Táin Bó Cúailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley) Characters

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Táin Bó Cúailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley) Characters

(Epics for Students)

An Ulster warrior who turned aside the whole Connacht army, pelting them with flagstones. The Connacht army eventually overwhelmed and killed him.

A woman warrior living on the island of Britain. When Cúchulainn defeats her, he spares her life on the understanding that she will give hostages to his teacher Scáthach and bear him a son. She is to name the boy Connla and send him to Cúchulainn when he is big enough to wear the gold thumb ring Cúchulainn leaves for him. He tells her the boy must never reveal his name to any man, never give way to any man, and never refuse any man combat.

Medb's husband and the owner of the white bull, Finnbennach. He is a cynical man who generally accepts his wife's decisions, but seems curiously detached throughout the Táin Bó Cúailnge.

Amargin is the husband of Finnchaem and father of the hero Conall Cernach.

Brown Bull of Cúailnge
See Donn Cúailnge.

A Druid and the father of Conchobor. Because he is a druid, Cathbad has prophetic powers.

Conall Cernach
Cúchulainn's cousin and foster brother. Connall is one of the Ulster exiles with Medb's army.

Cú Chulainn
See Cúchulainn.

The son of Ness and Cathbad the druid. Conchobor was conceived because his mother learned from Cathbad that the hour was propitious for the conception of a king. Conchobor is the most celebrated king of the Ulster cycle. The character of Conchobor is deeply ambivalent. On one hand, his Ulstermen idolize him. But on the other, he has lost some of the finest men of his kingdom through duplicity.

The son of Aife and Cúchulainn. Cúchulainn told Aife that the boy must never reveal his name to any man, never give way to any man and never refuse any man combat. When he comes to Ulster these promises prove Connla's death. He refuses to give his name or give way. He matches Condere mac Echach in eloquence, stuns Conall Cernach and ties him up with his own shield strap. Cúchulainn goes out to fight him. Emer recognizes that the boy must be her husband's son and pleads with him not to kill his own child. Cúchulainn insists, however, that he must kill him for the honor of Ulster. He kills Connla with a weapon that Scathach had taught only him to use. Cúchulainn acknowledges his dying son, and the boy greets the hero of Ulster and dies.

Cormac Connlongas
Conchobor's son. Cormac is one of the Ulster exiles with Medb's army.

Cúchulainn is the son of Conchobor's sister, Deichtine. Both the human Sualdam mac Roich and a sídh prince are identified as his father. He is the Achilles of the Táin, fated to die young, but to leave a glorious memory. He holds off the combined forces of the other three provinces of Ireland and the Ulster exiles while the warriors of Ulster suffer the effects of Macha's curse. Cúchulainn, young, mercurial, and glorious, does what he can do and what only he can do, while all around him is deceit, treachery and chaos. Many of his fantastic deeds can be paralleled in Greek and Latin accounts of Celtic champions and warrior society.

Conchobor's sister and wife of Sualdam mac Roich. She is the mother of Cúchulainn by a strange series of events that lead the Táin Bó Cúailnge to identify both the human Sualdam mac Roich and a sídh prince as his father.

Derdriu is often compared to Helen of Troy. Cathbad predicted before her birth that she would be the most beautiful of women and the destruction of Ulster. Conchobor ordered that she be raised in complete seclusion until she was old enough to become his wife. Derdriu, however, falls in love with Noisiu, Uisliu's son. He tries to refuse her because of the prophecy and the king's decree, but she put him under a magical compulsion or geasa , and they ran away together with his brothers and their followers. Eventually, Fergus, Dubthach and Cormac, Conchobor's son, give them their word that they could come safely back to Ulster and make their peace with the king. Conchobor had, however, tricked them all and had...

(The entire section is 2,134 words.)