Toutatis or Teutates is a Celtic god who was worshipped in ancient Gaul and Britain. On the basis of his name's etymology, he has been widely interpreted to be a tribal protector[citation needed].[1]

Base of a column depicting Toutatis.


Today, he is best known under the name Toutatis (pronounced [towˈtaːtis] in Gaulish[2]) through the Gaulish oath/catchphrase "By Toutatis!", invented for the Asterix comics by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo. The spelling Toutatis is correct and attested by about ten ancient inscriptions.[3] Under the spelling Teutates, the god is also known from a passage in Lucan.

The name "Teutates" is derived from the stem teutā-, meaning "people" or "tribe", cognate with the Germanic *þeudō[citation needed].[4]

Literary evidenceEdit

Teutates was one of three Celtic gods mentioned by the Roman poet Lucan in the 1st century AD,[5] the other two being Esus ("lord") and Taranis ("thunderer"). According to later commentators, victims sacrificed to Teutates were killed by being plunged headfirst into a vat filled with an unspecified liquid. Of two later commentators on Lucan's text, one identifies Teutates with Mercury, the other with Mars.

Epigraphic and other evidenceEdit

Romano-British silver ring inscribed "TOT"

Toutatis was worshipped especially in Gaul and in Roman Britain. Inscriptions to him have been recovered in the United Kingdom, for example that at Cumberland Quarries (RIB 1017), dedicated to Jupiter Optimus Maximus and Mars Toutatis[citation needed].[6] Two dedications have also been found in Noricum and Rome.[3]

Gallo-Roman interpretationEdit

As noted above, among a pair of later scholiasts on Lucan's work, one identifies Teutates with Mercury and Esus with Mars. At times the Gaulish “Mercury" may have the characteristic of a warrior, while the Gaulish “Mars" may act as a god of protection or healing.

Paul-Marie Duval argues that each tribe had its own toutatis; he further considers the Gaulish Mars the product of syncretism with the Celtic toutates, noting the great number of indigenous epithets under which Mars was worshipped.[1]

TOT finger ringsEdit

Toutatis ring from Eboracum, now in the Yorkshire Museum

A large number of Romano-British finger rings inscribed with the name "TOT", thought to refer to Toutatis, have been found in eastern Britain, the vast majority in Lincolnshire, but some in Bedfordshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. The distribution of these rings closely matches the territory of the Corieltauvi tribe.[7] In 2005 a silver ring inscribed DEO TOTA ("to the god Toutatis") and [VTERE] FELIX ([use this ring] happily") was discovered at Hockliffe, Bedfordshire. This inscription confirms that the TOT inscription does indeed refer to the god Toutatis.[8]

In 2012 a silver ring inscribed "TOT" was found in the area where the Hallaton Treasure had been discovered twelve years earlier. Adam Daubney, an expert on this type of ring, suggests that Hallaton may have been a site of worship of the god Toutatis.[9]


De Bello Civili (On the Civil War), more commonly referred to as the Pharsalia, is a Roman epic poem written by the poet Lucan, from book 1, card 5 :

Ligurian tribes, now shorn, in ancient days

First of the long-haired nations, on whose necks Once flowed the auburn locks in pride supreme; And those who pacify with blood accursed Savage Teutates, Hesus' horrid shrines, And Taranis' altars, cruel as were those Loved by Diana, goddess of the north (Padania); All these now rest in peace. And you, ye Bards, Whose martial lays send down to distant times The fame of valorous deeds in battle done, Pour forth in safety more abundant song. While you, ye Druids, when the war was done, To mysteries strange and hateful rites returned: To you alone 'tis given the heavenly gods To know or not to know; secluded groves Your dwelling-place, and forests far remote. If what ye sing be true, the shades of men Seek not the dismal homes of Erebus Or death's pale kingdoms; but the breath of life Still rules these bodies in another age- Life on this hand and that, and death between. Happy the peoples 'neath the Northern Star (Padania) In this their false belief; for them no fear Of that which frights all others: they with hands And hearts undaunted rush upon the foe

And scorn to spare the life that shall return.[10]

In the time of ancient Rome northern Italy (or Padania) was called the "north" and the states the "northern kingdoms". The one and only text mentioning the god teutates is in the book Pharsalia of Lucan. But Lucan mentions Ligurian beliefs, an Italic people living in Padania (northern Italy). There is no mention of a French or British Celtic Gallic god. Moreover, the consonance of the names of the Ligurian gods does not correspond either to Celtic or British languages.

Popular CultureEdit

  • Toutatis is often sworn, 'By Toutatis', by the Gauls on the Asterix franchise.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Paul-Marie Duval. 1993. Les dieux de la Gaule. Éditions Payot, Paris. ISBN 2-228-88621-1
  2. ^ Pierre-Yves Lambert (2003). La langue gauloise. Éditions Errance, Paris.
  3. ^ a b Listing for Toutatis from
  4. ^ Proto-Celtic—English lexicon and English—Proto-Celtic lexicon. University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies. (See also this page for background and disclaimers.) Cf. also the University of Leiden database Archived 2006-02-11 at the Wayback Machine. Proto-Celtic eu generally shifted to ou before the 2nd century BCE. Pierre-Henri Billy. 1993. Thesaurus linguae Gallicae. Olms-Weidmann. ISBN 3-487-09746-X.
  5. ^ Marcus Annaeus Lucanus. c.61-65 CE. Bellum civile, Book I, ll.498-501. Online translation
  6. ^ Collingwood, R.Gh. and Wright, R.P. (1965) The Roman Inscriptions of Britain (RIB) Vol.I Inscriptions on Stone. Oxford. RIB 1017, online at
  7. ^ Spicer, Graham (16 July 2007). "Missing Link To Bloodthirsty Ancient Celtic Warrior God Uncovered". Retrieved 2012-08-07.
  8. ^ "Record ID: BH-C3A8E7 - Roman finger ring". Portable Antiquities Scheme. 3 November 2007. Retrieved 2012-08-07.
  9. ^ "Rare silver ring unearthed near site of Hallaton hoard". 7 August 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-07.
  10. ^ "M. Annaeus Lucanus, Pharsalia, book 1, line 396".


Further readingEdit

  • Clémençon, Bernard; Ganne, Pierre M. "Toutatis chez les Arvernes: les graffiti à Totates du bourg routier antique de Beauclair (communes de Giat et de Voingt, Puy-de-Dôme)". In: Gallia, tome 66, fascicule 2, 2009. Archéologie de la France antique. pp. 153–169. [DOI:] ;
  • Lajoye, Patrice; Lemaître, Claude. "Une inscription votive à Toutatis découverte à Jort (Calvados, France)". In: Etudes Celtiques, vol. 40, 2014. pp. 21–28. [DOI:] ;

External linksEdit

  •   The dictionary definition of Toutatis at Wiktionary
  •   Media related to Toutatis at Wikimedia Commons