fl. ca. 600 BCE
Legendary king of the Biturges tribe. According to Livy's Ab Urbe Condita, he was considered king of the entire Celtic race, though this is highly unlikely, given the fractuous nature of the tribes. Specific tribes named by Livy are the Bituriges, the Arverni, the Senones, the Aedui, the Ambarri, the Carnutes, and the Aulerci.
Livy goes on to say that under his rule, the Celts flourished, food was plentiful, and the king was held in highest esteem. Essentially, he is like the Roman Saturnus, king of the golden age. Faced with overpopulation in Gaul, Ambigatus sent his sister's sons Bellovesus and Segovesus to lead the people into northern Italy and the Hercynian Forest, respectively.
The story has a number of echoes of both Indo-European culture and mythology; the great king whose reign causes the crops to be bountiful, the role of the sister's sons as champions of the king and the people, each have cognates in Irish and Welsh mythology.
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Mary Jones © 2009