I do not remember when it came onto my hands, but some time ago I received from Dad a copy of a map from a book by the Roman historian Tacitus (who lived about 55 AD to 117 AD), that showed a Celtic tribe called the gSantonesh in Gaul (in modern France) around the time of Caesar (100 DC to 44 DC). I wondered if these Santones are related to the present Santones, so when I had a little free time I thought I would gather what material I could find to see if it was possible. I do not have a conclusive answer (I have not found any direct historical evidence yet), but it seems to me that there are no historical, political, geographical, or commercial reasons why it could not be the case, and in fact, the evidence looks favorable. First, I will provide a brief history lesson as a background or framework for the material I found. Then I will discuss the language background, followed by some information about the Santones mentioned by Tacitus. Next, I will mention a few facts about wormwood, a plant named after the Santones, and finally state some conclusions.
1. History lesson.
The Santones were a Celtic tribe living on the West Atlantic coast of present-day France along the Bay of Biscay. How did they get there?
Most of the inhabitants of Europe originated in a group of people that inhabited the areas around present-day Eastern Germany. They migrated between 2000 and 1000 BC into Europe and down into India, and are hence known as the gIndo-Europeansh. These people settled in modern Germany (the Germanic tribes), France (the Celtic tribes; France was called gGaulh, as in Charles de Gaul, of WWII fame), Spain (the Iberian tribes), Italy, Greece, Turkey, and several other places. gSantoneh was the name of a tribe that settled in the western area of Gaul. In the same way that all these peoples come from the same original group, their cultures and languages all have the same origin. The original language is called gproto-Indo-Europeanh. Of course there are no examples of this hypothetical language, but there are a lot of similar words common to all the European languages (as well as India), as well as a lot of borrowing between languages after each one was well formed.
The Greeks were among the first to start colonizing the coastal areas of the Mediterranean (which means gmiddle of the earthh) to trade with the peoples of these areas, possessing colonies from the south coast of Spain and France (Gaul), southern Italy, Sicily, Northern Africa (Egypt), and Asia Minor (Turkey). Their empire peaked in 500 DC, extending to the east as far as the Indus valley of India. They learned about the Celts from a colony they had on the south coast of France, Massilia (modern Marseilles), and the southern Celts were influenced by the Greeks, acquiring their alphabet. Unfortunately, the western Celts including the Santones (separated from the southern Celts by mountains called the Central Massif) did not acquire a written language, so nothing remains of their language except a few stone inscriptions in Roman characters (mainly place names).
Next, the Romans started their expansion. They overran the original Greek empire and went considerably beyond it. They also expanded up into the area settled by the Celts. The Celts were conquered by Julius Caesar during the 5th decade BC, and incorporated into the Roman Empire, which continued to expand. Also, during the time of the Roman Empire their languages were replaced by Latin. (Incidentally, after the age of Caesar, the name gCelth falls out of use by Roman historians, being replaced by Gaul (Gauls) and Galataw (Galatians). It was about this time that Christianity began to form in and spread from Palestine (modern Israel). In the 3rd century AD, the Roman Empire was Christianized, and split in two, creating the Eastern and Western Roman Empires. In the 4th century AD, the Western Roman Empire (in which you find the Catholic church) was overrun by Germanic tribes (who had always caused trouble), including the area occupied by the Santones. Thu area of the Santones was overrun by the Visigoths, But this goverrunningh was slow and piecemeal, so the cultural legacy continued without being lost or destroyed. The western empire broke up into a number of kingdoms, and the feudal age began. The cultural unity of the fragmented Western Europe was provided by the Catholic church (gcatholich is Greek for guniversalh). The eastern Roman Empire (including the Eastern Orthodox church) continued until 1453 (500 years before I was born), when it was overrun by the Turks, who were incidentally being pushed west by the descendents of the Genghis Khans of Mongolia (the Golden Hordes). When Constantinople fell that year to the Turks, the trading routes between the west and Asia were lost. Thus, in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, and the rest, as they say, is history.
2. The word gSantonef.
Celtic is an gIndo—Europeanh language, that is, a language having the same origin as Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, Gaelic, and many other European languages, including the one that became English, and Sanskrit, the language of ancient India (that is the gIndo-h), so some hints as to the original meaning of gsantoneh can perhaps be found from these languages. In fact, you can find common words in Gaelic (evolved from Celtic) and Sanskrit (one of the original languages of Hinduism and Buddhism), as well as the practice of writing law in verse so that it could be easily memorized (you can find a gcult of memoryh in both cultures).
The Santones would have spoken a dialect of the language of the people of Gaul, called Gaulish. Unfortunately, the only existing examples of the language are a few inscriptions on stone, and these are mainly place names. Thus it is impossible to know what the gSantoneh may have meant in the original dialect of the Santones.
If you look in a dictionary of modern Italian, you will sue the word gsantoneh (small esf) means ghermit, saint, hypocrite.h This word comes from Latin, the predecessor of modern Italian. It can also be seen in the modern Italian gSantoh for gSaint so-and-so,h and other Italian words relating to saintliness or holy things. The sense of ghypocriteh refers to someone who acts like a saint but really is not, in the sense of gsanctimonioush. The French has an expression gto pass as a sainth which means sanctimonious. This Italian word comes from a Latin word used when the Bible was translated from Greek into Latin at the time of the Christianizing of the Roman Empire. (Incidentally, the French call the miniature statues they use in Christmas nativity scenes gsantons,h but this word can only be traced back to gsantounh (little saint) from Old Provencal, a language spoken in southern France, but only going back to the middle ages.)
The Latin translation of the Bible was made from the original Hebrew and Greek. Hebrew was the original language of the Old Testament and Greek was the original language of the New Testament. Although the original writers of the New Testament (like the Apostle Paul) were speakers of Aramaic, they wrote in Attic Greek, the language of the Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle, and the universal language of communication (from the time of the Greek empire) in their area. They were attempting to appeal to intellectuals of the day, who knew Greek. (Actually, the Bible as we know it was not assembled until the 5th century AD.) Greek is still the language of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Latin only became important with the rise of the Roman Empire, but its importance continued after its collapse up to the 19th century as the language of religion (Latin being the language of the traditional Catholic mass), diplomacy, and scholarship.
The Roman Empire, originally pagan, was Christianized near the middle the 3rd century AD. It is also about this time that the notion of Saint and Sainthood developed. So although gsantonuh means gsainth in modern Italian, it could not have meant this in pre-Christian Europe, when used as the name of the tribe of Celts in Gaul (France).
The Latin word was originally used in pagan Roman religion. The word saint comes from Latin gsanctush, a form of gsancireh, ratify, enact (as in the English sanction), devote, consecrate, make sacred, from sacfrare, from seer- or near meaning sacred (as in gsacerdotal g). These words have sacr- as a base. It seems that the word originally meant gpureh, perhaps ritually pure, and thus by extension, holy or sacred. In the sense of ratify, it could refer to laws and curses, or enacting laws. In the sense of pure or holy, it could refer to people like the emperor, but most frequently the Roman gods. Thus this word could be adopted for translation of Christian texts into Latin.
Thu Latin santo (related to sanctus) was a translation of the New Testament Greek word hagio, which in the original Greek pagan religion referred to devotion to the gods, but could also be applied to things, meaning a sanctuary. The Apostle Paul, and early Christians generally, uses the term to refer to the Christian faithful in general. For example, the English translation of Paulfs letter to the Romans (1v7; Oxford translation) reads, gI send greetings to all of you in Rome whom God loves and has called to be his dedicated people.h gDedicated peopleh is the translation of hagios. Later the term was applied the middle the 3rd century AD. It is also about this time that the notion of Saint and Sainthood developed. So although gsantonuh means gsainth in modern Italian, it could not have meant this in pre-Christian Europe, when used as the name of the tribe of Celts in Gaul (France).
The Latin word was originally used in pagan Roman religion. Thu word saint comes from Latin gsanctush, a form of gsancireh, ratify, enact (as in the English sanction), devote, consecrate, make sacred, from sacfrare, from seer- or sear meaning sacred (as in gsacerdotal"). These words have sacr- as a base. It seems that the word originally meant gpureh, perhaps ritually pure, and thus by extension, holy or sacred. In the sense of ratify, it could refer to laws and curses, or enacting laws. In the sense of pure or holy, it could refer to people like the emperor, but most frequently the Roman gods. Thus this word could be adopted for translation of Christian texts into Latin.
Thu Latin santo (related to sanctus) was a translation of the New Testament Greek word hagio, which in the original Greek pagan religion referred to devotion to the gods, but could also be applied to things, meaning a sanctuary. The Apostle Paul, and early Christians generally, uses the term to refer to the Christian faithful in general. For example, the English translation of Paulfs letter to the Romans (1u7; Oxford translation) reads, gI send greetings to all of you in Rome whom God loves and has called to be his dedicated people.h gDedicated peopleh is the translation of hagios. Later the term was applied more narrowly to the gmartyrsh (Greek for gwitnessh) who died for the sake of the religion. Subsequently, with the rise of the popular veneration of martyrs, their tombs attracted lots of pilgrims, and some bishop made their tombs into altars. Eventually, thus altar became the basis legitimating their ecclesiastical power, and gave rise to the cult of saints. These tombs were said to have remarkable powers to cure illness, procure forgiveness for sins, and provide protection.
After the Christianizing of the Roman Empire in the middle of the 3rd century AD, persecution of Christians greatly diminished, so saints became thought of as paradigm figures, as models for holiness and living a holy life, which is basically the modern notion of saint. Thus, saints became figures to whom one could lawfully pray to for the intercession of God. Martin Luther attacked this Catholic cult of saints during the reformation of 1517 as idolatry, so you do not find it in Protestantism. There is also the theory that saints were accepted by the church as a way or compromise to bring pagan polytheists (believers in many gods) like the Celts into a monotheistic (believers in one god) religion.
The point here is that although the word gsantoneh means gsainth in modern Italian, this notion of saint came at least 500 years too late to have had anything to do with the original Celtic name gSantoneh. What did the name originally mean? The first possibility is that, since Celtic is related to Latin via the Indo—European common root language, the Celtic language the name originally meaning something like gpureh or gholyh in some sense resembled the Latin word, and this word was just borrowed as is by Caesar when he named the tribes in Latin (what are called gCaesarian namesh). If the word was not the same, Caesar may have translated a Celtic name word meaning pure or holy into the Latin word, which became gSantoneh. However, even if the Celtic word meant pure or holy, in Celtic religion only places (temples) or times (religious festivals) or gods could be holy, not people. Many of the tribes in Gaul have names ending in gonh or gtonh (Santones, Pictones, Eburons, Suessions, Redons, Lingons, Turons), so this part of the name may have been a Latin affix for tribe or name ending.
A second possibility is a bit of speculation based on comparison of languages, which shows that in Greek and Assyrian, for example, the root gsan-h is frequently associated with the colors red or scarlet. (Of course, Assyrian, an Afro-Asian language, is not actually related to Greek, and Indo-European language, but the Greeks got their alphabet from the Phoenicians, who in turn got theirs from the Assyrians. Thus there was some cultural - and commercial - interaction.) So the original meaning could have been a place name originally meaning or referring to something gredh or gscarleth (like the color of soil or some flora). But this is just speculation. An example of this in English is the word gsandarach from Latin gsandaracah, meaning gred coloringh, which in turn is from Greek, gsandarakeh, which means grealgarh, an orange-red mineral consisting of arsenic sulfide and having a resinous luster, or the red pigment that comes from it. Or perhaps, but probably not, it is related to gsarbdalh, from Late Greek gsantalonh, a derivative of Sanskrit gcandanah, which in turn is of Dravidian origin, akin to the Tamil gcantuh, all of which mean sandalwood tree. What is suggestive is that there is a red sandalwood from which red pigment was extracted. The scientific name of the plant is Pterocarpus santalinus. gPtero-carpush comes from Greek meaning gfeather-fruith, and gsantalinosh is Greek for gof sandalwoodh.
If it is the case that the Celtic word Santone was originally derived from a word meaning gredh, it could be that later this original meaning warn forgotten, and since the word for gredh resembles the Latin word for gholyh or gpureh, and later esainth, that this religious meaning was attached to the word later. Suppose long ago someone named Bob Hope established and named after himself a small town, gHopeh, in Arkansas. But generations later this was forgotten and the people began to think of their townfs name as meaning Hope in a religious sense. It would be something like that. Generally, the identity of a Celtic tribes originated in each member of the tribe being able to trace their family back to a common ancestor (the Scottish eclansf come from this system). It is possible that the Celtic gSantoneh was a family name meaning gredh, but which later had the meaning gholyh or gsainth attached to it because of its resemblance to the Latin word.
3. The Santones
The eSantonesf were a Celtic tribe living in south—western France (Gaul) north of the river Garonne, on the Bay of Biscay, and, according to one book may have come from an area that is presently Germany. These migrations of people from Eastern Europe began in 2000 BC and ran to about 1000 BC.
Celts migrated primarily to the area of present day France, but some overran, at one time, northern Italy, and they went into Greece, the Balkans, Ukraine, and England (the only place they still exist, their language being Welsh and Scottish Gaelic, along with Celts of Brittany in France). This movement is known only through archeological evidence. The Santones were probably settled in Gaul at least by 500 BC. The Celts were already known to the ancient Greeks who had colonized many areas of the Mediterranean by the 5th century BC, including the southern shore of France where they had a colony called gMassilia,h present day Marseille. According to later Roman historians, the Greek navigators and geographers mentioned the Celts, whom they called eKeltoi,h but the original works by the Greeks are all lost. At any rate, they were familiar mainly with the Celts on the south coast of France (among the Celts known as Transalpine Celts, gtransalpineh referring to the Celts to the north of the Italian Alps). The southern Celts used the Greek alphabet as the basis of their writing system, and long distance trade was developed.
The characteristics the Romans note about the Celts are several (in addition to those of Caesar). They all wore pants (called bracae), long hair (coma, and hence the name gComataf for the Celts of Gaul). They were said to be tall and robust, fair complexion, blue eyes, blond of chestnut color hair, and the men, except the nobility with their moustaches, grew beards. (To some extent this description was undoubtedly a stereotype.) Along with their pants, they wore a short sleeved cloak which went down to the middle of the thigh, and over which they wore another cloak called a sagum, striped, or adorned with flowers, and richly embroidered for the wealthy. This sagum was later adopted by the Roman soldiers. The word sagum comes from the Greek sagas originally, and referred to a coarse cloak, plaid, used by the Celts and Iberians (Spaniards). They were good at mining (for example, there was tin and lead in the area of the Santones) and dying fabrics. They also made beer and wine, and were widely reputed to be excessive drinkers, who would regularly get into drunken fights and kill each other. Coincidently, in modern times, this area is the origin of all brandy made from the best grapes, called Cognac.
The Celts were one of the first groups to use metal weapons, which is why they spread so fast. The mines made the Celts very rich. They were very warlike, and thinking it less than manly to wear armament, fought naked. Early on they did not take prisoners, preferring to cut off their head to display hanging on their horse and later to be placed in their house, or to burn them alive in some sort of rites. They would clean the heads and use them for drinking, or use them in a temple. Later, this practice gave way to taking the prisoners as slaves.
According to one Italian encyclopedia (see reference materials), the first documentary evidence about the Santones is found in Caesarfs accounts of the Gallic wars, which occurred in the mid-5Os BC. The Celtic tribes were never more than a loose confederation, making it easy for Caesar to conquer them. Gaul was essentially a creation of Caesar during his campaigns. He includes the Santones as one of the Celtic tribes that he conquered and pacified in 56 BC. The Santones furnished 12,000 men to Vercingetorixfs 90,000 man army when he lead a revolt against Caesar, but the revolt failed, and Gaul was completely subjugated by 51 BC.
The Santones were a tribe living with more than a dozen other tribes in an area known in Caesarfs day as Celtic Gaul, but later Augustus extended northward the southern province called Aquitania, and the Santones were incorporated into it (see maps in the reference material). Caesar referred to the Santones as a civitas, a nation with citizens (cives), in contrast to a pagi, or tribe, which they originally were. Like all conquered peoples they were made citizens of the Roman Empire, and thus travel to Italy would have been possible. The area of the Santones was a center for tin and lead mining and manufacturing, and some Santones may have migrated along the trade routes for these items over a long period of time, accounting for their presence in Italy. They also most likely traded wormwood (see below). Subsequent references to the Santones by other Roman historians, including Tacitus, are drawn from Caesar.
Little was known about the interior tribes of Gaul until Caesar overran it. He makes several remarks about the Celts (but he may have been seeing the Celts through the eyes of a Roman). They were primarily agricultural, herders of livestock (which I guess would include goats, which were raised by the Italian Santones). They were divided into 3 classes: the priests, soldiers, and free men. Free men were owners of cows, (which is gboh in Gaelic, and probably Celtic, related to the Greek word bous and the Latin words bov, from which we get our word gbovineh and bos, from which we get gBossieh, a common name for a cow). The priests were called the gdruidsh and were very powerful because it was thought they could bring good fortune by the use of magic. They used sacrifice (including humans early on). And, as I mentioned above, their concept of the holy or sacred was limited to land, time, or places, not people (who could be heros). That is, there were no such things as saints. So again, if the name Santone comes from this tribe, the original meaning could not have been gsaint.h
Since the Santones were technically citizens of the Roman Empire, they could have traveled within it, even as far as Italy. They were reputed to be free under the Romans, who, with the exception of financial matters, governed the provinces rather loosely. It happens that the Santones were on the north-west coast of France (Gaul). Their major city was called Mediolanum in Latin, but I do not know the original Celtic name (this is probably a gCaesarian namef). The meaning of Mediolanum is open to doubt, but is probably from the Latin gmediah, from gmediumh, meaning gat or within the centerh, and glanah which means gwoolh (with a similar word in Greek, glanionh). I do not know the connection, except that there may have been wool from sheep there (I do not have any evidence of this yet, and most wool producing areas were in Spain and North Italy). The name was replaced by Santone, which became Santionge in the middle ages, and is now Saintes. The area is still called gSantiongeh, which is pronounced just like Santone (the ggeh is silent in French). Mediolanum is also the classical name of Milan, in northern Italy (once overrun by the Celts). Milan was originally established by a Celtic tribe called the Insubres when the Celts overran northern Italy in the era before the Roman Empire. It was taken by the Romans in 222 BC. This area was known for wool. There was one other city that I have found with the name Mediolanum, in the north of Gaul (see maps). I do not know the connection between these three same-named cities, but Milan seems to be the oldest, dating from about 500 B.C.
Mediolanum was the terminus of a major trading route (see map) that went from Rome (perhaps via Milan) out to the coast of France, and was part of a larger trade network spreading through Europe. It was mentioned by the Greek geographer Strabo (about 63 DC to 24 AD), who was in turn citing the Roman statesman Agrippa (63 DC to 12 DC). Two other major cities were Iculisna (now Angouleme) and Santonum Porta (now La Rochelle). Later, during the middle ages, the civitas santonum was formed from two pagi (tribes): Santonicus and Alienensis. For these Santones to get to Italy and become the modern Santones there would have to be evidence of their having traveled from the north-west coast of France to Italy in large enough numbers to guarantee that the name would not disappear over the next thousand years, or as least several centuries. This is the point for which there does not seem to be any available historical evidence, or at least none that I have located to date (except that we exist).
The Celtic tribes had disappeared by the 5th century AD, as they were overrun by the Germanic tribes that overran the Western Roman Empire. However, as I mentioned above, this goverrunningh was rather slow and piecemeal, and the Celtic and Roman (Gallo-roman) cultural legacy remained.
We can find the name Santone that is definitely from the Celtic tribe in any modern English dictionary under the word gsantonica.h The word origin in the Websterfs Collegiate reads.
NL, from L (herba) santonica an herb, probably wormwood, from of Santoni, from Santoni, a people of Aquitania
NL is New Latin, a Latin used for scientific terms, L is ancient Latin, Santoni is the Latin version of gSantoneh. (It is a version Caesar used.) The wormwood of the Santones (there are other varieties) is a littoral shrub, that is, a plant that for the most part grows in the thin area of beach exposed when the tide is out, or on the banks of rivers. This word can be found in an ancient Greek—English dictionary.
santonikon, a kind of wormwood found in the country of
the Santones in Gaul, worm-seed, Artemisia Maritimah
Maritima means gof the oceanh, like the modern English emaritimef, and Artemisia is from the Greek goddess Artemis, who is said to have lent her name to the plant in acknowledgement of its powers. Wormwood is referred to as aftemesia by the ancient Greek doctor Hippocrates, the gfather of medicineh (doctors take the Hippocratic Oath) who lived from about 460 to 377 B.C., and prized it highly. This seems to be an original name for wormwood.
Wormwood is one of the oldest and most highly prized medicinally used herbs. It originally grew in central and south of Europe. It is recorded on an Egyptian papyrus (called the gEbers Papyrush) dating from about 1600 BC. I am rather sure that it was traded. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it is produced in Turkestan (now divided up among China, Afghanistan, and former USSR), but does mention a time frame. It was also called absinthium Santonicum in Latin (by Pliny, a Roman scholar, 23 AD to 79 AD).
Wormwood is mentioned by another great Greek doctor, Galen (about 130 AD — 200 AD), in one of his medical texts, and unlike Hippocrates, he refers to it as Santonica. It was prized because the herb is very effective against killing worms, like tapeworm, that may infest the human digestive system. In America, this is for the most part only a problem in pets now (as when you have your dog ede-wormedh). However, it is unclear how old this word is. Galen lived after Caesar, so that although Greek is more ancient than Latin and already had an ancient word referring to wormwood, it is possible that the Greeks actually borrowed the word from Latin. Galen was a Greek who lived in Asia Minor (colonized by the Greeks at the time, in present day Turkey), and he wrote about it under the name of the Santones, the Celtic tribe from whence it came. However, there would only have been about 90 years for the name to travel from Gaul, after being found by Caesar, to the interior of Turkey, where Galen lived. It could be that the name had sneaked out of Europe before Caesar had invaded through trade in santonica, already named after the tribe from which it came, but I do not know.
Incidentally, the name of the modern drug used to kill worms (an ganthelminthh) is called gsantoninh, and in geology gSantonianh refers to a stage in the formation of land deposited in France, also cited as derived from the eSantones, an ancient people of Aquitania.h The plant name esantolinef, highly valued for its yellow flowers, is a variation of the name gSantonef. Wormwood was a popular tonic (picker-upper) in the eighteen hundreds, but caused severe nerve damage and mental disease. It is now illegal in the US and most European countries, although it can still be found growing in the wild.
Certainly the historical, political, and commercial circumstances would have allowed for members of a Celtic tribe to have gone to Italy. There is no historical fact indicating otherwise. If large enough numbers of Santones did go to Italy, the name might have survived. Of course, it is also possible that the Celtic name Santone and the modern Santones are unrelated, and that it is only coincidence that the names resemble one another. In this case, the Italian gsantoneh may be the origin. I will add more information to this greporth as I locate it.
I wonder if there are any Santones on the west coast of France, specifically around Saintes. Santones could have migrated anytime, historically or recently, as military or trade. There has been no mention of any sort of large-scale migrations in the material I have come across. But France and Italy are not very distant, so it would not have been very difficult to spread, say along with the trade routes. I would like to see some books on the Gallic Celts, but now all the libraries are closed for summer vacation.