Sunday, July 26, 2015

Cataluña; Sr Pujol; Galician Celticness; My Galician assimilation; & The Spanish people.

Cataluña: As this autonomous region/nation again gets ready to decide whether it wants to secede from the Spanish union, it's time to recall the comment of the early 19th century chronicler, Richard Ford: No province of the unamalgamating bundle which forms the monarchy of Spain hangs more loosely to the crown than Cataluña, this classical country of revolt, which is ever ready to fly off. Plus ça change.

The most revered Catalan politician of the post-Franco years is/was Sr JordiPujol, who used to be called simply El President. Nowadays, he's more (in)famous for the huge fortune he amassed while in power and for which the Tax Office is seeking an explanation, as they knew nothing about it. 'Just an inheritance from my clever father', says Pujol, to an incredulous Spain. Feet of clay. Ozymandias. BTW - I think it was the aggrieved, hell-hath-no-fury wife of one of Pujol's sons who tipped off the authorities as to the family's secret pile. It seems the sins of the father have certainly been visited on the (welcoming) sons.

I've not said anything disparaging recently about the Galician claim to Celtic-ness. So here's another quote from Giles Trimlett's Ghosts of Spain: Galicians are probably not real Celts but would like to be. Many, thanks to some self-interested tinkering with history by 19th century Galician Romanticists, are fully convinced they are. "Most of the Celticism found by local historians in Galicia is utter claptrap", the philosopher Miguel de Unamuno wrote in 1911. Whatever the truth of the Celtic origins - and they don't shout out at you in the physical aspects of the Galicians and or in their language - people like them. Bagpipe players here are as common as in Scotland. As I always add when writing on this subject, it may be tosh but there's nothing wrong with using it as a way of differentiating yourselves from other Spaniards. And it helps tourism. 'Back in the day', Gallego readers used to take serious issue with me on this but they seem to have given up on me now. Which is a shame, as the exchanges were amusing. Those with Cade, even. Though I'm not sure he meant his comments to be funny.

After 15 years of regular attendance, I went up another rung at my favourite tapas bar last night; the owner not only greeted me with a smile but also put his hand on my arm. After another 5 years of taking all my visitors there, I'll probably get a hug. BTW . . . 'hug' is abrazo in Spanish but aperta in Galician(Gallego). My guess is the latter comes from the word apretar, which Google gives as 'to tighten' but the University of Vigo gives as 'to squeeze'. Take your pick.

Finally . . . For all Spanish readers - Tremlett's book ends with the paragraph: Spain still has its own particular set of historical ghosts. They are, above all, what makes this country, as the hated 1960s advertising slogan put it, 'different'. What many Spaniards have not yet learned to do, however, is love the idea of their own difference­. And that is strange. Because it is precisely why so many outsiders, including this anglosaxón, love them so. Amen to that, say I. Amen to that.


Anthea said...

Celtic? Or not Celtic? What about the fact there seem to be more redheads in Galicia than in other parts of Spain?

Colin Davies said...

The point is that the Celts came to the whole of the northern 3rd of Spain. At least. Not just Galicia.

Some say the red-heade Celts are a myth. Some even argue all Celts are a myth . . .

Maria said...

Actually, Celts are a myth. The Greeks originally called people to the north of the Danube Keltoi. The Romans took up that name when they came across the people living to the north of the Alps, including Gauls and the British. The "Celts" in northern Spain are simply remnants of older cultures that were there long before the Romans appeared and that mixed less with them and other Mediterranean peoples that settled in Iberia. The term Celt really came into being in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with the rise of nationalism and the insistence of different regions wanting to make themselves absolutely different from the other regions by citing descent from an ancient, established culture and therefore giving themselves legitimacy in the nation game.

Colin Davies said...

Many thanks, Maria. I recall reading something like that.

Cossue said...

But there are the testimonies of Roman and Greek authors, the pre-Latin toponymy and anthroponymy, and the Castro culture which is clearly Atlantic:

1.- Romans authors:
'Totam Celtici colunt, sed a Durio ad flexum Grovi, fluuntque per eos Avo, Celadus, Nebis, Minius et cui oblivionis cognomen est Limia. Flexus ipse Lambriacam urbem amplexus recipit fluvios Laeron et Ullam. Partem quae prominet Praesamarchi habitant, perque eos Tamaris et Sars flumina non longe orta decurrunt, Tamaris secundum Ebora portum, Sars iuxta turrem Augusti titulo memorabilem. Cetera super Tamarici Nerique incolunt in eo tractu ultimi. Hactenus enim ad occidentem versa litora pertinent. Deinde ad septentriones toto latere terra convertitur a Celtico promunturio ad Pyrenaeum usque. Perpetua eius ora, nisi ubi modici recessus ac parva promunturia sunt, ad Cantabros paene recta est. In ea primum Artabri sunt etiamnum Celticae gentis, deinde Astyres.' (Pomponius Mela, Chorographia, III.7-9).

Which translates to something that is surely better than this:
"All this coast is inhabited by Celtics, but from the Douro to the bay is inhabited by the Grovi, and through their land flow the rivers called Avo, Celadus, Nebis, Miño and the one which is also called Oblivio, the Limia. In the bay there is the city of Lambria, and it receives the rives Lérez and Ulla. The part which protrudes is inhabited by the Praesamarci, and through their lands flow into the sea the rives Sar and Tambre, which are not long: the Tambre by the harbour of Ebora, the Sar next to the tower of Augustus, a memorable monument. Following, the Supertamarci and the Neri dwell in this last strech [of the western coast]. Then, the coast faces to the North, from the Celtic cape [cabo Vilán] to the Pyrenees. This coast is rather regular, except for tiny bays or capes, and from Cantabria is just straight. Here the first are the Artabri, still of the Celtic nation, then the Astures."

You can add also the testimonies of Pliny and Ptolemy.

2.- Place names such as O Grove ( < Ogrobre), Castrobe, Xiabre, Alcabre, Sillobre, Xobre, Lestrobe, Cecebre, Oímbra... continues the Roman times Aviliobris, Miobri, Letiobri, Nemetobriga... which are formed with the second element *brigs, *briga 'hillfort', which is Celtic (cf. Germanic -burg). Cf. Prósper, Blanca María (2002). Lenguas y religiones prerromanas del occidente de la península ibérica. Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca. pp. 422–427.

And international scholars have found that the pre-Roman toponymy of Galicia is heavily Celtic: Cf. Leonard A. Curchin. Los topónimos de la Galicia romana: And Patrick Sims-Williams. Ancient Celtic Place-Names in Europa and Asia Minor (2006): p. 235 "This area covers northern Portugal and north-west Spain. Its Celticity is clear from Maps 5.1-5.3." (this maps consign a 30-70% of Celtic place names in the aforementioned region)

See also:

3. Last but not least:

Castro Culture:

Best Regards

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