Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Letter: Irish kept Greek classics alive

Sir: If further examples are needed to convince those who continue to believe the Irish were a backward people, I suggest they read Johannes Scotus, John the Scot. (In the ninth century "Scotus" means Irishman).

The exellence of his translation work was remarked upon by Anastasius, the librarian of Pope Nicholas, in 860, who was astonished that a man from a remote and barbarous country could have possessed such a profound knowledge of Greek.

Throughout what we call the "dark ages" there is evidence that the knowledge of Greek and the Latin classics was kept alive by the Irish.

"During the latter part of the seventh century, it was in Ireland that the thirst for knowledge was keenest, and the work of teaching was most actively carried on" (M R James).

Tim Craig