Ossian

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Ossian, son of Fingal, father of Oscar, whose death—so James MacPherson claimed—marked the end of Celtic civilization in Scotland. MacPherson asserted Ossian's Scottish ancestry in spite of stiff and compelling counter-claims by the Irish and in spite of the fact that many thought that his translations of Ossian's ‘poems’ (1762–5) were forgeries. Nevertheless, the poems caused a literary sensation. They were translated into most European languages and even into Gaelic. In the event they turned out to be a mixture of genuine verses handed down by oral tradition and imaginative translation and pastiche by their editor. However, the Scottish tourist industry has every reason to be grateful for them.

Nicholas Phillipson

Ossian

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Ossian a legendary Irish warrior and bard, whose name became well known in 1760–3 when the Scottish poet James Macpherson (1736–96) published his own verse as an alleged translation of 3rd-century Gaelic tales. The Irish version of his name is Oisin.