A Comparison of Celtic and Gallic Culture
IDS 1300 - The Gods of Medieval Epic
The culture of the people known as the Celts is one filled with enigma and contradiction. Most every aspect of Celtic culture has been debated, from the time of their appearance to their religious practices. We have only two primary sources from which to draw data on that culture. One is the collection of folk tales, myths and sagas that were written down by monks after centuries of retelling. The other is a collection of anthropological notes written by Julius Caesar known as The Gallic Wars. Both of these sources must be considered with care. The folk tales were strictly in oral tradition for many years, and have undoubtedly been altered through retelling. The stories themselves are full of mythic exaggeration and many statements may not be taken at face value.
Also, most tales are incomplete as manuscripts have been damaged or pages lost. In the same vein, Julius Caesar's work suffers from innate problems as well. Caesar was from a different culture, making anthropological notes as he saw them. Most likely, he fell prey to misunderstanding and projection of his own cultural stereotypes onto the culture he was observing. Taking all these fundamental inaccuracies into account, there are still disparities between the cultures described in the two sources. So vast is the difference, that perhaps it should be concluded that the Celts of the myth and the Gauls of Caesar should be considered as two different cultural entities. Either one should conclude that the Gallic and Celtic cultures are separate, or that one is a precursor of the other.
Let us begin with the most basic aspect and consider the times and places from which these sources originate. Caesar's...