Richard Marsh wrote:
> Kuno Meyer's translation (Hibernica Minora) of "ce/in" as "so long as"
> makes the line "Hi ce/in bes int sleg sin fo di/cleith agus a rind bo
> des ..." read "So long as that spear [was] kept concealed and pointing
> south ...".
> But a variant reading from the Book of Ballymote has "cen", meaning
> "without", in place of "ce/in", which reverses the meaning of Meyer's
I've just had a look at Greene's edition, in which he gives two
variant readings: "a gen" and "cen".
Note first that "hi ce/in" is written "i gce/in" in modern spelling,
which shows the eclipsis which the old spelling neglects. Thus, the
first variant, "a gen", is clearly just a more phonetic alternate
spelling of "hi ce/in".
On the face of it, it's not entirely clear from the way Greene
footnotes the variants together whether the variant "cen" is meant
to replace "ce/in" only, or "hi ce/in". Given the syntax of the
sentence, however, it's quite clear he intends the former, and that
"cen" is likewise a trivial spelling variation which does not alter
the meaning or Meyer's translation.
The reason for this conclusion is that "cen", meaning "without",
makes no grammatical sense coming before "bes int sleg...". "Cen"
(mod. "gan") has to be followed by a noun, verbal noun or pronoun.
The following word "bes" is none of these. It's a finite verb form,
a relative form of "ata/". So, I'm afraid your proposed reading
doesn't hold up. Meyer and Greene knew what they were up to.