USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘warrior’
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The Warrior and the Hawk

My dialogue with this informant started right after I finished collecting from another informant.  He was insistent that he had a story his dad had told him a few times when he was younger, and for some reason he always remembered it.  The informant is a freshman at USC and grew up in Southern California. This is what he told me.

Alright, so the story started out with this great warrior that had just finished a long and gruesome battle.  He was tired, hungry, and thirsty and wanted to get home as quickly as possible so he decided to separate from the group and take his own way home because he new the land very well.  But the warrior wasn’t traveling alone because he had his hawk with him that traveled with him everywhere.  After walking for a while the warrior found a stream and decided to stop and take a drink because he was so thirsty.  But the stream was moving super slow so the warrior could only get one drop at a time.  While the warrior was waiting to fill his cup his hawk flew above him, probably looking for prey.  Finally the warrior filled his cup, but as he raised it to his mouth his hawk swooped down and knocked it from his grasp.  This happened a second time and the warrior was so pissed he drew his sword and threatened to kill the hawk if it spilled his water again.  A third time the hawk knocked the cup free, only to be struck down and killed immediately by its master.  The warrior was so impatient, he decided to climb the rock and find the water source.  When he finally reached the top, he saw a poisonous snake lying dead in the water.  He realized that he had killed his best friend, when the hawk was only trying to save his life.  From then on he would never act out of rage.

After hearing this story I felt like I recognized it but couldn’t quite pin point where from.  I thought it was interesting that the number three showed up, which is so common in children stories.  Unfortunately the informant had no idea where his dad had heard it from so the origin is tough to trace.  However I did do a search online and found pretty much the exact same story but with Genghis Khan so maybe it originated there, or at least we know its at least that old.

Here is the link: http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=baldwin&book=fifty&story=king

Legends
Narrative

Cuchulain

Form of Folklore: Folk Narrative (Legend)

Informant Bio: The informant was born and raised primarily in Glendale, California; he only left the United States for a two year period (from age fourteen to fifteen) to live in London, England. Most of his knowledge of folklore is from his mother (of Irish decent), his father (of Persian-Armenian decent), and media such as the internet and television. Context: The interview was conducted in the living room of another informant’s house in the presence of two other informants.

Item: Well um… this is one of the Irish legends my mom used to tell me about. About a young warrior named Setanta, who’s kind of an Irish hero. And he was raised by his father to be the greatest hunter, the greatest fisher, that there ever was, you he was kinda one with the wilderness… great in all these areas. And he had this ambition of joining the Red Branch Knights… a kind of mythical Irish heroes, that weren’t kinda named individuals, just like an order of great knights of the land heroes. And when he becomes old enough, his father gives him… um… I think a sling and a magic ball that he’s got to go into the wilderness and kind of prove himself before he becomes a member of the Red Branch Knights. And while he’s going, he happens across a dog. And the dog is really aggressive and territorial and he fights the dog and kills it with the sling and the ball. And it turns out that this is a famous dog, this famous guard dog of the area of Cullan, this is the official… the hound of Cullan. He’s just killed this famous dog in combat. And the owner of the dog, the lord of the castle, comes out, he’s like “what’s going on, you just killed my dog”. And because he’s such an honorable soldier, been trained so well by his father, he offers to take the guard dogs place. Setanta, he assumes the name of Cuchulain, he becomes the hound of Cullan, guarding the place. And this kinda cements his legend and lets him join the Red Branch Knights later on. It’s a nice Irish hero story.

Informant Comments: The informant’s mother told him about this legend. He believes that there is some partial truth to the tale. Most likely, he thinks, the Red Branch Knights probably existed but were glorified in the legend out of proportion; their doings and achievements seeming more than in reality. He believes it is possible for Setanta to have existed and to have become the hound of Cullan, but does not have any reason to say that his legend is completely true or completely untrue.

Analysis: This legend is famously told in Ireland and amongst Irish communities. Honor, respect, and strength are key elements in the legend of Cuchulain. According to the legend Setanta was raised to be strong and to become a member of the Red Branch Knights (an honorable position). This is physical strength, which is also apparent when he is able to kill the large hound. Beyond physical strength, inner strength, respect and honor are demonstrated by Setanta when he offers to take the hound’s place. Whether the legend of Cuchulain is true or not, it is clear that the legend is intended to uphold virtues of having inner and physical strength, honor, and respect.

Annotation:  The legends of Cuchulain can be found in “Mythastrology:  Exploring Planets and Pantheons” by Raven Kaldera (page 203).

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