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A partially reconstructed temple of Apollo Grannus at Faimingen (Phoebiana) near Lauingen

Grannus (also Granus, Mogounus,[1] and Amarcolitanus[2]) was a Celtic deity of classical antiquity. Based on the etymology of his name, Grannus may have been associated with spas, thermal springs, and the sun; having bushy hair, beard and/or eyebrows; or having a connection with the concept of shining/gleaming.[3] He was regularly identified with Apollo as Apollo Grannus. He was frequently worshipped in conjunction with Sirona, and sometimes with Mars and other deities.[4]



In the early twentieth century, the name was connected with the Irish grian, ‘sun’.[5] Along these lines, the god was often linked to the Deò-ghrèine and the character Mac Gréine of Irish mythology. However, the Irish grian, ‘sun’ is thought to be derived from Proto-Celtic *greinā ‘sun’ and the Proto-Celtic *greinā is unlikely to have developed into Grannos in Gaulish and other Continental Celtic languages. Derivation from a Proto-Celtic root *granno- ‘beard’ (cf. Middle Welsh grann ‘chin; beard, hairs’ and Old Irish grend ‘beard, hairs’) has enjoyed some scholarly support, from which Jürgen Zeidler dissents, proposing a different root *granno- with "probable reference to the sun's heat and healing properties".[6] Ranko Matasović, in his Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic, has tentatively proposed that the root of this theonym comes from Proto-Celtic *gwrenso-, which means "heat";[7] however, Proto-Celtic initial gw- yields b- in Gaulish (cf. the name Brennus).[citation needed]


At Monthelon, Grannus is called Deus Apollo Grannus Amarcolitanus[2] ("The one with a piercing or far-reaching look"[8]), and at Horbourg-Wihr Apollo Grannus Mogounus.[4][1]

In all of his centres of worship where he is assimilated to a Roman god, Grannus was identified with Apollo,[4] presumably in Apollo's role as a healing or solar deity. In Trier, he is identified more specifically with Phoebus as Apollo Grannus Phoebus.[9][4]

Centres of worship[edit]

Hot springs such as those at Aquae Granni (today's Aachen) are thought to have been dedicated to Grannus.
The amphitheatre in Grand, dedicated to Apollo. The name of Grand has been linked to Grannus.

One of the god's most famous cult centres was at Aquae Granni (now Aachen, Germany). Aachen means ‘water’ in Old High German, a calque of the Roman name of "Aquae Granni".[10] The town's hot springs with temperatures between 45 °C and 75 °C lay in the somewhat inhospitably marshy area around Aachen's basin-shaped valley region.[10] Aachen first became a curative centre in Hallstatt times.[10]

According to Cassius Dio, the Roman Emperor Caracalla (188 AD to 217 AD) unsuccessfully sought help from Apollo Grannus—as well as Aesculapius and Serapis—during a bout of physical and mental illness, visiting the god's shrine and making many votive offerings; Dio claims that the gods refused to heal him because they knew Caracalla's intentions to be evil.[11] Caracalla's visit to the shrine of ‘the Celtic healing-god’ Grannus was during the war with Germany in 213.[12][citation needed]

In the early twentieth century, the god was said to have still been remembered in a chant sung round bonfires in Auvergne, in which a grain sheaf is set on fire, and called Granno mio, while the people sing, “Granno, my friend; Granno, my father; Granno, my mother”.[5] However, granno may simply be a derivative of an Occitan word of Latin origin meaning "grain" (compare Auvergnat gran "grain", grana "seed" and Languedocien grano, from Latin grānum "grain").


A 1st century AD Latin inscription from a public fountain in Limoges mentions a Gaulish ten-night festival of Grannus (lightly Latinized as decamnoctiacis Granni):

NORIGIS F(ilius) VERG(obretus) AQV
NOCTIACIS GRANNI D(e) S(ua) P(ecunia) D(edit)[13]

Translation: "The vergobretus Postumus son of Dumnorix gave from his own money the Aqua Martia ("Water of Martius [or Mars]", an aqueduct[14]) for the ten-night festival of Grannus".

Divine entourage[edit]

The name Grannus is sometimes accompanied by those of other deities in the inscriptions. In Augsburg, he is found with both Diana and Sirona;[15] he is again invoked with Sirona at Rome,[16] Bitburg,[17] Baumberg,[18][4] Lauingen,[19] and Sarmizegetusa (twice).[20] At Ennetach he is with Nymphs,[21] at Faimingen with Hygieia and the Mother of the Gods,[22] and at Grand with Sol.[4] A votive altar at Astorga invokes him after "holy Serapis" and "the many-named Isis", and before "the unvanquished Core and Mars Sagatus".[23][4]


  1. ^ a b CIL XIII, 05315
  2. ^ a b CIL XIII, 02600
  3. ^ Zeidler, Jürgen (2003). "On the etymology of Grannus". Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie. 53: 77–92.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Patrice Lajoye. Un inventaire des divinités celtes de l’Antiquité. Société de Mythologie Française. See also the inventory's introduction. (in French)
  5. ^ a b J. A. MacCulloch. 1911. "The Gods of Gaul and the Continental Celts." The Religion of the Ancient Celts.
  6. ^ Xavier Delamarre (2003). Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise. Éditions Errance, Paris, pp. 182-183. The quoted text is «référence probable à la chaleur du soleil et ses propriétés curatives».
  7. ^ R. Matasović, Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic (Leiden, 2009) p. 147, s.v. *gwrīns- / *gwrenso-
  8. ^ Zeidler, Jürgen, "On the etymology of Grannus", Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie, Volume 53 (1), de Gruyter. 2003, p. 86.
  9. ^ CIL XIII, 03635
  10. ^ a b c Dr. Rita Mielke. History of Bathing. Aachen.
  11. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History 78.15.
  12. ^ CIL VI 2086; IvEph 802
  13. ^ AE 1989: 521; AE 1991: 1222.
  14. ^ Laurent Lamoine, Le pouvoir local en Gaule romaine, Presses Universitaires Blaise Pascal, 2009, pp. 114-115.
  15. ^ AE 1992, 01304
  16. ^ CIL VI, 00036
  17. ^ CIL XIII, 04129
  18. ^ CIL III, 05588
  19. ^ CIL III, 11903
  20. ^ AE 1983, 00828
  21. ^ CIL III, 05861
  22. ^ CIL III, 05873
  23. ^ AE 1968, 00230. The dedicant is Julius Melanius, an imperial governor.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Grannus at Wikimedia Commons