Greek Gaels, British Gaels: Classical allusion in early-modern Scottish Gaelic poetry

Maria Coira* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


This chapter explores the use of Classical allusions in early-modern Scottish Gaelic poetry, and the two distinct ways in which they connected with the Scottish Gaels’ understanding of Britishness. Gaelic Scotland and Gaelic Ireland shared the same field of literary reference, with Ireland as the fountainhead. Consequently, Classical reception in Scottish Gaelic literature owed much to Classical reception in Ireland. However, once Scotland became part of the kingdom of Britain, and particularly in the Jacobite period, poets began to deploy new Classical allusions, in which a shift in type and purpose can be detected, designed to address contemporary political circumstances. A sense of Gaelic Britishness, and a specific understanding of what it meant to be British, developed in Gaelic Scotland in the seventeenth century. Classical allusion played a meaningful role in its expression through poetic discourse right up to the aftermath of Culloden, the final Jacobite defeat.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCelts, Romans, Britons
Subtitle of host publicationClassical and Celtic Influence in the Construction of British Identities
EditorsFrancesca Kaminski-Jones, Rhys Kaminski-Jones
Place of PublicationOxford
Number of pages40
ISBN (Electronic)0192608150
ISBN (Print)9780198863076
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2020

Publication series

NameClassical Presences
PublisherOxford University Press


  • celts
  • britishness
  • classics


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