The Ossianic craze from the latter part of the eighteenth century onward left a profound impact on European culture with far-reaching ramifications. James Macpherson’s inauthentic renditions of allegedly ancient Celtic poetry, though quickly judged by the ever-skeptical Samuel Johnson as an “impostor from the beginning,”1 were widely read, translated, and assimilated into the literature, painting, architecture, and music of the time. There were many reasons for the great appeal of the fragments. These purported “translations,” manipulated by Macpherson into a simple prose with a discernible poetic meter and rich Homeric imagery, seemed to exude a beguiling essence of authenticity. Here was the poetry of a primitive people, an art previously unknown, now salvaged; here was the legacy of a barbaric yet noble society, formerly assumed to be uncultured.