1) Celtic root + Germanic adjectival suffix –henae

The name of the Matronae Berguiahenae, for instance, which appears on various inscriptions from Gereonsweiler, Bonn and Tetz (Germany),299 seems at first sight to be Germanic because of the Germanized suffix –henae. And yet, one can notice that their name can be related to the Celtic word bergo-, signifying ‘hill’, derived from IE *bherĝh, ‘high’.300They are thus etymologically linked to Celtic Bergonia (‘Mount’), honoured in Viens (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur), and Bergusia (‘Mount’) in Mont-Auxois (Côte d’Or).301 According to Patrizia De Bernardo Stempel, their name, possibly ‘Those who belong to the Height’, is therefore a Celtic theonym* with a Germanic variant.302Nonetheless, it should not be forgotten that the IE root *bherĝh gave the word ‘hill’ or ‘mountain’ in Germanic too: *bergaz, in Modern German Berg, ‘mountain’.303 From this, it follows that the Matronae Berguiahenaeare probably more Germanic than Celtic, all the more so as their name ends in –henae.

The epithet of the Matronae Albiahenae, honoured in Ober-Elvenich,304 is also a ‘Mischkomposita’, for Albia-henae is composed of a Germanized suffix –henae and of a Celtic word alb-, albio-, albo- signifying ‘world (from the above)’, ‘bright world’, ‘celestial’, derived from IE *albho-, ‘white’ and cognate with Welsh elfydd, ‘world’.305 This word is the opposite of dubno- > dumno-, ‘deep, from below, dark’, ‘World from down below’, that is ‘the Underworld, the Otherworld’, present in the Welsh compound Annwfn, ‘Other World’.306In Gaul, three deities have similar names: Albius (‘Of this World’) in Aignay-le-Duc (Côte d’Or),307 Albiorix (‘King of this World’) in Mont-Genèvre (Hautes-Alpes), Vaison-la-Romaine (Vaucluse) and Montsalier (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence)308, and Albiorica (‘Queen of the World’) in Saint-Saturnin d’Apt (Vaucluse).309De Bernardo Stempel glosses the Albiahenae as ‘Those who belong to the Earthly World’.310 As far as Neumann is concerned, he thinks that their epithet is a Germanic hydronym* reflected in the name of the river Elbe, which rises in the northern Czech Republic and flows to the North Sea (Central Europe).311We also saw that their epithet may be a toponym* referring to the town of Albiniacum (Elvenich, Germany).

The same problem is again encountered in the name of the Matres Mediotautehae, venerated in Cologne (Germany): Matribus Mediotautehi[s] Iul(ius) Primus vet(e)ranus leg(ionis) I M(inerviae) P(iae) F(idelis) vslm. 312 Olmsted suggests these are Germanic deities, because of the inflexion –ehae.313 However, the first element medio-, ‘central, middle’ is known in Celtic.314 In addition, it is possible to recognize in the second element the Celtic word touta, teuta meaning ‘tribe’ or ‘people’, cognate with Old Irish tuath, Middle Welsh tut, ‘tribe’, ‘people’, Welsh tûd, ‘country’, Breton tud, ‘the people’, all coming from IE *teutā, ‘tribe’, ‘people’.315 This word is found again in the names of the Gaulish gods Toutatis / Teutates (Mars),316 Toutenus (Mercurius),317 Teutanus (IOM),318 who are ‘The One (God) of the Tribe’ and in Toutiorix (Apollo), ‘The King of the Tribe’.319 In addition, the Matres Ollototae, studied above, honoured in Binchester and Heronbridge (Britain), are ‘The Mothers of All the Peoples’. One can also notice that the Irish gods are called the Tuatha Dé Danann, that is ‘the Tribe of the Goddess Danu’.320 The form tautehae is equivalent to Celtic *toutiko-. Indeed, Neumann specifies that the diphthong /au/ is Germanic and is equivalent to Celtic /ou/.321 As for Olmsted, he advocates that, if the –h- in the inflexion –ehae has the value of –x-, it would indicate that the name was originally Celtic, with an ending in –ica, -eca (*Mediotoutica), and actually underwent a Germanic influence later on.322 The name of the semi-Celtic, semi-Germanic Matres Mediotautehae can be glossed as ‘The Mothers of the Middle Tribe or ‘of the Central Country’.323

Similarly, the Matronae Gesahenae,honoured in Roedingen, Bettenhofen, Deutz and Cologne (Germany), seem to be at first sight Germanic.324 Neuman proposes to link their name to the Germanic verb geisa, meaning ‘to rage’, ‘to storm’, ‘to charge at’, ‘to attack’, ‘to assault’.325 Yet, Schmidt and Delamarre list them among the Celtic goddesses, relating the first part of their name gesa- to Celtic gaiso-, gaeso- > geso-, meaning ‘spear’, ‘javelin’, cognate with Old Irish gae, genitive ga, ‘spear’, fo-gha, ‘dart’, ‘javelin’, Welsh gwayw, Old Breton guugoiuou, ‘spear’, ‘javelin’.326 The Matronae Gesahenae are etymologically linked to the Matronae Gesationum, venerated in an inscription from Iülich (Germany),327 and to the Gaulish tribe of the Gaesati (‘Armed with Spears’ or ‘Lancers’), who were settled along the Rhône.328

From all of this, it follows that the origin of some mother-goddesses’ divine epithets confronts us with a problem. Indeed, it is possible to link the first element of those bynames* to the Celtic language, while the adjectival suffix –henae is clearly Germanic. On the one hand, such epithets could be understood as Celtic theonyms including a Germanic element or variant. This would mean that the original Celtic name underwent a transformation or a change when confronted with Germanic peoples and it would imply that those goddess names are Celtic in origin.329 On the other hand, it might be that some Celtic names are borrowed from Germanic. For instance, regarding the Matronae Gesahenae, Oswald Szemerény suggests that the Celtic word *gaisos may have been borrowed from Germanic, on account of its vowel pattern.330 This would indicate that those goddesses were probably more Germanic in origin than Celtic.


CIL XIII, 12013 (=AE 1907, 101): Matronis Berhuiahenis Q Acilius Verus dec(urio) c(oloniae) C(laudiae) A(ugustae) A(grippinensis) ; CIL XIII, 12014 (= AE 1907, 102) probably dates from around 200 AD: Berguiahenis i(ussu) M(atronarum) M(arcus) ? Severinius ; AE 1984, 694 dates from the end of the 2nd c. or the beginning of the 3rd c.: Matronis Berguiahenis […] ; CIL XIII, 7878: [Matronis Ber]guineh[i]s Grati[ni]us Victor et Grati[ni]e Alanis […]. In AE 1984, 694, p. 199, it is said that they are probably the same deities as the Vatviae Berhliahenae, venerated in Morken-Harff (Germany), see NL 236.


Delamarre, 2003, p. 73 ; Delamarre, 2007, p. 213 is not sure about the composition of Bergu-iahenae (?) ; De Bernardo Stempel, 2005, p. 142.


CIL XII, 1067 ; CIL XIII, 11247. See Chapter 2 for details on those goddesses.


De Bernardo Stempel, 2005, p. 142.


Delamarre, 2003, p. 73.


CIL XIII, 7933, 7934, 7935, 7936.


Delamarre, 2003, pp. 37-38 ; Delamarre, 2007, pp. 16, 210 ; Schmidt, 1987, p. 145 ; Olmsted, 1994, p. 417 ; Hamp, 1992, pp. 87-89 ; Meid, 1990, pp. 435-439.


Delamarre, 2003, p. 151 ; Delamarre, 2007, p. 220 ; see Lambert, 1995, pp. 171-172: the word antumnos (‘Other World’) appears on the ‘Plomb du Larzac’.


CIL XIII, 11233. Albius is partnered with the goddess Damona, see Chapter 4.


AE 1945, 105b, c, d and 106 (Mont Genèvre) ; CIL XII, 1300 (Vaison-la-Romaine) ; AE 1990, 710 (Montsalier).


CIL XII, 1060. See Chapter 3 for more details on this goddess.


De Bernardo Stempel, 2005, p. 142.


Neumann, 1987, p. 110.


CIL XIII, 8222.


Olmsted, 1994, p. 417.


Delamarre, 2003, p. 222 ; Delamarre, 2007, p. 226. See the name of the tribe of the Mediomatrici, which means either ‘Those who live in the Middle of the Rivers’ or possibly ‘Those of the Median Mothers’ (*medio-māteres).


Delamarre, 2007, p. 234 ; Delamarre, 2003, pp. 295-296 ; Evans, 1967, pp. 266-269.


In England: RIB 1017 (Cumbria) ; AE 1994, 1120 (Great Walsingham) ; RIB II, 3 / 2422.38 (unknown), 8 / 2503.131 (Kelvedon), 3 / 2422.36, 37 (Lincoln), 3/ 2422.39 (Thetford), 3 / 2422.40 (Willoughby-on-the-Wolds) ; RIB 219 (Barkway) and in Austria: CIL III, 5320 (Seckau), in Italy: Holder, ACS, vol. 2, 528 (Toutatis Medurinis: Rome) ; Delamarre, 2003, p. 295 ; Olmsted, 1994, pp. 328-329 ; Lajoye, 2008, pp. 63-68 ; Vendryes, Joseph, in RC, 40, 1923, p. 175.


AE 1927, 70 (Bingen) ; CIL XIII, 6122 (Hohenburg) ; Olmsted, 1994, pp. 328-329.


IOM = I(iovi) O(ptimo) M(aximo) ; In Hungary: CIL III, 10418 (Alt-Ofen) ; AE 1991, 1324 (Bölcske) ; AE 1965, 349 (Obuda).


CIL XIII, 7564 (Wiesbaden, Germany) ; Delamarre, 2003, pp. 260-261, 295 ; Delamarre, 2007, pp. 230, 234 ; Sterckx, 1998, p. 128 ; Evans, 1967, pp. 266-269, 286-288 ; Olmsted, 1994, p. 393 and Sterckx, 1996, pp. 40-41would see another etymology* and gloss his name as ‘The King of Healers’.


Ó hÓgáin, 2006, pp. 478-481.


RGA, vol. 19, p. 439.


Olmsted, 1994, p. 417.


Delamarre, 2003, p. 222 ; Olmsted, 1994, p. 424.


CIL XIII, 7889, 7890, 7895, 8491, 8496 ; Olmsted, 1994, p. 415 suggests that they are Germanic and could have been the protective Mothers of an unrecorded tribe called the Gesationes.


Neumann, 1987, p. 116.


Delamarre, 2003, p. 174 ; Delamarre, 2007, pp. 103, 222 ; Schmidt, 1987, p. 148.


Gutenbrunner, 1936, p. 190 ; Schmidt, 1987, p. 148 ; Spickermann, 2005, p. 143 ; AE 1967, 344: Matronis Gesationum Iul(ia) Ver[i] f(ilia) Attia vslm. The name Attia is Celtic, see Delamarre, 2007, p. 32, but the significance is unknown.


Rüger, 1987, p. 30 ; Delamarre, 2003, p. 174, cf. the proper names Udlu-gesus (‘Magical Spear’), Mero-gaisus (‘Crazy Spear’), etc ; Lacroix, 2003, pp. 73-74 ; Kruta, 2000, pp. 631, 638 ; Polybus, Histories, II, 22 ; Tacitus, The Histories, I, 4 ; Plutarch, The Life of Marcellus, III, 2 ; Barruol, 1999, pp. 305-307.


Schmidt, 1987, p. 148 ; De Bernardo Stempel, 2005, pp. 142-146.


Szemerényi, Oswald, ‘An den Quellen des lateinischen Wortschatzes’, in Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft, 56, 1989, p. 124 proposes the prototype *ghoisos.