The capacity of the Celts to inspire terror, their quality of to kataplektikon, was not a marked characteristic of their identity for the Greeks until their invasion of Greece at the beginning of third century BC (see Chapter 5). Relevant passages from the Periplus attributed to Scylax, which may be as old as the mid-fourth century BC, are free of this feeling, as are other fourth century BC references to Celts. They were certainly regarded as usable mercenaries and are mentioned in this capacity by Xenophon in his Hellenica (7.1.20) in his discussion of the events of 367 BC, when Athenians, Spartans, and others were opposing the rising power of Thebes. They are mentioned in company with Iberians, and it may be that they also are from the Iberian peninsula. They are more likely to be splinters of the hordes who invaded Italy and sacked Rome in 390 BC.
Dionysius I of Syracuse (430-367 BC) sent two thousand such auxiliaries to help the Spartans and their allies against the Thebans in the Peloponnese (Diod. 15.70). The Spartans seem to have approved their fighting qualities.
In his Laws (637de) Plato makes a specifically anthropological observation about the Celts: along with Scythians, Persians, Iberians, Thracians, and Carthaginians, they are both hard-drinking and warlike. This is what any fourth century BC Greek would expect of distant, and by definition, less civilised tribes. We may take it as barely possible, however, that the Laws, a work in progress in the last years of Plato’s life (d. 352 BC), may reflect growth of rumour and information about Celtic national character. The participants of the dialogue in the Laws have before their attention the question of how they should moderate the use of drink in their proposed new city-state. They agree that total