Mythology Monday: The Wooing Of Emer


Another Monday, another snarky mythology summary. This week, we’re going back to Ireland and our boy Cu Chulainn, and how he got hitched.

So, it’s a few years since we last saw our hero. He’s grown up, joined the Red Branch proper, and it pretty popular. Especially with the ladies. Which includes the wives of his colleagues.
This does not go unnoticed by them, and they’re like, “We really, really need to get this kid married off. Maybe then our wives and daughters will stop staring at him all the time.” I’m not really sure why they thought this would have worked, but hey, it was a different time.
So, they start parading some ladies in front of Cu Chulainn, but he doesn’t think that any of them are worthy of him. Because he’s a culture hero, and culture heroes are, for the most part, a lot of arrogant pricks. Anyway, word eventually gets to him about this lady named Emer, who’s intelligent, gorgeous, and really, really good at needlework. Which was considered an extremely high virtue for a lady to have back then.
There’s one kind of major problem, however: Emer’s dad Forgall is really, really overprotective. Cu Chulainn doesn’t really care about this, however, and goes to Forgall’s stronghold to talk to her anyway.
So, he and his charioteer Laeg arrive, and are spotted by Emer’s sister. She goes to tell Emer that she’s just seen, like, the hottest dude ever and she should go and take a look at him. So she does, and the two end up striking a conversation. Cu Chulainn starts talking to her in code, which she picks up on pretty quickly, and keeps the people around them from realizing what they’re talking about.
So, at one point, in their code, Cu Chulainn tells Emer, “I’d really like to stick my face in your cleavage.” To which Emer responds, also coded, “That’s great, but according to Dad the only way anyone gets to do that is to leap over 3 walls, kill 27 guys with one blow, and kill 100 guys at each ford between here and Emain Macha.”
Cu Chulainn’s like, “Oh. That’s a bit of a problem,” and leaves with Laeg to go home and try to figure out a way around that predicament.
Meanwhile, a servant snitches on our boy to Forgall, who is absolutely livid that this random dude came to woo his daughter. So he disguises himself as a trader and heads to King Conchubar’s court. While there, he’s like, “You’ve got some pretty awesome warriors here. They’d probably be even more awesome if they trained with the warrior woman Scathach.”
This peaks Cu Chulainn’s interest, and he decides then and there that he’s going to seek her out. Three issues, however:

1) Scathach lives on the Isle of Skye, which is very far away and dangerous to get to;
2) Her training is so extremely harsh that she ends up killing her students on the reg; and
3) She’s currently at war with her sister Aoife, who also kills her students on the reg.
Forgall is quite pleased with this, since the whole point of making this suggestion was to try and get Cu Chulainn killed. Pleased with this development, he goes home to plan Emer’s wedding to Lugaid, the King of Munster.
Emer, as one can imagine, is less than pleased with this development. So, when she meets her arranged husband to be for the first time, she grabs him by the face and says, “Cu Chulainn’s going to come back from the bullshit journey my dad sent him on, he’s going to be pissed, and then he’s going to kill your ass.”
Lugaid, wisely, nopes right the hell on out of this whole situation.
Meanwhile, back to Cu Chulainn. His training with Scathach is a tale in its own right, which I won’t get into here for the sake of brevity. Suffice it to say that he passes her training, and comes back to Ireland. Forgall gets wind of this and is like, “Shit,” and starts trying to fortify his stronghold by building three walls.
You can probably see where this is going.
Cu Chulainn, quite easily, manages to jump over all three walls and makes it inside the stronghold. So Forgall sends 27 guys out to take care of him, who he kills with one sword blow (managing to miss Emer’s brothers, of course). Forgall, realing that he’s now truly up shit creek, tries to run away but trips, plummeting from the castle wall to his death.
Cu Chulainn then scoops Emer up, along with her weight in gold, then leaps back the way he came.
Forgall’s followers aren’t about to let them get away, though, and start chasing after them. And, wouldn’t you know it, Cu Chulainn kills them all, 100 at each ford until they get back to Emain Macha.
Once there, Emer is sad about her dad, but also admits that he kind of had it coming, and the two are married.
And the moral of the story is that helicopter parenting is bad.


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