Hisperica famina

  • Latin
  • verse
  • Hiberno-Latin texts

Latin poem. Cases have been made for Irish authorship, but more recent commentators have also pointed out the Breton provenance of the surviving manuscripts.


Four recensions:

A =
ff. 1–12
The sole surviving version that is complete (612 lines).
B (fragmentary)
C =
Lost apart from the items preserved in the glossary below.
One leaf. A glossary of 223 rare and difficult words (‘Echternach glosses’) from what appears to have been version C of the text. Some items are glossed in Latin (119 entries) or in Old Breton (104 entries).
  • Latin
  • Secondary language(s): Greek language Hebrew language
  • Latin, with calques from Greek and Hebrew.

7th century

verse (primary)
Textual relationships
Related: Altus ProsatorAltus ProsatorLatin hymnLorica of LaidcennLorica of Laidcenn

Latin metrical hymn or lorica (breast-plate) attributed to Laidcenn mac Baíth Bannaig.


Hiberno-Latin textsHiberno-Latin texts


Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] [tr.] Herren, Michael W., The Hisperica famina, 2 vols, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Studies and Texts, 31, 85, Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1974–1987.
Edition of the A-text (vol. 1) and related poems (vol. 2)
[ed.] Jenkinson, Francis John Henry [ed.], The Hisperica famina, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1908.
Internet Archive: <link>

Secondary sources (select)

Orchard, Andy, “The Hisperica famina as literature”, Journal of Medieval Latin 10 (2000): 1–45.
Wright, Charles D., “The three ‘victories’ of the wind: a hibernicism in the Hisperica famina, Collectanea Bedae, and the Old English prose Solomon and Saturn Pater Noster dialogue”, Ériu 41 (1990): 13–25.
Herren, Michael, “The sighting of the host in Táin bó Fraích and the Hisperica famina”, Peritia 5 (1986): 397–399.
Nagy, Joseph Falaky, “Fenian heroes and their rites of passage”, in: Bo Almqvist, Séamas Ó Catháin, and Pádraig Ó Héalaí (eds), Fiannaíocht: essays on the Fenian tradition of Ireland and Scotland — The heroic process: form, function and fantasy in folk epic, 54, 55, Dublin and Dun Laoghaire: An Cumann le Béaloideas Éireann, 1987. 161–182.
Winterbottom, Michael, “On the Hisperica Famina”, Celtica 8 (1968): 126–139.
Grosjean, P., “Confusa Caligo: remarques sur les Hisperica famina”, Celtica 3 (1956): 35–85.
Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
December 2010, last updated: January 2024