Friday, October 24, 2014

Word of the Day -- Druid

A druid was a member of the educated, professional class among the Celtic peoples of Gaul, Britain, Ireland, and possibly elsewhere during the Iron Age. The druid class included law-speakers, poets and doctors, among other learned professions. Although, the best known among the druids were the religious leaders.

Very little is known about the ancient druids. They left no written accounts of themselves, and the
Now available
only evidence is a few descriptions left by Greek, Roman, and various scattered authors and artists, as well as stories created by later medieval Irish writers. While archaeological evidence has been uncovered pertaining to the religious practices of the Iron Age people, "not one single artifact or image has been unearthed that can undoubtedly be connected with the ancient Druids." Various recurring themes emerge in a number of the Greco-Roman accounts of the druids, including that they performed animal and even human sacrifice, believed in a form of reincarnation, and held a high position in Gaulish society. Next to nothing is known for certain about their cultic practice, except for the ritual of oak and mistletoe as described by Pliny the Elder.

The earliest known reference to the druids dates to 200 BCE, although the oldest actual description comes from the Roman military general Julius Caesar in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico (50s BCE). Later Greco-Roman writers also described the druids, including Cicero, Tacitus and Pliny the Elder. Following the Roman invasion of Gaul, druidism was suppressed by the Roman government under the 1st century CE emperors Tiberius and Claudius, and it had disappeared from the written record by the 2nd century.

No comments: