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[OIr. fand, tear; fann, weak, helpless person].

A renowned otherwordly beauty in early Irish literature, usually seen as the wife of Manannán mac Lir and as the lover of Cúchulainn in Serglige Con Culainn [The Wasting Sickness of Cúchulainn]. The hero first sees her in a vision, where she and her sister Lí Ban whip him, bringing about his illness. Later, in waking consciousness, Lí Ban seeks Cúchulainn's friendship and tells him of her sister's love for him. After Cúchulainn's victory in battle on behalf of Lí Ban's husband Labraid, the hero and Fand carry on a month-long affair. Later, when their tryst is interrupted by Cúchulainn's wife Emer, both women ask to be rejected, thinking the other's love superior. Fand returns to her husband, whose cloak causes her to forget Cúchulainn and he her. Her father is Aed Abrat and her brother Angus (1); her mother is sometimes given as Flidais, the woodland deity. In variant texts she is described as the wife of Eochaid Iúil, one of Labraid's enemies vanquished by Cúchulainn.

The spellings ‘Fand’ and ‘Fann’ are not merely variants of one another, but are two discrete words of similar sound. The fuller etymology of the name remains contentious; see Christian J. Guyonvarc'h, ‘Irlandais Fand, nom propre …’, Ogam, 11 (1959), 440. See also William Larminie, Fand and Other Poems (Dublin, 1892); Sir Arnold Bax [pseud. of Edward Trevor], The Garden of Fand, orchestral overture (1916, 1921). Fand may have contributed some characteristics to the Arthurian heroine Laudine.

Subjects: Religion.

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