Cimbric Chersonese, doubtless following the amber routes, and then turned east along the Danube, some of their tribes, e.g. the Treres, settling in Thrace, and crossing into Asia; others settled in southern Russia, leaving their name in the Crimea; then when hard pressed by the Scythians most of them passed round the east end of the Euxine into Asia Minor, probably being the people known as Gimirri on Assyrian monuments, and ravaged that region, the relics of the race finally settling at Sinope.
At the beginning of the 6th century B.C. the Celts of France had grown very powerful under the Biturigian king Ambigatus. They appear to have spread southwards into Spain, occupying most of that country as far south as Gades (Cadiz), some tribes, e.g. Turdentani and Turduli, forming permanent settlements and being still powerful there in Roman times; and in northern central Spain, from the mixture of Celts with the native Iberians, the population henceforward was called Celtiberian. About this time also took place a great invasion of Italy; Segovisus and Bellovisus, the nephews of Ambigatus, led armies through Switzerland, and over the Brenner, and by the Maritime Alps, respectively (Livy V. 34). The tribes who sent some of their numbers to invade Italy and settle there were the Bituriges, Arverni, Senones, Aedui, Ambarri, Carnuti and Aulerci.
Certain material remains found in north Italy, e.g. at Sesto Calende, may belong to this invasion. The next great wave of Celts recorded was that which swept down on north Italy shortly before 400 B.C. These invaders broke up in a few years the Etruscan power, and even occupied Rome herself after the disaster on the Allia (390 B.C.). Bought off by gold they withdrew from Rome, but they continued to hold a great part of northern Italy, extending as far south as Sena Gallica (Sinigaglia), and henceforward they were a standing source of danger to Rome, especially in the Samnite Wars, until at last they were either subdued or expelled, e.g. the Boii from the plains of the Po. At the same time as the invasion of Italy they had made fresh descents into the Danube valley and the upper Balkan, and perhaps may have pushed into southern Russia, but at this time they never made their way into Greece, though the Athenian ladies copied the style of hair and dress of the Cimbrian women. About 280 B.C. the Celts gathered a great host at the head of the Adriatic, and accompanied by the Illyrian tribe of Autariatae, they overthrew the Macedonians, overran Thessaly, and invaded Phocis in order to sack Delphi, but they were finally repulsed, chiefly by the efforts of the Aetolians (279 B.C.). The remnant of those who returned from Greece joined that part of their army which had remained in Thrace, and marched for the Hellespont. Here some of their number settled near Byzantium, having conquered the native Thracians, and made Tyle their capital. The Byzantines had to pay them a yearly tribute of 80 talents, until on the death of the Gallic king Cavarus (some time after 220 B.C.) they were annihilated by the Thracians. The main body of the Gauls who had marched to the Hellespont crossed it under the leadership of Leonnorius and Lutarius. Straightway they overran the greater part of Asia Minor, and laid under tribute all west of Taurus, even the Seleucid kings. At last Attila, king of Pergamum, defeated them in a series of battles commemorated on the Pergamene sculptures, and henceforth they were confined to a strip of land in the interior of Asia Minor, the Galatia of history. Their three tribes—Trocmi, Tolistobogians and Tectosages—submitted to Rome (189 B.C.), but they remained autonomous till the death of their king Amyntas, when Augustus erected Galatia into a province. Their descendants were probably the “foolish Galatians” to whom St Paul wrote (see Galatia).
Ancient writers spoke of all these Gauls as Cimbri, and identified them with the Cimmerians of earlier date, who in Homeric times dwelt on the ocean next to the Laestrygones, in a region of wintry gloom, but where the sun set not in summer. Nor was it only towards the south and the Hellespont that the Celtic tide ever set. They passed eastward to the Danube mouth and into southern Russia, as far as the Sea of Azov, mingling with the Scythians, as is proved by the name Celto-scyths. Mithradates VI. of Pontus seems to have negotiated with them to gain their aid against Rome, and Bituitus, a Gallic mercenary, was with him at his death.
The Celts had continually moved westwards also. The Belgae, who were Cimbric in origin, had spread across the Rhine and given their name to all northern France and Belgium (Gallia Belgica). Many of these tribes sent colonies over into south-eastern Britain, where they had been masters for some two centuries when Caesar invaded the island (see Britain). But there is evidence that from the Bronze Age there had been settlers in northern Britain who were broad-skulled and cremated their dead, a practice which had arisen in south Germany in the early Bronze Age or still earlier. It is not unlikely that, as tradition states, there were incursions of Celts from central Gaul into Ireland during the general Celtic unrest in the 6th century B.C. It is certain that at a later period invaders from the continent, bringing with them the later Iron Age culture, commonly called La Tène, which had succeeded that of Hallstatt, had settled in Ireland. Not only are relics of La Tène culture found in Ireland, but the oldest Irish epics celebrate tall, fair-haired, grey-eyed heroes, armed and clad in Gallic fashion, who had come from the continent. The Celts in Italy, in the Balkan, in France and in Britain, overspread the Indo-European peoples, who differed from themselves but slightly in speech. The Celts represented Indo-European q by p, whilst the Greeks, Illyrians, Thracians, Ligurians, and aborigines of France, Britain and Ireland represented it by k, c or qu. The Umbrian-Sabellian tribes had the same phonetic peculiarity as the Celts. Thus Gallic petor (petor-ritum, “four-wheeler”), Umbrian petur, Homeric πίσυρες, Boeotian (Achaean) πέτταρες, Welsh pedwar; but Gaelic cethir, Lat. quatuor. The Celts are thus clearly distinguished from the Gaelic-speaking dark race of Britain and Ireland, and in spite of usage it must be understood that it is strictly misleading to apply the term Celtic to the latter language.
See also Ridgeway, Early Age of Greece, vol. i., and Oldest Irish Epic; Ripley, The Races of Europe; Sergi, The Mediterranean Race. (W. Ri.)
Introduction.—The Celtic languages form one group of the Indo-European family of languages. As might be expected from their geographical distribution, they hold a position between the Italic and Teutonic groups. They are distinguished from these and other branches of the family by certain well-marked characteristics, the most notable of which are the loss of initial and inter-vocalic p, cf. Ir. athair with Lat. pater; Ir. lān, “full,” Welsh llawn, Breton leun, with Lat. plenus; Gaulish are-, “beside,” Ir. ar. Welsh, Breton ar, with Gr. περί, παρά; and the change of I. E. ē to ī, cf. Ir. fīr, “true,” Welsh gwir, Breton gwir, Lat. verus. We may further mention that the I. E. labialized velar gv is represented by b, e.g. Ir. bo, “cow,” Welsh buwch, Gr. βοῦς, Sanskr. gāus; Ir. ben, “woman,” Gr. γυνή, whilst the medial aspirates bh, dh, gh result in simple voiced stops. I. E. sonant r and l become ri, li. Other distinctive features of the modern dialects are not found in Gaulish, partly owing to the character of the monuments. Such are the -ss- preterite and the fusion of simple prepositions with pronominal elements, e.g. Ir. fri-umm, “against me,” Welsh wrth-yf, Breton ouz-inn. The initial mutations which are so characteristic of the living languages did not arise until after the Romans had left Britain. The Celtic languages betray a surprising affinity with the Italic dialects. Indeed, these two groups seem to stand in a much closer relationship to one another than any other pair. As features common to both Celtic and Italic we may mention: (i) the gen. sing, ending -ī of masc. and neut. stems in o; (2) verbal nouns in -tion; (3) the b- future; (4) the passive formation in -r.
The various Celtic dialects may be divided as follows:—(1) Gaulish; (2) Goidelic, including Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx; (3) Brythonic, including Welsh, Breton and Cornish. Gaulish and Brythonic, like Oscan and Umbrian among the Italic dialects, change the I. E. labialized velar guttural qv to p, whilst the Goidelic dialects retain the qv which later gives up the labial