Texts

Pseudo-historical prologue to the Senchas Már

  • Old Irish
  • Early Irish law texts

Classification

Early Irish law texts

Sources

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.] Binchy, D. A. [ed.], Corpus iuris Hibernici, 7 vols, vol. 2, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1978.  
comments: numbered pp. 339–744; diplomatic edition of legal material from: London, British Library, MS Harleian 432; Dublin, Trinity College, MS 1316; Dublin, Trinity College, MS 1337.
339.1–344.23 Harleian 432
[ed.] Binchy, D. A. [ed.], Corpus iuris Hibernici, 7 vols, vol. 5, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1978.  
Volume 5 of the Corpus iuris Hibernici, which is numbered pp. 1532–1925, contains diplomatic editions of legal material from TCD 1363 (H 4. 22), the Book of Ballymote (RIA 23 P 12), BL Egerton 90 and TCD 1336 (H 3. 17).
1650.1–1657.9
[ed.] Binchy, D. A. [ed.], Corpus iuris Hibernici, 7 vols, vol. 3, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1978.  
comments: numbered pp. 745–1138; diplomatic edition of legal material from Dublin, Trinity College, MS 1337 (continued, pp. 745–1109); Dublin, Trinity College, MS 1317 (pp. 1111–1138)
874.35–877.3
[ed.] [tr.] Carey, John [ed.], “An edition of the pseudo-historical prologue to the Senchas Már”, Ériu 45 (1994): 1–32.
[ed.] [tr.] Hancock, W. Neilson, Thaddeus O'Mahony, Alexander George Richey, and Robert Atkinson (ed. and tr.), Ancient laws of Ireland, 6 vols, vol. 1: Senchus Mor, Stationery Office: Dublin, 1865.
Internet Archive: <link> Internet Archive – originally from Google Books: <link>, <link>
3 (line 1)–31 (line 25)
[ed.] McCone, Kim R., “Dubthach maccu Lugair and a matter of life and death in the pseudo-historical prologue to the Senchas Már”, Peritia 5 (1986): 1–35.  
abstract:
The three extant versions of the pseudo-historical prologue to the Senchas Már share an original core best preserved in the Harley recension. Its centre-piece, an archaising poem ascribed to Dubthach maccu Lugair, stands revealed in translation as a sophisticated scripturally-based argument for punishment of culpable homicide by death in spite of the christian doctrine of forgiveness. As such, it is integrally bound up with the surrounding prose ascribing the foundation of early Irish law to the fusion of native legal with imported biblical concepts under clerical auspices symbolized by St Patrick. Despite its bogus appearance as commentary, the prose must be contemporary with the poem, which is unlikely to be post-eighth-century on linguistic and stylistic grounds but is hardly much older either on the evidence that Muirchú’s Life of St Patrick was its main source. This earlier dating of the prologue goes hand in hand with further evidence for the recent revolutionary contention that so-called rosc composition is not necessarily an archaic, oral and pagan phenomenon but could be produced by clerics working from written Latin sources as late as the eighth century. An annotated text of Dubthach’s rosc concludes the discussion.
Contains an edition of the poem.

Secondary sources (select)

Scowcroft, R. Mark, “Recht fáide and its gloss in the pseudo-historical prologue to the Senchus Már”, Ériu 53 (2003): 143–150.
Bracken, Damian, “Immortality and capital punishment: patristic concepts in Irish law”, Peritia 9 (1995): 167–186.  
abstract:
An early legal poem is the centre-piece in the pseudo-historical introduction to the Senchas Már. It is the work of a cleric and is described as a skilful justification of capital punishment in a christian context. The poet uses the complex theology of the Fall and Redemption in a creative way and his work can only be interpreted in the context of Hiberno-Latin and patristic literature. The poem is not symptomatic of christian influence on the Laws in a merely unfocused sense. Rather it is the product of the same ecclesiastical milieux that produced Hiberno-Latin literature itself.
Patterson, Nerys Thomas, “Gaelic law and the Tudor conquest of Ireland: the social background of the sixteenth-century recensions of the pseudo-historical prologue to the Senchas Már”, Irish Historical Studies 27:107 (1991): 193–215.
Carey, John, “The two laws in Dubthach’s judgment”, Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies 19 (1990): 1–18.
McCone, Kim R., “Dubthach maccu Lugair and a matter of life and death in the pseudo-historical prologue to the Senchas Már”, Peritia 5 (1986): 1–35.  
abstract:
The three extant versions of the pseudo-historical prologue to the Senchas Már share an original core best preserved in the Harley recension. Its centre-piece, an archaising poem ascribed to Dubthach maccu Lugair, stands revealed in translation as a sophisticated scripturally-based argument for punishment of culpable homicide by death in spite of the christian doctrine of forgiveness. As such, it is integrally bound up with the surrounding prose ascribing the foundation of early Irish law to the fusion of native legal with imported biblical concepts under clerical auspices symbolized by St Patrick. Despite its bogus appearance as commentary, the prose must be contemporary with the poem, which is unlikely to be post-eighth-century on linguistic and stylistic grounds but is hardly much older either on the evidence that Muirchú’s Life of St Patrick was its main source. This earlier dating of the prologue goes hand in hand with further evidence for the recent revolutionary contention that so-called rosc composition is not necessarily an archaic, oral and pagan phenomenon but could be produced by clerics working from written Latin sources as late as the eighth century. An annotated text of Dubthach’s rosc concludes the discussion.
Binchy, Daniel A., “The Pseudo-historical Prologue to the Senchus Már”, Studia Celtica 10–11 (1975–1976): 15–28.
Contributors
C. A.,Dennis Groenewegen
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