By Catherine Bernard
Introduces the Celts and their mythology, bearing on seven stories with their roots essentially in eire and Wales and putting every one in ancient and cultural context.
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Additional info for Celtic Mythology
This series of myths has always been and continues to be widely known in Celtic mythology, in part because of the popularity of the main hero, Cúchulainn. As a child, Cúchulainn was known as Sétanta. He was the nephew and foster son of King Conchobar, but his maternal grandfather was said to be Dagda, the father of all the gods, and his father was Lugh, the sun god. With or without his divine bloodline, it was clear from the time he was young that Sétanta was destined to be a great warrior. At the age of seven, for example, Sétanta was on his way to a feast in the king’s honor when he was attacked by the hound of Culann, the king’s blacksmith.
Cúchulainn’s adventures give a sense of the traits most important in the Ulster Cycle, such as bravery, cunning, and strength. Another notable element of the myth is its depiction of strong women—not only does Cúchulainn pursue women, he battles them and matches wits with them, as well. 38 CÚCHUL AINN AND EMER As Cúchulainn grew older he became increasingly more handsome. A mere glance at any woman was enough to make her fall instantly in love with him. The men of Ulster became worried that Cúchulainn would entice away their wives with his good looks, so they demanded he find a wife of his own.
If they were able to return to shore, they would have rightfully earned the land as their own. Both sides felt Amairgin’s judgment was a fair one. The Milesians retreated to their ship and sailed nine wave lengths back from the shore. Once the signal was given to attack, the Milesians began paddling. Despite their immense effort, however, the Milesians realized they were not making any progress. Unbeknownst to them, the gods had combined all their powers to create a strong wind to keep the Milesians in place.