Cuchulain and Irish Mythology


Cuchulain Slays the Hound of Cuchulain (1904).  S. Read . Eleanor Hull’s The Boy’s Cuchulain.

With Cuchulain, Dechtire and Curoi there is a parallel with the queen’s betrayal of the king to her lover the tanist. She cuts the fatal apple containing his soul. See also Acastus [Graves 162.d and 162.8]. Cuchulain, and also the Welsh Lew Llew, is a Bronze Age hero of honest repute and a parallel to Achilles [164.3].

Cuchulain and Curoi who tied Cuchulain into a fivefold bond thus ben backwards into a hoop as was Osiris [Graves 63.2]. See also Philostratus in the Life of Appollonius and the parallel with Ixion [Graves 63].The myth recalls the burning wheels rolled downhill at European midsummer festivities, as a sign that the sun has reached its zenith and must decline again until the winter solstice. Therefore this equates Cuchulain as a sun god?

Cuchulain – and the checking of his fury is a parallel to the retreat of Bellerophon before the Xanthian women. This is a primitive element in myth thus – “…the approach of naked women from the chieftains own clan, with whom intercourse was forbidden, would force him to retreat and hide his face. [See Graves, note on Xanthian matriarchy. 75.5].

Cuchulain, Curoi, and Blathnat – see also Welsh Llew Llew,Iiodenwedd, and Gronw [Graves. 91.1]. The parallel is the myth of Scylla and Nisus – a dispute between the Athenians and Cretan overlords not long before the sack of Cnossus in 1400 BC. Note – Samson and Delilah, and Pteroclaus and Cornaetho, a Taphian story.

All variants have a single pattern which is rivalry between the sacred king and his tanist for favour of the moon-goddess, who at midsummer cuts off his hair and betrays him. His strength in his hair represents the sun. Thus – Blathnat ties Curoi’s hair to a bedpost before summoning Cuchulain to kill him. Cuchulain was the tanist. Thus – in Wales -Blodenwedd ties Llews llews to a tree before summoning her lover Gronw who is the tanist.

The collation of five myths is thus – from Scylla to Bloddenwedd to Blathnat to Delilah means the moon-goddess in her spring/summer aspect as Aphrodite/Carnaetha. Note that Ovid was rarely mistaken in his mythologies. Then autumn leads to the Death Goddess Athene.  Blodenwedd is the ‘fair flower aspect’ woman made of nine different flowers.

Scylla indicates that the king was torn to pieces after his head had been shaven – as in the myth of Llew Llaw.  Llew llaw’s soul takes the form of an eagle and Blodenwedd that of an owl.

The Heroes who harrowed hell were Cuchulain of Ireland, Arthur, Gwydion and Amathaon of Britain. [Graves 103.1]. Others were Theseus, Heracles, Dionysus, Orpheus, Bel, Marduk, Aeneas, and Danois. A parallel is seen in Theseus in Tartarus [Graves 103, p 362-64].

The origin of the myth is the temporary death which the sacred king pretended to undergo at the close of his normal reign. While a boy interrex took his place for a single day, therefore a circumvention of law which forbade him to extend his term beyond the 13 months of a solar year [see 7.1, 41.1, 123.4]. The ancient Irish kings went out to do battle with the Atlantic breakers and ceremonially drowned. See Ishtar and the deluge, plus Bel, Marduk, and Tiamat.

Finn Mac Cool killed Diarmuid as a wild boar in disguise. A parallel is Tiamuz, Osiris, the Cretan Zeus, Ancaeus of Arcadia, and Camanor of Lydia. The boar was once a sow with crescent tusks as the goddess Persephone. When the year bisected the bright half was rule by the sacred king and the dark half was ruled by his tanist or rival. The rival came in the form of a wild boar in disguise.

In the Irish myth of Bran, Luchar and Lucharba they marry the triple goddess Eire, Fodhla, and Banbha. Parallels are seen in the Greek myth of Core’s abduction by Hades. The myth refers to male usurpation of the female agricultural mysteries in primitive times.

With reference to Niamh and Oisin the Gaelic legend is of a land of youth beyond the ocean. Niamh of the Golden Hair took Oisin, and whence he returned several centuries later on a visit to Ireland. Oisin was disgusted with the degeneracy of his people compared to those of Niamh, and bitterly regretted having come back. repetition of the motifs – e.g, boar hunts – in epic cycles are exampled in the Irish poems about Cuchulain  [Barber, p 109].

The synopsis of the Hero Tale of how Cuchulain got his name is from Culann the smith in Ulster. Culann prepared a feast for Conchobhar and went to Emhainn to invite him [Celtic Miscellany 30-33]. Smith refers to the Bronze Age? Conchobhar watched one boy beat many in the games – hurling? A parallel is found in Finn Mac Cool. The boy follows Conchobhar to the house of Culann and then kills his hound. The baying of the hound is heard. Cuchulain’s name is stated here as Sedanta son of Sualtamh who is the sister of Conchobhar. Sedanta replaces the hound with himself. Hence Cuchulain is the Hound of Culann.


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