Year: 2012 ISBN: 978-90-429-2641-7 Pages: XII-387 p. Price: 42 EURO
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If looks could kill... They can, according to medieval Irish texts - our richest literary inheritance in a Celtic language. The belief in evil, angry or envious eyes casting harmful glances that destroy their target is widespread. This is the first comprehensive study of 'the evil eye' in medieval Ireland. We follow the trail from Balor the fearsome one-eyed giant and other evil-eyed kings to saints casting the evil eye, and many others. This study surveys a fascinating body of Irish literature and also examines the evidence for belief in the evil eye in the daily life of medieval Ireland, where people tried to protect themselves against this purported harm by legislation, rituals, verbal precautions and remedies. Related mythological imagery is tracked down and a lost tale about a doomed king who follows a sinister-eyed woman into the Otherworld is reconstructed on the basis of surviving fragments. The edition and translation of a medieval Irish legal text by Fergus Kelly and two sagas in English translation conclude the volume.