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Fír Flathemon: The Ruler’s Truth

The Letter, Issue 59/60, Summer/Autumn 2015, Pages 77 - 90


Marion Deane

A belief in the power of the spoken word as a vehicle for truth was of IndoEuropean origin. It formed the basis of Early Irish kingship ideology. The tale Feis Tigi Becfholtaig ‘Sojourn in the House of Little Wealth’ concludes with the people’s response to a king’s public declaration of truth. The aim of his speech was to thank them for their past co-operation and to guarantee that he, in the interests of justice, would continue to reciprocate their services. The selected portion of the tale, as printed below, deals with the process through which he comes to know the truth that he will later proclaim. This paper will examine the relationship between truth and reality as formulated in this excerpt against Lacan’s contention that there is no ultimate reality.

Key words: truth; reality; knowledge; being; lack; adequation theory

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