Music from the ancient world

Here’s an interesting song that I haven’t listened to in a while. I nearly forgot about this album. The band is called Eluveitie. Normally they play heavy metal but they came out with one acoustic album and that is where this song is from. What is interesting about them is the subject of their lyrics. They’re from Switzerland and all of their songs are about celtic, pre-Christian central Europe, or Gaul. In fact many of their songs are in the dead celtic language called Gaulish. If that sounds familiar to you it’s because “Dobnoredo” is a Gaulish word as explained at the top of the right column on this page.

Anyway, this song is very interesting and relevant to this archaeology blog because the lyrics are taken straight from an ancient celtic curse tablet in central France. The celts would write curses on lead tablets, perform some sort of ritual, and then bury the tablet to release the curse. This one happens to list a bunch of Roman names as the targets. Anyway, enjoy the song. Lyrics are posted below.

andedion uediíumi diíiuion risun / artiu mapon(on) aruerriíatin
lopites sní eððdic sos brixtía anderon / c lucion floron nigrinon adgarion aemilí
on paterin claudíon legitumon caelion / pelign claudío pelign marcion uictorin asiatí-
con aððedillí etic secoui toncnaman / toncsiíontío meíon toncsesit bue-
tid ollon reguccambion exsops / pissíiumítsoccaantí rissuis onson
bissíet luge dessummiíis luge / dessumíis luge dessumíís luxe

The song starts off as an invocation of Maponos, the celtic god of youth.

I invoke the god Maponos auertiis. Through the magic of the underworld gods.

The intense rhythmic section is the list of names of the targets of the curse. What follows after is the curse itself. VERY roughly translated:

[long list of names]…and all those who swore that fake oath.
And for the one who swore first, it will be for him an entire deformation (i.e. his straight bones will become bent). And though blind, I will see. With this tablet of incantation, this will be.

Sounds like someone was trying to get back at some Romans for breaking an oath with them. It’s easy to feel detached from this. It almost seems like an excerpt from a fantasy novel, but keep in mind that these were real people. This really happened. I want to know their story. Did the Romans make a deal with the celts only to break that oath and invade their land? I can’t help but wonder if it was written as a last resort by some desperate celtic woman to try and drive the Roman invaders from her homeland.

History is so interesting!

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