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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 ?
With respect to Ossianic poetry, Waltz's introductory notes discuss the circumstances surrounding Macpherson's work in his English-speaking context, and the special characteristics of the German fascination with Ossian.
25) Fionn and his followers thefianna are mythic Irish warriors appearing in thefiannaiocht (Fenian, or Ossianic Cycle):
It wouldn't occur to us, when we were in the Ossianic Society, to stage a debate in front of the entire university.
Secondly, Macpherson was tasked with re-introducing the aesthetic elements that would elevate Ossianic poetry to the heights he had envisioned.
Janos Batsanyi's Early Translations of Ossianic Poems: 'The Death of Oscar.
There was also a tremendous intellectual interest in the non-English cultures of Britain such as the Ossianic poems in Scotland and the culture of Wales (at a time the native gentry were abandoning it), all of which were celebrated as part of the discovery of Britishness, as demonstrated by Linda Colley and others.
Scholars have lamented the fact that for many readers, Hugh Trevor-Roper's essay, 'The Invention of Tradition: The Highland Tradition of Scotland' (1983), is their only source of knowledge regarding James Macpherson and the Ossianic controversy.
This begins with Allan Ramsay's exploitation of the pastoral, and with James Macpherson's establishment of the Ossianic, Highland bardic persona, and feeds into the 'Heaven-taught ploughman' Robert Burns.
She romantically named their property Morven, after Fingal's Kingdom in James Macpherson's Ossianic poems.
She also considers a series of Kauffman's history paintings that feature cross-dressing, such as Athena Taking Up Arms (1768) and the Ossianic Trenmor and Inibaca (1772).
Epic primitivism" thus came to be associated not only with Homeric epic and the oral tradition to which it was indebted but also with the indigenous folk ballads and Ossianic narratives produced by British "primitives.
These pictures include paintings by artists as important as Paul Duqueylar, Francois Gerard, Anne-Louis Girodet, and Jean-Dominique Ingres, though the listing is by no means to be regarded as definitive, omitting as it does a couple of works by the American John Trumbull, a small study circa 1792, and a larger "Lamderg and Gelchossa" of 1814, which are of particular interest as the artist's cousin and namesake published an Ossianic poem--admittedly a parody--entitled McFingallin 1799.