ACT Reading Practice Test 69: Humanities - The Tain Bo Culainge: Early Irish Epic

DIRECTIONS: Each passage is followed by several questions. After reading a passage, choose the best answer to each question and fill in the corresponding oval on your answer document. You may refer to the passages as often as necessary.



1. Which of the following statements best expresses the main idea of the passage?

A. The Táin tells the story of Queen Medb and the magic bull of Ulster.
B. Stories told in the vernacular are much better than stories told in Latin.
C. The Táin is an epic, one of the great national stories of Ireland, which has inspired writers for hundreds of years.
D. The Táin provides an image of Ireland in the late medieval period, before the English occupation.

2. Which of the following questions is NOT answered in the passage?

F. What is vernacular literature?
G. Why did Queen Medb want the magic bull of Ulster?
H. What does The Táin Bó Culainge mean?
J. How did the warrior, Cú Chulainn, get his name?

3. The passage suggests that one of The Táin's most important contributions to Irish literature is that:

A. it provides an inspirational image of Ireland free of English cultural repression.
B. it illustrates the political power of women in early European countries.
C. it personifies the ancient Irish demigods, incorporating them into one literary figure.
D. it collects several important mythological stories into one book, making them less significant.

4. The main function of the second paragraph (lines 12–22) is to:

F. give a brief description of The Táin Bó Culainge.
G. introduce the Ulster king, Conchobor mac Nessa.
H. describe Ireland's agrarian society in the early middle ages.
J. define an epic cycle.

5. All of the following details are used in the passage to show the range of content in The Táin EXCEPT:

A. the bulls were originally pig-keepers who knew magic.
B. the Ulstermen were cursed with debilitating pain whenever their country was attacked.
C. Fergus was once a king of Ulster who lost his crown and subsequently agreed to fight against his old country.
D. Deirdre was originally promised in marriage to King Conchobor.

6. The last paragraph establishes all of the following about The Táin EXCEPT:

F. The Táin is over twelve hundred years old.
G. once a literary work is dead, it ceases to have any cultural significance.
H. modern writers use The Táin as a source of artistic inspiration.
J. Irish bards once called on the ghost of Fergus to tell them the true story of The Táin.

7. One of the main points in the third paragraph (lines 23–36) is that, under medieval Irish law:

A. bulls were important instruments of attaining political power.
B. a king was defined as the local man who had the most cattle.
C. children had limited legal rights.
D. women had legal rights equal to men, but only under certain conditions.

8. According to the passage, literary lovers' triangles have included all of the following EXCEPT:

F. Queen Medb, King Aillil, and Fergus.
G. Queen Isolde, King Mark, and Sir Tristram.
H. Queen Guinevere, King Arthur, and Sir Lancelot.
J. Queen Medb, King Mark, and King Arthur.

9. The author most likely includes the information in lines 60–63 ("Still even Medb's daughter, Finnabair,… same name") to suggest that:

A. some thematic similarities between the King Arthur story and The Táin are very strong.
B. medieval authors knew that Finnabair and Guinevere were originally the same person.
C. the King Arthur story is an English version of The Táin.
D. no medieval kings could fully trust their best warriors.

10. Which of the following phrases best describes why Medb wanted the magic bull of Ulster?

F. Spiteful vanity.
G. Marital jealousy.
H. Serious ambition.
J. Childish determination.