Dawn of the Druids; ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS
Byline: Compiled by Charles Legge
Was druidism invented by the Victorians?
VERY little is known about the ancient druids. They had an oral tradition, forbidding the writing down of their knowledge, though they were familiar with the Greek alphabet and used it for other purposes.
Knowledge in Celtic Britain was a closed shop, restricted to the higher echelons of society. Our modern notion of the druid is a product of the Romantic movement rather than of the Victorians.
Real information about the religion of the Celts is fragmentary, though scholars use it to help unravel the twisted strands of early Irish and Welsh mythology. Greek and Roman commentators from the 1st century BC refer to druidae in Gaul (France) and Britain, describing them as wise men, observers of natural phenomena and moral philosophers.
They also refer to orders of bards (bardoi) -- singers and poets, and diviners (vates), who interpreted sacrifices to foretell the future.
The visual appearance of druids is difficult to clarify. A druidic ceremony depicted by Pliny, in his Natural History, describes a white-robed druid climbing an oak tree to cut down mistletoe with a golden sickle. This picture has entered the popular imagination, but there's little proof that Pliny actually saw a druid.…
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Publication information: Article title: Dawn of the Druids; ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS. Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: Daily Mail (London). Publication date: September 21, 2012. Page number: 65. © 2007 Daily Mail. COPYRIGHT 2012 Gale Group.
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