Cu Chulainn Setanta first century

c.e.) Cu Chulainn, who supposedly dates to the first century, is considered the greatest hero of Irish mythology. Born Setanta, he earned the name Cu Chulainn (Hound of Chulainn) at an early age by killing a fierce watchdog and then taking its place. At the age of seven, he took up arms in accordance with a Druid prophesy. His battle prowess was legendary, made even more so when he trained with the witch woman Scathach, who taught him how to use the gde bulg, a "blood-singing" spear, thrown with the foot, that was almost impossible to overcome.

As is typical with epic heroes, many of Cu Chulai-nn's adventures involved supernatural creatures. In one such tale, Cu Roi, king of Munster and a sorcerer, appeared to Cu Chulainn and two companions in disguise and challenged them to the beheading game. After accepting the challenge, Cu Chulainn's friends beheaded the stranger, who subsequently picked up his head and left. The two friends then fled, while Cu Chulainn remained. Cu Roi spared his life and declared him honorable. This central story would be echoed centuries later in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Cu Chulainn was exceptionally handsome and had numerous lovers. However, he married only one woman, Emer. She patiently ignored his infidelities for the most part. occasionally, however, Cu Chulainn would be overcome by love (instead of lust), and then Emer would grow petulant.

Cu Chulainn was killed after breaking the geas (magical condition) laid upon him by Druids and becoming spiritually weakened. Lugaid, son of Cu Roi, killed his charioteer, his horse, and then, finally, Cu Chulainn himself. Emer died of grief soon afterward. According to tradition, the couple are buried in one grave, marked with an ogham stone.

See also early Irish sagas.

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