Ancient history


Cernunnos would mean the “Horned”. In fact, it is systematically decorated with deer antlers. We found a similar representation (the character in question however having bovine horns) on a seal of the Indus civilization (character with horns, seated cross-legged, surrounded by animals).

No myth, no legend has been preserved about this character:we are therefore reduced to conjectures made from his iconography to understand his place in the Gallo-Roman pantheon. His name is attested by four inscriptions:the most famous is that of the pillar of the Nautes de Paris. Another, often considered false, comes from Polenza in Italy. A third, a wax tablet discovered in Romania, attests to his assimilation to Jupiter and that a funeral college was dedicated to him. Finally the oldest, in Gallic language, gives the form Karnonos.

The iconography includes a file of around sixty representations. Sometimes torcs are attached to its antlers; he is seated cross-legged, in the "Buddhist" manner. He holds a sack of coins that he spreads or a basket full of food, two representations of abundance. It is sometimes three-headed or has three faces. We could interpret him as the god of the dead and of wealth, but this remains conjectural. Antlers can symbolize fertilizing power and cyclic renewals, they regrow during the clear season of the Celtic year; he is sometimes surrounded by animals, which would make him a Master of the animal kingdom. The ram-headed serpent is associated with it.

It is notably represented on the Cauldron of Gundestrup (cult vessel dating from the 2nd century BC) and on the Pillar of the Nautes of Lutèce (monument erected by the corporation of the Nautes, under the reign of Tiberius 14-37 AD). . J.C.)

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