Greetings to all, and many thanks for the insights provided on
the CuChulainn/Achilles issue.
My general outlook on this question is that Cuchulainn and
Achilles are both faced with a similar dilemma (long life vs. glory) due
to an attempt to make CuChulainn appear more like Achilles. I base this
on two arguments:
First off all, this life vs. glory is *not* consistent in I-E
mythology; Odysseus gets both the life and the glory, as does Beowulf, as
does Siegfried, as does Arthur (by contrast, Roland gets neither). As
such, while certain aspects of I-E (or, if one prefer, *Proto-I-E)
mythology do carry over from culture to culture (as the Sky-Father, Earth
Mother, Divine Twins, etc. as mentioned already), this seemed to be a
motif that is pretyy much passed over much of the time. Thus, perhaps
not I-E, or at least not emphatically so.
Secondly, there is a documentable attempt on the part of the
northern "Barbarian" cultures (PLEASE note sarcasm there!) to emulate the
Romans, much as the Romans did the Greeks. Thus the Romans claimed
deescent from Aeneas, Hero of Troy, to tie them into the Greek
mythography, while, centuries later, one of the Norse Eddas claimed that
Thor was actually the grandson of Priam of Troy, once again linking them
with the Classical past. As such, there is certainly precedent that a
north-western culture may attempt to "relate" themselves to the
Romans/Greeks by linking their mythology with the Classical tradition.
So, based on this, it would appear to me that the similarities
between CuChulainn and Achilles are intentional. However, I would like
to learn more about who exactly transcribed the Tain and its surrounding
tales. Were they non-Celtic monks who, perhaps even unconsciously, tended
to relate the great hero of Ireland with an archetype they already knew,
or was it perhaps Irish monks attempting to Classicize themselves through
Furthermore, why would they use such an obscure reference? Lugh
being yet another grandson of Priam, or even Herakles, would make a far
more obvious statement. It's partially the obscurity of the reference
that causes me to wonder.
Many thanks once again for the discussion! I'll check out the
recommended bibliography as soon as time permits.