Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Celtic God paper

The god I chose to learn about for this assignment is Oscar. I chose him because I actually named my dog after him. (I hope that’s OK, since he wasn’t one you had listed on the “Gods” page.)

According to answers.com, Oscar is the son of Oisin, and grandson of Fionn mac Cumhaill. As a child, Oscar was excluded and other Fianna refused to take him on their adventures. The web site goes on to say, though, that Oscar “becomes a focus for the idealization of storytellers; he is consistently the bravest, the most stalwart, the most frequently victorious. If a warrior is called for a single combat with a fearsome challenger, Oscar most readily serves.” (http://www.answers.com/topic/oscar-18) The Dictionary of Celtic Religion and Culture claims that Oscar was one of the most important warriors of the Finn Cycle and adds that in Works of Ossain, Oscar is listed as the son of an aged poet (http://books.google.com/books?id=7AvdTqwucfwC&pg =PA218&lpg=PA218&dq=celtic+oskar&source=web&ots=HlOvIjDqVf&sig=MwFB7pnzMtnCCYAXHrM6EorDWsw).

Answers.com goes on to state that Oscar accomplished the following tasks:
  • He wrestles with Goll mac Morna to establish himself as the strongest of all the Fianna. 
  • He engages in overseas adventures accompanied by Labraid Lámderg [red hand].
  • In Tóraighecht Dhiarmada agus Ghráinne [The Pursuit of Diarmait and Gráinne], Oscar sympathizes with the fugitive lovers against his grandfather. Étaín is Oscar’s usual consort, although he is a pale lover compared to Diarmait. 
  • Oscar’s climactic moment in the Cycle comes in Cath Gabhra [The Battle of Gabhair/Gowra], when he mortally wounds the hated Cairbre Lifechair, whose dying act is to thrust a spear through Oscar’s heart. (http://www.answers.com/topic/oscar-18)

The slain hero is then buried under a cairn at Benn Étair. In the Christianized story of the Fianna’s escape from hell, Oscar is the critical player, wielding an unbreakable thong so that his comrades can break free. Also, Oisín tells St Patrick in The Colloquy of the Elders that “only God can defeat Oscar.”

I couldn’t find any correspondences for Oscar, but did manage to think of some that hold significance for me. For an animal, I chose the deer. Although I looked and looked, I couldn’t find the exact page, but I know The Encyclopedia of Ancient Myths and Cultures lists Oscar as a great deer hunter. Since answers.com does suggest that Oscar may have originally been an alternative form for Oisin (which means “little deer”) that may well be. I would also have Oscar be a god of humor, since he supposedly died with a joke on his lips, “provoking Fionn to weep as he does at no other point in the Cycle,” according to answers.com.

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