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Texts

Tochmarc Fe(i)rbe‘The wooing of Ferb’

  • Middle Irish
  • prose, prosimetrum
  • Ulster Cycle
Prosimetric tale from the Ulster Cycle
Title
Tochmarc Fe(i)rbe
‘The wooing of Ferb’
The Middle Irish tale lists attest to the title Fís Conchobair (‘The vision of Conchobar’), which seemingly refers to at least a version of an episode in this tale.
Manuscripts
Language
  • Middle Irish
  • early Middle Irish
Form
prose, prosimetrum (primary)

Classification

Ulster Cycle

Subject tags

The BadbThe Badb (ass. time-frame: Ulster Cycle) – name of a war-goddess, often in the appearance of an ominous crow (badb)
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CathbadCathbad (ass. time-frame: Ulster Cycle) – druid to Conchobar mac Nessa, king of Ulster, in the Ulster Cycle; husband of Ness and possible father of Conchobar mac Nessa.
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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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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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MugainMugain
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.
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FerbFerb
Entry reserved for but not yet available from the subject index.
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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.] [tr.] Shercliff, Rebecca, “A critical edition of Tochmarc Ferbe: with translation, textual notes and literary commentary”, unpublished PhD thesis: Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, University of Cambridge, 2019. 
abstract:
This thesis provides a critical edition of the longest extant version of the medieval Irish text Tochmarc Ferbe (‘The Wooing of Ferb’), accompanied by translation, textual notes and literary commentary. Tochmarc Ferbe is found in two manuscripts, the Book of Leinster (LL) and Egerton 1782. This comprises three versions of the text: a short prose account in Egerton 1782, and a long prosimetric account in LL, followed in the same manuscript by a poetic account. After a preliminary analysis of the relationship between these three versions, the edited text of the long prosimetric version (LL-prose) is presented, alongside a facing-page translation. Issues arising from the text, in terms of interpretational difficulties, literary features and metrical analysis of the poems, are discussed in the form of textual notes. A particular focus is the prevalence of textual correspondences between Tochmarc Ferbe and other medieval Irish tales, many of which are identified as direct textual borrowings by the author of this text. The thesis concludes with a literary commentary focusing on the role of women in the LL-prose version. It is argued that its depictions of a wide range of female characters challenge traditional assumptions about medieval Irish attitudes towards women, which tend to focus on their supposed passivity and negativity. The portrayals of two female characters are singled out as especially noteworthy. Queen Medb, frequently viewed as the archetypal expression of negative attitudes towards power-wielding women in medieval Irish literature, is shown to receive a positive depiction in this text. Meanwhile, the main female protagonist Ferb is characterised by her use of speech, which dominates the text in a manner almost unparalleled in medieval Irish literature. It is argued that she subverts the usually passive role of lamenter by channelling her grief into an active force, offering an alternative model of positive female action.
[ed.] [tr.] Windisch, Ernst [ed. and tr.], “Tochmarc Ferbe”, in: Windisch, Ernst, and Whitley Stokes (eds.), Irische Texte mit Wörterbuch, 4 vols, vol. 3:2, Leipzig, 1897. 445–556. 
Critical edition of Tochmarc Ferbe, with facing German translation
CELT – edition: <link> CELT – German translation: <link> Internet Archive: <link>
Edition from LL and Egerton 1782 (separately), both with a German translation
[ed.] Best, Richard Irvine, and M. A. O'Brien, The Book of Leinster, formerly Lebar na Núachongbála, vol. 5, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1967.
CELT – pp. 1119-1192 and 1202-1325: <link>
1137–1161 Diplomatic edition of the LL text
[tr.] Leahy, A. H. [tr.], The courtship of Ferb: an old Irish romance transcribed in the twelfth century into the Book of Leinster, Irish Saga Library 1, New York, 1902.
Internet Archive: <link>

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>
351–359 [‘Tochmarc Ferbe oder Fis Conchobair’]
Contributors
Patrick Brown,Dennis Groenewegen
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