Celtic Mythology - Remnants of Gaulish and Other Mythology

Remnants of Gaulish and Other Mythology

The Celts also worshipped a number of deities of which we know little more than their names. Classical writers preserve a few fragments of legends or myths that may possibly be Celtic.

According to the Syrian rhetorician Lucian, Ogmios was supposed to lead a band of men chained by their ears to his tongue as a symbol of the strength of his eloquence.

The Roman poet Lucan (1st century AD) mentions the gods Taranis, Teutates and Esus, but there is little Celtic evidence that these were important deities.

A number of objets d'art, coins, and altars may depict scenes from lost myths, such as the representations of Tarvos Trigaranus or of an equestrian ‘Jupiter’ surmounting a snake-legged human-like figure. The Gundestrup cauldron has been also interpreted mythically.

Along with dedications giving us god names, there are also deity representations to which no name has yet been attached. Among these are images of a three headed or three faced god, a squatting god, a god with a snake, a god with a wheel, and a horseman with a kneeling giant. Some of these images can be found in Late Bronze Age peat bogs in Britain, indicating the symbols were both pre-Roman and widely spread across Celtic culture. The distribution of some of the images has been mapped and shows a pattern of central concentration of an image along with a wide scatter indicating these images were most likely attached to specific tribes and were distributed from some central point of tribal concentration outward along lines of trade. The image of the three headed god has a central concentration among the Belgae, between the Oise, Marne and Moselle rivers. The horseman with kneeling giant is centered on either side of the Rhine. These examples seem to indicate regional preferences of a common image stock.

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