This question got me thinking about the Irish depiction of legs in mythology.

  • I remember one woman, in particular, from (I believe) the Ulster Cycle, described as having backward legs, similar to a stag or horse, to connote her inhuman swiftness. (The Greek heroine Atalanta is one parallel, although I can no longer remember the gist of the Irish story.)

Not strictly related: Cut Across Shorty

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    This detail might possibly occur in some tellings of the story of Macha's foot-race, reckoned among the remscela of the Táin in that it explains the curse by which the Ulstermen suffer disabling pangs as of childbirth in their hour of most need. I don't recall it, however, from Kinsella's version (pp. 6–8), for which the source text for this remscel is that edited by Windisch and published in 1884. Aug 30, 2017 at 13:53
  • @BrianDonovan Good call re: Macha. The the Kinsella is my favorite translation, but I'm not entirely sure if the description of the reverse legs derives from the Táin or the broader Ulster cycle.
    – DukeZhou
    Aug 30, 2017 at 14:48
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    Note the association with horses in the Wiki piece you link. Aug 30, 2017 at 16:19
  • Didn't the Badb Catha have backwards knees (along with other grotesque features) in Togail Bruidne Dá Derga? Sep 26, 2018 at 10:56
  • For what it's worth, horses (dogs, etc.) don't actually have "backward knees". They have short thighs and very long feet, making their heels look like backward knees. Oct 10, 2020 at 13:03


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