Boyd, Matthieu


Boyd, Matthieu, “The timeless tale of Bricriu's feast”, North American Journal of Celtic Studies 1:2 (November, 2017): 151–172.

  • journal article
Citation details
“The timeless tale of Bricriu's feast”
North American Journal of Celtic Studies 1:2 (2017)
North American Journal of Celtic Studies 1:1–2 (May–November, 2017), Ohio State University Press.
Abstract (cited)
The early Irish tale Fled Bricrenn ‘Bricriu's feast’ is set at an impossible time relative to the centerpiece of the Ulster Cycle, the epic Táin bó Cúailnge. Key characters, including Bricriu himself, are not available after the Táin, while the integral episodes involving Ailill and Medb would make no sense before the Táin. The embarrassing behavior of the heroes Lóegaire and Conall is also inconsistent with the way they are portrayed in other texts. Although there are limited parallels with other kinds of medieval literature, such as the verse tradition of French Arthurian romance, these problems are most helpfully addressed by recourse to contemporary Fan Fiction studies in conjunction with the medieval concept of glossing. Even if it does contain authentic lore, Bricriu's feast comes into focus as a comically distorted, but serious-minded reflection on the rest of the Ulster Cycle, including the Táin. The major themes of this reflection include the devaluation of fame through excess of praise, and the worthiness of the hero's community to benefit from him, even as the hero's own status depends on serving their interests and enacting their values.
Subjects and topics
Ulster Cycle
History, society and culture
Conall CernachConall Cernach (ass. time-frame: Ulster Cycle) – warrior of the Ulaid in the Ulster Cycle; son of Amergin and Findchóem
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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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Lóegaire BúadachLóegaire Búadach (ass. time-frame: Ulster Cycle) – Hero in tales of the Ulster Cycle; said to be a son of Connad Buide and grandson of Iliach
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Dennis Groenewegen