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White Snake Commentary

The Scottish city of Glasgow has for its arms a salmon with a ring in its mouth. The legend purportedly behind this is that Queen Longuoreth was given a ring by her husband, Redderech, which she later gave to a soldier. When her husband discovered this, he found the soldier asleep by a river bank, and taking the ring he threw it into the Clyde then challenged his wife to produce the wing. The Queen sought the assistance of St. Mungo ("Friend", later the patron Saint of Glasgow), who was in prison. He sent the messenger to the Clyde and told him to bring back to him the first fish he caught, which was a salmon, and when it was cut open the ring was found.

This recalls the New Testament story in which Jesus, when asked about paying tax to Caesar, commands a disciple to go fishing then bring to him the first fish he catches, which has in it a gold coin, and the disciple is told to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's.

The Irish, however, have the tale of the Salmon of Knowledge, which was gold-colored, and that the first person who tasted it would receive the gift of its knowledge, that knowledge received by the fish in its feeding on the hazel nuts that floated in the river. The Druid Finegas caught the fish in the pool of Linn Fic and gave it to his student, Fionn, to cook, admonishing him not to taste it. But when his thumb was burned by the fish, Fionn put his thumb to his mouth to suck on it, tasted of the oil of the fish, and thereby received the wisdom. Finegas understood that he had received the wisdom and dismissed him as he'd nothing else to teach him.

So the King in this tale has taken the place of the Master, and the fish and ring episode rather connects the serpent of knowledge back to the salmon of knowledge. The snake is eaten, the fish is caught , and for this reason the servant is then dismissed, for there is nothing else the Master may teach him.


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