Lenus

Meaning of the name: As with many Belgic gods, there is no certain etymology on the theonym Lenus. Possibly ‘wood grove, hedgerow’ [1], ‘surprise’ or ‘hurt’ with connotations of youth [2]. One of his epithets, Exsonbinus could mean “one who is without fear” [3], which would be appropriate for Him considering his interpretatio to Mars. Another epithet of Lenus’, Arterancus, is also the subject of speculation. It could be a compound word comprised of *Artos [4] and *anku [5], resulting in ‘bear death’, ‘death by bear’ or even ‘bear of death’ (Note: The author of this piece is not a linguist, this is merely an interesting speculation of what could’ve been).

Pronunciation: LAY-nus

Function: Due to his conflation or fusion with Mars, it’s easy to assume Lenus as a war god. However, most of his shrines and dedications involve healing. This has lead many to believe that his association with Mars involves the fighting of disease and injury, which is a possibility corroborated by Miranda Green[6]. The epithet Exsonbinus points to Him retaining martial qualities. If His name indeed meant ‘wood grove’ or ‘hedgerow’, it could point to a function of border guardianship akin to Terminus- but this is conjectural on the author’s part. Edith Mary Wightman says that he is “…especially honored by the Treveri…”[7] and “one of the best examples of a Teutates, or god of the people, equated with Mars—protector of the tribe in battle, but also […] bestower of health and general good fortune” [8]. If the epithet Arterancus was correctly translated by the author, it could mean Lenus was invoked against bear attacks, deaths by bear, or could even be a bear (or warrior) against death. This is, once again, merely speculative. After all, there are no depictions of Lenus with a bear.

Iconography: Naked male warrior (helmeted as Lenus Mars), possibly a warrior with a spear and axe/or hammer [9]. Possibly a goose[10], as geese were animals associated with war.  

Attested Sources: 14 Inscriptions total, 12 among the Treveri regions, 1 among the Mediomatrici, and 1 among the Ubii.

Interpretatio Romana: Classically, Mars.

Senobessus Bolgon Interpretation: Lenus is a warrior god that protects the tribe and borders of their lands. He also fights disease and death as a warrior and is invoked as such. Lenus also can be petitioned for general fortune and favor should a more specialized path within Senobessus Bolgon be chosen (IE a Treverian styled route).

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Artwork by Selgowiros Caranticnos. Vectoring by Wōdgār Inguing.

 

Resources:

1.Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise (2nd ed.) by Xavier Delamarre (2003) Paris: Editions Errance. P. 435.

2. The God of the Celts and the Indo-Europeans by Garrett S. Olmstead (1994) P. 323

3. http://www.arbre-celtique.com/encyclopedie/exsobinus-4037.htm

4. An etymological lexicon of Proto-Celtic by Ranko Matasovic P. 42

5. An etymological lexicon of Proto-Celtic by Ranko Matasovic P. 37

6. Symbol & Image In Celtic Religious Art by Miranda Green P.114

7. Gallia Belgic by Edith Mary Wightman P. 86

8. Roman Trier and the Treveri by Edith Mary Wightman (1970) P. 211

9. RIB 126. Altar dedicated to Lenus Mars Interpreted by S.C. Baddeley https://romaninscriptionsofbritain.org/inscriptions/126

10. RIB 309. Dedication to Mars Lenus or Ocelus Vellaunus and to the Divinity of the Emperor https://romaninscriptionsofbritain.org/inscriptions/309

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