Thursday, March 29, 2012
Medb (Old Irish spelling, pronounced [mɛðv]) – Middle Irish: Meḋḃ, Meaḋḃ; early modern Irish: Meadhbh (pronounced [mɛɣv]); reformed modern Irish Méabh([mʲeːv]), Medbh; sometimes Anglicised Maeve, Maev orMaive (pronounced /ˈmeɪv/) – is queen of Connacht in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology. Her husband in the core stories of the cycle is Ailill mac Máta, although she had several husbands before him who were also kings of Connacht. She rules from Cruachan (now Rathcroghan, County Roscommon). She is the enemy (and former wife) of Conchobar mac Nessa, king of Ulster, and is best known for starting the Táin Bó Cúailnge("The Cattle Raid of Cooley") to steal Ulster's prize stud bull.
Some historians suggest that she was probably originally a "sovereignty goddess", whom a king would ritually marry as part of his inauguration. Medb Lethderg, who performs a similar function in Tara is probably identical with or the inspiration for this Medb. Her name is said to mean 'she who intoxicates', and is cognate with the English word 'mead'; it is likely that the sacred marriage ceremony between the king and the goddess would involve a shared drink. Medb's "pillow talk" argument with her consort contains suggestions of matriliny, as does Ailill's taking his name from his mother Máta Muirisc. Recently, Irish and Irish-American poets have explored Medb as an image of woman's power, including sexuality, as in "Labhrann Medb" ("Medb Speaks") by Irish-language poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and "Intoxication" by Irish-American poet Patricia Monaghan . The name "Connacht" is an apparent anachronism: the stories of the Ulster Cycle are traditionally set around the time of Christ, but the Connachta, after whom the province is named, were said to have been the descendants of Conn Cétchathach, who is supposed to have lived several centuries later. Later stories use the name Cóiced Ol nEchmacht as an earlier name for the province of Connacht to get around this problem. However, the chronology of early Irish historical tradition is an artificial attempt by Christian monks to synchronise native traditions with classical and biblical history, and it is possible that the cycle has been chronologically misplaced.
source: wiki and carrowkeel.com