Warfare and Society
THE Graeco-Roman world had many opportunities to observe Celtic armies in action. Their viewpoint was usually, though not invariably, that of opponents, and those who recorded the confrontations did so to communicate more than just ethnographic observations and the facts of history. The writing of Greek and Roman history was formulaic. Pausanius would write of the Celtic attack on Greece in the third century BC using the same structure and balance as did Herodotus when writing of the Persian Wars two centuries earlier. This equation of Celts with Persians--two enemies of the civilized world--is found in a fragment of poetry preserved on a papyrus of the third century and again recurs in sculptured form on the great victory monument erected by the Pergamene king Attalus I in Athens in the second century. The message is the same: the enemy from without is fierce and brutal but can be overcome by the Greek peoples working together for the common good. Pausanius was writing in the second century AD and was therefore using a variety of earlier sources, among them Hieronymus of Cardia, who served the Pergamene king Eumenes in the late fourth century BC, and Timaeus, who was in Athens during the Celtic raids, as well as other writers, including, perhaps, Menodotus of Perinthus and Agatharchides of Cnidus. The range of information available to him was varied, but the constraints of his selection and presentation were rigidly circumscribed.
One of the key figures in the Roman historical tradition was Polybius, a citizen of the Greek town of Megalopolis who was deported to Rome in 168 BC. Polybius' intention was to present the Celts as a formative influence on the development of Roman military power. In his view the initial invasion in the early fourth century and the continuous threat created by the Celtic settlement in the Po Valley were instrumental in the honing of Rome's military competence. For him the Celts are to be presented as a contrast to the calm efficiency of the Roman army. While the Romans are steadfast, level-headed, well-led,