Blog Archive

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Magitech in Myth and Legend

A prime source for magitech, oddly enough, is myth and legend, including that of the Ancient Greeks and their forge god Hephaestus. Among the most notable examples of Hephaestus' skill at artifice are the automata he built for himself and others. The best known of them was Talos, a bronze giant that Hephaestus as Europa's, and by extension Crete's, guardian on Zeus's behalf. Hephaestus also constructed the fire breathing bull automata collectively known as Khalkotauroi, the Caucasian Eagle (unless it was a child of Echidna) that was tasked to tear out Prometheus's liver every day, a score of bronze and gold tripods that fallow him to Olympus and many more than can be easily mentioned here.

At the same time within the annuls of Celtic myth lies mythology's foremost example example of a magitech cyborg, Nuada Airgetlám, or Nuada Silverhand. When the Tuatha De Danann landed on the shore of what would later be known as Ireland, they learned they were not alone. The land was already inhabited by a race of men called the Fir Bolg or bag men. Nuada, the king of the Tuatha De Danann, petitioned the king of the Fir Bolgs, Eochaid, for half of the island to live on. Eochaid denied Nuada's humble request and war broke out, a war that claimed King Eochaid's life. During the first great battle of the war, the First Battle of Mag Tuired, the great Fir Bolg hero Sreng challenged King Nuada to single combat. They clashed for the remainder of the battle, until Sreng connects with a single blow against Nuada, severing his right hand.

As beloved a king as Nuada was, the laws of the Tuatha forbade those with missing limbs from the kingship, for a king must be able bodied so he* can lead troops into battle and fight along side them. So he stepped aside for a new king, Bres, a handsome young half-Formor, with golden hair as bright as the sun. He was by by most accounts a good and wise king, but Bres was little more than a puppet ruler, a living tool which the Formor used to oppress and enslave the Tuatha. Feeling desperate and desiring their freedom restored, the Tuatha rebels scrambled to find a king to take their beloved but now crippled Nuada's place, and no other names came to mind. So Dian Cecht and his assistant Creidhne crafted a beautifully made silver hand to replace Nuada's original lost appendage. This was no mere false hand for Nuada, but instead an almost fully functional, if skeletal, silver hand. Miach then covered the silver skeletal hand with flesh and blood grown from its stump.

There's much more to draw on, but I feel this is enough for now.