Caesar's comments on Celts(?)

Caesar's comments on Celts(?)

Recall reading somewhere a description by Julius Caesar of the Celts(?) as being fast talking, often through gestures and half words. And often saying the opposite of what was intended. Like to find the exact quote and reference to that passage.

I think you're recalling a passage from Diodorus Siculus' The Library of History, Book V:

31 1 The Gauls are terrifying in aspect and their voices are deep and altogether harsh; when they meet together they converse with few words and in riddles, hinting darkly at things for the most part and using one word when they mean another; and they like to talk in superlatives, to the end that they may extol themselves and depreciate all other men.

Or else the enigmatical language of Druids in Diogenes Laertius' Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, which I've seen translated as riddles before:

§5. But they who say that philosophy had its rise among the barbarians, give also an account of the different systems prevailing among the various tribes. And they say that the Gymnosophists and the Druids philosophize, delivering their apophthegmns in enigmatical language, bidding men worship the gods and do no evil, and practise manly virtue.

Julius Cæsar’s Description of the Britons 1

Cæsar with his usual keenness observed the Britons and made inquiries about them at the same time that he was carrying on war with them. The results of his investigations as he gives them in his narrative, incorrect as some of his statements probably are, furnish us our first satisfactory information concerning the inhabitants of the island of Britain.

11. Cæsar’s
of the
Britons The inland portions of Britain are inhabited by those who themselves say that according to tradition they are natives of the soil the coast regions are peopled by those who crossed from Belgium for the purpose of making war. Almost all of these are called by the names of those states from which they are descended and from which they came hither. After they had waged war they remained there and began to cultivate the soil. The island has a large population, with many buildings constructed after the fashion of the Gauls, and abounds in flocks. For money they use either gold coins or bars of iron of a certain weight. Tin is found in the inland regions, iron on the seacoast but the latter is not plentiful. They use imported bronze. All kinds of wood are found here, as in Gaul, except the beech and fir trees. They consider it contrary to divine law to eat the hare, the chicken, or the goose. They raise these, however, for their own amusement and pleasure. The climate is more temperate than in Gaul, since there are fewer periods of cold. . . .

By far the most civilized are those who dwell in Kent. Their entire country borders on the sea, and they do not differ much from the Gauls in customs. Very many who dwell farther inland do not sow grain but live on milk and flesh, clothing themselves in skins. All the Britons paint themselves with woad, which produces a dark blue color and for this reason they are much more frightful in appearance in battle. They permit their hair to grow long, shaving all parts of the body except the head and the upper lip. Ten and twelve have wives 16 common among them, especially brothers with brothers and parents with children if any children are born they are considered as belonging to those men to whom the maiden was first married. . . .

from chariots This is their manner of fighting from chariots. At first the charioteers ride in all directions, usually throwing the ranks into confusion by the very terror caused by the horses, as well as the noise of the wheels then as soon as they have come between the squads of horsemen, they leap from the chariots and fight on foot. The drivers of the chariots then withdraw a little from the battle and place the chariots together, so that if the warriors are hard pressed by the number of the enemy, they have a safe retreat to their own. Their horsemen possess such activity and their foot soldiers such steadfastness in battle and they accomplish so much by daily training that on steep and even precipitous ground they are accustomed to check their excited horses, to control and turn them about quickly, to run out on the pole, to stand on the yoke, and then swiftly to return to the chariot.

Celtic Strategy Against Caesar in his Conquest there.

I’m reading Caesar’s Gallic Wars for the first time. I am seriously enjoying it and it reads to me as an exciting narrative, rather than a history book, which is fun. Anyways, multiple times Caesar explains how his Gallic enemies continuously get outsmarted by himself and his allies, such as Labienus. He explains that they’re willing to fight on unfavorable terrain, and that they’re lured there by Roman strategy.

Is this part of his marketing of Roman intellectual superiority, or were the Gauls seriously lacking in any sort of “Hellenic/Latin” military strategy? I can’t tell if he’s downplaying their intelligence, or if they really didn’t care about any sort of military strategy when facing Rome. Some of these numbers he puts out seem almost unbelievable. Achieving victory with 7,000 against 60,000 for instance.

1.) it is entertaining because it is a narrative. Caesar entertains the people of Rome with his exploits. They were never meant to be just a serious historic account.

2.) the numbers are not realistic. They are most likely exaggerated on purpose.

3.) German and Celtic strategy and tactics were no match for Rome at that point, but they were not oblivious to it. For one, you need to take into account how they were organized. The leadership structure, dynamic and army organisation was very different from the well defined, disciplined and drilled Roman system. That limits your options from the start. Caesar touts his own horn when he mentions his brilliant battlefield genius, remember that military success was a cornerstone of political careers in Rome.

I remember reading an interesting take on one of the battle against Ariovistus. I don't recall were I read it, so I also don't know how reviewed the theory is. Both armies deployed on favorable positions. Caesar learns through spies that the Germanic omens told that they cannot win a battle until the next moon phase (or something. a couple of days). So Caesar uses that to rally his troops attacking the advantageous position of Ariovistus.
The theory I read was that Caesar needed the battle (because of supply or morale issues), but Ariovistus was very aware of his comfy position and had no reason to give it up. So Caesar possibly made up the omens to not seem desperate and to motivate his troops.
If the Germans are aware, the Gauls are as well. So claiming that they had no idea about strategy, choosing battlefields etc., is nonsense. Also, Vercingetorix uprising had some smart moves in where and how to attack.

Yes very well summarised. We can add that the celtic tribes were not used to war of this scale. Their military tradition were based on small, fast raid. Caesar described how they fight. It was more an individual tactic. The roman used the hoplite formation. And everything Caesar said is technically the truth. He couldn't lie because his books were destined to the senate and were basically military reports. He exaggerated or hid the truth with his narration. For exemple, the disastrous fort campaign in Britain or in the Alps. Those were manly failure but he managed to turn them into victories.

I love working with Caeasr, he is a gold mine of informations.

What I heard elsewhere online is that 70.000 means that the tribe hat 70.000 people. Of which 50% were man, of which 50% were in fighting age (i.e. not too young). That leaves

18000 people actually fighting, which seems much more believable considering that they were up against professional soldiers.

Roman military strategy and discipline are what won battles for them when they were vastly outnumbered.

Caesar may of course have been exaggerating, but the "barbarian" tribes mostly didn't fight as a cohesive and disciplined unit, which enabled the Romans' tactics to gain victory.

The Gallic wars is essentially a propaganda piece by Caesar to further his political career. It was written by Caesar to further his career by describing himself as successful and dominate over his enemies and the "enemies" of Rome (Caesar actually fought some allies of the Senate, hence his problems after the Gallic war). Much of what he describes in it should be taken with that in mind, that it was written by him, to describe himself as a winner and a leader, and to be presented to the people as evidence of such.

In reality. Caesar faced an extremely split people. He faced no less than twelve major tribes, and dozens of smaller ones. All of whom occupied what is today essentially France. Fragmented, with their own disputes between each other, half of the whole "divide and conquer" thing was already done for him. The whole reason his invasion even started was because of a mass migration of other Gauls (Helvetii) was displacing and causing fighting between various gallic tribes in the south. This included tribes allied to Rome, yes, many Gallic tribes in southern Gaul were allied to Rome at the time. Ostensibly to secure their cis/trans alpine area from the frequent Gallic attacks that would stream down into Italy. These allies called for Roman help, and Caesar showed up. Throughout the war he was various allied with, or fighting against, any of these tribes at any time. Including the ones that originally called for help (which landed him in hot water with the Senate, and is what spurred the calls of illegal warfare he faced after the gallic wars). He also didn't win all his battles, and narrowly escaped a potentially dangerous situation in Britain. The Gauls, for their part, didn't rally and really fight back until far too late. We all know Vercingetorix, but he essentially showed up at five minutes to midnight. Even then, he almost had Caesar on a few occasions.

This isn't to cast a shadow on Caesars victories. His prevailing at Alesia was masterful and he did "conquer" all of France in 8 years, a feat given it's size. Although, uprisings, gallic rebellion, and problems with Gaul continued for decades afterwards.

To put things in perspective as to how easy Caesar had it, his Gallic campaigns took 8 years to conquer what is essentially the region of France. In Wales, using the same type of army, same type of soldiers, and same tactics, it took 30 years.

While The Gallic Wars is an interesting read. It's a far better look into who Caesar was, rather than an encompassing look at how he won the Gallic wars.

The Hidden Secrets of Notre Dame and the Parisii of Isis

Around 250 BC, the Celts settled on the site which was to become the ancient city of Lutetia (Lutetia Parisiorum, “Lutetia of the Parisii”),’ and today is known as the city of Paris. It was named after a tribe of Celts known as the Parisii during the Roman era of the 1st to the 4th century. The Parisians (Pariasians)it had been said were the followers of Isis who was known as the chief goddess of the Greco-Egyptian empire. Hence, the Celtic Parisii came from the East and eventually settled in Gaul.

They are first mentioned in the Commentaries of Julius Caesar who dwelt in a district on the Seine in the town called Lutetia. The Greek geographer Strabo had written during the reign of Augustus Caesar that the Parisii live round about the Seine, having a city, called Lucotocia (Λουκοτοκία), on an island in the river”.

This city of Lutetia would later be renamed Paris in 360 A.D under the Roman Emperor Julian, who named it Civitas Parisiorum ‘the city of the Parisii’ in honor of the city’s original founders, the Celtic Parisii. It was here where the Parisii settled, and with them, they brought their religion and secret rites of the Goddess from the East, and where they had built a temple of Isis in which you could find a statue of Isis.

In 1163, the site of the Temple of Isis would be the location where Notre-Dame de Paris (IPA: [nɔtʁə dam də paʁi] French for “Our Lady of Paris”) would be built, and had become the “Parisian church of the kings of Europe.” The original statue of Isis was preserved in the Abbey of St. Germain until the year 1514 when the Archbishop of Meaux had it destroyed.

Modern day archaeologists confirm that this location was the first site discovered during the reign of Roman emperor Augustus (27 BC-14 AD) making it essentially a placed founded under the Roman Empire and Pax Romana, that has almost always been governed by an envoy of Caesar. During the Roman conquest of Gaul , the Parisii participated with Suessiones resistance movement to Caesar organized by Vercingetorix in 52 BC., but later they would unite with Rome. This is why it is considered the only sister city of Paris is Rome and vice-versa.

The Celtic Parisii eventually were strong allies of Rome since the time of Augustus Caesar. They had special freemen privileges under the Roman Law and considered Augustus to be a type of savior or messiah for their people. A title that they still honor to this very day.

Hence, the motto for Paris is, “Only Paris is worthy of Rome only Rome is worthy of Paris.”

However, I have found that Augustus Caesar did not condone the worship of the goddess Isis, or any Greco-Egyptian cults. They were simply forbidden in the Roman Empire during the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius. In fact, he found the cult “pornographic,” though the cult was known to proscribe periods of sexual abstinence to its adherents. Tiberius, upon hearing of a sexual scandal involving the cult, had the offenders crucified and images of Isis cast into the Tiber.

But this policy would change in 38 A.D. under the reign of Caligula who consecrated the great Roman temple in the Field of Mars to Isis Campensis. From this point forward, wherever Rome went to conquer with the Roman Eagle such as Gaul, Britain, Germany, and even here in America, the cult of the goddess Isis would replace all other deities and religions.

One of the most famous monuments of ancient Paris is the Pilier des nautes (“the pillar of the boatmen”), which was decorated with many deities such as Vulcan, Pan and the sacrificial Minos (Jupiter) bull.

The inscription reads on the Pilier des nautes


During the reign of Tiberius Caesar
Augustus, to Jupiter Best and Greatest,
the Parisian boatmen erected this from public money.

These boatmen could be called the Cretans or Phoenicians that I have connected to the island of Crete, in which I will go into further detail below and in future articles.


The origins of the Celtic Parissi may have been descended from a tribe known as the Parrhasians, a people of Arcadia. The 15th century Italian humanist and poet, John Baptist Mantuanus had said that the Parrhasians, whom Hercules led from a corner of Arcadia, came to France, where they settled and gave to the nation the name of Parisians.

The key to understanding the origins of the Parisians is that their history in Crete and Greece is shrouded in mythology, epic poems and mythical names that place a veil over the true origins and the true home of these people. A people who I have traced back to the island of Crete which was also known as Arcadia and many other names.

The town of Parrhasia is mentioned by Homer, and its antiquity may be inferred from its having been said to be founded by Lycaon, or by Pelasgus. Pelasgus is said by Apollodorus to have espoused Melibea, the daughter of Oceanus. According to Ovid, their son Lycaon was king of Arcadia, and his extreme wickedness was one principal cause of the catastrophe of the deluge. Lycaon was the father of Titanas, and Orchomenusd, whose son was the famous Minyas, the ancestor of the Argonauts.

The king Lycaon can be connected to the ancient town of Crete called Lycastus whose inhabitants of which accompanied Idomeneus to the Trojan war. The children of Idomensus were whom Homer had called the royal and warlike ‘Idomen,‘ and who we would know of today as the Judeans (Idaeans, Tribe of Judah).

Pausanias, the Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD had said ” of the sanctuary of the Mistress is Mount Lycaeus, which they also call Olympus, while others of the Arcadians name it the Sacred Peak. They say that Zeus was reared on this mountain. There is a place on Lycaeus called Cretea: it is to the left of the grove of Parrhasian Apollo, and the Arcadians maintain that the Crete where, according to the Cretan legend, Zeus was reared, is this place, and not the island of Crete.”

As I mentioned above, the ancient name of Arcadia I have found to be the holy island of Crete which I have written about numerous times on my blog, and whose people have been known by many various names such as the Cretans, Arcadians, Minoans, Philistines, Phoenicians, Gnostics, Judeans and Jews throughout history. This is the island where the King of the Gods, Zeus (Jupiter) was born and hidden in a cave on Mount Ida by his mother who is sometimes called Rhea (Venus) or Cybelle away from his vengeful father Kronos (Or Saturn).

The symbols of Cybele are, the black cube stone, meteor, crescent of Venus, cornucopia, mural crown, chariot and lions.

She is also known as the “Great Mountain Mother (Mater Idaea or Idaean Mother)”, who was often depicted in a chariot drawn by lions as if she was circling her pray. Virgil had said that the King Aeneas had ships sacred to Cybele and had decorated his ship’s prow in the representation of the sacred Mount Ida and a pair of lions. In Rome, Cybele was known as the Magna Mater.

The connection with Cybele (Rhea, Mountain Mother and Magna Mater) and Isis can be seen in the symbols of the crescent of Venus and the lion. Isis was also known to be depicted in art and on coins with lions.

The poet Virgil during the time of Augustus Caesars’ famous war campaign had written “Generous goddess of Ida, you, Mother of Gods, who take delight in Dindyma and towered towns and lions yoked in pairs, now guide me in this coming battle goddess, make this sign favorable, stride beside the Phrygian squadrons with your gracious step.”

I had written about Phrygia and the Phrygians in my article, “Meaning of Freemason.” In that article I stated the Greek word ‘Phrygians,’ Фр£ог meaning ‘free men’ and that the Phrygians came from a country that in mythology and history books was called Phrygia, and today is known as the Mediterranean island of Crete. As part of the Roman ceremonies when a slave would obtain his freedom, he had his head shaven, and then placed upon his head, the Phrygian Cap which was also known as the Cap of Liberty. The Phrygian cap was worn by the revolutionists during the Masonic French Revolution in the 18th century.

It is well-known, that on the island of Crete they had worshiped a goddess who has become known as the snake goddess. In the city of Knossos, Sir Arthur Evans had found the famous ten-inch high statuette of the “snake goddess” holding serpents in her hands with her breasts exposed. This snake goddess of Crete I believe later became Isis, and the followers of this goddess, the Parrhasians migrated from Crete to Paris and later became known as the Parisii.

The statuette dates from approximately 1600 B.C. and shows a goddess subduing the serpent which appears to be similar to other myths such as the Egyptian Fable of Isis and Typhon “Osiris and Isis lived happily together then arose the serpent Typhon, and persecuted them, especially the latter, and at length through envy destroyed Osiris, and committed his broken remains to an ark or chest.” Hence, the name of the mythological name of the Arcadians for the Cretans.

It is important to note that the Greeks had called Isis the goddess with ten thousand names or Isis Panthea (”Isis the All-Goddess”).

The goddess Isis is also well known to be seen with serpents. Here is an image of Isis now called the Metternich stele, and clearly shows Isis with serpents like the snake goddess of Crete. It dates to the thirtieth dynasty of Egypt around 380-342 B.C. during the reign of Nectanebo II . Hence, this would have been made long after the snake goddess of Crete and why I believe that the Cretans had imported this goddess into Egypt where she would be later known as Isis and not vice versa.

The Celtic Parisii may have also originated through the mythology of Helen, wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta, whose abduction by Paris caused the Trojan War. Where was Helen abducted to? Could Helen be connected with Cybele of Crete who would later become known in the Greco-Egyptian empire as Isis, and their cult moved to the West in Gaul (France) where they would settle on the Seine? A war- like people from Crete who were now known as the Celtic Parisii and who gave rise to one of the most famous cities in the world called Paris which happened to be one of the most powerful Roman allies in the West?

I think we can now say that the history, evidence, and science will prove this as a fact.


Another connection between the Parissi and the Cretans would be a special kind of stone known as limestone. The whole island of Crete is said to be one giant limestone mountain, and my theory is that these people of Crete would not just settle anywhere, but only where there was plenty of limestone to be found. These were the first true Freemasons who used mainly limestone to construct their buildings, and even the king’s famous throne on Crete that was found at Knossos was made of limestone.

The city of Paris was built on top of limestone quarries known as Paris limestone or the Parisian Lutetian limestone. Almost all the ancient buildings of Paris were also made of limestone.

Limestone was one of the most valuable commodities for these people, not only for buildings, but also for the healing properties of limestone. The Western facts are there are not a lot of areas that have an overabundance of limestone such as Paris, and this would be precisely why they had chosen this location to settle.

One interesting final note is that the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States known as the whitehouse, is also made of limestone that had to be imported from Croatia. It is well-known that the French Freemasons, or who we can call the Parisii of Isis who built Notre Dame out of limestone and much of Paris, had assisted the Americans in designing and building most of Washington D.C. They also had given the Statue of liberty as a gift to the U.S. in which the foundation of the Statue of Liberty is made of limestone.


One of the last connections I would like to mention is that we now have DNA science that can back up my theory of the origins of the Celtic Parisii. DNA that we now may be able find in both France and Paris that we can trace back how it came to France from places in the East such as Crete, Greece, Egypt and many other countries. The DNA Haplogroups I speak of is known today as the E1b1b1b2a E-M123 and E-M34 Haplogroups.

As I mentioned above, the Parisii were strong allies to Rome. I have traced the E1b1b1b2a E-M123 and E-M34 Haplogroups all around the world spread as far as west as northern France, and as far east as southwestern Russia. You will ALWAYS find this Haplogroup in the exact same locations where the Romans had ventured and/or had conquered. The only explanation for this would be that this DNA was either of Roman origins, or that these people were employed and/or enslaved by the Romans or their successors.

This DNA is said to be the founding lineages of many Semitic and Sephardic Jews, accounting for over 10% of all male lines. It is also found in individuals such as Ethiopian Jews and in arabs.

In Europe E-M123 is only observed at frequencies over 2.5% in southern Italy, in the Spanish region Extremadura (4%), and the Balearic islands of Ibiza and Minorca (average 10%). E-M123 could have been brought to the Mediterranean coasts of Europe by the Phoenicians, and to Italy by the Etruscans (from Anatolia). The Romans might have contributed to spreading it around their empire at low frequencies.(eupedia)

The French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte had belonged to these DNA Haplogroups, and also powerful people in other countries such as the chancellor Germany with Adolph Hitler, and here in the U.S with people such as 33rd-degree Freemason and President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

I’m sure these historical, DNA and Masonic connections are by no means a coincidence. Quite possibly someday soon they may be accepted as historical facts based on science and not mythology.

Text is emphasized in boldface words not in English are shown in italics words being defined for the first time (or defined in the glossary but appearing for the first time in the text) will be marked in underline.

The way in which centuries are numbered is a common source of confusion. The birth of Christ forms the beginning of the “Common Era,” a term used by some, rather than AD (Anno Domini “Year of our Lord”), for a religious-free (though still Eurocentric) chronological system. The abbreviation BCE stands for “Before Common Era” (although many people still use “BC,” which stands for “Before Christ”).

The first century BCE consists of the years 100 BCE to 1 BCE. The second century BCE consists of the years 200 BCE to 101 BCE. The year 190 BCE would be early in the second century, while the year 110 would be late. The first century AD consists of the years AD 1 to AD 99. The second century AD consists of the years AD 100 to AD 199. The year AD 110 would be early in the second century, while the year AD 190 would be late.

Sometimes it is impossible to date a person or event with precision: the symbol “x” is used to express a range of possible dates. Thus, “230 x 5” means “sometime between 230 and 235.” To express a definite range of dates, the symbol “–” is used. Thus, “230-5” means “from the year 230 to 235.”

Goddesses and divine consorts

One notable feature of Celtic sculpture is the frequent conjunction of male deity and female consort, such as “Mercury” and Rosmerta, or Sucellos and Nantosvelta. Essentially these reflect the coupling of the protecting god of tribe or nation with the mother-goddess who ensured the fertility of the land. It is in fact impossible to distinguish clearly between the individual goddesses and these mother-goddesses, matres or matronae, who figure so frequently in Celtic iconography, often, as in Irish tradition, in triadic form. Both types of goddesses are concerned with fertility and with the seasonal cycle of nature, and, on the evidence of insular tradition, both drew much of their power from the old concept of a great goddess who, like the Indian Aditi, was mother of all the gods. Welsh and Irish tradition also bring out the multifaceted character of the goddess, who in her various epiphanies or avatars assumes quite different and sometimes wholly contrasting forms and personalities. She may be the embodiment of sovereignty, youthful and beautiful in union with her rightful king, or aged and hideously ugly when lacking a fitting mate. She may be the spirit of war, like the fearsome Morrígan or the Badhbh Chatha (“Raven of Battle”), whose name is attested in its Gaulish form, Cathubodua, in Haute-Savoie, or the lovely otherworld visitor who invites the chosen hero to accompany her to the land of eternal youth. As the life-giving force she is often identified with rivers, such as the Seine (Sequana) and the Marne (Matrona) in Gaul or the Boyne (Boann) in Ireland many rivers were called simply Devona, “the Divine.”

The goddess is the Celtic reflex of the primordial mother who creates life and fruitfulness through her union with the universal father-god. Welsh and Irish tradition preserve many variations on a basic triadic relationship of divine mother, father, and son. The goddess appears, for example, in Welsh as Modron (from Matrona, “Divine Mother”) and Rhiannon (“Divine Queen”) and in Irish as Boann and Macha. Her partner is represented by the Gaulish father-figure Sucellos, his Irish counterpart Dagda, and the Welsh Teyrnon (“Divine Lord”), and her son by the Welsh Mabon (from Maponos, “Divine Son”) and Pryderi and the Irish Oenghus and Mac ind Óg, among others.

Caesar in Gaul

Both Pagan and Christian writers, looking at the progress of the world, have often expressed their belief that men like Caesar, who have disturbed the whole course of history, were agents of some force outside themselves. So far-reaching are the consequences of their actions that they seem part of a wider plan than any which the conquerors or revolutionists themselves proposed. In the conquest of Gaul and the projected conquest of Britain, Caesar, working only for his own ends and those of Rome, laid the foundations of the civilization of two great nations. We are inclined to underestimate the direct influence of Rome on Britain, but it is impossible to overestimate the influence of Rome on Gaul and the later France, and through France on Britain.

The peoples of Gaul, mostly Celts, were, though living under the tribal system, far from being barbarians at Caesar's coming. They lived in large wooden houses with thatched roofs, and stone buildings were not unknown these were grouped together in towns, some of them fortified, connected by roads and by bridges over the rivers. They traded with their fellow Celts in Britain, Ireland, and Spain, and even imported objects from the districts round the Danube and Baltic, while they had some scientific knowledge and much artistic skill. One may almost gather from Roman writers that the tribes were distinguished by tartans, and the chieftains wore finely-wrought armour, and gold ornaments on their necks and arms. They wore trousers and, in the north, had long hair. Caesar describes them as tall, fair-haired men with blue eyes, so different from the French people of the present time that some writers think that this must have applied only to the chieftains, with whom he would have most to do but others are of opinion that the change may have come about with the increase of town life, for it seems agreed upon to-day that fair people tend to die out in towns. Probably we must not imagine all the Gauls of that time as fair-haired giants, but Caesar was certainly struck by the prevalence of that type. The country must have been very well populated even then—unlike Italy with its great solitudes. The southern portion, from the Alps to the Pyrenees, had been in Roman possession since 121 and was known as Narbonensis, or simply as the Province, whence its later name 'Provence' it extended northward as far as Geneva. Farther north the country was almost unknown to the Romans.

The Gauls themselves had caused the Romans little anxiety for a century, and, especially those near the Roman Province, had begun to absorb Roman culture and lose their old love of war. The danger now came from the Germans beyond the Rhine who were threatening to swarm over their boundaries and thrust the Gauls out of their country and attack the Roman Province, and might then be expected in Italy itself. It was to protect the Province that Caesar had been commissioned, and many thought that he did an illegal thing in going beyond the Province, annexing Gaul and even carrying the war into Germany. He was justified to some extent by the invitation of some of the Gallic tribes.

Before Caesar's appearance there were in Gaul two chief factions, led by the tribes of Aedui and Arverni respectively. Both adjoined the Province, and the Romans had been glad to secure the alliance of the Aedui, to whom they granted the proud title of Allies and Friends of the Roman People. After many years' warfare with the Aedui, the Arverni (dwellers in what is now called Auvergne) and the Sequani, also neighbours of the Romans, had been rash enough to bribe the Germans across the Rhine to come to their aid. A large band of Germans answered their call, but, struck by the fertility and plenty of the land into which they had come, refused to depart others followed, and now, it was reckoned, there were 120,000 Germans in the country. The Aedui, who in 61 sent to Rome to ask for help, had been reduced, but suffered far less than the tribes who had called the Germans in. Ariovistus, a famous German king, settled among the Sequani, whose lands were the richest in Gaul, and began to drive them out. At the same time German pressure was driving the Helvetii from their homes in modern Switzerland into Gaul in the neighbourhood of the Province. Cicero says that the whole talk of Rome early in the year 60 was of the Aeduan petition and the expected Helvetian migration.

The Helvetii were not ready to set forth until 58, when they burned all their towns and all the corn which they could not carry with them, so that whatever happened the more timid should not think of returning home. Their numbers amounted to 368,000, including 92,000 warriors and when Caesar, who had not yet set forth, heard that they intended to cross the Province, he started out at once, marched at the rate of ninety miles a day with only one legion, arrived at Geneva in eight days' time, and cut down the bridge over the Rhone before the arrival of the Helvetii. He built fortifications and prevented their crossing at this point and as they changed their route to the Pas de 1'Ecluse, the narrow pass between Mount Jura and the Rhone, he dashed back into Italy, collected more troops, led them over the Alps, and arrived in the neighbourhood of Lyons before the whole body of the enemy had crossed over the Saone. Those who were left behind he slew, then bridged the Saone (probably with boats), and started in pursuit of the main body of homeless wanderers. They sent ambassadors to assure him that they would not enter Roman territory and would settle in any place he would appoint, but as nothing would please him except their return they bade him defiance.

With the assistance of the Aedui, not all of them too well pleased to see the Romans interfering in their affairs, he slowly followed the Helvetii down the Loire valley, but, turning north toward the Aeduan capital, Bibracte (on Mont Beuvray), for supplies, he was followed in his turn, and a great battle took place. If the accounts are correct, over 200,000 of the Helvetian force, including all the women and children, were slain by the Romans. The conquerors, after some delay caused by attending to their sick and dead, followed the fugitives toward the Vosges Mountains to the north. They sent in despair to offer surrender but while negotiations were going on about 6000 of the boldest of them stole away from their camp and made for the Rhine, hoping to cross it before they could be overtaken.

Caesar heard of their flight and sent swift messengers with orders to the tribes through whose territory the fugitives would have to pass that they must arrest them if they wished to be free from blame in his eyes, and they were speedily brought back and slain. The rest he supplied with corn and sent back to Switzerland with orders to rebuild their towns, for he was afraid that the deserted site might tempt new immigrants from the right bank of the Rhine.

Ariovistus remained to be dealt with, and Caesar's task was complicated by the fact that he himself in his consulship had recognized him as a Friend of the Roman people, hoping that this would induce him to leave the Province alone until an army was ready to oppose him. Only the Rhone lay between the Sequani, among whom Ariovistus had established himself, and the Province, and Caesar, remembering the terrible Cimbri and Teutons of his childhood, now determined to send the Germans back to their country. He sent to order the barbarian King to leave the Aedui and their allies alone, to restore hostages he had taken from them and to bring no more Germans across the Rhine but Ariovistus replied that he minded his own affairs and expected the Romans to mind theirs. He warned Caesar against venturing in a battle with him, since he had with him a host of veterans who had not slept under a roof for fourteen years. At the same time Caesar heard that a hundred cantons of the Germanic tribe of the Suebi were preparing to cross the Rhine. Fearful of their forces joining Ariovistus, he hastened by forced marches toward the King's camp. On the way he heard that Ariovistus meant to occupy Vesontio (Besancon), the capital of the Sequani, and to make it his base but, journeying day and night, he seized it before the King could come up. Before he left this town a panic broke out in the Roman army. Tales of the immense stature of the Germans and of their marvelous skill and strength crept into the camp, and at last it came to be whispered that people fled at the sight of their faces and terrible, glittering eyes. The panic started with the young men of fashion, the 'carpet knights' as we should call them, whom Caesar, like other Roman generals, took out with him as officers with almost nominal duties. A few were restrained by shame, but nearly all of these young aristocrats began to ask for leave of absence on extraordinary excuses, while the rest could not muster up any appearance of cheerfulness and wept occasionally. They all made their wills, and Caesar, in his history of these wars, describes their condition of mind with amusement but the matter became serious when his brave centurions and the common soldiers caught the alarm and began to murmur that the paths by which they would have to pass were perilously narrow and the woods fearsomely thick, while their food supply was dangerously small. At last some of the centurions actually told the general that when he ordered the camp to be raised and the standards carried onward no one would pay any heed to his orders.

In this grave danger Caesar called together a council of all ranks, and sternly rebuked the centurions for venturing to express opinions on the conduct of the war. He hoped to come to terms with the Germans, but if not, what was there to fear? "Proof was made of this enemy in our fathers' time," he said in his cold, but stirring and impressive, way, "and when the Cimbri and Teutons were repulsed by Caius Marius not less honour was won by his soldiers than renown by their general. Those who pretend fear as to the supplies and the route act presumptuously in appearing to despond or offer advice in a matter which is the general's province. I have seen to it that the Sequani, Leuci, and Lingones supply us, and there is early grain in the fields as to the nature of the route, you will soon be able to judge of it for yourselves. As to the statement made to me that no one will listen to the command to march or bear the standards forward, I pay not the slightest heed to it. . . . I am now going to do at once what I intended to delay a while, and shall raise the camp at three o'clock to-morrow morning, for I wish to find out which will win—shame and duty, or fear. And if no one else follows me I shall go on alone with the Tenth legion, which shall be in future my praetorian cohort."

With this threat to the young men of rank who formed his bodyguard he ceased, and studied the effect of his speech. He was eloquent, like most great leaders of men. Zeal and longing for war had seized on all, as if by magic, and when the Tenth legion, his favourite, heard what he had said of it, the soldiers, thrilled with pride, sent their tribunes to thank him, while the officers of all the other legions were instructed to tell the general that they would obey his commands and had never doubted or feared or dreamed of offering their opinion on the conduct of the war. Their excuses were accepted, and the army started for the Rhine by a circuitous route in order to avoid the woods which they so much dreaded, and on the seventh day they learned by scouts that Ariovistus was but twenty miles away.

A meeting took place between Caesar and Ariovistus, and the latter treacherously tried to slay him and his guard, for, as he told him, he knew that such a deed would be very well received by many in Rome. Negotiations were, of course, broken off, but it was some days before Caesar could force the King to a battle, and meanwhile the latter managed to cut him off from his supplies. The German chief meant to fight, but prophetesses in his camp had bidden him wait until the new moon. When Caesar learned this he marched forward in battle array and compelled Ariovistus to come out and meet him. So fierce an onslaught did the now eager Romans make when the signal was given, and so swiftly did the enemy rush forward, that there was not room to hurl the javelins. The Romans, therefore, dropped their javelins, drew their swords, leaped on the enemy's thick phalanx, and, often tearing the shields from the foe's hands, made fearful slaughter. The whole force soon turned in flight and did not stop until it had reached the Rhine, followed by the Roman cavalry. A very few, including the chief, found boats or swam across. The report of this defeat of Ariovistus and his terrible companions struck awe into the hearts of Gauls and Germans, and the hosts of Suebi arrayed on the other side of the stream at once returned to their homes.

Caesar had thus brought two great wars to an end in one summer, and he had created in his army a confidence which was to work miracles. It had become in one campaign a sword of almost magic powers in his hands. He sent it into winter quarters earlier than the season demanded and put his legate Labienus, soon to be famous, in charge. Then he retired to hold the courts and perform other duties of his office in Cisalpine Gaul until the spring of 57 made a new campaign possible.

The whole of the year 57 was spent in reducing the Belgae, the warlike people of northern Gaul they were descendants of the Germans across the Rhine, and inhabitants of the districts we know as northern France and Belgium. They had been made uneasy by the Romans wintering in Gaul, and were arming to fight for the liberty of their country. The most southerly tribe of the Belgae, the Remi, whose capital is commemorated by Rheims, was too exposed to withstand the Romans, but certainly made a patriotic attempt to frighten them by accounts of the numbers and prowess of the host that they would have to face�,000 warriors, they said. The other tribes were furious at their having any dealings with the Romans and began to burn down their hamlets as a punishment and as Caesar felt that he could not trust them in these circumstances, and took their chief men as hostages, they fared badly at first. Caesar placed his camp on the River Aisne, where he could give them some protection, and soon lights and fires extending for about five miles told him that an army vast indeed was encamped close to him. For some time only cavalry skirmishes took place, but the Romans slew a large number of the enemy as they were trying to ford the river. This disheartened them, and as they were getting short of provisions they determined to return to their homes and face Caesar there. They were discussing the matter when news arrived that the Aedui had invaded their territory in order to make a diversion in Caesar's favour. Breaking up their camp in the careless manner of barbarians, they departed with a great noise and without any discipline, for all the world like a beaten force in flight. Caesar at first feared a plot, and remained in his camp until the following day, but then he learned the truth and started in pursuit. His cavalry, sent on in front, overtook the straggling host and slew multitudes of those in the rear, only being stopped by sunset, when, according to orders, they returned to their own quarters.

The Belgae suffered such losses in this march, and Caesar appeared in such force before their chief towns, that the Suessiones (whose name remains in Soissons), the Bellovaci, the most powerful of all the tribes, and the Ambiani (whose name remains in Amiens) all submitted and gave him large numbers of hostages but he had a desperate and memorable conflict with the Nervii on the banks of the River Sambre.

Scouts sent on before had chosen for the site of his camp a hill sloping down to the left bank of the Sambre on the opposite bank rose a hill which had an open space below it and half-way up its sides, but was covered with impenetrable woodland, suitable for an ambush, above. Many of the defeated Belgae and other Gauls had attached themselves to the Roman army, and some of them now departed by night to give the Nervii information as to Caesar's movements. When a battle was not expected, the Roman army usually marched with a quantity of baggage following each legion, and the informers instructed the Nervii to attack the first legion as it came up and seize the baggage, for then, they said, the other legions would not dare to remain to fight. The Nervii therefore hid a large force in the woods on the hill on the right bank of the Sambre opposite the Roman camp, distributed a few cavalry pickets on the plain below to tempt the Romans on, and waited for their appearance.

The Nervii were a remarkable tribe, by far the most warlike with which Caesar had yet come into conflict. They allowed no merchants to enter their territories, and would not permit wine to be brought in, or anything else which might lead to self-indulgence and love of ease. They chid the other tribes for making their peace with the Romans, and declared angrily that they would never do so themselves. As they were poor cavalry soldiers, they covered their territory with thick, wall-like hedges, which impeded the enemy's horse and provided excellent cover for themselves. It was fortunate for Caesar in the conflict which was approaching that he had altered his order of march before he came up with this valiant and wily foe. As usual when he approached an enemy, he led the larger part of the army in front, unhampered by any baggage then the baggage followed, and the two legions composed of the latest levies brought up the rear.

The Roman cavalry, sent on as usual, with the stingers and archers, crossed the stream and started to fight with the cavalry pickets of the Nervii but these retreated into cover, dashing out again unexpectedly, and the Romans dared not follow. Then the first six legions arrived and began to fortify the Roman camp. This was the signal for which the concealed Nervii were waiting, drawn up in battle array, in the woods. They dashed out and scattered the Roman cavalry in one charge, swarmed with incredible swiftness across the stream and up the opposite hill and began to attack the soldiers busy on the camp. The enemy seemed in one moment to appear everywhere, and, impeded by their presence and by the thickset hedges, Caesar had to prepare for battle with the utmost rapidity. He sent to recall the soldiers who had gone to a distance to search for material for the rampart of the camp, set out the standard which was the signal for attack, and bade the trumpet be blown. The Romans at home, who did not realize what guerilla warfare meant, marveled at his rapidity of action in the Civil War of later years. Now the training which he had already given to his soldiers came to his aid he had directed his 'legates' (lieutenants, or generals of division, we may call them) to stay with the legions until the camp was finished, and so they were on the spot and they knew exactly what ought to be done and waited for no order from him in this crisis. He had not time to address all the troops before he was forced to give the signal for battle, and the soldiers had no time to remove the coverings from their shields or the ornaments from their helmets. Some of them were without their helmets. Those who came up late joined wherever they might, losing no time in seeking their own places the army was drawn up in a very irregular way, and on account of the irregular character of the ground and the hedges Caesar could not direct its movements in every part at once. Thus it came about that the Ninth and Tenth legions, under Labienus on the left, won a speedy victory over the force opposed to them, marched across the stream, and were slaughtering quite independently, and the Eighth and Eleventh legions were doing the same, while the rest of the army was in great straits.

The chief force of the Nervii divided, and while part of them surrounded the Twelfth and Seventh legions, the rest stormed the Roman camp, whence the camp slaves at once fled, while the soldiers, who now approached with the baggage, scattered when they saw their camp in the enemy's hands. Caesar, with little scope for his gifts as general, rushed to light like a centurion in the ranks of the Twelfth legion. He found it beset on all sides, crowded together so that the men could hardly fight and were utterly dispirited many of their centurions were slain or wounded and standard-bearers and standards fallen. Seizing a shield from one of the soldiers in the rear, he hastened to the front, called on the surviving centurions by name and ordered the standards to be carried forward and the maniples to spread out so as to give room for sword-play. He then called to the tribunes of the Seventh legion to place it at the back of the Twelfth and face the enemy in the rear. The soldiers, no longer fearing that they were going to be cut down from behind, fought with a better spirit, and as usual they strove to distinguish themselves under Caesar's eye. The two legions placed in the rear of the baggage arrived on the field, and, word of Caesar's extremity being borne to Labienus, he sent his force to speed to the rescue.

These reinforcements caused such a change that those who had sunk down overcome with their wounds got up and started to fight again the cavalry, watching from a distance, came back and strove to wipe out its disgrace by special heroism, and even the slaves returned. It was the turn of the Nervii to despair, but they fought bravely on, pressed on all sides, speeding their missiles from the top of a pile of corpses and seizing the javelins directed against them by the Romans and hurling them back. They never submitted, and soon the tribe and name of the Nervii were nearly extinct. After this terrible battle of the Sambre Caesar discovered that their old men, children, and women were hidden in the woods and marshes, and he accepted their submission, forbidding, in pity, he tells us, any farther injury to them or their territories.

He then proceeded against their allies, the Aduatuci, who dwelt on the left bank of the Meuse, took their chief town and sold the 53,000 inhabitants who escaped the sword into slavery, as they had broken out again after submitting to him. It seems hard to call the conduct of these desperate patriots 'treachery,' but Caesar called it so and punished it as such.

During this time young Crassus, son of the Triumvir, had been reducing Armorica (Brittany of later times) for Caesar, who had already won such renown that ambassadors came even from the Germans to offer hostages and obedience. His troops were again left to winter in Gaul, while he himself went back to Cisalpine Gaul to get once more into touch with affairs in Rome. To the town of Luca in Cisalpine Gaul came in the spring of 56 B.C. Pompey, Crassus, and many another prominent Roman to agree with the successful general as to the measures that must be forced on the Roman Government. Caesar demanded for himself that his command in Gaul should be extended for another five years after its expiration. Conquered Gaul was seething with discontent, and Caesar spent most of the summer of 56 in reducing the Veneti, who inhabited the south shore of the Breton peninsula as far as the Loire. They were a tribe of skillful sailors and fishermen, and their towns were mostly built on low promontories, surrounded by the sea at high tide and yet not to be approached by ships at the ebb. It was not until Caesar had collected a fleet and Decimus Brutus, one of his officers, had defeated the Gallic navy, probably in the bay of Quiberon, that these towns could be taken. Then the Veneti, who had seized some accredited Roman officials, were punished for offending the law of nations their chief men were slain and the rest sold into slavery.

The Venelli of the Cotentin peninsula had been reduced meanwhile in the most crafty manner by Sabinus, and young Crassus had had a brilliant campaign in Aquitaine, where he had defeated some of the old soldiers of Sertorius.

Although the summer was nearly over Caesar felt himself bound to march over four hundred miles to the territories of the Morini (from modern Boulogne to the Scheldt) and the Menapii (from the Scheldt to the lower Meuse), and he found their subjection no easy matter. They hid in their woods and marshes, and would issue forth from every quarter and attack the Romans unaware, retiring to their impenetrable lairs in the thick forests, and, as the winter storms began to rage and heavy rains to soak through the soldiers' coverings, they were left unsubdued. Wasting and burning their fields and villages, Caesar led his army back over the Seine to winter in Brittany.

The Problem of the Woad

Everyone knows it is a fact that the Picts painted and/or tattooed themselves with woad. The problem is that we don't know this at all. This one of the most pervasive unsubstantiated ideas about them, yet even well educated Celtic scholars will casually note this as a fact.

Yet it isn't a fact at all.

Yes, there is reason to believe that the name "Pict" may have refered to them marking their bodies, as might the Irish "Cruithne." Yet it might simply be a reference to their art, which is notably different than other people in the area at the time. There actually are no contemporary references to the PICTS as having body markings. And there are certainly no contemporary references to the medium used by the Picts if they did have such markings.

The most commonly used evidence of the use of woad is from Julius Caesar's The Conquest of Gaul (pg. 111), but there are several problems with this being said to prove the use of woad by the Picts. One is that he was gathering this from Celts seen in what is now Kent, England, not Scotland, although he made the attribution to all the British. He also was writing over 300 years before we can really say there were Picts (see my article The Shadowy Painted People in regards to the "when" of the Picts). This is the problem with his statement being used to prove the Picts painted themselves, but there is a further problem with it being about woad.

What he wrote was "Omnes vero se Britanni vitro inficiunt, quod caeruleum efficit colorem." Which translates to "All the British color themselves with glass, which produces a blue color." "Vitro" translates to a type of blue-green glass that was popular among the Romans, it does not translate to woad. Or at least it didn't, now it is so accepted that some lexicons give it as such. But I have spoken with those who have studied Latin and this is not the classic translation of the word. It has been changed to fit the idea that it is woad, which it never meant.

The only other evidence given is Pliny the Elder's discussion of women's funeral rites that involve using a "Glastum" a "plantain-like" plant to paint themselves to look "like Ethiopians." (Pliny the Elder, Book 22) Yet this also cannot be referring to woad because Pliny was well acquainted with woad (isatis) and mentioned elsewhere about its medical usage (Book 26). He would never have mistaken this cabbage for a plantain, a plant he clearly would have known as well that shares only a spread of leaves as a similarity, but size, texture, leaf and stalk types are far different. Therefore while there does appear to be a plant used, it could not have been woad. Likely it produced the color they used without the work that it takes to get Indigo from woad, as well. Therefore this quote doesn't work to prove woad either, in fact, works rather well against it as woad is mentioned later for other uses. It, of course, is not as often used in arguing for the use of woad because most people looking to prove this are doing so for warriors on the battle field, not women in mourning.

Now the "known fact" that the Picts tattooed themselves with woad is highly unlikely. I do contend that they probably did tattoo or paint themselves and that their name may have indicated that they were the last British Celts to do so. Yet, this is not a fact, only my belief based on the name, the tendency people have to decorate themselves in general, and the known fact that at least one Celt prior to their time did. So I do think it likely that they did and if not, I even more so believe that earlier Celts did.

However, I do not believe that it could have been woad.

Simply put I see no reason for believing that it was woad, none at all. There is actually not a single reference that says that it was, just creative translations. Neither of the only two accounts ever cited actually mention woad. This puts us in the bind of having only negative proof that it isn't, but at least we are no longer looking at any proof that it was.

There are many reasons to question woad as a good body paint or tattoo ink. Frankly it can not be tattooed and I caution anyone thinking of doing so that it is a foolish and dangerous exercise. I know I've been so stupid as to try it. It is caustic, will cause the wound to not heal properly and it will not heal in. You might get a vivid scar, but it will not be at all blue. I had a less traumatic time than others apparently, as can be seen by an account given by Pat Fish at the bottom of Woad and it's mis-association with Pictish Body Art. Kids, do not try this at home!

It also makes a terrible body paint. You must mix it with something and anything any one has come up with either dries and flakes or smears. I have been told repeatedly that it stains the skin, but neither I nor anyone I know who has used it has had this happen (with the sole exception of someone who worked some into cloth with her fingers, but anyone who has handled things like that knows that anything will get into the frayed skin of ones fingertips for a bit including things that don't stain. dirt normally doesn't stain skin, I have had plenty spend a few days staining my fingers when gardening). Those who have reported staining have mostly been telling tales of things they heard, nothing more than hearsay. There are a few people who have used blue coloring at events and had it stain, but as they have noted it being much lighter than Indigo it is not likely to have actually been woad no matter what they were told, more likely food coloring. And yes, the color is too dark to readily look blue against the skin, nothing at all like the Vitrum glass Caesar referred to.

I spent years trying to convince myself that it worked. So with absolute lack of evidence that it was woad and all the evidence that it would have been a poor choice, there had to have been something else. And as we do have proof of something else, maybe we really need to give that more consideration than it has been given so far.

Woad is a great source of dye for clothing. It simply does not work well as a body decoration.

But Woad is an Antiseptic and a Hallucinogen

One of the "facts" about woad that is often cited in regards to why people believe that it would have been used is that it has medicinal and psychoactive properties. Of course the Celts/Picts painted themselves all over with it, it put them into an altered state for fighting and helped keep their wounds from becoming infected. But neither of these work.

Yes, woad has astringent properties, which is one of the things that makes it a really bad tattoo ink. It seems it might have been used as a plaster and to staunch wounds and appears it might be antiseptic although none of this information seems heavily substantiated (Isatis tinctoria). However, that it would be antiseptic in it's BLUE form is doubtful, at least not in ancient times. It appears to require ammonia to become indigo, and their sources would have been urine and dung. It also seems to be too caustic to be truly antiseptic, from my own and others experiences. There is also the little problem that in battle you are not talking about some scratches that might become infected. Therefore any protection sought by body paint would be more of a magical warding, to prevent you from mortal wounds.

It isn't a hallucinogen. It just isn't. All reports of experience as such are from sources that have never used it but heard stories of reenactors who got high on it. It is not in anyway psychoactive.

It apparently makes a nice wood preservative, however.

One of the things that comes up a lot when discussing this is the lament that we have no Pictish bodies to examine to find out. This is true. By the definition of "Pict" we never will. But we do have earlier and more southerly Celtic bodies which prove that. The Lindow Man (actually Lindow Body II) does not have any woad found on it but clearly has copper and iron pigmentation on his body. At this point I have not been able to find out if this is tattooed (early tests showed it did not, see I.M. Stead, J.B. Bourke, and D. Brothwell. Lindow Man: The Body in the Bog but at that point they didn't seem to notice the copper/iron either) or simply painted, although I would find it an amazingly durable paint if it is the latter. (R.C. Turner and R.G. Scaife Bog Bodies: New Discoveries and New Perspectives see also this picture of the Lindow Man)

Either copper or iron can produce a blue pigment, both being much closer to the color of the vitrum glass that Caesar noted than the Indigo of woad. The color is more attractive and the pigment more usable either for a body paint or a tattoo ink. Copper would be toxic, as it would likely contain arsenic. However, this sort of poisoning was likely common in areas where copper and bronze smelting was still being done and would take so long to show up that it would never be likely linked to a cause. Iron is appears unlikely to have any toxic affects. (Still, on the whole, if you are talking tattooing, stick to proper tattoo ink. If you want to get something that you feel replicates the ink of Iron Age Britain then investigate the shades and find inks that match.)

There is actually some suggestion that iron pigment may well have been what was used, among the Picts, from a contemporary source. The quote by the poet Claudius Claudianus: "Venit et extremis legio praetenta Britannis, Quae Scotto dat frena truci ferronque notatas Perlegit examines Picto moriente figures" "[This legion], which curbs the savage Scot and studies designs marked in iron on the face of the dying Pict." (emphasis mine, quote found in T.C. Lethbridge The Painted Men pg. 161). Now this has often been interpreted to mean that they marked themselves by cutting with iron blades, however, it could also refer to iron pigment!

How did Woad get into this?

The earliest referencing I have found to woad as the translation for "vitro" or "Glastum" is to the 1695 edition of William Camden's Britannia (Laing and Laing The Picts and the Scots pg .2 . it is unclear if this is just the edition they used or if it is not in the earlier ones) and this appears to coincide with the start of the "Indigo Wars" (when woad growers and processors were fighting the importation of Indigo, which is the same pigment but cheaper and easier to get out of the particular plant). From what little I have been able to find, it appears that this was first translating "vitro" and "glastum" to mean "woad." Chances are this is actually nothing more than propaganda to help create a sense of nationalistic pride in woad to support the woad growers and processors. However, this is something I have not yet done a great deal of research on.

I have no idea why, however, this took off to be so well accepted. Again, more research is needed there.

Mythbusting the Woad "Facts"

The question now comes is that now that we have reason to question or even totally dismiss the idea that woad was used by the Picts and/or Celts to paint and/or tattoo themselves, how do we bust the myth in a way that more people will question it? This is difficult and with the upcoming King Arthur movie with the Picts (?) being actually called "Woads" (because it's Celtic term rather than Roman? That's the story apparently given by the producers. Sorry, "woad" is a Germanic name for the plant, not Celtic) there will now be more people believing this. Worse than after Braveheart!

It doesn't help that nearly all Celtic scholars outside of the few who have actually had contact with Lindow II simply accept that it is woad. Most mentions of it is in offhand remarks, referenced to Caesar or Pliny, the writers having no interest in the matter to actually consider that these references are lies. And so the myth is that well accepted . How can we change it among those outside of academia if the scholars are still accepting it.

Many reenactors and Celtic Pagans today wear woad, I did once, myself. It so very exciting to believe that I was wearing what my ancestor wore that I continued this romantic notion despite being very frustrated with how badly it actually worked for body paint. Never mind tattooing! I was wearing REAL WOAD after all. So much so that when it was noted to me that it probably wasn't, I was very resistant to letting go of the idea. So I went back to meditating on it while wearing it, I played with it and tried to make connections.

There were no connections.

It's impossible to wear authentic copper pigment, because it is very toxic and we know that now. Iron body paint might be something to look into and iron is in many tattoo inks. But it somehow lacks the romance that the term "woad" now has. Even though "woad" is not a Celtic word and the stuff is so awful to work with as a body paint, it still has it's power.

For those of us into tattoos, we have those. But that is not for everyone. There are those who still want woad to be the medium because they can get it and say it's real. Even though it is so obvious it isn't.

I am hoping that as more information comes out regarding Lindow II and the translation issues that we will eventually get academics to start questioning this myth. I am not sure that within the Pagan and reenactment communities, however. I think we need some way to incite romance around the actual possibilities and I haven' t figured out how to do that yet. I hope that eventually there will be a way. This is something that may be very difficult to ever convince people of.

If you found this of interest or use, please do consider the work put into it and help out

T.C. Lethbridge The Painted Men 1954: Andrew Melrose (not on

LacusCurtius • Pliny the Elder's Natural History — Book 22 and Book 26

Where the Celts originally came from

The story of the Celts began 5,000 years ago in the nomadic steppes of Central Asia when the Kurdan people tamed the horse and then began a southward trek first into the Caucasus (Around 2400 BC) where the Indo European culture emerged, then into Anatolia from whence arose the mighty Hittite empire and then finally around 1800 BC into the Baltic regions, into what is now Eastern and Central Europe where the Unetice culture began.

From that migration in the mid Bronze Age emerged the Italians, the Venetians, the Illyrian, and the Celtic people, who went on to reach Hibernia.

One continuous migration then that pushed out originally from Central Asia some 2,500 years later found itself poised on the rim of the Mediterranean, the region of the south, the land of sun, around 1000 BC.

The Latin branch of the Celtic family poured southwards across the Alps and claimed sunny fertile Italy and created a Roman civilization.

There were wars, alliances, victories, and defeats and in the end the Romans an offshoot of the same originating stock from which the Northern Celts had come, took full possession of the Italian peninsula. After the defeat of Carthage the Romans became completely dominant.

Stuck in the North the Celts marked up on 800-year trek seeking to invade sunnier lands. The Celts of old always looked southwards. They sacked Rome in 390 BC and later when Hannibal crossed the Alps and drove towards Rome Celtic tribes accompanied him but both were defeated by Rome.

Around 175 BC the Romans drove the Celts out of Italy finally.

Under Julius Caesar the Romans conquered the troublesome Celts after crossing the Alps and enforced the disciplines of order and might. The Celts brought the gifts of lyricism imagination and religious wonder.

The Roman empire outside Rome itself was Iberia, Galicia and Gaul and was heavily Celtic. After the conquering of Britain only the Celts of Hibernia remained. Then came Patrick.

Watch the video: Η σύγχρονη ελληνική κουζίνα