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OLD-IRISH-L  March 2009

OLD-IRISH-L March 2009

Subject:

Re: Poem by Cináed the Wise 13

From:

Neil McLeod <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Wed, 18 Mar 2009 09:50:28 +0900

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (112 lines)

Liz Gabay wrote:
> BB

> Lintar a crechta mon sochlach
> corbo echta iar nathbrath
> do deis do dael fota othrach
> do gai co n-eim natrach.

> Lec

> Lintar a chrechta mon sochlach
> ciarbo ectra (?)  iar nathbrath.
> do deis do dael f(h?)ota othrach
> to gai co n-eim nathbrach.

BB is great. And there are only a couple of things to note in Lec.

LINE B
In line (b) Lec has 'ect' with a mark of lenition over the 'c' (so 'echt').

This form may point to a metrical elision of the final -'a' of BB's 
'echta'. Cf stanza 12, where BB has 'ciarbo', the final -'o' of which 
must be elided for the metre, and Lec has the elided form 'ciarb'. But 
this time we have an interesting problem. The full form 'êchta' is 
needed for a perfect rhyme with 'crêchta'.

We could
(a) follow David's suggestion by eliding the unstressed diphthong in 
'iar' and assuming the scribe of Lec chose to elide the wrong unstressed 
syllable (given the requirements of rhyme); or
(b) we can assume that Lec reproduces the original reading, 'êcht', and 
the imperfection in the rhyme has been fixed-up in BB at the expense of 
the intended sense. (It would not be the only instance in this poem 
where an internal rhyme was absent. But it is usually present.) I can't 
see any internal rhyme in the second couplet here, so maybe this whole 
verse was originally written without them. Note that there is no 
alliteration in the first line here either.

LINE C
I agree with your doubt about the apparent lenition mark over the 'f'. 
It could just be a spot like the ones nearby in the margin to the left 
above the capital L and below the capital N.

LINE D
I would go with 'do gai' rather than 'to gai'. The cross-bar on the 't' 
tends to be straight, whereas the protrusion on the 'd' starts a little 
below the top of the curve, so that you get a little dip. This line 
corresponds to §21 of the prose account: (Lec.) 'gai co n-eim nathrach 
isin treas crecht'.
 >    I thought ‘do’ might be a confusion for ‘di’ here.
Yes, That looks like the best way to take it.

>  I thought the mark above ‘lintar’ in BB was more likely a stray mark than a 
> fada,

It could be a stray mark, or I think more likely a 'hair-stroke', i.e. a 
fine stroke to distinguish the 'i' from the following 'n' (much as we 
dot the 'i'). There are a lot of hair-strokes in these MSS, and they 
can't be treated as fadas. Which doesn't mean the 'i' was short, of course.

>  but the verb looks like the 3rd plural present indicative passive of ‘línaid’ 
> (fills).  

Yes, that's how I took it too.

>       DIL N 16.71 lists a word “nathbreth..lit. nath-judgment, used as generic 
> term for the compositions of the ‘anruth’. ”  The ‘anruth’ were apparently a 
> grade of poet.  The use of a poetic term in this stanza goes along with the 
> use of ‘felius’ and ‘cuibdius’ in the last stanza. I wondered if ‘iarnathbrath’ 
> could possibly be a single word in genitive plural, translating ‘a former 
> judgment poem’. 

But that would give a trisyllable when what we need is a disyllable at 
the end of the line.

>   ‘corbo’ looks like ‘co’ plus 3rd singular perfect of copula, which makes it 
> difficult to make  a plural ‘echta’ the subject.

Which might be a good enough reason to take option (2) above and read 
'êcht'.

>  His wounds are filled, a famous trick
>  And it was exploits after a judgment poem 
> Of an ear of corn, of a long sick beetle
> Of a spear with snake venom.                         

I got

"His wounds were filled, a notorious trick [played on him by Cormac],
So that it was [a case of] ‘butchery after betrayal’
 From an ear of corn, from a long beetle of disease,
 From a spear with the venom of a serpent."

I take the phrase at the end of line (b) to be a well-known saying (a 
bit like the way we would understand "It was a case of 'adding insult to 
  injury'.") I take the first word in the phrase to be 'écht' 
('slaughter') and I take the final word to be 'brath' (<'mrath') with 
prefixed 'a(i)th'- which can be used as a mere intensive. (It could also 
mean 'further betrayal' here, since this is apparently the second trick 
Cormac has played on Tadg; though it is never clearly explained what 
part Cormac had in Tadg's charioteer heading due south rather than 
taking in Tara. If it means 'further betrayal' it is less likely that we 
are dealing with a set phrase.)

I take the description of the beetle in line (c) to indicate that the 
beetle was a disease-causing one. DIL cites 'Felire Oengusa' Jan 15: 
Stokes: “a stag-beetle as big as a lap-dog a-sucking destroyed the whole 
of one of her sides” ('dael oc a diul méitigther oirce ro chlóid a 
lethtaeb uile').

Neil

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