Aengus

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Aengus
Member of the Tuatha Dé Danann
Heroes of the dawn (1914) (14566173909).jpg
Aengus, illustration by Beatrice Elvery in Violet Russell's Heroes of the Dawn (1914)
AbodesBrú na Bóinne
Weapons
AnimalsSwan
Personal information
Consorts
ChildrenDiarmuid Ua Duibhne (foster-son)
Parents
SiblingsOghma an Cermait (brother)

In Irish mythology, Aengus or Óengus is one of the Tuatha Dé Danann and probably originally a god associated with youth, love[1] and poetic inspiration. The son of The Dagda and Boann, he is also known as Maccan Óc ("the young boy" or "young son"), and corresponds to the Welsh mythical figure Mabon and the Celtic god Maponos.[1]

Name[edit]

In Old Irish his name is Óengus or Oíngus [oiŋɡus]. The name is attested in Adomnán's Life of St Columba as Oinogus(s)ius.[2] This is believed to come from a Proto-Celtic name meaning "true vigour".[1] The Dindsenchas state that Boand named her son by the Dagda Oengus because union with the Dagda was her "one desire."[3] In Middle Irish this became Áengus, and in Modern Irish Aonghus [ˈeːŋɡəsˠ], [ˈeːŋɣəsˠ].

He is also known as Óengus Óc/Aengus Óg ("Aengus the young"), Mac ind Óc ("son of the young"), Maccan/Macán, or Mac Óc/Mac Óg ("young son").[1]

Description[edit]

Aengus is variously described in the following terms:

  • expert in arms[4]
  • horseman[4]
  • sailor[4]
  • son of the Dagda[4]
  • of the many exploits[5]
  • of the battle squadrons (along with Aed and Cermait)[6]
  • red armed[7]
  • mighty and stern[5]

Tales[edit]

Aengus' parents were The Dagda and Boann, and his foster-father was variously Elcmar or Midir.[8][1][4] He was said to have lived at Newgrange by the River Boyne, where he raised Manannán's blonde-haired daughter Curcog as his foster.[1][4]

The Dagda had an affair with the river goddess Boann, wife of Nechtan. To hide her pregnancy, the Dagda made the sun stand still for nine months so that Aengus was conceived, gestated and born in one day. When he came of age Aengus dispossessed the Dagda of his home, Brú na Bóinne (an area of the Boyne Valley that contains the passage tombs Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth). He arrived after the Dagda had shared out his land among his children, and none was left for Aengus, so Aengus asked his father if he could live in Brú na Bóinne for "a day and a night", and the Dagda agreed. Irish has no indefinite article, so "a day and a night" is the same as "day and night", which covers all time, and so Aengus took possession of Brú na Bóinne forever. In another—and probably the original—version of this story, appearing in The Wooing of Etain, it is the Dagda who helps his son Aengus take Brú na Bóinne from Elcmar, with the same trick. In this version, Midir is Aengus's foster-father, while Elcmar is the husband of Boann cuckolded by the Dagda.[9] This tale probably dramatizes the idea "that the blooming of youth denies the process of aging - at the youthful stage of life time passes slowly and vitality seems to be permanent".[1] In "The Fosterage of the House of the Two Pails," a similar story is related in which Manannán mac Lir, called the High King over all the Tuatha Dé, convinces Aengus to cast a spell by reciting a poem before his foster-father Elcmar, to force him out of the Brú until ogham and pillar, heaven and earth, and the sun and the moon have been blended together. After the poem, called "Luck and Prosperity" is recited, Elcmar tells Aengus that he would have given him the Brú if he had but asked, but due to Manannán's incantation, he and his people would face woe and madness in their banishment from the Brú. In this version of the story, Aengus is genuinely remorseful for having banished Elcmar.[4]

According to Death Tales of the Tuatha de Danaan, Aengus killed his stepfather Elcmar for killing Midir.

Aengus also killed Lugh Lámhfhada's poet for lying about his brother Ogma an Cermait. The poet claimed that Ogma an Cermait was having an affair with one of Lugh's wives.

In The Wooing of Etain, Aengus was able to partially lift a spell against Étaín, the horse goddess he had won for his brother Midir. Midir's wife Fuamnach in a jealous rage had turned Etain into a beautiful fly. Turning her into a woman at night, Aengus made her his lover until Fuamnach found out about it and drove her away. Aengus killed his foster mother for her treachery.

Aengus fell in love with a girl he had seen in his dreams. His mother, Boann, goddess of the River Boyne, and a cow goddess whose milk formed the Milky Way (Bealach na Bó Finne, or the White Cow's Way in Irish), searched Ireland for a year, then his father, the Dagda, did the same. Finally, King Bodb Derg of Munster found her after a further year.[10]

Aengus went to the lake of the Dragon's Mouth and found 150 girls chained in pairs, his girl, Caer Ibormeith, among them. On November 1, Caer and the other girls would turn into swans for a year, every second Samhain. Aengus was told he could marry Caer if he could identify her in her swan form. Aengus turned himself into a swan and they flew away, singing beautiful music that put all listeners asleep for three days and nights.[10]

Aengus was the foster-father and protector of Diarmuid Ua Duibhne of the Fianna. He rescued Diarmuid and Gráinne during their pursuit by the Fianna.

Aengus owned a sword named Moralltach, the Great Fury, given to him by Manannan mac Lir. This he gave to his foster-son Diarmuid Ua Duibhne, along with a sword named Beagalltach, the Little Fury, and two spears of great power, Gáe Buide and Gáe Derg. When the young man died, Aengus took his body back to Brú na Bóinne where he breathed life into it when he wished to speak with Diarmuid.

In other legends Aengus was able to repair broken bodies and return life to them.

In the Dindsenchas, Aengus shaped his kisses into four birds that followed Cairbre wherever he went to mock him each day before sunrise. This mockery continued until Cairbre's druid enchanted a tree from Fid Frosmuine with song, which caused the tree to grow above all others and detain Aengus' birds.[11]

Also in the Dindsechas, a tale called "Tuag Inber" is relayed in which Aengus provides Eochu and Ablend a swift horse while they are encamped with their cattle. He tells them to unbridle the horse in a meadow before it sheds its water and causes their deaths; Eochu and Ablend forget to unharness the horse when it exhausts itself in a meadow, and it forms a well, around which Eochu builds confinement.[5] The poem of Loch Ri is nearly identical to "Tuag Inber," except the character names differ and Aengus is replaced by Midir.[12]

Modern depictions[edit]

  • Aengus appears in the Irish poet William Butler Yeats's poem "The Song of Wandering Aengus",[13] which describes Aengus's endless search for his lover.
  • Angus Og appears in James Stephens' novel The Crock of Gold,[14] where his aid is solicited by the Philosopher.
  • In the Copper episode "Husbands and Fathers", Corcoran tells O'Brien to take Annie upstairs and tell her a story. O'Brien says to Annie, "I shall tell you about the Dream of Aengus and the Wooing of Etain."
  • Aengus and his father the Dagda appear in Kate Thompson's young adult novel The New Policeman. Aengus acts as the protagonist's guide to Tír na nÓg and helps him restore it to its timeless state.
  • Aengus is the primary antagonist of Hounded, Book 1 of The Iron Druid Chronicles.
  • Angus makes a brief appearance leading his father's funeral in Hellboy: The Wild Hunt. Although Angus himself never speaks, his father Dagda is a frequent character in other Hellboy stories.
  • The name of Aengus appears also in the song of Johnny Flynn "Wandering Aengus" from album "Sillion" (2017).

Texts[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Ó hÓgáin, Dáithí. Myth, Legend & Romance: An encyclopaedia of the Irish folk tradition. Prentice Hall Press, 1991. pp.38–40
  2. ^ Adamnan (1874). Reeves, William (ed.). Life of Saint Columba, Founder of Hy. Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas. p. 123. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  3. ^ Stokes, Whitley. "The Metrical Dindsenchas: Boand II". Corpus of Electronic Texts. University College, Cork. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g The Book of Fermoy "The Fosterage of the House of the Two Pails"
  5. ^ a b c Gwynn, Edward. "The Metrical Dindsenchas: Tuag Inber". Corpus of Electronic Texts. University College Cork. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  6. ^ “Ailech III”
  7. ^ “Brefne”
  8. ^ The Wooing of Etain Archived 2015-03-07 at the Wayback Machine The Celtic Literature Collective
  9. ^ The Wooing of Étaíne CELT: The Corpus of Electronic Texts
  10. ^ a b The Dream of Oengus Archived 2013-11-24 at the Wayback Machine The Celtic Literature Collective
  11. ^ Stokes, Whitley (1895). "Hirarus". Revue Celtique. 16: 68. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  12. ^ The Metrical Dindsenchas: "Loch Ri," Poem 84
  13. ^ The Song of Wandering Aengus, Bartleby.com; "Source: The Wind Among the Reeds (1899)", poetry foundation.org.
  14. ^ The Crock of Gold

External links[edit]