Celtic Women

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Book Details

Author  Peter Berresford Ellis
Publisher  Eerdmans Pub Co
Publication Date   April 1, 1996
ISBN  0802838081
Pages  288

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Description

Drawing on literary, mythological, legal, and historical sources, Peter Berresford Ellis sets out to explore the reality behind the myriad images we hold today. His Celtic Women provides a balanced and informed perspective on the position of women in Celtic society and asks how much of this ancient culture has filtered down through the ages. Ellis examines the concept of the "Mother Goddess" origin of the Celts as well as the pantheon of women in Celtic mythology - from Etain and Emer, and Macha and Medb, to Rhiannon and Gwenhwyvar (Guinevere). He also discusses a wide range of important historical personalities. Although Boudicca (Boadicea) is often cited as the most powerful historical Celtic female figure - the one who led southern Britain in insurrection against the Romans - Ellis shows that she was by no means unique. The results of Ellis's engaging study show that Celtic society undoubtedly maintained an order in which women were harmoniously balanced in relation to men. Beside the repressive male dominance of classic Mediterranean society, the position of women in Celtic myth, law, and early history seems to have constituted an ideal. Celtic women could govern; took prominent - sometimes the highest - roles in political, religious, and artistic life; could own property; could divorce; and were even expected to fight alongside men in battles. It was not until the Celts' encounter and conflict with the alien values of the Roman and Germanic cultures and the arrival of Western Christianity that the rights of women began to erode.

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