In medieval Irish myth, the Fir Bolg were the fourth group of people to settle in Ireland. They were descended from the Muintir Nemid, an earlier group who abandoned Ireland and went to different parts of Europe; those who went to Greece became the Fir Bolg and returned to the now-uninhabited Ireland. After ruling it for some time, they were overthrown by the invading Tuatha Dé Danann; the Lebor Gabála Érenn tells of Ireland being settled six times by six groups of people. The first three—the people of Cessair, the people of Partholón, the people of Nemed—are wiped out or forced to abandon the island, it says. All but thirty of Nemed's people were wiped out. Of this thirty, one group flees "into the north of the world", one group flees to Britain, another group flees to Greece; those who went into the north become the main pagan gods of Ireland. Those who went to Greece become the Fir Bolg; the LGÉ says that they were enslaved by the Greeks and made to carry bags of soil or clay, hence the name'Fir Bolg'.
The Cét-chath Maige Tuired says that they were forced to settle on poor, rocky land but that they made it into fertile fields by dumping great amounts of soil on it. After 230 years of slavery, they leave Greece at the same time. In a great fleet, the Fir Bolg sail to Iberia and on to Ireland. Led by their five chieftains, they divide Ireland into five provinces: Gann takes North Munster, Sengann takes South Munster, Genann takes Connacht, Rudraige takes Ulster and Slánga takes Leinster, they establish the High Kingship and a succession of nine High Kings rule over Ireland for the next 37 years. The last High King, Eochaid mac Eirc, is the example of a perfect king; the Fir Bolg are said to contain two sub-groups known as the Fir Domnann and Fir Gáilióin. After 37 years, the Tuath Dé arrive in Ireland, their king, asks that they be given half the island, but the Fir Bolg king Eochaid refuses. The two groups meet at the Pass of Balgatan, the ensuing battle—the First Battle of Mag Tuired—lasts for four days.
During the battle, the champion of the Fir Bolg, challenges Nuada to single combat. With one sweep of his sword, Sreng cuts off Nuada's right hand. However, the Fir Bolg are defeated and their king, Eochaid, is slain by the Morrígan, though Sreng saves them from total loss. According to some texts, the Fir Bolg flee Ireland. According to others, the Tuath Dé offer them one quarter of Ireland as their own, they choose Connacht, they are mentioned little after this in the myths. The name Fir Bolg is translated as "men of bags"; the Irish word fir means "men" and the word bolg/bolc can mean a belly, sack, so forth. It has been suggested that it meant men who were'bulging' or'swollen' with battle fury. Today, most scholars regard the Lebor Gabála as myth rather than history, it is thought that its writers intended to provide an epic origin tale for Ireland that could compare to that of the Israelites, which reconciled native myth with the Christian view of history. Ireland's inhabitants are likened to the Israelites by fleeing slavery and making a great journey to a'Promised Land'.
The pagan gods are depicted as a group of people with powers of sorcery. The Historia Brittonum—which is earlier than the Lebor Gabála—says there were only three settlings of Ireland: the people of Partholón, the people of Nemed, the Gaels. However, it mentions that a leader called Builc or Builg and his followers had taken an island called Eubonia, believed to be the Isle of Man; the Lebor Gabála increases the number of settlings to six. It has been suggested that this number was chosen to match the "Six Ages of the World"; the name may be based on, cognate with, Belgae. The Belgae were a group of tribes living in northern Gaul; some have suggested that the writers named a fictional race, the Fir Bolg, after a real group, the Belgae. Others, such as T. F. O'Rahilly, suggest that the Fir Bolg, Fir Domnann and Fir Gáilióin were real peoples who arrived in Ireland in ancient times, he proposed that the Fir Bolg were linked to the historical Belgae, the Fir Domnann were the historical Dumnonii and the Fir Gáilióin were the Laigin.
It is suggested by John Rhys and R. A. Stewart Macalister that the Fir Bolg are the Fomorians under another guise; the Fomorians seem to have represented the harmful or destructive powers of nature, while the Tuath Dé represented the gods of growth and civilization. The Tuath Dé fight two similar battles at Mag Tuired, one against the supernatural Fomorians and one against the human Fir Bolg. In the myths, the Fir Bolg are the only group of settlers who do not encounter the Fomorians and the two groups never appear together. Na fir bolg Fir Ol nEchmacht Carey, John "Fir Bolg: a Native Etymology Revisited" in: Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies 16, pp. 77–83. Squire, Charles Celtic Myth and Legend. London: Gresham Arbois de Jubainville, Henri d' Le Cycle mythologique irlandais. Osnabrück: Zeller Wilde, Sir William R. Loch Corrib, Its Shores and Islands. Dublin: McGlashan & Gill, chap. viii Arrowsmith, with Moorse, George Field Guide to the Little People. London: Macmillan
Cernunnos is the conventional name given in Celtic studies to depictions of the "horned god" of Celtic polytheism. Cernunnos was a Celtic god of fertility, animals and the underworld; the name itself is only attested once, on the 1st-century Pillar of the Boatmen, but he appears all over Gaul, among the Celtiberians. Cernunnos is depicted with the antlers of a stag, seated cross-legged, associated with animals, holding or wearing torcs; this deity is known from over 50 examples in the Gallo-Roman period in north-eastern Gaul. Not much is known about the god from literary sources, details about his name, his followers or his significance in Celtic religion are unknown. Speculative interpretations identify him as a god of life or fertility; the theonym ernunnos appears on the Pillar of the Boatmen, a Gallo-Roman monument dating to the early 1st century CE, to label a god depicted with stag's antlers in their early stage of annual growth. Both antlers have torcs hanging from them; the name has been compared to a divine epithet Carnonos in a Celtic inscription written in Greek characters at Montagnac, Hérault.
A Gallo-Latin adjective carnuātus, "horned," is found. The Proto-Celtic form of the theonym is reconstructed as either *Cerno-on-os or *Carno-on-os; the augmentative -on- is characteristic of theonyms, as in Maponos, Epona and Sirona. Maier states. Gaulish karnon "horn"is cognate with Latin cornu and Germanic *hurnaz, English horn from Proto-Indo-European *k̑r̥no-; the etymon karn- "horn" appears in both Gaulish and Galatian branches of Continental Celtic. Hesychius of Alexandria glosses the Galatian word karnon as "Gallic trumpet", that is, the Celtic military horn listed as the carnyx by Eustathius of Thessalonica, who notes the instrument's animal-shaped bell; the root appears in the names of Celtic polities, most prominent among them the Carnutes, meaning something like "the Horned Ones," and in several personal names found in inscriptions. The name Cernunnos occurs only on the "Pillar of the Boatmen", now displayed in the Musée National du Moyen Age in Paris. Constructed by Gaulish sailors in 14 CE, it was discovered in 1710 within the foundations of the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, site of ancient Lutetia, the civitas capital of the Celtic Parisii.
The distinctive stone pillar is an important monument of Gallo-Roman religion. Its low reliefs depict and label by name several Roman deities such as Jupiter and Castor and Pollux, along with Gallic deities such as Esus and Tarvos Trigaranus; the name Cernunnos can be read on 18th century drawings of the inscriptions, but the initial letter has been obscured since, so that today only a reading ernunnos can be verifiedAdditional evidence is given by one inscription on a metal plaque from Steinsel-Rëlent in Luxembourg, in the territory of the Celtic Treveri. This inscription read; the Gaulish inscription from Montagnac reads αλλετνος καρνονου αλσοεας, with the last word a place name based on Alisia, "service-tree" or "rock". The god labelled ernunnos on the Pillar of the Boatmen is depicted with stag's antlers in their early stage of annual growth. Both antlers have torcs hanging from them; the lower part of the relief is lost, but the dimensions suggest that the god was sitting cross-legged, providing a direct parallel to the antlered figure on the Gundestrup cauldron.
In spite of the name Cernunnos being attested nowhere else, it is used in Celtological literature as describing all comparable depictions of horned/antlered deities. This "Cernunnos" type in Celtic iconography is portrayed with animals, in particular the stag, frequently associated with the ram-horned serpent, less bulls and rats; because of his frequent association with creatures, scholars describe Cernunnos as the "Lord of the Animals" or the "Lord of Wild Things", Miranda Green describes him as a "peaceful god of nature and fruitfulness". The Pilier des nautes links him with sailors and with commerce, suggesting that he was associated with material wealth as does the coin pouch from the Cernunnos of Rheims —in antiquity, the civitas capital of the Remi tribe—and the stag vomiting coins from Niedercorn-Turbelslach in the lands of the Treveri; the god may have symbolized the fecundity of the stag-inhabited forest. Other examples of "Cernunnos" images include a petroglyph in Val Camonica in Cisalpine Gaul.
The antlered human figure has been dated as late as the 4th. An antlered child appears on a relief from Vendeuvres, flanked by serpents and holding a purse and a torc; the best known image appears on the Gundestrup cauldron found on Jutland, dating to the 1st century BCE, thought to depict Celtic subject matter though regarded as of Thracian workmanship. Among the Celtiberians, horned or antlered figures of the Cernunnos type include a "Janus-like" god from Candelario with two faces and two small horns; the horns are taken to represent "aggressive power, genetic vigor and fecundity."Divine representations of the Cernunnos type are exceptions to the often-expressed view that the Celts only began to picture their gods in human form after the Roman conquest of Gaul. Th
Cissonius was an ancient Gaulish/Celtic god. After Visucius, Cissonius was the most common name of the Gaulish/Celtic Mercury. Cissonius was represented either as a bearded, helmeted man riding a ram and carrying a wine cup, or else as a young man with winged helmet and herald's staff accompanied by a rooster and goat; the name has been interpreted as meaning "courageous", "remote" or else "carriage-driver". He was a god of trade and protector of travellers, since Mercury exercised similar functions in the Roman pantheon. In one inscription from Promontogno in Switzerland, Cissonus is identified with Matutinus; the name of Niederzissen, a village in northern Rhineland-Palatinate, may be derived from the name of Cissonius. A goddess Cissonia is recorded
Annals of Inisfallen
The Annals of Inisfallen are a chronicle of the medieval history of Ireland. There are more than 2,500 entries spanning the years between 433 and 1450; the manuscript is thought to have been compiled in 1092, as the chronicle is written by a single scribe down to that point but updated by many different hands thereafter. It was written by the monks of Innisfallen Abbey, on Innisfallen Island on Lough Leane, near Killarney in Munster, but made use of sources produced at different centres around Munster as well as a Clonmacnoise group text of the hypothetical Chronicle of Ireland; as well as the chronological entries, the manuscript contains a short, fragmented narrative of the history of pre-Christian Ireland, known as the pre-Patrician section, from the time of Abraham to the arrival of Saint Patrick in Ireland. This has many elements in common with Lebor Gabála Érenn, it sets the history of Ireland and the Gaels within Eusebian universal history, provided both by a Latin world chronicle and extracts from Réidig dam, a Dé, do nim, a Middle Irish poem attributed to Flann Mainistrech in manuscripts.
The annals are now housed in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. In 2001, Brian O'Leary, a Fianna Fáil councillor in Killarney, called for the annals to be returned to the town. Irish annals The Chronicle of Ireland Evans, The Present and the Past in Medieval Irish Chronicles, Studies in Celtic History 27, Woodbridge: Boydell Hughes, Early Christian Ireland: Introduction to the Sources, Sources of History, London: Hodder and Stoughton Annals of Inisfallen — Text of the annals Annals of Inisfallen — Original text Annals of Inisfallen — pre-Patrician section Digitised images from Rawlinson B 503, Images available on Digital Bodleian. Call for Annals of Innisfallen to be returned to Killarney — local newspaper article
In Celtic polytheism, Belisama was a goddess worshipped in Gaul. She is identified with Minerva in the interpretatio romana; the etymology of her name has been taken to translate to "brightest one", i.e. containing a superlative suffix -isama attached to the root bel "bright". But the root bel has been interpreted differently, e.g. as bel "strong". A Gaulish inscription found at Vaison-la-Romaine in Provence shows that a nemeton was dedicated to her: СΕΓΟΜΑΡΟС/ ΟΥΙΛΛΟΝΕΟС/ ΤΟΟΥΤΙΟΥС/ ΝΑΜΑΥСΑΤΙС/ ΕΙѠΡΟΥ ΒΗΛΗ/СΑΜΙ СΟСΙΝ/ ΝΕΜΗΤΟΝ Segomaros Ouilloneos tooutious Namausatis eiōrou Bēlēsami sosin nemēton "Segomarus Uilloneos, citizen of Namausus, dedicated this sanctuary to Belesama"The identification with Minerva in Gallo-Roman religion is established in a Latin inscription from Saint-Lizier, Ariège department: Minervae / Belisamae / sacrum / Q Valerius / Montan / x vThe French toponyms Beleymas and Bellême are based on the theonym; the presence of the goddess in Britain is more difficult to establish.
Based on Ptolemy listing a "Belisama estuary", River Ribble in England seems to have been known by the name Belisama in Roman times. Belisama: a Gaulish and Brythonic goddess
Celtic mythology is the mythology of Celtic polytheism, the religion of the Iron Age Celts. Like other Iron Age Europeans, the early Celts maintained a polytheistic mythology and religious structure. For Celts in close contact with Ancient Rome, such as the Gauls and Celtiberians, their mythology did not survive the Roman Empire, their subsequent conversion to Christianity and the loss of their Celtic languages, it is through contemporary Roman and Christian sources that their mythology has been preserved. The Celtic peoples who maintained either political or linguistic identities left vestigial remnants of their ancestral mythologies that were put into written form during the Middle Ages. Although the Celtic world at its height covered much of western and central Europe, it was not politically unified nor was there any substantial central source of cultural influence or homogeneity. Inscriptions of more than three hundred deities equated with their Roman counterparts, have survived, but of these most appear to have been genii locorum, local or tribal gods, few were worshiped.
However, from what has survived of Celtic mythology, it is possible to discern commonalities which hint at a more unified pantheon than is given credit. The nature and functions of these ancient gods can be deduced from their names, the location of their inscriptions, their iconography, the Roman gods they are equated with, similar figures from bodies of Celtic mythology. Celtic mythology is found in a number of distinct, if related, subgroups corresponding to the branches of the Celtic languages: Ancient Celtic religion mythology in Goidelic languages, represented chiefly by Irish mythology Mythological Cycle Ulster Cycle Fenian Cycle Cycles of the Kings mythology in Brittonic languages Welsh mythology Cornish mythology Breton mythology As a result of the scarcity of surviving materials bearing written Gaulish, it is surmised that the most of the Celtic writings were destroyed by the Romans, although a written form of Gaulish using Greek and North Italic alphabets was used. Julius Caesar attests to the literacy of the Gauls, but wrote that their priests, the druids, were forbidden to use writing to record certain verses of religious significance while noting that the Helvetii had a written census.
Rome introduced a more widespread habit of public inscriptions, broke the power of the druids in the areas it conquered. Although early Gaels in Ireland and parts of modern Wales used the Ogham script to record short inscriptions, more sophisticated literacy was not introduced to Celtic areas that had not been conquered by Rome until the advent of Christianity. Indeed, many Gaelic myths were first recorded by Christian monks, albeit without most of their original religious meanings; the oldest body of myths stemming from the Heroic Age is found only from the early medieval period of Ireland. As Christianity began to take over, the gods and goddesses were eliminated as such from the culture. What has survived includes material dealing with the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Fomorians, which forms the basis for the text Cath Maige Tuired "The Battle of Mag Tuireadh", as well as portions of the history-focused Lebor Gabála Érenn; the Tuatha Dé represent the functions of human society such as kingship and war, while the Fomorians represent chaos and wild nature.
The leader of the gods for the Irish pantheon appears to have been the Dagda. The Dagda was the figure on which male humans and other gods were based because he embodied ideal Irish traits. Celtic gods were considered to be a clan due to their lack of specialization and unknown origins; the particular character of the Dagda was as a figure of burlesque lampoonery in Irish mythology, some authors conclude that he was trusted to be benevolent enough to tolerate jokes at his own expense. Irish tales depict the Dagda as a figure of power, armed with a club. In Dorset there is a famous outline of an ithyphallic giant known as the Cerne Abbas Giant with a club cut into the chalky soil. While this was produced in modern times, it was long thought to be a representation of the Dagda; this has been called into question by recent studies which show that there may have been a representation of what looks like a large drapery hanging from the horizontal arm of the figure, leading to suspicion that this figure represents Hercules, with the skin of the Nemean lion over his arm and carrying the club he used to kill it.
In Gaul, it is speculated that the Dagda is associated with Sucellus, the striker, equipped with a hammer and cup. The Morrígan was a tripartite battle goddess of the Celts of Ancient Ireland, she was known as the Morrígan, but the different sections she was divided into were referred to as Nemain and Badb, with each representing different aspects of combat. She is most known for her involvement in the Táin Bó Cúailnge
Abnoba is a name with theological and geographical meanings: It is the name of a Gaulish goddess, worshiped in the Black Forest and surrounding areas. It is the name of a mountain or mountain range; the etymology of the theonym is uncertain. It has been associated with the etymon found in e.g. Avon; the second element has been connected to either a PIE *nogʷo-, either "naked, nude" or "tree", or with the verbal root *nebh- "burst out, be damp". Abnoba has been interpreted to be a forest and river goddess, is known from about nine epigraphic inscriptions. One altar at the Roman baths at Badenweiler and another at Mühlenbach identify her with Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt. Abnoba, sometimes spelt Arnoba or Arbona, has been used to refer to a mountain range comprising the Odenwald and Baar mountains; this composite range extends from the Rhine to the Neckar, is referred to by one of the various names listed depending on the region it is passing through. According to Tacitus's Germania, Abnoba was the name of a mountain, from a grassy slope of which flows the source of the River Danube.
Pliny the Elder gives us some statements about Abnoba. He says that it arises opposite the town of Rauricum in Gaul and flows from there beyond the Alps, implying that the river begins in the Alps, which it does not. If Rauricum is to be identified with the Roman settlement, Augusta Raurica, modern Augst in Basel-Landschaft canton of Switzerland, Pliny must be confusing the Rhine and its tributaries with the Danube; the Danube begins with two small rivers draining the Black Forest: the Breg and the Brigach, both Celtic names. The longest is the most favorable candidate: the Breg; the Abnobaei montes would therefore be the Baar foothills of the Swabian Alb near Furtwangen im Schwarzwald. Ptolemy's Geography mentions the mountain range, but incorrectly implies a position north of the Agri Decumates and Main river, it has been suggested that this error comes about through the use of differing and imperfect sources to make this section of the Geography. In effect Ptolemy has confused the Abnoba with the Roman border, therefore with what are today called the Taunus mountains.
Abnoba at Jones' Celtic Encyclopedia Proto-Celtic — English lexicon Pokorny's *ab- Watkin's *nebh-