The Religion of the Ancient Celts eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 445 pages of information about The Religion of the Ancient Celts.
a common feature in most mythologies.  But here it may be borrowed from Scandinavian sources, or from such Christian writings as the Dialogues of S. Gregory the Great.[1191] It might be contended that the Christian doctrine of hell has absorbed an earlier pagan theory of retribution, but of this there is now no trace in the sagas or in classical references to the Celtic belief in the future life.  Nor is there any reference to a day of judgment, for the passage in which Loegaire speaks of the dead buried with their weapons till “the day of Erdathe,” though glossed “the day of judgment of the Lord,” does not refer to such a judgment.[1192] If an ethical blindness be attributed to the Celts for their apparent lack of any theory of retribution, it should be remembered that we must not judge a people’s ethics wholly by their views of future punishment.  Scandinavians, Greeks, and Semites up to a certain stage were as unethical as the Celts in this respect, and the Christian hell, as conceived by many theologians, is far from suggesting an ethical Deity.


[1154] Skene, i. 370.

[1155] Caesar, vi. 14, 19.

[1156] Diod.  Sic. v, 28.

[1157] Val.  Max. vi. 6. 10.

[1158] Phars. i. 455 f.

[1159] Amm.  Marc. xv. 9; Strabo, iv. 4; Mela, iii. 2.

[1160] Miss Hull, 275.

[1161] Nutt-Meyer, i. 49; Miss Hull, 293.

[1162] Larminie, 155; Hyde, Beside the Fire, 21, 153; CM xiii. 21; Campbell, WHT, ii. 21; Le Braz{2}, i. p. xii.

[1163] Von Sacken, Das Grabfeld von Hallstatt; Greenwell, British Barrows; RC x. 234; Antiquary, xxxvii. 125; Blanchet, ii. 528 f.; Anderson, Scotland in Pagan Times.

[1164] L’Anthropologie, vi. 586; Greenwell, op. cit. 119.

[1165] Nutt-Meyer, i. 52; O’Donovan, Annals, i. 145, 180; RC xv. 28.  In one case the enemy disinter the body of the king of Connaught, and rebury it face downwards, and then obtain a victory.  This nearly coincides with the dire results following the disinterment of Bran’s head (O’Donovan, i. 145; cf. p. 242, supra).

[1166] LU 130_a_; RC xxiv. 185; O’Curry, MC i. p. cccxxx; Campbell, WHT iii. 62; Leahy, i. 105.

[1167] Vigfusson-Powell, Corpus Poet.  Boreale, i. 167, 417-418, 420; and see my Childhood of Fiction, 103 f.

[1168] Larminie, 31; Le Braz{2}, ii. 146, 159, 161, 184, 257 (the role of the dead husband is usually taken by a lutin or follet, Luzel, Veillees Bretons, 79); Rev. des Trad.  Pop. ii. 267; Ann. de Bretagne, viii. 514.

[1169] Le Braz{2}, i. 313.  Cf. also an incident in the Voyage of Maelduin.

[1170] RC x. 214f.  Cf.  Kennedy, 162; Le Braz{2}, i. 217, for variants.

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