Sunday, November 9, 2008

Elf, Fairy, or Sidhe? Which Should It Be? Spoiler Alert!

    I enjoyed watching Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, but unfortunately for Hellboy, the three kids who were with me and I were rooting for the bad guy Nuadda, who squarely defeated Hellboy in single combat but was treacherously destroyed by his twin sister. 
   The naming of the Elf Prince Nuadda made me smile since, anyone who is familiar with Celtic mythology would recognize the name as the leader of the Tuatha de Danaan, when they arrived at the home promised to them by their goddess Danu, Ireland. They called their new home Innis Fail or the 'Island of Destiny' in English.  Nuadda, in the film, was without the silver hand but he was carrying a sword.  And what a swordsman he was!!
      In keeping with the Irish Book of Invasions, the lebor gabala erin, the Tuatha de Danaan fought a war with humans, the sons of Miles.  The aftermath of the war was an agreement to leave the earth above ground to humans while the Tuatha de Danaan took the underworld, particularly the barrows, which is when their name changed to Sidhe, pronounced Shee, the people of the barrows. 
     So far the facts fit the movie, except for the Golden Army.  There was no Golden Army.  There were the Fianna, the Red Branch of warriors with Diarmid, who was every bit the athlete like Nuadda was in Hellboy but the creators of the film chose to call Nuadda an elf rather than a Sidhe.  Is it really the same thing since the English commonly call the folk of the 'Otherworld' the fairy people now?
    In a sense it is and this is where the Medieval connection lies.  It is in the evolution of the English language.  The Norman Conquest of 1066 did not just take the land, it took over the language.  Fairy is a word derived from Old French.  When the Anglo-Saxons marched into England in the fifth century, they pushed the native Celts into Cornwall, Wales, and Scotland where they lived apart and so Gaelic had very little impact on the language.  'Elf' would have been the Anglo-Saxon word and so it might still be if not for that French completely took over the language, excepting a few hundred common nouns like bread, brother, wood, etc.  Until Tolkien brought it back with The Lord of the Rings. 

Beatles Song of the Week

Ubi me in temporibus turbulentis invenio,
Mater Maria ad me venit,
Verba sapientarum dicit, sit.

Et in hora caeca mea
Ante meum directe stat,
Verba sapientarum dicit, sit

Sit, sit
Susurrate verba sapientarum,

Et ubi deiecti,
In terra vivens convenerunt,
Explicatio erit, sit.
Nam etsi separati sint,
Etiam potestas videbunt,
Responsio erit, sit.

Et ubi nox nubis est,
Est etiam lumen quod in meum lucet.
Lucete in crasinum, sit.

E somno excito et musicam audio,
Mater Maria ad me venit,
Verba sapientarum dicit, sit.