A Networks-Science Investigation into the Epic Poems of Ossian

Joseph Yose, Ralph Kenna, Padraig MacCarron, Thierry Platini, Justin Tonra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)
40 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

In 1760 James Macpherson published the first volume of a series of epic poems which he claimed to have translated into English from ancient Scottish-Gaelic sources. The poems, which purported to have been composed by a third-century bard named Ossian, quickly achieved wide international acclaim. They invited comparisons with major works of the epic tradition, including Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, and effected a profound influence on the emergent Romantic period in literature and the arts. However, the work also provoked one of the most famous literary controversies of all time, colouring the reception of the poetry to this day. The authenticity of the poems was questioned by some scholars, while others protested that they misappropriated material from Irish mythological sources. Recent years have seen a growing critical interest in Ossian, initiated by revisionist and counter-revisionist scholarship and by the two-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of the first collected edition of the poems in 1765. Here we investigate Ossian from a networks-science point of view. We compare the connectivity structures underlying the societies described in the Ossianic narratives with those of ancient Greek and Irish sources. Despite attempts, from the outset, to position Ossian alongside the Homeric epics and to distance it from Irish sources, our results indicate significant network-structural differences between Macpherson's text and those of Homer. They also show a strong similarity between Ossianic networks and those of the narratives known as Acallam na Sen\'orach (Colloquy of the Ancients) from the Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology.

Publisher Statement: Electronic version of an article published as [Advances in Complex Systems, 19, 2016, 165008] [10.1142/S0219525916500089] © [copyright World Scientific Publishing Company] [http://www.worldscientific.com/worldscinet/acs]
Original languageEnglish
Article number1650008
Number of pages24
JournalAdvances in Complex Systems
Volume19
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

Electronic version of an article published as [Advances in Complex Systems, 19, 2016, 165008] [10.1142/S0219525916500089] © [copyright World Scientific Publishing Company] [http://www.worldscientific.com/worldscinet/acs]

Keywords

  • Networks
  • Ossian
  • James Macpherson
  • literature
  • digital humanities

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A Networks-Science Investigation into the Epic Poems of Ossian'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this