Celts - How do you define a people?

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Re: Celts - How do you define a people?

Postby kerstin on Thu May 15, 2008 8:42 pm

The celts are already mentioned by the Greeks. Besides raiding Rome in 399 bc and Delphi 279 bc, celtic tribes also traided with the Greek world.

In the 4th century bc the celts were defined as "greek friendly" (Philhéllenes) by the historian Ephoros of Kyme. He was followed by an unknown author who described the European coasts, stressing the imitations of Greek habits by the celts and their friendly relations to the Greeks (Periplus Europae 183 ff.). This positive evaluation of the relationship between celts and greeks was probably based on now lost sources of the 6th century bc pointing out the good understanding of the greek colony Massalia (now Marseille) and the celts in south gaul.
But the greek image of the celts changed drastically in the 3rd century bc at the latest. Aristotels already described them as inordinate and uncontrollable in the 4th century bc (Eudemic Ethis 1229b 25-30 or Politeia 1327b 23-27). His teacher Platon condemned their alcoholism (Laws 1,637d). The poet Kallimachos characterized them in the 3rd century bc as "later born titans" which means enemies of the Greek goods (Hymnos at Delos 171ff), and an epigramm of Anthologica Graeca (7492) castigated their "outrageous mischief, disrespecting any law". Crucial for this change in evaluation of the celts were the celtic raids on the balkan peninsula and in Greece, and also the deployment of celtic mercenaries in warfare between peoples of the mediterranian. In the the 5th and 4th centuries bc celtic tribes advanced into settlement areas of venetian and illyrian tribes at the upper Adria and at Balkan. The tryrant Dionysios I. of Syrakus seeked their support when he attact the rich Italian trading towns (upper Adria) during his war with Carthago 386 bc. When Dionysios helped Sparta against (greek) Theben with his own troups in 369 bc, he also had celtic mercenaries. They also played an important role in the wars between Carthago and Syrakus on both parts during the following decades and were deployed for the first time against the city of Carthago by the tyrant Agathokles of Syrakus at his north african invasion 410-307 bc. Alexander the Great was seeking an agreement with the celts, too, during his balkan campaign, as Strabon tells us under reference of one of Alexander's important commanders.


Is this somewhat understandable? I can bore you with the German original if you want. Taken from "Die Kelten - Ihre Geschichte von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart" by Bernhard Maier. This book was the fastest to take out of our shelves. We do have some more references in our books about the Greeks, I think.
And let's not forget about the epistols of Paulus to what we call in German the "Gallater" living in Anatolia or Galicia (regions in Turkey).

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Re: Celts - How do you define a people?

Postby Nerva on Thu May 15, 2008 9:08 pm

Good lord Annie :shock: I'm going to have to dig out my edition of the conquest of Gaul. I'm not doubting you in the slighest, I'm just suprised as it sounds more like his [Caesar] description of the Germans. Now though, I have to pull you up on a serious point :o No, not your extension of the good charistics of the interior Britans to the Irish, but rather the obvious misinterpretation of the fack that the Kents are civilised :lol: :lol: :lol: Please don't encourage him, I have to put up with the consequences :roll:
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Re: Celts - How do you define a people?

Postby RecycledViking on Thu May 15, 2008 9:23 pm

It could just be coincidence...really! :D
I "cheated" and got that particular quote from The Celtic Heroic Age by John Koch and John Carey. Basically, the authors said, "Hey, let's put anything we can find on the 'Celts' and re-translate it with some friends and put it into one book that basically p0wns anything ever put together about the Celts before!!"
Carey is a professor of mine and he's totally of the translating-old-Irish-is-a-fun-Friday-night variety. It's a great source, though not exhaustive, and the modern translations are an enjoyable read.
'I think Yank, but maybe Æsir'
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Re: Celts - How do you define a people?

Postby the_power on Fri May 16, 2008 7:51 am

Some of the works I've read on early Irish seem to indicate a belief in a Common Celtic Language around 1000BCE, so certainly there could have been an aristocratic upper class who swept out of central europe and embedded themselves either culturally or militarily at the top of the social structures of much of Europe. After that, they seemed to break up again into their own languages and subcultures that kept getting more & more different.

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Re: Celts - How do you define a people?

Postby carraig on Fri May 16, 2008 1:26 pm

I totally agree with Billy's point of view. It's just to complicated to give one single answer to the question.
As to using the word 'Celt', apart from the greek word, that probably gave origin to the term, there's the famous part of Caesar's Commentarium Belli Gallici speaking about a part of Gaul inhabited by those who "In their language are called the Celts, while in ours - Gauls". Perhaps a mistake made by Caesar, perhaps not.

As to modern use of the term - I use it when speaking of Iron Age people only when I can't specifically name a group (like Gauls or Galatians). It's just easier for example to say: "Invented by Celts" than "Invented by an Indo-European group sharing some material and religious culture, who inhabited most of Northern Europe blah blah blah".
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Re: Celts - How do you define a people?

Postby Freebeard on Fri May 16, 2008 6:26 pm

carraig wrote:"In their language are called the Celts, while in ours - Gauls". Perhaps a mistake made by Caesar, perhaps not".


i read an article not too long ago for an exam i had on this topic, and it mentioned that there might be a chance that alot of Caeser's work might have in fact been copied form earlier historians. this sentence was on of the examples of that, saying that perhaps caeser mentions that they call themselves "Celts" merely because earlier more popular historians who had possibly mistaken it from a greek source mentions it, and Caeser was going with the flow to get "in there" so to speak as a history. it also mentions that many other historians used the same methods, in order to make it look like that because his work also mentions something that another famous work does, it not only ups his own work, and himself but gives it a bit more authority.

now this could be taken as piffle. i can't remember the author or the exact title of the article, but i have it written down in notes somewhere (possibly lining the floor of my room at the moment, or in the ton of notes from other years) but i'll find it and put up the title.
as i said, this can be take n any way you want, but i'll look into it a bit more and try and get it up here anyway

has anyone else heard of this argument too?
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Re: Celts - How do you define a people?

Postby carraig on Sat May 17, 2008 9:19 am

I'm not familiar with this article, but the general theory it presents is something I've heard before.

Caesar is a bit tricky source, as some of the tribes he mentions seem to be named with Latin "nicknames" rather than their true tribal names. At least that's the theory. For instance Remi is a tribe from which Caesar recruited oarsmen when trying to invade Albion. The funny thing is that Latin remus, remigius and remigo are all words connected with oars and oarsmen. There's many other such examples, however it's still a pure guess made by Classics scholars.
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Re: Celts - How do you define a people?

Postby Joze Noriker on Thu Dec 10, 2009 12:19 pm

Hy! Interesting theme! I speak usually about continental Celts (the "real" celtic culture of Hallstatt and La Tene time) and about Ireland iron age&isle celtic culture - but this topic are different historic-cultural times.

That's why i wrote my coments here:
http://livinghistory.ie/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=934

And, seems the term "Celts&celtic" is very controverse, here:
http://ls.berkeley.edu/dept/celtic/index.html

http://pybertra.free.fr/ceol/links.htm

http://www.celticmp3s.com/things_celtic ... Directory/

http://topsites.celticradio.net/index.php#

http://www.standingstones.com/celtmusic.html#offsite

http://www.festival-interceltique.com/

Very interesting, the same site of festival, here:
http://www.festival-interceltique.com/l ... tie_an.php :mrgreen:

The festival called also as "L'Heritage des Celtes" - i am inetested, if there the players use also the authentical iron age = celtic music instruments ..... here: http://www.worldmusic.de/bbb/diverses/abbh/Fil96.html

Regards, Joze
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Re: Celts - How do you define a people?

Postby Celtchar on Sat Jan 08, 2011 4:50 am

Celtic is a convenient blanket term (that also brings to mind cheap "Celtic" jewelry and plastic paddy crap) the labels Gaelic (Irish, Scots and Manx) and Brythonic (Welsh, Bretons and Cornish) are more accurate.
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Re: Celts - How do you define a people?

Postby Celtchar on Sat Jan 08, 2011 11:07 am

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