Bisagni, Jacopo, “Tarbḟlaith : une influence classique dans Audacht Morainn ?”, Études Celtiques 41 (2015): 145–191.
- journal article
[EN] Tarbḟlaith : a Classical influence in Audacht Morainn ?The Old Irish speculum principum known as Audacht Morainn (AM), probably written around AD 700, presents a classification of four ‘types’ of ruler : among these, we find the tarbḟlaith, ‘bull-ruler’, i. e. a violent prince who rules in a context of perpetual warfare. The analysis of the various recensions of AM suggests that the section concerning the tarbḟlaith may in fact represent a relatively late (ninth-century ?) addition to an original tripartite classification. In light of Brent Miles’s recent suggestion that the narrative developments of the bull motif in Táin Bó Cúailnge may represent – at least partially – a deliberate imitation of Classical models, we can now take into account the possibility that the compound tarbḟlaith may have a similar origin : in particular, this Old Irish term could be a calque on the Latin collocation dux taurus, an epithet attributed to the exiled Theban prince Polynices in Statius’s Thebaid. Statius’s poem and the commentary to the Thebaid by Lactantius Placidus may well have been known in Early Medieval Ireland : these texts could thus have provided the Irish ecclesiastical literati with negative exempla of kingship, just like some passages from Virgil’s fourth Eclogue may have contributed to the shaping of the concept of fír flathemon, ‘the justice of the ruler’, which we find in AM. After all, that the Thebaid may have played a role in the definition of the Medieval Irish ideology of kingship should not be particularly surprising, especially if we consider the presence of the phrase rex iniquus in Statius’s work – a phrase also found in the Hiberno-Latin tract De duodecim abusivis saeculi, presenting several similarities with AM – as well as the prominence of the incest motif in both the stories concerning Oedipus’s sons and the narrative background underlying Morann’s address to Feradach Find Fechtnach in AM.
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