poet from the third century, A.D, also know as Oisin
. His traditional tales have been told in both Ireland and the Scottish highlands. In his works Ossian is presented as an old man who sings of the exploits of the Fenians
In the 1760s James MacPherson caused controversy with the publication of verses he claimed were translated from 'an ancient epic' first told by Ossian. This provoked a debate over the authenticity of the works, many of which draw on familiar versions of ancient gaelic literature. For example the figure of Fingal clearly correlates to Finn Mac Cumhail. The poems captured the popular imagination as the work of a 'Scottish Homer' and the works were translated into German by Goethe. Sceptics were led by Samuel Johnson and David Hume who proclaimed:-
"he would not believe the authenticity...though fifty barearsed highlanders should swear it."
No manuscript was ever provided to back up MacPherson's claims, and scholars now seem confident that the works were a mixture of original material by MacPherson and re-workings of traditional Gaelic poetry. here follow are list of what was published under the Ossian name.
Ossian remains an inspiration to Scottish artists. An exhibition by the Scottish artist Calum Colvin is currently being held at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh entitled 'Ossian - Fragments of Ancient Poetry'. The exhibition ends on 9th February 2003.
Calum Colvin, Ossian: fragments of Ancient Poetry, Tom Normand