Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
Táin Bó Cúalnge from the Book of Leinster (Author: [unknown])

section 22

Cú Chulainn came on the morrow to survey the host and to display his gentle, beautiful appearance to women and girls and maidens, to poets and men of art, for he held not as honour or dignity the dark form of wizardry in which he had appeared to


{line 2342-2377} them the previous night. Therefore he came on that day to display his gentle, beautiful appearance.

Beautiful indeed was the youth who came thus to display his form to the hosts, Cú Chulainn mac Sualtaim. Three kinds of hair he had, dark next to the skin, blood-red in the middle and hair like a crown of red-gold covering them. Fair was the arrangement of that hair with three coils in the hollow at the back of his head, and like gold thread was every fine hair, loose-flowing, golden and excellent, long- tressed, distinguished and of beautiful colour, as it fell back over his shoulders. A hundred bright crimson twists of red-gold red-flaming about his neck. A hundred strings with mixed carbuncles around his head. Four dimples in each of his two cheeks, a yellow dimple and a green, a blue dimple and a purple. Seven gems of brilliance of an eye in each of his royal eyes. Seven toes on each of his feet, seven fingers on each of his hands, with the grasp of a hawk's claws and the grip of a hedgehog's claws in every separate on of them.

Then he puts on his dress for assembly that day. Of that raiment was a fair mantle, well-fitting, purple, fringed, five- folded. A white brooch of white silver inset with inlaid gold over his white breast, as it were a bright lantern that men's eyes could not look at for its brilliance and splendour. A tunic of silk next to his skin, bordered with edges and braidings and fringes of gold and of silver and of white bronze, reaching to the top of his dark apron, dark-red, soldierly, of royal satin. A splendid dark-purple shield he bore with a rim of pure white silver around it. He wore a golden-hilted ornamented sword at his left side. In the chariot beside him was a long grey-edged spear together with a sharp attacking dagger, with splendid thongs and rivets of white bronze. He held nine heads in one hand and ten in the other, and these he brandished at the hosts in token of his valour and prowess. Medb hid her face beneath a shelter of shields lest Cú Chulainn should cast at her on that day.

Then the women begged the men of Ireland to lift them up on platforms of shields above the warriors' shoulders that they might see Cú Chulainn's appearance. For they wondered at the beautiful, gentle appearance they beheld on him that day compared with the dark buffoon-like shape of magic that had been seen on him the night before.

Then Dubthach Dáel Ulad was seized with envy and spite and great jealousy concerning his wife, and he advised the hosts to


{line 2378-2413} betray and abandon Cú Chulainn, that is, to lay an ambush around him on every side that he might be killed by them. And he spoke these words:

Dubthach Dáel Ulad

¶1] If this is the distorted one, there will be corpses of men because of him, there will be cries around courts. Men's feet will be [gap: text untranslated/extent: 1 word] ravens shall eat ravens' food.

¶2] Stones shall be erected over graves because of him. There will be increase of kingly slaughter. Unlucky are ye that battle with the wild one reached you on the slope.

¶3] I see the wild one's form. Nine heads he carries among his cushions

"among his cushions", translating LU.

I see the shattered spoils he brings, and ten heads as treasured triumph.

¶4] I see how your womenfolk raise their heads above the battle. I see your great queen who comes not to the fight.

¶5] If I were your counsellor, warriors would be in ambush on all sides that they might shorten his life, if this is the distorted one.

Fergus mac Fóig heard this, and it grieved him that Dubthach should advise the hosts to betray Cú Chulainn. And he gave Dubthach a strong and violent kick so that he fell on his face outside the group. And Fergus brought up against him all the wrongs and injustice and treachery and evil deeds that he had ever at any time done to the men of Ulster. And he spoke these words then:


If it is Dubthach Dóeltenga, he draws back in the rear of the host. He has done nothing good since he slaughtered the womenfolk.

He performed an infamous and terrible deed of violence—the slaying of Fiacha mac Conchobuir. Nor was fairer another deed that was heard of him—the slaying of Cairbre mac Fedlimthe.


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It is not for the lordship of Ulster that the son of Lugaid mac Casruba contends. This is how he treats men: those he cannot kill he sets at loggerheads.

Ulster's exiles do not wish that their beardless boy should be killed. If the men of Ulster come to you, they will turn back your herds.

All your cattle will be driven afar before the Ulstermen if they rise from their sickness. There will be deeds of violence—mighty tales— and queens will be tearful.

Men's corpses will be trampled underfoot. Men's feet will be in ravens' abode (?). Shields will lie flat on the slopes. Furious deeds will increase.

I see that your womenfolk have raised their heads above the battle. I see your great queen—she comes not to the combat.

The unvalorous son of Lugaid will not do any brave or generous deed. No king will see lances redden if this is Dubthach Dóeltenga.

Thus far the Scythed Chariot.