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The Táin

af Tain Author

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The Tain Bo Cuailnge, centre-piece of the eighth-century Ulster cycle of heroic tales, is Ireland's greatest epic. It tells the story of a great cattle-raid, the invasion of Ulster by the armies of Medb and Ailill, queen and king of Connacht, and their allies, seeking to carry off the greatBrown Bull of Cuailnge. The hero of the tale is Cuchulainn, the Hound of Ulster, who resists the invaders single-handed while Ulster's warriors lie sick.Thomas Kinsella presents a complete and living version of the story. His translation is based on the partial texts in two medieval manuscripts, with elements from other versions, and adds a group of related stories which prepare for the action of the Tain.Illustrated with brush drawings by Louis le Brocquy, this edition provides a combination of medieval epic and modern art.… (mere)
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The Tain is epic. In fact it is Epic - at least as Epic as more famous Epics, such as the Iliad. In fact, the number of correspondences between the Cattle Raid of Cooley and the story of Achilles' rage is remarkable. (It must be - I just remarked it.) Wanna know what they are (at least some of them, anyway)? Oi - you at the back! stop saying, "No."

here we go:
Illiad: Achilles only vulnerable on one heel.
Tain: CuChulain's foster brother only vulnerable to a gae bolga shoved where the sun doesn't shine. (The gae bolga is a mysterious design of spear - the blade had backward pointing barbs - other aspects of the design are obscure and variously interpreted.)
Illiad: Lots of riding round in chariots, killing people.
Tain: Lots of riding round in chariots, killing people.
Illiad: Lots of stomping around on foot, killing people.
Tain: Lots of stomping around on foot, killing people.
Illiad: Single combat.
Tain: Single combat. Generally in a ford that gets its name from the event.
Illiad: Riding round in a chariot, dragging the corpse of your enemy behind you.
Tain: Riding round in a chariot, dragging the corpse of your enemy behind you.
Illiad: Supernatural intervention.
Tain: Supernatural intervention.
Illiad: Heaps of famous heroes.
Tain: Heaps of famous heroes, especially near the end.
Illiad: Big fight over a beautiful woman.
Tain: Big fight over a prize bull. Okay - not such a close correspondence.
Illiad: Javelins.
Tain: Spears.
Illiad: Achilles chooses a short life but ever-lasting fame. (But maybe this isn't mentioned in the Illiad - I can't remember.)
Tain: CuChulain chooses a short life rather than everlasting ridicule. (But not during the Cattle Raid.)
Illiad: Achilles' rage.
Tain: CuChulain's "warp-spasm".
Illiad: Verse.
Tain: Mainly prose - some cryptic verse.

So, by now you should be convinced that the pagan Celts in Ireland were just as crazy and violent as any ancient Achaen group you care to name and appreciated the stories of their ancestors' crazy violence as much, too.

Three fifties of Bards couldn't praise this Epic enough, so I won't even try - just read it and find out how many boys can play hurling on the back of Ulster's prize bull, how CuChulain (the Hound of Culann) got his name and weapons and the name of every ford, hill and rock that figured in CuChulain's almost single handed defense of Ulster from an army of 30,000!
( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
Ibland märker man sannerligen av att det förlutna var en väldigt märklig plats. De legender som sammanfogats till det iriska eposet Táin bó cúailnge liknar inte det man är van vid från andra åldriga berättelser: det märks att inte någon Homeros eller Lönnroth tagit sig an råmaterialet och utarbetat en sammanhållen saga, även om översättaren Thomas Kinsella i The Táin försökt städa undan inkonsekvenser när material tycks infogats på fel plats samt en del longörer.

Materialet är satt i en god heroisk ålder, med hjältar som åker runt i stridsvagn och utmanar varandra på envig i bästa episka stil. Huvudhandlingen handlar om försöken av övriga Irlands män, enade under kung Ailill och drottning Medb, att stjäla en fantastisk ko från Ulster, vilket bör låta sig göras ganska lätt då ulstermännen ligger utslagna av en förbannelse. Kvar finns endast den unge hjälten Cúchulainn, dotterson till kung Conchobor av Ulster och undantagen förbannelsen. Tjuren ifråga skall Medb ha för att vinna ett gräl med Ailill om vem av dem som är rikast, och hon framstår som den som driver på med tjuvknep för att få undan den svårrubbade Cúchulainn, gärna med dottern Finnabair som lockbete (och ibland också sina egna vänliga lår). Det blir överfall, strider vid vadställen, svek, fosterbröder som tubbas till strid och oväntat svårt för tjuvarna att klara sitt uppdrag.

Det som verkligen får en att ana avståndet är dock inte striderna, det underliga ärebegreppet, underlig stridskonst eller hur svagt handlingen hänger samman, utan att det hela närmast framstår som något en etymolog diktat upp för att hålla intresset uppe för sitt fält: snart sagt varje strid eller händelse gör att någon flod, vik eller kulle, något berg, vadställe eller fält, får ett namn. Detta förstärks av att när historien närmar sig slutet och Cúchulainn kan lösas av: när förbannelsen släpper greppet om ulstermännen, så blir det förvisso en stor strid, men en som snart är avklarad och skildras betydelse mindre inlevelsefullt än några av de tidigare envigen. Underligt, men läsvärt. ( )
  andejons | Apr 9, 2020 |
Queen Medb and King Ailill squabble about who is the most amazing and there's a war about a cow. Just when I think the genealogies and place naming is all a bit much, something loopy happens and it's enjoyable again. The hero of the story is Cuchulainn. He's a baby faced berserker hybrid of Rostam and Heracles, who likes to do battle party tricks. The descriptions of his strength and battle prowess are exaggerated to comical levels of wonder. I love the search for a fake beard, the preoccupation with rich clothing and the point where Cuchulainn has killed so many men the bard gives up using different names and starts grouping the dead by name: 'seven named Conall, seven named Aengus, seven named Uargus . . . '

While there's much to enjoy, I have mixed feelings about the story. I weary of the repetition - the same battle sequence over and over, with Cuchulainn killing someone at a place then named after the dead man. It's silly to say an epic tale is repetitive, because that's what traditional oral tales are like, but it's not engaging me in this particular story. I'm not sure why, but I do know there is more to this story than I'm willing to consider. My copy is translated by Thomas Kinsella and has some of Louis le Brocquy's illustrations. I can see other reviews here praise Ciaran Carson's translation for its liveliness, so another time I'd like to read it and see. I'm glad I read this version so I could experience Le Brocquy's illustrations, but perhaps the translation or my current mood are doing this tale an injustice.
  Pencils | Jun 10, 2016 |
This should replace Beowulf on all syllabi immediately. It's funny and violent and completely bonkers. And it features a queen that likes to sweeten deals by offering "the friendship of her own thighs." What's not to love? Okay, the lists of warriors Cú Chulainn kills do get old after the first 100 or so deaths, but they can be skimmed over without losing any of the mad wonderfulness of this epic. ( )
  amanda4242 | Jan 10, 2016 |
Ciarán Carson presents an accessible and highly readable translation of The Táin for a new generation of readers.

The Táin is part of the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology and along with other similar works forms a distinct genre known as Táin Bó, or Cattle Raid.

In Táin Bó Cúailnge, Medb the Queen of Connacht goes to war against Ulster for the sake of Brown Bull of Cúailnge. Opposing her is the mighty hero Cú Chulainn who alone stands against the assembled armies of all Ireland. Cú Chulainn then singlehandedly goes about killing all the heroes and soldiers Medb sends against him in feats of supernatural martial skill. Eventually, the rest of the Ulster armies arise from the periodic curse that afflicts them and is victorious over Medb's armies. She however is able to take back the prize Ulster bull but it kills the prize bull of Connacht and escapes.

This is one of the defining stories in Irish literature and Carson has ably translated the prose text; the smaller sections of Irish verse are much more cryptic and do not lend themselves to a fluid translation. Also, the traditional tána literature include a number of remscéla, or preludes, that Carson has either not included or reduced to endnotes.

The list of heroes Cú Chulainn kills fighting against Connacht and the list of place names named thereafter does get repetitive yet the lively and engaging spirit of Ireland's own Iliad is never lost. This is truly a classic of world literature. ( )
1 stem xuebi | May 30, 2014 |
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Forfatter navnRolleHvilken slags forfatterVærk?Status
Tain Authorprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Brocquy, Louis leIllustratormedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Carson, CiaranOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Cataldi, MelitaRedaktørmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Dunn, JosephOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Guyonvarc'h, Christian-J.Oversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Haley, GeneTopographical researchmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Hutton, Mary A.Oversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Kinsella, ThomasOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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The Tain Bo Cuailnge, centre-piece of the eighth-century Ulster cycle of heroic tales, is Ireland's greatest epic. It tells the story of a great cattle-raid, the invasion of Ulster by the armies of Medb and Ailill, queen and king of Connacht, and their allies, seeking to carry off the greatBrown Bull of Cuailnge. The hero of the tale is Cuchulainn, the Hound of Ulster, who resists the invaders single-handed while Ulster's warriors lie sick.Thomas Kinsella presents a complete and living version of the story. His translation is based on the partial texts in two medieval manuscripts, with elements from other versions, and adds a group of related stories which prepare for the action of the Tain.Illustrated with brush drawings by Louis le Brocquy, this edition provides a combination of medieval epic and modern art.

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