Fomorians

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In Irish mythology, the Fomoire (or Fomorians) are a semi-divine race said to have inhabited Ireland in ancient times. They may have once been believed to be the beings who preceded the gods, similar to the Greek Titans. It has been suggested[who?] that they represent the gods of chaos and wild nature, as opposed to the Tuatha Dé Danann who represent the gods of human civilization. Alternatively, they may represent the gods of a proposed pre-Goidelic population of Ireland.

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Name

The race are known as the Fomoire or Fomoiri, names that are often Anglicised as Fomorians, Fomors or Fomori. Later in Middle Irish they are also known as the Fomóraig. The etymology of the name Fomoire (plural) has been cause for some debate. Medieval Irish scholars thought the name contained the element muire "sea", owing to their reputation as sea pirates.[1] In 1888, John Rhys was the first to suggest that it is an Old Irish word composed of fo "under/below" and muire "sea", concluding that it may refer to beings whose (original) habitat is under the sea.[2] Observing two instances of the early genitive form fomra, Kuno Meyer arrives at the same etymology, but takes it to refer to land by the sea.[3] Whitley Stokes and Rudolf Thurneysen, on the other hand, prefer to connect the second element *mor with a supposed Old English cognate mara "mare" (which survives today in the English word night-mare).[4][5] Building on these hypotheses, Marie-Louise Sjoestedt interprets the combination of fo and the root *mor as a compound meaning "inferior" or "latent demons".[6]

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