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Author Topic: Bile and Belenus  (Read 2580 times)
Sylvan
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« Topic Start: April 24, 2009, 12:16:11 pm »

I've been researching the Gaulish god Belenus since recently reading that the festival of Beltaine was named after him.  In so doing I've run across a lot of information, some of which conflicts with things that I had read previously.  For example, some sources seem to equate the god Bile with Belenus as though they're the same god, with Belenus being the Gaulish equivalent of the deity.  Still other sources seem to differentiate between the two gods, with Belenus being treating as a solar deity (associated with Apollo by the Romans) while Bile is associated with the idea of sacred trees and/or The World Tree.

Can anyone recommend any resources that might aid in clarifying this issue?  Or if anyone is familiar with this subject and would like to share their thoughts I would very much appreciate it.

I noticed that someone else started a thread about Danu/Anu and I was actually able to get some information about this subject from one of the links there.  However, the relationship (if any) between Bile/Belenus is still unclear to me.
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Collinsky
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« Reply #1: February 25, 2010, 07:08:27 pm »

I've been researching the Gaulish god Belenus since recently reading that the festival of Beltaine was named after him.  In so doing I've run across a lot of information, some of which conflicts with things that I had read previously.  For example, some sources seem to equate the god Bile with Belenus as though they're the same god, with Belenus being the Gaulish equivalent of the deity.  Still other sources seem to differentiate between the two gods, with Belenus being treating as a solar deity (associated with Apollo by the Romans) while Bile is associated with the idea of sacred trees and/or The World Tree.

Can anyone recommend any resources that might aid in clarifying this issue?  Or if anyone is familiar with this subject and would like to share their thoughts I would very much appreciate it.

I noticed that someone else started a thread about Danu/Anu and I was actually able to get some information about this subject from one of the links there.  However, the relationship (if any) between Bile/Belenus is still unclear to me.

Can I resurrect this post, because I had a very similar question. I'd love it if anyone has any insight or resources.
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« Reply #2: February 25, 2010, 08:57:53 pm »

I've been researching the Gaulish god Belenus since recently reading that the festival of Beltaine was named after him.  In so doing I've run across a lot of information, some of which conflicts with things that I had read previously.  For example, some sources seem to equate the god Bile with Belenus as though they're the same god, with Belenus being the Gaulish equivalent of the deity.  Still other sources seem to differentiate between the two gods, with Belenus being treating as a solar deity (associated with Apollo by the Romans) while Bile is associated with the idea of sacred trees and/or The World Tree.

Can anyone recommend any resources that might aid in clarifying this issue?  Or if anyone is familiar with this subject and would like to share their thoughts I would very much appreciate it.

I noticed that someone else started a thread about Danu/Anu and I was actually able to get some information about this subject from one of the links there.  However, the relationship (if any) between Bile/Belenus is still unclear to me.

Mackillop states that Beli Mawr, held as an ancestor deity in Wales, may be cognate or derived from the Gallic Belenus. Alexi Kondratiev has this to say on the Beli/Bellenus etymology:

Quote from:
Although their roles and names appear strikingly similar, it is in fact difficult to find an etymological link between Bile and Beli. We will deal with the name Bile in the next paragraph; Beli, despite its close similarity to the former, doesn't seem to be either a cognate or a borrowing -- although the resemblance between the two names may have guided the development of the characters' parallel roles in Irish and Welsh tradition. Since in Latin texts Beli sometimes appears as Belinus, it was once widely assumed to be related to the Gaulish theonym Belenos, but this no longer seems so likely. It is most probably derived from the stem bel- meaning "battle, tumult", exemplified in words like the British theonym Bellatucadros (Beautiful in Battle) and perhaps early Welsh belu "to kill" (although there may also have been some influence from Breton beli "power, authority").

From Mackillop, Bile has two entries: one as a Milesan who joins with other to avenge the death of his son Ith, but who is drowned in a storm before they arrive in Ireland. 19th century Celticists held that Bile was an ancestor diety, though more recent commentators think that Donn is a far better contender for the primal ancestor of the Gaels, and so lord of the dead. The second entry is Bile as sacred tree.

As for the Bile/Danu pairing, Alexi Knodratiev has an excellent article explaining what is and is not supported, and which I pulled the above quite from.
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« Reply #3: February 27, 2010, 08:52:06 pm »



Thanks! I think I'm still confused, but now it's with more direction. LOL
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« Reply #4: February 27, 2010, 09:32:31 pm »


It seems that ... from what I can tell, so correct me if I'm completely wrong!... that Bile is not the Irish name for Belenos, but a separate god, and also that from what I've been seeing that Beli Mawr is not etymologically related to Bel/Belenos/Belinus (from Brython to Welsh it would have been different) and if that's the case then probably Beli Mawr is separate as well.

I had been kind of personally hoping for a connection to Bile, but if it's not there, then so be it.  Smiley
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« Reply #5: February 27, 2010, 11:04:50 pm »

It seems that ... from what I can tell, so correct me if I'm completely wrong!... that Bile is not the Irish name for Belenos, but a separate god, and also that from what I've been seeing that Beli Mawr is not etymologically related to Bel/Belenos/Belinus (from Brython to Welsh it would have been different) and if that's the case then probably Beli Mawr is separate as well.

I had been kind of personally hoping for a connection to Bile, but if it's not there, then so be it.  Smiley

Well as I mentioned earlier, Bile is either the Milesian figure or the various sacred trees. The former may have been a deified ancestor, though how much a text like the LGE accurately reflects pre-Christian beliefs is debatable. The link with the sacred trees however remains fairly apparent. Otherwise there does not seem to be an Irish Belenos; from what I understand he is seen as being cognate with Apollo, but other than that... Some of the continental figures do seem to have more direct associations with the insular, but not all of them readily map to one another.  At least, that is what I have come to understand.
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