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Cu'Chulainn was the greatest hero of Irish legend. He was born Setanta, and due to an accidental magical influence became possessed of extraordinary powers. One day, the hellhound watchdog of Culann the Smith barred young Setanta's way when he was late for a party, so he slew the dog. As compensation, he took the hound's place, as well as the name Cu'Chulainn, or Culann's hound.

Cu'Chulainn underwent a magical change in battle. He gained extra fingers and jewel encrusted eyes, doubled in size and generated tremendous heat. He became known as siabartha, or distorted one, and was invincible in battle. Also, he was immune to the bouts of pain from which all other Ulstermen suffered twice a year. This ability proved a great asset, as his most brilliant moments came when he faced Ulster’s foes in single combat, killing as many as 100 men in one day.

He was constrained by several taboos. The most important were that he must not refuse an invitation for food, break an oath, or eat a hound's flesh. He was defeated and died after losing half his strength as a result of carelessly breaking his taboos.



Cu'Chulainn. Click for larger image



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