had a profound interest in what they saw as the pure and simple
wisdom of the Druids. Their view, like that propounded in the
Book of Genesis, was that Man had fallen from Grace and that
- developed society was deficient compared to the Golden
Age of the past. They shared this opinion with many other
thinkers of Classical antiquity, notably the eighth-century
BC Greek poet Hesiod and the first-century AD Roman, Lucretius.
Early Classical Writers on the Druids
Philosophers, as we may call them, and men learned in religious
affairs are unusually honoured among them [the Gauls] and are
called by them Druids. And it is a custom of theirs that no
one should perform a sacrifice without a "philosopher";
for thank-offerings should be rendered to the gods, they say,
by the hands of men who are experienced in the nature of the
divine, and who speak, as it were, the language of the gods
- Diodorus Siculus, Library of History V, 31,1-5
(1st cent. BC)
It is in consonance with their savagery that they
practice a unique impiety in their sacrifices Diodorus
Pomponius Mela called the Druids - Masters of Wisdom
The druids in addition to natural philosophy, study
also moral philosophy. The Druids are considered the most
righteous of men Strabo, Geography IV, 4,4 (1st
Dio Crysostom (AD 40 c. 100) speaks with respect
for the intellectual powers of the Druids, comparing them to
the Persian Magi, Indian Brahmins and other influential learned
reliable were classical writers on the Druids ?
the face of it, we should expect the earlier sources to be the
most trustworthy, because they were written at, or just after,
a time when Druids were still an active force. Posidonius visited
Gaul, and Caesar spent nearly ten years there. Pliny, Lucan
and Tacitus were all contemporary with the early imperial attempts
to eradicate Druidism; but these earlier chroniclers of the
Druids all had an agenda other than mere historical recording.
The archetypal by stereotypical barbarian image is always
present, to a greater or lesser extent. Stock characterization
influences the descriptions of Celts and Druids. Certain phrases,
which are apparently meaningful, have to be treated with skepticism.
Thus Strabo's remark that the Druids were the most righteous
of men is a stock Greek literary attribute for foreigners,
and may possess no more profound meaning than that.
The writers of the Posidonian and Alexandrian traditions
may have been affected by the current philosophies of the Graeco-Roman
world. So the druids were perhaps artificially credited with
Stoic and Pythagorean thinking, and we have seen that the idealized
Alexandrian portrait of the Noble Savage had a wider
arena than its application\to Druidism.
What is interesting is that Christian writers were
sympathetic to pagan Druids.
Extracts from Exploring the World of the Druids by Miranda