The Celtic Literature Collective

Josephus on the Gauls
Flavius Josephus

The Antiquities of the Jews

1. Now they were the grandchildren of Noah, in honor of whom names were imposed on the nations by those that first seized upon them. Japhet, the son of Noah, had seven sons: they inhabited so, that, beginning at the mountains Taurus and Amanus, they proceeded along Asia, as far as the river Tansis, and along Europe to Cadiz; and settling themselves on the lands which they light upon, which none had inhabited before, they called the nations by their own names. For Gomer founded those whom the Greeks now call Galatians, [Galls,] but were then called Gomerites.

Book XV.vii
Now when Herod [the Great] was come into Egypt, he was introduced to Caesar with great freedom, as already a friend of his, and received very great favors from him; for he made him a present of those four hundred Galatians who had been Cleopatra's guards, and restored that country to him again, which, by her means, had been taken away from him. He also added to his kingdom Gadara, Hippos, and Samaria; and, besides those, the maritime cities, Gaza, and Anthedon, and Joppa, and Strato's Tower.

The Wars of the Jews

Preface, para. 2: Those Jews also who were for innovations, then arose when the times were disturbed; they were also in a flourishing condition for strength and riches, insomuch that the affairs of the East were then exceeding tumultuous, while some hoped for gain, and others were afraid of loss in such troubles; for the Jews hoped that all of their nation which were beyond Euphrates would have raised an insurrection together with them. The Gauls also, in the neighborhood of the Romans, were in motion, and the Geltin1 were not quiet; but all was in disorder after the death of Nero.

Book I.xxxiii.
The Death of Herod Anitpas: The Gauls in Herod Antipas's retinue

9. ...and near to the bier were Herod's sons, and a multitude of his kindred; next to which came his guards, and the regiment of Thracians, the Germans also and Gauls, all accounted as if they were going to war; but the rest of the army went foremost, armed, and following their captains and officers in a regular manner...

Book II.xvi
Herod Agrippa warns the Jews against revolt: comparing with the failure of the Gauls

Hath not your army been often beaten even by your neighbouring nations, while the power of the Romans is invincible in all parts of the habitable earth? nay, rather they seek for somewhat still beyond that, for all Euphrates is not a sufficient boundary for them on the east side, nor the Danube on the north, aud for their southern limit, Lybia has been searched over by them, as far as countries uninhabited, as is Cadiz their limit on the west, nay, indeed, they have sought for another habitable earth beyond the ocean, and have carried their arms as far as such British islands as were never known before. What therefore do you pretend to do? Are you richer than the Gauls, stronger than the Germans, wiser than the Greeks, more numerous than all the men upon the habitable earth?

...Moreover, if great advantages might provoke any people to revolt, the Gauls might do it best of all, as being so thoroughly walled round by nature; on the east side of the Alps, on the north by the river Rhine, on the south by the Pyrenean mountains, and on the west by the ocean.ŚNow, although these Gauls have such obstacles before them to prevent any attack upon them, and have no fewer than three hundred and five nations among them, nay have, as one may say, the fountains of domestic happiness within themselves, and send out plentiful streams of happiness over almost the whole world, these bear to be tributary to the Romans, and derive their prosperous condition from them; and they undergo this, not because they are of effeminate minds, or because they are of an ignoble stock, as having borne a war of eighty years, in order to preserve their liberty; but by reason of the great regard they have to the power of the Romans, and their good fortune, which is of greater efficacy than their arms. These Gauls, therefore, are kept in servitude by twelve hundred soldiers, who are hardly so many as are their cities; nor hath the gold dug out of the mines of Spain been sufficient for the support of a war to preserve their liberty, nor could their vast distance from the Romans by land and by sea do it; nor could the martial tribes of the Lusitaninns and Spaniards escape; no more could the ocean, with its tide, which yet was terrible to the ancient inhabitants. Nay, the Romans have extended their arms beyond the pillars of Hercules, and have walked among the clouds, upon the Pyrenean mountains, and have subdued these nations; and one legion is a sufficient guard for those people, although they were hard to be conquered, and at a distance so remote from Rome. Who is there among you that hath not heard of the great number of the Germans! You have, to be sure, yourselves seen them to be strong and tall, and that frequently, since the Romans have them among their captives everywhere; yet these Germans, who dwell in an immense country, who have minds greater than their bodies, and a soul that despises death, and who are in rage more fierce tiian wild beasts, have the Rhine for the boundary of their enterprises, and arc tamed by eight Roman legions. Such of them as were taken captives became their servants ; and the rest of the entire nation were obliged to save themselves by flight. Do you also, who depend on the walls of Jerusalem, consider what a wall the Britons had: for the Romans sailed away to them, and subdued them while they were encompassed by the ocean, and inhabited an island that had not less than [the continent of] this habitable earth, and four legions are a sufficent guard to so large an island: and why should I speak much more about this matter, while the Parthians, that most warlike body of men, and lords of so many nations, and encompassed air. such mighty forces, send hostages to the Romans whereby you may see, if you please, even in Italy, the noblest nation of the east, under the notion of peace, submitting to serve them.

Against Apion

Book I
Nay, those that were reckoned the most exact historians (and Ephorus for one) were so very ignorant of the Gauls and the Spaniards, that he supposed the Spaniards, who inhabit so great a part of the western regions of the earth, to be no more than one city.

1. Why Whiston uses Geltin is beyond me; Josephus uses the word Keltikon.

Flavius Josephus. The Works of Flavius Josephus. trans. & ed. William Whiston. 1895.