Many Greek and Latin writers commented on the religion, practices and cults of the Celts, but very little is said about the deities they worshipped, particularly as regards the filiations of the gods and a possible pantheist structure of belief. The only mention is by Julius Caesar, who wrote in the mid-1st c. BC. In a famous passage of the Gallic Wars, in which he describes the five chief gods of the Gauls, he refers to a potent goddess presiding over craftsmanship, whom he names Minerva.38 The main Classical authors referred to in this study as regards Celtic religion are Diodorus Siculus (writing between 30 and 60 BC), Strabo (c. 40 BC – 25 AD), Pliny (23-79 AD), Lucan (39-75 AD), Tacitus (c. 56-117) and Dio Cassius (c. 155-230 AD). Those works represent a significant body of information on the religious practices and beliefs of the Celts: war, divination, philosophy, sacrifices, the belief in the afterlife, etc, but many of them are fragmentary and remain difficult to interpret. Moreover, it must be borne in mind that the vision of the Classical authors on the Celts was distorted, for they considered them as uncivilized peoples who had recourse to ‘barbaric’ practices. This is certainly why they sometimes reported unusual and cruel rituals, such as human sacrifices or head-hunting.39
Caesar, De Bello Gallico, Book 6, 17 ; De Quincey, 1923.
Duval, 1957, pp. 15-16 ; Green, 2004, pp. 29-32 ; Brunaux, 2000, pp. 150-171.