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Buku The Celtic and Scandinavian Religions (Cosimo Classics Sacred Texts) by J. A. MacCulloch

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The Celtic and Scandinavian Religions (Cosimo Classics Sacred Texts) by J. A. MacCulloch

Author:J. A. MacCulloch

Language: eng

Format: epub

Published: 2008-05-03T02:57:00+00:00

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The Celtic and Scandinavian Religions (Cosimo Classics Sacred Texts) by J. A. MacCulloch

CHAPTER XIV

MORALITY

I N moral standard the Celts were probably neither better nor worse than other barbaric peoples. The Gauls were monogamous. The wild statements made by Caesar and others about ten or twelve men, brothers with brothers, fathers with sons, having wives in common, and by others about the Goidels in Ireland, who by their accounts seem to have lived in a state of free love and of incest, are impossible on the face of them, and have no support from the existing tales and other writings which have come down to us. No doubt there were those who committed adultery, and concubinage was permissible. But these things did not exceed the practices of most barbaric peoples.

 

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The Celtic and Scandinavian Religions (Cosimo Classics Sacred Texts) by J. A. MacCulloch

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The Celtic and Scandinavian Religions (Cosimo Classics Sacred Texts) by J. A. MacCulloch

Author:J. A. MacCulloch , Date: June 7, 2019

,Views: 35

Author:J. A. MacCulloch

Language: eng

Format: epub

Published: 2008-05-03T02:57:00+00:00
CHAPTER XIV

MORALITY

I N moral standard the Celts were probably neither better nor worse than other barbaric peoples. The Gauls were monogamous. The wild statements made by Caesar and others about ten or twelve men, brothers with brothers, fathers with sons, having wives in common, and by others about the Goidels in Ireland, who by their accounts seem to have lived in a state of free love and of incest, are impossible on the face of them, and have no support from the existing tales and other writings which have come down to us. No doubt there were those who committed adultery, and concubinage was permissible. But these things did not exceed the practices of most barbaric peoples.

Religious beliefs, especially those about the future life, made the Celts brave, casting from them the fear of death. Religious scruples prevented them from withholding spoil which should have been deposited in a sacred place, or from dishonestly taking what had been placed there. Did anyone transgress he was grievously punished, even with torture. Diodorus speaks of much gold deposited in temples and consecrated places as an offering for the gods. Out of religious scruples no one laid hands on this.

The anger of the gods fell on those who disobeyed them, though how far this was concerned with moral delinquency is not clear. But those who did not accept the judgment of the Druids on various matters were regarded as impious and debarred from the sacrifices, and this was a heavy penalty.

Irish tales hint that divine punishment followed breaches of divine law, though what that law was is not stated, but improper encroachment on sacred places was one of the things punished. In some tales the divine vengeance might fall on a descendant of the aggressor rather than upon himself. Others suggest that obedience to divinely appointed rules, e.g., tabus. was necessary to prevent serious calamities.

In one story of the Celtic Wonderland Manannan tells Bran that its people made love without crime. This seems to imply belief in a state where sexual relations were regulated, indeed a state where marriage was sacred. This appears in another tale in which the son of a sinless pair is required as a sacrifice for the sin of a goddess, Becuma, with a mortal king. Such a son had, as parents, the people of an Elysian land. His mother appeared and rescued him, giving an animal in his stead. The mortal king had lived in lawless love with Becuma for a year, and as a result there was famine in the land. ‘t’his was in accordance with the view that a king should observe the geasa-things imposed upon him, and so preserve plenty in the land, or, as is implied, he was to be a good king. Here he had fallen from goodness, with evil results. Such ideas may not have been common. That they appear at all is striking.

The worst aspect of Celtic life was cruelty, especially where human sacrifice was concerned, and we have seen to what a degree this existed.

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