The Tain Bo Culaigne
The Account Of The Appearance Of Cuchulain
Early the next morning Cuchulain came to observe the host and to display his
comely, beautiful form to the matrons and dames and girls and maidens and poets
and men of art, for he did not consider it an honour nor becoming, the wild,
proud shape of magic which had been manifested to them the night before. It was
for that then that he came to exhibit his comely, beautiful form on that day.
Truly fair was the youth that came there to display his form to the hosts,
Cuchulain, to wit son of Sualtaim. Three heads of hair he wore; brown at the
skin, blood-red in the middle, a golden-yellow crown what thatched it. Beautiful
was the arrangement of the hair, with three coils of hair wound round the nape
of his neck, so that like to a strand of thread of gold was each thread-like,
loose-flowing, deep-golden, magnificent, long-tressed, splendid, beauteous-hued
hair as it fell down over his shoulders. A hundred bright-purple windings of
gold-flaming red gold at his neck.
A hundred salmon-coloured (?) cords strung with carbuncles as a covering
round his head. Four spots on either of his two cheeks, even a yellow spot, and
a green spot, and a blue spot, and a purple spot. Seven jewels of the eye's
brilliance was either of his kingly eyes. Seven toes to either of his two feet.
Seven fingers to either of his two hands, with the clutch of hawk's claw, with
the grip of hedgehog's talon in every separate one of them.
He also put on him that day his fair-day dress. To this apparel about him
belonged, namely, a beautiful, well-fitting, purple, fringed, five-folded
mantle. A white brooch of silvered bronze or of white silver incrusted with
burnished gold over his fair white breast, as if it were a full-fulgent lantern
that eyes of men could not behold for its resplendence and crystal shining. A
striped chest-jacket of silk on his skin, fairly adorned with borders and
braidings and trimmings of gold and silver and silvered bronze; it reached to
the upper hem of his dark, brown-red warlike breeches of royal silk.
A magnificent, brown-purple buckler he bore, with five wheels of gold on it,
with a rim of pure white silver around it. A gold-hilted hammered sword at his
left side. A long grey-edged spear together with a trenchant bye-spear for
defence, with thongs for throwing and with rivets of whitened bronze, alongside
him in the chariot. Nine heads he bore in one of his hands and ten in the other,
and these he brandished before the hosts in token of his prowess and cunning.
Medb hid her face beneath a shelter of shields lest Cuchulain should cast at her
Then it was that the maidens of Connacht besought the men of Erin to lift
them up on the flat of the shields above the warriors' shoulders, to behold the
aspect of Cuchulain. For they marvelled at the beautiful, comely appearance he
showed them that day compared with the low, arrogant shape of magic in which
they had seen him the night before.