The Welsh are not like any other people in Britain, and they know how separate they are. They are the Celts, the tough little wine-dark race who were the original possessors of the island, who never mixed with the invaders coming later from the east, but were slowly driven into the western mountains.
My view is that to get anywhere in life you have to be anti-social, otherwise you'll end up being devoured. I've never been particularly social, anyway, but if I've ever been rude, fifty per cent of it has usually been provoked by other people's attitudes. Though I do admit, like most Celts, I'm moody. It's fine until people try to cheer you up with gems like, 'snap out of it' or 'Come on, now'.
Answer my question, Bacchus. I'm not one of your dickless Greeks to be kept waiting for an answer. (Camulus) You better take a more civil tone with me, Cam. I'm not one of your flaccid Celts to shake in terror of your wrath. You want to fight, boy, bring it on. (Dionysus) Whoa, hang on a second. Let's save the fighting for when you two take over the world, okay? (Styxx)
After all, in both languages we were dealing in large measure not with English and French, but with Scots and Irish, Bretons and Normans ... There could be no more eloquent illustration of the colonial mind-set than a bunch of Celts and Vikings in a distant northern territory insulting each other as les Anglais and the French as if they were the descendants of the people who had subjected and ruined them.
John Ralston Saul
I know precisely what honor is, Heracles. Honor is the artifice kings sell the peasants' sons so that they may fight and die without pay. Honor is what drives a peaceful man to bloody vengeance. Honor is what drove the Celts to behead the children of the Apache Courts. - The Egyptian God Bes
Physically the Celts are terrifying in appearance, with deep sounding and very harsh voices. In conversation they use few words and speak in riddles, for the most part hinting at things and leaving a great deal to be understood. They frequently exaggerate with the aim of extolling themselves and diminishing the status of others. They are boasters and threateners and given to bombastic self-dramatization, and yet they are quick of mind and with good natural ability for learning.
This was all very well: Columbanus's success indicates the appeal of his mission. But his activities, for the first time, brought the nature of Celtic monasticism firmly to the attention of the Church authorities - to western bishops in general, and to the Bishop of Rome in particular. The Irish monks were not heretical. But they were plainly unorthodox. They did not look right, to begin with. They had the wrong tonsure. Rome, as was natural, had 'the tonsure of St Peter', that is, a shaven crown. Easterners had the tonsure of St Paul, totally shaven; and if they wished to take up an appointment in the West they had to wait until their rim grew before being invested. But the Celts looked like nothing on earth: they had their hair long at the back and, on the shaven front part, a half-circle of hair from one ear to the other, leaving a band across the forehead.
Snakes can have dozens of young at a time, and so they are often symbols of fertility. They resemble vegetation, especially roots, in their form and often in the green and brown of their skins. The undulating form of a snake also suggests a river. A point of muscular tension passes through the body of a snake and drives the animal forward, like a moment moving along a continuum of days and years. Like time itself, a snake seems to progress while remaining still. In addition, the body of a snake also resembles those marks with a stylus, brush, or pen that make up our letters. Ornamental alphabets of the ancient Celts and others were often made up of intertwined serpents. It could even be that the tracks of a snake in sand helped to inspire the invention of the alphabet. The manner in which snakes curl up in a ball has made people associate them with the sun.
All the demons of Hell formerly reigned as gods in previous cultures. No it's not fair, but one man's god is another man's devil. As each subsequent civilization became a dominant power, among its first acts was to depose and demonize whoever the previous culture had worshipped. The Jews attacked Belial, the god of the Babylonians. The Christians banished Pan and Loki anda Mars, the respective deities of the ancient Greeks and Celts and Romans. The Anglican British banned belief in the Australian aboriginal spirits known as the Mimi. Satan is depicted with cloven hooves because Pan had them, and he carries a pitchfork based on the trident carried by Neptune. As each deity was deposed, it was relegated to Hell. For gods so long accustomed to receiving tribute and loving attention, of course this status shift put them into a foul mood.
Turn our thoughts, in the next place, to the characters of learned men. The priesthood have, in all ancient nations, nearly monopolized learning. Read over again all the accounts we have of Hindoos, Chaldeans, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Celts, Teutons, we shall find that priests had all the knowledge, and really governed all mankind. Examine Mahometanism, trace Christianity from its first promulgation; knowledge has been almost exclusively confined to the clergy. And, even since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or dissenting sect who would tolerate a free inquiry? The blackest billingsgate, the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooish brutality is patiently endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded. But touch a solemn truth in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof, and you will soon find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm about your legs and hands, and fly into your face and eyes. [Letters to John Taylor, 1814, XVIII, p. 484]
Very Like a Whale One thing that literature would be greatly the better for Would be a more restricted employment by authors of simile and metaphor. Authors of all races, be they Greeks, Romans, Teutons or Celts, Can'ts seem just to say that anything is the thing it is but have to go out of their way to say that it is like something else. What foes it mean when we are told That the Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold? In the first place, George Gordon Byron had had enough experience To know that it probably wasn't just one Assyrian, it was a lot of Assyrians. However, as too many arguments are apt to induce apoplexy and thus hinder longevity, We'll let it pass as one Assyrian for the sake of brevity. Now then, this particular Assyrian, the one whose cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold, Just what does the poet mean when he says he came down like a wolf on the fold? In heaven and earth more than is dreamed of in our philosophy there are a great many things, But i don't imagine that among then there is a wolf with purple and gold cohorts or purple and gold anythings. No, no, Lord Byron, before I'll believe that this Assyrian was actually like a wolf I must have some kind of proof; Did he run on all fours and did he have a hairy tail and a big red mouth and big white teeth and did he say Woof woof? Frankly I think it very unlikely, and all you were entitled to say, at the very most, Was that the Assyrian cohorts came down like a lot of Assyrian cohorts about to destroy the Hebrew host. But that wasn't fancy enough for Lord Byron, oh dear me no, he had to invent a lot of figures of speech and then interpolate them, With the result that whenever you mention Old Testament soldiers to people they say Oh yes, they're the ones that a lot of wolves dressed up in gold and purple ate them. That's the kind of thing that's being done all the time by poets, from Homer to Tennyson; They're always comparing ladies to lilies and veal to venison, And they always say things like that the snow is a white blanket after a winter storm. Oh it is, is it, all right then, you sleep under a six-inch blanket of snow and I'll sleep under a half-inch blanket of unpoetical blanket material and we'll see which one keeps warm, And after that maybe you'll begin to comprehend dimly, What I mean by too much metaphor and simile.