On Wed, 17 Nov 1999, Breandan Dalton wrote:
> A blushing cheek looks like it is swelling.
Is fíor duit. The texts, however, are typically quite specific
about satire causing "raised spots" on the cheeks, usually
three of them, which are assigned names and colors. After
Néde pronounces the satire on Cáier, Sanas Cormaic tells what
Atracht Cáier maten moch don tiprait. Dobert a láimh dar a
einech. Fogeibh téora boulga for a aghaidh dosgéne ind aor
.i. on ocus anim ocus easbaidh .i. dearg ocus glas ocus bán.
He goes to the well the next morning to wash his face and
discovers three "bolga" on it: "on", "ainim" and "esbaid"
(disfigurement, blemish and defect), which are respectively
red, green, and white. A similar formula is found is other
tales. In the Táin, Medb sends poets to shame Fer Diad
into facing Cú Chulainn:
co nderntaís teóra áera sossaigthe dó, ocus teora glamma
dícend, go tócbaitís teora bolga bara agid, ail ocus anim
Here the three "bolga" are named "ail, anim, athis"
(disgrace, blemish, reproach), and in yet another tale,
about the maiden Luaine, the same names are used, and the
colors "dub ocus derg ocus ban" (black, red, white) are
assigned to them.
One important point to bear in mind is that "face" and
"honor" (usually "enech", but also "aiged" and "gruad")
were synonomous back in those days. To have a blemish on
your face was both metaphorically and actually tantamount
to having a stain on your honor. The power of suggestion
over the body has been shown to be very powerful, and it
seems quite reasonable to me that a person convinced that
he had been shamed, or had acted dishonorably, as in
"gúbreth" (false judgment), could develop very real physical
manifestations such as hives or pimples.