Ir.: "tree"?

Father of Mílidh and grandfather of Donn; as such, he is one of the ancestors of the Gaedhel (Irish).

In many places, the Lebor Gabala states that Bile 7 Mílid, is dia cloind Gáidil uile--"Bile and Mílidh, it is from their progeny the Gaels come." It is likely that he is the so-called "Dis Pater", lord of the Underworld and ancestor of the Celts mentioned by Caesar. While the island of Tech Duinn is associated with the afterlife, it is possible that Donn is a double of Bile, as donn possibly means "Lord"--Tech Duinn then meaning "House of the Lord (of the Dead)."1 Later euhemerizaton would attempt to rationalize these as seperate figures, but it is possible that they are truly the same.

It is thought that Bile may be somehow related to the Welsh figure Beli Mawr, a mythological king of Britain and ancestor of many of the royal lines of Wales, especially that of Gwynedd. Many Welsh scholars compare the Annales Cambriae, which mentions one Beli ap Elfin (Alpin), and the Annals of Ulster, who also mentions the same figure as Bile mac Elpin (Alpin). Moreover, Bile is an ancestor god; Beli is an ancestor god. Now, while there is a likely connection between Beli and Dôn, there is no literary connection between Bile and Danu/Anu.

As for Bile's name, it is the same term as used to denote sacred trees in Irish lore; as such Bile as ancestor may also be a double for the World Tree. Moreover, Alexi Kondratiev derives his name from *bhel-, meaning "swollen"--from which is also derived the word phallus. As such, his name indicates Bile's generative role, and that of the Tree.

1. donn may also mean "dark, brown"--hense another translation of Tech Duinn may mean "house of dark(ness)", an appropriate euphamism for death.

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Mary Jones © 2004