The Spectacle Blog

Nos ancêtres les Gaulois

By on 11.27.13 | 1:56PM

I am fascinated by Graham Robb’s The Discovery of Middle Earth, about the pre-Roman world of Celts and Gauls. The Druids were much more civilized than we give them credit (apart from that cannibalism thing), and organized their cities according to geometric patterns based on the rising and setting of the sun on the solstices. What there is of the Western tradition of liberty seems to be Celtic of Gaullish, rather than Roman: the parlements vs. Paris, Montaigne vs. Descartes, the Chouans vs. Robespierre, Blackstone vs. Bentham

Now, in this country, the Eastern states are plausibly Celtic (winding roads) and the Western states Roman (the grid of vertical and horizontal roads). Pierre L’Enfant’s Washington is perhaps a mixture of the two: diagonals overlaid on a grid. But are the diagonals laid out on Druidical principles? Let me get back to you on December 21.

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