Графични страници
PDF файл

exercised. In military affairs that authority is clearly declared ; in civil economy it is somewhat obscure ; but it is probable that in this respect the same order of things prevailed among the Celts of Noricum as was established in the middle ages by the Franks in Germany.

Each separate tribe of the Celts formed into their συστηματα, , was independent of the others, and watched with jealous care the preservation of their rights and liberties, and were united in peace or in war, whether against tribes of their nation, or against a foreign enemy; in places of importance they had magistrates (optimates) chosen from the nobility, they conferred together on the state of affairs of their particular district, or sometimes of federated clans. Strabo says, “their republics were governed by the persons of greatest consideration amongst them, (Αριστοκρατικαι δήσαν αι πλειες των Tolitelwv.) In ancient times, a prince, and military commander were annually elected by the tribe, into which were admitted the common people, (v70 TB #Xus.) “They have this,” he says, “peculiar to such meetings, that, if any one interrupts him who is addressing the assembly, an appointed person walks

up to the disturber of the debate, with a drawn dagger, and commands him to be silent; should he repeat the interruption three times, so much of his cloak is cut off with the dagger as to render the garment useless.” A president to each separate state was elected by all, but the influence of the priesthood was considerably felt in such elections; they had indeed great weight in all public transactions. The office lasted for the space of one year, and he was invested with the power of life and death; he was a distinct magistrate from the military leader, thus we often read of a king of a Celtic tribe of the reguli gallorum, when several clans were united under one head. The Roman triumphs exhibit a king of the Arverni, Betulus; and Polybius mentions the kings Congolitan, Aneroestes, Comontor, and Cavar; and Livy mentions the kings of the Boii, in Italy. There were also among the Celts ancient families of the high nobility among some of the tribes, who for ages were admitted to the throne by hereditary right. Many authors mention lower gradations of magistrates, dispersed among the towns, and even in the villages, whó enforced obedience to the laws. Though each tribe was united for its own particular advantage, this salutary principle was often, unfortunately, not observed with respect to the general welfare of neighbouring states of kindred ori

gin, though we sometimes read, that a common danger, demanding universal resistance, prescribed the prudence of general assemblies of the Celtic chieftains; in such emergencies, indeed, unions were created of all neighbouring states, over which one chief was appointed to command as dictator, from which, however, instances occurred of the oppression of smaller tribes by the stronger, and persons thus elevated, usurping kingly power, (simili ratione Vercingetorix, Celtilli filius, arvernus, summæ potentiæ adolescens, cujus pater principatum obtinuerat.)

The tidings of approaching danger were communicated with wonderful rapidity, by fires kindled on the hills, which carried the intelligence from valley to valley, and was quickly reported through every village; in cities, particular regulations were observed on such occasions, established by long usage. A certain symptom of an approaching campaign was discovered in the summoning of an armed council, where each person appeared with his weapons (armatum consilium,) and every man capable of bearing arms, must, without delay, under the penalty of death, present himself. The leader of a tribe was, on such occasions, subject to the control of a council, composed of the nobles.

Express mention is made of taxes and tolls in the Celtic states, and all fiscal imposts were regulated with much exactness, the Druids were alone exempt from such demands (neque tributa cum reliquis pendunt.)

From princes, nobles, freemen, and populace, the Druids were a distinct class as members of a Celtic state. Strabo

“among them are three classes which are held in particular honour, bards, soothsayers (Ovatels,) and druids. The bards sing hymns, and are poets; the soothsayers perform the sacrifices, and study (rerum naturam contemplantur ;) Ammianus Marcellinus calls them Eubages; the druids devote themselves to philosophy, and discourse on morals. Athenæus mentions the bards, or parasites; Diodorus makes similar distinction between the three orders with Strabo, who farther says of the character and powerful influence of the druids, “ of their strict justice, there exists the highest opinion among their countrymen: public, as well as private affairs, are submitted to their decision; and they have allayed the tumult of war when armies were already in array. Causes of murder were always committed to their judgment; and it is thought that, when many of them are assembled together, they can confer fertility on the soil.”


Cæsar records the great estimation in which Druids were held among the princes of Gaul, and of the formidable power with which they are clothed: “they are the priests ; they assist at the public and private sacrifices; they promulgate the dogmas of their religion; it is to them that the education of the young is intrusted, they settle public contests and private strife ;* should any crime, or murder be perpetrated, or any doubt as to heritage or boundary, they are the judges, and pronounce sentence of reward or penalty; whoever denies obedience to it, they excommunicate, which is the severest punishment they can award. The druids are all subject to an arch-druid, who is held in the highest veneration ; at his death a successor is elected who is most worthy of the esteem of the others : should several candidates appear, of nearly equal claims, a formal election is resorted to, and even sometimes the competition is decided by an appeal to arms. At a particular season of the year they all assemble near Chartres, in a sacred spot, which is supposed to be the centre of Gaul ; to this place a crowd of disputants assemble from all quarters, to await their judgment. The druids are exempt from military service." Chrisostomus says that even crowned heads were subject to the influence of the druids, and could undertake nothing of importance without their concurrence.

The great advantages derived by the druids from their influence in the education of youth, and other very important circumstances, induced many to offer themselves as voluntary candidates to be admitted into their order; others were devoted to it by their parents: the novices are obliged to learn verses by heart, and some even employ twenty years in that occupation, for it is unlawful to commit such to writing, although, in the ordinary affairs of the world, or in transactions which concern individuals, they use, in writing, the Greek alphabet. This regulation is observed in order that their doctrines may not become too commonly known to the vulgar, and that their pupils, through the convenience of referring to books containing them, may not relax the tenacity of their memories. One of their chief dogmas is,—that the soul does not perish, but that after death it migrates into other bodies, which it animates. This belief engenders courage and contempt of death; they are well versed in the course of the heavenly bodies, they

• Their courts of judicature were held in the open air, and often on conspicuous eminences, or on insulated spots, as Lindisfarn, Malvern (Moel-y-farn, Hill of Judgment,) &c. &c.

are acquainted with the earth's magnitude, and also with natural history; with the power and attributes of the immortal gods thus Cæsar; and it appears indeed from the concurrent testimony of ancient writers, that the druids applied themselves deeply to study. Pliny says, that they examined the hidden stores of nature, and the properties of medicinal herbs useful to man and beast, which they administered with magical and superstitious incantations. For complaints of the eyes, they made a preparation of savin, or hedge hyssop, with a snake's egg, or the froth supposed to proceed from snakes' mouths (similis huic sabinæ herbæ est selago appellata.) This plant is to be culled by the right hand, and not cut with an iron instrument; the practitioner must be dressed in a white robe, his feet bare, and having made a sacrifice of bread and wine before commencing his operations, he carries the preparation in a new napkin. This was a sovereign remedy against many disorders, but especially those of the eyes. The bards, or minstrels, inflamed the nobles among the Celts to intrepid adventures, through their animated lays, alluding to recent acts of valour of their contemporaries, or commemorating those of their ancestors : they were present at the revelry of the banquet, with the host on its march, at the onset of individual combatants, or the mortal contest of armies ; often would they allay the fury of adversaries, or foment the animosities of foemen; they strove to perpetuate ancient manners, and the character of their nation; they were the recorders of extraordinary events, the historians of their country. Diodorus says, “sunt et apud eos melodiarum poetæ quos appellant Bardos : hi cum organis veluti cum lyrâ cantant hos laudantes, alios vituperantes. Cum quis strenue in acie pugnavit tum majorum, tum ejus laudes ac virtutes decantant. Poetæ tanti apud eos fiunt ut cum instructâ acie exercitus eductis ensibus jactisque jaculis propinquant non solum amici sed hostes quoque eorum interventu a pugnâ conquiescant, ita apud agrestiores barbaros ira cedít sapientiæ et Mars reveretur Musas.” Marcellinus says, “Bardi fortia virorum illustrium facta heroicis composita versibus cum dulcibus lyræ modulis cantitarunt.” Of the extent of their historical poems, we may judge from what Cæsar assures, that some of the pupils of the druids could recite as many as twenty thousand verses, and Lucan says,

Vos quoque qui fortes animas belloque peremptas,
Laudibus in longum Vates demittitis ævum
Plurima securi fudistis carmina Bardi.

Their histories were all transmitted in verse: they never composed them in prose-carminibus antiquis quod unum apud illos memoriæ ac annalium genus est. So very

tenacious were they of national character that they preserved it even surrounded by foreign neighbours, as in Galatia, in Asia Minor, whither they were conducted by Lomnor. Strabo, in his description of them, there says, they were three distinct nations of Celts settled there, but speaking the same language, and similar in their habits; of these four divisions were made, over each was appointed a ruler (Tetrarch,) and a commander of the forces (Stratophylax,) and two lieutenants; the council of these twelve tetrarchs, consisted of 300, who were convened in deliberation in a place called Drynameton, (Apuvaijetov,) probably a celtic word corrupted, as usual, by the Greeks; in later times, when the Teutonic race approached them on the Rhine, they maintained their customs intact, but their German neighbours adopted theirs, in many instances, “tales eos fuisse intellegimus ex Germanorum adhuc durantibus consuetudinibus, confinem habitantes regionem ;” as we before observed that the Gauls were indebted for instruction in agriculture, and in the culture of the vine, to the Phocian colony at Marseilles, so were the Germans on the Rhine taught by the Gauls.

The wearing apparel of the Celtic nation consisted ordinarily of linen, or coarse woollen, (sagum ;) the outer garment, reaching to the knee, was sometimes partially open in front, sometimes closed, some were worn with loose, and others with tight sleeves; long trowsers, (avabvpiou xpwrtai,) by some clans worn fitting close, by others the reverse; a tunic, (xıtwves,) some worn hanging loose from the shoulders, and sometimes clasped to the waist by handsome girdles : were there not existing authority of ancient writers which declared that there was a considerable variety of dress occasioned by the gradations in society, which were so marked among the Celts,—and the distances between tribes that occupied so vast a portion of Europe ; still, the fact would be naturally conjectured. Those of the higher classes, and such as were invested with public dignities, wore dresses of varied colours, interwoven with gold or silver tissue; such stuffs were peculiar at that period to the nation, and distinguished it from others, “Qui honores gerunt ii vestes tinctas atque auro variegatas usurpant,auro virgatæ vestes, manicæque rigebant ex auro, Aurea

« ПредишнаНапред »