A couple of years ago I found this story by following an allusion in
Kinsella's Táin to "thirty noble heroes drinking out of Gerg's vat" and "Ol
nguala, the 'coal vat' that Conchobor took with him from Gerg's Glen when he
killed Gerg." (p. 6) A footnote points out that the tale is "Tochmarc
Ferbe" and is to be found in IT.
Yesterday I e-mailed Dennis off-list with a vague recollection that Windisch
had written something in the introduction to the story about this phrase's
being a druidic pun on the names of Conchobor's charioteer Brod and Gerg's
servant Airidech: In part IV of the story, Brod throws a spear that pierces
Gerg's shield, killing him and passing through his body to kill Airidech as
Dennis verified this--Windisch goes on about the phrase for two pages--I'll
let Dennis comment!--before admitting "soweit ist Alles klar, aber unsicher
bleibt, wie man broth oder brod übersetzen soll." Oh, well ...
----- Original Message -----
From: "Dennis King" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, April 05, 2005 11:07 AM
Subject: an omen
| At one point in the tale "Tochmarc Ferbe", as the enemies are
| drawing near, a server drops some kind of serving vessel into
| a vat of wine, causing three waves to spill over the top of
| it. The druid Ollgáeth immediately responds to this event
| wit a prediction of disaster:
| All amnae, ol in druí, brod in airigid,
| ni ba cían la hallmuri bías...
| "Great woe," said the druid, "'brod in airigid',
| it will soon belong to foreigners...."
| Windisch (in IT) says that "airigid" should be read as "airidig",
| which would be the dative or acc. of "airdech" = cup, vessel.
| The possibilities I can think of for "brod", which Windisch
| declines to translate, are:
| brod = straw, splinter, speck (mod. "brobh")
| broth = meat
| bruth = boiling heat
| bruith = boiling, cooking (v.n. of "berbaid")
| So possibly: "Straw/meat/boiling in a vessel". This looks to me
| like a proverbial expression. Compare "tempest in a tea cup" or
| the French "une tempête dans un verre d'eau". But the meaning of
| the Irish would necessarily be different: a menacing omen, from
| the looks of it. Any thoughts on this?