‘No Dogs, No Irish’ in Late Roman Antiquity

Image: Paul Joseph / Flickr (CC BY 2.0) [cropped]

Came across this little ditty last night: a poem by Aurelius Prudentius Clemens, a Christian Roman in the late 4th century AD. He apparently ended up as an ascetic…

Non recipit natura hominis, modo quadrupes ille
Non sit, et erecto spectet caelestia vultu,
Non recipit, neget ut regimen pollere supremum.
Istud et ispe Numae tacitus sibi sensit aruspex,
Semifer et Scotus sentit cane milite peior.
Human nature does not accept, provided that he isn’t a a four-footed animal
And he looks at heaven with a raised face,
It does not admit it denies that a supreme ruler prevails.
Even Numa’s haruspex sensed this in his heart,
as does the halfbestial man and the Scot [Irish] worse than a war dog.
Prudentius. Carmina. (Theodorus Obbarius, ed. Tübingen: Henricus Laupp, 1845 – Translation: JA Hogan 2009)


So, half beasts… full beasts… and then Irish…

Ah here, thats a bit ruff...

Image: dogpictures.co

The original ‘No Dog’s, No Irish’?

3 thoughts on “‘No Dogs, No Irish’ in Late Roman Antiquity

  1. Pingback: Vox Hiberionacum: Patrick and the Voicing of Early Irish Identity [Part 1] | vox hiberionacum

  2. Semifer (half-beasts) is NOT a reference to blacks. Where did you get that from? Half beasts are usually a reference to the savage tribes at the time i.e. the Vandals, the Germanic tribes, the Huns etc.


    • I didn’t think it was. That’s probably why I didn’t actually say so. Which is probably why the word ‘black’ is not used anywhere in the text. The picture is a bit of modern graffiti art that references a pop myth culture motif and was the only CC image I could find at the time.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s