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96aelw
180735.  Wed Jun 06, 2007 9:09 am Reply with quote

Of course, that's assuming that either of those gentlemen was actually Celtic.

 
Jenny
181519.  Sun Jun 10, 2007 7:34 am Reply with quote

I remember once taking part in a long discussion that disputed the existence of anything that could be reliably called 'Celtic'.

 
96aelw
181600.  Sun Jun 10, 2007 5:07 pm Reply with quote

Indeed. It's a term I would seek to avoid, myself, but even if forced to use it, I still wouldn't apply it to anyone or anything from these islands.

 
Celebaelin
181627.  Sun Jun 10, 2007 6:58 pm Reply with quote

I think there's such a thing as Celtic Art (knots and the such like), and that this originally stems from a society which had a distinct make up in Europe (druids, warrior class, women having equal rights of inheritance and even rulership). There are legends of celtic peoples but not all-encompasing celtic legends and some of the artwork gets blurry around the edges. I'd say picts were a celtic people but their artwork is closer to a Greek Key than a Celtic Knot.

So there's Celtic culture throughout Europe from Albania in the South-East to Scotland in the North-West but there's no Celtic race as such. There are differences observed in Celtic style (La Tene, Hallstatt, er, things which aren't really La Tene or Hallstatt) but the commonalities are still present and distinguish them from the products of other cultures.

<E> La Tene, well, La Tène if we're getting obsessive.


Last edited by Celebaelin on Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:54 am; edited 3 times in total

 
Celebaelin
181889.  Mon Jun 11, 2007 7:25 pm Reply with quote


Just thought I'd put up an example of knotwork.

 
96aelw
182243.  Tue Jun 12, 2007 6:36 pm Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
I think there's such a thing as Celtic Art (knots and the such like), and that this originally stems from a society which had a distinct make up in Europe (druids, warrior class, women having equal rights of inheritance and even rulership). There are legends of celtic peoples but not all-encompasing celtic legends and some of the artwork gets blurry around the edges. I'd say picts were a celtic people but their artwork is closer to a Greek Key than a Celtic Knot.

So there's Celtic culture throughout Europe from Albania in the South-East to Scotland in the North-West but there's no Celtic race as such. There are differences observed in Celtic style (Le Tene, Hallstatt, er things which aren't really Le Tene or Hallstatt) but the commonalities are still present and distinguish them from the products of other cultures.


Right. Sorry it's taken a while to write anything further here. I've been attempting to gather my thoughts, and suchlike.

There is certainly such a thing as an art style that is sometimes called "Celtic", but that's rather the point. There are an awful lot of things that are called "Celtic", but not necessarily with much justification. La Tène art styles (the term Celtic is, to the best of my knowledge, usually applied to La Tène art, not Hallstatt) get called "Celtic" art (although in fact most of the images one sees popularly associated with Celticity are more Early Christian than La Tène), but there are a number of things which get called "Celtic", and each of them gives a widely differing picture of who, where or how unified "Celtic" culture was.

There is the artistic evidence of La Tène art you have mentioned, there is the evidence of where the "Celtic" languages were and are spoken (unfortunately, while I can avoid using the C word in discussing art by saying La Tène instead, there is no alternative to it as a linguistic term,so far as I know), and there is the evidence of those classical authors who mentioned people to whom they attached the name Celts. None of these sets of evidence produces a picture which fits with that from any of the others, and the last, the classical authors, produces several different pictures on its own.

La Tène art was sometimes used and created by people who didn't speak Celtic languages, and some Celtic speakers (such as the Celtiberians) did not create or use La Tène art. Further, the distribution of the languages and of La Tène art does not fit well with the literary evidence. Herodotus' Celts were widespread across Europe, but Caesar said that "the people who call themselves the Celts, though we call them the Gauls" lived only in south west France. Neither author mentioned any Celts living in Celtic speaking, La Tène using Britain (indeed, no one is known to have used the term "Celtic" with reference to British peoples until 1707), and Strabo implicitly stated that the Britons were not Celts (IV.5.1-2). Of course, the meaning of the word may have changed in the centuries between Herodotus and Caesar, or the territory of the people, or both, and either author (and any of the others) could have been anywhere between slightly and wildly wrong (although Caesar's many years in Gaul must inspire a certain amount of confidence that he may have had something of a clue as to what he was talking about; certainly more confidence than Herodotus inspires), but the idea of the Celts as a pan-European people, be that understood in cultural or ethnic terms, does take a certain amount of a knock from all this, I feel.

As to the druids, I've only ever encountered them referred to as a British or Gaulish phenomenon rather than pan European (Caesar claims that druidic religion was a British export to Gaul (Gallic Wars, VI.14)), but I'm prepared to be corrected on that. Having a warrior class was hardly exceptional in the Iron Age. As to women's equal rights of inheritance and rulership, I'm not sure one can be sure that these existed over a wide area of Europe anyway. During the La Tène period, one is dealing largely with non literate societies, so niceties of their legal codes are not straightforward to work out. There are two significant female rulers found in early Roman Britain, for example, Cartamandua and Boudica, and both Tacitus and Dio say that this was a perfectly normal accourrence in Britain. But both were keen to portray Britain as a wild, barbaric place, and little would be more barbaric to a Roman audience than women being allowed a place in public life. Thus, they may have used what may have been an unusual situation of two prominent female leaders to exaggerate the role of women in usual British politics.

The fact is that the term Celtic has been attached to La Tène art, and, since 1707, to a particular group of languages, having been found in classical authors to refer to varying swathes of Europe's population. Neither fits very well with each other or with what the classical authors said. This is hardly surprising, as there is, in truth, no particular reason to associate any two of the three with each other, let alone all three together. La Tène art and Celtic languages have been called Celtic because they were thought, for various reasons, to be associated with the Celts of the ancient texts.

 
Celebaelin
182385.  Wed Jun 13, 2007 8:56 am Reply with quote

96aelw wrote:
La Tène art styles (the term Celtic is, to the best of my knowledge, usually applied to La Tène art, not Hallstatt) get called "Celtic" art (although in fact most of the images one sees popularly associated with Celticity are more Early Christian than La Tène)

The much cited J. Romilly Allen spends 161 pages, rather more than half of Celtic Art, describing pre-Christian Celtic art. Triskeles, spirals, early knots and linear geometric patterns are all common as are depictions of stylised animals such as stags.


96aelw wrote:
but there are a number of things which get called "Celtic", and each of them gives a widely differing picture of who, where or how unified "Celtic" culture was.

I didn't mean to imply the the Celts were unified, far from it they were extremely tribal with occasional outbreaks of peace but their customs and societies bore strong resemblances.

96aelw wrote:
None of these sets of evidence produces a picture which fits with that from any of the others, and the last, the classical authors, produces several different pictures on its own.

I'm surprised that you don't see the similarities in the art at least. I've not noticed any great contradictions in the descriptions I've read, there is no doubt a tendency to generalise in order to justify a single account to cover many Celtic tribes but could you be specific about the differences you're referring to? It's difficult to concede or comment without knowing precisely what you mean. Or does the paragraph that follows outline the specific in this regard? If so I don't think I'd call it greatly damaging to the concept of what we term Celtic culture as a European phenomenon. Κελτός (Celtos) comes originally from Heroditus prior to which peoples were described as being from 'the Celtic region' (κελτική) rather than being Celts. The Greeks in general were rather dismissive of foreigners and it wasn't until Pytheas circa 300BC that it was even realised that the Celtic territory extended as far as what would become known as Gaul.

96aelw wrote:
As to the druids, I've only ever encountered them referred to as a British or Gaulish phenomenon rather than pan European (Caesar claims that druidic religion was a British export to Gaul (Gallic Wars, VI.14)), but I'm prepared to be corrected on that.

I think it's likely that organised Druidic society would be easier to delineate on an island, especially if it was universal to the extent of there being a council of druids. The presence of shamans would not necessarily define a culture as Celtic in the sense (or lack thereof from some points of view) in which I intend it but I think the abscence of a tribal shaman or shamans would mean that the culture was NOT Celtic.

96aelw wrote:
Having a warrior class was hardly exceptional in the Iron Age.

But NOT having hunter-warriors and instead having a standing army, regulation weapons etc would preclude identification as a Celtic society.

96aelw wrote:
Thus, they may have used what may have been an unusual situation of two prominent female leaders to exaggerate the role of women in usual British politics.

They may have done.
Quote:
But, it must be recalled that, in a society based on class structure and frequent warfare among petty kings, there would be very little difference, if viewed from the outside, among the lives of the majority of people. It is, therefore, to the exceptions that we must look if we are to trace at least the potential and direction of the condition of women.

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The Roman historian Tacitus informs us that the Celts did not distinguish between the sexes when it came to leadership.

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But, unlike the other cultures of Europe, there is a complicated system of distinctions — nine in all — in which a woman's rights amd status are carefully defined: ranging from the first category, in which a wife is a partner who has contributed to family property, down to the last two (which are, in effect, not marriage at all) involving respectively rape and the union of two insane individuals.

Quote:
As an illustration of conditions from the highest to the lowest levels of society, it may not be unfair to offer the Roman family as typical down to the time of Christ and beyond. Ruled by the absolute will of the pater familias (the"father of the family") it was autocracy in its simplest and most immediate form. The father had complete and unquestioned control over his domicile. Wives in such circumstance neither had the vote nor (at least legally) questioned their husbands' decisions. In fact, in accordance with the principle of manus, the wife's "person and property were so completely his [i.e., the husband's] own, that he.... had the right to kill, punish, or sell her." (Seyffert, p.375.)

Source:

96aelw wrote:
La Tène art and Celtic languages have been called Celtic because they were thought, for various reasons, to be associated with the Celts of the ancient texts.

We know the Celts wouldn't have called themselves Celts, they'd have used the name of their tribe, or perhaps their leader, but that there were cultural similarities between the tribes is the point in question and I think there were.

Examples of artwork in J. Romilly Allen's book from Sweden to Italy (pre-Roman and post-Roman but not I think in between) and from Ireland to Denmark show a stylistic commonality that places them in a category separate to the artwork of the Ancient and Medieval establishment which was either concerned with historical record or religious matters. The artwork of the Celts (albeit that the Celtic Christian church adopted it for illuminations prior to being subsumed within the Roman Catholic church) is not concerned with State in any way, of itself it serves no king or specific deity. My feeling is that it is 'organic', intimately associated with nature and its complexity, and the fact that this lends itself to use in production of intricate designs 'to the glory of God' in the book of Kells and other texts is co-incidental to the origins of the artform. Until recently the rustic and seemingly abstract nature of Celtic forms discounted it from oh, hang on, I'm getting off subject a bit aren't I?

<E> Grammar, spelling, sense!


Last edited by Celebaelin on Mon Nov 08, 2010 12:27 pm; edited 3 times in total

 
96aelw
182424.  Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:13 am Reply with quote

It's gonna be another long one, folks. Sorry.

96aelw wrote:
(although in fact most of the images one sees popularly associated with Celticity are more Early Christian than La Tène)

Celebaelin wrote:
The much cited J. Romilly Allen spend 161 pages, rather more than half of Celtic Art, describing pre-Christian Celtic art.


Indeed. By popularly associated I meant in popular culture generally, not in much cited tomes. Say "Celtic Art" to the man on the Clapham Omnibus and you'll get some bloody funny looks, but the image he'll be thinking of will, 9 times out of 10, be more Book of Kells than Gundestrup Cauldron.

Celebaelin wrote:
96aelw wrote:
but there are a number of things which get called "Celtic", and each of them gives a widely differing picture of who, where or how unified "Celtic" culture was.

I didn't mean to imply the the Celts were unified


And I didn't mean to imply that you meant to imply that they were. Sorry. But other people do mean to so imply (or explicitly state). I was also just saying that looking at different sorts of evidence gives different impressions of just how unified they weren't.

Celebaelin wrote:
96aelw wrote:
None of these sets of evidence produces a picture which fits with that from any of the others, and the last, the classical authors, produces several different pictures on its own.

I'm surprised that you don't see the similarities in the art at least. I've not noticed any great contradictions in the descriptions I've read but there is no doubt a tendency to generalise in order to justify a single account to cover many Celtic tribes but could you be specific about the differences you're referring to? It's difficult to concede or comment without knowing precisely what you mean. Or does the paragraph that follows outline the specific in this regard?


It was supposed to, yes. My point was not that there are no similarities within La Tène art styles, but rather that the geographical extent of "Celtic culture" that artistic evidence suggests may have been the case does not fit well with the geographical extents that emerge from the linguistic evidence, or from the literary evidence.

Celebaelin wrote:
If so I don't think I'd call it greatly damaging to the concept of what we term Celtic culture as a European phenomenon. Κελτός (Celtos) comes originally from Heroditus prior to which peoples were described as being from 'the Celtic region' (κελτική) rather than being Celts. The Greeks in general were rather dismissive of foreigners and it wasn't until Pytheas circa 300BC that it was even realised that the Celtic territory extended as far as what would become known as Gaul.


I'm afraid now it is I who am baffled. I don't see the relevance of all this. My point is that the people that classical authors called Celts, the people who spoke languages now referred to as Celtic and the people who used La Tène art seem do not neatly coincide; there are considerable anomalies where these three sets of evidence do not fit together. If they are all describing the same people, or even the same broadly culturally similar people, this is a problem. I think the neatest solution is that they are not describing the same people, or even the same broadly culturally similar people.

Celebaelin wrote:
96aelw wrote:
Having a warrior class was hardly exceptional in the Iron Age.

But NOT having hunter-warriors and instead having a standing army, regulation weapons etc would preclude identification as a Celtic society.


So, at that juncture in European (pre)history, that'll be the Romans, er, and... the Romans, definitely...and... that's pretty much it, actually.The point under discussion, in any case, is surely whether or not there was anything that can meaningfully be called a single culture, not how to identify a "Celtic culture" whose existence is presupposed. The lack of a standing army is not distinctive enough to be meaningfully cited as evidence of a common culture in each of the many societies in which it can be shown to have occurred.

Quote:
The Roman historian Tacitus informs us that the Celts did not distinguish between the sexes when it came to leadership.


No he doesn't. He informs us that the Britons made no distinction between the sexes when it came to leadership, which is a rather different matter. Even if it can be shown that this is no exaggeration, it hardly allows us to make any deductions about a pan-European culture. And that's even without the fact that, whatever they meant by 'Celts', the classical authors are united in implying or stating that they didn't live in Britain. All the other stuff you've quoted is, if I've read the source a-right, Irish material. This has the same problems; it only relates to one place, and can't show in and of itself show that similar attitudes were prevalent over a wider area, and there weren't any Celts in Ireland anyway.

Celebaelin wrote:
We know the Celts wouldn't have called themselves Celts, they'd have used the name of their tribe, or perhaps their leader, but that there were cultural similarities between the tribes is the point in question and I think there were.


Julius Caesar (only he said it in Latin, obviously) wrote:
Gaul is divided into three parts. The Belgae live in one, the Aquitani in another, and a people who are called Celts in their own language, but Gauls in ours, in the third


One can have more than one identity, after all. I'd happily call myself a Londoner, English and British, and, if these cultural similarities did exist, I see no reason why someone shouldn't have thought of himself as one of the Bituriges and a Celt. But the existence of these similarities is indeed the point, and I just don't see the evidence for it.

Congratulations to anyone who's still reading.

 
Celebaelin
182453.  Wed Jun 13, 2007 12:14 pm Reply with quote

96aelw wrote:
My point was not that there are no similarities within La Tène art styles, but rather that the geographical extent of "Celtic culture" that artistic evidence suggests may have been the case does not fit well with the geographical extents that emerge from the linguistic evidence, or from the literary evidence.

Well, La Tène is a label which we give and is descriptive of the style of design so the whole point is that if it looks like that its La Tène. Linguistic diversity does not deny cultural commonality surely? For one thing artistic depictions transcend language and allow communication of ideas by other means. I'm not sure I mentioned this explicitly before but if Celtic culture spread because of the communication of ideas rather than the migration of peoples there doesn't need to be a correlation between the different aspects of identifiable Celtic culture. There are no rules you have to conform to to be a Celt (whatever one of those is) but there is a core set of behaviours, attitudes and concepts which can be seen as 'Celtic'. Language, art, genetic diversity and social structure all change and evolve under the influence of time and geography. Hallstatt culture is earlier and it feels more primative, the totemistic depiction of animals with some decoration and simpler abstract designs but you can see the progression into the La Tène and thence into the almost psychadelic illuminations of Celtic Christianity.

96aelw wrote:
My point is that the people that classical authors called Celts, the people who spoke languages now referred to as Celtic and the people who used La Tène art seem do not neatly coincide; there are considerable anomalies where these three sets of evidence do not fit together. If they are all describing the same people, or even the same broadly culturally similar people, this is a problem. I think the neatest solution is that they are not describing the same people, or even the same broadly culturally similar people.

Not if you consider that the historical period in which the various aspects were prevalent was different. The practice of language or art or tradition will all change at differing rates not only to each other but also at diffing rates in different places and at different points in history. A good match up is hardly to be expected (it would be handy though).

We've more or less agreed that 'Celt' and 'Celtic' have no real meaning except to allow one word to be used as a convention instead of the many necessary to accurately describe what we mean, eg a loose affiliation of primarily Northern European, non-mediterranean tribes with societal similarities. I think of it as a sort of Venn diagram with individual tribes (in ancient terms) or regions being subsets of the larger 'Celts' set.

96aelw wrote:
Celebaelin wrote:
But NOT having hunter-warriors and instead having a standing army, regulation weapons etc would preclude identification as a Celtic society.

So, at that juncture in European (pre)history, that'll be the Romans, er, and... the Romans, definitely...and... that's pretty much it, actually.

Er, yes, except many of the Greek city states had something similar, although not an actual standing army the equipment was standard and it was recognisably an army rather than essentially a horde; similarly for the Egyptians, Persians, Carthaginians... but many of the cultures of course did not that's because they were Celts ; ).

Quote:
The Roman historian Tacitus informs us that the Celts did not distinguish between the sexes when it came to leadership.

I guess you've read Tacitus then! Write a stiff letter to the good Doctor and give him a ticking-off for misquoting his sources.

96aelw wrote:
All the other stuff you've quoted is, if I've read the source a-right, Irish material. This has the same problems; it only relates to one place, and can't show in and of itself show that similar attitudes were prevalent over a wider area, and there weren't any Celts in Ireland anyway.

I think the author is intending to establish a proposition but I don't think you can discount what he referrences, he says does he not that the Irish material is the most productive, presumably because the peoples under discussion were steeped deeply in oral tradition rather than the literate traditions of Classical societies.

96aelw wrote:
[Congratulations to anyone who's still reading.

Thanks! And thanks for your input.

This is worth a quick look
Quote:
Who were the Celts, really?
What do we really know about the "Celts"?
How do you define Celtic "culture"?
To what extent, if any, was Celtic culture matricentric?

http://www.goddessmystic.com/PathActivities/MatricentricCultures/celtic-history.shtml

As is this
History & Meaning In Celtic Art
http://www.aon-celtic.com/trade_history_meanings.html

<E> (Since)


Last edited by Celebaelin on Mon Oct 26, 2009 4:31 pm; edited 2 times in total

 
Jenny
182552.  Wed Jun 13, 2007 4:39 pm Reply with quote

I love the posters on this website!

 
96aelw
182563.  Wed Jun 13, 2007 5:47 pm Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
Well, La Tène is a label which we give and is descriptive of the style of design so the whole point is that if it looks like that its La Tène.


Absolutely. I have not sought, at any juncture in all this, to say what should or should not be classed as La Tène, or to say anything about those styles in and of themselves, honestly I haven't. Clearly I have been insufficiently clear about this, for which I apologise. Apart from anything else, I know my limits. Classical texts, yes, which objects have been found where, yes if I look it up, detailed stylistic discussions of artistic trends, best try somebody else first. All I meant by the bit in reply to which you posted the above (still with me?) was the point which you address below, that a definition of where "Celtic culture" happened arrived at purely on the basis of this material evidence will be geographically different from a definition arrived at purely from the linguistic evidence, and different again from those arrived at from the literary evidence. That's all.

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Linguistic diversity does not deny cultural commonality surely?


Indeed not. There are those, however, who argue that the Celts must been a single people, because they used a single language family, and it is largely against them that I would point out the consequent anomalies, such as the Celtic speakers of Spain who lacked what these same people would call Celtic art (as well as repeating the point made by I think either John Collis or Colin Renfrew (one of the people on my reading list who put jokes in their articles, and whose stuff I therefore was much more prepared to be convinced by) that Israelis and Arabs speak members of the same language family). To be honest, there are times in all this when I may have strayed into disagreeing with points you haven't made, but which other people annoy me with. That nice Terry Deary in his Horrible Histories book "The Cut Throat Celts", I was shocked to discover, is one of many people still peddling the idea that the Celts were somehow a single people; he even claims they spoke a single language across all of Europe, rather than a single language family, which is, as anyone trying to speak Latin to a Frenchman will tell you, an important distinction to fail to notice. I may not have always adapted my essay of several months ago (of which a page is now missing) perfectly to the current situation. Heigh ho.

Quote:
I'm not sure I mentioned this explicitly before but if Celtic culture spread because of the communication of ideas rather than the migration of peoples there doesn't need to be a correlation between the different aspects of identifiable Celtic culture. There are no rules you have to conform to to be a Celt (whatever one of those is) but there is a core set of behaviours, attitudes and concepts which can be seen as 'Celtic'.


Right, with you. Trouble is, I don't think that this looser understanding of "Celtic" culture is really unified enough to warrant being a single label, be it "Celtic" or otherwise.

Celebaelin wrote:
96aelw wrote:
My point is that the people that classical authors called Celts, the people who spoke languages now referred to as Celtic and the people who used La Tène art seem do not neatly coincide; there are considerable anomalies where these three sets of evidence do not fit together. If they are all describing the same people, or even the same broadly culturally similar people, this is a problem. I think the neatest solution is that they are not describing the same people, or even the same broadly culturally similar people.

Not if you consider that the historical period in which the various aspects were prevalent was different. The practice of language or art or tradition will all change at differing rates not only to each other but also at diffing rates in different places and at different points in history. A good match up is hardly to be expected (it would be handy though).


But differing rates can't take care of all the anomalies. The Gundestrup Cauldron is reckoned to have been manufactured in Dacia or Thrace, which didn't aquire Celtic languages later than other parts of Europe, they never got them at all. Similarly, Celtiberian Spain didn't get La Tène art later than other Celtic speaking areas, they didn't get it at all, and Britons weren't referred to in literary sources as Celts later than other peoples, they weren't referred to as such at all (well, not until 1707, anyway, and even then only by a Welshman with a political axe to grind, so it doesn't really count). It's not that the match up isn't good, it's that it is, in these and other places, completely dysfunctional. In any case, I think there does need to be a correlation between different aspects of "Celtic culture", otherwise it doesn't, to my mind, warrant a single label at all.

Quote:
Since we've more or less agreed that 'Celt' and 'Celtic' have no real meaning except to allow one word to be used as a convention instead of the many necessary to accurately describe what we mean, eg a loose affiliation of primarily Northern European, non-mediterranean tribes with societal similarities. I think of it as a sort of Venn diagram with individual tribes (in ancient terms) or regions being subsets of the larger 'Celts' set.


An unhelpful convention, though, in my view. Many terms are indeed necessary to describe what was going on accurately; the flip side of that, I think, is that using a single term like "Celtic" is innaccurate. I also still can't accept that even this loose affiliation is supported by the evidence, or even, to a meaningful extent, the societal similarities. I think of it as various individual tribes with a certain amount, sometimes linguistically, sometimes artistically, sometimes both, that bore similarities to those same aspects of other tribes, but without being subsets of anything larger.

Celebaelin wrote:
96aelw wrote:
Celebaelin wrote:
But NOT having hunter-warriors and instead having a standing army, regulation weapons etc would preclude identification as a Celtic society.

So, at that juncture in European (pre)history, that'll be the Romans, er, and... the Romans, definitely...and... that's pretty much it, actually.

Er, yes, except many of the Greek city states had something similar, although not an actual standing army the equipment was standard and it was recognisably an army rather than essentially a horde; similarly for the Egyptians, Persians, Carthaginians... but many of the cultures of course did not that's because they were Celts ; ).


Would we say many? Sparta, yes, but I can think of no other standing armies in Greece. You are of course right to point out I pitched the case too strong; standardly equipped armies were a feature of the places you mention (although I confined myself to Europe, so Egyptians, Persians and possibly Carthaginians I can be excused not having mentioned...please?). However, the basic distinction that emerges here is between urbanised and non urbanised societies, and here your smaller point breaks down, I fear. Many non urbanised cultures of that time did not have such armies, but would be considered to be Celts by nobody; Thracians, Dacians, Scythians, various German tribes, various Scandinavian tribes, and so on.

Quote:
I guess you've read Tacitus then! Write a stiff letter to the good Doctor and give him a ticking-off for misquoting his sources.


I've a good mind to. On cardboard.

Quote:
I think the author is intending to establish a proposition but I don't think you can discount what he referrences, he says does he not that the Irish material is the most productive, presumably because the peoples under discussion were steeped deeply in oral tradition rather than the literate traditions of Classical societies.


I wouldn't seek to discount it, and its use is fair enough in the context of the original article. I just felt like pointing out that it does only tell us about Irish society, and can't be used on its own to say anything about the nature of "Celtic societies" as a whole without caution. Of course, there is the problem both you and he identify, that if an imperfect sample is al the evidence you've got, then you have lttle choice but to make the best of it. As I've found, studying classics and archaeology, where perfect samples are thin on the ground.

So, yeah, esentially I still think that the term Celtic is inevitably either innaccurate, if it is used to suggest a level of similarity between the various people siad to be Celtic that the evidence can't support, or effectively meaningless if it isn't. There's geographical formulations that can describe large areas of Europe without implying societal links for which we lack evidence. As I say, this is partly rehashed from an essay I wrote in February, and I haven't looked at any of this since then (or hadn't until this discussion came along), so apologies for imperfections. Thanks for your input also (all getting a bit sickening, really, isn't it); I thought I might be able to get away with the original one liner and no more revision, for a bit, curse you.

Jenny wrote:
I love the posters on this website!


Too kind, ma'am. We love us too.

 
Celebaelin
182575.  Wed Jun 13, 2007 6:50 pm Reply with quote

96aelw wrote:
But differing rates can't take care of all the anomalies. The Gundestrup Cauldron is reckoned to have been manufactured in Dacia or Thrace, which didn't aquire Celtic languages later than other parts of Europe, they never got them at all. Similarly, Celtiberian Spain didn't get La Tène art later than other Celtic speaking areas, they didn't get it at all, and Britons weren't referred to in literary sources as Celts later than other peoples, they weren't referred to as such at all

Strange that you should mention Dacia, I was thinking about Dacia and Dalmatia and trying to decide whether I thought they were Celtic or non-Celtic on the warrior band vs army criterion. Internally I think I settled on Celtic but was too lazy to attempt any research to support that so omitted to mention them.

I shall now correct this.

Quote:
Centered in what is now modern Romania and Transylvania, Dacia was a prosperous nation tracing its roots to the 7th century BC, whose mixed populace was comprised of northern Thracians, (Greek "Gatae" or Roman "Das", presumeably of Skythian descent), Germanic and Celtic tribes and settled nomadic horsemen such as the Rhoxolani Sarmatian. Unlike their barbarian neighbors to the north, the Dacians evolved a well-organized society centered around defensive strongholds (oppida), which quickly evolved into cities such as their capital Sarmizegethusa.

http://www.fanaticus.org/DBA/armies/dba68.html

So, Celtic and Greek influences, a sort of halfway house as you might expect. Perhaps rather more urban than tribal in fairness with aquaducts and the such like. Roman influence I guess.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dacia#Culture

The Illyrians and Dalmatians were definitely tribal 'Celtic' peoples. I've looked this up before although I find sources difficult to trace now I come to look for them again.

Quote:
A stag-horned large human figure grasping a ram-horned snake in one hand and a torc in the other. There is a torc around his neck, and he is sitting in a cross-legged position. There is a stag and other animals that are shown in his company. (Green: 109) The horned figure may reflect the use of tantric yoga in Dacia and Samartia during the time of manufacture. (Cunliffe: 400) Similar figures from this time are found in Moldavia and the Don basin. (Cunliffe: 400)

http://www.shadowdrake.com/gundestrup.html

Horned God, torc, (ram-horned) snakes = 'Celtic'! Dacian Celtic in all probability but you can't deny the common ground with tribes further North, or even in Britain come to that, or can you?

96aelw wrote:
Would we say many? Sparta, yes, but I can think of no other standing armies in Greece.

Athens certainly (not a standing army as such but within my outline) and the Macedonians of course. I felt justified in straying outside Europe as we define it today because they were all Mediterranean cultures.

To avoid the sickening level of agreement I think I'll point out that your assertion that
96aelw wrote:
Many non urbanised cultures of that time did not have such armies, but would be considered to be Celts by nobody; Thracians, Dacians, Scythians, various German tribes, various Scandinavian tribes, and so on.

is not strictly true, it seems I am not alone in considering the Dacians to have Celtic affiliations although as you imply they are not the textbook version Celtic model. I would also classify the German tribes as Celtic although I'd draw the line at the Scandinavians despite the occurrence of commonalities in the artwork. The Sarmatians exhibit some Celtic elements in their art IMO with considerable Classical and Persian influence but I'd not extend this to cover the Parthians or Scythians. I am however increasingly inclined to broaden my definition of Celtic whereas you are inclined to reject the concept of there even being such a thing as Celtic irrespective of the acceptance that it is an artificial classification used for convenience. It's a denomonational schism that I fear cannot be resolved!

Jenny wrote:
I love the posters on this website!

Honoured ma'am.

 
Celebaelin
629947.  Mon Oct 26, 2009 4:45 pm Reply with quote

As an adjunct to this thread the suggestion that the historical grain of truth behind the legend of Bran the Blessed comes from the Pannonian invasion of Greece in 281 BCE tends to imply that there were common elements of culture and/or tribal history between essentially La Tène period Hungary and Mid-Wales.

post 629783
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bran_the_Blessed

<E> Pannonian, La Tène


Last edited by Celebaelin on Mon Nov 08, 2010 12:32 pm; edited 3 times in total

 
Posital
629983.  Mon Oct 26, 2009 6:30 pm Reply with quote

Is this the same bran whose talking head was buried in a cauldron under the white tower in london, and is the reason why ravens hang around there (not clipped wings, obviously) - and britain isn't invaded?

Checks link - oh, it is...

 
Celebaelin
948589.  Thu Nov 01, 2012 11:07 am Reply with quote

Re-reading the Halloween thread has lead me to link to post 638268 in which I pointed out a commonality in the legends of Ireland and Wales in at least one regard ie between The Adventures of Nera and the tale of Pwyll, King of Annwn. This is unusual frankly, in fact it is the only shared element in the recorded myths of those two nations on the Western edge of Europe that I have found so far; at least there is some commonality however.

 

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