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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 ?
It wouldn't occur to us, when we were in the Ossianic Society, to stage a debate in front of the entire university.
When Beckett speaks of the 'altitudinous complacency' with which the poets of the Celtic Twilight can deliver 'the Ossianic goods' he can be seen to share Schopenhauer's animus against those artists who allow their work to be dictated by nationalistic concerns.
to Idylls of the King in "Tennyson, Malory and the Ossianic Mode: The Poems of Ossian and 'The Death of Arthur'" (RES 57: 374-391).
He derides the poets of the Revival for being 'antiquarians, delivering with the altitudinous complacency of the Victorian Gael the Ossianic goods'.
For example, Zukovskij in his translation of "Lord Ullin's Daughter" individualizes and humanizes Thomas Campbell's characters and yet universalizes them and gives the poem authenticity by painstakingly associating it with Ossianic myth.
Larry Todd, "Mendelssohn's Ossianic Manner, with a New Source: On Lena's Gloomy Heath," in Mendelssohn and Schumann: Essays on Their Music and Its Context, ed.
Margery Fee, for example, ought to have known that James MacPherson, not Thomas Chatterton, wrote the Ossianic forgeries.
McKusick is most original in claiming that Coleridge's stylistic excesses were chastened by his admiration for the Ossianic primitive style.
17) It is implicit in Wilcocke's insistence that the Druids, though superstitious pagans, at least never led the ancient Britons into "Parisian massacres"; and even Skene's short epic Donald Bane, despite being little more than an extended Ossianic battle scene, culminates with its rebellious hero submitting to the principle of royal legitimacy.
The same was happening in Scotland - with James Macpherson and his Ossianic poems; and in Ireland, as well, in both Gaelic and English.
RACKOVA, Patricia, 'Wild, Dismal and Genteel: Ossianic Cycle Heritage in the Irish Republican Brotherhood', in Grmelova, Anna, et al.
One of Zukovskij's most obvious revisions is to provide names for the escaping couple, and his source for these names is the "Ossianic" poems, the influence of which had pervaded Europe after the appearance of James Macpherson's various Ossianic works.