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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

translating the untranslated part 4 - Lugh's battle incitement

  This is my fourth installment of translating often untranslated material from the Cath Maige Tuired and I'd like to start with a little more background on the CMT itself. I recently read the transcript of an utterly fascinating lecture by John Carey called "A London Library, An Irish Manuscript, A British Myth? The Wanderings of 'The Battle of Moytirra'" in which Carey traces the history of the only extant manuscript containing this vital Irish myth. One of the most important points in Carey's lecture for the purposes of my translation project is that the manuscript for the CMT is believed by scholars to have been written by a younger scribe and one who was fond of intentionally obscuring his writing with:
"willfully eccentric orthography in which certain aspects of Old Irish, together with other usages which seem to be the fruits of pure fantasy, are deployed without rhyme or reason to produce a kind of Irish which looks like nothing else on earth". (Carey, 2014, p 8).
What this means in practical terms is that the Irish of the CMT is in many ways a puzzle. There are points were it is difficult to be sure what a word is supposed to be and others were it is entirely supposition. The way I approach this is to use context to help suss out the most logical guesses with words that aren't obvious. Keep in mind though that expert linguists don't agree on what some of these words are so my translations should be understood as educated guesses. 
   For this fourth attempt I am tackling Lugh's incitement of the army of the Tuatha De Danann before the battle with the Fomorians. Normally translations of this piece end after saying he circled the army. 
From Grey's Irish Texts Edition of the Cath Maige Tuired:
     "Conid and rocan Lug an cétal-so síos, for lethcois ocus letsúil timchel fer n-Erenn. 'Arotroi* cat comartan! Isin cathirgal robris comlondo forslech-slúaig silsiter ria sluagaib siobrai iath fer fomnai. Cuifecithai fir gen rogam lentor gala. Fordomaisit, fordomcloisid, forandechraiged, firduib: becc find nomtam (nointam), Fó! Fó! Fé! Fé! Clé**! Amainsi! Neofitman-n ier nelscoth- trie trencerdaib druag. Nimcredbod catha fri cricha; nesit- mede midege fornemairces forlúachoir loisces martaltsuides martorainn trogais. Incomairsid fri cech naie, go comair Ogma sachu go comair nem ocus talom, go comair grioan ocus esqu. Dremniadh mo drem-sie duib. Mo sluag so sluag mor murnech mochtsailech bruithe nertirech rogenoir et- dacri ataforroi cath comortai. Aotrai.'" (Grey, 1983)

So that upon his cloak Lugh sang this to intervene, on one foot and one eye, encompassing the men of Ireland. "Fight* a slaughterous battle! There is fierce battle, a contentious, cutting army contending before armies of phantoms, men of the land beware. Aligning to truth without choice, following furies. Bursting forth, overthrowing, dividing, black truth: little white death-ring, Hale! Hale! Woe! Woe! Sinister**! Fierceness! A sanctified omen after cloud-shadows our fame will be spread through armies by triple skilled Druids. I am not reduced by battles at borders: wounding, matched, slender-speared, sky ravaging, deadly brilliance, burning, greatly subduing them, greatly thundering, the sun rises. Asking each of them, in the presence of Ogma and also in the presence of sky and earth, in the presence of sun and moon. A band of warriors is my company for you. My army is a great army, ramparts here, fleet-footed, seething, strong-guarding, choosing, may we fight a slaughterous battle! Fight!"

* this is almost always translated as "arise" under the assumption it's an irregular form of atraig "to arise" however I personally feel that its a variation of airgal "to
fight, do battle; overcome". The third possibility is at-roí "to fail" but that is difficult to see in context

** also may mean left

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