Meet Mael and Mlithe and Admlithe in an astonishing description of three jesters in the ‘Room of the Mimes’, from an Irish mythological cycle. Note that it is impossible not to laugh when you seen them regardless of your state of mind, and that the king is also laugh-bound when he sees them. Yet they are said to be responsible, each one, for a man’s death.
“There I beheld a trio of jesters hard by the fire. Three dun mantles they wore. If the men of Erin were in one place, even though the corpse of his mother or his father were in front of each, not one could refrain from laughing at them. Wheresoever the king of a cantred is in the house, not one of them attains his seat on his bed because of that trio of jesters. Whenever the king’s eye visits them it smiles at every glance. Liken thou that, O Fer rogain!”
“Easily done. Mael and Mlithe and Admlithe – those are the king of Erin’s three jesters. By each of them a man will perish, and among them they will share a man’s triumph.”
Source: The Destruction of Da Derga’s Hostel, trans. Whitely Stokes, Epic and Saga Harvard Classics No. 49 (New York, P. F. Collier & Sons, 1910).
Image credit: ‘The Three Jesters’ (1951), John Molvig (1923-70), oil on composition board