Immacallam Cormaic ocus Fíthail ‘The conversation between Cormac and Fíthal’

  • Cycles of the Kings
Immacallam Cormaic ocus Fíthail
‘The conversation between Cormac and Fíthal’
alt. sp. Immacaldam Chormaic ⁊ Fíthil


Cycles of the Kings
Cycles of the Kings
id. 80


Poet and judge associated with Cormac mac Airt

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Cormac mac Airt
Cormac mac Airt
(time-frame ass. with Cormac mac Airt)
Legendary high-king of Ireland; son of Art son of Conn Cétchathach; contemporary of Finn mac Cumaill.

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Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] [tr.] Yocum, Christopher Guy, “The literary figure of Fíthal”, Ph.D. thesis, Edinburgh University, 2009.  
This thesis explores the literary figure of the mythical early Irish judge, Fíthal, from the earliest literary reference to him, c. 800, until MacPherson’s Ossian of the mid-eighteenth century. It does so by close study of the texts within which Fíthal appears, with close attention to their assumptions and purposes. From this series of close studies we can chart the developing character of Fíthal from juridical authority in the legal and legalistic texts to ideal judge or chief judge in the wider literary tradition. The thesis is divided into seven chapters, a general introduction, and one appendix. Chapter 1 contains a literature review of the major authors and disciplines which contributed to the thesis. Chapter 2 explains Fíthal’s position as a Wisdom Figure and the international background of Irish didactic literature. Chapters 3 and 4 contain the survey of Fíthal’s existence in Irish literature including discussion of the authorial intent underlying each manifestation. Chapter 5 is a new critical edition of the most important poem concerning Fíthal. Chapter 6 is a discussion of some hitherto unexplored but important facets of Fíthal’s character and an assessment of the theoretical writings which have implications for an understanding of his status. This thesis contributes to the continuing debate concerning the relationship between early Irish law and early Irish literature while simultaneously updating and revising scholarly knowledge concerning Fíthal. The thesis ranges widely over early Irish literature as it touches on Fíthal and explains his role in the literature in both its native and international context. It is hoped that this treatment of a relatively obscure but widespread figure will demonstrate how it is possible within the extant evidence to capture a character with a continuing presence in the tradition – a conclusion with considerable implications for our understanding of the tradition itself.
Edinburgh Research Archive – PDF: <link>
137–150 (ch. 5); 190–193 (appendix) Edition and English translation, with introduction, notes and diplomatic editions.
[ed.] Meyer, Kuno [ed. and tr.], Hibernica minora, being a fragment of an Old-Irish treatise on the Psalter, Anecdota Oxoniensia, Mediaeval and Modern Series, 8, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1894.
Internet Archive: <link> TLH – Erchoitmed ingine Gulidi (ed. and tr.): <link>
C. A., Dennis Groenewegen
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October 2010, last updated: January 2024