The Tain Bo Culaigne
The Combat Of Larinè MacNois
"Good, my master Laeg," said Cuchulain, "go for me to the camp of the men of
Erin to hold converse with Lugaid and inquire for me if the cast I made a while
ago reached Ferbaeth or did not reach, and if it did reach him, ask who comes to
meet me to fight and do battle with me on the morrow."
Laeg proceeds to Lugaid's tent. Lugaid bids him welcome. "I take that welcome
as truly meant," Laeg replied. "It is truly meant for thee," quoth Lugaid, "to
hold converse with thee am I come from thine own foster-brother, that thou
mayest tell me whether Ferbaeth was smitten." "He was," answered Lugaid, "and a
blessing on the hand that smote him, for he fell dead in the glen a while ago."
"Tell me who comes to-morrow to combat Cuchulain?" "They are persuading a
brother of mine own to go meet him, a foolish, haughty arrogant youth, yet
dealing stout blows and stubborn. And it is to this end that he may fall at his
hands, so that I myself must then go to avenge him. But I will not go there till
the very day of doom. Larinè great-grandson of Blathmac is that brother. And I
will go thither to speak with Cuchulain about him," said Lugaid.
Lugaid's two horses were taken and his chariot was yoked to them and he came
to his tryst with Cuchulain, so that a parley was had between them. Then it was
that Lugaid spake. "They are persuading a brother of mine to come fight thee on
the morrow, to-wit, a foolish, dull, uncouth youth, dealing stout blows. And it
is for this reason they are to send him to fight thee, that he may fall at thy
hands, and to see if I myself will come to avenge him upon thee. But I will not,
till the very day of doom. And by the fellowship that is between us. Slay not my
"By my conscience, truly," cried Cuchulain, "the next thing to death will I
inflict on him. "I give thee leave," said Lugaid; "it would please me well
shouldst thou beat him sorely, for to my dishonour he comes to attack thee."
Thereupon Cuchulain went back and Lugaid returned to the camp.
Then on the next day it was that Larinè son of Nos was summoned to the tent
of Ailill and Medb, and Finnabair was placed by his side. It was she that filled
up the drinking horns for him and gave him a kiss with each draught that he took
and served him his food. "Not to every one with Medb is given the drink that is
poured out for Ferbaeth or for Larinè," quoth Finnabair; "only the load of fifty
wagons of it was brought to the camp."
["Yonder pair rejoiceth my heart," said Medb.] "Whom wouldst thou say?"
[asked Ailill.] "The man yonder, in truth," said she. "What of him?" asked
Ailill. "It is thy wont to set the mind on that which is far from the purpose
(Medb answered). It were more becoming for thee to bestow thy thought on the
couple in whom are united the greatest distinction and beauty to be found on any
road in Erin, namely Finnabair and Larinè macNois." "I regard them as thou
dost," answered Ailill. It was then that Larinè shook and tossed himself with
joy, so that the sewings of the flock bed burst under him and the mead of the
camp was speckled with its feathers.
Larinè longed for day with its full light to go to attack Cuchulain. At the
early day-dawn on the morrow he came, and he brought a wagon-load of arms with
him, and he came on to the ford to encounter Cuchulain. The mighty warriors of
the camp and station considered it not a goodly enough sight to view the combat
of Larinè; only the women and boys and girls went to scoff and to jeer at his
Cuchulain went to meet him at the ford and he deemed it unbecoming to bring
along arm, so he came to the encounter unarmed. Cuchulain knocked all of
Larinè's weapons out of his hand as one might knock toys out of the hand of an
infant. Cuchulain ground and bruised him between his arms, he lashed him and
clasped him, he squeezed him and shook him, so that he spilled all the dirt out
of him, so that an unclean, filthy wrack of cloud arose in the four airts
wherein he was.
Then from the middle of the ford Cuchulain hurled Larinè far from him across
through the camp till he fell at the door of the tent of his brother. Howbeit
from that time forth he never stood up without a moan and as long as he lived s
he never ate a meal without plaint, and never thenceforward was he free from
weakness of the loins and oppression of the chest and without cramps and the
frequent need which obliged him to go out. Still he is the only man that made
escape after combat with Cuchulain on the Cualnge Cattle-raid. Nevertheless that
maiming took effect upon him, so that it afterwards brought him his death. Such
then is the Combat of Larinè on the Táin Bó Cúalnge.