Celt and Roman: The Celts of Italy

Celt and Roman: The Celts of Italy

by Peter Berresford Ellis
     
 

This is the first popular account of the Celts of Italy and the land known as Cisalpine Gaul--a much neglected area in the history of Rome's rise to dominance. In 390 BC, a Celtic army captured Rome and occupied it for seven months until the Roman senate paid them off. For the next fifty years, Celtic armies remained nearby, and for two centuries the Celts of Italy… See more details below

Overview

This is the first popular account of the Celts of Italy and the land known as Cisalpine Gaul--a much neglected area in the history of Rome's rise to dominance. In 390 BC, a Celtic army captured Rome and occupied it for seven months until the Roman senate paid them off. For the next fifty years, Celtic armies remained nearby, and for two centuries the Celts of Italy resisted Rome with a stubborn defiance, often annihilating entire consular armies sent against them. Rome could not claim to be master of the Po Valley Celts until 191 BC. This much-needed book explains the historical factors behind Rome's overt racial prejudice against the Celts and shows at the same time the important Celtic contribution to the development of Roman culture--in weaponry and warfare, in transport technology and, above all, in the Celtic contribution to early Latin literature.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Library Journal
Ellis, an international authority on the ancient Celts, here offers a broad sketch of Celtic life and culture in the period up to 190 B.C.E., when Celtic migrations and Roman expansion brought the two peoples into bitter conflict. The Celts had a tribal society based on kinship groups with descent in the male line; they spoke an Indo-European language, and Celtic women, who sometimes acted as ambassadors and priestesses, enjoyed more equality and independence than their Roman and Greek sisters. Fierce warriors, the Celts were gradually overwhelmed by the Romans, to whose culture they made valuable contributions in warfare, iron technology, and language. Based on Roman texts and Celtic archaeological and etymological evidence and written in a pleasant, almost chatty style, this authoritative and entertaining book will appeal to both the beginning student and the scholar.--Bennett D. Hill, Georgetown Univ., Doylestown, PA
Booknews
One of the best known authorities on the Celts presents a popular account of them in Italy from 390 BC to 190 BC. He explains the historical factors behind Rome's overt racial prejudice against them and documents their contribution to the development of Roman culture in weaponry and warfare, transport technology, and above all in early Latin literature. A few black-and-white photographs of artifacts are included. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
Novelist and historian Ellis offers a limpidly penned account of the racially tense, culturally fruitful relationship between the Romans and the Celts of Italy during the growth of the Roman Republic (390 - 191 b.c.). The Romans' first military encounters with Celts are popularly thought to have been Julius Caesar's conquests of Gaul in the first century b.c.. However, as the author points out, Romans encountered the warlike Celts on the Italian peninsula early in the development of the Roman super-state, and their initial experiences did not inspire confidence in the ultimate triumph of Roman arms. In 390 b.c., a Celtic army under a chieftain named Brennus defeated the Roman army in the battle of Allia; the ensuing occupation of Rome lasted seven months, until the Roman Senate bought off the Celts. The legacy of this humiliation, Ellis contends, was an enduring Roman hatred for the Celts that ultimately resulted in Roman destruction of Celtic civilization wherever the Romans found it. The author argues that the Roman-Celtic wars of the 200 years following the battle of Allia determined the course of the Roman Empire. While the 'Celtic terror" continued to infect northern Italy and menace Rome, the Romans gradually learned to counter the Celtic tactic of massed charges—the Romans lost many battles but in the fateful battle of Telamon (225 b.c.) destroyed a large Celtic army that threatened the peninsula. This victory presaged final Roman triumph, although they continued to have trouble with the Celts during Hannibal's invasion of Italy. Although the Celts were ultimately subjugated and absorbed into Roman society, Ellis argues that they made lasting contributions to Romanliterature, culture, and even military science. Writing from a deep knowledge of Celtic culture, Ellis vividly evokes the clash between two proud societies.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312214197
Publisher:
Palgrave Macmillan
Publication date:
08/15/1998
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.33(w) x 9.47(h) x 1.07(d)

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