The Celtic dragon slayer - a literary analysis of Tochmarc Emire in connection with Tristan et Iseut

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Theuerkauf, Marie-Luise
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University College Cork
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As Celtic scholars have long noted, the medieval Irish tale Tochmarc Emire “The Courtship of Emer” is heavily indebted to other medieval Irish texts. In this tale of courtship and otherworldly quests, the Irish hero Cú Chulainn must prove himself worthy of the hand of the noblewoman Emer. Among his overseas adventures, Cú Chulainn rescues a princess from three attackers of the Fomoire. This episode may represent the only medieval Irish example of AT300 “The Dragon Slayer”, a story pattern known from classical models such as the stories of Perseus and Andromeda; and Hercules and Hesione. Moreover, in the company of Cú Chulainn we find a character otherwise unknown to Irish tradition by the name of Drust mac Seirb. This has led scholars to argue that Tochmarc Emire may preserve a Celtic precursor of the Continental Tristan legend, seeing in Drust the Pictish origin of the character Tristan, himself a famous dragon slayer. In this interdisciplinary dissertation, a number of questions are addressed. If the redactor of Tochmarc Emire drew on material from outside Irish tradition, what does this tell us about medieval Irish concepts of literature and genre? Further, what evidence do we have for tracing the origin of the Continental Tristan legend back to Pictland, and what explanation might we offer for a putative Pictish prince featuring in an Irish Dragon Slayer story? Finally, what place does the Dragon Slayer episode occupy within Tochmarc Emire and can we find other narratives, Celtic or classical or other, fitting the pattern of AT300, which may strengthen the link between Tochmarc Emire and Tristan?
Tochmarc Emire , Tristan , Dindshenchas , Celtic , Arthurian , Dragon slayer , Intertextuality , Medieval Irish , Interdisciplinary
Theuerkauf, M.-L. 2015. The Celtic dragon slayer - a literary analysis of Tochmarc Emire in connection with Tristan et Iseut. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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