Bards were sacred singers among the Gauls and Gaelic tribes, and accompanied the warriors to the field of battle and glorified their deeds. Their instrument was a kind of lyre, probably with five strings. It is doubtful whether the Germans called these poets by this name, but they were well acquainted with the poets and their songs. Charles the Great had such heroic poems collected, but pope Silvester had them burned subsequently. The bards existed longest in Scotland, where they afterwards became philosophers and priests. The poems of Ossian, collected by Macpherson, are noted specimens of these wild compositions, and fragments of many similar productions among the early Welsh are extant. The troubadours of the Middle Ages were the lineal descendants of these heathen poets. So old Homer is represented as having sung his immortal epic through the cities of Greece, and Arabia has even to modern timesbeen famous for such strolling minstrels who were capable of improvising as well as of studied recitative. Religious themes are always characteristic of these effusions, and the popular mythology has been thus kept alive from age to age. Among the Celtic and Scandinavian tribes the immortality of the soul was from the earliest times a prominent doctrine of their bards, as we learn from their first mention by Roman writers. The sacred books of the Hinduis are substantially mythological poems, and indeed the earliest literature of most nations consists chiefly of versiform legends of heroes and demigods. SEE POETRY.

Definition of bar

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