Dian Cecht – Mythology’s Most Terrible Father?

Most people think that the crown of worst father in all of mythology belongs to Zeus. Those people are wrong.

After Nuada, king of the Tuatha De Dannan, loses a hand he’s forced to step down, thanks to a law saying that the King of Ireland had to be unblemished. Now this rule was generally only enforced if the people wanted to get rid of the king already but no-one liked Nuada. Unfortunately for them they liked his replacement even less, so a couple of years into his reign they called in Dian Cecht, chief physician to the De Dannan and hobbying monster, and his son Midach to solve the problem.

Dian Cecht creates Nuada a magical silver hand to replace the one he’s lost. Somehow this counts as returning to his unblemished state and should let him be king again. Midach doesn’t like this however and he actually regrows Nuada’s missing hand for him instead. Most fathers, even in mythology, would be proud.  A powerful son shows how powerful you are after all. Dian Cecht however, responds by splitting open his son’s head.

And then when that didn’t work doing it three more times until it stuck.

33. Now Nuada was being treated, and Dian Cecht put a silver hand on him which had the movement of any other hand. But his son Miach did not like that. He went to the hand and said “joint to joint of it, and sinew to sinew”; and he healed it in nine days and nights. The first three days he carried it against his side, and it became covered with skin. The second three days he carried it against his chest. The third three days he would cast white wisps of black bulrushes after they had been blackened in a fire.

34. Dian Cecht did not like that cure. He hurled a sword at the crown of his son’s head and cut his skin to the flesh. The young man healed it by means of his skill. He struck him again and cut his flesh until he reached the bone. The young man healed it by the same means. He struck the third blow and reached the membrane of his brain. The young man healed this too by the same means. Then he struck the fourth blow and cut out the brain, so that Miach died; and Dian Cecht said that no physician could heal him of that blow.

The Second Battle of Moytura http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/cmt/cmteng.htm

But Dian Cecht is not done.

He also has a daughter called Airmid. She’s also a doctor. After her brother is buried herbs that provide a cure for every illness spring up from his grave and she goes to collect and catalogue them. For some reason this makes their father angry, as if his son is showing him up one more time, so he takes her work and destroys it. He finishes off by telling her that even though her brother is dead she gets to live and so everyone should be grateful.

After that, Miach was buried by Dian Cecht, and three hundred and sixty-five herbs grew through the grave, corresponding to the number of his joints and sinews. Then Airmed spread her cloak and uprooted those herbs according to their properties. Dian Cecht came to her and mixed the herbs, so that no one knows their proper healing qualities unless the Holy Spirit taught them afterwards. And Dian Cecht said, “Though Miach no longer lives, Airmed shall remain.”

Worst. Father. In all of mythology.

But I’m always open to other viewpoints, so what do you think?

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