The Mythological Cycle
The Second Battle of Mag Tured (Moytura)
The Second Battle of Mag Tured (text)
The Tuatha De Dannan lived in the northern isles of the world, learning lore and magic and druidism and wizardry and cunning, until they surpassed the sages of the arts of heathendom. There were four cities in which they learned lore and science and diabolic arts, to wit Falias and Gorias, Murias and Findias. Out of Falias was brought the Stone of Fal, which was in Tara. It used to roar under every king that would take the realm of Ireland. Out of Gorias was brought the Spear that Lug had. No battle was ever won against it or him who held it in his hand. Out of Findias was brought the Sword of Nuada. When it was drawn from its deadly sheath, no one ever escaped from it, and it was irresistible. Out of Murias was brought the Dagda's Cauldron. No company ever went from it unthankful. Four wizards (there were ) in those four cities. Morfesa was in Falias: Esras was in Gorias: Uscias was in Findias: Semias was in Murias. Those are the four poets of whom the Tuatha De learnt lore and science.
Now the Tuatha De Danann made an alliance with the Fomorians, and Balor grandson of Net gave his daughter Ethne to Cian son of Diancecht, and she brought forth the gifted child, Lug. The Tuatha De came with a great fleet to Ireland to take it from the Fir Bolg. They burnt their ships at once on reaching the district of Corcu Belgatan (that is, Connemara today), so that they should not think of retreating to them; and the smoke and the mist that came from the vessels filled the neighboring land and air. Therefore it was conceived that they had arrived in clouds of mist. The first battle of Moytura was fought between them and the Fir Bolg; and the Fir Bolg were routed and a hundred thousand of them were slain, including their king Eochaid son of Ere.
In that battle, moreover, Nuada's hand was stricken off--it was Sreng son of Sengann that struck it off him--, so Diancecht the leech put on him a hand of silver with the motion of every hand; and Credne the brazier helped the leech.
Now the Tuatha De Danann lost many men in the battle including Edleo son of Alla, and Ernmas and Fiachra and Turil Bicreo.
But such of the Fir Bolg as escaped from the battle went in flight to the Fomorians, and settled in Arran and in Islay and in Mann and Rathlin.
A contention as to the sovereignty of the men of Ireland arose between the Tuatha De and their women; because Nuada, after his hand has been stricken off, was disqualified to be king. They said that it would be fitter for them to bestow the kingdom on Bres son of Elotha, on their own adopted son; and that giving the kingdom to him would bind the alliance of the Fomorians to them. For his father, Elotha son of Delbaeth , was king of the Fomorians.
Now the conception of Bres came to pass in this way:
Eri, Delbaeth's daughter, a woman of the Tuatha De, was one day looking at the sea and the land from the house of Maeth Sceni, and she beheld the sea in perfect calm as if it were a level board. And as she was there she saw a vessel of silver on the sea. Its size she deemed great, but its shape was not clear to her. And the stream of the wave bore it to land. Then she saw that in it was a man of fairest form.. Golden-yellow hair was on him as far as his two shoulders. A mantle with bands of golden thread was around him. His shirt had trimmings of golden thread. On his breast was a brooch of gold, with the sheen of a precious stone therein. He carried two white silver spears and in them two smooth riveted shafts of bronze. Five circlets of gold adorned his neck, and he was girded with a golden-hilted sword with inlays of silver and studs of gold.
The man said to her:" Is this the time that our lying with thee will be easy?"
"I have not made a tryst with thee, verily," said the woman.
But they stretched themselves down together. The woman wept when the man would rise.
"Why weepest thou?" said he.
"I have two things for which I should lamment," said the woman. "Parting from thee now that we have met. And the fair youths of the Tuatha De Dannann have been entreating me in vain, and my desire is for thee since thou hast possessed me."
"Thy anxiety from these two things shall be taken away," said he. He drew his golden ring from his middle-finger, and put it into her hand, and told her that she should not part with it, by sale or by gift, save to one whose finger it should fit.
"I have another sorrow," said the woman. "I know not who hath come to me."
"Thou shall not be ignorant of that," said he. "Elotha son of Delbaeth, king of the Fomorians, hath come to thee. And of our meeting thou shalt bear a son, and no name shall be given him save Eochaid Bres, that is Eochaid the beautiful; for every beautiful thing that is seen in Ireland, whether plain or fortress or ale or torch or woman or man or steed, will be judged in comparison with that boy, so that man say of it then "it is a bres".
After that the man went back again by the way he had come, and the woman went to her house, and to her was given the famous conception.
She brought forth the boy, and he was named, as Elotha had said, Eochaid Bres. When a week after the woman's lying-in was complete the boy had a fortnight's growth; and he maintained that increase till the end of his first seven years when he reached a growth of fourteen years. Because of the contest which took place among the Tuatha De the sovereignty of Ireland was given to the boy; and he gave seven hostages to Ireland's champions, that is, to her chiefs, to guarantee the restoring of the sovereignty if his own misdeeds should give cause. His mother afterwards bestowed land upon him, and on the land he had a stronghold built, called Dun Bresse; and it was the Dagda that built that fortress.
Now when Bres had assumed the kingship, the Fomorians, --Indech son of Dea Domnann, and Elotha son of Delbaeth, and Tethra, three Fomorian kings, laid tribute upon Ireland so that there was not a smoke from a roof in Ireland that was not under tribute to them. The champions were also reduced to their service; to wit, Ogma had to carry a bundle of firewood, and the Dagda became a rath builder, and had to dig the trenches about Rath Bresse.
The Dagda became weary of the work, and he used to meet in the house an idle blind man named Cridenbel, whose mouth was out of his breast. Cridenbel thought his own ration small and the Dagda's large. Whereupon he said: " O Dagda! Of thy honor let the three best bits of thy ration be given to me!" So the Dagda used to give them to him every night. Largge, however, were the lampooner's bits the size of a good pig. But those three bits were a third of the Dagda's ration. The Dagda's health was the worse for that.
One day, then, as the Dagda was in the trench digging a rath, he saw the Mac Oc coming to him. "That is good, O Dagda," says the Mac Oc.
"Even so," said the Dagda.
"What makes thee look so ill?" said the Mac Oc.
"I have cause for it," said the Dagda, " every evening Cridenbel the lampooner demands the three best bits of my portion."
"I have counsel for thee," said the Mac Oc. He put his hand into his purse, took out three crowns of gold, and gave them to him.
"Put these three gold pieces into the three bits which thou givest at close of day to Crindenbel," said the Mac Oc. "These bits will then be the goodliest on thy dish; and the gold will turn in his belly so that he will die thereof, and the judgment of Bres thereon will be wrong. Men will say to the king; "The Dagda has killed Cridenbel by means of a deadly herb which he gave him." Then the king will order thee to be slain. But thou shalt say to him:" What thou utterest, O king of the warriors of the Fene, is not a prince's truth. For I was watched by Cridenbel when I was at my work, and he used to say to me "Give me, O Dagda, the three best bits of thy portion. Bad is my housekeeping tonight". So I should have perished thereby had not the three gold coins which I found today helped me. I Put them in my ration. I then gave it to Cridenbel, for the gold was the best thing that was before me. Hence, then, the gold is inside Cridenbel, and he died of it." The Dagda followed this advice, and was called before the king.
" It is clear", said the king. "Let the lampooner's belly be cut open to know if the gold be found therein. If it be not found, thou shalt die. If, however, it be found, thou shalt have life."
After that they cut open the lampooner's belly, and the three coins of gold were found in his stomach, so the Dagda was saved. Then the Dagda went to his work on the following morning, and to him cam the Mac Oc and said: " Thou wilt soon finish thy work, but thou shalt not seek reward till the cattle of Ireland are brought to thee, and of them choose a heifer black- maned."
Thereafter the Dada brought his work to an end, and Bres asked him what he would take as a reward for his labor. The Dagda answered: " I charge thee," said he, "to gather the cattle of Ireland into one place." The king did this as the Dagda asked, and the Dagda chose of them the heifer which Mac Oc had told him to choose. That seemed weakness to Bress: he thought that the Dagda would have chosen somewhat more.
Now Nuada was in his sickness, and Diancecht put on him a hand of silver with the motion of every hand therein. That seemed evil to his son Miach. Miach went to the hand which had been replaced by Diancecht, and he said "joint to joint of it and sinew to sinew," and he healed Nuada in thrice three days and nights. The first seventy-tow hours he put it against his side, and it became covered with skin. The second seventy-tow hours he put it on his breast....that cure seemed evil to Diancecht. He flung a sword on the crown of his son's head and cut the skin down to the flesh. The lad healed the wound by means of his skill. Diancecht smote him again and cut the flesh till he reached the bone. The lad healed this by the same means. He struck him a third blow and came to the membrane of his brain. The lad healed this also by the same means. Then he struck the fourth blow and cut out the brain so that Miach died, and Diancecht said that the leech himself could not heal him of that blow.
Thereafter Miach was buried by Diancecht and herbs three hundred and sixty-five, according to the number of his joints and sinews, grew through the grave. Then Airmed opened her mantle and separated those herbs according to their properties. But Diancecht came to her, and he confused the herbs, so that no one knows their proper cures unless the Holy Spirit should teach them afterwards. And Diancecht said "If Miach be not, Airmed shall remain."
So Bres held the sovereignty as it had been conferred upon him. But the chiefs of the Tuatha De murmured greatly against him, for their knives were not greased by him, and however often they visited him their breaths did not smell of ale. Moreover, they saw not their poets nor their bards nor their lampooners nor their harpers nor their pipers nor their jugglers nor their fools amusing them in the household. They did not go to the contexts of their athletes. They saw not their champions proving their prowess at the king's court, save only one man, Ogma son of Ethliu. This was the duty which he had, to bring fuel to the fortress. He used to carry a bundle every day from Clew Bay islands. And because he was weak from want of food, the sea would sweep away from him two thirds of his bundle. So he could only carry one third, and yet he had to supply the host from day to day. Neither service nor taxes were paid by the tribes, and the treasures of the tribe were not delivered by the act of the whole tribe.
Once upon a time there came a-guesting to Bre's house, Cairbre son of Etain, poet of the Tuatha De. He entered a cabin narrow, black, dark, wherein there was neither fire nor furniture nor bed. Three small cakes, and they dry, were brought to him on a little dish. On the morrow he arose and he was not thankful. As he went across the enclosure, he said:
Now that was true. Naught save decay was on Bres from that hour. That is the first satire that was ever made in Ireland.
Now after that the Tuatha De went together to have speech with their fosterson, Bres son of Elotha, and demanded of him their sureties. He gave them the restitution of the realm, and he was not well pleased with them for that. He begged to be allowed to remain till the end of seven years. "That shall be granted," said the same assembly; "but thou shalt remain on the same security. Every fruit that comes to thy hand, both house and land and gold and silver, cows and food, and freedom from rent and taxes until then"
"Ye shall have as ye say," said Bres,
This is why they were asked for the delay: that he might gather the champions of the fairy-mound, the Fomorians, to seize the tribes by force. Grievous to him seemed his expulsion from his kingdom.
Then he went to his mother and asked her whence was his race. "I am certain of that," said, she and she went on to the hill hence she had seen the vessel of silver in the sea. She then went down to the strand, and gave him the ring which had been left with her for him, and he put I round his middle-finger and it fitted him,. For the sake of no one had she formerly given it up, either by sale or gift. Until that day there was none whom it suited.
Then they went forward till they reached the land of the Fomorians. They came to a great plain with many assemblies therein. They advanced to the fairest of these assemblies. Tidings were demanded of them there. They replied that they were of the men of Ireland. They were then asked whether they had hounds; for at that time it was the custom, when a body of men went to an assembly, to challenge them to a friendly contest. " We have hounds." Said Bres. Then the hounds had a coursing-match, and the hounds of the Tuatha De were swifter than the hounds of the Fomorians. Then they were asked whether they had steeds for a horse-race. They answered, " We have"; and their steeds were swifter than the steeds oaf the Fomorians. They were then asked whether they had any one who was good at sword-play. None was found save Bres alone. So when he set his hand to the sword, his father recognized the ring on his finger and inquired who was the hero. His mother answered on his behalf and told the king that Bres was as son of his. Then she related to him the whole story even as we have recounted it.
His father was sorrowful over him. Said the father:" What need has brought thee out of the land wherein thou didst rule?"
Bres replied:"Nothing has brought me save my own injustice and arrogance. I stript them of their jewels and treasures and their own food. Neither tribute nor taxes had been taken from them up to that time".
"That is bad," said the father. "Better were their prosperity than their kingship. Better their prayers than their curses. Why hast thou come hither?"
"I have come to ask you for champions," said he. " I would take that land by force."
"Thou shouldst not gain it by injustice if thou didst not gain it by justice," said the father.
"Then what counsel hast thou for me?" said Bres.
Thereafter he sent Bres to the champion, to Balor grandson of Net, the king of the Isles, and to Indech son of Dea Domnann the king of the Fomorians; and these assembled all the troops from Lochlann westwards unto Ireland, to impose their tribute and their rule by force on the Tuatha De, so that they made one bridge of vessels from the Foreigner's Isles to Erin. Never came to Ireland an army more horrible or fearful than that host of the Fomorians. Men from Scythia of Lochlann and men out of the Western Isles were rivals in that expedition.
Now as to the Tuatha De, this is what they were doing. After Bres, Nuada was again in sovereignty over the Tuatha De. At that time he held a mighty feast at Tara for them. Now there was a certain warrior on his way to Tara, whose name was Lug Samildanach. And there were then two doorkeepers at Tara, namely Gamal son of Figal and Camaall son of Riagall. When one of these was on duty he saw a strange company coming towards him. A young warrior fair and shapely, with a king's trappings, was in the forefront of that band. They told the doorkeeper to announce their arrival at Tara. The doorkeeper asked:"Who is there?"
"Here there is lug Lamfada (i.e. Lugh Long-Arm) son of Cian son of Diancecht and of Ethne daughter of Balor. Fosterson, he, of Tailltiu daughter of Magmor king of Spain and of Eochaid the Rough son of Duach."
The doorkeeper asked of Lug Samildanach: "What art dost thou practice?" Said he; " for no one without an art enters Tara."
"Question me," said he; I am a wright."
The doorkeeper answered:"We need thee not. We have a wright already, even Luchta son of Luachaid."
He said: " Question me, O doorkeeper! I am a smith."
The doorkeeper answered him:"We have a smith already, Colum Cualleineach of the three new processes."
He said:" Question me: I am a champion."
The doorkeeper answered: We need thee not. We have a champion already, Ogma son of Ethliu."
He said again:"Question me: I am a harper."
"We need thee not. We have a harper already, Abcan son of Bicelmos whom the Tuatha De Danann chose in the fairy mounds."
Said he:"Question me I am a hero."
The doorkeeper answered:" We need thee not. We have a hero already, even Bresal Etarlam son of Eochaid Baethlam."
Then he said:" Question me, O doorkeeper! I am a poet and I am a historian."
"We need thee not. We have already a poet and historian, even En son of Ethaman."
He said," Question me: I am a sorcerer."
"We need thee not. We have sorcerers already. Many are our wizards and our folk of might."
He said:" Question me; I am a leech."
"We need thee not. We have for a leech Diancecht."
"Question me,"said he; I am a cupbearer."
"We need thee not. We have cupbearers already, even Delt and Drucht and Daithe, Tae and Talom and Trog, Glei and Glan and Glesi."
He said: "Question me: I am a good brazier."
"We need thee not. We have a brazier already, Credne Cerd."
He said again, "Ask the king." Said he, "whether he has a single man who possesses all these arts, and if he has I will not enter Tara."
Then the doorkeeper went into the palace and declared all to the king. "A warrior has come before the enclosure," said he. "His name is Samildanach (many-gifted), and all the arts which thy household practice he himself possesses, so that he is the man of each and every art."
The king said then that the chess-boards of Tara should be taken to Samildanach, and he won all the stakes, so that then he made the Cro of Lug. (But if chess was invented at the epoch of the Trojan war, it had not reached Ireland then, for the battle of Moytura and the destruction of Troy occurred at the same time)
then that was related to Nuada. "Let him into the enclosure," says he; " for never before has man like him entered this fortress."
Then the doorkeeper let Lug pass him, and he entered the fortress and sat down in the sage's seat, for he was a sage in every art.
Then the great flag-stone, to move which required the effort of four-score yoke of oxen, Ogma hurled through the house, so that it lay on the outside of Tara. This was a challenge to Lug. But Lug cast it back, so that it lay in the center of the palace and made it whole.
"Let a harp be played for us,"said the company. So the warrior played a sleep-strain for the hosts and for the king the first night. He cast them into sleep from that hour to the same time on the following day. He played a wail-strain, so that they were crying and lamenting. He played a laugh-strain, so that they were in merriment and joyance.
Now Nuada, when he beheld the warrior's many powers, considered whether Samildanach could put away from the bondage which they suffered from the Fomorians. So they held a council concerning the warrior. The decision to which Nuada cam was to change seats with the warrior. So Samildanach went to the king's seat, and the king rose up before him till thirteen days had ended. Then on the morrow he met with the two brothers, Dagda and Ogma, on Grellach Dollaid. And his brothers Goibniu and Diancecht were summoned to them. A full year were they in that secret converse, wherefore Grellach Dollaid is called Amrun of the Tuatha De Danann.
Thereafter the wizards of Ireland were summoned to them, and their medical men and charioteers and smiths and farmers and lawyers. They held speech with them in secret. Then Nuada inquired of the sorcerer whose name was Mathgen what power he could wield? He answered that through his contrivance he would cast the mountains of Ireland on the Fomorians, and roll their summits against the ground. And he declared to them that the twelve chief mountains of the land of Erin would support the Tuatha De Danann, in battling for them, to wit, Sliab League, and Denna Ulad and the Mourne Mountains, and Bri Ruri and Sliab Bladma and Sliab Snechtai, Sliab Mis and Blisliab and Nevin and Sliab Maccu Belgadan and Segals and Cruachan Aigle.
Then he asked the cupbearer what power he could yield. He answered that he would bring the twelve chief lochs of Ireland before the Fomorians, and that they would not find water therein, whatever thirst might seize them. These are those lochs: Dergloch, Loch Luimnigh, Loch Corrib, Loch Ree, Loch Mask, Strangford Loch, Belfast Loch, Loch Neagh, Loch Foyle, Loch Gara, Loch Reag, Marloch. They would betake themselves to the twelve chief rivers of Ireland- Bush, Boyne, Baa, Nem, Lee, Shannon, Moy, Sligo, Erne, Finn, Liffey, Sui; and they will all be hidden from the Fomorians,so that they will not find a drop therein. Drink shall be provided for the men of Ireland, though they bide in the battle to the end of seven years.
Then said Figol son of Matmos, their druid:" I will cause three showers of fire to pour on the faces of the Fomorian host, and I will take out of them tow thirds of their valor and their bravery and their strength, and I will bind their urine in their own bodies and in the bodies of their horses. Every breath that the men of Ireland shall exhale will be an increase in valor and bravery and strength to them.. Though they bide in the battle till the end of seven years, they will not be weary in any wise."
Said the Dagda:" The power such ye boast I shall wield it all by myself" "It is thou art the Dagda (good hand), with everyone": Then they separated from the council, agreeing to meet again that day three years.
Now when the provision of the battle had been settled, Lug and Dagda and Ogma went to the three Gods of Danu, and these gave Lug the plan of the battle; and for seven years they were preparing for it and making their weapons.
The Dagda had a house in Glenn Etin in the north, and he had to meet a woman in Glenn Etin a year from that day, about Samain (Hallowe'en) before the battle. The river Unis of Connacht roars to the south of it. He beheld the woman in Unius in Corann, washing herself, with one of her two feet at Allod Echae (i.e. Echumech) , to the south of the water, and the other at Loscuinn, to the north of the water. Nine loosened tresses were on her head. The Dagda, conversed with her, and they made a union. "The bed of the Couple" is the name of the place thenceforward. The woman that is here mentioned is the Morrigu. Then she told the Dagda that the Fomorians would land at Mag Scetne, and that he should summon Erin's men of art to meet her at the Ford of Unius, and that she would go into Scetne to destroy Indech son of Dea Domnann, the king of the Fomorians and would deprive him of the blood of his heart and the kidneys of his valor. Afterwards she gave two handfuls of that blood to the hosts that were waiting at the Ford of Unius. "Ford of Destruction" became its name, because of that destruction of the king. Then that was done by the wizards, and they chanted spells on the hosts of the Fomorians.
This was a week before Samain, and each of them separated from the other until all the men of Ireland came together on Samain. Six times thirty hundred was their number, that is, twice thirty hundred in every third.
Then Lug sent the Dagda to spy out the Fomorians and to delay them until the men of Ireland should come to the battle. So the Dagda went to the camp of the Fomorians and asked them for a truce of battle. This was granted to him as he asked. Porridge was then made for him by the Fomorians, and this was done to mock him, for great was his love for porridge. They filled for him the king's cauldron, five fists deep, into which went four-scored gallons of new milk and the like quantity of meal and fat. Goats and sheep and swine were put into it, and they were all boiled together with the porridge. The were spilt for him into a hole in the ground, and Indech told him that he would be put to death unless he consumed it all; he should eat his fill so that he might not reproach the Fomorians with inhospitality.
Then the Dagda took his ladle, and it was big enough for a man and woman to lie on the middle of it. These then were the bits that were in it, halves of salted swine and a quarter of lard. "Good food this," said the Dagda....
At the end of the meal he put his curved finger over the bottom of the hole on mold and gravel. Sleep came upon him then after eating his porridge. Bigger than a house-cauldron was his belly, and the Fomorians laughed at it. Then he went away from them to the strand of Eba. Not easy was it for the hero to move along owing to the bigness of his belly. Unseemly was his apparel.. A cape to the hollow of his two elbows. A dun tunic around him, as far as the swelling of his rump. It was moreover, long breasted ,with a hole in the peak. Two brogues on him of horse-hide, with the hair outside. Behind him a wheeled fork to carry which required the effort of eight men, so that its track after him was enough for the boundary-ditch of a province. Wherefore it is called"The Track of the Dagda's Club"
Then the Fomorians marched till they reached Scente. The men of Ireland were in Mag Aurfolaig. These two hosts were threatening battle. "The men of Ireland venture to offer battle to us." Sais Bres son of Elotha to Indech son of Dea Domnann. "I will fight anon," said Indech, "so that their bones will be small unless they pay their tributes."
Because of Lug's knowledge the men of Ireland had made a resolution not to let him go into battle. So his nine fosterers were left to protect him, Tollus-dam and Ech-dam and Eru,Rechtaid the white and Fosad and Fedlimid, Ibor and Sclbar and Minn. They feared an early death for the hero owing to the multitude of his arts. Therefore they did not let him forth to the fight.
The chiefs of the Tuatha De Danann were gathered round Lug. And he asked his smith, Gopibniu, what power he wielded for them? "Not hard to tell," said he. "Though the men of Erin bide in the battle to the end of seven years, for every spear that parts from its shaft, or sword that shall break therein, I will provide a new weapon in its place. No spear-point which my hand shall forge," said he, "shall make a missing cast. No skin which it pierces shall taste life afterwards. That has not been done by Dolb the smith of the Fomorians."
"And thou, O Diancecht,"said Lug, "what power canst thou wield?"
"Not hard to tell, "said he. "Every man who shall be wounded there, unless his head be cut off, or the membrane of his brain or his spinal marrow be severed, I will make quite whole in the battle on the morrow."
"And thou, O Credne," said Lug to his brazier, "what is thy power in the battle?"
"Not hard to tell," said Credne. "Rivets for their spears and hilts for their swords, and boses and rims for their shields, I will supply them all."
"And thou, O Luchta," said Lug to his wright, "what service wilt thou render in the battle?"
"Not hard to tell, said Luchta. "All the shields and javelinshafts they require, I will supply them all."
"And thou, O Ogma," said Lug to his champion, "what is thy power in the battle?"
"Not hard to tell," said he. "I will repel the king and three enneads of his friends, and capture up to a third of his men."...
"And ye,O sorcerers," said Lug, ":what power will you wield/"
"Not hard to tell," said the sorcerers. "We shall fill them with fear when they have been overthrown by our craft, till their heroes are slain, and deprive them of two thirds of their might, with constraint on their urine."
"And ye, O cupbearers," said Lug, "what power?"
"Not hard to tell, "said the cupbearers. " We will bring a strong thirst upon them, and they shall not find drink to quench it."
"And ye, O druids," said Lug, "what power?"
"Not hard to tell," said the druids. " We will bring showers of fire on the faces of the Fomorians, so that they cannot look upwards, and so that the warriors who are contending with them may slay them by their might."
"And thou, O Cairbre son of Etain," said Lug to his poet, "what power canst thou wield in the battle?"
"Not hard to tell," said Cairbre. "I will make a satire on them. And I will satirize them and shame them, so that through the spell of my art they will not resist warriors."
"And ye, O Be-cuile and O Dianann," said Lug to his two witches," what power can ye wield in the battle?"
"Not hard to tell," said they. "We will enchant the trees and the stones and the sods of the earth, so that they shall become a host under arms against them, and shall rout them in flight with horror and trembling."
"And thou, O Dagda," said Lug," what power canst thou wield on the Fomorian host in the battle?"
"Not hard to tell," said the Dagda. "I will take the side of the men of Erin both in mutual smiting and destruction and wizardry. Under my club the bones of the Fomorians will be as many as hailstones under the feet of herds of horses where you meet on the battlefield of Moytura."
So thus Lug spoke with every one of them in turn; and he strengthened and addressed his army, so that each man of them had the spirit of a king or a mighty lord. Now everyday a battle was fought between the tribe of the Fomorians and the Tuatha De, save only that kings or princes were not delivering it, but only keen and haughty folk.
Now the Fomorians marveled at a certain thing which was revealed to them in the battle. Their spears and their swords were blunted and broken and such of their men as were slain did not return on the morrow. But it was not so with the Tuatha De. For though their weapons were blunted and broken today, they were renewed on the morrow, because Goibniu he smith was in the forge making swords and spears and javelins. For he would make those weapons by three turns. Then Luchta the wright would make the spearshafts by three chippings, and the third chipping was a finish and would set them in the ring of the spear. When the spearheads were stuck in the side of the forge he would throw the rings with the shafts and it was needless to set them again. Then Credne the brazier would make the rivets by three turns, and would cast the rings of the spears to them. And thus they used to cleave together.
This then is what used to put fire into the warriors who were slain, so that they were swifter on the morrow. Because Diancecht and his two sons, Octriull and Miach, and his daughter Airmed sang spells over the well named Slane. Now their mortally wounded men were cast into it as soon as they were slain. They were alive when they came out. Their mortally wounded became whole through the might of the incantation of the four leeches who were about the well. Now that was harmful to the Fomorians, so they sent a man of them to spy out the battle and the actions of the Tuatha De, namely Ruadan son of Bres and of Brig the Dagda's daughter. For he was a son and a grandson of the Tuatha De. Then he related to the Fomorians the work of the smith and the wright and the brazier and the four leeches who were around the well. He was sent again to kill one of the artisans, that is Goibniu. From him he begged a spear, its rivets from the brazier and its shaft from the wright. So all was given to him as he asked. There was a woman there grinding the weapons, Cron mother of Fianlug; she it is that ground Ruadan's spear. Now the spear was given to Ruadan by a chief, wherefore the name "a chief's spear" is still given to weaver's beams in Erin.
Now after the spear had been given to him, Ruadan turned and wounded Goibniu. But
plucked out the spear and cast it at Ruadan, so that it went through him, and he died in the presence of his father in the assembly of the Fomorians. The Brig came and bewailed her son. She shrieked at first, she cried at last.
So that then for the first time crying and shrieking were heard in Erin. Now it was that Brig who invented a whistle for signaling at night.
Then Goibniu into the well, and he became whole. There was a warrior with the Fomorians, Octriallach son of Indech son of Dea Domnann, son of the Fomorian king. He told the Fomorians that each man of them should bring a stone of the stones of Drowes to cast into the well of Slane in Achad Abla to the west of Moytura, to the east of Loch Arboch. So they went, and a stone for each man was cast into the well. Wherefore the cairn thus made is called Octriallach's Carn. But another name for that well is Loch Luibe, for Diancecht put into it one of every herb (lub) that grew in Erin.
Now that when the great battle came, the Fomorians marched out of their camp, and formed themselves into strong battalions. Not a chief nor man of prowess of them was without a hauberk against his skin, a helmet on his head, a broad spear in his right hand, a heavy sharp sword on his belt, a firm shield on his shoulder. To attack the Fomorian host on that day was "striking a head against a cliff," was " a hand in a serpent's nest," was "a face up to fire". These were the kings and chiefs that were heartening the host of the Fomorians, namely, Balor son of Dot son of Net, Bres son of Elotha, Tuiri Tortbuillech son of Lobos, Gol and Irgol Loscennlomm son of Lommgluech, Indech son of Dea Domnann the king of the Fomorians, Octriallach son of Indech, Omna and Bagna, Elotha son of Delbaeth.
On the other side the Tuatha De Danann arose and left their nine comrades keeping Lug, and they marched to the battle. When the battle began, Lug escaped from his guardians with his charioteer, so that it was he who was in front of the hosts of the Tuatha De. Then a keen and cruel battle was fought between the tribe of the Fomorians and the men of Ireland. Lug was heartening the men of Ireland that they should fight the battle fervently, so that they should not be any longer in bondage. For it was better for them to find death in protecting their fatherland than to bide under bondage and tribute as they had been...
The hosts uttered a great shout as they entered the battle. Then they came together and each of them began to smite the other. Many fine men fell there. Great the slaughter and the grave-lying that was there. Pride and shame were there side by side. There was anger and indignation. Abundant was the stream of blood there over the white skin of young warriors mangled by the hands of eager men. Harsh was the noise of the heros and the champions mutually fending their spears and their shields and their bodies when the others were smiting them with spears and with swords. Harsh, moreover, was the thunder that was there throughout the battle, the shouting of the warriors and the clashing of the shields, the flashing and whistling of the glaives and the ivory-hilted swords, the rattling and jingling of the quivers, the sound and winging of the darts and the javelins, and the crashing of the weapons. The ends of their fingers and of their feet almost met in the mutual blows, and owing to the slipperiness of the blood under the feet of the soldiers, they would fall from their upright posture and beat their heads together as they sat. The battle was a gory, ghastly melee, and the river Unsenn rushed with corpses.
Then Nuada Silver-Hand and Macha, daughter of Ernmass, fell by Balor grandson of Net. And Cassmael fell by Octriallach son of Indech. Lug and Balor of the Piercing Eye met in the battle. An evil eye had Balor the Fomorian. That eye was never opened save only on a battlefield. Four men used to lift up the lid of the eye with a polished handle which passed through its lid. If an army looked at the eye, though they were many thousands in number they could not resist a few warriors. It had a poisonous power. Once when his father's druids were concocting charms, he came and looked out of the window, and the fume of the concoction came under it , so that the poison of the concoction afterwards penetrated the eye that looked. He and Lug met. "Lift up mine eyelid, my lad," said Balo, "that I may see the babbler who is conversing with me."
The lid was raised from Balor's eye. Then Lug cast a sling - stone at him, which carried the eye through his head while his own army looked on. And the sling-stone fell on the host of the Fomorians, and thrice nine of them died beside it, so that the crowns of their heads came against the breast of Indech son of Dea Domnann, and a gush of blood sprang over his lips. Said Indech: "Let Loch Half-green my poet be summoned to me!" Hall-green was he from the ground to the crown of his head.
Loch went to the king. " Make known to me," said Indech, "who has flung this cast on me."
Then the Morrigu, daughter of Ernmass, came, and heartened the Tuatha De to fight the battle fiercely and fervently. Thereafter the battle became a rout, and the Fomorians were beaten back to the sea. The champion Ogma son of Ethliu, and Indech son of Dea Domnann the king of the Fomorians, fell in single combat. Loch Half green besought Lug for quarter. "Give me my three wishes," said Lug.
"Thou shalt have them," said Loch. "Till Doom I will ward off from Ireland all plundering by the Fomorians, and , at the end of the world, every ailment." So Loch was spared. Then he sang to the Gael the "decree of fastening."
Loch said that he would bestow names on Lug's nine chariots because of the quarter that had been given him. So Lug told him to name them.
At this point the original gives a list of the names of the chariots, charioteers, and their equipment
"What is the number of the slain?" said Lug to Loch.
"I know not the number of peasants and rabble. As to the number of Fomorian lords and nobles and champions and kings sons and overkings I know, even five thousand three score and three men: two thousand and three fifties: four score thousand and nine times five: eight score and eight: four score and seven: four score and six: eight score and eight: four score and seven: four score and six: eight score and five: tow and forty including Net's grandson. That is the number of the slain of the Fomorian overkings and high nobles who fell in the battle. Howbeit, as to the number of peasants and common people and rabble, and folk of every art besides who came in company with the great army-for every champion and every high chieftain and every overking of the Fomorians came with his host to the battle, so that all fell there, both his freemen and his slaves- we reckon only a few of the servants of the overkings. This then is the number that I have reckoned of these as I beheld: seven hundred, seven score and seven men...together with Sab Uanchennach son of Cairbre Cole, son was he of a servant of Indech son of Dea Domnann, that is a son of a servant of the Fomorian king. As to what fell besides of "half men" and of those who reached not the heart of the battle, these are in no wise numbered till we number stars of heaven , sand of sea, flakes of snow, dew on lawn, hailstones, grass under feet of herds, and Manannan mac Lir's horses (waves) in a sea storm." Thereafter Lug and his comrades found Bres son of Elotha unguarded. He said:"It is better to give me quarter than to slay me."
"What then will follow from that?" said Lug
"If I be spared," says Bress, "the cows of Erin will always be in milk."
"I will set this forth to our wise men," said Lug.
So Lug went to Maeltne Mor-brethach , and said to him:"Shall Bress have quarter for giving constant milk to the cows of Erin?" " He shall not have quarter," said Maeltne; "he has no power over their age or their offspring, though he can milk them so long as they are alive."
Lug said to Bress: "That does not save thee: thou hast no power over their age and their offspring, though thou canst milk them. Is there aught else that will save thee, O Bres?" said Lug.
"There is in truth, Tell thy lawyer that for sparing me the men of Ireland shall reap a harvest in very quarter of the year."
Said Lug to Maeltne:"Shapp Bres be spared for giving the men of Ireland a harvest of corn every quarter?"
"This has suited us," said Maeltne:"the spring for ploughing and sowing, and the beginning of summer for the end of the strength of corn, and the beginning of autumn for the end of the ripeness of corn and for reaping it. Winter for consuming it"
"That does not rescue thee," said Lug to Bres; "but less than that rescues thee."
"What?" said Bres.
"How shall the men of Ireland Plough? How shall they sow? How shall they reap? After making known these three things thou wilt be spared."
"Tell them , said Bres, :that their ploughing be on a Tuesday, their casting seed into the field be on a Tuesday, their reaping on a Tuesday." So through that stratagem Bres was let go free.
In that fight, then, Ogma the champion found Orna the sword of Tethra, a king of the Fomorians. Ogma unsheathed the sword and cleansed it. Then the sword related whatsoever had been done by it; for it was the custom of swords at that time, when unsheathed, to set forth the deeds that had been done by them. And therefore swords are entitled to the tribute of cleansing them after they have been unsheathed. Hence also, charms are preserved in swords thenceforward. Now the reason why deamons used to speak from weapons at that time was because weapons were worshipped by human beings at that epoch, and the weapons were among the safeguards of that time...
Now Lug and the Dagda and Ogma pursued the Fomorians, for they had carried off the Dagda's harper, whose name was Uaitne. Then they reached the banqueting-house in which were Bres son of Elotha and Elotha son of Delbaeth. There hung the harp on the wall. That is the harp in which Dagda had bound the melodies so that they sounded not until by his call he summoned them forth; when he said this below:
Now that harp had tow names, Daur-da-bla "Oak of two greens" and Coir-cethar-chuir "Four-angled music."
Then the harp went forth from the wall, and killed nine men, and came to the Dagda. And he played for them the three things whereby harpers are distinguished, to wit, sleep-strain and smile-strain and wail-strain. He played wail-strain to them, so that their tearful women wept. He played smile-strain to them , so their women and children laughed. He played sleep-strain to them, and the company fell asleep. Through that sleep the three of them escaped unhurt from the Fomorians though these desired to slay them.
Then the Dagda brought with him the heifer which had been given to him for his labor. For when she called her calf all the cattle of Ireland which the Fomorians had taken as their tribute, grazed.
Now after the battle has won and corpses cleared away, the Morrigu, daughter of Ernmas, proceeded to proclaim that battle and the mighty victory which had taken place, to the royal heights of Ireland and to its fairy hosts and its chief waters and its river mouths. And hence it is that Badb (i.e.,the Morrigu) also describes high deeds. "Hast thou any tale?" said everyone to her then. And she replied:
Then moreover she was prophesying the end of the world, and foretelling every evil that would be therein, and every disease and every vengeance. Wherefore then she sang this lay below:
From ed., trans., Whitley Stokes, RC,XII (1891), 52-130,306-308.BIP,I 83;II,71,
Cross,Tom Peete and Clark Harris Slover.,Ancient Irish Tales,Figgis,Dublin,1936,Barnes and Noble,1969 pp.28-48.
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