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The Celtic Heroic Age: Literary Sources for Ancient Celtic Europe and Early Ireland and Wales (None) (Celtic Studies Publications) (Old Irish) Paperback – 15 Aug 2003


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The Celtic Heroic Age: Literary Sources for Ancient Celtic Europe and Early Ireland and Wales (None) (Celtic Studies Publications) + Early Irish Myths and Sagas (Penguin Classics) + The Táin: Translated from the Old Irish Epic Táin Bó Cúailnge
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Product details

  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Celtic Studies Publications,U.S.; 4th Revised edition edition (15 Aug. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1891271091
  • ISBN-13: 978-1891271090
  • Product Dimensions: 24.7 x 17 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 431,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

John Koch is Senior Fellow at the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh & Celtic Studies, and Project Leader of The Celtic Languages and Cultural Identity Project. He has written extensively on Celtic literature and is the founder of Celtic Studies Publications. He is author of The Goddodin of Aneirin: Text and Context from Dark-Age North Britain (Wales University Press 1997)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By F. Aetius on 4 Oct. 2012
This book, compiled by American scholar Dr. John T. Koch of the University of Aberystwyth (Wales) , is a must for anyone interested in the Celts, as well as early Medieval Irish and Welsh history & mythology. As the sub heading suggests, this book is a collection of nearly all known references to the Celts from ancient sources.
Starting with the ancient Gaulish inscriptions - the tablets of Chamalieres and Larzac - Professor Koch shows us some of the earliest written examples of the Celtic languages, which as Koch tells us is "...Speaking very impressionistically...more like Greek or Latin than like latter-day Irish or Welsh." These two short tablets make fascinating reading, and they provide some small insight into the religious mind of the Gauls.

Unfortunately there isn't much other examples of written Celtic, and as a result we are entirely reliant on the written sources of the Greeks and Romans. These become the centrepiece of the next section of the book, which lists everything from Hecataeus of Milan's writing on the the Celts in the late 6th century BC, to the poetry of Claudian in c.AD 400. The list is by no means exhaustive - after all, if that were the case then Koch would have had to include the entirety of Caesar's Gallic Wars. They are varied and interesting enough though, covering everything from 'Ancient Celtic Women leaders' to 'The Gauls invasion of Greece'.

The second and by far the largest of all the sections in the book concentrates on Early Ireland. These mostly include the poetry and mythology of the period, such as the Dynastic poems and the famous Ulster Cycle, as well as the Book of Leinster which includes tales of the legendary Cu Chulainn.
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By MR D J CLINTON on 15 Nov. 2014
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Superb selection including texts only otherwise only available from a university.
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Amazon.com: 3 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Good literal translations, many source texts in one central place 25 Dec. 2005
By Raven - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
"The Celtic Heroic Age" is billed as an introductory text for Celtic studies, but I would be nervous about that without more of an understanding of the world in which it's set. It's a series of translations of Celtic texts and references to them in Classical lore. In almost all cases, it's just English, though some of the shrine inscriptions have the original tongues side by side. The translations are very prosaic, as far as I can tell. They convey the information just fine, but for poetic resonance, Kinsella eats them for breakfast. The focus here seems to be on rendering the text as literally as possible, not in telling a good story. That's fine by me -- the book is intended as a reference, and it's often extremely useful to have a minimally interpreted version.

Reading the Classical sources, it helps *immensely* to have an understanding of the biases and agendas of the Classical world, and to have read some of the archaeological references. It helps you separate historical fact from Roman propaganda. The text does not do this for you; it's your job to figure out that Caesar was trying to conquer Gaul, and that these missives were his newsletters to home. There's no background on what the Greeks thought of barbaroi in general, or what qualities they esteemed before they condemned people in entirely unflattering terms. Knowing these things will help set the texts in perspective.

I enjoyed rereading new (to me) translations of many familiar stories. I still have a hard time wading through all the repetitive descriptions of each warrior's clothes, chariot, leg hair, etc., but it's at least less dull now that I catch some of the allusions and intended associations/meanings each time through. I would recommend this book as a reference to Celtic geeks -- it is damn handy to have so many source texts in one place. It's predominantly Irish texts, so it's most useful to insular Celtic folks, but there are Welsh texts and a scattering of Continental inscriptions and references in there too.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Good Reference Misses the Mark in Some Cases 18 April 2009
By Jason R. Sprick - Published on Amazon.com
The Celtic Heroic Age combines together writings from Classical authors, Irish monks, and Brittonic storytellers in a fine collection of important mythological and heroic reference material. Koch and Carey use several good translations of the texts, including some of their own, to weave together a story as it may have been told in an earlier era. However, I was a bit disappointed that some of the primary sources of the mythological cycle, such as Cath Maige Tuired, were absent. Even missing some crucial mythological information, this is the best resource I have found so far for Celtic mythology and culture, brought together in readable language for modern audiences.
1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Sold Out 30 April 2013
By Christian McGinnis - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
When I realized I would be taking a Celtic History class, I was excited. The bookstore at the school was sold out of these, and this one is in great condition,
Thanks so much!
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