Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Celtic Warriors and Celtic Feasts

From Ancient History:

Another problem with any study of the Celts is the lack of written sources produced by themselves. These largely illiterate tribes stored and passed on their culture orally, especially through learned druids. Consequently, besides scarce short inscriptions and the physical finds of archaeology, we must rely on Greco-Roman writers for much of the details of Celtic warfare and life in general. Naturally, the Romans were the ultimate victors and so sources like Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars may be invaluable but they were not designed to record Celtic culture for posterity. Nor were these classical writers free from bias, misunderstanding and perpetuating stereotypes. When the 1st-century BCE writer Strabo noted of the Celts that "the whole race…is madly fond of war, high-spirited and quick to battle" (in Cunliffe, 213), was he accurately depicting an enemy or making the warriors of his own culture seem even more successful for conquering such a valiant foe? Nevertheless, classical authors are invaluable, and the Celts were well-known to them not only as an enemy but also later as mercenaries in Punic, Greek and Roman armies. (Read more.)

Also from Ancient History:

Feasts were an important part of ancient Celtic culture, and items used in them such as spits, cauldrons, and flagons have been excavated from burial sites across Europe. These finds of feast paraphernalia date from the 12th century BCE and into the period of the Roman Empire. Celtic feasts were held to commemorate and celebrate important dates in the religious calendar and to celebrate community successes such as building new defences or constructing a new building. A famous secular feast was the Feast of Tara (feis Temro), held from antiquity to the 6th century CE to celebrate the inauguration of a new Irish High King at Tara in County Meath. Feasts might also celebrate marriages, victories in war, and successful raids against rival neighbouring tribes or commiserate relatives when a loved one had passed to the Otherworld. (Read more.)


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