Caesar On The Keltoi.

Caesar Wrote Extensively On The Celts (Keltoi).

They worship as their divinity, Mercury in particular, and have many images of him, and regard him as the inventor of all arts, they consider him, the guide of their journeys and marches, and believe him to have very great influence over the acquisition of gain and mercantile transactions.


Next to him they worship Apollo, and Mars, and Jupiter, and Minerva; respecting these deities they have for the most part the same belief as other nations: that Apollo averts diseases, that Minerva imparts the invention of manufactures, that Jupiter possesses the sovereignty of the heavenly powers; that Mars presides over wars.


To him when they have determined to engage in battle, they commonly vow those things they shall take in war. When they have conquered, they sacrifice whatever captured animals may have survived the conflict, and collect the other things into one place. In many states you may see piles of these things heaped up in their consecrated spots; nor does it often happen that any one, disregarding the sanctity of the case, dares either to secrete in his house things captured, or take away those deposited; and the most severe punishment, with torture, has been established for such a deed.
All the Gauls assert that they are descended from the god Dis, and say that this tradition has been handed down by the Druids. For that reason they compute the divisions of every season, not by the number of days, but of nights; they keep birthdays and the beginnings of months and years in such an order that the day follows the night.
The nation of all the Gauls is extremely devoted to superstitious rites; and on that account they who are troubled with unusually severe diseases and they who are engaged in battles and dangers, either sacrifice men as victims, or vow that they will sacrifice them, and employ the Druids as the performers of those sacrifices; because they think that unless the life of a man be offered for the life of a man, the mind of the immortal gods cannot be rendered propitious, and they have sacrifices of that kind ordained for national purposes.

Caesar‘s writing of the Celtic religion and politics was known as Interpretatio Romana in which he writes; “The God Mercury plays a big part in Caesar‘s understanding of the religion of the Celts”.  Rome at this time worshiped stone Gods (statues) while the Celts thought that depicting these Gods in this way was not good. Caesar continues, “This God is considered to be the God of Journeys. He was first identified in Lyon, France at a now well known Fort known as Lughduna where archaeologists found artefacts and relics associated with travelling”. This is relevant because Caesar‘s description of Celtic law in relation to oaths and pledges was imperative to understanding how all contracts in Celtic law were accomplished. Interestingly, Mistletoe was a plant depicted on inscriptions and statuary associated with both the God Lugos and the Goddess Rose Mertha who is seen holding a cup, chalice which depicts Kingship or a higher force.

Footnote:

The term Interpretatio Romana derives from Tacitus Germana (Chapter 43) wherein he describes two German Gods worshipped as brothers and youths – twins – as being like Castor and Polloux.11 These young Gods filtered through the Roman Culture.

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About Gerard Hannan

Media Student at MIC/UL in Limerick, Ireland. Worked as a Broadcaster/Journalist in Limerick for over 25 Years and has also published four local interest books.

Posted on April 4, 2012, in Celtic History, Ireland History and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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