FLED BRICRENN The Feast of Bricriu

I seem to have underestimated the number of little green books that I have so here are two more wonderful additions. As usual I will not be reviewing them in depth but I will talk about structure and the most interesting parts in them.

As you must have read from the title of the post the books I will be taking about today are related to the Feast of Bricriu. And there are two books for this post: Fled Bricrend (The Feast of Bricriu) and Fled Bricrenn: Reassessments.

The Irish Text Society Vol. II and Irish Texts Society Subsidiary Series 10

I’m going to start with the volume that has the main story of The Feast of Bricriu.

Title page of Irish Texts Society Vol. II

It starts with a Preface by the author and then it moves to the Introduction section. The Introduction section has two Introductions: General Introduction and a Special Introduction.

To me the Special Introduction had more information that I was interested in. It starts with the manuscripts used in the compilation of the text in the volume and who wrote them or compiled them and some interesting tidbits from them. There are five manuscripts in total. Next comes the probable date of the text and the editor uses things like grammar and loan words to figure it out.

Two pages from Irish Texts Society Vol. II

Next comes the text of the story in both Irish and English (129 pages of text). Appendix I is about Personal Names, Appendix II is about Geographical names, Appendix III is about textual notes, and finally Appendix IV is about Special Notes.

Irish Texts Society Subsidiary Series 10 title page.

The paperback has 5 essays that discuss aspects of The Feast of Bricriu. The first essay is by Bernhard Maier and it talks about the problems and parallels between the classic descriptions of Continental Celts and Fled Bricrenn. The second essay is about the significance of Fled Bricrenn within the broader Celtic context by John T. Koch. The third essay is by Nicolas Jacobs and it discusses Fled Bricrenn and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The fourth essay is about the role of Cú Roí in Fled Bricrenn and it is by Petra S. Hellmuth. Finally, the last essay is by Proinsias Mac Cana and it is about the structure and syntax in Fled Bricrenn.

For me the most interesting essays were the first, second and fourth essays. I was a little bored reading the third and fifth essays but your milage might vary.


Buile Suibhne

This review is not going to be about content but about what is available on this story in the Irish Text Society. I said a while back that I had finished all my Little Green Books but apparently I didn’t.

The three books discussed in the review.

Book One: A New Introduction by Joseph Falaky Nagy.

I read this Introduction two times, once before reading the main book and once after reading the main book. The first time I will admit that I didn’t really understand everything in the Introduction but after reading the main book it became very clear. Just a heads up if you have this book no need to read the first 32 pages of the main book as they are the same.

Main Book: Buile Suibne

This is the 1996 edition which has the same Introduction as the book above on top of the 1913 Introduction to the text. The Introduction, translation notes, and glossary of the original were all done by J. G. Keefe.

The original Introduction begins after page 32 and has a summary of the story, the manuscripts used, the dates of the manuscripts, a summary of the Battle of Magh Rath. Suibhne Geilt, the origins of the tale, and finally the composition of the tale.

The first chapter is the tale itself with the left side being the Irish and the right side being the English translation. The tale and translation end on page 159 (Not including the 32 pages of the Nagy Introduction). The notes start on page 161 and end on page 173. There is also a glossary that starts on page 179. The Index starts on page 193.

Book Three: Buile Suibhne – Perspectives and Reassessments

This is the text that I found most interesting. The 6 essays included in the volume all have interesting hypotheses and re-appraisals of scholarship related to the text.

The essays are:

  1. The Cult of St. Moling and the Making of Buile Shuibne by Máirín Ní Dhonnchadha.
  2. The “Death of the Wild-Man” in the Legend of Suibhne Geilt by Brian Frykenberg
  3. The Authorship and Transmission of Buile Shuibne a Re-Appraisal by Alexandra Bergholm
  4. James George O’Keeffe 1865-1937 by Pádraigín Riggs
  5. At Swim-Two-Birds: Sweeny and Many Others by Breandán Ó Conaire
  6. A Study of the Irish Legend of the Wild Man by Pádraig Ó Riain

My favorite ones are the first and the last essays. They have good analysis and interesting hypotheses.

The three books read together or if you have the 1996 or 2011 versions of the main book then just the main book and the assessments, are a great edition to the library of any Irish Literature buff and anyone who wants to understand the tale of the Frenzy of Suibhne.

Standish O’Grady’s Cuculain and Other Books

*This is a review of one book but along side reading this book I also read 3 others that are related to it. Those book are:

  1. History of Ireland: The Heroic Period
  2. History of Ireland: Cuculain and his Contemporaries
  3. History of Ireland: Critical and Philosophical

Now back to the main book.

Full Title: Standish O’Grady’s Culculain: A Critical Edition

Series: Irish Studies

Editors: Gregory Castle and Patrick Bixby. James MacKillop Series editor

Publisher: Syracuse University Press

Published: 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8156-3477-5

Pages: 298 including Timeline, Glossary, Further Reading, Biographical Notes, Index. Timeline starts at page 259

Synopsis: Between 1878 and 1881, Standish O’Grady published a three-volume History of Ireland that simultaneously recounted the heroic ancient past of the Irish people and helped to usher in a new era of cultural revival and political upheaval. At the heart of this history was the figure of Cuculain, the great mythic hero who would inspire a generation of writers and revolutionaries, from W. B. Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory to Patrick Pearse. Despite the profound influence O’Grady’s writings had on literary and political culture in Ireland, they are not as well known as they should be, particularly in view of the increasingly global interest in Irish culture. This critical edition of the Cuculain legend offers a concise, abridged version of the central story in History of Ireland-the rise of the young warrior, his famous exploits in the Tain Bo Cualinge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley), and his heroic death. Castle and Bixby’s edition also includes a scholarly introduction, biography, timeline, glossary, editorial notes, and critical essays, demonstrating the significance of O’Grady’s writing for the continued reimagining of Ireland’s past, present, and future. Inviting a new generation of readers to encounter this work, the volume provides the tools necessary to appreciate both O’Grady’s enduring importance as a writer and Cuculain’s continuing resonance as a cultural icon.


In part of the Introduction to the book called “Note on the Text”, the editors explained where they drew the text from and why. The text for this book, Standish O’Grady’s Cuculain A Critical Edition, is taken from the two-volume edition of History of Ireland and History of Ireland: Critical and Philosophical. This book is designed to make the material taken from these tomes readily accessible to contemporary readers, classroom use and for basic research purposes. They explain that they have provided a glossary at the end of the book of all the significant names in the story and contextualizing information about these names but that they have kept O’Grady’s spelling of these names.

The chapters selected from the three volumes of History of Ireland were selected to give the best telling of Cuculain as O’Grady presented it. They also gave summaries of the omitted chapters in separate sections. Finally, the editors included excerpts from the Introductions to all three volumes of O’Grady’s History to help the students understand the bardic culture that informs it.

The major part of the Introduction to the book is about who O’Grady is, what made him want to write the History of Ireland, his way of tackling the problems that arouse while he was writing and the people who influenced his writings. We also get a good look at his biases (every author has them and knowing them helps you assess the text you are reading and how much of it you can trust or not trust and filter out). It talks about how he decided to write the history he wrote and why he stopped before the modern era. The introduction also talks about the content of the Cuculain story and how O’Grady saw the hero and his role.

I found the full text of the Introduction to the book really illuminating and explains a lot about O’Grady and his reasons for writing what he did. Knowing his biases is really helpful to me. 

Part one is the full story of Cuculain according to O’Grady. I won’t go into the dissection of the story itself, it is enough to say that O’Grady’s translation is just one of many, pick your poison. As was already talked about in the Introduction to this book the whole part one is a cleaned-up version of the story from three different books that O’Grady wrote. I ended up reading them at the same time because I already had them but had not had the time to read them previously and I can say that if you read this book and you are only interested in Cuculain’s story then you really shouldn’t waste your time on the other three books. But if you are like me and you are interested in the history behind books and are curious about the other books then by all means go ahead and read the other three books. I found them a fast read alongside this one because a deep reading of this book gave me the freedom of skimming the same parts in the other books and a detailed reading of the parts not included in it.

Part two are essays on both O’Grady and his hero. There are four essays in this part each one is concerned with a different facet of O’Grady’s writings. It seems like O’Grady’s translations really influenced the revivalist movement in Ireland.

I found the collection of 4 books really interesting when read together. However, the critical edition edited by Castle and Bixby is my favorite among the four. And among the four essays critiquing O’Grady’s work…I really can’t choose a favorite. Each essay is interesting in its own right and the discussions are very informative.. 

Book Review Kings and Warriors

Full Title: Kings and Warriors in Early North-West Europe

Editors: Jan Erik Rekdal and Charles Doherty

Publisher: Four Courts Press

Published: 2016

ISBN: 978-1-84682-501-9

Pages: 480 including bibliography and index, the bibliography starts on page 433


This book explores the representation of the warrior in relation to the king in early north-west Europe. These essays, by scholars from the areas of Norse, Celtic and Anglo-Saxon studies, examine how medieval writers highlighted the role of the warrior in relation to kings, or to authority, and to society as a whole. The warrior who fought for his people was also a danger to them. How was such a destructive force to be controlled? The Christian church sought to challenge the ethos of the pagan tribal warrior and to reduce the barbarism of warfare (at least its worst excesses). We can follow this struggle in the medieval literature produced in the areas under study.


This book contains the results of the research project for the academic year of 2012/13 by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. There were three groups of people invited to participate in the project. The project theme was “The representation of the warrior in relation to the king in the European Middle Ages (600 – 1200)”. The project leader was Professor Jan Erik Rekdal, from the University of Olso. 

The project concentrated on three areas: the Celtic world of Ireland and Wales, the Norse world and Anglo-Saxon England. The reason these areas were chosen was because of the similarities they had between them. They were in contact with each other, they all experienced the impact of Christianity, they each had a pre-Christian past that lived on in varying degrees in the literature produced after the adoption of Christianity, and the literature of each of these areas is rich and distinctive. They also have differences, which tells us what was important to each society.

Each chapter in the book approaches the theme of the project in its own way based on the individual responses of the researchers/authors of this project. There is a common concern among the researchers and that is the nature of primitive government embodied by the King, and the move from archaic to a medieval polity. 

The King’s duty included protecting his people, extending his rule and represent his people in times of war and peace. The King’s power derived not just from being a warrior but also from his relationship to the Otherworld. The King however, couldn’t be a king without his warriors but if he ever faced any opposition it was usually from them. They were rewarded for their loyalty but they were punished for opposition too. 

The book has 8 research papers a bibliography and an Index. 

  • Living with war: poets and the Welsh experience c. 600 – 1300 by Marged Haycock. 85% of Welsh poetry is concerned with warfare, the skills of the King and some nobles and warbands. The main concern of the author was how warfare is communicated and mediated in poetry. In her quest she tells us how the treatment of warfare varies depending on genre, praise poetry versus chronicles and so on. She also tells us how to read the different discussions applied within these genres. It was really interesting to see how Welsh poetry looked at the warrior king as opposed to talking about the virtues of the king. 
  • Warrior and king in early Ireland by Charles Doherty. This paper is inspired by George Dumézil’s work. The author looks at coinage, the religion of the Celts especially the gods and goddesses of war to look at the symbolisms of king and warrior. He looks at the book of Kells for the same kind of symbolisms. The author suggests that the warband evolved in relation to kingship and indicates how kingship and the church came to an uneasy accommodation leading eventually to the Europeanization of kingship in the 12th century.  
  • The medieval king: Christian king and fearless warrior by Jan Erik Rekdal Rekdal discusses the two opposite deaths in medieval Irish literature: death on a pillow and death on the battlefield. 
  • Monsters of the tribe: berserk fury, shapeshifting and social dysfunction in Táin Bó Cúailnge, Egils Saga, and Hrólfs saga kraka by Ralph O’Connor. This author also uses Dumézil as a jump off point for his paper. He looks at the phenomenon of the frenzied warrior in 1 Irish tale and 2 Norse ones. 
  • Warrior Time by Morgan Thomas Davies. The essay discusses Warrior Time by looking at two Sagas, The Táin and Beowulf. According to the author the two tales have a lot of similarities when it comes to motifs but differ in the way they treat time.
  • The low men on the totem pole: warriors and rulers in Old Norse texts from c. 1200 by Ian Beuermann. In this essay the author looks at the relationship between rulers and warriors in tales that are concerned with the periphery of the Norse World. 
  • Óláfr Haraldsson, king, warrior and saint: presentations of King Óláfr Haraldsson the Saint in medieval poetry and prose by Jon Gunnar Jorgensen. Basically, this is an essay that looks at how Óláfr Haraldsson is represented in poetry.
  • The role and identity of the warrior: self-reflection and awareness in Old Norse literary and social spaces by Stefka G. Eriksen Here the author looks at how the warriors look at themselves and their attitudes towards warrior-ship and wars, and the tension between their identity as a warrior and their other social identities.

I really enjoyed this book as a whole but of course I really loved the essays that compared Irish literature to that of the Norse the most as it gave me a great look at the differences and similarities between the cultures and how their viewed their kings and warriors. I think if you were to ask me for my favorite essay it would be “Warrior and King in Early Ireland” and my second favorite one is “Monsters of the tribe”. I highly recommend this book!

The Destruction of Da Derga’s Hostel

Full Title: Destruction of Da Derga’s Hostel: Kingship and Narrative Artistry in a Mediaeval Irish Saga

Author:  Ralph O’Connor

Publisher: Oxford University Press, Oxford

Published: May 5th 2013

ISBN: 9780199666133

Pages: Hardcover, 386. Including GlosCsary, Works Cited and Index

Cover of the Book


Irish saga literature represents the largest collection of vernacular narrative in existence from the early Middle Ages, using the tools of Christian literacy to retell myths and legends about the pagan past. This unique corpus remains marginal to standard histories of Western literature: its tales are widely read, but their literary artistry remains a puzzle to many even within Celtic studies. This book, the first monograph to offer a systematic literary analysis of any single native Irish tale, aims to show how one particularly celebrated saga ‘works’ as a story: the Middle Irish tale Togail Bruidne Da Derga (The Destruction of Da Derga’s Hostel), which James Carney called ‘the finest saga of the early period’. This epic tale tells how the legendary king Conaire was raised by a shadowy Otherworld to the kingship of Tara and, after a fatal error of judgement, was hounded by spectres to an untimely death at Da Derga’s Hostel at the hands of his own foster-brothers. By turns lyrical and laconic, and rich in native mythological imagery, the story is told with a dramatic intensity worthy of Greek tragedy, and the intricate symmetry of its narrative procedure recalls the visual patterning of illuminated manuscripts such as The Book of Kells. This book invites the reader to enjoy and understand this literary masterpiece, explaining its narrative artistry within its native, classical and biblical literary contexts. Against a historical backdrop of shifting ideologies of Christian kingship, it interprets the saga’s possible significance for contemporary audiences as a questioning exploration of the challenges and paradoxes of kingship.


Ralph O’Connor’s study is the most comprehensive study of “The Destruction of Derga’s Hostel” that I have read so far. The book only has 10 chapters and yet it manages to have a comprehensive analysis of the saga. 

The first chapter talks about the textual background of the story without being too boring to the layman but still having enough interesting information to hold the interest of someone who is more interested in manuscripts. Chapters 2 to 7, provide a close reading of the text and takes the reader through the life of Conaire from his birth to his death. Chapters 8 and 9 take a close look at the Biblical dimension of the story. It looks at the classical/Biblical versus vernacular influences. And finally, Chapter 10 looks at the reception of the text by its original audience, while at the same time giving a historical framework for contemporary ideas of kingship.

The book also has a glossary of jargon, Irish and Latin terms and has tables and figures to explain the complicated structure of the story. What I loved most is that each chapter has sections which can be read alone so you don’t feel like you have to read the whole chapter in one sitting to get the full picture of what the author is trying to say. Also, the way the author challenges assumptions and revisits questions asked by other scholars before. 

I liked how the author compared the usages of the geisi in the Irish sagas to the way that prophecies are used in Greek sagas. I love the way he looks at the assumption that just because something looks like it is Biblical on the surface then it has to be of Biblical influence.

All in all, I really enjoyed everything in this book and I highly recommend it.


Full title: Cath Maige Mucrama – The Battle of Mag Mucrama (Volume # 50)

Edited by: Máirín O Daly

Publisher: Irish Text Society

Published: First published in 1975, Reprinted 1997

ISBN: 1 870 16650 7

Pages: 157 pages, includes Introduction, Appendix, Notes, Index to Notes, Names of Persons, Names of Peoples, and Names of Places.

Pretty Green Book
Title Page
Table of Contents

REVIEW: As usual with these books I’m not going to review the content of the myth rather I’m going to comment on the Introduction and the way the book is put together.

The Introduction starts by telling the reader that none of the texts that will appear in the book is appearing for the first time.

The editor then goes on to tell the reader about the texts used and when they were edited and by who. The editor then tells us why the order of the texts in the book were put in that way.

The Introduction also introduces the names and personalities of the characters in the myths. I found this section interesting but be warned Irish is used so if you don’t have Irish this section will be a bit difficult.

Another thing discussed in the Introduction are the motifs found in the stories, there are 6 of them.

Next the language of the texts is discussed along with the Archaisms preserved in the texts. Again, no Irish is going to hinder your understanding of the analysis of the language of the texts.

Finally, the editorial method is discussed briefly.

The Cath Maige Mucrama starts on page 38 and ends on page 63. Scéla Éogain begins on page 64 and ends on page 73. Scéla Mosaulum begins on page 74 and ends on page 87. Cath Cinn Abrad begins on page 88 and ends on page 93. All the stories have one page in Irish (on the left) and its translation in English (on the right). The Appendix is in Irish and the notes on the stories stat on page 102. Names of Persons starts on page 152, Names of People on page 155, and finally Names of Places on page 156.

As usual the book was a joy to read. I got to review my Irish (even though I had to break out the dictionary a lot) and enjoy some good myths along the way.


Full Title: Oidheadh Chloinne hUisneach (The Violent Death of Uisneach

Edited and Translated by: Caoimhín Mac Giolla Léith

Published by: Irish Texts Society

Published: October 1993

ISBN: 1 870 16656 6

Pages: 219, including Appendix I, Appendix II, Index of Personal Names, Index of Place and Tribal Names, Bibliography, and Abbreviations.

The cover of the book. It is green with the symbol of Irish Texts Society.

Review: The book has 9 chapters which the editor calls sections. In the Introduction (Section 1) the editor says that the book aims to provide a critical edition of the Early Modern Irish prose tale Oidheadh Chloinne hUisneach.

As usual when I talk about the Irish Texts Books I don’t usually talk about the stories or the analysis specifically because small as most of these books are the contain a boat load of information that anyone interested in Irish Mythology. This review is no different.

What is different about this book is that they have an analysis to the text but the editor also looks at the manuscripts and how they were or were not transmitted, and how all the manuscripts that contain the text date and relate to each other.

The editor makes a point of talking about the basis for this edition of the text, the method of transcription and then he gives you the Irish text of the story.

Next he gives you an edited version of the text which the reader of Modern Irish can recognize. But before that, he makes sure to tell you exactly what he did during his editing process to get the text presented. Then finally in Section 7 you get the Irish text of the story on the left and the English translation on the right. It starts on page 86 and ends on page 141.

Two text pages from the book. On the left the writing is in Irish and the right is in English.

The pages after the text and translation are notes on the text and translation, Appendix I, which is the text of Oidheadh Chloinne hUisneach from the Manuscript RIA B IV 1 (MS 2), Appendix II, which is Keating’s Introduction and Epilogue from NLI G113, both in Irish, Index of Personal Names, and an Index of Place and Tribal Names.

I have to admit that I was a little bored with the analysis provided but at the same time I am glad it was there I would rather know what was done to the manuscript while bored than not know what was done to the manuscript I am reading. As usual I really like these little green books!

BOOK REVIEW: 2 books

Irish Text Society Books: The Book of Rights and Lebor Na Cert Reassessment

BOOK 1: Lebor Na Cert (The Book of Right)

Series: Volume XLVI

Edited by: Myles Dillon

Publisher: Irish Text Society

Published: First published 1962, Reprinted 1984, 1994, 2012

ISBN: 1 870 16646 9

Pages: 198, with 2 Appendices, Index of names and places, a map, and notes on it.

Review: There is no way I’m going to review The Book of Right of course but I will be discussing some points about it.

The book has 4 chapters: Introduction, Lebor Na Cert, Appendix A- Timna Chathaír Máir, and Appendix B – Tables of Stipends and Tributes.

The Introduction is VERY informative. It talks about what the Book of Rights is all about, and how it was written (its structure, prose and poems), who may or may not have written it, how old it really is, the value of the Book of Rights as a historical document, and how the book was edited, when and by whom and from which manuscripts. (Pages ix – xxv)

The chapter that contains the Book of Rights has both the Irish and the English translation. The Irish text is on the left page and its English translation is on the right. It has both prose and poems. The prose explains the poem to come after it. (Pages 1 – 147)

Appendix A is a chapter that contains The Testament of Cathaír Már. There is an explanation of what that is and then similar to the Book of Right there is an Irish and an English translation. (Pages 148 – 178)

Appendix B is literally a bunch of tables of stipends and tributes from Cashel, Connachta, Ailech, Ulaid, Temair, Lagin, Cruachain, and Mide. (Pages 179 – 189)

Lebor Na Cert (The Book of Rights)

BOOK 1: Lebor Na Cert Reassessment

Series: Subsidiary Series No. 25

Edited by Kevin Murray

Publisher: Irish Text Society

Published: 2013

ISBN: 1-870166-74-4

Pages: 126, with Bibliography and Index

Review: The book has 5 very interesting essays by Fergus Kelly, Thomas Charles-Edwards, Catherine Swift, Edel Bhreathnach, and Kevin Murray.

Essay 1 by Fergus Kelly is all about Myles Dillon the editor of the Book Of Rights. Kelly talks about his scholarship contributions and the importance of his work, and his reputation as a nativist.

Essay 2 by Thomas Charles-Edwards talks about the organization of Ireland in terms of clientship as seen through the lens of the Book of Rights. It is a detailed analysis of the different types of clientship found in the text.

Essay 3 by Cathrine Swift looks at the broader historical context of som of the customs and practices that are important to the Book of Rights. Especially customs involving taxes, trade and trespass. This essay was really interesting because it discusses the interactions of the Norse and the Irish population.

Edel Bhreathnach’s essay talks about the Testament of Cathaír Már. Especially the genealogical traditions of Leinster.

Finally, Kevin Murray’s essay builds on what Dillon did and looks at the language and date of the Book of Rights.

I can’t choose a favorite between the essays as each one has interesting information from a different perspective. If you read those two books together you will get a comprehensive understanding of the Book of Rights.

Lebor Na Cert Reassessment

BOOK REVIEW Language and Tradition in Ireland

Picture of the book cover.

Full Title: Language and Tradition in Ireland: Continuities and Displacements

Editors: Maria Tymoczko and Colin Ireland

Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press and American Conference For Irish Studies

Published: 2003

ISBN: 9781558494275

Pages: 240 including Notes on Contributors and Index.

Synopsis: If language and culture are intimately connected, then cultures involving people who speak more than one language must have special characteristics, as well as particular social issues to negotiate. What are the challenges faced by a people with two or more languages as their heritage? How does that multiple heritage affect cultural forms, including literature and the arts? How does linguistic difference influence the conceptualization and writing of history? And if the meeting of languages within a people has involved contestation and power, how are those conflicts negotiated?

This volume uses the tools of critical theory to explore such questions with respect to the complex, multilingual history of Ireland. Avoiding the simplistic polarized oppositions popular with cultural nationalists, the contributors examine the nexus of language, tradition, and authority in Ireland that has created such a rich, multivalent culture.

Although the linguistic interface of Irish and English has dominated cultural negotiations in Ireland over the last five hundred years, the island has an even longer history of linguistic and cultural exchange. Arguing that tradition is never static, the essays in this volume challenge the concept of a monolithic cultural origin, while insisting on the importance of inherited discourses in the continuity of culture through time and across linguistic difference. The chapters cover a broad range of topics from early Irish narratives and Latin hagiography to literary works by such writers as Yeats, Joyce, Friel, Montague, and McGahern, as well as other cultural forms, including traditional Irish music. Several chapters address issues of politics and power, from the role of interpreters in the relations between linguistic communities in Ireland to the politicization of language in Northern Ireland since the 1980s. Taken together, the essays illuminate scholarly domains as varied as postcolonial theory, the relationship between language and nation, the nature of tradition, and Irish literature of all periods.

In addition to the editors, contributors include Michael Cronin, Joanne Findon, Helen Fulton, Declan Kiberd, Jeremy Lowe, Gordon McCoy and Camille O’Reilly, Catherine McKenna, Coilin Owens, Thomas Dillon Redshaw, and Sally K. Sommers Smith.”

Review: I’m honestly not sure what I should write about this book. I bought it thinking it was one thing but it turned out to be something totally different and that is not the fault of the book but my own fault. So I’m going to write this from just of the perspective of reading the book not what I thought it was going to be about.

There are 11 essays in this book, and of these 11 I was only interested in 5. And of these 5 only 3 made any sense to me because I at least knew the material they were talking about.

The first of the three essays was actually the introduction. It was a discussion of the core issues of this volume, a little history, definitions of words like tradition and how it is used in the book and asking some good questions about language and culture.

Essay number 2 that I was interested in was about gender and power in Serglige Con Culainn and The Only Jealousy of Emer. I found this essay really informative and the discussion was an honest one about how the changes Yeats made diluted the power of women in the tale.

Finally essay number 3 was about the Tain Bo Cuailnge and the dramatization of violence and death. And a great discussion of how this tale wasn’t a simple straight forward heroic tale.

Because I wasn’t familiar with a lot of the material that the book discusses I honestly did not find this book interesting as a whole but the few essays that did interest me were really good and made me think seriously and sometimes even look at certain tales with a new fresh eye. So from that respect I enjoyed what little I knew from the book. Again this is not the book’s fault it is purely my own.

BOOK REVIEW The Strange World of Human Sacrifice

Full Title: The Strange World of Human Sacrifice

Series: Studies in History and Anthropology of Religion 01

Editor: Jan N. Bremmer

Publisher: Peeters

Published: 2007

ISBN: 978-90-429-1843-6

Pages: 268 including Index of names, subjects and passages that starts on page 259


**description from GoodReads.com



Human Sacrifice: A Brief Introduction: this introductory essay sets up the rest of the book very well. It gives a brief introduction into what this book is about, a little introduction to each essay and the controversies surrounding Human Sacrifice.

Aztec Human Sacrifice as Expiation

– Human Sacrifice in Medieval Irish Literature: I was very interested in reading this essay and though it was a little limited in what it discussed because of space constraints it was still an informative read.

– Myth and Ritual in Greek Human Sacrifice: Lykaon, Polyxena, and the case of the Rhodian Criminal

– The Early Christians and Human Sacrifice

– Child Sacrifice in Ancient Israel: The Status Quaestionis.

– Human Sacrifice in Ancient Egypt

– Retainer Sacrifice in Egypt and in Nubia

– Human Sacrifice in India in Vedic Times and Before

– Human Sacrifice (Purusamedha), Construction Sacrifice and the Origin of the Idea of the “Man of the Homestead” (Vāstupurusa)

– Human Sacrifice Among the Konds

– Human Sacrifice in Japan

– Human Sacrifice and Self-sacrifice in China: A Century of Revelation

The book pretty much circumvented the globe with its study of human sacrifices. It was really interesting to read about the differences and similarities for the reasons behind human sacrifices. This book held my interest until the very last minute.

If you are looking for a book about human sacrifice but not focused fully on the Celts then this is a great resource to have.