Celt, Roman or Gaul?

As I travel around this beautiful and ancient country of France, I cant help thinking about the many peoples of the past who contributed 6o creating its rich civilisation.

That illustrious Roman General, Julius Caesar,  attempted to define and distinguish Gaul thus:

All Gaul is divided into three parts, one of which the Belgae inhabit, the Aquitani another, those who in their own language are called Celts, in ours Gauls, the third. All these differ from each other in language, customs and laws.

The Garonne River separates the Gauls from the Aquitani; the River Marne and the River Seine separate them from the Belgae.  

Of all these, the Belgae are the bravest, because they are furthest from the civilisation and refinement of (our) Province, and merchants least frequently resort to them. One part of these, which it has been said that the Gauls occupy, takes its beginning at the River Rhône; it is bounded by the River Garonne, the Atlantic Ocean, and the territories of the Belgae; it borders, too, on the side of the Sequani and the Helvetii, upon the River Rhine, and stretches toward the north.

The Belgae rises from the extreme frontier of Gaul, extend to the lower part of the River Rhine; and looks toward the north and the rising sun.

Aquitania extends from the Garonne to the Pyrenees and to that part of the Atlantic (Bay of Biscay) which is near Spain: it looks between the setting of the sun, and the north star.

Julius CaesarCommentarii de Bello Gallico, Book I, chapter 1

Over time the three tribes, Celts, Romans and Gauls became interdependent and influenced each other in the practice  of religion and spirituality with the conquering Romans adopting and then renaming Celtic gods and goddesses. Eventually the Gauls lost all sense of themselves to fuse into a hybrid Gallo-Roman culture.  It’s the common thread in all human history, the intermingling of one culture with another, bought about by migration or invasion.    “Etes-vous Anglaise  madame?” I’m often asked and in reply start to explain where I come from and what life is like at home.

Confronted with  the past here in France and in  being defined firstly by my nationality, I have to wonder about my own country and culture; what it means to be Australian. As the Australian  government seeks to create a more stringent citizenship test for prospective residents-one that many Australians would certainly fail-I’m not completely sure of the answer.

 Is it a descendent of the first fleets of convicts ? Would it be the descendants of the free settlers who arrived later in South Australia? Or is it any of the migrants who chose to come to the country for a fresh start? But of course the peoples who can lay most  claim to  belonging to this country are the first Australians, the Indigenous clans who migrated by boat thousands of years ago. But they like the rest of us who migrated to the island continent by choice or force, have been subject to the tides of change.When it comes to human beings there are no purebreeds, we are all a melting pot of many races, cultures and ethnicities thanks to the human impulse to move, explore and migrate. 

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