Homage-o-meter or The Literary Sources in The Tatooine Cycle

This is a discussion of the medieval source texts used in the Tatooine Cycle. The numbers can be matched to the original post. I was going to just append this to the bottom of it, but it was getting a bit out of hand. So you’ve got another blog post to compare and contrast. I hope you find this useful and that it takes you to all the awesome corners of medieval Irish literature.

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(1) This is a typical opening line to many medieval Irish tales. The two titles, the tragic death (aided) and destruction of a hostel (togail bruidne), are titles that appear in medieval Irish tale lists. The name Da Theféider is also a reference to hostellers commonly having Da at the beginning of their names. See Da Derga, Da Choca, Da Thó.

(2) The hero who knows all languages is a common companion in the Seven Companions tales model. In this instance I was thinking of Gwrhyr Gwalstawd Ieithoedd from Culwch ac Olwen. Middle Welsh, instead of Irish, but I hope you’ll forgive that.

(3) “Oh twisted sprite!” (a sirite síabairthi) is a common insult used against Cú Chulainn. It possibly draws attention to his warp-spasm or riastrad.

(4) Finn, as the name for Luke, is just a calque. Luke comes from Greek leukos meaning ‘white’, Finn also means ‘white, bright’ in Irish. It also helps that Finn is the name of the hero of the Fenian Cycle, Finn mac Cumaill.

(5) The character of Cenn Obi here is closely modeled on Suibne from Buile Suibhne. This wild man of the woods was driven mad at the cursing of a saint and recites poetry in the wilderness. Hence all the poems.

(6) This is an attempt at the intertextual nature of medieval Irish literature. Most of the tales were aware of the wider tradition and would reference them. The Caladbolg was Fergus’s sword that he used on the Táin before it was stolen by jealous Aillil.

(7) The epithet Aenfer is taken from Art mac Conn. He was called Aenfer (literally one man) because in Echtra Chondla his brother, Connla, was taken away to the Otherworld. So he was left alone, or aenfer, or “solo”.

(8) The mistaken messenger motif is common in medieval Irish literature. Some of the images here are taken from Táin Bó Cúailgne, p. 153.

(9) The great, many doored hostel is common in the togala texts, mentioned above. This particular description comes from Scéla Mucce Meic Da Thó.

(10) The lifting up of the hostel wall is taken from Fled Bricrenn. In this text Cú Chulainn lifts up the side of the wall so that his wife will be first back in. It’s always fun to reverse the gender roles.

(11) Da Thféider’s immense height is similar to the way that the Fenian giants are described in Acallam na Senórach.

(12) Much of the description of his arms and armour is taken from Cú Chulainn’s arming in the Scythed Chariot epidose, TBC p. 200.

(13) The flight to Alba (whether that means Scotland, the Otherworld, or the Alps) is a common feature. Here I was drawing on Cath Maige Mucrama.

(14) Heroes often have special feats. Cú Chulainn and his son could stun birds with their “thunder feat”. In one combat during the Táin Cú Chulainn threw his darts in the air and then leaped nimbly on them so that he could catch birds.

(15) The presentation of armies is usually accompanied by the mistaken messenger motif, mentioned above. They are heavy in physical description, both of the men and their equipment.

(16) The evil eye of Da Thféider, not only represents the power of a fully operational Death Star (*evil cackle*), but is based on Balor from Cath Maige Tuired. This beastly Fomorian had his one evil eye put out by Lug.

(17) This image of slaughter is taken from the Middle Irish preface to Cáin Adomnáin. This was a clerical law protecting non-combatants but at some point in the twelfth century it picked up a narrative introduction. It is good to bear in mind the cleric origin of all the tales cited here.

(18) In the togala texts the hostel usually ends up burning down. Here I am thinking of Togail Bruidne Da Derga and the triple death by fire, drowning, and wounds suffered by Conaire.

(19) The colophon is based on the famous bilingual colophon to Táin Bó Cúailgne found in the Book of Leinster. In the Irish colophon the tale, and whoever recites it, are praised. However the Latin one casts doubt on the veracity of the tale and suggests that it is only entertainment for fools. You can decide for yourself.

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