Who were the Celts?

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kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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The Celts were the diverse and widespread group that populated Europe during the Greek and Roman Classical period and from whom it is believed the Germanic tribes sprang. Celtic society, in all it's various tribal groups, was hierarchical and based on class divisions. There were three classes. The first was the ruling aristocracy, including the King. The second and most powerful was the intellectual class comprising Druids, poets, and legal experts called jurists. The Druids had their own universities and passed their vast knowledge on by rote (repetition to the level of perfection). The third class was the common people, including laborers, farmers and warriors.

It was when the Romans began encroaching from the south on the European Celtic groups and the (theorized) Celtic off-shoot Germanic tribes began encroaching from the east that Celtic groups spread to the northern coast of France and the British Isles (England, Ireland and Scotland) warring against, conquering and/or displacing the native Briton peoples.

frizzyperm's profile pic

frizzyperm | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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Why do you say who 'were' The Celts???

We are still here!!!

Would you say, "Who were the Chinese" or "Who were the Americans"???

yes-man's profile pic

yes-man | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

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i am here to learn, and here i am learning :) thank you all so much. tnx for the reference links kplhardison. i didn't pay attention to it frizzyperm, tnx for correcting.

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lit24's profile pic

lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

In 1707 the Welsh naturalist and linguist Edward Lhuyd published his monumental work describing the languages and customs of Great Britain. He was among the first to make a detailed and scientific study of the Celtic language and culture. Unlike other earlier Greek and Roman writers who inferred that the Celtic language was the language of the tribes in central Gaul Lhuyd proved that the Celtic language was a branch of the greater Indo-European language family.

Historically the Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age (1000 B.C.- 400 A.D.) Europe. However, they soon spread out all across Europe even as far as Ireland and Scotland. Following the expansion of the Roman Empire and the spread of Latin the Celtic language and culture began to lose its importance. Today the Celtic language and culture is largely restricted to areas surrounding the Irish Sea.

The Romans were the all conquering super power of that time and in their quest for world supremacy they invaded Britain.


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