Saturday, January 7, 2017

WHO WERE THE CELTS? (Intermediate-Advanced level)

Who were those Celts, of whose race the Irish are today perhaps the most striking representatives, and upon whose past the ancient literature of Ireland can best throw light?
Like the Greeks, like the Romans, like the English, this great people, who once ruled over a fourth of Europe, sprang from a small beginning and from narrow confines. The earliest home of the race from which they spread their conquering arms may be said, roughly speaking, to have lain along both banks of the upper Danube, and in that portion of Europe comprised today in the kingdoms of Bavaria and Würtemberg and the Grand Duchy of Baden, with the country drained by the river Maine to the east of the Rhine basin. In other words, the Celtic race and the Celtic language sprang from the heart of what is today modern Germany, and issuing thence established for over two centuries a vast empire held together by the ties of political unity and a common language over all North-west and Central Europe.
The vast extent of the territory conquered and colonised by the Celts, and the unity of their speech, may be conjectured from an examination of the place names of Celtic origin which either still exist or figure as having existed in European history.
The Celts seem to have been first known to Greek--that is, to European history--under the semi-mythological name of the Hyperboreans, an appellation which remained in force from the sixth to the fourth century before Christ. The name Celt or Kelt first makes its appearance towards the year 500 B.C., in the geography of Hecatæus of Miletum, and is thereafter used successively by Herodotus, Xenophon, Plato, and Aristotle, and from that time forward it seems to have been employed by the Greek scholars and historians as a generic term whereby to designate the Celts of the Continent.
Soon afterwards the word Galatian came also into use, and was used as a synonym for Celt. In the first century B.C., however, the discovery was made that the Germans and the Celts, who had been hitherto confounded in the popular estimation, were really two different peoples, a fact which Julius Cæsar was almost the first to point out. Diodorus Siculus, accordingly, struck by this discovery, translates Cæsar's Gallus or Gaul by the word Celt, and his Germanus or German by the word Galatian, while the other Greek historian, Dion Cassius, does the exact opposite, calling the Celts "Galatians," and the Germans "Celts"! The examples thus set, however, were the result of ignorance and were never followed. Plutarch treats the two words as identical, as do Strabo, Pausanias and all other Greek writers.
The word Celt itself is probably of very ancient origin, and was, no doubt, in use 800 or 1,000 years before Christ. It cannot, however, be proved that it is a generic Celtic name for the Celtic race, and none of the present Celtic-speaking races have preserved it in their dialects. Jubainville derives it  from a Celtic root found in the old Irish verb "ar-CHELL-aim" ("I plunder") and the old substantive to-CHELL ("victory"); while he derives Galatian from a Celtic substantive now represented by the Irish gal ("bravery"). This latter word "Galatian" is one which the German peoples never adopted, and it appears to have only come into use subsequently to their revolt against their Celtic masters. After the breakup of the Celtic Empire it was employed to designate the eastern portion of the race, while the inhabitants of Gaul were called Celtæ and those of Spain Celtici or Celtiberi, but the Greeks called all indifferently by the common name of Galatians.
The Romans termed the Celts Galli, or Gauls, but they used the geographical term Gallia, or Gaul, in a restricted sense, first for the country inhabited by the Celts in North Italy upon their own side of the Alps, and after that for the Celtic territory conquered by Rome upon the other side of the Alps.
The Germans appear to have called the Celts Wolah, a name derived from the Celtic tribe the Volcæ, who were so long their neighbours, out of which appellation came the Anglo-Saxon Wealh and the modern English "Welsh."
Key words
Find the definitions and parts of speech for the words below
1.     Substantive
2.     Generic
3.     Appellation
4.     Confines
5.     Designate
6.     Conjecture
7.     Plunder
8.     Hitherto
9.     Revolt
Comprehension check
Are these statements true or false according to the text?
1.     The Celtic language is widespread all over Germany today.
2.     There are a lot of places with names of Celtic origin.
3.     Aristotle was the first one who mentioned the Celts in his works.
4.     The word Galatan is a synonym for Celt.
5.     The modern English word “Welsh” comes from German word “Wolah”.

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