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Oisin

Oisin

In Celtic* mythology, Oisin (or Ossian) was a great warrior poet and the son of Finn, leader of a warrior band known as the Fianna. Legend says that an enchanter had changed Finn's lover, the goddess Sadb, into a deer. One day while looking for Sadb, Finn came upon Oisin. He realized the boy was his son after Oisin told him that his mother was a gentle deer. Finn raised Oisin and trained him to be a warrior, but Oisin also inherited his mother's gift of eloquent speech. He became a great poet as well as one of the fiercest warriors of the Fianna.

As a man, Oisin met Niamh, daughter of the sea god Manannan Mac Lir. She invited him to visit her father's kingdom of Tir Na Nog, the Land of Ever Young. Oisin stayed there for 300 years, although it seemed like only a few weeks. Lonely for home, he asked if he might visit Ireland. Niamh agreed and sent him back on horseback, warning him not to touch the ground or he would never return to Tir Na Nog. However, Oisin slipped and fell to the ground, instantly becoming a blind old man who never saw his beloved Niamh again. In 1761, a writer named James Macpherson published what was claimed to be a translation of Ossian's poems. Their authenticity was disproved by Samuel Johnson 14 years later.

See also Celtic Mythology; Finn.

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Oisin

Oisin: see Ossian.

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"Oisin." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Oisin

Oisin

Nationality/Culture

Irish/Celtic

Pronunciation

uh-SHEEN

Alternate Names

Ossian

Appears In

The Fenian Cycle

Lineage

Son of Finn and Sadb

Character Overview

In Celtic mythology , Oisin (or Ossian) was a great warrior poet and the son of Finn , leader of a warrior band known as the Fianna (pronounced FEE-uh-nuh). Legend says that an enchanter had changed Finn's lover, the goddess Sadb (pronounced SAWV), into a deer. One day while looking for Sadb, Finn came upon Oisin. He realized the boy was his son after Oisin told him that his mother was a gentle deer. Finn raised Oisin and trained him to be a warrior, but Oisin also inherited his mother's gift of eloquent speech. He became a great poet as well as one of the fiercest warriors of the Fianna.

As a man, Oisin met Niamh (pronounced NEE-uhv), daughter of the sea god Manannan Mac Lir (pronounced muh-NAH-nahn mak leer). She invited him to visit her father's kingdom of Tir Na Nog, the Land of Ever Young. After what seemed like a few years, Oisin grew lonely for home and asked if he might visit Ireland. Niamh agreed and sent him back on horseback, warning him not to touch the ground or he would never be able to return to Tir Na Nog. However, Oisin slipped out of his saddle while helping some men lift a stone. When he fell to the ground, he instantly became a blind, white-haired old man. He discovered that three hundred years had passed since he left Ireland, and when he touched the ground, all those years caught up with him. He never saw his beloved Niamh or Tir Na Nog again.

Oisin in Context

The character of Oisin, despite playing an active part in several fantastic adventures, was traditionally regarded as an actual historical figure in Irish culture. He is the narrator and alleged author of many poems and ballads. Although there is litde evidence that Oisin is based on a real person, this reflects Celtic and Irish beliefs that the gods and other races of beings frequently interacted with humans. It also reflects the notion in Irish culture that the Irish people are directly descended from figures with mythical roots such as Oisin.

Key Themes and Symbols

One theme found in the tales of Oisin is the danger of disobeying the gods. Although he does not intend to disobey Niamh, his carelessness results in his losing his eternal youth. Oisin also represents eloquence of speech and song, which he inherited from his goddess mother. Oisin, whose name actually means “little deer,” is sometimes associated with deer.

Oisin in Art, Literature, and Everyday Life

Oisin is one of the most beloved and heroic figures in Irish culture. He appears in several traditional Celtic tales and was the subject of the William Butler Yeats poem The Wanderings of Oisin (1889). In 1761, a writer named James MacPherson published what was claimed to be a translation of Oisin's poems. Their authenticity was disproved by Samuel Johnson fourteen years later. In recent times, the name Oisin has been used by geneticist Bryan Sykes to represent a population of people who have a certain group of genetic markers in their DNA. Although members of this population can be found throughout Europe, they are most concentrated in Ireland and Wales.

Read, Write, Think, Discuss

According to legend, Oisin lived for several hundred years in a land of eternal youth. In modern times, people spend billions of dollars each year in an attempt to regain their youthful appearance or energy level. The myth of Oisin seems to suggest that people in centuries past were also concerned with retaining their youth. Do you think people are more concerned now with appearing young than they were in the past? Why or why not?

SEE ALSO Celtic Mythology; Finn

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"Oisin." U*X*L Encyclopedia of World Mythology. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Oisin." U*X*L Encyclopedia of World Mythology. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 23, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/oisin

"Oisin." U*X*L Encyclopedia of World Mythology. . Retrieved September 23, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/oisin

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