How to demonstrate authority

From an Irish myth, a curious shopping list of what subordinate chieftains need as proof of your elevation above them: not only you should provide ample food and beer (as evidenced by greasy knives and ale-breath), but you should equally ensure they be lavishly entertained by the whole gamut of jesters and their like: poets, bards, lampooners, pipers, jugglers and fools. 

So Bres held the sovereignty as it had been conferred upon him. But the chiefs of the Tuatha De murmured greatly against him, for their knives were not greased by him, and however often they visited him their breaths did not smell of ale. Moreover, they saw not their poets nor their bards nor their lampooners nor their harpers nor their pipers nor their jugglers nor their fools amusing them in the household.

So why should they pay you homage?  Small wonder the grumbling. 

See some other examples of jesters appearing in Irish tales, including the superb Rocmid, and a prophesying juggler. 

Source: Tom Cross and C. Slover, eds, `Tales of the Tuatha de Danann’, in Ancient Irish Tales (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1996 (1936)), p. 33

Image credit: Celtic warriors, featured on the Realm of History website.


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