Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/457

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The E^iropean Sky -God. 441

anguish and sore discouraged. Aonghus at this moment of danger carried off Grainne, as before, beneath his magic mantle. But Oscar besought Finn to forgive Diarmuid, and, when he would not, boldly promised Diarmuid his own protection and bade him come down from the tree. Diarmuid at last made his mighty leap, landed far beyond Finn and the Fianna, and thus, escorted by Oscar, made his way to the Brugh upon the Boyne, where he rejoined Grainne and Aonghus.

Certain elements in this important tale may have been borrowed from the book of Genesis ; but in the main it furnishes a curious parallel to the custom of the Arician grove. Here, as there, a sacred tree is guarded day and night by an armed defender. Here, as there, this defender has to encounter in single fight one champion after another, the terms of the encounter being a violent death or possession of the tree. Here, as there, the original guardian of the tree is of more than mortal mould. Professor Rhys regards Diarmuid as a ' solar hero'^ and Grainne his wife as related to the Celtic Apollo Gratinns^ who was certainly a sun-god.^ If so, Diarmuid would be the Virbius and Grainne the Diana of this Irish Nemi; for Virbius was by some identified with the sun,* and Diana Nemorensis too had solar pretensions.^

^ Rhys Hibbert Lecttires pp. 146, 506, Arthurian Legend p. 14.

^ Id. Hibbert Lectures p. 510.

'Inscriptions mentioning Apollo Graitnus are collected by H. Dessau Inscriptiones Latinae selectae Berlin 1902 ii. I. 216 f. nos. 4646 — 4652. Of the derivations recorded by Holder Alt-celtischer Sprachschatz p. 2038 the most attractive is that put forward by Rhys {Hibbert Lecttires p. 22) and D'Arbois {Les Celtes p. 55), which connects the name with the Irish gronn or gorn, 'a. fire-brand,' and grian, 'the sun' (glossed by Apollo, sol, etc.). It might thus, as Holder points out, be related to the Greek 7/)i;i'6s or ypovvos, 'the trunk of an old oak tree,' and to the Gryneutn nefnus of Apollo (Verg. eel. 6. 72 f.).

  • Serv. in Verg. Aen. 7. 776.

° Birt in Roscher Lex. d. gr. u. rbm. Myth. i. 1005 f.