”Barbaariset riitit ja oudot menot.” Antiikin roomalaisten näkemyksiä kelttien uskonnosta


  • Maijastina Kahlos Klassillisen filologian laitos, Helsingin yliopisto


Roman, Celts, barbarians, religion, ethnography


This article discusses the Roman conceptions of Celtic religious life. Thus, it does not take any stand on whether these ideas had any equivalency in historical reality. Instead, the Roman attitudes towards Celtic religion are analysed as a part of the Roman image of the Celts as an enemy. Furthermore, the Roman views, for example, on Druids are set within the ethnographic tradition of Graeco-Roman literature. Human sacrifice was one of the most widespread ideas connected with the Celts in Graeco-Roman literature. In the Roman discussion on civilization and barbarity, human sacrifice was always an attribute of the other and it was regarded completely un-Roman. Mainly because of its connection with the human sacrifice, Celtic religion was labelled and consequently suppressed as magic. When depicting the ferocity of the Gauls and human sacrifice of the Druids, the writers of the Roman elite underlined Roman superiority and the pre-eminent role of the Romans as the tamers of the savage barbarians and the benefactors of humankind.