Hate the portrayal of Celts in Hollywood

Aug 2010
15,244
Welsh Marches
#21
The English being evil will be overwhelmingly posh and effeminate
It is wonderful how stereotypes that are not even accurate for the present day can be projected back into te 18th and 19th Centuries (all those limp-wristed empire-builders) and even the Middle Ages for Christ's sake! Actually the English villains are what I like best about films of this kind, hammed up to the hilt by British actors. I'm always ready to cheer them on, even if the scripts stack the odds against them.
 
Aug 2018
27
Australia
#22
Except they don't just tell of "wild charges" and Greek and Roman sources themselves show Celts winning battles against Greeks and Romans, including sacking Delphi and even Rome itself at one point. They were also one of the main forces of Hannibal's famous invading army that gave us the victory at Cannae. Heck, at one point there were Celts from Ireland and Spain all the way to Asia Minor, showing that they were successful conquerors with an extensive civilisation, not the naked savages of Hollywood.

We also know from extensive archaeological research that they were ample metallurgists and even passed upon sword-making and chainmail armour to the rest of Europeans, archaeological evidence that puts heavy doubts on whether there were actually Celtic contingents that fought naked, though even the Romans say that only certain Celts fought naked while the rest were similarly clothed like the Romans.

So basically, Hollywood films should portray Celts as clothed soldiers with cities and at a stage of civilisation that is, at worst, only marginally inferior to the Romans, when it comes to antiquity, and equal to the English and the rest of Europe, when it comes to the Middle Ages.


Also, I see people saying that Hollywood gets cultures wrong all the time, when that's not the point. The point is how it represents certain cultures as worse than others. Hollywood never portrays the Romans badly, for instance. Even in films that have them as the villains, such as in Jesus films, the Romans are still presented as sophisticated and advanced. This is not done with the Celts, who are savages, sometimes "noble", but always savage.
Roman sources as far as I know show them only rarely winning battles and usually early (before legionaries) at that. Celts beating the Greeks in large battles I think did happen, but you always get the impression they were sort of a horde that relied on numbers. I guess that is what they get for not learning to write in their own language.
As for being in Hannibals forces, they were usually used in the front ranks as I recall to blunt the enemies initial attacks. They were disposable really, rather than put into an important role when they did not have to be.

As for the celts being in spain, yes they fought the spanish iberians and thus northern spain became in some parts a new breed of celt-iberian tribes. A mixed culture.
Celts in Ireland... hmmm. I don't know enough but we have to start distinguishing between the picts and any other tribes or cultures as distinct from the Celts. I know things are a bit murkey here.
Celts in Asia Minor - Yes for sure. The Galatians as I recall.

But this still does not shed any light on them being advanced in tactics or warfare. I personally would love their to be some evidence that they were potent, organised, efficient and effective as the legionary.

"From Polybius’ account of this battle, we hear about a ‘tribe’ of Celtic warriors known as the Gaesatae, whom the ancient author describes as having the habit of fighting naked."
Not the best source but hey. There seem to be a fair few accounts over a long period of time as well as a fair few statues of celts fighting naked. Hard to dispute I would say.
The naked celt
 

Sindane

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
4,630
Europe
#23
But this still does not shed any light on them being advanced in tactics or warfare. I personally would love their to be some evidence that they were potent, organised, efficient and effective as the legionary.
Celtic men eh? :rolleyes:

"...This is a woman's resolve; as for men, they may live and be slaves..."
 
Aug 2018
27
Australia
#24
I apologise if I did not include Celtic women I said them not men). Not very knowledgeable in that area. Only know of a couple of Celtic leaders (Boudicca). Any sources you have would be appreciated. Would also love sources for the equality of men and women in the Celtic world. Which I hear was a thing, but would not be surprised if suffered from the rose coloured glasses condition.
I am afraid I only remember pictish women as being in combat... I think it may have been late roman or dark ages? Where a christian wife of some dignitary got her husband to make it illegal as she was so struck by the sight of dead woman's babies on the field of combat. That sounds to me more like pictish tribes ambushed on the move? Why would any sane person take babies into combat.

One thing about the Celtish society I thought was beyond dispute... that they were fairly heavy slavers.
 

Sindane

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
4,630
Europe
#25
I apologise if I did not include Celtic women I said them not men). Not very knowledgeable in that area. Only know of a couple of Celtic leaders (Boudicca). Any sources you have would be appreciated. Would also love sources for the equality of men and women in the Celtic world. Which I hear was a thing, but would not be surprised if suffered from the rose coloured glasses condition.
I am afraid I only remember pictish women as being in combat... I think it may have been late roman or dark ages? Where a christian wife of some dignitary got her husband to make it illegal as she was so struck by the sight of dead woman's babies on the field of combat. That sounds to me more like pictish tribes ambushed on the move? Why would any sane person take babies into combat.

One thing about the Celtish society I thought was beyond dispute... that they were fairly heavy slavers.
My fault. I wasn't meaning to criticise. Sorry if it came across that way
 
Jan 2014
2,292
Westmorland
#27
There was a great deal more to Celtic culture than just fighting. We (rightly) have a pop at the mawkishly sentimental Hollywood portrayal of Celts (which is little more than an exercise in self-congratulation given that 'Celtic' identity is extremely fashionable), but most other modern images of the Celts are equally flawed. At best, they are seen as nothing more than a warrior people and at worst, they are seen as some homogeneous ancestral mulch for modern 'Celtic' peoples.

Historians are increasingly challenging these views. Irish medievalists make the point that the Iron Age and medieval Irish had no conception of themselves as Celts and British medievalists are increasingly moving away from the idea that British Celts had some natural affinity to one another.

'Celtic' is now seen as a cultural and a lingustic definition and, as historians we should be adopting that definition. To be a Celt nowadays, you really need to be a speaker of Irish, Scots Gaelic, Welsh or Breton, even if this precludes the vast majority of those who would like to see themselves as Celts.
 
Sep 2012
907
Prague, Czech Republic
#28
Would also love sources for the equality of men and women in the Celtic world. Which I hear was a thing, but would not be surprised if suffered from the rose coloured glasses condition.
I don't think there's any evidence of gender equality in Celtic society. Some people might get carried away by looking at the still surviving records of medieval Irish law. These gave women more autonomy and more rights over property than was standard in early medieval Europe, but women were in no sense equal. Women were only entitled to inherit land, for example, if they had no brothers.
 
Nov 2008
1,216
England
#29
There was a great deal more to Celtic culture than just fighting. We (rightly) have a pop at the mawkishly sentimental Hollywood portrayal of Celts (which is little more than an exercise in self-congratulation given that 'Celtic' identity is extremely fashionable), but most other modern images of the Celts are equally flawed. At best, they are seen as nothing more than a warrior people and at worst, they are seen as some homogeneous ancestral mulch for modern 'Celtic' peoples.

Historians are increasingly challenging these views. Irish medievalists make the point that the Iron Age and medieval Irish had no conception of themselves as Celts and British medievalists are increasingly moving away from the idea that British Celts had some natural affinity to one another.

'Celtic' is now seen as a cultural and a lingustic definition and, as historians we should be adopting that definition. To be a Celt nowadays, you really need to be a speaker of Irish, Scots Gaelic, Welsh or Breton, even if this precludes the vast majority of those who would like to see themselves as Celts.
I remember the late SF author, Robert Holdstock, used to take great delight in being described a an honorary Celt. For goodness sake, he was born in Kent - Hengest`s country.
 
Jan 2014
2,292
Westmorland
#30
I remember the late SF author, Robert Holdstock, used to take great delight in being described a an honorary Celt. For goodness sake, he was born in Kent - Hengest`s country.
I'm always tempted to wonder who hands out these honorary positions. Is there a panel somewhere? Perhaps comprising Fionn Mac Cumhaill, Merlin, Asterix and a Soay sheep who has mastered the intricacies of Pictish.
 

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