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Litavis (also known as Litauis,[1] Litaui, Litauia,[2] ,[3] and Llydaw[4]) is a goddess in Celtic mythology worshiped by the ancient Gauls. Her name is found in inscriptions found at Aignay-le-Duc and Mâlain of the Côte-d'Or, France, where she is invoked along with the Gallo-Roman god Mars Cicolluis in a context which suggests that she might have been his consort.[5] Also, a Latin dedicatory inscription from Narbonne (which was in the far south of Gaul), France, bears the words “MARTI CICOLLUI ET LITAVI” (“Mars Cicolluis and Litavis”).[2] ,[3]

“Litavis” may come from the reconstructed proto-Celtic root *līto- (“feast”), from which comes the Middle Cymric llitho (“to feed”); this can lead her name to be interpreted as “She Who Feeds,” so she may represent a mother deity. She may also be the tutelary deity of ancient Brittany, which is called “Llydaw” in Cymric (Welsh).[5]

In Latin texts, Brittany or Llydaw is given as “Letavia” (quae antiquitus letauia sive armorica uocata est [“which was anciently called Letavia or Armorica”][1] ,[5] from the Chronicle of Robert de Torigni and in partes letaniae quae pars est armoricae siue britanniae minoris [“in the regions of Letania, which is a part of Armorica or Little Britain”] from the Life of Saint Goulven, showing the common confusion of u/v and n in medieval manuscripts).[1] “Letavia” may be derived from “Litavis,” making the region mean the “Land of Litavis” or the “Land of She Who Feeds [Us],” which may be interpreted as the “Land of Plenty.”[5]

Alternatively, “Letavia” or “Letauia” may be derived from *lēto- (earlier *leito-, “gray”) or *lāto- (“broad”), with the derivational suffix *-auā, making it mean “Gray Place” or “Broad Place.” The name is related to the Vedic earth goddess “Prthvi” (Vedic for “the Divinized Earth,” from an Indo-European word meaning “the broad one”[2] ,[3]) and the Greek name Plataia, which would make “Letavia/Letavis” “She Who Is Broad/Vast,” also suggesting that Letavis is a mother or earth goddess.[1] “Litaui(a)” and “Prithvi” may come from Proto-Indo-European *pelt-, a suffixed form of *pele- or *pla-[3] ,[6 ] (“flat” or “broad”[6 ]), from which came Latin planus (“plane”) and Greek palamē (“flat hand”)[6 ] and may also have led to Germanic *felthuz,[3] thus leading to Old English and Middle English feld (akin to German feld and Dutch veld), then to English “field”[6 ]; therefore, “Litavi(a)” and “Prthvi” may also mean “the [Great] Field.”[3]

References

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Specific

  1. ^ a b c d Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Keith. “Britanny/Llydaw.” The Cyberhome of Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews. 26 May 2007 <http://www.kmatthews.org.uk/arthuriana/brittany.html>.
  2. ^ a b c Koch, John T. “Ériu, Alba, and Letha: When Was a Language Ancestral to Gaelic First Spoken in Ireland?Emania: Bulletin of the Navan Research Group 9 (1991): 17–27.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Gwinn, Christopher. “Re: Litavi.” LISTSERV 15.0: OLD-IRISH-L Archives. 31 Dec. 2000, 13:48:19 −0500. L-Soft. 26 May 2007 <https://listserv.heanet.ie/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0012&L=old-irish-l&P=10754>.
  4. ^ Anwyl, Edward, M.A.. Celtic Religion in Pre-Christian Times. London: Archibald Constable & Co. Ltd., 1906. “Chapter 5: The Humanized Gods of Celtic Religion” <http://dimplemoon.com/Main/Dbooks/CelticReligion/Chapter_5.html>.
  5. ^ a b c d Evans, Dyfed Lloyd. “Litavis: A Gaulish Goddess (She Who Feeds).” Celtnet: Nemeton. 26 May 2007 <http://www.celtnet.org.uk/gods_c/cicolluis.html>.
  6. ^ a b c d Guralnik, David B., Editor in Chief. “Field.” Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language. Second College Edition. New York, NY: Prentice Hall Press, 1986. ISBN 0-671-41809-2 (indexed), ISBN 0-671-41807-6 (plain edge), ISBN 0-671-41811-4 (pbk.), and ISBN 0-671-47035-3 (LeatherKraft).

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