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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Translating De Gabail in tSida

De Gabail in tSide

Boí rí amra for Tuathaib Dea i nHere. Dagan a ainm. Ba mór dí a chumachta, ced la Maccu Miled iar ngabail in tíre. Ar collset Tuatha Dea ith ocus blicht im Maccu Miled. Co ndingsat chairddes in Dagdai. Doessartsaide iarum ith ocus blicht dóib. Ba mór dí a chumachtasom in tan ba rí i tossuch, ocus ba hé fodail inna side do feraib Dea .i. Lug mac Ethnend i sSíd Rodrubán, Ogma i sSíd Aircheltrai, Don Dagdu fessin im Síth Leithet Lachtmaige oí asíd Cnocc Báine. Brú Ruair. Síd in Broga dano ba laiss i tossuch, amal asberat. Do lluid dí in Mac Oac cosin Dagda, do chungid feraind o forodail do chách, ba daltasaide dí do Midir Breg Léith, ocus do Nindid fáith, 
"Nimthá duit" ol in Dagda. "Ni tharnaic fodail lemm."
"Etá dam dí" ol in Mac Ooc. "Cid bia co n-aidchi it trib féin. "dobreth dosom ón iarum. 
"Collá dot daim tra" ol in Dagda 
"uaire doromailt do ré Is menand" olse. "is laa ocus adaig in bith uile. Ocus iss ed on doratad damsa."
 Luid dó Dagán ass iarum ocus anaid in Macc Oóc ina síd. Amra dano a tír hisin. Ataat tri chrand co torud and do grés, ocus mucc bithbeo fo chossaib ocus mucc fonaithe. Ocus lestar co llind sainemail. Ocus ni erchranand sin uile do grés.
    - Lebar na Núachongbála

The Taking of the Sí

There was a marvelous king of the Tuatha Dea in Ireland. Dagda was his name. Great was his power, even in the present time when the Sons of Mil have taken the land, on account of the Tuatha Dea destroying the grain and milk of the Sons of Mil, until they made an alliance with the Dagda. Afterwards he preserves the grain and milk for them.
   Great was his power while he was king in the beginning and he distributed the sí to the men of the Gods that is Lug mac Ethne in the sí at Rodrubán, Ogma in the sí at Aircheltra, the Dagda himself the sí Leithet Lachtmaige, sheep-ful the White Mound, Brú Ruair. The sí of Broga then was among his at the beginning, as they say. Then the Mac Oc went to Dagda seeking territory but it was all dispersed; he was a fosterson to Midir Breg Leith and Nindid the Seer.
"There is nothing to go to you", said the Dagda. "Everything has been distributed by me."
"Obtain for me this," said the Mac Oc, "even hospitality with the following night in your own place." This was given  to him afterwards.
"Your time as a guest is over*," said the Dagda.
"Hours consume a man's time, it is evident," he said."It is a day and night in life always. And it is the aforementioned I was given."
 The Dagda went out afterwards and the Mac Oc remained in the sí. Wonderful moreover his land there. There were three trees with produce there on them always, and a pig always in life on its feet, and a pig roasted. And a vessel with distinctive drink. And all these things never fail, always.
   - Book of Leinster

* this is a bit awkward to render in English. Literally it's "Spent is your legitimate guest to you then"

Copyright Morgan Daimler


  1. I am pleased, though mildly surprised, to see some possible evidence toward my idea that the Mac Óg is related to the Moon (rather than the Sun, as so many Victorian antiquarians insisted).

    This line: "uaire doromailt do ré Is menand" olse.

    Which you translate: "Hours consume a man's time, it is evident," he said.

    It includes , which is a word that is also used for "Moon". This line is the one involved in the legal shenanigans that is pretty much the point of the story. I think that this indicates that Aonghus is intended to have power of the measure of time, which is the function of the Moon in Indo-European conceptualizations.

    So, not proof, but another piece of evidence to add to the growing collection.

    1. It is quite a fascinating passage. You'll note as well the emphasis on night in the initial request - "Cid bia co n-aidchi it trib féin." (Even your home/hospitality with the following night in it through yourself). Although its normally translated as "a day and a night in your own dwelling" day is never explicitly mentioned. And of course ré as you noted in the next exchange means both a space or measure of time and the moon.

  2. Seren posted a different Irish version and translation a while back ( which *does* explicitly mention day. According to her post, there are two Irish versions - my guess is that the version here was substantially rewritten by someone who didn't get the joke. It really doesn't work without the phrase "cid laa co n-aidchi" explicitly in the narrative.

    1. I'm aware of the version on Seren's site. the difference's are fairly small in the Irish and could just as easily be scribal errors or minor variations in different versions. How significant you find the variance between Aengus asking for "cid laa co n-aidchi it trib féin." or "Cid bia co n-aidchi it trib féin." is a personal interpretation - the punchline as it were remains the same in both versions: "is laa ocus adaig in bith uile. Ocus iss ed on doratad damsa."

  3. I'm afraid I don't agree that the difference is insignificant. In my reading, the whole tale turns on the linguistic ambiguity of the phrase "cid laa co n-aidchi" - it can mean either "a day and a night" "or "day and night." The Dagda obviously understands it to mean the former, but the Mac Oc's observation that "is laa ocus adaig in bith uile" ("all of life is day and night") collapses the ambiguity in favor of the latter. He follows that up with the statement "And it is that which I was given," which only makes sense if his rebuttal mirrors the original language of the request. Put another way: the Dagda can only be *contractually* snared by that ambiguity if it was explicitly present in the wording of the Mac Oc's original demand, to which he agreed. Rephrasing the demand as "cid bia co n-aidchi" breaks that relationship, and therefore the sense of the episode. (Note that the leading phrase "uaire doromailt do ré" is not present in the other Irish version of the tale - it's not necessary to convey the trick.)

    1. I don't believe I ever said the difference was insignificant, only that people's interpretations of the significance will vary. I agree that the story flows better when the language is repeated rather than differing but I don't feel that the sense of the statements is so at odds as to ruin the understanding of the passage entirely.

    2. I think that the sense of bia instead of laa is that he's asked for hospitality, plus the next night, and that is also ambiguous language as there is always another "next night", to the end of days.

      To put it in different dialog that illustrates the trick more completely in English, they wake up in the morning, and the Daghdha says, "Well, you've had your night!" To which the Mac Óg replies, "I asked for the next night, which isn't now so it is still to come. Therefore, I must also get today, while we wait for the next night to come to us." (Which, of course, it never will, because as beings bound to time it's always either today or this night, never the next night.)

      So, yeah, it's pretty much the same trick as "day and night".