Plate Ii

Gaulish Coins

1. Coin of the Nervii, with horse and wheel-symbol (cf. Plates III, 4, IV, XV).

2. Gaulish coin, with horse, conjoined circles, and S-symbol (cf. Plates III, 3, IV, XIX, 2-5).

3. Coin of the Cenomani, with man-headed horse (cf. Plate III, 2) and wheel.

4. Coin of the Remi (?), with bull (cf. Plates III, 5, IX, B, XIX, 1, 6, XX, B, XXI), and S-symbol.

5. Coin of the Turones, with bull.

6. Armorican coin, showing sword and warrior dancing before it (exemplifying the cult of weapons;

7. 8. Gaulish coins, with swastika composed of two S-symbols (?).

9, 10. Gaulish coin, showing bull's head and two S-symbols; reverse, bear (cf. Plate XXIII) eating a serpent.

11. Coin of the Carnutes, showing wolf (cf. Plate III, 1) and S-symbols.

Native Bear Demond Symbol

grain was a god of plenty. Such a goddess as Epona was a divinity of horses and mules, and she is represented as riding a horse or feeding foals. But what myths lie behind the representation of Esus cutting down a tree, whose branches, extending round another side of the monument, cover a bull and three cranes—Tarvos Trigaranos? Is this the incident depicted on another monument with a bull's head among branches on which two birds are perched?4

Glimpses of myths are seen in Classical references to Celtic gods. Caesar, whose information (or that of his source) about the gods of Gaul is fragmentary, writes: "They worship chiefly the god Mercury. Of him there are many simulacra;5 they make him inventor of all arts and guide of journeys and marches, and they suppose him to have great power over the acquiring of money and in matters of merchandise. After him come Apollo, Mars, Jupiter, and Minerva. Concerning these they hold much the same opinions as other nations — Apollo repels diseases, Minerva teaches the beginnings of arts and crafts, Jupiter sways celestial affairs, Mars directs wars."6 There is no evidence that all the Gauls worshipped a few gods. Many local deities with similar functions but different names is the evidence of the inscriptions, and these are grouped collectively by Caesar and assimilated to Roman divinities. There are many local Mercuries, Minervas, Apollos, and the like, each with his Celtic name attached to that of the Roman god. Or, again, they are nameless, as in the case of the Yorkshire inscription, "To the god who invented roads and paths" — an obvious Mercury. Caesar adds, "The Gauls declare that they are descended from Dispater, and this, they say, has been handed down by the Druids." 7 If, as the present writer has tried to show elsewhere,8 Dispater is the Roman name of a Celtic god, whether Cernunnos, or the god with the hammer, or Esus, or all three, who ruled a rich underworld, then this myth resembles many told elsewhere of the first men emerging from the earth, the autochthones. The parallel Celtic myth has not survived. In Ireland, if it ever existed there, it gave place to stories of descent from fictitious personages, like Mile, son of Bile, invented by the early scribes, or from Biblical patriarchs.

Apollonijjs, writing in the thij^Lxentury b. c^ reports a Cejticjnyth about the waters of Eridanus. ^pollo, driven by his father's threats from heaven because of the son whom Karonis bore to him, fled to the land of the Hypeckereans; and the tears which he shed on the way formed the_tossing waters.9 Some, Greek myth is here mingled with a local legend about the origin of a stream and a Celtic god, pnssihlv Relen^ who had a neighbouring temple alAqiiileia. In an island of the l^ypprfrprfang (a Celtic people dwelling beyond the RHgaean

--Mountains whejicsjioreas-Jilew) was a cixcnlar_£emple where

Apnllo was worshipped. Every year near the vernal equinox the god appeared in the sky, harping and until the rising=£^the-Pleiades.10 It is natural that this ""

Lucian (second century a. d.) describes a Gaulish god Og-mios, represented as an old man, bald-headed and with wrinkled and sun-burnt skin, yet possessing the attributes of Hercules — the lion's skin, the club, the bow, and a sheath hung from his shoulder. He draws a multitude by beautiful chains of gold and amber attached to their ears, and they follow him with joy. The other end of the chains is fixed to his tongue, and he turns to his captives a smiling countenance. A Gaul explained that the native god of eloquence was regarded as Hercules, because he had accomplished his feats through eloquence; he was old, for speech shows itself best in old age; the chains indicated the bond between the orator's tongue and the ears of enraptured listeners.11

Lucian may have seen such a representation or heard of a Gaulish myth of this kind, and as we shall see, an Irish god Ogma, whose name is akin to that of Ogmios, was a divine warrior and a god of poetry and speech. Ogma is called should have been found should have been found grianainech ("sun-faced," or "shining-faced"), perhaps a parallel to Lucian's description of the face of Ogmios. The head of Ogmios occurs on Gaulish coins, and from one of his eyes proceeds a ray or nail. This has suggested a parallel with the Ulster hero Cuchulainn in his "distortion," when the Ion laith (? "champion's light") projected from his forehead thick and long as a man's fist. Another curious parallel occurs in the Tain Bo Cualnge, or "Cattle-Spoil of Cualnge," where, among the Ulster forces, is a strong man with seven chains on his neck, and seven men dragged along at the end of each, so that their noses strike the ground, whereupon they reproach him. Is this a distorted reminiscence of the myth of Ogmios ?

A British goddess Sul, equated with Minerva at Bath, is \ mentioned by Solinus (third century a. d.) as presiding over warm springs. In her temple perpetual fires burned and never grew old, for where the fire wasted away it turned into shining globes.12 The latter statement is travellers' gossip, but the "eternal fires" recall the sacred fire of St. Bligit at Kj]dare, tended by nineteen nuns in turn, a day at a time, and on the twentieth by the dead saint herself. The._&re_ was tabu to males,_who must not even breathe on it.13 This breath tabu in connexion with fire is found among Hands, J3rahjnans,^Slavs, in-JLapan^ and formerly in "Riigen. The saint succeeded to the myth or_rituaLof-a.goddess, theJLrisliJBrigit, or the_Brigindo or Rrigantia of-Gaiilisli and British inscriptions, who was likewise equated with Minerva>

A tabued grove near Marseilles is mythically described by Lucan, who wrote in the first century of our era, and doubtless his account is based on local legends. The trees of the grove were stained with the blood of sacrifices, and the hollow caverns were heard to roar at the movement of the earth; the yew trees bent down and rose again; flames burned but did not consume the wood; dragons entwined surrounded the oaks. Hence people were afraid to approach the sacred grove, and the priest did not venture within its precincts at midnight or midday, lest the god should appear — "the destruction that wasteth at noonday." 14 In Galatia Artemis was thought to wander with demons in the forest at midday, tormenting to death those whom she met; while Diana in Autun was regarded as a midday demon who haunted cross-roads and forests. Whether these divinities represent a Celtic goddess is uncertain, and their fateful midday aspect may have been suggested by the "midday demon" of the Septuagint version of Psalm xc. 6. Both accounts occur in lives of saints.

Several references suggest that the gods punished the taking of things dedicated to themselves, and therefore tabu to men. Caesar says that this was a criminal action punished by torture and death,15 and Irish myth also discloses the disastrous results of breach of tabu. The awe of the priest of the grove is paralleled by incidents of Celtic history. After the battle of Allia in 390 b. c., where the Celts saw divine aid in the flight of the Romans and stood awestruck before it, they were afraid of the night.16 After the battle of Delphi (279 b. c.) "madness from a god" fell on them at night, and they attacked each other, no longer recognizing each other's speech.17 Another fear based on a myth is referred to in Classical sources, that of the future cataclysm. The Celts did not dread earthquakes or high tides, which, indeed, they attacked with weapons; but they feared the fall of the sky and the day when fire and water must prevail. An Irish vow perhaps refers to this: something would be done if the sky with its showers of stars did not fall or the earth burst or the sea submerge the world. Any untoward event might be construed as the coming of this catastrophe or analogous to it. How, then, was the sky meanwhile supported? Perhaps on mountain-peaks like that near the source of the Rhone, which the native population called "the column of the sun," and which was so lofty that it hid the northern sun from the southern folk.18 Gaidoz says that "the belief that the earth rests on columns is the sole debris of ancient cosmogony of which we know in Irish legends, but we have only the reflexion of it in a hymn and gloss of the Liber Hymnorum. In vaunting the pre-eminence of two saints who were like great gods of old Christian Ireland, Ultan says of Brigit that she was 'half of the colonnade of the kingdom (of the world) with Patrick the eminent.' The gloss is more explicit — 'as there are two pillars in the world, so are Brigit and Patrick in Ireland.'" 19 In some of the romantic Irish voyages islands are seen resting on pillars, and an echo of these myths is found in the Breton tradition that the church at Kernitou stands on four columns, resting on a congealed sea which will submerge the structure when it becomes liquid.20

Divine help is often referred to in Irish myths, and a parallel instance occurs in Justin's allusion to the guidance of the Segovesi by birds to the Danubian regions which they conquered.21 Such myths are depicted on coins, on which a horse appears led by a bird, which sometimes whispers in its ear. Heroes were also inspired by birds to found towns. Birds were objects of worship and divination with the Celts, and divinities transformed themselves into the shape of birds, or birds formed their symbols.

The birth of heroes from a god and a human mother occurs in Irish myth. One Classical parallel to this is found in the account of the origin of the northern Gauls given by Diodorus. They were descended from Hercules and the beautiful giant daughter of the King of Celtica, and hence they were taller and handsomer than other peoples.22 This is perhaps the Greek version of a native myth, which is echoed in the Irish tale of the gigantic daughter of the king of Maidens' Land and her love for Fionn.23 Again, when Diodorus speaks of Hercules assembling his followers, advancing into Celtica, improving the laws, and founding a city called Alesia, honoured ever since by the Celts as the centre of their kingdom, he is probably giving a native myth in terms of Greek mythology.24 Some native god or hero was concerned, and his story fitted that of Hercules, who became popular with the Celts.

ÎThe Celts had beliefs resembling those of the Greeks and Romans about incubi. Demons called dusii sought the couches of women out of lust, a belief reported by sub-Classical authors. The Classical evidence for Celtic belief in divine descent is also furnished by the form of several proper names which have been recorded, while lineage from a river or river-god is associated with the Belgic Viridomar.25

A legend reported by Pliny concerns some natural product, perhaps a fossil echinus, in explanation of the origin of which this myth was current, or to it an existing serpent-myth had been attached. Numerous serpents collected on a day in summer and, intertwining, formed a ball with the foam from their bodies, after which their united hissings threw it into the air. According to the Druids, he who would obtain it must catch it on a mantle before it touched the ground and must escape hastily, putting running water between himself and the pursuing serpents. The ball was used magically.26 ' Classical observers cite vaguely some myths about the other-world and they admired profoundly the Celtic belief in immortality, which, if Lucan's words are correct, was that of the soul animating a new body there. Diodorus also affirms this, though he compares it with the Pythagorean doctrine of transmigration;27 yet in the same passage he shows that thé dead passed to another world and were not reborn oi^-earth. Irish mythology tells us nothing about the world of the dead, though it has much to say of a go^slland or Elysium, to which the living were sometimes invited by immortals. This Elysium was in distant islands, in the hollow hills, or under the waters. Plutarch, on the authority of Demetrius, who may have been a Roman functionary in Britain, reports that round Britain are many desert islands, named after gods and heroes. Demetrius himself visited one island lying nearest these, inhabited by a people whom the Britons regarded as sacred, and while he was there, a storm arose with fiery bolts falling. This the people explained as the passing away of one of the mighty, for when a

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