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The Dying Gaul & the Naked Warriors who Terrorized Rome

One of my favorite works of art is this powerful statue called "The Dying Gaul." It's in the Capitoline Museum in Rome and has a fascinating history that I didn't even know the first time I saw it. Listen to my podcast to hear the full story (and hear what their frightening "war trumpets" sounded like!). Here are some pictures to accompany the podcast.

"The Dying Gaul," Roman marble copy of a 3rd c. BC Greek bronze (Capitoline museum, Rome)
He's wearing a metal "torc" around his neck and had his hair dyed white with lime

He's collapsed after battle, his sword and war trumpet by his side

Most surprisingly, many of the Celtic warriors had 70's style moustaches!

The Celts were originally a nomadic people from Central Europe but began migrating west around 1,000 BC. They settled in the area around Austria, Switzerland, France and Germany before eventually moving into Italy, Spain and Greece. By the 3rd century BC they were driven out of Italy and were eventually crushed by the Roman Republic in 52 BC.

Map of Europe ~700 BC

Another marble copy was found next to the one above, this one dubbed "The Ludovisi Gaul" or "the Galatian Suicide" since it depicts a warrior committing suicide after first killing his wife (most likely to avoid capture following defeat in battle). This is in the Ludovisi Villa in Rome.

The Ludovisi Gaul in Rome

The fearsome "war horns" or "war trumpets"

Listen to what it may have sounded like!

Musician John Kerry with a copy of an ancient Celtic "war horn"

There were many Gallic, or Celtic, tribes, and they could have become a powerful empire if they ever united under a single leader, but they remained tribal for centuries.

Here's the book that started my fascination with the Celts.

In these bucolic wooded hills where I walk, bloody clashes took place between naked Celtic warriors and Roman soldiers. They say some 6,000 Romans lost their lives in an ambush here in the 3rd century BC. I'm so grateful to live in peaceful times!

Click on the podcast for a quick 20-minute history lesson, and as always, leave a comment and/or put a few coins in the tip jar to keep me on air! Grazie mille and see you next week!

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Great job once again, Claire!! Fun to listen to! I guess you probably know (considering the amount of research you've done on the Celts) - in my country, in the areas of Bohemia and Moravia, archeologists still find remainders of Celtic oppida (villages) and burial sites. So, as you say - they came from the East! Thanks for the podcast!! Very inspiring!

Claire Duiker
Claire Duiker

So glad you enjoyed it! And YES! There was SO much more to say about it but I wanted to keep it brief. I read, in fact, that Bohemia took its name from the Celtic tribe the Boii. I love things like this! -- the long line of complex history that underlies our everyday lives. :-)

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