Toutatis

Toutatis

Toutatis or Teutates was a Celtic god worshipped in ancient Gaul and Britain. On the basis of his name's etymology, he has been widely interpreted to be a tribal protector. Today, he is best known under the name Toutatis (IPA /towˈtɑːtis/ in Gaulish) through the Gaulish catchphrase "By Toutatis!", invented for the Asterix comics by Goscinny and Uderzo. The spelling Toutatis, however, is authentic and attested by about ten ancient inscriptions. Under the spelling Teutates, the god is also known from a passage in Lucan.

Epigraphic evidence

Teutates was worshipped especially in Gaul and in Roman Britain. Inscriptions to him have been recovered in the United Kingdom, for example that at Cumberland Quarries (RIB 1017), dedicated to Jupiter Optimus Maximus and Mars Toutatis. Two dedications have also been found in Noricum and Rome.

Evidence from Pharsalia

Teutates was one of three Celtic gods mentioned by the Roman poet Lucan in the 1st century AD, the other two being Esus ("lord") and Taranis ("thunderer"). According to later commentators, victims sacrificed to Teutates were killed by being plunged headfirst into a vat filled with an unspecified liquid. Present-day scholars frequently speak of ‘the toutates’ as plural, referring respectively to the patrons of the several tribes. Of two later commentators on Lucan's text, one identifies Teutates with Mercury, the other with Mars.

Etymology

‘Teutates’ is widely thought to be derived from the Proto-Celtic *teutā- meaning ‘people’ or ‘tribe’. Proto-Celtic eu generally shifted to ou before the second century BCE. It has been suggested that the name means ‘father of the tribe’ but if this were the case, the expected name would be *Toutāter (Proto-Celtic *teutā- plus *φatīr). The name relates him to the Roman god Quirinus who was the god of the state and served the masses.

Syncretism

As noted above, among a pair of later reviewers on Lucan's work, one identifies Teutates with Mercury and Esus with Mars. At times the Gaulish “Mercury” may have the characteristic of a warrior, while the Gaulish “Mars” as may act as a god of protection or healing.

Paul-Marie Duval argues that each tribe had its own toutatis; he further considers the Gaulish Mars the product of syncretism with the Celtic toutates, noting the great number of indigenous epithets under which Mars was worshipped.

See also

Sources

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