Brigantia (goddess)

A statuette in the Museum of Brittany, Rennes, probably depicting Brigantia: c. 2nd century BCE

Brigantia was a goddess in Celtic (Gallo-Roman and Romano-British) religion of Late Antiquity.

Through interpretatio Romana, she was identified with the goddess Victoria. The tales connected to the characters of Brigid and Saint Brigid in Irish mythology and legend have been argued to be connected to Brigantia, although the figures themselves remain distinct.

EtymologyEdit

The name is derived from Proto-Celtic *Brigantī and means "The High One", cognate with the Old Irish name Brigit, the Old High German personal name Burgunt, the Sanskrit word Bṛhatī (बृहती) "high", an epithet of the Hindu dawn goddess Ushas, and Avestan bǝrǝzaitī. The ultimate source is Proto-Indo-European *bʰr̥ǵʰéntih₂ (feminine form of *bʰérǵʰonts, “high”), derived from the root *bʰerǵʰ- (“to rise”).[1][2]

Evidence for BrigantiaEdit

InscriptionsEdit

 
Altar to Jupiter Dolichenus and Caelestis Brigantia from Corbridge, on a 1910 postcard

Seven inscriptions to Brigantia are known, all from Britain.[3] At Birrens (the Roman Blatobulgium), Dumfries and Galloway, in Scotland, is an inscription:

Brigantiae s(acrum) Amandus / arc(h)itectus ex imperio imp(eratum) (fecit)[4]

Brigantia is assimilated to Victoria in two inscriptions, one from Castleford in Yorkshire[5] and one from Greetland near Halifax, also in Yorkshire.[6] The later may be dated to 208 CE by mention of the consuls:

D(eae) Vict(oriae) Brig(antiae) / et num(inibus) Aauugg(ustorum) / T(itus) Aur(elius) Aurelian/us d(onum) d(edit) pro se / et suis s(e) mag(istro) s(acrorum) // Antonin[o] / III et Geta [II] / co(n)ss(ulibus)

At Corbridge on Hadrians Wall – in antiquity, Coria – Brigantia has the divine epithet Caelestis ("Heavenly, Celestial") and is paired with Jupiter Dolichenus:[7]

Iovi aeterno / Dolicheno / et caelesti / Brigantiae / et Saluti / C(aius) Iulius Ap/ol(l)inaris / |(centurio) leg(ionis) VI iuss(u) dei

There is an inscription at Irthington near Brampton in Cumbria DEAE NYMPHAE BRIGANTIAE—"to the divine nymph Brigantia".[8]

Garret Olmstead noted numismatic legends in Iberian script, BRIGANT_N (or PRIKANT_N, as Iberic script does not distinguish voiced and unvoiced consonants) inscribed on a Celtiberian coin, suggesting a cognate Celtiberian goddess.[9]

IconographyEdit

At Birrens (the Roman Blatobulgium), archaeologists have found a Roman-era stone bas-relief of a female figure; she is crowned like a tutelary deity, has a Gorgon's head on her breast, and holds a spear and a globe of victory like the Roman goddesses Victoria and Minerva.[10] The inscription mentioned above assures the identification of the statue as Brigantia rather than Minerva. A statue found in Brittany also seems[according to whom?] to depict Brigantia with the attributes of Minerva.

ToponomyEdit

There are several placenames deriving from 'Brigantium', the neuter form of the same adjective of which the feminine became the name of the goddess. Association of these with the goddess is however dubious, since the placenames are easily explained as referring to a "high fort" or "high place" in the literal sense.

Lisa Bitel noted a wide spread through toponymy:

The town of Bregenz, at the eastern end of Lake Constance in Austria, retains the older name of Brigantion, a tribal capital of a people called the Brigantii, possibly after a goddess Brigant. The rivers Brent in England, Braint in Wales, and Brigid in Ireland are all related linguistically and maybe religiously to the root Brig/Brigant ... Ptolemy, a second-century geographer, did mention a tribe calling itself the Brigantes in Leinster. But nothing remains of the Irish Brigantes except this single tribal name on a Greek's map, the river Brigid, and much later literary references to saints and supernatural figures named Brigit.[11]

Other towns which may also preserve this theonym include Brigetio in Hungary[12] and also Briançonnet and Briançon, both in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France. In antiquity, Briançon was called Brigantio and was the first town on the Via Domitia. It is attested by an inscriptions mentioning munic(ipii) Brigantien(sium) (the town of Brigantio)[13] and Bri/gantione geniti (the Briganti people).[14] At Briançonnet, two third-century inscriptions mention ord(o) Brig(antorum).[15][16] There, oak trees were particularly venerated.[citation needed]

The ancient name of Bragança in Trás-os-Montes, Portugal, was Brigantia. The inhabitants today are still called brigantinos. Braga is another town in Portugal. It is the capital of the district of the same name in the province of Minho. A short distance up the coast, the cities of A Coruña and Betanzos in present-day Galicia (which together with the area of present-day Portugal north of the Douro river formed the Roman and later medieval kingdom of Gallaecia or Callaecia) were respectively named Brigantia and Brigantium. According to the Lebor Gabála Érenn (The Book of the Takings of Ireland), Breogán founded the city called Brigantia and built a tower there from the top of which his son Íth glimpses Ireland and then sets sail across the Celtic Sea to invade and settle it.

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Matasović, Ranko (2009). Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic. Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series. 9. Brill. pp. 78–79.
  2. ^ Mallory, J. P.; Adams, Douglas Q., eds. (1997). Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. Taylor & Francis. p. 269.
  3. ^ Epigraphik-Datenbank Clauss/Slaby.
  4. ^ RIB 02091.
  5. ^ AE 1892, 00098; RIB 00628
  6. ^ RIB 00627.
  7. ^ AE 1947, 00122; RIB 01131.
  8. ^ CIL VII, 00875, Nicholson.
  9. ^ Olmstead (1994), pp. 354–361.
  10. ^ Green (1996), p. 197.
  11. ^ Bitel (2001).
  12. ^ Green (1986), p. 161.
  13. ^ CIL XII, 00095
  14. ^ CIL XII, 00118
  15. ^ AE 1913, 00014.
  16. ^ CIL XII, 00057.

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit