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Texts

Aided óenfir Aífe‘The death of Aífe’s only son’

  • prose
  • Ulster Cycle
Short tale about the only son of Cú Chulainn and Aífe, and the boy’s death at the hands of his father. This entry covers two versions: (1) AOA I = a late Old Irish text preserved in the Yellow Book of Lecan, which is the best known version, and (2) AOA II = a younger, much abridged version in TCD 1336, which serves to introduce the topic of legal accountability and compensation (corpdíre).
Manuscripts
The earliest version (AOA I)
Dublin, Trinity College, MS 1318 cols 573–958 = section of the Yellow Book of Lecan [s. xivex/xvin]
pp. 214a–215a in facsimile cols 955–957beginning: ‘Aiged enfhir Aifi andso’
A younger version (AOA II)
Dublin, Trinity College, MS 1336 6 (second part), cols 832-874 [s. xvi]
cols 842–843
 
Here entitled Ainfer Aife.
Date
The earliest version has been dated to the 9th century (Meyer),(1)n. 1 “It may be safely ascribed to the ninth century”, Kuno Meyer, ‘The death of Conla’, Ériu 1 (1904): 113. or the later 9th or 10th century (Van Hamel).(2)n. 2 “probably the later ninth or tenth century”, A. G. van Hamel, Compert Con Culainn and other stories (1933): 9.
Form
prose (primary)
verse (secondary)

Prose. In AOA I, there are various instances of rosc, such as the dialogue between Condere mac Echach and Connla and that between Emer and Cú Chulainn. In AOA II, a poem is attributed to Cú Chulainn.

Textual relationships
Cf. Tochmarc Emire; the dinnshenchas of Lechtán Óenfhir Aífe; the version told by Geofrey Keating; the Early Modern Irish version Oidheadh Chonlaoich.

Classification

Ulster Cycle

Subject tags

Connla mac AífeConnla mac Aífe – son of Cú Chulainn and Aífe; tragically killed in single combat by his honour-bound father
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Aífe ingen AirdgemeAífe ingen Airdgeme (ass. time-frame: Subject:Ulster Cycle) – Character in the Ulster Cycle of Irish literature, notably the tragic tale Aided óenfir Aífe. When the Ulster hero Cú Chulainn stays in Alba to receive training-in-arms from Scáthach (her mother or sister), Aífe has an affair with him and later gives birth to his only son. In the Yellow Book of Lecan version, Aífe is called a daughter of one Ardgeimm.
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ScáthachScáthach (ass. time-frame: Conchobar mac Nessa, Ulster Cycle) – A warrior woman and instructor of warriors in the Ulster Cycle, notably responsible for training the hero Cú Chulainn.
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Cú ChulainnCú Chulainn – Young Ulster hero and chief character of Táin bó Cuailnge and other tales of the Ulster Cycle; son of Súaltam or Lug and Deichtire (sister to Conchobor); husband of Emer (ingen Forgaill)
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Conchobar mac NessaConchobar mac Nessa (ass. time-frame: Ulster Cycle) – king of the Ulaid in tales of the Ulster Cycle; son either of Cathbad or Fachtna Fáthach (father) and Ness (mother); husband of Mugain; father of Cormac Cond Longas, Cúscraid Mend Macha, Furbaide Fer Bend and Fedelm Noíchrothach; fosterfather of Cú Chulainn.
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 Trácht Éise

Sources

Notes

“It may be safely ascribed to the ninth century”, Kuno Meyer, ‘The death of Conla’, Ériu 1 (1904): 113.
“probably the later ninth or tenth century”, A. G. van Hamel, Compert Con Culainn and other stories (1933): 9.

Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] Hamel, A. G. van [ed.], Compert Con Culainn and other stories, Mediaeval and Modern Irish Series 3, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1933.
CELT – Compert Con Culainn (1-8): <link> CELT – Aided Óenfir Aífe (9-15): <link> Internet Archive: <link>
9–15. Version from YBL.
[ed.] [tr.] Meyer, Kuno [ed. and tr.], “The death of Conla”, Ériu 1 (1904): 113–121.
Internet Archive: <link>
Version from YBL.
[ed.] [tr.] O'Keeffe, J. G. [ed. and tr.], “Cuchulinn and Conlaech”, Ériu 1 (1904): 123–127.
Internet Archive: <link>
Later version from TCD 1336.
[tr.] Gantz, Jeffrey [tr.], Early Irish myths and sagas, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981.
147–152
[tr.] Kinsella, Thomas [tr.], The Tain: translated from the Irish epic Táin Bó Cuailnge, London: Oxford University Press, 1969.
39–45.
[tr.] Draak, Maartje, and Frida de Jong (trs.), Van helden, elfen en dichters: de oudste verhalen uit Ierland, Amsterdam: Meulenhoff, 1979.
54–59.

Secondary sources (select)

Thurneysen, Rudolf, Die irische Helden- und Königsage bis zum siebzehnten Jahrhundert, Halle: Niemeyer, 1921. 
comments: Part 1 (chapters 1-23): Allgemeines; Part 2 (chapters 1-85): Die Ulter Sage
Internet Archive: <link>
403–407
Findon, Joanne, “A woman’s words: Emer versus Cú Chulainn in Aided Óenfir Aife”, in: Mallory, James P., and Gerard Stockman (eds.), Ulidia: proceedings of the First International Conference on the Ulster Cycle of Tales, Belfast and Emain Macha, 8–12 April 1994, Belfast: December, 1994. 139–148.
Contributors
Patrick Brown,Dennis Groenewegen
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