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The copycatters are awfully fond of this one. On the Net you'll find claims that Hesus (actually spelled "Esus" by the scholars) was a strong parallel. One site says, "The Celtic Druids depict their god Hesus as having been crucified with a lamb on one side and an elephant on the other, and that this occurred long before the Christian era (834 B.C.)" Another site says the Druids reenacted this crucifixion annually; yet another says Hesus was born of a virgin. Most of this, if not all, is apparently taken from Graves' 16 Crucified Saviors.
All very nice, but I have a question: if all of this is true, why don't scholars of Celtic mythology know anything about it?
A half-dozen books on this subject reveal a few interesting things. First of all, the scholars prefer the spelling "Esus". The closeness of "Hesus" to "Jesus" may be tempting to some copycatters, but keep in mind that neither was written originally in English; the former was in Gaelic, I would suppose based on the origin, and the latter was originally in Aramaic, as Yeshua, and the Greek is Iesous. These scholars also know nothing about Esus being crucified and less than that about his fondness for odd pets, but they do know the following:
- Esus was a real nasty-gram to deal with. The first-century writer Lucan refers to the "uncouth Esus of the barbarous altars." He didn't call them "barbarous" because they needed decorating help from Martha Stewart: Esus was a guy who liked human sacrifice.
- What kind of human sacrifice? Victims would be suspended from trees and ritually wounded. Omens were read based on the pattern of the blood spurting out.
- Esus is often linked to Mercury and/or Mars as a god of war.
- Esus is depicted as a woodcutter (i.e., a lumberjack) in one early carving.
- Esus' favorite animal was neither lamb nor elephant -- he preferred birds with long necks like cranes and egrets.
- Esus is sometimes connected with Chu Chulainn.
My primary source here was McKillip's Dictionary of Celtic Mythology and Anne Ross' Celtic Britain, but other books said the same things as well.
So what's the bottom line? Those who promote Hesus as a copycat figure are spinning an enormous yarn and hanging it out to dry.
There is a special site on Hesus here. One will note that the webmaster has issued several rather stern warnings about those who equate Jesus with Hesus/Esus and has become so annoyed with inquires on the subject that he has put together a special page to debunk the notion. Tekton Research Assistant "Punkish" adds these notes he got from sources available in the UK.
Kersey Graves wrote,
'Mr. Higgins informs us that the Celtic Druids represent their God Hesus as having been crucified with a lamb on one side and an elephant on the other, and that this occurred long before the Christian era. Also that a representation of it may now be seen upon "the firetower of Brechin." and the reference is Anacalypsis vol. ii. p. 130.' (16 crucified saviours, chapter 16, giving the date of Hesus as 834 BC)
1) "the Celtic Druids" refers to Higgins' previous book (publ. 1829), not the people;
2) Higgins is writing about a crucified man, not a god of any sort, and no titles are ascribed
3) the name "Hesus" appears nowhere on the page given! (it's not listed in the Index, either)
4) the date (834 BC) appears nowhere either
The actual text in Anacalypsis reads:
"Upon the fire tower at Brechin, described in my CELTIC DRUIDS, pp. xlvi, xlvii, plate 24, we have the man crucified and the Lamb and Elephant. As I have said there, I thought these completely proved the modern date of the tower, but now I doubt this; for we have, over and over again, seen the crucified man before Christ. We have also found "the Lamb which taketh away the sins of the world" among the Carnutes of Gaul, before the time of Christ."
I shall check Celtic Druids to see what Mr Higgins was actually talking about, and do further searching for the Camute quote.