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Title: Many names, many shapes : the War Goddess in early Irish literature with reference to Indian texts
Author: Bauer-Harsant, U.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1996
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Abstract:
When studying the Irish texts it soon becomes apparent that the war-goddesses cannot be seen in isolation but only in relationship with a male hero. Two heroes have extensive dealings with the war-goddesses, Cú Chulainn, the famous hero of Ulster, and the Dagda of the Túatha Dé Danann. Cú Chulainn generally benefits from the activities of the Badb, the screeching battle crow, while the Morrgan displays a relentless hostility towards him. One important fact which emerges from these stories is the existence of a deep-seated similarity between the great hero and the otherworldly females which becomes particularly obvious when studying the various animal shapes the latter appear in. On the whole, the war-goddesses reveal themselves to be elusive, many-shaped figures who attack the hero's courage and inner strength rather than challenging him physically. They are not interested in questions of allegiance though this changes as time goes by, with later texts showing a different perspective. The relationship between the Morrgan and the Dagda in Cath Maige Tuired takes a different form. Here, a powerful male figure who incorporates both life-giving and destructive aspects within his nature turns the destructive and chaotic potential personified by the Morrgan into more controlled channels so that she benefits his own people. Through his agency she becomes a powerful influence in the battle against the Fomorians. Figures who resemble the war-goddesses closely are investigated such as Washers at the Ford, death-messengers, hags and other hostile females. Variations on familiar themes and developments over time can be observed. It seems that very often the male hero determines the role of the otherworldly female and the later texts show a marked decline of the latter.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.641385  DOI: Not available
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