LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 16.5

Help for CELTIC-L Archives


CELTIC-L Archives

CELTIC-L Archives


CELTIC-L@LISTSERV.HEANET.IE


View:

Message:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Topic:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Author:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

Font:

Proportional Font

LISTSERV Archives

LISTSERV Archives

CELTIC-L Home

CELTIC-L Home

CELTIC-L  December 1996

CELTIC-L December 1996

Subject:

Celtic Religion - what information do we really have - Part 2

From:

Raimund Karl <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.

Date:

Sun, 1 Dec 1996 21:56:14 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (143 lines)

Hi all,

I am now starting with the description of Celtic Religion. As the
matter is large enough this once again (and as most of you are already
used from me, I am not the best for saying something in short
sentences when I can say the same in more complex ones) will be a
multi-part message. Additionally I will admit here that I am not a
real expert on Celtic Religion, so it may happen that I leave out
some things, which is highly likely as I am writing this more or less
from the top of my head.
What will follow under this subject heading will be a summary of how
Celtic Religion may have looked, but I will only give quotations
where I do have them at hand, not if I would have to head off for
university library to find sources.
If you want you may distribute this freely as long it is not used for
commercial purposes and you include my email adress
<[log in to unmask]> for responses.

CELTIC RELIGION - WHAT INFORMATION DO WE REALLY HAVE

I have already noted in the first part of this message what sources
are available to us.

I will now start this look at pagan Celtic Religion with a survey of
what we know about what we would call "priestly" functions more or
less.

RELIGIOUS FUNCTIONS

When thinking of Celtic religious functions, the first thing that
comes to ones mind is doubtlessly the "druid". In most of the
literature, and not only the popular but a good deal of the
scientific one as well, "priest" is equated with the term "druid"
when talking about the Celts. However, this is a gross
simplification. There's definitly more to Celtic religious functions.

DIFFERENT RELIGIOUS FUNCTIONS

To start with, definitly the term druid is, to a certain extent, also
a catchover term for all the Celtic religious functions, Caesar for
instance seems to use it in this kind in his excursus on the Gauls in
his De Bello Gallico, when he writes: (BG VI, 13-4) "To return to
those two classes: One of them is the class of the druids, the other
one those of the knights. The druids are concerned with the divine
worship, the due process of sacrifices, public and private, and in
the interpretation of ritual questions ... In fact, it is they who
decide in almost all disputes, public and private ...".
On the other hand, the term druid is also used to describe a specific
religious function. We can at least identify one other religious
function, probably even more. For this, we can look at Strabo (IV,
4) quoting Poseidonius: "Among all the tribes, generally speaking,
there are three classes of men held in special honor: the bards, the
vates and the druids" (B/ardoi te kai\ Oua/teis kai\ Drui/dai). This
gives us at least the vates as a second religious function, and it is
possible that the bards are to be considered as a religious function
as well. Additionally, it is worth noting that for all these three
classes we have equivalents in the Irish literature, where we find,
additionally to the druid (Ir. drui/ Gaul. *druids) the fai/th (greek
oua/teis, Gaul. *vatis) and the bard (greek ba/rdoi, Gaul. *bardos).
Added to these in the function of interpreter of "rectus" (law), which
would, if we follow Caesar's description above, as well fall into the
"druidical" functions, would be the Gaulish "vergobretus" (supreme
magister), which contains the same root as the Irish "breithem"
(judge).
Additionally there is the Irish "fili" (seer, poet, priest), whichs
gaulish cognate would be "*velits", a cognate of is attested as a
name for a Germanic seeres, "Veleda".
This now leaves us with the following terms:
Druid, Vates, Vergobretus, Bard, and perhaps fili
Let us take a look at what their jobs were.

DRUID

The specialised function of the "druid" is described in Strabo IV, 4
as the science of nature and moral philosophy (pro\s te physiologi/a
kai\ ten ethiken philosophi/an). The term "druid" itself is probably
derived from IE *dru-uid- "highly wise" - which might be the reason
for why it was also used as a catchover term for all the religious
functions.
The specialised functions may allow us to assume that the druids in
fact are the class who worked as medics and who were knowledgeable in
herbal lore as described by Pliny the Elder.
A grave of such a "druid" we know from the cemetery of Pottenbrunn,
object 520, which contained the burial of an adult male of the early
La Te\ne Period, which carried, additionally to the usual equipment,
a medical instrument and a propellor-shaped bone object of unknown
function, which could be an item used in rituals.

VATES

The function of the vates is described by Strabo as "interpreters of
sacrifices and natural philosophers" (hieropoioi\ kai\ physiolo\goi).
This fits quite well with what we know of as the function of the
Irish fa/ith, whose job was to carry out the divinations. The
description of Strabo allows us to assume that also the vates were
the diviners, and as such probably also the calender of Coligny falls
into their field of work (the Claender has been interpreted as a
solar/lunar predictor by Olmsted), so the vates would be the ones who
were the astrologers and mathematicians amongst the "priests"

VERGOBRETUS

We know little about the actual function of the Vergobretus, of whom
we only have one short notice in the ancient literary sources which
only gives us that title. However, as the term has the same root as
the Irish breithem, whose function we know was judging in lawcases,
we may assume that the Vergobretus was a similar function. As Caesar
reckons the judging in lawcases to the druidical functions it can be
assumed that it was a "religious" function as well.

BARD

Not much has to be said about the bards. Strabo (IV, 4) describes
them as "singers and poets" (hymnetai\ kai\ poietai\), which fits
quite well with what we know about the Irish bards. As a possible
etymology for *bardos could be derived from the IE root *gur-d(h)o-s
which is translated as "Praise Giver" this function could have been
religious as well.

WHAT ELSE WE KNOW

Well, actually not much. We do not know which of the above if any
carried out which of the rituals we know or can guess at. However, we
know that, according to Caesar (BG VI, 14-2), "Many young men
assemble of their own motion to receive their training; many are sent
by parents and relatives. Report says that in the schools of the
druids they learn by heart a great number of verses, and therefore
some persons remain twenty years under training.". Additionally, as
well according to Caesar (VI, 13 and 14), they usually do not
participate in wars, they don't have to pay taxes, they elect for
lifetime one out of their midst to be chief druid (more or less the
druid pope), a position which is very honorable and therefore
sometimes it is, if no decision can be found, even fought about with
weapons.

______________________________
So much for today on the druids. I will continue as soon as possible,
the next part will deal with the gods.

RAY
_______________________________
To be continued ...

Top of Message | Previous Page | Permalink

Advanced Options


Options

Log In

Log In

Get Password

Get Password


Search Archives

Search Archives


Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Subscribe or Unsubscribe


Archives

January 2019
December 2018
September 2018
March 2018
January 2018
December 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
November 2016
August 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
March 2015
February 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
August 2014
June 2014
May 2014
February 2014
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
June 2001
May 2001
April 2001
March 2001
February 2001
January 2001
December 2000
November 2000
October 2000
September 2000
August 2000
July 2000
June 2000
May 2000
April 2000
March 2000
February 2000
January 2000
December 1999
November 1999
October 1999
September 1999
August 1999
July 1999
June 1999
May 1999
April 1999
March 1999
February 1999
January 1999
December 1998
November 1998
October 1998
September 1998
August 1998
July 1998
June 1998
May 1998
April 1998
March 1998
February 1998
January 1998
December 1997
November 1997
October 1997
September 1997
August 1997
July 1997
June 1997
May 1997
April 1997
March 1997
February 1997
January 1997
December 1996
November 1996
October 1996
September 1996
August 1996
July 1996
June 1996
May 1996
April 1996
March 1996
February 1996
January 1996
December 1995
November 1995
October 1995
September 1995
August 1995
July 1995
June 1995
May 1995
April 1995
March 1995
February 1995
January 1995
December 1994
November 1994
October 1994
September 1994
August 1994
July 1994
June 1994
May 1994
April 1994
March 1994
February 1994
January 1994
December 1993
November 1993
October 1993
September 1993
August 1993
July 1993
June 1993
May 1993
April 1993
March 1993
February 1993
January 1993
December 1992
November 1992
October 1992
September 1992
August 1992
July 1992
June 1992
May 1992
April 1992
March 1992
February 1992
January 1992
December 1991
November 1991
October 1991
September 1991
August 1991
July 1991
June 1991
May 1991

ATOM RSS1 RSS2



LISTSERV.HEANET.IE

Secured by F-Secure Anti-Virus CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager