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(ŏsh`ən) or


(əshēn`), legendary Gaelic poet, supposedly the son of Finn mac CumhailFinn mac Cumhail,
 Fionn mac Cumhail,
or Finn MacCool
, semimythical Irish hero. His exploits are recorded in long narrative poems by Ossian and in many ballads, called Fenian ballads after the Fenians, or Fianna, professional fighters whom Finn was said
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, hero of a cycle of tales and poems that place his deeds of valor in the 3d cent. A.D. These traditional tales were preserved in Ireland and in the Scottish Highlands, with Ossian as the bard who sang of the exploits of Finn and his Fenian cohorts. A later cycle of Ossianic poetry centered on Cuchulain, another traditional hero. Ossian is generally represented as an old, blind man who had outlived both his father and his son. The name is remembered by most people in connection with James MacphersonMacpherson, James,
1736–96, Scottish author. Educated at Aberdeen and Edinburgh, he spent his early years as a schoolmaster. In later life he held a colonial secretaryship in West Florida (1764–66), and he was a member of Parliament from 1780 until his death.
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, who published translations of two poems that he said had been written by Ossian; scholars subsequently proved that they were actually a combination of traditional Gaelic poems and original verses by Macpherson himself.


See J. Macpherson, The Poems of Ossian (1805, repr. 1974).



(also Oisin), a legendary warrior and bard of the Celts, who, according to tradition, lived in Ireland in the third century and sang of the deeds of his father, Finn (Fingal) mac Cumhall and his war band, the Fena (Fianna).

Legends about Ossian, Finn, and the Fena had existed in oral tradition for centuries in Scotland and especially in Ireland; some of these were written down no later than the 12th century. J. Macpherson ascribed to himself the honor of “discovering” the poetry of Ossian; in 1765 he published The Works of Ossian, the Son of Fingal. Research by scholars in Celtic studies in the 19th and 20th centuries have established that these Works, with the exception of a few fragments of Gaelic folklore, constitute a literary forgery.


See references under MACPHERSON, JAMES.


a legendary, wandering Irish bard. [Irish Lit.: Harvey, 603]


a legendary Irish hero and bard of the 3rd century ad
References in periodicals archive ?
I wonder if she thinks about our language when she opens a carton of milk at the head of Loch Ossian.
1 violin part (for Zumsteeg, Ossians Sonnengesang, Himmel, Ossian an die untergehende Sonne).
Hugh Blair, defending the authenticity of Ossian and urging Burns to write in English, exemplified the Scottish philosophers' failure to engage with native poetic genius even when they tried.
MEHUL, UTHAL: LES TALENS LYRIQUES / ROUSSET (EDICIONES SINGULARES) In the late 18th century a craze swept Europe for the epic poetry of Ossian, a sort of Scottish Homer, discovered and translated from the Gaelic by James Macpherson.
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George begins by examining Hume's response to the Ossian controversy, that is, James Macpherson's alleged discovery of the works of a third-century Gaelic poet.
Author Eric Gidal presents readers with an examination of the writings of a group of nineteenth century Scottish eccentrics that employed cartography, statistics, and geomorphology in an attempt to authenticate the otranslationso of eighteenth century Scottish schoolteacher James MacphersonAEs fictional third century Caledonian bard, Ossian.
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Author Julia Marie Robinson, a professor of African-American religion at the University of North Carolina, examines how Bradby's church influenced the formation of an urban African-American working class in Detroit, detailing his efforts as an activist, his role in high-profile events such as the Ossian Sweet trial of the 1920s, and the sometimes surprising nature of relationships between Second Baptist, its members, and Detroit's prominent white elites.
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