The pangs of the Ulstermen:an exchangist perspective

Carney, James (2008) The pangs of the Ulstermen:an exchangist perspective. Journal of Indo-European Studies, 36 (1&2). pp. 52-66.

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Why is Cú Chulainn exempt from the curse of Macha in Táin Bó Cuailgne? In the present article, I attempt to resolve the issue of Cú Chulainn’s exceptional status by nominating the curse of Macha and the naming of Cú Chulainn pre-narratives to the Táin as semantic inverses of each other. Specifically, I argue that the former narrative depicts the breaking of a contract between the third functional group and the combined forces of the first and second functions in Georges Dumézil’s Indo-European social taxonomy; while the latter narrative, I suggest, charts the restoration of this same contract. On this basis, I then identify Macha’s curse with the spiritual animation that, according to Marcel Mauss, accompanies all violations of social reciprocity.

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Journal Article
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Journal of Indo-European Studies
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16 May 2016 07:56
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22 Nov 2022 03:13