Druids And Druidism: A Study Of Their Real Identity

1753 words - 7 pages

When interpreting history it is almost akin to separating the wheat from the chaff in farming. Close attention has to be paid to every historical detail that is given. In many cases when studying a historical description the reader can find a particular bias that the author has written with. The writings of Julius Caesar and Pliny are not exempt from being written with a bias when they describe the druids. Both authors are considered to be valid sources on historical events which make the assertions and observations that they noted more reliable than other authors. Upon a cursory observation of the text it seems that Caesar tended to find fewer faults in the druids customs compared to Pliny. This paper will argue and prove that although some of the practices of the druids were barbaric by the civilized Romans, overall they were religious and political leaders with great knowledge and a very important part of the Celtic society.
Throughout Caesar’s account of the druids, Caesar seems to be more concerned with telling the facts and not providing much commentary on the things that he finds barbaric. By only writing about the facts he shows his bias as an author who really is more of a general concerned with numbers and strategy. Caesar starts his description by naming some of their jobs facets. According to Caesars description, druids “intervene in divine matters…look after public and private sacrifices…interpret religious matters” which made them very important figures in Celtic society. (Caesar, 21) From this description alone it can be inferred that they were very involved in every religious facet of the Celtic society. Caesar would have noted this particular aspect because in order for a general or emperor to understand potential enemies he has to know all facets of the opposing society. The druidic involvement is very unique because in Roman culture there were different priests for the different gods, compared to the druids who were mediators between the people and all the gods. Caesar makes no comment on this difference but instead keeps relaying the facts. Another part that ties into the religious description that Caesar gives is the druid’s rights to enact punishment. For instance, “if a private person or the public does not yield to their decision they are prohibited from sacrifices” these people are regarded “as godless and wicked and they are cut off from all.” (Caesar, 21) This shows that the druids were very powerful not only when it came to religious matters but also matters that dealt with the public. They had the power to ostracize entire clans from the rest of the Celts for any type of religious misconduct by a particular clan.
The position of druid was coveted by the Celt people, so much so that many men were sent by “parents and relatives” to try to become one.(Caesar, 21) This was not an easy task though. “They are said to commit to memory a great number of verses… and remain some twenty years in training.” (Caesar, 21) Part...

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