Honor And The Celtic Heroes Essay

1335 words - 5 pages

The honor-code within the Mabinogi, The Tain, and Gantz’s Early Irish Myths and Sagas underlines the ethos of the traditional Celtic hero. Yet, the compliance of the honor-code could be better observed as serving the identity and reputation of the hero rather than a deeper code of morality as it might suggest. The gae bolga, Efnisien, Mider’s love for Etain, and Rhiannon’s magic bag are all instruments of unworldly power, making the impossible possible for each of the heroes. It is because of these supernatural influences that the heroes are both blessed and cursed by power’s perfection. The compliance to the honor-code plays less a role in truly enabling the hero and yet it’s essential in the development of the hero’s identity and reputation among his allies and enemies.
Within The Tain, the warrior Cuchulainn is characterized as a flawless hero, destined to die young. Cuchulainn’s honor to Ulster could easily be measured by the uncountable number of warriors he’s killed with his various skills and gae bolga, yet the killing of his only son Connla and his Foster-brother Ferdia proves to be his most difficult and heroic task. Despite Emer’s plea for Cuchulainn to spare his only son, Cuchulainn provokes the boy to fight him, using his gae bolga to kill him. Cuchulainn’s honor to Ulster through the sacrifice of his son not only grieves him, but all the men of Ulster. (The Tain, p.45) Tragically, the boy expresses the essence of a warrior’s honor to the men of Ulster and to Cuchulainn in obeying his wishes to refuse no man in combat (The Tain, p.33). The boy bids his farewell to the men of Ulster saying, “If only I had five years among you I would slaughter the warriors of the world for you. . . But since it is like this, point me out the famous men around me, I would like to salute them.”(The Tain, p.45)
During the Tain Bo Cuailnge, Cuchulainn again resorts to winning the battle with his adored foster-brother Ferdia using the gae bolga. The honor-code is kept between Cuchulainn and Ferdia as they exchange each battle’s end with three kisses. (The Tain, p.188) Yet Ferdia’s final words accuse Cuchulainn of unfairness. (The Tain, p.197) It’s questionable how mighty of a warrior Cuchulainn really is, considering he’s one of the only Ulster that doesn’t suffer from birth pangs. (The Tain, p.8) And the gae bolga again brings instant death, placing not only might and skill as the agent of fate but also the will of Cuchulainn. It might be of no coincidence that both Cuchulainn’s and Ferdia’s foster-mother Scathach gives the gae bolga to Cuchulainn. (The Tain, p.34) Scathach is a prophetess, and although no point in the story tells of her knowing Ferdia’s fate, she knows Cuchulainn’s fate and the significance of his heroic god-like role in fighting for the honor of Ulster. (The Tain, p.36)
Within the Mabinogi, King Bendigeidfran’s wisdom and honor is depicted in the story Branwen daughter of Llyr, when he divides the cauldron people among the land,...

Find Another Essay On Honor and the Celtic Heroes

Heroes in the Iliad and their criteria

1473 words - 6 pages Criteria for Heroes The ancient Greeks had strict criteria for individuals to follow if they were to be seen as heroes. Above all, a man needed to be a skilled warrior, but this was not the only requirement. To be a hero, a warrior had to respect authority, both governmental and religious. The Greeks gave heroes no room for pride. These men were to be modest, not only giving credit to their culture and the gods for any great deeds they had done

"The Iliad" and the Pursuit of Honor and Glory

1408 words - 6 pages The Iliad, which is an epic poem written about the Trojan War, was the first thing written in the European tradition. Astonishingly, its quality and appeal have yet to be surpassed. This is a result of Homer's use of idealistic themes, many of which show up in many modern novels. One of the most dominant themes present in The Iliad is the pursuit of honor and glory. Even though the Achaeans and Trojans are in a violent battle with one

The Honor and Shame of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

1370 words - 5 pages To understand both the honor and shame involved in the gospel pertaining to Jesus Christ, honor and shame will be defined according to the ancient Mediterranean and Greco-Roman world. A person born in either world during the first century, was taught to “seek honor and avoid disgrace”. The universal definition of Honor could be best described as the “public acknowledgment of a person’s worth”. There were two possible routes in which one

Southern Honor Ethics and Behavior in the Old South

608 words - 2 pages Southern Honor Ethics and Behavior in the Old South To label slavery a crime is to insist that its white beneficiaries should have known what we know today, or to say that they had information that we now have access to. Southern Honor Ethics and Behavior in the Old South written by Bertram Wyatt-Brown; maintains that honor was the animating force in the antebellum South, the basis of the slaveholding South’s integrity. The white

Traditions: The Lottery and An American Honor Killing

877 words - 4 pages In the completely different backgrounds of the story The Lottery and the article An American Honor Killing, both cultures have crazy traditions that their people are expected to follow, no matter how inhumane or difficult they can be. In the small village in The Lottery, the citizens are expected to randomly draw names and kill whoever is picked, whereas in the Iraqi culture portrayed in the article An American Honor Killing, the Iraqi people

The (Dis)Respect and (Dis)Honor of War

1894 words - 8 pages battlefield who wished to God that they had never heard of the Four-fifty-first” (85) maintaining the rhetoric of honorable death. He is so blinded by the propaganda of honorable deaths on the battlefield and of killing enemies to gain glory that even after viewing “forty-five hundred men—a lot of them children” die, he is still convinced that they “had nothing to be ashamed of” and that they had truly earned honor by being killed by Germans. Wild

The Heroes Curiosity in She and The Sign of Four

1928 words - 8 pages The Heroes Curiosity in She and The Sign of Four The hero cannot progress without curiosity.  However, curiosity can turn into a dangerous obsession.  There are many good examples of this throughout Victorian literature.  Literary works such as She by H. Rider Haggard and The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, for example, reflect the curious mind at work using scientific exploration to achieve the goal of solving the mystery, but

Heroes reflect the best and worst in human nature

1048 words - 5 pages Essay Question: Heroes reflect the best and worst in human nature Introduction It is accurate that heroes reflect the best choose word, thesaurus! and worst in human nature. The themes of how compassion after destruction results in love, and sacrifice to survive, portray the best and worst of human nature Repeat?. The novel Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, and the film Frozen directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, both explore these themes

Tragic Heroes of The Iliad and Oedipus Rex Analysis

959 words - 4 pages , leader of the Trojans. Achilles temper and highborn status qualify him as an Aristotelian tragic hero. The titular character from Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex, also corresponds with Aristotle’s idea of a tragic hero. He is a flawed character, his weakness being his excessive pride and over confidence, which is a qualifying factor found in tragic heroes. A plague is present in the city of Thebes, and Oedipus has turned to Tiresias, an old prophet

Heroes, the topic was are there real-life heroes today and if so who are they? Be sepecific

702 words - 3 pages HeroesWhat is a hero? A hero is often viewed as being someone that is rich, famous or beautiful. Some even say heroes don't exist, but instead are only existent in a fantasy world. A hero can come in all shapes, sizes, genders, and racial backgrounds. Heroes usually are oblivious to our knowing because, for the most part they are humble and may not know themselves that they are heroes. The truth is that there are many real-life heroes among us

The Gendered Struggle: Comparing and Contrasting Between Masculine and Feminine Perceptions of Honor in Two Cultures

1985 words - 8 pages The comparisons between Medea and Hamlet are numerous. Both are stories about revenge that end in the controversial main character sacrificing everything in order to preserve one of the most important markers of identity of their time: honor. Medea was a controversial character in ancient times not only because of her filicide, but because she asserted that women have honor, an idea that was not the norm in Greece. In sharp contrast to her is

Similar Essays

Heroes Of Celtic And Germanic Mythology

3832 words - 15 pages Heroes of Celtic and Germanic Mythology Throughout the myths of the Celtic and Germanic peoples of northern Europe tales of epic heroes and their extraordinary deeds abound. These tales depict heroes performing a variety of incredible feats; many of which appear to be magical, superhuman, and, quite honestly, utterly impossible (e.g., wading across oceans, defeating armies virtually single-handedly, and other astounding exploits). Since

Beowulf And The Homeric Heroes Essay

1362 words - 5 pages ? Every hero that we have heard of in our lives, turn out to be good in every way possible, no flaw projected in whatever way. Now Homer, presents heroes that actually have flaws. Flaws that make them more human, though vulnerable, it makes their character more acceptable to society. Now the question is: which appeals more to the people? A Homeric hero, whose flaws are boasted to the people or a brave and selfless champion like Beowulf? First we

The Importance Of Honor And Virtue

1336 words - 5 pages The Importance of Honor and Virtue Two important characteristics for warriors are honor and virtue. Virtue is deemed to be the most important to a warrior's life and it means achieving your greatest potential as a human being. "The reward for great honor and virtue is fame (kleos), which is what guarantees meaning and value to one's life. Dying without fame (akleos) is generally considered a disaster, and the warriors of The Iliad do the

Jane Eyre And The Anti Heroes Essay

851 words - 3 pages numerous characters. Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, however, had a strong-willed anti-heroine main character that did not comply with social customs. Characteristics of anti-heroes and heroines are definite human flaws, not always thinking about what the moral action is, and rejection of traditional values. Jane Eyre is considered the anti-heroine because she defies the patriarchy and the social hierarchy in Victorian Society, as well as maintaining her