Monday, June 4, 2007

Celtic Women

Quotes regarding Celtic and Gallic Women during the Roman Occupation

Tacitus: "armies on the point of collapse have been rallied by their women pleading with their men, thrusting forward their bared breasts, and making them realise the imminent prospect of enslavement."

and "the victorious Romans were confronted by women in black robes who stood at their wagons and slew the fleeing warriors - their husbands, brothers or fathers - and then strangled their own children and cast them beneath the wheels of their wagons before cutting their own throats."

Plutarch: "here the women met them holding swords and axes in their hands. With hideous shrieks of rage they tried to drive back the hunted and the hunters. The fugitives as deserters, the pursuers as foes. With bare hands the women tore away the shields of the Romans or grasped their swords, enduring mutilating wounds."

Dio Cassius: "the Romans pursued the Celts to their wagons and fought with their women."

Diodorus Siculus: "The women of the Gauls are not only like men in their great stature, but they are a match for them in courage as well."

Ammianus Marcellinus: “…a whole band of foreigners will be unable to cope with one [Gaul] in a fight, if he calls in his wife, stronger than he by far and with flashing eyes; least of all when she swells her neck and gnashes her teeth, and poising her huge white arms, begins to rain blows mingled with kicks, like shots discharged by the twisted cords of a catapult.”



The following quote is of much later date. It is from a document known as the "Caid Adamnan" which is an Old-Irish Treatise on the Law of Adamnan (c.697AD) which was written by St. Adamnan of Iona. It purports to be the first Irish law for the protection women, children, and the clergy from violence. However, the following excerpt is especially telling of the role of celtic women in the 7th Century AD:

3. The work which the best women had to do, was to go to battle and battlefield, encounter and camping, fighting and hosting, wounding and slaying. On one side of her she would carry her bag of provisions, on the other her babe. Her wooden pole upon her back. Thirty feet long it was, and had on one end an iron hook, which she would thrust into the tress of some woman in the opposite battalion. Her husband behind her, carrying a fence-stake in his hand, and flogging her on to battle. For at that time it was the head of a woman, or her two breasts, which were taken as trophies.


~~~ Melisende (first pub: July 2005)

1 comment:

Ashy O :) said...

Thanks :)

Your blog helped me with the final research of my Ancient History assignment.

Your blog is very interesting and informative. I'll have to tell my history teacher about it as she is rather infatuated regarding historical information and depictions of women. She'll love your blog.

Peace :)
Ashy