Dia·fagbainn-se bróin úachtair...
Dia·fagbainn-se bróin úachtair, do·géntae bró íochtair dím.
(if I were to find * millstone * upper * would be made * millstone * lower * of me)
If I found an upper millstone, I would be the lower millstone.
Ailbe says this to Finn during the verbal sparring and word play of their courtship in “Tochmarc Ailbe”, letting him know that she’d gladly join in marriage with a man who was suited to her. The image of the wife as the lower millstone, also called an “inneóin” or “anvil”, is found in Fíthal’s advice to his son on choosing a wife. Their exchange begins:
Cid imma ngabthar trebad? ol a mac fri Fíthal.
Ní hansa. Im indeóin cothaigthe, ol Fíthal.
Ceist. Caide an indeóin threbtha? ol in mac.
Ní hansa. Ben maith, ol Fíthal. (ed. Meyer, ZCP viii 112)
Around what is a household established? said his son to Fíthal.
That’s easy. Around a steady lower millstone, said Fíthal.
Tell me, what is the lower millstone of a household? said the son.
That’s easy. A good woman, said Fíthal.
“Cá ben dobér?”, also in this collection, is from later on in this father-son exchange.