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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Thu 31 Dec, 2015 9:35 pm    Post subject: Help Decipher Ferdiad's Armour         Reply with quote

"And thus was
the manner of this harness of battle and fight and combat: He
put his silken, glossy tunic with its border of speckled gold,
next to his white skin. Over this, outside, he put his
brown-leathern, well-sewed kilt. Outside of this he put a
huge, goodly flag, the size of a millstone. He put his solid,
very deep, iron kilt of twice molten iron over the huge,
goodly flag as large as a millstone, through fear and dread of
the Gae Bulga on that day."

"Ferdiad heard the Gae Bulga called for. He thrust his shield
down to protect the lower part of his body. Cúchulainn
gripped the short spear, cast it off the palm of his hand over
the rim of the shield and over the edge of the corselet and
horn-skin, so that its farther half was visible after piercing his
heart in his bosom. Ferdiad gave a thrust of his shield
upwards to protect the upper part of his body, though it was
help that came too late. The servant set the Gae Bulga down
the stream, and Cúchulainn caught it in the fork of his foot,
and threw the Gae Bulga as far as he could cast underneath
at Ferdiad, so that it passed through the strong, thick, iron
apron of wrought iron, and broke in three parts the huge,
goodly stone the size of a millstone, so that it cut its way
through the body's protection into him, till every joint and
every limb was filled with its barbs." From : http://www.shee-eire.com/magic&mythology/.../Page1.htm


He also has some kind of horn skin armour:

"Ferdiad wears a skin of horn,
Against which fight nor might prevails!"

"Shall not great feats thee undo,
Though thou are purple, horny-skinned?
And the maid thou boasts of,
Shall not, Daman's son, be thine!

And why
complain here, Ferdiad?" said Cúchulainn. "Thou hast
a horn skin whereby to multiply feats and deeds of arms on
me, and thou hast not shown me how it is closed or how it is
opened."

To make things more confusing, there's another translation that has him first putting on trews, then the leather, stone and iron:
"And thus was the manner of this harness of battle and fight and combat: He put his silken, glossy trews with its border of speckled gold, next to his white skin. Over this, outside, he put his brown-leathern, well-sewed kilt. Outside of this he put a huge, goodly flag, the size of a millstone. He put his solid, very deep, iron kilt of twice molten iron over the huge, goodly flag as large as a millstone, through fear and dread of the Gae Bulga on that day."
From http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/cool/cool20.htm

I read the trews version first. It sounded like the leather, stone, and iron were being worn over the trews below the waist. The word kilt threw me off here. Kilt is a modern term, right? So kilt couldn't be right. Also, weren't trews worn by the lower classes? So I'm thinking the tunic version makes more sense.

So what would the "brown-leathern, well sewn kilt" be? Would the iron kilt/apron be some kind of plate or mail?
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Thu 31 Dec, 2015 11:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That translation looks pretty dodgy. Does anyone have the poem in its original language?
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Fri 01 Jan, 2016 7:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No luck with finding the original version. This (at bottom) http://bardmythologies.com/ferdia-at-the-ford/ has my original thought. The leather, stone, and iron are are protecting the groin.

Besides his battle girdle, Cu Chulainn also wears protection for the lower part of his body:

"Then he put on his apron, skin-like, silken, with its edge of white gold variegated, against the soft lower part of his body. He put on his dark apron of dark leather, well tanned, of the choice of four ox-hides of a heifer, with his battle-girdle of cows’ skins (?) about it over his silken skin-like apron."

So Ferdiad might have horn skin armour for upper body, with leather, stone, and iron for lower. I'm still not sure.


Last edited by Len Parker on Fri 01 Jan, 2016 7:54 am; edited 1 time in total
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Fri 01 Jan, 2016 7:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah, translations are tricky, because, well, almost *every* word we use is modern! Even a word which looks the same back then can have a different meaning...

"Flag" is obviously a flagstone. Best guess for the iron is mail. Though I agree that "kilt" may not be the best translation for whatever the original word is--it may be closer to "kirtle" for which we'd say tunic or shirt. (The modern words shirt and skirt both come from the Old English "scirt", as a comparison!)

First thing that springs to mind for horn armor is scale.

Where's Steve Peffley? This is his passion, though I've never heard him pick apart this particular passage.

Matthew
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Fri 01 Jan, 2016 1:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is no point discussing what the English terms might have meant because we have no idea whether "horn", "skin", "flag" and "kilt" and all of the other words are the best interpretation. We need to start with the original language and translate it using a technical rather than a literary mindset. A reconstruction can't be attempted until this is done. We've already seen in other texts how translators insert terms like "leather" and "hide" when the original text says no such thing..
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Fri 01 Jan, 2016 6:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This obviously isn't the original, but another translation, taken from the Corpus of Electronic Texts.

"Then before Cú Chulainn came to meet him, he put on his battle equipment. Of that battle equipment was his filmy satin apron with its border of variegated gold which he wore next to his fair skin. Outside that he put on his apron of supple brown leather, and outside that a great stone as big as a millstone, and outside that stone, through fear and dread of the ga bulga that day, he put his strong, deep, iron apron made of smelted iron. On his head he put his crested helmet of battle which was adorned with forty carbuncle-gems, studded with red enamel and crystal and carbuncle and brilliant stones from the eastern world. In his right hand he took his fierce, strong spear. He set at his left side his curved battle-sword with its golden hilt and guards of red gold. On the arching slope of his back he put his huge, enormous fair shield with its fifty bosses into each boss of which a show boar could fit, not to speak of the great central boss of red gold"

Ok so apart from the stone thing (haven't a clue what this is supposed to be), Ferdiad seems to be wearing either a silk/satin aketon, then a layer of leather, then a mail shirt, or a silk/satin shirt, then a leather covered aketon, then a mail shirt. I haven't seen the original text but I know that in the past the word leine was often miss-translated as kilt, when it actually means a shirt/tunic.

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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Fri 01 Jan, 2016 7:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I just read the introduction for second (trews) version I posted. (below the MSS.) http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/crc/crc02.htm The author certainly sounds educated on the subject.
I think it's a scale shirt with leather, stone, and mail? skirt.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Fri 01 Jan, 2016 7:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As for the "horn skin", my impression is that this wasn't so much an actual armour, as it was a skill or feat. Perhaps something similar to the Chinese qigong skill of iron body.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Fri 01 Jan, 2016 8:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is where I found the above translation.

http://www.ucc.ie/celt/online/T301035/text029.html

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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Sat 02 Jan, 2016 6:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The horn skin might be the equivalent of Sigfried's dragon skin.
Here's an interesting theory on Sigfried's skin being the skin condition ichthyosis: http://confettiskin.com/wp/2013/01/17/holmes-and-opera/
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Sat 02 Jan, 2016 7:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

RIA MS 2 E 25
https://www.isos.dias.ie/english/index.html

Click on "55, 45 (i). TÁIN BÓ CUAILNGE." and the original Gaelic text on parchment will appear in a separate window, if anyone can read it.

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sat 02 Jan, 2016 8:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Len Parker wrote:

I think it's a scale shirt with leather, stone, and mail? skirt.


Why would Ferdiad wear 4 layers of defence on his lower body (silk, leather, stone, and mail) and only horn scales to protect his torso?

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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sat 02 Jan, 2016 11:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thinking more about the stone. The description of its size cannot be trusted. Ferdiad's shield is said to have fifty bosses, each of which could fit a show boar on the inside. Ferdiad must a been a giant to use such a shield. So his great stone the size of a milestone might have been a small thing to carry around for a warrior as mighty as Ferdiad. Perhaps this stone was a sort of talisman or good luck charm.
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Sat 02 Jan, 2016 1:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A bit off topic, but here is the theory for why the ancients thought heroes were giants: http://www.nytimes.com/2000/07/04/science/gre...wanted=all

"Other discoveries of huge mammal bones were viewed as confirmation of the ancient Greek belief in ancestral heroes as 15-foot giants."

"Ms. Mayor said her study of ancient texts revealed ample evidence of a ''bone rush'' among Greeks in the fifth century B.C. Every discovery of huge bones, it seems, prompted speculation that they belonged to this hero or that giant."

"She found in a second-century A.D. geography by the traveler Pausanias an account of the excitement created by the discovery of bones of heroic proportions that were taken to be those of mighty Ajax, of Trojan War legend. ''Ajax's kneecaps were exactly the size of a discus for the boys' pentathlon,'' Pausanias wrote."

I think the same thing was happening with the celts and germans. I remember something about the tip of Sigfried's sword as high as wheat.
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Richard Miller




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PostPosted: Sat 02 Jan, 2016 5:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm still looking for a translation I once read where the term "flag" was replaced by the word "cape". Ever since I read that several years ago, I understood the armor referred to was a heavy woven or hide garment, and the millstone reference was just for comparison to it's size.
I don't mean to add confusion, but I believe that I either read the translation wrong or it was a lousy translation.
The "cape" translation would lend some possibility to a scale armor of bone or flaked stone, however.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Jan, 2016 3:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Miller wrote:

The "cape" translation would lend some possibility to a scale armor of bone or flaked stone, however.


I sorry. I don't mean to sound rude, but I don't see how a "cape" the size of a milestone would imply a scale armour of bone or flaked stone.

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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Sun 03 Jan, 2016 6:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You have to recreate the fight:
1. Ferdiad lowers his shield to protect the lower part of his body.
2. Cu Chulainn throws his spear over Ferdiad's shield, penetrating his horn skin.
3. Ferdiad then raises his shield too late.
4. Cu Chulainn throws the barbed spear gae bulga, going underneath Ferdiad's shield, splitting the flagstone.

It sounds like the stone is covering his stomach or his groin.

This is kind of what I'm imagining:
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Jan, 2016 12:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Len. I wouldn't take the text too literally. It also says the the gae bulga entered Ferdiad's body though his anus.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Jan, 2016 1:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Len Parker wrote:
You have to recreate the fight:
1. Ferdiad lowers his shield to protect the lower part of his body.
2. Cu Chulainn throws his spear over Ferdiad's shield, penetrating his horn skin.
3. Ferdiad then raises his shield too late.
4. Cu Chulainn throws the barbed spear gae bulga, going underneath Ferdiad's shield, splitting the flagstone.

It sounds like the stone is covering his stomach or his groin.

You need an accurate translation before you can do anything. Mart has given us the original text. Now we need someone to translate the key passages. Take a look at my Bronze Age book. In the appendix I've shown how the translations of the Iliad that we have available are completely useless for the kind of analysis you want to do. I had to translate it myself using the most literal interpretation possible, which removed all of the literary phrases used by the original translators that distorted the meaning.

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Jan, 2016 1:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Miller wrote:
I'm still looking for a translation I once read where the term "flag" was replaced by the word "cape". Ever since I read that several years ago, I understood the armor referred to was a heavy woven or hide garment, and the millstone reference was just for comparison to it's size.
I don't mean to add confusion, but I believe that I either read the translation wrong or it was a lousy translation.
The "cape" translation would lend some possibility to a scale armor of bone or flaked stone, however.

This is a perfect example of why translations are useless for this kind of analysis. Here we have a writer using an older English translation instead of the original text and failed to understand that "flag" refers to a block of dressed stone, not a piece of cloth. So this misguided writer gets the bright idea that Cú Chulainn must be wearing a cape instead of carrying a block of stone.

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