In 2003, Dover Publications issued a cheap paperback reprint of a book by the late T. D. Kendrick, under the title Druids and Druidism. This work, originally titled The Druids: A Study in Keltic Prehistory, was first published in 1927. Consquently, much of what it has to say is now quite outdated. The reprint was not, however, a wasted exercise, for Kendrick's work has remained an invaluable tool for the serious student of the Druids over all these years for one very simple reason: it contains all, or nearly all, the ancient written references to them, and not only this, but it presents them both in the original and in translation. For some reason, none of the plethora of semi-scholarly Druid books published over the last eight decades has managed, or bothered, to replicate this feat. In no more convenient format could this invaluable primary source material be found - until now! I am sorry if this web-page contributes to Kendrick's work finally becoming obsolete, but I think that a free, online searchable corpus of all ancient literary references to the Druids, accessable to everyone with an internet connection, will be found to be a desirable and convenient research tool by both scholars and interested laypersons. Of course, all texts will be presented in the original and in translation. It will be more complete than Kendrick, since I am including a few texts that he left out, as well as a considerable amount of material which does not actually mention "Druids", but which refers to the historical figure Divitiacus, who is known to have been a Druid.
A few notes about the texts that follow are in order. First of all, these are primary sources, not secondary sources. In other words, these ancient records are to a large extent the basis of our knowledge about the Druids. This means that by becoming familiar with them and understanding them, one can gain a more direct and firmer familiarity with the subject matter than by merely consulting modern works, which are, after all, derived from them. Often one can demonstrate by referring to them that a statement regarding the Druids in a modern work is false or unwarranted. On the other hand, this also means that these sources are not critical or scientific works - the Greeks, Romans and Church Fathers who authored them were not impartial and usually did not have good information about the Druids. Therefore, not everything they wrote about them was necessarily true. These are texts to be analyzed, not simply believed at face value. This is an important point, so I will say it again in bold: These are texts to be analyzed, not simply believed at face value. For this reason, to understand the Druids, it is important not only to be familiar with the primary sources, but also to be aware of how these sources can be and have been interpreted by scholars. For example, one might gain the impression from reading Suetonius that there was a persecution of the Druids under the emperor Claudius; however, some modern scholars have suggested that Suetonius mistakenly attributed the persecution by Tiberius to Claudius (e.g., Bowersock 1987, 'The mechanics of subversion in the Roman provinces', in Opposition et résistances à l'empire d'Auguste à Trajan, p. 300). Unfortunately, a full interpretation of the passages presented is beyond the scope of this page (though look out for upcoming articles in the Essays section). Dates of authors, who got his information from whom, who is wrong about what and why, which readings are in question, etc., will have to be researched elsewhere. You can learn a lot about the interpretation of these passages by reading the works listed in my (ongoing) bibliography of the Druids.
Secondly, while Latin and English pose no serious trouble for an online presentation, there is no sure and easy way to display Greek text on a webpage. One might perhaps transliterate it, writing Greek passages in the Roman rather than the Greek alphabet, which really would not make that much of a difference, but which would be confusing here and there. Another option would be to present the Greek passages as image files, but then they would not be visible to text-based browsers. In the end, I opted to encode them in unicode. All unicode-compatible systems should be able to get something out of them, but for best results you should download and install the font Gentium, which is available here.
Some of the translations are my own, but as a concession to expediency, the majority of English texts here are based on older translations found in various sources, which I have surveyed for archaisms, misleading translations, and Briticisms, and corrected as necessary (e.g. Kelt -> Celt; "familiar with" -> "speak the same language as"). In general I have found older translations preferable to modern ones to use as a base, because, despite sounding stilted to a contemporary audience, they are more literal and tend to reflect fewer odd preconceptions on the part of the translator; and in any case few if any more modern translations are available for most of our authors. Aside from the translations, I have also corrected some errors of citation and attribution found in Kendrick, some of which have been repeated in very recent works such as Philip Freeman's War, Women and Druids, or in the same author's contributions to The Celtic Heroic Age. For example, Kendrick's Pliny 16.249 is actually 16.249-51, though this is still somewhat better than Freeman who calls the same passage simply 16.24. Minor typographic mistakes to be sure, but I am always surprised at how common erroneous citations are in Celtic studies. Likewise, the attribution of the Historia Augusta passages to Vopiscus and Lampridius has been dubious enough since Dessau in 1889, but is inexcusable since the publication Syme's work in the 1960's and 70s. For a good introduction to some of the problems of this particular text, look here. With both the English and the Greek and Latin texts, some have been typed in by hand, while others were taken from online editions. A full exposition of the sources and manner of preparation of each text on this page can be found here
The texts presented here roughly fall into two categories: those actually mentioning the word "druid" or any of its various Greek and Latin corruptions, and those mentioning or referring to one of the two named Druids known to us from historical sources, the male Druid Divitiacus and the druidess Arete. Speeches attributed to Divitiacus are included in full, though they have nothing to do with the Druids per se in terms of their content; being put into the mouth of a Druid is enough to warrant their inclusion. This corpus should not be thought of as a collection of all historical references bearing upon the subject of early Celtic religion or learned professionals; it is strictly about the Druids themselves. In deciding how to order the texts, I was presented with a conundrum. I could not think of any way to meaningfully break them down into categories. One might perhaps arrange them by date, but dates are often uncertain and are complicated by the re-use of older material by later authors. Again, one might perhaps divide them up into the so-called "Posidonian" and "Alexandrian" schools, but this is a false dichotomy in enough ways to make it useless in my opinion. Ultimately, I opted simply to arrange them alphabetically by the name of the author to whom the extant quotations can be attributed. I could perhaps have seperated them by language, but that would be just as meaningless and even less convenient than an alphabetical arrangment.
This web-page is not perfect, and it is my hope in the future to update it so that it contains critical editions of the Greek and Roman passages, showing textual variants (the importance of this was driven home to me while reading some of the variations on Ammianus found in the manuscript tradition), as well as my own translations which will aim to be modern in language and literal in sense. Please e-mail any spelling errors you may find to the address listed on this site's homepage. Bear in mind, however, when sending corrections for the Greek and Latin texts, that you may be using a different edition of the work in question, and it is common for different editors to vary in very small ways with regards to spelling and puctuation.
Finally, I should explain that in the citation for the Metz inscription, "AE" stands for the periodical L'Anée Epigraphique. Now I think I have mentioned everything necessary for visitors to understand and make good use of this page. Happy researches!
According to the Druids, a part of the population [of Gaul] was indigenous, but some of the people came from outlaying islands and lands beyond the Rhine, driven from their homes by repeated wars and by the inroads of the sea.
Drasidae memorant re vera fuisse populi partem indigenam, sed alios quoque ab insulis extimis confluxisse et tractibus transrhenanis, crebritate bellorum et adluvione fervidi maris sedibus suis expulsos.Back to Top
In these regions, as the people gradually became civilized, attention to the gentler arts became commoner, a study introduced by the Bards, and the Euhages, and the Druids. It was the custom of the Bards to celebrate the brave deeds of their famous men in epic verse accompanied by the sweet strains of the lyre, while the Euhages strove to explain the high mysteries of nature. Between them came the Druids, men of greater talent, members of the intimate fellowship of the Pythagorean faith; they were uplifted by searchings into secret and sublime things, and with grand contempt for mortal lot they professed the immortality of the soul.
per haec loca hominibus paulatim excultis viguere studia laudabilium doctrinarum, inchoata per bardos et euhagis et drasidas. et bardi quidem fortia virorum illustrium facta heroicis conposita versibus cum dulcibus lyrae modulis cantitarunt, euhages vero scrutantes seriem et sublimia naturae pandere conabantur. inter eos drasidae ingeniis celsiores, ut auctoritas Pythagorae decrevit, sodaliciis adstricti consortiis, quaestionibus occultarum rerum altarumque erecti sunt et despectantes humana pronuntiarunt animas inmortales.Back to Top
If report does not lie,
you were sprung from the stock of the Druids of Bayeux,
and traced your hallowed line
from the temple of Belenus.
Tu Baiocassi stirpe Druidarum satus,
si fama non fallit fidem,
Beleni a sacratum ducis e templo genus
et inde vobis nomina
Nor must I leave unmentioned
the old man Phoebicius,
who, though keeper of Belenus’s temple,
got no profit thereby.
Yet he, sprung, as rumor goes,
from the stock of the Druids
obtained a chair at Bordeaux
by his son’s help.
Nec reticebo senem
qui Beleni aedituus
nil opis inde tulit,
set tamen, ut placitum,
stirpe satus Druidum
nati opera obtinuit.
In the course of his travels he [Orgetorix] persuaded Casticus, of the Sequani, son of Catamantaloedes, who had held for many years the kingship of the Sequani, and had been called by the [Roman] senate "friend of the Roman people," to seize in his own state the kingship which his father had held before him; and Dumnorix also, of the Aedui, brother of Divitiacus, at that time holding the leadership of the state and a great favorite with the common people, he persuaded to a like endeavor, and gave him his own daughter in marriage.
In eo itinere persuadet Castico, Catamantaloedis filio, Sequano, cuius pater regnum in Sequanis multos annos obtinuerat et a senatu populi Romani amicus appellatus erat, ut regnum in civitate sua occuparet, quod pater ante habuerit; itemque Dumnorigi Haeduo, fratri Diviciaci, qui eo tempore principatum in civitate obtinebat ac maxime plebi acceptus erat, ut idem conaretur persuadet eique filiam suam in matrimonium dat.Back to Top
He [Caesar] perceived that he was being put off too long, and that the day was close upon him whereon it was proper to issue the grain-ration to the troops: accordingly he summoned together the leading Aeduans, of whom he had a great number in his camp, among them Divitiacus and Liscus, who had the highest magistracy, which the Aedui call Vergobretus: the magistrate is elected annually, and has the power of life and death over his fellow-countrymen. Caesar called them severely to account ... (17) Then, and not till then, the remarks of Caesar caused Liscus to reveal a fact concealed before. There were, he said, certain persons ... These persons, by seditious and insolent language, were intimidating the general population against the collection of grain as required, on the plea that it was better for the Aedui, if they could not now enjoy the leadership of Gaul, to submit to the commands of Gauls rather than of Romans; for they did not doubt that, if the Romans overcame the Helvetii, they meant to deprive the Aedui of liberty, in common with the rest of Gaul ... (18) Caesar felt that Dumnorix, the brother of Divitiacus, was indicated in these remarks of Liscus ... Caesar questioned others privately upon the same matters, and found that it was so - that Dumnorix was the man ... moreover, he hated Caesar and the Romans on his own account, because their arrival had diminished his power and restored his brother Divitiacus to his old place of influence and honor ... (19) Caesar deemed all this to be cause enough for him either to punish Dumnorix himself, or command the state to do so. To all such procedure there was one objection, the knowledge that Divitiacus, the brother of Dumnorix, showed the utmost zeal for the Roman people, the utmost goodwill towards himself, in loyalty, in justice, in prudence alike remarkable; for Caesar apprehended that the punishment of Dumnorix might offend the feelings of Divitiacus. Therefore, before attempting anything in the matter, Caesar ordered Divitiacus to be summoned to his quarters, and, having removed the regular interpreters, conversed with him through the mouth of Gaius Valerius Procillus, a leading man in the Gaulish Province and his own intimate friend, in whom he had the utmost confidence upon all matters. Caesar related the remarks which had been uttered in his presence as concerning Dumnorix at the assembly of the Gauls, and showed what each person had said severally to him upon the same subject. He asked and urged that without offense to the feelings of Divitiacus he might either hear his case himself and pass judgement upon him, or order the state to do so. (20) With many tears Divitiacus embraced Caesar, and began to beseech him not to pass too severe a judgement upon his brother. "I know," said he, "that the reports are true, and no one is more pained thereat than I, for at a time when I had very great influence in my own state and in the rest of Gaul, and he very little, by reason of his youth, he owed his rise to me; and now he is using his resources and his strength not only to the diminution of my influence, but almost to my destruction. For all that, I feel the force of brotherly love and public opinion. That is to say, if too severe a fate befalls him at your hands, no one, seeing that I hold this place in your friendship, will opine that it has been done without my consent; and this will turn from me the feelings of all Gaul." While he was making this petition at greater length, and with tears, Caesar took him by the hand and consoled him, bidding him end his entreaty, and showing him that his influence with Caesar was so great that he excused the injury to Rome and the vexation felt by himself, in consideration for the goodwill and the entreaties of Divitiacus. Then he summoned Dumnorix into his quarters, and in the presence of his brother he pointed out what he had to blame in him; he set forth what he himself perceived, and the complaints of the state; he warned him to avoid all occasions of suspicion for the future, and said that he excused the past in consideration for his brother Divitiacus. He posted sentinels over Dumnorix, so as to know what he did and with whom he spoke. [Dumnorix was killed by the Romans four years later for refusing to return to Caesar's camp, famously crying out that he was "a free man of a free state" (De Bello Gallico 5.7)]
Ubi se diutius duci intellexit et diem instare quo die frumentum militibus metiri oporteret, convocatis eorum principibus, quorum magnam copiam in castris habebat, in his Diviciaco et Lisco, qui summo magistratui praeerat, quem vergobretum appellant Haedui, qui creatur annuus et vitae necisque in suos habet potestatem, graviter eos accusat ... (17) Tum demum Liscus oratione Caesaris adductus quod antea tacuerat proponit: esse non nullos ... Hos seditiosa atque improba oratione multitudinem deterrere, ne frumentum conferant quod debeant: praestare, si iam principatum Galliae obtinere non possint, Gallorum quam Romanorum imperia perferre, neque dubitare [debeant] quin, si Helvetios superaverint Romani, una cum reliqua Gallia Haeduis libertatem sint erepturi ... (18) Caesar hac oratione Lisci Dumnorigem, Diviciaci fratrem, designari sentiebat ... Eadem secreto ab aliis quaerit; reperit esse vera: ipsum esse Dumnorigem ... odisse etiam suo nomine Caesarem et Romanos, quod eorum adventu potentia eius deminuta et Diviciacus frater in antiquum locum gratiae atque honoris sit restitutus ... (19) satis esse causae arbitrabatur quare in eum aut ipse animadverteret aut civitatem animadvertere iuberet. His omnibus rebus unum repugnabat, quod Diviciaci fratris summum in populum Romanum studium, summum in se voluntatem, egregiam fidem, iustitiam, temperantiam cognoverat; nam ne eius supplicio Diviciaci animum offenderet verebatur. Itaque prius quam quicquam conaretur, Diviciacum ad se vocari iubet et, cotidianis interpretibus remotis, per C. Valerium Procillum, principem Galliae provinciae, familiarem suum, cui summam omnium rerum fidem habebat, cum eo conloquitur; simul commonefacit quae ipso praesente in concilio [Gallorum] de Dumnorige sint dicta, et ostendit quae separatim quisque de eo apud se dixerit. Petit atque hortatur ut sine eius offensione animi vel ipse de eo causa cognita statuat vel civitatem statuere iubeat. (20) Diviciacus multis cum lacrimis Caesarem complexus obsecrare coepit ne quid gravius in fratrem statueret: scire se illa esse vera, nec quemquam ex eo plus quam se doloris capere, propterea quod, cum ipse gratia plurimum domi atque in reliqua Gallia, ille minimum propter adulescentiam posset, per se crevisset; quibus opibus ac nervis non solum ad minuendam gratiam, sed paene ad perniciem suam uteretur. Sese tamen et amore fraterno et existimatione vulgi commoveri. Quod si quid ei a Caesare gravius accidisset, cum ipse eum locum amicitiae apud eum teneret, neminem existimaturum non sua voluntate factum; qua ex re futurum uti totius Galliae animi a se averterentur. Haec cum pluribus verbis flens a Caesare peteret, Caesar eius dextram prendit; consolatus rogat finem orandi faciat; tanti eius apud se gratiam esse ostendit uti et rei publicae iniuriam et suum dolorem eius voluntati ac precibus condonet. Dumnorigem ad se vocat, fratrem adhibet; quae in eo reprehendat ostendit; quae ipse intellegat, quae civitas queratur proponit; monet ut in reliquum tempus omnes suspiciones vitet; praeterita se Diviciaco fratri condonare dicit. Dumnorigi custodes ponit, ut quae agat, quibuscum loquatur scire possit.Back to Top
For these [various Gaulish leaders] Divitiacus the Aeduan spoke and told him [Caesar]: "That there were two parties in the whole of Gaul: that the Aedui stood at the head of one of these, the Arverni of the other. After these had been violently struggling with one another for the superiority for many years, it came to pass that the Germani were called in for hire by the Arverni and the Sequani. That about 15,000 of them had at first crossed the Rhine: but after that these wild and barbarous men had become enamored of the lands and the refinement and the abundance of the Gauls, more were brought over, that there were now as many as 120,000 of them in Gaul: that with these the Aedui and their dependents had repeatedly struggled in arms - that they had been routed, and had sustained a great calamity - had lost all their nobility, all their senate, all their cavalry. And that broken by such engagements and calamities, although they had formerly been very powerful in Gaul, both from their own valor and from the Roman people's hospitality and friendship, they were now compelled to give the chief nobles of their state, as hostages to the Sequani, and to bind their state by an oath, that they would neither demand hostages in return, nor supplicate aid from the Roman people, nor refuse to be forever under their sway and empire. That he [Divitiacus] was the only one out of all the state of the Aedui, who could not be prevailed upon to take the oath or to give his children as hostages. On that account he had fled from his state and had gone to the senate at Rome to beseech aid, as he alone was bound neither by oath nor hostages. But a worse thing had befallen the victorious Sequani than the vanquished Aedui, for Ariovistus the king of the Germani, had settled in their territories, and had seized upon a third of their land, which was the best in the whole of Gaul, and was now ordering them to depart from another third part, because a few months previously 24,000 men of the Harudes had come to him, for whom room and settlements must be provided. The consequence would be, that in a few years they would all be driven from the territories of Gaul, and all the Germani would cross the Rhine; for neither must the land of Gaul be compared with the land of the Germani, nor must the habit of living of the latter be put on a level with that of the former. Moreover, [as for] Ariovistus, no sooner did he defeat the forces of the Gauls in a battle which took place at Magetobriga, than [he began] to lord it haughtily and cruelly, to demand as hostages the children of all the principal nobles, and wreak on them every kind of cruelty, if every thing was not done at his nod or pleasure; that he was a savage, passionate, and reckless man, and that his commands could no longer be borne. Unless there was some aid in Caesar and the Roman people, the Gauls must all do the same thing that the Helvetii have done, [viz.] emigrate from their country, and seek another dwelling place, other settlements remote from the Germani, and try whatever fortune may fall to their lot. If these things were to be disclosed to Ariovistus, [Divitiacus adds] that he doubts not that he would inflict the most severe punishment on all the hostages who are in his possession, [and says] that Caesar could, either by his own influence and by that of his army, or by his late victory, or by name of the Roman people, intimidate him, so as to prevent a greater number of Germani being brought over the Rhine, and could protect all Gaul from the outrages of Ariovistus.
Locutus est pro his Diviciacus Haeduus: Galliae totius factiones esse duas; harum alterius principatum tenere Haeduos, alterius Arvernos. Hi cum tantopere de potentatu inter se multos annos contenderent, factum esse uti ab Arvernis Sequanisque Germani mercede arcesserentur. Horum primo circiter milia XV Rhenum transisse; postea quam agros et cultum et copias Gallorum homines feri ac barbari adamassent, traductos plures; nunc esse in Gallia ad C et XX milium numerum. Cum his Haeduos eorumque clientes semel atque iterum armis contendisse; magnam calamitatem pulsos accepisse, omnem nobilitatem, omnem senatum, omnem equitatum amisisse. Quibus proeliis calamitatibusque fractos, qui et sua virtute et populi Romani hospitio atque amicitia plurimum ante in Gallia potuissent, coactos esse Sequanis obsides dare nobilissimos civitatis et iure iurando civitatem obstringere sese neque obsides repetituros neque auxilium a populo Romano imploraturos neque recusaturos quo minus perpetuo sub illorum dicione atque imperio essent. Unum se esse ex omni civitate Haeduorum qui adduci non potuerit ut iuraret aut liberos suos obsides daret. Ob eam rem se ex civitate profugisse et Romam ad senatum venisse auxilium postulatum, quod solus neque iure iurando neque obsidibus teneretur. Sed peius victoribus Sequanis quam Haeduis victis accidisse, propterea quod Ariovistus, rex Germanorum, in eorum finibus consedisset tertiamque partem agri Sequani, qui esset optimus totius Galliae, occupavisset et nunc de altera parte tertia Sequanos decedere iuberet, propterea quod paucis mensibus ante Harudum milia hominum XXIIII ad eum venissent, quibus locus ac sedes pararentur. Futurum esse paucis annis uti omnes ex Galliae finibus pellerentur atque omnes Germani Rhenum transirent; neque enim conferendum esse Gallicum cum Germanorum agro neque hanc consuetudinem victus cum illa comparandam. Ariovistum autem, ut semel Gallorum copias proelio vicerit, quod proelium factum sit ad Magetobrigam, superbe et crudeliter imperare, obsides nobilissimi cuiusque liberos poscere et in eos omnia exempla cruciatusque edere, si qua res non ad nutum aut ad voluntatem eius facta sit. Hominem esse barbarum, iracundum, temerarium: non posse eius imperia, diutius sustineri. Nisi quid in Caesare populoque Romano sit auxilii, omnibus Gallis idem esse faciendum quod Helvetii fecerint, ut domo emigrent, aliud domicilium, alias sedes, remotas a Germanis, petant fortunamque, quaecumque accidat, experiantur. Haec si enuntiata Ariovisto sint, non dubitare quin de omnibus obsidibus qui apud eum sint gravissimum supplicium sumat. Caesarem vel auctoritate sua atque exercitus vel recenti victoria vel nomine populi Romani deterrere posse ne maior multitudo Germanorum Rhenum traducatur, Galliamque omnem ab Ariovisti iniuria posse defendere.Back to Top
When this speech had been delivered by Divitiacus, all who were present began with loud lamentation to entreat assistance of Caesar. Caesar noticed that the Sequani were the only people of all who did none of those things which the others did, but, with their heads bowed down, gazed on the earth in sadness. Wondering what was the reason of this conduct, he inquired of themselves. No reply did the Sequani make, but silently continued in the same sadness. When he had repeatedly inquired of them and could not elicit any answer at all, the same Divitiacus the Aeduan answered, that-"the lot of the Sequani was more wretched and grievous than that of the rest, on this account, because they alone durst not even in secret complain or supplicate aid; and shuddered at the cruelty of Ariovistus [even when] absent, just as if he were present; for, to the rest, despite of every thing there was an opportunity of flight given; but all tortures must be endured by the Sequani, who had admitted Ariovistus within their territories, and whose towns were all in his power."
Hac oratione ab Diviciaco habita omnes qui aderant magno fletu auxilium a Caesare petere coeperunt. Animadvertit Caesar unos ex omnibus Sequanos nihil earum rerum facere quas ceteri facerent sed tristes capite demisso terram intueri. Eius rei quae causa esset miratus ex ipsis quaesiit. Nihil Sequani respondere, sed in eadem tristitia taciti permanere. Cum ab his saepius quaereret neque ullam omnino vocem exprimere posset, idem Diviacus Haeduus respondit: hoc esse miseriorem et graviorem fortunam Sequanorum quam reliquorum, quod soli ne in occulto quidem queri neque auxilium implorare auderent absentisque Ariovisti crudelitatem, velut si cora adesset, horrerent, propterea quod reliquis tamen fugae facultas daretur, Sequanis vero, qui intra fines suos Ariovistum recepissent, quorum oppida omnia in potestate eius essent, omnes cruciatus essent perferendi.Back to Top
Having accepted their [his soldiers'] excuse [for fearing to fight the Germani], and having had the road carefully reconnoitered by Divitiacus, because in him of all others he [Caesar] had the greatest faith [he found] that by a circuitous route of more than fifty miles he might lead his army through open parts; he then set out in the fourth watch, as he had said [he would].
Eorum satisfactione accepta et itinere exquisito per Diviciacum, quod ex Gallis ei maximam fidem habebat, ut milium amplius quinquaginta circuitu locis apertis exercitum duceret, de quarta vigilia, ut dixerat, profectus est.Back to Top
He [Caesar], addressing himself to Divitiacus, the Aeduan, with great earnestness, points out how much it concerns the republic and their common security, that the forces of the enemy should be divided, so that it might not be necessary to engage with so large a number at one time. [He asserts] that this might be affected if the Aedui would lead their forces into the territories of the Bellovaci, and begin to lay waste their country. With these instructions he dismissed him from his presence.
Ipse Diviciacum Haeduum magnopere cohortatus docet quanto opere rei publicae communisque salutis intersit manus hostium distineri, ne cum tanta multitudine uno tempore confligendum sit. Id fieri posse, si suas copias Haedui in fines Bellovacorum introduxerint et eorum agros populari coeperint. His datis mandatis eum a se dimittit.Back to Top
The enemy, when they perceived that their hopes had deceived them both with regard to their taking the town by storm and also their passing the river, and did not see our men advance to a more disadvantageous place for the purpose of fighting, and when provisions began to fail them, having called a council, determined that it was best for each to return to his country, and resolved to assemble from all quarters to defend those into whose territories the Romans should first march an army; that they might contend in their own rather than in a foreign country, and might enjoy the stores of provision which they possessed at home. Together with other causes, this consideration also led them to that resolution, viz: that they had learned that Divitiacus and the Aedui were approaching the territories of the Bellovaci. And it was impossible to persuade the latter to stay any longer, or to deter them from conveying succor to their own people.
Hostes, ubi et de expugnando oppido et de flumine transeundo spem se fefellisse intellexerunt neque nostros in locum iniquiorum progredi pugnandi causa viderunt atque ipsos res frumentaria deficere coepit, concilio convocato constituerunt optimum esse domum suam quemque reverti, et quorum in fines primum Romani exercitum introduxissent, ad eos defendendos undique convenirent, ut potius in suis quam in alienis finibus decertarent et domesticis copiis rei frumentariae uterentur. Ad eam sententiam cum reliquis causis haec quoque ratio eos deduxit, quod Diviciacum atque Haeduos finibus Bellovacorum adpropinquare cognoverant. His persuaderi ut diutius morarentur neque suis auxilium ferrent non poterat.Back to Top
For these [i.e., the Bellovaci] Divitiacus pleads (for after the departure of the Belgae, having dismissed the troops of the Aedui, he had returned to Caesar). "The Bellovaci had at all times been in the alliance and friendship of the Aeduan state; that they had revolted from the Aedui and made war upon the Roman people, being urged thereto by their nobles, who said that the Aedui, reduced to slavery by Caesar, were suffering every indignity and insult. That they who had been the leaders of that plot, because they perceived how great a calamity they had brought upon the state, had fled into Britain. That not only the Bellovaci, but also the Aedui, entreated him to use his [accustomed] clemency and lenity toward them [the Bellovaci]: which if he did, he would increase the influence of the Aedui among all the Belgae, by whose succor and resources they had been accustomed to support themselves whenever any wars occurred."
Pro his Diviciacus (nam post discessum Belgarum dimissis Haeduorum copiis ad eum reverterat) facit verba: Bellovacos omni tempore in fide atque amicitia civitatis Haeduae fuisse; impulsos ab suis principibus, qui dicerent Haeduos a Caesare in servitutem redacto. Omnes indignitates contumeliasque perferre, et ab Haeduis defecisse et populo Romano bellum intulisse. Qui eius consilii principes fuissent, quod intellegerent quantam calamitatem civitati intulissent, in Britanniam profugisse. Petere non solum Bellovacos, sed etiam pro his Haeduos, ut sua clementia ac mansuetudine in eos utatur. Quod si fecerit, Haeduorum auctoritatem apud omnes Belgas amplificaturum, quorum auxiliis atque opibus, si qua bella inciderint, sustentare consuerint.Back to Top
Caesar said that on account of his respect for Divitiacus and the Aeduans, he would receive them [the Bellovaci] into his protection, and would spare them; but, because the state was of great influence among the Belgae, and pre-eminent in the number of its population, he demanded 600 hostages.
Caesar honoris Diviciaci atque Haeduorum causa sese eos in fidem recepturum et conservaturum dixit, et quod erat civitas magna inter Belgas auctoritate atque hominum multitudine praestabat, DC obsides poposcit.Back to Top
And having fought several successful battles and slain all the nobility of the Aedui, they [the Sequani] had so far surpassed them in power, that they brought over, from the Aedui to themselves, a large portion of their dependents and received from them the sons of their leading men as hostages, and compelled them to swear in their public character that they would enter into no design against them; and held a portion of the neighboring land, seized on by force, and possessed the sovereignty of the whole of Gaul. Divitiacus urged by this necessity, had proceeded to Rome to the senate, for the purpose of entreating assistance, and had returned without accomplishing his object.
Proeliis vero compluribus factis secundis atque omni nobilitate Aeduorum interfecta tantum potentia antecesserant, ut magnam partem clientium ab Aeduis ad se traducerent obsidesque ab eis principum filios acciperent et publice iurare cogerent nihil se contra Sequanos consili inituros et partem finitimi agri per vim occupatam possiderent Galliaeque totius principatum obtinerent. Qua necessitate adductus Diviciacus auxili petendi causa Romam ad senatum profectus infecta re redierat.Back to Top
Throughout Gaul there are two classes of persons of definite account and dignity. As for the common folk, they are treated almost as slaves, venturing naught of themselves, never taken into counsel. The more part of them, oppressed as they are either by debt, or by the heavy weight of tribute, or by the wrongdoing of the more powerful men, commit themselves in slavery to the nobles, who have, in fact, the same rights over them as masters over slaves. Of the two classes mentioned above, one consists of Druids, the other of knights. The former are concerned with divine worship, the due performance of sacrifices, public and private, and the interpretation of ritual questions: a great number of young men gather about them for the sake of instruction and hold them in great honor. In fact, it is they who decide in almost all disputes, public and private; and if any crime has been committed, or murder done, or there is any dispute about succession or boundaries, they also decide it, determining rewards and penalties: if any person or people does not abide by their decision, they ban such from sacrifice, which is their heaviest penalty. Those that are so banned are reckoned as impious and criminal; all men move out of their path and shun their approach and conversation, for fear that they may get some harm from their contact, and no justice is done if they seek it, no distinction falls to their share. Of all those Druids one is chief, who has the highest authority among them. At his death, either any other that is pre-eminent in position succeeds, or, if there are several of equal standing, they strive for the primacy by the vote of the Druids, or sometimes even with armed force. These Druids, at a certain time of the year, meet within the borders of the Carnutes, whose territory is reckoned as the centre of Gaul, and sit in conclave in a consecrated spot. Thither assemble from every side all that have disputes, and they obey the decisions and judgments of the Druids. It is believed that their discipline was discovered in Britain and transferred thence to Gaul; and today those who would study the subject more accurately journey, as a rule, to Britain to learn it.
In omni Gallia eorum hominum, qui aliquo sunt numero atque honore, genera sunt duo. Nam plebes paene servorum habetur loco, quae nihil audet per se, nullo adhibetur consilio. Plerique, cum aut aere alieno aut magnitudine tributorum aut iniuria potentiorum premuntur, sese in servitutem dicant nobilibus: in hos eadem omnia sunt iura, quae dominis in servos. Sed de his duobus generibus alterum est druidum, alterum equitum. Illi rebus divinis intersunt, sacrificia publica ac privata procurant, religiones interpretantur: ad hos magnus adulescentium numerus disciplinae causa concurrit, magnoque hi sunt apud eos honore. Nam fere de omnibus controversiis publicis privatisque constituunt, et, si quod est admissum facinus, si caedes facta, si de hereditate, de finibus controversia est, idem decernunt, praemia poenasque constituunt; si qui aut privatus aut populus eorum decreto non stetit, sacrificiis interdicunt. Haec poena apud eos est gravissima. Quibus ita est interdictum, hi numero impiorum ac sceleratorum habentur, his omnes decedunt, aditum sermonemque defugiunt, ne quid ex contagione incommodi accipiant, neque his petentibus ius redditur neque honos ullus communicatur. His autem omnibus druidibus praeest unus, qui summam inter eos habet auctoritatem. Hoc mortuo aut si qui ex reliquis excellit dignitate succedit, aut, si sunt plures pares, suffragio druidum, nonnumquam etiam armis de principatu contendunt. Hi certo anni tempore in finibus Carnutum, quae regio totius Galliae media habetur, considunt in loco consecrato. Huc omnes undique, qui controversias habent, conveniunt eorumque decretis iudiciisque parent. Disciplina in Britannia reperta atque inde in Galliam translata esse existimatur, et nunc, qui diligentius eam rem cognoscere volunt, plerumque illo discendi causa proficiscuntur.Back to Top
The Druids usually hold aloof from war, and do not pay war-taxes with the rest; they are excused from military services and exempt from all liabilities. Tempted by these great rewards, many young men assemble of their own motion to receive their training; many are sent by parents and relatives. Report says that in the schools of the Druids they learn by heart a great number of verses, and therefore some persons remain twenty years under training. And they do not think it proper to commit these utterances to writing, although in almost all other matters, and in their public and private accounts, they make use of Greek letters. I believe that they adopted the practice for two reasons – that they do not wish the discipline to become common property, for those who learn the discipline to rely on writing and so neglect the cultivation of the memory; and, in fact, it does not usually happen that the assistance of writing tends to relax the diligence of the student and action of the memory. The cardinal doctrine which they seek to teach is that souls do not die, but after death pass from one to another; and this belief, as the fear of death is thereby cast aside, they hold to be the greatest incentive to valor. Besides this, they have many discussions as touching the stars and their movement, the size of the universe and of the earth, the order of nature, the strength and the powers of the immortal gods, and hand down their lore to the young men.
Druides a bello abesse consuerunt neque tributa una cum reliquis pendunt; militiae vacationem omniumque rerum habent immunitatem. Tantis excitati praemiis et sua sponte multi in disciplinam conveniunt et a parentibus propinquisque mittuntur. Magnum ibi numerum versuum ediscere dicuntur. Itaque annos nonnulli vicenos in disciplina permanent. Neque fas esse existimant ea litteris mandare, cum in reliquis fere rebus, publicis privatisque rationibus Graecis litteris utantur. Id mihi duabus de causis instituisse videntur, quod neque in vulgum disciplinam efferri velint neque eos, qui discunt, litteris confisos minus memoriae studere: quod fere plerisque accidit, ut praesidio litterarum diligentiam in perdiscendo ac memoriam remittant. In primis hoc volunt persuadere, non interire animas, sed ab aliis post mortem transire ad alios, atque hoc maxime ad virtutem excitari putant metu mortis neglecto. Multa praeterea de sideribus atque eorum motu, de mundi ac terrarum magnitudine, de rerum natura, de deorum immortalium vi ac potestate disputant et iuventuti tradunt.Back to Top
The whole nation of the Gauls is greatly devoted to ritual observances, and for that reason those who are smitten with the more grievous maladies, and are engaged in the perils of battle either sacrifice human victims or vow so to do, employing the Druids as ministers for such sacrifices. They believe, in effect, that, unless for a man’s life a man’s life be paid, the majesty of the immortal gods may not be appeased; and in public, as in private, life they observe an ordinance of sacrifices of the same kind. Others use figures of immense size, whose limbs, woven out of twigs, they fill with living men and set on fire, and the men perish in a sheet of flame. They believe that the execution of those who have been caught in the act of theft or robbery so some crime is more pleasing to the immortal gods; but when the supply of such fails they resort to the execution even of the innocent.
Natio est omnis Gallorum admodum dedita religionibus, atque ob eam causam, qui sunt adfecti gravioribus morbis quique in proeliis periculisque versantur, aut pro victimis homines immolant aut se immolaturos vovent administrisque ad ea sacrificia druidibus utuntur, quod, pro vita hominis nisi hominis vita reddatur, non posse deorum immortalium numen placari arbitrantur, publiceque eiusdem generis habent instituta sacrificia. Alii immani magnitudine simulacra habent, quorum contexta viminibus membra vivis hominibus complent; quibus succensis circumventi flamma exanimantur homines. Supplicia eorum qui in furto aut in latrocinio aut aliqua noxia sint comprehensi gratiora dis immortalibus esse arbitrantur; sed, cum eius generis copia defecit, etiam ad innocentium supplicia descendunt.Back to Top
The Gauls affirm that they are all descended from a common father, Dis, and say that this is the tradition of the Druids.
Galli se omnes ab Dite patre prognatos praedicant idque ab druidibus proditum dicunt.Back to Top
The Germani differ much from this manner of living. They have no Druids to regulate divine worship, no zeal for sacrifices.
Germani multum ab hac consuetudine differunt. Nam neque druides habent, qui rebus divinis praesint, neque sacrificiis student.Back to Top
Eporedirix, the Aeduan , a young man born in the highest rank and possessing very great influence at home, and, along with Viridomarus, of equal age and influence, but of inferior birth, whom Caesar had raised from a humble position to the highest rank, on being recommended to him by Divitiacus, had come in the number of horse, being summoned by Caesar by name.
Eporedorix Aeduus, summo loco natus adulescens et summae domi potentiae, et una Viridomarus, pari aetate et gratia, sed genere dispari, quem Caesar ab Diviciaco sibi traditum ex humili loco ad summam dignitatem perduxerat, in equitum numero convenerant nominatim ab eo evocati.Back to Top
Nor is the practice of divination disregarded even among foreign nations, if indeed there are Druids in Gaul – and there are, for I knew one of them myself, Divitiacus the Aeduan, your guest and eulogist. He claimed to have a knowledge of nature which the Greeks call “physiologia,” and he used to make predictions, sometimes by means of augury and sometime by means of conjecture.
Eaque divinationum ratio ne in barbaris quidem gentibus neglecta est, siquidem et in Gallia Druidae sunt, e quibus ipse Divitiacum Haeduum hospitem tuum laudatoremque cognovi, qui et naturae rationem, quam φυσιολογίαν Graeci appellant, notam esse sibi profitebatur, et partim auguriis, partim coniectura, quae essent futura dicebatBack to Top
Thus philosophy, a science of the highest utility, flourished in antiquity among foreigners, shedding its light over the nations. And afterwards it came to Greece. First in its ranks were the prophets of the Egyptians; and the Chaldeans among the Assyrians; and the Druids among the Gauls; and the Samanaeans among the Bactrians; and the philosophers of the Celts; and the Magi of the Persians…
φιλοσοφία τοίνυν πολυωφελές τε χρῆμα πάλαι μὲν ἤκμασε παρὰ βαρβάροις κατὰ τὰ ἔθνη διαλάμψασα, ὕστερον δὲ καὶ εἰς Ἕλληνας κατῆλθεν. Προέστησαν δʼ αὐτῆς Αἰγυπτίων τε οἱ προφῆται καὶ Ἀσσυρίων οἱ Χαλδαῖοι καὶ Γαλατῶν οἱ Δρυίδαι καὶ Σαμαναῖοι Βάκτρον καὶ Κελτῶν οἱ φιλοσοφήσαντες καὶ Περςῶν οἱ Μάγοι…Back to Top
And also those called "prophets" among the Egyptians practiced philosophy - and moreover the Chaldaeans of the Assyrians, the Druids of the Gauls, the Śramanas from among the Persian Bactrians, and not a few from among the Celts, and the Magi among the Persians, and the Gymnosophists among the Indians, and Anacharsis himself among the Scythians, Zamolxis in Thrace, and, they say, some also from the Hyperborian race
ἐφιλοσόφησαν δὲ καὶ παρʼ Αἰγυπτίοις οἱ κεκλημένοι προφῆται• καὶ μὴν καὶ Ἀσσυρίων Χαλδαῖοι, καὶ Γαλατῶν οἱ Δρυΐδαι, καὶ ἐκ Βάκτρων τῶν Περσικῶν Σαμαναῖοι, καὶ Κελτῶν οὐκ ὀλίγοι, καὶ παρὰ Πέρσαις οἱ Μάγοι, καὶ παρʼ Ἰνδοῖς οἱ Γυμνοσοφισταὶ, καὶ αὐτὸς Ἀνάχαρσις παρὰ Σκύθαις, ζάμολξις ἐν Θρᾴκῃ, φασὶ δέ τινας καὶ τῶν Ὑπερβοραίων ἐθνῶνBack to Top
The Pythagorean doctrine prevails among them [the Gauls], teaching that the souls of men are immortal and live again for a fixed number of years inhabited in other body.
Ἐνισχύει γὰρ παρʼ αυτοῖς ὁ Πυθαγόρου λογος, ὅτι τὰς ψυχὰς τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἀθανάτους εἶναι συμβέβηκε καὶ δἰ ἐτῶν, ὡρισμένων πάλιν βιοῦν εἰς ἕτερον σῶμα τὴς ψυχῆς εἰσδυομένης.Back to Top
And there are among them [the Gauls] composers of verses whom they call Bards; these singing to instruments similar to a lyre, applaud some, while they vituperate others. They have philosophers and theologians who are held in much honor and are called the Druids; they have sooth-sayers too of great renown who tell the future by watching the flights of birds and by observation of the entrails of victims; and everyone waits upon their word. When they attempt divination upon important matters they practice a strange and incredible custom, for they kill a man by a knife-stab in a region above the midriff, and after his fall they foretell the future by the convulsions of his limbs and the pouring of his blood, a form of divination in which they have full confidence, as if is old tradition. It is a custom of the Gauls that no one performs a sacrifice without the assistance of a philosopher, for they say that offerings to the gods ought to be made only through the mediation of these men, who are learned in the divine nature and, as it were, speak the same language as the gods, and it is through their agency that the blessings of the gods should properly be sought. It is not only in time of peace, but in war also, that these seers have authority, and the incantations of the bards have effect on friends and foes alike. Often when the combatants are ranged face to face, and swords are drawn and spears bristling, these men come between the armies and stay the battle, just as wild beasts are sometimes held spellbound. Thus even among the most savage foreigners anger yields to wisdom, and Mars is shamed before the Muses.
εἰσὶ δὲ παρʼ αὐτοῖς καὶ ποιηταὶ μελῶν, οὓς βάρδους ὀνομάζουσιν. οὗτοι δὲ μετʼ ὀργάνων ταῖς λύραις ὁμοίων ᾄδοντες οὓς μὲν ὑμνοῦσιν, οὓς δὲ βλασφημοῦσι. φιλόσοφοί τέ τινές εἰσι καὶ θεολόγοι περιττῶς τιμώμενοι, οὓς δρουίδας ὀνομάζουσι. χρῶνται δὲ καὶ μάντεσιν, ἀποδοχῆς μεγάλης ἀξιοῦντες αὐτούς• οὗτοι δὲ διά τε τῆς οἰωνοσκοπίας καὶ διὰ τῆς τῶν ἱερείων θυσίας τὰ μέλλοντα προλέγουσι, καὶ πᾶν τὸ πλῆθος ἐχουσιν ὑπήκοον. μάλιστα δʼ ὅταν περί τινων μεγάλων ἐπι σκέπτωνται, παράδοξον καὶ ἄπιστον ἔχουσι νόμιμον• ἄνθρωπον γὰρ κατασπείσαντες τύπτουσι μαχαίρᾳ κατὰ τον ὑπὲρ τὸ διάφραγμα τόπον, καὶ πεσόντος τοῦ πληγέντος ἐκ τῆς πτώσεως καὶ τοῦ σπαραγμοῦ τῶν μελῶν, ἔτι δὲ τῆς τοῦ αἵματος ῥυσεως τὸ μέλλον νόοῦσι, παλαιᾷ τινι καὶ πολυχρονίῳ παρατηρήσει περὶ τούτων πεπιστευκοτες. ἔθος δʼ αὐτοῖς ἐστι μηδένα θυςίαν ποιεῖν ἄνευ φιλοσόφου• διὰ γὰρ τῶν ἐμπείρων τῆς θείας φύσεως ὡσπερεί τινων ὁμοφώνων τὰ χαριστήρια τοῖς θεοῖς φασι δεῖν προσφέρειν, καὶ διὰ τούτων οἴονται δεῖν τάγαθὰ αἰτεῖσθαι. οὐ μόνον δ᾿ ἔν ταῖς εἰρηνικαῖς χρείαις, ἀλλὰ καὶ κατὰ τοὺς πολέμους τούτοις μάλιστα πείθονται καὶ τοῖς μελῳδοῦσι ποιηταῖς, οὐ μόνον οἱ φίλοι, ἀλλὰ καὶ οἱ πολέμιοι• πολλάκις δʼ ἐν ταῖς παρατάξεσι πλησιαζόντων ἀλλήλοις τῶν στρατοπέδων καὶ τοῖς ξίφεσιν ἀνατεταμένοις καὶ ταῖς λόγχαις προβεβλημέναις, εἰς τὸ μέσον οὗτοι προελθόντες παύουσιν αὐτούς, ὡστερ τινὰ θηρία κατεπᾴσαντες. οὕτω καὶ παρὰ τοῖς ἀγριώτατοις βαρβάροις ὁ θυμὸς εἴκει τῇ σοφίᾳ καὶ ὁ Ἄρης αἰδεῖται τὰς Μούσας.Back to Top
Some say that the study of philosophy was of foreign origin. For the Persians had their Magi, the Babylonians or the Assyrians the Chaldeans, the Indians their Gymnosphists, while the Celts and the Gauls had their seers called Druids and Semnotheoi, or so Aristotle says in the Magic, and Sotion in the twenty-third book of his Succession of Philosophers.
Τὸ τῆς φιλοσοφίας ἔργον ἔνιοί φασιν ἀπὸ βαρβάρων ἄρξαι. γεγενῆσθαι γάρ παρὰ μὲν Πέρσαις Μάγους, παρὰ δὲ Βαβυλωνίοις ἢ Ἀσσυρίοις Χαλδαίους, καὶ Γυμνοσοφιστὰς παρʼ Ἰνδοῖς, παρά τε Κελτοῖς καὶ Γαλάταις τοὺς καλουμένους Δρυίδας καὶ Σεμνοθέους, καθάφησιν Ἀριστοτέλης ἐν τῷ Μαγικῷ καὶ Σωτίων ἐν τῷ εἰκοστῷ τρίτῳ τῆς Διαδοχῆς.Back to Top
Those who think that philosophy is an invention of foreigners explain that the Gymnosophists and Druids make their pronouncements by means of riddles and dark sayings, teaching that the gods must be worshipped, and no evil done, and manly behavior maintained.
Οἱ δὲ φάσκοντες ἀπὸ βαρβάρων ἄρξαι φιλοσοφίαν καὶ τὸν τρόπον παρʼ ἑκάστοις αὐτῆς ἐκτίθενται• καὶ φασι τοὺς μὲν Γυμνοσοφιστὰς καὶ Δρυίδας αἰνιγματωδῶς ἀποφθεγγομένους φιλοσοφῆσαι σέβειν θεοὺς καὶ μηδὲν κακὸν δρᾶν καὶ ἀνδρείαν ἀσκεῖν.Back to Top
The Persians, I think, have men called Magi…, the Egyptians, their priests…, and the Indians, their Brahmins. On the other hand, the Celts have men called Druids, who concern themselves with divination and all branches of wisdom. And without their advice even kings dared not resolve upon nor execute any plan, so that in truth it was they who ruled, while the kings, who sat on golden thrones and fared sumptuously in their palaces, became mere ministers of the Druids’ will.
Πέρσαι μὲν οἶμαι τοὺς καλουμένους παρʼ αὐτοῖς μάγους . . . Αἰγύπτιοι δὲ τοὺς ἱερέας . . . Ἰνδοὶ δὲ βραχμᾶνας . . . Κελτοὶ δὲ οὓς ὀνομάζουσι Δρυίδας, καὶ τούτους περὶ μαντικὴν ὄντας καὶ τὴν ἄλλην σοφίαν. ὧν ἄνευ τοῖς βασιλεῦσιν οὐδὲν ἐξῆν πράττειν οὐδὲ βουλεύεσθαι, ὥστε τὸ μὲν ἀληθὲς ἐκείνους ἄρχειν, τοὺς δὲ βασιλέας αὐτῶν ὑπηρέτας καὶ διακόνους γίγνεσθαι τῆς γνώμης ἐν θρόνοις χρυσοῖς καθημένους καὶ οἰκίας μεγάλας οἰκοῦντας καὶ πολυτελῶς εὐωχουμὲνους.Back to Top
Among his [Pythagoras'] followers, however, who escaped the conflagration were Lysis and Archippus, and the servant of Pythagoras, Zamolxis, who also is said to have taught the Celtic Druids to cultivate the philosophy of Pythagoras.
Тῶν δὲ μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ οἱ διαφυγόντες τὸν ἐμπρησμὸν Λῦσις ἦν καὶ Ἄρχιππος καὶ ὁ τοῦ Πυθαγόρου οἰκέτης Ζάμολξις, ὃς καὶ τοὺς παρὰ Κελτοῖς Δρυΐδας λέγεται διδάξαι φιλοσοφεῖν τὴν Πυθαγόρειον φιλοσοφίαν.Back to Top
The Celtic Druids applied themselves thoroughly to the Pythagorean philosophy, being urged to this pursuit by Zamolxis, the slave of Pythagoras, a Thracian by birth, who came to those parts after the death of Pythagoras, and gave them the opportunity of studying the system. And the Celts believe in their Druids as seers and prophets because they can foretell certain events by the Pythagorean reckoning and calculations. We will not pass over the origins of their learning in silence, since some have presumed to make distinct schools of the philosophies of these peoples. Indeed, the Druids also practice the magic arts.
Δρυίδαι οἱ ἐν Κελτοῖς τῇ Πυθαγορείῳ φιλοσοφίᾳ κατʼ ἄκρον ἐγκύψαντες, αἰτίου αὐτοῖς γενομένου ταύτης τῆς ἀσκήσεως Ζαμόλξιδος δούλου Πυθαγόρου, γένει θρακίου• ὅς μετὰ τὴν Πυθαγόρου τελευτὴν ἐκεῖ χωρήσας αἴτιος τούτοις ταύτης τῆς φιλοσοφίας ἐγένετο. Τούτοις Κελτοὶ ὡς προφήτας καὶ προγνοστικοὺς δοξάζουσιν, διὰ τὸ ἐκ ψήφων καὶ ἀριθμῶν Πυθαγορικῇ τέχνῃ προαγορεύειν αὐτοῖς τινα, ἧς καὶ αὐτῆς τέχνης τὰς ἐφόδους οὐ σιωπήσομεν ἐπεὶ καὶ ἐκ τούτων τινὲς αἱρέσεις παρεισάγειν ἐτόλμησαν. χρῶνται δὲ δρυίδαι καὶ μαγείαις.Back to Top
And you, O Druids, now that the clash of battle is stilled,
once more have you returned to your barbarous ceremonies and to the savage usage of your holy rites.
To you alone it is given to know the truth about the gods
and deities of the sky, or else you alone are ignorant of this truth.
The innermost groves of far-off forests are you abodes.
And it is you who say that the shades of the dead seek not
the silent land of Erebus and the pale halls of Pluto;
rather, you tell us that the same spirit has a body again elsewhere,
and that death, if what you sing is true, is but the mid-point of long life.
et uos barbaricos ritus moremque sinistrum
sacrorum, Dryadae, positis repetistis ab armis.
solis nosse deos et caeli numina uobis
aut solis nescire datum; nemora alta remotis
incolitis lucis; uobis auctoribus umbrae
non tacitas Erebi sedes Ditisque profundi
pallida regna petunt: regit idem spiritus artus
orbe alio; longae, canitis si cognita, uitae
mors media est.
Nay, he [Celsus] styles the Galactophagi of Homer, and the Druids of the Gauls, and the Getae, most learned and ancient orders, on account of the resemblance between their traditions and those of the Jews, although I know not whether any of their histories survive; but the Hebrews alone, as far as in him lies, he deprives of the honour both of antiquity and learning.
ἀλλὰ καὶ τοὺς μὲν Ὁμήρου Γαλακτοφάγους καὶ τοὺς Γαλατῶν Δρυΐδας καὶ τοὺς Γέτας σοφῶτατα λέγει ἔθνη εἶναι καὶ ἀρχαῖα, περὶ τῶν συγγενῶν τοῖς Ἰουδαϊκοῖς λόγοις διαλαμβάνοντας, ὧν οὐκ οἶδα εἰ φέρεται συγγράμματα• Ἑβραίους δὲ μόνον τὸ ὅσον ἐφʼ ἑαυτῷ ἐκβάλλει καὶ τῆς ἀρχαιότητος καὶ τῆς σοφίας.Back to Top
Here we must mention the awe felt for this plant by the Gauls. The Druids – for so their magicians are called – held nothing more sacred than the mistletoe and the tree that bears it, always supposing that tree to be the oak. But they choose groves formed of oaks for the sake of the tree alone, and they never perform any of their rites except in the presence of a branch of it; so that it seems probable that the Druids themselves may derive their name from the Greek word for that tree. In fact, they think that everything that grows on it has been sent from heaven and is a proof that the tree was chosen by the god himself. (250) The mistletoe, however, is found but rarely upon the oak; and when found, is gathered with due religious ceremony, if possible on the sixth day of the moon (for it is by the moon that they measure their months and years, and also their ages of thirty years). They choose this day because the moon, though not yet in the middle of her course, has already considerable influence. They call the mistletoe by a name meaning in their language, the all-healing. Having made preparation for sacrifice and a banquet beneath the trees, they bring thither two white bulls, whose horns are bound then for the first time. (251) Clad in white garb, a priest ascends the tree and cuts the mistletoe with a golden sickle, and it is received by the others in white cloak. Then they kill the victims, praying that the god will render this gift of his propitious to those to whom he has granted it. They believe that the mistletoe, taken in drink, imparts fecundity to barren animals, and that it is an antidote for all poisons. Such are the religious feelings that are entertained towards trifling things by many peoples.
Non est omittenda in hac re et Galliarum admiratio. nihil habent Druidae — ita suos appellant magos — visco et arbore, in qua gignatur, si modo sit robur, sacratius. iam per se roborum eligunt lucos nec ulla sacra sine earum fronde conficiunt, ut inde appellati quoque interpretatione Graeca possint Druidae videri. enimvero quidquid adgnascatur illis e caelo missum putant signumque esse electae ab ipso deo arboris. (250) est autem id rarum admodum inventu et repertum magna religione petitur et ante omnia sexta luna, quae principia mensum annorumque his facit et saeculi post tricesimum annum, quia iam virium abunde habeat nec sit sui dimidia. omnia sanantem appellant suo vocabulo. sacrificio epulisque rite sub arbore conparatis duos admovent candidi coloris tauros, quorum cornua tum primum vinciantur. (251) sacerdos candida veste cultus arborem scandit, falce aurea demetit, candido id excipitur sago. tum deinde victimas immolant praecantes, suum donum deus prosperum faciat iis quibus dederit. fecunditatem eo poto dari cuicumque animalium sterili arbitrantur, contra venena esse omnia remedio. tanta gentium in rebus frivolis plerumque religio est.Back to Top
Similar to savin is the plant called selago. It is gathered without using iron and by passing the right and through the left sleeve of the tunic as though in the act of committing a theft. The clothing must be white, the feet washed and bare, and an offering of wine and bread made before the gathering. The Druids of Gaul say that the plant should be carried as a charm against every kind of evil, and that the smoke of it is good for diseases of the eye. (104) The Druids, also, use a certain marsh-plant that they call samolus, this must be gathered with the left hand, when fasting, and is a charm against the diseases of cattle. But the gatherer must not look behind him, nor lay the plant anywhere except in the drinking-troughs.
Similis herbae huic Sabinae est selago appellata. legitur sine ferro, dextra manu per tunicam operta, sinistra eruitur velut a furante, candida veste vestito pureque lautis nudis pedibus, sacro facto, priusquam legatur, pane vinoque; fertur in mappa nova. hanc contra perniciem omnem habendam prodidere Druidae Gallorum et contra omnia oculorum vitia fumum eius prodesse. (104) Iidem samolum herbam nominavere nascentem in umidis, et hanc sinistra manu legi a ieiunis contra morbos suum boumque, nec respicere legentem neque alibi quam in canali deponere, ibi conterere poturis.Back to Top
There is also another kind of egg, of much renown in the Gallic provinces, but ignored by the Greeks. In the summer, numberless snakes entwine themselves into a ball, held together by a secretion from their bodies and by their spittle. This is called anguinum. The Druids say that hissing serpents throw this up into the air, and that it must be caught in a cloak, and not allowed to touch the ground; and that one must instantly take to flight on horseback, as the serpents will pursue until some stream cuts them off. It may be tested, they say, seeing if it floats against the current of a river, even though it be set in gold. (53) But as it is the way of magicians to cast a cunning veil about their frauds, they pretend that those eggs can only be taken on a certain day of the moon, as though it rested with mankind to make the moon and the serpents accord as to the moment of the operation. I myself, however, have seen one of those eggs; it was round, and about as large as a smallish apple; the shell was cartilaginous, and pocked like the arms of a polypus. (54) The Druids esteem it highly. It is said to ensure success in law-suits and a favorable reception with princes; but this is false, because a man of Voncontii, who was also a Roman knight, kept one of these eggs in his bosom during a trial, and was put to death by the Emperor Claudius, as far as I can see, for that reason alone.
Praeterea est ovorum genus in magna fama Galliarum, omissum Graecis. angues enim numerose convoluti salicis faucium corporumque spumis artifici conplexu glomerant; urinum appellatur. Druidae sibilis id dicunt in sublime iactari sagoque oportere intercipi, ne tellurem attingat; profugere raptorem equo, serpentes enim insequi, donec arceantur amnis alicuius interventu; experimentum eius esse, si contra aquas fluitet vel auro vinctum; (53) atque, ut est Magorum sollertia occultandis fraudibus sagax, certa luna capiendum censent, tamquam congruere operationem eam serpentium humani sit arbitrii. vidi equidem id ovum mali orbiculati modici magnitudine, crusta cartilagineis velut acetabulis bracchiorum polypi crebris insigne. (54) Druidis ad victorias litium ac regum aditus mire laudatur, tantae vanitatis, ut habentem id in lite in sinu equitem Romanum e Vocontiis a divo Claudio principe interemptum non ob aliud sciam.Back to Top
It [magic] flourished in the Gallic provinces too, even down to a period within our memory; for it was in the time of the Emperor Tiberius that a decree was issued against their Druids and the whole class of diviners and physicians. But why mention all this about a practice that has even crossed the ocean and penetrated to the utmost parts of the earth? At the present day, Britannia is still fascinated by magic, and performs its rites with so much ceremony that it almost seems as though it was she who had imparted the cult to the Persians. To such a degree do peoples throughout the world, although unlike and quite unknown to one another, agree upon this one point. Therefore we cannot too highly appreciate our debt to the Romans for having put an end to this monstrous cult, whereby to murder a man was an act of the greatest devoutness, and to eat his flesh most beneficial.
Gallias utique possedit, et quidem ad nostram memoriam. namque Tiberii Caesaris principatus sustulit Druidas eorum et hoc genus vatum medicorumque. sed quid ego haec commemorem in arte oceanum quoque transgressa et ad naturae inane pervecta? Britannia hodieque eam adtonita celebrat tantis caerimoniis, ut dedisse Persis videri possit. adeo ista toto mundo consensere, quamquam discordi et sibi ignoto. nec satis aestimari potest, quantum Romanis debeatur, qui sustulere monstra, in quibus hominem occidere religiosissimum erat, mandi vero etiam saluberrimum.Back to Top
There still remain traces of atrocious customs no longer practiced, and although they now refrain from outright slaughter, yet they still draw blood from the victims led to the altar. They have, however, their own kind of eloquence, and teachers of wisdom called Druids. (15) These profess to know the size and shape of the world, the movements of the heavens and of the stars, and the will of the gods. They teach many things to the noblest of the nation in a course of instruction lasting as long as twenty years, meeting in secret either in a cave or in secluded dales. One of their dogmas has to come to common knowledge, namely, that souls are eternal and that there is another life in the infernal regions, and this has been permitted manifestly because it makes the multitude readier for war. And it is for this reason too that they burn or bury with their dead, things appropriate to them in life, and that in times past they even used to defer the completion of business and the payment of debts until their arrival in another world. Indeed, there were some of them who flung themselves willingly on the funeral piles of their relatives to share the new life with them.
Gentes superbae superstitiosae aliquando etiam immanes adeo, ut hominem optimam et gratissimam diis victimam crederent. Manent vestigia feritatis iam abolitae, atque ut ab ultimis caedibus temperant, ita nihilominus, ubi devotos altaribus admovere, delibant. Habent tamen et facundiam suam magistrosque sapientiae druidas. (15) Hi terrae mundique magnitudinem et formam, motus caeli ac siderum et quid dii velint, scire profitentur. Docent multa nobilissimos gentis clam et diu, vicenis annis, aut in specu aut in abditis saltibus. Vnum ex his quae praecipiunt in vulgus effluxit, videlicet ut forent ad bella meliores, aeternas esse animas vitamque alteram ad manes. Itaque cum mortuis cremant ac defodiunt apta viventibus. Olim negotiorum ratio etiam et exactio crediti deferebatur ad inferos, erantque qui se in rogos suorum velut una victuri libenter inmitterent.Back to Top
Among all the Gallic peoples, generally speaking, there are three sets of men who are held in exceptional honor; the Bards, the Vates, and the Druids. The Bards are singers and poets; the Vates, diviners and natural philosophers; while the Druids, in addition to natural philosophy, study also moral philosophy. The Druids are considered the most just of men, and on this account they are entrusted with the decision, not only of the private disputes, but of the public disputes as well; so that, in former times, they even arbitrated cases of war and made the opponents stop when they were about to line up for battle, and the murder cases in particular, had been turned over to them for decision. Further, when there is a big yield from these cases, there is forthcoming a big yield from the land too, as they think. However, not only the Druids, but others as well, say that men’s souls, and also the universe, are indestructible, although both fire and water will at some time or other prevail over them.
Παρὰ πᾶσι δʼ ὡς ἐπίπν τρία φῦλα τῶν τιμωμένων διαφερόντως ἐστί, Βάρδοι τε καὶ Οὐάτεις καὶ Δρυΐδαι• Βάρδοι μὲν ὑμνηταὶ καὶ ποιηταί, Οὐάτεις δὲ ἱεροποιοὶ καὶ φυσιολόγοι, Δρυΐδαι δὲ πρὸς τῇ φυσιολογίᾳ καὶ τὴν ἠθικὴν φιλοσοφίαν ἀσκοῦσι• δικαιότατοι δὲ νομίζονται καὶ διὰ τοῦτο πιστεύονται τάς τε ἰδιωτικὰς κρίσεις καὶ τὰς κοινάς, ὥστε καὶ πολέμους διῄτων πρότερον καὶ παρατάττεσθαι μέλλοντας ἔπαυον, τὰς δὲ φονικὰς δίκας μάλιστα τούτοις ἐπετέτραπτο δικάζειν. ὅταν τε φορὰ τούτων ᾖ, φορὰν καὶ τῆς χώρας νομίζουσιν ὑπάρχειν. ἀφθάρτους δὲ λέγουσι καὶ οὗτοι καὶ ἄλλοι τὰς ψυχὰς καὶ τὸν κόσμον, ἐπικρατήσειν δὲ ποτε καὶ πῦρ καὶ ὔδωρ.Back to Top
But the Romans put a stop to these customs, as well as to all those connected with the sacrifices and divinations that are opposed to our usages. They used to strike a human being, whom they had devoted to death, in the back with a saber, and then divine from his death-struggle. But they would not sacrifice without the Druids. We are told of still other kinds of human sacrifices; for example, they would shoot victims to death with arrows, or impale them in the temples, or having devised a colossus of straw and wood, throw into the colossus cattle and wild animals of all sorts and human beings, and then make a burnt offering of the whole thing.
καὶ τούτων δ᾿ ἔπαυσαν αὐτοὺς Ῥωμαῖοι, καὶ τῶν κατὰ τὰς θυςίας καὶ μαντεὶας ὑπεναντίων τοῖς παρʼ ἡμῖν νομίμοις. ἄνθρωπον δὲ κατεσπεισμένον παίσαντες εἰς νῶτον μαχαίρα ἐμαντεύοντο ἐκ τοῦ σφαδασμοῦ. ἔθυον δὲ οὐκ ἄνευ Δρυϊδῶν. καὶ ἄλλα ἀνθρωποθυσιῶν εἴδη λέγεται. καὶ γὰρ κατετόξευόν τινας καὶ ἀνεσταύρουν ἐν τοῖς ἱεροῖς καὶ κατασκευάσαντες κολοσσὸν χόρτου καὶ ζύλων, ἐμβαλόντες εἰς τοῦτον βοσκήματα καὶ θηρία παντοῖα καὶ ἀνθρώπους ὡλοκαύτουν.Back to Top
He [the Emperor Claudius] very thoroughly suppressed the barbarous and inhuman religion of the Druids in Gaul, which in the time of Augustus had merely been forbidden to Roman citizens.
Druidarum religionem apud Gallos dirae immanitatis et tantum civibus sub Augusto interdictam penitus abolevit ...Back to Top
The Gauls, they remembered, had captured the city in former days, but as the abode of Jupiter was uninjured, the Empire had survived; whereas now the Druids declared, with the prophetic utterances of an idle superstition, that this fatal conflagration [of the Capital] was a sign of the anger of heaven, and portended universal empire for the Transalpine nations.
captam olim a Gallis urbem, sed integra Iovis sede mansisse imperium: fatali nunc igne signum caelestis irae datum et possessionem rerum humanarum Transalpinis gentibus portendi superstitione vana Druidae canebant.Back to Top
On the shore stood the opposing army with its dense array of armed warriors, while between the ranks dashed women in black attire, like the Furies, with hair disheveled, waving brands. All around, the Druids, lifting up their hands to heaven and pouring forth dreadful imprecations, scared our soldiers by the unfamiliar sight, so that, as if their limbs were paralyzed, they stood motionless and exposed to wounds. Then urged by their general’s appeal and mutual encouragements not to quail before a troop of frenzied women, they bore the standards onwards, smote down all resistance, and wrapped the foe in the flames of his own brands. A force was next set over the conquered, and their groves, devoted to inhuman superstitions, were destroyed. They deemed it, indeed, a duty to cover their altars with the blood of captives and to consult their duties through human entrails.
Stabat pro litore diversa acies, densa armis virisque, intercursantibus feminis, [quae] in modum Furiarum veste ferali, crinibus disiectis faces praeferebant; Druidaeque circum, preces diras sublatis ad caelum manibus fundentes, novitate adspectus perculere militem, ut quasi haerentibus membris immobile corpus vulneribus praeberent. dein cohortationibus ducis et se ipsi stimulantes, ne muliebre et fanaticum agmen pavescerent, inferunt signa sternuntque obvios et igni suo involvunt. praesidium posthac impositum victis excisique luci saevis superstitionibus sacri: nam cruore captivo adolere aras et hominum fibris consulere deos fas habebant.Back to Top
Arete the Druidess, high priestess, guided by her dreams, offered a sacrifice to Silvanus and the local nymphs.
silvano / sacr(um) / et nymphis loci / ARETEDRUIS(?) / antistita / somnio monita / d(edit)Back to Top
While he [Alexander Severus] was on his way, a Druidess cried out to him in Gallic tongue, “Go forward, but hope not for victory, nor put trust in thy soldiers.”
mulier Druias eunti exclamavit Gallico sermone, “Vadas nec victoriam speres nec te militi tuo credas.”Back to Top
I do not consider it too painstaking or yet too much in the ordinary manner to insert a story about Diocletian Augustus that seems not out of place here — an incident which he regarded as an omen of his future rule. This story my grandfather related to me, having heard it from Diocletian himself. "When Diocletian," he said, "while still serving in a minor post, was stopping at a certain tavern in the land of the Tungri in Gaul, and was making up his daily reckoning with a woman, who was a Druidess, she said to him, 'Diocletian, you are far too greedy and far too stingy,' to which Diocletian replied, it is said, not in earnest, but only in jest, 'I shall be generous enough when I become emperor.' At this the Druidess said, so he related, 'Do not jest, Diocletian, for you will become emperor when you have slain The Boar [Aper].' " (15) Now Diocletian always had in his mind a desire to rule, as Maximian knew and my grandfather also, to whom he himself told these words of the Druidess. Then, however, reticent, as was his wont, he laughed and said nothing. Nevertheless, in hunting, whenever there was opportunity, he always killed the boars with his very own hand. In fact, when Aurelian received the imperial power, then Probus, then Tacitus, and then Carus himself, Diocletian remarked, "I am always killing boars, but the other man enjoys the meat." It is now well known and a common story that when he had killed Aper, the prefect of the guard, he declared, it is said, "At last I have killed my fated Boar." My grandfather also used to say that Diocletian himself declared that he had no other reason for killing him with his own hand than to fulfill the Druidess' prophecy and to ensure his own rule. For he would not have wished to become known for such cruelty, especially in the first few days of his power, if Fate had not impelled him to this brutal act of murder.
Curiosum non puto neque satis vulgare fabellam de Diocletiano Augusto ponere hoc convenientem loco, quae illi data est ad omen imperii. avus meus mihi rettulit ab ipso Diocletiano compertum. "Cum," inquit, "Diocletianus apud Tungros in Gallia in quadam caupona moraretur, in minoribus adhuc locis militans, et cum Druiade quadam muliere rationem convictus sui cottidiani faceret, atque illa diceret, 'Diocletiane, nimium avarus, nimium parcus es,' ioco non serio Diocletianus respondisse fertur, 'Tunc ero largus, cum fuero imperator.' post quod verbum Druias dixisse fertur, 'Diocletiane, iocari noli, nam eris imperator cum Aprum occideris.' " (15) semper in animo Diocletianus habuit imperii cupiditatem, idque Maximiano conscio atque avo meo, cui hoc dictum a Druiade ipse rettulerat. denique, ut erat altus, risit et tacuit. apros tamen in venatibus, ubi fuit facultas, manu sua semper occidit. denique cum Aurelianus imperium accepisset, cum Probus, cum Tacitus, cum ipse Carus, Diocletianus dixit, "Ego semper apros occido, sed alter utitur pulpamento." iam illud notum est atque vulgatum, quod, cum occidisset Aprum praefectum praetorii, dixisse fertur, "Tandem occidi Aprum fatalem." ipsum Diocletianum idem avus meus dixisse dicebat nullam aliam sibi causam occidendi manu sua fuisse nisi ut impleret Druiadis dictum et suum firmaret imperium. non enim tam crudelem se innotescere cuperet, primis maxime diebus imperii, nisi illum necessitas ad hanc atrocitatem occisionis adtraheret.Back to Top
He [Asclepiodotus] used to say that on a certain occasion Aurelian consulted the Gaulish Druidesses to find out whether his descendants would remain in possession of the imperial crown. These women told him that no name would become more illustrious in the state annals than that of the line of Claudius. (5) It is true, of course, that the present Emperor Constantius is of the same stock, and I think that his descendants will assuredly attain to the glory foretold by the Druidesses.
dicebat enim quodam tempore Aurelianum Gallicanas consuluisse Druiadas, sciscitantem utrum apud eius posteros imperium permaneret, cum illas respondisse dixit nullius clarius in re publica nomen quam Claudii posteriorum futurum. (5) et est quidem iam Constantius imperator, eiusdem vir sanguinis, cuius puto posteros ad eam gloriam quae a Druiadibus pronuntiata sit pervenire.Back to Top
The eminent Aeduan [Divitiacus] came to the senate, he pointed out his business; indeed when presented with a seat he claimed less than he was offered: he concluded his speach leaning on his shield. When aid was granted, he was the first to lead a Roman army and Caesar across the Rhône.
Princeps Aeduus ad senatum venit, rem docuit, cum quidem oblato consessu minus sibi vindicasset quam dabatur, scuto innixis peroravit, impetrata ope Romanum exercitum Caesaremque cis Rhodanum primus induxit.Back to Top