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Essays in Honor of Shaun F.D. Hughes
Texts and Materiality in Medieval Scandinavia
A Category and its Use in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages

Abstract

While the topic of the Otherworld is abundantly attested in medieval Celtic legends, we have only a very modest number of ancient literary testimonies that provide insights into the notions Celtic peoples of antiquity had of Otherworlds and journeys to these places. Moreover, the texts of Greek and Roman authors used for this purpose by modern scholarship are of quite different value and can only be used with great reservations as sources for genuinely Celtic otherworld views. The present paper discusses this evidence and the difficulties associated with its interpretation; in addition to quite problematic texts, there are three testimonies preserved in Plutarch (Sertorius 8,5; De facie in orbe lunae 26) and Procopius (Bellum Gothicum 4, 20,42-58), which are treated in detail and examined for their significance in terms of religious history.