


Mon, 7 Apr 2003 12:24:36 -0700





text/plain (75 lines)

I've been busy at work and am just getting around to reading
some old posts.

Charles wrote:

> In tres buiden dana .i. in buiden i m-bai Mani fodein.
> Coica ech dergdond seta sithméti inti, 7 coica ech find n-ói-derg,
> it é scuaplebra iarna rusiud i corcair uile, .i. a scópa 7 a monga.
> Sréin delinecha friu, .i. bolga dergóir isindara liniu 7 bolga
> airgit oengil isin líne aile. Belgi óir 7 argit friu uile. Maelchircul
> óir co clucinib fo bragit cech eich díb.
> "In three bold bands, so Mani will be in a fitting group. Fifty slender,
> gentle, red-brown horses, & fifty pale, wool-red horses, and their
> tails flowing behind them, all purple and red, both manes and tails.
> double-stranded reins on them, and red-gold bosses on the second
> strand, but bright, silver bosses on the other. Balls of gold and silver
> on them all. Bare rings of gold covered with tiny bells under the throat
> of each horse."

I came up with a translation that differs a bit in parts:

"The third bold troop, i.e., the troop in which Mani was.
Fifty red-brown horses, graceful and especially long, and
fifty red-eared white horses, behind them long, flowing [tails]
dyed crimson/purple, i.e., their manes and tails. Two-lined reins
on them, red-gold balls (or bosses-anyone know about
medieval tack?) on one and pure silver balls on the other. Bits
of gold and silver on all. A [broken? open?] ring of gold with
tiny bells under the throat of each horse."

Here's why I thought this:
- fodein: I couldn't find this-another verb for "was"?
- sithméti: sith- = long, mé(i)t = size, quantity
- n-ói-derg: ói = ear ( I'm not quite sure why this should be
dative-an understood preposition? If this is the correct
meaning, is this (dat. = [noun]ed) a pattern?
- scuaplebra: scúapaid = to sweep, waft + lebar = long, flowing,
supple? Is "tail" understood as a matter of basic equine anatomy?
- rusuid: ruisid = redden, stain red (The DIL quotes this line from TF.)
What form of the verb would this be?
- belgi: I couldn't find this anywhere, so I looked at the German
translation, which gives "Gebisse," which would be "belbach"
in the singular. Declined like "tossach" to give "belgi" as nom. pl.?

David? Dennis?

> The DIL lists some interesting examples, first: caeco ech finn ...
> ruissi hi ccorccuir huili a scuabo 7 a mungo from IT ii (a) 191.56,
> is obviously a variant of our own text and second:
> maelland arggait co cluciniu óir fo brágit cech eich
> from the Táin Bó Fraich is so close to our text that, either one
> copied the other, or these are stock phrases that were part of
> a professional poet's repertoire. Are the two stories by the same
> author? Are they contemporary with each other?

I can't answer your questions about the authorship of this story and
of TBF; perhaps someone else on the list can.

> maelland must mean a "bare plate", or possibly a rounded plate.
> Tochmarc Ferbe has a maelchircul, a "bare circle". I think that the
> sense of these words bears upon the sense of maelgai.

I picture "maelland" as something like a disk with the top edge
flattened or even rounded inward, so that the rounded part hangs
down over the horse's upper chest. Perhaps as protection or as
a ceremonial reminder of a protective plate? Would someone
familiar with weapons, armor, or horse gear of this period care to

If a "maelchircul" is a circle or ring, the "mael" part could refer to
the part that would have to be removed or left open so that it could
be placed around the horse's neck.


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