The basement is actually the remains of the Ancient Roman baths which existed at the site in the third century A.D. In the frigidarium or cold room of the baths, the museum displays The Boatmen’s Pillar. Carved around 10 AD as Celtic Paris was changing into the Roman settlement of Lutetia, this stone monument depicts local animist gods side by side with Roman gods. On one frieze of the pillar, the Celtic deity Cernunnos is shown near the Roman god Jupiter complete with thunderbolt. The Boatmen, a powerful guild through-out
Just as the druids and spirits of the local Celtic Parissi tribe gave way to colonizer gods such as Jupiter, the Roman era gods gradually gave way as well to Christianity. In the process, Cernunnos underwent a definite makeover. Originally a Celtic god of the forest, and fertility, Cernunoos, as depicted on The Boatmen’s Pillar, has antlers but a man’s head. This imagery would be used by the Christians to represent the Devil who today has other markings of Cernnunoos such as the cloven feet and tail. By incorporating a pagan god into a negative one, the early Christians used what the locals would know and constructed an impressive array of self-serving stories, symbols and practices to interweave their faith into daily lives and common behavior.
Its scary how well they did it.