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The earliest Latin writers used vātēs ([ˈwaːteːs], English pronunciation /ˈveɪtiːz/) to denote "prophets" and soothsayers in general; the word fell into disuse in Latin until it was revived by Virgil.[1] Thus Ovid could describe himself as the vates of Eros (Amores 3.9).

According to the Ancient Greek writers Strabo,[2] Diodorus Siculus,[2] and Poseidonius, the vates (οὐάτεις) were one of three classes of Celtic priesthood, the other two being the druids and the bards. The Vates had the role of seers and performed sacrifices (in particular administering human sacrifice), under the presidence of a druid. Their role therefore corresponded to that of an Adhvaryu in Vedic religion. The Celtic word vates is continued by Irish fáith "prophet, seer," and gwawd "scorn, satire, scoff" in Welsh.



It is unknown whether the Latin and Gaulish usages are cognates, or if the former should be considered a Celtic loanword. The word may be derived from a PIE root *wāt- " to inspire, spiritually arouse"; however that root cannot be shown to go back to Proto-Indo-European, since it is only certainly attested for Celtic and Germanic (though it may be present natively in Italic). Virgil uses the Latin vannus "winnowing fan" (from *wat-nos, compare Old High German wadal, modern German Wedel, with the same meaning, from *wat-lo-) for something borne about in the Bacchic festival, suggesting that the root may have had an ecstatic sense in Italic also.

In pagan Rome the vates resided on the Vatican Hill, the Hill of the Vatii. Indeed, the Vatican Hill takes it name from the Latin word Vaticanus, a vaticiniis ferendis, in allusion to the oracles, or Vaticinia, which were anciently delivered on the Vatican Hill.[3]

Rübekeil (2003) suggested that the name of the Germanic god *Wōđinaz may in fact be an early loanword, an adjective *vatinos based on Celtic vates.

Modern usage

Vates (or Ovates, due to a misinterpretation of the Greek spelling οὐάτεις ['waːteːs]) make up one of the three grades of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, a neo-druidism order based in England.

An ovate is also the initial level one can attain in the modern Welsh Gorsedd of Bards. The Gorsedd is not a neo-druidic entity like the one mentioned above, but is more concerned with Welsh arts and culture; however, the ceremony and practices are largely based on reimaginings of druidism by Iolo Morganwg.


  1. ^ Vates
  2. ^ a b Ovates or Vates: The Shamans
  3. ^ Sources: Compendious Description of the Museums of Ancient Sculpture, Greek and Roman, in the Vatican Palace, by Cav. H. J. Massi, First Curator of the Vatican Museums and Galleries, Paleographer and Professor of the Italian and French Languages, Rome, Third Edition, 1889, Title page, page 7.


External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Vates — Vātes (m/f, lat. „Seher“, „Prophet“) ist eine der drei Klassen Inspirierter in der keltischen Gesellschaft. Unter „Inspirierten“ sind die Kultfunktionäre, also Priester im weiteren Sinne zu verstehen. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Name 2 Ausbildung 3… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • VATES — apud Poetam, novit namque omnia Vates, Quae sint, quae fuerant et quae ventura trahantur; ex Graeco φάτης, quod ab Hebr. Gap desc: Hebrew, i. e. praedixit: an κατ᾿ ἀντίςτοιχον, a Latino fari, quod etiam προφητεύειν est; unde fatum et fatuus, idem …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • vates — vátes s. m. Trimis de siveco, 10.08.2004. Sursa: Dicţionar ortografic  VÁTES s.m. (Ant.) Profet, ghicitor la romani. ♦ (Astăzi; rar) Poet inspirat, cântăreţ. [< lat. vates]. Trimis de LauraGellner, 13.09.2007. Sursa: DN  VÁTES s. m. 1.… …   Dicționar Român

  • vates — 1620s, poet or bard, specifically Celtic divinely inspired poet (1728), from L. vates sooth sayer, prophet, seer, cognate with O.Ir. faith poet, Welsh gwawd poem, O.E. wod mad, frenzied (see WOOD (Cf. wood) (adj.)). Hence vaticination oracular… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Vates [1] — Vates (lat.), 1) Weissager, Prophet; 2) Dichter; 3) Musikmeister der Salii, s.d …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Vates [2] — Vates (Eubages), Opferdiener bei den Celten …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Vātes — (lat.), gottbegeisterter Dichter, Seher …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • vates — noun A poet or bard who is divinely inspired. The volume is haunted by the death of the vates (poet prophet) Orpheus, who failed to revive Eurydice from death and was then torn apart by maenads …   Wiktionary

  • vâtes — achevâtes activâtes aggravâtes approuvâtes archivâtes arrivâtes avivâtes bavâtes bravâtes captivâtes cavâtes champlevâtes conservâtes couvâtes crevâtes cultivâtes cuvâtes décavâtes décuvâtes dégrevâtes délavâtes démotivâtes dépavâtes dérivâtes… …   Dictionnaire des rimes

  • vates — …   Useful english dictionary

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