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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/390

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Celtic Myth and Saga.

intense and vigorous culture of the sixth-eighth centuries was wrecked and shattered, and the renaissance of the late tenth and eleventh centuries is a building anew the ancient fabric with the scattered fragments remaining, and also with much that had worked itself into the national consciousness during the years of storm and stress. It is, as a rule, the renaissance post-Viking recension of the monuments of early Irish culture that has been preserved to us, amongst others of the Lebor Gabala, the legendary pre-history of Ireland. But with the aid of Nennius, who at the end of the eighth century had access to an older form of the L. G. than any which has comedown to us, we can form an idea of the pre-Viking recension of this text. The section concerning the Tuatha de Danann was, so Prof. Zimmer asserts, much less detailed. The ordinary, postViking, recension describes them as addicted to "druidism, heathendom, and devil's lore, skilled in every art, wrapped in cloud caps and dark mists." Here we have the trace of stories concerning the spell-crafty Norsemen and the invisible-capped Siegfried. So at least it seems to Prof Zimmer.

The suggestion is thrown out casually, and is not followed up. But it is easy to see to what far-reaching consequences it might lead. The Tuatha de Danann represent what at first sight seems to be the only genuine mythological portion of Irish romance; the beliefs concerning them have practically survived to the present day as the fairy mythology of the Gaelic-speaking peasant. It would indeed be a triumph for the "revelationist" could it be proved that the vast structure of romance connected with the Tuath Dea had its basis in tenth-eleventh century amplifications of monkish imaginings drawn from biblical and classic fable with matter derived from the heathen Norsemen invaders. There would not be wanting peculiarities in the tradition of these stories to lend countenance to such a view. The fact which I instanced in discussing Mr. Coffey's monograph on the New Grange