This is the first popular account of the Celts of Italy and the land known as Cisalpine Gaul--a much neglected area in the history of Rome's rise to dominance. In 390 BC, a Celtic army captured Rome and occupied it for seven months until the Roman senate paid them off. For the next fifty years, Celtic armies remained nearby, and for two centuries the Celts of Italy resisted Rome with a stubborn defiance, often annihilating entire consular armies sent against them. Rome could not claim to be master of the Po Valley Celts until 191 BC. This much-needed book explains the historical factors behind Rome's overt racial prejudice against the Celts and shows at the same time the important Celtic contribution to the development of Roman culture--in weaponry and warfare, in transport technology and, above all, in the Celtic contribution to early Latin literature.
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On July 18, 390 B.C., a huge Roman army went out to face an equally huge Celtic force arrayed on a field just 11 miles north of Rome. The Roman commanders, writes Peter Berresford Ellis, had distinguished themselves in war; their troops, likewise, were tested veterans. Yet, wrote the Roman historian Livy, the generals had failed to make proper prayers and sacrifices or to seek portents of the gods, and the Celts destroyed them with quick ferocity in what became known as the Battle of Allia. The day would ever after be marked on the Roman calendar as the dies Alliensis, a day of bad auspices and bad luck, when "future generations of Romans would refuse to undertake any public enterprise."
Ellis examines the tangled relations that obtained between Rome and Italy's many Celtic peoples, who periodically rose in arms against the empire but who also contributed much to its power through complex and often-broken alliances. (The Carthaginian general Hannibal, Ellis writes, would discover just how complex, when he enlisted the support of Italian Celts in his war against Rome; much of his time was spent warding off Celtic attempts to assassinate him.) As Rome's power grew, its legions eventually subdued the Celtic tribes. Even at peace, however, Ellis writes, the Celts gave Rome much cause for worry, although Celts like Catullus, Cornelius Nepos, Lucretius, and Cato enriched Roman culture. --Gregory McNameeAbout the Author:
Peter Berresford Ellis is an authority on the Celts and the author of many books, including Celt and Greek and A Dictionary of Irish Mythology. He lives in England.
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Book Description Palgrave Macmillan, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110312214197