The Mortal and Divine Histories of Mongán mac Fiachnai in Cín Dromma Snechtai

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It has long been claimed that Early Irish literature portrays a form of reembodiment which is the equivalent of Pythagorean metempsychosis. But this is not what we find in most examples. Where a human is said to have traversed multiple embodiments, the process of reembodiment generally comes to an end once the person in question has been restored to their proper form and bequeathed their memories of ancient history to the Church. However, some of the earliest stories about Mongán mac Fiachnai do not fit this pattern. Immacaldam Choluim Chille and Scél asa mberar combad hé Find mac Cumaill Mongán offer no indication that Mongán’s sequence of embodiments is drawing to an end, or which of his bodies may properly be his. This study will interpret the open-endedness of Mongán’s rebirths in these two instances in light of related stories which have also been attributed to the lost manuscript known as Cín Dromma
Snechtai. Doing so will allow us to determine the degree to which Mongán’s rebirths show parallels with Pythagorean
metempsychosis, and the meaning these rebirths had for their
medieval Christian context. Moreover, it will demonstrate further
links between the tales that the current consensus places in
Cín Dromma Snechtai
Original languageEnglish
JournalCeltica
Volume32
Pages (from-to)27-75
Number of pages49
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Early Irish literature, Cín Dromma Snechtai, metempsychosis, Pythagoras, Patristics, earthly paradise, eternity and time, gods, natural law, cosmology, Mongán mac Fiachnai, Tuán mac Cairill

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