What connection exists between the thunderbolt and the wheel?
In the aftermath of Julius Caesar’s conquest of Gaul (modern France), scores of local Celtic gods and goddesses were deliberately assimilated to members of the Greek and Roman pantheon. A particularly popular Celtic god was Taranis, literally “thunder”, whose cult was incorporated in that of Jupiter. Jupiter was, of course, the Roman thunder god par excellence. But despite the extensive syncretism, the local gods managed to retain many of their original attributes. Taranis’ stock attribute was a wheel. Sometimes the god is shown holding this wheel in one hand. The statue shown above, which misses the head, is of Provencal origin and is now on display in the archaeological museum at Avignon. In other cases, the god itself was represented by the wheel. The little bronze wheels shown above, excavated in Alesia, are thought to symbolize Taranis. Alesia was probably the most famous Gaulish stronghold attacked by Caesar, but the wheels have been found in many other places. The pivotal questi