First of what I hope will be many Mythic Mondays! Our first myth is an Irish one and my favorite of the lot (there are many). Even though it’s called The Wooing of Etain (Tochmarc Etaine, don’t ask me to type those accent marks), it actually begins setting up the origins of Aengus Og aka the god of love, youth, poetry, creativity, and probably something else depending on what you read. Aengus features in a few other Irish myths like The Pursuit of Diarmuind and Grainne and his own lovers’ tale with Caer Ibormeith.
If you want the full thing, here’s a link to it.
If you want the short version, keep reading.
So the gods of Ireland, I believe, don’t live underground at this point. They still rule the Emerald Isle proper and humans aren’t a thing quite yet. There’s a famous king, a womanizer named Eochaid Ollathair, but more commonly known as The Dagda. He may or may not have not been the High King of Ireland who runs all the other kings at the time, but he became one at some point. He’s a great guy in many ways, but he had a lot of kids from a lot of different women, and for the life of me the closest person I can find who could be his wife is Morrigan, the Goddess of Death (she’s not much with the baby bearing).
The Dagda has an affair with this noble lady named Boann, but the issue is she’s married to Elcmar, Lord of Brugh Na Boyne (aka the Brug, and it’s got Newgrange) and he’s powerful enough to make our lovely couple nervous when Boann gets pregnant. So, the Dagda, being a very clever and very powerful in his own right, sends Elcmar on different journeys and errands that take him away from home for nine whole months until Boann gives birth and he can dump his new son off with one of his older sons to raise. The new son is Aengus Og, and his new foster father/big brother is Midir.
Midir was a bit of a womanizer himself (a lot of sons and I highly doubt they were all from his wife Fuamnach, but more on her later), but he was a good dad. He raised Aengus like his own, so Aengus thought his dad WAS actually Midir and he was heir. One day while playing with some other noble kids, one of them accused Aengus of being the son of a peasant. Aengus understandably whined to Midir about this (more on that later too), and Midir fessed up about Aengus’ real parentage.
Now Aengus finds himself without any title, inheritance, or land to call his own. Midir invited him to meet the Dagda to change that. So the two of them visited their mutual dad, explained the situation, and Aengus asked for an estate of his own. At this point the Dagda owed him and that cleverness streak kicked in. The three (mostly the Dagda) hatch a scheme for Aengus to take Brugh Na Boyne from Elcmar because why not?
Aengus followed daddy’s plan, tricked Elcmar into letting him rule the place for “a day and a night” in some Gaelic word play, and refused to give it back when Elcmar came because “time is measured in days and nights” so Elcmar actually gave it to him forever. Elcmar isn’t happy with this obviously, so Aengus suggests they call in someone else to judge the matter and put it to rest. Who does Aengus suggest? The Dagda of course!
The Dagda comes in, sides with Aengus, and Elcmar sees his judgement as fair and accepts the verdict. Aengus now has land of his own and he’ll be happy with what he has now, right?
Wrong. But more on that next week in Part 2!
What do you think of this twisted family drama? The Greeks weren’t the only pantheon with this stuff. If you think that’s bad, this baby’s just getting started.