The Characters Speak

Scéfe día·tuidchis ní bus mó!

Scéfe día·tuidchis ní bus mó!

(I will vomit * if you were to come * anything * that would be * more)

I'll vomit if you come any closer!

In "Scéla Cano Meic Gartnáin" the legendary poet Senchán Torpéist is described as a strange desiccated little man, all wrapped up in his woolen cloak. When his enormous wife goes off on a trip, the wife's handmaid attempts to serve him the mid-day meal. The poet responds in alarm approaching hysteria, warning her off and ending his speech with the above threat!

Nipa úar th'fhuil-siu lim-sa...

Nipa úar th'fhuil-siu lim-sa for talmain in tan not digél.

(will not be * cold * your * blood * with me * on * earth * the * time * that I will avenge you)

Your blood will not be cold on the ground by the time I avenge you.

This is the promise that Cú Chulainn makes to Conall Cernach in "Brislech Mór Maige Murthemni".

Na frithail in n-airchisecht nachit·chobradar.

Na frithail in n-airchisecht nachit·chobradar.

(do not * attend to * the * compassion * that does not help you)

Do not entertain the pity that does you no good.

This is what Cú Chulainn tells Lóeg, his charioteer and old friend, in "Brislech Mór Maige Murthemni" in LL, when Lóeg tries to talk him out of going into an ill-omened battle.

Nípsa chú-sa imlomtha fuidell...

Nípsa chú-sa imlomtha fuidell.
Basa chú-sa tairdbe buiden.

(not was I * hound * of gnawing * remnants * was I * hound * of tearing * of companies)

I was not a hound for gnawing at scraps.
I was a hound for tearing into troops.

This was the phantom Cú Chulainn's posthumous opinion of himself, delivered in "Siaburcharpat Con Culaind" (LU 9327-8) as one of a series of four similar contrasted pairings.

Ní barae fri búire dait-siu ón.

Ní barae fri búire dait-siu ón.

(not * anger * against * rage * for you * that)

You won't get wrath in return for rage.

In "Tochmarc Étaíne", Eochaid and Midir are both in love with Étaín. When Midir, who is furious, confronts Eochaid, that is the latter's reply: "I won't let you provoke me. I'm going to be reasonable. Take it easy."

La firu ferdacht...

La firu ferdacht. La mná mifre.

(with * men * manliness / with * women * despondency)

Men are meant to be manly. Women are meant to be sad.

So says Cú Chulainn in "Brislech Mór Maige Murthemni". This sentiment was echoed in the refrain of a nineteenth century poem, "The Three Fishers", by Charles Kingsley:

"For men must work and women must weep,
And the sooner it's over, the sooner to sleep."

Rot·naisc mar nasces idu feda!

Rot·naisc mar nasces idu feda!

(he bound you * as * binds * ivy (?) * trees)

He bound you the way ivy binds trees!

This is one of a string of taunts delivered by the charioteer Lóeg to Cú Chulainn in "Aided Guill", after the hero's enemy got the better of him in combat. (RC 14) Cú Chulainn uses an almost identical image to threaten Fergus at the conclusion of the LL Táin: "Rat nasciub mar nasces féith fidu!" ("I will bind you the way honeysuckle binds trees!")

Acht ropa airdirc-se...

Acht ropa airdirc-se, maith limm cen co beinn acht óenlá for domun.

(but * that I were * famous - emphatic * good * with me * without * that * I be * but * one day * on * earth)

If I were famous, I'd gladly have just one day on earth.

Spoken by Cú Chulainn in the "Youthful Exploits" section of the Táin, on the day that he first took up a grown man's weapons. A proverbial version of this sentiment, found in the Fiannaíocht and elsewhere, says "Is buaine bladh ná saol." (Fame is more enduring than life.) The late daredevil Evel Knievel framed a milder but colorful version of this sentiment: "Bones heal, chicks dig scars, pain is temporary, glory is forever."

Ní eter licc ocus losait rom-alt-sa!

Ní eter licc ocus losait rom-alt-sa!

(not * between * slab * and * kneading trough * has me been reared - emphatic)

I was not raised between the kneading slab and the kneading trough!

Cú Chulainn uses this and other proverbial expressions in "Tochmarc Emere" to assert that he was not brought up as a kitchen serf, but rather in the company of poets and warriors.

In fer dóid in mbec sechum-sa, no-íssad a mmór.

In fer dóid in mbec sechum-sa, no-íssad a mmór.

(the * man * (who) ate * the * little * past me - emphatic * would eat * the * great)

The man who ate a little bit behind my back would eat the lot.
(If you give him an inch, he'll take a mile. He's not to be trusted.)

Spoken by a character in "Talland Étair" just before he reacts altogether intemperately to a perceived slight.

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