Talk:Helvetii

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References[edit]

Should this not have references? --Filll 15:11, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

Hope the references are sufficient now...! ;-)Trigaranus 10:39, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Whopper[edit]

Hello there. I have written a more detailed article on the Helvetii, partly by translating some paragraphs of the German article into English, but mostly by following its structure and general outline. I have also taken the liberty of including the pictures from the same article, for which I would like to ask the original posters their forgiveness.

As far as the contents go, I tried to be as balanced as possible, mostly relying on the most recent monographies on the Helvetii (SPM IV and Furger-Gunti). I have also tried to give as many references to the ancient literary sources as possible, thus allowing everybody to return ad fontes and see for themselves. With a historical people so sparsely attested (mostly in Caesar and Tacitus, really), the original literary sources are very easily summarised.

Please feel free to correct my English where necessary. Where you disagree with the article's content, please post your imput on this discussion page.

Cheers, Trigaranus 17:59, 3 September 2007 (UTC)

Minor Tribes[edit]

If anyone should feel a desire to write an article on the minor tribes accompanying the Helvetii (Rauraci, Latobrigi, Tulingi), or on the Veragri, Nantuates, Seduni and Ubii, I think it would make sense to set up redirects for the first group and for the second and bundle them together in two articles only (one for the three along the Rhine, one for the four from Valais). That way, one can avoid having them tagged as "stubs" (as there really isn't enough information on all of them to fill seven full-scale articles). Trigaranus 18:29, 3 September 2007 (UTC)

'Tribe' vs. civitas[edit]

This is a good article, but I do want to raise one point that I think is overlooked throughout Wikipedia in dealing with the Celtic polities of "Gaul" in the 2nd–1st century BC. Are the Helvetii ever called a "tribe" (Latin tribus) in any ancient source, and if not, do they fit any modern anthropological definition of a tribe? The article implies that the term civitas is a form of political organization imposed on Celtic "tribes" by the Romans; however, Caesar refers to several major Gallic polities (such as the Arverni and Aedui) as civitates while they were still independent allies. Caesar seems to think that civitas is a Latin term that can represent the pre-existing political organization of certain Celtic peoples for his audience, which included both Romans and (according to T.P. Wiseman) Transalpine Gauls. Although Latin terminology might not represent the Celtic concept fully and accurately, Caesar's choice of the word indicates that he thought of being "Helvetian" or "Aeduan" or "Arvernian" as a kind of citizenship, not a matter of kinship-based tribalism. He may have been wrong, but then the anthropological definition would need to apply. Some Celtic ethnonyms probably refer to "tribes" in the modern sense, but the Aedui, for instance, with their complicated election laws and tax-farming are surely a proto-republic or an oligarchy. And I don't see how such a large polity as the Helvetii, with further internal organization into pagi, can be called a tribe. The hierarchical class structure of Celtic society, with a warrior aristocracy and a priestly judicial class (the druids), doesn't sound like a tribe; see Raimund Karl, “*butacos, *uossos, *geistlos, *ambaχtos: Celtic Socio-economic Organisation in the European Iron Age,” Studia Celtica 40 (2006). I wonder whether it might be useful to look for patterns in Caesar's usage of civitates and gentes or other terms. Cynwolfe (talk) 00:30, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

It's a question of nomenclature, yes. What we see as a "tribal" society in late La-Tène Gaul was actually quite highly developed politically, with all the offices you mentioned. As far as the sources and the comparative method permit it, it appears that the tribes of the Celtica saw themselves as kinship groups, themselves (which was not fundamentally different from how the Romans saw themselves). But IMHO the citizenship of a state and the imagined kinship of a tribe were not inherently different at the time. Our modern definitions are probably a bit too limited here: - both were fundamentally seen as an expression of consanguinity, and if any, citizenship historically tended to be the more restrictive of the two. Structurally, the vergobretos and the ephoros and the political development behind them were probably not very far apart.
Unfortunately, the academic definition of "tribe" is very narrow and does not allow for much liberty. Looking at the four stages of tribal development, most tribes of the Gallia Celtica do not fit into any of these, but rather into a stage 3.5. The same can be said about the political entities of archaic Greece, which we commonly see as city states, mainly due to their higher levels of urbanisation (but cf. Sparta). Now common usage lacks a term for highly organised post-tribal / pre-civilised groups. Caesar used civitas, which is probably the same word he would have used for any Greek polis.
Modern writers would try to avoid this equation in much the same way that you suggested, because our notion of civitas (e.g. citizenry, citizenship, statehood, etc.) is widely different from our notion of tribus (e.g. chieftains, primitive economy, parity of tribal members, lots of furs or banana skirts, if you catch my drift). So we use "tribe" for one (thereby equating it somewhat unjustly with groups of hunter gatherers and reindeer herders) and "state" or "city state" for the other (thereby equating it just as unjustly with anything from Uruk to the French Fifth Republic). We call the Gaulic tribes tribes because they fall short of our definition of states although archaeology tends to steadily diminish the structural differences between them and the more thoroughly urbanised south. We could never call anything that can pack all their belongings and move to a different part of Gaul a state, could we?
Fact is that in the first three books of BG, Caesar does not use the word tribus. In other words, he does not even use it for the much less "civilised" Germanic tribes he encounters in book 1. To him that term primarily meant his possible constituencies in Rome. The Celts to him were split into civitates, and these into pagi (terms which much later came to mean "central city" and "surrounding country districts" in late imperial Gaul). Neither have I found gens, gentis in book 1 or 2. After those, I actually got a bit bored, but feel free to see for the rest and tell me. He seems to have been quite consistent in his use of civitas. Trigaranus (talk) 15:54, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
An anthropological tribe is far too narrow for the ancients. The Roman classical writers used mainly populi but that term fits only generally into our concept of tribe. A populus was ethnic, geographic and political in nature. Everyone considered that it was a big family descending from a common ancestor. It had a territory that often took its name, and when urbanized, the city took its name. It had a common government based on genetic descent of a leading family. If we think of it as a loose term refering to what we call "tribal society" we shall not go far wrong. It might be best in these matters to use the terms proferred by the sources, as I see the article is trying to do. If you want to fully consider all the ins and outs, write a sequel to "The Ancient City."Dave (talk) 02:40, 26 July 2010 (UTC)
factoid: "The Roman classical writers used mainly populi..." -- where do you have that from? Take, to stay the course, Julius Caesar: out of 46 instances of the word populus in the first book of BG, exactly one refers to the peoples of Gaul. The term populus was mainly and almost exclusively used in combination with Romanus. Trigaranus (talk) 17:25, 11 November 2010 (UTC)

Speed[edit]

"What Caesar implies to have been a desperate flight without stopping could actually have been an ordered retreat of moderate speed, covering less than 40 km a day.[28] " (from the article)

I don't have access to the source cited for that, but I'd question any source which implies that 25 miles (=40km) per day is moderate speed for an ancient army. That's a relatively high speed for an individual, and thousands of people all moving at once can only slow things down.

http://www.jstor.org/stable/526561?seq=2

The above link is a reference for 25 miles a day as an emergency forced march speed for the legions (during Boudica's revolt) and that is with a well developed road network.

Similarly, Vegetius (in the fourth century) gives 24 miles per day as the forced-march speed for a legion, over roads, and Caesar himself gives 23 for an estimate closer to the time period.

These are Roman miles, which are actually slightly shorter than British miles (but not by that much). —Preceding unsigned comment added by 134.10.12.91 (talk) 21:14, 27 March 2010 (UTC)

It seems totally implausible that a less organized force, without access to Roman roads, and with non-combatants along could move that fast as a moderate speed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 134.10.12.91 (talk) 21:12, 27 March 2010 (UTC)

Keep a tight ship[edit]

The article could use a lot of tightening up in terms of notes and note formats and carefully considered and referenced statements instead of editor opinion. I'm putting this on my snack list.Dave (talk) 02:43, 26 July 2010 (UTC)

Staehelin ref[edit]

Well, it is not really OK with me to use all-German references. I thought I would try it. I know about enough German to read laboriously with dictionary. With regard to the Tougenoi the first thing I find is no page number. Give me a break. Then I see that the words in the ref are all standard abbreviations from somewhere. WP editors do not write like that, sorry. Note also this ref is not formatted WP style. May I correctly assume that the editor did not access this work but copied it out of some other work? This in itself is troubling. I tried the usual Google and Amazon lookups and there are three or 4 editions of the work, none of which are made available in any way to the public. I think it is safe to say the editor did not use them. Where did he get it? Well it is cited as the basis for an article by Staehelin in Pauly-Wissowa. Why didn't you just cite Pauly-Wissowa? But, you can't get that on the Internet either. Giving the editor the benefit of the doubt, as he is to some degree learned - probably a student - I would say he may have had access to Pauly-Wissova, which you only find in university departments of classics. It has taken me about 2 hours to get thus far. I do not think that is the right approach for the English WP. The problem is, from what I can see, Pauly is the only one that proposes a Teuton origin of Tougen. I don't buy it myself, but then there is no shred of evidence beyond this etymological speculation. German scholarship does love so to speculate, in my opinion. They are a very imaginative people, I think. It seems as though I cannot avoid some reference in German. That isn't what the English reader expects but sometimes it can't be avoided; some of the best wrote only in German. I need to see it. So, I may be re-referencing some of this stuff. I certainly will qualify some of the language, which states or implies that speculations are proven fact.Dave (talk) 12:52, 26 July 2010 (UTC)

Oh, excuse me, I just saw the S. for Seite, "Page". So there is a page number. Well then trig did see it. In that case trig, I would say you are over-addicted to scholarly abbreviations. Without a table of abbreviations those things are incomprehensible; there are hundreds, even thousands. The ordinary reader is not a classics scholar. We need to have some mercy on the poor fellow. We used to joke about "Homer and the Mon" in my belated school daze. We don't need any razzle-dazzle here; we're not a secret society as far as I know and if we are I was never informed. We don't need to speak classical abbreviationese.Dave (talk) 13:33, 26 July 2010 (UTC)
Hey there Dave, sorry it took me so long to respond. I'm only just back for the night and will be off to the great outdoors again tomorrow (some kayaking through Ruinaulta, yaay!).
Have a great time - don't hang around here to do this stuff. I wouldn't.
  1. First off, about that German business: for a tribe from an area which is German-speaking today, you are bound to find most of the literature to be in German. If I had found some good essays on the Helvetii in English, I would have included them. The topic has only been marginally dealt with in English-speaking academia, for all I know (not including military history, which I did not check -- I'm not all too keen on militaria, though the literature on the Gallic Wars must be vast). You'll certainly find some stuff by Cunliffe, though. And yes, not all publications are available online. Any additions are welcome.
Sorry, not so. Plenty of material. No excuses, but go take your holiday. I'll see what I can find.
  1. Sorry about that "S" for "page" with the Staehelin ref. I don't normally do that, must've overlooked it. The book itself is listed in the bibliography. As for the content: I did have a look at that stuff myself, yes (as far as I remember, at the local university library, though it is not connected to Pauly-Wissowa). Speculation is not something Germans are prone to because "they are a very imaginative people" (kudos for prejudice - although Staehelin was Swiss for all I know); it's just what comes from textual corruption. Not my favourite field, but when you look at the literary transmission of ancient ethnonyms in particular, the first thing you'll notice is the high level of variation and corruption. Depending on further attestations of a name, or on the context, emendation is quite a straightforward matter; in the case of a hapax legomenon it is trickier, of course, and will remain speculation (which does not mean "without merit"). Staehelin was certainly aware of that. So cut the good man some slack.
  2. As for the others, do you mean the "Ptol. 2.11.6." stuff? If it's that you are unhappy with, they are the official abbreviations from Pauly-Wissowa ("just cite Pauly-Wissowa"? -- done!) ;-). For all I know, it's the usual way of reffing classical writers (in Europe, at least). Not sure the "Caesar 58 BC" is an improvement. How in the bajeezus did you come up with the "58 BC" by the way? The Commentarii certainly weren't published that year.
The name of the ref is of no significance; it is just a software identifier. The 58 is the initial year of the campaign, but as I say, I could have said x2452 or genesisI-39, it doesn't matter. Whatever is convenient. If you don't find it convenient, put your own name in there. Use your personal name if you want or the name of your significant other, or your favorite football team. But, don't forget, you must use that name to autorepeat that citation. Oh - you probably mean the CITEREF. Well, I presumed Caesar started writing his journal in the first year of the campaign. If you want to use some other basis, go right ahead. However, if you want to link to that reference you have to use that info in the "harvnb" template. In case you are not familiar with it, see template:harvnb. One more point, the main point. WP does frown on obscurity. Wherever you got that gobbledeygook, in that book is a table of abbreviations, and that table tells you what the abbreviation means. They are no good without the table, so, if you are minded to use one, trot yourself over to the table, look it up and put the full form in here, please.
On a general note, "over-addicted to scholarly abbreviations" -- dunno about that. It was just the natural thing to do. Any academic publication on classical history uses this kind of abbreviations. If you read a book on the topic, it's the thing you see there, so it can't be all that bad and unfamiliar. I just used them because they are the German, French or British academic standard. Feel free to wikify them though. Trigaranus (talk) 18:25, 30 July 2010 (UTC)
This isn't any academic publication on classical history, it is a WP article. Our target audience may include classical scholars but the article is not slanted at them. They don't need the article. What good would it do them, except as a topic of amusement at tea time? Our main audience can't get into the hallowed halls to view the academic publications, and yet we don't want to talk to their ignorance, either. We need an intermediary, something that does not overpower, but encourages further interest. I think you may have lost sight of where you actually are and how lucky you are to have gotten there. A library? College? Good Lord man, you ought to be thanking someone up there for the chance. Maybe you could share some of that with populations not so fortunate. In any case, no academic abbreviation, please, unless they are linked to WP articles (many are). One more thing. When you get to the attitude that you can actually say, "Thanks for pointing that out, Dave" then I will know you are getting ready to leave the hallowed halls and be of some use to someone. Thanks.Dave (talk) 19:33, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

Scorched earth[edit]

No way. Scorched earth is when you destroy your country's resources as you retreat so that the advancing enemy cannot use them. The Russians are past masters of that. That is not what the Helvetii were doing. It was a measure of population control by the leading men, presumably, like Orgetorix, of the nobility. But, I am not going to argue this with you. I or you are not here to argue, we are here to present. In the first paragraph you presented the political doubts concerning the validity of Caesar's journal. Those were not YOUR doubts. You backed it up with a reference, which, although I cannot access the book, looks very substantial. It is a collection of scholarly essays on the same theme. Here you are presenting nothing but your own opinion. We aren't interested in your opinions or interpretations. As you can see, they lead to nothing but endless bickering, which we term Wiki-wars. Whatever you can coherently present and support with sources intelligibly named you will find that I do not oppose, except possibly to make sure you present it in language that is NPOV (neutral point of view). I think on this one you took too much for granted, that you did not have to refine and improve your prose. The fact that you can't see the thousands of people reading it may have mislead you. Anyway, if you have a holiday to go on, go on it. Ciao.Dave (talk) 19:51, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

Whoa, slow down pilgrim. I don't remember where I had the "scorched earth" from (probably from the German article as it was when I expanded this one here), and am not sorry to see it gone. Don't worry, except for the slightly too spirited and lecturing talk page entries, you're doing a good job. Should I take umbrage at anything you change, I will let you know (for example that thing about Orgy dying "in camp", which I am about to revert). I have also re-introduced a little more detail in the Orgetorix affair as far as it is of interest from a sociopolitical point of view. Trigaranus (talk) 23:58, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
I just saw this. I noticed you have some changes there. I haven't checked them yet. I have to get my Caesar out. I'm mainly concerned with references and formatting, the elimination of editorial conjecture, and the neutralization of non-neutral language. I'll start detailing my reasons. I see you want to add detail. I was hoping to cut it down. But, if you want detail have the detail. I may divide further into sections if it gets too long. By the way, I'm only doing a certain amount this round and then I fear I am going to abandon you again. It's a round-robin list sort of thing. I can't stand to work on one article too long. But, be assured, I'll be back. You seem to shy away from refs. Why? I didn't really feel I was getting into WP until I faced the refs. On with the show. I'm not reverting anything, only looking at what you currently have. I'll put the critique under here. Later.Dave (talk) 01:12, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

Raurici, Tulingi, Latovici[edit]

Fine on the first paragraph but you left the ref in error. I fixed it. For the tribal names, you got two of these names wrong, one seriously ("Latobrigi"). Now, one has a stub and the other two have nothing. I looked at the stub and I would in NO way trust it. What we need on those is an article for each detailing the ins and outs of their identity and location. Until we do and even if we do I don't think we ought to bring it up here. Not having done the research yet I don't know what the likelihood of their being Germanic or something else is. Considering that the map gives more credible information than you do, I'm taking out your conjectures as to origin as more appropriately covered in the future articles. If no one else does it I suppose I will have to (again). Here is a duplicate of the whole thing just in case:

the Raurici (at the Rhine knee), the Latobrigi (perhaps around Lake Constance--They might be attested at Bregenz (CIL 3,13542). Cf. SPM IV, 37.--, the Tulingi (of unknown origin, maybe even a Germanic tribe--Ethnonyms on -ing- are not found among Celtic tribes, but they do occur in the names of Germanic peoples such as the Silingi--,

By the way these are quite interesting insertions, but I think you are still not getting the point. I don't know what your role is in real life, and don't especially care, but your role on WP is NOT that. You are NOT a contributory scholar here, only a WP editor. So, you can't present these things on your own. You need an authority, even if in real life you might conceivably be one, and I hope someday you will be. Just not here. I suggest you immediately go and work up the Tulingi article. When you present the "ing" name idea, however, you need a reference for that. This is probably the toughest thing for a college man to accept. Your authority is worthless here. You can't tell people how it is, only how someone else says it is. Them's the rules, like it or not. With that in mind, let's now go forward with this until I get the urge to move on, then you may do as you like - until I get back.Dave (talk) 01:36, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

Bob, if you used a bit more of your energy reading instead of talking down to other contributors, it would be greatly appreciated. I mean, I would take any kind of criticism from dab because I know the guy is a genius and his edits are usually top notch, but I guess that's a matter of my own personal taste. As for the Latobrigi-Latovici, the first version is used in two out of three instances in BG and is the one the name is traditionally emended to in the other instance, where the original has Latovici / Latobici depending on the MS; Latovici is a variant sometimes, but not universally, used in modern editions. They are usually kept apart from the Latovici of Slovenia, though the issue is not all that clear. I'll try and have a look at the articles. BTW: I've left you a question on "Vindos" under Talk:Boii: where is that alleged deity from? It's not attested as a theonym in any inscriptions I would know of. Trigaranus (talk) 18:28, 19 August 2010 (UTC)