Within The Tain, the warrior Cuchulainn is characterized as a flawless hero, destined to die young. Cuchulainn’s honor to Ulster could easily be measured by the uncountable number of warriors he’s killed with his various skills and gae bolga, yet the killing of his only son Connla and his Foster-brother Ferdia proves to be his most difficult and heroic task. Despite Emer’s plea for Cuchulainn to spare his only son, Cuchulainn provokes the boy to fight him, using his gae bolga to kill him. Cuchulainn’s honor to Ulster through the sacrifice of his son not only grieves him, but all the men of Ulster. (The Tain, p.45) Tragically, the boy expresses the essence of a warrior’s honor to the men of Ulster and to Cuchulainn in obeying his wishes to refuse no man in combat (The Tain, p.33). The boy bids his farewell to the men of Ulster saying, “If only I had five years among you I would slaughter the warriors of the world for you. . . But since it is like this, point me o...
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...n’s kingdom for a year and killing Hafgan for Arawn. (The Mabinogi, p.38) And his honor in not talking or sleeping with Arawn’s wife earns him an enduring friendship, gaining him otherworld treasures and the kingship of Annwfn. (The Mabinogi, p.41-42) Even when his wife Rhiannon’s child is abducted and everyone wants him to divorce his wife, he loves her and see’s no fault in her, letting the teachers and men of wisdom decided her punishment. (The Mabinogi, p.51)
Underlining all of the heroes of the Celtic stories is how human they are. Even Taliesin, the divinely inspired poet did not become who he was without stealing the three drops of wisdom. (The Mabinogi, p.163) The Celtic stories not only depict their successes and failures in warfare, discernment, and love, but also their painful sacrifices in attempting to keep the admiration and trust of their kingdoms.
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