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CELTIC-L  April 2002

CELTIC-L April 2002

Subject:

Re: Caesar on the Gauls part II

From:

Raimund KARL <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.

Date:

Thu, 4 Apr 2002 12:38:40 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (156 lines)

Hi Vyvyan,

Vyvyan Ogma Wyverne schrieb:
> 
> > >Your whole idea of the misunderstanding of Boudica's name by Roman
> > >conquerors, however, rests on the assumption that there was virtually no
> > >pre-defeat contact at all, as if the Romans, at the time of the Icenian
> > >rebellion, had suddenly´and surprisingly invaded a country that they had
> > >never even heard of before, which is clearly a wrong assumption.
> 
> It would be, but I have not made it. 

You have. Your very argument is based on a single-event
misinterpretation by a Roman merchant. At least that's what was in your
original formulation of your interpretation, and I have not seen it
changed since. Your whole argument requires that the Romans did not know
Boudica and her people before they rebelled against the Roman rule in
Britain. Quite contrary to this, the evidence demonstrates that there
was a lot of contact and interaction between the Romans and the people
to which Boudica belonged well before the whole rebellion. Thus, your
theory rests on a wrong basic axiom.

> I am aware of the trade routes of the past, and the cultural medley
> that used them.  But I don't think the average Roman Centurian had
> a better grasp of Ancient British than say, Christian missionaries
> did of the Native Australian languages.

You don't think, but you neither have provided evidence to back this
assumption, nor have you in any way sufficently shown that the Roman
adminsitration in 1st century AD Britain had a similar attitude towards
British people and their rulers as the Christian missionaries had
towards the Native Australian peoples and their languages. Furthermore,
it does not pay respect to the specific spatio-temporal context in
southern Britain in the first century AD. It is nothing more than a weak
analogy for a contact situation between two peoples with different
cultures.

> Many an influential
> American  goes off to do big business with Japan with a phrasebook in one
> hand and a one cassette crash course in Japanese in the other.  And vice
> versa.

Which, again, tells us nothing about the specific spatio-temporal
contexts in Southern Britain in the 1st century AD. This is a simple
modernism, forced upon the past, something which has numerously been
documented to be a logical fallacy.
 
> Missionaries of the 19th century who lived and worked with Australian
> Aborigines still managed to give what now are shown to be very misleading
> and even wrong translations of their accounts of themselves, which were
> distorted significantly by racist assumptions that they were childish and
> not too bright.  In fact they're as various as far as that goes as any
> ethnic group.

These are very commonly documentabhle assumptions in the perception of
"the other" in certain contact situations. However, it is neither clear
if this can be applied in the spatio-temporal context of southern
Britain in the first century AD, nor does it tell much about the
misrepresentation of names in this specific spatio-temporal context. It
is a strong analogy in as far as the perception of "the other" is
concerned, as this can be shown to be a frequent pattern, but only a
weak analogy for misrepresentation of names, where it only tells us that
we are to expect that names are not recorded precisely, but not how they
were misrepresented specifically. The latter is the reason why the
specific spatio-temporally contextualised patterning of name
representation in 1st century AD southern Britain needs to be analysed
before attempting to draw any conclusions at all, and why a simple
statement that names are misrepresented if transliterated in foreign
writings is not sufficent to allow for anything goes approaches. Only if
it can be demonstrated based on the transliteration evidence in 1st
century AD southern Britain that there was absolutely no characteristic
patterning that affected transliteration, then more general
transliteration possibilities can be seen as valuable explanatory tools,
as patterns in the spatio-temporal context are homologous, while general
transliteration possibilities are only analogous.

> Do you believe that the Romans really were any freer from prejudice, or any
> more impeccable as students of culture?

It does not matter what I do or do not believe, the question rather is
what we can find in the evidence about the specific inter-cultural
relationships in 1st century AD Britain. Only if we do not find anything
about that, we should move to more generalised characteristics of
inter-cultural relationships, as again, we have the homology-analogy
difference in explanatory power. Without consideration of the specific
situation in southern Britain in the 1st century AD, this is theoretical
speculation about general possibilities in inter-cultural contact
situations, not a solid, in-depth study of the topic in question. 1st
century AD Romans were not the same as 19th century AD Christian
missionaries, thus, it is unreasonable to assume that they reacted
identical in cultural contact situations. Assuming that they did is an
unacceptable over-generalisation.
 
> > >In
> > >fact, your very theory rests on the rather dubious idea that there were
> > >two mostly isolated groups of people, the one "the Romans" and the other
> > >"the Celts" which had virtually no contact before the one suddenly
> > >decided to conquer and opress the others, which of course is, even from
> > >a purely theoretical point of view, a ridiculous assumption, as evident
> > >from modern anthropological literature, which clearly shows that there
> > >never were such mostly isolated, monolithic blocks of people, but that
> > >contact and knowledge of each other existed between all even remotely
> > >neighbouring peoples.
> 
> I have not made that assumption. 

This assumption is implicit in your theory, as, else, your isolated
single-event determination of names for a person and a people is
unsustainable. In a situation where there is continuing contact over an
extended period of time, it is extremely unlikely that naming errors
such as you assume them become fixed in the record, as the error soon
would have been noticed, as it would have been a constant source of
misunderstandings. In fact, it requires that the Latin term that was
derived from such a misunderstanding as you propose had become a part of
common Roman knowledge before more frequent contacts were established
between the Romans and the Iceni. This, however, is not especially
likely given the specific spatio-temporal context.

> During times of political upheaval such as
> that associated with war, there are always situations in which military
> personnel must obtain information from people whose language they do not
> speak.

You forget that these people were living side by side and had extensive
contact before having any kind of military conflict for at least 25
years before the war broke out. The Iceni were not suddenly conquered by
Romans coming from far away, but were annexed after long years of
peaceful contact, only after which military conflict broke out. As such,
your constructed example of military personnel that obtains
foreign-language information can hardly be applied to the
spatio-temporal context of 1st century AD Britain.


All the best,

RAY
________________________________________________________________________

Mag.phil. Raimund KARL 
Österreich: <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Lektor für kulturwissenschaftliche Keltologie
Univ.Wien, Inst.f.Alte Geschichte, A-1010 Wien, Dr. Karl Lueger Ring 1
United Kingdom: <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Research fellow (European Archaeology)
Canolfan Uwchefrydiau Cymreig a Cheltaidd, Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru, 
Aberystwyth, Ceredigion SY23 3HH; ffôn: (+44 781) 6464861
________________________________________________________________________

     Besuchen Sie die Homepage der Studienrichtung Keltologie unter
       Visit the Celtic Studies at Vienna University homepage at
            <http://www.univie.ac.at/keltologie/index.html>

                   Visit the Canolfan homepage at
                  <http://www.cymru.ac.uk/canolfan>
________________________________________________________________________

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