Axtās Galās Onomārēs – The Courageous Deeds of Onomaris

Coin from the Scordisci tribe c. 2nd century BCE

In Γυναῖκες ἐν πολεμικοῖς συνεταὶ καὶ ἀνδρεῖαι, (“Women Wise and Brave in the Art of War”), more commonly referred to by the Latin title Tractatus de mulieribus claris in bello (“Treatise on Women Distinguished in War”), an anonymous Greek author tells the story of Onomaris:

Onomāris is one of those held in honour by the Galatians.When her people were oppressed by famine, and sought to flee from their country, they offered themselves as subjects to anyone who was willing to lead them. When none of the men wished to do this, she placed all of their property in a common store, and led the settlers, of whom there were many, to . . . . Crossing the Danube, and conquering the natives in battle, she ruled over that land as queen.

Trans. by John Koch and John Carey

Onomaris is believed to have lived in the 5th or 6th century BCE (Koch 2003, p. 42). Julian (1906) suggested that Onomaris may have belonged to the tribe of the Scordisci. I have followed this suggestion.

Unfortunately, the name of the place (or even the area) where Onomaris led her people is unknown. In the Greek manuscript, there are letters missing after the preposition εἷς (“to”) which may have referred to a place name. I have, therefore, not named or given a name to their destination but merely have had them cross the Danube and conquer a native people in battle as described in the original text.

The text says that Onomaris was held in honor by the Galations. However, the Celts didn’t move into Asia Minor until 271 BCE. The text probably refers, then, to the Gauls rather than the Galations in Asia Minor although it is uncertain.

Below is a praise poem I wrote in Gaulish with an English translation about Onomaris. At the end, there are also some notes on the meter, vocabulary, and style.


ne buetid atecton lamman
sian dīcommantan, sindā
gallā eionte anmaruon
cluton ducauniā toutiūs
tirō nouiū. ion Scordiscoi
segoi uasontor nāuinū,
ueletor lucoi suetirūs
eionon. canti comberton
ollūs nerūs drutisamūs
Scordiscon segon ac iexton:
“dēuoi anmaruoi uoluxton
remon anson ac biborar
eum anuīron. tirus essi
nu tartos ac delxti onū
cnamīs colanion nāuātion.
tongomosnīs Eponiā ac
Scordū: nepos ducetīs nos
tirō nouiū, sindos buisiet
ulaticos assus anson.”
ie coni senaunos uergon
rodīet māros decos ac
clutos, be nepos ne uiron
ceconge. canti catarnā
Onomāris stāsset ac bās:
“duxiūmī suos ne oinū
tirō nouiū, extos eti
trebābo uorītābo con
aidū somū atīs anson
semiti. textomos uasrī.”
diuū nessamū, ponc drungoi
lugon uegnūs, Onomāris
couīrā gabāsset dalin
au aidū atēs ac corti
id in croxanon. ac lugon
croxanon in uegnon eiās
etic tetoxtar. sepīntor
srutam Danuuious ambi.
pāpos diuos ac nox pāpā,
suā Onomāris couīrā
messet aidun atēs duci
matīr medet magun biccon.
rēdontor mīssobi duobin
pusi adītāssar ritus
ac tetarar Danuuiun.
arenxton tirus iuan uer
glanniā ambi etic roxton
atrebon endo. ion drungoi
auedonto tegās, budinā
toutiās andogniās benane
ac comarcīsset itāntio.
Scordiscoi segoi adgonton
budinin, adgabiaunoi
onon oinon biuon lucon
toutī namanti. catarnā
Onomāris adgabāsset
trīs cingetās rassūs aidun
atēs etic duxti allūs
in catun. ueuritar slougon
namanti lanū litanū.
Scordiscoi segoi batīsson
gaisūs sīrūs uer scētobi
letānobi ac gegalar
garmanā londā. routrāssar
namanton ac selladarin.
cateiāssar com condobi
namanti dīlegetobi
ad essedā ac gandaunoi
colanīs ancondās butās
ulidon do boduobi. ion
rodīlelogariis condūs
namanti ad tegās, aidus
atēs pāpiās dextos essi
Onomārī couīriā. ac
comberti toutin ac iexti:
“ne duxtūmī suos are
suecluton mon, extos are
atrebāte toratiācon
tirun. ma ueletesuīs me
butā ulaticos sueson,
bisiūmī. extos ne rēgū
suos oitū nepū toncetū.”
pogde toutā tugegouse
Onomārin belin butin
rīganiin assun eionon.
nu Onomāris couīriā
trebāt Senisterobi in
celicnā maruon, ibaunā
medu melimelisson ac
bracaunā eri axtābi
galābi. ac anuan eiās
māron ne baiset, in genūs
donion biusietid uta
ne linxietor dīcommantan.


It would not be right to leave
her forgotten, that brave
one who attained undying
glory by leading tribe members
to a new land. When the strong
Scordisci were consumed by famine,
they wanted to flee their own
lands. Therefore they assembled
all the bravest warriors
of the strong Scordisci and said:
“The deathless gods have looked at
our leader and they have judged
him untrue. The land is now
barren and holds only
the bones of the starved dead.
We swear by Epona and
by Scordos, whoever leads
us to new land, that one
will become our rightful ruler.”
Even though completing the deed
would yield great honor and
glory, still none of the men stepped
forward. Therefore brave
Onomaris stood and said:
“I will not only lead you
to new land, but also
to homes warmed with
the same flame of our hearths
as well. We leave at dawn.”
The next day, while the people
loaded the wagons, honorable
Onomaris took a part from the
fire of her hearth and put
it into an earthen pot. Then
she put the earthen pot into
her wagon and they departed.
They followed the course of the
Danube river. Every day and night,
so honorable Onomaris
would tend the fire of the hearth like
a mother takes care of a small child.
They journeyed for two months
until they reached a ford
and they crossed the Danube.
They found fertile land on
the bank of the river and decided
to dwell there. While the people
we’re building homes, a border-troop
of a local tribe came and
demanded that they go.
The strong Scordisci attacked
the border-troop, leaving
only one alive to flee to the tribe
of the enemy. Mighty
Onomaris left three
warriors to guard the fire
of the hearth and led the others
into battle. They met the army
of the enemy on a wide plain.
The strong Scordisci beat
their long spears on their broad
shields and shouted their
harsh warcries. They charged
the enemy and slaughtered
them. They returned with
the heads of the enemy
tied to their chariots and leaving
the headless corpses to be
a feast for the crows. When
they had tied the heads
of the enemy to their houses,
the fire of each hearth was lit
by honorable Onomaris. Then
she assembled the tribe and said:
“I did not lead you for the sake of
my own glory, but for the sake of
you inhabiting fertile land. If
you want me to be your ruler,
I will be. But I do not bind you
to any oath having been sworn.”
Nonetheless the tribe chose
strong Onomaris to be
their rightful queen.
Now honorable Onomaris
dwells with the Ancestors in
the Halls of the Dead,
drinking honey-sweet mead and
boasting about her brave
deeds. But her great name
shall not perish, it will live
in the mouths of men so that
she will not be left forgotten.

Ⓒ Cunolugus Drugaisos. All rights reserved.


The opening of the poem is based on the Brythonic phrase “It would be wrong to leave unremembered him” used in Y Gododdinwhen the poet praises the deeds of Gwenabwy mab Gwen (West 35). I have used an 8-syllable meter (octosyllabic meter) when composing the above praise poetry. There is evidence of the use of an octosyllabic meter, called brixtu meter, used by the Gauls (the Chamalières tablet) which is similar to Irish and Welsh poetic meters as well as other Indo-European forms.


SOURCES

Julian, C. (1906). “À propos des Scordisques,” Revue des Études Anciennes, Tome 8, p. 124.

Koch, John T. (2003). The Celtic Heroic Age. Celtic Studies Publications, Fourth Edition.

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