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The Irish Classical SelfPoets and Poor Scholars in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries$
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Laurie O’Higgins

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198767107

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198767107.001.0001

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Esteem, Seriousness, and Folly

Esteem, Seriousness, and Folly

(p.53) 3 Esteem, Seriousness, and Folly
The Irish Classical Self

Laurie O’Higgins

Oxford University Press

This chapter studies Irish poetry, notably elegies or praise poems, and Aislingí, or vision poems. Both give clear evidence of mentalités, showing how poets valued the ancient languages, regarding them as a key element of Irish intellectualism. The figure of Éire, as embodied in the Aisling, routinely evoked the classical world as well as that of Irish literature. Light-hearted and facetious poems also evince delight in the classical world. Manuscripts likewise show how Irish scribes or “manuscript men” often used Latin in the course of their work, and as one of the subjects they could teach. Poems and manuscripts testify to the network of connections—across religious divisions and geographical distances, and between different social classes. This network of sociability creates an image of eighteenth-century Ireland quite different from that delineated—and divided—by laws, institutions, and official reports.

Keywords:   Irish, manuscript, Éire, elegy, Aisling, mentalité, Latin

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