The Celtic Literature Collective

The Beheading of John the Baptist by Mog Ruith
Book of Hui Maine

1. All the children of Israel that spread over the yellow-crested world, it is no labour, it is an easy task to enumerate or to tell them.

2. Persians and Medes together, Greeks and Chaldeans: four races that were in the east, by whom the kingships of the world were taken.

3. There ruled in the eastern world a king known as fierce Herod; John, through the righteous man was a bishop, was slain by him, it is a bitter tale.

4. The reason of the slaying of noble John, by the household of shameless Herod,--the deed was an awful one,--was on account of the wife of Philip Labarchenn.

5. Philip Labarchenn without sorrow was true judge of true judgments. he used to give famous judgments to the host of the red-faced world.

6. Thereupon Philip died at the fort of famed Arguas; and yonder in her house his wife was without a mate to lie with her.

7. Herodias was the woman's name, the wife of Philip without guile; her daughter's names--it is not forbidden [to mention them]: Salius and Neiptis.

8. Neiptis used to make--a famous music!--sweet piping from her lips; and Salius indeed would make nimble movements and leapings.

9. To every one among the hosts of the ruddy world their skill seemed marvellous; whereby they won goodly treasure from the nobles of the world.

10. Thereupon Herodias goes out that night to the country of the young man, till she reaches Esculop.

11. Philip, brother of Herod the splendid, from the perfect Esculop, brought weighty love to her, to the wife of the other Philip.

12. Then Philip asked of Herodias that night whether she would lie with him in his house yonder; for a bride-price or a gift.

13. She of the fair white limbs said to proud perfect Philip that she would speedily lie with him if Herod would approve.

14. They went together to the house of Herod over every road, so that Herod sealed then her bride-price and her gift.

15. Then Philip sat down in the chair of the fair king: it was a gels for the beautiful king that anyone should sit down in his chair.

16. Then Herod asked of his brother Philip: “Why hast thou broken my law? It was unjust of you, Philip.”

17. Herod seized a convenient dog-whip in his great royal hand, and he struck Philip in the house for the crime of his lawless deed.

18. Then said Herodias to Philip, in that very hour, that she would not cohabit with him, though it was a hard condition, after his having been struck with the dog-whip.

19. Then Philip went out tearfully and sorrowfully, after being reviled by the woman of the east, after being struck by his brother.

20.Philip went to the house of John, the noble and the righteous; he told John,—the matter was great,-—that his brother had out­raged him.

21. Near was their right relationship—-Philip, Herod and John; the story tells that two sisters were their two mothers.

22. Sarra daughter of pure Gomer was the mother of delightful noble John; Cassamaindra, a wise daughter, mother of Herod and Philip.

23. It is no secret that she is the mother of John, every sage relates in story; these are their names, I shall not hide it, Sarra and Elizabeth.

24. Elizabeth and Zacharias were the mother and father of John the Baptist, it is they who quickly reared-John, Philip and Herod.

25. It is known that Philip said to John the Baptist, on account of their relationship: “Arise and utterly ruin the woman,together with the marvellous Herod.”

26. Thereupon John went to the house of marvellous Herod, sternly he said to him then not to sleep with Herodias.

27. Famous Herod said to his mother’s sister’s son: “If the woman would sleep with Philip, it is not I who would separate them.”

28. Thereupon Herodias said to Philip at once, that if she found no husband till Doom, she would not be with Philip a single hour.

29. Herodias then cast a spell of false love over her face, through which grievous harm was done by imposing her love upon Herod.

30. Then said Herod to the maidens in the house: “Display your arts in turn that my household may see it.”

33. Herod was then pledged, and he gave his word: he promised, though great the doom, that he would grant them (their request) without delay.

34. Then Neiptis made sweet music from her lips, Salia leapt over every . . ., a couple...

35. Then it was demanded--a wicked unjust boon--that she might have the head of John on a dish at once, for he had been reviling them.

36. Herod said in his house that he would not grant them the request and that he would not Stain red the head of pure John for all the gold in the world.

37. His household said to him, to Herod, though there were danger: “Do not break thy word, oh king, lest thy law be ruined.”

38. Then indeed Herod wept true sorrowing tears of blood: and he afterwards granted them John, to be placed in a cruel prison.

39. A wage was given to Mog Ruith who chose it for beheading John; this then was the wage of Mog Ruith, (his) choice of the maidens.

40. Then Mog Ruith the splendid went to kill John, though it was shameful. So he took in the prison to Herod the head of John on a dish of white silver.

41. Through that story,--a famous contention--the feast of John (will come) upon the Gael, so that there shall not be of the race of noble Gaels save one-third unslain.

42. The single third which will be left on that day of the host of the Gael and the foreigners, oh Son of Mary, it is a sad thing that they should all be visited by a black pestilence.

43. Flann Finn son of noble Ossa son of Orath (?) from rugged Greece, it is he who shaped this Eastern tale for the seed of Adam and his children.

"The Beheading of John the Baptist by Mog Ruith" trans. and ed. by Annie M. Scarre. Eriu. vol. IV. Dublin: School of Irish Learning.