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CELTIC-L  April 2002

CELTIC-L April 2002

Subject:

Re: vercingetorix coins

From:

John Hooker <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.

Date:

Fri, 19 Apr 2002 11:14:00 -0600

Content-Type:

multipart/mixed

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (121 lines) , text/plain (7 lines)

Hi Ray,

>As usual, I provide you with my translation of that passage as well:
>"There, for a similar reason, Vercingetorix, the son of Celtillus, a very
>influential young Avernan man, whose father had obtained the Primacy in all
>of Gaul and, because he had aspired to kingship, had been killed by his
>people, called together his clients and inspired their enthusiasm for
>action."

Thank you for providing the Latin text and the translation.

>A few coments are necessary on this passage:
>
>The term used for what is, in your translation, suzerainty, is the term
>Caesar usually uses to describe the goal that Gaulish politicians want to
>accieve: "principatus totius Galliae", the Primacy in all of Gaul. As this
>phrase is extremely typical, and is not only used in connection with
>individual persons, but also with whole civitates, it is unlikely that this
>phrase indicates a specific, political position. It is, rather, likely that
>Caesar, when using this phrase, wanted to indicate that someone or some
>group of people tried to accieve the "most influential position" amongst all
>Gaulish leaders/people.

I don't think we are too far away from each other here. It looks like the
passage alludes to the factional divisions that Caesar describes
(VI.11-12). He does refer to the head of each faction having both the
greatest prestige, and also the final say on disputes. How close this would
come to a political position I cannot say, but to it seems that some sort
of regulatory procedure must have been in place. I have had dealings with
boards of directors -- I can't imagine the mayhem if they carried swords ;-)

(snip)

>This aspiration to the Primacy of all Gaul might well be comparable to the
>attested tradition (both ancient Continental and early medieval Irish) of
>aspiring for the heroes portion at feasts. In my opinion, this is an
>expression of the same mentality of aspiration of (more or less public)
>recognition that one (individual or people) is "the best".

Yes, I agree. I think that these structures permeated the society at all
levels.

>In regard with the fate of Celtillus, several possible explanations can be
>brought forward. His Primacy in all of Gaul might have been either in regard
>to his personal clientele, his personal success as a politician or
>warrior/general, or his personal success in regard to being the most

>influential person, politically and economically, in all of Gaul.

From reading both Caesar in the above mentioned passages and Strabo (4.4)
it seems that Celtillus would have had to have been of the druid class.
Strabo says "...there are three sets of men who are held in exceptional
honour; the Bards, the Vates and the Druids" Strabo says the druids study
natural and moral philosophy and are also entrusted with private and public
decisions and that they (refering to a previous time -- presumably
immediately prior to Roman rule) "arbitrated cases of war". The latter is
also mentioned by Diodorus (V.31.5) who gives a more immediate value to the
action by saying that the druids could stop a battle by merely stepping
between two advancing armies. A note in the Handford translation (revisions
by Jane Garner) refers to the class of knights as "noblemen". This is a
difficult area, as the Roman Equites had been undergoing various changes in
the late Republic, but I think Caesar, from his context, was keeping to the
more traditional definition as a (in this case) "private" (?) fighting
force, that (perhaps) had the cavalry as its core. I take the knights to be
essentially the same as "warrior class", but I'm not positive about this.

>Also, it is not clear which people actually had him killed - this is not
>perfectly clear from Caesar`s account. It might be that, being the most
>influential person in all Gaul, he attempted to seize the kingship of his

>own people, the Arverni, and thus was, similar to Orgetorix as described in
>the opening passages of DBG, killed by his own people (which, then, most
>likely would mean internal political rivals rather than the common public).
>It might, however, as well be that he attempted to seize the kingship of all
>Gaul (there are these attested Gaulish legends that, long before the
>literary present, all of Gaul was ruled by a single king), and got himself
>killed in the process, either in military action against opposition, or was
>killed by his opponents (assassination, getting captured by a former ally
>who, unbeknownst to Celtillus, had switched sides to the opposition, etc.),
>who, then, might have been of his own people or of another one. As such,
>everything from a public tribunal amongst his own people sentencing him to
>death down to an assassination by his internal Avernian or external
>non-Avernian political rivals are possible.

Yes, "put to death by his compatriots" is rather vague!

>While I basically agree with the idea that these might be titles (especially
>TIGIR SENO looks very much like "old lord"), I would not take the Primacy as
>used in Caesat to indicate the same. I don`t think that this Primacy, at
>least as Caesar uses it, actually is describing an actual position with any
>kind of "title", but rather is a measure of actual
>political/military/economic influence, indicating a primus inter pares
>rather than any kind of office that would confer a title to the one holding
>the Primacy.

Perhaps TIGIR SENO denotes something like we have in N. American "first
nations" society as "tribal elders" Allen thinks these were all names, but
does find a parallel to the Vergobreti of the Aedui. In fact one coin of
Orgetorix has two names: Orgetorix and Coios. The only other double names
on Gaulish, rather than British Corieltauvian coins are Anterbrid/Solim and
Seno/Omodon (there is that Seno again!) He refers to these as potential
"duumvri", while  there are three coin legends in Gaul that appear to have
three names (and Allen designates them as "Triumviri": Epad/Cicedu/Bri and
Connos/Epillos/Sedullus. Mind you, he does give Dumoc Tigir Seno as three
names rather than as two  -- as I said elsewhere, sadly, there has been
little attention paid to meanings in Celtic coin legends -- someone with a
talent for linguistics should make a special study of them. We do have
Caesar mentioning (I.16) the Aedui Vergobret, Liscus as an annually elected
officer holding power of life and death over his countrymen, and he is also
named as a magistrate. Again, emphasizing druid class.

Cheers,

John
http://www.writer2001.com/
Hooker & Perron, Total Project Coordination
Database-Web...Graphics...Custom Maps...Colour Suites...Expert Systems
Building the Celtic Coin Index on the Web:
http://www.writer2001.com/cciwriter2001/



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