Sex aetates mundi ‘Six ages of the world’

  • Irish legendary history, Irish religious texts
multiple versions
Textual relationships
Related: Biblical genealogies in TCD 1336Biblical genealogies in TCD 1336

Biblical genealogies along with apocryphal notes about Mary and her father Joachim as well as a prayer to Mary. The text appears incomplete on a single page in a unit of TCD MS 1336, where it is said to be taken from the Lebor buide Meic Murchada. According to Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, the text derives from a lost version of the Sex aetates mundi.

Irish tract on the origins of alphabetsIrish tract on the origins of alphabetsA Middle Irish tract on the invention or discovery of the Hebrew, Greek and Latin alphabets.
Prima etas mundi (Irish tract)Prima etas mundi (Irish tract)An Irish prose tract on the first five ‘ages of the world’ and synchronisms of Irish prehistory with Assyrian, Greek and Roman history.
Associated items
De Babilonia hoc carmenDe Babilonia hoc carmen

Poem (22 stanzas) in the Sex aetates mundi.

Dá mac ar chaécait co mbroitDá mac ar chaécait co mbroit

Middle Irish poem found in the Book of Lecan version of Sex aetates mundi.

Dá mac déc IacóibDá mac déc Iacóib

Early Middle Irish(?) poem (6 qq) attributed to one Óengus mac Suibne on the twelve sons and one daughter of Jacob. The text is known from certain recensions of the Sex aetates mundi.

Réidig dam, a Dé, do nim (Dublittir Úa hUathgaile)Réidig dam, a Dé, do nim (Dublittir Úa hUathgaile)Middle Irish poem attributed to Dublittir Úa hUathgaile (fl. late 11th century), fer léigin at Glen Uissen, now Killeshin. It is attested both as the concluding poem in the Sex aetates mundi and in independent manuscript contexts.


Irish legendary historyIrish legendary history

Irish religious textsIrish religious texts


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.] Tristram, Hildegard L. C. [ed.], Sex aetates mundi: die Weltzeitalter bei den Angelsachsen und den Iren. Untersuchungen und Texte, Anglistische Forschungen, 165, Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1985.
Critical edition
[ed.] [tr.] Ó Cróinín, Dáibhí [ed.], The Irish Sex aetates mundi, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1983.
Critical edition
[ed.] Meyer, Kuno [ed.], “Mitteilungen aus irischen Handschriften: I. Aus Rawlinson B. 502”, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 3 (1901): 17–23.
Celtic Digital Initiative – All Mitteilungen of ZCP 3: <link> CELT – Sex aetates mundi (17-20): <link> CELT – ‘Cethrur do-raega ní dalb’ (20-22): <link> CELT – ‘Cenn ard Ádaim étrocht rád’ (23): <link> Internet Archive: <link>
Edition from Rawl. B 502.

Secondary sources (select)

Herbert, Máire, “The Irish Sex aetates mundi: first editions”, Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies 11 (Summer, 1986): 97–112.
Jaski, Bart, “Sex aetates mundi”, in: R. G. Dunphy [ed.], The encyclopedia of the medieval chronicle, 2 vols, Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2010. Vol. 2: 1353.
Oskamp, Hans P. A., “The author of Sex aetates mundi”, Studia Celtica 3 (1968): 127–140.
Clarke, Michael, “The lore of the monstrous races in the developing text of the Irish Sex aetates mundi”, Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 63 (Summer, 2012): 15–50.
Bisagni, Jacopo, “Leprechaun: a new etymology”, Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 64 (Winter, 2012): 47–84.
Dennis Groenewegen, Patrick Brown
Page created
May 2011, last updated: January 2024