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The Philosopher and the Druids: A Journey Among the Ancient Celts

de Philip Freeman

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Early in the first century B.C. a Greek philosopher named Posidonius began an ambitious and dangerous journey into the little-known lands of the Celts. A man of great intellectual curiosity and considerable daring, Posidonius traveled from his home on the island of Rhodes to Rome, the capital of the expanding empire that had begun to dominate the Mediterranean. From there Posidonius planned to investigate for himself the mysterious Celts, reputed to be cannibals and savages. His journey would be one of the great adventures of the ancient world.Posidonius journeyed deep into the heart of the Celtic lands in Gaul. There he discovered that the Celts were not barbarians but a sophisticated people who studied the stars, composed beautiful poetry, and venerated a priestly caste known as the Druids. Celtic warriors painted their bodies, wore pants, and decapitated their foes. Posidonius was amazed at the Celtic women, who enjoyed greater freedoms than the women of Rome, and was astonished to discover that women could even become Druids.Posidonius returned home and wrote a book about his travels among the Celts, which became one of the most popular books of ancient times. His work influenced Julius Caesar, who would eventually conquer the people of Gaul and bring the Celts into the Roman Empire, ending forever their ancient way of life. Thanks to Posidonius, who could not have known that he was recording a way of life soon to disappear, we have an objective, eyewitness account of the lives and customs of the ancient Celts.… (més)
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Es mostren totes 2
A good introduction for the layman, though there's nothing here anyone already versed in the subject doesn't know already. Freeman attempts to reconstruct the journey of Posidonius, the influential Greek philosopher and proto-anthropologist, whose works are unfortunately lost and survive only in quotations of later writers. Posidonus's influence is felt among later writers on the Celts, especially Julius Caesar and Diodorus Siculus, as (aside from Caesar himself), he was one of the few writers to actually journey deep into the territory of the Celts.

Using Posidonius, Freeman introduces the reader to the rudiments of Celtic religion (hence the Druids of the title), warfare (including headhunting), and social structure.

I liked Freeman's Ireland and the Classical World better, but then, that's probably because much of the information was new to me when I read it. So the three and a half stars is mainly because it's a good book, one I'd recommend to any newcomer, but if you're already familiar with the Gauls/Celts, it's not really groudbreaking. ( )
4 vota tlachtga | Aug 7, 2011 |
I got the feeling reading this book that the original title may have been "the philosopher and the Celts", but that the publisher thought stressing the Druidic connection would sell more books. It's not bad for an introduction to Celtic interactions with Mediterranean cultures, and it's an easy read, but it necessarily deals mostly with pre-Roman Gaul, and the Druids get only one chapter. ( )
1 vota gwernin | Mar 11, 2008 |
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Early in the first century B.C. a Greek philosopher named Posidonius began an ambitious and dangerous journey into the little-known lands of the Celts. A man of great intellectual curiosity and considerable daring, Posidonius traveled from his home on the island of Rhodes to Rome, the capital of the expanding empire that had begun to dominate the Mediterranean. From there Posidonius planned to investigate for himself the mysterious Celts, reputed to be cannibals and savages. His journey would be one of the great adventures of the ancient world.Posidonius journeyed deep into the heart of the Celtic lands in Gaul. There he discovered that the Celts were not barbarians but a sophisticated people who studied the stars, composed beautiful poetry, and venerated a priestly caste known as the Druids. Celtic warriors painted their bodies, wore pants, and decapitated their foes. Posidonius was amazed at the Celtic women, who enjoyed greater freedoms than the women of Rome, and was astonished to discover that women could even become Druids.Posidonius returned home and wrote a book about his travels among the Celts, which became one of the most popular books of ancient times. His work influenced Julius Caesar, who would eventually conquer the people of Gaul and bring the Celts into the Roman Empire, ending forever their ancient way of life. Thanks to Posidonius, who could not have known that he was recording a way of life soon to disappear, we have an objective, eyewitness account of the lives and customs of the ancient Celts.

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