The Tain

Cuchulainn is a prominent figure in this section of the Tain. From birth he seems to exhibit supernatural abilities, remeniscent of Greek/Roman mythology. Does the story support a reading where he is cast as a hero or god? Maybe he fulfills a different role entirely. Give examples from the text to support or negate your stance.

1 thought on “The Tain

  1. I would say the story does seem to cast Cuchulainn as a hero, but with a different connotation of a “hero” than one we might find in texts both ancient and modern. Certainly there is the traditional feature of the hero’s strength, as exemplified in his slaughtering of men and prowess in hand to hand combat, especially against a warrior as skilled as Nadcranntail. However, there is a difference in the way the hero is portrayed, mainly in whether their heroic nature comes from love or hatred. Many, although not all, of the Greek and Roman heroes were praised and loved by their community, whereas Cuchulainn gains his respect through fear and violence. While this leads to an unwavering respect that might be called love from his people, in reality it is bred from terror and not admiration, which separates him as different from the traditionally loved ancient heroes.

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