In Book IV of his Commentaries on the Gallic War, Julius Caesar tells us all Gauls claimed descent from Dis Pater:

18. All the Gauls assert that they are descended from the god Dis, and say that this tradition has been handed down by the Druids. For that reason they compute the divisions of every season, not by the number of days, but of nights; they keep birthdays and the beginnings of months and years in such an order that the day follows the night. Among the other usages of their life, they differ in this from almost all other nations, that they do not permit their children to approach them openly until they are grown up so as to be able to bear the service of war; and they regard it as indecorous for a son of boyish age to stand in public in the presence of his father.

Gaius Julius Caesar. Commentaries on the Gallic War. Translated by W.A. McDevitte and W.S. Bohn.

I'm assuming this is an instance of interpretatio Romana, and the Gauls actually claimed descent from a chthonic Celtic god (or gods?) and not from the Roman god of the underworld. Do we know which Celtic god this might be?

1 Answer 1


The two most common candidates are Cernunnos and Sucellos. Anne Ross in her book Pagan Celtic Religion, and Phyllis Fray Bober in her paper on Cernunnos both suggest that the god, who has connections to wealth and possibly the underworld, could be the god JC meant.

Sucellos, especially as Sucellos Silvanus (yet another Roman god) is another candidate, especially because he was a patron of miners (inscriptions to him have been found in old mines). Sucellos Silvanus was mainly a Gaulish god, but a statue of Sucellos found in German-Celtic territory shows him with a three-headed dog and raven, which suggests Pluto, the god who essentially took over Dis Pater's job.
On a side note, in Germano-Celtic territory Dis Pater himself was sometimes paired with a Celtic goddess called Aerecura or Erecura. She was probably seen as similiar to Prosperine, Pluto's bride.

  • This is what I was looking for, but I think you should add a link to your relevant blog post for anyone looking for more information. It's a very interesting read.
    – yannis
    Jul 20, 2017 at 18:54
  • I wasn't sure about the etiquette of doing that. But my post on Dis Pater's Celtic correlates can be found here.
    – solsdottir
    Jul 20, 2017 at 21:50

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