Marco Martin

English abstract

Posidonio d'Apamea e i Celti

This essay deals with Celtic ethnography of Southern Gaul as described by Posidonius of Apamea (135-50 B.C.), one of the most important and influential scientist and philosopher in the Hellenistic world who travelled a lot, supported by Roman aristocracy.
It is a Greek intellectual's sharp point of view about the description of Celtic customs and many interesting cultural and social aspects as feasts, duels, tribe economy, forms of servile people employed by chiefs, anthropological analysis of Celtic character, music and social role of bards, weapons and war behaviour, religion and customs of Druids.
As regards the role of bards, Posidonius describes the importance of poets and bards who sang the praises of their chiefs, but if they were not satisfied with them about the reward, they could mock them in public and without fear. In Posidonius'report we can find interesting citations of celtic musical instruments as carnyx.
We have only indirect fragments of Posidonius' books (what we know comes above all from Diodorus, Strabo and Athenaeus) and by them it is possible to gather that Posidonius is an original heir of many previous ethnographical topoi, and moreover he is a witness of free Celtic world, who uses Stoicism's eyes to explain reality and he thinks that contemporary Celts are very similar to ancient Greeks of Homeric poems, so barbarian people of Gaule is described as heroes of Greek epos. In short, Posidonius'trustworthiness is confirmed by comparison with accurate descriptions in Gaelic sagas of XII century and by archaeological finds as weapons, pots, funeral ornaments and jewels.
It is a very good reason to increase what Posidonius, clear Greek traveller before Caesar's De Bello Gallico, wrote about Celts and Cimbri, northern people of Europe that Romans defeated in 101 B.C. in the battle of Campi Raudii.