Cathubodua (Proto-Celtic: *Katu-bodwā, "battle crow") is the name of a Gaulish goddess inferred from a single inscription at Mieussy in Haute Savoie, eastern France,[1] which actually reads ATHVBODVAE AVG SERVILIA TERENTIA S L M.[2] The text's restitution as Cathubodua depends on the assumptions that an initial C has been lost and that the personal names ATEBODVAE, ATEBODVVS and ATEBODVI in 3 other inscriptions in modern Austria and Slovenia[3] are unrelated.

She appears to be identical to the Irish goddess Badb Catha; under this identification, Badb Catha would foresee the fate of warriors before the battle. Nicole Jufer and Thierry Luginbühl provisionally link Cathubodua with other apparently martial goddesses attested elsewhere, such as Boudina, Bodua, and Boudiga, whose names share roots meaning either 'fighting' or 'victory'.[4] She would therefore be comparable to the Roman Victoria and the Greek goddess Nike and possibly the Nordic goddess Sigyn.

A related Roman legend?

A story of the Roman wars against the Gauls of the 4th century BC, recorded by Livy, Aulus Gellius and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, may preserve a reference to her. A Roman soldier, Marcus Valerius, accepted a challenge to single combat with a Gaulish champion. When the fight began, a crow landed on Valerius's helmet and began to attack the Gaul, who, terrified by this divine intervention, was easily beaten. Valerius adopted the cognomen "Corvus" (crow), and as Marcus Valerius Corvus went on to be a famous general and politician of the Roman Republic.[5]

Name and etymology

In the Gaulish language, the name Cathubodua is believed to mean battle-crow.[6][1]

Etymological lexical forms reconstructed in the University of Wales' Proto-Celtic lexicon, suggest that the name is likely to be ultimately derived from the Proto-Celtic *Katu-bodwā, a word that could be interpreted as ‘battle-fighting’.[7] Nonetheless it is this second element *bodwā which appears to be the Proto-Celtic root of the later form of the name Badhbh.[citation needed] The masculine form *bodwos ('fighting') developed in Gaelic into Bodb.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "Cathubodua". L'Arbre Celtique. 2015. Retrieved 2015-05-13. 
  2. ^ W. M. Hennessey (1870). The Ancient Irish Goddess of War. 
  3. ^ CIL III, 5247; CIL III, 4732; CIL III, 5386; [1] Archived July 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Jufer, N. and T. Luginbühl (2001). Répertoire des dieux gaulois. Paris, Editions Errance.
  5. ^ Titus Livius. Periochae. Book 7:10.
  6. ^ Georges Dottin (1918) La Langue Gauloise, Grammaire, Textes et Glossaire. Paris Librairie C. Klincksieck. p. 235 and 244
  7. ^ Proto-Celtic—English lexicon. University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies. (See also this page for background and disclaimers.)