In ancient Gaul
, Tarvos Trigaranus
was a bull god
. An alternative spelling is Taruos Trigaranos
since the Latin
script did not distinguish U and V. The words are Gaulish
: Tarvos means 'bull' (Delmarre 2003 pp.291-292) - similar to Old Irish tarb
, a bull, Welsh tarw
, a bull, and in other Indo-European languages
such as Latin taurus
or Lithuanian taŭras
. Garanus means 'crane' (the bird), similar to Welsh, Old Cornish
and Breton garan
. In the Germanic languages
this became *krana(n)
from which is derived the English word "crane" (Delmarre 2003 p. 175). Tri- or Treis is the number three, as seen in Tricorii (the three troops), Trinox (three nights, in the Gaulish calendar of Coligny
) (Delmarre 2003 pp.301-302).
The representation of Tarvos Trigaranos on the Pillar of the Boatmen shows the bull with three cranes perched on his back, standing under a tree. On an adjacent panel, Esus is shown cutting down a tree (possibly a willow) with an axe (Green 1992 pp. 93-94). A similar representation, this time with no inscription, is found on a pillar from Trier where a man with an axe cuts down a tree in which are sitting three birds and a bull's head (MacCulloch 1996 pp.157-158).
It is possible that statues of a bull with three horns, such as the one from Autun (Bourgogne, France) are related to this deity (Green 1992 pp. 93-94).
- Delmare, Xavier (2003) Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise (2nd ed.) Paris: Editions Errance. ISBN 2-87772-237-6
- Green, Miranda J. (1992) Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend. London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-27975-6
- MacCulloch, John A. (1996) Celtic Mythology. Chicago: Academy Chicago Publications. ISBN 0-486-43656-X
- http://www.monde.de/tarvos.html The three-horned bull
- http://www.chronarchy.com/mjournal/patrons/aboutesus.html Discussion of Tarvos Trigaranus and Esus, with photos