The intersection of literature & law: The Saga of Fergus mac Léti

  • Ariana Malthaner Trinity College Dublin


The story of Fergus mac Léti is a delight of Old Irish scholars as it provides both an exciting saga tale as well as an insight into the Old Irish legal tradition. The text itself has primarily been discussed within the legal context, and understandably so as its early Irish extant versions exist exclusively within legal material. However, this focus on the legal aspects has left the literary aspects of the text entirely neglected. This paper examines The Saga of Fergus mac Léti within the context of the literary echtra tradition and compares it to the existing corpus of echtra material, discussing key elements that common across all the texts, that evidence the need for the story story of Fergus mac Léti to be examined as both a literacy text, and a legal one. This paper argues that the dissimilarities between the text, and the other extant echtrai are not enough to dismiss the text as merely legal fiction and contends that Echtra Fergussa maic Lete has earned its place within the saga material. 

Mar 1, 2020