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IRELAND IN THE LORE OF THE ANCIENTS

SCOTIA (A name transferred to Alba about ten centuries after Christ) was one of the earliest names of Ireland – so named, it was said, from Scota, the daughter of Pharaoh, one of the ancient female ancestors of the Milesians – and the people were commonly called Scotti or Scots – both terms being frequently used by early Latin historians and poets. One of its ancient titles was Hibernia (used by Caesar) which some trace from Ivernia, the name, it is said, of a people located in the south of the Island. But most trace it from Eber or Heber, ther first Milesian king of the southern half, just as the much later name, Ireland, is by some traced from Ir, whose family were in the northeastern corner of the island. Though it seems much more likely that this latter name was derived from the most common title given to the Island by its own inhabitants, Eire – hence Eireland, – Ireland. It was first Northmen and then the Saxons, who, in the ninth and tenth century began calling it Ir-land, or Ir-landa – Ireland.

In the oldest known foreign reference to Ireland, it was called Ierna. This was the title used by the poet Orpheus in the time of Cyrus of Persia, in the sixth century before Christ. Aristotle, in his Book of the World, also called Ierna. It was usually called either Hibernia or Scotia by the Latin writers. Tacitus, Caesar, and Pliny call it Hibernia.

“This Isle is sacred named by all the ancients,
From times remotest in the womb of Chronos,
This Isle which rises over the waves of ocean,
Is covered with a sod of rich luxuriance.
And peopled far and wide by the Hiberni”

By Rufus Festus Avienus, who wrote this at beginning of the fourth century.

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