Callimachus (c.305-240 BCE) was born in a Greek colony in Libya who spent his career as a poet and scholar based in the library of Alexandria, working to catalogue its contents.
This extract refers to the Celtic incursion into the Balkans c.279 BCE and the attempted coup d’etat of Gaulish mercenaries in Egypt under Ptolemy Philadelphus. This passage is put into the mouth of the god Apollo, speaking from his mother’s womb.
The following is an adaptation of Callimachus, Hymns and Epigrams. Lycophron. Aratus, trans. A. W. Mair. London: William Heinemann, 1921.
§ 4. A day will come when a common struggle shall come upon us all, when barbarian sword and Celtic war shall rise up against the Hellenic people like modern-day Titans. They will surge from the furthest West like snowflakes and be as numerous as the stars when they appear in the sky; forts too (and the villages of the Locrians and Delphian heights) and Crisaean plains and (glens of the mainland) be thronged about and around, and shall behold the rich smoke of their burning neighbour, and no longer by hearsay only; but already beside the temple behold the ranks of the foemen, and already beside my tripods [bronze altars used by the Delphi oracle] the swords and cruel belts and hateful shields, which shall cause the foolish nation of the Galatians to take an evil journey. Of these shields, some shall be my reward; others, when they have seen the wearers perish amid fire, shall be set by the banks of Nile to be the prizes of an energetic king. O Ptolemy who shall come, these prophecies I declare for you. Greatly shall you praise him that prophesied while yet in his mother’s womb in all the days to come.