Liz Gabay wrote:
> LL Iar sin do-berar dias éorna la Cormac i crêcht dia chrêchtaib &
> duirp i crécht aile & gâe i crêcht aile, coro chnessaig tairsiu & co
> mbaí bliadain i ssirg.
> BB Is iar sin do-beir Cormac deis eorna la i crecht do crechtaibh taidg
> & duírb i crecht ele & gai go n-eim natrach isin tres crecht, coro
> cnesaig tairsiu sin & co mbaí bliadain a seirc galair.
> Lec Is iar sin do-ber Cormac deis eorna la i crecht do chrechtaib taidc
> & dobeir duirb i crecht n-aile do & dobeir gai co n-eim nathrach isin
> treas crecht, coro chnesaig tarrsu sin & co mbai bliadain a seirc galair.
> After that an ear of barley is brought by Cormac into a wound of Tadc’s
> wounds and a worm into another wound and a spear with snake venom into
> the third wound, until the skin formed across them, and he was in decline for a
I would use 'is put' rather that 'is brought'. For do-beir + i = 'puts
into', cf DIL D 209.81f.
> BB and Lec - It is after that Cormac brings an ear of barley into a wound...
> I don’t know what to make of ‘la’ in these two sources.
Yes, it looks like LL had the original wording (with passive verb), and
that BB and Lec derive from an exemplar in which the sentence was
converted to an active one, but not properly proofed. That exemplar
changed the verb from passive to active, and so moved 'Cormac' forward
in the sentence, but neglected to delete the 'la' which identified the
agent in the original passive version.
> Duirp – looks like a variant of ‘dorb/doirb’ “small insect or worm (esp. one that
> lives in water, opp. to ‘cruim’ earth-worm)”.
Yes, this is the acc/dative form used as nominative; a common Mid Ir
> I wasn’t sure whether ‘bliadain’ was the nominative subject of ‘co mbaí’
> (‘and it was a year’.... or ‘ and a year was’. Or could it be a dative of time?
> Or a nominative word indicating time?
As the word here represent a duration of time, it is the accusative of
time (GOI p 157, at point 3). The dative of time (GOI pp 161-2) is used
of specific points of time ('in that year').
> Does this mean that the skin covered over the barley, worm, and spear as
> well so that they were left in Tadc’s body forever??
Yes, but not forever. Medical help arrives in the next §.
> gai go n-eim natrach -- I wondered if this could mean ‘a spear to the snake-
> like handle’ referring to a metal snake around the handle. The alternate
> translation (‘with snake venom’) made more sense. Also, I thought a spear
> plunged all the way to the handle would probably kill Tadc.
Yes. A whole spear wouldn't fit into a wound. Rather we have here a
spear-[head]. Keating (IT viii 292) has a ‘splinter from the point of a
spear’: ‘scolb do rinn ghai’. In §22 of Cath Crinna, this object is
referred to again, this time as a 'rind', ‘spear-point’.
> Where did Cormac
> get the venom? Was there a trade in snake venom from Great Britain to
I think this is a probably just a literary device rather than indicative
of the actual use of venom on weapons. Legendary Ireland was inhabited
by monsters and serpents dripping venom in a way that historical Ireland
> I expect barley would not be a good thing in a wound. Packing it into a
> wound would hurt, and it would tend to crumble and I would expect festering
> around the foreign bodies in the wound.
Yes. Which is why poor old Tadc got a wasting sickness from it. (Note,
this is the whole, spikey, ear; not just the grain.)
> The worm might be a good thing, if it was a maggot that eats dead
> tissue. You can buy medical-grade maggots for the treatment of dirty
Again, it seems that Cormac put it there out of malice. I don't think
this is an example of the medical use of maggots or leeches. (Later on
we are told of the ‘dorb’ (worm) that it was ‘mét lochad’ – ‘the size of
a mouse’.) We get more of the context for this in the next §, coming