Bagaudae/Bacaudae - What does "bag" mean?

From: x99lynx@...
Message: 16274
Date: 2002-10-15

<<Which is that [Bagaudae/Baucadae]is related to the Old Irish <bocht> which
meant poor. The name would have been given by the loyal Gaulish upper-class
and picked up by the Romans.>>

Christopher Gwinn REPLIED:
<<The PIE root behind Irish bocht (*bheg-/bheng- "zerschlagen, zerbrechen")
seems to have only produced o-grade Celtic roots, and no a-grade.>>

I must say that this may not be meaningful since we are talking about words
1000's of years later being reported by writers in a different language who
were reporting one word in a foreign tongue that was otherwise not very well

For what it is worth, the Gaulish Glossary on the web records "some 160 odd
words that can reliably called Gaulish." A <bocht> 'poor' or related "reap"
(farmhand?) word does not seem to be among them.

So what roots *bheg- produced and of what grade does not appear to be
eliminated in Gaulish. And so Gaulish would not seem to eliminate a word
like <bocht> poor (related to reap, farm hands?) being connected with
"Bagaudae/Bacaudae", particularly because of the indubitably strong semantic
and contextual connection between the historical Bagaudae and "the poor."

Since we apparently don't have an attested Gaulish version of Old Irish
<bocht> and can't be sure how Latin writers would have heard or recorded it
(I believe some 100 years after the fact), <bocht> remains a strong
candidate. If the Gaulish version of <bocht-> was heard as <bacaud->, then
that is enough - again with the strong semantic support - to make that
etymology as good as any other.

It's worth repeating that the Roman "gloss" was that the "Bagaudae/Baucadae"
were "peasants", not professional fighting men or even "fighters" in the
military sense, who were otherwise well-represented among the Celts and Gauls
and who could have been described as such in Latin or Celtic quite

<<McBain's has something that might offer a more military suggestion, with an
interesting origin: "a cluster, troop, Welsh <bagad>, Breton <bogod>; from
Latin <bacca> (Thurneysen, Ernault)." Bacca would be I believe from the
Bacchae? Wild fun-lovers? Now that's a rebellion.>>

Christopher Gwinn REPLIED:
<<Once again, we must deal with the Gaulish suffix -audae (which is not
related to the suff in Welsh bagad) - I just don't see in Bagaudae/Bacaudae a
Latin loanword with a Gaulish suffix attached.>>

How many times is the <-audae> suffix attested? And why is it preferable to
just interpreting <bagaud-> as a close form of <bagad-> or <bogod->? There
is certainly no problem with the Romans adding their own -ae ending - they
did it to everyone else.

"Bogod/bagad" actually looks like an excellent candidate, if the word
actually was Celtic -- it looks like nothing more than a loose term for a
"troop" of men -- which again makes perfect semantic sense, given what we
actually know about the Bagaudae.

(There are only maybe five words in that Gaulish Glossary on the web that
contain <au>. One of them is "Bagaudae/Bacaudae" -- (not strictly accurate
since no one expressively says that that name is Gaulish, I don't think) --
and another is <aus>, ear.

Of the remainder, there is Gaulish <lautro-> (a bath) -- compare Latin
<lavare> 'to wash', Old Irish <lo'athar.> And there is Gaulish <cauaros>, a
giant, also - believe it or not -- reported as <cavarillus> -- so that it
would appear that <au> could = <av> even within Gaulish. However this works,
it certainly seems that <au> was not a common in written Gaulish, however
much it was in Latin.)

<<Finally, I think that <bacc> is a shepherd's crook in Old Irish. Perhaps a
shepherd's revolt?>>

Christopher Gwinn REPLIED:
<<Highly unlikely>>

Actually I can't see how it's any less likely than <the Irish words bag
"combat", and
bagach "combative", as well as Middle(?) Welsh kymwy (*com-bag- "affliction",
and likely meant something like "combatants".> If we take the Romans' word
on it, for even a moment, the word meant peasant in some way -- not combatant.

But also I have trouble finding anything that quite matches <bag> combat in
later Celtic. McBain's has this :"bagair - threaten, so Irish, Early Irish
bacur, a threat. The Welsh bygwl, a threat, etc., is scarcely allied, for it
comes from bwg, a spectre, bogie, whence possibly the English words bogie,
boggle, etc. Gaelic bagair may be allied with the root underlying bac;
possibly bag-gar-, "cry-back".

And the battle word derived from English.

And the Gaulish Glossary says "Old Irish: ba'gaim 'I fight'", but not one
whole <bag> word meaning "fight" or "combat" shows up in any of the on-line
Celtic dictionaries, including McBain's etymological -- though there are
plenty of other good fight words. (e.g., Early Irish <comlann> *com+lann.)

So <bacc> is really looking better than ever to me. After all, what would
most peasants fight with? A spike, a crook? And by the way - what peasant
revolt in history ever named itself the "combatants"? Is that about as
generalized as you can get?

Steve Long