The Gallic rooster is a mascot familiar to many, especially to the followers of team sports such as rugby or football. But why a rooster?
The answer is not quite clear, but it seems to revolve around a debate on the etymology of the name of Gaul. Some argue that ‘Gaul’ takes its root from the Greek Galatai or Galatae (milk-white, in an alleged reference to the Gauls’ skin), others defend that it stems from the Germanic term walha (foreigner, Romanized person), while another group supports that the Romans simply called this land Gallia or Galli.
If we accept the Latin origin, the idea of the Gallic rooster would come from a pun with the word gallus, i.e. rooster. The debate then continues as to whether the Romans used the pun to make fun of the Gauls, making an analogy with the loud and proud bird that did not compare to the Roman eagle, or whether the Gauls themselves thought of the pun and adopted the domestic animal as their emblem when the Roman Empire lost Gaul to the Franks in the late 5th century.
Painting: Bertie by Penelope Timmis (www.bridgegategallery.co.uk)