How Amorgen became a pupil of Athirne

Book of Leinster

English trans. : Erik Stohellou © 2011

Ecet Salach ("the dirty"), also named Echen, the most skilled of all blacksmiths, had a son: Amorgen.

He did not speak until his 14th year; he was very ugly and dirty, his belly was growing like a leather bag, his hair were bristly, the snot flowed of his nose in his mouth, etc. He fed gladly on curds, unripe berries, burned ears, shoots of garlic, empty hazelnuts.

One day, as he was alone with Ecet's daughter, sitting nicely dressed on a seat in the house, Greth, Athirne's servant, came to put an axe in the fire, and saw the monster. Frightened by its sudden glance, Amorgen asked him three times the question: "In-ith Greth gruth?" (Does Greth eat some curds ?) without answer, and offered him a rhetoric - a poem with alliterations in which for example the empty walnuts are called "hollow stones" - on his food. Horrified, Greth rushed outdoors, fell of the bridge in the dirt, found Athirne and told him his adventure; he warns him that the child was going to damage (as poet) in his dignity, if he was not eliminated. Meanwhile, Ecet had returned home and had learnt the events by his daughter, and what his son had said. At once, he was afraid that Athirne infringes in his life, he sent his daughter with him towards the herd on Sliab Mis, shaped a doll of clay similar to the child and installed the well-dressed doll next to him. Indeed Athirne arrived with his servant, he pushed the axe on a handle, and gave a blow to the child. Then he runs away, pursued by Ecet's servants, gathered his belongings in his house and locked himself therein. But the Ulstermen imposed the peace [between them]. Athirne had to pay a fine: take the child as foster son and teach him the art of poetry. When he gets old, Amorgen reached the dignity of ollam.

Copyright 2011 Erik Stohellou

Sources : Rudolf Thurneysen, Die irische Helden- und Königsage