L. Chr. Stern, The Irish Leiden MS: second part
[...] The second part of the Leiden MS (fol. 3-9), was written by another hand and does not belong originally to the same book. At the top fol. 3 r bears the title: FlED (Bricr)inn & cosnAMH an curAD-miRE & cendach an ruanaDA, The Feast of Bricru and the competition for the champion's portion and the bargain of the strong man. This is the epic story well known from the Lebor na hUidre (LU), p. 99-112; but the text of the Leiden MS goes even a little further than the incomplete text of the LU or the fragments of the most recent version, which Ernst Windisch has used, in his Chrestomathy, known as Egerton 93 and H. 3.17 TCD. In addition, Kuno Meyer has shown that the cendach an ruanada is not completely conserved as in the Edinburgh MS, No. XL; cf. RC VI, 191; Celtic Magazine XII, 215-218.
Apart from the fact that the last page of the Leiden MS, comprising almost a whole column of writing, has become unreadable, the MS is also missing a leaf between fols. 6 and 7 containing the text of chapter 58 from no tái, ol si& until conid limsa in caurathmir in chapter 73. As for the rest, the Leiden text represents a recent version of the story, which is that of Egerton and of H. 3.17, as is evident from the sequence of the chapters alone.
(fol. 3 r, col. 1, line 1) Ch. 1 to 27
Compared to the neat text of LU, the Leiden text is undoubtedly quite bad; above all, one must not expect it to shed new light on the difficult passages of this ancient heroic saga. The MSS of the recent version must originate from the same source which is not very old, but none of the three copies (four if one includes the Edinburgh MS) is simply a copy of another. A few examples will suffice to prove that the Leiden text agrees with H. 3.17 and Egerton against LU. I cite Ernst Windisch's edition:
P. 255, l. 33 ata-bair-ecen: atibeic H;
The Leiden MS agrees more often with H. 3.17 than with Egerton; cf. the following variants:
P. 263, l. 22 airfich ó áib ech ocus analaib
fer: a fichaib ech & analaib E; ar fich oiblech ocus analaib
H; ar fich óiblech & anal_ L
Leiden and Egerton agree only in a few of the variants against H. 3.17:
P. 273, l. 19 in matain m. l. E; a madain
magluirci L; in matain maghdraighin H.
In some cases the Leiden MS deviates from the readings of H. 3.17 and Egerton where it is even the best of the three:
P. 256, l. 24 (orobo) orc becc: or bó beo orc bec H;
órobo leo orc mbec L
I would especially like to point out some passages where the Leiden MS is closer to LU, deviating from H. 3.17 and Egerton.
P. 258, l. 7 Feradach findfectnach: Feraduch
These examples should suffice to characterise the quality of this new text of Bricriu's Feast. In addition, the Leiden manuscript has got all the flaws of the inferior period to which it belongs. The abbreviations are numerous, it has q instead of cu; the Tironian signet 7 for et, and uses this also for the syllable et, ed as in c7 (with vertical stroke over the signet) for cend; h° for hoc, oc (=ag); vi for se [he] ; u° for vero, imorro, etc.
The spelling is not older than that of Egerton, and it varies. I have noticed some peculiarities. One finds the consonant d instead of t in med, ded, fod, cloisdin, doid (=duit), uchd, doradsad (besides dorath), atragad, etc. We find c instead of g in dericnet (fol. 5 r, col. 2); ch appears for gh in tiche, tichi, den tich (=don tigh, fol. 4 r, col. 2, l. 30), isan tich (ib. l. 40) etc., and even cch (as cc=g) in doicch, ticch. We find g (i.e. gh) alternating with d (i.e. dh); and the same word is found written as aduid, adhuig, adhuigh, adhuich (=adaig).
The consonant p appears instead of b in pa, prig, prised, do prith, gepiter, fep, collaithip gaili. We find pris (fol. 8v, col. 1) instead of fris; and priph (fol.7 r, col. 1, l.4) instead of frib. The forms asmbert, asmpert, ismbert, esmbert are found side by side in the Leiden MS as in Egerton. In dethfir (fol.5 r, cd. 2, l. 3) f replaces b; and u or u with overdot (v) often replaces b, as for instance in facuim, facvail.
Commonly ld is preferred over ll, for example in aild, meld, tald, muldach, comaldnud (besides comollnad). In ina tsesomh we find ts for sh.
The spelling of vowels is even vaguer than that of consonants. The article is variously written as an or in, the preposition a, a n- also appears as i, in, ind; we find sen instead of sin; oile side by side with aile; ao appears as ae, oe. One often finds the diphthong au instead of the simple a, as in diau, daumh, -sau, laun, laur, caurpat, etc. The preposition iar is always written ier. The spelling of e for a is one of the many pecularities in the first part of the manuscript; the following examples may illustrate this: ar e bruindi, die denamh, die coigle, die dhaimthin, iet, ier.
As a conclusion and as an example of the second part of the Leiden MS, I will give the last chapters of Fled Bricrend, namely the cennach an ruanada, of which the LU contains only the beginning. (In the Leiden MS it is also incomplete.) It is about an unknown hero who comes to the house of the Ultonians to put to the test their strength, and above all puts to test the courage of the champions who compete for the champion's portion.
This story has a great resemblance to another one which precedes it in the LU version, but is missing in the recent version: the episode of the giant Uath, contained in chapters 76-78. Nevertheless, there is a difference between the first story and the second, where Conall and Laegaire refuse to accept the condition of the giant Uath in front of Cú Chulainn, while in the following story, three heroes accept it, but do not abide by the stranger's conditions; Cú Chulainn is the only one to fulfill them. According to 'other texts' (araili libair) of Fled Bricrend, the account of the giant Uath had the same development.
[The following text is available digitally on Fled Bricrend p. 175ff]
The end of the text is unreadable in the Leiden MS, but we know from the complete Edinburgh manuscript that the stranger, who proves Cú Chulainn's superiority above all the Ulster heroes, is the famous Cúroi mac Dáire, who also figures elsewhere in the Fled Bricrend. We hope that the Edinburgh MS will be published soon to complete this interesting epic tale of the Irish.
Translated by Ruth Murphy
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