It is, after all, the human interest of these old stories, and not primarily their importance as folklore and the history of manners, that appeals to most of us today. As the Arthurian legend all through the Middle Ages set before men's minds an ideal of high purpose, purity of life, and chivalrous behaviour in an age that was not over-inclined to practise these virtues, so these old Irish romances, so late rescued from oblivion, come to recall the minds of men in our own day to some noble ideals. For, rude as are the social conditions depicted in these tales, and exaggerated and barbaric as is the flavour of some of them, they nevertheless present to us a high and often romantic code of natural chivalry. There is no more pathetic story in literature than that of the fight between the two old and loving friends, Cuchulain and Ferdia ; there is no more touching act of chivalry to a woman than Cuchulain's offer of aid to his enemy Queen Meave, in the moment of her exhaustion ; there is no more delightful passage of playful affection than that between the hero and his lady in the wooing of Emer.
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