Cuchulain of Muirthemne

XV. Advice to a Prince

   There was a meeting of the three provinces of Ireland held about this time in Teamhair, to try could they find some person to give the High Kingship of Ireland to; for they thought it a pity the Hill of the Lordship of Ireland, that is Teamhair, to be without the rule of a king on it, and the tribes to be without a king's government to judge their houses. For the men of Ireland had been without the government of a High King over them since the death of Conaire at Da Derga's Inn.
   And the kings that met now at the court of Cairbre Niafer were Ailell and Maeve of Connaught, and Curoi, and Tigernach, son of Luchta, king of Tuathmumain, and Finn, son of Ross, king of Leinster. But they would not ask the men of Ulster to help them in choosing a king, for they were all of them against the men of Ulster.
   There was a bull-feast made ready then, the same way as the time Conaire was chosen, to find out who was the best man to get the kingship.
   After a while the dreamer screamed out in his sleep, and told what he saw to the kings. And what he saw this time, was a young strong man, with high looks, and with two red stripes on his body, and he sitting over the pillow of a man that was wasting away in Emain Macha.
   A message was sent then with this account to Emain Macha. The men of Ulster were gathered at that time about Cuchulain, that was on his sick-bed. The messenger told his story to Conchubar and to the chief men of Ulster.
   "There is a young man of good race and good birth with us now that answers to that account," said Conchubar; "that is Lugaid of the Red Stripes, son of Clothru, daughter of Eochaid Feidlech, the pupil of Cuchulain; and he is sitting by his pillow within, caring him, for he is on his sick-bed."
   And when it was told Cuchulain that messengers were come for Lugaid, to make him King in Teamhair, he rose up and began to advise him, and it is what he said:
   "Do not be a frightened man in a battle; do not be light-minded, hard to reach, or proud. Do not be ungentle, or hasty, or passionate; do not be overcome with the drunkenness of great riches, like a flea that is drowned in the ale of a king's house. Do not scatter many feasts to strangers; do not visit mean people that cannot receive you as a king. Do not let wrongful possession stand because it has lasted long; but let witnesses be searched to know who is the right owner of land. Let the tellers of history tell truth before you; let the lands of brothers and their increase be set down in their lifetime; if a family has increased in its branches, is it not from the one stem they are come? Let them be called up, let the old chains be established by oaths; let the heir be left in lawful possession of the place his fathers lived in; let strangers be driven off it by force.
   "Do not use too many words. Do not speak noisily; do not mock, do not give insults, do not make little of old people. Do not think ill of any one; do not ask what is hard to give. Let you have a law of lending, a law of oppression, a law of pledging. Be obedient to the advice of the wise; keep in mind the advice of the old. Be a follower of the rules of your fathers. Do not be cold-hearted to friends; be strong towards your enemies; do not give evil for evil in your battles. Do not be given to too much talking. Do not speak any harm of others. Do not waste, do not scatter, do not do away with what is your own. When you do wrong, rake the blame of it; do not give up the truth for any man. Do not be trying to be first, the way you will not be jealous; do not be an idler, that you may not be weak; do not ask too much, that you may not be thought little of. Are you willing to follow this advice, my son?"
   Then Lugaid answered Cuchulain, and it is what he said: "As long as all goes well, I will keep to your words, and every one will know that there is nothing wanting in me; all will be done that can be done."
   Then Lugaid werit away with the messengers to Teamhair, and he was made king, and he slept in Teamhair that night. And after that all the people that had gathered there went to their own homes.


Cuchulain by John Duncan
Cuchulain by John Duncan