Ireland and the Classical World

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University of Texas Press, 2001 - History - 148 pages
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Beyond Britain is Iuverna [Ireland], almost the same in area, but oblong with coasts of equal length on both sides. The climate is unfavorable for the ripening of grain, but yet it is so fertile for grass, not only abundant but sweet, that livestock eat their fill in a small part of the day. Unless they were restrained from this pasturage, they would burst from feeding too long. The inhabitants of this island are unrefined, ignorant of all the virtues more than any other people, and totally lack all sense of duty. -- POMPONIUS MELA (C. A.D. 44)

On the boundary of what the ancient Greeks and Romans considered the habitable world, Ireland was land of myth and mystery in classical times. Classical authors frequently portrayed its people as savages -- even as cannibals and devotees of incest -- and evinced occasional uncertainty as to the island's shape, size, and actual location. Unlike neighboring Britain, Ireland never knew Roman occupation, yet literary and archaeological evidence prove that Iuverna was more than simply terra incognita in classical antiquity.

In this book, Philip Freeman explores the relations between ancient Ireland and the classical world through a comprehensive survey of all Greek and Latin literary sources that mention Ireland. He analyzes passages (given in both the original language and English) from over thirty authors, including Julius Caesar, Strabo, Tacitus, Ptolemy, and St. Jerome. To amplify the literary sources, he also briefly reviews the archaeological and linguistic evidence for contact between Ireland and the Mediterranean world.

Freeman's analysis of all these sources reveals that Ireland was known to the Greeks and Romans for hundreds of yearsand that Mediterranean goods and even travelers found their way to Ireland, while the Irish at least occasionally visited, traded, and raided in Roman lands. Everyone interested in ancient Irish history or Classics, whether scholar or enthusiast, will learn much from this pioneering book.

 

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Contents

The Archaeology of Roman Material in Ireland
1
PREROMAN MATERIAL
2
SECONDCENTURY MATERIAL
5
THIRDCENTURY MATERIAL
9
Language
14
THE OGAM ALPHABET AND THE LATIN GRAMMATICAL TRADITION
17
Ancient Authors
28
Diodorus Siculus
35
Maritime Itinerary of Antonius Augustus
89
Panegyric on Constantine Augustus
91
Orphic Argonautica
93
Pacatus
94
Ammianus Marcellinus
95
Historia Augusta
97
PseudoHegesippus
98
Prudentius
102

Julius Caesar
36
Strabo
38
Isidorus
47
Pomponius Mela
48
Pliny the Elder
50
PseudoAristotle
55
Tacitus
56
Juvenal
62
Dionysius Periegets
64
Apuleius
84
Herodian
85
Solinus
86
Panegyric on Constantius Caesar
88
Servius
103
Marcianus
106
Stobaeus
110
Orosius
111
PseudoAgathemerus
113
Stephanus of Byzantium
115
The Greek Alphabet
129
Classical References to Ireland
131
The Names of Ireland
135
References
137
Index
141
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About the author (2001)

Philip Freeman is Assistant Professor of Classics at Washington University in St. Louis.

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