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Tarvos Trigaranus

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Tarvos Trigaranus
The relief of Tarvos Trigaranus on the Pillar of the Boatmen.
SymbolBull with three cranes

Tarvos Trigaranus or Taruos Trigaranos[1] is a divine figure who appears on a relief panel of the Pillar of the Boatmen as a bull with three cranes perched on his back. He stands under a tree, and on an adjacent panel, the god Esus is chopping down a tree, possibly a willow, with an axe.[2]

In the Gaulish language, taruos means "bull,"[3] found in Old Irish as tarb (/tarβ/), in Modern Irish/Gaelic as tarbh and in Welsh as tarw (compare "bull" in other Indo-European languages such as Latin taurus from Greek "ταύρος" or Lithuanian taŭras). Garanus is the crane (garan in Welsh, Old Cornish and Breton; see also geranos, the ritual "crane dance" of ancient Greece).[4] Treis, or tri- in compound words, is the number three (cf. Irish trí, Welsh tri).[5]

A pillar from Trier shows a man with an axe cutting down a tree in which sit three birds and a bull's head. The juxtaposition of images has been compared to the Tarvos Trigaranus and Esus panels on the Boatmen monument.[6] It is possible that statues of a bull with three horns, such as the one from Autun (Burgundy, France, anciently Augustodunum) are related to this deity.[7]

The Saturnian moon Tarvos is named after Tarvos Trigaranus, following a convention of naming members of its moon group after Gallic mythological figures.[8]

See also



  1. ^ The Latin alphabet did not distinguish between U and V.
  2. ^ Green 1992 pp. 93-94.
  3. ^ Delmarre 2003 pp.291-292.
  4. ^ The English word "crane" derives from the Germanic *krana(n); Delmarre 2003 p. 175).
  5. ^ Compare Tricorii ("the three troops"), and Trinox ("three nights") in the Gaulish calendar of Coligny; Delmarre 2003 pp.301-302.
  6. ^ MacCulloch 1996 pp.157-158.
  7. ^ Green 1992 pp. 93-94.
  8. ^ "Planet and Satellite Names and Discoverers". Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. USGS Astrogeology. July 21, 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-06.


  • Delmare, Xavier (2003) Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise (2nd ed.) Paris: Editions Errance. ISBN 2-87772-237-6
  • Green, Miranda J. (1992) Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend. London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-27975-6
  • MacCulloch, John A. (1996) Celtic Mythology. Chicago: Academy Chicago Publications. ISBN 0-486-43656-X