Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/177

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The European Sky -God. 165

first landed in Erin, they marched at once to Tara, the seat of government, and found the chief rule of the island shared between the three brothers Eathur mac Cuill, Teathur mac Ceacht, and Ceathur mac Greine, i.e. Eathur son of ' Hazel,' Teathur son of * Plough,' and Ceathur son of ' Sun ' : Keating states that these kings reigned each in turn for a year, and derived their names from the fact that they worshipped respectively the Hazel, the Plough, and the Sun.^ One might have expected that the god incarnate in the Tara dynasty would have been Nuada, king of the Tuatha De Danann,^ not Lug. But Nuada, according to tradition, himself temporarily abdicated in favour of Lug, who for thirteen days sat on the king's throne at Tara.^

When dealing with analogous beliefs among the Greeks and Romans, I took occasion to show that the king's soul was supposed to escape in the form of a bird, and that its transmission to his successor was symbolised by the eagle-tipped sceptre handed down from king to king.* A priori, then, we should look to find Lug and his re-births connected with birds. Nor are we disappointed. Accord- ing to the treatise de flicviis ascribed to Plutarch,^ Xouyo? was a Celtic word for ' raven ' ; and this, as M. Salomon Reinach ^ points out, squares well with what is known of the Celtic Lug or Lugus. Thus, when Lug slew Balar and hung his head in a hazel, that hazel became the dwelling-place of crows and ravens.^ And at the foundation of Lugudunum, the town of Lugus,^ ravens

^ G. Keating The History of Ireland ed. David Comyn {Irish Texts Society vol. iv) London 1902 i. 223, cp. ib. i. loi, 109.

"^Folk-lore xvii. 32 fF. ^ D'Arbois Vipopee celtique p. 422.

'^Folk-lore xv. 385 ff., xvi. 302, 307, 3 1 2.

^Plut. de fiuviis 6.4, cp. G. Dottin Mamcel de P Antiquity celtique Paris 1906 p. 64.

^S. Reinach Ctiltes, Mythes et Religions Paris 1905 i. 75 f., 223.

"^Folk-lore xvii. 58. ^D'Arbois Cycle mythologique pp. 139, 304 f.