Mythology Monday: Cu Chulainn Kills His Besty

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(Note: I swear to god I scheduled this to post yesterday, but apparently it didn’t happen. Sorry for it being a day late.)

This week’s post kinda ties into last week’s, whilst continuing the story of Cu Chulainn. In this instance, the battle between him and his friend Ferdia.

So, to start off with, we have the kingdom of Connaught, which is ruled by a queen named Maeve. There are approximately a million different ways of spelling her name, but that’s the one I’m going with because it’s easier. Anyway, Maeve decides one day that she really, really wants a new cow. Not just any cow, though. She wants the Brown Bull of Cooley, which is in Ulster.

Her timing turns out to be perfect, since if you recall last week’s post, Macha had cursed the warriors of Ulster to experience birthing pains for nine days. Well, it’s that time, so the entire Red Branch is pretty much out of commission. Well, except for Cu Chulainn, who is apparently just that awesome.

So, our boy is wreaking utter havoc on Maeve’s army, when the queen herself calls a time out for a bit. Since Maeve doesn’t want her army completely destroyed, and because Cu Chulainn’s starting to get a bit warn out, they agree that Cu Chulainn will fight one champion per day until she either runs out of champions or Cu Chulainn dies.

This isn’t going very well for Maeve, since Cu Chulainn is utterly annihilating everyone she throws at him. In fact, there’s only one guy in her army who can even come close to matching him: Ferdia Mac Daman.

There’s just one small problem, though: Ferdia and Cu Chulainn trained utter Scathach together, and are BFFs. Maeve’s not too worried about this, though, since she has a plan.

So he invites Ferdia over for dinner and gets him nice and wasted. She then tells him that she’ll give him a bunch of land and her extremely hot daughter if he kills Cu Chulainn for her.

Ferdia’s like, “Umm, no.” Maeve, however, counters with, “Well, Cu Chulainn told me you’d be too chickenshit to fight him. Guess he was right.”

So, this pisses Ferdia off, and he vows to go off and fight Cu Chulainn the next day.

The next morning he goes up to his friend and says, “Heard you were talking shit.” Cu Chulainn’s like, “Bro, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Ferdia stops short at this, but since he made an oath, he can’t really back down now.

So they fight for a couple of days, taking some time after dusk to bandage each other up, get some food, and have some bro time. The third day, however, things start to take a turn and bro time ends that night. The fourth day, Ferdia gets really paranoid that Cu Chulainn’s gonna break out his spear, Gae Bolga, and murder him with it.

Now, some context. Gae Bolga is a truly frightening weapon, which is stabbed through thhe most vulnerable part of the body, i.e., the groin, and then the tip splits apart and comes out in 50 other places. Needless to say, Ferdia doesn’t want this to happen, and takes the appropriate precaution.

By which I mean he ties a rock in front of his dick.

This pisses Cu Chulainn off, and he jumps onto Ferdia’s shield with the intent of jumping off it and impaling Ferdia’s skull on the dismount. Ferdia doesn’t want this to happen, and throws his shield and Cu Chulainn into the nearby river. Cu Chulainn comes after him again, and gets dunked in the river again, and then a third time.

This doesn’t exactly improve Cu Chulainn’s mood, so he hulks out. Seriously, he had this thing he did when he was SUPER PISSED where he grew in size, his skin turned pitch black, and his eyes turned red. It’s called a warp-spasm. And it’s utterly terrifying.

Ferdia, to his credit, stands his ground. Here Cu Chulainn comes to his senses a bit and hesitates, at which point Ferdia stabs him several times. Laeg, Cu Chulainn’s charioteer, sees this and throws him Gae Bolga. Cu Chulainn then uses it to destroy Ferdia’s stone jock strap then stabs him through the groin, prompting the spear to do its thing. Then, with his dying breath, Ferdia explains Maeve’s treachery.

The whole thing is very, very sad, but probably could have been avoided if Ferdia had double-checked his sources.

 

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