1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Maelduin, Voyage of
MAELDUIN (or Maeldun, VOYAGE OF (Imram Maeleduin), an early Irish romance. The text exists in an 11th-century redaction, by a certain Aed the Fair, described as the “ chief sage of Ireland,” but it may be gathered from internal evidence that the tale itself dates back to the 8th century. It belongs to the group of Irish romance, the Navigation (Imrama), the common type of which was probably imitated from the classical tales of the wanderings of Jason, of Ulysses and of Aeneas. Maelduin, the foster-son of an Irish queen, learnt on reaching manhood that he was the son of a nun, and that his father, Ailill of the edge of battle, had been slain by a marauder from Leix. He set sail to seek his father's murderer, taking with him, in accordance with the instructions of a sorcerer, seventeen men. His three foster-brothers swam after him, and were taken on board. This increase of the fateful number caused Maelduin's vengeance to be deferred for three years and seven months, until the last of the intruders had perished. The travellers visited many strange islands, and met with a long series of adventures, some of which are familiar from other sources. The Voyage of St Brendan (q.v.) has very close similarities with the Maelduin, of which it is possibly a clerical imitation, with the important addition of the whale-island episode, which it has in common with “ Sindbad the Sailor.”
Imram Curaig Mailduin is preserved, in each case imperfectly, in the Lebor na h Uidre, a MS. in the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin; and in the Yellow Book of Lecan, MS. H. 216 in the Trinity College Library, Dublin; fragments are in Harleian MS. 5280 and Egerton MS. 1782 in the British Museum. There are translations by Patrick Joyce, Old Celtic Romances (1879), by Whitley Stokes (a more critical version, printed together with the text) in Revue celtique, vols. ix. and x. (1888–1889). See H. Zimmer, “ Brendan's Meerfahrt ” in Zeitschrift fuur deutsches Altertum, vol. xxxiii. (1889). Tennyson's Voyage of Maeldune, suggested by the Irish romance, borrows little more than its framework.