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The Ancient Celts
From the Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness


Three or four centuries before Christ, when the history of Western Europe is slowly emerging from obscurity, we find a people, named the Celts, in possession of the vast extent of territory that stretches from the Adriatic and Upper Danube to the Western Ocean, and embraces the British Isles. The northern boundary of the Celts was the Rhine and Mid-Germany, and they extended on the south as far as Central Spain, and the range of the Apennines in Italy. Contrary to the general tendency of early European nations to move westward, the Celts are then found to be already surging eastward, repelled by the impassable Atlantic; for, as Calgacus said to his Caledonians, there was now no land beyond—nothing save the waves and the rocks. Their history, till the second century before our era, presents little but a series of eastward eruptions—“tumults,” the Romans called them, whereby over-populous districts were, freed of their surplus population. Now and again they would pour through the passes of the Alps, and in a strong compact body make their way to Tuscany and Mid-Italy, striking terror into every Italian tribe, and into Rome as much as any of the rest. It is, indeed, with a great invasion of the Gauls that authentic Roman history begins, for the Gauls in 390 B.C. took and sacked the town of Rome itself, doubtless destroying all older records of its history. Another great invasion of the Gauls was made into Greece in 280 B.C., in which the temple of Delphi was taken and pillaged; and so compact and well arranged was this body of invaders that they passed over to Asia Minor, overran it, and after various ups and downs settled finally, about 230 B.C., to the limits of the province of Galatia. These Gauls of Asia Minor are the people whom St Paul addressed in his epistle to the “Galatians.” In later times they were called Gallo-Graecians, from their mixture with Greeks, but they appear to have preserved their language till the fourth century of our era, for St Jerome tells us their dialect was like that spoken by the Treviri of northern Gaul. Their customs and peculiarities of temperament, as we gather these from the historians and from St Paul, were thoroughly “Celtic.” From the end of the third century before Christ, the history of the Celtic people is everywhere one of loss; the tide of invasion was then successfully turned against-them. “They went to the war, but they always fellso sings the last of the Feni, the warrior bard who typifies the fate of his race. The Celts were excellent as invaders, though poor colonisers; but against invasion they were most unsuccessful. The centrifugal tendency so apparent in the race was not permitted to find scope in an enemy’s country; but in their own country they could not, from mutual jealousy and selfishness, unite for any length of time against the invader. For instance, the Belgae, instead of keeping banded together against Csesar, and unitedly repelling him, preferred to return each tribe to their own territories, and there await until he attacked some neighbouring tribe, when they intended to come to their assistance. “Seldom is it,” says Tacitus, “that two or three states meet together to ward off the common danger. Thus, while they fight singly, all are conquered.” After the first Punic war, the Romans made an effort to subdue their troublesome neighbours in the basin of the Po in North Italy. In the course of four years, from 225 to 222 B.C., the whole country was overrun and converted into a Roman province. But it was only after the second Punic war, and on the final conquest of the Borin 191, that Gallia Cisalpina became a real Roman province. The Celts of Spain, known better as the Celtiberi—Celts and Iberians—were conquered during the second Punic war, but, being a brave and warlike people, they kept up rebellions, and defied Rome, until, with the fall of Numantia in B.C. 134, they were completely subdued. The Gauls of France were not attacked by the Romans until they had assured their power in the East, in Africa, and in Spain. In B.C. 125 the consul Fulvius Flaccus began the reduction of the Salluvii around Massilia, and in a few years they were subdued, and the Allobroges next attacked. The south of Gaul was by the year 118 b.c. made into a province. Matters, however, remained in this state till the advent of Julius Caesar in 58 B.C. lie was bold enough to attempt the subjugation of Gaul, and in eight years he accomplished his object. All Gaul south of the Rhine was made into a Roman province, and tribute was exacted from the nearest British tribes. In A.D. 43, the conquest of Britain, commenced by Cesar, was resumed and carried on until by the year 80 all England and Scotland, as far as the Firth of Forth, were reduced into a Roman province. The Celts of Ireland and Northern Scotland were never reduced by the Romans. Under the sway of the Romans the Celtic dialects of Spain and Gaul gradually gave way before the Latin, though not without leaving their marks on the resulting Romance languages that arose on the ruins of the Roman empire. The Gaulish appears never to have died out in Western France, for between the native speakers of it in the 4th and 5th centuries and the immigrants from Britain, it succeeded in maintaining its ground through every chance and change, and is even now in France the speech of a million and a quarter people—the inhabitants of Britanny. How the Romanised Britons were conquered by the English, and driven into the western corners of the land—Cornwall, Wales, and Strathclyde, until now only Wales remains a British-speaking people, containing a million people who can speak or use a Celtic speech ; how Ireland was conquered by the Anglo-Celts in the 12th century, and the ancient language has been pushed into the West, so that now only 870 thousand can speak and use the Gaelic; how in Scotland the ancient language of Caledonia has been gradually shrinking until only a quarter of a million in the Highlands speak it, and only 310 thousand all over Scotland can speak or use it; and how thus only three and a-half millions of people in Europe speak the Celtic language, which two thousand years ago covered most of Western Europe,—all this belongs to the history, not of the ancient, but of the modern Celt.

From the consideration of what history has to say of the Celtic nations, let us pass to what science has proved in regard to Celtic origins and culture. It was well on in this century before the relationship of the Celtic race to the rest of the European races was put on a firm scientific basis, and it is only a generation since that English writers accepted the fact of distant cousinship with the Celt. The sciences to which appeal must be made are those that deal with antiquities, culture, and language. It is really the science of language that has enabled the Celt to take his place within the sacred ring of European kinship ; the evidence of words, roots, and inflections has been too patent and convincing for even the grudging Saxon to reject. With the exception of the Turks, Hungarians, Basques, and Finns with Lapps and Esthonians, the European nations are proved linguistically to be of the same race. Within that extensive family circle must also be embraced the Hindoos, Afghans, Persians, and Armenians; and the whole race so included has been variously named the Indo-European, Indo-Celtic, Indo-Germanic, and the Aryan race. As the last term is the most convenient, it shall be adopted here. It is by a comparison of the vocabularies and grammatical forms of the languages of these various races that scientists have come to the conclusion that, linguistically at least, these nations are descended from a common Aryan stock. Radical elements expressing such objects and relations as father, mother, brother, sister, wife, daughter, daughter-in-law; cow, dog, horse, cattle, ox; corn, mill; earth, sky, water, star; gold, silver, metal; house, door, household, clan, king; god, man, holiness, goodness, baseness, badness) law, right; war, hunting; wood, tree; various kinds of trees, flowers, birds, and beasts; weaving, wool, clothes; honey, flesh, food, and hundreds more, to which may be added the names of spring and summer, moon, sun, the numerals as far as one hundred. The Aryans were high in the barbaric stage of culture — barbaric as opposed on the one hand to civilised culture, and on the other to the savage stage. They had regular marriage on the monogamic principle; the position of woman was therefore high ; grades of kinship were marked ; and, indeed, the idea of “family” was altogether highly developed. The state seems to have been of the patriarchal type—an enlarged family in idea; there were kings, nobles, council, and laws. Houses, hamlets, roads or paths, and waggons existed. Sheep, oxen, and all domestic cattle were possessed and named. Agriculture existed, and various kinds of corn, fruits, and trees were known and used. Gold, silver, and copper or bronze were known, but evidently not iron; and implements of war and the chase were made of the metals known—sword, and spear, and plough. Polytheism was the form of religious belief, wherein the powers of nature were worshipped as deities in anthropomorphic form. When or where this nation lived cannot well be known, but the general idea is that it lived over three thousand B.C. in Western Asia. In any case, it split up into many leading branches, variously estimated at seven, eight, and ten. Schleicher and Fick have attempted to show how this process occurred, and to trace the relationship of the various branches among themselves. According to them, the Aryan race first divided into the Asiatic and European groups. The Asiatic subsequently subdivided into the Indian (ancient Sanskrit and modern Indian dialects), and the Iranian or Persian Family (ancient Zeud and Persian, and the modem dialects of Afghanistan, Persia, &c.) The European branch, which developed some features of common culture after their separation from the Asiatic branch, split up into two divisions, South European and North European. The latter branch again produced the great Teutonic and Slavonic branches; while the former diverged into the Greek, Roman, and Celtic raccs. The place of Celtic in this family scheme was for long doubtful, and a hot dispute arose between the leading philologist as to whether the Celtic was more allied to the Latin than it was to the Germanic branch. Ebel held that the Celtic belonged to the Germanic branch, on the ground that the number of diphthongs was the same in each, and that “ a pervading analogy in the Slavonian, Teutonic, and both branches of the Celtic ” exists, evidenced by the use of time particles, like do and ro in Celtic, and the German ge, and strengthened also by other minor details. But against this Schleicher was able to produce some formidable analogies between Celtic and Latin, such as (1) the general resemblance in declension; (2) the future in b or f (amabo of Lat. and old Irish carfa, no charub); and (3) the passive in r (fertur of Lat., and old Irish carthir). The general belief now is that Celtic and Latin are much more allied to each other than either is to Germanic, or any other tongue. But the more advanced philologists are inclined to scout the idea of “genealogy” as unscientific, or at least as too narrow, and a system of grouping merely is adopted. But for popular purposes the genealogical idea is undoubtedly scientific enough, and certainly more easy to understand and remember. The following table presents the latest phase of the genealogy of the Aryan tongues :—

The discussion as to when, how, and where the Aryan races entered Europe first— if, indeed, they are not originally European —is a highly speculative subject. Fick thinks that they entered Europe along the north of the Caspian and Black Seas, and settled down on the Danube. The Graeco-Italo-Celtic branch was settled on the Upper Danube, until a date, says M. D’Arbois De Jubainville, sufficiently near, perhaps, the 15th century before Christ. At this date he sends the Hellenic race down to Epirus, and afterwards to both coasts of the iEgean Sea. The upper Danube was Celtic until it was engulfed in the Empire of Rome. Plutarch appears to refer to the original invasion of Gaul by the Celts, and this M. De Jubainville thinks took place some seven centuries before Christ, a date that seems to be rather too late, considering that Massilia was founded about 600 B.C. The Italic race had a good while before this left the Celts, and taken a southerly direction, the Etruscans settling in their territory about 992 B.C. Passing from this speculation to ground more assured, we know from archaeological study that other races existed in Europe previous to the Celts. The contents of Neolithic and Bronze-Age barrows prove the existence of at least two pre-Aryan races, differing much in physique and culture from the type regarded as Aryan. For the European Aryans are regarded as tall, fair-liaired, straight-featured, and dolicho-cephalic or long-headed ; while the barrows present us with two other types—a small, evidently darkskinned, long-headed race, and another race—fair, tall, rough-featured, and round-headed. The dark-skinned race, called by the ethnologists Iberian, was in its Stone Age for the most part : while the round-headed race, named Finnish or Ugrian, belonged to the Bronze Age. “It seems to be certain,” says Mr Elton, “that some great proportion of the population of the Western Countries is connected by actual descent with the pre-Celtic occupants of Europe; and it is regarded as highly probable that one branch or layer of these earlier inhabitants should be attributed to that Ugrian stock, which comprises the Quains, Finns, Magyars, Esthonians, Livonians, and several kindred tribes whose territories abut upon the Baltic, the White Sea, and the Volga.” Everything points to Aquitania, the Pyrennees district, and a good part of Spain having been possessed by the older or Iberian race, and their language may now remain in the modern Basque. It is from this Spanish connection that they are named Iberian. Tacitus informs us that the inhabitants of the Severn valley in Wales were evidently of Iberian descent. “The dark complexion of the Silures,” he says, “ their usually curly hair, and the fact that Spain is the opposite shore (!) to them, are evidence that Iberians of a former date crossed over and occupied these parts.” Now the importance of clearly grasping the fact that the Celtic races conquered and exterminated, or, more often, absorbed the previous races, cannot be over-estimated. For the abuse of national names like Celtic, in indiscriminately applying them for archaeological or political purposes to races that are clearly very much mixed in blood, is to be deplored for the sake of sound science and of political justice. Aryan, Teutonic, or Celtic can apply primarily only to language and culture ; for the Aryans must have absorbed most of the previous population. And this previous population has demonstrably influenced the physique of the Aryan, while traces of its influence can be shown to exist in the customs, language, and characteristics of the now or previously existing Aryan races. Undoubtedly the most Celtic country in Europe is France; George Long estimated its present “Celticity” at 19-20ths of the population—an estimate which is doubtless far too high, considering the absorption of the non-Aryan Aquitanians, and the intrusion of the non-Celtic Romans, Franks, and Normans. Nevertheless, France, in modem times, represents fully the virtues and the weaknesses which ancient and modem writers have recognised as inherent in the Celtic character. “Idealism,” Matthew Arnold calls the general characteristic of the Celt, “showing itself,” as Professor Geddes says, “in the disposition to make the future or the past more important than the present; to gild the horizon with a golden age in the far past, as do the Utopian Conservatives; or in the remote future, as do the equally Utopian Revolutionists.” Roman writers notice their wonderful quickness of apprehension, their great craving for knowledge, and their impressibility. They were generous to a degree, loyal to their own chiefs, prompt in action, but incapable of sustained effort or united action. Caesar is never tired of speaking of their changeableness and their “celerity,” both physical and mental, while Livy speaks of their unrestrained indignation and impetuosity. Added to this, they were a race much given to superstition and religious observance. But many of these qualities are virtues: “In their pure and unsophisticated condition,” says Professor Geddes, “they have been in the main distinguished by these four qualities more particularly, Reverence religiously, devoted Faithfulness politically, Politeness or civility socially, and Spirit or, as the French would call it. Esprit universally.” If we compare the four or five chief Celtic races that remain, we shall find much apparent and much real diversity hiding some remarkable features of agreement. The religious character of the Celt is strong in Brittany, Wales, and the Highlands; in France, generally, and in Ireland, the emotion exists along with more of a critical and humorous spirit. Wit and genius are more sparkling in Ireland and France, while loyalty to chiefs and exploded causes is characteristic of the Highlands and Ireland. The diversities among these branches of the Celtic races—and they are numerous, so numerous as to make the ordinary political meaning of “Celtic” inapplicable to the Highlands— must arise from mixture of races. The Welsh have a basis of Iberian and Gaelic-Irish, and an intrusion of English among them. The Irish have Iberians in the South, and Finns in the North for basis, generally speaking, while Danes, English, and Scotch have intruded upon them; so that in some of the disaffected parts it is clear that, not Celtic, but Teutonic blood is responsible for the persistency and atrocity of their conduct. In the Highlands, the basis is the non-Aryan Piet, with here and there a dash of the Iberian, while the Celt has been intruded upon by the Norseman and the Englishman.

The oldest mention we have of the Celts is in Herodotus, in the 5th century B.C. “For the River Istros,” says he, “from its source among Celts, and the city Pyrene, flows dividing Europe in the middle. The Celts (Keltoi) are outside the Pillars of Hercules, and border on the Kynesii, who dwell furthest west of the inhabitants of Europe.” Their next appearance in a historical work is in Xenophon, who mentions the Celts as mercenaries with Dionysius of Syracuse, in 368, B.C. “The ships brought Keltoi and Iberes.” Strabo tells us that Ephorus (in the second half of the 4th century B.C.) exaggerates the size of Celtica, “including in it what we now call Iberia, as far as Gadeira,” and in another place Ephorus represents them as possessing the part of the world lying between the setting of summer and the setting of winter. Pytheas actually visited the West and North, and was in Britain himself in the 4th century B.C., but unfortunately his narrative has been lost, appearing only in fragments, which are often subjected to the adverse criticism of the ancients as fables, though now they are known to be the truth. Aristotle knew about the Celts; he mentions them as being said to fear “neither earthquake nor floods,” as putting but little clothing on their children, and as having so cold a country, the Celts above Iberia, that the ass does not thrive there. He also heard of Rome having been taken by the Celts, Plutarch tells us. The Periplus of Scylax, about 335 B.C., represents the Celts as established at the head of the Adriatic, and we are told by Ptolemy, Alexander’s General, as quoted by Strabo, that, while Alexander was operating against the Danubian tribes, “ the Celts who dwell on the Adriatic came to Alexander, for the purpose of making a treaty of friendship and mutual hospitality, and that the king received them in a friendly way and asked them, while drinking, what might be the chief object of their dread, supposing that they would say it was he; but that they replied, it was no man, only they felt some alarm lest the heavens should sometime or other fall on them, but that they valued the friendship of such a man as him above everything.” Hitherto, the name Celt or Keltos was the only one used, but after the invasion into Greece in 279 B.C., a new name makes its appearance. This name is Galatae. It first appears in two epitaphs on Grecian youths slain in the war with the Celts in 279. Timaeus speaks of the country of “Galatia, named after Galates, son of Cyclops and Galatia,” and it seems that he rendered the name Galatae popular, for after this period it is the favourite Greek name. Polybius, a Greek writer of the second century B.C., uses the name Keltos for the ancient Celts, and the name Galatae he rather applies to the Celts in their contact with Rome in the third and second centuries. The favourite Roman name was Galli, which included the inhabitants of Gallia, the Celts of Spain, and those of Galatia. Caesar, however, tells us that Gaul was divided into three parts: the Aquitanians were in the south, the Belgae in the north, and in the middle the Gauls, as the Romans called them, but they called themselves Celtae. Here the term “Gauls” applies only to one branch of the Celtic people, but this limited use of the name was not recognised even by Ciesar himself. Diodorus Siculus, Ctesar’s contemporaiy, who wrote in Greek, calls the country north of Massilia, from the Alps to the Pyrennees, Celtica (Cfesar’s “Gauls” and Aquitania),and the people of the country north of this Celtica along the Atlantic and the Hercynian Forest on to Scythia, are called Galatae. “The Romans call all these collectively Gauls.” Diodorus gives us a complete version of the myth that Timaeus evidently told in full. Hercules, when on his expedition against Geryon, turned aside into Gaul, founded there Alesia, and married a haughty Gaulish dame, who gave birth to a son named Galates. This Galates surpassed all his countrymen in valour and strength, and obtaining by his warlike exploits a wide fame and sway, he gave his subjects and his country his own name to bear, the one to be known as Galatia, and the others as Galatae. Pausanias, a writer of the second century of our era says, in explanation of the use of the names Celt and Galatae: “It was late before it became the habit to call them Galatae ; for Celtic was their name of old, both among themselves and other people.”

The three names which we have for this ancient people are therefore Keltoi or Celtae, Galatai and Galli. Of these Celti is two centuries older than Galatae in use. The derivation of Celt is not finally decided. Gluck, in his work on the Celtic Names in Caesar, suggests that the root is seen in Latin celsus, “high,” to which Lithuanian keltas, of Jike meaning and derivation, may be added. Allied to this root is the English word “ hill.” This is the best derivation of the word. Professor Rhys suggested in his “Celtic Britain” a connection with Old Norse “hildr,” war, Bel-lona, but he has now withdrawn it on discovering that the old Irish and Gaelic word clicith (war) is the proper representative of hildr. The names Galatae and Galli are evidently connected, and as Windisch says, no doubt of Celtic origin. The form Galatae is oldest and nearest the true form. It answers to the old Irish word gxldae, brave; for the form galdae points to a primitive form galatias. The root is gal, of old Irish, and goil of Gaelic, which signifies bravery.


Our sources of information in regard to the manners and customs of the Celts are threefold :—(1), The historians of Greece and Rome have left some accounts of them, short and rather meagre; (2), Archaeology throws some light on Gaulish customs and life; we can, for instance, verify the fact of the tallness of person of the Gauls from their skeletons found in their tombs, and we have remains of their weapons, implements, coins, statues, &c.; and (3), we know their Aryan descent, and can steady our inquiry by the light derived from the customs and life of other Aryan nations, while mediaeval and modern Celtic customs and manners will give much material help.

It is purely with the first source that this paper will deal, and the writers will be quoted in extenso, as far as possible, for, as some of the authors to be quoted are not easy of access, and some remain in the obscurity of their original, more material good to other inquirers will be done by a full and accurate quotation, than by a garbled and ex parte statement. And first in the order of time comes Polybius, who says (Book II., cap. 15, &c.):—

“In regard to the cheapness and abundance of food [in Gaul], one may most accurately understand it from this :—Travellers through the country in putting up at an inn, do not bargain about the details of their bill, but ask at how much they put up a man. The innkeepers undertake, for the most part, to do everything that is absolutely necessary for half an as, that is, the fourth of an obol, and they rarely exceed that. The numbers of the men, the size and beauty of their persons, and further, their daring in war, can be understood clearly from the deeds they accomplished.

. . . They dwell in villages that are uinvalled, and they have no other furniture. For as they slept on straw and ate flesh, and besides practiced nothing else but warlike matters and agriculture, they led a simple life, no other knowledge or art being known among them at all. The property of the individual lay in cattle and in gold, because these alone can be easily moved anywhere and transferred to any place they like. They spend very much trouble on forming companionships or clubs, because he is the most feared and most powerful among them who appears to have the most individuals to dance attendance on him and act as hangers-on. . . . But on returning home they quarrelled over the booty captured, and consequently lost a great part of it and of their army. That is a common practice with the Gauls, whenever they appropriate anything belonging to others, caused more especially through drinking and eating to excess. . . . The Insubres and the Boii advanced dressed in trousers and saga (cloaks), but the Gfesatfe threw these away . . . and because the Gaulish shield cannot cover a man, the larger and the more unprotected their persons were the less the weapons missed their purpose.

. . . Their swords are so fashioned that they deliver one good cutting stroke, but at once become blunt and bent, so that unless the soldier has time to straighten the sword with his foot and the ground, it is incapable of striking another blow. . . .

The Romans, coming to close quarters, deprived the Gauls of using their swords for slashing, for which they are adapted, for their swords want points. . . . The Gauls were fiercest in the first onset in courage . . . and are fickle.”

The next writer we shall quote is Posidonius, the Stoic, who lived in the first decades of the first century before Christ. He was a great traveller, and had an extensive knowledge of the Western European nations. His works have not come down to us, but fortunately Athenreus, a compiler of the 3rd century of our era, quotes him and others in their own words in a sort of ana book, and the following are his extracts from Posidonius in regard to the Celts : —

“The Celti have their food placed before them as they sit on grass, on tables made of wood, raised a very little above the ground. Their food consists of a few loaves and a good deal of meat served in water, and roasted on the coals or on spits. They eat their food in a cleanly manner enough, but lion-fashion they take up whole joints in their hands and gnaw at them. And if there is any bit hard to tear away, they cut it off with a small knife which they have sheathed in a private depository. Those who live by the rivers and by the Atlantic and Mediterranean eat also fish, and these, too, roasted with salt and vinegar and cummin. This they also throw into their drink. Oil they do not use on account of its scarcity, and, because they are not used to it, it seems nauseous to them. When many of them eat together they sit in a circle, and the bravest man is in the middle, like the coryphaeus of a chorus, whether excelling the rest on account of his military skill or birth or riches. Beside him is the entertainer, and then on each side the rest of the guests sit in regular order according to their position. And those that bear their shields—large, oblong ones—stand behind them, and their spear-bearers sit down opposite in a circle, and feast in the same way as their masters. The cup-bearrers bring round the drink in vessels like beakers, either of earthenware or silver. And the platters upon which they have their bread placed before them are of the same materials; but some have brazen platters, and others wooden or wicker ones. And the liquor which is drunk is, among the rich, wine, brought from Italy and Massilia. And it is unmixed, but at times a little water is mixed with it. Among the poorer classes, however, the drink is a beer made of wheat prepared with honey, and with the majority the beer alone is the beverage. It is called korma. And they all drink it out of the same cup in small draughts of not more than a glassful at a time, but they take frequent draughts. And a slave carries the liquor round, beginning from right to left. That is the way they are waited upon, and they worship their gods turning to their right hand.” Another quotation from Posidonius, apparently following closely the one above, says :—“The Celts at times tight single combats at their meals. For being assembled under arms, they spar and wrestle with each other, and at times go so far as wounding. And getting angry from this, they go on even to slaughter, if the bystanders do not check them. In olden times,” he says, “a hind-quarter was put before them, the thigh flesh of which the bravest man took; but if any one else laid claim to it, they got up and fought the duel to death. Others, at a public entertainment (theatron), accept a sum of silver or gold—some a number of jars of wine, and, after taking pledges for the giving of them and bequeathing them to their nearest friends, lie down on their backs at full length on their long shields, and some bystander with a sword cuts their throat.” Of the bards, Posidonius says :—“The Celts, even when they make war, take about with them companions, whom they call ‘ parasites.’ These celebrate their praises not only before large companies assembled together, but also before private individuals who are willing to listen. Their music and song come from men called bards (bardoi), and they are poets who recite praises with song.” And it is in this connection, probably, that Posidonius tells of the magnificence of Luernius, the father of Bityis, King of the Arverni, who was subdued by the Romans in 121 B.C., for he, “aiming at becoming leader of the populace, used to drive in a chariot over the plains, and scatter gold and silver among the myriads of Celts who followed him.” He built a place twelve furlongs every way, which he filled with winepresses and eatables, where for many days anybody might go and revel gratis. “ And, once, when he had issued beforehand invitations to a banquet, one of the poets of the ‘ barbarians,’ coming too late, met him on the way, extolled his magnificence in a hymn, and bewailed his own ill fortune for being too late. Luernius, being gratified, asked for a purse of gold and threw it to him as he was running by the side of his chariot; and he picked it up and then went on singing how his very footprints upon the earth over which he drove produced gold and benefits to men.”

Caesar is the next authority on the Celts in the order of time, but as his works are easily accessible to all, only a condensed version of his account of the manners and customs of the Celts will be given. Men of any account in Gaul, he says, belong either to the class of Druids or of nobles, for the general population are regarded as slaves, and are invited to no political meeting. In fact, pressed by debt or by tyranny, they give themselves up as slaves to the nobles, who have over them all the rights of masters over their slaves. The Druids and their views Csesar describes at fair length as well as the Gaulish Polytheism, but as we have in a former paper considered that subject, we pass to the rest of his description. The second class is the “equites” or nobles. They make arms their profession, for before Caesar’s time they had yearly wars either of offence or defence, and those are reckoned the greatest who have most retainers and dependents. In fact, that is the only species of power they are acquainted with. The Gauls reckon their time by nights and not by days. In other customs and manners, their peculiarity consists in that they don’t suffer their children to appear in their presence, except when grown up, much less that a young lad should sit by his father’s side in public. The dowry that a woman brings, the husband must equal by a sum from his own resources, and this total falls to either survivor. They have power of life and death over their wives and children, and widows are tortured for information, if there is a suspicion of foul play on a husband’s death, and, on proof of guilt, put to death. Their funerals are magnificent, considering their state of culture, and everything dear to the deceased, formerly even slaves and dependents, are burnt along with them. The best regulated states have a law that anyone who has foreign news of state importance must report the same first to the Government, because experience has shown that rash and unexperienced men are driven or frightened by false rumours to crime and rash political action. The Government conceal or reveal the news, according to their judgment. Politics must not be discussed except by a public assembly. In another place, Caesar says that the Gauls have the weakness of being fickle in political action, and prone to revolution. They compel travellers to tell everything they have heard or learnt, and merchants are surrounded by a crowd that demands whence they came, and what was doing there. On such facts and reports they adopt measures of the highest political importance, which they soon have cause to regret, because of the uncertainty, and, for the most part, wilful falsity of the information. In another book he speaks of their extreme intellectual cleverness and their great capabilities for imitating and doing anything they saw, and further on he states that “to desert their chief, even in the extremity of fortune, is, in the moral code of the Gauls, accounted as a crime.” His description of the Britons may be condensed as follows:—Inland Britain is inhabited by native tribes, but the coast is held by Belgians, who have given the names of the places they came from to their new settlements. The population is countless, the buildings very numerous, and almost exactly like those of Gaul, and cattle is plentiful. They use for money coins of brass or rods of iron, made to a certain weight. Tin is found in the midland districts, and iron on the coast, but not in plenty. Their brass is imported. The hare, the hen, and the goose they won’t taste on religious grounds. The inhabitants of Kent are the most civilised; in fact, they differ little from the Gauls. The people inland sow no corn, but live on milk and flesh, and clothe themselves with skins. All the Britons paint themselves with woad, which produces blue colour. This makes them more terrible in aspect. They wear the hair long, and shave all except the upper lip. Communities of ten to twelve men have their wives in common, and the children belong to the man who originally married the mother. They have chariots, and fight with them in this way. First, they ride along the whole field, and fire their missiles, and by the noise and the impetus of their horses cause confusion, and so break into their opponents’ ranks, when they leap down and fight on foot. The charioteers meanwhile withdraw, and place the chariots in such a way that, if the fighters are hard pressed, they may fall back on them easily. Their skill by long practice is such that even in steep and precipitous places they can check the horses at full speed, and also guide and turn them in a moment, and they can run along the tram pole, stand on its end, and run back again with the utmost celerity.

Caesar’s contemporary, Diodorus of Sicily, has left us perhaps the most important account of the Celts that we now possess. Both he and Strabo found largely on Posidonius. Diodorus’ mythical account of the origin of the Gaulish people has already been given. “After this explanation as to the names of the Gauls,” says he, “ it is needful to speak of their country also. Gaul is inhabited by many nations, differing in size, for the largest possess about two hundred thousand men, and the least fifty thousand.....From the destructive nature of the climate, neither vine nor olive is produced. Accordingly, the Gauls deprived of these fruits prepare a drink from barley, which is called zythos. They run water through honeycombs, and use for drink this dilution. Being excessively fond of wine, they swallow it undiluted, when it is imported by merchants, and through their keenness for it, they drink large quantities, which drives them into sleep or a state of insanity. Hence many Italian merchants turn the drunkenness of the Gauls to their own gain; for they bring by the rivers in boats or by the roads in carts wine to them, and receive in return an incredible price. For a jar of wine they get a slave, exchanging the drink for a servant.

“In Gaul no silver at all is got, but plenty of gold, which nature supplies to the inhabitants without the trouble of mining. The mountain streams rushing down break off the soil of their banks, and fill it with gold dust. This soil, those engaged in such work gather, and from it eliminate the gold by breaking up and sifting it with water. In this way a great quantity of gold is collected, which not merely women, but also men use for ornament. Hence they carry armlets and bracelets; they make thick torques of pure gold for the neck, splendid rings, and, in addition, breastplates of gold. A remarkable and unexpected fact holds among the interior Gauls in regard to places of the worship of the gods. In the temples and consecrated groves through the country, there lies cast about a great quantity of gold dedicated to the gods; and none of the inhabitants will touch it through religious fear, excessively fond though the Celts bo of money.

“The Gauls have tall persons; their flesh is sappy and white ; their hair is not only yellow, but they strive by art to add to the peculiarity of its natural hue. For they often rub their hair with a chalk wash, and draw it back from the front of the head to the crown and ridge of the head, so that they present the appearance of Satyrs. From cultivation their hair gets so thick as to differ in no respect from a horse’s mane. Some shave their faces (chins); others grow a moderate beard; the better classes shave the cheeks, but grow a moustache so as to cover the mouth. Accordingly in eating, the moustache is mixed up with the food, and in drinking, the drink runs through a sieve as it were. At meals they do not sit upon seats, but upon the ground, making use of the skins of wolves and dogs for rugs. They are waited upon by very young children of both sexes, and of tit age. Near them is a fire-place, full of fire, with kettles and spits, full of large pieces of flesh. They honour their brave men with the best portions of the meat, just as the poet introduces Ajax as honoured by the chiefs, when he had conquered Hector in single fight.—

“And with long chine-slices he honoured Ajax.”

They invite the strangers to the feasts, and when the meal is over, they ask who they are, and what they want. And even at the meal they are wont, after holding a word-battle arising out of what was occurring, to challenge each other and fight in single combat, caring not a jot for the loss of their life. For among them the opinion of Pythagorus prevails, that the souls of men are immortal, and in the course of a fixed number of years they live again, the soul entering another body. Accordingly, at the burial of the dead, some cast letters addressed to their departed relatives upon the funeral pile, under the belief that the dead will read them.

“In journeys and in battles they employ two-horsed chariots, the car of which carries a charioteer and a fighting man. And when meeting cavalry in battle they hurl their javelins at their opponents, and dismounting they resort to a fight with the sword. Some among them so much despise death that they enter danger naked and girt only with a belt. They employ freemen as servants, taken from the poorer classes, whom they employ as charioteers and attendants. They are wont in battle array to rush from the ranks and challenge the best of their opponents to single combat, shaking their arms and striking terror into their foes. Whenever anyone proceeds to the fight, they sing the brave deeds of his forefathers, and publish his own exploits, while they revile and humiliate his opponent, and with their words deprive him of all courage of soul. The heads of their fallen enemies they cut out and hang to their horses manes; the bloody trophies they hand to their servants and lead in triumph, singing peaans and songs of victory. These best parts of the booty they hang up in their houses just as if they were trophies of the hunt. The heads of the noblest enemies they embalm and preserve in chests, and show them with pride to strangers; how that for this head some ancestor or parent or himself had been offered a large sum of money, and had refused it. They say that some of them boast that they did not accept an equal weight of gold for the head, thus displaying a kind of barbaric magnanimity; for it is not noble not to sell the pledges of valour, but to make war upon the dead of one’s own race is brutal. They wear astounding clothes; dyed tunics flowered with various colours, and trousers, which they call “breeches.” They buckle on striped cloaks (tartan cl.), thick ones in winter and light ones in summer, chequered with close, gaudy squares Wohvavdeai irXivdois). They use as arms shields of a man’s height (dvpeos = door-shaped), characteristically embellished with divers colours. Some have brazen relief representations on them of animals skilfully worked, not merely for ornament but also for safety. They wear brazen helmets, having huge projections rising out of them, and producing the appearance of great tallness on the part of the wearers. Some helmets have horns shooting out of them, and others have the figures of birds and the faces of animals carved on them in high relief. They have peculiar barbaric trumpets, for with them they blow and produce a grating sound calculated to cause terror to the foe. Some wear coats of iron chain mail, and some are satisfied with the armour of nature, and fight unprotected by mail. In place of a sword they wear long cutlasses (broadswords, hanging with an iron or brass chain on the right thigh. Some begird their tunics with belts ornamented with gold or silver. They carry spear lances which they call aykicl, having the heads a cubic in length of iron and even more, and in breadth not much short of two palm-breadths. For the swords are not less than the javelins (<mwiov) of others, and the javelins have longer blades than our swords. Some of these are forged straight; some have throughout backward bent barbs not merely to cut, but so as to break the flesh all in pieces, and on the withdrawal of the spear to tear open the wound.

“They are terrible of aspect, and their voices are deep-sounding and very rough, and in intercourse they are curt in speech, enigmatic, and speaking much obscurely and figuratively; they say much in hyperbolic language for their own aggrandisement and the detraction of others. They are threateners, declaimers, and stagey exaggerators, but sharp in intellect, and not naturally inapt for learning. There are among them poets of song whom they name “bards,” and these, on an instrument similar to the lyre, sing in praise of some and in dispraise of others. They have certain philosophers and theologians, held in excessive honour, whom they name Druids. They also employ soothsayers, and bestow much esteem on them. These, through bird auspices and the sacrifice of victims, foretell the future, and have the entire multitude subservient to them. Especially when they have under consideration any serious business, they have a wonderful and incredible practice, for they offer a man as sacrifice, striking him with a knife at the point above where the diaphragm is, and as he falls, when struck, from his fall and the convulsions of his limbs, and still more from the flow of his blood, they read the future, having belief in this from old and long-continued observance. It is a custom of theirs to do no sacrifice without a philosopher, for it is through them as experienced in the divine nature, as it were people of the same language with the gods, that the thank-offerings, they say, must be made to the gods, and it is through them that they think good things must be asked. Not merely in matters of peace, but also against their enemies, do they especially obey these men, and also the singing poets—not merely do friends obey them, even the enemy will do so. Often when the armies draw near each other in array for battle, with swords drawn and spears in rest, these men advance into the ground between them and stop them just as though taming and charming wild beasts. So among the wildest barbarians passion yields to art and wisdom, and Mars reveres the Muses.

“It is worth while to make clear what is unknown among many. For those that dwell above Marseilles in the interior, and those in the Alps, and further, those who dwell on this side the Pyrennees, they call Celts; those above this Celtica, who inhabit the northern district along the Atlantic and the Hercynian range —all those from there to Scythia, they call Gauls (Galatse.) The Romans call all these nations collectively Gauls. The women of the Gauls not merely are equal to the men in height, but they also rival them in courage. The children among them are at first white-haired (polia) for the most part, but with advancing years they are transformed to their father’s colour of hair. Those that dwell in the north and on the borders of Scythia being the wildest, they say that they eat men, just as also the Britons who inhabit what is called Irin. So much was the fame of their warlike valour and ferocity spread that those who infested all Asia (Minor), then called Cimmerii, are thought to be those now called from length of time Cimbri. Of old they devoted themselves to plundering other people’s countries, and despising all others. It was they who took Rome, plundered the temple at Delphi, made tributary a great part of Europe, and no small part of Asia (Minor); on account of their mingling with the Greeks, they were called Gallo-Grecians; in short, they overthrew many large Roman armies. In like manner with the wildness characteristic of them, do they also commit impiety in regard to the sacrifice of the gods. For criminals, kept for five years, they impale 011 poles in honour of the gods, and with the other first fruits devote them to the gods, preparing huge pyres. They look upon these prisoners in no other light than as victims in honour of the gods. Some also kill the live animals taken in war? along with the men, or burn them, 01* remove them by some other punishment. They have handsome women ; yet some unnatural vices exist. They are wont to sleep on skins of wild beasts on the ground.”

Diodorus touches on the inhabitants of Britain too; he says:—

“People say that the races that inhabit Britain are ‘Aborigines,’ and that they preserve the ancient life in their customs. For they employ chariots for war just as the ancient heroes of Greece are said to have employed in the Trojan war. And they have mean houses constructed of reeds of wood, for the most part. The inbringing of the crops they do thus: they cut off the ears of corn, and stow them in cellars; and then the old ears they each day pluck, and thus prepared they use as food. Their maimers are simple and far removed from the cunning and wickedness of our present race. They are satisfied with frugal fare, and far removed from the luxury engendered by riches. The island is populous ; it possesses a cold climate, lying, of course, as it does under the polar bear. They have many kings and chiefs, and for the most part they are peacefully disposed to each other.”

Virgil has left us a picture of the Gauls, as he thought they must have looked at the sacking of Rome; this is how they appeared on Æneas’ shield.—

“The Gauls were at hand marching among the brushwood, and had gained the summit sheltered by the darkness and the kindly grace of dusky night. Golden is their hair and golden their raiment; striped cloaks gleam on their shoulders; their milk-white necks are trimmed with gold and each brandishes two Alpine javelines, his body guarded by the long oval of his shield.”

The striped cloak of Virgil is the prototype of the tartan plaid of the Highlander. The “virgata” of Virgil was used by Buchanan to express “tartan.” “Veste gaudent varia ac maxime virgata.” That is his description of the dress of the Scottish Highlanders.

Livy has much to say historically of the Gauls, but he only incidentally gives us a glimpse of their character and appearance. They first appear in his  th book, “burning with indignation, a passion which nationally they are unable to restrain.” A generation after the great battle of Allia (390 B.C.), the Gauls were again near Rome; the armies stood facing each other, and a champion of the Gauls came forth, Goliah-like, to challenge the armies of the “eternal city” to do single combat. The Romans were staggered; the Gaul for a while was unanswered and unopposed, and he proceeded to jeers, and “putting out of his tongue” in mockery at them. “His person was extraordinary in size; his dress was parti-coloured (tartan); and he shone in arms glittering with colour and with gold.” In the Punic wars he tells us Hannibal had Spanish and Gaulish auxiliaries. “ The Gauls and Spaniards have shields of about the same shape, but their swords are different in size and purpose. The Gauls have swords that are very long, and without points; the Spaniard’s swords are more adapted for thrusting than slashing or cutting, handy by their shortness, and possessed of sharp ends. . . . The Gauls were stripped naked above the waist for the fight.” in B.C. 189, the Consul Manlius came face to face with the Gauls of Asia Minor and found it necessary in view of the terror which the Gauls always inspired in the Romans, and the great fame these Gallo-Grecians had in war, to rouse the courage of his men in a speech like this.—

“It does not escape me that of all the nations of Asia the Gauls excel in reputation for war. Midst quite a meek race of men, a nation of high and warlike spirit (ferox natio), after ravaging nigh well the whole earth with war, took possession of a settlement. They have tall persons, long and reddish-coloured hair, huge shields, long swords (praelongi gladii). Besides, as they begin the fight, they come on with singing, war-whoops, and dancing, and after the national fashion of Gaul, they strike their shields, and rattle in a terrible way their arms, doing everything of set purpose to inspire terror. These things may frighten Greeks and Phrygians, who are unacquainted with them : but we, Romans, accustomed as we are to Gallic ‘tumults,’ know them to be mere empty show. True, they did once at the first meeting defeat our fathers at AIlia ; but ever since then, for the last two hundred years, we have slaughtered, laid them low, and defeated them, gaining more triumphs over them than over the rest of the world. By our long experience we know this fact: If you resist their first onset, which they make in pouring numbers with hot spirit and blind wrath, their limbs are melted away with sweat and fatigue, their arms slip from their hands, their soft bodies and soft courage, once their wrath is cooled, are laid low by the sun, the dust and thirst; you will not even have to point a weapon against them.”

Strabo, the geographer, who lived at the beginning of our era, thus describes the Gauls:—

“The entire race, which now goes by the name of Gallic or Galatic is warlike, passionate, and always ready for fighting, but otherwise simple and not malicious. If irritated, they rush in crowds to the conflict, openly and without any circumspection; and thus are easily vanquished by those who employ stratagem. For anyone may exasperate them when, where, and under whatever pretext he pleases; he will always find them ready for danger, with nothing to support them except their violence and daring. Nevertheless they may be easily persuaded to devote themselves to anything useful, and have thus engaged both in science and letters. Their power consists both in the size of their bodies and also in their numbers. Their frankness and simplicity lead them easily to assemble in masses, each one feeling indignant at what appears injustice to his neighbour. At the present time they are all at peace subject to the Romans; but we have described their customs, as we understand they existed in former times, and as they still exist among the Germans. . . . They march in crowds in one collected army, or rather remove with all their families, whenever they are ejected by a more powerful force. . .

All the Gauls are warriors by nature, but they fight better on horseback than on foot, and the flower of the Roman cavalry is drawn from their number. ... No part of Gaul is unproductive, except where there are swamps or forests, and even these parts are inhabited, yet rather on account of the populousness than the industry of the people ; for the women are prolific and careful nurses, but the men are better warriors than husbandmen. . . .

The Gauls wear saga (mantles), let their hair grow, and use tight trousers. Instead of tunics they wear a slashed garment with sleeves descending below the hips (Mexpi aidoluv /cat yXovrwv). The wool is coarse but short (long1?); from it they weave the thick sagi which they call ‘XcuVcu’ (laense.) . . . The equipment of the Gauls is in keeping with the size of their bodies; they have a long sword hanging at their right side, a long shield, and lances in proportion, together with a ‘ materis ’ somewhat resembling a javelin. Some of them also use bows and slings; they have also a wooden weapon resembling a dart, which is hurled, not out of a thong, but from the hand, and goes a further distance even than an arrow. They make use of it chiefly in shooting birds. To the present day most of them lie on the ground, and take their meals seated on straw. They subsist principally on milk and all kinds of flesh, especially that of swine, which they eat both fresh and salted. Their swine live in the fields, and surpass in height, strength, and swiftness. To persons unaccustomed to approach them, they are almost as dangerous as wolves. The people dwell in great houses arched, constructed of planks and wicker, and covered with a heavy thatched roof. They have sheep and swine in such abundance that they supply saga and salted pork in plenty, not only to Rome, but to most parts of Italy. Their governments were for the most part aristocratic; formerly they chose a governor every year, and a military leader was likewise elected by the multitude. At present they are mostly under subjection to the Romans. They have a peculiar custom in their assemblies. If any one makes an uproar or interrupts the speaker, an attendant advances with a drawn sword, and commands him with a menace to be silent; if he persists, the attendant does the same thing two other times, and finally cuts off from his sagum so large a piece as to render the remainder useless. The labours of the two sexes are distributed in a manner the reverse of what they are with us, but this is a common thing with numerous other barbarians. Amongst them all, three classes more especially are held in distinguished veneration, the Bards, the Sooth sayers, and the Druids. The bards are chaunters and poets. The Soothsayers are sacrifi-cers and physiologists (students of nature.) The Druids, in addition to physiology, practise ethic philosophy. They are deemed to be most upright, and, in consequence, to them are committed both public and private controversies, insomuch that on some occasions they deeidc wars, and stop the combatants on the eve of engaging. Matters partaining to murder are more especially entrusted to their decision, and whenever there is plenty of these, they think there will also be plenty of fertility in the country. These and others say that souls are immortal, and also the world, yet that ultimately fire and water will prevail. To their simple city and impetuosity are superadded much folly, vain boasting, and love of ornament. They wear gold, havnig collars of it on their necks, and bracelets on their arms and wrists; and persons in position are clad in dyed garments, embroidered with gold. This lightness of character makes them intolerable when they conquer, and throws them into consternation when worsted. In addition to their folly, they have a barbarous and absurd custom, common, however, with many nations of the north, of suspending the heads of their enemies from their horses’ necks on their return from battle, and, when they have arrived, of nailing them as a spectacle to their gates. Posidonius says he witnessed this in many different places, and was at first shocked, but became familiar with it in time, on account of its frequency. The heads of any illustrious persons they embalm with cedar, exhibit them to strangers, and would not sell them for their weight in gold. However, the Romans put a stop to these customs as well as their modes of sacrifice and divination, which were quite opposite to those sanctioned by our laws. They would strike a man, devoted as an offering, on his back with a sword, and divine from his convulsion throes. Without the Druids they never sacrifice. It is said they have other modes of sacrificing their human victims; that they shoot some of them with arrows, and crucify others in their temples; and that they prepare a colossus of hay, with wood thrown over it, into which they put cattle, beasts of all kinds, and men, and then set fire to it.”

Of the Britons he says:—“The men are taller than the Celti, with hair less yellow, and slighter in their persons. As an instance of their height, we ourselves saw at Rome some youths who were taller by so much as half a foot than the tallest there; but they were bowed legged, and in other respects not symmetrical in their conformation. Their manners are in part like those of the Celts, though in part more simple and barbarous ; insomuch that some of them, though possessing plenty of milk, have not skill enough to make cheese, and are totally unacquainted with horticulture and other matters of husbandry. There are several states amongst them. In their wars they make use of chariots for the most part, as do some of the Celts. Forests are their cities; for having enclosed an ample space with felled trees, here they make themselves huts and lodge their cattle, though not for any long continuance.”

The classical authors need scarcely be followed further than to the middle of the first century of our era, for Rome had by this time spread its sway and its culture over Gaul, and much of the special customs, manners, and institutions of the Gauls had disappeared. Even Strabo has to speak of many things he describes as no longer existent. Druidism, for instance, was abolished under Augustus and his next three successors; by Druidism are meant the superstition which demanded human sacrifice and the medicine-man priestcraft which interfered with Rome’s religious and political prejudices. Later writers, therefore, as a rule, only repeat previous information, and help us little to realise the life of the “ Ancient Celt.” Pliny, indeed, may be excepted, with his many superstitions and queer customs, which he traces over all the Roman world ; but they are too minute and too numerous to be here quoted with any satisfaction or importance to our subject. He tells us how the Gauls wore in one generation the ring on the middle finger, and the next every finger was loaded with jewellery save that one; how they learned to dye all kinds of colours “ with the juice only of certain herbs and how the Gauls knew something of scientific farming in chalking and marling their land—indeed, they appear to have been good enough farmers as far as knowledge is concerned, though Strabo tells us they were better fighters than husbandman. We may, besides Pliny, quote Ammianus Marcellinus, a writer of the 4th century, who knew the Gauls well, to show the position of women in Gaul:—“Several foreigners together could not wrestle against a single Gaul, if they quarrelled with him, especially if he called for help to his wife, who even exceeds the husband in her strength and in her haggard eyes. She would become especially formidable when swelling her throat, gnashing her teeth, and poising her arms, robust and white as snow, ready to act with feet or fists, she struck out with them with the force of a catapult.” A Saturday night in the Irish quarter of any of our largest towns would forcibly remind one of this description. But this approximation of the women to the men in size and strength is a good sign of the advanced state of culture the Gauls were in.

We now sum up the leading points of Celtic manners and customs. The Celts were tall in stature, white-skinned, goldenhaired, blue-eyed. They let their hair grow, but shaved the face, leaving only a moustache. They wore trousers and blouses descending to the upper part of the thighs, and over this was cast the mantle or sagum, richly embroidered with gold. They were very fond of colours in their dresses, “flaming and fantastic.” They wore personal ornaments like neck-torques, bracelets, and rings. They were agriculturists of no mean calibre : but they had a crofter question, as we see from Ca;sar and others ; for the farming dass appear to have been much in debt, and practically in the power of the nobles and usurers (negotiator). There is evidence that originally the land belonged to themselves. The advent of the Romans only brought new sources of misery; for veritable “Sutherland” sheep farms were actually held by Roman nobles and knights. We see this from Cicero’s speech for Quintius, for example. They knew manufactures, as we see from Pliny— fabricating serges, cloths, and felts, of great repute. Mines were worked in Southern Gaul, and smith-work carried to much perfection ; the art of tinning was known, and copper was, for instance, plated with silver leaf to ornament horse’s trappings, as Pliny vouches. Their food was flesh generally, and pork especially; their drink was milk, ale, and mead. It is noted by Cicero, Diodorus, and others, that they were inclined to intemperance. In disposition, they were frank, hospitable to strangers, but vain and quarrelsome, fickle in sentiments, and fond of novelties. They were fond of war, hot in attack, but easily discouraged by reverse. They spoke much in figurative language ; they used Greek letters. They were religious, or rather superstitious, going to fearful excesses. Their religion was polytheism of the Greek and Roman style, but they were priest-ridden. In family matters, a son could not publicly appear with his father until of the age to bear arms; the wife’s dowry was equalled by a sum from the husband, which all fell to the survivor. Their funerals were by cremation, at least, among the nobles, and were extravagant. In war, they had long iron two-edged swords, adapted for cutting, sheathed in iron scabbards, and suspended to the side by chains. They had spears, whose points were long, broad, and serrated to tear the flesh. They made use of light javelins also, with the bow and sling; though these weapons are not characteristic of them. Their helmets were of metal, ornamented with horns or figures in relief of animals. They carried a large oblong shield, a breastplate of iron, and a coat of mail, which last was a Gaulish invention. They were excellent horsemen; but earlier the Celts fought in chariots, as they did in Britain at Csesar’s time. They challenged the foe to single combats, and used to hang the heads of the enemy from their horses’ neck, carrying them home in triumph to be nailed up for trophies. Their political system had originally been kingly power, which gave way, as in Greece, to an oligarchy. The oligarchy was the common form in Gaul, as Strabo says, but tyrants were not unknown. They had severe laws passed against anyone who tried to become tyrant, as we see in Orgetorix’s case. The oligarchical republics had senates and consuls—the consul among the Edui being called Vergobretus. They had political parties and chiefships of individuals and states. Their houses were large, dome-shaped, and made of wood. They had towns and villages; plenty of roads and bridges. The ancient Celts were, therefore, as Posidonius had observed, “just like the people in Homer’s time,” an observation quite true in regard to Britain in Caesar’s time, but the Gauls were rather in the state of Greece before the Persian wars. A wonderful light is reflected by a study of ancient Celtic customs on the heroic tales and legends of ancient Ireland; the tales about Cuchullin and Conchobar exactly reproduce on old Irish soil the life of the ancient Celts ; we see their banquets with their “champion share” and their fights in the Feast of Bricrend ; we see their gorgeous magnificence of person and dress in the Brudin-da-Derga; and we see them in the various aspects of war in the great Tain-bo-Chuailgne.


The language of the ancient Celts has fared worse than their history or their culture. Only a few inscriptions remain to us of the Gaulish language of Cfesar’s time and later, and these do not give any satisfactory idea of the state of the language. There are hundreds of Celtic names in the classical authors, but their value in showing the grammatical forms of the language is almost nil. Some words of linguistic significance are handed down by the classical writers; such, for instance, is petorrituen, “ayber-wheeled chariot,” where pelor is the Gaulish form for Gaelic-Irish cethir “four.” This shows that the Gaulish of Caesar’s time was already progressing on different lines from the Goidelic or Gaelic branch; the Welsh for “ four ” is pedwar. Some centuries previous to the beginning of our era, the two branches of the Celtic speech separated—the Goidelic and Brythonic, to use Professors Rhys’ terminology. The qu of Italo-Celtic and ancient Celtic times was stiffened by the one into k, and by the other—the Brythonic— labialised into p. They both agree in dropping almost everywhere the Aryan p ; for example, Lat., plemis {full)) Gaelic, Idn ; Welsh, llawn. Some linguistic tendencies must have also been developed in the “Ancient Celtic” period, notably the sinking of vowel-flanked consonants into “ aspirated ” forms. The old Gaulish and British, with their descendants, the modern Welsh and Breton, and the lately extinct Cornish, all belong to the Gallic or Brythonic branch of Celtic; the old Irish and old Gaelic with their modern descendants of Ireland, Man, and Scotland belong to the Goidelic or Gaelic branch.

We can here only present results, and the following view of the ancient grammar of the Celtic language is arrived at by examining the laws which regulate the terminations of Gaelic, but more especially of old Irish forms. Thus a “small” vowel like e or i at the termination of a word forces itself back into the preceding syllable rather than be altogether extinguished. Examples exist in English, as foot, with plural feet for fdte originally ; but Gaelic carries this system through most consistently. Thus bard (a bard) has genitive singular and nominative plural baird for original bardi. Gaelic in Scotland has allowed the regressive action of long a to aflect the preceding syllable, as clach, Irish clock for original cloca. The terminal s and other consonants are restored from the analogy of the classical languages, which also lost them since the commencement of our era. The “restoration” follows Windiseh, more especially. “Prehistoric” stands for over two thousands years ago, and is parallel to “Ancient” of Ancient Celts.

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