Some archaic elements of Celtic cosmology

Victor Kalygin 1
  • 1 Institute of Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow

In the Old Irish sources there are some fragments which might be regarded as elements of an obsolete dual system. After the Second Battle of Mag Tuired the world was divided into two parts: the first one, being under the hills, the síd, was given to the Túatha Dé Danann, the second one, the world of living beings, was given to the Milesians, the conquerors. The next division took place when Ireland was divided between the first two milesian kings, namely between Éremón and Éber. One can find other instances of dualistic mythology in the well known book ‘Celtic Heritage’ by the brothers Rees, esp. the chapter “Darkness and Light”, for instance the twofold division of the calendar of Coligny and a similar division of the traditional Irish year. This evidence may suggest that we might search for linguistic traces of this dualism.

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Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie (ZcP) was founded in 1897 by Kuno Meyer and Ludwig Christian Stern. It is thus the oldest significant journal of Celtic studies still in existence. In the early period, its focus was on Celtic (mainly Irish) philology and ‘linguistic monuments’ to Continental Celtic (mainly Gaulish) languages. Later, these areas were extended to include new Celtic languages and typological questions.