Celtic Gods and Heroes

Marie-Louise Sjoestedt

104 Blz., ISBN 0 486 41441 8     
Dover Publications Inc., 2000     

The Celtic gods are quite different from the deities of Greek and Roman mythology. Unlike the classical divinities, they are not patrons of love or war, and they have no celestial home; the Celtic deities´ home is on earth, where they live in an uneasy partnership with human beings.

In this concise, erudite study, her final work, the noted French scholar and linguist Marie-Louise Sjoestedt summarizes and analyzes the rich array of Celtic mythological figures. She discusses the gods of the continental Celts and the beginnings of mythology in Ireland and posits an opposition between the two main categories of Irish deities: the mother-goddesses, who are local, rural spirits of fertility or of war, and who sometimes appear in animal form; and the chieftain-gods, who are national, and who serve as magicians, nurturers, craftsmen, and protectors of the people.

Ms. Sjoestedt also discusses the qualities and deeds of heroes - not gods, but mortals who embody all the ideal qualities of the race. For them she establishes an opposition between the tribal hero, represented by Cú Chulainn, and the hero outside the tribe, represented by Fionn.

Students, scholars, and anyone interested in folklore or comparative religion will welcome this scholarly, carefully researched, yet highly readable study.

Dover (2000) unabridged republication of the work published by Methuen & Co. Ltd., London 1949.

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