The Three Loves of Cúchulainn: The Impact of Warrior Relationships in The Táin
Ulster Rising: Ten Essays on the Ulster Cycle (2012)
The opening of The Táin seems to promise that Medb and Ailill will be the main characters— that it is their story. It becomes clear very quickly that such is not the case. While they are present through- out and are important characters, the story is really about Cúchulainn. He is the character the audience sees most and it is his reactions to Medb and Ailill that are important. What The Táin provides is a char- acter study of Cúchulainn through his interactions with the other characters. Perhaps, most fascinating is the fact that the audience is not only exposed to the feats of a hero: The Táin presents Cúchulainn’s emotions as well.
Cúchulainn’s relationships with Fergus, Laeg, and Ferdia demand attention. Each is different not only because each man is different, but because they depict separate types of relationships. The relationship with Fergus is based in the familial, while the relationship with Laeg is one of friendship. The relationship with Ferdia falls somewhere between the other two and, yet, is neither. Romantic is a term that can be used to describe this friendship. The expression of each relationship serves to make Cúchulainn a far more accessible character.