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Posted on February 14, 2004. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Helvetic: Swiss: relating to Switzerland.

Helvetian: member of Helvetii: a member of the ancient Celtic people the Helvetii

Helvetii: ancient Celtic people from S Germany: a Celtic people who originally came from southern Germany and migrated to Helvetia where they settled during the second century bc

Helvetia: Roman name for Switzerland. [Mid-16th century. From Latin.]. Region of central Europe, occupying the plateau between the Alps and the Jura mts. The name is derived from the Roman term for its inhabitants, the predominantly Celtic Helvetii, who were defeated (58 B.C.) at Bibracte by Julius Caesar in the Gallic Wars. The Helvetii later prospered under Roman rule; their achievements are evidenced by the remains at Avenches. Helvetia corresponds roughly to the western part of modern Switzerland, and the name is still used in poetic reference to that country and on its postage stamps.

Helot: One of a class of serfs in ancient Sparta, neither a slave nor a free citizen.
Helios: The sun god, son of Hyperion, depicted as driving his chariot across the sky from east to west daily.

Celt or Kelt: A member of a group of peoples first found in SW Germany and E France early in the 2d millennium B.C., but perhaps much older than that. The Celts were a group of tribes speaking Indo-European dialects. Armed with iron weapons and mounted on horses, they spread rapidly over Europe, crossing into the British Isles, moving S over France, Italy, and Spain, fighting the Macedonians, and penetrating into Asia Minor, where they raided Hellenistic centers. The Celts introduced the newly developed iron industries. Their wealth from trade and from raiding helped to maintain their dominance over Central Europe during the Iron Age. The La T�ne culture developed among the Celts. Greek influences that stimulated Celtic culture included the introduction of the chariot and of writing. Art flourished in richly ornamented styles. The Celts lived in semifortified villages, with a tribal organization that became increasingly hierarchical as wealth was acquired. Priests, nobles, artisans, and peasants were clearly distinguished, and the powers of the chief became kinglike. The Celts believed in a demonic universe and relied on the ministry of the druids. Much Western European folklore is derived from the Celts. By the 4th cent. B.C. they could no longer withstand the encroaching Germanic tribes, and they lost most of their holdings in the north and in W Germany. From that time on, Celtic history becomes confused with that of the many unsettled tribes in Europe. Celtic language and culture were variously dispersed among peoples of little historical identity, and until the 20th cent. historians obscured the very important differences among these groups by naming them all Celts. Further confusion has resulted from the designation of the Celts as a racial group. To the Greeks and Romans, the Celts were tall, muscular, and light-skinned, but it is believed that these were qualities of the Celt warriors rather than Celts in general. The term Celtic is actually a cultural one, unrelated to physical heredity. It implies a cultural tradition maintained through many centuries of common history in the same general area.

Druids: priests of ancient Celtic Britain, Ireland, and Gaul and probably of all ancient Celtic peoples, known to have existed at least since the 3d cent. BC. Information about them is derived almost exclusively from the testimony of Roman authors, notably Julius Caesar, and from Old Irish sagas, supplemented to some extent by archaeological evidence. The druids constituted a priestly upper class in command of a highly ritualistic religion, which apparently centered on the worship of a pantheon of nature deities. Druids were also responsible for the education of the young and generally for the intellectual life of the community; although apparently literate, they taught by oral transmission, and their courses are said to have lasted as long as 20 years. The druids believed in immortality of the soul in a nonjudgmental world of the dead. Their religious ceremonies seem to have been performed chiefly in tree groves (the oak and the mistletoe that grows on the oak were held sacred) and at river sources and lakes. The druids performed animal and human sacrifices and practiced divination and other forms of magic. Tacitus mentions a Celtic tribe, the Bructeri, that was led by a prophetess, and Irish legend confirms that there were women druids, although their precise role is not known. According to Caesar, the druids in Gaul were organized into a federation or brotherhood that extended across tribal divisions and was headed by an archdruid; they met once a year, probably on the site of Chartres, to arbitrate private and intertribal disputes. They thus wielded great political power and were an important cohesive force among the Celtic tribes. The druids in Gaul were the core of the rebellions against Rome. Their power, although broken by the Romans, finally yielded only to Christianity. In the late 18th and 19th cent., interest in the druids was spurred by archaeological discoveries and by the romantic movement. The megalithic monuments of France and Great Britain, notably those at Carnac and Stonehenge, were once ascribed to them, but these are now known to predate Celtic culture.

Gaul: 1. A Celt of ancient Gaul. 2. A French person.
Gallic: Of or relating to Gaul or France.

Gall: To irk or exasperate; vex: It galled me to have to wait outside. Pronounced the same. Unrelated etymology, apparently.

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