Heroes and Heroines of Mythology from The Book of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes and Other Characters of MythologyHeroes and

Heroines of Mythology -Celtic-

Beowulf|Boudicca|Bran|Branwen|Cathbadh|Conall Cernach|Cu Chulainn

Deirdre|Finn macCumhal|Maelduin|Medb|Scathach

Beowulf A Scandinavian prince and future king of the Geats. Perhaps the most famous of all Celtic heroes, his story is told in an eight-century poem, an epic of the Anglo-Saxon peoples entitled "Beowulf". It combines three major stories: The first story tells of Beowulf's battle with the monster, Grendel, whom he maimed after a wrestling match. The second story tells of his struggle with Grendel's mother (a watertroll) beneath the waters of a lake. The third story (about 50 years later in time) tells of his combat with a dragon in which Beowulf received a fatal wound. Boudicca When her husband (King Prasutagus) died, he left half his kingdom to the Romans. She soon discovered that the Romans intended to take the whole kingdom for themselves when they publicly flogged her and raped her two daughters. This so incensed her people that they rose up under her leadership against the Romans, who were to suffer the worst native rebellion since they conquered Britain. Boudicca and her tribesmen ravaged the countryside until finally she was overcome by Suetonius Paulinus, the Roman general. Then, to avoid being displayed as a captive queen, she is said to have taken poison. She was a worshipper of Andraste, the goddess of victory, to whom she is said to have sacrificed her captives. Top Bran the Blessed (Bendegeit Bran) Bran was of monstrous size and commensurate strength, so large that no house could contain him. His story appears in "Branwen Daughter of Llyr" where he is the possessor of a life-restoring (but without the power of speech) cauldron. On the marriage of his sister, Branwen, to Matholwch, King of Ireland, he gives back the cauldron to the Irish (from whence it originated), in payment for the insults they have suffered at the hands of his brother, Efnissien. He subsequently has to rescue Branwen, being mistreated by her husband, who has banished her to his kitchen, where she slaves under the command of the kitchen help. She is successful in training a starling to deliver a message to Bran about her condition. Bran wades across the Irish sea, his body like a mountain rising above the waves, his two eyes lakes on either side of the ridge that was his nose. When he laid himself down across a river a whole army could march across it on his back. He defeats the Irish who offer to depose Matholwch and make Gwern, Branwen's son, king in his place. At the feast to celebrate the truce and Gwern's accession, Efnissien, ever the trouble-maker, throws Gwern into the fire and hostilities are resumed. The Irish restore their dead to life in the cauldron, but neither side is triumphant, and Bran is mortally wounded in

the heel by a poisoned spear. Branwen Daughter of Llyr. She was married to Matholwch, King of Ireland, and bore him a son, Gwern, but because the Irish people had suffered at the hands of Efnissien (her brother) she was made to serve in the kitchens, and was there struck by the cook. She tamed a starling to bear a message to Bran in Britain who came with a fleet to rescue her. (See above - Bran the Blessed).When Efnissien threw Gwern upon the fire, and after the ensuing battle between the British and Irish, she died of a broken heart and was buried in a "four-sided grave". Top Cathbadh Pay attention! Cathbadh, a druid priest, had as wife one named Maga, who was also wife to Ross the Red (who had another wife named Roy); Cathbadh and Maga had three daughters: Dectera, Elva, and Finchoem. Dectera bore a son, Cu Chulainn, by Lugh (Cu Chulainn was originally called Setanta, and was raised by his aunt Finchoem), Elva bore a son, Naoise, by Usna, and Finchoem bore a son, Conall, by Amorgin. These three sons are major characters in the Celtic myths, so remember their names! Conall Cernach Conall Cernach, "of the victories", was the foster-brother of the Ulster hero Cu Chulainn, and his avenger when he killed Lewy (who had done in Cu Chulainn). The exploits of Conall and Cu Chulainn are celebrated in the Red Branch or Ulster cycle of sagas (the Irish Iliad). The tales are mainly about the T�in B� Cuailgne, "The Cattle Raid of Cooley". Top Cu Chulainn Son of Dechitme (sister of Conchobar) or of the god Lugh (take your pick of the two versions), and named Setanta at birth. He was raised by his aunt Finchoem, with help from Sencha (arbitrator of conflicts), Blai (defender of honor), Ferghus (protector against evil), and Amargin (poet, esteemed for eloquence and wisdom). Among his many exploits: He killed the savage guard dog of Culann with his bare hands and took his place as guard for Culann, thus earning the name Cu Chulainn (means "hound of Culann); He killed all three sons of Queen Maev, after they had decimated the army of Ulster. Subject to fits of rage ("contortions"), he became a madman in war and was unbeatable in battle. As with most heroes, Cu Chulainn had many amorous adventures. Among his lovers were Emer, who became his wife, Uathach (daughter of Scathach, see below), Aife the Beautiful (with whom he fathered a son, who he later unwittingly killed), and the goddess Fand. He was finally beaten by Queen Maev, his mortal enemy, when he was caught in a trap and forced to eat dog meat, a serious taboo. This was the beginning of a series of misfortunes that ended with his death at the hands of Lugaid, the son of one of his victims. See Cu Chulainn for more. Top Deirdre At her birth Cathbadh predicted that she would bring ruin to Ireland. The chieftains present at the birth wanted to kill her then and there, but King Conchobar placed her in the hands of a trusted nurse and had them sequestered from all others so that she might be raised to marriageable age whereupon he intended to take her to wife. Unfortunately she fell in love with Naoise (one of the three sons of Usna or Usenech), who she happened to see one day. She

persuaded him and his two brothers to flee the kingdom with her to Scotland. This they did, but they were lured back by Conchobar with lies and false promises. When they returned Conchobar killed the three brothers. One version of the myth has Deirdre committing suicide right then, another says she lived one year with Conchobar before death took her. Finn macCumhal (Finn means "fair, beautiful, blonde, and of good breeding"!) A warrior and magician. He was responsible for the organization of the Fiana, an elite troop whose qualities were extraordinary strength, intelligence, cunning, loyalty, a disdain for wealth, an indifference to death, and a respect for women. Finn had an unusual talent; he could experience visions by biting his thumb. He was married to Lendebair. Top Maelduin (Maeldune) The son of King Aillil. When the king was killed by a robber, Maelduin vowed vengeance and set out on a journey to find his father's killer. He voyaged for three years and seven months, experiencing many adventures and seeing many marvels. He eventually found the killer but decided not to kill him in gratitude to God for his deliverance from the many dangers he had faced on his journey. Medb (Maev, Maeve) She instigated the "The Cattle Raid of Cooley", that was the inception of the "War of the Brown Bull", when, while lying in bed with King Aillil, they began to compare possessions to see who owned more. They find they are evenly matched until Aillil mentions his magical bull and wins the argument, for Medb has no such animal. She does know about the magic bull of Cooley, though, so she puts together an army and embarks on a "cattle rustling" trip ("The Cattle Raid of Cooley"). The warriors of Cooley are stricken by a curse of the goddess Macha and cannot do battle against Medb, but Cu Chulainn is immune to the curse and kills hordes of her warriors. Still one man cannot stop her and she succeeds in stealing the magic bull. The ironic end to this story: When she returns with her captured bull, it and Aillil's bull fling themselves at each other and, in a bloody battle, kill each other. Medb is a mythical queen of Connacht, and mother of Findabair, her fabulously beautiful daughter who was promised as wife to the man who would kill Cu Chulainn in the War of the Brown Bull. Fraech, who courted Findabair, was slain by Cu Chulainn when he took the challenge (Findabair died of anguish over his death). Medb was one of the great figures of Celtic myth, reputed to run faster than horses, and with having slept with innumerable kings whom she then discarded like so many old clothes when she was finished with them, and of wearing live birds and animals across her shoulders. Scathach (Skatha) She was the greatest female warrior of her time. Heroes (including Cu Chulainn) from all the Celtic tribes studied the arts of war with her, learning her magical battle skills. She was so impressed with Cu Chulainn that, after a year of instruction, she gave him the dreaded Gae Bolg, a kind of barbed harpoon/spear that was thrown with the feet. This is the weapon with which he unwittingly killed his only son, Connla, after a long and vicious battle. Top Return to Chapter 1 Heroes/Heroines of Mythology - Celtic

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