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Ossian

Ossian (or Oisín, meaning "little fawn" in Irish), Scottish bard of the III century, son of Fingal and Sadhbh (en) , would be the author of a series of poems called" Gaelic "translated and published in between 1760 and 1763 by the poet James Macpherson, who had a huge impact throughout Europe.

The poems, of which the best known is Fingal (1762), were published between 1760 and 1765. The debate about their authenticity began quickly in the United Kingdom, as the majority of the British preferred to propagate an idea of ​​Greek national identity. Roman and not of Celtic origin. Charles O'Connor rejects all poems by pointing out technical errors in the chronology and formation of Gaelic names. Macpherson was unable to justify these "mistakes". Samuel Johnson, who was otherwise unimpressed by the quality of the poems, after several local inquiries, states that Macpherson found fragments of ancient poems and stories from various Irish, Welsh and English sources, suggesting that he thinks that Macpherson had organized the collection into a romance of his own composition. Hugh Blair, on the other hand, affirmed in A Critical Dissertation on the Poems of Ossian (1763) the opinion that it was indeed the translation of sources in Scots. As a consequence, the debate over the veracity of the translation was compounded by a debate between those who claimed that they belonged to Scottish culture and others who retained Ireland as their origin, Fingal being a hero of this region. .

In the XX century, research undertaken by Derick Thomson (1952) confirmed that originals of several Gaelic poems related to the Ossianic cycle had been found at Macpherson's after his death. The poet would have adapted them, sometimes following the original very closely, sometimes taking many liberties, as it was common in the XVIII century. It is therefore reasonable to think that Macpherson certainly showed artistic license, but that the origin of his works was authentic.

Ossian's poems soon had a large audience. It was one of the favorite readings of Napoleon and the "Barbus" group of young French artists from the studio of the painter Jacques-Louis David, who were looking for an alternative to neo-classicism. At the beginning of the XIX century, the myth of Ossian is one of the main pre-Romantic themes where a dreamlike dimension is manifested, which inspires especially the Scandinavian, German and French painters like Nicolai Abildgaard and besides the Barbus sect, Anne-Louis Girodet, Eugene Isabey, Baron Gerard and even Ingres.

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