Cernunnos

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Cernunnos is the conventional name given in Celtic studies to depictions of the horned god of Celtic polytheism. The name itself is only attested once, on the 1st-century Pillar of the Boatmen, but depictions of a horned or antlered figure, often seated in a "Buddha position" and often associated with animals and holding or wearing torcs, are known from other instances.

Nothing is known about the god from literary sources, and details about his name, his cult or his significance in Celtic religion are unknown. Speculative interpretations identify him as a god of nature or fertility.[1]

Contents

Name

The theonym [C]ernunnos appears on the Pillar of the Boatmen, a Gallo-Roman monument dating to the early 1st century CE, to label a god depicted with stag's antlers in their early stage of annual growth.[2] Both antlers have torcs hanging from them.[3]

The name has been compared to a divine epithet Carnonos in a Celtic inscription written in Greek characters at Montagnac, Hérault (as καρνονου, karnonou, in the dative case).[4] A Gallo-Latin adjective carnuātus, "horned," is also found.[5]

The Proto-Celtic form of the theonym is reconstructed as either *Cerno-on-os[dubious ] or *Carno-on-os. The augmentative -on- is characteristic of theonyms, as in Maponos, Epona, Matronae, and Sirona.[6] Cern un nos, Cern=horn, "un nos", Welsh "one night". Cernunnos=Horn one night. He was celebrated on one night, December 21. Maier (2010) states that the etymology of Cernunnos is unknown, as the Celtic word for "horn" has an a (as in Carnonos).[3]

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