Ducospiā Carnuton (The Revolt of the Carnutes)

Conetodunus (left) and Cotuatus (right), leaders of the Ducopsiā Carnuton. Original artwork by Branos Carnutodrūidon. https://thecarnutiannemeton.com

On 13 February 53 BCE, the tribe of the Carnutes led by Conetodunus and Cotuatus slaughtered the Roman traders who had taken up residence in Cenabum as well as Roman troops garrisoned there. This uprising was the spark which led to the flaming revolt led by Vercingetorix.

The territory of the Carnutes was considered to be the political and religious center of Gaul. Caesar informs us that there was an annual meeting of the Druids in the territory of the Carnutes:

These ones [the Druids] sit down together at a certain time of the year at a consecrated place in the territory of the Carnutes, which is held to be in the middle of all of Gaul. To this place everyone from all parts, who have disputes, assemble and obtain their decrees and judgments.

De Bello Gallico VI.13 (my translation)

As the sacred center of Gaul, it conforms to Celtic thought that the first blow against which would begin a general revolt of almost all the Gaulish tribes should originate in the territory of the Carnutes.

Hirtius, who composed Book VIII of Caesar’s De Bello Gallico, relates how the instigator of the rebellion was punished and killed by Caesar for his involvement (De Bello Gallico VIII, 38). Hirtius, however, refers to this person as Gutuater rather than Cotuatus as Caesar had done. There has been much debate about the discrepancies in the two names. Some have interpretted Gutuater as a proper name while others relate it to the Gaulish gutuatir, a type of priest believed to be a ‘master of invocations’ (Delamarre 2003, p. 184-185), composed of the Proto-Celtic roots *gutu- ‘voice’ and *atīr ‘father,’ and thus identifying Cotuatus as being a gutuatir.

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

It is dedicated to Branos Carnutodrūidon from over at the Galatis Litauiās Discord server in gratitude.


Coin from the tribal area of the Carnutes (Region of Chartres), dated to before 52 BCE. (Obverse) Male head right. (Reverse) Eagle standing front attacking a serpent, pentagram and rosette or bouleted cross in fields, small eagle to right.

ne buetid iānon lamman
eiūs anmoniteiūs,
sindoi congabāssario
anmaruūs clutūs sladaunobi
arecoron cinton uritti
Romin. toutās Galliās
comberton in datlābi
celtābi brodināton
gissus Romiās. uotigū
breitrin eluin, drūið Branos
stāsset etic labarātos essi:
“uergon nauet, ne uepoi.
essi uellon orgomorio in
catun uritto ne cluton
ategabiomosio centon
in agron etic riioton
caxton au regentiūs
ansonūs. riioton Galliiā.”
suā sepīsset Branos Carnuton.
Galatīs catarnoi nenouar
ueniā extos nepos ne
ceconge sladon arecoron
cinton. tigū Conetodunus
dassos stāsset ac sepīsset:
“nīs, Carnutes, reorgont de
Tasgetiun, uiron dīsatextos
rēgon sioxti arepū nidātor
duci rīx Caisari. ac nu
rinauiroi Romanoi butānt
in Cenabū etic camont
anauon ansonon. slassiomos
clutulucūs Romiās etic
brennsiomos ollon Galliās.”
ac Cotuatus gutuātir
Carnuton sepīsset ācū:
“extos pāpoi tonxont oiton ne
daxiontio couitā ansonā.”
Cotuatus endo cirtusioxti
toncontio pāpūs oiton.
celā rādīntor sosio rogū
diun matin do adgonī.
drūið Branos budi buet
suedecametos dius Equi.
ion dius matiācos axti,
Conetodunus exobnos
gaisocloutiosc Cotuatus
comberton corion dassisamon
agrouiron inter Carnutās
uasrī. Cotuatus iexti eūs:
“adgariomos Rudiobun
belisamon, tigernos epon,
agni gaisūs ansonūs ion
uacomos carton olcos
Romiās toutiā anson etic
brennsiomos ollon Galliās.
combere adbertās anson tei.”
ac Carnutes sumoi dībibar
duorās trebānon Romanānon.
orxton rinauirūs etic
bergāssar ne oinū trebās
extos etic magūs eionon.
coetic orxton Gaiun Citin,
ixon redatietor in uergū
brigantii tiouerā Caisari.
Carnutes catarnoi gegalar
segos sueionon ad nemos
etic beretor ollū Galliās
gaitū, brennaunos toutās
siton uosagitī Romiās.
tonceton Conetodunous
exobni eiāt necon eri
Catus Alesiās; tonceton
Cotuatous gaisocloutii
eiāt rouaxton. caxtos
Caisari, batītor bassū
com gassū etic conbibar
pennon eio are dīuixtin.
nu Conetodunus exobnos
gaisocloutiosc Cotuatus
trebānt Senisterobi in
celicnā maruon, ibaunoi
medu melimelisson etic
bracaunoi eri urextoubi
galobi. extos anuanā mārā
sueionā ne basiont, in genūs
donion bisiont biuon
po nemos ceidet uer anse,
talamonen bolet inti
letanon eti loncāt nos,
moriue māron linut ūx
glandin eti ansnāt nos.

It would be wrong to leave
them unremembered,
those ones who obtained
undying glory by striking
the first blow against
Rome. The tribes of Gaul
gathered in secret
meetings to discuss
the threat of Rome. After
much debate, the druid Branos
stood and proclaimed:
“Action is needed, not words!
It is better that we be slain in
battle than we not recover
our former glory in
war and the freedom
received from our
ancestors. Freedom for Gaul!”
Thus spoke Branos.
The brave Gauls nodded
in approval but no one
stepped forward to strike
the first blow. Finally, fierce
Conetodunus stood up and said:
“We Carnutes have already killed
Tasgetius, a man unsuitable
to rule even before he was set up
as king by Caesar. And now
Roman merchants dwell in
Cenabum and they steal
our profit. We will slaughter
the wolf-thieves and
we will inspire all of Gaul.”
Then Cotuatus the gutuatir
of the Carnutes said quickly:
“But everyone must swear an oath
that they will not reveal our designs.”
Cotuatus then made certain
that everyone swore an oath.
Omens were taken in order to determine
the favorable day for the attack.
The druid Branos announced
it would be the sixteenth day of Equos.
When the auspicious day arrived,
fearless Conetodunus and
spear-famed Cotuatus
gathered a warband of the fiercest
warriors among the Carnutes
at dawn. Cotuatus addresses them:
“We call upon mighty Rudiobus,
the master of horses,
guide our spears as
we strive to expel the plague
of Rome from our tribe and
to inspire all of Gaul.
Accept our sacrifices to you.”
Then the bold Carnutes shattered
the doors of the Roman abodes.
They killed the merchants and
they plundered not only the abodes
but also their market-places.
They also slew Gaius Cita,
whom had been placed in the task
of supervising the provisions by Caesar.
The mighty Carnutes shouted
their victory to the sky
and it was carried to all of Gaul
by the wind, e flaming the tribes
to stand in defiance of Rome.
The fate of fearless
Conetodunus was to die during
the Battle of Alesia; the fate
of spear-famed Cotuatus was
much worse. Taken
by Caesar, he was beat to death
with a rod and they cut off
his head for the sake of revenge.
Now fearless Conetodunus
and spear-famed Cotuatus
dwell with the Ancestors in
the Halls of the Dead, drinking
the honey-sweet mead and
boasting about their brave
deeds. But their great names
shall not perish, they will live
in the mouths of men
until the sky falls upon us,
the earth opens widely
and swallows us, or
the great sea flows over
its shore and drowns us.

Ⓒ 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 attempted to use an 8-syllable meter (octosyllabic meter) when composing the above praise poetry. However, in actuality, the syllabic meter is 7 to 9 syllables due to the lack of an extensive Gaulish vocabulary available. 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. It also ended in a cadence of short-long-short-long (Jones). Due to the limits of known Gaulish vocabulary, this final cadence has been, unfortunately, impossible to achieve. Any missing vocabulary there was (either from original Gaulish or the modern reconstructed Gaulish dictionaries available), I have reconstructed the words using Proto-Celtic forms. Also, as praise poetry, the use of epithets has been widely utilized.


PRIMARY SOURCES

Caesar, Julius. The Gallic War. Book VII. Available online: http://classics.mit.edu/Caesar/gallic.7.7.htm

SECONDARY SOURCES

Jones, Dan. Gallo-Brittonic (Unfinished Draft). https://www.scribd.com/document/46565269/Gallo-Brittonic-Unfinished-Draft

West, M. L. Indo-European Poetry and Myth. Oxford University Press, 2007.

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