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Happy Saint Patrick's Day...Again.

March 17, 2011


Yeah, yeah, I'll get to that soon enough.

But, here, today, right fucking now, it's Saint Patrick's Day! And, in case you missed the other parts of the series, here they are in reverse order? Why? Fuck Clemson, that's why.

Part the Third
Part the Second
Part the First

Patrick kind of got things rolling around here with my modern, tangentally historical interpretations of the hagiography, so at this point it's kind of a let-down if I don't talk about him on Saint Patrick's Day. Right? Right. Let's start drinking.

At this point, though, I've pretty much tired out the legend of Saint Patrick. With that in mind, I'll try and touch on other things linked to Saint Patrick. He was probably the first missionary for the Christian world, bringing the Word of God and Teachings of Christ to the illiterate savages on the edge of the world. That last part is a fancy way of saying "Ireland".

Patrick's work in Ireland was pretty amazing. The Irish went from a people who had very little in the way of what we would think of as civilization: they didn't write many things down, they didn't have vast, sprawling cities, they painted their bodies and were savagely fierce fighters. About the only thing that they did have that we consider "civilized" was an oral language (they were fantastic story tellers) and an organized religion. As luck would have it, three happened to be a rather sacred number in the Celtic religions of the island. A lot of the gods came in threes, or had three aspects or faces. And if this sounds mildly familiar to you, imagine how the Trinity sounded to the Irish.

The Irish are also inexorably linked in with Celtic civilization, and the large numbers of Irish immigrants who showed up in Boston is probably why the Celtics play basketball there. However, the Celts did not originate in Ireland. Their culture came from the middle of Europe, around the areas of southern Germany, Austria, northern Italy and Switzerland. They spread out from there, and they adopted various different names that were somewhat linked. The Greeks called them Keltoi, and had various run-ins with them as they moved down the Balkan peninsula and on into Turkey into an area known as Galatia. Paul's letter to the Galatians is an epistle aimed at the descendants of these Celts.

The Celts also descended into Italy, where they attacked Rome in 353 BC, sacking it and nearly bringing an end to Roman civilization and dominance in the area. However, as I mentioned above, the Celts were a nomadic people by nature and so they didn't stay in Italy long. They eventually moved out and inhabited an area known as Gaul. Of course, Old Blue Eyes, Julius Caesar, exacted revenge for the sacking of Rome when he conquered and subsequently divided Gaul into three parts. Granted, it wasn't revenge that drove JC, but a desire to get some of the better wine-growing lands around the northern Mediterranean.

The Celts also descended into the Iberian peninsula and set up shop in Galicia in Northern Spain and spread out into Lusitania, as well. Lusitania incorporates a lot of central Spain and Portugal. Again, the Romans conquered this area around the time of the Punic Wars and brought them under the umbrella of Republican Rule. This wasn't because of any sort of desire to exact retribution on the people, but more a desire to get their lands and keep out any Carthaginian influence.

Finally, some of the Celts moved on to the islands of Great Britain and Ireland. Once more, Trajan brought the Roman rule to Britannia, chasing the Gauls into Wales and back across the Irish Sea to Ireland. Ireland's position as being at the very edge of the world (in Euro-centric histories) was perfect for the last vestiges of the free Celtic peoples: it was flat, had many navigable rivers, and the weather was pretty mild, as well. The Romans tried, but never could conquer the Emerald Isle, partially because there was no where else for the Celts to flee to so they were forced to savagely defend themselves, and partially because it was so fucking far from Rome.


However, enter in a young slave, a Roman citizen by birth, who was captured from the western coast of Britannia about the time that Rome was exiting the area and who fell in love with these people who captured him. He escaped, made it back to Rome where he converted to Christianity, and then set out to spread the Word of Christ. Being that he loved the Irish people so much, he returned and taught them how to read and write, showed them the three faces of God by allegedly using one of their sacred native plants, and spread Christianity across their island. His name was Patricius.

And, in a way, the Romans finally conquered the last of the Celtic peoples.

4 comments:

Joshua said...

Those are some huge...tracks of land. Yummy.

That is all.

Elly Lou said...

See? Where were you when I had to go to WIKIPEDIA? *sigh*

Scope said...

She redefines "Irish twins".

SkylersDad said...

Magically delicious? She left that in the dust!