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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:

Tue, 23 Apr 2002 13:26:27 -0600

Content-Type:

multipart/mixed

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (319 lines) , text/plain (7 lines)

Hi Ray,

>True, there is little evidence one way or the other, however, assuming
>an office would have had required a unity amongst the Gauls, a stable
>common Gaulish political system, that I fail to see expressed in any
>pre-Roman period in Gaul in the archaeological record, the historical
>sources, the coinage or any attested linguistic evidence. On the other
>hand, there is pretty much evidence for many different, mostly
>independently acting political groups. As such, if there was an "office"
>of a principatus, I do see little reason to assume that it had any more
>stability, and have to doubt that succession to it was any more
>regulated than that to, the Irish High Kingship. Of course, this does
>not exclude the possibility that there existed a "traditional title" for
>such an office, but I actually doubt that something like that existed
>for all of Gaul - I could perhaps imagine that such an office/title
>existed, separately, for the Celtica, the Belgica and the Aquitani, but
>can hardly do so that something in the like truly existed for all of
>Gaul.

Although there were differences between the three parts of Gaul, Caesar
seems only to mention these differences in cultural contexts. When he
speaks about the "Pan Gallic council" he is very clear, by reason of his
saying that the Carnutes territory was believed to be the centre of Gaul,
that at least Belgica and Celtica were included. If it were just Celtica
then the council would have been held in the north, as the tribe to the
north of the Carnutes was Belgic. Furthermore, there is a big problem in
separating these three zones politically, as tribes split up and some of
them moved elsewhere. The Aulerci were due west of the Carnutes, and thus
we would day that they were in Celtica. However, their earlier homeland was
further north-west, in the area dominated by the Belgic Treveri. In DGB
(VIII.7) The Aulerci are camped with four Belgic tribes: the Veliocasses,
Ambiani, Caletes, and Atrebates. The Ambiani and Caletes have a strong
coinage presence in Britain. Elsewhere, we have the Aulerci Eburovices and
Lexovii acting together (III.17) as part of the Armorican region. Another
example (III.9) has Armorican tribes forming an allegiance with the Belgic
Morini and Menapii. There is no indication that there was a clear
political/military division between the Celtic Gauls and the Belgic Gauls,
and that allegiances did not have to be filtered through a Belgic and
Celtic hierarchy. Thus I think it more likely that any position of  primacy
in Gaul was not separated along Celtica/Belgica lines, and Caesar does
state "all of Gaul".


With regard to the coinage, there is no clear division either, and there is
an overriding iconographic language that incorporates all regions, but with
localized variations that themselves, do not follow these three assumed
political zones. The variations all seem to consist of artistic influences
from earlier homelands (as in the case of the Armorican style), or through
trade in the regions in greater contact with Rome/Greece. I find this very
significant. Caesar says that Celtica, Belgica, and Aquitania had different
languages, but the iconographic "language" is the same, given the purely
artistic variations that I mention. As this visual language is
religion-based, and often highly complex in its structure (depending on the
status of those who make the coins), I can see no other explanation than
the artists were not only Druidic trained, but had, in many cases, enough
knowledge to include their own "philosophical variations" and lessons in
their designs. The tenets of their art also, do not follow the three
political divisions. This would take far too long to go into here in great
detail, but earlier Celtic coinage is highly military/political rather than
anything to do with trade.

 (snip)

>> I am not convinced that I am misinterpreting these texts.
>
>Well, I'm not convinced either, it doubtless is a possible reading. But
>I don't think it to be the most likely one, thus my reservations towards
>your explanation. But this might well be due to the fact that I am
>overly cautious when "Druids" are brought in as an explanation, as I'm

>especially cautious with all "cultic" explanations (this is an
>archaeologist's problem: too often has everything that could not yet be
>filled with secular meaning been interpreted as "cultic" in
>archaeology).

Yes, I was speaking about the Druids with Michelle the other night. She
says that archaeologists have a problem with them because you can't really
excavate Druidism. Also I think, because of the large number of modern
people who have cultic interests, themselves, with the druids, the subject
is neglected by anyone afraid of being associated with various "cranks" (to
quote Allen).

>> Another example
>> is the law that Caesar refers to in VI.20 (although from his quote it
><snipped>
>> passage I mentioned here, to be not as free-flowing as you say.
>
>True, but what, in my opinion, speaks against the assumption that these
>magistrates were (at least usually) druids is that they seem to have
>been (more or less publicly) elected, at least as far as can be said
>from the Caesarian records, and that these were elected on the level of
>civitates, not for of all Gaul. As such, I see no reason to assume that
>there was a common Gaulish, regulated political process, at least
>nothing more than a extremely loose "Gaulish United Nations
>Organisation". Regulated political processes seem to have been, as far
>as can be said from the evidence, limited to the level of the various
>civitates within Gaul.

Ah! I see where we are not quite reading each other. I too, look at the
likelihood of a loose "Gaulish United Nations". I think that elections (or
other assumptions of office) of any of the druidic class would have taken
place on a local level, and that local factions would have fought (either
literarily or figuratively) for these positions. Above that, there would
have been dominant tribes within each area, and these too, would have been
fighting for superiority between each other. Finally, when it got to the
level of the "Pan Gallic Council" an overarching system of offices and
rules of conduct must have been in place if anything even approaching order
could take place. Given the quarrelsome nature of the Gauls, I can't even
imagine they mayhem that would ensue if this was not in place.


I have had much experience with boards of directors, and I find that in the
modern world, even with "Robertson's Rules of Order", and office weasels
and cowards who would wet themselves if they were singled out on any point,
even with all of this, important decisions are made slower, and with more
action-stopping disagreement than some of the decisions we see taking place
among the Gauls in DGB. It all points to a very strong system. People have
always been people.

>> While it would have been politically advantageous of the Romans to label
>> the Pro-Roman Diviciacus as a Druid, the same would not be true for his
>> anti-Roman brother. The two factions, I believe, would have been
>> represented within the druid class as well as the warrior class.
>
>While I agree that the division in pro- and anti-Roman split secular as
>well as religious nobility, I see no reason wha it would have been
>advantageous to the Romans to label Diviciacus as a druid, but not his
>brother, if both were. In fact, to the Romans, it must have been rather
>irrelevant, and with their usual practice that secular and religious
>political career were closely linked (Caesar himself had been Pontifex
>Maximus in the course of his career), would most likely have assumed
>such a link in careers for the Gauls as well.

If there was more than a religious aspect to the Druids, it would have been
politically expedient. The politics would be aimed mostly at other tribes.
If you had a "defender of the culture" allied with Rome, and could also
deprecate that same feature in someone who was opposed to Rome, then you
ally the cultural interests of Gaul and Rome. Not unlike modern politics ;-)

>However, if we consider the other Caesar quote on the length of the
>druid training, it seems hardly believeable that every politically
>active noble and every magistrate would have been trained as a druid
>(even if we assume that it took the brighter students not 20 years to
>become a druid, but only half that).

Caesar does say that some of them take twenty years in their studies, but
we don't know what effect good political associations or gold might have
had in considerably speeding up that process. Also, we might have varying
levels of study, with the longer periods being reserved for the equivalent
of monks (to use a different cultural comparison). It is unlikely that
Caesar would have been informed about the inner machinations of the Druids
if they had a strong political basis, and the stories of twenty years study
might even have been invented to impress. Caesar, while apparently not
telling any lies, was also duped a few times (I like the elk story best).


 (snip)

>But there is not the slightest reason to assume that Dumnorix was a
>druid himself, in fact, everything we know about him seems to tell us
>that he was a secular noble, a "king", rather than a druid.

Caesar says he was chief magistrate of his tribe. As nearly all legal
decisions were made by druids, I think this gives very good reason to
entertain this idea.

(snip)

>Such scepticism when Christianity enters the picture is doubtless
>correct. But essential parts of the social system demonstrably were
>based on the same principles, at least in late pre-caesarian Gaul and
>Early Medieval Ireland, and as such, there is some reason to assume that
>the social systems in general were not too different. The question as
>such just is if the druid class was structured very different to early
>christian clerical organisation, or if it was not, and if they recruited
>different social groups into their ranks, or if they didn't. As far as I
>can see at the moment, it seems rather likely that at least the
>recruitment policy of druid and early christian religious organisation
>was pretty similar, similar enough to draw such conclusions like the
>above...

I am unfamiliar with the Irish situation, but I look forward to seeing that
study of yours when it is finished.

(snip)

>> There are both different shield designs apparent from the few that we have,
>> and a mention in an Irish story of the necessary "uniqueness" of shield
>> designs, but I don't think that this is heraldic, in that it represented an
>> individual, clan, or tribe.
>
>Which is why I put "heraldic" under apostrophes. I don't think that they
>were actually heraldic in a medieval sense, but I do think that they
>made it possible to identify the individual to which the shield
>belonged. This makes them pretty similar to heraldry.
>
>> I interpret the idea of "uniqueness" in design
>> as a religious/artistic tenet, and I have a lot of evidence to support this
>> view. As for the coins, it is certainly apparent in Greek coins, in fact
>> the early Wappenmunzen coinage of Athens has devices that can also be seen
>> painted on shields on their black-figure pots. The Celtic coins do not
>> appear to share this tradition.

>
>True, but various decorative metal shield covers and also metal sheet
>metal figures sometimes found associated with shield rims and bosses
>seem to indicate that Celtic shields hat a more or less individual
>design as well. While such individual decoration might also have had a
>religious and/or artistic importance, the practical application of
>making it possible to identify the owner based on his shield design
>hardly can have been ignored. It simply is too obvious.
>

The individual decoration extends to other objects, even those that are
rather small. I have a lynch-pin terminal

(http://www.writer2001.com/lynchpin.jpg)

of identical style to the strap-junction from Studely, Glos. (Jope, 2000,
Plate 270). This style appears on no other artifact. That it is the work of
the same artisan is unquestionable, but I suspect that the two belonged to
the same person, and were perhaps part of the same rig. I'm not sure what
percentage of the decorated shields were used in battle rather than for
"state/ceremonial" purposes. There are indications that some shield were
undecorated -- the Chertsey shield (Jope Plate 69 e-g) has very little
decoration, and most of that is on the inside near the grip. The outside
has a solar symbol top and bottom of the medial rib. Of course, the
Battersea shield was not functional at all.

>> I don't think I have any difficulties with this, but I see the emphasis in
>> the druid class being more concerned with inter-tribal politics while the
>> Equitatus is more concerned with intra-tribal politics. This is just
>> emphasis though, and I don't doubt that there was some cross-over.

>
>No, I don't think that such a difference in concern for intra- and
>inter-civitas politics can be assumed. From what I can see in the
>sources, both druids and secular nobility were equally politically
>active, both in intra- and inter-civitas affairs, maybe in different
>fields in politics. Wnless we want to assume that all main political
>players mentioned by the classical writers were all druids - which is
>extremely unlikely, as it is mentioned only in one single case, in that
>of Diviciacus, and it is mentioned as a special thing, which indicates
>that it seemingly was unexpected to the Romans to have dealings with a
>druid - we have to assume that the main role in "international" secular
>politics was played by secular nobles, while the druids were mostly
>concentrated on international religious politics.

I am perceiving a double political structure with each having its own
focus. The key seems to be in the nature and possible definitions of
councillors and magistrates, and also, in the way these terms were applied
by Caesar. Clearly (as they say) more research is needed!

>> >As such, I think it to be equally unlikely that we should assume one
>> >"rule" as to what was inscribed on Gaulish/Celtic coinage. Names and
>> >titles could both be found on these coins, and names and titles could
>> >express several different things: one that is clear is that of the
>> >issueing king as can be seen in the Vercingetorix coins, but it could
>> >also be issueing nobles of non-king (maybe of oligarch) status,
>> >references to the issueing office, as well as dedications to someone.
>>
>> I didn't mean that there was a single rule here, just the possibility of
>> other titles than kings in some cases.
>
>Yes, I didn't want to indicate that you did say so, it was rather in
>agreement with you a criticism of the tradition to interpret every term
>on Gaulish/Celtic coins in a "one way - no other possibility" - fashion,
>as a personal name. We simply have to admit the possibility that there
>is a relatively wide range of possibilities here.

I see. Yes. I also thought of another example of three names. These were
the kings that Caesar mentions from Kent (V.22). Some believe that this
suggests three joint-kings of the Cantii. I suppose that it depends on
whether Caesar was referring to Kent as a region/people (that might include
a number of tribes), or a more politically unified tribal identity. Also, I
suppose the term "king" might have been applied, in this case, to clan
leaders. Perhaps you might make more sense of the passage in the original
Latin -- it might be significant that Handford did not use the word
"Cantii" in his translation.

>> It would be if that was all I was basing these ideas on. I mentioned here
>> the other passage in Caesar about the magistrates, and there are cases
>> where actions seem to have taken place in an "official" manner, and where
>> more than one tribe was involved. The tie-in to Britain I think is attested
>> both by the fact of the Gauls getting reinforcements from there, and the
>> identical iconography. It will take more work, of course, but I think I
>> might put together a case that supports Caesar's statement of the two
>> classes. That the Druids were persecuted and finally wiped out by the

>> Romans speaks of a political, rather than a religious motivation.
>
>True, nonetheless I think it to be an invalid conclusion that every
>political office was held by druids, as this is, in no way, deductible
>from the evidence in my opinion. The druids doubtless played an
>important role in politics, and there is some reason to assume that
>secular and religious functions could be closely related. They doubtless
>were important political players, and thus the Romans had any reason to
>fear them as political opponents and thus had any reason to wipe them
>out for purely political causes. But this doesn't indicate that they
>were the only political players, not even that they were the most
>important ones - that they had a strong influence on the morale of the
>population would be absolutely sufficent for that. It often is a lot
>easier to win over a noble, who has personal ambitions and such a price
>that might be paid, than to buy a true believer.

Well, I'm not trying to make any conclusions, rather I am using this as the
start of some more research. I doubt that it will be very easy though ;-)

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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