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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Athirne ocus Amairgen mac Ecet Salach

This story is listed in the Ulster cycle, although it does not directly tie into any of the other stories there. I wanted to translate it here because I find it an intriguing piece and really enjoy the amount of description it includes. I have kept to more literal translations here to give the reader a feel for what older Irish language idioms are like and more generally what the flow of the older texts reads like. 

Athirne ocus Amairgen mac Ecet Salach

Baí goba amra i nUltaib .i. Eccet Salach goba a ainm. Ainm n-aill do Echen. suí cech admait. conna rabi riam liarum goba bad ferr. Rucad iarum mac dó. Amairgen a ainm. Ro buí iarum in macsin i mmacrai cethéora mbliadna déc. cen labrad. Ro ás a. brú iarum combo méit adbul teig móir. & ba feithech glasremor in brúsin. & a smucli asa sróin inna beolu. Ba dub a chroccend. Batir gela a fiacla. Ba glasbán a aged. Amal da urbuinne builg goband a lurgne & a sliastai. Batir laebladracha a thraigid. Batir adbolmóra a adbronna. Batir ardda imchiana a da ngruad. Batir domna dubderga a dí súil. Ba lebormailgech anúas. Ba garb drestaide a folt. ba mellach cnámach carrgarb a druim. Nibó cáemduine samlaid. Dia follaigthe cu ciana inna suidiu cen foglanad doacmaised a múrtraide dó cotice a di leiss. Batír é a sercla gruth bruithe. mór luatha. mera derga. caera glassa. diasa loscthi. gais chrema. cnoi caecha a mbith for clár oca oca airfitiud. 
Dofoíd iarum Athirne a gilla .i. Greth a ainm co Ecet Salach do chor béla i tenid. Co n-acca Greth in n-arracht ndóer ndochraid ísin ara chind for lar in tige. Danéci co anmín. atrágestar Greth. Buí ingen Ecit i cathair cumtachtai & tlacht derscaigthe impe issin tig. & sí a hoínur oc comét in tige. & in mac na fail. Co cualatae ní in mac fri gilla nAthirni. In n-ith Greth gruth ol se fo thrí. Niro recart Greth. & atrágestar co mmór. Asbert im frisseom arisi. Grínmuine gránmuine gais chrema. cuae uinn. ubla greti. gruth. in n-ith Greth gruth.
 Atnaig Greth dó assin tig. conid corastar dar droichtiu ind liss. isin cechair. Luidi iar sin co rranic Athirne. Atchonnarcais ócu ol Athirne olc féth fil fort. Deithbir dam ol Greth . Mac cetheora mbliadan naro labrastar riam dom acallaim indiu. & fotfuicfeso in macsin cen grád mani dibdaither. Cid asrubairt frit ol Athirne. Ni handsa ol Greth. In n-ith Greth. &c. Imchomairc
 Athirne cindas both isind liss. Adfét dó in gilla uile amal luide Greth assind liss.
 Tanic Ecet fo chetoir. Asbert a ingen fris. Ro labrastar Amargen indiu ol si fri gilla nAthirni dodechaid sund do denam bela lais. Cid asbert friss. In n-ith Greth gruth. &c. Bid ed bias de ol Ecet. Ticfa Athirne do marbad in meic arna ragba fair. ar biaid mór sóis ocun mac ro rádi in sein.
Dotet ind ingen iarum cosin mac lé assind liss dond airgi buí oc Sliab Mis tess. Dogní Ecet deilb in meicc di chriaid & suidigis fo láim chlí dó etir & a builg. & dobert dagthimthach imbi. & suidigis inna liugu amal bid ina chotlud no beth.
Tic Athirne iar sin & a gilla Greth. Co n-accatar in mac inna thálgud. Dognith a mbieil leo. & batar ro maith & adacht for samthaig. Dambert Athirne imma chend na delba ucut amal bed in mac beth and. & atnaig do for teiched & eigther impu.
Lotar in tsluaig ina ndiaid. Tecmalla Aithirne a folad & a inmass issin less. & gabtha fair a les. Tecait Ulaid gleithir eturru. Doberar .uii. cumala & log a einig dó & dognither cora eturru. & gaibid Athirne in mac for altram .i. Amorgen & legais suithe filidechta laiss. Conid iarum ro laig senordacht for Athirne & ro gab Amorgen ardollomnacht Ulad.

Athirne and Amairgen son of Ecet Salach

There was a famous smith in Ulster that is Ecet Salach [Ecet the filthy] was the smith's name. His other name was Echen. Every skill was his so that before or after there was no better smith. He had a son, Amairgen was his name. The boy went fourteen years of his childhood without speaking.
His belly grew almost as vast  as a huge house and it was sinewy, thick-grey and flaking. The mucus from his nose went to his mouth. His pelt was black. His teeth were white. His face was pallid. Like the two bellow-bags of a smith were his shins and his thighs. His feet had crooked toes. His ankles were huge. Both high and very long were his two cheeks. Deep, dark red were his two eyes and drooping down. Coarse and thorny was his hair. Humped, bony and scabby was his back. Thus he wasn't an attractive person. Because of long neglect while he was sitting without clearing away his excrement [it] would reach to his thighs.
 His delicacies were cooked curds, salt, red berries, green berries, burned ears of corn, sprigs of wild garlic, empty nuts for his meal which he entertained himself with at his table . 
Then Athirne sent his servant, that is Greth was his name, to Ecet Salach to forge a battle-axe in the fire. Then Greth saw the ignoble ugly specter there before him on the floor of the house. He looked with harsh dread at Greth. Ecet's daughter was in the well-made building  and a distinguished garment about her in the house. And she alone was guarding the house and the boy in his place. The boy was heard saying something to Athirne's servant.
"Does Greth eat curds" he said three times. Greth didn't answer and greatly feared. He spoke to him again. "Blackberries, sloes, sprigs of wild garlic, pine nuts, apples, curds. Does Greth eat curds."
 Greth ran from the house, with a cry across the bridge of the fort into the mud. Then he returned back to Athirne.
"He sees warriors," said Athirne "an evil appearance is on you."
"It's expected for me," said Greth. "A boy who hasn't spoken before for fourteen years spoke to me today. And unless he's removed the lad will extinguish your many grades." 
"What did he say to you" said Athirne.
"Not hard." said Greth. [does Greth eat curds etc.,]
 Athirne asked how many were in the hut with him. Greth told that the other servant went out with him.
 Ecet went back to the building. His daughter spoke to him. "Amairgen spoke today," she said. "to the servant of Athirne sent here to ask you to make an axe."
 "What did he say to him."
 [Does Greth eat curds, etc.,]
"I know what will come of this." said Ecet. "Athirne will come to kill the boy so he will not prevail over him. Because there is great wisdom with the boy who reflects on that."
The girl went and took the boy with her out of the fort with their herd of cows to Sliab Mis in the south. Ecet made the form of the boy from clay and set it by his left arm between him and his bellows. He placed good clothing about it. And set it sleeping as if it were a living thing asleep.
Athirne went there then with his servant Greth. They saw the boy looking soothed.  Their axe was ready for them and it was good and they took the axe. Athirne brought it down on the head of the figure there, as if doing violence to the boy's life there. And they fled the house with a cry about them.
The host went after them. Aithirne assembled his wealth and his treasure there with him and secured his fort. The Ulstermen went [and] settled around him. [Ecet] was given seven cumals* and acquired his honor price and an agreement was made between them. And Athirne took the boy in fosterage, that is Amairgen, and he studied poetry with him. Thereafter Athirne's precious seniority was lost and  Amairgen was the highest poet of Ulster.

* a cumal was a measure of value usually equated to one female slave but also meaning three milk cows

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